Brain Dead – review

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BRAIN DEAD – Review

There are people that you come across in life that you get to know but then who just disappear as if they fell off the earth. Such is the case with some filmmakers who, after making a few films that get some notice they just sort of, well, disappear. Far too many directors I have been a fan of have disappeared over the years, the legends and the ordinary director alike, the market having changed or the director just losing their touch. Such seems to be the case with director Kevin S. Tenney, sadly, who directed the cult fave Night of the Demons and, well, Witchboard, and now he’s back with a new film. I have to say though that it isn’t terribly accurate because if you look him up on IMDB you’ll see that this movie is from 2007 and he’s done things since then, but, as far as we’re concerned this is his newest film, which, alas, is not such a good thing. Brain Dead is a very poor man’s version of Night of the Creeps and Slither and brother, that’s not a good thing.

Six strangers drawn to a beautiful wooded area are thrust into a nightmare of survival when a meteor lands nearby and transforms a local fisherman into ravenous zombie. As the zombie transforms other into brain-hungry ghouls the six strangers are drawn together to an isolated cabin where they must fight off the undead before they lose their lives, and their brains.

This is a case where I wish there was more to say about the plot but, honestly, it’s a pretty simple, pretty straightforward thing. Not that that is a bad thing. Heck, Blair Witch is – three college students get lost in the woods while making a documentary about a legendary witch. Their footage is the only thing found. So a slim plot explanation doesn’t mean a bad or limited film at all. In this case it’s’ more that there was no heart or originality in the movie. That it is three years old puts it disturbingly close to the release of Slither, a film about a meteor with a space slug in it that transforms people into ‘zombies’. Hmm. It almost feels as if there was a checklist that the filmmakers were going through when they made the movie – 1. Nudity – CHECK (and it’s crazy because all of the lead women get nude once, at the beginning of the film, and then the nudity is done), 2. Gore – yup 3, Terrible Jokes – yup. The film is going through the motions with only one scene that had a moment of shock, when they kill off what you thought would be a main character. It’s been done but it was still a surprise. The tone is also odd because it tries to be horror–comedy but has moments that are not funny at all, and are just dark for no reason (thinking of a scene when a killer that has escaped from custody kills an unconscious guard with a shotgun at point-blank range).

The acting is pretty wooden, the direction is flat, and the story and production is pretty horrendous. It is gory though, to be sure. Though there is such little originality (they even robbed the grave of Evil Dead for goodness sake) that it’s hard to cheer the film’s ridiculousness on. I mean, we’re horror movie fans here, if we didn’t love the clunkers of the genre we’d barely have any movie faves. But the thing is that too many of these made-for-video films are being churned out with no originality, with no heart, and you start to feel bad for the directors because all that’s asked from them is to basically show up for work and keep the budget low. So, I feel bad for director Tenney because no one wants to be known for mailing in their passion and their work, but sometimes that’s what’s asked, and when you get movies like this to do, well, how do you blame him?

This isn’t a good movie. At all. It’s a gory, ridiculous, mash-up that is certainly watchable but is not something to seek out. This is a late-night watch, and little else. There are just too many ‘good’ movies and even more good ‘bad’ films to bother with the boring stuff.

5 out of 10

Temptation – movie review

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Wow am I over the vampire trend. Now, to be completely honest I have been ‘over’ it for a while, but jeepers, we are definitely in the doldrums of it now. I mean, we have all had to suffer through some terrible vampire films over the years, just as we suffered through bad slashers and the rest but man, you’d think there’d be more originality than there is but, alas, not so much.  Which brings me to Temptation another in a long line of lipstick lesbian vampire films that feign at being feminist but are just more of the same.

After a rough night with her boyfriend an attractive young woman is far too drunk to be wandering the streets but is doing just that when she is picked up by what appears to be a well intentioned stranger who wants to make sure she gets home safe. Unfortunately for her, he’s more interested in getting her away from any prying eyes so he can force himself on her. Unable to fight back in the state she’s in it’s only through the dark miracle of a vampire that sweeps in and brutally murders the man that she is saved. But in saving her, the vampire, an exotic red-headed woman, turns her into a vampire as well, thus changing her life forever. Unsure what is happening, the young woman begins to feel different and is more and more drawn to the night life. With her sudden abhorrence of sunlight she starts to lust for blood. At night her dreams are filled of places she has never been, and things she has never done and over and over again of the woman that saved her from her attacker. When she turns on her estranged boyfriend and nearly makes a meal of him she sees what really is and stops before it’s too late. Her benefactor though is not as kind and makes sure her other protégés make quick work of the man. And so the young woman finds herself drawn into a life she abhors but which she is drawn to as she is drawn to the charismatic and strange woman who mothered her into this new world. She must make the decision whether to end her life and find peace in death or embrace the darkness and what she has suddenly become.

Almost plot-less I found myself waiting for what I thought would be the inevitable abundance of sex scenes and found few. Temptation loves playing the lesbian vampire angle and plays up the sexuality but never goes further than hinting at it. Ok, fine. Good for them. Yet, there is no other substance here outside of that. There’s no real sisterhood. No real sense of bond between the female vampires. They serve as a sort of vampire’s coven and their ‘queen’ runs the road. The films hints at the leader having an interesting background story but that story is brought up and concluded in one flashback that barely skims the surface.

The movie is well shot, is almost well edited, and though the acting isn’t ‘good’ it isn’t ‘bad’ either. It’s merely decent. The writing is terrible though, as are the representations of men on hand as either tools or jerks. What is crazy is that for a vampire film, it’s more about people posing as vampires than it is about being vampires. This is a teen melodrama version of what it’s like to be a vampire and little else. It’s watchable but terribly boring. Director Taylor is a slick director and knows how to shoot scenes but needs better material to work with and needs to focus on less atmosphere and more story. The leads are all attractive but the film is a mess and for a film less than ninety minutes long I found myself desperate for the end to come even quicker than it did.

The movie will do ok on video because of the vampires and the misleading idea that this is a sleazy movie (which it really isn’t at all) but that’s about all the business it will get. I wish I could be kinder as this isn’t a ‘bad’ movie so much as it’s a terribly mediocre film, but as such, it still isn’t worth recommending.

3.5 out of 10

Feast 3 – movie review

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Feast 3

Sometimes you get the funny feeling that you are being screwed with by a filmmaker. Sure, I mean, it isn’t that they always mean to screw with you but, dammit, they still do it. Case in point – Feast 3 – a film that neither needed nor really deserved a sequel, let alone two, yet, two we got, so instead of one, terribly fun, terribly fun stand alone film we got one really good movie and two needless add-ons that got worse and worse.

Which is not to say that Feast 3 is a bad film, it’s just a needless film, and one which I am needlessly reviewing.

Taking up exactly where the second film ended, Feast 3 takes the remaining cast members from the second installment and pits them once more against the bizarre and sexually deviant monsters that appeared in the first film and seek to either eat or screw anyone they can. The entire town that the cast has holed up in has become overrun by the monsters and if they have any hope of surviving, they need to find a way out of there, one way or another.

There isn’t much more to say about the plot than that. For a seventy-five minute movie there is an odd amount of plot devices here. It was like they had a lot of ideas but no real idea, or desire to fully investigate those ideas. Characters pop up only to die ironically and other characters die off just to kill off some of the main cast. Hell, I dunno if there is a likable character here, and with this many cast members, that’s saying something. The film is well made, is certainly gory, and has some shocks, but when it’s all said and done, to what end? The film’s ending is such a kick in the nuts after three films that you just want to scream. You can’t tell if they were just screwing with you for three movies, or really expect they will needlessly make a fourth film. You watch three films and learn little to nothing about the creatures and next to nothing about the characters. And it’s hard, as a fan of the first film, and even a passing fan of the second film, to get a movie like Feast 3 as your dessert. It is watchable, it is mildly entertaining, but to end a ‘trilogy’ with another useless gag, just because that’s your modus operandi is silly. What would have worked infinitely better is to do an Army of Darkness ending where save the characters from one boiling pot only to drop them into a bigger one.

This movie, this ending, will be perfect for some fans, and so be it. For me it felt like being kicked in the nuts and that isn’t a way to end a series. With such a strong first entry, it’s a shame that the films got progressively worse. This is definitely a case where I can safely tell you to watch the first film, and avoid the other two. Call me crazy.

5 out of 10