Archive for category Weekly Trash

Plaguers: In Space No One Can Hear Your Cliches

Plaguers… maybe you saw an ad for this one in Fangoria or came across it in a Netflix search, either way it’s currently floating around out there like a big piece of space junk. My advice is to pound your thrusters for some evasive action and avoid this one like a rogue meteor. If you don’t then here’s what to expect.

The film starts out with a grainy steel corridor flooded with alarms and orange lights. An injured female crew member is limping away from a group of what looks like space zombies, and she narrowly escapes through a door that slams shut behind her. On screen, flashes the words “Eight Hours Earlier” and I think to myself that a more cliched sequence could not be unloaded. The first line of dialogue in the flashback is “Captain, we are receiving a distress call from a derelict vessel,” and, of course, I stand corrected.

The crew, which consists of the typical futuristic blue collar Joe everyman, hobble over to the mysterious vessel for the contrived reason of advancing the plot. Some “false alarms” and a loss of radio contact with their ship (profoundly named “The Pandora,” how original) later, they stumble upon the abandoned vessel’s only surviving life forms: a group of stereotypically attractive women dressed in what can only be described as one of Spencer Gift’s naughty nurse Halloween costumes, complete with silver fake leather boots. Glance back over the picture if you don’t believe me.

Of course, they sell the drooling men of the Pandora some sob story about pirates raping them and only the captain and the female doctor seem a little suspicious, but they take them in anyway to examine their wounds. Long story short, real shocking twist, the crew’s engineer goes to check on the doctor only to find her bound and gagged. He tries to hit the alarm but Naughty Purple Nurse Number 2 stabs him in the back. Oh snap, the girls ARE the space pirates!

The Purple Naughty Pirates kill off and imprison the remaining crew by holding the woman at gunpoint or using their sexy purpleness to trick the hapless men. However, one of the would-be seduced men fights back and knocks Purple #3 onto the ship’s mysterious cargo, a glowing orb – also looks like it was bought at Spencers – that spills fluid all over the pirate girl turning her into a…. Plaguer.

From here on out, we have a few exchanges of power between captors and prisoners. The assumed dead engineer that looks like a Lance Henriksen wannabe comes back to turn the tide, but now the pirates and the Pandora’s crew must work together to fight off the growing Plaguer threat. What follows is some amusing gore, but mostly just the worst choreographed fight scenes that have been put on film and a boatload of more cliches. Most offensive involves the guy who LOOKS like Lance Henriksen… can anyone take a wild stab why he was able to survive the knife wound?

That’s right people…he’s an android. As if it wasn’t bad enough when the Alien franchise pounded that surprise-I’m-an-Android cliche through 3/4 of their films now, Plaguers has to jump on board. The Pandora’s mechanical engineer even complains that he wishes to be referred to some non-cyborg term that isn’t worth remembering but probably is trying to homage Bishop’s preference of “synthetic-person.”

I can could go on to describe the horribleness of this film further, but it’s better experienced with either two small wise cracking robots or a few friends with a lot of beer. The film’s climax deals with the plague spreading to the captain’s former fiance’s dead body and creating a creature that looks like a throw back to the rubber alien suits of 50′s style This Island Earth era horror flicks. All I can say, is I hope this movie was supposed to be a joke.

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Upcoming Trash Review

swampdevil020509If you’ve read this blog for a while (guessing most of you haven’t), you’ll know that I started a feature series called “Weekly Trash” in which I intended to review a terrible horror film each week.  But due to my lack of time and overall motivation, that concept never really came to fruition.  I posted a whopping two reviews for Weekly Trash (Shrooms and Keeper of Souls) and abandoned the idea somewhat.  But now, by the hand of some mysterious horror god (or incompetent Netflix worker), the next installment of Weekly Trash has landed – literally – on my doorstep.

I had intended to review Slaughter High as part of Final Girl’s Film Club, but Netflix decided to send me a little film called Swamp Devil. I’ve never heard of it before and I’m not even going to read the synopsis.  All I know is that it has a 3.9 out of 10 on IMDB.  Sounds like Trash material to me.  And that’s the other thing.  From here on out, this segment will simply be called “Trash”, alleviating me of actually being productive on a consistent basis.  Check back tomorrow, kids.

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Population 436 Review

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Population 436….

Don’t become 437! Not because Rockwell Falls, this movie’s sleepy small town , is scary, but because you’ll never get those ninety two minutes of your life back.

While I’ll do my best not to give away all the ‘big twists,’ most people with a few ounces of gray matter sown between their ears can figure out what this town is up to within the first twelve seconds. After an opening sequence, where a guy trying to flee town in a pickup with an open red envelope on his dash, crashes and burns; we get Steve Kaddy, a dedicated census worker that stumbles into Rockwell Falls to discover that the population hasn’t risen or fallen from 436 in a hundred plus years.

His time spent in town is split between having obvious plot-point nightmares, trying to conduct his job, and getting drunk and shooting bottles with the town’s deputy, conveniently played by Fred Durst. While these three scenarios unfold they also spawn about seventy subplots: Kaddy is widower—down one wife and daughter—, one family on the census record is MIA and everyone is shady about it, the town people seem to have mixed numerology with Christianity to form some cult, and Fred Durst wants to marry the only ‘purty’ girl in town who clearly wants to have sex with Kaddy.

When the balls of twine starts to unravel the twists are delivered in one of two manners: overly dramatic as if the audience should be surprised by obvious revelations or quirky enough that you don’t know if you missed the punch to a bad joke.

This movie mostly suffers from The Wickerman syndrome (and I mean the one with Christopher Lee, not Mr. Cage). In its time, it had artistic value, but too many movies and TV shows have tried to imitate the terror of an outside person in a cult community and they all suffer from the same clichéd arch. You know a guy is going to come to town and stir up a pot he shouldn’t. Then he’s going to make some heroic gestures that give the audience false hope, and everything is going to crash down on him in the last few minutes. After that it’s back to business in cult land.

While Population 436 does have a couple moments, the formula is groaning-painfully obvious, and all the little attempts at originality fall short. Even, the town’s back story is weak and explained in about two sentences, which might have cued a flash back if this movie had a bigger budget. For me, I felt cheated out of an hour and a half of my life, but maybe you like Fred Durst a bit more than I do.

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Weekly Trash – Keeper of Souls (2004)

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I’ve been slacking with updates here and I apologize.  I have been “working” on getting this post up for weeks.  I guess the moniker “Weekly Trash” is somewhat inaccurate seeing as it would indicate that I actually post one of these weekly.  But alas, I do what I can do.  I actually did start watching this movie about two weeks ago and it has taken me up until 5 minutes ago to finish it.  It was that good.

Remember how I wrote about audio production and score being key factors for any movie’s success?  About how you can’t hope to create any kind of emotion or atmosphere without them?  Yeah, the director of Keeper of Souls apparently doesn’t agree with me.  The most interesting/funny thing about this movie is its audio blunders.  Director and writer Tim Card clearly was not working with much of a budget and that’s ok – you can’t expect up-and-coming horror directors to have Hollywood bankrolls.  However, wasn’t there some way to have audio production that is mildly seamless between scenes?  What I’m getting at here is that in literally every scene in this movie, you can hear the mic’s turn on when the characters are about to speak.  The segue between the ridiculous and often out of place background music and the cliche dialogue is sandpaper-smooth.

Still, while the audio (and video) production value is so low, it does provide some great unintentional humor.  During a scene where a cop has a pretty mundane conversation with a store owner, the music below would fit well if a killer were stalking a victim on screen.  One excellent flashback scene offers some phaser sound effects.  Another scene has a woman stabbing a man while sobbing yet her mouth is closed the entire time.  The overlaid audio track was recorded separately and makes no sense in context with the video. Card also gets a little happy with a Party City smoke machine throughout.  And I almost forgot to mention that they use a tree stump with a shirt on it as a decapitated body.

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But enough about the audio and video production.  What about the plot and acting?  Here is the synopsis:

All Cliff (Tim Card) and Stacy (Kelly Rowen) ever wanted was a weekend away from their busy lives. They decide on the sleepy town of Grove Hill, which, unbeknownst to them, is home to a supernatural beast known as the Keeper of Souls, a product of the mass hysteria and rage of the Salem Witch Trials. As the demon ghost from the past unleashes its wrath on the couple, the two grow determined to banish it from Grove Hill forever.

The film opens with a few paragraphs of scrolling text informing us that during the time of the Salem Witch Trials there was a sorcerer who preyed on the souls of the innocent.  Those who fell victim to his spells knew no difference between their nightmares and reality.  He disappeared and was never found.  During the past 100 years, campfire stories surfaced in the southeast about an evil man hiding in the woods and preying on souls.  He may be the devil himself.

Fair enough.  That’s what the movie’s about according to the director.  But it would help if anything that transpires during the 97 minutes of run time had ANYTHING to do with that plot summary.  What the movie is actually about is that Stacy’s grandmother suddenly dies and she and Cliff bring her ashes to be spread in Grove Hill.  There’s a loose subplot about a young girl who has gone missing in the area.  We see her being chased and killed by The Keeper of Souls during the film’s opening scene.  The couple decide to spend the weekend in Grove Hill but instead of finding a hotel, they take the advice of a local who says that they can stay at his extra home by the lake.  Sounds kosher to me.  He looks trustworthy enough, right?

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Meanwhile, Sheriff Fuller (played by Graham Timbes, a hysterical over-the-top actor who ironically is listed as the film’s acting coach) is in the midst of tracking down the aforementioned missing girl when he’s not busy yelling at his deputies for seemingly no reason and talking about his fear of snakes with store owners.  It’s difficult to not love this man.

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And that’s where the film loses any semblance of continuity or structure.  Cliff comes across what he believes to be human bones in the woods and becomes determined to get to the bottom of it.  Stacy begins to have nightmares about running from The Keeper of Souls.  She is also haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman who died in the house she is staying in.  When Cliff starts to dig too deep into the missing girl case, he is abducted by some local hicks who hold him at gunpoint and then, using the most inefficient murder technique ever conceived,  throw a rattlesnake on him!  I loved the movie for this scene alone.  Rather than recoiling in fear of the snake, he just lies there staring at it until – you guessed it – it bites him.

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Fortunately, a trucker comes to Cliff’s rescue and he manages to survive the attack.  But the leader of the hicks (who just so happens to be the man letting Cliff stay in his house) finds out, his is not pleased.  He berrates his underlings and passionately says, “No more fooling around.  Use two snakes this time.  Throw a whole bunch on him.”  What any of this has to do with The Keeper of Souls, I’m not sure.  I don’t think Card (who also plays Cliff) even knew at this point.

This whole mishmash of nonsense comes together with an even more confusing conclusion.  Cliff gets kidnapped by one of the sheriff’s deputies who has been in on it – what I’m not sure – the whole time.  He manages to steal the deputy’s shot gun and kills him along with the crew of hicks.  He runs away and then makes it to his car.

Back at the house, Stacy sees the scary woman in the wheelchair, runs into the next room and then somehow she’s been transported into the woods where Card continues to unleash his Party City smoke effects.  She then runs back into the house (again, some kind of teleportation) and barricades herself inside a bedroom. Cliff comes to the rescue, runs into the house and then suddenly, the two of them are locked up in some kind of barn.  I’m assuming they are to be sacrificed to The Keeper of Souls.  Whatever the fuck that means.   He and Stacy make a run for it and then out of nowhere the previously dead hicks have become zombies and start chasing them.

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Our two heroes make it to their Jeep, jump in and then Stacy starts stabbing Cliff with a sacrificial knife.  What?!  I guess she’s been under the control of The Keeper of Souls, whose costume was also a Party City purchase.

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At the end, it is finally revealed that the person trying to offer their souls to the Keeper is the minister who performed Stacy’s grandmother’s funeral service.  Because that makes sense.  I don’t get it.  I’m lost.  Maybe it’s not supposed to make sense or maybe it’s just too deep for me.  So to recap, the following things from the synopsis are false:

  • Stacy and Cliff went to Grove Hill because they wanted was a weekend away from their busy lives
  • The Keeper of Souls is a product of mass hysteria and rage of the Salem Witch Trials
  • Stacy and Cliff are determined to banish The Keeper of Souls forever

The acting throughout Keeper of Souls is nothing but misery and that’s largely due to the cliche driven script.  In 97 minutes, there isn’t one line of believable dialogue.  This is easily one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  Right up there with Bloodlust: Legend of El Chupacabra.

Can you tell that I’ve had a hard time writing this post?  I’m sure you can.  I struggled through watching this piece of trash and I’ve struggled to write about it.  Mr. Card has directed and acted in a few movies since this one.  I’m not brave enough to watch them.

Trash Rating:

Acting: 1.5/10

Plot: 1/10

Creepiness: 0/10

Cinematography: 1/10

Overall: 0.8/10

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Weekly Trash – Shrooms (2007)

Last week when I unfortunately stumbled upon Seed, I had been browsing Netflix for something that looked terrible, because let’s face it – sometimes shitty horror movies are just as fun to watch as good ones.  I guess you could say Seed was the first entry in a my new (hopefully) weekly feature – weekly trash.  I’m going to be looking for the worst of the worst, bracing myself and suffering through every excrutiating minute.  Who knows – maybe I’ll find a decent one by accident.  This week I trudged through Shrooms, a 2007 movie about a group of American 20-somethings who take a trip to Ireland to explore the world of taking psychedelic mushrooms.  Here’s the synopsis:

A group of American teens comes Ireland to visit an Irish school friend who takes them on a camping trip in search of the local, fabled magic mushrooms. When the hallucinations start taking hold, the panicked friends are attacked by ghostly creatures; never able to determine if they are experiencing gruesome reality or startling delirium. When one teenager unknowingly eats the dangerous Death’s Head mushroom, the group’s nightmare takes a deeply sinister turn…

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The synopsis sounded somewhat interesting to me and I figured the likelihood of this sucking was pretty high.  To my surprise though, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had suspected.  While plausability is not something I expect when I’m sitting down to watch a movie called Shrooms, the premise of the movie is a bit ridiculous.  Who would travel 5,000+ miles just for magic mushrooms?  I understand there is an entire subculture of psychedelic drug users, but the characters in this movie are just your run-of-the-mill teens.  But anyway….

The group of friends, including one that seems determined to copy Jason Mewes’ fashion sense, travel to Ireland where they meet up with another friend that has the skinny on the local mushroom scene.  After setting up camp in a desolate and creepy national park, the group set out to look for the famous mushrooms “with the nipples on the top” that will unlock the doors to their imaginations.  While scouring for shrooms, Tara (Lindsey Haun) mistakenly eats one of the dreaded Death’s Head mushrooms (the ones with the black nipples).  Apparently, if you survive eating a Death’s Head, legend says you gain the gift of foresight and other psychic abilities.

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It should be noted here that Lindsey and her friends are probably the stupidest drug users I’ve seen portrayed on film in a long time.  I mean, even if you don’t know much about doing mushrooms, EVERYONE knows that you can’t just eat any kind.  95% of mushrooms are poisonous to humans and this idiot finds a random one on the ground and bites in to it?  But there I go with plausibility…

Later that night their local friend Jake (Jack Huston) reveals that there is an abandoned orphanage in the national park that used to be run by a sadistic monk who tortured children until one night his tea was spiked with Death’s Head mushrooms by the surviving twin of a boy he murdered.  The mushrooms sent him on a murderous rampage, killing the majority of his students and then disappearing along with the boy who sabatoged his tea.  Tara then begins to have visions of the future where her friends are murdered by the monk in a variety of gruesome ways while they are tripping on mushrooms.  Are the deaths really happening or is it all just a bad trip?  The “twist” ending isn’t very surprising and it has been done better before.

That’s about it, plotwise.  The acting and dialogue are equally miserable, with characters basically reiterating orally what is happening on camera.  I can’t say there is any tension throughout the film and most of the deaths occur off screen, likely for budgetary reasons.  In its defense, Shrooms has some great atmospheric scenes and shot composition.  The abandoned forrest is a genuinely creepy setting for a horror movie.

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That, and it has a tremendously funny scene involving a talking cow.

  • Bluto: “You’re just a cow.”
  • Cow: “I’m a cow that can fucking talk.”

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That alone makes Shrooms worth a viewing if you’re in the mood for some crappy horror.

Trash Rating:

Acting: 4/10

Plot: 4/10

Creepiness: 3/10

Cinematography: 5/10

Overall: 4/10

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