For those of you are interested, the 9th Annual South African Horrorfest will be kicking off tonight with a screening of Insidious 2. With so many new and wonderful additions to this year’s event, please have a look at the links below:
Official site: www.horrorfest.info
RSVP at: www.facebook.com/events/588115171248119
Book on-line: www.quicket.co.za/horrorfest
Join the group at: www.facebook.com/groups/SouthAfricanHorrorFest
Follow on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SAhorrorfest
Like the Makabra Ensemble page at www.facebook.com/MakabraEnsemble
Makabra site: www.terminatryx.com/makabra
Tropical Mary out!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
If I’m being totally honest, after AE: Apocalypse Earth, I was feeling a little fragile. My inner sci-fi geek can take a lot, but that movie gave me a fair beating. Nevertheless, I’m not one to turn down an epic mockbuster, and Atlantic Rim was just too great an opportunity to pass up. So, with Tropical Mary, Stygian Mole, The Occult Specialist, and our new friend Ms Misery in attendance, we sat down to watch this movie. My my my my my. I don’t know anything about Pacific Rim, so this movie had to sell me with only what it had to offer. What might that be, you ask? Well, it has the usual terrible CGI, atrocious acting and cheap sets that one would expect from an Asylum production, but it also has some of the most ADD-ridden editing I’ve ever seen in a film. I know it’s sci-fi, but good God not everything can teleport that quickly! Needless to say, though, this movie is a ton of fun, although I would recommend watching it on the tail-end of a movie night so you have the benefit of mild delirium to cover up some of its not-so-great moments.
Deep at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean lurks one of mankind’s greatest threats: giant amphibious dinosaurs with backwards knees! No seriously, how these things can walk is a marvel in itself. No one knows where they’ve come from or how they’ve managed to survive down there for so long without any of us noticing, but they’re about to start wreaking all kinds of havoc. The first sign of their existence that we experience is when one of them, with no provocation and unknown intent, leaps up from the sea floor to destroy an oil rig. Apart from a quick and somewhat greasy lunch we don’t know why they are suddenly deciding to attack now, and no one back on land knows what happened to the oil rig / ate its crew, so it’s up to the military to fall back on some half-baked, untested battle plan to solve this maritime mystery.
The plan? Send 3 gigantic robots worth $500 billion down to the ocean floor to see where the hell the oil rig went and what the hell may have dragged it down there. These robots will be piloted by the best pilots the program’s remaining $15 worth of budget could find. Decked out in what appear to be wetsuits held together by pieces of coloured duct tape, White Douche, Token Black Guy (aka TYREESE!) and Generic Blonde descend to the bottom of the Atlantic to check things out. The mission is plagued with problems – the control room in the bots becomes sweltering after descending more than 3 feet into the ocean, they’re controlled using what appears to be joysticks from old arcade machines, and they tend to shut down at random (this, for some reason, also sucks all of the available oxygen out of the robot’s interior), so it’s all rather slow going. Oh yeah, and there’s that giant monster floating in the background trying to eat them.
The violence quickly escalates from this point – the monster appears on land, we’re treated to half-a-dozen shots of the monster looped and mirrored maybe 20 times, and suddenly there are dead people everywhere. Why? We’re not really sure. Now, it becomes obvious that the American Government can’t just allow these beasts to run around Manhattan, but the team’s divided. Admiral Hadley, the head of some-or-other division, throws his full support behind the robots. The opposing faction, headed up by a man with an eye-patch whose speech patterns clearly indicate that he has recently recovered from a stroke, proposes nuking the monsters (although the word, when he says it, ranges anywhere from ‘puke the monsters’ to ‘fluke the monsters’). With these two factions at war, Generic Blonde and TYREESE! being innately useless, White Douche being super douchey, and the robots themselves leaving a bit to be desired, does mankind really stand a chance against these backward-kneed behemoths? Watch and be completely whelmed by the whole experience!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- It is possible for oil rigs to become dislodged from their bases, float around in the ocean, and crash into Iraq.
- You should always wear self-tan to a review board meeting.
- The best mankind-protecting-robot is one that’s commanded by someone with a lot of experience in Tae Bo.
- Every secret military base should be equipped with at least 100 horns.
- The more squint the monster, the greater the threat it poses to us all.
- No matter what the emergency, a woman’s eye-shadow should always be unfaltering.
- Nothing says ‘time for a drink’ more than blowing up $500 billion worth of military equipment.
ATLANTIC RIM TRAILER
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
As of late, my inner sci-fi geek has been awakened with a vengeance since I started watching Syfy’s Defiance (if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out). So, in the spirit of different worlds being invaded by extraterrestrials and technicalities that require physics PhDs in order to follow the plot, I decided I’d give The Asylum’s AE: After Earth a spin. The cover looked interesting, and for me that’s always a good start. Unfortunately, that’s also where all the good things that can be said about this movie come to a grinding halt. It’s a rare example in b-movie making: I thought I’d figured out the lame ending after watching about 15 minutes, only to be fooled later on by AN EVEN LAMER ending! Also, and this is the best part for me, they took soft science to an intergalactic extreme, which I always find tremendously amusing.
Earth is being invaded! Yeah, it’s only one tiny little spaceship with a few missiles attached to it, but we’re still being invaded. Since we’re thrown right into the action at the beginning of the movie we’re not really given any indication as to how long this nano-invasion has been going on for, but suffice to say that mankind has been on the losing end of the war. Somewhere in between the aliens’ arrival and us getting our asses thoroughly kicked, the world’s governments were able to build a series of ark ships to take a portion of humankind and send it off to the relative safety of some far-gone alien world. So, it the face of absolute danger, we do what we do best: we get the hell out of dodge. The arks are fully automated and contain stasis pods made entirely out of the insides of old Game Boys, so all the survivors have to do is lay back, sleep for a couple of decades, and wake up on their new home world.
Well, that was the plan at least, until the ark ships got blown out of the air and had to make an emergency crash landing on an alien world. Now of course you know it’s an alien world because it has a ring system! Clever people over at the Asylum… Anyway, if the crash didn’t sufficiently thin out the remaining number of humans left in the galaxy, the invisible and rather trigger happy natives will certainly take care of the rest. If it weren’t for Lt. Frank Baum the Good Lord only knows what would happen to the few remaining survivors. He manages to lead them all to the relative safety of a palm bush, before asking his robotic assistant TIM to try and figure out where they are and what exactly is going on.
Thankfully the invisible guys with guns aren’t the only creatures on the planet: our Lt also managed to find a green humanoid lady who switches between a completely alien accent to a thoroughly American one in a heart beat. She explains that the invisible things keep her people, and the crash-landed humans, as test subjects in zoos to be studied. Together, the survivors decide that this planet really isn’t for them, and they need to get back to Earth. Hell, it may have been invaded by malevolent beings from outer space, but it’s still home. It will involve a very un-daring mission of cowardly men, overly Hispanic women, the green lady, a midget Ricky Gervais, and an entire race of albino humanoids to ward off this planet’s strange lifeforms and the invisible hunting things if the group ever has a chance of making it to the spare ship just over the mountain and making a beeline back to Earth.
I don’t usually give away endings, but this one was just too stupid and left me far too enraged to not point it out. So, whilst we are told that it took 5 years for them to escape Earth and make it to this planet, when the group does eventually manage to get off the surface they can’t find out where in the galaxy they are. TIM the robot explains that the evacuation plan was EVEN DUMBER than I originally thought: rather than finding a planet that would be suitable for humans to settle on before they all took off, all of the arks were just sent off in random directions with everyone hoping for the best. 10 years into the flight TIM realised that the chances of finding a suitable planet were nanoscopic (again, shouldn’t we have thought about that BEFORE we left Earth?) and decided that the best option would be to return to Earth. Even if it had been invaded, at least it was habitable. So, the Arks make the 100-year return journey to Earth, but due to a glitch in the theory of relativity the 100-year flight actually equates to 325 000 years back on Earth. When the Arks crash and the survivors woke up, the invisible thingies were the descendants of the original invaders, whilst lady-in-green and the albino people are the descendants of the humans that didn’t form part of the evacuation fleet. The Earth is now green due to a runaway greenhouse effect, and its ring system is actually the remains of the Moon after the aliens blew it up. Take that NASA! That’s how you soft science the shit out of space travel!
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- First rule of planetary evacuations: no weapons in the stasis pods.
- Intergalactic space arks can easily be built with nothing more than a little wood and chicken wire.
- Yo mama jokes are a pan-galactic form of insult.
- If you don’t train your dragon from when it’s a baby, you’ll never teach it not to sleep on your spaceship.
- There is no intergalactic emergency so great that you can’t stop for a moment to bang one of the natives.
- There is no reason to think that English syntax differs in any meaningful way from that of innumerable alien languages.
AE: APOCALYPSE EARTH TRAILER
BUY AE: APOCALYPSE EARTH AT AMAZON.COM
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Lately I’ve come up against a bit of a brick wall so far as my reviews are concerned. I’ve watched so many movies in the past month, but they’ve all ended up being direly boring and I couldn’t think of a single way to write reviews for any of them (although the good Lord knows I’ve tried). It might just be that my standards have dropped, or I was just so desperate to write about something that my mind is making it all up, but I actually found this to be a decent and passable horror movie. It’s certainly not original, it doesn’t try to shake anything up and it doesn’t try to elicit any kind of emotional response from the audience, but as a standard haunted house story it works in the sense that what it does, it does well. I wouldn’t recommend rushing out to get your hands on a copy, but if it happens to come on TV sometime and you haven’t anything better lined up, give it watch. You may end up being mildly entertained.
In a move that may briefly leave you confused and mistakenly thinking that you’re watching Grave Encounters, the movie opens with us following the crew of a ghost hunting show. The show’s a little old school and is made up primarily of stock footage that they’ve green-screened their rather smarmy and pony-tailed host in front of. Since nobody appreciates a classic anymore, the ratings for the show have started to dip tremendously, and the producers are threatening to axe the show unless something is done. Enter the man who knows buzzwords! In his opinion the show needs to take on some elements from reality TV shows (no it doesn’t – nothing EVER needs to take points from reality shows. EVER.) and place the producer in the haunted houses and record his overly dramatic responses. So essentially they’re going to make it into Ghost Adventures.
The powers behind the show have found the absolutely perfect house! It’s set in a lovely neighbourhood, plenty of room for a family, fresh coat of paint, slave lodgings, the works! It also has a terrible history of people going missing as soon as they set foot inside of it, and the neighbours keep complaining about disembodied voices pleading for mercy, but it’s nothing that a new lamp and a mild exorcism won’t take care of. When the crew arrives there’s nobody there to open up for them; thankfully the movie’s a bit racist and has equipped its only black character with the skills to pick locks and a desire to break into white folks’ homes. It’s all a bit strange inside though: why is there a fully stocked fridge in a house that’s been abandoned since before the 1950s? Why is it so spotlessly clean? Why is the psychic they brought with them bleeding out of her eyes? Nobody seems particularly concerned with these questions, so it’s on with the show they go.
It becomes quite apparent quite quickly that this isn’t one of those fake haunted houses – there is some genuine malevolent shit going on in there. Unfortunately the crew is headed up by the biggest asshole of a producer that a film has ever dared to create, so despite the fact that people are disappearing into the walls he absolutely forbids anyone to abandon their posts. As it turns out it isn’t that the house has evil spirits in it – the house itself is the evil spirit. To survive it literally eats its victims in order to maintain itself (gorgeous wallpaper and a meticulously clean crystal chandelier come at a cost, you know), and it isn’t interested in letting any of its new meals out. It’ll be up to the bleeding-eye psychic, a black dude and a melted corpse to solve the case if there’s any hope of them living to see the sun rise again.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Haunted houses are known to spin people right round (baby, right round, like a record baby right round, round round).
- Haunted houses have no right to go around giving themselves fresh coats of paint.
- When the ratings for your TV show are down, it calls for life threatening situations to revitalise them.
- It’s supernaturally dangerous when a haunted house’s pleasure to pain ratios are too high.
- The colour of the ectoplasm you find indicates the level of malevolence you are dealing with.
- It’s very important to routinely check your psychic for hairballs to ensure optimum health.
HOUSE OF BONES TRAILER
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
I know I say this quite often when I start off my reviews, but I feel that this movie warrants me saying it again: running this blog has forced me to come into contact with some very strange films, but S.N.U.B! takes the really bizarre biscuit. And before you think I might be overreacting, I would like you to consider what I believe to be the train of thought that went into making it: take people who look like, act like, and have the social sophistication of the cast of The Only Way Is Essex, tell them to do their best impersonation of the cast from Downton Abbey, and then put them in a situation that is more than just a little reminiscent of the plot from James Herbert’s Domain (minus the giant mutated rats). This, essentially, is what you will be dedicating the next 85 minutes of your life to should you decide to watch this movie. Now, that isn’t to say that it isn’t worth watching just to see how it all pans out, but I do like people to be prepared before they go walking off blindly into something.
We begin our misdirected adventure by following a group of soldiers out on an anti-terrorism assignment who are being hotly pursued by an under-prepared orchestra. The government has received word that someone might have planted a 20-megaton nuclear bomb somewhere in down town London (because it’s dead easy to just carry one of those around on you), and these highly untrained men are going to do their best to save the population, should the threat prove to be real. It turns out the threat is real, and the soldiers discover the bomb hidden inside a tiny metal briefcase. They bring in their most panicky and shaky member of staff to try and diffuse the bomb, but he’s never come across something like this before (again, because people don’t usually just leave nuclear weapons lying around, I imagine training with them is a little bit tricky), so he cuts the wrong wire. KABOOM!!! There goes London, all in one giant mushroom cloud.
Thankfully, while the British government doesn’t appear to have trained soldiers, an emergency plan, or an evacuation plan, they do happen to have a terribly unprepared Secret Underground Nuclear Bunker. All of the equipment in there is still from the Cold War so, while it isn’t tremendously helpful in keeping people alive, I imagine it would appeal to all of the hipster survivors who managed to make it inside. Having managed to get all of 7 people inside when the bomb went off (one of which is a minor government functionary who immediately tries to take control of the situation), these survivors band together with the three soldiers, the one communications director, and the one maintenance man who were already inside and try to figure out how they are going to weather this particular hell storm.
Oh yeah – the other problem with the bunker? It didn’t really come with a maintenance plan, so the life support machinery is REALLY old and gets clogged at the first sign of a human corpse falling into it. So there’s the problem of not being able to breathe when the 11 survivors use up all the oxygen in the labyrinthine bunker in a matter of hours (how heavily are they breathing?). Then there’s the issue of hierarchy, which really teaches us that, in the event of nuclear war, paper pushers with God complexes should be the first to be thrown into the mushroom cloud. Yet another issue is the prison right near by which housed Britain’s most dangerous criminals. They’ve escaped the prison thanks to the blast and have suffered from some minor instantaneous mutations and are now trying to push their way into the bunker through its many, many unsealed openings. But not to worry, if all of this becomes too tense for you to watch, it’s intermittently broken by scenes of two of the survivors indulging in flirtation that’s as subtle as being slapped through the face with a wet trout.
If all of this doesn’t convince you to watch it, then I don’t know what will
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Americans do like their underground bunkers to be up to date with the latest trends in home décor.
- The British Ministry of Defence never thinks to take steps to out-manoeuvre people with laminated pieces of paper getting past security check points.
- Underground government facilities are no place for children or goldfish.
- The easiest way to control the rodent population in an underground bunker is with a military-issued machine gun.
- Bureaucracy dictates that if bunker survivor quotas are surpassed, excess survivors must be jettisoned into the radioactive wasteland.
- Despite spending so much time on their backs, sluts still need plenty of rest.
- During times of crisis it is incredibly important to revert to Victorian-style gender differences.
- If you pedal a bike fast enough you can easily out-ride radiation poisoning.
- There’s absolutely no security risk in letting the country’s most dangerous criminals help set up top-secret underground government facilities.
- Government focus groups indicate that children make excellent decoys when mutated prisoners are invading your underground bunker.
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