Friday, August 21, 2015

American Guinea Pig: Bouquet Of Guts And Gore [2014]

American Guinea Pig: Bouquet Of Guts And Gore[2014]

My purpose in writing this review is not to do a huge piece on the Guinea Pig films.
But since this film is an homage to the second and arguably the most infamous film in the original series you might want to know the backstory.
Open up a new window and fire up Google and read a bit about the series of films that preceded this one.
I’ll wait right here.

Now that you know all there is to know about the first series of films, we can discuss this film.
Consider this your spoiler warning.
Although “spoilers” for a film which is essentially two dissections is a bit of a foregone conclusion.
If you saw the box art or trailer for this one, you kind of knew what you were going to see.
There’s a guy in a mask and he takes apart two girls piece by piece and if that’s the kind of thing you’re into then this film will not disappoint you.
As you may know, since you did your homework and watched Flowers Of Flesh And Blood (1985), and read about the American controversy about the film, Charlie Sheen saw a tenth generation bootleg VHS dub and thought he had watched an actual snuff film and brought it to the attention of the F.B.I. which probably did incredible things for the U.S. sales figures.
Having watched both VHS dub bootleg and DVD versions of Flowers Of Flesh And Blood, I can see how maybe if you were watching a tenth generation dub you might confuse it with a real snuff film.
The story is: A man in a samurai helmet takes a woman apart piece by piece.  The end.
But if you were passing familiar with the way that practical special effects are basically trompe l’oeil illusions, you can figure out how they managed to do the effects that they did.
It’s the kind of “peek under the curtain” fun that horror film fans like to have when watching a film.
That’s where the schadenfreude of a poorly executed effect and the pleasure of a well-executed practical special effect come from.
I didn’t think that Flowers Of Flesh And Blood was a snuff film, because I had already known about the Charlie Sheen incident and was more than passing familiar with both extreme film and Japanese horror movies by the time I finally got around to watching the original series of films.
I kind of wish I didn’t know what I was getting into.
After hearing about how extreme the Guinea Pig films were, finally watching them was a bit of a disappointment.
The production quality of the filming and special effects weren’t spectacular and the over-the-top ideas for the stories of the films and the reputation that preceded them were what carried the films for me.
Although Flowers Of Flesh And Blood is the most infamous film of the original series, my personal favorite is Mermaid In A Manhole.
American Guinea Pig: Bouquet Of Guts And Gore aspires to the same sort of cinema vérité of Flowers Of Flesh And Blood.
For the most part it works.
The entire film is presented as shot on two 8mm handheld cameras with a VHS back-up and the filters used to constrain the aspect ratio of the frame sell the premise.
It’s so believable that I kind of can’t remember if it was actually shot on those media.
If it wasn’t, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t, they were able to pull off a trick that major motion pictures have tried and failed to do with grainy “retro” filters.
There’s an opening scene which portrays the abduction of the two victims which is cinematically problematic because the film-makers adhere to the rules of conventional film-making and include a reversal shot.  I can buy that the girls are being followed, but I think they’d notice someone running ahead of them and putting a camera on the ground to film them walking towards it.  Also, when the camera-as-character follows the girls to their car and comes up to the front of the vehicle to film the girls in their car it’s hard to imagine that the girls wouldn’t have thought something was off about the person standing in front of their car filming them.  I also don’t know where snuff film makers managed to get ahold of a knock-out gas smoke grenade, but let’s just say a little suspension of disbelief is required to get you through the opening scene.

Once you get into the studio with the two girls tied down at the neck, it’s pretty formulaic.
There’s two girls on two raised beds, a man in a mask, a table full of tools, and three creeps filming the whole thing.
This is presumably what you’re here to see.
The main character, the man in the mask, ties tourniquets onto the limbs of his first victim and cuts off appendages at different points.
If you have never seen anything like this, I imagine that it will be pretty difficult to watch.
There’s nothing fun about watching a knife probe around inside of someone’s wrist.
The special effects by Marcus Koch and Oddtopsy FX are spot on.
Even if you know enough about special effects that you consciously know that the cuts are used to alternate between the actual victim and the old “body tucked under the table” trick, it still looks realistic enough to make your toes curl.
There’s a point where the man in the mask uses a cleaver-like tool with saw-tooth edges on a handle to start cutting into his first victim’s kneecap and the idea of what that must feel like had me writhing and groaning.
I knew it was fake.
That’s the power of convincing film-making and the effect that film can have on the mind.
There’s an eye-slicing scene worthy of Buñuel.  The first shot of the effect is dead-on accurate, but then there’s a cut to a second shot of the effect that looks like a doll’s eye in a Halloween mask.
I know that whole-head prosthetic effects are difficult for the best effects teams, but after having nailed the first convincing shot, I don’t know why you’d include the second one.
After taking off parts of each limb, the man in the mask gives his victim a Chelsea grin with a handsaw which is a high point of the film.
After that, the man-in-the-mask straddles her and makes a Cesarean incision and pulls out an amazing amount of entrails from the victim’s abdominal cavity.
From what I know about the way that humans work, that should have been the end of the story for that victim, but the film-makers decided to tack on a final scene where the tourniquets are cut and the blood pumps out of the amputated stumps.
I could buy a generalized oozing of blood, but the rhythmic spurts, predicating the existence of a still-beating heart still pushing blood around the circulation system was a bit much for me to buy into.
As I said earlier, you’ll need a bit of suspension of disbelief to get through the few rough patches from an anatomy and physiology perspective in this one.
The question of the heart is answered when the man-in-the-mask pulls out the victim’s heart and pushes up his mask and takes a bite out of it.
I knew it was coming when he was groping around in the victim’s ribcage, and despite my mantra of “nononononono…” he still took a bite out of it and even though I knew it was probably a big sticky gelatin heart slathered with Karo syrup blood, I still writhed.
The film-maker characters in the film and the man-in-the-mask take a break to fondle the remains of the first victim.  I thought that maybe the man in the mask was going to fuck the corpse of the first victim which would have taken things in an even more hardcore direction, double-entendre intended, but the actual film-makers decided not to go in that direction.  Probably with a thought to distribution of the film, because you can have sex and gore in an American film, but not at the same time.  There was definitely a sexual vibe to the film as indicated by comments from one of the masked cameramen during the dismemberment of the first victim.  At least there was enough for someone interested in doing a feminist film theory deconstruction of the film something to hang their theories on.

The film-makers move on to the second victim.
This time around they decided to go with “degloving” all of her limbs.
Degloving” is a medical phenomenon in which the skin of, for example, a hand, is peeled off like a glove.  See also: Flaying.
I knew that they were going to do a degloving for the first effect when the man-in-the-mask cut around the victim’s wrist, but knowing didn’t make it any easier to watch.
I didn’t know in advance that there would be three more limbs flayed, but the flaying effects were professionally executed and stand up against skinless effects in films with exponentially larger special effects budgets.
There was the conspicuous absence of the layer of subcutaneous fat between the skin and the muscle, but this is a gore film not an autopsy.
I’ve watched several autopsies and this was a little less believable, but a lot more fun to watch.
I’m not proud of what the preceding sentence says about me as a person, but it’s honest.
I’ve watched a lot of film of people actually dying or dead and watching a horror film is always more fun.
There’s nothing really fun about watching three hours of black & white concentration camp footage recorded by the American forces as they explored the charnel houses of the concentration camps.
The skinning of the second victim ends with a variation of the “Y” incision common to autopsies and the skin of the victim’s chest being peeled back like a vest.
With the skin removed, the man-in-the-mask uses bolt-cutters to clip the ribs and remove the ribcage and goes for the heart again.
The action ends with the man in the mask bashing in the teeth and lower jaw of the victim, then hacking off her head.
The end.

Not the end really, as there’s a completely unnecessary scene with a cameo by Jim Van Bebber as the editor of the films wearing a bunny mask, that looks like it was sewn together from socks and an old pair of tight white underpants, having a brief conversation with one of the masked cameramen.
Nothing against JVB, but I think that the film would have been more effective if the introductory scene had been shortened and the end scene cut and the film tightened up into an unrelenting hour.
At around an hour and a half, it feels a little too long, but I only checked the time an hour in after the end of the second victim to wonder if I could anticipate there being a third act to the film.
What I think would have been fun and extra creepy would have been to do a fake opening credits scene for an 80s sitcom, but with the actual credits from the film standing in for the credits for the fake sitcom, then transition into static, like the film had been dubbed onto a VHS tape over the sitcom, then, at the end, transition back through static to an end credits scene presented like the credits for a children’s show.  That way the end credits wouldn’t crash down on the impact of the film like a slammed door.
But no one asked me for my stupid fucking opinion anyway.
I would regret if I forgot to mention the soundtrack design by Jimmy Screamerclauz.  I’ve been trying to break into doing music for horror films, and have become somewhat of a connoisseur of horror movie music and the score for this film is practically perfect.  Rarely does it vary in volume enough to be a character on its own, but instead it simmers under the diegetic sounds of the film whispering sinister static, hisses and brief measures of melodies from children’s songs filtered through enough effects to make them sound like the background of an acid trip.
In summary, if you’re a gore-hound and you’re here for gore, Bouquet Of Guts And Gore lives up to the title and does not disappoint.
If you’ve never seen a truly gory horror film or a death documentary, or an autopsy, then this film might make you stop halfway through and sick up your last meal.
If you’ve already subjected yourself to the top twenty or so best/worst goriest horror movies, then this film probably isn’t going to ruin your day, and probably deserves a spot in any “Top 20” gore movies, alongside Naco Cerdà’s Aftermath (1994) and the films of Jörg Buttgereit.
Unlike the Buttgereit films, I’m probably not going to watch American Guinea Pig: Bouquet Of Guts And Gore again.  The absence of a plot outside of the sequential defiling of the body of the victims makes this more of an endurance test than a film and as such is comparable to many of the death documentaries I used to watch when I went through a phase in college where I decided to watch all of the Faces Of Death tapes and all of the tapes in the similarly titled series such as Death Faces and Traces Of Death, etc.
Recently I finally got around to watching the art-house short The Act Of Seeing Through One’s Own Eyes (1971) which is pretty much a bunch of 16mm footage from a morgue edited together into a montage and presented as a film.
It’s not a narrative film.  There is no plot and if there is a message it is whatever message is projected onto the film based on the experience of the viewer.  It’s not something that I would watch again anytime soon, and certainly not something I would watch for pleasure, but I think it’s an important film and should be watched at least once and I think that the same argument could be made for American Guinea Pig: Bouquet Of Guts And Gore.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review of In The Flesh (2013).

In The Flesh (2013) [ ]

     In The Flesh is a UK TV series that explores what happens when a temporary cure for the disease of being a zombie is discovered.
     This series is far from the first to explore this theme.
     Among the films that predated this series exploring this theme are:
Les Revenants  / They Came Back (2004)
Deathdream / Dead Of Night (1972)
Fido (2006)
And even Shaun of the Dead touched on the theme at the end of the film.
     There are other films that explore this theme, but this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive overview of the theme of reintegrating zombies into the society of the living.
     The IMDB synopsis reads as follows: “Four years after the Rising, the government starts to rehabilitate the Undead back into the society including teenager Kieren Walker, who returns home to his small Lancashire village to face a hostile reception as well as his own demons.”
     And it is that, but mostly it’s a situational drama.  Your usual “fish out of water” story.
     The main driving elements are the central character Kiernan Walker, (Get it? “Walker”!) dealing with his family.  You see, his younger sister, a stereotypical troubled teen is *gasp* a member of the zombie-killing militia, known as the Human Volunteer Force / HVF.  It’s a bit contrived.
     The whole series is a bit contrived.
     The inter-relationships of the characters is crowded and forced.
     The main HVF character coincidentally has a son that returns from the middle east conflict as a
Partially Deceased Survivor, which is what they use in lieu of zombies for this series.
     One interesting development, and the only real character that caught my intention is *SPOILER* Kiernan’s zombie girlfriend who he meets at a graveyard.  She’s genuine, believable, and totally commits to her role, presenting the only full-actualized character.  
     My biggest problem is that the Partially Deceased Survivors, oh, fuck it, let’s call them zombie, are dead.  If they had gone the same route as 28 Days Later and they had been rehabilitating “infected” the premise would be a bit easier to suspend my disbelief over.  But dead bodies have a particular odor to them.  Without consuming any kind of nutrition, the dead should continue to waste away until they are gaunt.  Also, if a body isn’t cremated, it’s usually embalmed, so that’s an interesting problem that the series fails to really address.  I could put all that aside, and if the plot, writing, and performances were all better, I’d probably be looking forward to seeing how the rest of the series played out. 
     I watched the first three episodes which seems like all there was available to torrent at this time.
     The strength of this series should be the characters and characterizations.   The main characters take turns over and under-acting their roles and the only believable performances are rendered by the supporting characters, which only serves to accentuate the flaws in the performances of the leads.
When it’s not belaboring the coincidentally close upon the verge of being incestual inter-relationships or the characters, it dabbles around with death imagery and metaphors like coffins and graveyards and skulls and skeletons and what have you.  I get it.  You’re trying to make a statement about life and death and mortality.  But if you’re going to do that, then first you should lock down the performances of your actors.
     It doesn’t help that the entire thing has been filtered through a dirty dishwasher filter which does nothing to enhance the cinematography which is otherwise relatively well executed.
     Overall, as it is, it’s a sub-par exploration of an interesting idea.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

History Of French Horror Films Collection.

I downloaded a torrent of about a hundred French horror films.
As I watch them I will update and revise with reviews.

Class Trip (1998)
My first impression of this film based on the date of release and the title alone was that this was going to be a horror/comedy along the lines of Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers (1988). I could not have been more wrong. Instead, Class Trip (1998) is an interesting exploration of boyhood/adolescence set against the backdrop of a class trip for a group of thirty or so pre-adolescent boys and girls that seem around eleven or twelve years old. The avatar for the audience is Nicholas the son of an over-wrought traveling salesman and an estranged mother. Nicholas is over-protected and his neuroses predispose him to an introspective nature, prone to daydreams. This introspection and daydreaming allow the director to indulge in several flights of magical reality that are genuinely reflective of the daydreaming that I used to indulge in as a boy. The adventures in imaginative reality might not be as appealing to female viewers since the principal character is a young boy, but I think that the film would still be enjoyable for them due to the involving wrap-around story and a competent exploration of the interior psychology of adolescents for adults that may have forgotten what it was like to be a kid.

With A Friend Like Harry (2000)
When I read the title of this one, originally included in the torrent as "Harry He's Here To Help", I thought it was going to be a madcap comedy along the lines of the "Carry On" series of situational British comedies. I was dead wrong. Instead With A Friend Like Harry (2000) is an interesting exploration of one man's obsession with the life of another man carried over from a coincidental acquaintance in primary school. The plot is pretty much as simple as that, but the caliber of acting presented in the interplay between Sergi López as the titular Harry, and Laurent Lucas (who I was first made aware of as the romantic lead in Marina De Van's In My Skin) as Michel, carries what could otherwise have been a readily forgettable exploration of a commonly explored theme of the envy of one person over the life of another. The cinematography of Matthieu Poirot-Delpech and direction of Dominik Moll also helped to make the film an engrossing experience. All scenes were composed with at least a workmanlike competence in composition and visual balance, and a few David Lynchian explorations of magical reality add interesting grace notes and accentuate the surreality of the situational premise which is the thematic lynchpin of the piece. Definitely worth the time and effort inherent seeking out a copy to watch, this one's a keeper that I look forward to watching again someday after I've worked my through the other hundred or so films in the torrent.

Six-Pack (2000)
The French film Six-Pack (2000), directed by Alain Berberian is so completely formulaic and predictable that I can totally understand what's happening with no sub or dub and my limited understanding of French. A serial killer is on the loose and the usual veteran cop / rookie cop team have to track down the killer before he kills again. It's so formulaic it's almost parody and I kind of wish it was a comedy. The scene where the veteran cop meets with an "expert" who explains the motives of serial killers. A scene where a bunch of important looking police types exchange terse words while reviewing photographic evidence of the crimes via slideshow. Looking forward to deleting it off of my hard drive when it's done and I can only recommend it if you're either looking for an example of how to make an unexceptional formulaic serial killer "thriller" or an example of how to avoid making an unexceptional formulaic serial killer "thriller".

Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001)
I remember renting this film from Blockbuster video back in college and not liking it. I was hoping for a werewolf film and if you watch this hoping for a werewolf film like I did you're likely to be pretty disappointed. Instead this is a French period piece with multiple genre disorder that doesn't know what it wants to be. For the most part it is a film of the intrigues of French royalty and their Machiavellian counter-plotting and double-crossing so if that's what you're looking for in a film there's plenty of it to be seen here. There is a bit of horror of the action-horror variety delivered by the monster but the monster itself is disappointing. [SPOILER: It's a "liger" in a steam-punk rhinoceros armor kind of like He-Man's pet tiger by way of steam-punk.] There is also a bit of martial arts action shoe-horned in by way of the "native-american" sidekick who, if not written, was definitely played as the kind of mute noble-savage character that has been embarrassing actual native-americans since people thought it was a good idea to portray them that way in film. Overall I'm glad that it was included in the torrent and that I watched it again so that I'll never make the same mistake again.

Brocéliande (2003)
Broceliande (2003) is not a very good film. Mid-level production, shot competently, but the story is Buffy the Vampire Slayer by way of Tomb Raider, with a Scream twist. It's not difficult to watch, just no fun.
Decent creature design for the monster, but you have to wait an hour of the hour-and-a-half length to even see it and it all culminates in essentially a really non-visually dynamic fight scene from Mortal Kombat the movie. The lead actresses are nice to look at in a French sort of way, but if you want to watch something to see pretty French ladies there's a lot of other options out there. Recommended exclusively for completists with a hard-on for French horror and even then not them unless you want to be an "I told you so." know-it-all like me.

Aquarium (2004)
Aquarium (2004) is a low-budget predictable derivative talky simplified mix of Saw and Sartre's No Exit.
It's not a bad example of how you can make a movie with six people and a room, but it's not going to win any awards for originality from me. If you want to see a small cast in conflict, re-watch The Cube (1997). If you can't get enough of Saw and want a foreign rehash of it watch Spiderhole (2010) instead. But don't waste your time watching Aquarium (2004) like I did.

They Came Back (2004)
They Came Back (2004) is noteworthy if, for nothing else, as the most boring zombie film ever. Although the returners in this film aren't the staggering flesh-craving gore-spattered zombies that film fans have been used to since George Romero's gave birth to the "ghoul" in Night of the Living Dead (1968). Instead they have more in common with the earlier type of voodoo zombie as in I Walked with a Zombie (1943). Mostly mute and wooden and prone to staring, the returners spend most of the time looking blankly off into the middle distance. There are a few films that deal with the return from the dead of loved ones with a relatively benign beginning, later building up to some sort of unhappy ending as the films builds through the second and third acts. The build up in this film is that the returners are boring and not good at their jobs and for some unknown reason all telepathically share a plan to leave on night and set up their own society in some vague underground tunnel system and the whole film builds up to the returners slowly walking towards their intended destination en masse while the military fires at them with what are essentially coma-gas bombs to put the bothersome zombies back to sleep forever. I understand how the film-makers might have been trying to say something about love and loss and life and death and the human condition, but instead it's just a competently produced bore-fest of epic proportions. One particular problem I have is that the film never addresses why everyone who returns came back unmarked and clean like they had just gotten lost on their way back from a semi-formal event at a country club. Do the French not perform autopsies or embalm their dead? Because unless the French just leave their dead to their final rest on stone slabs there should definitely have been a bit of dirt and odor from the mouldering grave about the walking undead. The best thing I can say about this film and my only recommendation is that if you're having trouble sleeping the pace of this film should help you get a restful night's sleep, because I never remember being able to get through this film in one sitting.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Film Review: Double Feature: The Hole (2001) and The Hole (2009).

     The Hole (2001):
     The IMDB synopsis reads as follows, “Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.”
     That is not what this film is.
     The Hole is as much the preceding synopsis as Taxi Driver is a story about a man that drives a taxi.   The synopsis is the device that puts the characters in a situation for dramatic events to unfurl.
     What The Hole is, is a riveting contemporary reimagining of Rashomon (1950).   Not that this is a samurai drama in the tradition of Akira Kurosawa.   I love samurai movies, when done well, but this is not that.   The Hole uses the central thematic mechanism from Rashomon, a story told from the varied perspectives of the lead characters.   Surprisingly, for such an ingenious device, it is infrequently used in contemporary films aside from expository flashbacks revealing to the audience information that they as the omniscient observer are privy to which the characters in the film are otherwise unaware of.
     The Hole is able to accomplish the rare feat of presenting us with several perfectly believable scenarios, each more believable than the last.   As each scenario was presented, I was completely invested, and as each new scenario was presented, I was completely invested in that one until the final scenario is revealed, wrapping up the storyline and bringing the film to an unanticipated resolution that was truly satisfactory which is rare for me as a film enthusiast.
     The film doesn’t break any new ground visually, but it doesn’t have to, as the scenarios carry the film without requiring any cinematographical acrobatics.   The film is well made visually, competently, if not artfully composed and edited and the artifacture of the film doesn’t distract the audience from the experience of the film as sometimes happens when a Director of Photography is too ambitious in demonstrating their ability to accomplish amazing cinematographical acrobatics.   There are some beautiful shots though.   The reveal from the p.o.v. from inside of the titular hole is particularly noteworthy by way of composition.
     The performances are all solid, which, again, is surprising for such a relatively young principal cast.   They’re not breaking any new ground in the world of acting, but, again, they don’t have to.   What matters is that they are able to make the psychological adjustment to perform essentially different characters psychologically in several different scenarios, demonstrating a range that is rarely exhibited by the stable of “young talent” inflicted upon us by mainstream American films these days who, for the most part, can’t even portray one role convincingly, much less portray psychological changes in the characters they portray.
     If there was a conference for “young talent” in Los Angeles and the building burnt to the ground with everyone trapped inside, essentially rebooting the contemporary trend towards presentation over verisimilitude exhibited by any and every young actor of our time, it would do much to increase my optimism for future mainstream films utilizing young actors.
     In summary, The Hole is an excellent film that you’ve probably never seen and you should fix that as soon as you can.   Plus you get to see Keira Knightley’s boobs, which was not much of an incentive for me, as I’d have preferred to see “more” of the wonderfully voluptuous Thora Birch, but if getting to see Keira Knightley’s underwhelming rack is what tricks you into watching an almost perfect film, then, by all means, do.

     The Hole (2009):
     A single mom moves her two kids to a new home.   One is a moody black-haired teenager and the other a plucky little blond boy.
     And I already hate this film.
     The last film I remember giving a damn about where a single mother has to deal moving to a new town and raising two boys is Lost Boys (1984) and that one had the Coreys and vampires and Kiefer Sutherland as a vampire and was and is awesome.
     In this one, all they’ve got is a trap-door in the basement with a bottomless hole in it.
     The hole doesn’t even conjure up claymation mini-demons like The Gate (1987).
     In the scene introducing the boys, the moody teen is listening to headphones, while eating pizza, and wearing a “Killers” t-shirt.   If it was a parody, his shirt would read “Angsty Teen” in distressed 1970s iron-on style.
     There’s a girl next door.   Her parents are affluent enough that they have an in-ground pool in their backyard so the pretty young object can have her jerk-off friends over to lounge around and be jerks.
     Of course the pretty girl next door decides to befriend the new kid next door.
     Of course she does.
     The teenaged boy and girl hang out in a vain attempt to develop their one-dimensional characters.
     Then I stopped paying attention because it was boring.
     Then the younger brother goes into the basement alone and is menaced by a clown puppet.
     Because everyone forgot about the time that they used that trick in Poltergeist (1982).
     Thankfully they replace the clown puppet with a creepy little girl when the big brother goes downstairs to check up on his little brother’s report about the clown puppet.
     Oh, and there’s also a notepad that when you tear all of the pages out and assemble them it makes a picture like in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse (2001) or the American remake from 2006.   I forget which.
     There’s a police officer that shows up supposedly looking for the little girl ghost, and when he turns around he reveals a yawning head wound, like in The Sixth Sense (1999).
     We enter the third act with the younger brother getting lured into the basement by himself and being menaced by the clown puppet again, this time the puppet plays like the goblin from Cat’s Eye (1985).
     Don’t worry.   The angsty teen lowers himself into the titular hole and confronts his fears by fighting his father.   Like in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), except the scene plays like a Scarecrow dream sequence from the video game Arkham Asylum.   But in a bad way.
     It turns out the whole thing was because Herbert West stole the tall man’s phantasm ball and gave it to Pinhead who used it to resurrect Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kreuger and Michael Myers, so Ash had to quest for the Necronomicon with Sid Haig and Bill Moseley.
     Yeah, right, I wish.
     Quotation may be a serviceable substitute for wit as Oscar Wilde was attributed with saying, but theft of other people’s ideas is not a serviceable substitute for creativity and the director should be ashamed of himself.
     Pretty much it was as if the director decided to re-make Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse (1988), peppering in elements stolen from other horror films in the hopes that by tossing it all in a blender and spreading it thinly across three uninterestingly average and under-acting young people it will work.   It doesn’t.   Not on any level aside from frustrating and annoying its intended audience.
     The film relies almost exclusively on startle-scares, where a character is suddenly confronted by something as indicated cinematically by a smash cut and an audible sting.
     This is the lowest possible form of horror.   I would rather be grossed out by gore than deal with someone trying to scare me by showing me someone being startled and kicking a piano every five minutes when a scare beat is determined to be necessary to keep the audience interested and insure that the film earns its horror genre tag.
     I tried to watch this about five times, and fell asleep every time until this, the sixth and hopefully final time.
     Keep in mind this travesty was directed by Joe Dante, the guy that gave us The Howling (1981) and Gremlins (1984).   So pretty much I feel like I took a trust fall into a pile of broken glass and used syringes thinking that Joe Dante was going to catch me in his capable hands.
     The only nice things I can think to say is that it is a movie in the conventional sense that it’s a piece of media that tells a story using pictures and sound and it would be great for people that don’t like movies that scare them but love movies where adolescents do a poor job of acting and the adults don’t do much better.