Thursday, March 29, 2007

"The Reaping" review

The Reaping (2007)

Directed by Stephen Hopkins
Writing credits Carey Hayes Chad Hayes

Hilary Swank ... Katherine Winter
David Morrissey ... Doug
Idris Elba ... Ben
AnnaSophia Robb ... Loren McConnell
Stephen Rea... Father Costigan
William Ragsdale ... Sheriff Cade

So let me tell you the saga of Dr. Gore and “The Reaping”. It is a story filled with greed, lust and madness. Well, not really. But it is kind of funny.

I saw “The Reaping” a couple of months ago at a private screening on the Warner Bros’ lot. This was their work-in-progress print and they were looking for feedback. So it was me and about thirty other people checking out the flick. When it was over, a guy bounced to the front of the room and started asking the usual post-screening questions: “How many of you liked the ending? The middle? The beginning? Anything? Bueller? Would you definitely recommend this movie to friends? Would you probably recommend this movie to friends? Would anyone in their right minds recommend this movie to friends?” I had to give some feedback so I told him the frog plague was lacking. In the frog scene in the WIP print, only about five to six frogs fall from the sky. This is hardly a plague of frogs. More like an inconvenience of frogs. I told him my thoughts on the frog situation. He was not interested.

Fast forward to a couple of months later and, thanks to my trusty Plus One, I was able to score tickets to the Westwood premiere of “The Reaping”. It was playing at the Mann Village which is a really cool theater near UCLA. I was sitting near the front with the always cool Poker with Friends. They know how to party. Corndogs and margaritas. That’s all I’m saying.

I was standing up before the movie started to see if I could catch a glimpse of Hilary Swank. One of the funny things at premieres is how the movie starts the second the star is seated. Swank rolled in around 7:30 and took a spot in the middle section. Sure enough, the second she sat down the lights went out and the movie started. As I settled into my seat, I flashed back to the previous “Reaping” screening. I left Warner Bros. wondering if anything anyone said in the post-screening chat was going to affect the outcome of the final movie. I made a note to check to see if I noticed any differences.

Nope. Nada. Nothing. I did not see any substantial changes from the previous version of the movie. There was one change to a bloody gunshot wound scene that made it more tasteful. That was one of the scenes I remember wincing at. Sheesh. Their mainstream instincts got the best of them and they toned down one of the few gory spots. And did they listen to me about the frogs? Did they?! Of course they didn’t. They didn’t listen to anything anyone said.

A small town is afflicted with the biblical plagues. Hilary Swank gets called into duty as a professional skeptic. Swank rolls into town with Stringer Bell, (Idris Elba), as her loyal sidekick. Together they will debunk these crazy stereotypical southerners and their wacky religious ramblings. The town thinks a cute blonde girl is the spawn of Satan. She doesn’t smile so she must be evil. The townspeople want to run a pitchfork through her but Swank is not convinced that’s a good idea. As more plagues start piling up, (boils, lice and a really lame frog plague), Swank needs to take action and figure out what is going on with the blonde angel of death.

“The Reaping” is the definition of mainstream horror. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a horror movie. It’s a Swank vehicle disguised as a biblical thriller. There are a lot of slick “jump” scenes to scare you but that doesn’t pass the horror movie litmus test.

The main problem with “The Reaping” is something that can’t be fixed with editing or any other filmmaking trick. The fact is that the plagues are just not that interesting to watch. The only one that has cinematic appeal is the plague of locusts. That scene was kind of cool. Other than that, how scary is it to watch lice or boils? Not very. Those lice are going to make you shave your head! MOO-HA-HA! Snore. These plagues were kind of cheap, half baked plagues anyway. Forgetting about my precious frog plague for a second, every other plague affected one or two people and then moved on. They should have put some effort into showing more devastation and despair from a town reeling from biblical onslaught. Instead, we get Hilary Swank looking hot and sweaty as the world crumbles around her. They couldn’t waste time on things like horror when they’ve got a release date to make so they can exploit the Easter holiday for all it’s worth. Reap what you sow.

When the movie was over, we waited outside for my Plus One to come out so we could thank him for the tickets. As we waited, Stringer Bell walked out of the theater and was moving towards the row of parked limos. I turned to my friend and said, “Do you want to shake Stringer Bell’s hand? He’s right over there.” He turned around, looked at me and said, “Maybe three hours ago I would have. But after that movie, I don’t think so.” Later I asked him where the movie lost him. “Honestly?”, he said, “the part where the pictures were burning. I looked at that and thought, well, I’m bored already.” But that was at the beginning of the movie, I said. You were bored from the start? “Yeah”, he said, “going to have to try to forget that one.” “The Reaping” had a profound impact on him. It wasn’t good.

As for me, where were my stinking frogs?! Come on! “The Reaping” needed more frogs man! I can’t let it go! A couple of hundred slimy frogs falling from the sky could have saved the movie. Well, probably not but at least I would have been happy.

SCORE: 2 out of 4 bored frogs
Only hot and buff Swanks can save us from evil blonde girls.

Look out Hilary! Blonde in the bushes! A plague of cute blonde girls!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein" review

Rock 'n' Roll Frankenstein (1999)

Directed by Brian O'Hara
Writing credits Brian O'Hara Vito Cannella

Graig Guggenheim ... The Monster, a.k.a. 'King'
Jayson Spence ... Frankie Stein
Barry Feterman... Bernie Stein
Hiram Jacob Segarra ... Iggy
Andrew Hurley ... Curly

A music executive is getting tired of all of these ungrateful musicians bailing on him. He decides he needs to build his own rock star. He enlists the help of his brilliant nephew, Frankie Stein, to help him construct the ultimate rock star. A perpetually high roadie signs on to do some serious grave robbing. He grabs all of the rocker body parts he can get his hands on. He’s got Hendrix’s hands, Keith Moon’s legs and Elvis’s head. They decide the finishing touch needs to be Jim Morrison’s love appendage. In a mix up at the morgue, they grab Liberace’s penis instead. From there the movie gets wacky as Elvis’s head can’t reconcile with Liberace’s tool. Many sexually confused monster jokes follow.

“Rock and Roll Frankenstein” becomes one long gay joke as the new rock God tries everything to make his one-eyed wonder worm shut up. This review is going to become an exercise in how many different synonyms I can come up with for penis. Liberace’s pecker starts taking over the King’s desires. The monster’s brand new sausage starts telling him that he wants some hot man action. His little Elvis just wants to sing. Sometimes you’ve just got to feed the Meat Popsicle.

“Rock and Roll Frankenstein” is a funny flick. I wasn’t expecting it to go in the direction it did but I still liked it. This movie is obsessed with dick. Schlong. Wood and lots of it. Why the filmmakers wanted their rock and roll monster movie to be a parade of gay jokes is unknown. It starts off with some gory scenes as they’re sewing their rock monster together. Once Liberace’s Longfellow shows up, the movie goes hard and fast into pure gay monster comedy.

At any rate, “Rock and Roll Frankenstein” was a decent B-flick. It’s worth a look. Besides, how many movies have an Elvis monster talking to his purple-headed yogurt flinger? Oh man, it’s getting bad. Somebody stop me before I go too far. Too late!

SCORE: 2 out of 4 monster cocks - Very nice!

"Surrender" review

Surrender (2003)

Directed by Katherine Brooks
Writing credits Katherine Brooks Sophie Dia Pegrum

Katherine Brooks ... Salene McCadden (as Kate Hill)
Julie Clay ... Georgia Brown
Jon Jacobs ... John

I bought this DVD for two big reasons. If you look at the cover, you will notice a very large breasted woman whose massive chest is about to rip open her tight clothing. This image thrilled me as so many other images of large breasted women have. So I bought “Surrender” in the hopes that I would see this mysterious woman in clothes-exploding action.

I have two big problems with this movie. My fantasy woman is nowhere to be found in “Surrender”. The marketing department took a peek at the actual movie and realized that there was nothing to sell. So they found a top heavy model to plaster on the front cover in the hope that some suckers would pick up the DVD. Say hello to a B-movie sucker. Ripped off again. I love it.

“Surrender” is a lesbian fantasy movie. Well, more specifically, it is the director’s lesbian fantasy as she has cast herself in the role of Salene. Shy Southern girl Georgia comes to live with dominatrix Salene. Through a series of events too boring to be repeated, Georgia starts to take an interest in Salene’s lifestyle. In the best scene in the movie, Georgia and Salene start making out on the couch and then jump into the tub together. But Salene’s dominatrix business starts interfering with their love life and the viewer nods off in apathy. The movie ends with a lot less lesbian sex and a lot more arguing and yelling.

“Surrender” doesn’t have enough sex to make it a decent softcore flick. It’s trying to be a serious drama about broken lives in Los Angeles. Any fool who bought this DVD, (like me), just wants to watch that large breasted woman from the cover do naughty things in the S&M underworld. Alas it is not to be as “Surrender” just wants to let the director explore her kinkier side. There is also an amazing amount of smoking and drinking in this movie as every other scene has someone lighting up a cigarette or guzzling down some booze. Georgia likes to smoke almost as much as Salene does and even has a sex scene where she’s smoking as she rides some guy.

“Surrender” is not worth the time. My fantasy girl was not in it so what’s the point? The S&M scenes weren’t too harsh and the lesbian scenes were fairly weak. I did like the make out session on the couch but that’s the only good thing I can say about “Surrender”. You can let this one go.

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 spanked girls

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"Chainsaw Sally" review

Chainsaw Sally (2004)

Directed by Jimmyo Burril
Writing credits Jimmyo Burril

April Monique Burril... Sally Diamon
Mark Redfield... Steve Kellerman
Alec Joseph... Ruby Diamon
Kristen Hudson... Cynthia Prescott
Jennifer Rouse... Ice Cream Girl
Lesley Vernot... Tina Gray
Gunnar Hansen... Daddy
Herschell Gordon Lewis... Mr. Gordon
Suzi Lorraine... Miss Busybee

“Chainsaw Sally” is about a girl and her chainsaw. Sally has had a tough life. Her parents were killed by a roving gang of madmen. This incident scars young Sally for life and blossoms her into the bloodlust crazed Chainsaw Sally. She takes on a shy librarian persona for cover. No one will suspect! Chainsaw Sally likes to rip and tear into anyone who is rude and obnoxious. Talkative library patrons, snotty ice cream girls and foul mouthed guys in bars all get to taste Sally’s blade. A rich guy rolls into town to try to sell his property which houses Sally and her equally twisted brother. Will Sally allow someone to sell her psychotic homestead? Not bloody likely.

“Chainsaw Sally” is an amusing flick. Sally wants to have some of the fun that all of the movie madmen have been hogging. She is a student of horror films and wants to get her chainsaw on. Sally has that hot Goth girl look that some guys like. All of the guys who fall for it end up meeting their grisly demise. There’s plenty of blood splatter as Sally takes out anyone who crosses her path. And anyone who annoys her. And anyone she feels like taking out. And so on and so on.

But I have one strike against “Chainsaw Sally”. You can probably guess what it is. Why didn’t Chainsaw Sally get topless? This was the scene I was waiting for but it never happened. There was a great scene where she seduces the ice cream girl back to the Sally pad. They start kissing and life is good. Then Sally’s bloodlust supercedes her real lust and she proceeds to make mince meat out of poor ice cream girl. Would-be horror icons need to get topless. To be a scream queen, the viewer must scream in delight. Wouldn’t it have been great to see Sally drenched in blood while she runs naked through the house with her chainsaw blazing after some unsuspecting dolt? Or am I the only one who thinks like this?

Anyway, “Chainsaw Sally” was OK. If you want to see a freaky Goth girl kill a bunch of imbeciles, (and not get topless while doing it), it’s worth a look. I just hope in the sequel they make up for their Sally mistake and have the psychotic babe get naked while going about her business. Fewer clothes will make her a more efficient killer. Trust me on this. I know these kinds of things. Don’t ask me how.

SCORE: 2 out of 4 psycho Sallys

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"World of the Erotic Ape" review

World of the Erotic Ape (2002)
AKA Planet of the Erotic Ape AKA Babes in Kongland

Directed by Lou Vockell
Writing credits Lou Vockell

Bill Randolph ... George Taylor
Lisa Schneider
Julie Strain
Jenny Wallace

A self proclaimed mad scientist and his nerdy assistant invent a device known as a “remote control” which beams in terrible movies from galaxies far, far away. They start picking up transmission waves from a planet where guys in cheap ape costumes have fake looking sex with women. Somehow the mad scientist transports himself into the terrible movie and wacky ape hijinks ensue. The women of the planet have lost their love monkey. They need to frolic with their missing ape or else they’ll resort to non-stop lesbian sex. That ape needs to stay lost.

It’s hard to hate “World of the Erotic Ape”. It’s just trying to please with its various inane scenes of ape loving. There are also plenty of naked women as they get turned on by the bananas on the gorilla’s breath and start pawing each other like animals. There are also a couple of funny spots as the scientist adjusts to his lowly place in the brave new lesbian world.

But having said all that, it’s even harder to like this movie. Running about 60 minutes, “World of the Erotic Ape” doesn’t have much to offer. In the first five minutes, we see an ape have sex with a woman. When I say ape, I really mean a guy in a cheap ape mask and a Hawaiian shirt. The expression on the monkey’s face doesn’t change as he’s having some human loving. Facial expressions would have cost money. After this nonsensical scene is over, we know the movie has no more surprises. The erotic ape has howled and left.

So what else is there? Not much. There are a couple of lesbian scenes but they’re all pretty weak. Every scene is shot with no sound and then dubbed over later. It all looks fake and makes the movie reek harder than it should. When the ladies finally find the ape again it turns into a gorilla gang bang that looks very similar to an earlier sex scene. Endless looping of fake sex scenes does not make for a satisfying skin flick.

After talking to the dirty ape, it turns out that he had run away because he was tired of fake love. I’m with the monkey. Let this love hungry gorilla go. Run free monkey! Far, far away…

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 cheap love monkeys

Friday, March 02, 2007

"Satan's Schoolgirls" review

Satan's Schoolgirls (2004)

Directed by Ted W. Crestview
Writing credits Terry West

J. Scott Green ... Father Thomas
Suzi Lorraine ... Sister Helen
Kerri Taylor ... Tammy
Jane Scarlett ... Julian
Shannon Moore ... Karen
Brandy D'Vinn ... Lily

Do you know what an “establishing shot” is? It’s when you see a shot at the beginning of the scene so that you know where the rest of the scene is going to take place. So if there is an exterior shot of a large building followed by an interior shot of two people talking, it implies that the conversation is taking place inside that building. “Satan’s Schoolgirls” takes the establishing shot to new heights as half the movie is filled with them. The two establishing shots they use and abuse are of the church and of the graveyard. Almost every scene is buffered with an establishing shot. OK. We get it. They’re talking inside the church. You’ve established that fact to death. I understand where they are. Enough!

I’m pointing this out in the hopes that it makes it clear the level of filmmaking quality that went into “Satan’s Schoolgirls”. Running a brisk 60 minutes, (if that), “Satan’s Schoolgirls” did not have much of a movie to flesh out so they had to rely on exciting static shots of the exterior of the church to keep things trudging along.

A priest comes to stay at a church for the summer to help some wayward students. Four Suicide Girls are hanging out and need some guidance. They are Satan’s schoolgirls. The church used to hold a Satanic cult and rumor has it that they’ll be back someday to get their revenge.

Speaking of rumors, there was also a rumor that there was a movie worth watching in the middle of all of these shots of churches but then I watched “Satan’s Schoolgirls” and dispelled that myth forever. The acting is terrible, the effects are atrocious and the establishing shot overload melted my brain with its lameness. But my main problem with this would-be sleaze fest is that it’s not nearly as sleazy as it should have been.

Suzi Lorraine, (AKA Kelli Summers), played the horny nun of the school. Now, you and I know that horny nuns need to get topless. I mean, how can you call yourself a horny nun and not take your bra off? No self respecting horny nun would fail to get topless. It’s especially not right coming from a veteran of Seduction Cinema flicks. What the heck were the filmmakers thinking? They weren’t thinking of me that’s for sure. She even had the perfect opportunity to rip some clothes off when she spanked the disobedient student with the paddle. But alas, she stayed strong and resisted the urge to let her bra fly free. Tragic.

The rest of the movie has the makings of a couple of other sleazy scenes but then they inexplicably fall short. The horny lesbian of the group sees a girl she wants taking a shower. So does she do anything about it? Of course not. She gets slapped and gives up right away. This is not how a Satanic Schoolgirl should have handled her rejection. There’s another scene where one of the girls seduces the big dumb handyman. Does she take off any clothing during her sex scene? Of course not. Why would you expect these girls to act promiscuous? Oh right. The stinking movie is called “Satan’s Schoolgirls” that’s why.

On the plus side, there were two girls who got topless. So that was fun to watch. But there is not nearly enough sleaze-o-rama in “Satan’s Schoolgirls” to justify its existence. If you are going to go over the top and give your movie a lurid title like “Satan’s Schoolgirls”, you better take the time to pack it with some shocking scenes. What I’m saying is, less exterior of churches scenes, more topless nuns spanking student scenes. That ought to do the trick.

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 bored Satanic schoolgirls