Tag Archives: Horror/Comedy

Movie Review: Deathgasm (2015)

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Rating: D/ My dad chose this movie and Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead for our horror film night a couple of days before Halloween. It’s times like that when my mom and I think he should not be allowed to choose movies, ever. Deathgasm is pretty much what you’d expect if you crossed Evil Dead with Beavis & Butthead, and if that gets you jazzed up, great. It wasn’t for me. The first ten minutes or so got me anticipating a funnier movie than I actually ended up getting, and the premise of a group of teen death metal fans living in a oppressive, bible-belt town accidentally summoning a horde of demons by playing a possessed song sounded like it would be… well, not Oscar-worthy, but a lot of fun. Continue reading Movie Review: Deathgasm (2015)

Movie Review- Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

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Rating: C+/ The best thing you can say about Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead is that it makes the best out of a relatively small budget and is not nearly as bad as it could have been. That might seem like faint praise indeed, but in the annals of low-budget zombie horror, it is easy to offer this movie more leeway than it deserves. Yes, the sets, the costumes, and the action sequences are not nearly as cringe-worthy as other films of it’s kind and it is actually an entertaining, if not indispensable, watch for the first forty-five minutes or so, before it gets increasingly silly and crashes and burns at it’s blood-splattered finale. Continue reading Movie Review- Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

Housebound (2014)

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Best described as a ‘haunted house movie that’s not a haunted house movie,’ “Housebound” starts out rather unimpressively and gradually takes hold of your attention with an intriguing mystery and a surprising twist. Once I realized it wasn’t going to be a laugh-out-loud giggle fest like another recent NZ horror/comedy, “What We Do in the Shadows” (although “Housebound” as it’s chuckle-worthy moments, however modestly offered up) I settled in and enjoyed the mix of camp and cult sensibility combined with some legitimate creepiness and entertaining, if cheesy, practical effects.

Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is a world-class bitch and juvenile delinquent which a long standing bad attitude toward adults, authority figures, and the world in general. She is picked up by the police while bashing open an ATM to satisfy her methamphetamine habit and sent to live with her family on house arrest. Worse, Kylie hates her overly gregarious, soap opera-watching mom (Rima Te Wiata) and taciturn stepdad Greame (Ross Harper,) so she’s pretty much as pissed off about the arrangement as she could possibly be.

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Until the supernatural gets mixed into the arrangement, and her bratty, futile anger turns to fear. Her mom has always suggested that the house could be haunted, being a hotspot for strange and ghostly activity. The weird happenings intensify when Kylie arrives in the house, but who, besides her oddball family,will believe her? Certainly not the authorities who put her under house arrest; certainly not the cops. Or so she thinks- until the realization that her parole officer Amos (Glen-Paul Naru) is a huge paranormal enthusiast and could not be more eager to accompany her on her spooky investigation.

The beginning of this movie doesn’t bode well for the film as a whole, with too little humor and too few things of particular interest going on. Plus, Kylie isn’t exactly a likable character,  with her self-absorbed disdain for anyone who tries to stop her from doing exactly what she wants to do. At the beginning, I was tempted to pack it up and go to bed, but by the end I was glad I didn’t . This movie’s twist is creative and astonishingly well-thought-out.

“Housebound”‘s acting is halfway decent (nothing that’s going to win a Academy Award, but good in the context of the movie) and the identity of the true baddie is a shocker- in classic mystery fashion, they’re the last person you would expect! I’m not sure why this was so highly lauded by Rotten Tomatoes, but I’m glad I watched the whole thing. The movie, while not being the future horror classic some made it out to be, has it’s charms. It’s no “What We Do in the Shadows” (a movie I feel in love with immediately upon watching) but it’s got some value in the horror/comedy world of the great, the okay, and the just plain awful.

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What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

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Living among the undead can be an uproarious experience, as this side-splitting found-footage comedy proves. Okay, there’s a small margin for error while filming a documentary of a group of vampire roommates (in other words, don’t piss them off you you just might be dinner) but what are vampires really, if not just a couple of the guys? They yearn for the same things everyone else does- closeness, companionship, a scrap of normalcy, and just because their continued existence has a body count doesn’t mean they aren’t sympathetic or possessors of nearly human hearts- right?

In the main trio of bloodsuckers, Vladislav (Jemaine Clement) is the Lothario, Deacon (Jonny Brugh) is a bit of a ‘bad boy,’ and  Viago (Taika Waititi) is the sweetly pedantic glue that holds the odd little family together. They cohabitate in a stereotypically old Gothic house where their maker, Petyr (Ben Fransham, who looks more than a little like the antagonist in F.W. Murneau’s silent classic “Nosferatu,”) resides in the basement, and they allow a small group of filmmakers into the house to observe their way of life. That’s when the hilarity starts, and it doesn’t let up until the end credits. Who knew vampires could be so persnickety, moody, and altogether human in their foibles?

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Vampire cohabitation, it turns out, has the same pitfalls as human cohabitation, plus tricky issues like bloody plates and saucers and troublesome ribcages tossed haphazardly upon the floor. It is not what makes the vampires different, but what makes them similar to the humans they prey on (in a bloody and hilarious fashion) that makes up the film’s humor. They are not above heckling each other and their werewolf rivals, bitching about housework and division of labor in terms of chores, and even the occasional gloomy day (the difference is, Vladislav deals with his depression by abducting and torturing unfortunate humans, a sure sign that he is in ‘a bad place’ mentally and emotionally.)

My favorite vampire is Viago. I don’t think the movie would have been half as good without him. He’s more than a little camp (I would have pegged him for homosexual,) but he came to this country for love (with a woman) who passed him by and has aged well into her twilight years. He’s the supportive backbone for his friends and he seems oddly empathetic and likable despite his bloodlust. All three of the leads do a great job though, and the laughs arrive in a machine gun fire of hilarious lines.

Light-hearted and simultaneously bloody and raucous, “What We Do in the Shadows” never causes us in shrink back in revulsion from our heroes (despite their ne’er do well nighttime activities) but makes us laugh with them and regard them with mirth and good humor as well as genuine admiration. They do what they have to do, and they make us laugh like Hell in the process. The jokes are deadpan and brilliant in their execution, making the viewer all but fall of the chair giggling at the filmmakers’ wit and creativity.

The plot isn’t epic or anything, it’s a vehicle for the jokes. It makes you feel light and happy leaving it, refusing to get too serious despite some dark implications lingering within the script. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, gifted directors as well as actors, have created a wonderful movie that will be enjoyed through the ages (unlike most found footage films, which lay flaccidly on the market as soon as they are distributed and add nothing new, thereby being rendered obsolete and forgotten within a couple of years.) I sense a cult following for this one, guys, I really do. You don’t have to be a horror fan to recognize the comedic genius at work here, and I recommend this to anybody with a sense of humor (you know who you are) and an hour to kill.

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Creep (2014)

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Warning: “Creep” is only horror in the very loosest sense. On the other hand, if you have a sick, supremely fucked-up sense of humor like me, it will be revealed to you as a superbly executed black comedy. Shot on a cheap handheld camera, featuring only two actors and a couple of sets, “Creep” doesn’t seem to have a terribly high potential for being watchable, but a uproarious performance by Indie darling Mark Duplass, a pitch-black sensibility, and a generally eerie mood throughout ensure that it will keep your eyes glued to the screen, if only in horrified fascination.

Actor/director Patrick Brice plays Aaron, a naïve amateur filmmaker who meets a guy on Craigslist who wants Aaron to meet him at his woodland cabin and film him for unknown purposes. Seems legit…? Being the wimpy, eager-to-please guy he is, Aaron departs from his home in the city and visits Josef (Duplass),) who reveals that (1 he is dying of cancer and (2 he wants Aaron to film him as a video diary for his unborn son, ‘Buddy.’

That’s when things get weird. Between Aaron somewhat homoerotically filming Josef splashing in the bath engaging in ‘tubby time’ (“my dad used to have tubby time with me,” Josef confides, “and it was the best… time… of… day”) to Josef doing an extremely creepy song-and-dance routine as ‘Peach-fuzz’ the benevolent werewolf, Josef reveals himself to be a seriously sinister human being. That Aaron is fascinated and to some degree encourages Josef is one of the strangest ideas the movie gets in it’s twisted little head. But I don’t think the movie would work if Aaron wasn’t slightly skewed too.

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“Creep” sometimes gives off the impression of a dark, dark home movie, and although there’s some stupidity pertaining to the found-footage genre (Aaron traipsing through a back alley while being stalked by Josef and rolling his video camera all the while) the concept and execution of this project are surprisingly workable. Duplass is oddly effective as a likable sociopath, while Brice brings some sympathy to a character who is aggravatingly passive and foolish at best, a complete idiot at worst (within how much time of a man in an isolated locale joking about killing you with an ax would you get the hell out?)

The humor seems most akin to Ben Wheatley’s British black comedy “Sightseers.” The laughter “Creep” evokes hits a sour note, because the topic of the humor is human depravity- the unlimited potential for insanity and senseless destruction among the human race. It’s dark stuff, and if you don’t find mirth in the blackest of comedies, it might be too much to swallow. But if you find batshit crazy people to be funny (in the movies, not so much in the headlines-) Patrick Bateman, Jack Nicholson’s The Joker, “The Voice”‘s Jerry Hickfang.- this movie will ring a chord within your black, black soul. Plotholes and unanswered questions aside, this movie might be the best mentally ill homosexual stalker comedy since Miguel Arteta’s “Chuck & Buck.”

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Zombeavers (2014)

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“Zombeavers” is an predictably cheesy and surprisingly entertaining gorefest, and emphatically, and maybe thankfully, the only film of it’s kind- a cheerfully over-the-top horror-comedy about raging homicidal zombie beavers. Yep. Let the beaver jokes commence. It seems to be in the same vein as low budget bloodbaths such as “Evil Dead 2” and “Dead Alive,” but this film is in a category of it’s own- it’s literally so bad it’s good, a hypnotic disaster that has to be seen to be believed.

The dialogue is atrocious,the characters are inane, the animatronic aquatic rodents from hell who can reason- and plan an oncoming attack- are shit, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Saying that this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously is an insult to movies that scrape the bottom of the barrel for cheap gags. But it achieves it’s purpose, to make the lowbrow viewer laugh. Oh, and I laughed. I don’t think the question even has to be raised whether I was laughing with it or at it, but I left the movie in a good mood, and there’s something to be said for that.

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The ‘plot’- a group of three college girls go out on vacation to get one of the young women’s (Lexi Atkins)’ mind off a messy break-up. They are met at the cabin by their respective boyfriends (and the heartbroken girl’s ex) for a weekend of skinny-dipping, booze, and sex – maybe not in that order though. Sound familiar? But that’s where the fun (and the similariites to countless other horror movies) end.

You see, barrels of  bright green nuclear waste has been dumped on the dams of some easy-going beaver families, and the mother-fuckers have gone bad- they’re out for blood. They’re not just beavers, they’re Zombeavers and they will have their revenge. These kids don’t have a brain among them- it takes them half the movie to remember that beavers can chew through wood. All they care about it boobs, broads, and, in case of the lasses, dick. So it proves to be entertaining to watch them die by being gnawed to death by normally docile rodents.

The acting is exactly what you might expect for this kind of movie. The actor who plays the supposedly straight Buck (Peter Gilroy) acts gay as fuck throughout (although he does deserve brownie points for keeping a straight face while screaming “I feel like a power ranger!” mid coitus.) Meanwhile, the actress who plays his girlfriend (Cortney Palm) sporadically picks up and drops her Southern accent as frequently as a bad case of clap.

Of course, they’re not playing in a rendition of Shakespeare’s “Othello.” And in a movie like this, bad acting is pretty much part of the deal. And, well, I must admit (bad. bad philistine that I am) that the sight of those goofy animatronic beavers alone were enough to make me explode into gales of laughter. They’re so quaint, in a bloody, gross way. So it comes down to this. If you like bad movies, really bad movies, really really bad movies, you might enjoy this. If you are a lover of film as fine art and want to keep your pride, and more importantly, your sanity, stay far, far away. You know who you are, bad movie lovers. “Zombeavers” is a banquet of cheese, and depending on your taste, it could be a joy to partake.

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Life After Beth (2014)

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I didn’t expect much from this movie, but a family member rented it and I decided to watch in hopes that my fears would be unfounded and I would be exposed to a hidden gem. How very wrong I was. “Life After Beth” is dreadfully bad, an utter misfire on every level and a mediocre experience even if you lower your expectations exponentially.

“Life After Beth” is pretty much the 2004 horror-comedy “Zombie Honeymoon” except with the gender roles reversed and way, way worse. On paper it looks acceptable enough- what can go wrong with a cast like this? (I take that back, John C. Reilly was in the turd-tastic “Step Brothers.” But hey, “Magnolia!”) All I could think about towards the end was how surreal it was that Paul Reiser was in this and “Whiplash” the same year (the difference? “Whiplash” was actually good.)

Zach (Dane Dehaan) is an uninteresting young man whose girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza,) has recently died from a snakebite accident. So when Beth comes back with a voracious appetite for human flesh and a proclivity for smooth jazz (wait… what?), Zach isn’t ready to deal with the consequences.

While Beth’s mom and dad ( Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly) are determined to keep Beth’s death a secret from her (she doesn’t remember anything, and doesn’t show signs of decomposition immediately,) Zach’s parents (Paul Reiser and Cheryl Hines) and gun-toting security guard brother (Matthew Gray Gubler) are no help at all, and Zach is left on his own trying to reconcile his feelings for Beth.

“Life After Beth” could have been a devastating drama where the grieving Zach tries to cope with Beth’s rebirth, along the lines of the TV series “The Returned.”  Or it could have been a hilarious zomedy similar to “Shaun of the Dead.” Instead it is neither. It is nothing. It is obsolete. It walks the line between comedy and drama (cheesy, but with few real laughs) and accomplishes nothing. It makes no lasting impression except to remind you occasionally how painfully bad it is.

The humor is just awkward (involving Beth throwing things and growling a lot and undead sexual aggression- always a laugh riot) and the drama disappointingly half-baked. Despite the star-studded cast, the movie features half-assed acting jobs all around. Dane Dehaan was an outright bore. With a lead who doesn’t seem to take the movie seriously, why should we? As for the make-up, my dad did a better job on my Halloween costume using about $20 worth of resources.

“Life After Beth,” is quite simply a pointless waste of time. It’s impossible to care about any of the characters because they’re so one-dimensional and a ending that should have been tragic (or funny! Or interesting! Anything!) just falls flat. I wouldn’t even recommend for die-hard Aubrey Plaza fans to watch this. It’s shit, and that’s a shame because there are way better horror/comedy films out there and this could have been one of them. Avoid this suck-fest at all costs.

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