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Swamp Zombies!!! (2005)
More fun than some of the reviews led me to believe
I'll admit, this movie was on "Prime", which I have mainly for shipping gifts, so it was essentially "free" for me. Or at least a bonus, so maybe I'm being easier on it than someone who paid for a DVD.
Don't get me wrong, it's not a masterpiece of high production values, but if you've ever wanted to see a Zombie Kung Fu movie, this is it. Some of the fight scenes fall a bit flat, but the ones that stand out are when the character doing the fighting doesn't look like an action hero, but still manages to know some out of the ordinary moves. It's unexpected and fun to see someone you're sure will be a one bite and they're done victim throwing kicks and punches like a pro.
I've noticed some other reviewers comment that black belts should be able to fight more convincingly. I'm sure that in real life they can, but on camera stunt fighting is actually very different from real fighting and much of how well it sells depends on the camera angle and rehearsals to build speed while keeping things safe. Overall, I thought most of the fight sequences were entertaining, if not entirely convincing.
The zombies were plentiful, the plot pretty straight forward, and the pace wasn't bad for a near two hour flick. I'll admit, however, that it did take me three sittings to finish this one. Mostly it was something I switched to when there was nothing else to do or watch.
Many people are correct that Jasmine St. Claire turned in one of the better performances of the movie and many of the cast members had moments when they seemed a bit lost in the dialogue, but that's to be expected of these micro budgeted features. Films like this are like community theatre. They're where aspiring pros cut their teeth and hobbyists play.
There are quite a few scenes when background noise is a distraction between cuts, but one of the big obstacles of no budget is not being able to control your surroundings. When you're shooting on a beach you couldn't afford to rent from the county for the day, if some guy wants to run a weed eater, you can't really stop him.
Like a few others who have commented here in the past, I'd love to see that missing hour of footage.
Old School Monster Fun
I loved this movie. It's sort of a marriage of Octoman and Swamp Thing. I expected the story to go in one direction that was never really explored too deeply, but that's besides the point.
The Muckman looked great and some of the characters were pretty solid, while others were 2 dimensional throw aways, but doesn't that just add to the Drive-in movie sci-fi charm? There was some fantastic miniature work in the movie. A real pleasure to see in today's "do it with computers" world.
The movie isn't scary, but it is fun. In a campy, goofy, watch it with friends and laugh about it later way.
Beast Beneath (2011)
Solid Creature Feature with some odd ends
This movie goes back and forth between horror and "teen quest" with the main characters trying to solve the mystery of an old family map. Overall the story is as good a reason as any to have a monster running around and the main characters are played well. The flashback sequences are excellent. They almost seem to be from a higher budgeted movie, but it may just be that "period piece" footage tends to look more polished when done correctly.
The creature itself isn't show stopping, but he's tough customer and shown sparingly enough to come across well. I like my monsters movies with a monster in them and this one delivers. The beast even has a purpose, although it seems to deviate from its motivation from time to time.
The wrap around story is completely unnecessary to the telling of the tale, with the possible exception that it was needed for feature length run time. The movie also suffers from a common horror movie shortcoming of not knowing it's over. Footage that would been have better used as credits overlay or extra material is used within the movie.
Overall, if you can't get enough of monster movies and SyFy's CG monstrosities are leaving you cold, give this one a spin.
The Dread (2007)
Pretty low on the indie scale, but with its moments
I'm not going to go over the plot much because others have explained what there is of one pretty well. The movie has a lot of dead ends and leaves a lot of things unexplained. These, I feel, were the biggest weaknesses besides the attempt at creating atmosphere with a lack of lighting. Some scenes were spot on in their look, but many were muddy and lacked any detail at all.
A mediocre monster, general gore and acting that was a bit below pro-level all give away the movie's low budget roots. I feel all of these are forgivable though when you consider the short amount of time they apparently had to shoot and the small amount of money. While I'm sure there are many filmmakers who could have done more with $150,000 on a video production budget, I can see how it bogs things down.
Where budget shouldn't be a factor is the screenplay itself. Most of the time I wasn't quite sure what the hell was going on and by the end I just didn't care. There was something about a video game and a monster and a crazy kid who was now an adult. How the monster worked, what his particular powers were or how he chose his victims wasn't important I guess.
So, if you're watching a movie tonight to be scared witless, see Oscar winning performances by actors who had time to connect with their characters, grade-A special F/X or a deep story with rich, full characters, give this one a pass. But, if you like to see monsters dismember people you can fast forward to the fun parts.
Beyond the Rising Moon (1987)
Old F/X doesn't mean bad
I happen to like miniature F/X when done well and while this movie sort of tips its hand that you're looking at miniatures, I liked the overall visual feel. I think some of the F/X were probably handled with very early CG mixed in (if anyone knows I'd be interested to know). There are some decent "dog fights" between the spaceships and a few good action sequences.
Overall, where the movie's lower budget showed through in my mind, was with the audio and acting. The one thing that can'e be chalked up to it having been done over 20 years ago is the acting. At times it just screams "B-movie!", but as another reviewer said, that adds to the charm. If you like older sci-fi and movies with their own stylized atmosphere, you'll probably enjoy this film.
A Movie by Zombie Nerds for Zombie Nerds
I'm not being mean calling the director, Thomas Gleba, a nerd. He writes for a website NerdRemix.com, so I'm thinking he proudly considers himself a film nerd. And it shows in this movie.
For anybody who ever said, "You can't make a movie for under $100", this movie is a slap in the face. It proves you CAN make a movie for under $100, get change and get the movie festival play.
Okay, so if you're looking for a technical masterpiece, move on. This has a lot of the no-budget movie pitfalls. No budget means: no lights, no audio guy and very few experience actors. Gleba was smart enough to shoot most of his horror movie during the day, using wooded areas, a great old barn or wooden shed and a cemetery to create atmosphere rather than moody lighting he couldn't have achieved with the equipment he had. Although one shot does sport a great overexposure that's used to good effect.
There's a story here too. A pretty cool plot line about a crack addict and radioactive meteors she gets a hold of instead of drugs. Some cameo performances done with an ingenious video chat plot device help to round out the story and bring us some important plot points. What are those plot points? Watch the movie! Seriously, you know, the basics, like where the Zombitch came from, how to kill her. Stuff like that.
There's some real humor in the movie, including one rant by the other host of NerdRemix, Derek Huey.
You may notice, I didn't give the movie a "Star Number" review. A movie with technical limitations shouldn't suffer from a low number review when it still manages to be entertaining and show heart. So, that's the review I wrote. Just for a few of the lines alone it's worth a watch. If you're a fan of the zombie sub-genre I think you'll enjoy it even more.
Merc Force (2003)
More ambition than budget, but a fun ride
I have to think that a lot of people miss the humor in this one. Yes, the special F/X are hokey, but in 2003 (probably more like 2001 and 2002 for post-production) home computers weren't the i7 8GB machines we have now. Even the video-game looking F/X and CG sets in this movie took a LOT of work, I'm sure.
Let's look at we do have: An interesting, if not totally unique cast of characters Androids, Cyborgs, a machine race and a floating tank Automatic weapons fire. Laser battles Space Battles Surprise super-human powers And Humor throughout
On the negative side, the audio was atrocious at times, but that's sort of par for the course with these "shot on video with money I could have used to buy a pre-owned Ford Festiva" type of movies.
There's at least one great fight scene.
The whole thing sort of plays like a pilot that was never picked up. Plot lines come in at strange times, we feel like there's a lot more to learn about all of the characters and you can help but think that with 2 or 3 million dollars and an entire studio behind them the filmmakers could have made an excellent TV premiere.
Colour from the Dark (2008)
An Atmospheric, Suspenseful Drama
"Colour From the Dark" is an indie project from Italy, shot in English, based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, "The Colour Out of Space". Some of the details have been changed, but the movie does an excellent job of capturing the overall mood and atmosphere of Lovecraft's short.
The cinematography in this film is definitely a step above what you'd expect from low budget horror. Coupled with strong performances and effective visual F/X the movie manages to draw you into the lives of two families living in a small village during WWII. This scenario creates many opportunities for tension as the movie slowly builds to its second half.
By the middle of the movie the pace really picks up and things start to happen. Debbie Rochon gets to flex her acting muscles as her character goes through a major metamorphosis and the blood starts to spill.
All in all "Colour from the Dark" provides a visually stunning and entertaining 90 minutes of viewing.
Witchouse 3: Demon Fire (2001)
Beautifully shot B Suspense Flick
This is a solidly acted movie, with some unexpected turns. Most of all it is shot beautifully. For a low budget film the use of location is wonderful. Nothing is wasted. Debbie Rochon gives a sterling performance, but there really isn't a weak link in the acting chain in this movie as far I'm concerned.
The suspense builds well if you're paying attention. If you're just watching the clock waiting for the next nude scene you may be drawn in enough to feel the tension. All of the "slow build up" people are talking about is character development. I did feel, however, by the end there wasn't anyone left to like enough to care whether or not they died.
It's not a formula movie and sometimes deviating from the formula disappoints people, but if you go in with an open mind that this isn't your average B horror, you may just enjoy watching it.
Filmmakers especially will appreciate the lensing of this feature.
Kill the Scream Queen (2004)
Not as bad as it's being made out to be
While I was watching this movie I never thought I'd be defending it. It's honest enough from the begininning about not having much of a plot. There's no real characters to latch onto except the killer. Some of the acting can be better, but most of it is capable.
I know, a three out of ten isn't stellar, but there are reviews saying it was shot poorly and completely useless, etc. I think it set out to do what it's supposed to fairly well. The lighting is minimal at times, more natural than most audiences are used to, but it's supposed top look like a camcorder snuff film. In fact, at times the quality is probably still too high to be true to that, but nobody would make it through tne minutes of camera work that's truly that bad.
It's not particularly scary, but it is disturbing at times. There are one or two characters who don't come across as believable at all and the soundtrack does get tiring at times, but overall it was put together cleaner than a lot of camcorder movies.
Definitely worth a watch.
I got this movie as part of the "Tomb or Terrors" 50 pack. It's one of the more worthwhile titles on there. The acting can be stiff at times, but that plays to the 40's noir style of some of the characters. The F/X are "hokey" to the right degree and overall it's a fun story, with some likable characters, a fairly high body count and good pace.
The movie is shot very well the budget range I would guess it's in. The audio has it's moments of imperfections, but nothing that causes you to miss lines. If you like indie horror to begin with I think you'll enjoy this one.
I'd like to see a sequel.
Good old fashioned drive-in fun
OK, it's obvious the budget on this movie wasn't huge...or big...or enough even, but I'm a sucker for rubber-suit monster flicks and Aquanoids delivers. It's shot well and the sound is clean most of the time. Some things don't make much sense, but it's about sea monsters, so leave your disbelief at the door, make some popcorn and give the DVD a spin.
If you think the old Doctor Who episodes are too schlocky looking, or the monsters in Space 1999 ruin the plot line, then this movie probably isn't for you.
If you want some gore, nudity, an above average for this type of movie plot and a cool looking monster than you'll probably enjoy Aquanoids. I'm not saying to run out and buy it, but it certainly worth an online rental for monster fans.
I liked it, but I liked Alien Factor a lot too.
OK, so I have a soft spot for low budget indie movies with typical 70's effects.
Alien Factor, the director's first movie, seemed to me to have one major problem: It was much bigger than its budget. The story had too much to accomplish. It seems to me that with Fiend writer/director, Don Dohler realized that a "smaller" movie would be better suited to his resources.
The script is pure genius at staying within its means. The main cast and locations are kept simple, the F/X aren't stupendous but they do the job and the storyline is out there enough to keep it interesting.
If you like movies with heart that just want to entertain you for 90 minutes or so, FIEND may be worth a watch. It's certainly worth having on your online video rental list or picking up on the cheap at a convention.
If you're looking for tons of gore and naked women, this one's not for you. In fact, big scares aren't really present either, but it did illicit a certain nostalgic feeling for me.
Doctor Who: Love & Monsters (2006)
Worst ep of the season, but still good TV
When this episode first started I was sure I was going to like it. ELO Music, well done use of footage from previous episodes and a cool monster.
Then it goes off on the development of LINDA, which was fun for a few minutes, but continued a few minutes past that. Just when I thought all was going to be lost, they introduce the antagonist and things pick up again.
If this episode had ended either of the two times I thought it had I would have been happier, but the attempt at a "happy ending" and closing joke just seemed to weaken the whole episode for me, not to mention that the main threat was played too much like the fat delivery guy from Austin Powers.
Overall it was entertaining, but not what I wanted from a Who episode. If things had gone differently for some of the characters I may have expected a spin off show.
Cemetery Gates (2006)
I like Monster Movies and this is no exception
Wow! This movie was great...in a cheesy, guy in a monster suit kinda' way. (Which is the best way).
A mutated Tasmanian Devil grows to gigantic proportions and goes on a killing spree. The creature design is cool...and not CGI (Yippee!) It's not the best monster suit ever made (That would be either the wolves from The Howling or The Creature from the Black Lagoon), but the filmmakers are not afraid to show it and after it awhile it grows on you and starts to sell better, which is rare.
The gore is unparalleled. More blood comes out of the victims in this movie than a human body can hold.
And the beastie is strong and the director made sure the audience knows it. I like that. I think monsters should have a destructive power that natural animals can't match. They should flip over cars, lift giant boulders, crash through walls or in the case of Cemetery Gate, toss victims around like rag dolls.
Oh...and for those who care, there's multiple incidents of nudity. It's repetitive nudity, but believe me, you won't be bored by it. I tend to agree with the idea this director seemed to have, quality is far more important than quantity.
It's fun for fans of monsters and gore, who can overlook budgetary constraints.
As a dollar bin DVD it's worth it
I haven't seen this in quite some time, but when my wife spotted the DVD in the $1.50 bin at a party store (and then 50% off because it was after Christmas) it seemed like a no-brawnier. The title, "Meet Mr Kringle" was used, but the photo is from the theatrical 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. That is more than a little misleading, but I wanted to know if this was the TV version I had seen so many years ago and it was worth 75 cents to find out. If you're interested in owning a little part of early remake history troll the $1 bins at your local Wal-Mart or Target or check the DVD's at the Dollar stores.
Song of the Vampire (2001)
The "Chick Flick" elements make it a good date movie
Overall I thought this was pretty good movie. I'll admit, I like Denice Duff, but her contributions to the cinematography on this were outstanding.
As far as being a bit of a "Chick Flick", I agree that it had its moments, but it had some good violence and humor too. Enough of a mix that I was able to watch it with my wife. Usually when I watch indie horror she curls up with a book or just takes a nap.
The acting was solid and for the most part the production values are good. I suspect a larger budget would have allowed for dailies that would have caught that mic, but alas, catching it in post makes it near impossible to re-shoot on a low budget, especially once they realized how difficult cutting in the video footage would have been. (I think 24p HD would be a great choice for the sequel and solve a lot of problems) A movie worth a watch for vampire fans or fans of Denice Duff (she's easy on the eyes). Love the credit about the slipper as well.
Sasquatch Hunters (2005)
Better than a lot of the competition
This isn't the best Bigfoot ever made, but by the recent standards of Nature gone awry movies, mostly showing on the Sci-Fi channel, this is quality stuff. It has some action, some humor, decent F/X and Bigfoot. CG is used, but so are some practical F/X, which I like.
Overall this movie is worth a watch if you are a fan of B horror/sci-fi and need a fix. It's better than the movie Sasquatch and not a sequel to it, so don't be fooled.
The acting is better than you may expect to find in a movie like this and the directing is more than adequate. Expect a bit of a lul as the characters are "developed", but know that things will pick up. If you are watching a DVD you may want to skip a chapter or two.
The Hazing (2004)
Good Not so Scary Fun
I give it high marks because I think it achieves its goal. It's funny and just a little scary because you really don't want (most) of the characters to die. I thought this was pretty good for what it was. And as stated before, Tiffany Shepis in that spacesuit makes the time go by quickly.
There was one or two plot holes (maybe more), but if you care about that sort of thing more than laughing or watching blood splatter this probably isn't the movie for you.
Apparently I have to write more of my post is too short. If it's on cable, watch it. If you are trying to break a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse/buddy into B horror, this is a nice way to start.
Decent horror, bad adaptation
The F/X and plot in this movie are what you would expect in a straight to video low budget flick, but the character is handled badly in my opinion. In fact, Man-Thing seems to have little character at all. Maybe I missed something, but it left me disappointed.
I thought the creature design, on the other hand was very good and true to form for a screen adaptation. If you're a fan of the comic, you probably won't like this much, but if you're just looking for a monster movie and don't mind waiting around for a good look at the beastie than this movie should suit you fine.
Remember, I produce shorts because I have a short attention span, so the pace may not seem so slow to you.
Oh, and having been to FL "swamps", they did build a rather convincing recreation.