Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Happy House Review

Minor Spoilers but no end spoilers or major plot points*** read on.

When I look at a film to review, I dont set out comparing it to others like it but sometimes Its hard not to. Point in case, "The Happy House" I had not heard much about this film and I jumped right into it fresh and without reading any reviews, well maybe I should have to spare me the time wasted on it.

A young couple whose relationship is rocky at best needs to work things out. The answer to there problem: a nice romantic get away to a charming bed and breakfast for some much needed r&r. A nice grandmother type woman greets the couple and all seems pretty normal,yet something was kind of off about her and her big lug of a son. As soon as the couple sets foot in the door the house rules are went over and a policy of three strikes and your out which of course seems ominous. The start of the movie is very strong setting up a great balance of dark humor and horror much like "Tucker and Dale" did a few years back. Your made to think the creepy grandmother and her big bad looking son are killers but this is a flimsy at best fake out which is not used nearly as cleverly as Tucker did. I was disappointed because this could have set up a lot of entertaining misleads but atlas this movie suffers greatly from a tepid screenplay.  The direction seemed actually pretty solid and the camera work was at times creative but when your working from only a half realized script theirs not much you can do. You can even get the sense that D.W Young the direct has a good grip on visuals but if I could give him one piece of advice, pick a better written project because this was just bad. Speaking of writing, the characters in this are really hard to root for, mainly i`m talking about the couple whom come off as 2 dimensional with no depth. Lets talk about acting, which is pretty good considering the limp script they had to work with. Right away I liked the casting, the couple was believable not the typical beef cake and double d bimbo that looks like the were ripped off the cover of some magazine. The actors are called to give a emotional performance and it comes off real and not hammy. Mr Young at least knows when to reign his actors in without letting anyone get to carried away.

There is a killer in this film and boy is he annoying spouting cheesy one liners that would even make Freddy cringe. Again it seems like this was written but someone who has a narrow view of the genre because nothing about it is clever. I kept thinking about the film I reviewed called "The Bleeding House" which has a similar set up of people in a farm house and how much better B.H was compared to this. A film like this almost pisses me off because I can see how awesome it could have been, had it been better written.

As much as I feel spoiling this end wouldn't hurt anyone i`m getting stick to my spoiler free review. The end is so lame it actually left me wondering who the fuck thought this was a good idea, its so bad its jaw dropping, it will leave even the most forgiving fright fan scratching his head in disbelief. Honestly folks i`ve never seen a more anti-climatic end in all my years of cinema.  This actually could be the worst ending to a horror film i`ve EVER seen. This is one Inn i`ll skip thank you but um no thanks.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Kenneth J Hall Interview. Talks Puppet Master,Critters and More!

You may not know his face but for over three decades Kenneth J Hall has been pulling the strings in the horror genres most exciting films including the original Puppet Master. Kens done it all, written directed special effects and even owns his own effects company "Total Fabrication" which has done work on such classics as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Very few can say they`ve done all that. Most recently fans were treated to "Linneas Horror Workout" which was only on VHS. Ken had taken the print he owned and put together a awesome limited DVD. If you want a great cheesy eighties oddity I recommend it.  Kenneth has taken the time to sit down with Gorehound Mike and talk Puppet Master,Critters and beyond....

GM: I read that your brother and you met Rick Baker at a convention in the early eighties and he inspired you both to follow your dream in special effects, tell us about the meeting and what advice stuck with you?

KJH: This was back in 1977, at a convention in Houston, Texas.  At the time, Rick was not nearly as well-known, especially to the general public.  It was several years before his first Oscar.  We knew him through magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and Starlog.  He was impressed with some full-body creature suits we’d fabricated out of foam and offered to provide us with sources for materials and the like.  He was incredibly open at the time though I can’t recall  any specific piece of advice he gave us.  It was inspiring to see a fan who was able to turn what he loved most into a career.

GM: Had you spoken to him after first meeting?

KJH: Though I never worked for him after I moved to Hollywood (except as a background puppeteer on GREMLINS II), I have seen him many times over the years and we always exchange pleasantries.

GM: Let’s talk Puppet Master which most fans would say is the best series Full Moon ever produced. Most people may not know that your take on it was much different than what ended up in the film. Explain how your version differs from the later drafts?

KJH:  Both had the basic  idea of the people coming to the hotel and ultimately discovering the friend they thought  was dead was using Toulon’s puppets to destroy them.  My draft had them as a coven of crazy modern-day witches and magicians, not paranormal researchers.  There was far more violence and several puppets were cut and saved for the sequels.

GM: You said in an interview that you`ve learned to accept that as a screenwriter your work more often than not gets changed, was that a hard pill to swallow at first?

KJH: I had many good experiences writing for Dave DeCoteau, who rarely changed a word.  The hardest part of seeing others rewrite and cut my work was the fact that many were untalented hacks whose producing and directing I had no respect for.  I someone like Spielberg altered one of my scripts, that would be an entirely different story.  However, this ultimately became the reason why I stopped writing for other people.

GM: What always amazes me is that you’re a man of many hats, not only do you write but you direct and do special effects. Which do you enjoy the most?

KJH: I came here to be a filmmaker.  To me, that encompasses writing, directing, and producing.  Doing FX and design work is creatively rewarding but not to the same degree.  I am thankful I have those skills and my company, which has helped me survive through the years.

GM: Tell us some memorable stories working on the 1986 cult film “Critters” along with the Chiodo Brothers?

KJH:  It was my first time working for the Chiodo Bros., who I had known socially.  The space we were working in reached 110 degrees on certain days and everyone’s tempers were flaring. 
Towards the end of the build, I believe it was Robert Shaye who suggested one of the Critters grow larger and I was chosen to fabricated the suit.  They auditioned numerous little people for it, which gave me a chance to Meet Angelo Rossito, who had been in Tod Browning’s FREAKS and, much more recently, MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME.

GM: Did you get to keep any critters?

KJH: I visited the location where they had built the entire farmhouse  from the ground up but I did not work set on that show.  Even if I had, I doubt if I’d been able to take home one of the puppets.

GM:  You also formed TOTAL FABRICATION in 1995. Which project has been the most fun to work on?

KJH: It’s impossible to narrow it down to one, unless I include THE HALWAY HOUSE, which was my movie that we built the creature for.  Otherwise, it’s been nice to work with returning clients, such as Wheel of Fortune, Miley Cyrus, Blizzard Entertainment, and Sony PlayStation, because you know they already like what we do and know what to expect.

GM: Charles Band has recently come under some fire lately for various things. What was he like to work with and what impression did he give you when you starting working for him?

KJH: I have no idea what has surfaced recently.  Let’s just say I was never fond of dealing with him on a business level, which is something that seems to have remained constant about him over the years.

GM: Tell us about the day you shot your cameo for the film Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust?

KJH: My old friend Billy Butler directed and co-wrote that movie.  It was a total spoof of what it was like making movies at Empire and Full Moon and I was delighted to be a part of it.  Not only did I get to chew the scenery in makeup and wardrobe that made me look like Ming the Merciless, but I got to work with old friends like John  Carl Buechler, Mike Deak, and Michelle Bauer.

GM: If you were asked to either write, direct (or both) another Puppetmaster movie or a reboot for that matter, would you?

KJH: I would not want to do one of the sequels on the budget level Charlie is making them at now.  If someone else were to come along a do a big-budget remake, I’d be interested.

GM: What’s been the most surreal moment working in the film industry?

KJH:  Jesus, there are so many to choose from.  Working on a Hardee’s commercial comes to mind when Joe Griffo, a little person dress as the Happy Star, was dancing on a giant flaming grill set with six showgirls dressed in 4-foot diameter hamburger costumes danced around the perimeter to “Disco Inferno.”  To this day, I can’t hear that song without thinking of that dat.

GM: Finally to come full circle what advice would YOU give fans that want to get into the film business?

KJH: Frist, be sure that this is the only thing you’d be happy doing.  If it’s not, for god’s sake, do something else.  Once you get started, prepare for a lifetime of ups and downs where you will sometimes need to find alternate ways of paying your bills.  Be nice to everyone you meet.  You never know who they are or who they will become.  Be aggressive without being an asshole.  Then, whatever you do, don’t give up.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Around The World In Widescreen By William O Donnell

Around The World in Widescreen

My good friend Gorehound Mike seems to have a lock on coverage and reviews of the US/Australian/

English speaking countries’ wild, weird, and wonderfully wacky films, so he asked me to do a column for

him about the world-wide weird and wonderfully wacky cinema masterpieces.

This time around, a classic fantasy adventure from Indonesia rubs shoulders with a more recent

scatological Japanese take on the undead.

“The Devil’s Sword” (1984) – Director Ratno Timoer, Starring Barry Prima

This masterpiece of Indonesian bargain-basement filmmaking, no doubt inspired by the stream

of sword-and-sorcery movies seeing release in the USA and Europe, features at its core a loose

interpretation of the Javanese legend South Seas Queen, here known as the Crocodile Queen (portrayed

by Gudi Sintara). This queen demands sacrifices from the local villages, young, virile men to satisfy her

urges, and sends her lead warrior Banyunjaga (Advent Bangun) to crash a wedding party to procure a

groom. The heroic Mandala (Barry Prima), passing through, becomes embroiled in the struggle—

*sigh* So much for an attempt to provide a legitimate synopsis of the plot. It becomes so completely

bonkers from the beginning that any sort of linear analysis can be frustrating. Gory special effects-
laden fight scenes, a rock outcropping seeing use as a flying surfboard, “crocodile men,” (when you see

them, you’ll understand the quotation marks), a wind tunnel parasol, a deadly “Flying Guillotine“-esque

hat, arguably the worst movie monster ever fabricated, death ray duels, a killer scarf, and the titular

sword which Prima’s character Mandala and the kidnapped groom’s bride-to-be, who screenwriter

Imam Tantowi apparently forgot to name but is played by Enny Christina, somehow wind up on a

quest to retrieve, if the rival mystical warriors who fight over it don’t get to it first. Will the mystically

powered Devil’s Sword be enough for Mandala and What’s Her Name to defeat the Crocodile Queen

and Banyunjaga? It doesn’t matter, but you’ll have a great time finding out. If bizarre trashy world

cinema is your thing, this slice of crazy bad-tertainment should satisfy your tastes.

“Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead” (2011) – Director Noboru Iguchi, starring Arisa Nakamura

From taste to no taste, this film from the director of “Dead Sushi” (which is tame by comparison), and

the “F is for Fart” segment of The ABCs of Death, will single-handledly raise the “bananas” bar almost

impossibly high. This movie is less concerned with red stuff than (ick) brown stuff, as five kids go on a

fishing trip of some sort. Schoolgirl outfitted karate expert Megumi, full-figured model Maki, geeky Joey

Ramone-a-like Naoi, brainy girl Aya, and her drug-addled boyfriend Take seem to not do a lot of fishing,

as they’re too busy finding an intestinal parasite for Maki to ingest for weight loss purposes (!). After she

swallows one down, she quickly develops an urgent need for a toilet. She finds an outhouse, in which

she is attacked from below by an excrement-covered zombie, who begins throwing the waste at the

main characters. The zombie is joined in no time by other zombies, so our main characters must dodge

the zombies, the anal parasites that create them, and figure out the ulterior motives of a biologist with

sketchy motives. If you liked “Dreamcatcher,” but you thought it wasn’t anal-centric enough, this ought

to hit the mark just fine.

There’s plenty of kung-fu action, ass-backward crab-walking zombies, multiple disgusting bodily

functions, a better story than one might expect (it might not sound that way, but believe it), and a “big

boss” videogame-styled duel at the end, in which the final survivor utilizes farts as a propulsion system,

leads right into an ending with leaves this ‘Zombie Ass” wide open for a sequel.