Starring David Hewlett, Jaime Bergman’s implants, Angel Boris, and two huge CGI snakes
Directed by David Flores
I can only guess that UFO Films must have locked the screenwriters in a room for several days with a large bong and refused to let them out until they had come up with a Boa vs. Python script that would pit these two serpents against one another no matter how screwy it might be. Screwy is definitely the most opportune way to describe Boa vs. Python. Dopey, strange, downright bizarre, and “What the hell?” would also be acceptable descriptions. It’s a train wreck all right and you can’t help but slow down to get a good look at the carnage.
UFO Films, the makers of some of the lamest Sci-Fi Channel original movies like Dragon Fighter, decided to jump on the Freddy vs. Jason/Alien vs. Predator bandwagon by pitting their two signature serpents in a one-on-one, winner take all smackdown. In one corner we have a giant CGI python, as seen in two UFO productions. In the original Python, the snake killed off Casper Van Dien, Jenny McCarthy, and Wil Wheaton. Therefore, it cannot be considered totally evil. Nonetheless, the python is once again cast as, if I may use pro wrestling terminology here, the heel. In the other corner we have a giant CGI boa constrictor. The boa has only appeared in one dreadful movie cleverly titled Boa, in which it battled Dean Cain in an underground Antarctic prison. The boa in this movie is actually a good guy, although not actually a guy. You see this boa is female, so not only is this movie a showdown between two colossal snakes but it’s also a battle of the sexes.
So there’s this super billionaire casino owner named Broddick (Think Mark Cuban spliced with a James Bond villain and played by a guy who looks more like the male lead from any Andy Sidaris flick), who also happens to be an avid big game hunter. Broddick has a girlfriend named Eve, played by former Playboy Playmate and current UFO Films “it” girl Angel Boris. She doesn’t like snakes, which of course explains why she has a huge snake tattooed on her back. Together they zip around in his CGI airplane, hang out in the front row of wrestling matches where they pull their guns on wrestlers that get too close to them, and prepare for a big hunt with the giant python the billionaire has transported in for game. Unfortunately, the giant python escapes its transport and proceeds to kill some henchmen, eat the world’s oldest teenager, and hide out in the underground industrial duct just outside of Philadelphia.
In comes a federal agent to investigate and he quickly deduces that someone has tried importing a giant python from Russia. I know what you’re thinking. There are giant pythons in Russia? Well, yes. You see the only tie this film has to any of the previous movies that led up to it is the Python 2 storyline involving the US military blundering a plan to use giant pythons as tactical weapons leading to a massacre at a Russian lab. Don’t ask. If you haven’t seen that film then you’re a better person for it.
The fed immediately calls in the current Mrs. David Boreanaz, Jamie Bergman. You know you must be watching a campy sci-fi flick when a busty blonde former “Baywatch” cast member is cast as a brilliant scientist. Not only does she teach dolphins how to locate underwater mines, but she can also hold her breath underwater for a very long period of time. You better believe they find a convoluted way to use that special skill again later in the movie. He’s called her in because she developed some sort of high-tech implants that can be used to track the rampaging python.
The fed also recruits a local herpetologist who just happens to have bred a giant boa constrictor named Betty. He feeds average-sized boa constrictors to her so that it will help harvest some sort of miracle anti-venom. You’re going to have call Bill Nye the Science Guy to explain that one because I haven’t got a clue, but since he was able to breed a giant boa constrictor I guess I shouldn’t bother questioning his other scientific techniques. For the record, the herpetologist’s lab looks more like the interior of the X-Men’s base. Despite Betty’s lair requiring more fortification than the entrance to Cerebro, the three of them just walk in and stand around for a while without any protection and are never in any danger because the enormous snake would rather eat a smaller member of its own species than the tall people that look as if they’d make a much better meal. Betty is the world’s friendliest giant boa constrictor.
The fed comes up with one of those “so crazy it just might work” plans, and keep in mind this plan was his first option and not a last resort. He wants to implant Betty the behemoth boa with those tracking implants and let it loose in the underground industrial ductwork in order to track down the giant python. As absurd as this idea is, it’s all worth it just to hear ex-Playboy Playmate Jaime Bergman forced to repeatedly saying things with a straight face like, “You want to use my implants to track down the python?” Priceless.
Meanwhile, Broddick decides to make lemonade out of lemons so he picks up his hunting buddies, consisting of a ragtag mix of goofy stereotypes, and jets over to the outskirts of Philadelphia so they can hunt down the giant python themselves.
Everyone eventually ends up in the underground industrial tunnels and corridors for really no other reason than because it would be cheaper for UFO to film in such a location. Before long, everyone’s battling it out with each other and the giant snakes, which culminates in the last 10 minutes where Broddick going completely loco with a flamethrower and the title snakes finally deliver on the movie’s title in a nightclub and then a subway tunnel. And I haven’t even mentioned the idiot reporter who tries to link the snake attacks to “Al KAI-EE-DUH”, Boa Boy and Implant Girl falling in love, and that the giant python actually rapes the giant boa leading to Betty going Ms. 45 on its scaly ass.
Boa vs. Python never quite reaches the sheer lunacy of the last half hour of Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, but it certainly exists in its own seriously warped reality that must be seen to be believed. It aspires to be tongue-in-cheek but often ends up playing scenes straight, too straight, making the film downright bizarre at times. The tone is so schizophrenic it’s hard not to be mesmerized by it no matter how preposterous things gets. At the very least, Boa vs. Python can lay claim to being the best movie ever made about two giant snakes fighting it out, a claim I’m fairly certain UFO Films will be able to boast about for a long time to come.
Amazingly, Boa vs. Python has even managed to spawn an imitator as Jim Wynorski has Komodo vs. King Cobra in the works. With any luck, this will see be the start of a whole new subgenre of nature gone amok films where featured killer animals square off. Personally, I’m waiting for Shark Attack vs. Spring Break Shark Attack.
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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.
Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions
Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa
Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.
Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).
What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.
While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.
Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.
While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.
With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.
Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.
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