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frosty     Welcome to The Haunting of Helena, directed by Christian Bisceglia and Ascanio Malgarini.  The story concerns Sophia, a single mother, and her daughter, Helena, who move into a new house that they later discover has a murderous history.  Don’t they all? When Helena loses her first baby tooth, strange events begin to occur in the house, and around Helena in general.  Her mother tries to protect her, but she is no match for the ghostly Tooth Fairy.

The-Haunting-of-Helena-Theatrical-Poster1

No seriously, that’s what our villain is called.  There’s a fairly reasonable explanation, but I think the movie’s first failing is to use the silliest name for a ghost ever (aside from maybe The Easter Bunny.  Or, like, the Flag Day monster).  The Tooth Fairy moniker has been used before to represent a malevolent spirit, and it wasn’t scary then either.  Aside from that, the actual ghost figure in The Haunting of Helena is somewhat effective, particularly in the scenes where there aren’t any CGI additions.  That can be said for most of the effects in general – the best ones in this film are practical.

Helena and many, many teeth.

Despite the ridiculous name, the movie itself is interesting – it diverts from the traditional ghost story on a few occasions and brings in the possibility of mental illness in a believable way.  The actors portray their characters well, especially Sophia and Helena (yes, Helena looks like Sadako from The Ring series, but that annoyed me less than usual here).  There are some truly creepy setpieces – not everything works, but it’s worth a watch.  Just put that whole Tooth Fairy name out of your mind and enjoy the story.

frosty    Before I even start to review this movie, let’s all take a moment to reflect on titling your film “The Last” anything.  See, once you call something “the last (insert thing here, preferably scary), you’ve kind of given up your right for a sequel.  Hey, you called it the last, right?  Not in Hollywood, my friends!  There, you can have another Last Exorcism – which then makes the first one The Second-to-Last Exorcism?  What if there’s another sequel?  Sorry, We Really Thought That Other One Was the Last Exorcism?  I don’t mean to beat a dead (possessed) horse, it’s certainly not the only movie in the world with an unwieldy title.  So let’s talk about the actual film, and leave this title behind us.

lastexorcism2-poster

The Last Exorcism 2 follows returning character Nell (played again by Ashley Bell) as she tries to move on from the ordeal she experienced in the first film.  She moves into a halfway house with a shrink and a few other girls and tries to begin a normal life.  But Abalam, the demon who impregnated her in the first film (maybe with her consent, maybe not???), isn’t done with her yet.  Nell is hounded by Abalam and his followers at every turn.  They thwart her attempts at a normal life (including a possible love interest) and implore her to let Abalam back into her, because only he loves her.  Racy stuff, people.  Nell tries to resist, but she still has a small piece of the demon inside her, so she tries another exorcism (because the last one worked out really well).

The hilarity of this movie is that it’s essentially a will they/won’t they comedy, except it’s horror and one of the “theys” is a demon.  Let me into you, only I love you, only I have ever cared for you – if these words were spoken by a dude and not a demon, we’d totally be in a rom-com.

Ashley Bell as Nell

The movie doesn’t have much going for it.  The plot is wafer-thin (WAFER-thin?  Get it?  Get it????), the supporting characters are undeveloped, and really, not much happens until the last 10 or so minutes of the film.  What it does have is Ashley Bell, and she is the saving grace of the film.  Bell has real talent – we’d already seen her knock it out of the park as Nell in the first Last Exorcism, and she brings just as much depth to this second last exorcism.  Nell has a sweet fragility about her, which makes her moments of temptation that much more affecting.  Her shaking hand as someone offers her a kindness, her terror mixed with desperate desire as she confronts Abalam in several forms – Bell makes all facets of the character believable.

In short, Bell is the reason to watch The Last Exorcism 2.  Pretty much the only reason.  But she’s a good reason.

13 More Days til Halloween – presenting Laird Barron

Posted: October 18, 2013 by StayFrosty in Books, Reviews

frosty        Just a quick note on this countdown before we begin.  To get into the spirit of Halloween, FGSG is counting down the 13 days til Halloween.  Each day we’ll cover a different movie, author, director, composer, whatever.  They may not always be things that are recent (I’m betting some 70s movies are gonna get a mention), but they will be things/people we love or at least think are interesting enough to check out.  Sometimes these write-ups will be on the short side, but we’re doing the best we can to get some content out there.  As for the headline, just imagine the song from Halloween III for the next 13 days…

My knowledge of Laird Barron is due entirely to JennyD, and man, do I owe her major thanks for introducing me to this amazing author.  Even after reading only one of his novels, I knew I had to read everything I could get my hands on.  Barron has written several collections of short stories and two novels (many of which are available on Amazon in both hard copy and for the Kindle).  I started with his excellent novel “The Croning”, but really, I can recommend everything of his I’ve read.  Everything.  I haven’t read all of Barron’s work yet, but I suspect when I do I’ll be able to recommend each one with the same amount of enthusiasm.

Cover of The Croning - a great place to start your Barron adventure.

Cover of The Croning – a great place to start your Barron adventure.

Barron has so many skills it’s hard to know where to start.  Whether a short story or a novel, his work immediately pulls you in.  He’s able to create intense atmospheres just dripping with dread that immerse you in whatever world he decides to create.  Best of all, he does this without having that much disliked “long-pages-of-explanation-as-to-why-the-world-is-the-way-it-is-and-then-back-to-the-story” device.   He takes plots places you wouldn’t expect without it seeming contrived.  And the way he can turn a phrase…gorgeous.  Some of his work definitely brings Lovecraft to mind, but Barron’s stories are his own.  In short, he’s quality goods.

Barron’s most recent collection of short stories is The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All – it was originally supposed to release in April 2013 and then was held all the way to August!  But it’s here now and I am eagerly devouring every incredible page.  And, as I’d already known, this new book doesn’t disappoint.

Barron's most recent work

Barron’s most recent work

Laird Barron official site:  http://lairdbarron.wordpress.com/

Birdemic 2: The Ressurection!

Posted: May 8, 2013 by StayFrosty in Events, Film, Guests, Reviews

frosty

Okay movie friends, if you’ve clicked on the link to read this review, you’ve probably already experienced the original Birdemic: Shock and Terror, directed by master of the Romantic Thriller James Nguyen. Or it could be you’re just intrigued by the word “birdemic” – and who wouldn’t be?  This also means it’s likely you already know if you’re going to enjoy the sequel, and there’s not much I can do to change your mind.  Most people who’ve seen Birdemic have strong feelings about it.  Love it or hate it, the one emotion I haven’t encountered is ambivalence.

How can you not love this photo?

How can you not love this photo?

JennyD and I (joined by some bird loving, hanger-carrying friends) saw Birdemic 2: The Resurrection at the closing of the Cinedelphia Film Festival (http://www.cinedelphiafilmfestival.com) at PhilaMoca, late at night with a bunch of other people who were there to enjoy the shit out of this movie.  On top of that, we were joined by Director James Nguyen, Producer Jeff Ross, and star Alan Bagh (“Rod”)!  How much better could a premiere get?

Not much better, as it happens.  I can’t recall the last time I laughed and enjoyed myself so much at an event like this.  It seemed like everyone was having a great time – they laughed, they cheered, they freakin’ sang along to the original movie’s now classic song “Just Hanging Out”!  I love a sing-along at a movie!  Clearly, almost every single person there knew what they were in for, and were loving it.  And with a movie like Birdemic 2, that’s exactly the way you need to go into it.

In the film, we continue to follow the exploits of Birdemic‘s brilliant computer engineer Rod (Alan Bagh) and his girlfriend Nathalie (Whitney Moore, clearly very much in on the joke this time around), along with Rod’s adopted son (!), a boy he rescued in the first film and in this film only makes an appearance in one scene (hey, children are expensive to hire in the movie world).  There was a sister in the original too, but since the film didn’t have the budget for two kid actors, she was conveniently dealt with offscreen in a way that is far too awesome for me to reveal here.

birdemic 2

Joining our intrepid couple is Bill (Thomas Favaloro), an independent film director struggling to make it in Hollywood despite resistance from the big studio system (those jerks!).  And given how much screen time is devoted to him walking around town, it’s clear the poor guy needs some big studio cash.  Lend this man some money for a cab, people!  Bill just wants to make the movies he wants to make, like his current project, Sunset Dreams, but he needs financing since the studios just don’t understand him.  Fortuitously, his good buddy Rod just happens to have a MILLION DOLLARS from his software sales!  Executive producer/director high five! (I should note the high fives in both films are epic).  Now Bill can make his movie, but where shall he ever find a lead actress with the right amount of beauty and talent?

Cue waitress/aspiring actress Gloria (Chelsea Turnbo), whom Bill meets for about 5 seconds before he decides not only would she be perfect in the lead role, she’s perfect for him as well.  And with some of the worst pickup lines – but the best eyebrow work – in cinematic history, Bill gets his leading lady.

All this blossoming romance signals it’s about time for some bird chaos!  Instead of a detailed explanation, how about I offer you this: Millions of eagles and vultures are attacking Hollywood!!!  It’s raining blood!!!  Who will survive and what will be left of them?!?!?!

birdemic 2-3

Our intrepid heroes

I could discuss the subplots about global warming and blood somehow resurrecting creatures from the La Brea tar pits, but why do that?  Cue attacks!  Cue hangers!  Cue exploding birds!  Bagh and company combat the winged threat with weapons including not just the famous hangers of the past but guns, umbrellas, tripods and (most wonderfully) totally badass karate moves!  And during all this madness Rod and Nathalie never thought to mention that THEY’D ALREADY BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE!!!   The. Exact. Same. Thing.  Eventually they think to bring up this minor tidbit of information – about 15 minutes before the end of film.  You know, when it’s important.

It's not hangers, but it will have to do.

It’s not hangers, but it will have to do.

I’m leaving out all sorts of hilarious moments – zombies, cavemen (don’t ask, just accept) and another rockin’ dance scene complete with a new song from Damien Carter. But it’s no fun to hear about that stuff from me, so I’ll leave some secrets for when you watch.

After the movie’s rather abrupt ending, we were treated to a Q&A with James Nguyen, Alan Bagh and Jeff Ross.  I was initially worried that people would be jerks and ask crappy, jerkish and awkward questions.  I get it, the movie’s not a cinematic masterpiece, but in my opinion being obnoxious to the director is just bad form.  However, with few exceptions, everyone was there in the spirit of fun, and the questions reflected that.

The surprise for me was James Nguyen.  I wasn’t sure prior to this screening if he thinks he’s making great movies or if he’s just very clever and knows exactly what he’s doing.  The jury’s still out on that one.  Before the film started he asked everyone how many drinks we’d all had, and later compared the Birdemic viewing experience to Rocky Horror, which suggests he’s in on the joke, but the way he answered some of the questions implies otherwise.  So who knows?  And does it really matter?

Director James Nguyen

Director James Nguyen

Here’s what I do know – the guy seems incredibly sincere, and he knows about movies.  Whether or not he knows how to make them is not in question at this time.  He loves Hitchcock, which is no secret, but he also knows his Hitchcock.  These are two different things.  He can discuss, in detail, camera angles, lighting design, film history and theory.  He cites a reference from a David Lynch film that he put into his movie, and damned if I didn’t see it.  I saw it in a scene of questionable quality, but I saw it nonetheless.  He has a wealth of knowledge; however, his ability to apply said knowledge to his own films is perhaps not his greatest strength.

Either way, he loves what he’s doing and he’s thrilled that people are enjoying themselves watching his movie.  He was very up front about his budgetary restraints and some of the adjustments he had to make.  He also brought up what I thought was a very good point – that if the movie was perfect, we probably wouldn’t be out at PhilaMoca late at night laughing and cheering.  He’s probably right.  Sincerity doesn’t make your movie better, but it does deserve some respect.

Jeff Ross and Alan Bagh didn’t have nearly as much to say, but we were treated to not one, but TWO karate kicks from Bagh!  Those kicks in the movie weren’t just fancy camera angles, friends!  They were REAL!

And that was our adventure with Birdemic 2: The Resurrection!  If you are going to watch this movie (and hell, why not?), I suggest you get a group of (open-minded) friends together and enjoy the ride!  Looking forward to BIRDEMIC 3!  ~SF.

Awards Season 2012 Part 1: The Lucky 13

Posted: February 24, 2013 by StayFrosty in Film, Lists, Reviews

frosty

We thought we weren’t going to be able to find 10 best films this year, let alone 13.  But when JennyD, crow and myself actually sat down and went through our lists, we found plenty of gems that we felt needed to be recognized.  This list runs the gambit from independent hauntings to adorably disturbing stop-motion to big budget sci-fi horror.  So there’s plenty for every type of fan out there.  And compared to last year’s highly gorgeous, well-made but incredibly depressing films, this list is a picnic (a blood drenched picnic, but still).

The real winners this year are the monster kids and kids-at-heart – we saw a resurgence of the creepy, weird and wonderful films for younger viewers.  JennyD called them gateway films, and she’s not wrong.  These movies, aside from being fun, scary and touching all at the same time, help introduce kids to a world where although things may seem normal, by the end of the film they (and we) are taught normal is boring and weirdness is something to be celebrated.  Good lesson for people of any age.

Of course, we didn’t get to every film, so we freely admit there’s some stuff that should be on this list that isn’t there solely because we couldn’t get out to the theater.  We do our best.  So here it is, the Lucky 13 of 2012:

  1. ABCs of Death – The anthology film has made quite the comeback in 2012, and I’d say ABCs is the strongest of the bunch.  26 short films made by 26 different directors, each with one letter of the alphabet to guide them.  With that many shorts, the odds would tell you that most of them would be fair to mediocre, with a few gems and a few total bombs. There were definitely a few that should have been left on the cutting room floor, but that’s to be expected in any movie with 26 directors.  However, the pleasant surprise is that well more than half of these creepy, gory and sometimes intensely disturbing shorts were not only enjoyable, but beautiful and thought-provoking as well.  Special mention to letters A, D, O, R, U and X.  I’d say why, but that would be giving too much away.  Just check it out for yourself.
  2. The Bay – You most likely didn’t even know this film existed unless you have an Xbox (that’s where we found it), and that’s sad for everyone, because The Bay is a creepy found footage flick that’s a little too close to reality for my comfort.  It’s directed by Barry Levinson, whose best known for more kind-hearted fare like Rain Main, Toys and Wag the Dog.  But then again, he also did Sleepers, which is pretty damn horrific, so he’s got it in him.  In The Bay, a small town in the Chesapeake Bay area is overrun by a ecological virus/disaster.  The incident is covered up by the government, with the movie consisting of the leaked footage of what really happened.  It combines Jaws with early Cronenberg body horror films.   The creepiest part of this whole film is that according to Levinson, about 80-85% of it is fact-based.  Originally, Levinson was approached to make a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay, but after he realized there was not only viewer apathy but a Frontline documentary that covered most of the information, he decided to tweak it for a feature film.  Isopods are real, the incredible amount of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is real.   The film is a great watch, but the reality is scary enough.
  3. Cabin in the Woods – We already reviewed this wildly hilarious film earlier in the year, so most of what we needed to say was said there.  This movie rocks – probably my pick for best of the year.
  4. Frankenweenie – I love Tim Burton, but I won’t lie that in the last several years I haven’t loved most of his output in general.  It’s just seemed less…weird.  And special – that special strange that he used to deliver in spades.  However, Frankenweenie, a stop-motion animated tale (based on Burton’s 1984 live action short ) is a much welcome return to form.  It’s also a love letter to monster kids and monster movies, with references to so many classic films it’s hard to keep track of them all.  But if you love your Burton in the flavor of Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas (yes, I know he didn’t direct it. It’s still part his. Shut up), this is definitely one to watch.  And bring the kids.
  5. The Grey – If seeing Liam Neeson tape broken bottles to his knuckles to fight wolves isn’t enough incentive to see this movie, well, you probably won’t see it based on this recommendation either.  The Grey got a little lost in the shuffle (and the cinematic black hole that is January), and probably suffered from misleading marketing as well.  The trailers made it look like an action-packed Taken 3: Wolves!  Not so much, marketing team.  Liam Neeson and a bunch of other plane crash survivors must battle not only the freezing temperatures, blinding wind and lack of food, but some big ass wolves decide they want in on the free dinner.  Given that the tone of the film was completely misrepresented, I can see why people would feel a little cheated.  But go in with an open mind, and you’ll find that while it might not be what you expect, there’s a great survival horror film in there.
  6. Livide – It’s French.  There’s a creepy ballerina girl.  Do I really need to say much more to catch your interest?
  7. The Loved Ones – I reviewed this one already, so there’s not much to add here.  It’s great.  Keep up the good work, Australia.
  8. Lovely Molly – Directed and co-written by Eduardo Sanchez (one half of the pair behind The Blair Witch Project), Lovely Molly is one of those films that on paper didn’t seem so great.  But I very much enjoyed the Wicker Man-type vibe, the strong performance from Gretchen Lodge as Molly, and the open to interpretation ending.  I liked it even better the second time around.
  9. The Pact – After her mother’s death, a pair of sisters (Caity Lotz and Anges Bruckner) move back into their childhood home, where things are not what they seem.  The film focuses mainly on Lotz in a strong performance, with Casper Van Dien in a supporting role.  The film handles the building tension well, without showing too much, and Haley Hudson plays one freaking creepy girl with a connection to the supernatural.
  10. Paranorman – Another gateway movie, this time about a young boy who can see and converse with the dead, and how sometimes even the dead can be misunderstood.  I really loved this movie, both for its sweetness and for the references that came about every minute (but didn’t distract from the film).  Double feature this with Frankenweenie and you’ve got a great night of creating some new horror fans.
  11. Prometheus – I have so much to say about Prometheus that it’s almost impossible to cut it short for this top 13.  And since crowbait already covered this one, I’ll leave my thoughts until later.  An imperfect creation this might be, but it’s head and shoulders above most other director’s best work.  Alien fan or not, it’s a must for any sci-fi or horror fan.
  12. Sinister – If you saw the trailer for Sinister, I’m sorry, because it gives SO much away (not that this is a huge shock, since trailers pretty much always do that now).  It’s especially a shame here, though, because while Sinister doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does go for a different take on a standard formula.  Ethan Hawke plays a true crime writer so desperate for another successful book that he moves his family into a house where some horrific murders occurred.  He also discovers some suspicious-looking filmstrips and player in the attic, sitting all by itself.  When he starts to watch them (like you do), he begins to uncover not only some creepy footage of murders but clues that all of these deaths may be linked.  Hawke plays his character well, and by that I mean he’s not particularly likable – he lies constantly, he’s selfish and kind of a jerk.  But he also loves his kids and thinks he’s doing something that will help them (even though he is WILDLY off base about the whole “help” thing).  His choice to try and solve these filmstrip mysteries is a terrible idea (or there wouldn’t be a movie), and once things start getting weird there’s some great creepy scares – and yes, a few crappy jump scares and stings.  But when the scares are played right, they really work.  Using multiple media (filmstrips, photos, computers) create some effective moments, especially when they’re not telegraphed.  I can’t emphasize enough how much better the mood and scares are when they’re not telegraphed.    The film boasts some excellent lighting (especially in the darker, low-lit scenes) and carries an atmosphere of dread for most of its running time.  Definitely an enjoyable, unsettling flick.
  13. V/H/S – Our second anthology film on this list, V/H/S is a little uneven but still interesting and unique enough to earn a place on our list.  Special mention to “Amateur Night” and “10/31/98” – definitely the strongest of the set.  But almost all of them (with perhaps one exception) have something interesting to keep your attention.

So there it is, horror-loving friends, the FGSG top 13.  We’re looking forward to what 2013 will bring.   ~SF.

The Loved Ones

Posted: October 1, 2012 by StayFrosty in Film, Reviews

All proms come with power tools, right?

What better way to kick off the best month of the year than with a little blood-spattered love story?

Made in Australia in 2009 but just finding a release in the States now, The Loved Ones, written and directed by first-time filmmaker Sean Byrne, centers around Lola (Robin McLeavy), a shy young lady who asks cute but damaged Brent (Xavier Samuel from my new favorite shark movie, SHARK IN A GROCERY STORE!) to the prom.  Brent must say no – he’s in a relationship with a nice girl who’s helping him heal after a tragedy.  Lola, however, is not a lady who takes no for an answer.  So logically, the best way to deal with this rejection is to kidnap Brent, tie him up, dress him up in a tux, and subject him to various tortures?  It’s just like a normal prom, right?  It’s like Pretty in Pink by way of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (complete with a clever homage to the dinner/hammer scene).

This movie has a reputation for being gory, and that’s not a lie.  Brent suffers some serious brutality in the name of love and prom.  But the real star here isn’t the red stuff.  It’s the characters, especially Lola and her rather questionable relationship with her “Daddy.”  McLeavy as Lola is just terrific – completely unpredictable, petulant and demanding like a teenager, sexual like a grown woman, and totally, gleefully insane.  This girl knows she’s nuts, and is perfectly okay with it.  You know she’s going to hurt someone (the poster can tell you that), but you can never quite guess which direction of crazy Lola’s going next – and how extreme that mood swing will be.  But it’s all in the name of love, right?  She’s just looking for love!  And she has her family around to help her fulfill all her prom dreams.  Especially her Daddy.

John Brumpton as “Daddy”

Daddy, played with few words but incredible facial nuance by John Brumpton, brings the creepy so strong that even though Lola’s the one with the knife, it’s Daddy who you keep watching out of the corner of your eye.  And the two of them together give you a relationship that is absolutely unsettling (their cheerful yells of “We can’t hear you!” over Brent’s tortured screams is especially effective), but also strangely similar to a touching portrait of father and daughter.  You know, if father and daughter were both psychotic torture/murderers.  For them, this is like a game mixed with a sort-of romance that’s about as screwed up as it gets.  Again, Brumpton conveys so much of this wordlessly, and McLeavy excellently plays the knife edge (sometimes literally) of young-girl ignorance and womanly awareness.  And while it’s pretty damn obvious that Lola and Daddy’s feelings might be more than familial, with one possible exception, it’s not overplayed.

Maybe he’s okay…

As a director, Byrne makes some smart choices.  He creates likable characters – when Brent turns Lola down, it’s not because she’s a loser, it’s because he already has a girlfriend.  He doesn’t mock or torment her.  It’s a perfectly normal reason to say no to someone, and it makes his capture later that much more upsetting, because there’s no “jerk guy comeuppance” to enjoy.  This is an honestly nice guy with some shitty life experiences even before Lola; a tragedy from his past that not only helps him endure the impending tortures, but even gives him reason to suspect he deserves them.  It’s not “he’s a MAN, so he’s so tough and can handle all this torture stuff!” These are sympathetic and realistic character traits absent in most films in the genre.

Just another normal family dinner

There’s a lot more to this movie, such as a subplot with a couple actually attending the prom, but I don’t want to give too much away and spoil all the fun.  Personally, after the credits rolled, I kept remembering the scenes with Brumpton and McLeavy (and Samuel, but his character was a little out of it at the time).  These two give special meaning to the word dysfunctional, and you’ll enjoy watching them play it out.  As for Byrne, he can count me as someone who’ll be looking forward to what he does next.

Given how much derivative crap is out there, this wild, brutal and just plain crazy original is well worth your time.

Final Girl Photo Friday – Batman edition!

Posted: July 20, 2012 by StayFrosty in Art, Film

Hey everyone.  I know I’ve been sporadic at best when it comes to Photo Friday, but in honor of the release of “The Dark Knight Rises”, I thought I would post some Batman-related photos this week.  A while back, JennyD and Crow played Batman and Ivy for me (with costumes by the talented Jared Axelrod), and it was one of my favorite shoots.  (Nothing is Photoshopped, just so you know).  Anyway, here’s a few for The Dark Knight:

Photo copyright Final Girl Support Group

Photo copyright Final Girl Support Group

Hope your weekend is filled with cinematic goodness, in Bat form or otherwise.  ~SF.

Supershark!

Posted: July 11, 2012 by StayFrosty in Film, Reviews

It’s a touching story full of deep meaning, an intense love triangle and metaphors on the brevity of human life…oh wait, I must have been thinking of something else.  This is SUPERSHARK!

Since movies like Birdemic and anything by The Asylum has risen in popularity, it seems like many companies are jumping on the so bad it’s (hopefully) good bandwagon.  And while Supershark doesn’t quite make it to the spic standards of a Birdemic quality movie, it still sort of works.  Side note – I can’t believe I just put the words “Birdemic” and”quality” in the same sentence.

It’s all well and good until an offshore drilling team accidentally breaks through some prehistoric ice and releases a gigantic monster shark.  But this isn’t just any old monster shark – this supershark can fly AND it can walk on land using its front fins to propel it along!  Read this sentence again.  Fly and walk on land.  This movie should be amazing.  Of course, the shark was let loose by an evil oil company using evil chemicals, fronted by its evil leader Wade (former Duke of Hazzard John Schneider, wishing he had a mustache to twirl…no, really) and must be stopped by a disgraced marine biologist Kat Carmichael (Sarah Lieving) with the help of boat captain Skipper Chuck (Tim Abell), looking like a cheap Michael Madsen knockoff.  Because you CAN”T CLOSE THE BEACHES!  Somewhere in this is DJ Dynomite Stevens (former Good Times actor Jimmie Walker), who doesn’t serve any point that I can see other than to make loud, strange commentary on an indoor bikini contest and wear a variety of wacky getups.   I won’t give away too many spoilers of what happens (though if you watch the trailer you already know this), but there may or may not be a tank robot vs. shark battle.

Any movie in this vein would do well to adhere to the Corman school of filmmaking, which (to paraphrase) is if you go around 5 minutes without showing the monster, that’s too long.  Supershark tries to keep this in mind, even going so far as to just introduce characters for a minute only to have them eaten up by the shark.  And almost no one is safe, even characters that seem set up to be main characters/final girls.

Whee!!!

There’s not much point in critiquing the acting, the FX or the cinematography, because that’s not what you watch these movies for.  You watch them for shark, shark and more shark.  All shark all the time.  Sharks eating all sorts of crazy stuff.  So that’s what I’ll review.  The shark does eat a bunch, but not as many giant or crazy things as I would have liked.  It’s called Supershark, and it can fly – FLY!  It should be eating spaceships or something.  The walking bit is a little exaggerated – more like limply hopping across the beach moving its two front flippers.  But the idea in general is fun, and there are a few major edifices removed from the beach.  For the most part, the movie operates as you would expect, and there’s a fairly good amount of shark.  But then again, I always want to see more shark in movies like this.

Most awkward photo shoot ever.

And there’s a theme song, people.  A theme song.  With a funky bass line.  Seriously.

Look, I’m betting you already know if you’re going to watch this or not.  I knew I would be sitting down with my FGSG cohorts the day it came out, trying to guess how many minutes until the shark appeared (you don’t have to wait long).  Judged against others of its ilk, you could do worse than Supershark.

Final Girl Photo Friday – 4/20/12

Posted: April 20, 2012 by StayFrosty in Uncategorized

Morning everyone!  Since FGSG recently taught a zombies in film course (and had a great time!), today’s Photo Friday will be in honor of George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”.  No matter what you think of the film, there’s no denying it changed the course of horror (and zombie) cinema forever.

They're coming to get you, Jenny! © Rae Winters

Enjoy your weekend everyone.  Hopefully it’s zombie free.  ~SF.

Absentia

Posted: April 17, 2012 by StayFrosty in Film, Reviews

Low budget filmmaking usually calls to mind (with some notable exceptions) poor CGI, fair to poor acting, and bland storylines we’ve seen a hundred times before.  And then there’s Absentia, a movie that takes the little money it has and runs with it, creating an effectively scary, well written and well shot film that Hollywood wishes it still understood.  Absentia proves that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a good movie.  The movie may be cheap, but the scares sure aren’t.

All of the people on this poster are right.

It’s hard for us to review this movie, which is why we’re skipping a synopsis.  We’d rather just say “Go watch this, it’s awesome!” and hope you’d believe us, mainly because we’re right.  Also, we don’t want to give anything away.  Here’s what we can say:

The movie’s use of focus is excellent.  Seriously, it’s pretty damn amazing.  This cannot be emphasized enough.  Without giving too much away, there’s an actor with some simple makeup who, through the use of focus, becomes terrifying.  The first encounter and a scene involving a closet are especially effective.  The use of focus is such a huge help in building the tension – keeping this figure just out of focus, highlighting that it isn’t a natural part of the world.  It amazed us that something so basic was made so creepy just through camera work.  And it’s not just the creepy parts.  The use of focus (keeping certain things in or out of focus) even in traditional scenes keeps the movie off-kilter, keeps you looking and keeps you guessing.

Just as commendable as the use of focus is the lack of stings and cheap scares.  We aren’t an easy group to freak out, but there were definitely some unsettling scenes and moments that got to us.  And extra points for making a difficult premise work without seeming forced.  It’s an interesting take on folklore that isn’t often explored in the genre – a new spin on the missing person mystery.

Any criticisms? There is one shot of CGI that’s a little questionable, but even that isn’t fully in focus and is done pretty quickly, so it’s a minor issue at best.  Really, there’s not much wrong with this movie.

Do we recommend?  Umm…have you been reading this blog lately?  We LOVE this movie!  Get it, see it, then come back here and tell us your thoughts!

Jenny: I agree with everything Frosty says above. I just wanted to add that, along with films like Insidious and Lake Mungo, this is a perfect film for the squeamish horror fan that craves fear and atmosphere without the gore or extreme violence.

See it. See it now.