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Razorteeth (2005)

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Reviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Ken VanSant, Dave Fife, Brice Kennedy, Stevan Anselmi

Directed by Mark & John Polonia


Razorteeth is one of those no budget, shot on digital films that I’m sure everyone involved with had a blast making, and I’m sure when the cast and crew get together with their friends and loved ones to screen it they all have a great time. Problem is, 99.99999% of the movie-watching public was neither involved with nor knows anyone that was involved with the production of Razorteeth. Those of us in this category expect to see a real movie and not some piece of crap, tongue-in-cheek, fan film homage to the 1978 cult classic Piranha masquerading as an original film. By the time this movie finally reached the end where it proceeded to rip off the finale to Piranha shot for shot I was ready to start ripping my hair out, and not just the hair on my head either. I’m talking the hair on my head, chest hair, arm hair, back hair, pubic hair, nose hair, eyebrows, you name it, any hair on my body was fair game because that’s how maddeningly aggravating this pitiful excuse for a movie is.

Since I wasn’t able to find a copy of Razorteeth at any of my local video stores – most likely because they know better than to stock movies like this that guarantee customers will return it angrily demanding their money back – I decided to shell out a few bucks and buy the DVD. Admittedly, I have to accept some blame for this one. I should have known better. I figured what the heck, it’s a new nature gone amok piranha movie. Even if it was a Polonia Brothers production I figured it couldn’t possibly be as bad as their last flick Peter Rottentail, a tongue-in-cheek slasher flick so brutally unfunny it made it onto my list of the five worst direct-to-video horror movies of 2004. I was wrong. If nothing else at least Peter Rottentail had an original premise at its core. I already described Razorteeth as a piranha fan film and that is precisely what it is. This is not a real movie.

The liner notes for the DVD has the Polonia Brothers bragging about having 24 movies under their belt but all that really means is that at this point they have no real excuses to fall back on. The Polonia Brothers may be proficient when it comes to the technical aspects of shoestring budget filmmaking but I dare say they don’t have a clue what actual filmmaking is really all about. Pacing, tone, humor, character development, storytelling; they’re clueless about all of it.

For starters, damn near every scene in the film begins with anywhere from 15 seconds to a full minute or more of extraneous footage. If someone is taking a walk or driving down the road then we get to see way too much of that character doing just that before the heart of the scene really begins. Hell, everything that takes place in the first 15 minutes of Razorteeth would have been condensed down to five minutes by any other movie made by real filmmakers. A perfect example of what I’m talking about is when we’re introduced to the first piranha victim. You first see her jogging along the banks of the lake, then she stops and looks around for a few seconds, then she starts doing some stretching exercises, and then she finally strips down to her swimsuit and goes for a swim, and even then we have to watch her swim around for a few moments before the piranhas move in for the kill. This is the kind of stuff that should have been tightened up in editing but it’s obvious that the Polonia Brothers didn’t do so because they knew doing so would bring the movie in at well under an hour in length. Yeah, Razorteeth is only 65 minutes long and yet it is still loaded with intentional padding and stretched out scenes.

A military plane carrying an experimental bioweapon crashed into the ocean back in 2002. For whatever reason, it takes the military about 2-3 years to get around to retrieving this bioweapon, which consists of genetically engineered, individually laminated piranhas. Unfortunately, the military just doesn’t have much luck when it comes to transporting bioweapons because the plane carrying the salvaged man-eaters crashes into a resort lake. This time the piranhas awaken from hibernation, escape from their Ziploc Baggies, and proceed to feed on anyone that gets in the water.

From there the plot – and how it chokes me to even use that word when describing what passes for a storyline in this movie – revolves around a series of barely connecting characters, the only thing they and their storylines really have in common is that they are all uninteresting characters with no discernable personalities played by people who could only be considered actors by loosest definition of the word. Every scene involving these people feels completely random as if there were no real cohesion to storyline.

There’s a government agent that looks like a college Republican dressed up like a member of a Talking Heads tribute band that mostly does a lot of walking and driving around. He occasionally telephones his equally young looking superior officer for orders on how to proceed next yet he does virtually nothing until the last 10 minutes of the movie.

There’s some hapless loser whose girlfriend or fiancé or whatever runs off claiming she needs some time to think about their relationship, only she ends up taking a fatal swim in lake leaving him to wander around the lakeside yelling out her name as if she’s been hiding underwater the whole time and is suddenly going to jump out upon hearing her name called. Even after he finds her shredded swimsuit floating in the water and a piranha leaps out of the lake to bite him it still seemingly takes him a short while to put all the pieces together.

There’s the mentally unstable pilot of the plane that crashed into the lake releasing the piranhas. Now he stands next to the lake staring out at it for long periods of time, at least when he’s not hobbling around on crutches babbling about how everyone’s doomed. He finally goes off the deep end and walks into the lake screaming that they aren’t going to get them all the while trying to smashes the attacking piranhas with his crutch. I was of the impression this scene was supposed to be played for laughs. It fails, just like every other strained attempt at comedy on display here.

We also get the potentially shady resort owner and how he tries to deal with his patrons getting bit by something in the water and a hick fisherman who ends up in an almost Elmer Fudd-style feud with the piranhas, culminating in a death scene that seemed a bit reminiscent of the toilet scene in Ghoulies. Perhaps that was yet another homage, and why not seeing as how I’ve previously stated, this entire movie is not a real film but an homage?

The piranha attacks are even filmed in an identical manner as they were in Piranha only that weird fluttering sound that was used so effectively in that movie during the underwater attack shots has been replaced with an awkward mechanical noise that sounds like a wind up toy. The end of the movie is a carbon copy of Piranha’s climax and in the movie Piranha the name of the government experiment was “Operation Razorteeth”, so you can guess what this film’s title is a tribute to. Again, this whole exercise in wasting digital stock is nothing more than a piss poor fan film designed to pay homage to a real movie. The Polonia Brothers may have set out to pay homage to Piranha but all Razorteeth really does it sully it.

And don’t give me the whole “you’re taking it too seriously” or “just sit back and enjoy it” argument. Crap is crap, and while I do watch crap movies all the time this is one of the rare ones that goes beyond just being crap and manages to piss me off. This particular crap cost me $15 and stole an hour of my precious time so forgive me if I sound especially nasty when I say that I wouldn’t take a dump in this movie if it were the last toilet on Earth.

With that said, I’d like to announce my retirement from reviewing movies made by the Polonia Brothers. I’ve only seen two of their films but that was three too many. I’m sure their friends and loved ones and half dozen sadomasochistic fans will enjoy their future works but I will not waste another second of my existence on them because it isn’t humanly possible to hate oneself that much.

Just as a side note, the producer of Razorteeth is fellow named Ron Bonk, whose name has been something of a running joke on the message boards for quite awhile now because he apparently made some insufferably terrible movie that even I’m not familiar with. At least now I have a reason to share in the condemnation.


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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.59 (22 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.13 (23 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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