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Quickie reviews for 4 horror imports...

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Quickie reviews for 4 horror imports...

Old 09-15-04, 01:55 PM
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Quickie reviews for 4 horror imports...

Spending sleepless nights with a sick 5 month old over the weekend, I was able to screen some movies that I have heard about for ages but have not yet been released in the U.S.

These reviews will be short and quick and do contain spoilers (tagged when they need to be - don't highlight them unless you want to know important plot points).

1) Shaun of the Dead - Every-man Shaun is having troubles with his girlfriend, roommate, best friend, workplace....and zombies. Chaos insues.
Worthy of the hype, very funny with witty dialogue and quick references for genre fans to pick up on. The gore was excellently done, not going too over-the-top (like Braindead/Dead Alive for example) except for a scene reminiscent of a killing in Dawn of the Dead (made me go "Holy Shit!"). I hadn't seen something like that in a mainstream horror flick in a while - very realistic! Worthy of an R2 DVD purchase to have it in your home ASAP!

2) Haute Tension - Two college girls go to study at one of their family's homes. A killer arrives and chaos insues.
This flick applies the tension early on and doesn't let up. Fantastic gore effects in places, a little unbelievable in others.
Spoiler:
I didn't really have a problem with the much maligned twist ending (I knew it had one but didn't actually know what it was until I figured it out on my own while watching).
Mix a little Jeepers Creepers (method of transportation), a big helping of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (for the degree of brutality, tension & torturous suffering) and
Spoiler:
the plot twist from Identity (seeing the action from inside someone's delusional mind)
and you have the general feeling for this movie.

3) The Locals - 2 friends go on a weekend holiday, stumble upon 2 girls that invite them to a party. They cross a bridge that had been blocked off and chaos insues.
New Zealand horror flick that mildly disappointed me. I had heard of it last year along with Undead (see below) and the plot summary piqued my interest. The story was derivative as was the plot twist
Spoiler:
(see The Others)
. Almost no gore, scares are non-existant. Don't rent this for a good grue flick. It's a mediocre film if you like mysteries and ghost stories. It sounds like I didn't like it, but I did. It just wasn't very original.
Spoiler:
Either I missed the explanation for the reason all the "locals" were living dead and reliving their deaths each night or it wasn't explained in the movie.
(barely)

4) Undead - meteorites crash to earth, re-animating corpses. Aliens are involved. Chaos and brain-eating insues.
I have heard good hype about this film for over a year. Hmm, I guess if you've never seen the Evil Dead movies or early Peter Jackson flicks, these are great. The old saying goes "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". If this is true, the Spierig Brothers (writers & directors of this flick) want to have Sam Raimi's love child. Some of the camera shots and zombie/undead pop-ins into frame are plainly ripped off from Raimi. The "hero" character (Marion) is based on Ash's "every-man" thrust into an outlandish situations. The zombie effects and gore are few and far between (and most aren't even that good). The movie is meant to be way over the top like Evil Dead II with some John Woo gunplay (how did a hick like Marion learn to deal out lead punishment like that?!) but it lacks the degree of humor in EDII and the over-the-top gore that could have redeemed it. I was woefully unimpressed. One thing that did impress me, however - all of the post-production special effects were done by the Spierig Brothers on home computers. The meteorites, cloud & alien effects were damn fine considering this, better than the effects in many Hollywood flicks. The ending had a mild twist that I liked -
Spoiler:
Felicity was hot in the outfit, spurs on her high-heeled boots
The movie tries too hard to be another Evil Dead or even a Return of the Living Dead. In doing so, it just ends up plain 'ol dead.
Old 09-16-04, 10:04 AM
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Shaun of the Dead was a good movie.

Have to disagree with you almost entirely on Undead though. Marion is definitely not an 'everyman' and is nowhere near being like Ash. As for wondering how a 'hick like Marion learn to deal out lead punishment like that?!' then I'd advise you to watch the movie again. All the clues are there, I won't state the painfully obvious for fear of making uneeded spoilers for those that haven't watched it. Why you would compare it to EDII, I don't know, as it's definitely not even styled liked EDII. You might as well compare it to Star Trek or Beaches. No offense, but I don't think you quite got this movie.
Old 09-16-04, 01:17 PM
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Oh come on freudguy, I think you are being over critical of Undead - I thought it was a hoot. Sure it never achieves the goofiness of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive or Bad Taste, but as you pointed out, the impressive SFX and sound design further enhance the mayhem and wild premise, that recalls a really whacked out homage to Bad Taste, Night of the Comet and Strange Invaders - for it's genre, it's alot better than some of the horror-dreck that Hollywood has released recently.
Old 09-16-04, 01:59 PM
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Originally posted by renaldow
Shaun of the Dead was a good movie.

Have to disagree with you almost entirely on Undead though. Marion is definitely not an 'everyman' and is nowhere near being like Ash. As for wondering how a 'hick like Marion learn to deal out lead punishment like that?!' then I'd advise you to watch the movie again. All the clues are there, I won't state the painfully obvious for fear of making uneeded spoilers for those that haven't watched it. Why you would compare it to EDII, I don't know, as it's definitely not even styled liked EDII. You might as well compare it to Star Trek or Beaches. No offense, but I don't think you quite got this movie.
umm, ok. Well, I will watch it again as it appears that many people disagree with me. I'll keep an eye out for the "painfully obvious" this time. I don't see how one can't compare it to EDII since they so blatantly copied Raimi's style in many shots.
Old 09-16-04, 04:03 PM
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And you don't think Raimi copies others? The humor I found in your comparison to EDII is that movie itself is so derivative of many other films. And while you may be able to make a comparison between directing styles, that doesn't mean the movies themselves can be compared. It's an apples/oranges situation.
Old 09-16-04, 04:29 PM
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Originally posted by renaldow
And you don't think Raimi copies others? The humor I found in your comparison to EDII is that movie itself is so derivative of many other films. And while you may be able to make a comparison between directing styles, that doesn't mean the movies themselves can be compared. It's an apples/oranges situation.
We agree to disagree. My post was opinion, as was your response. However, you seem to state your opinion as fact. I'm glad I could make you laugh with ignorance regarding film
Old 09-21-04, 01:20 PM
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In all fairness to everyone involved in "Undead" (including freudguy's review) the 2003 Toronto Film Festival programme guide states that the Spierig Brothers admire Sam Raimi "Evil Dead" films and that yes, they were an influence in the making of "Undead"
Old 09-22-04, 10:55 AM
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Shaun of the Dead was excellent. Undead was ok, not great but worth watching. Interesting message...
Old 09-22-04, 02:32 PM
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I've seen and posted my thoughts on all of the films mentioned except for The Locals. Here are my "reviews" for the other three.

Undead:

I finally got around to checking this one out, and I was very happy with what I saw. If you like any sort of zombie movie, the Evil Dead series, Dead Alive, and stuff like that then you really need to check this Australian flick out sometime. I don't know what the budget was exactly, but it is said to have been very little, but by watching the film you never could just guess such as that. They did a great job on such a small budget. They did better than some films that I've seen that had a huge budget.

The Spierig Brothers did a great job on every aspect of this, from the lighting, effects, sound effects, score, and on and on. This is a B-movie zombie movie, and every single thing about it makes sure you understand that. Well, everything but the effects, that is just great. The acting is fine also, aside from a little problem that I had with the main cop in the film. Just like in other films like this, it's just "too" over the top for me. Everyone else did great in my opinion.

What's so odd though, is that this is really unlike any other zombie type movie that I've ever seen. I don't really want to say much about the plot and what happens, but just rest assured, it's very much a roller-coaster ride with things that you just don't expect to happen, happening left and right. It's just flat out a film that'll have you saying "holy crap, now that was bad ass" over and over again.

Shaun of the Dead:

Dog Soldiers.

28 Days Later.

Haute Tension.

Undead.

Over the past year or so, it seems that just about all of the great horror films have come from everywhere but the USA. With the release of Shaun of the Dead, that streak seems to want to keep on keepin' on.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that I now have a brand spankin' new "favorite zombie film ever". We've talked about this in a few threads so far this year, have it be about the trailer or whatever, and I just now got the chance to watch this instant classic.

The film starts out somewhat slow, a rather odd pacing for a film of this sort. We are introduced to all of the characters right off the bat, in a way that feels more like a drama or a romantic comedy than any sort of horror film. Then again, as the tagline says, it is basically a romantic comedy...with zombies. Starting out, I was questioning the way it began, but once it was all said and done it made the start of the film just feel perfect to me. You had enough of all of the characters by the time the real action started, that all of the characters actually meant something to you.

I appreciate that, especially in a film of this sort. Many filmmakers never take the time to allow the viewer to have any sort of understanding of any of the characters in a film like this, with the exception of one or two main stars.

So yeah, a romantic comedy...with zombies is basically what we have here, and by God it's absolutely perfect. Even at the start, when the plot seems to be going at a slower pace, there are things in the background letting you know what is to come, various little things where you see the zombie epidemic starting up, and it's just a riot. Shaun doesn't seem to expect anything, and why should he? Afterall, who in their right mind would actually take small details and come to the conclusion that zombies must be a comin'?

I can't remember the last time a "horror" film had such a perfect mixture of, well, everything. Laughs (a lot of laughs), sentimental moments, straight up action, gore gore and more gore, a great script, a fantastic and simple plot, and every other thing you could ask for. It's all here, and it all comes together unlike any film in recent memory.

Oh yeah, the zombies in this film...they aren't kung-fu stars, they don't run up and down the streets, and they aren't superhuman. What we're dealing with here are old school, hard-core, wanting nothing but YOUR flesh zombies who can hardly stand up or walk.

Just the way I like em.

Without even needing to think about it for even a second, without second thoughts, this gets an instant 10/10 rating from me. Dawn of the Dead? House of 1000 Corpses? House of the Dead? I don't think so, nothing like that can even touch this film, it's not even a contest. Hey, I loved Dawn of the Dead just as much as the next guy, it was great also, but Shaun just blows it out of the water in my opinion.

It's weird, in Shaun I literally do not have a single complaint. There wasn't even a character that I hated, like there almost always is in a film like this. I either flat out loved every character in the film, or I loved to hate them. If this one is released in theaters here in the USA, you can be sure that I'll be the first one standing in line. I already want to see it on the big screen, and I really want the DVD right now.

Yeah, I say it's my favorite "zombie" film, but it's much more than that also. I mean, I have the same sort of feeling now that I've seen this film that I had after seeing flicks like Big Fish and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind earlier this year. That feeling being of 100% satisfaction.

And pray to God for a sequel of some sort, or at least another feature film from the duo of Simon Pegg (main star) and Edgar Wright (director). They also co-wrote the script with one another, this being their first major feature film. So that's all for now, I'm sure I'll make more comments on this as the thread goes forward. I just wanted to get a few things off my chest before bed.

We can't allow films like these to go unnoticed.

Haute Tension:

I was going over various horror movie sites a few months ago, and over at Bloody-Disgusting I found a review for a French film, Haute Tension (English title, Switchblade Romance). After weeks and months of trying to find some way to see it, this evening I finally got around to watching it.

And I'm very glad that I did.

The film is just A grade quality all the way through. The performances of the two girls being stalked Cécile De France (Marie) and Maïwenn Le Besco (Alex) are great, while Cécile does an especially good job. Then we have the protagonist, Philippe Nahon (Le tueur), who does just perfect in the role of the insane madman. This character is smart, creative, and you will hate his guts.

While watching Tension, I had the same feeling that I get when watching films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the such. It's more than just a cheap teen slasher flick. It's smart and frightening. The level of tension throughout the film starts with the very first frame, and it stays high throughout the entire film. Something like that is rare in horror these days, so that is yet another reason I loved this one.

The score fits perfectly in this film, and as the guy over at Bloody-Disgusting said, "The film also contains the most brilliant score I've heard in a long time. It is in the tradition of the 70's horror classics with a touch of Goblin from Argento's work.", I agree with every word of that.

Then we have the director. This horror flick is Alexandre Aja's first dive into the genre, but he has a film here that makes it feel like the guy who directed it had been working on this type of film for years. He did a supurb job, and I can't wait for his next horror film, if he decides to continue down this same road.

In my opinion, this Tension is better than any horror film released in the US in the past few years. If you haven't seen this one yet, then go find it. I give it a 9/10 rating, it really is that good.

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