Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bigfoot Wars (2014)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: Edgen Films

RUNTIME: 70 minutes  


PLOT: A small town becomes the focal point of a brutal clash between man and legendary beast.

REVIEW: It's no secret that here at the B-Movie Shelf I love me some killer Bigfoot movies. Honestly, they're one of my favorite sub-genres, so of course a movie with the title of Bigfoot Wars would capture my attention pretty easily. With some very quick digging upon the initial announcement I discovered it was based off a novel by Eric S. Brown called Bigfoot War, so of course I seeked out the Ebook version and gave it a quick read, which really wasn't difficult since the 'novel' is a scant 120 pages.

And honestly, that was probably for the better because it was just not very good, at all. The plot was an interesting one, that being a large tribe of Sasquatches, angered by the humans of the nearby town Babble Creek, come out in-force and wage war on the town inhabitants, but the writing was, to put it bluntly, just downright terrible; Spelling mistakes and typos aplenty, character names constantly getting mixed up, repeated phrases and sentences of descriptions by the dozens, and just an awkward to read writing style that didn't really feel like it flowed naturally most of the time. Not to mention that characterization was non-existent, and there was no proper story structure to speak of, mostly just one scene of savage Bigfoot-caused mayhem and destruction after another that all kind of ran together and became extremely repetitive really quickly.

That's not to say there weren't some fun scenes in the bunch, because there was, but the few we got just couldn't make up for everything else, especially when even the scenes I enjoyed and had fun with, were written so terribly. The guy has like a gazillion sequels out but after forcing myself to finish the first, which from what I can gather from reviews is supposed to be the best one anyway, I just can't put myself through the torture of reading the rest.

In a way, the movie is a perfect visual representation of the novel. Sure, the only relation it really has to the novel is the title (Well, close enough. The movie is called Bigfoot Wars and the novel is simply Bigfoot War), and the very basic idea of a tribe of Sasquatches attacking residents of a small town, and that's about all it has in common with the story of the book, but all my issues with the book translated to the movie in the film equivalents of said issues.

Just like the novel is barely a novel at 120 pages, this is barely a movie at an hour and ten minutes long, but like the novel that's also for the best as, again quite frankly, the movie is just not very well-made at all. The editing is terrible, the audio is equally as bad (there are way too many scenes that have an annoying static hiss in the background every time the actors speak and the dialog was constantly coming in and out at different audio levels, sometimes so quietly you can't even her what's being said), and there is barely a plot to speak of as, again just like the novel, it's mostly scenes of the Sasquatches savagely attacking someone, followed by the police investigating the aftermath, and just repeat that for most of the movie's runtime until they go hunting the Sasquatches in the forest for the last 15 minutes or so. Even most of the acting is pretty abysmal, save for just a couple of the characters. There's a news anchor character and her camera man that even though they're only in a few scenes together they were actually really enjoyable to watch, and of course C. Thomas Howell playing a mouthy rude redneck hunter brings his A-Game here, even though the rest of the movie isn't worthy of it. That man chews the scenery here in a league only matched by Billy Zane in Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption and Lisa Houle in Ejecta. Even though he doesn't even come in until halfway through the movie, C. Thomas Howell alone makes everything else here bearable, that's how entertaining his performance is.

Again following suit from the book though, there is the scattered genuinely fun scene here and there, with my favorite being when a Sasquatch randomly interrupts a drive-in movie by chasing after one of the characters, although the scene itself makes no sense as to why it seemed like nobody even noticed this big hulking furry Sasquatch running between the parked cars, other than the character it was chasing. Sadly however, unlike the books this time, there's not really any assault on the town itself by the Sasquatches. In the book it was essentially a city zombie apocalypse kind of scenario, but with large, strong, fast, and savage Sasquatches instead of zombies, but in the movie the only scene that even has a Sasquatch within the town itself is the aforementioned drive-in movie theater scene, the rest of the Sasquatch action takes place out in the forests surrounding the town, thus essentially removing the one aspect of the book that I actually enjoyed.

The Sasquatches themselves were pretty decent though. I mean, yeah, they looked cheap as hell, don't get me wrong there, but at least they were practical man-in-suit effects (unlike the cartoony CGI hulk-jumping Sasquatches of Happy Camp, the overly-exaggerated King Kong-sized Sasquatch of Asylum's Bigfoot, or the totally-never-on-screen Sasquatches of Willow Creek) and they actually looked like Sasquatches (as opposed to the just-really-hairy-men Sasquatches of the 2010 film Boggy Creek), and they certainly looked frightening and menacing, so proper kudos has to be given to the costume department here, although maybe a few less lingering shots of the laughably-bad face masks could have been in order though.

Bigfoot Wars (and also the novel it's based upon, Bigfoot War) should have been a hundred times better than it was, but unfortunately a really interesting story idea is destroyed by total ineptitude, leaving the movie (and novel as well) full with technical (and literary) errors that should just not be allowed in a finished, polished, product that you're asking people to pay money for. In addition there's no real plot to speak of, horrible actors making it painful to watch, and god-awful dialog make this a rough viewing. The only saving graces that managed to get me through to the end of this movie's short runtime is the fact that the Sasquatches actually genuinely looked menacing and C. Thomas Howell's amazing performance of camp. That's pretty much about it.

Despite the title, Bigfoot Wars is nowhere near as fun of a movie as you may be led to believe. Even the most diehard Killer Bigfoot fans may want to just steer clear of this one, and probably its equally-as-terrible novel series as well. 

2/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Monday, March 16, 2015

Boogeyman (2012)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: UFO International

RUNTIME: 85 minutes  

FORMAT: Netflix

PLOT: A single dad cop in a small town and his female partner are called to the scene of the death of a mean recluse. Shortly after, a number of bizarre deaths around town begin to occur at the hands of a big supernatural disfigured monster that is actually a demonic form of Cain, of Cain and Abel of the bible, who has needed a "brother" to be his keeper ever since he killed Abel, and now that his previous keeper has died, he's free to search for someone worthy of being his new "brother".

REVIEW: It was really interesting to see SyFy tackle a different beast (so to speak) with Boogeyman, opting to go instead with a slower, atmospheric, supernatural teen slasher style movie as opposed to their usual fare of killer animals, giant monsters, and global disasters. Sure, since this movie originally aired in 2012 they've done many more similar style movies, with varying degrees of success, with Haunted High (aka Ghostquake), American Horror House (aka Sorority Horror House), Scarecrow, Ghost Storm, and Grave Halloween just to name a few off the top of my head, but at the time this was kind of a First for them in this genre, at least to my knowledge.

Sadly, the overall end result was not as good as it should have been.

To start things off, I actually really enjoyed the biblical angle on the origin of the Boogeyman here, with it actually being an immortal Cain, cursed to wander the Earth forever as a decaying corpse due to him murdering his brother Abel as told in the Bible, forever seeking a new keeper, aka "brother" to keep him company and to replace the one he killed. I felt that was something new and unique to the 'Boogeyman Genre', and was one of the few aspects that kept my interest throughout, especially watching this now, since the awesome TV show Supernatural has been dealing with a very similar storyline for the last season or so and both this movie and Supernatural deal pretty heavily with the Mark of Cain and various lore surrounding that.

The biggest error the movie makes though, is that they really tried to go for nerve-racking scary, but they totally did themselves a disservice by showing the Boogeyman creature/killer/whatever, in-­full, during broad daylight, within the first 5 minutes of the movie. I know SyFy has an audience to keep, and they're famous for having a pretty strict set of rules (must of which are kinda stupid) that their movies have to follow, but if that's the way they're going to go about it than it's best to not even attempt to try making things scary because by doing that, they're revealing way too much way too soon and thus nothing that follows ends up being nearly as scary as it could have been without that proper build-­up and slow reveal. Plus having already seen the Boogeyman in broad daylight in all its badly-­done make­up effects glory also totally takes away from the fear they attempt to establish during the rest of the movie, as they could have better hid the bad costuming and such in the shadows of the darker scenes. And it's a shame that the look of the Boogeyman turned out so bad in-practice because the design is actually kind of a nice creepy one, but just seeing it all done, in-motion, looked really cheap, rushed, and badly done.

That's not to say there weren’t some decent creepy scenes though – Two scenes in particular, one with a group of teens partying in the woods when the Boogeyman decides to crash it and a scene with a classic 'Boogeyman under the bed' angle are easily the two stand­out scenes in the creepy department here, it's just they could have been so much better (and other scenes that kind of dropped the ball a bit could have been a bit better as well) had we not already seen good solid long-lasting daytime looks at the Boogeyman creature. If it had been kept hidden and restrained to just the darker scenes and the shadows, these scenes would have been so much more effective. Luckily the one area the movie does excel at is the blood and guts department, as there was some pretty good gore throughout, especially for a TV movie. Taking the cake would have to be a really gory decapitation during the Boogeyman's assault on the police station, and a scene where a little girl sees the creature rip her mom apart in her bedroom, spraying the room with blood.

Another detractor to the whole affair though is that most of the characters are not very likeable and most of the actors are not very good. Amy Bailey as the rookie cop was hardly ever around when she was needed and it was obvious she was keeping a secret from the get-go, the drunk old guy that refuses to help everyone, the mean old hermit that the kids deal with near the beginning, the annoying bratty self-centered kid characters themselves, the cops at the police station that refuse to believe the kids, the Chief of Police played by Emma Samms that seemed to have a stick up her ass the entire time,  pretty much everyone here was completely unlikable, with the sole exception being Eddie McClintock's character - he totally stole the movie as the wise­cracking goofy father and cop that always manages to have something funny to say. Sadly, that's also exactly how he played his character on the TV show Warehouse 13, so it was constantly taking me out of the movie and making me think of that show instead of this movie, so in that regards I would have preferred to see him play the character differently then he did, but as things are in terms of characters I at least enjoyed him whenever he was on-screen. And admittedly, Emma Samms as the Chief of Police, while unlikable for most of the runtime, definitely had me come around on her character in her final moments before her death scene.

Kudos to SyFy for trying something different and new at the time, and while the effort is appreciated I feel the end result wasn't as good as it could have been. The movie itself isn't that bad, as there is enough decent-­to-­good stuff to make it worth at least a one-­time watch - for instance the basic premise is interesting, the gore is really good, there is indeed a few stand­out scenes, and Eddie McClintock's whole schtick is always entertaining to watch - but the rewatchability factor with this one is pretty nil, and the whole package isn't nearly as good as it could have been with only a few small tweaks that could have had a large positive impact.

As for how you can actually watch Boogeyman for yourself outside of holding your breath for a rare and possibly non-existant SyFy re-airing, sadly it's never been released on DVD or BluRay anywhere in the world as far as I can tell, however if you currently reside in or are visiting Brazil or Mexico you can access it via their Netflix, or if you have a way of accessing a different country's Netflix (I won't say how here but a quick Google search will yield you good results there) than just sign onto Brazil's or Mexico's as that is, as far as I can tell, currently the only way to catch this one now.

5/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Early Review: Avengers Grimm (2015)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: The Asylum

RUNTIME: 90 minutes  

FORMAT: Screener

PLOT: When Rumpelstiltskin destroys the Magic Mirror and escapes to the modern world, the four princesses of "Once Upon a Time"- Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel - are sucked through the portal too. Well-trained and endowed with magical powers, the four women must fight Rumpelstiltskin and his army of zombie thralls before he enslaves everyone on Earth.

REVIEW: I know this is becoming a recurring thing with me (all the more reason why I always accept Guest Reviews), but my life has been crazy busy lately, hence why a lack of reviews on my part this last month. Between starting a new position at work and some crazy personal life stuff, I just haven't had the time to watch many B-Movies lately and the few that I have were done purely for relaxation reasons and thus I didn't really want to 'make a job' out of reviewing them. However, with that said, whenever the fine folks at The Asylum are kind enough to send a screener copy of one of their movies my way for early review, I figure the least I could do to show my appreciation is to actually, ya know, take the time to review it.

With Avengers Grimm, they have the evil Rumpelstiltskin use the Magic Mirror to transport himself to A Land Without Magic so that he may bring his magic with him and take over that world, aka our world, and Snow White pursues him in order to stop him and seek revenge for Rumple killing her husband. When Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel arrive in Snow's kingdom to seek her out and find out what happened they, along with Red Riding Hood on her own mission of vengeance against Rumple's Right Hand man The Wolf, also travel to our world where they eventually meet up with Snow, find out that Rumple is now the mayor of Los Angeles and has turned the city into a scummy corrupt cesspool and plans to use a shard of the mirror that came over with them in order to re-open the portal and unleash his armies onto the world. Now only the combined powers of the Fairy Tale world Princesses can stop him and save the world.

The acting here is kind of all across the board, with some people pulling it off better than others. However, the one consistently great performance that was always an immense joy to watch whenever he was on-screen and chewing the scenery was Casper Van Dien as the villainous Rumpelstiltskin, totally stealing the show every chance he got. I can't recall ever seeing Casper as a villain before, and it's the kind of role I would love to see him do more often from here on out as it was a total surprise and a nice change-up from his usual 'leading hero' kind of roles and he was able to showcase his range far better than he can in his constricted main lead style roles. Alongside him and playing Gang-Leader-turned-Metal-Golem-Henchman is Lou Ferrigno in a larger, more substantial, and much more rewarding part than his 'role' (if it can even be called that) in the disappointing Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power. Even though he only plays a side character here he actually had more of an actual character arc than any of the main characters did, and it made me genuinely care about where this character goes during the movie. Usually Asylum, as much as I love them, is very cookie cutter when it comes to their characters, so it was an appreciated breath of fresh air to see them give such a great full character arc to, essentially, a half-minor side character. Actually, quite a lot more focus was put on pretty much all the more minor side characters here than in the usual Asylum fare, and I really enjoyed that.

As for the Fairy Tale Princesses, to be honest most of them, while played their roles well and were entertaining to watch for sure, were just not very good in the acting department. Elizabeth Peterson as Red Riding Hood was probably my favorite of the group, and most consistent with her acting abilities, the others were either just not very good or seemed to go up and down depending on the scene. To be fair though none were downright terrible or groan worthy, and there were actually quite a lot of moments where Lauren Parkinson, who played Snow White here, entertainingly seemed to be channelling Lana Parrilla's mannerisms and way of speaking as The Evil Queen from the hit TV show (and a personal guilty pleasure of mine) Once Upon A Time. 

However, while all the actresses looked unique from one another and I was never confused as to which actress was which in that regards, I was very confused for a good chunk of the first half of the movie as to which actress was supposed to be which character. Snow White and Red Riding Hood were easy enough as their names were said early on and often, and Red was also dressed in, well, a red cloak, but as for Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty it was much more difficult because neither were obvious from their looks (actually the one I thought was Rapunzel was really Sleeping Beauty) and unless I missed it their names are hardly ever even mentioned during the entire movie and it's not until about a half hour or so in that you can kind of start figuring out who is who based off their Princess-based Super Powers (Snow White can create ice, Red is an ace archer, Sleeping Beauty can put people to sleep or into a kind of slave trance, Rapunzel can control her hair like living vines or as a whip, and Cinderella...well I'm not quite sure what hers was exactly because it seemed to change from scene to scene depending on what was needed. For instance one time she turns a gun into a bouquet of flowers, in another scene her eyes glowed and she pulled someone back from being a mindless slave zombie, and at another point she used her mind to turn an incoming arrow into ash). Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea of the super powers and they made for some really great fight scenes, but a little bit more clarification as to which characters were which earlier on would have been great.

Now up to this point I know it sounds like I didn't like the movie much, but it's actually the opposite, I enjoyed it quite a bit, early-on confusion over characters and some of the acting aside. The story of the movie was actually pretty engaging and is probably the best comic book/super hero style story that Asylum has put out yet, and the action scenes (of which there are plenty) were all highly entertaining. Usually in Asylum movies the action, especially when it comes to close quarters combat or martial arts, is very obviously choreographed and looks like exactly what it is – people pretending to fight. But here the action was all well-shot and engaging and, especially when it came to the martial arts moves, looked great. While their acting may not have been the best, all of the female leads here looked phenomenal doing their action scenes and martial arts, especially during the fight between Red and Cinderella when, much like in the actual Avengers movie, the ace archer of the team gets placed under a spell by the villain and used against the main heroes for a chunk of the movie. Quite honestly if I had to choose one or the other in a B-Movie like this, I'd take engaging and well-done fight scenes over acting every single time.

Complimenting the action scenes (and pretty much every other scene as well), as is par for the course and pretty much expected by this point, is Chris Ridenhour's fantastic musical score, always adding to the scenes and giving them that extra oomph. I know I've said it before but I'll say it again, this guy really deserves to work on big budget theatrical movies because his scores are always great and always end up being one of my favorite things in an Asylum release, even in the movies I don't end up caring for much.

I have a feeling that, much like with 2014, 2015 is going to be a fantastic year for Asylum releases. I still need to catch Bound (Jared Cohn's mockbuster of 50 Shades of Grey with Charisma Carpenter in it - yum!) but so far between Hansel vs Gretel and now Avengers Grimm, Asylum has themselves off to a pretty damn good start for this year. It's true that Avengers Grimm may not be perfect, even by B-Movie standards, but it is a hell of a lot of fun, which is all I ever ask for from these kinds of movies, and it goes above and beyond what was expected of it on a script level, making us actually care about what happens to many of the more minor side characters. The action scenes are also all engaging with some genuinely-impressive showcasing of martial arts from the main actresses, and one of the most entertaining scenery-chewing performances that Casper Van Dien has ever given us also contributes to this movie's enjoyability. Things end off a little open-ended and cliffhangery, even though the main threat gets wrapped up, so I hope that means a sequel is being planned for down the line because I would love to see what happens next in this story.

If you want to check this one out for yourself (and really, if you're a fan of either Asylum's catalog or Casper Van Dien than why the heck wouldn't you?), it may not be out on home video formats until April 21st, but you can find it via Video-on-Demand services and in select theaters in various U.S. cities starting March 17th.

7/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Monday, March 9, 2015

BloodRayne 2: Deliverance (2007)

REVIEW BY: Michael Banno

COMPANY: Pitch Black Pictures

RUNTIME: 99 minutes  


PLOT: A Dhampir named Rayne continues her ageless war against the vampires, this time in the wild west where she takes on a vampiric Billy the Kid.

REVIEW: BloodRayne is a trilogy of films that I actually kind of like from Uwe Boll. I've seen each of them at least once and, to be honest,. I'm not even entirely sure why I like them. Technically Boll has never made an actual *good* movie, but at least there seems to be a fan base for them, however small, and I know I personally can have fun with some of his Video Game adaptations like this series and In the Name of the King series.

Thus here I am with BloodRayne 2: Deliverance. This takes place a good deal of centuries after the first BloodRayne, which took place in the Medieval ages. This one takes on a Western vibe as it takes place in the Wild West era where outlaws like Billy the Kid lived. Which brings us to our main villain of this Horror Western, Billy the Kid himself. In this he's a Vampire bent on spreading Vampirism around the country thanks to the train system and one of it's stop offs, the peaceful town of Deliverance, as ground zero. Using the town's kids as hostages so that he can keep the town running like normal so that outsiders are none the wiser, Billy hopes to turn those who come into Deliverance via the railroad system into Vampires.

The story here is rather interesting to me, and I thought executed nicely. We're thrown into Billy's actions rather early and that's before our title character even appears, so we know what's up from the get-go. From there we're introduced to the town of Deliverance and its various range of citizens and it's not long after that Rayne comes to town and we get to see just how bad things have gotten in this town since Billy arrived. The big action set pieces get started shortly after her arrival, and from there its officially on as Rayne needs to find a way to get things back to normal and stop the spread of Vampirism from getting outside the town.

One of the major things to note for this go-around is that Rayne is not played by Kristanna Loken like in the first movie. This time Natassia Malthe (who was in another of my personal favorite Video Game adaptations, DoA: Dead or Alive) takes over the role and dare I say I actually enjoyed her slightly more than I did Loken in the first movie. In addition, Billy the Kid is played by Zack Ward, who you may recognize from other films such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys, in addition to a few other of Uwe Boll's movies as well. 

The action in this one is pretty simplistic and nothing that really stands out, however considering this is mostly a western setting, the fight sequences are mostly just gunfights anyway. Rayne herself does not even use her iconic blades most of the time except for maybe once or twice to kill a vampire here and there, and the big sword fight that people expect out of a BloodRayne movie doesn't even come until the very climax of the movie where Rayne finally gets to have her one-on-one with Billy the Kid, and even then it's mostly about Rayne getting her ass kicked until the very end of it when, as you can probably guess, she turns the tides of the battle at the last second.

The special effects are rather nice though, if again a bit simplistic. There's not a lot of vamping out in this one like there was in the first movie; mostly the vampires show their fanged teeth and that's it, where-as the first movie also included facial changes as well. There's a few moments where you see the vampires change colors as they die and turn to ash, but that's pretty much it where the special effects are concerned. Like I said, not much but the little that we do get looks perfectly fine.

On the whole this is a pretty good solid entry in the BloodRayne trilogy. I had seen this partially once before and never finished it, and my memory seems to have me believe that I found it rather boring, hence why I never finished it. However when I sat down to watch the entire trilogy recently I found myself enjoying this one quite a bit, and dare I say even a bit more than the first BloodRayne.

With that said, it's probably best to detach yourself from the fact that this is a Video Game adaptation as, apart from the character of Rayne herself, this has nothing to do with the games. But if you can do that, than BloodRayne 2: Deliverance is a pretty fun low budget Vampire Western flick that requires no experience of having seen the first movie in order to enjoy it.

6/10 Rooms in the Psych Ward

Saturday, February 14, 2015

BloodRayne (2005)

REVIEW BY: Michael Banno

COMPANY: Boll KG Productions

RUNTIME: 94 minutes  


PLOT: A Dhampir named Rayne hunts down vampires and ultimately seeks revenge against the man that attacked her mother and made her the way she is.

REVIEW: I won't lie, Uwe Boll is a bad filmmaker. He makes cheap video game movies and about all of them have been terrible, to say the least. But despite that, I have to admit that I do personally like a few of them, even going as far as owning them, and chief among those is the BloodRayne trilogy.

BloodRayne is based off a video game about a half-human/half-vampire, or Dhamphir, named Rayne who, much like the infamous Blade, uses her vampiric super powers and abilities to kill vampires and rise up against the vampire master that originally made her. The video game that this movie is based off of however takes place during World War II and that's one of the main differences, a disappointing one at that, between this movie and the game.

The movie itself takes place in medieval times, when the Brimstone Society, an organization present in the video games that is sworn to protect the world from supernatural threats, is in its infancy and still weak. Kagen, a Master Vampire, is the most powerful in the realm. There is, however, Rayne, a young Dhamphir who may be a threat to him, and to make things worse for Kagen this Dhamphir is his daughter and she does not have him in her favor, and is currently in the midst of a one woman war of revenge against him for murdering her mother.

The story is interesting and had the potential to be pretty epic, but unfortunately it's not executed to the best of its abilities. Depending on what kind of movie you were looking for, you may end up ultimately disappointed with it here, as it takes lots of pointless side-detours that doesn't really have much to do with the main plot, and even though the movie is a quick 90-odd minutes, the entire thing feels overly stretched and even unnecessarily convoluted by the end. It really felt like Uwe Boll was trying to make this big fantasy/horror epic, but on a miniscule budget that just couldn't match up to his intentions for the movie.

The acting is on the bland side, and that's putting it mildly. It may not be the worst acting in a movie like this, but its not particularly anything resembling good either, especially from big names that you've come to expect much better work from, like Ben Kingsley and Michelle Rodriguez, who is known for roles like Resident Evil and the Fast and Furious franchise. But at least neither of them were anywhere near the annoyingly bad levels that Michael Madsen brings to the table here, a man that I usually enjoy watching but in this movie it was downright painful every time he spoke. The sole exception to this is  Kristanna Loken from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines as the title character. I actually found she did pretty decent with the role, however it's not like much was required of it as the role was written to be pretty one-note and didn't give her a whole lot to work with, emotion-wise.

But at least in a movie about a half-vampire and a team of monster hunters teaming up to fight a vampire lord and his minions, the action must at least be entertaining. Well one could think that, but one would be wrong. The action in this movie is, unfortunately, rather stiff. Don't expect excellent swordplay from this film, as it's all pretty wooden and slowly-acted out, as if the actors were still just rehearsing the choreograph among themselves and didn't realize the cameras were rolling yet.

No beating around the bush or sugar coating anything here, BloodRayne is just not a good movie. However, if you like cheap-looking, badly-acted, laughable sword fights kind of B-Movies, even if it is technically a theatrical movie in origin, than I say go ahead and give this one a try. It was clearly successful enough to spawn two even-cheaper sequels, and admittedly there were some rather nice practical effects in this movie; The vampires all have their fangs and even sometimes show monstrous faces to show that they are in fact Vampires, and those scenes looked pretty cool, and there's even moments when someone gets bitten when you see veins revealed in their skin by way of a pretty nifty special effect, so the movie has that stuff going for it, plus a pretty entertaining overall plot, so I suppose it's not all bad.

There's also a certain level of so-bad-it-entertaining in a 'sit around some rainy weekend night with some friends and a few beer and have fun laughing at how bad this movie is' kind of way, and really, the entire point of a movie is to be entertaining and that's a pretty entertaining evening right there, even if it's not the kind of entertainment the movie set out to make.

4/10 rooms in the Psych Ward

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jurassic City (2015)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: Little Dragon Productions

RUNTIME: 88 minutes  


PLOT: A truckload of secret experimented raptors is rerouted to a nearby prison where they escape and it's up to the security guards, a group of sorority sisters in the drunk tank for the night, and a few inmates to stop these creatures from escaping out into the city.

REVIEW: Jurassic City (previously Jurassic Lockdown and Jurassic Block) was one of those movies I paid close attention to during production, simply because it had dinosaurs in it and I'm always hankering for a new good dinosaur B-Movie, since dinosaurs are pretty much my favourite thing ever and dinosaur B-Movies are my favourite type of B-Movie.

Unfortunately, to my disappointment, Jurassic City is not that new good dinosaur B-Movie I was hoping for. Not even close.

That's not to say there's nothing positive here, because there is quite a few aspects of it that I did enjoy. The overall plot itself, of a pack of raptors loose in a prison is a pretty interesting one, and the prison setting and layout was used to great effect. Many movies pride themselves on taking place in a unique setting but then they end up doing nothing unique with that setting so it essentially could take place anywhere, but this one actually makes great use with the prison setting, incorporating many aspects that can only be done in a prison. One scene in particular comes to mind where they have to try to use a pay phone, but travel from their block to that one in such a way that the raptors can't get to them, and they never have to run too far to escape the raptors' clutches because there's always prison doors around just about every corner that they can lock behind them, leaving the raptors stuck to find other ways to get in to them. Actually, the movie has a few 'fun' scenes like those that I found myself enjoying quite a bit, such as one where a raptor loose in the city attacks a couple teens out for a swim in their backyard pool or when they first break out of their transport van and attack the soldiers guarding them, to list just a couple more of them.

And while Vernon Wells and Ray Wise don't really have much to do other than stand around their respective offices and talk to other characters, both of them own their roles quite well and were the highlights of this movie, acting-wise, with Jack Forcinito playing his part pretty well of looking bad ass while hunting down dinosaurs (though admittedly not really a role that requires much range).

Unfortunately though, that's about all I enjoyed. While Vernon Wells, Ray Wise, and Jack Forcinito were all enjoyable to watch in their limited capacities, most everyone else in this movie was just downright terrible. Perhaps a few line deliveries or moments here and there were good, but on a whole I was not impressed at all, and a couple characters were just painful to have to watch, reminding me of some of the worst character-related aspects of Raptor Ranch, aka The Dinosaur Experiment. Though it's not like any of the characters were made out to be likeable or relatable anyway, nor it's not like the dialogue they had to work with from the script gave them much choice either. There were far too many moments where conversations didn't even seem to make much sense, as if they switched from one conversation to a completely different one, mid-convo without any sort of hint that they were going to and a couple times I even found myself wondering out loud 'Just what the hell are they even talking about here?'. It also doesn't help that some characters motives aren’t fleshed out at all, like in the instance of Vernon Wells' character; So let me get this straight, his entire master plan was to go through the trouble and money and research in bringing dinosaurs back to life, to purposely set them loose, in order to come in, kill them all, save the day, and appear to be a hero? If he wanted to give the illusion of being a fake hero, I'm sure there would have been much easier ways to go about it than bringing dinosaurs back to life, just to kill them. And the prison attack was supposed to be some kind of test run, but he doesn't even wait for it to be over before launching his actual plan, so again, much of this movie on a script level, from the dialogue to character motivations, to the plot itself, just left me scratching my head.

But hey, nobody watches a dinosaur B-Movie for the acting or dialogue anyway, so what about the dinosaurs themselves? While it's true there were a handful of fun scenes dealing with them, that in theory had the potential to be great, it's mostly all undone by the fact that these CGI dinosaurs are among the worst CGI I've seen in a B-Movie in a long time. As someone that watches just about every SyFy Channel Original Movie and Asylum-made mockbuster, even I found the effects here to be nothing short of dreadful, and pretty much totally took me out of the movie every single time they were on-screen. What really surprises me with this though is that Asylum-regular Joseph Lawson did the special effects for this one, and usually his work is far and above the level that it is here. I always look forward to Asylum movies more when I notice he's doing the effects for them cause they always turn out to be the best the company has done, on a visual effects level, each and every time, so I was actually outright shocked when I looked on IMDB and saw he did them for this movie, after having seen just how terrible they were here. The sole exception to this is one very quick scene toward the end where the soldiers hunting the escaped raptor through the city end up getting caught in an unexpected stampede of escaped raptors, and admittedly that scene actually looked pretty cool and a touch creepy.

I hope you aren’t expecting a lot of those kinds of scenes though, because everything about this movie’s title and cover art is simply false advertising. The city scenes take up about 5 minutes of movie time, spread out over two or three short scenes throughout the entire movie, most of which is just soldiers hunting for an escaped raptor, and just when we think we might actually finally be getting to the meat of the advertised movie when all sorts of dinosaurs start running amok and causing chaos in the city...the movie ends. It literally ends with the dinosaurs escaping and starting to run through the city, right as we're getting to what we really want to see, and on top of that it ends without any sort of conclusion or wrap-up to anything, as if this was simply an over-long prologue to a much larger story. And for any T. Rex fans out there, I feel bad for you. Despite having a Rex front and center on the poster art, they're in the movie long enough to be seen (badly rendered at that) walking down a street while one of the characters drives by. That's it.

Jurassic City was one of those movies I had been anxiously waiting for that, unfortunately, didn't even come close to living up to those expectations. The false advertising of the cover art and title itself certainly doesn't help, and probably would have been better off sticking with one of it's original titles, Jurassic Block or Jurassic Lockdown as they would have been far more accurate and, quite honestly there was nothing wrong with either of those titles to begin with so I have no idea why it was even changed, other than to blatantly capitalize on the upcoming release of Jurassic World.

Of course it would take more than a title change to save this movie, since most of the acting was meh, special effects painful, and just about everything on a script level abysmal. Any one of these things on their own probably wouldn't even bother me too much, but it's the combination of all of them together that made for this being a pretty hard-to-sit-through viewing. Even as a B-Movie fan, I would recommend just skipping this one as the few entertaining scenes and overall interesting idea of raptors loose in a prison just aren't enough to make up for all that's done wrong. There's other better recent dinosaur B-Movies out there like Age of Dinosaurs, Jurassic Attack (Rise of the Dinosaurs), and The Dinosaur Project that are more worth the time to watch them than this one was.

3/10 rooms in the Psych Ward