Body Horror

April Apocalypse

I don’t know what it is about zombie romance films that I love so much. The idea of love being able to survive even in a world bleak as one as a zombie apocalypse seems like a good contender. But my gut tells me that isn’t the right answer, so I’m left enjoying a strange niche of the horror genre. Strangely I’m not the only one that loves these movies, because there’s more than a few of them. April Apocalypse would be on the better end of the spectrum. But by no means my favorite, that would probably belong to Warm Bodies. While not the best at what it does April Apocalypse is certainly worth watching. As its full of fun acting and memorable moments.

April Apocalypse follows Artie (Reece Thompson), a love struck awkward teenager, who’s been in love with his next door neighbor April (Rebekah Brandes) since they were three. He confesses his love one night and April makes it clear she feels the same. The bad thing is her family is moving… tomorrow. They promise to stay in touch and after initially trying, the two drift apart. Artie falls into a depression and runs an evening radio show as an outlet for his depression, often pinning away for April. His depression worsens to the point where his family intervene and send him to psychologist, Dr. Lyle (George Lopez). Who prescribes him with a new form of Prozac to treat his depression. One that has none of old side effects, but has the new side effects of ambition, euphoria and an increase immune system. After starting he starts taking the new medication he, with help of his grandpa Pops (William Morgan Sheppard) to go to April. So he packs his car and leaves, to do just that. On the way he wrecks his car due to dodging a zombie in the road. When he comes to, the world is in the grip of a zombie apocalypse. He quickly returns home to check on his family. While in his home he set upon by a number of zombies, which Artie is able to kill. But not without getting bite. He quickly disinfects the wound with rubbing alcohol. Artie only manages to find Pops, who is dead. Leaving him wondering about the his parents and brother. But April is first priority, so Artie arms up and heads across the country to find her. Encounter other survivors along the way.

I found the acting to be great. I loved Reece Thompson. Though it did take me a good amount of time to warm up to him. But the best goes to Brent Tarnol as Stevenson and Todd Stashwick as the Priest. Though these just shine the brightest, because I cant think of single performance that I didn’t like.

Not that I liked all the characters. April and Regan played by Stephanie Hunt both bothered me. As both characters are never really expired. Regan happens into Artie and the two never seem to do much. She’s just the hot girl. Even when Artie meets up with Stevenson. That’s her characters whole deal. Which is sad as Stephanie Hunt did a good job with the role she was given. But I see Regan as a real missed opportunity as a character. The same goes for April, we get far more character with her. But she’s still and object in the film. Something for Artie to strive after and obtain. Not a fleshed out person with her own goals and ideas. Rebekah Brandes does a great job, making a character that is fairly shallowly written like-able.

The zombies are fairly stand fair. Nothing to noteworthy as April Apocalypse sticks to the standard fast zombie mythos. Get bitten or scratched you turn. After you turn you go cannibalistic and violent towards the uninfected. While the transformation window being fairly slim. It’s nice to see a zombie film that keeps the monster familiar while still delivering a new story.

Final thoughts, April Apocalypse certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel here. But it doesn’t need to. The standard zombie tropes and moments are here. But they’re done tongue in cheek. This is where the films comedy shines, as it will both acknowledge the trope and play off it at the same time. April Apocalypse is pretty good zombie film, with more than a dash of romance that I would recommend. 8/10

The Invasion

I love Nicole Kidman, though I think that most people do. Which was the main pull to watch this film. I enjoyed the other film adaptations The Body Snatchers that I’ve seen. Which is limited to the 1978, and 1993 versions. Though even with the addition of this version, my favorite is still the 1978 version. Because Donald Sutherland. The Invasion is close though, through the power of Nicole Kidman’s performance and the films many great moments.

The Invasion opens with a shuttle crashing and falling to earth during reentry. The debris from the crash is infested with an alien virus that can survive the freezing environment of space and the burning reentry. The virus infects people and taking them over when they enter REM sleep. One of the first people infected is the CDC director Tucker Kaufman (Jeremy Northam). Tucker’s ex-wife Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) is a practicing psychiatrist, who has patient that thinks her husband is no longer her husband. Having a complete change of temperament. Slowly Carol starts noticing strange behavior in those around her. Including Tucker’s sudden interest in being a father to his son Oliver (Jackson Bond) and asking for visitation. As her fears mount and after the discovery of a strange skin is discovered at a party. Carol turns to her boyfriend Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig). He in turn goes to his friend Dr. Stephen Galeano (Jeffrey Wright), and they learn of the spread of virus. Which is being spread by Tucker through a flu vaccine. After realizing that Tucker is infected she goes to rescue her son, who she has also learned is immune due to being sick as a baby with a specific strain of the chicken pox. But as Carol searches for her son, things get more complicated after she becomes infected by Tucker. Forced to stay awake and find her son, before the infected learn of his immunity.

I liked the build up. The slow start of the familiar that builds upon itself as the film progresses. Layering upon itself. As it like its predecessors address the concept of a world with out violence is a world with out humanity and anyone is capable of anything in the right situation plays out beautifully.

My favorite parts were the quieter moments after the Carol has realized of the invasion. When other non infected warn her on the subway and later when she escapes. To avoid emotion as they dont have any. Something that’s used against us by them. The work great and add a great deal to the tension of the film.

It was the cast that really stood out to me. With exception of Daniel Craig, who felt dry and unemotional. Nicole Kidman of course did an outstanding job. But like he’s done before my favorite performance was from Jeffery Wright. Who, while only a smaller supporting role uses his screen time the most effectively.

Final thoughts, Overall I really enjoyed this version and while not my favorite I can still admit that it’s well done.  The acting is solid though not as well done in the 1978 version and the story is solid. I like the undercurrents of the film, though the get very heavy handed with them. But if your a fan of invasion films or the other versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers I would recommend giving this film a watch. 7/10

The Devil’s Dolls

The reason I watched The Devil’s Dolls was simply because I enjoyed Brea Grant so much in Midnight Movie, even though she had such a small role, that I wanted to look into more of her films. Which lead me to the Devil’s Dolls. Though I was less impressed with The Devil’s Dolls than I was with Midnight Movie, I still enjoyed it. But it’s still flawed. Fortunately most of my issues with this film are minor, unfortunately one of them isn’t.

The Devil’s Dolls opens with a young woman barley escaping captivity from serial killer Henry (Matty Ferraro). Initially she seeks the aid of the most useless officer ever, to be finally rescued by Detective Matt (Christopher Wiehl). Who shoots and kills Henry. Matt and his partner Darcy (Kym Jackson) search Henry’s hideout and find his worry dolls. Collected with the rest of the evidence the dolls are left in the back of Matt’s car. The dolls are taken by Matt’s daughter Chloe (Kennedy Brice), which she fashions into jewelry that she sells at her mother Amy’s (Samantha Smith) shop. That night she becomes effected by the dolls, resulting in her attacking and killing the dog. Chloe then lapses into a coma. Similar things happen to those who purchased or wear the dolls. Attack and killing others, though each are killed shortly after. Including Amy’s friend Becca (Brea Grant), who is attacked and killed by her boyfriend after she gives him the doll as a gift to wear. Matt and Darcy link each of the events together eventually realizing the dolls and their connection to Henry go to see Della (Tina Lifford), the woman who raised Henry. She explains that the dolls were a gift to Henry as a child in an effort to heal is lost innocence. But the dolls became cursed by the sorrow and pain he felt, cursing those to know the levels of his pain. Though the pain they feel is entirely their own and that to save his daughter, Matt must collect all the dolls and bring them to her by sunrise…

My main issue with this film is Christopher Wiehl. He performance feels plastic. Rigged, inorganic and fake. It’s jarring against some of the other performances, mostly Kennedy Brice. Who does an admirable job, one a few in the film. Christopher Wiehl isn’t one of them.

My other issue is with the pacing. The film has a slow and arduous at times, saved only by the short moments of violence. That and the occasion moment that drives the dread forward. The Devil’s Dolls starts strong and gets progressively weaker, ending in an ending that is both flat and predictable.

Final thoughts, the mood and story are good. If not easily anticipated. The horror aspect plays on the fear of possession and of on our own fears getting the best us. The worry doll’s are only lightly explained and their ability to cleanse the soul is left mostly unexplained beyond magic tree. Which I suppose is all the film really needs, but lacks any sense of origin that made them feel real. An okay film in the end, with some memorable moments and visuals. But lacks enough strength of character to be a truly be good. 6/10

Dance of the Dead

I went into Dance of the Dead expecting a better film. Detention of the Dead was good enough to get me looking for similar films. Which brought me to Dance of the Dead and I don’t like near as much. Mostly because I feel I was cheated on the Dance part of this film, since the majority of the film doesn’t take place at the dance. I feel bad for not liking this film, it has everything going for it. It’s a cheesy zombie flick, set at a prom, and its low budget with a focus on practical effects. I should be loving this film, but I’m not.

Dance of the Dead opens in a graveyard next to nuclear power plant. The grave keeper covers up the fact the dead are rising by removing the parts that break the surface. At the towns high school everyone is preparing for the upcoming prom. Steven (Chandler Darby) a member of the Sci-Fi club, tries to ask out cheerleader Gwen (Carissa Capobianco) after learning her date is sick. But chickens out when she shows interest in Nash Rambler (Blair Redford), the lead singer in a punk band. Meanwhile, Lindsey (Greyson Chadwick) breaks up with her long time boyfriend Jimmy Dunn (Jared Kusnitz) over his inability to take anything seriously and decides to go to the dance with Rod (Mark Lynch) instead. The night of the prom the Sci-Fi club led by Jules (Mark Lynch) goes and investigates the graveyard. At the same graveyard Rod and Lindsey park before the dance and start getting hot and heavy. When the dead rise in force, attacking the teens, killing Rod. Though Lindsey and the others manage to escape in Rod’s car. Jimmy on his way to the dance is forced to deliver a pizza for his job. When he arrives the family that ordered the pizza are now zombies and attack him. Jimmy manages to escape. He comes across an overturn truck, the only survivor is Kyle Grubbin a bully and Jimmy’s enemy. Kyle gets his gun and starts shooting zombies and nearly shoots Gwen when she’s jogging by. The three flee the zombie horde. Lindsey calls Jimmy after she and the Sci-Fi club take refuge in a house. Jimmy, Kyle and Gwen make their way to them via the sewers, which the discover is heavily polluted from the nuclear power plant. The group now formed decided to make a mad dash to try and save everyone at the prom before they become zombies.

I should love this movie, but it’s just not there for me. The acting is good enough that its not enjoyably awful, so a lot of them come off as dry or stilled.  None of the actors seem to be on the same page. Most of the performances you get the standard b zombie flick, but some of the characters are so over the top you cant tell if this film knows how to be funny. I had a real problem with the character of Coach Keel played by Mark Oliver, who is way to over the top compared to the rest of the cast.

This films tone is just as wildly inconstant, that I can only compare to the later Ernest films. One moment you go from zombie horror film to the humor with no real delineation. Just zombies, bad joke, oh more zombies, bad joke, zombies again over and over.

Though the film isn’t without it merits. It really shows what you can do with a small budget. Even if I don’t like the over out come and I have to respect it for that. The effects are gory and well done with the zombies looking the range of laughable to pretty alright. The transformations were handled better than I expected.  The music is often spot on for the moment and complements the scenes well.

Final thoughts, I you really like zombie films check it out. If on the other hand you’re only passingly a fan or not a fan of them at all, I’d say skip  it. There’s better teen zombie horror films out there. I really wish I could recommend this film but I just can’t. 4/10

OMBC – The Hellbound Heart

The main if not only reason I read this book is because I’m a fan of the Hellraiser series and wanted to see where it started. Also while being very aware of Clive Barker I can’t think of any one of his novels that I have read. Overall the short length and some of the characters left me feeling underwhelmed. After reading the book I can see why the changes that were made were done so, for the most part.

Next month I’ll be reading Thor by Wayne Smith, see you then and keep reading.

Freaks of Nature

mv5bmtk2mtmymtezn15bml5banbnxkftztgwnte0mdywnze-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_I’m conflicted here, as I genuinely liked aspects of this film. But it’s so much a debacle? Boondoggle? Clusterf#$k? One of those three to be sure, if not all three. Freaks of Nature seems to just throw everything it can think of at the wall and see what sticks and what doesn’t. Very little sticks. The few highlights of the film for me that I loved were the character moments that showed a certain level of thought went into writing this film. Though I feel that what was intended didn’t come across or translate to the screen correctly.

Freaks of Nature takes place in the town of Dillford. Which is inhabited by humans, vampires and zombies. Dag Parker (Nicholas Braun) is a high school guy, with standard tv high school problems. Like being into the hot girl Lorelei (Vanessa Hudgens) whose your friend but don’t know how to express how he feels. Petra Lane (Mackenzie Davis) and her vampire boyfriend Milan (Ed Westwick) decided to go “all the way”. Unfortunately Petra and Milan misunderstand each other as Petra thinks he means sex when he means feeding on her. Resulting in Petra turning into a vampire after being bitten. Ned Mosely (Josh Fadem) is the uncool smart kid. His teachers work against him to crush he dreams of leaving this small town and his parents show blatant favoritism for his athletic older brother. With his future looking grim Ned lets himself be bitten by a zombie. As a means of escaping. As it happens all three go to the same high school. But as their high school dramas unfold aliens show up. This drives the tensions between the groups boil over as one group accuses for the aliens arrival. This leads up to a town wide melee, neighbor against neighbor. But as the aliens enter the fight until on Dag, Petra and Zombie Ned are left to stop them and save their town.

I liked the subtext of the vampire and zombie story lines. The vampire substituting for STIs and the zombie stepping in for depression and the sense of hopelessness. Both approach these subtly. Well not so much with the vampire one..

The acting isn’t so bad. Vanessa Hugens, Keegan-Michael Key, Ian Roberts and Mackenzie Davis are amazing fun to watch and do a great job. Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack delightful together. However Nicholas Braun is the films main characters and I am not a Nicholas Braun fan. With each film of his I watch, the less of him I want to see. That said he’s the one with an acting career, so he has to be doing something right.

My main issue is that this film tries to do way to much. With the zombie, the vampire and aliens on top of a high school drama(s). It all becomes a bit to much, resulting in everything fighting for your attention. Causing just about everything to come out feeling bland.

Final thoughts. I loved the numerous horror tropes that was worked in. That’s basically all this film is, horror and high school drama tropes are slammed together. But since the film isn’t taking its self seriously, I find it hard to be to critical of it. Freaks of Nature as parts that are worth looking into on a deeper level, while at the same time can be enjoyed as just a silly film. But for my personal views on the end product, I would have to say 4/10.

Spring

mv5bmjmwnzm2otk3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjexotu0nde-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_-1Spring really managed to surprise me with its thoughtful blend of Horror and Romance. Spring gets the right blend of the two elements and leaves you with a great experience. Spring has managed to stay on my mind for days after viewing in such a way that I haven’t experienced since The Battery. The chemistry between the films leads Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker is soft, but profoundly noticeable. The weight of the film falls on their shoulders, a burden the pair manages to carry with no problems.

Spring begins with Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) caring for his sick mother, who passes shortly after she’s introduced. Evan’s friend Tommy (Jeremy Gardner) takes him out drinking. Where Evan gets in a fight, badly beating the other man. This ends up with Evan loosing his job as he works at bar he got a fight in and fleeing the cops. Looking to invade the cops and the man he beat, Evan flies to Italy to make good on a trip, one that he planned and intended to take with father before he died. In Italy Evan starts working on an Olive farm, in town Evan meets a young, beautiful woman Louise (Nadia Hilker). After persisting she eventually agrees to go on a date with him. The two quickly fall for one another, though it’s a bad time for Louise. Who is going through violent and dangerous transformations…

What I loved was the soft flow of Spring. Feeling primarily like a romantic film, but it does its job in the horror department.  Which works great as the romantic angle along with the humanizing elements makes the character relatable and sympathetic. This ramps up the dread as I actually care for the characters.

I also loved the setting. Italy, the ocean, the old city, and the olive farm creates a dread location that’s actually kind of haunting. Also I love that the nights and days play in as Louise is sensitive to the light… sometimes. Placing the location next to ocean add a strange sense of smallness to film along with a strange sense of closeness.

The horror bits are surface level girl transforms into monsters and kills people. Beyond that is the uncertainly of their future at the end of the film. As best case the two raise a child with the same exact issue as Louise. The transformations are pretty great actually. I like on the silly side a couple of times, but overall very well done.

Final thoughts, I loved everything about this film and I’m sad that I didn’t see it sooner. Spring is a Romantic Horror film left me feeling both hopeful, but at the same time a strong sense of foreboding.  Spring isn’t a horror film about jump scares and body counts. It’s a film focused on atmosphere and leaves you feeling a bit haunted. 9/10