Sunday, June 27, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Fangs of the Living Dead

Fangs of the Living Dead

Starring: Anita Ekberg, Julian Ugarte, Diana Lorys, Gianni Medici, and Adriana Ambesi

Directed by: Amando de Ossorio

Written by: Amando de Ossorio

Production Companies: Cobra Films, Felix Cinematografica, Tritón P.C., and Victory Films

Release Date: July 23, 1969

Body Count: 1 in Flashback and 1 Vampire

Old European horror is a risky viewing experience. Some of it can't be great experimental stuff, it can be dull but full or gore and nudity, or it can just be bad...bad bad bad. Somewhere in that spectrum falls Fangs of the Living Dead.

It's got the stereotypical Gothic Euro-trash set up. Something draws a young, attractive woman into a country castle where something evil is taking place. In this case, Sylvia goes off because her aunt has dyed and she has inherited the title of Countess of the castle. The evil, as the title of the flick alludes, is vampires. Sylvia's uncle tries to get her to join in the family tradition of vampirism while Sylvia's fiancee Piero tries to get her to return to him.

Fangs of the Living Dead was looking like a snorefest following the plot-by-numbers script of many Euro-trash vampire flicks. And without gore or nudity to boot. The Nerve!

The women were indeed attractive, but fully clothed throughout. There was some potential with some bondage, but no follow through. A hint of lesbianism. But despite it all, it was just standard vampire stuff with mysterious deaths that the locals attribute to vampires but the big time city folk don't believe to be anything of concern. But then the ending brought in some redemption.

There was a little twist at the end to add confusion to what was going on. And the final scene, while it didn't make much sence, admittedly, still amused me a great deal.

It's not something if you want a good vampire flick, but it's good if you want a Mystery Science Theater kind of experience.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Final Destination 3

Final Destination 3

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryna Merriman, and Kris Lemche

Directed by: James Wong

Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong, using characters and events created by Jeffrey Reddick

Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Hard Eight Pictures, Kumar Mobiliengesellschaft mbH & Co. Projekt Nr. 1 KG, Matinee Pictures, Practical Pictures, Road Rebel, and Zide-Perry Productions

Release Date: February 9, 2006

Body Counters's Body Count: 11 plus 2 fried bitches and a pigeon (I don't think this counts the deaths of unseen victims in the initial crash)

It's tricky taking a movie into the realm of sequels. It is especially difficult to go past one sequel. In fact each subsequent sequel becomes more and more difficult. You have to do something different with the same concept that was done before, and sometimes with the same characters. But The Final Destination series has the benefit of not having to have the same characters over and over. There were no survivors in the first two movies, and there's no real, visible, flesh-and-blood killer.

In Final Destination 3, Wendy, Jason, Kevin, and Carrie go to the fair to celebrate their impending graduation from high school. Before a rollercoaster begins, Wendy sees a premonition of the rollercoaster crashing killing her and many other teens. Wendy freaks out and gets let off the ride, along with several other classmates.

Then, the rollercoaster crashes.

But Death had a job to do, and it wants the lives that it was denied, so those who left the rollercoaster before the crash begin dying in freak accidents. Kevin does some research and learns about Flight 180, from the first Final Destination. Wendy and Kevin begin trying to save their classmates and hopefully stop death.

So, basically, the same film as the first two, but with a different initial accident. I wasn't expecting anything different, so that's not a complaint, although Warner Bros. says they are planning for a fifth movie and that they are hoping to break the repetition of the series...we'll see. But the premise is one where all you need is a creative look at how things can play out...and suspensful story telling.

Unfortunately, Final Destination 3 does not create suspense. They seem to rush through the deaths, not building suspense. Some deaths are too obvious, leaving us just waiting for the accident. They attempt to replace surprise with gore. Gore is great, but being scared is better...and Final Destination 3 just isn't scary.

Then there are the things which make no sense. The premonition shows the rollercoaster crash was caused when someone drops a video recorder which wraps around the track and derails the cars. But when Wendy gets let off the rollercoaster, the kid with the video camera gets off as well. So the accident shouldn't have happened at all, which would have been an interesting twist, but they didn't go that way.

And why did all those riders get off? Wendy and Kevin, who were riding together, makes sense. Two girls and the video camera guy makes sense because they wanted to get away from him because he was stalking them with the camera. But everyone else? And we all know that they would have let more people on in their place, but they left half the cars empty.

Finally, Kevin researching and finding out about Flight 180 seems like a stretch before those who got off the rollercoaster started dying. Even though we would know what was going on, I think it still would have increased tension if we had to watch them try to figure it out rather than the internets telling them what was going on.

It annoys me when people start going over all of these minors goofs like Wendy's hair in the cemetery scene changes between shots, or a gust of wind supposedly from the coaster blows Wendy's hair, but the wind came from the left side instead of the right where the coaster passed her. And some of my complaints I'd easily be able to gloss over by just enjoying the movie...except there are so many of these big plot holes and so little suspense that I can't ignore them.

Related Videos

Death Proof

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays Wendy, also appears in Death Proof. Two separate sets of voluptuous women are stalked at different times by a scarred stuntman who uses his "death proof" cars to execute his murderous plans.

The Ring Two

Ryan Merriman, who plays Kevin, also appears in The Ring Two. Six months after the incidents involving the lethal videotape, new clues prove that there is a new evil lurking in the darkness.

Ginger Snaps

Kris Lemche, one of the key survivors, also starred in Ginger Snaps. Ginger is 16, edgy, tough, and, with her younger sister, into staging and photographing scenes of death. They've made a pact about dying together. In early October, on the night she has her first period, which is also the night of a full moon, a werewolf bites Ginger. Within a few days, some serious changes happen to her body and her temperament. Her sister Brigitte, 15, tries to find a cure with the help of Sam, a local doper. As Brigitte races against the clock, Halloween and another full moon approach, Ginger gets scarier, and it isn't just local dogs that begin to die.

Black Christmas (2006)

Glen Morgan, who helped with this script, also write the screenplay for the 2006 remake Black Christmas. An escaped maniac returns to his childhood home on Christmas Eve, which is now a sorority house, and begins to murder the sorority sisters one by one.


The creator of the Final Destination concept, Jeffrey Reddick, also wrote Tamara. Tamara, an unattractive girl, who is picked on by her peers returns after her death as a sexy seductress to exact revenge.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Manhater


Starring: Emelle, Alessandra Assaf, John Freedom Henry, Brendan Connor, and Ariel X

Directed by: Anthony Doublin

Written by: Philip R. Calderone

Production Company: Canyon Falls Productions

Awards: Winner, Best Original Soundtrack 2010 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema

I, admittedly, have a special love for low-budget, indy horror productions. Without the money for big time effects, or stars, or equipment, or locations, these movies are true examples of innovative movie making. Not how "innovative is often used, describing a new breakthrough in using technology by pouring a whole bunch of money into the best equipment and the best users of that equipment. Innovative in its most difficult context. Forward thinking movie making without the best resources. How to make a small scale movie in a big-budget movie world...So it was my pleasure to sit down and watch Manhater.
Manhater is about women abused and mistreated by men. Vonda (played by Emelle) has been in a series of bad relationships with the latest loser being Bruce (played by John Freedom Henry). Vonda seeks help from New Age spiritualist Eileen (played by Alessandra Assaf). Under Eileen's recommendation, Vonda takes a potion which should help her get past her depression and anger, to help her move on with her life. What the potion does is release...Enyo (played by Ariel X).

Enyo does what she can to help Vonda get rid of the pain of her killing her past loves.

But Vonda becomes the leading suspect in the growing number of murders and her life becomes more painful as she witnesses Enyo's brutality while slipping into dreamlike trances.

I shan't paint a pristine picture Manhater. It is a B-Movie with all its limitations. Yes, some of the shots are poorly lighted. Yes, the film is a bit grainy. No, the special effects aren't George Lucas quality. No, there's not an Academy Award winner in the acting lot...can we move past that and talk about what this film does have? Thank you...

Manhater gives us a compelling story whose fantasy is based on the too true fact, possible fact, seeiming fact that all women have some asshole in her past who made her feel like crap and who draws out violent reactions in these women. And some women, like poor Vonda, have a lot of assholes in their past.

The script is a tight story without loose ends and inconsistencies. Without those distractions often found in horror movies, we're left to be engrossed in the plot. How are these disparate characters with their own agendas or interests in the events going to resolve this conflict? Will Eric the cop (played by Brendan Connor) be able to do his job without putting Vonda in jail? Will Bruce find a way to save himself from Enyo? What does Eileen have to do with Enyo? Will Vonda be able to stop Enyo and stay out of jail...and avoid another run in with Bruce?

What ablut the three B's essential to a good B-Movie? Boobs, Blood, and Bwa-ha-ha?

In her role as Enyo, Ariel X spends half the movie walking around nude save for white body paint. There's other flesh colored breasts, including Ariel X's without white paint, to be found.

Enyo also gives us plenty of blood as well. She slices up Vonda's former loves with her long, black nails flinging blood all over the rooms where she gets her justice.

But Manhater doesn't leave much room for humor, but that's not required in a script of this seriousness.

Now, Manhater coould easily be mistaken for a pro-feminist, anti-male story, but it's not. The women are hardly shown as noble and perfect, and the men aren't all troglodytes. As with any good story, the characters are well rounded...even asshole Bruce has a moment of humanity and weakness, and bloodthirsty Enyo questions the prupose of her existence with doubt. The impressive characterization in Manhater is something often overlooked in favor for big budget effects and big name stars found in the summer hit movies.

Related Trailers

BTK Killer

Emelle also appeared in BTK Killer. After claiming a string of innocent victims in the 1960s and '70s, a serial murderer dubbed the BTK Killer -- for "bind, torture, kill" -- simply stopped his rampage and mysteriously disappeared. But when his handiwork resurfaced 30 years later, police were finally able to nab him. This grisly account of his high-profile carnage and capture is based on the true story of Dennis Rader, one of the most notorious slaughterers of all time.


Alessandra Assaf also appeared in Magus. In a mysterious world of magic, a hard-luck wizard named Felix finds himself facing the ultimate foe -- one who could spell doom for his secret society. The Magus is an evil wizard consumed with killing to strengthen his power. With this dark lord's nefarious mission of murder threatening the sorcerers' world, it's up to the unlikely Felix to uphold the Wizard's Code and save his society from destruction.

Day of the Dead 2: Contagium

John Freedom Henry also stars in Day of the Dead 2: Contagium. In 1968, in the Ravenside Military Hospital in a military facility in Pennsylvania, the army loses control of an experiment of a lethal bacteriologic weapon that changes the DNA and transforms human beings into zombies. A group of soldiers is sent to the hospital to eliminate the infected staff and interns but private DeLuca steals a test tube with the virus and hides it inside a vacuum flask. He is transformed into a zombie and killed but the vacuum flask falls in the grass. In the present days, a group of patients in the mental institution Ravenside Memorial Hospital finds the vacuum flask and later when one of them opens the vessel, the culture tube drops on the floor of a bathroom contaminating the group and their Dr. Donwynn.

Experiment in Torture

Brendan Connor also stars in Experiment in Torture. Lured by the smell of easy money, beautiful, exotic dancers agree to spend the weekend at the remote mountain getaway of a wealthy voyeur. Once there, the girls are drugged, tied up and slowly tortured to death with everything from a blowtorch to an electric drill by a killer who uses their bodies as a canvas for his sadistic, twisted art.


Ariel X also appeared in Slaughtered, directed by Anthony Doublin. Harold Parkinson has a snuff site on the web "Slaughtered Sheep". He hires young models never intending to pay them. Instead he murders them and uses their pictures on his website. Harold's victims are not happy about being brutally murdered and that Harold continues to add to their numbers. After several warnings, which the psychotic Harold ignores. His past victim's band together in order to stop Harold and prevent him from murdering more models, While exacting their own special brand of revenge.