Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Directed by Robert Hall [Other horror films: Laid to Rest (2009), Fear Clinic (2014)]

Well, the first Laid to Rest wasn’t amazing, but it did enough to keep the movie memorable. This movie had the gore that you might hope for, but the story wasn’t that great whatsoever.

I don’t care for organizations of killers, so when we find out Chromeskull has backers and a small group of people working for him, my interest in this sequel went down to about zero. Make no mistake, the gore is decently solid, and there were some rather gruesome scenes here (such as the face reconstruction at the beginning), but unlike the first movie, which had a story that fit with the killer, this one threw in elements I didn’t care for at all.

Honestly, that’s about all I have. The gore was fine, but I didn’t like much about the story. Few characters really stood out, and I thought the post-credit scene (starring the Wife of Chromeskull) was just pointless, bordering on idiotic.

The first movie isn’t great, but I think it far surpasses this one, and I probably wouldn’t recommend this one to anyone. It’s not even a particularly poor movie, but I didn’t care for the story, and no amount of gore can make up for that.

5/10

This is one of the films covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If you want to hear Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one, please listen below.

Swamp Shark (2011)

Directed by Griff Furst [Other horror films: I Am Omega (2007), Wolvesbayne (2009), 30 Days to Die (2009), Lake Placid 3 (2010), Maskerade (2011), Arachnoquake (2012), Ghost Shark (2013), Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (2013), Starve (2014), Cold Moon (2016), Trailer Park Shark (2017), Nightmare Shark (2018)]

I first saw this some years back during an October Challenge I took part in. As such, I barely remembered any of the specifics, and the movie came across as new, which is probably a good thing, as overall, aside from a somewhat fun cast, this is the normal, sub-par Syfy fare.

It’s some of the performances here that give the movie’s otherwise stilted story and terrible effects more heart than it should. None of them are names I particularly know, but Kristy Swanson (who was in Deadly Friend back in 1986, along with Flowers in the Attic in 1987), Jeff Chase, and D.B. Sweeney all bring a little something to the table. For eye-candy, you have Ashton Leigh (who was in later Syfy films such as American Horror House, Ozark Sharks, and Mississippi River Sharks) and Sophie Sinise (honestly, she actually does pretty good, so she’s definitely more than just ‘eye-candy’). Jason Rogel’s character doesn’t have the character arc I was hoping for, and as much as I tried, I couldn’t see Robert Davi as anything other than a cheap Tommy Lee Jones clone.

So, as one can see, there’s a lot of performances here that, at the very least, stand-out, which is a good thing, given that every other thing the movie does is somewhat laughable.

Really, it’s the special effects that are the worst, though – just look at the scene where the shark jumps up and rips the guy’s head off. The unfortunate thing is that it was probably one of the few scenes of note in the film. I have to give it to the story writers that they did come up with an interesting way to finally kill off the shark (as ridiculous as it is), but that Jaws-inspired scene, I could have done without. The movie’s titled ‘Swamp Shark,’ for God’s sake, it’s not going to be anywhere near Jaws’ level.

Compared to other Syfy shark films, Swamp Shark might actually be a little better, if only because I sort of had a fun time with the group of characters going shark-hunting, and the whole ‘we have to hunt down this shark to save our restaurant’ theme they had going for it. It’s still a below average film, and although I don’t remember how I felt about this one the first time through, it’s one of those movies that I think’s okay, ultimately, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find again.

6/10

The Day (2011)

Day

Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski [Other horror films: Animals (2008), Nurse 3-D (2013)]

This post-apocalyptic flick is a lot of fun (despite the despair of the characters), packed with great gore and action.

Shawn Ashmore, who I mostly recognize from playing Bobby Drake (Iceman) in X2, was an interesting casting choice to lead a band of individuals intent on surviving in a hostile post-apocalyptic environment. It works well, though, and everyone else does pretty good also, from Ashley Bell, who is a total badass, to Cory Hardrict, who, despite being sick, is a damn fun character.

It’s not a fun environment, though. The movie is ultimately very bleak, and that’s demonstrated more so by the very faded color palette used. During flashbacks, the world is colorful and vibrant, full of life, but for most of the movie, the palette is so faded, it almost seems black-and-white, which is an effect that I really liked. That, along with the total brutality of the film (kids get shot and decapitated – say whatever you want, but too few horror films cross that ‘taboo’) shows the desperation of the characters in the film.

Honestly, I can’t think of any big problems I had with the film. The final showdown, taking up the last thirty minutes of the film, was damn brutal, and I loved every second of it. Sure, some of the characters weren’t exactly the best people, but in a post-apocalyptic universe like this, who could blame them?

And on that note, I loved how, unlike many post-apocalyptic films, the antagonists aren’t zombies, or the infected population, or anything of the sort. They’re just other humans, intent on survival also, only willing to go a bit further than most (I’m talking cannibalism). It reminded me a little of Tooth and Nail (2007), though I think the cannibals were more human here. To be honest, I abhorred Tooth and Nail, but it’s been years since I’ve seen it, so maybe it’s not fair to fully comment on it.

I will fully comment on this, though, since I finished it just ten minutes ago at the time of this writing. The Day is a fun, gory, gloomy film. With both strong action and strong gore, I don’t see why there aren’t more enthusiastic reviews about this one out. It has a tepid 5.2/10 on IMDb, and that is something I don’t get. I saw this before, and was afraid that it wouldn’t hold up, but I’m happy to report that it did. A very strong movie, and definitely one that I’d not only watch a third time, but actually purchase.

8.5/10

Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust (2011)

Filth

Directed by Paul Morrell [Other horror films: Huff (2013)]

I think that Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust reached for goals that they couldn’t quite realistically attain, but while the movie is certainly repetitive, I don’t think it’s all that bad. Unfortunately, it’s not particularly good or even memorable.

The special effects were decent. It’s not an overly gory film, but at the same time, they certainly don’t shy away from the good stuff. An okay throat-slitting, a decent decapitation, and a few other highlights exist, and though none are memorable, I think that most of them were competently done. The same could be said for the camerawork, while we’re at it – it was certainly shaky and amateurish, but in the end, it got the job done.

Most of the actors and actresses here didn’t really stand out. Linda Bella acted stoned out of her mind half the time. Allison Ochmanek did a pretty good job playing a racist bitch, almost a little too well. As the main character here, Derrick Bishop was pretty commendable, as was Bianca Lemaire in her role, though I sort of wish she had gotten more screen-time. Our serial killer, played by Nicholas J. Leinbach was moderately threatening, but I don’t think they fleshed his character out nearly as much as they should have.

For the most part, this film could be summed up as “running from killer, fighting, and running again.” Very little in the way of additional story was added. Sure, having one of the characters still getting over the murder of their girlfriend was a bit deeper than the norm, and in fact, some of their scenes had an almost-artistic look to them, but it didn’t combat how repetitive the film started to become.

I’ve got to talk about this, though, and that’s the basis of the film: a serial killer targets those he believes to be inferior, such as minorities and drug addicts. There’s a well-to-do little rich girl who says racist things casually (such as referring to a black friend as a ‘monkey’ behind her back – that kind of bullshit), along with another guy who truly thinks that whites are above blacks and Latinos on the evolutionary ladder. In today’s political climate, I think this movie addresses some pretty heavy topics (and this came out before Trump assisted in heightening racial tension), which was both a surprise and somewhat of an issue. I don’t know if you can accurately look at sociological reasons for racism whilst in the middle of a subpar slasher, but at the same time, I sort of do appreciate the intent.

Filth to Ashes, Flesh to Dust is a movie that has something to say, and that’s somewhat unique for a low-budget slasher film. Certainly, this movie tried to do much more than they reasonably could, but that’s probably something to applaud them for. No doubt, there are some decently-done emotional scenes in the film, especially the finale. But after having seen it twice now, I don’t really think it’s a movie that I would go back to. It’s competently-made, and some aspects are done quite well, but it’s far from the most enthralling piece of cinema.

6/10

Cannibal Feast (2011)

Cannibal Feast

Directed by Carlo Rodriguez [Other horror films: Long Pig (2008), Psycho Killer Attack (2009), Naked Horror: The Movie (2010), Psycho Killer Bloodbath (2011)]

This movie is thoroughly unenjoyable, which leads me to believe another cannibal film from this director, titled Long Pig (2008), is much in the same vein (and honestly, a part of me wonders if Cannibal Feast isn’t some type of edited version of Long Pig, as reviews for Long Pig mention scenes remarkably similar to scenes from this movie).

First things first, none of the characters stand out from each other. Every other girl looks the same, and so when one is killed and captured, you have no idea who exactly it was. Worse, you aren’t given a clear picture of the relationship between the characters. I think there were two girls who were supposed to be sisters, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you who they were. And related, there’s only two names I remember from the movie, and I just finished it ten minutes ago (at the time of the writing of this review).

Also, this is a dark and dingy film. While likely intentional, the way the film was shot really hindered from both potential enjoyment and potential comprehension. There’s one scene with a girl being tortured, while scenes of two girls getting dressed in Halloween costumes are spliced in. I thought that was a flashback, showcasing the tortured girls’ memories of a sister/friend she’ll never see again, but no, those two getting dressed appear later in the movie. I think. Honestly, it’s not clear, and as the movie was atrocious, I don’t really care to examine it too much.

Religious ramblings, cannibals, unanswered questions as to who is actually behind the group who goes out to kill “sinners and hippies,” this movie is a mess. No amount of nudity can fix this (though, in all fairness, there were some occasionally rather attractive women), and the almost plot-less murder and torture and rape with featureless characters was just awful. In all honesty, I only watched this because there were less than five votes for it on IMDb. I regret that choice, as there’s virtually nothing to recommend here.

2/10