Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Road Kill (2010) - Directed by Dean Francis

Aussies are well known for firing up a few steaks on the the Barbi. But in ROAD Kill (2010), some folks Down Under lift having "a red meat issue" to a whole new extreme.
This "hear-the tires-scream," chase flick stars Sophie Lowe, Georgina Haig and Bob Morely as our usual group of terrified twenty-somethings being chased across the Australian Outback by the literal, eighteen-wheeler from Hell. One fueled by the blood of it's victims.
You know you're screwed when the hood ornament of the truck that's trying to run you down is a silver replica of Cerberus, the three headed guard dog of the Abyss. You're really screwed when the cargo in the trailer of said truck is actually freakin' Cerberus.
Dean Francis serves us a enjoyable little morality play in which our heroes are alternately repulsed and seduced by their power of their pursuer. But worry not, Fright Fans, he also delivers some rip-roaring splatter for our twisted enjoyment. Let this one roll and fire up some New York steaks, extra rare, on the 'que.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lake Dead (2007) - Directed by George Bessudo

Remember that time you watched that great Texas Chainsaw Massacre ripoff when Leatherface was a pair of sexual pervert twins? 'Member how great that movie was? Well, then you didn't watch LAKE DEAD (2007), a tired, half baked rip-off of the 70's exploitation great. "Starring" Tara Gerard, Vanessa Viola and Kelsey Weeden, LAKE DEAD has a group of hapless twenty-somethings molested and tormented by a group of hotel living, inbred psychos. Any semblance of plot is quickly overwhelmed by cheesy dialogue and poorly shot scenes. The acting is barely above late-night Showtime soft-core level and the effects are Halloween Store quality. The only thing worth five minutes of your time is Pat McNeely as a very creepy grandma. Delete this one. (photo courtesy of IMDb)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Machete (2010) - Directed by Robert Rodriguez

I’ve been a horror fan for a very long time. Since first viewing Night of the Living Dead (1968) and The Evil Dead (1981) films on the epic VHS format at the ripe young age of four, I’ve been on a non-stop rollercoaster of tracking down the most heinous and viscerally captivating films ever made. Most of my more memorable moments came from films that grew their cult status on the historic 42nd Street theaters of New York City. Having been born in the mid-80s, I was sadly unable to live within the heydays of cult and trash cinema. That did not stop me from absorbing the films on VHS and later DVD. That being said, the surprise popularity in supposed "grindhouse" (a pseudonym for 42nd St. flicks) films in the beginning of the 21st century has given the long lost and almost forgotten era of trash cinema another breathe. Films helmed under Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, et al, have brought the elapsed subgenre from out of the grave and into thousands of theaters nationwide. Machete (directed by Robert Rodriguez) is the most recent entry in the so-called Grindhouse Films.

Machete has been at the forefront of some much heated controversy as of late and the films plot is the strong catalyst to that debate. The story follows an ex-Mexican Federale immigrant (title character Danny Trejo) turned renegade on his quest for work within the United States. Along his quest he meets up with local businessman Michael Booth (the much underrated Jeff Fahey in a scene stealing role) who hires Machete to assassinate corrupt Senator McLaughlin (brilliantly portrayed by the always appeasing Robert Deniro) in the name of protecting Machete’s fellow Mexican immigrants from being ruthlessly deported by the aforementioned Senator. Booth offers Machete $150,000 dollars to dispatch the Senator. As Machete is on the verge of assassinating the Senator, Booth double crosses him in an attempt to use Machete as a patsy for gaining support for the Senator’s strict policies. Machete survives and escapes the botched double cross and spends the rest of the film seeking his revenge with the help of some colorful allies.

Machete handles itself well as an exploitation film, concentrating on the viscerally violent gore scenes and less on character building and plot devices. Its only real flaw tends to be in its big budget looks and all-star cast. What made the exploitation films of the 42nd era so much fun was the indulgent grainy flicker the film reels, the primitive special effects, and the relative no name cast that won over the hearts of filmgoers everywhere. When going to watch an exploitation flick, certain charmful elements such as missing film reels, inanely obvious stunt double changes, etc added character and much needed fun to the already hilarious antics set forth on screen. Tarantino and Rodriguez tend to misuse these elements to add aura to their fledgling films. This was the drawback to some of Machete's overindulgence. Machete was an enjoyable watch, but it hangs nowhere near the likes of midnight movie classics such as Sinful Dwarf, Mr. No Legs, Gone With the Pope, et al.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Laid to Rest (2009) - Directed by Robert Hall

Ever hate that feeling of waking up in a casket funeral home and not knowing how you got there? Do you also hate when a silent, chromed skull-mask killer is out to gut you like an Alaskan trout? Then, LAID TO REST (2009) is just what the twisted doctor ordered. Directed and written by Robert Hall starring Bobbi Sue Luther as our nameless, brain damaged would-be victim and Nick Principe as our visually stunning villian Chrome Skull, LAID TO REST serves splattercore fun up by the bucket. Movie vets Kevin Gage and Sean Whalen round out our merry crew.
While breaking no new ground in terms of the "chase 'em til they die" slasher movier, LTR doesn't spare the gore effects and features some the best kill-scenes of recent vintage. Effects specialists Almost-Human get high marks for this body of work (heh, almost a funny). If you have two hours to fire this one up from the queue, defintely let it roll. (We should have the sequel for this coming soon..)