Friday, July 30, 2010

Dead Air (2009) Quick Review



Dead Air (2009) Dir. by Corbin Bernsen

Logan Burnhardt is the ego-king of the airwaves, but his unflappable persona is put to the test when a terrorist bio-attack unleashes a plague of flesh-ripping maniacs on Los Angeles.



Corbin Bernsen's first attempt at Directing horror is mediocre at best. Bernsen is a well known actor stretching back to the 80's and I am a bit of a fan of his. I thoroughly enjoy his roll as the father on "Psych" on USA Network. All you horror fans might remember him as THE DENTIST!!! or THE DENTIST 2!!! haha. I haven't seen either of the other two films he has directed, but I know neither of them are horror movies. Corbin seemed to do an OK job with Dead Air, but I don't know if I really liked the way they took it. I understand they were trying to hit on hard topics like religion and politics, but I just felt like that might have slowed the film down a little too much. It really killed the tension of on air descriptions that drove Pontypool to be so great. It definitely had plenty of action mixed in there, but many of the "fight" scenes seemed to be poorly executed or poorly choreographed. I found them to be awkward and unrealistic looking. I get it, it's supposed to be a low budget horror movie, but that doesn't mean you try your hardest to make it look bad. I have seen people do it better with a hell of a lot less money.



The acting in the film was all pretty mild. I didn't feel like there were any strong stand out performances. The always likable Bill Moseley probably gave the best performance of the film, but Navid Negahban as Abir the terrorist wasn't too far behind. Other than those two core characters, there was a whole lot of crap acting. I found it hard to feel for any of the characters other than those two and maybe Gil (the awesome David Moscow!). There were some unique special effects in the film, but I felt like they could have done a bit more with it. If you are going to have that many people getting ripped apart by the living dead, at least have some better special effects. Overall, I felt the movie was worth one watch, but it isn't something I'm going to rush out to buy. I am getting a little wore out on mild zombie flicks now. I really need someone to come along and give us something ground breakingly original again. I know it is alot to ask for, but as one of the biggest zombie fans in the world (my opinion only probably,haha), I feel like I deserve it!

Entertainment Value: 6/10 Chemical filled bombs
Cinematic Value: 5/10 Chemical filled bombs

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THIS BLOG!!!

Four friends of mine recently began a collaboration of badassery in blogging, and everyone I know needs to follow them, and tell them how awesome their blogpage is! The title for the blog is (Optimus)Prime and Prejudice. It stems from Narcosleepy's love for everything Transformers, and his wife (The H-Bomb)'s love for Jane Austen books/movies. These guys/girl are all awesome writers, and too smart for me sometimes, but they are great none-the-less. I know most of you are used to sticking with your hardcore horror movie review sites, but I assure you this one is worth your while. There is plenty of range in topics: Movies/Books/Video Games/Cookies/and plenty of hilarious randomness. So please take the time to stop by and welcome to the blog world! Oh and the awesome guy you know as The Mike from the blog From Midnight, With Love is one of the writers. I think you will enjoy it. So click the link NOW!

http://primeandprejudice.blogspot.com/

I know you will thank me.
R.D. Penning

Monday, July 26, 2010

P2 (2007) Quick Review



P2 (2007) Dir. by Franck Khalfoun

A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.



First time director Franck Khalfoun really created quite a flop with this movie. I really like Wes Bently, but he rarely uses his full acting ability, and Rachel Nichols is a very attractive girl, but this movie was just boring. I couldn't help but feel like the movie would have been better as a twenty minute short. The story just didn't have enough depth to span a full feature movie. Wes Bently does a slightly above mediocre job as the psycho, but let's be honest, he looks like a psycho to begin with. I do think it is hilarious that both of his parents are ministers, and he looks so damn evil. There honestly isn't a whole lot I can say about this movie. It was just an epic fail on many levels.



Entertainment Value: 2/10 Parking Ramp Levels
Cinematic Value: 2/10 Parking Ramp Levels

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Walled In (2009)



Walled In (2009) Dir. by Gilles Paquet-Brenner

A young woman who recently graduated from engineering school travels to a remote location to supervise the demolition of a mysterious building. She soon discovers the horrifying secrets of the building and its past inhabitants, many of whom were victims of a vicious murderer who entombed his prey alive within its walls. Now she must turn the tables on the killer before she becomes his latest victim.



Based on the best selling French novel Les Emmur├ęs' by Serge Brussolo, Walled In is a unique experience of a film by putting together other types of film. It is definitely a great checkmark on the horror resume of first a first time horror director. It has elements of what feels like Japanese horror. It has the characters for a serial killer horror. It has the paranormal feel of a good ol' fashion ghost story. The thing I loved the most about the film is that none of those themes outweigh the other, and the are really distributed evenly. I will say the movie was a little more scary than I had anticipated. I love a movie that can give me chills with throwback special effects and barely any blood.



The casting was done surprisingly well, and I was really impressed with the usually bland Mischa Barton. I don't know what she did to prepare for the part, but she did a great job. The always creepy Cameron Bright stars as the weird and mysterious Jimmy, and the veteran Deborah Kara Unger (Silent Hill, White Noise) really help fill out the well known cast. Although lesser known among the states, the veteran French actor Pascal Greggory gives one hell of a performance as the famed architect of the monstrous building to be demolished.



In the end, this film really pays off with the hard work you can tell was put in to it. It's not the greatest film I have seen, but it delivers strong enough that I would purchase the DVD. It moves a little slow at times, but makes up for it in a fairly unique story.

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Cinematic Value: 5/10

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inception (2010)



Inception (2010) Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan

In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job till date, Inception.

Once again, it is not a horror movie, but I feel that any movie that comes close to film perfection should be mentioned.

First was Momento, followed by Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, and then The Dark Knight. Now I got to see Nolan's latest masterpiece, Inception. I will be the first to tell you that if I get myself extremely hyped up for a movie, I often leave the theater with negative or unfulfilled feelings towards the film. This movie, fortunately, was not the case. I was so pumped for this movie, and after it was finished I wanted to go to the next showing of it. It is a good thing that it was a late showing, or I might have, and I really need to save my money. I will say that I am going to try my best to make this short and sweet, for fear I may say too much.



I am a Dark Knight fanatic, so when I say that Inception is better than TDK it has to mean something. The film is amazing from start to finish, and even though it has a 2.5 hour run time, I wasn't bored or looking at my phone to see the time once.

While the story does center around Leonardo DiCaprio's character Cobb, the movie is carried on the shoulders of perhaps the best ensemble supporting cast to date. Joseph Gordon-Levitt leads the way as Cobb's right hand man Arthur. Ellen Page is dynamic as the newcomer,but very understanding quick learner Ariadne. I don't know how Tom Hardy manages to stay so far out of the spotlight, but he is AMAZING! His portrayal of Eames is close to perfect, and the chemistry between he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a driving part of the film. Hardy is no newbie when it comes to being in great films, as he was also in Layer Cake, Minotaur, Sweeney Todd, RocknRolla, Bronson, and soon to star is the new Max in Mad Max:Fury Road. I look forward to him dishing out many more great performances. I always love seeing Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy, and they gave admirable performances as always. Even Tom Berenger gave a non-cheesy performance, and Marion Cotillard plays an essential part in the story of the film. Although Dileep Rao is fairly unknown, he does a great job as a chemist of sorts. He is most known for Drag Me To Hell and Avatar, but his performance here gives him much needed screen time to showcase his abilities, and he does well. I always love seeing Michael Caine, even though his part was smaller than I had expected. The acting in this film is just exemplary.



I know the special effects of this film will be talked about for centuries to come, haha, but the story is really what makes this film interesting. The idea of dreams and what they are made of and what makes the what they are has been a mystery forever. There are still many things about dreams that scientist don't know. In Inception, Christopher Nolan offers a unique perspective allowing people to enter in to other people dreams, and steal their ideas. Just the fact that he thought of this, and put it down on paper deserves an award, but what he did to create and amazing story is what he should earn an award for doing. He creates a dreamworld beyond the average person's imagination. You really have to pay attention in this film to follow everything, but he gives perfectly good explanations for everything right in the film. Everything makes sense, and it is perfect. After I left the theater I never once told myself "that was a bit unbelievable". He doesn't allow it. The story itself didn't have as many twists and turns as I thought it was going to have based on other people views, but I view it more as a puzzle. Each part of the film is a puzzle piece, and it doesn't make perfect sense until the film is complete. I would like to see it another time just to gather all the information, but I can say that it is amazing! If anyone wants me to answer any questions about the film, or give my perspective, then please feel free to add me on facebook, or email me at deadenddrive-in@hotmail.com.

That is all I am going to say about the film, as I think it is very important to watch the film develop on your own, and formulate your own opinions. Everyone should watch this movie and buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Entertainment Value: 10/10 Ideas
Cinematic Value: 10/10 Ideas

Undead or Alive (2007)



Undead or Alive (2007) Dir. by Glasgow Phillips

Elmer Winslow is a soldier on the run from the Union Army, and Luke Budd is a cowboy with a broken heart. When the two misfits rob the corrupt sheriff of an old west town, they have no idea that a plague of zombies is sweeping the country, or that Geronimo's sexy niece may be their only hope of survival.



Glasgow Phillips, more commonly know for his work as a South Park writer, takes his first stab from the director's chair in this Zomedy. Chris Kattan (Santa's Slay, SNL), James Denton (Desperate Housewives), and Navi Rawat (Feast, Numb3rs) take the lead in this western style zombie film. I knew this movie was going to be goofy and cheesy right from the start, when the film opens with well known stand-up comedian Brian Posehn biting the head off of a chicken. I didn't go into this movie expecting the worlds greatest zombie film, but I was hoping for something a little more entertaining. The film's storyline is just so crazy off the wall, that it took away from the action of the film. Some of the characters were hard to believe they were who they were supposed to be. Chris Kattan takes a crack at a less feminine version of himself, but it doesn't go very well for him.



It wasn't horrible for Phillip's directorial debut, and I think he has plenty of potential to punch out some quality movies. Most of the acting was mediocre, although I was pleasantly surprised by Denton. Navi, most remembered by me as The Heroine in Feast, was pretty much just eye candy, not to mention slightly hard to believe she was the niece of Geronimo, as I don't think she has that much American Indian in her blood. That didn't bother me much though. At first, I was really turned away by the extremely cheesy effects, but they go slightly better as the film went on. I was happy to see good ol' buckets of fake blood and plenty of fake limbs in there. In a time where I am tired of seeing CG movies, this one won me over a bit. I was happy to see a zombie western film, as I have not seen too many of those yet. I recommend this film as at least a one time watch, but if you are a true Kattan fan, then you will like it alot.

Entertainment Value: 6/10 Tumbleweeds
Cinematic Value: 5/10 Tumbleweeds

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2012 quick review An Epic Fail Of Cataclysmic Proportions



2012 dir. by Roland Emmerich

An epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.



I know what you are thinking, this isn't a horror movie! I agree, but it is a horror in filmmaking, so I am going to talk about it. While Roland Emmerich is not one of my favorite directors, he has had some movies that I thoroughly enjoyed such as: Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Patriot. There comes times with his movies where the often feel over the top, and not in a good way like in 10,000 BC and Godzilla. Unfortunately 2012 follows right in those footsteps with it's sometimes cheesy circumstances and disastrous use of the green screen. Some of the stuff just doesn't seem realistic, and the situations the characters get put in over an over always just barely escaping death got almost annoying. The film had a run time of an hour longer than it should have using more landscape shots than Superman Returns. It may be the asshole in me, but I found it more mildly amusing watching CG people plummet to their doom rather than have any feelings for any of them. This truly was a mistake of a film, and I'm glad I didn't pay to watch it.



The acting on the film was absolutely horrible. The leads, played by John Cusack and Amanda Peet, were horrible. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Oliver Platt gave exceptional performances that stand out in the film, although not strong enough to hold the film up. I was happy to see the amazing Stephen McHattie in an extremely small, unimportant role. Everyone else in the movies is pretty much annoying beyond all comprehension. The film fails to uphold any of it's side plots, which were the foundation to the film. There are just too many characters, and it makes it hard to focus on just a few, so I don't care about any of them. The whole giant Noah's Ark aspect was unique, but I feel like it was played out poorly. I could recommend this for a one time viewing, but it might not even be worth that. Mildly entertaining end of the world shenanigans.

Entertainment Value: 4/10 Tsunami Waves
Cinematic Value: 5/10 Tsunami Waves

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Predators (2010)



Predators (2010) Dir. by Nimrod Antal

A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.

They are calling it a sequel to the original Predator movie. They are calling it the best sequel to an Alien or Predator movie since Aliens. The are calling it an action packed roller coaster of badassery...ok, they might not have said that, but the only thing I call is BULLSHIT. Aliens was not only an entertaining sequel, but was cinematic masterpiece. While Predators is very entertaining, it lacks any sort of cinematic value to make it a master or piece. I know that doesn't make sense, but it will.



To begin with, I'm not the biggest fan of Nimrod Antal's work. Vacancy and Armoured just being mediocre films of their genre, I wasn't really expecting much from Predators. I was excited to see something new from the Predator franchise but I didn't get it. I got a remake of Predator. Let's be honest. There wasn't a whole lot of originality in this film. Alot of the film seemed to be scene for scene remakes of the original movie. It did add some small unique elements to film (the hounds, the Earth-like planet, etc.), but it wasn't enough to make this a film all of it's own. Directing-wise, he actually seemed to do a pretty good job, but it's hard to tell how much of a pull Rodriguez had in the film. I give Antal props for trying though, and for putting together an entertaining film. I think it is probably the best of his American trio thus far.



The acting in this film was as to be expected at sub par. I thought Adrien Brody did a surprisingly great job stepping down from Oscar winning performances to an action driven film that required no acting ability to sustain a plot. My biggest problem individually came with Laurence Fishburne's character, as he just seemed forced. How do we tell the background of these creatures and how to kill them without taking a screen time with a more creative approach? Let's have someone already be on the planet, and has survived there for years. Don't get me wrong, it works, but I can't help but feel a lack of creativity in the process, not to mention a lack of suspense. How many people do you think were doing to watch this movie, that haven't seen any other Predator movies? Seeing LF in a unique, crazy, talk to myself insane kind of role was almost worth it though. He did make me laugh. The rest of the characters are what I like to call "Fill in the blank" characters. They could easily be related to each character of the first Predator. Ok, so we need a large group of people as diverse as we can possibly get them, but they can't be morally sound, so we don't have a problem if they die. You can clearly tell the writer just picked eight characters all different in their own ways. I have done it before as a writer, so i can't make fun of it too much, but it always seems really forced, and it didn't help out Topher Grace's character at all. If you tell me that you didn't see Topher Grace's side story happening, then you are dense, and haven't seen enough movies. His character was just TOO out of place, not to mention when the change did happen, it wasn't as in depth as it needed to be. The characters were all disposable which made it easy to know who was going to live, and who was going to die, but that is typical for an film trying to be an action movie from the 80's.

The special effects and make-up in the film is great. The predators look awesome as usual, and they didn't go hog wild with it, and that made me happy. The thing that gets me though is IMDB lists the 3 "NEW" predators as three different identifiable characters: Tracker Predator, Falconer Predator, and Bezerker Predator. Could anyone else see a distinct difference in the three of them? This doensn't include Derek Mears as the "OLD" predator. I liked the group fight situations more than the one on one stuff. The Yakuza showdown was a little ridiculous, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a little enjoyable. The beheading were all enjoyable as they usually are. Overall the action and effects were amazing. One of the things that upset me a little bit was the implications there were nearly a dozen predators that were going to be hunting them. I should have known better than to fall for the same thing Alien Vs. Predator did to me. The trailer for Predators showed Adrien Brody leading the back in that dark rocky area when MULTIPLE shoulder laser sights are all over his body, but that part was definitely cut down to one shoulder laser sight on him in the movie. I know, its a little thing, but it still bugs me when people use false advertising and get my hopes up.



***spoiler alert***spoiler alert***spoiler alert***

If you don't want to know key elements of the ending, then advert your eyes.

Last but not least, I did thoroughly enjoy how the movie ended. You do get that feeling of completion with the film, but there is something else there. It had a "We won the battle, but we haven't won the war" sort of feel to it, and that really brought the movie full circle for me. I would definitely like to see a sequel to this film, or at least Antal/Rodriguez to take another crack at a Predator film. I can't say this is a great film, but it is definitely an entertaining film. I would like to see them do another one that was such a generic script, and rewrite of the original. I did enjoy the nod to the original film, and even though they didn't want to associate with the Alien vs. Predator films, I'm pretty sure I saw an Alien skull in their camp. This might be a wait until DVD for some people, but it is definitely worth at least one watch for all.

Entertainment Value: 7/10
Cinematic Value: 4/10

Friday, July 9, 2010

All Souls Day (2005)



All Souls Day (2005) Dir. by Jeremy Kasten

When Joss (Travis Wester) and Alicia (Marisa Ramirez) are traveling to meet her parents for the first time in Mexico, they crash their car in a creepy small town, where on the Day of The Dead the dead rise for real.

I knew about this movie when it came out, but it never seemed to make it to the top of my list. When I noticed it was available on my Starz On Demand, I decided to give it a try. I hadn't posted anything in a while, and I was up for a zombie movie. I must say I was a little let down. It's not really much of a zombie movie at all. It deals more with the Mexican traditions and all that stuff is great, but doesn't exactly make for a thrilling movie.



I knew going in to it, not really to expect much. Jeremy Kasten isn't exactly Mr. Horror when it comes to making good scary movies. His resume doesn't burst at the seams with quality horror films with The Thirst, Wizard of Gore, and the Attic Expeditions being his top horror films, and The Dead Ones coming out next year. This movie was worse than I thought it would be. It had such a slow start and horrible acting. I was a little intrigued by the DVD cover boasting that it starred David Keith, Danny Trejo, Marisa Ramirez, and Jeffrey Combs. The only problem with that is if you add the screen time of the three guys, you get a total of 15-20 minutes of screen time.

Even with the large names attached to the film, the acting is still horrendous. Not one person in this film offers up any sort of mediocre acting. This really doesn't help the story, which actual could have been pretty good if it had the proper filmmaker directing it. I'm perfectly fine with the independent film aspect of it, and it doesn't bother me that they didn't have a large budget. In fact, some of the gore in the movie was amazing, but the thing that bothered me the most was the zombies. There seemed to be multiple kinds of zombies. There were slow ones, fast ones, and ones that talked. It just wasn't very consistent, and that bugged me alot.



In the end, the final minutes of the film are probably the best, as it does come to a very interesting conclusion, wrapping up the story really well, and doing it with plenty of gore. Even with this, I can't honestly recommend this to anyone. It was ok, but I don't know that anyone will like it any more than I did. So in the end, it's a don't bother watching.

Entertainment Value: 3/10 severed tongues
Cinematic Value: 4/10 severed tongues

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Guest Spot! Dylan Duarte of StarCostumes.com talks Keith David

When I was approached by Dylan of StarCostumes.com about doing an article for Dead End Drive-In, I was extremely excited. I haven't been able to do much work on the blog due to being extremely busy with other stuff, so I hopped on the opportunity to have someone else give their thoughts to the blog. So without wasting anymore time, here is what Dylan Duarte had to say about Keith David and his contributions to the horror genre.



Keith David Retrospective - 31 Years (And counting) of Being Awesome

Keith David - film, television, and occasional stage actor - turned 54-years-old this June. His first role, uncredited, was in 1979's Disco Godfather, meaning he's been entertaining audiences for 31 years and hopefully will continue to do so for 31 more. Let's take a look at some of his great horror work.

They Live

Based on Ray Nelson's shorty story "Eight O'Clock in the Morning," John Carpenter's They Live pitted Keith David and professional wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper against an alien invasion. Our heroes were in the minority, however, as the aliens had most of humanity fooled with their human disguises, which could only be seen through with special pairs of sunglasses. It was awesome and allowed for our heroes to look like badasses wherever they went.

Despite the alien menace, one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is a comically-prolonged alleyway fight scene between Piper and David, which has been recently parodied in South Park.



The Puppet Masters

This sci-fi horror film based on a novel by legendary author Robert A. Heinlein is more well-known for its troubles than for the actual film itself. The story revolves around alien parasites that can control human minds and their efforts to take over the planet. Despite having a cast featuring Keith David, Donald Sutherland, and Will Patton, the film only holds a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, although the reviews seemed to think it mediocre rather than flat out bad.

The problems seem to be with the screenwriters, of which there were nine. Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, David S. Goyer, James Bonny, Richard Finney, Michael Engelberg, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and the film's director, Stuart Ome, all took a crack at the script. I wonder what went wrong?



Pitch Black

Although only a decade old, this Vin Diesel breakthrough vehicle has already amassed a cult following, and I am a proud member of that cult. The film followed the crew of a transport ship that crash lands on a strange desert planet. They soon learn of the planet's vicious nocturnal inhabitants, who kill quickly and without mercy. Fortunately, the creatures only hunt in the dark and the planet has multiple suns. Unfortunately, an eclipse is coming. Keith David plays Imam, a Muslim who acts as the voice of faith and reason. Although it's a small roll, David has a knack for making his presence known.

David reprised his role in the 2004 sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.

Against the Dark

Only a year old and by all logic probably really terrible (though I'm still going to watch it), Against the Dark is noteworthy for being Steven Seagal's horror debut. Seagal plays Tao, who leads a group of ex-military vigilantes as they attempt to rescue a group of survivors trapped in a hospital during a zombie outbreak.

David plays Lt. Waters and seems to be the antagonist of the film, wanting to drop bombs and level the entire hospital. Keith David makes anything watchable, bad guy or not. Hell, Steven Seagal or not. Let's hope there's another extended fight scene where he puts Seagal in his place.

The Thing

Although this was David's first horror movie and this list is in chronological order, I decided to save the best for last. The Thing is one of the greatest horror films of all time, and although Kurt Russell's R.J. MacReady is the star, Keith David's Childs gives him a serious run for the money. The Thing tells the story of a shape-shifting alien attacking an Antarctic research base that is manned by the most badass scientists of all time.

The film originally did poorly at the box office but has found a massive cult following since its release, and rightfully so. A prequel film is currently in the works which will almost definitely be terrible. Ron Moore, the creator of the excellent Battlestar Galactica, wrote the original screenplay, which would give one a glimmer of hope. However, Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter behind the not-so-excellent Nightmare on Elm Street remake, was then brought in to do a complete rewrite.



Happy Birthday, Keith.


Dylan Duarte is a television and film buff and writer who writes about Halloween costumes over at
StarCostumes.com. He can be reached at dylnduarte at gmail.com.

Thank you Dylan for putting in so much time and effort into showing us how Keith David has contributed to the horror genre. I know a lot of people love his work, including myself, and I know we all look forward to seeing whatever else he comes out with in the future. Please check out Dylan's site StarCostumes.com and tell him how awesome he did for Dead End Drive-In.