Monday, November 30, 2015

Movie Review: Skeleton Man

Skeleton Man a.k.a Skeletonman 
Martini Films, Nu Image Films, Two Sticks Productions, USA, Bulgaria, 2004. 
Skeleton Man title
Archaeologists Charles and Marissa find the skull of Indian chief Six Bears. Hooded Skeleton Man (unrecognisable Paul Sampson) kills them with axe and sword. He takes the skull. Soldiers are sent to stop Skeleton Man but they all die. Undercover search and rescue team with Captain Leary (Michael Rooker) is sent to rescue the search and rescue team that went to save the soldiers (bit like "Hot Shots 2"). The other notable members of the team are Staff Sgt. Oberron (Casper Van Dien) and Lt. Scott (Sarah Ann Schultz). It's no use trying to remember the other names as Skelly kills them soon. 
Sarah Ann Schultz and Michael Rooker
Lt. Scott and Capt. Leary
Casper Van Dien
Staff Sgt. Oberron
Skeleton Man is like Predator, with heat vision (that effect looks useless during daytime, like a 3D-movie without the red/green glasses) and teleporting skills. Every time he punches someone, the victim flies at least 10 feet. He has also magical ability to switch weapons on the fly between spear, club and sword and a modern axe he seems to have purchased from hardware store together with his vinyl raincoat. He also has bow he uses to shoot down helicopters. Also his horse can change colour! Or then it is bad editing and everything. 
Skeleton Man with his brown horse
The rescue team meets an old blond Indian (Robert Miano) who likes beans. He says that Old Joe is trying to prove himself by scalping warriors. While he was alive he killed his tribe. The skull from the beginning is never mentioned again. Skelly's real name is Cotton Mouth Joe. Indian's story does not help much, Cotton Mouth Joe is just some guy who kills people. 
Robert Miano
Old Indian
Skelly continues killing soldiers, huntsmen and a fisherman. Only Leary and Lt. Scott survive. Finally Skelly goes to kill the employers of chemical factory. Leary blows up the factory and Skelly dies (or does he?) Movie ends.
Skeleton Man
Ha! IMDB Trivia says:
In Germany the movie is tagged as a comedy-film and not as a horror-film. The advertising slogan on the DVD-Package announces "Here lives the spirit of Ed Wood".

It is a fitting description as the film is clumsy and badly done with laughable production values. It looks like the scriptwriter, prop department and whoever was responsible for continuity just gave up. 

The dialogue tries to be macho with lines like "This reminds me of when we were in Laos" but is is just pointless as the soldiers are the worst special force team ever. Michael Rooker has a Vietnam flashback that is from some other film. The cinematography is ugly with jerky camera movements and continuity errors are everywhere. The monster himself looks like a man with cheap Halloween mask and cheap plastic raincoat or alternatively ragged cloak (it changes). Cheap gore effects make the incredibly stupid kills look even more stupid. Everything explodes, even trees. The scars on soldiers' faces change sides and sometimes vanish completely, the same goes also with Michael Rooker's arm wound. 

Fun fact: Paul Sampson performs the uncredited role of Skeleton Man but he performs also the role of hunter named Nathan, who is killed by Skeleton Man. 

Johnny Martin is a talented stunt man but oh man his directing skills...

Rating: (Depending on the mood)Very bad or So bad it is good 

Starring: Jackie Debatin, Eric Etebari, Jonathon Klein, Robert Miano, Timothy V. Murphy, Maurice Nehru, Lisa Oliva Rodriguez, David E. Ornston, Carlos Rodriguez, Michael Rooker, Bill M. Ryusaki, Paul Sampson, Sarah Ann Schultz, Booboo Stewart, Maegan Stewart, Nils Allen Stewart, Renee Steward, Noa Tishby, Joey Travolta, Jerry Trimble Jr., Dominiquie Vandenberg, Casper Van Dien, Natalie Alexander, Carlos Buti, Philip Hersh, Paul Dion Monte, Andrew Stubblefield, Ernesto Trinidad, Mike Wike 
Director: Johnny Martin

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Movie Review: Pompeii (2014)

TriStar Pictures, FilmDistrict, Constantin Film International, Impact Pictures Pompeii, Don Carmody Productions, Canada, Germany, USA, 2014. 
Pompeii (2014) title
In Northern Britannia 62 A.D. Celtic tribes are rebelling. Roman legionnaires led by Tribune Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland, from "24") and officer Proculus (Sasha Roiz, from "Grimm") kill young Milo's (Dylan Schombing) family. Milo is sold as slave and he is sent to gladiator training. 
Kit Harington
Sasha Roiz and Kiefer Sutherland
Proculus and Corvus
In 79 A.D. Milo (Kit Harington, from "Game of Thrones") is a popular fighter and he is sent to Pompeii. On the way there he makes an impression to Roman noblewoman Cassia (Emily Browning). In Pompeii Milo becomes the eyesore of fellow gladiators. However he gains some respect from champion Atticus (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje from "Oz") who has only one fight left to win his freedom.
Cassia and Ariadne (Jessica Lucas)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Corvus who is now Senator arrives to Pompeii. Cassia's father (Jared Harris) plans to get his funding to improve the infrastructure of the city. Naughty Corvus plans to marry Cassia. In the arena Milo and Atticus must fight for their lives. As Cassia is in love with Milo, Corvus makes Milo to fight against impossible odds.
Milo and Atticus must fight for their lives
The choir
When Vesuvius erupts all the best-laid plans of mice and men go awry as the pyroclastic flow does not care who is good or evil. As the disaster movie formula goes the first half is about introducing the characters and their motives and the second half is all about the disaster.
Pompeii before...
...and after.
I wonder how much of the movie were leftovers from the project that was cancelled in 2007. Roman Polanski was supposed to direct film adaptation of Robert Harris' novel "Pompeii." In April 2011 Ridley Scott was producing mini-series and first news about Paul W.S. Anderson's film version were announced May 2011. It smells like the fate of Jodorowsky's "Dune" here. 

Although the plots are different (in the book Roman engineer comes to take care of aqueduct, exposes corruption of a Roman land speculator and tries to escape with the daughter of the mentioned land speculator) there are couple of similarities. In the book engineer named Marcus Attilius Primus had a scornful boss named Corax (combined with movie's Corvus that means raven). In the book land speculator's daughter is unwillingly engaged to one of the city's magistrates and the hero must save her from the villa before it is destroyed. 

The movie is a mix of peplum adventure and disaster film, kind of "Gladiator" and "Titanic" combined. Although the story is basically of a Hollywood popcorn flick, it still has guts to avoid syrupy happy Hollywood ending. The depiction of the architecture of Pompeii (although not necessary of Roman society) and the volcanic eruption have been praised for accuracy (except for lava bombs and tidal waves). As a disaster film it is spectacular, just don't expect any groundbreaking or original plot.

The characters are quite typical, but interesting enough to care about their fates. Still much was left on the cutting room floor, some DVD/Blu-ray releases contain over 20 minutes of deleted scenes which are missing from the bareboned Scandinavian DVD. Kiefer Sutherland is the sneeringly evil villain and Kit Harington and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje the brave heroes. Carrie-Anne Moss has a small role as Cassia's mother. 

Rating: Good

Starring: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Joe Pingue, Kiefer Sutherland, Currie Graham, Dylan Schombing, Maxime Savaria, Ron Kennell, Tom Bishop Sr., Rebecca Eady, Sasha Roiz, Jean-Francois Lachapelle, Jean Frenette, Dalmar Abuzeid, Emmanuel Kabongo, Brock Johnson, Kristina Nicoll, Janine Theriault, Mark Whelan, Anaïs Frenette, Donna Christo, Thomas Stumpo 
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Friday, November 27, 2015

Pivot's Ten Questions / Pivot'n kymmenen kysymystä

Cilo from the blog Cinema Lozenge (in Finnish only) asked fellow bloggers to answer the legendary The Ten Questions of Bernard Pivot, that James Lipton from "Inside the Actors Studio" poses to the actors he interviews. / Cinema Lozengen Cilo pyysi muita bloggaajia vastailemaan Bernard Pivot'n legendaarisen kymmenen kysymyksen sarjaan, joita "Tähdet kertovat" ohjelman James Lipton näyttelijävierailtaan kyselee. 

What is your favourite word / Mikä on suosikkisanasi? 
Piggy / Possu

What is your least favorite word? / Mistä sanasta pidät vähiten?
Bureaucracy / Byrokratia

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? / Mikä saa sinut innostumaan?
The feeling of success and positive people / Onnistumisen tunne ja positiiviset ihmiset

What turns you off? / Mikä saa sinut lannistumaan?
Exercise in futility & frustration ‎/ Turhauttava ja hyödytön puuhastelu

What is your favorite curse word? / Mikä on suosikki kirosanasi?
S*tan! / P**kele!

What sound or noise do you love? / Mitä ääntä rakastat?
Sound of a coffeemaker / Kahvinkeittimen ääni

What sound or noise do you hate? / Mitä ääntä inhoat?
Sound of a hard drive dying / Hajoavan kiintolevyn ääni

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? / Mitä muuta ammattia haluaisit kokeilla?
Photographer or something to do with the film industry / Valokuvaaja tai jokin elokuva-alan työ

What profession would you not like to do? / Mitä ammattia et haluaisi kokeilla?
Telemarketer / Puhelinmyyjä
(Been there, done that, got the feckin' T-shirt!)

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? / Jos Jumala on olemassa, mitä haluaisit hänen sanovan sinulle taivaanporteilla? 
Nice. Enough practice, how about the real thing now? / Hyvin harjoiteltu. Nyt sitten päästään asiaan.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Movie Review: Jurassic Shark

Jurassic Shark a.k.a Attack of the Jurassic Shark 
TomCat Films, Brett Kelly Entertainment, Dudez Productions, Canada, 2012. 
Jurassic Shark title
Hey, it is on IMDB's Bottom 100 Lowest Rated Movies list so it must be good! 

Dr. Lincoln Grant (Jurgen Vollrath) gets permission from Chairman (Jody Haucke) to start drilling through a pocket of ice under a lake. Oil drillers drill too deep and wake up an extinct Megalodon shark (that is actually not from Jurassic era). This happens offscreen as showing drilling platform punching through ice would be too expensive. Two bikini girls Tiffany (Sarah Mosher) & Brittany (Kala Gray) talk drivel and go to swim playfully splashing water. Shark eats them soon. No worries, new bikini girls will enter soon.
Jody Haucke and Jurgen Vollrath
Chairman and Dr. Grant
Sarah Mosher and Kala Gray
Tiffany & Brittany
Some criminals and their boss Barb (Angela Parent) arrive at the lake area. They have stolen a painting and plan to escape in a rowboat. Shark has other plans and the painting falls overboard. The always hungry fish eats one of the bandits.
Angela Parent, Duncan Milloy and Phil Dukarsky
Barb, Rich  and Doug
Also Jill (Emanuelle Carriere) and her friends have decided to visit the lake. Jill wants to reveal the illegal oil drilling operation. Surprise! All of them are dressed in bikinis, except Mike (Kyle Martellacci). When the shark eats people from the both parties, they team up temporarily. So it is Bandit Team Barb, Rich (Duncan Milloy), Doug (Phil Dukarsky) vs. Bikini Team Jill, Tia (Christine Emes) and Kristen (Celine Filion). Then they happily wander in the forest. Soon the bandits take everyone hostages. Rich suddenly goes crazy and thinks that they should sacrifice the girls to the shark god, dead or alive. 
Kyle Martellacci and Emanuelle Carriere
Mike and Jill
Celine Filion and Christine Emes
Kristen and Tia
Eaten by a terrible green screen effect
Dismal continuity - check! 
Cardboard characters - check! 
Overblown epic score - check!
Ultra-generic "plot" - check!
Terrible pacing (just wait until you see the stroll in the forest scene) - check!
Under or overexposed lighting - check!
Awkward use of slow motion - check!
Shark that is too big to live in the small lake but can stealthy prey its victims in knee-deep water - check!
(Bonus: It can even fly!)
Crunchy crispbread eating sound every time shark eats someone - check! 
Silly sequel-baiting end - check! 
12 minute end credits with beer ads - check!

This is completely amateur stuff with zero budget. Shark stock footage is combined with terrible CGI-effects. Even the shark has nothing to suggest that it is Jurassic, it is just a big shark. Also the sound recording is of variable quality. The acting is bad without much putting soul into the roles. Girls, the shark just ate your friend, at least try to look sad for more than five seconds! 

I think this was just an excuse to film some girls in bikinis. Right, dudes?
It is not so bad that it is good, just bad. Still the director Brett Kelly has potential to become Canada's Ed Wood. Recommendable only for the most hardened trash movie connoisseurs. Check the trailer for highlights.
Rating: Very bad

Starring: Emanuelle Carriere, Christine Emes, Celine Filion, Angela Parent, Duncan Milloy, Phil Dukarsky, Kyle Martellacci , Joshua Gilbert Crosby, Kevin Preece, Jurgen Vollrath, Sarah Mosher, Kala Gray, Sherry Thurig, Jody Haucke, Darren Stevens, Ian Quick, Kimberly Wolfe
Director: Brett Kelly

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: 100 Degrees Below Zero

100 Degrees Below Zero  a.k.a 100° Below Zero a.k.a Frozen apocalypse a.k.a Silent World 2013 
The Asylum, The Institution, Next Station Productions, USA, Hungary, 2013. 
100 Degrees Below Zero title
In Iceland huge volcano erupts. Pilot Steve Foster (Jeff Fahey) has married a young wife Lacey (Judit Fekete). They have to land in London but Steve's teen kids Taryn (Sara Malakul Lane, known for Sharktopus) and Ryan (Marc Ewins) are stuck in Paris.
Judit Fekete and Jeff Fahey
Lacey and Steve
Marc Ewins and Sara Malakul Lane
Ryan and Taryn
The eruption causes a chain reaction of other volcano eruptions in Europe. Dr. Goldschein (Iván Kamarás) predicts that the huge ash clouds will block the Sun and cause a new ice age. British Colonel Ralph Dillard (John Rhys-Davies) starts to prepare for evacuation of the key personnel in Europe. 
Iván Kamarás
Dr. Goldschein
John Rhys-Davies
Colonel Ralph Dillard
Steve and Lacey try to reach Paris and find Taryn and Ryan. Taryn and Ryan try to survive cold, hail, earthquakes and robbers. And it is a wonder they manage to survive. Except for some action scenes where Taryn shows that she can kick their survival skills are absolutely stunning. If you think about Bear Grylls, they are exactly the opposite. Damn it! There aren't any warm coats in whole Paris! 
There aren't any warm coats in whole Paris!
An example of their orienteering skills:
Ryan: Hey, look we don't not know where we are going!
Taryn: I think we are supposed to stand on the doorway.

This is absolutely hilarious trash.

Kudos still for strong female characters as Taryn is less useless than Ryan. Also Lacey seems to be more concerned about her stepchildren than their father. 

The Asylum has found some pretty Hungarian actresses for the minor roles. 
Fru Roszil
Ana (Fru Roszil)
Zsofi Trecsko
Angelique (Zsofi Trecsko)
Don't know if this was meant to be a mockbuster trying to piggyback on the early hype of other ice-age film "Snowpiercer" that was released later in the same year. At least it borrows heavily from "Day After Tomorrow." And hey, the music sounds eerily similar to Doctor Who - 11th Doctor theme (I am the Doctor)! 

The film's pacing and continuity are odd. After the first volcanic eruption the Steve and Lacey are flying and trying to land in England. When the other volcanoes erupt they are still in the air. While Taryn and Ryan wander around Paris trying to find warm clothes, the rest of the Europe has already buried under snow. Dialogue is laughable. The acting is not all terrible as the actors try to do their best in the limits of the terrible script. It has to be said that it never feels dull with dangerous situations popping up every minute.

Hey, I just spotted  a Nato MI-8 helicopter with Russian Star markings!
MI-8 helicopter
John Rhys-Davies hams it up by looking super-concerned every time someone speaks to him. As usually with Syfy or Asylum disaster films the big cities seem to be populated by about ten people. The poster shows a frozen girl, no such scene is in the movie. This is a hilariously bad movie, great fun for The Asylum fans.

Rating: So bad it is good 

Starring: Jeff Fahey, Sara Malakul Lane, Marc Ewins, John Rhys-Davies, Iván Kamarás, Luke Healy, Judit Fekete, Zsófi Trecskó, Fru Roszil, Peter Linka, András Korcsmáros, Tamás Deák, Declan Hannigan, Tamás Lengyel, Zoltan Erdelyi, Csaba Gerner, Lajos Kalmár, Steve Carlson, Gabor F. Gabriel, Maximilian Elfeldt, Andray Johnson, Jordan James Smith, Richard Schenkman, Ross John Gilbert, Jane Doole 
Director: R.D. Braunstein

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Movie Review: Grudge Match

Grudge Match 
Callahan Filmworks, Gerber Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Warner Bros, USA, 2013. 
Grudge Match title
Boxing champs Henry 'Razor' Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy 'The Kid' McDonnen (Robert De Niro) are the fiercest rivals. After two matches in the 1980s the third and final grudge match was cancelled because Razor retired. Benevolent Razor went broke because of trusting to wrong people and returned to work in shipyard. Loudmouth Kid owns bar and car businesses. 
Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro
Razor and The Kid
Promoter Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart) tells that a video game company wants to model Razor and The Kid into their game. Razor does not want to but he agrees so that he can pay his coach's Louis 'Lightning' Conlon's (Alan Arkin) nursing home bills. 
Kevin Hart
Dante Slate, Jr
Alan Arkin
Louis 'Lightning' Conlon
Grudgement Day promotion
The two rivals meet at the studio. The fight of Razor and The Kid becomes a viral hit in social media. After 30 years the old boxers agree to have rematch on Grudgement Day! Both guys are old and in bad shape so extensive training is needed. Also both men have to participate promotion campaign making silly commercials. Razor's old love Sally (Kim Basinger) showss up to complicate the things further. Also The Kid meets his son BJ (Jon Bernthal). 
Kim Basinger
Jon Bernthal
And so it is that Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta have gotten old. Still they decide to show the Selfie  Generation that they are still alive. At the same time both men have to deal with the problems of the past and fix their lives. In the final match both veteran boxers have their moments.
The movie stays quite light with comedic dialogue and carefree taunting but there is also some light drama. The actors seem to be having fun, although many jokes are hit-or-miss. The style is lightly nostalgic and bit like 1980s feel-good comedies. Some affectionate parody is based on Sly's and Robert's tough guy images and their boxing films. Stallone trains using Rocky-style methods pulling trucks and throwing tractor tyres, while De Niro trains in the gym and has to prove his worth to humiliate the scorning gym-owner Frankie Brite (LL Cool J).  There is a good cast of supporting characters with Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart and Kim Basinger. It is not a serious film but it is fun entertainment.

Rating: Good

Starring: Jim Lampley, Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Rich Little, Ireland Baldwin, Anthony Bean, Mason Mackie, Kevin Hart, Barry Primus, Oscar Gale, Frederick Douglas Plunkett Jr., BJ Guyer, Jen Kober, Anthony Anderson, Carrie Lazar, Don Lake, Han Soto, Kurt Krause, Steve Levy, John Buccigross, Alan Arkin, Kenneth Kynt Bryan, Greg Sproles, Matthew Rimmer, Kirk W. Johnson, Yohance Myles, Larry Morgan, Jai Stefan, Frank Pesc, Kim Basinger, Todd Truley, Paul Ben-Victor, Robert Larriviere, Jon Bernthal, Joey Diaz, LL Cool J, Greg Plitt, Courtney Brennan, Mykel Shannon Jenkins, Rowan Joseph, Macsen Lintz, Dane Rhodes, Mike Goldberg, Camden Gray, Kate Reinders, Griff Furst, Sam Hoger, Chael Sonnen, Judd Lormand, Camila Le Sage, Bonnie Hellman, Wyatt Harris, Larry Merchant, Roy Jones Jr., Robert Sale, James Joseph, Michael Buffer, Pat Russell, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield
Director: Peter Segal

Shameless Pile Keeps on Growing: Books & Movies

Some recent additions to the Shameless Pile include both DVDs and literature.
Here are some books that either have been made into movies or are film novelizations and the corresponding movies: 
Dick-King Smith: The Water Horse (Finnish edition: Vesihevonen)

Emma McLaughlin: Nanny Diaries (Nanny- lastenhoitajan päiväkirja))

Dan Gordon: Wyatt Earp (film novelization):

Chris Kyle: American Sniper

Beatrix Potter: Tales of Beatrix Potter (Petteri Kaniinin satumaailma)

Janet Fitch: White Oleander (Valkoinen oleanteri)

Robert Bloch: Psycho I-II
Psycho Collection:

I have these also on DVD (somewhere) except Sabrina:
John Steakley: Vampire$ (Vampyyrin metsästäjät)
John Carpenter's Vampires:

Deborah Chiel: Sabrina (film novelization, originally based on Samuel A. Taylor 's play)

Craig Shaw Gardner: Batman (film novelization)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Movie Review: The Grudge 3

The Grudge 3 
Stage 6 Films, Ghost House Pictures, Ozla Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Unified Film Organization (UFO), Vertigo Entertainment, USA, Japan, 2009. 
The Grudge 3 title
The curse has moved to Chicago. Jake (Matthew Knight) survived "The Grudge 2", but witnessed the deaths of his family members and is now in mental hospital. Kayako kills him in a locked room. Dr. Sullivan (Shawnee Smith) is puzzled. 
Matthew Knight
Shawnee Smith
Dr. Sullivan
In Chicago Lisa's (Johanna Braddy) little sister Rose (Jadie Rose Hobson) begins to see ghost Toshio (Shimba Tsuchiya). Lisa is moving to New York with her boyfriend Andy (Beau Mirchoff). Their brother Max (Gil McKinney) is the manager of the building. Rose has bad asthma and Max wants to send Rose away to a healthier location. In Japan Naoko (Emi Ikehata) finds out about Jake's death and travels to Chicago. 
Johanna Braddy and Beau Mirchoff
Lisa and Andy
Gil McKinney
Jadie Rose Hobson
Tenants of the haunted house Renee (Laura Giosh) and her traumatized daughter Brenda (Mihaela Nankova) move away from the house. Brenda has barely entered new home when the ghosts take her (now that was the most pointless death in the Grudge series, wasn't it?) Also various other characters are killed by the ghosts. Naoko wants to exorcise the house. 
Mihaela Nankova
Emi Ikehata
Aiko Horiuchi
Shock reveal! Naoko is Kayako's sister who was never referenced even in "The Grudge 2." (In next part do we get to see Kayako's uncle or cousin? Or Saeki-family's meter reader?) 

Takashi Shimizu was no longer directing this and worked only as producer. And it is understandable as making six Ju-on & Grudge films must have been quite repetitive and numbing experience. Also Kayako's and Toshio's actors changed. The third movie tries to milk the last drops from an already dried cow. Not much is left of the original creepy atmosphere. As the series descended to direct-to-video limbo, the budget is lower than in the two previous movies. Shimizu could have pulled that to his advantage but Toby Wilkins couldn't. The story is completely linear with regular teen-horror tropes and uninspired dialogue. The subtle horror of the original is changed  to cheap slasher horror. Even Kayako's rattling sound somehow sounds worse.

Co-produced by Phillip J. Roth and filmed in Bulgaria.

Rating: Bad

Starring: Matthew Knight, Shawnee Smith, Mike Straub, Aiko Horiuchi, Shimba Tsuchiya, Emi Ikehata, Takatsuna Mukai, Johanna Braddy, Beau Mirchoff, Jadie Rose Hobson, Marina Sirtis, Gil McKinney, Laura Giosh, Mihaela Nankova, Michael McCoy 
Director: Toby Wilkins

Recommendations by Engageya