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Metal Shifters

Year of Release: 2011
Genre: Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 3.4 / 10
Level of Awful: Medium
Breast-O-Meter: 0/5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

First off I just want to put it out there that this movie is far more awesome if you watch it under its original title, Iron Invader. Metal Shifters might create the illusion that it’s a spin-off of something like Ice Road Truckers. Like the other Syfy movies I’ve watched lately (see here, here and here) this movie was quite fun, but you have to be in a specific mood to watch it. I’m not quite sure what it is but when a movie has a giant, lurking creature stalking a small town it somehow puts itself in a little niche that isn’t quite as accessible as aliens invading the planet through a tornado. Nevertheless, should you be in the mood to spend 80-odd minutes watching an averagely CGIed metal monster stalking a little town with a complimentary side of fateful lovers, then you could do far worse than this little gem.

Searching for inspiration for the movie’s script.

Welcome to the town of Redeemer, a quaint little place where you can raise a family. Well, you can raise the family if you aren’t most of the townsfolk who’ve had their homes foreclosed and are now poverty-stricken and presumably living in a box under a highway bridge somewhere. Those that remain in the town are good, hard-working, salt of the earth kind of people. Brothers Jake and Ethan are carpenters of some sort and they work on restoring all of the town’s historic buildings to their former grandeur. Given that they’re flat broke how they do this is somewhat of a mystery, but who can really say how things in small towns work? Everything’s going swimmingly well for the two until Amanda, Jake’s high school sweet heart who he’s never gotten over, rolls back into town after a messy divorce. Oh yeah, and a Russian satellite falls out of the sky and crashes in a farmer’s field.

You be Iron Invader’s friend?

Never ones to miss an opportunity to make a quick buck Jake and Ethan take the satellite to the local junk yard to sell as scrap. Since it seems to be made out of mostly chicken wire and a few old colanders it’s perhaps not surprising that the thing fell out of orbit, but the guys manage to get $800 for it anyway. Earl, the owner of said junk yard and the only man dumb enough to buy a thing like that, is busy with a little project: since it’s the town’s centenary he’s decided to take some of the trash lying around and turn it into a giant golem statue. Whilst the sentiment is beautiful the statue itself is ugly as hell and, a while after he buys the satellite, it’s also crawling with an alien bacteria that feeds on metal and can propel its host. Guess where it decided to set up shop?

Alien bacteria-infested iron statues that go bump in the night.

And the monster’s off and he’s running down the streets and he’s killing people all of the place but can he make it and kill everyone before they realise what’s going on? For such a large, clunky and noisy monster people are really slow to cotton on to what’s happening around them. This may, in part, be due to the fact that anyone the monster touches dies a quick and agonising death, but I still think that if it’s stomping around and bigger than your house you would probably notice it. As often happens in these situations the first people to spot the monster are the young folk, and no one’s really ready to believe them that Earl’s statue has come to life and is running around killing people. It’s up to Jake and biology teacher Amanda to figure out how this bacteria works, what it wants, if it can be negotiated with over a cup of tea and re-runs of Oprah or, if not, how they should best go about killing the damn thing.

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • There’s always someone prepared to buy a broken Russian satellite.
  • No town really needs a sheriff when you have a drunk old guy with a shotgun running around.
  • The Russian alphabet can be classed as ‘strange and mysterious symbols’.
  • Daughters make excellent alien bait.
  • Old pick up trucks are an iron invader’s natural predator.
  • It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an alien bacteria in possession of an iron golem body must be in want of a blood-rich host.

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Kaw

Year of Release: 2007
Genre:  Horror / Sci-Fi
IMDB Rating: 4.4 / 10
Level of Awful: Surprise!
Breast-O-Meter: 0 / 5

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Going into this movie my expectations were about as low as they could go. I was stuck at home and bored out of my mind and desperate to watch anything, so I was thankful for any movie that kept my mind partially occupied for a while. Secondly the movie’s name is Kaw; given that the people behind it could think of no name more original than the sound the birds made didn’t make me think I was about to watch a gem. Having seen Flu Birds a while back I also learned not to expect an awful lot from any killer bird movie that isn’t The Birds. Perhaps it’s exactly because my expectations were so low that I actually enjoyed this movie. I know most people who’ve seen it would probably disagree with me, but I’m going to stand by my half-informed decision to grant this movie a ‘Surprise!’ Level of Awful.

He who quoths "Nevermore!" the last quoths the hardest...

Sheriff Wayne is about to have a very bad day. Dawn is breaking and the many little farmers of Middletown, in the middle of somewhere, are about to start going about their day. One farmer is particularly old and a bit slow at getting his barn tidied up and is taking his sweet time clearing some straw off his tractor. With this highly important job completed he jumps into the tractor and begins reversing it out of the barn before accidentally riding over a raven that just landed to catch itself a nice mouse breakfast. Apparently pissed off that one of their brethren has been ridden over the entire unkindness of ravens (not to be confused with the murder of crows doing the rounds in Hallowed Ground) swoops down on the old man and scratches him to death before taking a few beakfuls out of him. We know that this man was important to the community because someone reports his death to the sheriff’s office despite the fact that nobody has actually gone to the barn where the attack took place.

Feed them once and they'll just go out and call all their friends.

So sheriff Wayne is on the case. It was meant to be sheriff Wayne’s last day before moving out of town into the big city, but experience has taught me that horrible things happen either just before someone important moves out of town or when someone important has just moved back into town. For no apparent reason across the county the ravens have begun acting up, but of course the only person who has actually seen the ravens behaving so poorly and lived to tell the tale is Clyde, the town’s renegade farmer who has only just managed to conquer his drinking problem. Given his track record and the fact that the neighbours reported that he was firing off his shotgun that morning (at the ravens) Wayne and the rest of the town don’t really believe him when he tells them that the ravens are going around attacking people.

Keep an eye out! The movie might come back at any moment!

Of course if man-eating ravens is the simplest answer to what’s going on in the town then it’s usually the right answer. Apart from the attacks on the entire town and the local school bus how else are we to explain the Mennonites’ (to an outsider they look like Amish people but imply that you should know the difference) strange behaviour? They’re becoming even more reclusive than usual, there are dead cows all over the show, things are being burned and there’s talk of burning sheriff Wayne’s wife Cynthia as a witch to ward off the Devil’s wrath. In one way or another all of these things must be connected somehow, and while Cynthia’s busy being stuck in a well with a rotting cow’s head it’s up to Wayne to figure out how to stop the birds before they learn any more inventive tricks (having already mastered rock throwing and bulb breaking) that might help them to eat the entire town.

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • Small towns have no use for a professor of cultural anthropology.
  • Shotgun-toting ex-alcoholics make ideal school bus drivers.
  • God punishes women for being friends with one another.
  • Ravens, although not overly social creatures, will put aside their differences to make war with humans.
  • German Shepherd is considered a delicacy by ravens.
  • Dirt roads can miraculously transform into tarred ones in a matter of minutes.
  • Ravens are strongly opposed to the use of guns.
  • Photographers will bring the wrath of God down on humanity’s collective head.

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