Directed by Christopher Ray
1 Body, 2 Heads and 6,000 Teeth declares the tagline.
More like 2 heads, many boobs and no brains.
2-Headed Shark Attack is a total Joe Bob Briggs kind of movie, if you know what that means. It’s more Piranha 3D than Mega Shark vs., more in the vein of a drive-in b-movie of the past than a Syfy original movie of today. Blood, boobs, and beast are the three b-movie fundamentals, and there is no shortage of all three b’s in this one.
Boobs – and I don’t mean Charlie O’Connell’s professor character since he was more of a putz than a boob – I mean actual boobs. Hardly a scene goes by without seeing a buxom young gal in a bikini top. Everywhere you look there’s ample cleavage staring back at you. The producers must have saved a fortune on wardrobe. This is supposed to be a semester at sea college class, but let me assure you there’s very little learning taking place on this boat. If you look at this collection of female students, almost all of which could be contestants in a Hooters bikini contest, and their male hardbody classmates, most of whom look like they could be cast members of “The Jersey Shore” and have an equal aversion to wearing shirts, this looks less like a floating classroom and more like a “Girls Gone Wild” party boat.
In fact, I wouldn’t even say this movie stars Brooke Hogan. I would say this movie stars Brooke Hogan’s cleavage. It is constantly on display at all times. I’m surprised the director even bothered to include her head in certain shots.
I also wouldn’t say this movie stars Carmen Electra either because, well, she’s barely in the movie, and all she’s there for is to provide yet another set of ample bosoms to ogle, whether they be in a tight tank top or in a bikini when she decides to get some sun, practically breaking the fourth wall when doing so by posing for the camera as if she were taking part in a swimsuit photo shoot. She does get to repeatedly yell the line “Get out of the goddamn water!” So I guess there was some acting involved.
It becomes apparent after a short while that the high body count is less a matter of gluttony and more because this two-headed shark just gets off on killing people. It swims past a guy making him think for a moment he’s going to be safe, then comes back around and bites his leg off, then comes back around to tail slap him high into the air, and finally leaps straight out of the water to double chomp this poor bastard to death on his way down. That’s not hunger. That shark is just being a dick. And it’s awesome.
There are some pretty creative and even gruesome kills in this one of the most entertaining movies The Asylum has ever produced. Even its shortcomings are more a source of amusement than a detriment. Thank goodness, too, because this movie is dumber than a bag of hammers.
Characters keep saying and doing things that defy common sense. One character will do something that would only make sense if this character had somehow heard what had just been discussed in a motorboat many, many, many yards away. That same character can actually get a phone signal out in the middle of the ocean but never during their stranding does he or anyone else think to try and use his phone to place a rescue call. The deckhands don’t speak a word of English; yet, they completely understand when spoken to in English. The captain of the boat gets eaten when she scubas down to weld a crack in the hull, but it takes what felt like hours before anyone onboard noticed she had yet to resurface.
By the third act… what can I say? Anything goes nonsense. The atoll begins crumbling into the sea! Random tsunamis! Random shark attacks! Random explosions! There’s a gigantic 2-headed shark that can seemingly cause earthquakes by ramming into the atoll, and people are trying to fight it off with nothing more than pointy sticks! If the zombified corpse of Jacques Cousteau had suddenly emerged from the watery depths to try and suck their brains out through his rebreather, I wouldn’t have been at all shocked.
The student I jokingly dubbed “M. Night Horshack” (you’ll understand why when you see the actor) deduces that the shark is attracted to the electrical currents generated by boat engines and underwater welding torches. He didn’t mention how the electricity generated when a guy and two girls have a naked ménage a trois in the surf could also set its appetite into motion. The shark took so long to finally move in for the kill during that ménage a trois scene I began to wonder if it had stopped to watch when the two girls starting making out.
The quality of the two-headed shark effects are all over the map, at worst like animation from a very high-end video game. The inarticulate practical shark heads used during close-up shots of the actors getting munched on are laughably unconvincing in a charmingly b-movie sort of way.
My only real quibble with the effects work would be how there appeared to be next to no continuity in regard to the actual size of the shark. Its first appearance would have you thinking each head was the size of a Megalodon. Often it looked like Jaws with two large heads. Other times it was almost as big as the school boat. Then we’ll see it attack completely submerged in shallow water; afterwards, Brooke Hogan still gets to utter a line about how the shark can’t attack in shallow water because it’s so big. The exact size of this shark with two heads changed so often I kept waiting for a scene where it jumped out of a sink.
If you’ve read this review and you think this movie sounds like it’s for you, then this movie is for you, and if not, I would strongly advise you to stay as far away from 2-Headed Shark Attack as possible. Me? I was thoroughly entertained for 80 minutes and had far more fun watching this than I did Shark Night.
Two heads. Many boobs. No brains. Three and a half knives. Joe Bob says, “Check it out.”
3 1/2 out of 5
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.
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