Sunday, November 15, 2015

What I Watched - November 8-14 2015


Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell (1981) Amazon
- I've just signed up for a trial period of Amazon Prime and while perusing the free streaming video on the site I came across a bunch of obscure regional horror movies that I haven't seen anywhere else, this one included. Also known as "Rana: Legend of Shadow Lake" it is from renowned Wisconsin-based schlockmeister Bill Rebane (Blood Harvest, Giant Spider Invasion etc) and is purely for the lovers of bad, low-budget cinema. With narration that makes it sound like an episode of Wonderful World of Disney and laughable man-in-suit monster effects, this flick is pretty dire, but at the same time has a cheesy charm that I enjoyed somewhat.

Old 37 (2015) AVI
- I was pretty excited to check this one out, since its two main stars are horror legends Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley. Who could pass up the chance to see Jason Vorhees and ChopTop in action together, right? Unfortunately, while it's good to see these two legends in action together, the story (brothers pretend to be paramedics and pick up victims in their old No 37 ambulance - hence the name) leaves a lot to be desired. It's badly lit, the music is horrible loud rock music (I'm a metaller, but in this case the music doesn't suit the movie) and there's bugger all gore (or its impossible to see because of the shitty lighting). A bunch of flashbacks also kill what atmosphere there is. I've since learned that Moseley and Hodder have starred in quite a few movies together in recent years (including Charlie's Farm and Smothered) - hopefully they're better than this.

The Doberman Gang (1972) AVI
- Another movie I watched simply because of it's rareness - as far as I can tell it has never been released on DVD. Apparently this one led to a string of sequels, all with the same basic premise - a team of five Doberman Pincer dogs are trained to carry out some kind of criminal task. In this case it's rob a bank. There's not much more to it than that, bar some squabbling among the thieves behind the plan. This is good, harmless fun in a 1970s TV movie kind of way (although it appears to have been a cinematic release), with goofy comedy and cheesy, cheesy music (dig the theme song: "They were the doggonest gang than man could ever see, all them animals just like you and me").

Evidence (2013) Netflix
- Part slasher movie, part CSI-type police procedural, Evidence's plot has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese, but if you look past that, it's entertaining, particularly if you like mysteries. A group of people who break down at a desert gas station end up being massacred by a mysterious killer wearing a welding mask, and police try to solve the case using footage from the victims' phones and cameras. There's not a great deal of gore (although seeing someone set alight by a welding-torch-wielding killer was kinda cool), so this leans heavily towards the mystery/police side rather than the horror side of things. The acting's pretty good (led by Silent Hill's Radha Mitchell and True Blood's Steven Moyer) and the twist ending actually caught me off-guard. Add in some pretty nifty camera effects and this one's a definite recommendation.

Requiem for a Dream (2000) DVD
- I picked this up for $1 from a video rental store closing down in my town, and my girlfriend had never seen it - so that had to be remedied. Of course this is a fantastic piece of cinema from Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Black Swan etc) and the ultimate "don't do hard drugs" message. I love the split-screen camera work and the nifty editing, and there's top notch acting on display from Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Ellen Burstyn (who was rightfully nominated for an Oscar for her work). Easily one of the best movies released in the early 2000s.

Future-Kill (1985) AVI
- This is a movie that has been at the periphery of my consciousness since I first saw it on VHS in about 1986 (when I was 11 years old). A few scenes have stuck in my head ever since but I never got around to finding it again, until now. I wish I'd gotten around to it sooner - specifically before I met star Edwin Neal (more famous for his role as The Hitchhiker in the original TCM) at a horror convention in the early 2000s. I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on it. Plot-wise, Future-Kill is part Porkies (frat boy shenanigans) and part The Warriors (zany street gangs in outrageous costumes), with a main bad guy that looks like a cross between Robocop and The Humongous from The Road Warrior. As a piece of cinema this isn't anything great, but as a cheesy 80s scifi/horror it kicks ass.

Tick Tick Tick (1970) AVI
- Another from my list of "never been released on DVD" downloads, Tick Tick Tick is a fascinating look at racial relations in small-town America in the late 60s and early 70s. Jim Brown plays a black man voted in as sheriff of a town in the deep south, which of course causes a lot of tension with the white folk. George Kennedy is superb as always as the former sheriff who becomes a deputy to help him out. This isn't straight-up exploitation, although there's enough despicable racist behaviour to give it a hard edge.

Time Lapse (2014) Netflix
- I do love a good time travel movie, and while not perfect, Time Lapse has a great premise and enough plot twists to keep you thinking after the final credits roll. Just don't think about things too long, or you'll start to realise there are quite a few things that don't make sense, as is often the case with time travel stories. Danielle Panabaker from TV's The Flash leads a small cast of otherwise-unknowns in a tale about a camera that takes photos of the future. I won't say anymore than that - it's best to go in without knowing too much - but I did enjoy this one quite a bit.

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