Review: The Unholy

The Unholy (1988)

The Unholy Vestron.jpgEvery three years or so, Satan sends the worst of his demons, The Unholy, to test a representative of God, The Chosen One.

Satan won three years ago, but nothing much happened as a result, so I guess the battle is purely for bragging rights.

God’s ‘Chosen One’ is always a Catholic priest, which must mean that Catholicism is the one true denomination.  The Devil has an interesting way of challenging the Chosen One.  The Unholy appears before the Chosen One and offers them their deepest, darkest desire.  Then, if the Chosen One gives into the temptation, The Unholy kills him.  According to the movie, the ‘deepest, darkest desire’ of every Catholic priest is a hot red-head in a see-through nightgown.  That’s right – an adult woman.

The Chosen One this time around is a slightly roguish (he smokes!) young priest who falls out of a third floor window while trying to talk down a suicidal man.  The fact that he survived the fall suggests to the priests-that-be that he may be the chosen of God, so they place him in the same church that the last Chosen One won lost his battle.

Once there, the young priest gets involved with a waitress, Milly, who works at a Satanist-themed nightclub run by a man that looks like a pretty version of Rutger Hauer.  There’s some sub-plot about the club wanting to use the priest to drum up business, but it doesn’t really add much to the movie.

The big draw in the film is actually the monster effects.  They aren’t realistic, but they’re so campy and old-school that they’re just delightful to look at.  There’s a great scene in which a dog-woman covered in slime licks the priest while two little people in homunculus costumes run around in the back.  There’s a sort of magic that’s lost in a scene like this when the monsters look too real.

The priest is a dull character.  He’s too idealistically priest-like, there’s no nuance or conflict within him.  Milly is a bit more of a mystery, whether she is good or bad.

The story leading up to the great monster showdown is somewhat dull.  It’s a lot of uneventful conversations in small rooms.  Despite being a war between good and evil, there’s no real sense of scale or danger.  The only real stake in the battle is the life of the priest himself, but given his devotion, I don’t think he’d mind dying for the cause all that much.

Review: I Was A Teenage Ninja

I was a teenage ninja.jpgI Was A Teenage Ninja

The tragic history of Christianity’s early attempts to gain a foothold in Japan set the stage for this story of a young woman who unknowingly becomes the pawn of the cruel Shogunate who killed her father, and has now been sent to assassinate her mother.

The original title of this film is ‘Christian Kunoichi Aome’s Story.’  Kunoichi means ‘female ninja.’  It’s 1549.  Years ago, a Christian missionary, Xavier, arrived in Japan and started preaching the gospel.  He amasses a few followers, most notably a middle-aged Japanese woman named Kiara with whom he has a daughter.

About this time, the Shogunate (the warlord ruler of Japan) begins to crack down on the new religion, sending his samurai to slaughter them in their mountain enclaves.  Xavier is killed and his wife escapes; but his daughter Aome is spared by one of the Shogunate’s men.  She is taken in and raised by the man, and trained in the art of ninjitsu.

Aome knows nothing of her parents, except for the crucifix necklace they left behind.  As such, she follows the Christian faith, while carrying out assassinations for the Shogunate.

At this point, the story gets odd.  Aome’s mother is obsessed with freeing Xavier and the other Christians from Hell.  Why are Christian martyrs in Hell?  I don’t know.  Anyways, Kiara turns to the black arts to accomplish this goal.  With the help of her hermaphrodite assistant, Shizu, she abducts pretty, young women to serve as blood sacrifices.  Unfortunately, their latest victim is Aome’s best friend, a blind girl.

I Was A Teenage Ninja is part of a Japanese film series called, ‘Voluptuous Ninja.’  The stars are all drawn from Japan’s adult film industry.  This one stars Saki Ninomiya, who does a competent job.

Remember in Back to the Future Part 3, where Doc gives Marty that stupid, colorful cowboy costume because he saw ones like it in the movies?  The costumes in this film reminded me of that scene.  Like someone’s understanding of Shogunate times came from campy movies; either that, or they went to the costume shop and bought the first ‘sexy ninja’ outfit the came across.  The special effects are bad, predictably, but I’ll give them credit for at least trying.

As a soft-core film, it does what it sets out to do, but it has no particular merit beyond that.

 

Review: Decadent Evil

Decadent Evil.jpgDecadent Evil

The official run time of Decadent Evil is 67 minutes, but the end credits start at the 59 minute mark.  Add to that two or three minute long opening credits and the seven or eight minutes of reused footage from an earlier movie called Vampire Journals, and you’re not left with much time to develop anything of great depth.

A red dressed woman named Morella leads a vampire clan consisting of two subordinate vampire girls who work as strippers.  They’re named Sugar and Spyce (with a ‘y’).  There is some kind of vampire legend that says if a vampire can kill 10,000 people and ingest their souls, they will become a super-vampire with invincibility and the power  to control other vampires.  Soon after the start of the film, Morella needs just three more.

Morella used to be in love with a human, but he cheated on her, so she turned him into a homunclous, which she explains is a prehistoric half-man/half-reptile (though I only have a layman’s knowledge of evolutionary theory, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t represent a part of our history).  For a character with such a prominent role, the puppet they made for him is rather cheap and unconvincing, which makes it hard to sympathize with him later on.

Her failed relationships of the past have made her bitter, so Morella is upset to learn that Sugar has fallen for a young human man and orders her to call it off.  Morella is hard to understand.  If she were simply evil and power-mad, why not force Sugar to bring her boyfriend to the house to be the next victim?  It’s like she wants to protect Sugar’s feelings, but that’s not trait worthy of an evil vampire.  But then, no one’s motivations in the movie are considered that deeply, everyone seems to be moved by base emotions, instinct, or the needs of the plot.

Into this mix comes Ivan, played by Phil Fondacaro, a vampire hunter who shares a past with Morella.

I don’t have anything particularly bad to say about the movie.  The acting is fine, the plot is serviceable.  But the fact that it’s only about 50 minutes long prevents anything from being developed.  The characters aren’t so much people as they are tools to move the plot forward.

Ivan wants revenge, Morella wants power, Spyce (I’m not sure what she wants), and Dex and Sugar are in love.  That’s all we really learn about any of the cast.  And we don’t even learn it so much as we are simply told it.  We never really see anyone being ‘human’ and thus, we never connect with any of them.

Once again, director Charles Band has produced a competent but undistinguished effort.  There’s a few neat twists to the vampire genre, but a short run time and pervasive shallowness keep Decadent Evil from ever becoming special.

Review: Buried Alive

Buried Alive Movie.jpgBuried Alive

Dumb college kids go to a remote cabin and are hunted down by a monster.

Zane’s ancestors used to own a gold mine; but despite taking millions of dollars worth of metal out of the ground, the money never materialized.  It seems that great grandpa mined the gold only to hide it away somewhere.  Zane, who has mental problems and was just kicked out of college, thinks that finding the gold is his best hope for the future.

Rene, Zane’s cousin, with whom he shares a near-incestuous closeness embarks with him on a road trip to the family mine (though she doesn’t know his true intent).  They take with them Danny, Rene’s terrible boyfriend; Phil, the computer nerd who Zane conscripted to research his grandfather (because Googling something requires the rarified intelligence that only a geek can provide) and two dumb girls (dressed as a cow and dog) who are pledging to Rene’s sorority.

Cow is the dumbest of the lot.  In an early scene, she’s shown to be unable to distinguish between live and stuffed animals, even after petting them.  She has a sex scene shortly thereafter which just comes off as creepy and exploitative given her issues.  Rene, likewise, creepily orders her to undress several times, and you can’t help but think, ‘Rene’s a bitch, I hope she dies soon.’

I’m not quite sure what the plot is.  I take it the grandfather’s first wife was ‘buried alive,’ then came back as a ghost, killed his family, and continues to kill his ancestors (and anyone else that happens to be around).  The one thing that can stop her is a Native American totem symbol, which is carved into a necklace once owned by wife number one, and now by Rene, and also happens to be tattooed on the back of Dog’s neck (which we discover during a lengthy scene in which she dances in her underwear).  Dog is the only remotely likeable character in the movie; her only real character flaw is that she associates with such awful people.

The ghost kills with an ax, usually cutting people in half.  The effects are graphic, but I’m not sure if they’re anatomically accurate (there’s just a lot of indistinguishable red stuff inside the kids).

Buried Alive looks okay, the acting is tolerable, and the make-up is detailed (if not always believable); but the story is underdeveloped, and the characters are mostly just annoying.

Review: Call Girl of Cthulhu

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 6.41.25 PM.pngThe producers of Call Girl of Cthulhu raised a little over $25,000 on Kickstarter to make this movie; and I think the backers got their money’s worth.

The movie is about a virginal artist named Carter Wilcox who falls for an escort, Riley Whatley.  Said escort is unfortunately also being pursued by a cult who wants her to mate with Cthulhu. Carter himself gets dragged into the fight when a couple of cult fighters enlist him and his art skills in their plan.

The plot moves along briskly as the multiple storylines weave together into an ending that is very satisfying, with some nice and unexpected twists along the way.

A terrible person might watch this movie and then whine about it not reaching the technical standards of Infinity War; but the fact is, it’s a fun, entertaining movie made by people that clearly cared about delivering on their promise.

It’s a light-hearted movie, though maybe a little too cute at times – my wife noticed that every scene change was prefaced by a line of dialogue that referenced the next scene. i.e. ‘we have to close the door!’ is followed by a shot of a door closing. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it’s pleasant.

The characters are likeable and well developed.  The acting is pretty good as well (another observation from my wife – the director must have a thing for girls with short brown hair).

The effects, mostly practical, are quite well done; especially the monster at the end.  Even the cult’s costumes, while very cheap and simple, are none-the-less evocative and believable.

Call Girl of Cthulhu was recently released on Blu-ray by Camp Motion Pictures and looks wonderful.

Review: Don’t Answer the Phone

2a94a8ac0b1e76bde2c295f42e4b239b.jpgKirk Smith is an amateur photographer.  He works mostly in the genre of fetish porn.  At the end of each shoot, he strangles and sexually assaults his models (which is never shown in the movie, only talked about).

As someone who’s done a lot of nude photoshoots, I can attest that most shoots do not end that way.  A handshake and a ‘thank you’ is sufficient for most people.  Of course, there are creepy photographers out there; so the character of Kirk Smith is not completely without grounding.

The title of this movie, on the other hand, makes not sense what-so-ever.  The only time the phone comes into play in the story is when Kirk calls a radio psychologist, Lindsay Gale, to brag about his kills.  The phone calls lead the police directly to the killer, so really, she damn well SHOULD answer the phone.

Don’t Answer the Phone is essentially a slasher film, but with very little on-screen slashing (well, I guess there’s on-screen strangling).  Kirk drives around town looking for victims; some are models, others just random women in their homes, all of whom find an excuse to get topless prior to dying.  Meanwhile, the police (two dull, forgettable detectives) track him down with some little help from Lindsay.

Since the killer is introduced to us in the first scene, there’s no suspense or mystery to the story.  It’s just a 94 minute exercise in who he will kill next, and when the police will stop him.

Don’t Answer the Phone is utilitarian horror – it checks all the necessary boxes, but brings nothing notable or exceptional to the table.  The Blu-ray, lovingly produced by Vinegar Syndrome, is great, though.

How to Make a Movie – Filming Day

Watika Lemon is making a movie!  Or at least a short horror film.  In this series, we will walk you through the behind-the-scenes process.  One warning: we have no idea what we’re doing, so please don’t take any of our advice to heart.

tumblr_pcww1gBP5W1rgsaugo2_1280.pngWe had no idea how long it would take to shoot our roughly five minute film.  To be safe, we booked the actor for the day (9 to 5).  After picking them up at the train station, we headed back to the bedroom that was to be used as a set.

The producer and I had done a lot of tests ahead of time, even going as far as to film about a minute of the movie, so the set up was easy.  We didn’t have a formal script (this being a dialog-less movie and all), instead, we just explained each shot to the actor, had them try it out, then filmed it (and possible re-film if we wanted to see it another way)

Shooting went pretty smoothly and we ended up finishing around lunch.  While eating, I went through the footage and found a few shots that I wanted to redo (some were out of focus, and some I thought would be a bit choppy).  Reshoots were finished in about an hour, and filming wrapped by 2:00PM.

tumblr_pcww1gBP5W1rgsaugo1_540.pngSome things I learned:

The image you have in your head may not translate to real life; or the actor may play a scene in a different way than you anticipated – be prepared to change your plans on the spot.

Be really careful when framing – make sure the producer’s hands or the storyboard aren’t visible.

Longer shots are easier to work with.  If you want to cut between two angles, shoot the full action in each angle, then edit – don’t try to film just the quick action you think you need.

I supposed the lesson I’d most like to take though, is take your time.  But that’s a hard thing to do when you’re working on a tiny budget and have to finish in a day.

Part 3 – Casting

Part 2 – Lights, Camera

Part 1 – The Script

WATCH TENTACLE ON YOUTUBE

Review: 976-EVIL 2

I haven’t seen the original, but from what I gather, it’s about an evil psychic hot-line which grants people the knowledge and power to make their dreams come true, but at a horrible cost.

In this sequel, the dean of a community college is given the power of astral projection, which he uses to kill people.

The dean’s motivation is kind of confusing.  In the opening scene, he uses his powers to kill a girl in the shower room (which is a beautifully executed ’80s slasher movie sequence, by the way).  Then, he uses his astral projection powers to kill the witnesses, or anyone trying to stop him, while locked away in his jail cell.

Because his actions were so practical (only killing people that got in his way) the dean wasn’t all the threatening.  He’s not a maniacal slasher that can kill anyone at any moment, he’s just a guy to be avoided.

976-EVIL 2‘s horror sequences aren’t scary.  Much like Prom Night 2, 976 takes the weirdness of Nightmare on Elm Street, but lacks the creepy villain to ground it and make it feel genuinely dangerous.  Instead, we’re just left with a prankster ghost who makes refrigerator doors open menacingly.  ‘Horror’ isn’t just a dangerous situation, it’s the sense of dread that accompanies it.

There are some nice, creative sequences, though.  The aforementioned shower-chase scene is one, and there is also a very cleaver mash-up of Night of the Living Dead and It’s a Wonderful Life.  Again, neither scene is horrific, but they do look good, and display a lot more effort than normally goes into to this kind of movie.

The dashing hero of the film is a leather-clad biker named Spike.  I take it he was in the first movie as well.  He isn’t very interesting, though he’s slightly amusing as a walking cliche to be laughed at.  I think they could have replaced him with a cowboy who rode a horse all over town and he would have fit into the rest of the movie just as well as leather-biker-man does.

Joining Spike in his war against the dean is Robin, the blond screamer that also adds nothing in particular to the story.

976-EVIL 2 is a run-of-the-mill, direct-to-video horror movie sequel.  It has a few creative touches, and is competently produced, acted, and directed.  On the other hand, it isn’t scary at all.  The villain is dull and the underlying evil is mostly disregarded.

Review: Grave Mistake

Produced, Written, and Directed by Shawn Darling.  Starring Shawn Darling.  Editing, Makeup, and Soundtrack by Shawn Darling.

Grave Mistake opens with a drunken fat man dumping chemicals on a few graves, which were placed in the middle of the desert for some reason.  The drunk man then goes home to abuse his child, Alex (Seth Darling), at least physically; though there’s an air of sexual perversion as he beats his son.  I’m not sure if that’s intentional, or just something the actor brought to the roll.

The ‘hero’ is Mike Shaw, a cowardly mechanic.  There’s a scene where he’s talking to the drunk man and mutters ‘beaten any kids lately?’ and when the drunk asks ‘what did you say?’ Shaw bravely responds, ‘nothing.  I was talking to my car.’  Yes, that’s our hero.

Mike Shaw used to be a Navy Seal or something, but he left because something happened and he now feels responsible for killing his squad; but that storyline doesn’t really go anywhere.  If my description sounds vague, just remember that I finished watching the movie five minutes ago and this is all I remember from it.

There’s not a lot of understanding of character arc or emotion.  People react in superficial ways to tragedy, but there are no lasting repressions.  For instance,  a woman’s son turns into a zombie and Mike kills him.  In the next scene, he asks her how she is, and she cries and says she’s sad because he killed her son, but she knows it had to be done.  And then the next line is, ‘so what did you do before you a mechanic?’  As if that would be the first question on her mind and not, ‘are we going to live?’ or ‘where did all these zombies come from?’ or ‘you killed my son, F$@# off!’

The makeup and special effects are actually pretty good, and satisfyingly graphic.  There are some gory scenes of people being eaten alive, and body parts being removed in a variety of ways.

As a movie, its mediocre, with a vapid story and horrendous acting.  As a show reel for someone’s makeup effect work, it’s worthy of an internship.

Hmm, this review needs a stupid, quotable pun.  I know:  Watching this movie would be a Grave Mistake!  Ha!

Review: The Vampire Lovers

Scream Factory (Blu-ray)

Hammer Films, famous for its costume drama gothic horror, decided to sex-up its offering with this film, the first in a loosely-connected ‘Karnstein Trilogy,’ based on the 1872 novella Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, which predates Bram Stoker’s Dracula by a full 25 years, tells of a female vampire named Carmilla, who preys on a series of young girls.  At its heart, it’s story of isolation.  Specifically that of Laura, a girl who lives with her father, a retired general, in a castle in the forests of Austria.  As the novella opens, Laura learns that another young girl who was to visit her has suddenly died under mysterious circumstances.  Laura is heartbroken, since this other girl was her only hope for a friend and human companionship.

It is when Laura is at her weakest that Carmilla arrives.

Carmilla seduces the girl, but not in a strictly sexual way (though it’s implied about as strongly as a 19th century novel can).  Carmilla is worldly, mature, and confident; the opposite of Laura in every way; and she shows Laura affection (the only true affection she has ever received from someone who wasn’t required to like her).  The combination is intoxicating, and soon Laura falls to the strange girl’s charms.

Hammer’s adaptation doesn’t really delve into the more interesting aspects of Laura’s character; the loneliness that grooms her for the vampire.   Instead, Laura (and the second girl, Emma) are merely generic ‘innocents;’ whilst Carmilla (or Mircalla) is the ‘bad’ girl.  Hammer productions have always had a slight ‘morality play’ aspect to them; and the virgin/whore dichotomy of the two female leads comes from that tradition.  The characters are fine and well-acted; but the movie could have been so much more if Hammer had drawn more out of the original story.

The Vampire Lovers tends to jump around a lot.  Carmilla’s encounter with the first girl (the one only revealed in a letter in the original novella) is presented in full, basically killing the surprise reveal at the end.  At the same time, the slow build-up of the original, as Carmilla’s true nature comes into focus, is largely skipped over; she shows up and is sucking girls off within minutes.  Basically, anything that would serve to build tension or create mystery has been stripped away.

Aside from the addition of some light girl-on-girl frolicking; The Vampire Lovers sits very comfortably within Hammer’s oeuvre.  It has the same look and feel as all their other films; and the ‘adult’ aspects of the movie are handled with class and subtlety.  It’s sure to satisfy hardcore Hammer fans, as well as those that find the studio’s earlier work to be a little too family-friendly.

Review: I was a Teenage Ninja

I Was A Teenage Ninja (DVD)

Switchblade Pictures

The tragic history of Christianity’s early attempts to gain a foothold in Japan set the stage for this story of a young woman who unknowingly becomes the pawn of the cruel Shogunate who killed her father, and has now been sent to assassinate her mother.

A young woman, who shows her breasts a lot.

The original title of this film is ‘Christian Kunoichi Aome’s Story.’  Kunoichi means ‘female ninja.’  It’s 1549.  Years ago, a Christian missionary, Xavier, arrived in Japan and started preaching the gospel.  He amasses a few followers, most notably a middle-aged Japanese woman named Kiara with whom he has a daughter.

About this time, the Shogunate (the warlord ruler of Japan) begins to crack down on the new religion, sending his samurai to slaughter them in the mountain enclaves.  Xavier is killed and his wife escapes; but his daughter Aome is spared by one of the Shogunate’s men.  She is taken in and raised by the man, and trained in the art of ninjitsu.

Aome knows nothing of her parents, except for the crucifix necklace they left behind.  As such, she follows the Christian faith, while carrying out assassinations for the Shogunate.

At this point, the story gets odd.  Aome’s mother is obsessed with freeing Xavier and the other Christians from Hell.  Why are Christian martyrs in Hell?  I don’t know.  Anyways, Kiara turns to the non-Christian black arts to accomplish this goal.  With the help of her hermaphrodite assistant, Shizu, she abducts pretty young women to serve as blood sacrifices.  Unfortunately, their latest victim is Aome’s best friend, a blind girl.

Remember in Back to the Future Part 3, where Doc gives Marty that stupid, colorful cowboy costume because he saw ones like it in the movies?  The costumes in this film reminded me of that scene.  Like someone’s understanding of Shogunate times came from campy movies; either that, or they went to the costume shop and bought the first ‘sexy ninja’ outfit the came across.  The special effects are bad, predictably, but I’ll give them credit for at least trying.

The premise and setting give this film a bit more substance than others in this genre; but in the end, it is what it is.

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen in Japanese with removable English subtitles.  It was shot on video, so it looks clean, but cheap.  There are no extras.

Review: Twins of Evil

Synapse Films (Blu-ray)

Twins of Evil was the third and final film in Hammer’s ‘Karnstein trilogy,’ which was based, very loosely, on the 1872 novella Carmilla, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.  The source material, written 25 years prior to Stoker’s Dracula, is about a young woman who falls under the thrall of a female vampire.  The exploitation film potential of such a set-up is endless.

Former Playboy models Mary and Madeleine Collinson star as the titular twins, Maria and Frieda.  They are sent from the cultural mecca of Venice to the intellectual backwaters of Karnstein shortly after the death of their parents.

Their uncle, Weil, played by Hammer-staple Peter Cushing, leads a band of witch-hunters called the Brotherhood that spend their nights chasing down pretty girls to burn at the stake.  Despite this, we are told repeatedly that Weil is a ‘good man,’ because the torture and murder of an innocent is okay so long as you meant well.  Cushing is a great actor, but even he can’t do anything to redeem this character; even after he’s had his revelation, it hard to get past the fact that he has murdered people for no reason what-so-ever.

The only man who speaks out against Weil is Anton, a music teacher and basically the hero of the film.  He speaks often of how horrible Weil and his gang is, and fully recognizes the innocence of the victims; and yet, when he finally gets a chance to confront him, all he chastises Weil for is his methods, saying that burning won’t kill a vampire, you have to cut off its head.

The two twins take separate paths; Maria falling for Anton, and Freida for Count Karnstein, the vampire in the castle on the hill, and the results are pretty much what you’d expect.

The theme of cowardice comes up a lot in the film; both from Anton, who is unable to stand up to Weil; and from the Brotherhood, who will not strike against Karnstein, despite knowing that he is the source of evil in the town.  This theme makes for some solid character development; but it doesn’t tie together quite as well as it should at the end because WEIL IS STILL A MURDERER.  Seriously, people.

Despite the inclusion of Playboy models, this is the tamest of the films in the Karnstein trilogy, both in sex and violence.  In fact, I can’t recall any real on-screen killing at all (vampire deaths aside).

Overall, Twins of Evil is Hammer doing what Hammer does best, a beautifully filmed Gothic horror story with tight plotting and well-established characters.

The Blu Ray from Synapse films is quite good.  Video quality is solid, but not revelatory.  Some scenes, especially in the beginning look a little hazy, and the rest just lacks that extra bit of sharpness I hope for in an HD transfer.  There are quite a few extras, most notably an 84 minute documentary about the Karnstein trilogy, which is very impressive.

How to Make a Movie – Casting

Watika Lemon is making a movie!  Or at least a short horror film.  In this series, we will walk you through the behind-the-scenes process.  One warning: we have no idea what we’re doing, so please don’t take any of our advice to heart.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.31.32 PM.pngWe have a lot of experience casting models for photoshoots; but for those, we generally find a model, then think of a theme that will work with them.  But when casting actors, it’s the opposite; we had a specific idea in mind, and had to find the right actor to fill that part.

It starts with a  casting call, which basically a job ad.  We were pretty vague; only sharing the genre and the age range we were looking for (since we’re going for a classic ’80s horror style, that meant a woman in their low 20s).  We also listed a rough estimate of how long the shoot would take and how much we were paying (yes, this is a production with a budget :P).

The casting call was posted to two sites.  The first was the site we usually use to cast models, and the other was a Facebook group for independent film casting calls.  We got about four responses from the modelling site; and 20 or so from the Facebook group.  Of those, we contacted eight people that we thought would work (based on their headshot and resume); and of those eight, we managed to meet with four.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 4.31.50 PM.pngWe held the auditions in a park on a weekend.  We weren’t really sure what to do for an audition, so we ended up googling it between meetings (In the end, I don’t think we were too far off from the norm).  Each actor was given a short scenario to act out (some asked ahead of time, so got it on the day), and we filmed the results.

The biggest surprise of the day, the thing we weren’t expecting, was that all of them were really good.  Each actor had a different take on the material, but they were all uniquely impressive.  After reviewing the auditions, we chose the one that that most closely matched our own take on the script.

Side Note: Previous instalments of this series talked about writing and technical tests.  Both of these processes have been on-going.  The storyboards have been re-done several times, and new tests have been run (particularly after picking up a microphone).

Part 2 – Lights, Camera

Part 1 – The Script

Review: Intruder

Synapse Films (Blur-ray)

A mysterious killers is stalking the aisles and storage rooms of a second-rate, small town grocery store.  The unusually large night crew, which includes two cashiers for some reason, falls victim one by one in a series of bloody, gory death scenes.

This film is most notable for the fact that it stars, amongst other people, Sam Raimi (Director of Evil Dead, Spider-Man), and Ted Raimi (Joxer the Mighty from Xena: Warrior Princess), and has a brief cameo from Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Burn Notice).  None of them are the actual stars, of course, (they were just friends of the director, Scott Spiegel), but their inclusion does give this film a ‘get into cult-fandom free’ ticket.

Intruder is pretty by-the-books are far as slashers go.  We start with our red herring, a biker-guy ex-boyfriend of a cashier who shows up at closing time to cause trouble.  He’s the too-obvious suspect when things start going wrong.  After the excitement of biker-guy’s visit, the night crew spread out to their own distant corners of the store, where they can be killed an dismembered at leisure.

The murders are very good.  There’s a lot of variety, as the killer uses the tools and industrial equipment found in the store to handle his victims in gruesome and graphic ways.  The cut-up body parts are very realistic, and despite the whimsical nature of the kills, don’t come off looking comedic.

The killings continue until only one person is left.  Of course, he or she hasn’t noticed anyone dying up till this point, but the bodies are discovered in rapid succession, leading to the final reveal of the killer.  I’m not sure I buy the killer’s motivation.  That’s the risk you run with a slasher movie when you try to explain why the killer killed.  Given the nature of their crimes, the reasoning has to be pretty extreme; but that’s not the case here.  I do give it credit for trying; and even if it’s not totally satisfying, the explanation at the end does give it a sense of closure.

Unlike most slasher movies, the teenage cast doesn’t spend most of the movie having sex or drinking, maybe because they’re at work, I don’t know.  While not very deep, at least they aren’t faceless cannon fodder.  They all have very distinct character traits and mannerisms, some more likeable than others, but at least it’s something.  You care when they die, either because you miss them, or from relief that you won’t have to hear their awful voice any more.

Intruder doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but it plays the cliches well.  It has a decent cast, and the super market setting allows for some fun and interesting kills.  If you like ’80s slasher movies, you’ll probably like this one as well.