Review: V/H/S 2

 

 

Let me start off by saying that at its core, I think the V/H/S films have a good idea, which is to take young directors and have them tackle the found footage genre in an anthological format. In theory this is great, however, like every anthology, the outcome ends up being a bit uneven, and while there were elements of the original film that I enjoyed, ultimately I felt like V/H/S was at best an interesting experiment that didn’t quite live up to its full potential, and when the sequel, original titled S-V/H/S (now simply the less interesting V/H/S 2) was announced, I thought this just might be the fruition of what the original concept hadn’t been able to achieve.

 

Boy was I wrong.

 

First, let’s address the elephant in the room, the biggest glaring problem of the original film, and one that gets dragged along into this one. Yes I realize the films are called V/H/S, but when the shorts themselves don’t look at all like they were shot on, or are being viewed on VHS, it raises the question of how the footage we are seeing got onto VHS tapes when clearly it was shot digitally. This problem plagued the original film, and it returns once again for the sequel, only this time we are presented with all new impossible segments, and better put together wrap around story, but one that isn’t much better than the abysmal wraparound of the original.

 

Things start our strong enough with the story of a man with a prosthetic eye that records everything the eye sees. This is easily one of the best segments of the film, although it gets problematic quickly and by the end just sort of falls apart.

 

The second segment is a zombie affair that I was bored with as soon as it became clear that it was a zombie story. The ending of this segment was saccharine and just plain dumb.

 

The Raid director Gareth Evans gives us easily the best of the lot with his entry into the film, and while it touches on some familiar ground, it uses the found footage elements excellently and has some of the best special effects in the entire film.

 

And then the whole things comes crashing down with an awful closing segment that tries to mine the sci-fi genre the way The Sick thing that happened to Emily when she was Young from the original did, but this time it’s just tedious, poorly shot and frustrating.

Finally we finish off the wrap around story and the whole thing just ends rather unceremoniously.

 

Putting aside my issue of “How did any of these films get onto VHS tapes”, I’m left wondering do any of the events in theses shorts exist in one world? Do these events take place in the same universe as the wrap around story, and if so, what are the repercussions? Do these tapes exist as views into alternate dimensions or something? I’m not asking much here, I just want a little clarity is all.

 

Overall, V/H/S 2 falls into the same trap its predecessor does, keeping a dumb story premise and being a showcase for a couple of really talented directors to shine while the others flounder about with poorly written/directed segments.

 

Grade: D

 

The Good-

Gareth Evans knows what he’s doing.

 

The Bad-

WHY DID YOU KEEP THE GOD DAMN VHS GIMMICK?

Was the dog really necessary? Really?

Devour The Podcast Episode 60: The Lords of The Dead

 

It’s gonna be a fight!

 

Welcome back to another episode of Devour the Podcast.

 

News:

Ben Wheatley’s new film picked up by Drafthouse Pictures

Dominic Cooper to play Dracula

Luke Evans also in Dracula and now The Crow

Apparently we’ve got 3 Cabin Fever sequels coming

Three more coming to The Town that Dreaded Sundown

I Spit on Your Grave 2: Spit Harder coming this fall

RIP Ray Harryhausen

 

It Came From The Instant Queue:

Hold Your Breath

Bo- Fuck this Movie

David-1/5

Jamie-1/5

 

Bonus Review:

The Lords of Salem

Bo- B

David- C+

Jamie- A

 

Our Feature Presentation:

The Dead

Bo-A-

David- F

Jamie- A+

 

Next Week:

We’re taking on Paranorman for our Instant Queue selection and kicking off our series on Clive Barker with Book of Blood.

 

Email us at : Cenobitedave@gmail.com

or maven1974@gmail.com

 

Call Us: 760-661-7280

 

Follow Us on Twitter:

@Ddellamorte or @maven1974 or

@LastBlogTweet

 

Like Us on Facebook:

facebook.com/devourtheblog

 

Join the Group:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/devourthepodcast/

 

Subscribe on Itunes-Search Devour the Podcast

 

Visit the site-

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Review: The Dead (2010)

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Synopsis: When the last evacuation flight out of war-torn Africa crashes off the coast, American Air Force Engineer Lieutenant Brian Murphy (ROB FREEMAN) emerges as the sole survivor in a land where the dead are returning to life and attacking the living.

Fuck You Howard and Jonathan Ford, just Fuck You.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been as disgusted with a film as I was watching The Dead. On paper, the idea of a zombie film set in Africa sounds interesting and original, but that originality is quickly thrown out the window when the hero of the film is a white American, and not the native African Daniel (Prince David Oseia) who should have been the lead.

First and foremost, the story is derivative and dull. Zombie outbreak has started, we follow a couple of characters as they try to survive and come back to their families, and everything ends badly for everyone.

If that was the film’s only major flaw, I don’t think I would be as angry about it as I am, but the fact that I sat through an hour and forty five minutes of what can best be described as a “White Savior” zombie film is not only infuriating, it’s disgusting.

Why in the hell would you bother to make a zombie film set in Africa and then make the hero of the film A WHITE AMERICAN? I’d be willing to say “Well, you’re making some commentary” if he’d been a white South African, but he’s not, he’s just another White American Male saving minorities, and one scene toward the end of the film, after I was starting to be relieved that I only had about ten more minutes of this tripe to deal with, we’re given the perfect summation of exactly what this film is all about.

The White Man is the savior.

(What you can’t hear is the angelic choir singing on the soundtrack.)

This movie is derivative, racist and painfully long.

F

Pros: None

Cons: Everything.

Review: Maniac (2012)

 

Synopsis: The owner of a mannequin shop develops a dangerous obsession with a young artist.

 

If you’ve never seen the 1980 William Lustig film Maniac, you’re missing out on some of Tom Savini’s best early 80’s effects work.

 

But I’m not here to talk about that Maniac, I’m here to talk about the Franck Khalfoun directed, Alexander Aja/Gregory Levasseur penned remake.

 

First and foremost I’m an fan of Alexander Aja and Gregory Levasseur, and have been since seeing High Tension in 2004. I loved The Hills Have Eyes remake, and I loved Piranha 3D more than I probably should have, however when I first heard that Maniac was up to be remade with Aja and Levasseur writing I was giddy. Don’t get me wrong, I like the original Maniac, but there are some serious problems with it on a story level that I’m willing to forgive because the rest of the movie is good.

 

This Maniac is the kind of remake I love to see, one that takes into account all the good things about the original, while patching up and fixing the problems as well as adding its own new twists and spins on the subject.

The story is very similar to the original, Frank (Elijah Wood) is a man with severe mental problems with a decidedly homicidal bent, but when the right woman comes into his life, it seems like everything could change for the better……

 

The first thing that stands out about Maniac is that it’s shot all from Frank’s perspective, and while this at first can be a bit jarring and almost annoying, it actually ends up working in the films favor as we are forced, as the audience, to see the world as Frank sees it, to experience things through his eyes and his twisted mind. There are a few scenes where the camera does give us a more traditional third person perspective, but they are very few and far between, and when they happen, I felt as if they were meant to be a sort of out of body experience for Frank.

 

Elijah Wood’s performance is perfection, as he’s just handsome enough to be non-threating, but it’s those same good looks that hide the…Maniac within, and while we tend to only get glimpses of Wood on screen through mirrors and reflective surfaces, as well as the couple of third person shots, his delivery of lines and the reactions of the actors he’s talking to help to pull every scene together.

 

Without getting too deep into spoilers of this film, or the original, I will say that I appreciated what Aja and Levasseur did in clarifying Frank’s past, which in turn, leads to some fantastically unsettling flashback sequences and one of the single most disturbing murder sequences in the entire film near the end.

 

And what an ending! With all due respect to Lustig’s original film, the ending of Maniac (1980) doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. It’s a fantastic bit of special effects work, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context of the film, and thankfully Aja and Levasseur kept most of that ending, while making things more clear.

 

Franck Khalfoun deserves just as much credit as Aja and Levasseur do because he directed the hell out of this film, from the opening with the two women coming out of the club and the tiny details of our first victim being harassed by random stranger on the street, to the vicious brutality of the ending, every scene was gorgeous to look at and the visual nod to the original film’s poster in one scene was excellent.

 

The score by the artist simply listed as Rob is exquisite, a throwback to 80’s synth driven scores that still feels contemporary and has been in heavy rotation for months even before I had a chance to see the film. Easily one of the best modern horror film scores of the past ten years.

 

Maniac is everything I hoped it would be and more, delivering a genuinely uncomfortable, beautiful remake that improves upon the original.

 

A+

 

Pros:

The Score

Elijah Wood’s performance

Aja and Levasseur’s script

Khalfoun’s direction

Special Effects

 

Cons:

Review: Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem

Synopsis: Heidi, a radio DJ, is sent a box containing a record — a “gift from the Lords.” The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town’s violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

Rob Zombie and I have a bit of a strange relationship, such as it is. I’m a casual fan of his work with the band White Zombie, but I loved Hellbilly Deluxe as an angsty teen, and so when I first heard about House of a 1000 Corpses all those years ago, I was excited.

Anyone who’s ever brought that film up knows I hated it. I’ve seen it at least three times and I hated it every single time. It’s a dull, overly long music video with only one really impressive shot in its entire running time.

The Devil’s Rejects was much more in line with what I expected from Zombie as a director, grittier, more vicious, sleazier, more 70’s.

Then he took on Halloween and its somewhat misguided sequel, H2, further dividing the horror community on whether or not Zombie was a director to keep an eye on or just a hack.

Finally, the much talked about The Lords of Salem has arrived, Zombie’s big return to original storytelling, and while it certainly has elements I enjoyed, it also feels too much like a step backward.

Lords is visually fantastic, blending the flashback scenes of Salem’s past with the modern city, visual references to any number of bands and other films, and somehow making it all sort of work, at least on the visual side.

The story on the other hand can best be summed up as Rosemary’s Baby, and while Polanski managed to wring every last drop of tension and believability out of his premise, Zombie just isn’t that strong of a writer or director. The dialogue is wildly uneven, at times jaw dropping in how bad it is, at other times strangely perfect, but the film always seemed to keep me at arm’s length. I never felt drawn into the story, as it seemed like every time I would start to be drawn in, some incredibly silly bit of dialogue would be throw out or something just plain dumb would take place.

The pacing surprised me, as the film unfolds at a slow, deliberate pace that kept my interest throughout.

Unfortunately, the story itself just isn’t that good, and the ending is almost laughably bad. That shot of Sherri Moon Zombie riding on a goat like it’s a mechanical bull is real, and it’s set in what is supposed to be a great trip out sequence that for the most part came across more like the youtube video of a high school Satanist than the final act of a feature film.

The Lords of Salem feels too much like a bubblegum pop approach to the “Devil among us” films, and while it was fantastic to see Ken Foree working in something that isn’t a direct to video piece of shit, and Dee Wallace and any number of other recognizable actors (including a blink and you’ll miss it scene with Barbara Crampton) none of them is really able to elevate the poor writing, though the team of Wallace, Judy Geeson and Patricia Quinn steal every scene they’re in and manage to add some gravitas to the nonsense they have to say.

I didn’t hate Lords of Salem but I also wasn’t particularly impressed with it either. For all the promise the visuals have, the story just never rises to match, and when it was over, I was left with an overwhelming sense of wanting to see what Zombie could do as a director with someone else’s script.

C+

Pros:

Fantastic casting

Great Visuals

Good Score

Cons:

It’s Rosemary’s Baby but with Sherri Moon Zombie instead of Mia Farrow.

Some truly dreadful dialogue.

Press Release: Dark Carnival International Film Festival

THE DARK CARNIVAL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
New Venue and Call For Entries

Columbus, IN – Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – join us August 30-31, 2013 in Columbus, Indiana for the Greatest Show Unearthed!

Founded more than seven years ago, the Dark Carnival International Film Festival strives to be the premier event for screening the best independent horror, sci-fi, and dark fantasy films. Our mission is to put fans and filmmakers first and present fantastic films from the four corners of the globe. Many of the movies at Dark Carnival have been picked up for distribution by major players in the industry, and our event has provided numerous networking opportunities for visiting filmmakers who have traveled from as far as Spain, the UK, Toronto, New York and LA.

Since 2007, Dark Carnival has screened nearly 200 films from more than a dozen countries all over the world, and from almost every state in the US. In the past seven years we have gained a reputation as a festival that values indie filmmakers and that loves genre films as something much more than a business niche.

As a result, we’ve gained the attention of some of the most highly regarded publications, film distributors, and sponsors including Avid, R2 Entertainment, Diabolique Magazine, HorrorHound Magazine, GeekTyrant, and Final Draft. The festival has also been featured multiple times in MovieMaker Magazine, which recognized Dark Carnival as one of the “13 Horror Film Fests to Die For” (Fall 2011) and one of the top “25 Film Fests Worth the Entry Fee” (Fall 2009)

New Venue

While other similar film festivals often screen their movies in hotel conference rooms, from the very beginning we’ve been proud to showcase festival films in some amazing theater venues. During our first six years, Dark Carnival was held at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, a restored, 1930s era movie-house. 

For 2013, we’re excited to move to our new location – the historic Crump Theater in downtown Columbus, Indiana. Originally opened in 1889, the Crump is the oldest theater in the state – and is also recognized as one of the most haunted places in the midwest.

The Crump began its own restoration project in 2001, and since then has hosted a variety of shows and events, including benefits for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Japan, as well a live performance by John Mellencamp.

Call For Entries

The Dark Carnival International Film Festival is currently accepting submissions for 2013 and festival organizers are looking for original, cutting edge independent films in the horror, fantasy and sci-fi genres. Both short and feature-length films are accepted, as well as documentaries, animation, experimental, music videos, and trailers. The early-bird deadline for submission is June 30, 2013. (Filmmakers should visit www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com for more information.)

The Dark Carnival International Film Festival is a different show every year. Screenings showcase a mix of 25-30 short and feature films. Events have included outdoor drive-in film screenings, filmmaking seminars, panel discussions, VIP award banquets, and filmmaker Q&A. The festival has also offered a variety of after-hour events, including costume contests, dance parties, carnival sideshows, horror hosts, burlesque dancers, live fire shows and more!

2013 promises to be a special year for the event. This year’s festival theme will take advantage of the Crump Theater’s spooky reputation as a favorite location for ghost hunters from around the country, and festival organizers are hard at work planning our best show yet!

Festival passes go on sale spring 2013, and a limited number of vendor tables are available.

Visit www.DarkCarnivalFilmFest.com for more details.