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Legion of the Dead (2005)

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Starring Claudia Lynx, Courtney Clonch, Rhett Giles, Bruce Boxleitner, and Zach Galligan

Written and directed by Paul Bales


Let’s get one thing out of the way first. Despite having their names splashed at the top of the DVD box art, Zach (Gremlins Galligan) and Bruce (Babylon 5) Boxleitner are hardly the stars of the film. Galligan plays a horny professor quickly dispensed with in the film’s first 15 minutes and Boxleitner plays the local sheriff that only shows up periodically to investigate. Both roles are ultimately so inconsequential to the plot that if they’d been dropped altogether it would have had very little impact on the rest of the film.

Also, the film’s original title was Unravelled, a much better, and given the cheeky nature of titling a campy mummy movie like this Unravelled, more fitting title than the zombie movie-sounding Legion of the Dead. I don’t know why The Asylum chose to re-title the movie with the same name as a truly rancid horror film of just a few short years ago, but then I also have no idea how the fanged Egyptian mummy from the cover art for Ancient Evil 2: Guardian of the Underworld found its way onto the box art for this flick.

The underground tomb of an ancient Egyptian priestess has been unearthed in…I believe they said it was the Mohave Desert, although there seemed to be an awful lot of trees for a desert. I digress. If you’re wondering how an ancient Egyptian burial tomb found its way to America, I will just say that the script does provide an explanation involving an ancient trade route with the Americas and said priestess being banished from her homeland for being all evil and such. It’s all quite hokey and implausible yet still more logical than the explanation for how the evil alchemist ended up on that island in House of the Dead.

The pompous Egyptologist in charge (Rhett Giles, who I do believe appears in virtually every film The Asylum produces) has brought in a brilliant undergraduate named Molly to help translate the text found within, which she proves to be more adept at than him, much to his chagrin. Much to Molly’s chagrin, her ex-boyfriend Carter is part of the group. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Molly unwittingly recites some text she’s translated that awakens the mummified priestess, who looks quite hot for a 4,000 year old woman.

After performing the sexiest mummy unwrapping you’ll probably ever see, the evil priestess Annoh-tet is ready to pick up right where she left off centuries ago. All she needs are six male souls to reanimate her henchmummies, her ceremonial ankh/dagger, and the typical virgin sacrifice required for the ritual that will unleash her unholy Egyptian demon puppet master into our world. But first, she ought to find some clothes. The gorgeous Claudia Lynx plays Anoh-tet, and writer/director Paul Bales wisely keeps her in some state of undress for the duration of the film. She starts off wandering around in nothing but the remains of the mummy bandages she has yet to completely rip off, then spends quite a bit of time stark naked (I was beginning to think they were going to use her like Mathilda May in Lifeforce), eventually ends up borrowing a belly shirt and some Daisy Dukes, and finally ends up spending the remainder of the movie in traditional Egyptian priestess garbs that I guess must have just been laying around the tomb somewhere because I have no idea where the costume came from. I think Miss Lynx’s abs get as much, if not more, screen time than her face. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.

Now like any good back from the dead evil Egyptian super being, Annoh-tet possesses some supernatural abilities. In her case, soul stealing by way of electrodehydration, the ability to instantly identify virgins by merely grabbing their crotch, and the sixth sense to know exactly where to be when a horny, drunken African-American is looking for a hot babe to get it on with.

Shortly after resurrecting, Annoh-tet meets up with Molly, whom she initially mistakes for one of her priestesses, and Molly’s (Virgin Alert!) kid sister, both of whom prove to not be the sharpest knives in the drawer when the pair assume the naked Persian goddess they just found in the seedy motel swimming pool that only speaks a long dead Egyptian dialect is another one of professor’s students named Annette. To Molly’s credit, it doesn’t take her much longer to figure out that “Annette” is actually “Annoh-tet” resurrected, yet she still doesn’t seem nearly as freaked out as one would expect under the circumstances, or for that matter, all that concerned with the whole “her resurrection will help bring about the end of the world” prophecy she deciphered earlier.

From there on out, Annoh-tet goes around zapping guys with lightning that melts their faces off while reducing them to dry bones and, in the process, swipes their souls and implants it into one of the other six warrior mummies still awaiting resurrection, while Molly and Carter try and come up with a way to defeat the evil Egyptian supermodel, the increasingly deranged Egyptologist that has given in to becoming her high priest – Egypt really did have an awful lot of priests and priestesses, didn’t they? – and her six powerful yet dim-witted henchmummies, as well as protect her kid sister from harm and rekindle their once smoldering romance.

During the movie, I kept having flashbacks to that episode of “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” where Xander is seduced by the Incan mummy princess that everyone thinks is just a South American exchange student. I think that’s the biggest flaw with Legion of the Dead; there’s a real “been there, done that” feel to the material. The movie isn’t bad, per se. By the low standards of low budget, direct-to-video horror movies these day, Legion of the Dead is well crafted. It’s just a bit flat at times, mainly because the story is something you’ve seen before and can figure out exactly where it’s headed. Plus, the low budget eventually catches up with the film as the jumbled climactic showdown can’t help but give off that “we’ve run out of money so let’s just wrap this up as quickly as possible” vibe.

Legion of the Dead is at it’s best when the six mummies resurrect and go on a rather over-the-top killing spree – they really hate the human spine for some reason – at the local motel and Molly and Connor try to fend them off with whatever is at their disposal at the moment. The movie could have used a bit more energetic moments like that.


2 1/2 out of 5

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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On

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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.

 

  • Film
2.0

Summary

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!

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Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility

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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
2.0

Summary

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.

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Satan’s Cheerleaders Blu-ray Review – Sacrifice This Snoozer At The Altar!

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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.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Greydon Clark
  • Audio commentary with filmmakers David De Cocteau & David Del Valle
  • Photo gallery
  • Satan's Cheerleaders
  • Special Features
1.3

Summary

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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