Raiders of Atlantis (Ruggero Deodato; 1983) – In an attempt to retrieve a sunken Russian submarine, scientists inadvertently cause the lost continent of Atlantis to rise back to the surface. Naturally, the Atlanteans are feral punks with death machines straight out of The Road Warrior. Chaos ensues. This action mash-up from the man that brought us Cannibal Holocaust is a pretty decent waste of time, but it’s not nearly as fun as the trailer. There’s lots of generic action scenes and vehicular mayhem, but it all just feels kind of thrown together and the film makes very little sense. Still, there’s some pretty well placed gore/violence and some laughable effects blunders to keep one amused. Also of note is the veritable cavalcade of genre talent the likes of Ivan Rassimov (Shock, Jungle Holocaust), George Hilton (All the Colors of the Dark, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh), Michele Soavi (Demons, Opera) and Tony King (Cannibal Apocalypse) will have fans of trashy Euro films feeling right at home. Sadly, despite ample opportunity by the lovely Gioia Scola (Conquest), there’s no luscious cheesecake served up here. The soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission, even if the film does tend to drag a little bit. A tad overhyped, but one could do a lot worse.
Snowpiercer (Joon-ho Bong; 2013) – Joon-ho Bong’s (The Host) ambitious tale of humanity’s downfall at the hands of “climate change” is a surprisingly good effort, and a triumph despite all the bullshit that went on with Harvey Weinstein stateside. This is a post-apocalyptic reflection on human psychology that puts into perspective man’s innate need to rule his peers. Some of the violence in the film I felt could have been handled better, as the film does have a tendency to look away at times which in a way which detracted from the impact of a few scenes. Despite this, Snowpiercer is a very entertaining ride and it’s easy to overlook some of its shortcomings. Dark, thought-provoking and intense, this is a film that needs to be experienced to be truly appreciated; the trailer doesn’t even come close to doing it justice.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse (Jaume Balagueró; 2014) – I’ve been an outspoken fan of the [REC] series since its inception (I even dug [REC] 3: Genesis despite it being pretty much universally lambasted). [REC] 4: Apocalypse however, is a massive disappointment. They’ve taken what was previously a refreshing and unique take on the “zombie” subgenre and made it into a drab, cookie-cutter affair in this last installment to the series. Rather than expand upon what was revealed in the previous films, [REC] 4 is a continuation of the events that transpired in the second film, only on a boat. Predictable, lazy and completely devoid of imagination, [REC] 4 will prove to be the series’ death rattle rather than the swan song it should have been. The shocking violence is gone, now replaced with some cheap jump scares (and a CGI monkey – WTF) and shitty effects to boot. There’s even a “twist” ending, just to rub salt in the wound. Words fail me in adequately expressing my disappointment; this was a complete slap in the face to fans of the series.
Curtains (Richard Ciupka; 1983) – 80s? Slasher? I’m in. Having missed this one during my days as a lad haunting the video store horror section, I was ecstatic to finally see what all the hype was about – as it turns out, I’m still trying to figure that out. Curtains is formulaic in its approach: gather a bunch of nubile young ladies to an isolated area and have some crazy in a mask butcher them systematically. I know that sounds like a win (and it often is), but where Curtains falls flat is in its spinelessness. Sure, there’s a small amount of T&A/80s gratuity involved, but most of the killings take place off screen (which I can’t help but reiterate I HATE HATE HATE with the unholy passion of the Devil’s taint), leaving the whole film to feel like a complete waste of the viewer’s time. I suppose the ice skating murder scene was pretty unique (in addition to having been filmed in daylight which was uncommon with this type of film at the time), and the killer’s old lady mask is admittedly pretty disquieting. It’s unfortunate that the filmmakers were too busy trying to avoid incurring the wrath of the film censors to actually give the film any teeth though.
The Canyons (Paul Schrader; 2013) – I need to preface this by saying I’m a massive Ellis apologist. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows better than to get me on the topic of Ellis’ work because I’m likely to suck all the air out of the room with my endless pontifications. So needless to say, I was more than a little intrigued when I learned that Bret Easton Ellis had teamed up with director Paul Schrader (writer: Taxi Driver, Hardcore) on this film project. Also being a huge fan of Taxi Driver, I figured this is a no-brainer, right? Then the strange casting decisions started to come to light. Porn star James Deen (Fuck Me in the Bathroom 2, Cum on my Tattoo)? Ok so maybe they needed someone who was willing to slap his shlong around a bunch, might not be a bad thing – could speak to the integrity of the film and all that. Plus, to be honest I just haven’t gotten around to seeing White Poles in Dark Holes yet – I’m sure it’s an artistic tour de force. Fine. Let’s see… wait. Lindsay Lohan? Seriously? Alright maybe that’s not a horrible thing either, I mean she can be alright if she’s just playing her normal coked-up whore self (remember I Know Who Killed Me?). With a good story and direction this could go off without a hitch, right? WRONG. Oh my holy fuck, what a train wreck this turned out to be. The premise is solid and very typical Ellis – nihilistic, sardonic, hedonistic. The main problem here is the fact that neither Lohan or Deen can act worth a shit (despite their massive egos and blathering to the contrary) and the dialogue – oh the dialogue! – is SO FUCKING TERRIBLE that I swear it’s only trumped by Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. No seriously, it’s THAT bad at times. I was actually embarrassed for everyone involved while I sat though this painful lesson in how NOT to make a film. Those that still give a shit (both of you) about seeing Lohan’s sorry sweater sacks will find them flopping about here, as long as you can slog through the countless footage of dicks, dudes jacking their dicks, thinking about dicks etc. This thing is a fucking sausage festival. I think it’s best if we just pretend none of this ever happened.
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