Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hansel vs Gretel (2015)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: The Asylum

RUNTIME: 86 minutes


PLOT: A year after their victory over, and escape from, the clutches of the evil witch Lilith, Gretel falls under a dark spell and organizes a coven of witches of her own, leaving Hansel to find the courage to fight his twin sister and the sinister forces controlling her.

REVIEW: I always heavily anticipate each new Asylum release. I don't review all of them because A, I just don't have the time and B, I find I always look at movies more critically when I go into them knowing I'll be reviewing them and sometimes I'd like to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the movie without having to think about the review I'll have to write after and so for those reasons I tend to just pick and choose ahead of time which Asylum movies I'll be reviewing and which ones I probably won't. With that said, this movie had a really catchy poster, unique premise, and I'm a big fan of director Ben Demaree's cinematography work with other Asylum movies, such as the Sharknado movies, Apocalypse Pompeii, 3 Musketeers, and Age of Tomorrow among many many others, which made me really curious how he would handle his first directing gig for the company. In addition, I'm an even bigger fan of screenwriter Jose Prendes, who has worked on pretty much my favorite Asylum horror flicks such as Haunting of Whaley House and Haunting of Winchester House, in addition to last year's excellent Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark.

Now I should preface this with the fact that Hansel vs Gretel is a direct sequel to Asylum's 2013 modern day-set adaptation of Hansel & Gretel, a fact that I did not realize when I was first going into this movie, so I guess I'm following the trend started by regular B-Movie Shelf contributor Michael Banno, since that seems to happen to him fairly often. Because of this, there are aspects here that harken back to that movie and moments that reference that movie that I was kind of lost at since I never did watch that one. You can still watch this movie without knowledge of that one and follow it just fine, seeing as how that's exactly what I did, but there will be moments that you might be left slightly confused at, and I'm sure you'll get much more out of this movie if you've seen the previous one first.

The only actor to return for this movie was Brent Lydic as Hansel. Since I never saw the first one I can't compare his work here to how he did in that one, but looking at his low amount of IMDB credits (most of which are Shorts), I was surprised that he was as good as he was here, and that he was always a pleasure to watch whether it was slaying witches or just so much as firing off witty lines or delivering little bits of witch-lore exposition. This version of the character, as played by this actor, would fit perfectly at home on an adventure with the infamous Winchester brothers of Supernatural fame, and seeing him do what he does best, I.E. slay witches, you would be hard pressed to find another actor that fits the epitome of 'smooth', 'cool' and 'witch hunter' better than Brent Lydic. And oh yes, there is plenty of witch slaying action to be had in this movie.

Actually, the movie had quite the high number of gore shots, both directed towards the witches in addition to at the hands of the witches. Right within the first couple minutes, we get a head smashed in with a boot, followed by opening credits cutting back and forth between human meat being cut up and hanging on hooks, and during the rest of the movie we get such classics as a witch ripping a bone out of her own body to cut the ropes she's tied with, a not-so-dead skinned rabbit in a tub of its own blood jumping to life, and plenty of witch-slaying beheadings, guttings, eye-gougings, and burnings just to mention a few of the many offerings this movie has for gore hounds. Luckily it's also not just all-gore-no-substance, ohhh nooo, there are also quite a few nice creepy scenes of genuine tension and nicely-built atmosphere to boot, such as one scene where a character is walking down a long underground hallway with leaking pipes and dimmed lights, hearing a witch cackling from somewhere nearby, or a scene where a witch is stalking her prey in a room filled with thick smoke and gas and toying with their heads as she does so. This movie certainly has no shortage on scenes built around gore in addition to scenes built around creepy atmosphere, and sometimes, when we're lucky, scenes built around both at the same time.

Alongside Brent Lydic is a relative unknown, Lili Baross, playing the role of Gretel. She's new to the role in this movie, taking over from Stephanie Greco who played the role in the previous movie. Since I never saw that one I can't compare how she did compared to the previous actress, but for her time in this movie she did pretty good. There were a few moments where her inexperience came through a bit more obviously than during the rest, but for the most part she did pretty good, and she handled the scenes where she had to flip back and forth between acting evil and acting sweet and innocent masterfully.

However, that flip flopping of Gretel is also cause for one of my big complaints about this movie. The fact that Gretel is now a witch herself acts as a big revealing plot twist part way through the movie...except for the fact that I have no idea why they bothered to make such a big deal out of it as if it was supposed to be a surprise, when the plot synopsis and even the very title of the movie itself totally gives it all away. Despite acting like we weren’t supposed to already know, we obviously do and because of that I would have liked to see her evil reveal much sooner in the movie than we do, cause most of that first half we're just waiting around for it to happen, and during pretty much the entire movie save for the last ten minutes or so, we're waiting for Hansel, who is meandering about town trying to solve these witch crimes, to finally clue in to what the viewers already know the entire time. It's a pet peeve of mine when a movie is built around characters trying to figure out what we, as viewers, already know because we get antsy and impatient waiting, since each new big reveal the characters come across, we already know about. It's always much more engaging when we're on that journey right alongside the characters, finding twists and turns and information out as they themselves do. And to make it worse, this movie doubles up on that, as Hansel spends pretty much the entire runtime trying to figure out who the main witch is here when we already know it's Gretel, and likewise the Coven of witches that take her in under their wing spend the entire runtime thinking they're in charge of her when really, we know from pretty much the beginning that she's actually the one that's playing them the entire time. Both aspects would have made for amazing twists had we found those things out alongside the characters themselves, but instead we know all this right from the onset and spend the entire movie watching the characters flounder around trying to find it out for themselves.

All in all, Hansel vs Gretel is one really fun addition to Asylum's library. It's not perfect, and the ending really annoyed me for reasons I can't go into without major major spoilers, but the fun non-stop witch slaying action, above-average performance by Brent Lydic, pleasing amounts of gore and creepy atmosphere, and a pulse-pounding action-packed musical score used at all the right moments really help this one overcome it's downfalls, most of which could have been fixed with just a little tweaking of the screenplay here and there.

Having not yet seen the first movie in this series, I admit that some aspects of things in the movie may have been previously explained in Hansel & Gretel (such as exactly why Gretel is so interested in being a witch all of a sudden; that never gets even touched upon here), so I need to make a point of going back and watching that one ASAP. As it is, despite that, I still mostly had a blast with this movie and wouldn't mind seeing just one more in the series to cover what happens next after that very sudden and annoyingly-unresolved ending.

7/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The 10 Best B-Movies of 2014

Like with 2011, 2012, and then 2013 this is my Annual list of my personal favorite B-Movie releases of the last year. There is still plenty of movies from this past year that I haven't yet seen, so it's possible I've potentially skipped over a few diamonds in the rough due to that, since this list is based off what I've actually watched myself. Also, this list is solely based off what has hit home video formats and Video On Demand services in 2014, so movies that aired on TV stations like Lifetime or the SyFy Channel this year, but never came out on DVD, BluRay, and VOD services yet, does not count for this. I want this as a list of movies that you could potentially pick up yourself or have easy access to legally obtaining. Likewise, some of these movies may have aired on TV in previous years, but didn't actually get released on home video formats or VOD until 2014, thus I count them as 2014 movies for that reason.

The following list won't be in any specific order, as I clearly love all of them for them to even be on the list to begin with, so putting them in any kind of ranking order beyond that is a bit moot.

- Mercenaries was Asylum's all-female jab at cashing in on The Expendables 3, and I'm glad they did as it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite movies by them. Good action scenes, funny one-liners, great chemistry between the all-star female cast (made up of Kristanna Loken, Zoe Bell, Vivica A. Fox, and Nicole Bilderback) all come together to make this a really entertaining and fun action flick. I would love to see director Chris Olen Ray make further adventures with this ragtag team of badass chick mercenaries.

 - The generically-titled Scarecrow was one of those SyFy Originals that seemed to have come and gone and has left most people's memories, yet for some reason I seemed to love it and find myself going back to from time to time. Unique supernatural creature design, fun kills, good characterization and acting, entertaining action set pieces, nice amount of different locations and environments, and some decent twists, this one has everything I look for in a supernatural killer-themed SyFy Original.

- Extraterrestrial was surprisingly creepy, but also had an even mix of comedic scenes thrown in, made possible by a well-acted and likeable lead cast that actually made you care about what happens to them. Throw in cameo scenes by fan favorites Michael Ironside and Emily Perkins, some really good, truly creepy scenes of the cast being stalked, hunted, and eventually abducted by these well-designed aliens, a fun back and forth between found footage and traditional-shot styles, and some interesting unique auditory cues and it's easy to see why this one is on my favorites list.

 - You didn't think I'd have a Best Of list without the most infamous of the 2014 B-Movies, did you? The cult phenomenon surrounding Asylum's Sharknado series is arguably even more interesting than anything in the wacky movies themselves. Still, right off the bat it's pretty easy to see why this sequel obtained it's pop culture status, and that's because the movie is as insanely stupid... and awesome... as it sounds, and B-Movie fans are sure to love every minute of it as Sharknado 2: The Second One is even cheesier and crazier than the original. You can read B-Movie Shelf contributor Michael Banno's full previously-posted review of this one here.

 - Ragnarok is a foreign action/adventure creature feature from Norway that's an even mix of Jurassic Park, Anaconda, and Indiana Jones as a struggling single father has to drag his kids along to uncharted wilderness with himself, his friend, and their attractive female guide while they search for ancient viking artifacts and find not only what they're looking for, but also a deadly giant snake monster guarding it.The fun character dynamics, thrill-ride Jurassic Park-style action scenes, and really well-made CGI snake monster makes this one a must-watch for any monster movie fan.

- Airplane vs Volcano, starring Dean Cain, is way better and more engaging than it has any right to be. An airplane stuck in the middle of a giant ash cloud made by a ring of erupting volcanoes is where the majority of the action takes place, but oddly enough the movie not only holds your interest but has you on the edge of your seat, thanks largely in part to the phenomenal special effects, above-average acting, and just the total insanity of the plot and the scenes of destruction that come with it.

- Age of Tomorrow is one of those Asylum mockbusters that just blew me away with it's sheer ambition and scope. We follow unrelated groups of characters through a city being invaded, a jungle-centric alien homeworld, a mothership disguised as an asteroid, and culminating in an epic space battle. Truly nobody is safe in this one as it's filled with tons of great twists. CGI effects are also great and add to the fun. You can read my full previously-posted review of this one right here.

- Cabin Fever 3: Patient Zero was a prequel I was initially not looking forward to after the abysmal Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. Luckily my fears were unfounded as the movie was a fun, gory, and at times genuinely creepy and well-shot entry in the Cabin Fever saga, playing things mostly straight instead of comedic, minus a couple choice scenes such as two women cat fighting each other amidst both of them decaying away. Plenty to love here for both Cabin Fever fans and horror fans in general.

- The Babadook was a refreshingly chilling, gothic, and fresh kind of story that played out more as a character drama/thriller than actual horror movie, yet has enough horror-ish scenes and themes in there to please any fan of the genre. Inventing a brand new and unique 'boogeyman' of sorts, the Babadook 'creature' itself will go down in history alongside the other memorable greats of horror movie history, and will more than likely be the cause of sleeping with your lights on that night.

- Asylum's RoboCop mockbuster, Android Cop, was a nice little surprise filled with great effects, great acting, great characterization, and a surprisingly great story that had more meat on it's bones than what you'd expect from an Asylum production. And to top it all off it was just a genuinely good fun time, made up of some hilarious one-liners and comedic beats, mixed in with well-shot and well-choreographed action. You can read my full previously-posted review of this one here.

All in all, another great year for B-Movie fans, so much so that I actually had the hardest time yet compiling my year-end list and narrowing it down to just ten movies. And while these are just my personal favorite ten, there are still plenty of other good, fun, worthy B-Movies from this past year that fans can sink their teeth into as well.

Actually, below you'll find three such movies that almost made my list but, for one reason or another, just couldn't quite be included.


- The third and final entry in the Mega Shark saga, Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, saw not only the most well-made and fun entry in the series thus far, but also the return of one of the main cast from the original movie, the one and only Debbie Gibson! The new cast also brought lots of fun to the table as well, and quite honestly the only reason this wasn't included in the above list was that with only ten movies being included, and wanting some variety so that it wasn't all just Asylum movies, I had to draw a line and cut some out. You can read my full previously-posted review of this one here.

- Exists was the found footage killer Bigfoot movie that Willow Creek should have been but wasn't. Made by one half of the duo behind The Blair Witch Project and the equally-creepy Altered, this one was fun and creepy, brought down a few points though only by some of the more unintentionally funny moments such as a Sasquatch using what seemed like wrestling moves on a character and other similar questionable moments sprinkled throughout.

 - At The Devil's Door was a creepy atmospheric 'demon baby' movie that took the unique choice of following three separate mini-stories, if you will, of three separate women, who all got the unfortunate curse of being pregnant with this demon baby and proceeded to be stalked and haunted by the demon that put it in them. Only thing stopping this underrated gem from being on my Best Of list is the fact that it ends on a horribly disappointing anti-climatic note, and is filled from beginning to end with absolutely painfully dreadful acting, taking you out of an otherwise great little horror movie more often then should be allowed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Robin Hood: Ghosts Of Sherwood (2012)

REVIEW BY: Bobby Lepire

COMPANY: DigiDreams Studios

RUNTIME: 100 mins


While battling the Nottingham Sheriff, Robin Hood and his band of merry men are slain. Distraught over these horrific turn of events, Marian and Little John attempt to resurrect Robin and his comrades. In doing so they inadvertently turned the one-time heroes into the living dead and worse, the ghostly reincarnations are now out for blood.

This film is so inept and idiotic that even its title is wrong - Robin Hood: Ghosts Of Sherwood has no ghosts whatsoever. This bit of easily avoidable stupidity is indicative of the sheer laziness of the production as a whole, and is the least dumb thing about the movie. Yes my friends, this movie is so damned awful that its inaccurate title isn’t even close to being in the top fifty list of the movie’s biggest sins.

Shall the torture begin?

The most glaring issue, besides everything else, is that it’s shot on shiteo; I have seen iPhone videos that have higher quality to them. Whatever camera was used to shoot this was not worth the money used to buy (or rent) it. Add to that the brazen incompetency of cinematographers Kamil Hertwig and Matthias Michel, neither of whom presumably had any contact with any sort of video recording device until Day One of production for “Robin Hood Fails At Everything”. Seriously, this is an ugly, garish, and simply displeasing flick to look at. I understand the low quality of the video is due to low budget and all that jazz, but the blocking of the actors’ that cut off half their heads from the shot and camera compositions with tree branches right in the line of sight of the main action are inexcusable, and both present throughout.

Martin Thon is the on-screen Robin Hood, and possesses the same screen presence as random tree moss - there, something to look at, and completely forgotten about in two seconds. Continually forgetting that the title character is in a scene is a bad sign! I specified on-screen, as he is very poorly dubbed over (in the English version. I do not know about in the native German) by Ben Bledsoe. Whilst Thon can barely register as existing in front of the camera, Bledsoe is the worse of the two. Each bit of dialogue is stated in a detached monotone, the very definition of just ‘reading lines’ as opposed to acting the emotional context for each line.

Maid Marian is portrayed by Ramona Kuen. She’s slightly better than Thon because she appears to be exerting some effort. It’s all for naught mind you, as her acting skills are abysmal, but some effort was put in, which might actually make her the best actress in the whole damned affair. Schaukje Konning has the albatross wearing feat of being the dubbed voice. Again, it’s painful. All her lines are stilted, as if forced out of her mouth while being gagged, after just learning how to say them phonetically.

The fun part with the dubbing is that just about everyone, excluding Tom freaking Savini (I have no clue why he’s slumming so damned low here), and their dub causes horrendous ear infections in the viewer - the dub is just that bad! It doesn’t even bother to make an attempt to sync with the actors’ mouths. This is worse than a bundle of cheap 1970s kaiju films!

Tom Savini is one of the most talented and impressive special effects make-up artists still working today. He did makeup on the original Dawn Of The Dead, Friday The 13th, and Two Evil Eyes, among many others. He has also built up a decent acting filmography, typically in supporting roles in such genre fare as The Dead Matter and Beyond The Wall Of Sleep. While never outstanding, he usually can hold his own and deliver something engaging. His performance here on the other hand, as with everything else in this god forsaken cinematic failure pile, is rubbish of the grimiest kind. Boorish is literally the only thing I can conjure up about the character. That’s right! The only thing of note about Savini’s Sheriff of Nottingham is the same characterization he has been given in every other adaptation of Robin Hood ever made. Not a good sign.

We start the movie with shots of random bodies strewn across the director’s backyard, accompanied by an off-screen dialogue exchange. This is a minute or two long, and is the worst conceivable way of starting this movie. Since we haven’t met anyone yet, and therefore have no context for where we are in the story during the opening shot, having two characters, whom we don’t know, exchange pleasantries over dead bodies and flashbacks leading up to the fight, which is when the dialogue ends. We are then left with terrible sound effects, metal swords sounding like a branch breaking off another branch, and footsteps falling on tile as oppose to the grassy knoll they are in. The sound mixing doesn’t match with when they should happen, trailing by about half a second.

Seeing a pattern yet?

The Merry Men’s village/ hideout is just a few bales of hay near a small brook. At this point, I am questioning if this movie even had a budget. Was this all just filmed in the producer’s backyard because he and his buddies were bored one weekend? Actually, more than a one-day production is giving the movie too much leeway. No one involved cared enough to work on this for more than a day. They don’t even store their loot near them, but in an unguarded cage a little ways down stream, so any old wanderer could stumble in there and take it. Every character is officially now the dumbest character in the movie. I don’t care if that doesn’t make sense! It’s too dumb for real logic!

With Marian’s help, Robin and his men decide to raid Nottingham’s castle, for a huge score to give back to the poor. The castle portion is so geographically confusing and poorly lit I am unable to describe what happened and how. All that matters is the end result- some men get captured and Robin goes back to save them. This attempted rescue is what allows the slumming Savini as the Sheriff of Nottingham to gravely injury Robin Hood.

Marian and Friar Tuck dragged Robin’s bleeding body to a witch, because those exist now - no setup needed. She gives him a potion, and he wakes up. After some gobbley gook about the misuse of magic and destiny, the witch gives Robin some potions to take and give to his fallen men. After giving the potion to them all, some bullshit I don’t understand causes them to fall down, die and resurrect as bloody hungry zombies.

I know I am making this movie sound like a quick ride, even when it’s full of stupid, but it feels endless. I am simply going over the main plot points, ignoring all the padding that is everywhere. Five minute dinner scene of the Sheriff oogling and being creepy toward Marian for no reason? Seeing Marian and Friar Tuck drag Robin Hood the entire way to the witch’s place? The pointless discussion of the treasure cave, which never comes back up? This movie is more padded than a sanitarium room made of moon bounces!

Every solitary part of this film is poorly executed. Every single actor/actress is the worst one on screen. Every action scene is painful and fails to elicit even the most basic of interest. Everything that happens makes no sense.

This is one of the worst films of all time.

0/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Willow Creek (2013)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: Jerkschool Productions

RUNTIME: 80 mins

FORMAT: Itunes

PLOT: Jim and his girlfriend Kelly are visiting the infamous Willow Creek, the home of Bluff Creek, aka the original alleged Patterson–Gimlin Bigfoot footage, to prove that the story is real by capturing the beast on camera. But deep in the dark woods, lost, isolated, and hours from human contact, neither Kelly or Jim are prepared for what is actually hidden between the trees....

REVIEW: The main reason I picked Willow Creek to review is, much like with Alien Abduction and that sub-genre, I find it difficult to find a truly good, scary, Sasquatch movie, especially of the found footage variety. The Lost Coast Tapes was a decent enough effort that came out a couple years ago, and a couple of the Bigfoot-focused episodes scattered across all three seasons of the Animal Planet TV show Lost Tapes are fine, and while it may not be found footage The Legend of Boggy Creek is the easy go-to title for creepy Bigfoot movies, but that's really all I can think of off the top of my head.  There was a movie that came out earlier in 2014, Happy Camp, that I had hoped would be able to fit that bill, but sadly it turned out to be a pretty big disappointment once the laughably-cartoony killer Sasquatches actually showed up, totally deflating any bit of genuine tension that movie had managed to build up, up to that point.

It was actually a couples years ago that I first heard about Willow Creek, a supposedly-creepy upcoming found footage killer Bigfoot movie being written and directed by none other than Police Academy actor (among many other titles), Bobcat Goldthwait. Quite a lot of time went on though and it still wasn't being released outside of the festival circuit and I had all but given up hope on being able to see it anytime soon. But than the lovely folks at Dark Sky Films picked it up for distribution and now it can currently be viewed via Video-on-Demand services such as Itunes, in addition to having been released on DVD and BluRay recently.

The movie started off well enough, the two main leads were likeable (however their likeability factor started to dwindle as the movie went on and their sanity started going out the window as they got more and more lost and more and more strange things started happening to them, but I won't hold that against the movie as that was kind of the point, to show their descent into madness), and it was quite fun as we were brought along with them via their camera on their summer vacation to make a homemade documentary on this area and it's legends, spending time with some quirky interviews (who were all actual real people living in this area in real life), interesting factoids (most of which I already knew but it was nice to see Bobcat's knowledge on all this was pretty high), and really breathtakingly beautiful scenery and environments. For the portion of the movie I was fully on board and loving every minute of what was happening on the screen. Sure, nothing creepy was happening yet (like most found footage movies they build up to that stuff later), but I was enjoying everything all the same.

But than that portion of the movie just kept going and going and going. It went on for way too long, leaving only a short amount of time left in the movie for these two characters to make their way into the forest and for anything really creepy to happen, the good meaty stuff of the movie that people watch these for. But as soon as they finally entered the woods for their weekend camping, ready to search for and document any proof of Bigfoot's existence, I was back on board. Sure, there wasn't a whole lot left to the movie (less than half of it) and I was getting antsy up to that point, but this was the part of the movie that shit was really gonna start happening.

I was so ready.

They came across some fur samples stuck on a tree, questionable footprints, and there were a few small moments of hearing things banging off of trees in the distance with some indescribable howls (one of the recurring things that people with Bigfoot experiences seem to talk about is how the creatures throw rocks against trees to try to scare them off, so it was nice to see this movie touch on that aspect), but those moments were so far and few between, the majority of the time it was our two leads wandering around in the forest and getting more and more lost and loosing their tempers on each other. That was pretty much it for 95% of the time the movie focused on them in the woods, which itself only made up less than half of the movie.

And than the ending came and I was left with a giant "WTF did I just watch?" kind of attitude. Not even one single shot of a Sasquatch was to be had for starters. I know these found footage movies usually don't show much, but they do usually show at least a few quick shots, but this one had nothing. There were tons of auditory growls, grunts, and roars but nothing visual. Well, except for the fat, naked, crying woman that was stood there in the darkness for no reason while all hell was breaking loose in the last five minutes of the movie. Yeah, don't worry about being confused by that because it was just as random as it sounds and doesn't get any explanation whatsoever before the movie ends ten seconds later.

There was one really cool sequence during the last bit of the movie though, a sequence that just about had me fully back on board if it wasn't for the fact that the movie returns to being crap after it's over, and those who have already seen the movie know exactly what sequence I'm talking about. It's a long 10-15 minute sequence, all done in one single take without any cuts, of the two characters inside their tent at night as we hear the Sasquatches roaming around their campsite outside, grunting and growling and rummaging through things, with the occasional bump up against the tent. No dialog, no music or other sounds other than the aformentioned sounds of the large creatures, and we're in the tent with our two main characters, experiencing every bit of terror alongside them, and like I said the entire long sequence was all done in one take with no cuts, and it was effective as all hell. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time with goosebumps running up my arms, and it was a decent ways into the scene before I realized I hardly even took a breath for the last few minutes. It was such a great scene that made the rest of the movie's downfalls up to that point worth it...

...except the movie went right back to the same downfalls as soon as the scene was over, adding in a few more to boot, just all around leaving me with a sour and confused taste in my mouth by the time the credits very suddenly rolled.

I really hate the fact that I disliked Willow Creek. It started off quite good, with two leads I was able to get behind pretty quickly and that I enjoyed watching, and it's quite obvious that Bobcat Goldthwait is a genuine fan of the whole Bigfoot phenomenon as he included lots of little pieces of info and aspects that only diehard fans would pick up on that most Bigfoot-related movies tend to leave out, plus interviewing real life locals of that area was a really nice addition.

Unfortunately there's a bit too much of that, almost as if he was trying to make a real documentary for awhile and then decided to switch it to a found footage horror at the last minute. It takes way too long for things to get going and when they do, not much even happens. Add to that the fact that you never even get so much as a quick glimpse of a Bigfoot, and a very sudden confusing WTF ending, and unfortunately not even the one really truly awesomely terrifying scene could save the end result.

4/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)

REVIEW BY: Michael Banno

COMPANY: The Asylum

RUNTIME: 90 minutes


PLOT: While on a trip to New York, Fin and his ex-wife are faced with another Sharknado event. Now they must survive and find a way to stop it before it takes a big bite out of the Big Apple.

REVIEW: To be honest, I have yet to watch the original Sharknado, but it seems to be pretty popular and you can even check out B-Movie Shelf owner Jeff's review of that one here. Despite that, I still made a point to record The Second One to watch myself when it aired on the SyFy Channel over the summer. I was planning on watching both back to back but as it happens, my mother asked if I wanted to watch this one first since she had already seen the first movie and so here I am, yet again, reviewing a movie out of viewing order. Yeah it really is getting to be a recurring thing with me it seems.

Since I haven't watched the original Sharknado yet there were at least one or two things I may not have understood concerning a couple characters from the first movie returning and some developing plot threads with them, but as I'll be trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, I won't go into specifics, all I'll say is that while you can very easily watch this one without having seen the first and still enjoy yourself, I'm sure you'll get more out of it if you have seen the first movie.

As you can expect, the story of Sharknado 2: The Second One is pretty simplistic. The two main leads from the original Sharknado go to New York for a book signing and pretty much "Shark happens". It's as simple as you can get. The action, as with a lot of Asylum's B-Movie madness, starts right from the first scene, with them on a plane and sharks attacking their plane in midair, and hardly lets up for the duration of the movie. From there the panic about further Sharknado events starts and the movie truly begins.

The acting is about average for a B-Movie of this kind, nothing to write home about but could be way worse than it is. There's some once A-Listers involved in this one, and the cameos are all pretty enjoyable additions. I don't think I got all of them, but that just allows for future re-watchings to try to catch all the cameos, but one I did notice (though just barely) was Will Wheaton of Star Trek, Big Bang Theory, and Geek And Sundry fame in a non-speaking blink-and-you'll-miss-it role. We also have the return of Tara Reid alongside main star Ian Ziering, which is funny cause not but a few years ago she was co-starring in American Reunion, a big Hollywood picture, and now she's the co-star of two made-for-TV Sharknado movies.

The CGI is about as average as you can expect for this type of fair, especially if you've already seen the first movie. They look decent by Asylum and B-Movie standards but you can still tell it's a poor quickly-rushed CGI job, especially where the sharks themselves are concerned. And trust me, there are a lot of CGI sharks. And CGI tornadoes. But then again people don't really tune into B-Movies, especially ones titled Sharknado, expecting big budget theatrical style CGI, and it is better than I've seen in other similar type movies.

On the flip side, the action is actually really well-done and quite exciting. From sharks attacking a passenger plane, to sharks in a subway attacking an underground train tram, to sharks flooding into a newsroom and chomping down on the anchors, the action hits the street running right from the onset and never lets up, easily pulling you into the zany wild unrelenting cheesefest that is this movie, and making sure there's something there for everyone to have fun with so that nobody gets bored.

Overall, Sharknado 2: The Second One does indeed make sure that Sharknadoes strike twice, with this bigger than the first action epic that chomps down and makes sure to never let go, adding in what I can only assume is more sharks, more tornadoes, more cheese, more insanity, and more fun.

8/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission (2014)

REVIEW BY: Michael Banno

COMPANY: Event Film Distribution

RUNTIME: 86 minutes


PLOT: A mercenary for hire, wanting out, is hired for one last mission. But things go crazy when a portal opens up and he gets sucked into the magical medieval ages.

REVIEW: I'm a bit of a fan of Uwe Boll movies. I have a few of his films on DVD and Blu-ray, including the first In the Name of the King and the three BloodRayne films, so it's not surprising that when I discovered that my mother had recorded this film on her DVR that I'd want to watch it. I had already told Jeff, the B-Movie Shelf webmaster, that I was going to review some of Uwe Boll's movies for the B-Movie Shelf and here I am with In The Name Of The King 3: The Last Mission as the first review in my Uwe Boll review series. A bit out of order, sure, but that's nothing new with me.

If you read the plot for In the Name of the King 3, it seems simple enough, no? It also seems a tad bit familiar in a sense, don't you think? That's because essentially the exact same plot was also used for In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds, which I have yet to actually watch myself. This one starts with Hazen, as played by Dominic Purcell, who is a Mercenary for hire that is in the process of accomplishing his current mission. Afterwards, we get to see a bit of his home life, which is not much to really write home about, just pretty much some generic filler stuff to pad out the time until we get to the meat of the movie, which begins when he wants to get out of the mercenary life but is contacted by his employer for one last mission, because...well...that's just how these things always goes in these kinds of movies.

The mission is to kidnap a couple kids and hold them until the employer can get the to the drop point. The mission goes according to plan, however Hazen discovers that one of the kids is wearing a necklace with a charm that looks similar to a tattoo he has. He takes the charm necklace, but before he can do anything with it a portal opens and sucks him up. Now he finds himself in the medieval age, proclaimed as the chosen one (again, as these things always go), and must fight for the side of good.

I have to admit I did not know what to expect with the story. The reuse of plot points from the In the Name of the King 2 didn't bother me too much because I have yet to see that film myself, so I'm not quite sure just how similar they are beyond reading the plot synopsis for that one. However I did come out of this liking In The Name of The King 3 a bit. Admittedly it's not the greatest, in fact at best it's only a decent time-waster, but it kept me entertained enough and that's what's important to me.

The acting I have to say is honestly not all that good - it was serviceable enough to get the job done, considering the kind of film this is, but nothing that I would consider good in any shape, way, or form, and some of it was made even worse by the terrible fake accents that a few of the characters went through the movie with.

While better than the acting and certainly serviceable, the action was only decent at best as well, and again, nothing that really stood out or popped - we have the basic sword-and-sandal fighting mixed in with some 'ok' hand-to-hand combat that was very obviously choreographed and they were just going through the basic motions they were told to go through. There's even have some combat with a dragon, although most of that just consists of everyone mostly running away while Dominic Purcell attempts to shoot it with his gun.

The special effects however were pretty good as far as direct-to-video movies go, but sadly there's just not much there, as at most you have the dragon that appears from time to time throughout the movie, but that's pretty much it.

Overall I would consider In the Name of the King 3: The Last Mission a decent enough time-waster for those who like these kinds of movies, but nowhere near a great movie and ultimately pretty forgettable once all is said and done. Would I personally watch it again? Maybe if I ever purchased it for a cheap enough price and decided to have a series marathon of all three In The Name of the King movies. It makes for a entertaining enough rainy Saturday night movie to play drinking games with some buddies, but really nothing more than that. Uwe Boll continues to be somewhat entertaining, even when his movies seem to be getting more and more generic as they come out, so I'll remain a fan of his for at least a while more.

5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward