Starring F/X master Tom Savini, Brinke “Three Minute Pre-Title Cameo” Stevens, some guy who starred in Test Tube Teens From The Year 2000, and the absolute worst CGI monster ever put to film
Directed by Matt Green
I’ve been accused in the past of sometimes being to harsh when reviewing certain movies. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes that’s true. This, however, is not one of those occasions. The simple fact to the matter is that I absolutely bleepin’ hated every bleepin’ thing about this bleepin’ piece of bleep movie! There isn’t a single nice thing I can say about it. Every aspect of the movie, from the script to the directing to the acting, is complete and utter garbage and everyone involved with the monster effects should be embarrassed.
Top secret military experiment gone amok. Madman in control of the top-secret military experiment gone amok must be stopped. Madman feeds innocent victims to the top-secret military experiment gone amok. High-ranking military officer sends two Marines that look more like really old Boy Scouts to stop the top-secret military experiment gone amok. Duller than dirt group of friends on a vacation in the woods unwittingly become targets of the madman and the top-secret military experiment gone amok. Top secret military experiment gone amok kills soldiers sent to stop it. Madman feeds a couple of the friends to the top-secret military experiment gone amok. The single most boring couple in the history of cinema must stop the madman and destroy the top-secret military experiment gone amok. Top secret military experiment gone amok kills madman. The single most boring couple in the history of cinema destroys the top-secret military experiment gone amok.
There you go, folks, the whole damn plot in a nutshell. I just saved you a rental. Okay, it is slightly more complex than that but not by much. The only thing a movie like this can possibly have going for it is the monster itself and some cool kills, which is exactly what Vicious does not have going for it.
Vicious is one of the most unoriginal, unimaginative, and uninspired pathetic excuses for a monster movie I’ve ever seen in my entire life made even worse by the filmmakers using a CGI monster that wouldn’t even look state of the art in a first generation Playstation video game. You only get to see the CGI beast for a few split seconds but what you do see makes you wonder if they would have been better off just creating the monster via flash animation. It certainly wouldn’t have been much worse. You can actually see the pixelation in it as it was literally sparkling in more than one shot. Okay, the monster isn’t 100% CGI. There are several scenes where the monster’s head is brought to life through puppetry. Yet even the puppet head never interacts with the actors and it appears that several headshots were recycled throughout the movie.
Just think about this for a second…Somebody made a monster movie where the monster and the actors cannot interact because the filmmakers either couldn’t afford or didn’t have the means by which to make it possible effects-wise. The majority of the monster interaction is just reaction shots by the actors spliced with footage of either the crappy CGI or the crappy puppet head. At no point do you ever get the sense that there’s anything tangible threatening the characters. You see chattering teeth that sometimes appear to be chomping on a body part spliced with a monster POV shot of the victim screaming while some blood splatters about. Yeah, whatever!
I have a personal message to all low budget filmmakers out there. If you cannot afford the special effects needed to bring the monster to life, then maybe you shouldn’t even bother to make the damn movie! Look at the monster movies of the past. Yes, many of them had less than convincing rubber monsters, but those rubber monsters were tangible and could interact with the actors on the set. There’s a reason why people fifty years from now will still be watching those movies and films like Vicious will be a long forgotten bad memory. Do not fear the rubber monster!
Everything involving the monster in Vicious looks like it was inserted in post-production with little rhyme or reason. Honestly, I just don’t think I can truly put into words just how pathetic it all comes across. I was tempted to grab a still from the movie to post here along with the review but decided I had already wasted enough time of my life just watching the movie and writing this review.
What makes this all the more dumbfounding is that F/X master Tom Savini is one of the producers as well as one of the stars. Does the man just not give a damn anymore? Savini probably could have pulled a MacGyver right there on the set in the middle of the woods and built a monster costume with just some twigs, electrical tape, some cables, a dead squirrel, and a stick of chewing gum; and I bet you it would have been a vast improvement on the actual creature.
Just what does the monster look like, you ask? A big, four-legged, pale looking dinosaur-like creature with lizard spines running down its back and a head that is like a thinner version of the toothy creature from the Deadly Spawn. You’re constantly shown the monster’s point of view, which I found odd because I don’t recall seeing any eyes on it. Oh, that cool-looking demonic head on the box art is just a cool-looking demonic head found on the box art. It sure as hell isn’t in this movie.
Unless you love movies where people walk through the woods a lot, sit around and drink beer, and run away from monster POV shots or you just want to watch Tom Savini do his best Lance Henriksen impression, then I suggest you avoid Vicious like the plague.
Oh, how can I forget to mention the excruciatingly long scene where the guy teaches the girl how to fish? This is one of those movies with no shortage of dull, pointless exposition, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t make liberal use of the fast-forward button during this tedious turd.
If Vicious were a real live animal, then I’d put it in sack, beat it with a bat, toss it off a bridge, and say “Good riddance!” How’s that for vicious?
0 out of 5
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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On
Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston
Directed by Johnny Martin
When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.
Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.
Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.
Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility
Starring Mamoru Miyano, Takahiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Yuki Kaji, Tomokazu Sugita
Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita
The Godzilla series is the longest-running franchise in cinema history. With over 30 films over a 60+ year career, the famous kaiju has appeared in video games, comic books, TV shows, and more, cementing its place as one of the most recognizable cultural icons in the past 100 years. With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, the titular beast makes its foray into the world of anime in this first film in a proposed trilogy. While there are moments that are genuinely thrilling, the film unfortunately fails to capture the imagination and wonder that is at its fingertips.
The story is quite simple: Earth is under attack by swarms of various kaiju who are wreaking havoc across the planet. Entire cities are being destroyed when Godzilla appears to vanquish humanity’s foes. Unfortunately, the King of the Monsters isn’t really there to help humans and its rampage continues until a race of alien beings arrive at Earth asking for a place to stay in exchange for defeating Godzilla. When they are unable to do that, the remaining humans board a giant spaceship to venture off into space in search of a new home only to come back some 20 years later, nearly 20,000 years later by Earth time (think Interstellar logic), to search for resources and, possibly, a planet that will welcome them once again. However, Godzilla is still around and isn’t keen on sharing.
The main character of the film is Haruo Sakaki, a young man who begins the film by nearly following through on a suicide bomber terrorist act that is meant to call attention to humanity’s loss of vision and failure to fulfill their mission of finding a suitable home for the remaining survivors. Even though he is accosted and jailed for this act, he is eventually freed when people realize that his lifelong passion of killing Godzilla is the foundation for research he’s done in finding a way to take down the creature…a plan that just might work. The other characters are so forgettable that I forgot their names during the film.
From there, the film essentially pivots into following a massive team of volunteers who land on Earth’s surface to lay a trap for Godzilla in order to destroy it. Since this is Earth 20,000 years after they left, the flora and fauna have evolved and changed so radically that the team have no idea what to expect or how to react, so caution is a must.
The problem with this is that while the characters have to be cautious, the film doesn’t nor should it. The movie has the chance to explore the wealth of imaginative opportunities at its fingertips and yet does almost everything it can to avoid doing just that. The color scheme is flat and uninteresting. The character movements lack smoothness and the action sequences fall victim to shaky cam syndrome. There are a few mentions of some of the changes that have taken place on the planet, such as razor sharp plants, but they’re so incidental or offhand that it feels like no one making the film has any interest in seeing anything other than man against beast.
Speaking of this dynamic, the action sequences are quite entertaining but also feel somewhat reserved. Godzilla barely moves and much of the destruction levied against the humans is seen from a distance, apart from an attack on a military outpost by dragon-like creatures. For nearly the entire film, I found myself thinking, “I’m okay with this but that’s about it.”
The brightest moment in the film are the last few minutes and I won’t spoil what happens. Suffice it to say that it definitely has me interested in the second and third films but I really hope that this new world will be explored further in those entries. Otherwise, we’ve got a fascinating foundation that will be squandered.
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is a bland entry in a trilogy that has great potential. For a first course, there’s a distinct lack of flavor or complexity. The final minutes are the only saving grace and I hope that the second and third films make use of that grand wonder.
Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!
Starring Jack Kruschen, John Ireland, Yvonne De Carlo, Jacqueline Cole
Directed by Greydon Clark
Distributed by VCI
The ‘70s. Satanism. Sultry cheerleaders. Sex appeal. With these tools nearly any low-budget filmmaker should be able to turn out something that is, at the very least, entertaining. The last thing a viewer expects when tuning in to a film called Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977) is to be bored to tears. But that is exactly the reaction I had while watching director Greydon Clark’s wannabe cult comedy. Even on a visual level this film can’t be saved, and it was shot by Dean Cundey! No, unfortunately there isn’t a cinematic element in the world that can overcome a roster of bad actors and a storyline so poorly constructed it plays like it was written on the day. The only saving grace, minor as it may be, is the casting of John Ireland as Sheriff B.L. Bubb (cute), a hard-nosed shitkicker who adds all the gravitas he can muster. But a watchable feature cannot be built upon the back of a single co-star, as every grueling minute of Satan’s Cheerleaders proves.
The cheerleaders and jocks of Benedict High School rule the campus, doing what they want, when they want, with little else on their minds except for The Big Game. Their belittling attitudes rub school janitor (and stuttering dimwit) Billy (Jack Kruschen) the wrong way. What they don’t know is Billy is (somehow) the head of a local Satanic cult, and he plans to place a curse on the clothes (really) of the cheerleaders so they… suck at cheerleading? Maybe they’ll somehow cause the jocks to lose the big game? When Billy isn’t busy plotting his cursed plans, he spies on the girls in the locker room via a hidden grate in the wall. I guess he doesn’t think being a sexual “prevert” is fair trade enough; might as well damn them all, too. Billy has his own plans to kidnap the girls, for his Lord and Master Satan, and he succeeds with ease when the girls’ van breaks down on the highway; he simply offers them a ride and they all pile in. But when Ms. Johnson (Jacqueline Cole) gets hip to his plan the two tussle in the front seat and Billy winds up having a heart attack.
The squad runs off in search of help, coming across the office of Sheriff B.L. Bubb (John Ireland), who, as the name implies, may be a legit Satanist. Bubb invites the girls inside, where they meet his wife, Emmy (Yvonne De Carlo), High Priestess of their quaint little satanic chapter. While the girls get acquainted with Emmy, Bubb runs off to find Billy, who isn’t actually dead. Wait, scratch that, Bubb just killed him for… some reason. The girls figure out things aren’t so rosy here at the Bubb estate, so they hatch an escape plan and most make it to the forest. The few that are left behind just kinda hang out for the rest of the film. Very little of substance happens, and the pacing moves from “glacial” to “permafrost”, before a semi-psychedelic ending arrives way too late.
“Haphazard” is one of many damning terms I can think of when trying to make sense of this film. The poster says the film is “Funnier Than The Omen… Scarier Than Silent Movie” which, objectively, is a true statement, though this film couldn’t hope to be in the same league as any of the sequels to The Omen (1976) let alone the original. It is a terminal bore. Every attempt at humor is aimed at the lowest common denominator – and even those jokes miss by a wide berth. True horror doesn’t even exist in this universe. The best I can say is some of the sequences where Satan is supposedly present utilize a trippy color-filled psychedelic shooting style, but it isn’t anything novel enough to warrant a recommendation. Hell, it only happens, like, twice anyway. The rest of the film is spent listening to these simple-minded sideline sirens chirp away, dulling the enthusiasm of viewers with every word.
A twist ending that isn’t much of a twist at all is the final groan for this lukewarm love letter to Lucifer. None of the actors seem like they know what the hell to be doing, and who can blame them with material like this? I had hoped for some sort of fun romp with pompoms and pentagram, like Jack Hill’s Swinging Cheerleaders (1974) for the Satanic set, but Clark provides little more than workmanlike direction; even Cundey’s cinematography is nothing to want on a resume.
Viewers have the option of watching either a “Restored” or “Original Transfer” version of the 1.78:1 1080p picture. Honestly, I didn’t find a ton of difference between the two, though the edge likely goes to the restored version since the title implies work has been done to make it look better. Colors are accurate but a little bland, and definition just never rises above slightly average. Film grain starts off heavy but manages to smooth out later on. Very little about the picture is emblematic of HD but given the roots this is probably the best it could ever hope to look.
Audio comes in the form of an English LPCM 2.0 track. The soundtrack sounds like it was lifted from a porno, while other tracks are clearly library music. Dialogue never has any obvious issues and sounds clear throughout. Subtitles are available in English SDH.
There are two audio commentary tracks; one, with director Greydon Clark; two, with David De Cocteau and David Del Valle.
A photo gallery, with images in HD, is also included.
- Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
- Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
- Photo gallery
Although the title is enough to reel in curious viewers, the reality is “Satan’s Cheerleaders” are a defunct bunch with little spirit and no excitement. The ’70s produced plenty of classic satanic cinema and this definitely ain’t it.
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