Directed by Michael Katleman
Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment
There’s no question — the biggest predator walking this planet is not some prehistoric monstrous beast. It walks on two legs and has the power to reason, think, and generally fuck everything up. That predator is man. We screw shit up consistently. The water, the air, our own bodies, and most of all our lives and the lives of everyone around us. Just look at our hit-list thus far: war, global warming, poverty, those lame ass Fanta commercials (the only thing I wanta, wanta is to choke those chicks). I could go on forever. Several years ago the world did nothing as different political factions in Africa engaged in genocide. Countless lives were lost via machete and machine-gun, and most people were either unaware or simply uninterested. Violence not only breeds violence; it also creates monsters. That situation spawned the world’s deadliest serial killer — one who has over three hundred kills under its belt — a legend in Africa known only as Gustave.
Gustave is a twenty-five foot crocodile with a taste for human flesh. He wasn’t always such a behemoth though. You see, thousands of corpses were dumped into the river as a result of these horrid affairs. Gustave began feasting. Turns out he had the biggest appetite and grew to an outlandish size. A living monster that exists as yet another grim reminder of man’s hatred of man.
After an American doctor falls victim to this extraordinary creature, a news team and a wanna-be Crocodile Hunter set out to capture Gustave as a means to stop his rampage. However, our protagonists have a lot more to worry about than just the toothy beast. From the second their plane touches down in the mother land of unparalleled beauty, they bear witness to a society riddled with instability and rife with extreme acts of violence.
This is not your ordinary monster movie. While Gustave’s tale is at the heart of the matter, its atrocities play second fiddle to the murderous assassins who roam the countryside. Primeval is loaded with all manner of horrors. To shed any more light on the storyline would ruin it for you, so let’s talk about what works and what doesn’t.
Since the time of its release Primeval was met with sour review after sour review. In retrospect it is kind of a hard film to market. It won’t sit well with monster fans as the political strife that exists within the events keeps it from being your usual nature-run-amok romp, and it won’t still well for those looking for a dramatic film experience because of … well, because of the aforementioned twenty-five foot scaly killing machine. Who’s this flick for? If you look at the abysmal box office it did, the short answer is no one. Yet … I liked it.
The movie is beautifully shot with an incredible score (interview with music man John Frizzell here), and more than a few intense moments that culminate with some very splattery good times. Even though the subject matter is rather grim and deservedly so, director Michael Katleman handles the events in a way that never seems heavy-handed. In the end he reminds us all that Primeval is still very much a well-paced creature feature as each death or kill goes further and further over-the-top. What can I say? This flick worked for me. While I’m sure most will detest Primeval, as evidenced by initial theatrical impressions, maybe it can find its audience waiting patiently in DVD land.
As expected, given the film’s poor returns this home video package is far from stacking. The commentary with the director and special effects supervisor Paul Linden offers a great listen as the pair speak as if they were having the time of their lives bringing this tale to life despite the hardships and obstacles. From there we get three deleted scenes that in all honesty are actually alternate takes of what already appeared in the movie clocking in at around six minutes and featuring more filmmaker commentary. Nothing too juicy here except for an alternate kill, which, believe it or not, went on for far too long and came off as kind of silly. A wise cut ineed. Finally, the star of this package is a ten-minute behind-the-scenes featurette entitled Croc-umentary: Bringing Gustave to Life. As you would expect, this covers the trials and tribulations of creating a creature from scratch that’s completely CGI and making him appear to be badass. Two words: Mission accomplished!
So there you have it, folks. Is Primeval a great film? Hell, no. It suffers from many of today’s usual pitfalls, but it does offer a unique monster movie experience that elevates it just above the usual crop. Lord knows, there’s a helluva lot worse out there. Now if only we could get those annoying warbling soda peddlers to take a trip to Africa. That could make up for a lot of wrong in the world, no?
Commentary by director Michael Katleman and visual effects supervisor Paul Linden
Croc-umentary: Bringing Gustave to Life featurette
3 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
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.
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.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
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!
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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
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.
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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