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Friday, June 22, 2012

Be the Solution or Get the hell out of the Way! The Review of "Phase 7"

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 By Matt Dawson
     In life you are either the problem, the solution, or just in the damn way.  A microcosm of this is the apocalyptic movie Phase 7.  This Argentinean sci-fi takes place during the midst of an undetermined outbreak of a killer virus.  The protagonists is the hapless  30 something husband, Coco (David Hendler).  Coco and his wife Pipi, yes it’s pronounced pee pee so feel free to giggle, are clueless about the danger is around them by the time their own apartment complex is quarantined off.  As the situation starts to become more dire and supplies in the apartment complex become more valuable factions start to form within the complex.  An Elderly man on the first floor named Zanutto (Federico Luppi), who looks like a cross between Ricardo Montalbahn and Bob Barker,  seems to be coughing often and some of the neighbors want to take Zanutto and move him to another  apartment.
"The Price, etsa wrong, Beeetch!"

Coco ignores them and still insists on living his life like nothing has changed.  Coco’s neighbor, Horacio, is the real life embodiment of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers.  He has full body tox suits, years worth of food, and arsenal that would make Ted Nugent jealous, and the number one asset: Common Sense.  Horacio gives Coco a suit, food, even a pistol. Coco doesn’t want them and promises that if you call the police they will handle any situation.  Horacio tells the other neighbors to stay away from the fourth floor or it would be considered an act of war.  Coco ignores Horacio and tries to go reason with the other neighbors.  Well that is when the shit hits the fan.  Bob Barker’s Argentinean Doppleganger, Zanutto, flings open the door to the neighbors and proceeds to blow their heads literally off.  Yeah it’s kind of gruesome.  Coco figures out that this situation is not normal and needs to pull his shit together or Zanutto is going to blow is ass off.  Horacio and Coco rig the building with traps, which Coco triggers all himself because he’s a dumbass.  Zanutto has now officially flipped his shit and has killed almost everyone in the apartment complex.  Coco had better find his balls quick because Zanutto doesn’t flinch and Horacio may not be there to help him.
       Overall I thought Phase 7 was a tad boring.  Although there were funny spots in it, such as when Coco shaved his beard and looks exactly like the lead singer of Moterhead.
Lemmy is not a pussy. 

     The acting was real at times but at other times as in the scenes with Pipi, sorry giggling again, it just seemed to fake that this woman has no idea what’s going on until the very end of the movie.  In the end I was relieved it was over just because I grew tired of Coco’s whining.  I mean grow a pair, dude!  I give this movie 2 out of 5 Shouting Pipi’s. (Oh that never gets old.)
     Country: Argentina; Language: Spanish; Runtime: 95 minutes

VikingSamurai © 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rammbock: Berlin Undead

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By Craig R.

I really hate MTV. Yeah, I hate it for the obvious reasons: The fact that the “M’ doesn’t really mean anything anymore, the inane reality shows, and its contribution to the coarsening of American culture. Mostly, though there’s no direct connection, I hate MTV for the creation of running zombies. I think this is a result of the style of MTV has influenced some film genre’s in that they have to become flashier and more up-tempo, quick cuts, shaky cams, and running, freaking zombies. Lumbering zombies are perfectly effective, and had been the standard until the Dawn of The Dead remake, but that’s just not good enough for the little freaks that grew up on MTV. Not even German cinema can escape MTV’s insidious influence.
MTV is a Zombie Food Desert

Rammbock: Berlin Undead features those abominations. Outside of that, it’s a pretty good film. It starts with Michael arriving in Berlin, to return apartment keys to his long-distance girlfriend, Gabi, who had just broken up with him (Crack that whip!). When he arrives at her apartment, she’s not there; just in time for all Hell to break loose. He gets holed up in the apartment with Harper, a maintenance man, who was doing some work in the apartment when Michael arrived. The rest of the movie deals with them trying to survive, and eventually attempt to escape to safety. There are also eight other survivors in the building, of course some make it, and some don’t.

 This is a low-budget, yet well-made film. Entire film takes place inside of the apartment complex. Our heroes, Michael and Harper are kind of hapless, not really knowing what to do, which is actually kind of refreshing for a zombie film. There are quite a few comedic moments between them, particularly involving a bear costume. There is more of a focus on meaningful character interactions than in most films of this type.  Some things also don’t happen the way that are expected. It also ends on an emotional note, which is also highly unusual.

In spite of them being runners, the zombies were effective. The makeup and performances were as convincing as those in higher-budget films. There are also enough of them to make it believable that there is a zombie apocalypse afoot. Also, there is very little gore, but enough to be effective.

This isn’t the best zombie film that I’ve ever seen, but it’s quite good. It has great performances, good effects, and it also has a slightly different take on the weaknesses of the runners. It is available on Netflix Instant.

I give it three out of five running zombies.
Language: German; Runtime: 59 minutes
VikingSamurai © 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

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     Happy elves, big fat jolly Santa, flying reindeer, family get togethers; these are all Christmas movie traditions you will not see in the Finnish movie Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale.  Think of Rare Exports as the Redneck Scandinavian version of Christmas movies if Redneck Scandinavian movies consisted of a demon Santa Claus, hundreds of wraith-like geriatric elves and slaughter, slaughter, and more slaughter.
     The film begins with a group of scientists making a big freaking dig on the top of a cone like mountain deep in the Northern woods of Finland.  Two boys from a village of Reindeer herders go to investigate.  One of the boys, Pietari, played by Onni Tommila, isn’t convinced that these are miners or mere scientists.  He believes that these men are digging in the World’s largest burial mound, the burial mound of Santa Claus.  Pietari tries to tell his friend that Santa is not nice at all but a demon of lore that kidnaps children and tortures them for not being good.  He goes on to describe how many centuries ago the villagers there trapped Santa in ice and buried him under the mountain.   Yeah, this ain’t Miracle on 42nd Street.  Pietari tries to warn his father Rauno, played by Jorma Tommila.  Rauno is a distraught widower and has no time for Pietari’s foolishness.     Pietari takes matters into his own hands and suits up in full hockey gear including a heavily patted bottom.
     Strange noises are heard atop the mountain one night and Rauno and the other herders awake to find all of their herd slaughtered.  They are pissed and decide to go confront the scientists but when they get to the top of the mountain they find a bottomless giant empty hole and zero scientists.  Pietari is really worried at this point and really tries to warn his Dad. No Dice.  The next day is where it gets real.  Rauno and Pietari find that something has sprung their wolf fall trap.  They search the spike lined opening to find a white bearded skinny naked old man.  They bring the body to Rauno’s slaughterhouse to find out who the identity of this man.  Two other Reindeer herders come over to see what happened.  They know that the Wolf trap is illegal and of course their only option is to chop up the old man so no one finds out.  Yeah, I solve most of my problems in slaughterhouses too. What the hell?!  Before they can chop up the guy, he comes to life.  He never speaks but he has a keen interest in little Pietari.  Convinced that this is Santa Claus they trap him and try to ransom him to the scientists.  When the scientist appears he tells them that this isn’t Santa Claus but one of his many hundred elves.   You’ll have to watch to find out who Santa is.
     This movie really keeps you on the edge of your seat.  Obviously not your typical Christmas movie, but it’s not your typical horror movie either.  It leaves a lot up to the imagination.  The special effects were good and believable.  I particularly enjoyed Jorma Tommila’s performance and the interactions he has with Onni.  You could really feel the pain that Rauno felt having to spend another Christmas without his wife and having to care for his son.  
       Craig and I thought that this should be required Christmas viewing.  I swear your kids will not try to see Santa after they watch this movie.
     I heartily give this 4 out of 5 slaughtered reindeer!
     Rare Exports can be watched instantly on Netflix.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

13 Assassins

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     I blame John Belushi (those from Gen-Whatever-Comes-After-X may need to look him up). His Samurai Warrior character on Saturday Night Live (back when it used to be funny) made me curious about Samurai movies, which grew into a love of most things Samurai. So, it’s fitting that my first post will be about a Samurai movie.

The movie in question is 13 Assassins, a 2010 film, directed by Takashi Miike. It’s set during a time of peace in 1800s Feudal Japan. A cruel young Lord Naritsuga rapes and kills at will (the only troubling scenes in the film demonstrate this), since he’s the son of a former Shogun, and the brother of the current one. At the beginning of the film, he is poised to make political moves that will make him even more powerful. Seeing the danger of this, Sir Doi, a senior government official hires Shinzaemon to assassinate Naritsuga. Shinzaemon then recruits 11 more of the most trustworthy and strongest Samurai that, whom Sir Doi knows his nephew Shinroukuro. The 12 plan to ambush Naritsugu on his long journey home from Edo. Along the way, they get lost while travelling through the mountains and a hermit guides them to their destination, and becomes the thirteenth member of their group. They then take the village over and convert it into a labyrinthine mousetrap with many camouflaged fortifications, and wait for Naritsuga. That is where the climatic battle happens.

This is a film of contrasts, there is good and evil, with no in-between. The heroes, Shinzaemon and his men are men of honor, willing to do what is right, knowing that they might not survive. This is a theme that like Western’s, runs through most Samurai movies. In a way, this movie is like Seven Samurai, and The Magnificent Seven. The villain, Naritsuga, has absolutely no redeeming value, he is amoral and cruel, making his foes that much more effective. The only thing missing from that character is a Snidley Whiplash (look it up) mustache, for him to twirl. The only possible gray character is Hanbei, Naritsuga’s right-hand man. He expresses doubts about his lord, but in the end he is a Samurai, and bound to serve his master. The end for these three characters is quite effective.

I had been wary about this movie, because of Miike’s reputation for making disturbing films. I had tried to watch his film Ichi The Killer, but had to quit about 10 minutes into it. The dude blowing cigarette smoke out of the slits cut in his cheeks was too much for me. So, I was understandably concerned that this would be a gratuitously gory film. In spite of the high body count (over 200 people die in the final act), it has very little blood. There were a couple somewhat disturbing scenes: Naritsuga’s off-screen rape and murder of a subject’s wife, him murdering a child (shooting him with an arrow), and when Shinzaemon is shown a woman whose limbs had been amputated by him. I watched this movie a few months ago, so I’ve had time to digest it. In every aspect, it is a very well-made, and I found it very enjoyable. All of the characters are well-developed and for a more recent reference, the final battle is reminiscent of the one in 300.
     I give 13 Assassins 4 out of 5 Top Knots.
You can watch it instantly on Netflix.
-Viking Samurai © 2012