Formulaic B-movie horror flick about a group of 20-somethings that venture into the Australian wilderness with their anthropologist friend, Dace (played the very buff and very sexy Wil Traval), to study an ancient cave painting. It’s paced well and it’s not too long into the movie that Chad’s free-spirited girlfriend, Mel, begins a horrific transformation into a frenzied predator that stalks them one by one.
For the gorehounds, there are rocks bashing heads in, teeth falling out, flesh ripping, cannibalism, and much more. Veteran horror fans, it’s nothing you haven’t witnessed before. The film borders on cheesy but, I have to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie until the last 20 minutes or so, when the special effects department decided to throw in some hokey CGI and a bizarre attempted impregnation scene between Anja and a seven foot cave-dwelling slug.
Primal isn’t so much scary as it is intense. There are quite a few white knuckle moments, as well as a couple of holy shit, what the hell was that scenes that will stun and amuse you. It’s almost devoid of gratuitous nudity since Mel’s transformation from cute blond chick to ravenous killer with three inch fangs happens fairly quickly (sorry, men).
Definitely not recommended to the squeamish type or the casual viewer. If you liked movies like Cabin Fever and The Ruins, you may get a kick out of this return to Ozploitation from writer/director, Josh Reed.
This has all of my favorite elements of a low-budget below B-movie horror flick – a cast of unknown actors and actresses, a rookie director, a budget of however many bills and coins said director could fit in both jeans pockets, and a film poster/DVD cover that quickly triggers a WTF reaction. The tagline, The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Hostel, should have had me running for the hills but I couldn’t resist the cute and cuddly hillbilly porker with the pitchfork. Until tonight, I was a hogsploitation virgin and there’s no purity in that.
It seems those crazy scientists are doing the Devil’s work again. This time, they’re performing sick and twisted experiments, slicing and dicing up swine and then splicing their DNA with humans’ for the sole purpose of… entertainment? The viewer is never given comprehensive details as to why there would be any intelligent purpose to create a porcine-human mutant and it’s probably for the best, considering there is no reason convincing enough. Lo and behold, the lab’s dubious creatures end up slaughtering their creators and abandoning the compound they’d been confined to in favor of a nearby abandoned farm. He-pig and she-pig and their mischievous midget son have quite a mean streak, taking delight in abducting poor folks who have the misfortune of traveling through them their parts.
A trio of band members, Mark, Travis, and Tom, Travis’s ditzy and well-endowed groupies, and Valerie, the band’s manager, are kidnapped and made to await their demise in chickenwire prisons. The movie is tolerable up to this point, thanks to some good suspenseful, nail-biting scenes, and of course, healthy doses of blood-soaked innards and dismembered limbs. What destroys Squeal is the insufferable screaming, bawling, and the God-awful, over-emphasized hyperventilating from all but one of the characters. At some point, the director has a duty to step in and squeeze two fingers together in a gesture that says, “Tone it down, waaaaay down.”
Other than that, the make-up (aka a pig nose and body hair) is decent, the acting is not that bad, and the DIY special effects are decent. A lot of the gore and violence is shot right outside the camera’s view and, besides a brief sex scene and a pair of naked knockers, this is something one would expect to see on the Chiller channel late at night. Even though I rated it low, this was a hundred times better than I expected it to be and is actually more watchable than most of the drivel on the SyFy channel. I’ve seen worse movies, horror or otherwise, with a much higher budget. Michael Bay, anyone?
Three children (Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passilas, and Mary Tsoni) live a sheltered existence with their parents (Christos Stergioglou and Michele Valley) who control them to the extreme in order to protect them from the rest of society. They invent an older brother who, they tell the children, ventured outside the confines of the estate and was killed by a vicious, flesh eating cat. The parents improvise new definitions for words like sea (an armchair) and zombie (little yellow flower) to further isolate them from anything beyond their bizarre, manipulated microcosm.
The children’s only link to the outside world is Christina (Anna Kalaintzidou), a security guard at the father’s workplace, who is paid to relieve the son of his sexual urges. One day, Christina offers a present to the oldest daughter but she is obligated to give her something in return – oral sex. The family structure starts to unravel once Christina is gone and the oldest daughter is forced to replace her role as the son’s personal prostitute. Whatever cruel punishment her father exacts, the oldest daughter isn’t deterred from rebelling and, eventually, going to great lengths to gain her freedom.
Dogtooth, original Greek title of Kynodontas, is shocking and depraved. This is not for most people and most definitely not for anyone under the age of 18. With multiple sex scenes (a few including incest and a very graphic fellatio clip from a pornographic video tape), an act of animal cruelty, violence and bloodshed, child abuse, and full frontal male and female nudity, this is not for the casual viewer. It seems the only debauchery left out of the film is bestiality (thank goodness).
The dialog is painful to endure at times but the acting is kind of hypnotic. In fact, it’s hard to stop watching entirely because of how inappropriate and insane the movie is. It plays out in a silly fashion with the lies the parents tell the children elevating to absurdity for their own selfish desires (e.g., Frank Sinatra is their grandfather so they have a reason to listen to his records).
For me, the highlight of Dogtooth is when the two daughters dance for the parents, who are celebrating their anniversary, while the son strums an expressive tune on the guitar. An innocent, reverent dance with her younger sister turns into a frenzied solo interpretation of Flashdance that becomes so intense, she’s ordered by her mother to stop. Imagine contestants on shows like America’s Got Talent or So You Think You Can Dance who are aired only because their dancing is so horrendous, so hilarious, so over-the-top, but so full of spirit that it must be witnessed.
Mary and Max is a multi-award winning animation that chronicles the relationship between Mary Daisy Dinkle (Toni Collette), a young, insecure girl in Australia who is the only daughter of an alcoholic mother and a neglectful father, and Max Jerry Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an overweight, panic-ridden man in New York. One day, Mary picks the first name she finds in a phone book and sends a letter, along with a chocolate bar, prompting a decades long correspondence of letters and chocolate treats. Although Max has longed for a real friend (his imaginary friend sits on a stool reading all day), Mary’s sensitive questions propel him into anxiety attacks, one so severe he ends up in a mental institution.
Many years pass with no mail from Max. In between waiting for word from him, Mary becomes smitten with the next door neighbor boy, Damien (Eric Bana), and continues helping her agoraphobic neighbor, Len. Considering advice from his therapist, he finally writes to Mary and confides in her that he has Asperger’s Syndrome which affects his social interaction. She decides to enter into university to study mental disorders and ends up penning a highly acclaimed book with Max as her case study. The news is not well-received by Max and he cuts off communication with her, which sends Mary into a drug-induced, drunken stupor (after shredding her hard work to pieces and damning her career). On the verge of suicide, she wonders if Max will ever forgive her.
Let me immediately point out that this is not for young children or tweens. Don’t be wooed by the cartoon cover art or pictures of adorable Mary Daisy Dinkle with her clunky glasses and red barrette. It’s a complicated tale meant for adults. If you are unable to process rather gloomy, disheartening material without being able to bounce back emotionally, avoid this movie. Aside from the celebration of enduring friendship, there isn’t much to smile about. Alcoholism, mental illness, loneliness, pill popping, heartbreak, four deaths, overeating, involuntary manslaughter, schoolyard bullying… a small list of the obstacles the characters struggle to overcome.
The animation is beautifully done and the characters are a peculiar, quirky bunch with a myriad of flaws but endearing in their own ways. The stop-motion figures on the screen breathe life, full of raw, human emotion in such a profound manner, it can be a distressing, suffocating experience. That’s balanced with some incredibly kooky humor. The storyline flows effortlessly but, ultimately, it won’t appeal to a wider audience. High praise for writer and director, Adam Elliot, for having a unique vision and sticking to his guns. There has been mixed reviews on Barry Humphries’ narration. Personally, I found his voice very soothing.
This film appeases two long-time love affairs, claymation and stop-motion. It tickled my funny bone at the right moments but it was too melancholy, even for me.
A hard-nosed journalist, Carmen (Cindy Sampson, Supernatural), her boyfriend, Marcus (Aaron Ashmore, Smallville), and an intern, Sara (Meghan Heffern, Almost Heroes), travel to Alvania to investigate the disappearance of Eric Taylor, the last person of many reported to have vanished after visiting the small Polish village. In the distance is a large patch of dense fog hovering above the forest, the same phenomenon documented in Eric’s journal. The three of them make their way to the woods, only to be confronted by a group of men who dissuade the trio to proceed any further.
However, Carmen convinces Marcus and Sara to examine the fog following a confession that her boss thinks she and Sara are back in the states covering a scoop on bees. Her career is ruined if she doesn’t return with a killer story. Sara enters the fog first and then Carmen, while Marcus stays just beyond the fog’s edge. At different times, both women stumble upon a menacing statue, seemingly serving no purpose other than to scare the bejesus out of anyone who has the misfortune to encounter it.
After fleeing the fog, all three are hunted down by the same men who warned them to leave. Marcus is forced by gunpoint to dig his own grave while Carmen and Sara are brought to a secret sacrificial chamber, stripped of all of their clothing and made to wear the same white gown that they found the deceased Eric dressed in. This is the point of the movie where I almost shut it off, presuming it to be another torture porn flick. That may be your thing but it’s not mine.
It turns out that this low-budget horror movie written and directed by Jon Knautz is a well-crafted thriller with better acting than most of its genre, with the exception of Ashmore who appears really damn angry about everything throughout the entire film. The build is slow but those who have the tenacity to stick it through will be rewarded. This is sincerely a creepy movie with the right amounts of fright and gore.
Speaking of gore, there are a couple of scenes in particular that may give you the dry heaves if you’re not a horror veteran but if you can handle a film like the The Ruins, you can survive The Shrine. I’d endorse this flick to mainstream audiences who want to watch a horror movie now and then to experience some cheap scares without sex/nudity/torture.
Willa Holland plays April who runs off to Hollywood to escape from her sleazy step-father. There, she is introduced to an even sleazier fellow, a photographer who offers her cash to pose naked for the camera. She does what she has to in order to survive, as do Nathan, a farm boy from Nebraska who dreams of being a dancer, and Sammy, an aspiring singer.
The only person to make this film interesting is the gorgeous Vinessa Shaw. She plays Sally St. Clair, Internet nudie turned tough-as-nails real estate agent who has a soft spot for teenage drifters, especially ones who will tend to her marijuana plants. The other characters seem to wander through life aimlessly, casting shame and good sense aside while avoiding, entertaining, or humoring their predators.
Garden Party is a plain movie with equally plain characters that starts off painfully slow. It never fully satisfies. Certain vignettes end abruptly and new ones are introduced haphazardly. If anything, this film serves as a warning to young people with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. It isn’t a fairytale journey and the Big Bad Wolf is lurking around every corner.