Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012) - High Cheese Factor-athon Film #3


Ingredients: Jake Busey, Dominique Swain, Josh Allen, Christopher K. Johnson, James Maxwell, Lilan Bowden, Marlene Okner, Maria Pallas, Abderrahim Halaimia and Trevor Kuhn. Directed by Joseph J. Lawson. Run time: 89 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: So, this beauty was the third and final cheesy flick of my cheesy flick marathon. Save the best for last?

A group of researchers in Antarctica, led by Dr. Riestad (Busey), stumble upon a giant hole in the ice leading to a breathtakingly beautiful land at the center of the earth.

One slight hiccup.

Dr. Josef Mengele (Johnson) is down there rebuilding the Third Reich and planning to take over the world.

It's just lucky the scientists show up because the Nazis are decomposing by the minute. Mengele could use an extra set of brains to solve the problem...

as well as any available leftover skin.

Tough to Swallow: The Asylum will make doctors out of anyone. This time it's Jake Busey.

The scientists are drilling into the ice and the drill hits metal, which appears to be only an inch or two below the surface.

The funniest CG moment is when the scientists discover the hangar -- the scientists are CG. The worst CG, in my opinion, is the UFO/warplanes shootout, especially the explosions.

The swastika on the back wall of the transplant room is reversed in the shot where Dr. Mengele first touches the face of the soldier.

The swastika on the outside of the castle and the one on the top of the spacecraft are also reversed.

The fancy German signs are out of place.

The credit for Set Decorator is misspelled as Set Decorater.

Something to Chew On: The budget was less than $200,000.

This is Lawson's feature directorial debut. He is also the visual effects supervisor for The Asylum.

The film took fewer than four months to make.

There is a theory that Adolf Hitler ordered a research journey in Antarctica to find an opening into the earth. Admiral Karl Dönitz mentioned "an invisible fortification, in midst of the eternal ice" during the Nuremberg Trials.

Of course, there have been several books about the possibility of Earth's center being hollow.

You'll hear a Wilhelm Scream in the opening scene.

This is the second movie Swain has appeared in that includes the removal of someone's face. Of course, the previous one was the 1997 blockbuster FACE/OFF.

The camera pans across four file folders in Dr. Mengele's organ transplant room. The folders are labeled: 1) Essen Babys, 2) Dreizehn, 3) Ich liebe es, Drogen zu tun and 4) Große Esel, Junge Dame. The fun part is when you translate those labels: 1) Eat babies, 2) Thirteen, 3) I love to do drugs and 4) Big ass, young lady.

I'm not familiar with the PC game "Wolfenstein 3D" (1992), but apparently the story and some characters are similar.

There's a really short scene at the end of the credits.

Aftertaste: Save the best for last, indeed. In my opinion, NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH is the most entertaining movie produced by the The Asylum. Granted, counting this one, I've only seen five.

The title will grab you. That's a given. However, it's all the other crazy stuff that will totally engross you. A good portion of it will just gross you... out.

Flesh-eating bacteria? Check. Face transplants? Check. Implied probing? Check. Vaporizing guns? Check. Uncomfortable shower scene? Check. Boobs? Check. Exposed brains? Check. Abortion? Check. Robots? Check. UFOs? Check.

The action doesn't pick up until the final act, but the gore and twisted content more than make up for it. And, when I say twisted, I mean seriously twisted. It's on the verge of being a torture porn flick.

Probably the most chilling moment is when the female scientists are being led to the showers. It's in slow-motion. There's ominous music. And, given the Nazi history involving showers, you know it's probably not going to end well.

Johnson, as Mengele, steals the movie. He's the perfect mix of creepy and evil, and plays it straight. He looks like Ian McKellen or John Hurt, but with a rotting face. He would definitely give Bill Oberst, Jr. (ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES) a fight if there were awards for best acting in a low-budget feature.

The rest of the acting is about on par with what you would expect from The Asylum.

I would say the only time the makeup effects don't work is with the "Mark"-face soldier.

Lawson's low-budget wonder and DEAD SNOW would make a great double feature on a cold, winter night.

Overall, I can't think of a way you'd be disappointed if you choose to pop this movie into you DVD player. 
I feel like I've talked this movie up as much as possible. It's all I can do.

If you don't watch NAZIS AT THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, it's no skin off my nose.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2-Headed Shark Attack (2012) High Cheese Factor-athon Film #2

On the Menu: 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK (2012)

Ingredients: Carmen Electra, Charlie O'Connell, Brooke Hogan, Geoff Ward, David Gallegos, Corinne Nobili and Shannan Stewart. Directed by Christopher Ray. Run time: 88 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: The B-movie marathon continues with another winner from The Asylum.

Professor Babbish (O'Connell) and his wife (Electra) take a group of eighteen college students on a Semester at Sea trip. Unbeknownst to everyone on board the Sea King, a two-headed shark has damaged the hull.

The professor and students use a dinghy to travel to a nearby deserted atoll in order to look for scrap metal. Then, for some reason, there are earthquakes and the atoll starts sinking.

College students + boats + earthquakes + two-headed shark = lots of blood in the water.

Tough to Swallow: Laura jumps in the water barefoot to repair the hull. When the shark appears she's wearing flippers.

The CGI scenes are ridiculous, but they're nothing compared to the glimpses you get of the man-made shark.

The acting is atrocious.

It doesn't help when you have to read lines like this:
Kirsten: "Ah, the water looks so nice. I just wanna jump in."
Kate: "No! Why do you have to ask so many damn questions?"

We're also supposed to believe O'Connell is a college professor and Electra is a doctor.

Sharks can't roar.

The distance between the Sea King and the atoll is very confusing. Some shots show the ship very far away, so there's no way the students on the atoll could see what was going on when the shark is chasing the speedboats. However, there are times when the ship looks closer to land.

Two guys are in a speedboat and spot something floating in the water nearby. Well, nearby ends up being about 100+ feet away from where they were.

The size of the shark is also all over the place. The survivors can spot the shark by the large fin that's always above the water. When the shot goes underwater to show the shark all of its fins are below the water, and none of the fins are as big as the one seen above water.

How were there any explosions at the end?

The credit for Production Coordinator is misspelled as Production Coordanator.

There are students named Kristen and Kirsten, but both credits are for Kristen.

Something to Chew On: The budget was $1 million.

Ray also directed MEGA SHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS starring Jaleel White.

Apparently, the shark's two heads were originally going to be one on top of the other instead of side-by-side.

Gerald Webb, who played the deckhand named Han, is also credited with casting the movie.

Aftertaste: Oh boy. Well, two girls get naked and make out, so it's got that going for it, I guess.

Seriously, the minimal eye candy is the only redeeming quality, and I'm not counting Brooke Hogan and her man-face. What kept me from giving only a half-star rating were the balls of Mr. Webb. Why? Because when you hear doctor, you think Carmen Electra.

See, this is definitely a drinking-game type movie. Maybe drink every time the shark jumps out of the water, every time the ground shakes, every time someone says 'atoll,' and every time Miss Electra has a line.

It is good to see her running in slow-motion again though.

Stick with what you know.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012) - High Cheese Factor-athon Film #1


Ingredients: Bill Oberst, Jr., Baby Norman, Bernie Ask, Jason Hughley, Jason Vail and Don McGraw. Directed by Richard Schenkman. Run time: 96 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: The Asylum makes some really bad movies. You know, drinking-game type movies like MEGA PIRANHA and MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS with "stars" such as Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Jaleel White. They're also really big on making cheaper versions of blockbusters and slightly changing the titles, e.g., TRANSMORPHERS, PARANORMAL ENTITY and SNAKES ON A TRAIN. Get it?

So, this is The Asylum's mockbuster of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER.

Meaning, it's essentially the same story, but with zombies.

When Lincoln was younger, his mother was bitten and he had to put her down.

Later, the undead appear during the Civil War and Lincoln recruits a group of men to help him get rid of the threat.

Tough to Swallow: The Secret Service was actually created by Lincoln on the day of his assassination (almost two years after the action in the movie takes place).

If you're going to brief your men before a mission, why not tell them what their opponents will be and how to kill them?

Like cows, zombies sleep standing up and you can walk by them if you're quiet enough not to wake them.

Now, if the above description is what you're shoveling, why walk through a crowd of zombies without them noticing you, then shoot one in the head in order to make your getaway? And, how does a creaking barn door not cause a stir?

Lincoln instructs his men to kill the zombies by gunshot to the head or beheading. However, some die from gunshots to the stomach.

The Union had control of Fort Pulaski (Georgia) before the Battle of Gettysburg started in July 1863.

Stonewall Jackson died on May 10, 1863 in Virginia.

Theodore Roosevelt would have been three months shy of his 5th birthday in July 1863. The film portrays him as a tween or teenager.

Pat Garrett would have been 13 years old, yet appears as a 20-something. Also, he was never a Corporal for the Confederacy.

There's some automobile traffic in the background of the scene where Pinn has run off and Garrett is picking up his gun.

Running away from a train while running on the tracks is not wise.

Two years pass and Lincoln's beard loses its gray.

How do you get infected if a zombie only scratches you?

Something to Chew On: The budget was $150,000.

The film was shot in Savannah, Georgia and at Fort Pulaski.

Schenkman also wrote the screenplay and had a small role as Dr. Malinoff.

I was surprised to find a connection to GUT, which was the last film I reviewed. That connection is Jason Vail. He is the lead actor in GUT and plays John Wilkinson here.

There are bits of famous quotes thrown about and a Shakespearean moment while President Lincoln is praying.

There are 154 people credited as zombies.

Jon Cryer is listed in the "Special Thanks" section of the credits.

Aftertaste: Aside from the historical inaccuracies, sleeping zombies, obviously fake beards and so-so makeup, it's not necessarily a terrible movie. Overall, the acting is mediocre, but Oberst plays Lincoln wonderfully. He's the highlight of the movie, for sure. Oberst's performance is definitely better than president/vampire hunter Benjamin Walker's. Vail definitely has more lines here than in GUT, and he's the better for it. He can be pretty over-the-top, and it's perfect for a period zombie flick.

Perhaps, the best idea was the inclusion of the Wilkinson character and his "victory" in the end. What we know about Lincoln's fateful night at the theatre fits perfectly with where the story takes us.

Hey, it is what it is. I had low expectations and they were achieved. I'm slightly disappointed there were no "Dancing with the Stars"-type actors in the cast though.

Like all movies from The Asylum, it's good for some laughs regardless of how bad it is.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Gut (2012) - Maybe You Can Stomach It

On the Menu: GUT (2012)

Ingredients: Jason Vail, Nicholas Wilder, Sarah Schoofs and Angie Ballaro. Directed by Elias. Run time: 90 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: I received a random email back in November from "Gut Productions" asking if I would like to review their film. I replied back and asked for a screener DVD. Well, it arrived in the mail about a week later, but I never got around to watching it. I feel pretty bad about putting it on the back burner. However, I haven't watched ANYTHING since THE CAMPAIGN, which was the night before the election.

Needless to say, more movies need to be watched in 2013. Starting now.

Tom (Vail) is a family man with a 9-to-5 job. Problem is he seems bored with his life. Cue Dan (Wilder), Tom's goofy best friend since childhood.

Dan comes to possess what might be a snuff film and decides it's just what Tom needs to unwind.

Instead, Tom becomes unhinged.

Tough to Swallow: Not sure there was enough gore to be classified as a horror film.

Nearly every scene cuts or fades to black. I mean, it should definitely be the focus of a drinking game.

The pacing is painfully slow at times, and shots seem to linger too much, especially when nothing is happening.

Vail seems adept at acting with his facial expressions, but his delivery is stale.

The office setting leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm guessing budget constraints kept any police officers from making the cast list. Otherwise, I don't see how you can disappear from work for a day or two and be replaced immediately without someone calling the cops.

The ending will leave you scratching your head... or shaking your head. I didn't sympathize with either lead character because I never felt emotionally connected with them.

Make sure your pets aren't around for the end credits. The music is loud and irritating, and it made my cats freak out. I can't imagine the effect it would have on dogs.

Something to Chew On: This is the second feature film directed by Elias. His first was the 2006 film LovecraCked! The Movie.

Elias also wrote and edited the film. He's also listed as one of the producers.

Several crew members make appearances in the movie.

The budget was under $500,000.

The film was shot entirely on location in New York and New Jersey. Filming lasted approximately 28 days.

It was shot with a Canon EOS 7D (within two weeks of the camera's U.S. street date).

Won Best Feature and Best Special Effects in the 2012 New York City Horror Film Festival.

Producer Anna Ganster is also the director's wife.

Aftertaste: GUT does not depend on dialogue. I know some movie watchers are turned off by those types of films, e.g., CAST AWAY and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. It doesn't bother me. Less is more, if done properly. The silence in GUT will probably make you bored because the film's pace drags so often. There are far too many scenes with characters issuing blank stares.

The acting is hit-and-miss. Wilder's Dan comes across as a slightly creepy oddball, who might be jealous of his best friend's wife. However, more often than not, Wilder himself comes across as awkward. Vail always appears seething, but struggles with delivering his lines. Schoofs might possibly be the best actor of the group even though she doesn't get as much screen time.

I think some of the best scenes in the movie are the ones portraying the "live" version of the snuff films. I still don't understand how we get that perspective if the DVDs are simply mailed to Dan. How are we privy to the behind-the-scenes stuff?

Now, the most impressive scene has to be Tom's first dream after watching the DVD. It just might be the lone highlight.

The soundtrack is definitely unsettling. I'd say it sets the tone and then some. Seriously though, hit the mute button once the credits start because the music turns into nails on a chalkboard really fast.

It's arguable as to whether or not the ending provides any answers to what transpired the previous 80+ minutes. Personally, I'd like to think the killer isn't an unknown figure and Tom is justified in his final actions. However, that wasn't my thinking while I was watching the movie seeing as how we're not given a concrete reason for us to think otherwise. Unfortunately, by the end, I didn't really care enough either way.

I sat down to watch this with no expectations. I was neither totally disappointed or blown away. This low-budget indie thriller could have benefited from experienced actors, better editing and a more concise script.

That's my GUT reaction.