Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O’Connell, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Oh, Piranha 3D. How much do we love thee? Let me count the ways …
We love you for your gratuitous nudity with breasts bouncing to and fro. We love you for your over-the-top violence and still marvel that you received an R rating. We love you for letting Christopher Lloyd go all “Doc Brown” again. We love you for embracing your trashiness like no other film this year. We love you for your poetic underwater nymph scene. We love you for having the audacity to spit Jerry O’Connell’s ragged penis into the screen and at the audience. We love you for showing a very familiar character from Jaws that the way to go home was through a swirling abyss filled with creatures with razor-sharp teeth. We love you for …
Okay. I gotta stop. I could go on forever. Here’s the deal: Piranha 3D is probably the most fun we’ve had with a movie in forever, and Sony Entertainment has given the devil its due by delivering one hell of a home video package. We’ll get to all that in a minute, but first here’s a quick plot crunch.
It’s simple. It’s nothing more than it needs to be. An underwater tremor unleashes legions of man-eating prehistoric fish during spring break in an otherwise sleepy Arizona town. Along the way the local police, headed up by a still very hot Elisabeth Shue and “The Obama of Piranhas”, Ving Rhames, attempt to stop the carnage with a little help from various bits of walking piranha bait until an orgy of violence ensues, the likes of which you’re not likely to forget. Ever. Throw in a couple of subplots involving Shue’s kids in danger while a porn producer keeps his cameras rolling and — boom — instant family classic!
Piranha 3D takes no prisoners, pulls no punches, and doesn’t give the slightest shit about anything resembling good taste. Its no-holds-barred approach to the material is both refreshing and absolutely unrelenting. You’re going to be grinning from ear-to-ear the entire time breasts are bared and bodies are shredded with reckless abandon. If you’re not, you had better check your pulse.
On Blu-ray the film is absolutely gorgeous. The colors pop like you wouldn’t believe without becoming over-saturated, the black levels are spot on (for the most part), and the only time the image suffers at all is during the inherently dark underwater sequences when things become slightly muddy. Other than that every chomping set of jaws and every masticated upon limb are present and accounted for in startling detail. The DTS 5.1 HD sound mix, which brings every instance of flesh tearing to the forefront, will have your home theatre system absolutely rocking. It’s the perfect complement to the stellar 1080p transfer.
In terms of Blu-ray you can buy it one of two ways – either as a 3D Blu-ray (requires a 3DTV and a 3D enabled Blu-ray player to watch in 3D) with a commentary and ten featurettes or as a 2D package that’s home to a boatload of additional special features. The ten featurettes (included on both Blu-ray packages) play as a film in and of themselves, clocking in at a whopping two hours and ten minutes so even if you buy the 3D package, you’ll hardly be missing out on the supplemental goodies. Unique to the regular Blu-ray are a gaggle of deleted scenes with optional commentary, a storyboard gallery, and a host of theatrical and television spots.
DVD owners are kind of sunk. All you get are five of the ten featurettes and the commentary track. Sign of the times, dudes. Time to upgrade.
Simply put, Piranha 3D is nothing short of a must-have package if only for the gloriously outrageous film alone. In the theatre I watched the film in back-to-back screenings and loved every second of it. I can only imagine how much play this is going to be getting around these parts. If you missed it in the multiplex (and shame on you if you did), here’s your chance to atone for your cinematic sins. Order yourself a copy like yesterday, break out the brews, call your friends, light ’em if you’ve got ’em, and let the good times splat!
Blu-ray 3D Special Features
Blu-ray Special Features
DVD Special Features
4 1/2 out of 5
5 out of 5
Discuss Piranha 3D in our comments section below!
Desolation Review: Campers + Lunatic = Simplicity, But Not Always a Better Product
Starring Jaimi Page, Alyshia Ochse, Toby Nichols
Directed by Sam Patton
I’m usually all in when it comes to a psycho in the woods flick, but there was just something about Sam Patton’s Desolation that seemed a bit distant for me…distance…desolation – I’m sure there’s a connection in there somewhere. Either that or I’m suffering from a minor case of sleep-deprivation. Either way, make sure you’ve got your backpack stuffed, cause we’re hitting the timber-lands for this one.
The film focuses on mother and son tandem Abby and Sam, and the tragic notion that Abby’s love and father to her son, has passed away. The absence has been a crippling one, and Abby’s idea of closure is to take her adolescent offspring to the woods where her husband used to love to run and scatter his ashes as a memorial tribute. Abby invites her best friend Jenn along as emotional support, and together all three are planning on making this trip a fitting and dedicatory experience…until the mystery man shows up. Looking like a member of the Ted Kaczynski clan (The Unabomber himself), this creepy fellow seems content to simply watch the threesome, and when he ultimately decides to close the distance, it’ll be a jaunt in the forest that this close-knit group will never forget.
So there you have it – doesn’t beg a long, descriptive, bled-out dissertation – Patton tosses all of his cards on the table in plain view for the audience to scan at their leisure. While the tension is palpable at times, it’s the equivalent of watching someone stumble towards the edge of a cliff, and NEVER tumble over…for a long time – you literally watch them do the drunken two-step near the lip for what seems like an eternity. What I’m getting at is that the movie has the bells and whistles to give white-knucklers something to get amped about, yet it never all seems to come into complete focus, or allow itself to spread out in such a way that you can feel satisfied after the credits roll. If I may harp on the performance-aspect for a few, it basically broke down this way for me: both Abby and Jenn’s characters were well-displayed, making you feel as if you really were watching long-time besties at play. Sam’s character was a bit tough to swallow, as he was the sadder-than-sad kid due to his father’s absence, but JEEZ this kid was a friggin malcontented little jerk – all I can say is “role well-played, young man.”
As we get to our leading transient, kook, outsider – whatever you want to call him: he simply shaved down into a hum-drum personality – no sizzle here, folks. Truly a disappointment for someone who was hoping for an enigmatic nutbag to terrorize our not-so-merry band of backpackers – oh well, Santa isn’t always listening, I guess. Simplicity has its place and time when displaying the picture-perfect lunatic, and before everyone gets a wild hair across their ass because of what I’m saying, all this is was the wish to have THIS PARTICULAR psycho be a bit more colorful – I can still appreciate face-biters like Hannibal Lecter and those of the restrained lunacy set. Overall, Desolation is one of those films that had all the pieces meticulously set in place, like a house of cards…until that drunk friend stumbled into the table, sending everything crumbling down. A one-timer if you can’t find anything else readily available to watch.
Looking for a little direction way out in the woods? Look elsewhere, because this guide doesn’t have a whole lot to offer.
Children of the Fall Review – This Israeli Slasher Gets Political
Starring Noa Maiman, Aki Avni, Yafit Shalev, Iftach Ophir, Michael Ironside
Directed by Eitan Gafny
Reviewed out of Utopia 2017
Slashers are a subgenre of horror that are often looked down upon. After all, what can a movie about a killer slaughtering multiple people have to say about, well…anything. Those of us in the community know full well that this is nonsense and that any kind of horror movie can be a jabbing (no pun intended) commentary on society, culture, politics, art, etc… And that’s precisely what Eitan Gafny aims to do with Children of the Fall, one of the few Israeli slashers ever created.
Set on the eve of the Yom Kippur war, the film follows Rachel (Maiman), a young American woman who comes to Israel to join a kibbutz after suffering some serious personal tragedies. Her goal to make aliyah (the return of Jews to Israel) is however hampered by some rather unpleasant encounters with local IDF soldiers and members of the kibbutz. Pushing through, she makes friends with others in the commune and her Zionistic views are only strengthened, although they do not go untested. Once Yom Kippur, one of the holiest holidays in Jewish culture, begins, a killer begins picking off the kibbutz workers one by one in violent and gruesome ways.
Let’s start with what Children of the Fall gets right, okay? As slashers go, it’s actually quite beautiful. There are wonderfully expansive shots that make use of the size and diversity of the kibbutz. The film opens with a beautiful shot of a cow stable, barn, water towers, and miscellaneous outbuildings, all set against a dark and stormy night. The lighting of this scene, and throughout the film, is also very good. I found myself darting my eyes across the screen multiple times throughout the film thinking I’d seen something lurking in the shadows.
The kills, while unoriginal, are very satisfying. Each death is meaty, bloody, and doesn’t feel rushed. In fact, the camera has no problems lingering during each kill, allowing us to appreciate the practical FX and copious amounts of blood used. And if you believe that a slasher needs to have nudity, you won’t be disappointed.
The acting is middle of the road. Maiman is serviceable as Rachel but the real star of the film is Aki Avni as “Yaron”. His range of emotion is fantastic, from warm and welcoming to Rachel when she arrives to emoting grief and pain during his Yom Kippur announcement where we learn that he was a child in a concentration camp. The rest of the cast are perfectly acceptable as fodder for the killer.
So where does Children of the Fall stray? Let’s start with the most obvious part: the runtime. Clocking in at nearly two hours, that’s about 30 minutes too much. The film could easily have gone through some hefty editing without affecting the final product. Instead, we have a movie that feels elongated when unnecessary.
Additionally, the societal and political commentary is very in-your-face but the film can’t seem to make up its mind as to what it’s trying to get across. Natalia, a Belarussian kibbutz worker, raises the concept of Israeli racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, her hostility unabashedly pouring out in the midst of IDF soldiers, locals, other kibbutz members, and more. Is there validity to what she’s saying? Undoubtedly. But there is also validity to Rachel’s retorts, which include calling this woman out on her own vitriolic views. This back-and-forth mentality frustratingly prevails throughout the film, as though Gafny was unwilling to just commit.
The dialogue is also quite painful at times, although I attribute this to difficulties with translating from Hebrew to English. Even the best English speakers in Israel don’t get everything perfect and the little quirks here and there, while charming, are quite detracting. Also, why is this movie trying to tell me that Robert Smith of The Cure is a character here? While amusing, it makes absolutely no sense nor does it fit in Smith’s own timeline.
Had this film gone through a couple rounds of editing, I feel like we’d have gotten something really great. Eitan Gafny is definitely someone that we need to be watching very closely.
While Children of the Fall has a lot going for it, it has just as much working against it. Overly long, you’ll get a really great slasher that is bogged down by uneven social and political commentary.
Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club Review – A Charming, Quirky Dark Drama
Starring Keren Mor, Yiftach Klein, Hana Laslo, Ania Bukstein
Directed by Guilhad Emilio Schenker
Reviewed out of Utopia 2017
One of the great joys I have in being a horror fan is seeing horror films from around the world. I view these films as a chance to learn about the fears, folklore, mythology, and lore of varied cultures. Films like Inugami, Frontier(s), [REC], and the like transport me across oceans and into places I might never get the chance to visit otherwise. Hence my interest in the Israeli dark drama Madam Yankeolva’s Fine Literature Club, the feature debut of director Guilhad Emilio Schenker.
The film follows Sophie (Mor), a member of a strange, female-only reading club – who believes that love is a lie – that we soon realize brings men into its midst only to have them killed. The woman who brings the most fitting man is awarded a trophy for her fine taste. When a member reaches 100 trophies, they get to enter a coveted and highly esteemed upper echelon of the reading club’s society, one that includes lavish surroundings and an almost regal lifestyle. Sophie starts the film earning her 99th trophy but her plans towards the all-important 100th trophy are thrown askew when she ends up developing feelings for her latest victim. She must now decide if the mission that has been so dear to her for so many years is something she wishes to see through or if she’s ready to take a huge risk and fall in love.
Now, if this seems like a strange story for a horror website, I don’t disagree. Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is certainly not your traditional horror film. In fact, I’d liken it far more to the more playful works of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s The City of Lost Children than something more grotesque and violent. It’s very playful and quite charming, although there are times when the presentation feels amateurish and certain moments when things become wildly unbelievable. That being said, the film aims to be a dark fairy tale come to life, so a healthy amount of “I’m okay letting that go” will not go unappreciated.
The film is shot in such a way that it’s very soft around the edges, almost like we’re constantly in a dream. This is aided by composer Tal Yardeni’s score, which obviously takes inspiration from Danny Elfman, playfully weaving its way through each scene.
While there’s a lot to love about Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club, it’s certainly not a flawless film. As mentioned previously, there are times when it feels quite amateurish, as though no one thought to look at how a scene is being filmed and say, “People, this isn’t how things would go down. We can have fun but this just doesn’t sit right.” Additionally, the story moves very quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard of love at first sight. But that’s not how this story plays out, so the wildly strong feelings that develop between Sophie and Yosef (Klein) seem strangely out of place.
All things being what they are, Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is a charming film that can definitely appeal to horror fans if they’re willing to stretch their boundaries to include films that have absolutely no scares or gore but imply quite a horrific situation.
Charming, quirky, but not without its faults, Madam Yankelova’s Fine Literature Club is a dark drama for fans of Tim Burton and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Don’t go in expecting any scares or gore. Rather, anticipate a fairy tale that might be just a bit too gruesome in tone for young children.
Mill Creek Celebrates Shadow Stalkers and 100 Years of Horror in February
Falling Water Returns to USA Network in January; New Teaser Unveiled!
Danny Trejo FINALLY Gives Update on Machete Kills Again… in Space!
The Monster Squad’s Andre Gower Raises a Baby Frankenstein
Another Kaiju Lets Out a Howl from Beyond the Fog
Tony Timpone’s Elegy – AFM: A November to Dismember
Horror Movies to Be Thankful for on Thanksgiving
DVD and Blu-ray Releases: November 21, 2017
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Danielle Harris Tried to Get Jamie Lloyd into New Halloween Movie
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
News3 days ago
Blade Runner 2049 Blu-ray Release Date and Special Features Announced
News5 days ago
Exclusive: Scream 2’s Jerry O’Connell and Kevin Williamson Talk Leaked Scripts and Different Killers!
News5 days ago
Terrifier – Dread Central Presents Poster Premiere! Release Date Announced!
News2 days ago
Rob Zombie Narrates Charles Manson’s Last Words to a Wider Audience
News3 days ago
New Trailer Arrives for Overkill’s The Walking Dead Video Game
Reviews6 days ago
Beyond the Seventh Door DVD Review – No-Budget S.O.V. Canuxploitation At Its Finest!
News2 days ago
Graham Humphreys Reveals His Poster For An American Werewolf In London
News5 days ago
Exclusive: Watch Gremlins: Recall With Director Ryan Patrick’s Commentary