Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Nympha" review

Nympha (2007)

Director: Ivan Zuccon
Writer: Ivo Gazzarrini

Tiffany Shepis ... Sarah
Caroline De Cristofaro

Tiffany Shepis goes to a convent. She is there to live in total seclusion with God. The sisters feel that the only way for Tiffany to speak with God is to torture her on a regular basis. These various crippling tortures lets Sister Tiffany channel some ghosts from the past. There is another convoluted tale at this convent about some old crazy guy who liked to beat people and keep them in his attic. Sister Tiff starts reaching out to these spirits to somehow find some comfort after having her senses sliced off of her body. The ghosts of B-movie pasts may be able to help Sister Shepis or they may drive her insane.

I was ready for a sleazy nunsploitation movie and instead I got "Nympha". Who are the ghosts and why should we care? Why am I staring at an old guy in a wifebeater when I should be watching Shepis get on her knees? The movie starts off with Tiffany Shepis getting naked in the first ten minutes.
"Nympha" was on the right path to B-movie enlightenment. I was intrigued and ready to see more of Tiffany's spiritual growth. Then the movie derails as the action shifts away from Shepis and focuses on a crazy old guy. Trying to keep up with the story of the old coot and his crazy ways are not what B-movie thrills are made of. Tiffany was interested in his story but I wasn't. The movie keeps jumping back and forth between plot lines but it should have stayed on Tiffany and her days of convent horror.

What would B-movies do without Tiffany Shepis? This movie would be pretty worthless without her presence to save the day. Her B-queen work ethic is strong. She does not rip-off the fans. I rent a movie with her in it and I know I can expect the usual amount of Shepis T&A. I also can expect a healthy level of violence as well with a Shepis flick. She gets the snot kicked out of her in this one as the nuns want to make sure she has no fun at the convent. What a trooper she is.

There is one scene in "Nympha" that almost makes it worth seeing. After Tiffany has been beaten pretty badly, one of the female spirits visits her. This leads to a nice lesbian love scene as Tiffany needed some comfort from her gushing head wounds. Actually, I needed this scene a lot more than Tiffany did as I was getting very bored with the movie.

Overall, "Nympha" is not worth seeing unless you're a die hard Shepis fan. If you want a really good Tiffany Shepis flick, check out "The Hazing". You can let this one go.

SCORE: 1.5 out of 4 Sister Shepis healings

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"The Girl from B.I.K.I.N.I." review

The Girl from B.I.K.I.N.I. (2007)

Director: Fred Olen Ray
Writer: Fred Olen Ray

Beverly Lynne ... Tania
Nicole Sheridan ... Patty Mercury
Voodoo ... Mark Ten
Rebecca Love ... Samantha Rhinehart
Evan Stone ... Mong Lee
Gianna Lynn ... Fay Wong
Randy Spears ... Randolph
Lacie Heart ... Kim Chee

Beverly Lynne keeps me up past my bedtime again. I saw that "Girl from B.I.K.I.N.I" was on at 1:30AM and I knew that this was a film I had to see. Sweet Beverly never saw another human that she didn't want to have sex with. Well, at least not in a late night Cinemax flick. I knew I was in good hands.

So Beverly is the girl from B.I.K.I.N.I. She's on the hunt for something or other. She runs into a bunch of people and has sex with them. Beverly's usual late night playmates show up for the typical hot sex scene. It all leads up to the diabolical ending where some evil woman is trying to put a stop to something important. This leads to yet more sex. Everyone lives happily ever after and I went to bed dreaming of Beverly Lynne and her BIKINI adventures.

Everyone's favorite late night carny cranks out another bikini movie to add to his ever growing collection. Fred Olen Ray and his raging bikini fetish keeps people around the world entertained with compelling stories of hard bodied women who love to get in and out of bikinis. Although no one actually wore a bikini in this movie which is a tad surprising. And when I say surprising, I mean not surprising at all. The literal definition of a carny is one who works at a carnival. But the real definition of a carny is a person who takes great joy in ripping people off. Stiff the rubes and pocket their money. That's how you roll with the carnies.

But if it's one genre that speaks to Ray it is the late night erotic flick. The demands of the genre, (sex, skin, more sex), keeps him focused on giving the viewers what they want. Ray has perfected the art of the late night softcore treat and has become prolific in cranking them out. As long as there are late nights, there will be guys like Ray to fill them with films of hot naked women kissing each other. I take some comfort in that.

"Girl from B.I.K.I.N.I." is a pretty good addition to the Ray catalog of bikini adventures. I thought the best scene was going to be Beverly Lynne and Rebecca Love in a three-way but I called it too soon. The next scene had Rebecca Love in an all girl three-way which was fantastic. The late night lesson learned here is to never underestimate Ray and his wily ways. He had saved the best for last. I should have known better.

So if you're up late one night and you don't know what to do with yourself, check out "Girl from B.I.K.I.N.I." Beverly and Rebecca will send you to dreamland as only naked bikini girls can.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 bikini girls

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"The Wizard of Gore" review

The Wizard of Gore (2007)

Director: Jeremy Kasten
Writer: Zach Chassler

Kip Pardue... Edmund Bigelow
Bijou Phillips... Maggie
Crispin Glover... Montag the Magnificent
Jeffrey Combs... The Geek
Brad Dourif... Dr. Chong
Joshua John Miller... Jinky (as Joshua Miller)
Garz Chan... Annie
Flux Suicide... Dell
Amina Munster... Cecelia
Cricket Suicide... Cayenne (as Cricket DeManuel)
Nixon Suicide... Rexina

Crispin Glover likes cutting up Suicide Girls. He is the Wizard of Gore. He works his magic at a nightly show of blood, guts and dead tattooed strippers. An intrepid reporter decides to do a piece on Crispin the magnificent. He begins to suspect that Glover may be up to no dang good when the girls he performs with turn up dead. The reporter starts to go insane as Hollywood starts losing a lot of fine strippers to the hands of a madman. But is the Wizard of Gore responsible or is there something more nefarious at work here? Is the reporters girlfriend secretly working for an escort agency that has a picture of a bunny rabbit as its carnal emblem? And why is the reporters bones cracking all the time? These and other questions will torment you as you wonder how a movie about cutting up Suicide Girls could go so wrong.You'd think watching Crispin Glover slice and dice some Suicide Girls would be a slam dunk. If anyone could bring pure homicidal joy to cutting the tattoos and pierced noses right off of the ladies, it would be Glover. But "The Wizard of Gore" is less interested in getting down to gory business than it is in trying to build some sort of mystery about the stripper dissections. The retro reporter keeps going back to the show every night to try to see if he can figure out how the Wizard does his magic. The movie makes the fatal mistake of following the reporter around instead of focusing on the Wicked Wizard of Hollywood. So instead of indulging in long scenes of a Suicide Girls violent demise, we get to see the reporter run around town trying to find answers. This movie is called "The Wizard of Gore". No one cares about the reporter and his problems. Get back to the Wizard.

But where is the Wizard and why is he not spilling blood like there's no tomorrow? And what about the gore? He is the Wizard of Gore right? Glover's stage shows are supposed to be the highlight of the movie yet they are way too light on blood and body parts. The audience keeps acting disgusted at his magic show but I was more disgusted at the audiences collective weak stomach. I was ready to be as shocked as they were but yawned through it all.

"The Wizard of Gore" is filmed mostly at night which is too bad because some scenes become near impossible to see. So even though the movie becomes tedious to sit through, you still have to work really hard just to get a good look at it. The only thing positive to say about "The Wizard of Gore" is that it manages to exploit the Suicide Girls. Their look fits well with a story of an underground magic show. They all manage to get naked and show the world their many tattoos.

But overall, "The Wizard of Gore" is a disappointment. Glover is a hundred times more interesting to watch than some neck cracking reporter with mental health issues. The movie should have stalked Glover around town and ditched the reporter. Actually, the movie should have ditched anything that didn't have something to do with cutting up Suicide Girls. There's only one way to film a story about a crazed magician. Gore, Glover and more gore. Don't hold back. Don't get squeamish. Just pour on the gore and and let Crispin be all the madman he can be.

SCORE: 2 out of 4 maniacal Crispins

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"DOA: Dead or Alive" review

DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Director: Corey Yuen
Writers: J.F. Lawton Adam Gross

Jaime Pressly ... Tina Armstrong
Devon Aoki ... Kasumi
Holly Valance ... Christie Allen
Sarah Carter ... Helena Douglas
Natassia Malthe ... Ayane
Kane Kosugi ... Ryu Hayabusa
Matthew Marsden ... Max
Eric Roberts ... Donovan

There's a mighty martial arts tournament where only the strongest and bravest are invited to attend. They will match wits against dangerous opponents from around the world. It will push their skills to the limit. But that's another movie. In "DOA", you have to do something asinine to get invited to their secret island fortress. Like, oh I don't know, beat up a room full of armed men while topless. But make sure to never show any skin because this is a PG-13 flick for Pete's sake. Oh, and you have to be a supermodel to get on the list or at least be related to one. Island fortresses are getting harder and harder to get into these days.

"DOA" is a ridiculous waste of time. I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised. You'll know in five minutes whether or not you're going to get into the movie. A ninja princess, (Devon Aoki), decides to leave home so she can join the super babe tournament. She jumps over the wall and flies away. She just happened to have a hang glider attached to her back so she could make her smooth getaway. When the folks at DOA headquarters see this ridiculous stunt, they know she belongs with them and lob their DOA throwing star at her. That's how you know you've done something absurd enough to impress the gatekeepers at Babe Island.

Once they round up the fighters, the movie moves into mortal combat mode as one fight scene rolls into another. The evil mastermind wants the wonder women for some nefarious purpose and the ninja princess wants her long lost brother back and ahh, who cares? What's important here is watching babes beat each other up. But since this toothless wonder is a kiddie friendly PG-13, you can rest easy knowing you won't see any breasts or blood for fear of upsetting any delicate 13 years olds.

But some mindless fighting is always fun to watch especially when it involves hot women in bikinis. There's also a very important scene as the women play a tough game of beach volleyball so that they can unwind from the stress of having to destroy each other.
Every martial arts movie needs to have a scene where Jaime Pressly and other assorted hotties jump around in slow motion. I think we can all agree on that. I can give "DOA" points for its abundance of T&A.

But I think the best word to describe "DOA" is mindless. It was made to be a time killer and it succeeded. It killed time with a vengeance. It used babes on roller blades, babes fighting in the rain, beach volleyball babes and other attacking supermodels to make sure your time is killed in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 for super babe power

America the beautiful.

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies

For purple mountain majesties

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" review

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Sheldon Turner

Jordana Brewster ... Chrissie
Taylor Handley ... Dean
Diora Baird ... Bailey
Matthew Bomer ... Eric (as Matt Bomer)
R. Lee Ermey ... Sheriff Hoyt
Andrew Bryniarski ... Thomas Hewitt / Leatherface
Lee Tergesen ... Holden

Two couples are traveling through Texas on their way to a Chainsaw Massacre. They get stopped by the drill sergeant from "Full Metal Jacket",(R. Lee Ermey), who wants to take them back to his house for some good eating. His beloved nephew, (Leatherface), lost his job at the slaughter house but still feels the urge to keep carving meat. Ermey brings home the meat. His family won't go hungry again. The rest of the movie has Leatherface doing what he does best as the two couples try their best to survive their nightmarish night in Texas.

I had low expectations for this one. A prequel to the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" sounded pretty desperate. I'm happy to tell you that the filmmakers didn't dwell too much on the origin of Leatherface. They glossed over his chainsaw psychosis so they could get down to the business of slicing and dicing people. There are some plot points thrown in about the Vietnam war but it all becomes meaningless as soon as Leatherface gets his hands on the teens bodies. Leatherface doesn't discuss politics. He lets the chainsaw do the talking.
"Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" is a brutally efficient horror movie. It cuts to the chase and lets Leatherface use his chainsaw more than any other movie in the series. Jordana Brewster shows up as the one would-be victim who always manages to be a voyeur to most of the slaughter. Whenever she's around, Leatherface can't stop himself from tearing into some flesh. She'll try her best to evade the fate of her friends but Leatherface is dead set on making sure no one survives this massacre.

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" is a decent horror flick. I enjoyed it. It has a sufficient blood and guts payoff as Leatherface shows us how much pain and suffering he's capable of inflicting. As it turns out, quite a lot of it. It's worth a look.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 screaming Jordanas

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Starship Troopers 3: Marauder" review

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008)

Director: Edward Neumeier
Writer: Edward Neumeier

Casper Van Dien ... Colonel Johnny Rico
Jolene Blalock ... Captain Lola Beck
Stephen Hogan ... Sky Marshall Omar Anoke
Boris Kodjoe ... Gen. Dix Hauser
Amanda Donohoe ... Admiral Enolo Phid
Marnette Patterson ... Holly Little
Danny Keogh ... Dr. Wiggs

At last, Casper Van Dien.Van Dien is back in a Sci-fi movie and all is right with the world. Van Dien can make any B-movie better. I feel a sense of balance with the universe. The Force is strong with Van Dien. The filmmakers let loose Van Dien to inflict some Van Damage on alien bugs and the viewer rejoices.

So the bugs are still waging war against the likes of Van Dien and friends. Haven't they learned anything? Colonel Van Dien is now running an outpost on some distant planet while the bugs attempt to breach the perimeter. A bunch of characters converge on the outpost just in time to watch the bugs overrun the defenses. Fortunately, Van Dien is here. It all leads to a cheap but satisfying battle against the aliens. Then the movie breaks off into a couple of different stories as Van Dien gets sidelined and Captain Babe takes over. She crash lands on a bug planet and tries to lead her crew to safety.
In many ways, "Starship Troopers 3" is an enjoyable B-flick. They tried to keep the satirical tone from the first movie but the filmmakers are just not as cynical as Verhoeven to make it work as well as he did. The "Do you want to know more?" news flashes pop up frequently. It may have been too much of a good thing because after the fourth pop-up I decided I didn't want to know more. But "Starship Troopers 3" is a step in the right direction for the franchise. It attempts to get back to what made the original movie so fun but it needed another $20 ($30?) million to get even close to the bug killing massacre that Verhoeven unleashed.

But you know what "Starship Troopers 3" really needed? More Van Dien! He was the cheesy heart and soul of the original "Starship Troopers". Watching Johnny Rico go wild against the bugs should have been the whole movie. Not that I have anything against super models blasting their way across a hostile alien terrain mind you.God knows I've praised more than my share of those kinds of movies. I'm looking at you Milla Jovovich! But "Starship Troopers" is Van Dien's show. He should have been by her side through her bug trials and tribulations. Instead she found religion and prayed for a hero, holding on for a hero 'til the end of the night. A hero whose gotta be strong and gotta be fast and gotta be fresh from the fight. Pray for Van Dien. He's the only one that can save us now.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 Van Diens

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Turistas" review

Turistas (2006)

Director: John Stockwell
Writer:Michael Ross

Josh Duhamel ... Alex
Melissa George ... Pru
Olivia Wilde ... Bea
Desmond Askew ... Finn
Beau Garrett ... Amy
Max Brown ... Liam
Agles Steib ... Kiko

A bunch of tourists are in Brazil to soak in the beautiful sights and sounds that the country has to offer. Their bus has a minor disaster which gives them the perfect excuse to ditch the group and see what trouble they can get into. They find a secluded beach which offers the usual tropical paradise cliches of drinking, dancing and fornicating. Tragedy befalls the group as certain devious individuals lust after their bodies and can't wait to harvest their organs. Their vacation hits a low point as they try to get away from a maniacal doctor and his crew of body part thieves.

I wish I could say that "Turistas" is a blatant rip-off of "Hostel" but that would be too insulting to "Hostel". Nor could I say "Turistas" is a rip-off of "Hostel II" as the gory sequel would also be offended. In fact, I couldn't even say that "Turistas" is a horror movie even though the poster clearly shows a scalpel descending on some doomed turista's head. But then what is "Turistas"? At best, it's a thriller with some eye candy running for their lives. At worst, it's the filmmakers travelogue on Brazil with some misguided attempts at horror thrown in. That way it at least gives the illusion that they were working while boozing it up on the beach. I suspect the filmmakers saw "Hostel" and wanted to capitalize on its success. Hmmm...

(Drunken Filmmaker): "I liked "Hostel" but I didn't really like the grungy Eastern European feel to it. Hey, I know, why not shoot it in Brazil? Yeah! We can have some Pina Coladas on the beach, film some babes in bikinis, jump off some waterfalls, it'll be a fantastic vacation! Say man, what's the Spanish word for Hostel? HAHAHAHA! What's that? They speak Portuguese there? Ahh, who cares? Round up the women! We're leaving for paradise! And maybe make the movie when the whiskey runs out."
I'm glad the filmmakers got to have some fun down in Brazil because my fun was lacking. As a horror movie, "Turistas" is a dud. There's nothing remotely scary going on here. The doctor's plan to start cutting up some turistas is known too early which drains all the tension from the movie. We know that these lunkheaded turistas are heading to their doom no matter what picturesque stop they make along the way. Once the turistas are stuck with the doctor, there is one gory scene of organ harvesting but the doctor blabs his way through it with his psychotically altruistic motives. A true monster doesn't need a reason to rip people's guts out. He would have done it just for fun.

But on the plus side, there were a lot of gratuitous shots of babes in bikinis. You have to like that. There were also a couple of topless scenes which I always appreciate. In many ways, I'm easy to please. But since I was expecting some semblance of a horror movie, "Turistas" failed to thrill me. It's an easy movie to sit through as you watch turistas drink and party up and down the beach. But partying turistas is just not enough reason to watch it.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 drunk turistas

Friday, September 12, 2008

"Boarding Gate" review

Boarding Gate (2007)

Director: Olivier Assayas
Writer: Olivier Assayas

Asia Argento ... Sandra
Michael Madsen ... Miles Rennberg
Kelly Lin ... Sue Wang
Carl Ng ... Lester Wang
Kim Gordon ... Kay
Alex Descas ... Andrew

Asia Argento in black lingerie. That's all I knew about "Boarding Gate" before renting it. That's all any man needs to know. The cover of "Boarding Gate" has Argento in her underwear kneeling down while holding a gun. At least the filmmakers knew their most precious asset and exploited her for all she's worth. Too bad they had no interest in letting their beautiful lingerie wearing killer run wild in any sort of interesting or engaging thriller.

So Asia is having second thoughts about her S&M relationship with Michael Madsen. She loved him once but has grown tired of the leather belt and handcuff scene. They discuss their relationship in hushed tones while the audience slowly drifts off to sleep. But then the viewer is awakened suddenly when Argento strips down to reveal her black lingerie and starts to act the role of the dominatrix. This scene was going to be amazing. Alas, the good times were not to last long as the filmmakers needed to put a stop to all of the sleazy B-movie shenanigans as soon as possible. The second half of the movie takes Argento to Hong Kong where double crosses, deceitful people and Karaoke bars await her. Unfortunately with all of the convoluted plot going on she can't find time to strip down into her black lingerie again. Where are Asia's obsessed ex-lovers when you need them?

"Boarding Gate" has all of the raw ingredients of a typical thriller but cannot seem to give in to the genre. There are drug deals, Asia Argento topless, gun battles, and Asia Argento in black lingerie. These elements are all you need to make an entertaining film but "Boarding Gate" is just too pointless to make any of it exciting. It's almost as if it's slightly ashamed of itself for thinking these dirty thoughts. Just when "Boarding Gate" threatens to get interesting, something tedious happens and the movie comes crashing down to Earth.

Still, it did have Asia Argento in black lingerie. We have to keep the big picture in perspective here. Sure we've seen Argento strip down before but she does it so well. Too bad for us that the rest of the movie is not nearly as much fun as watching her strut around. If you linger on the cover of "Boarding Gate", you've already seen the best part of the movie.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 Argento struts

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal" review

Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal (2008)

Directors: Fenton Bailey Randy Barbato

Anthony L. De Meo ... Himself
Heidi Fleiss ... Herself
Tom Slaughter ... Himself

Heidi Fleiss is stuck in the desert trying to peddle flesh. She moves to Pahrump, Nevada to be near the legal brothels. But no one will let Heidi sell sex. Why not? Maybe it's because she wants to open an all male brothel that caters only to women. Or perhaps it's because she never bothered to fill out the paperwork necessary to start the process of getting the stud farm up and running. Or maybe it's because she just can't get her head around that she's not in Hollywood anymore and that no one needs to deal with her out in the middle of nowhere. There's a lot of reasons why Heidi Fleiss is not selling men by the hour in the hot Nevada desert. But one thing is for certain about Heidi Fleiss, she'll always be interesting to watch because she is hardwired for disaster.

Heidi Fleiss is the epitome of a Hollywood woman. Delusional, full of herself and yet has a determination to succeed in spite of outrageous odds stacked against her. "Heidi Fleiss, The Would-Be Madam of Crystal" tries to document Heidi's journey toward being a Nevada madam. But her efforts keep getting derailed because she's Heidi Fleiss. Fleiss keeps moving forward as if things will just magically fall into place yet people in Pahrump are not eager to bring someone with as much baggage as Fleiss into their midst. They like to keep things low key while Fleiss is ready to turn up the volume. In fact, her would-be brothel isn't even located in Pahrump. She bought a bunch of land in Crystal and plans to build her stud farm there. Would women drive to the middle of a desert wasteland to get laid? Of course they would. You know why? Because Heidi Fleiss said they will. Don't let reality get in the way of Heidi Fleiss.

This documentary is fascinating. Fleiss moves at her own pace and is really not interested in what other people want or need. It's all about her. But Heidi Fleiss, despite her numerous flaws, doesn't come off as a bad person. She's a selfish narcissist for sure but is still fun to watch as she bumbles her way through life. Real life keeps beating her back but Fleiss keeps fighting.

Heidi happens to live next door to a former prostitute and starts taking an interest in her elderly neighbor's large collection of exotic birds. As she spends more and more time next door, she makes a deep connection with one bird.
She starts drifting away from stud farming to spend time with her bird. This is how things go with Fleiss. One minute, male hookers in the desert. The next, time to clean the bird cage.

Heidi's connection to the birds becomes the focal point for the rest of the documentary as her stud farming ways are put on hold for the foreseeable future. Fleiss actually starts to love something other than herself and it changes her profoundly. She tries to take care of the birds as best she can. Will her connection to birds translate into feelings for other people? The documentary ends with Fleiss still rudderless in the desert but with some hope that Heidi is a slightly better person for displaying some compassion for other living things.

But what about the stud farm? Will we ever see it? I wouldn't bet money on it. Although Fleiss must know that she could be in business tomorrow if she ran a female brothel, she is insistent on doing things her own way. Some people succeed in spite of themselves but I don't see hardheaded Fleiss becoming a Nevada flesh peddler anytime soon.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 would-be Nevada madams

Monday, September 08, 2008

"Pathfinder" review

Pathfinder (2007)

Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Laeta Kalogridis

Karl Urban ... Ghost
Moon Bloodgood ... Starfire
Russell Means ... Pathfinder
Clancy Brown ... Gunnar
Jay Tavare ... Blackwing
Nathaniel Arcand ... Wind In Tree
Ralf Moeller ... Ulfar

I saw this on cable the other day. Vikings land in the new world and proceed to slaughter the local population. They leave behind one boy who just wasn't Viking enough to walk among them. He had just turned eight and didn't want to behead anyone. This was the sign to toss him overboard. A Native American tribe takes pity on the reluctant killer and decides to raise him as one of their own. Years later the Vikings return to annihilate the tribe but find that their wayward Viking has grown into an efficient killing machine. The rest of the movie has the Vikings doing battle against their violently disobedient family member.

It's a sad day when I can't get into a Viking movie. I was really looking forward to this one. But the Pathfinder couldn't find his way to an exciting movie. Instead he got stuck in the mud of B-movie land. Monotonous slow motion fight scenes bogged him down in the muck. I didn't think watching behemoths battling each other with swords would get tiresome but the Pathfinder found a way to make violent combat tedious.

"Pathfinder" starts with a banal storyline of the rejected Viking and lumbers it's way down the path of Norse destruction. The movie plays out exactly as you think it would. An action movie being predictable wouldn't bother me if the action scenes were worth something. But the fight scenes in "Pathfinder" are all shot in a drab, grey tone and play out in slow motion. I don't think there was one fight scene set at normal speed. It drains the impact from the combat if everything is moving at half speed. It also detaches the viewer as it makes them aware that they're watching the director show off instead of just letting them enjoy the action.

On the plus side, there is still plenty of swordplay and a few severed heads scattered here and there.
As you know, one of the golden rules of cinema is that any movie with a severed head has to be good on some level. If you can catch "Pathfinder" on cable, it may be worth watching once. If you can't see it while channel surfing, you can let the Pathfinder go on his way.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 slow motion Viking slaughters

Sunday, September 07, 2008

"Death Race" review

Death Race (2008)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Writers:Paul W.S. Anderson

Jason Statham... Jensen Ames
Joan Allen... Hennessey
Ian McShane... Coach
Tyrese Gibson... Machine Gun Joe
Natalie Martinez... Case
Max Ryan... Pachenko

Jason Statham gets recruited against his will to join the Death Race. It's a wholesome sporting event where convicts race around a track and try to kill each other with various instruments of destruction attached to their cars. It's one of the world's most popular pay per view events. The evil warden intends to keep it that way. Her main driver was killed and she needs Statham to take his place. Statham gets framed for a crime he didn't commit, (of course), and becomes the legendary Frankenstein. If Frankenstein can win one more race, just one more Death Race, he'll be freed from prison. His fatherly need to see his child again propels him to do the right thing and kill a lot of people.

"Death Race" is based on the Roger Corman flick "Death Race 2000". Actually, I should really say loosely based. There is death, and there's a race but that's about where the similarities end. "Death Race 2000" went for laughs as drivers went cross country trying to run people down so that they could achieve a gory high score. It was trying to make a point, (in its own cheesy B-movie way), that we're all goons addicted to violence. They've got me there. "Death Race" doesn't waste time with making any points, criticism or doing anything that takes time away from mindless carnage.

So Statham hops in his car and proceeds to fly around the track while his competitors die horrible deaths. The warden has a couple of ploys to spice up the Death Race since watching convicts get wasted wasn't exciting enough. One, she decides her brutish drivers need a hot navigator to help guide them down the track. They bus the women in from the maximum security prison for wayward supermodels. Every time they get off the bus, time magically slows down so that we can get every bounce captured in slow motion. It's a ratings winner.

The warden also has a secret weapon that she has been building to really give the drivers a challenge.


During the race she unleashes the Dreadnought, a super truck that was driven straight from the set of " The Road Warrior". The Dreadnought tears it's way through most of the drivers and heads straight at Statham to finish him off. The Dreadnought's appearance was the highlight of the movie. It was a fine B-movie moment.

"Death Race" is a fun B-flick. It has nothing important to say about anything except that blasting fools on a prison race track is a hoot. I enjoyed watching Statham and superbabe run wild through their opponent's blood and guts. It's worth a look.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 races of death

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"The Cook" review

The Cook (2008)

Mark Hengst... The Cook
Makinna Ridgway... Amy
Kit Paquin... Bunny
Penny Drake... Anastasia
Nina Fehren... Brooke
Noelle Kenney... Autumn
Brooke Lenzi... Kristen
Justine Marino... Pam
Stefanie Solano... Michelle
Allen Yates... Lance

A new cook shows up to help the horny sorority girls make it through their weekend. He speaks no English because he's from Hungary. Get it? Hungary cook? HAHAHA! He decides the most nutritious meal for growing young women is bits and pieces of other sorority girls. This cook can turn a sloppy joe into a delectable cannibal feast. Why he's doing all of this is unknown. He's just the cook and that's what cooks with big knives do in horror movies. The girls obliviously go on with their insipid lives while the cook keeps hoping that someone turns up who might actually be scared of him.

Horror comedies can be tricky movies to pull off. It's especially tough when the movie you end up making is neither a horror movie nor a comedy. One of the first rules in comedy is to never laugh at your own joke. It makes the movie that much more irritating when you see characters laughing about something completely inane. The Hungary cook? Yeesh. They actually have the nerve to use that line twice. If someone would have smacked the character for even thinking that's funny, then I would have laughed. As it is, I started to lose interest in "The Cook" the minute the line was uttered. I knew the movie was going downhill fast.

Much like Tarantino's "Death Proof", (I hate comparing this movie to a Tarantino flick but it was the first thing that popped in my mind), the writers have no idea how to write for women. This must have been their fantasy on how sorority girls act with no men around.They curse and dream about sex and pretty much act exactly like guys would if they were sex starved lecherous drunks. They were a fairly annoying group to listen to but I can't totally fault the ladies as their strings were being pulled by their horny puppet-masters.

The only thing that saved "The Cook" from a 1 rating was the tall, red haired Amazon girl from "Zombie Strippers", (Penny Drake). Drake has her eye on the shy religious girl and proceeds to seduce her. This leads to the only two enjoyable scenes in the movie. The first one has Penny kissing the girl in the hall. The second scene has them starting on their tender love affair with some S&M sex. If the filmmakers had let them finish this scene, the movie would have been far better for it. Instead Penny had to go to the kitchen where the homicidal cook was and you can guess what happened next.

There's a couple of gory parts, (heads, hands hacked off), but none of the scenes could be described as payoff scenes. The only payoff scene is when the movie ends. "The Cook" plays out exactly as you think it would. Cook kills girl, girls eat girl, repeat ad nauseum. "The Cook" was not sleazy enough for me to get over all of the horrible writing on display. I mean, maybe if a lesbian orgy had broken out and the cook charged in with a meat cleaver we would have had something.

You know, that's what women really do when they're alone. That's right. As soon as the men leave, they get naked in a pile on the floor. I'm sure of it. No doubt in my mind at all. I'm surprised the writers of "The Cook" didn't know about the no men=orgy rule. I thought they were going for stark realism in their portrayal of college women. But there might be some hope yet. "Cook 2" anyone? Anyone?

SCORE: 2 out of 4 crazy cooks

"Rogue" review

Rogue (2007)

Director: Greg Mclean
Writer: Greg Mclean

Radha Mitchell ...Kate Ryan
Michael Vartan ... Pete McKell
Sam Worthington ... Neil
Caroline Brazier ... Mary Ellen
Stephen Curry ... Simon

A bunch of people head upstream to check out all of the majestic beauty that Australia has to offer. They pile on to a tour boat and proceed to make their way through crocodile infested water. Nothing to worry about though since a crocodile would never, ever attack anything bigger than it is. Oh no, bad luck. They happen to run headfirst into a giant croc who loves to eat stupid tourists. The beast takes offense at people gawking at him and starts stalking his new prey . The rest of the movie has the tourists making various attempts to escape the beast as he waits in the shadows for them to make their next boneheaded mistake. Seriously people, don't stand near the water if there is a crocodile hunting you. Horror movie casts never learn.

Killer animal movies can be fun. Nothing better than watching some giant man-eater take a couple of bites out of some doomed fool and then swallow him down. Unfortunately, that's the main problem with "Rogue". It's not a lot of fun. Once the cast gets trapped on the little island, it breaks down into the usual bickering and arguing as they debate the proper way to avoid getting eaten by a huge reptile. Since most of the movie takes place on a mud hole of an island in the middle of the night, you'd think the filmmakers could have come up with a better cast of characters to tremble in fear over the killer beast circling them. Instead we get stuck with a dour group of individuals that yell at each other every chance they get.

Of course none of that would matter if the kill scenes were worth something. But most of the attack scenes are either off camera or take place in the dark. The crocodile hunts them mostly at night so we don't get to see much of the beast in action. When he does strike, he moves so fast that the camera can't keep him up with him. Quality kills were lacking in "Rogue".

Still, the ending was pretty good as our wayward hero stumbles into the monster's lair and does battle as only a horror movie hero can. The croc tried to get his giant head into a lot of nooks and crannies and managed to score a couple of contact wounds.

Overall, "Rogue" is a competently filmed horror flick but is lacking in scares and tension. It takes itself a little too seriously which drains a lot of the fun of watching a monstrous reptile chow down on tourists. But if you're in need of a giant animal flick, it may be worth watching once.

SCORE: 2.5 out of 4 blurry crocs