Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Corin Nemec, Miriam McDonald, Daniel Wisler, Gary Hudson
Directed by Paul Ziller
Sea Beast. Wow. What a creative title. What’s our movie about? A beast from the sea? Hmmm… What are we going to call it? Water Monster? Nah. Not snazzy enough. How about Sea Beast? Winner!
Would you believe that before Sea Beast came to be known as Sea Beast, the original title was… Troglodyte? But aren’t troglodytes primitive cavemen-like hominids that have more in common physically with Sasquatch than the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Words I’m fairly certain that have never before been used to describe a troglodyte: aquatic, reptilian, fishy, webbed-fingers, gill-breathing, egg-laying, amphibious. Now if they wanted to get cheeky like with Mansquito and title the film Froglodyte, better believe I could have gotten behind that. Hell, title a movie Froglodyte, and I’ll give it a rave review just based on the title alone.
That at one time the title of a film about a deep sea fish monster was Troglodyte leads me to suspect that either there were radical changes made during the creative process or nobody involved initially had any comprehension of what a troglodyte is. The latter is entirely possible when you consider we are talking about a Sci-Fi Channel original movie; for them, science is merely the mouthful of chewing tobacco to be spat every two weeks into the visual chaw cup that is their Saturday night original movie time slot.
In retrospect, Sea Beast is a perfectly acceptable and rather appropriate title for a monster movie as unimaginative as this. An amphibious man-eating monster from the deepest dregs of the ocean arrives in a perpetually overcast fishing village and goes on a killing spree with its recently hatched little ones. That’s all she wrote, folks. Monsters go after people with zero depth and little personality. People with zero depth and little personality go after monsters. People with zero depth and little personality die. Monsters die. Rinse and repeat for 90 minutes. Never a total bore yet never anything more than what it is, which isn’t much.
Director Paul Ziller covered this same territory for the Sci-Fi Channel last year with Loch Ness Terror. That creature feature possessed a peppier pace, a lighter tone, and was considerably more fun to watch. It may have been by-the-numbers, but the numbers added up to something that clicked. I liked the concept of the sea beast they came up with there enough to be entertained by its monstrous antics while still wishing it was the star of a movie with a little more ambition than its uber generic title suggests. When that beast from the sea isn’t on the screen attacking, there is nothing of interest going on.
Corin Nemec, going for the Guinness World Record for “Most Sci-Fi Channel Original Movies Starred In” it would appear, stars as a down-on-his-luck fishing boat captain in financial dire straits and a local pariah because nobody believes him when he tells them something snatched a crewmate from his boat during his last failed fishing trip. I’d be willing to guess Nemec watched a few episodes of “Deadliest Catch” in preparation for his role as he appeared to be trying to channel some of that Sig Hansen mojo, only he ends up coming across more like a humorless Denis Leary.
Nemec gets help from a pretty marine biologist; she’s not really a love interest nor does she contribute much to the outcome. Nemec’s teen daughter (Miriam McDonald, Emma of TV’s “Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and her dullard boyfriend get trapped in an isolated house under siege by the sea beast babies. The sheriff foolishly rounds up a small posse to patrol the woods. Nemec’s best friend goes a little crazy and believes smearing himself with dead fish and locking himself in a shark cage on a dock armed with a spear gun is an effective means to fight a malicious merman.
A prime reason why Sea Beast proves to be such ho-hum hokum when the monster isn’t front and center can be best summed up in a major subplot about the young man dating Nemec’s daughter. He gets bitten by the monster trying to get a picture with his cell phone and afterwards talks about the experience in the same way you’d describe seeing a strange dog in the neighborhood you didn’t recognize and displays even less concern than one would after being bitten by a stray dog. That his bite wound is becoming suspiciously infected doesn’t appear to worry him in the slightest, not that it should since that aspect of the subplot never builds to anything at all.
The sea beast is said to be a mutant form of the angler fish, a rather ghastly looking deep sea fish capable of bioluminescence and known for the appendage on its head that acts as a lure to reel in prey. Freakish in appearance – though not nearly as freakish as an actual angler fish, looking a bit more like a fishy version of Marvel Comics’ Venom, the angler fishman monster is capable of turning translucent so as to give it Predator stealth abilities and spits a venomous slime that incapacitates victims, and in place of that head appendage, instead it possesses a very long tongue that’s wonderful for snaring and strangling. Not to mention how surprisingly spry this bear-sized amphibious freak of nature is, capable of out-hopping a chupacabra. Come to think; I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a movie about a sea monster that spent this much time hiding out in the brush waiting to attack prey from above.
A movie titled Sea Beast about a creature from the darkest oceanic depths that spends more time on land and up in the trees than in the water…? Bless you, Sci-Fi Channel.
2 1/2 out of 5
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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