Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween! October Belongs to Horror Recap

dracula piller dracula blod

The playful 8 horror movie watching challenge from ...noir ends. The event gave finally some "excuses" to watch Finnish cult classic "Kuutamosonaatti" as well as new contender "Bodom" as well as some wacky zombie films "Dead Before Dawn" and "Dead Rising: Watchtower."

There were many other horror films that I planned to watch but October ends to soon. Partial blame is to Lou Ferrigno marathon in the beginning of October that went on a bit longer than expected. Well, those other scary flicks will be watched sooner or later anyways. For example these were left unwatched this time:
Now it is time to eat some Dracula-themed candies that I didn't know they were still manufacturing.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #8: Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?

Mostly Ghostly: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend? a.k.a R.L. Stine's Mostly Ghostly 2: Have You Met My Ghoulfriend?
Universal 1440 Entertainment, Commotion Pictures, Lookout Entertainment, USA, 2014.
Halloween movie for the whole family, based on the book by R.L. Stine.

Max (Ryan Ochoa) goes to walk his dog on cemetery. Max has a ring that protects from evil ghosts. He even has ghost friends Tara (Madison Pettis) and Nicky (Roshon Fegan). Eevil ghost wizard Phears (Charlie Hewson) wants to raise a ghost army. Phears looks like Nosferatu with pointy teeth and hair.
Ryan Ochoa, Madison Pettis and Roshon Fegan
Max, Tara and Nicky
Charlie Hewson
Bella Thorne
Max likes cute redhead Cammy (Bella Thorne) but she is not very interested in him. Grandma (Joan Rivers in her last role) and parents give tips about girls. Nicky and Tara are trying to find their parents. In the evening Max and the ghosts search for clues at school. Surprise! Cammy is also there setting up Halloween decorations. Little by little Max begins to look more interesting to her. 
Joan Rivers and Ali Eagle
Grandma and Cousin Shelley
Max  has to survive PE-lessons, there he gets help from his ghost-friends (that's ghost-doping!) As a weird detail PE-teacher (Carolyn Hennesy) has named all the gym equipment. Phears sends ghost dancer Emma (Caroline Lagerfelt/Anastasia Baranov) to steal Max's ring, but she targets annoying big brother Colin (Calum Worthy) instead. Comical possessions and ghostly pranks follow. Teacher Mrs. Wright (Juliette Cohen, who plays teacher in all of the "Mostly Ghostly" movies) tries to keep the order in the classroom with poor results. Emma isn't evil but she was tricked by Phears, so Emma loans her athletic skills to Max. 
Anastasia Baranov
Emma (Anastasia Baranov)
Juliette Cohen
Mrs. Wright
It seems that this is a sequel to "Mostly Ghostly" (2008), flashbacks in the beginning reveal what happened previously. It is curious that the sequel took so many years. This is not the best R.L. Stine filmatization, "Haunting Hour" (2007) was more entertaining spooky fun. This movie suffers from overtrying to entertain with (cheap) special effects and having a weird pacing, the main story ends and the movie still goes on for 15 minutes. Only appearance of Phears is in any way scary, overall the adventure is too comical to be creepy. For younger kids the spooky gimmicks are quite safe as Halloween entertainment. Some fun is also there when Max performs magic tricks. In the beginning Max is kind of underdog  requiring help from the ghosts all the time, but the lesson is that he must learn to trust his own skills.
Calum Worthy and Ryyan Ochoa
Colin and Max escape evil ghouls
Ali Eagle who has a non-speaking role here appeared year later in "Lake Placid vs Anaconda"  as sarcastic goth.

Rating:  Average

Starring: Bella Thorne, Ryan Ochoa, Roshon Fegan, Madison Pettis, Charlie Hewson, Calum Worthy, Eric Allan Kramer, Gigi Rice, Joan Rivers, Ali Eagle, Caroline Lagerfelt, Anastasia Baranova, Marc Kenneth Robinson, Casey Young, Wyatt Bernard, Eric Julian Shaw, Adi Shankar, Carolyn Hennesy, Juliette Cohen, Hank Donovan, Abbey Blake, Mary Passeri, Elsie Hewitt, Chelsea Vale, Jordan Bailey, Nick Bemrose, Ilia Constantine, Sherilyn Henderson, Benjamin Levy, Scott P. Martin, Scott P. Martin, Danny Mika, Nino Nava, Isabella Revel, Jan-Michael Rosner, Joe Sobalo Jr.
Director: Peter Hewitt

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #7: Romasanta The Werewolf Hunt

Romasanta The Werewolf Hunt a.k.a The Werewolf Manhunt a.k.a Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta a.k.a Werewolf Hunter 
Filmax, Future Films, Fantastic Factory (Filmax), Castelao Producciones, Spain, UK, 2004. 
Based on a true story about Spanish serial killer Manuel Blanco Romasanta, "The Werewolf of Allariz." 

1851 Spain. Young women are being torn apart by wolves. Merchant Manuel Romasanta (Julian Sands) returns to village to meet his girlfriend Maria (Maru Valdivielso). Maria has sister Bárbara (Elsa Pataky, known for "Fast and Furious"-series) and mute daughter Teresa (Luna McGill). As Bárbara  has crush on Manuel, jealous Maria moves to Santander with Manuel and Teresa, leaving Bárbara behind. But Manuel has dark and sadistic tendencies. 
Julian Sands
Manuel Romasanta
Maru Valdivielso
Elsa Pataky
Teresa and Maria are murdered. Charming Manuel targets Bárbara next. Unbeknowingly Bárbara falls in love with him, but soon starts to see that something is wrong. Wandering madman Antonio (John Sharian) believes that Manuel is a werewolf. Professor Philips (David Gant) is a phrenologist and believes that manuel is insane. District Attorney Luciano de la Bastida (Gary Piquer) does not know what to believe. Bárbara wants revenge and so she participates to hunt Manuel.
Not a werewolf
John Sharian
David Gant
Professor Philips
This is an unconventional werewolf-movie and leaves open the question if Romasanta was a real werewolf or not. Moody horror drama (point being on drama) has slow-burning suspense, nice cinematography and good actors. As the style is of period drama many horror-fans expecting werewolf action will be disappointed even if the killings are brutal. Julian Sands who is always cast as handsome but more or less dubious characters. If he is the Beast, then Elsa Pataky is the Beauty, giving romantic spice to the story. Director Paco Plaza later directed the effective [REC]-zombie movies.

Rating: Good

Starring: Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky, John Sharian, Gary Piquer, David Gant, Maru Valdivielso, Luna McGill, Carlos Reig-Plaza, Reg Wilson, Ivana Baquero, Laura Mañá, Sergi Ruiz, Itziar Fenollar, Carlos Sante, Jaume Montané, Arantxa Peña, Anna Estellés, Ben Temple, Tacho González, Pep García, Alejandra Juno, Jesús Berenguer, John Easthman, Macarena Gómez
Director: Paco Plaza

Monday, October 23, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #6: Dead Rising: Endgame

Dead Rising: Endgame
Legendary Digital Media, DR2 Productions, Contradiction Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, USA, Canada, 2016.
Watching "Dead Rising: Watchtower" first is a must the plot will be difficult to grasp. Two years after the zombie outbreak of the first film military and pharmaceutical company Phenotrans are kidnapping people. Chase (Jesse Metcalfe) is trying to expose the conspiracy and find his former photographer Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy) but he gets cold shoulder from his TV-channel who are afraid to publish the scoop. His workmates Sandra (Marie Avgeropoulos) and Jill (Jessica Harmon) have different opinions about continuing the crusade. Well, it is better do do something soon as naughty General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) plans to destroy everyone who knows about the conspiracy.
Jesse Metcalfe
Chase Carter
Marie Avgeropoulos and Jessica Harmon
Sandra and Jill
Defected company scientis Hancock (Ian Tracey) tells about project Afterlife. Military plans to kill all the 1.5 million who are getting treatment for the zombie virus. Chase, Sandra, Hancock and weapons dealer Garth (Patrick Sabongui) form a team to save the infected. The clock is ticking and the heroes have to infiltrate a server farm in zombie-infested area. The zombies have previously been of the slow type, but now new genetically-altered bald-headed zombies appear, and boy are they fast. Scientist named Rand (Billy Zane) has been doing secret experiments. Jordan returns, but she is not her usual self and no wonder considering what has been done to her.
Let's go to work
Keegan Connor Tracy
Billy Zane
The sequel is less-like video game, the horror is a bit more effective and gorier. Still the improvised weapons are in use, but they seem more practical than the crazy gadgets of the first film. Over all the plot feels more serious, leaving less room for black comedy or cool boss fights which is a loss. Still there are good action scenes and Chase has evolved into zombie slayer who chops zombies like there is no tomorrow. The end fight is quite awesome. In the end Chuck Greene (Victor Webster) from game "Dead Rising 2" can be seen. I wouldn't be surprised if a sequel would follow, as the end leaves the plot lines hanging.
Victor Webster
Chuck Greene

Rating: Good

Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Marie Avgeropoulos, Ian Tracey, Keegan Connor Tracy, Jessica Harmon, Patrick Sabongui, Camille Sullivan, Jim Thorburn, Billy Zane, Dennis Haysbert, Teach Grant, Lee Majdoub, Sandy Robson, Donavon Stinson, Peter Kelamis, Ben Cotton, Viv Leacock, Luvia Petersen, Stephen Lobo, Dakota Guppy, Curtis Lum, Heather Roop, Jim Shield, Victor Webster, Sarah Lindsay, Joshua Roy, Peter Brown, Naomi Kyle
Director: Pat Williams

Saturday, October 21, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #5: Dead Rising: Watchtower

Dead Rising: Watchtower
Legendary Digital Media, Contradiction Films, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Dead Rising Productions, USA, Canada, 2015.
Based on Capcom's video game series.

Reporter Chase Carter (Jesse Metcalfe) is making a scoop about zombie epidemic with photographer Jordan (Keegan Connor Tracy). The infected must use Zombrex-medicine once a day to avoid being turned into zombies. But the drug stops working and soon the street are full of hungry monsters. 
Jesse Metcalfe
Chase Carter
Keegan Connor Tracy
The army starts firebombing the city after time limit is reached. The survivor celebrity of the previous outbreak Frank West (Rob Riggle) comments the happenings in his bluntly realistic style so that the interviewer rolls her eyes. As a comical relief, Frank is a bit like Bruce Campbell's Ash. Jordan's side mission is to seek allies outside the quarantine area to help Chase get out. The goverment officials General Lyons (Dennis Haysbert) and Norton (Gary Jones) have their orders, but can either of them be trusted?
Rob Riggle
Frank West
Dennis Haysbert and Gary Jones
General Lyons and Norton
Chase joins forces with Crystal (Meghan Ory) who has her own supply of Zombrex that works. There is a sinister conspiracy behind the recent outbreak. A bit of tragedy is brought by Maggie (Virginia Madsen) who is searching for her lost daughter. It will not end well...
Meghan Ory
Virginia Madsen
Maggie and the other heroes assess the situation
The story goes on with familiar structure of video games. There are occasional boss fights and improvised weapons such as power tools attached to mallets, chainsaws and shovel-swords. The highlights include fights against Bonzo the Zombie Clown (C. Ernst Harth) and psychotic biker gang leader Logan (Aleks Paunovic).
Aleks Paunovic
C. Ernst Harth
Bonzo the Zombie Clown
These are useful for cutting down zombies
As a video game movie this is faithful to the world of the original games, satisfying the video game fans. There is not much new added to the genre but otherwise the story is passable. Over the top zombie mayhem is good although sometimes also quite tasteless even for considering the zombie topic. The action has some well designed scenes such as long one-shot scene where Chase escapes zombies climbing over cars and a school bus. Also the combo weapons are wacky and inventive. Entertaining stuff although the almost two-hour duration could have been condensed. The cast has familiar faces from TV shows, pretty co-stars and Jesse Metcalfe fits the role of hotshot reporter hero. The movie ends in a way that sequel is inevitable.

Rating: Good

Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory, Virginia Madsen, Keegan Connor Tracy, Aleks Paunovic, Dennis Haysbert, Gary Jones, Carrie Genzel, Rob Riggle, Reese Alexander, Harley Morenstein, Julia Benson, Peter Benson, Darren Dolynski, Patrick Sabongui, Travis MacDonald, Michael Bean, Sachin Sahel, Khaira Ledeyo, James Yi, Colton Quan, Manny Jacinto, David Lyle, Gaston Morrison, Todd Thomson, C. Ernst Harth, Taya Clyne, Nickolas Baric, Ed Brando, Paul Lazenby, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Mark Wilmot 
Director: Zach Lipovsky

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #4: Lake Bodom (Bodom)

Lake Bodom (Bodom)
Don Films, Münchhausen Productions, Finland, Estonia, 2016.
In 1960s four camping youths were attacked and stabbed at Lake Bodom with only one survivor. The culprit was never found. A half century later four teens decide to travel to the lake to solve the mystery. Ida-Maria (Nelly Hirst-Gee) has strictly religious parents and she has a personal trauma. Tough girl Nora (Mimosa Willamo) is her best friend. Elias (Mikael Gabriel) is the cool chick-magnet guy, and Atte (Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä) is the geek.
Mimosa Willamo
Nelly Hirst-Gee
Mikael Gabriel and Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä
Elias and Atte
Atte has a theory about the murder and he has gone into details to re-enact the crime scene. Elias has something other in mind than playing detective. The night comes and scary things move in the woods. When real murders begin, can someone get out alive? 
Murderer murders
There are rare teen slashers made in Finland and even less are watchable (*cough* "Nightmare" and "Nightmare 2"). As a genre film "Bodom" fulfills the expectations well, and couple of twists have been written to the story to make it less straightforward.  For seasoned horror veterans the twists are not too surprising, but are there to make things more interesting for casual horror audiences. There is also a thrilling scene of vehicular horror. Atmospheric cinematography and murky ambient sound track help to create the sinister mood. Rapper Mikael Gabriel plays mainly himself, Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä's Atte stays a bit enigmatic and the girls make the strongest roles. And no wonder Mimosa Willamo got awards for her role. The film gained some success in international film festivals. Hopefully this encourages other Finnish film makers to experiment with genre films.

Rating: Good

Starring: Nelly Hirst-Gee, Mimosa Willamo, Mikael Gabriel, Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä, Pirjo Moilanen, Ilkka Heiskanen, Sami Eerola, Otso Ahosola, Ville Saksela, Iiris Kankkunen, Tommi Korpela, Jarkko Niemi
Director: Taneli Mustonen

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October Belongs to Horror #3: Army of Zombies (Kuutamosonaatti II: Kadunlakaisijat)

Army of Zombies (Kuutamosonaatti II: Kadunlakaisijat)
Filminor, Finland, 1991.
...And in Germany this is known as "Muttertag 3."

The first film "Kuutamosonaatti" was darkly fun agrarian horror cult film. Sadly the sequel loses the horror momentum and the result is a confusing mess.

Most of the Kyyrölä family died in the first film. Mother froze to death and Arvo burned to crisp. Only animal-like giant Sulo (Mikko Kivinen) remained. Sulo takes the remains of his family to a sauna, because if a good sauna won't help then nothing will. And so Mother (Soli Labbart) and pervy brother Arvo (Kari Sorvali) revive. Arvo is more slack-jawed than before (his jawbone falls several times), but that will heal over time. They can also revive Father Kyyrölä (Erkki Pajala) who drowned into swamp when he was smuggling moonshine. 
Mikko Kivinen
Kari Sorvali
It is time for Arvo to go find a job in Helsinki. Nosy social workers come to the farm so the Kyyrölä's sink them into swamp. There is some recession era satire when Arvo tries several jobs. In Helsinki Arvo gets a job entertaining Russian tourists. A better job opens up as driver of street sweeping machine (therefore justifying the Finnish name of the movie: "Street Sweepers." Finally he starts living by selling moonshine. Beautiful singer Kata Kärkkäinen (former Playboy-model and nowadays writer, artist and media-persona) catches Arvo's eye this time, but compared to the first film the threat is mild. 
Arvo's bachelor pad
Kata Kärkkäinen
Mother Kyyrölä gets worried that Arvo is living a sinful life in the city. So Mother and Sulo have to find Arvo and put him under control As a funny detail everyone in Helsinki seems to originate from Kyyrölä-village (satirizing the movement of country people to the cities). On the way to find Arvo, the Kyyrölä's meet yuppies, inept cops and social workers who all look like Finnish actor Matti Pellonpää. So far so good. Even as the horror aspect was lost, there could have been some funny contrast to the first film when the hellbillies moved into big city.
Matti Tuominen
Matti Tuominen as the leader of Red Guard zombies
Matti Pellonpää as social worker
But the focus shifts and it is difficult to say what the makers had in mind. Father Kyyrölä revives a squad of Red Guard soldiers who were executed during the Civil War. With their leader Edward Allan Kilpinen (Matti Tuominen) the zombie communists travel to Helsinki to continue the revolution. Bumbling around, they meet various people including the Minister of Culture (Miitta Sorvali, who is Kari Sorvali's comedian wife).
Minister of Culture (Miitta Sorvali)
And so on. Kyyrölä brothers sell hazardous moonshine, and cause a ruckus in Miss Helsinki contest (hosted by era's popular game show host Jorma Pulkkinen), chase Kata in amusement park Linnanmäki and escape cops. But the film is basically plotless and the story goes nowhere. Arvo still has some funny one-liners but everything is watered down. It is still recommended to watch once to see the further adventures of the Kyyröläs. However the experience is quite painful.
Jorma Pulkkinen
Finnish Ramopunk band 'Ne Luumäet' made a song inspired by the film with the chorus: "'You shouldn't stare too much at the street sweeper. He comes and kills. And when he kills, then you die.'

Rating: Bad

Starring: Soli Labbart, Kari Sorvali, Mikko Kivinen, Erkki Pajala, Keijo Komppa, Matti Tuominen, Ilkka Koivula, Esa Anttila, Seppo Juusonen, Jussi Tuominen, Katariina Souri, Mikko Nousiainen, Vesa Vierikko, Leena Rapola, Veli Tuomas-Kettunen, Olavi Tervahartiala, Veikko Tiitinen, Jouko Klemettilä, Matti Pellonpää, Juha Häkkänen, Toivo Tuomainen, Martti Kuisma, Anne Nielsen, Aulis Hämäläinen, Pentti Louko, Tauno Karvonen, Miitta Sorvali, Ulla Tapaninen, Jari Järvimaa, Jorma Pulkkinen, Sari Havas, Risto Aaltonen, Harri Hyttinen, Lina Ignatova, Pirjo Kotimäki, Sonja Lindén, Marjo Louhe, Pia Nolvi, Anne Pakkanen, Albena Petrova, Ranja Rannikko, Anne Styrman, Satu Tuuliluoto, Minna Aaltonen
Director: Olli Soinio

Recommendations by Engageya