Thursday, July 30, 2015

Movie Review: Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill

Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill 
The Asylum, USA, 2004.
Death Valley: The Revenge of Bloody Bill title
Fugitive drug dealer Darrell (Dean N. Arevalo) gets lost in desert and finds an old village. Sunset Valley seems to be an abandoned Western town. The town is however  full of zombies who want to eat him. 
Dean N. Arevalo
Darrell in a bad place
Group of teens are going to debating contest Phoenix. Gwen (Chelsea Jean) "The Sensible", Mandy (Denise Boutte) "The Snob", Buck (Steven Glinn) "The Idiot", Sandra (Kandis Erickson) "The Not Particularly Characterized", Jerry (Matt Marraccini) "The Slightly Religious" and Avery "The Coach" (Scott Carson). Darrell's former business partner Earl (Gregory Bastien) carjacks their minivan. They arrive to the village whose population has grown by one! 
Matt Marraccini and Chelsea Jean
Jerry and Gwen
Gregory Bastien
Sunset Valley
Zombified Darrell appears and says that Bloody Bill (Jeremy Bouvet) will find them. The zombies start picking the youth one by one. During civil war evil William Anderson (loosely based on real historical person) was lynched and now he has returned to get revenge.
Steven Glinn
Buck getting acrobatic with his hat
Jeremy Bouvet
Bloody Bill
Although The Asylym is best known for mockbusters and low budget monster movies, in the beginning they made some original(!) low budget horror movies. This looks a bit like Z-grade "From Dusk Till Dawn" or "Hills Have Eyes" with zombies. The music is not all bad with Rob Zombie style metal by Ralph Riechermann. 

This is quite average direct-to-DVD zombie flick. As far as cinematography and special effects go, they are quite decent. Not unwatchable for a low budget horror film. It is just that there are several similar and better zombie flicks around so that this is very forgettable run-of-the-mill stuff. There are some comical moments: Buck getting (unintendedly) acrobatic with his hat, Earl's Scarface-moment and the constantly updating population number sign. Maybe there is a zombie carpenter who makes those signs. 

Rating: Average

Starring: Chelsea Jean, Gregory Bastien, Denise Boutte, Scott Carson, Matt Marraccini, Kandis Erickson, Steven Glinn, Jeremy Bouvet, Dean N. Arevalo, Tori Gonzales, Summer Davis , Jaycee Davis, Lee McLaughlin, Eric Steele, , Jodi Lyn Brockton, Robert Fleck, Kim Little, Stephanie Paris (and over 50 zombie actors) 
Director: Byron Werner

Monday, July 27, 2015

Movie Review: Sniper: Reloaded

Sniper: Reloaded 
Stage 6 Films, ApolloMovie Beteiligungs, Film Afrika Worldwide, USA, South Africa, 2011. 
Sniper: Reloaded title
Fourth in the "Sniper"- series and first without Tom Berenger. 

Son of sniper legend Thomas Beckett Marine Sgt. Brandon Beckett (Chad Michael Collins) is accused of going AWOL in Congo. Working under UN he was training Congolese regular army and Captain Ngoba (Khulu M. Skenjana) to fight terrorists. Col. Hans Jaeger (Richard Sammel) sends Beckett and Captain Nelson (Conrad Kemp) ro rescue a plantation owner Jean Van Brunt (Rob Fruithof).
Chad Michael Collins
Sgt. Brandon Beckett
Richard Sammel
Col. Hans Jaeger
Enemy sniper tries to kill Van Brunt and several Marines die. Hunter Martin Chandler (Patrick Lyster) saves Beckett. Beckett and Chandler decide to take Van Brunt's daughter Kelli (Kayla Privett) to safety. The rebels kidnap orphaned children. Beckett gets wounded but he promises to come back later to help Chandler. 
Patrick Lyster
Martin Chandler
Great scenery
Richard Miller (Billy Zane) from the first "Sniper" movie is now training snipers. Richard Miller is not the shell shocked rookie he was in the first film, but more tougher and experienced sniper. Miller goes to get Beckett back home. Beckett wants revenge but Miller says he can't survive against a sniper. After a romance with Lieutenant Ellen Abramowitz (Annabel Wright) Beckett starts his mission. Beckett dislikes sniping but has to learn it if he wants to survive. He gets advice and help from Chandler and Miller. However there is a traitor in the UN forces.
Billy Zane
Richard Miller
 Khulu M. Skenjana
Captain Ngoba
Enemy sniper (Justin Strydom)
The movie is action-wise good and the filming locations are beautiful. However the plot holes appearing after the first half are terrible. For example Ngoba is all the time locking horns with Beckett. There is a scene where Ngoba watches the baddie sniper going to mission, so it looks that Ngoba is understanding that something fishy is going on. This makes his actions afterwards illogical. It is almost as the script writers intended to make Ngoba more important to the plot but then sacrificed the setup just to get one more bigger firefight near the end. Also the actions of the main bad guy are illogical, why send sniper to the plantation at the same time when the Marines are there also?

Rating: Average 

Starring: Clyde Berning, Chad Michael Collins, Billy Zane, Annabel Wright, Hlomla Dandala, Rob Fruithof, Calvin Holloway, Conrad Kemp, Chumisa Kosa, Martin Le Maitre, Patrick Lyster, Huguette Marara, Hlelo Nhlapo, Tefo Paya, Kayla Privett, Noluthando Radebe, Nic Rasenti, Richard Sammel, Justin Shaw, Bonginkosi Shibe, Khulu M. Skenjana, Justin Strydom, Ian Van Der Heyden, Adrian Waldron
Director: Claudio Fäh

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Movie Review: Coronado

ARMS GmbH, Coronado Motion Picture LLC, Uncharted Territory, Germany, USA, 2003.
Claire Winslow's (Kristin Dattilo) fiancé Will Gallagher (Michael Lowry) travels to Switzerland. Claire follows him, but Will's company does not really exist. Will has traveled to El Coronado, Central America to perform some secret task. The country is ruled by El Presidente Hugo Luis Ramos (John Rhys-Davies) and the people are revolting.
Kristin Dattilo
Claire suspects that rebels have kidnapped Will. She asks news reporter Arnet McClure (Clayton Rohner) to take her to the rebel base. Arnet is also secretly smuggling guns to the rebels. Also mechanic Jose (Gary Carlos Cervantes) and cameraman Renny (David Earl Waterman) are part of the group.
Clayton Rohner
Arnet McClure
Gary Carlos Cervantes
Claire patches up Jose
After escaping government soldiers and seeing destroyed towns Claire joins the rebels. Sancho (Daniel Zacapa) teaches Claire to shoot. Will is revealed to be a secret agent secretly delivering American weapons to rebels. The rebel leader Rafael (Byron Quiros) is planning a decisive attack but the rebels are betrayed!
Kristin Dattilo and Daniel Zacapa
Claire and Sancho
Byron Quiros
Coronado is an old school "Indiana Jones", "Romancing the Stone" or "The Librarian" style adventure with predictable story but still entertaining. The revolution story is very Hollywood-style, with brave rebels and evil government. Because most of the story happens in jungle, there is the obligatory collapsing wooden bridge scene. 
Hazardous bridge
Secret rebel base
Kristin Dattilo is fun to watch. John Rhys-Davies appears only briefly imitating El Presidente of "Tropico"-series. The $4.7 Million dollar budget is used quite impressively. The trailer declares: DVD was invented for movies like this! And why not, it is nice to watch on a rainy day.
John Rhys-Davies
El Presidente (Coronado)
El Presidente (Tropico)
Rating: Good

Starring: Kristin Dattilo, Clayton Rohner, Michael Lowry, John Rhys-Davies, Daniel Zacapa, Gary Carlos Cervantes, David Earl Waterman, Byron Quiros, David Purdham, Danny Mora, Rafael J. Noble, Aline Mayagoitia, Claudia de la Cabada, José Escandón, Roger Nevares, Diego Sandoval, Gabriel Ronquillo, Paco Estua, Elizabeth Beckwith, Fermín Martínez, Salvador 'Apache' Serrano, Juan Manuel González, María Luisa Coronel, Emilio Guerrero, Salvador Aguirre, Alejandro Faugier, Hans Kohler, Carlos Pedroza
Director: Claudio Fäh

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Movie Review: Richard the Lionheart

Richard the Lionheart
Claang Entertainment, DOMA Entertainment, WonderPhil Productions, Wonderphil Entertainment, USA, Italy, 2013.
In Gaul 55 B.C. Julius Caesar (Umberto Procopio) searches for a magic sword that is stronger than other swords. Celtic witch (Veronica Calilli) gives it to him, and Caesar repays by killing the witch. The witch casts a curse that will last for 1000 years. A fortress is built where prisoners must fight for freedom against invincible opponents.

In 1172 A.D. Richard (Greg Chandler Maness) is in Italy boozing. He is an arrogant brat.  He is betrayed by his brother Henry the Young (Andrea Zirio) and father King Henry II (Malcolm McDowell). King plans to see if Richard is worthy of being a king.
Greg Chandler Maness
Andrea Zirio
Henry the Young
Malcolm McDowell
King Henry II

The fortress is supervised by ruthless Selector (Stewart Arnold). Richard and other prisoners are chained together and put into cruel challenges. Richard must survive three torments. Cell mate Basileus (Burton Perez) heals Richard's wounds and tries to teach humility to Richard. There is also a Basileus' girlfriend Ghaliya (Yudith Carrion) in neighbour cell. In first torment the prisoners have to fight against a zombie knight. Richard manages to win. He has a dream and gets the magic sword.
Stewart Arnold
Burton Perez
Yudith Carrion

Meanwhile King Louis of France and Count Chester are planning to invade England. Henry begins to miss Richard. The second torment means big trouble for Richard and Basileus. Henry's sons are starting a rebellion against him.
Big trouble

Again Stefano Milla uses a variation of his previous gladiator themed movies ("Gladiator Games" and "Kingdom of Gladiators"). Actors are slightly better althoug there are still many amateurs. The budget seems to have been slightly higher. However dubbing problems and bad voice recording are still present. The story seems complicated first, but turns out to be quite straightforward forging of a hero story. This time they could afford some gore effects also. The filming locations and castles near Turin look great.

The film mixes real historical figures with fiction. This is not a movie of Richard the Lionheart's crusade or reign but aims to be Richard's origin story. As a small scale independent film with quite misleading cover art it is not a huge blockbuster for demanding audiences. At right mindset it is entertaining though. It manages to be a decent gritty medieval adventure and the best effort Stefano Milla has managed to direct until now. The sequel "Richard The Lionheart: Rebellion" is to be released in 2015.

Rating: Good (for a low budget indie film)

Starring: Greg Chandler Maness, Burton Perez, Malcolm McDowell, Stewart Arnold, Andrea Zirio, Yudith Carrion, Christopher Jones, Daniele Lucca, Veronica Calilli, Diego Casale, Alessandra Piscopo, Thomas Tinker, Alice Lussiana Parente, Alfredo Vasta, Umberto Procopio, Davide Luisi, Raul Cremonse, Fabio Morsilli, Massimone, Gianluca Calamai, Luca Fontolan, Alessandro Bianchi, Twillo Giardina, Davide Chiolero, Gian Luca Mezzogori, Davide Ferricchio, Paolo Carlo Ratti, Ezio Ruzzafante, Lorenzo Riviezzo, Simone Masoero, Federico Dodero Podio, Valentina Conti, Silvia Vergnano, Tania Benvegnu, Ivan Aversa, Lino Vitale, Simonetta Rastello, Luigi Pizzardo, Dennis Forrester, Claudio Battista, Moa Zhendehrazmi, Maurizio Corigliano, Sharon Fryer
Director: Stefano Milla

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Movie Review: Gladiator Games

Gladiator Games (a.k.a Claang: The Game) 
Claang Art, WonderPhil Productions, Wonderphil Entertainment, Italy, USA, 2010. 
Each Cycle has four Ages: The Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. If the humans can regain their divine origin in the end of Iron Age, a new Golden Age will begin. 

In 1066 Duke William II of Normandy (Maurizio Corigliano) is preparing for the Battle of Hastings. The soldiers find holy Menhir stone circle. Soldiers catch a strange man Vidr (Maurizio Bazzano), who has a board game Claang with him. He tells the legend of Bronze Age Vanir hero Tyr (Francesco Chinchella). Vanir warriors fought for the rulership of communities in the gladiatorial games known as Claang. The winner gets a powerful Claang-medallion.
Maurizio Corigliano
Duke William
Maurizio Bazzano
Vidr introduces the Claang-symbol
Tyr and Elanor (Suzi Lorraine) lived on an island to avoid duels. Tyrant Sahr (Paolo Tonti) demands a Claang-duel with Tyr. Tyr must fight agains Bangor (Mirko Rilossi). Tyr is defeated and he is declared dead. Sahr now takes Eleanor to himself. Iron Age begins. 
Suzi Lorraine
Francesco Chinchella
Paolo Tonti
Sahr changes the game rules so that instead of single warriors now teams will fight. Now the game is kind of American football with swords and shields. Tyr is hidden in a village that still remembers the Golden Age. There he is healed and he learns new sword fighting skills. He meets a crippled warrior Biran (Paolo Pizzo) who knows the secrets of Sahr. Tyr starts training his own team. 
Tyr training
Francesco Chinchella and Paolo Pizzo
Tyr and Biran
Tyr's team
After hardships the team enters the Claang. When everything seems lost, Arena Master (Roberto Rossi) gives pep talk to Tyr's team. 
Roberto Rossi
Arena Master
Battle of Hastings
The filming locations are beautiful and the equipment looks realistic. Some scenes are badly dubbed and the level of acting varies. Some actors are just hilariously bad. Considering the ultra low budget the battle scenes work surprisingly well. Many of the actors are medieval hobbyists so they know some old sword fighting techniques. Basically similar gladiator tournament theme was also used in Stefano Milla's inferior "Kingdom of Gladiators."

However the main focus of the film are not the fights but the talks about honour and principles and the progression of human civilization which makes it almost an art film. The directors influences were “Gladiator”, “Rollerball” and “The Seventh Seal.” The movie has many original ideas, but the low budget and the amateur makes the realization less than satisfactory. The ending feels a bit rushed and it is not clear how Tyr's team fared afterwards. Some scenes have quite good cinematography, but the shaky camera work is in many scenes distracting. CGI is bad but at least not overused. 

It is the kind of movie that was probably thrown together by group of friends with interest in medieval history. It is not a good movie but the obvious limitations make it difficult to be too harsh to it. 

DVD contains also Stefano Milla's short movie: Claang the Origin (Claang Art, 2005 Starring: Francesco Chinchella, Paolo Tonti, Mirko Rilossi, Maurizio Corigliano) Guy tells a story about Giants creating the world. The giants show their courage by fighting gladiator style (the fight is also used in Gladiator Games). 

Rating: Average (for a low budget indie film) or Bad (as a regular movie) 

Starring: Francesco Chinchella, Suzi Lorraine, Maurizio Corigliano, Paolo Tonti, Paolo Pizzo, Mirko Rilossi, Maurizio Bazzano, Lorenzo Tonetto, Yukai Ebisuno, Giulia Mazzacurati, Giovanni Tricomi, Per Andersson, Ilenia Ballabene, Giancarlo Barbadoro, Stefano Faloppa Beccani, Mauro Bellini, Maurizio Bestetti, Fabio Bonavena, Federico Maria Bonizzi, Beatrice Briganani, Andrea Cannio, Andrea Della Casa, Luca Colarelli, Andrea Convalle, Lorenzo Cullino, Marco Durighello, Lap Fanoli, Fulvio Fasano, Pierluigi Ferrero, Franz, Andrea Fratello, Raul Fregonese, Vito Galetta, Fabrizio Gallina, Francesco Ghini, Massimo Giacchero, Marco Giglioli, Il Gray, Daniele Imhoff, Andrea Lesmo, Lopez, Nicolo' Meliga, Enrico Morando, Andrea Moretti, Massimo Morini, Rosalba Nattero, Alma Noce, Aron Paradiso, Roberto Pecora, Ulisse Provolo, Davide Rocca, Gianluca Roggero, Michele Rossi ,Roberto Rossi, Giuseppe Rotunno, Walter Ruggio, Giuseppe Scrivano, Giovanni Vatteroni, Federica Vellani, Michele Zanellino, Zanna 
Director: Stefano Milla

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