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Warriors of Terra (2006)

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Warriors of Terra reviewStarring Edward Furlong, Ellen Furey, Andrea Lui, Dylan Taylor, Andrew Hachey, Krystin Pellerin, Trina Brink

Directed by Robert Wilson


I’ve always said that a boring film is the worst kind of bad movie there is and Warriors of Terra may very well be the worst direct-to-DVD horror movie I’ve seen thus far this year. Unlike the countless no budget, do-if-yourself, shot-on-digital flicks that pop up on DVD racks on a regular basis, Warriors of Terra clearly had some money behind, and unlike the makers of most of those other flicks, the director of Warriors of Terra is technically efficient. So what went wrong?

For starters, it’s boring. Warriors of Terra is one of the most boring DTV movies I’ve seen all year. It’s an uninteresting story with uninteresting characters in an uninteresting setting being stalked and killed in an uninteresting manner by an uninteresting menace. The movie starts with characters wandering about the place exploring, then they wander about the place looking for a way out, and then they wander around trying to stay alive and find a way out. Outside of the first ten minutes, the plot is pretty much on autopilot for most of the next hour. This is a prime example of a premise that has been stretched so thin for a feature length film as to reach its breaking point.

The other big problem is the direction. I said the director was competent with the camera. True. But first-time director Robert Wilson makes the mistake that many first-time directors – too much empty technique. Wilson relies on an onslaught of fancy edits, flashes, fades, trick lighting, quick cuts, and a variety of loud noises and what not to try and generate suspense whenever the film’s fiend goes on the attack. It doesn’t work at all; it actually succeeded in accomplishing the opposite. It doesn’t generate tension; it detracts from it by becoming an irritating distraction. The only emotion I felt more than boredom while watching Warriors of Terra was annoyance with the overused camera-editing tricks. And none of this stylized nonsense changes the fact that the pacing is so slow to the point of non-existence.

The plot … Oh, yeah; the plot. The young members of an animal rights group break into some corporation’s underground research facility with the help of the rebellious daughter of one of the facility’s researchers and a security guard that is actually a member of their group undercover (Edward Furlong, not looking well at all). Their plan to free the research animals proves a bust when they find the cages empty. Their getaway is thwarted due to heavily armed security being called in to deal with the break-in, as well as that one girl’s scientist father who has shown up concerned about the well being of one of his experiments. The eco-terrorist’s topside computer geek tries to get them out by unlocking everything in the facility, unwittingly releasing a dangerous mutant in the process.

The mutant in question is a girl named Maya. She looks like Jena Malone with big, unkempt hair and one constant facial expression that makes it looks like the actress is trying to imitate the icy facial expressions of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 from Terminator 2. Mostly she looks as bored as I felt watching her. Maya’s sort of like Mathilda May’s space vampire from Lifeforce in the way that she just walks around the place, approaching unsuspecting people, and then robbing them of their life by merely clutching them, but doing so wearing a worn Sunday dress and with the physical appearance, strange neck twitching, perpetual staring and never blinking personality of a ghostly mute from a Japanese style horror flick like The Ring. Whatever they were going for with Maya doesn’t work – at all.

It seems that one girl’s scientist daddy had been trying to find a cure for cancer. Note to all scientists out there: don’t try curing cancer with the Ebola virus. Although he technically succeeded in curing her cancer, the cure ended up mutating this poor girl into a killing machine that’s nearly impossible to kill due to her regenerative powers and who kills people by injecting victims with a virus that instantly liquefies their internal organs. I think she did this in order to feed but I don’t quite remember and, frankly, the movie doesn’t even let you see the attack scenes most of the time, so why she does it really doesn’t even matter. This again harkens back to the director’s failed attempts to be stylish. A bunch of flashes, fades, fancy editing … Oh, and always a loud crunch that signifies that the person has fallen victim. We occasionally see the victim begin oozing a black liquid but that’s about it. Personally, I have no problem with the lack of gore, but the confusing manner in which the majority of these scenes are staged, combined with the complete lack of tension, renders the very thing the film’s horror element hinges on ineffective.

And that’s what Warriors of Terra is – that’s all that Warriors of Terra is: a bunch of boring characters wandering about a facility and getting picked off one-by-one by an even more uninteresting mutant girl with little backstory and even less motivation. Other than the scientist daddy going down below to try and save both his daughter and his "experiment" while a corporate crony atop makes plans to deal with the escaped mutation by filling the whole place with lethal nerve gas, the proceedings are as predictably clichéd as you could possibly imagine for a film of this type.

There is one inexplicable thing. For no particular reason whatsoever, Maya undergoes a physical transformation just in time for the third act. All of sudden she pops up on the screen looking like a scalier version of Regan from The Exorcist. No logical reason why. She just does.

Warriors of Terra is a film that’s too competently made and its production values too slick to find any schlock value to it. Even the acting, which is often not so hot, isn’t even bad enough to elicit any unintentional humor. This is the sort of serious horror movie that either had to work or would be a complete failure, and unfortunately, Warriors of Terra is a complete failure. And it’s so boring that if I had not committed myself to watching this thing to then end I’d have shut if off after about the first 25 minutes and never looked back. In retrospect, I wouldn’t have missed anything if I had.


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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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