Siodmak (2012)

Siodmak o

Directed by Nicholas Ortiz [Other horror films: N/A]

This came as a surprise on a few different levels. Firstly, I was amazed I could find the film at all – on IMDb, it had just seven ratings [Edit: it now has nine, so it hasn’t moved much], which doesn’t generally an easy find make. But seconds later, boom – it’s on YouTube, put up by the production company. Needless to say, I was pleased.

Siodmak is a simple story, but told in a more complex way. A serial killer has been hunting in New York City for decades, and the only one who believes in his existence is a video blogger, Nick LaRosa, whom no one takes seriously. But with the help of NYPD officer Angel Vega, who has had a tragic run-in with the serial killer, they soon discover some things weren’t meant to be pried into. This is interspersed with scenes a day later, after the events that transpired, and focus on a medical examiner’s examination of the killer, and learning about what brought him here. It’s a more unique way to tell the story, and overall, I think it worked.

While the production was low, I think that most scenes were shot pretty well, and some in unique ways (a sequence near the end, with a reddish-auburn tint, comes to mind). As far as actors go, Masha Mendieta (Vega), Kit Lang (LaRosa), Russell Jordan (Dr. Feliz, Vega’s psychiatrist), Krista Chandlee (the medical examiner), Madison Idoate Candelario (Vega’s niece), and Michael Valentine (the killer) all stood out, doing a solid job.

Jordan, as the psychiatrist, had an almost Colin Salmon-feel to him. Mendieta and Lang, despite their short screen time together, really worked well, and had some of those small human elements that sometimes go amiss in bigger budget films. The killer, known as the New York Ripper, had a Michael Myers aura to him, helped by his featureless mask, which I rather enjoyed.

The music present was decent also – near the end, a record player can be heard playing hits such as “I Wanna Be Loved By You” (famously lip synced by Baby in House of 1000 Corpses) and “Hush, Hush, Hush (Here Comes The Boogie Man)” (from the credits of Jeepers Creepers), which was a nice touch.

For as much as I liked it, though, a few problems need be addressed, one being the run-time. Siodmak is one hour and fifty minutes long (or 110 minutes) – it’s not a short movie, easy to digest. Siodmak makes you work for it. Many of the scenes are interesting, but after the third flashback or the finale taking the last thirty-five minutes, it might come across as a bit much.

There were also a few unanswered questions, not to mention what came across to me as a Hollywood ending which I was both disappointed but somewhat unsurprised by. A few audio issues were present, but that wasn’t that much a deterrent. For what gore there was, I thought it was decent, though the focus of Siodmak wasn’t gore, but the story told.

This movie was an interesting find. Was it an amazing movie? Not really. The story, while told in an interesting manner, wasn’t overly original. That said, Siodmak is one lower-budget film that should have gotten more attention. Some surprising kills also stand out, a few I certainly wasn’t expecting. It’s a decent, above-average film, if you can get through the lengthy run-time.

7.5/10

Jurassic Attack (2013)

Jurassic Attack

Directed by Anthony Fankhauser [Other horror films: Tsunami Beach Club (2008), 8213: Gacy House (2010)]

This is a very generic film about military men getting trapped in a lost world – a crater in which dinosaurs exist still.

Truth be told, I’ve not much to say about this. The CGI dinosaurs were some of the worst I’ve seen. The CGI blood was even more cringe worthy. Acting and story was nothing worth writing home about whatsoever. Lastly, most of the characters were thoroughly unlikable – in fact, I’m hard-pressed coming up with one I even sort of liked, and there weren’t that many characters in the movie to begin with.

Jurassic Attack can be fun at times – I mean, seeing terribly made CGI dinosaurs chase after terrible actors, how can you not have fun, especially with alcohol and weed? If I had to describe it in a short phrase, though, I’d simply call it overly generic. And seeing it twice was definitely too much.

4/10

Ghosts Don’t Exist (2010)

Ghosts Don't Exist

Directed by Eric Espejo [Other horror films: N/A]

This surprised me. I’ve not heard of this film before I watched it – it’s one of those post-2005 horror films that slipped through my fingers. Which makes sense, really – supernatural movies, especially ghost films, have never been my favorite. But Ghosts Don’t Exist was a pretty decent, if not a bit generic, movie.

Acting was okay all around – nothing too special. I did rather enjoy Josh Davidson’s character (a rather arrogant skeptic), and the lead, an emotionally-unstable ghost hunter, was also well-played by Phillip Roebuck. The story, like I alluded to earlier, isn’t overly original: it comes across as a ghost story, but some elements certainly make us question if everything is as it seems. About three-fourths into the film, actually, a plot twist rears it’s head, and I have to admit, I rather liked it. It was reminiscent of a 2004 Japanese film I rather enjoy, truth be told.

I liked the movie before the twist came about, but afterwards, it just got better. Problematically, though, the movie runs for an hour and 40 minutes, which, while was mostly okay, still seemed a bit lengthy. Ten to fifteen minutes could have been cut out, and we’d probably still be fine. Regardless, while generic in some ways, the last ten-ish minutes were rather atypical – I certainly didn’t see it coming, especially from a modern horror film. Ghosts Don’t Exist isn’t amazing, but it did surprise me, and I liked it well enough.

7.5/10

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)

Birdemic Shock and Terror

Directed by James Nguyen [Other horror films: Birdemic 2: The Resurrection (2013)]

I’ve not seen this film before, but I’ve long heard it was a doozy, and boy, is it ever.

I won’t go into all that’s wrong about this movie. The meandering first half, focusing on a boring individuals’ romantic life for the first 48 minutes. The clearly computer-animated birds, and the fact that they somehow have the ability to dive bomb into buildings and blow up. The stilted acting and atrocious dialogue. The minute-long scene of people clapping. The stock music on repeat. The prolonged ending. About everything that could go wrong in a movie went wrong here.

I’ll say one positive thing about this movie: the actress who played Natalie, Whitney Moore, was pretty attractive. She couldn’t act worth shit, but she did do far better than Alan Bagh, who gave one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a while. And the constant talking about going green, and solar panels, and preventing global warming. Obviously, I’m all for these things, but come on, tone it down. This movie is not helping the case to go green whatsoever.

Aside from the pretty Moore, this movie is an embarrassment. Definitely a movie to watch with a bunch of friends while drunk or high, but that’s about it. Still, as bad as it is, you will definitely be amused, which is why it’s not getting a lower rating.

3/10

Hate Crime (2012)

Hate Crime

Directed by James Cullen Bressack [Other horror films: My Pure Joy (2011), Theatre of the Deranged (2012, segments ‘Andy’s Theatre of Deranged’ & ‘Speak Easy’), 13/13/13 (2013), To Jennifer (2013), Theatre of the Deranged II (2013, segment ‘Unmimely Demise’), Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (2014), Pernicious (2014), Grindsploitation (2016, segment ‘Dr. Suess’s There’s a Wocket in My Pocket’), Bethany (2017), Welcome to Hell (2018, segment ‘Family Time’), Virus of the Dead (2018, segment ‘Routine Stop’)]

The plot of this found footage film is simple. A Jewish family (mother, father, and three children) are new to the neighborhood, and are attacked by three brutal Neo-Nazis.

We have some pretty shocking scenery in this film, the two most shocking being the surprising death of a character early on and one of the male children being forced to rape his mother. There’s an eye-gouging in there too, along with a swastika being burned into a boy’s cheek, but the two scenes I mentioned before strike me as far more brutal. Really, there’s not much going on here – the break-in happens literally two minutes into the movie, and from there on out, it’s a bloodbath.

The three perpetrators are despicable people (and on cocaine half the time), and their actors do the job well. The family is sympathetic not because we know much about them, but because of the heinous acts being done toward them (during the credits, though, we’re given a little glimpse into the family via video of them moving to their new house).

My one gripe is the ending – after all of this is done, we’re presented with the “This video was found by someone. Those who committed these crimes were arrested, and are facing multiple life sentences.” Instead of playing it off as the movie it is, they make it out to be a real-life event, which just annoys the hell of out me. If found footage movies stopped using this tactic as much as they seem to, I’d be a much happier guy.

Hate Crime is a shocking film, no doubt. I got very little joy out of watching it. It does what it means to (at the end, it lists some statistics on hate crimes), but it’s not a movie that you’d watch multiple times, I feel. Just once is enough.

6.5/10

The Hornet’s Sting and the Hell It’s Caused (2014)

The Hornet

Directed by Dustin Mills [Other horror films: The Puppet Monster Massacre (2010), Zombie A-Hole (2012), Night of the Tentacles (2013), Bath Salt Zombies (2013), Easter Casket (2013), Trashtastic Trailers from the Underground (2013), Skinless (2013), Theatre of the Deranged II (2013, segment ‘PlateFace’), Kill That Bitch (2014), Her Name Was Torment (2014), Snuffet (2014), Applecart (2015), Invalid (2015), Halloween Spookies (2015), Her Name Was Torment 2 (2016), Ouija: Blood Ritual (2017), Benny and Steve Almost Die (2017), The Hornet’s Disciple and the Scars She Left (2018)]

At the time I saw this, IMDb didn’t have a plot for this movie, and only 53 people had rated it. More so, it’s only an hour long. So what I was getting into, I had absolutely no idea.

When I started this film, I didn’t even know for sure I was watching the right thing. The title screen doesn’t pop up until 13 minutes in, and before that, you have an amateur actress being interviewed and then stripped nude and tied up at gunpoint. In fact, for about 50 minutes of this hour-long movie, nudity is present. And I do mean full nudity. Both males and females, though admittedly focusing on females.

The story is simple, once you get past the opening 13 minutes – a photographer named Rose abducts women and men, sexually abuses and tortures them, and sells the photos she takes to clients of hers. Now, that said, while scenes can sometimes be grueling to get through, outright violence is, generally speaking, low. A woman forced to use a pair of scissors to cut into one side of her cheek was about the worst we got (which was filmed in a way to make me cringe, I admit).

This movie isn’t all nudity and sexual abuse, though – there are some cleverly filmed scenes, and in fact, good usage of animation about half-way through the movie. Dustin Mills, the director, certainly has an artistic streak, and while it popped up only a handful of times, they were definitely noticeable. One note, the nudity, while constant, was very rarely titillating, which in a movie like this, I can say is only a positive thing.

The story here isn’t that strong, and delving into our characters, the few there are, isn’t really done, so it’s sort of hard to get a good feel for them. It’s for that reason why the ending could come across as slightly controversial (in a movie filled of sexual abuse and torture, it’s the ending I find controversial – ironic, I know). For an extremely low budget film, I think that this did what it was trying to do, but it’s just not my type of thing. Artistic scenes really helped out out though.

6/10

Piranha 3D (2010)

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Directed by Alexandre Aja [Other horror films: Haute tension (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Horns (2013), Crawl (2019)]

I don’t think anyone would claim this movie amazing, or I hope no one would, anyway. But it does accomplish it’s goal, and that’s to entertain the hell out of the audience.

Most of the characters are annoying idiots, but as half of them get eaten in the fantastic piranha rampage about halfway through the movie, I can’t rightly hold it against them. Some of the characters are solid, though – Sheriff Forester does all she can to both ensure the safety of her own children and her community. Deputy Fallon goes all out in trying to save people during the rampage. Jake’s valiant attempts to save Kelly, a character herself who sort of got pulled into this whole thing, show him a person of high worth. So we have some solid people, who I feel make up well for the Derricks of the world.

The gore in the movie, at least to me, is the biggest selling point, and I feel they did pretty well. The aforementioned massacre has long been a favorite scene of mine – the blood, the chaos, all done so wonderfully. The nudity’s a bit less captivating, but I can only imagine it’d help pull some more people in to watch the film. Overall, this second Piranha remake (after the 1995 failure few recall) is quite enjoyable for what it is. It’s not amazing, not to me, but it does what it set out to do, and that’s all I can ask.

7.5/10