Saturday, March 31, 2012


With the theme of “found footage” movies, I give you Trollhunter.

The plot is relatively simple.  We follow three college students (Thomas, Johanna & Kalle) as they make a documentary about an alleged bear poacher.  By asking around, they’re able to find out who is responsible: a man named Hans, who seems to be acting alone.  They try to interview him, but he keeps brushing them off. 

One night, they follow him into the woods.  Off in the distance they see flashing lights and hear a loud growl.  Hans comes running towards them screaming, “Troll!”  Thomas is bit, and they all end up getting into Hans’ jeep and taking off.
He sits down with them and tells them that he hunts trolls for a government agency (TSS: Troll Security Service).  He tells them that trolls can sense the blood of Christians.  He tells them that UV light kills trolls: sometimes they turn to stone, and sometimes they just explode.

He allows the students to follow him around, on the grounds that he hates his job, and that the public deserves to know the truth.

They ride around with Hans and observe him dealing with trolls.  Throughout these trips, he tells them how he got into the business, and when it all started to go south for him.  They also run into Finn, who also works at TSS, and is none too thrilled that Hans is allowing these students in on their secret.  Finn threatens the students, telling them that he will never allow them to keep the footage.  With each encounter he grows increasingly more hostile.
We also find out that the troll that bit Thomas had rabies, and that the majority of the trolls in the area have been infected by a rabid Jotnar: a 200 foot tall mountain troll.  So Hans and the students go to take down the Jotnar.

It was a well-done movie.  A little slow at times, but that’s pretty common in a found footage movie.  It was pretty funny at times, too.  A dark, dry sense of humor, but it was there all the same. 

The special effects were surprisingly good, considering this movie was not made on a huge budget ($3 million, from what I’ve seen).  The trolls looked pretty good.  Their movements were a bit choppy at times, but it never distracted from the movie.

It was a highly enjoyable movie, start to finish.

Rating: 4/5

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Apollo 18

When I originally saw the previews for this movie, I was kind of excited.  A found footage movie of a lost Apollo mission that went horribly awry.  From the looks of the preview, it looked like there was a monster loose on the moon.  I had a hope that it was some sort of Moon-Yeti.
I was sorely mistaken.  Both in my excitement and in my hopes of seeing a Moon-Yeti of any sort.

 We follow three American astronauts on a top secret mission to the moon.  The goal was to place sensors that would alert the United States of any missile attacks from Russia.  Their trip is disguised as a satellite launch.  Once there, they start seeing odd things, and they realize that they are not alone.

The movie starts out amazingly slow.  But so did Quarantine.  And, since they’re the same style of movie (and Quarantine is amazing), I gave it the benefit of the doubt.  Fifteen minutes in, I was still on board.  “They’re setting something up.  We’re getting to know the characters.  It’ll pick up soon, and we’ll be invested in the characters.”  By the time the 30 minute mark rolled around with little in the way of anything interesting happening, I began to lose hope.  Then 45 minutes with nothing.  Once an hour hit, I had given up all hope and fast-forwarded to the end of the movie, just to see if anything interesting happened.
It didn’t.
There were moments where it appeared as though something interesting was going to happen.  The discovery of a dead Russian cosmonaut and his abandoned ship.  Their own equipment getting destroyed.  A crab-like creature that appears to be crawling inside a helmet.  But every time something even borderline interesting started to happen, it almost immediately subsided.  The movie would start building towards something, then nothing would happen for the next 5 minutes.  Build build build…nothing.  It kept on like that for the majority of the movie.

It was a good idea.  What’s more claustrophobic than the vast expanse of space?  A found footage movie only amps up that feeling of claustrophobia and panic.  This could have been a great movie.  Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high, but I think I would have hated it even if my expectations were low.  It was just a boring, slow-moving movie with no pay-off. 

This could have been good.  It really, really wasn’t.  Seeing as how I had just watched a terrific found footage movie not that long before this one (Trollhunter…which will be my next post), I knew how good a movie like this could be.  Which only highlighted just how bad this movie was.    

Rating: 1/5

Friday, March 9, 2012


I’ll be doing a number of single movie reviews for a little while, to get caught up with all the stuff I have watched but didn’t write about.  But, once I get caught up, I think I’m going to try to start another series like I did with Friday the 13th.  There has been a call for Nightmare on Elm Street, so I may go that route.  I was thinking of possibly doing something a bit more recent (the Cold Prey series has come to mind), but I’m not sure I want to do something that recent.  I don’t feel bad for throwing around spoilers for 80s movies, but I would probably feel a little bad about throwing around spoilers for a more recent series.  I’m undecided.  I would appreciate any thoughts in the comments.

And now…to Chillerama!

This is a movie-within-a-movie (within-a-movie?) horror-comedy anthology. 
The set-up: there is an old drive-in theater that is getting ready to close.  On the final night of operation, the owner (Cecil B. Kaufman, played by Richard Riehle) shows four old, extremely hard-to-find horror movies: Wadzilla, I Was a Teenage Werebear, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, and Deathication.  Of course, we are also watching the movie of the teens watching the movies (which is titled Zom B Movie), who are caught up in some problems of their own: mainly, an employee has been turned into a zombie, and dripped some of his zombie goo in the popcorn butter.  So, between the movies, we see the patrons of the theater slowly turning into zombies.

It should be noted that we see very little of Deathication, which is good news, because it’s just a lot of images of poop.

I’ll give a brief review of each of the movies.

Wadzilla is a spoof of 50s monster movies.  Basically, a guy with a low sperm count wants to raise that count, so he takes an experimental drug.  But, instead of raising his sperm count, it just makes him produce a very large sperm.  With teeth.  It terrorizes the city, eating animals and people.  Eventually it grows to be larger than a building and the army is called in.

It’s…unnerving.  I know that it’s supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t.  At all.  I don’t remember laughing once.

Notable actors: Ray Wise, Eric Roberts

I Was a Teenage Werebear is a musical.  It follows Ricky, a boy with a nice girlfriend, but who is remarkably gay.  He gets caught up with a leather-clad gang, who are all gay.  They are also werebears.  They turn Ricky into a werebear, but he fights against it.

There are a number of terrible songs scattered throughout this movie.  It got to be a bit long and boring, so I ended up fast-forwarding to the end.  I should have just fast-forwarded through the rest of this movie.
I did like Ricky’s girlfriend, Peggy Lou.  Early on, she gets hit by a van, and spends the rest of the movie with a massive head wound, saying random bits of nonsense.  She made me laugh.  But that’s the absolute best thing I can say about this movie: the girl with the head wound who blabbered on about nothing was the best part of the movie. 

Notable actors: Ron Jeremy

The Diary of Anne Frankenstein is also a musical.  But this one follows Hitler.  He finds Anne Frank and her family at the beginning of the movie and kills her.  She has a notebook that he takes, which has instructions on how to build a Frankenstein-type monster.  So, in an attempt to build “the perfect killing machine to win the war”, he makes the monster.  But the monster ends up being Jewish. 

To top things off, Eva Braun is a massive whore.

I actually kind of enjoyed this one.  Not the entire thing, but there were enough funny moments to keep me interested in it throughout.  It was worth watching to see Joel David Moore’s portrayal of Hitler.  He was fantastic.

Directed by Adam Green (Hatchet)
Notable actors: Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Kristina Klebe

As I mentioned earlier, we don’t see much of Deathication.

 Zom B Movie is the movie that is going on while the rest of the movies are being watched.  We follow a handful of main characters as they go to the closing night of the local drive-in.  Between the movies, we see the spread of the zombie virus throughout the people watching the movies, to the point that Deathication is (mercifully) interrupted by the zombies.  We spend the rest of Chillerama watching the chaos at the drive-in.  There is lots of running and screaming and shooting.  There’s a scene where two parents eat their baby.  There’s a scene where the owner dispatches zombies with a wide assortment of weapons and says random movie quotes between each kill.  “Say hello to my little friend.”  BLAM!  “I’m getting to old for this s***.”  BANG!  “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”  BIFF!  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  And so on.

It’s not great, and all the references get a bit old after a while (more on that in a bit), but it had some funny moments.  Not many, but a couple, which makes it better than Wadzilla and I Was a Teenage Werebear.

Notable actors: Richard Riehle

I knew going in that Chillerama would have a terrible script and would be terribly acted.  That’s what they were going for.  Still, I was hoping for a much funnier movie.  If you’re going to make a horror-comedy, you have to make sure that it’s actually funny.  This wasn’t.  It was also pretty long, clocking in at just under 2 hours.  That’s way too long.  I was ready for this movie to be over much sooner than it actually was.

Also, I feel like they were trying to make Zom B Movie a little “smarter” than the rest.  There were lots of movie references that I felt like were forced…like they were saying them just so the audience would nod their head and say, “I know that quote.”  It failed.  Yes, I knew a lot of the quotes, but that doesn’t mean that I enjoyed it.  They were just beating us over the head with them, and it was a bit much.  There’s a difference between “smart” and “beating the audience over the head with tons of movie references”. 

One last complaint.  Bad horror movies can be funny in how bad they are.  It’s extremely hard to make a good horror movie that feels like a bad horror movie.  Chillerama tried to pull that off, but failed miserably.

 In case you couldn’t tell, I didn’t really like this movie.  Aside from the girlfriend in I Was a Teenage Werebear and parts of The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, I didn’t really like this at all.  So, while I can’t say that I hate it, I can say that I disliked it immensely.

Rating: 1/5