PLEASE NOTE: The movies reviewed in From Here to Obscurity have either never been given an official VHS or DVD release, have been released on VHS but are long out of print and very hard to find, or are readily available in some form but have generally gone unnoticed by most of the general public.
Starring Pierre Kirby, Edowan Bersmea, Danny Ravebeck
Directed by Godfrey Ho
With this weekend being the American release of the long-in-the-works South Korean giant monster epic Dragon Wars (review) I decided what better time than now to dig out my old “From Here to Obscurity” column and tell you all about another deliriously incomprehensible giant monster movie from Asia made by a director known for being quite the insane hack: Thunder of Gigantic Serpent.
From what little information I’ve been able to find, Thunder of Gigantic Serpent was made in Hong Kong back in 1980, but for whatever reason it wasn’t released until 1988 – and seemingly only in parts of Europe, in some places under the alternate title of Terror Serpent. The film’s year of origin is still a matter of debate. Real obscure is this one. I do know this little known ditty comes to us from Hong Kong uber hack Godfrey Ho, a filmmaker known for splicing together random footage from TV show and movies he’s acquired in order to create truly hackneyed works of art that he then releases as an entirely new film with English dubbing that makes the typical old school Godzilla movies’ sound positively Shakespearean. Zombie vs. Ninja? Robo Vampire? Do those ring any bells?
Whether or not Thunder of Gigantic Serpent is another one of Ho’s cut & paste jobs or just one of the least lucid films ever assembled I cannot say, but I can attest that it most definitely plays like three movies in one. Movie #1 is an insipid and surprisingly violent spy film about an evil terrorist out to steal this super formula that will help him take over the world and the only thing standing in his way is an American super agent. Movie #2 is a combination Lassie-style “child with an animal for a best friend” family movie. These two storylines converge into movie #3: essentially a Japanese giant monster movie. Who was the target audience supposed to be for this?
Things get off to an auspicious start when the first scene following the opening credits is of a thunderstorm causing a massive snake-filled mudslide. This sequence has absolutely nothing to do with anything that follows.
After the brief bit of nonsense, we’re then introduced to Solomon, the world’s most dangerous terrorist, who from looking at his clothing clearly knows the softer side of Sears. Solomon is introduced shooting soda cans for target practice, another thing that doesn’t exactly evoke menace. He orders his henchmen to retrieve “the formula” and begins cackling like a madman.
Jump to the bedroom of a young girl by the name of Ting Ting or Tintin, depending on which poorly dubbed character was saying her name. For the sake of argument, let’s just call her Ting Ting. She’s sitting on her bed with a snake she’s found and knitting it a bow while trying to decide on a name. She’s rejects Fluffy and Charlie before deciding on Mozlah or Mozzler, again depending on who says it. I’m just going to go with Mozlah. How she goes from Fluffy to Charlie to Mozlah is something I’d like to know. She asks the snake if it likes the name Mozlah and (I swear I’m not making this up) the snake perks up and nods its head in approval. Take my word for it when I tell you this Ting Ting is one of the shrillest, most obnoxious, little rugrats in film history. Just wait.
Meanwhile at some military laboratory, scientists are discussing “the formula.” At no point is any attempt to actually explain “the formula” aside from it looking like a Plexiglas fish tank with some electrodes inside it. The scientists place a tiny frog inside the tank and turn on “the formula”. A few electrical flashes later and suddenly the frog glows blue and grows to the size of a small dog. The scientists celebrate. This will benefit mankind and/or the military how?
All soldiers in this film wear camouflage fatigues and snazzy red berets. Too bad they didn’t pack body armor; Solomon’s goon squad guns down everyone wearing a snazzy red beret. No one in the film can just get shot and die either. You almost never see any bullet holes or blood when someone gets shot but you will see that person have some super seizure before falling dead and/or performing an exaggerated flip of some sort. One dude will get shot in the chest by a machine gun and die doing a forward flip with a couple extra rotations into a swimming pool. Up yours, physics!
Every scientist also gets shot dead except for one female lab assistant named Lynn who jumps into a car with “the formula” and makes a break for it. A hillside car chase straight out of an early Seventies TV cop show follows. She tosses the box out the window and ditches the car seconds later. Good thing she did, too, because the car explodes even before it goes over the side of a cliff. The goon squad pulls up and decides to go down and sift through the wreckage because they’re sure “the formula” is fireproof. They don’t even know what it looks like yet they’re positive it’s fireproof?
Ting Ting will find “the formula” on the side of the road and decide it would make a great new tank for her pet snake. Can you guess what happens next? Mozlah begins glowing, then growing and springs out of the tank 15-feet long – now brought to life through the magic of bad puppetry. Startled, Ting Ting questions Mozlah as to what happened and the snake either shakes its head or nods in agreement depending on the question. Too big to keep secret in the house, she drags the snake out to the shed with a dog leash while it makes an odd screeching sound akin to that of a tropical bird. This snake doesn’t hiss, it chirps.
You know all those kid and their pet movies where the two frolic and bond? Well, after Mozlah helps Ting Ting defeat some neighborhood boys as the sport of downhill skating (Why do their skates have tank treads instead of wheels and wear can I get a pair?) it’s off to the beach for some mind-blowing antics.
Ting Ting has a beach ball and she and Mozlah bounce it back and forth with their heads. It’s like a scene from “Lassie” on crack. The music playing sounds like it came from a late Seventies PBS kiddy show. Suddenly, they go from the beach to an abandoned shack. There’s also some Asian guy dressed like Sonny Crockett spying on them from the bushes. Inside this shack, she feeds Mozlah fruit by tossing it into his mouth from across the room. Positively surreal stuff.
Next the two of them are playing hide and seek in and around an old shack. Lightning strikes a tree causing it to topple over onto the shack that then instantly bursts into flames. Next thing you know, you’re seeing the exterior of a flaming diorama shack, a hole erupts in its side, and you very briefly see this plastic-looking snake wrapped around an obvious female action figure literally fly straight into the air to safety. WTF?!?!
Meanwhile, Solomon isn’t happy his goons failed. He’s still not giving up hope of finding “the formula” because he’s “got faith” in his #1 henchman, Billy. An evil terrorist mastermind named Solomon and a right hand man named Billy… Who can stop such evil?
Ted Fast can! He’s young, blonde, Caucasian, and he works alone, which means he’s pretty good. This is confirmed to be true in the following exchange between Billy and Solomon.
BILLY: Boss, they sent a special agent to deal with us.
SOLOMON: Who the hell is the guy?
BILLY: His name is Ted Fast. (Pause) He’s a highly trained specialist. (Pause) And he always works alone.
SOLOMON: He must be pretty good then.
How good? Ted Fast is walking under a bridge somewhere for no particular reason. A van pulls up being driven by two terrorist goons who look a lot like Hall & Oates. They spot Ted Fast despite the fact that up until this point we were given no indication that Solomon even knew what he looked like. I guess he must have ordered his thugs out to track down the only white guy in army fatigues not wearing a snazzy red beret in all of Hong Kong. They’ll prove no match for Ted Fast’s unique style of combat; he tumbles around a lot on the ground before gunning them down. Similar scenes will be randomly sprinkled throughout the movie.
Ted Fast: He doesn’t find danger; danger finds him – usually when he’s taking a casual stroll.
That Sonny Crockett-attired Asian was one of Solomon’s goons scouring the area and he tells the boss about the big snake. Solomon instantly deduces that the big snake must be tied to “the formula” and orders his men to find Ting Ting. You have to give the movie credit; it’s utterly absurd but at least it doesn’t give you time to stop and think much before it moves on to the next bit of absurdity and incoherence.
Lynn is awake in the hospital being quizzed by the military about the location of the formula. She keeps telling them where she ditched it and they keep telling her they didn’t find it. Police Inspector Chow and shows up at the hospital to speak to Lynn and the previous scene repeats itself all over. Four armed thugs arrive to capture Lynn. Solomon sends four thugs to capture an injured unarmed woman in the hospital but only two at a time to kill the super duper Special Forces guy?
Lynn doesn’t give Billy the answers he wanted so he removes his sunglasses in a manner that only someone truly evil could. This was apparently the unspoken signal for the other three goons to just start beating the crap out of her. Inspector Chow saves the day. I wasn’t aware that the Hong Kong police normally carried Uzi’s, but hey … Like Ted Fast, Detective Chow also has a special method for winning gun battles: sneak up behind a guy, get his attention, and then shoot him the moment he turns around. Okay, so not exactly the most heroic way of taking out a criminal, but whatever works.
Lynn then breaks down and confesses her sob story. Turns out she was in on it all along, working for Solomon to help steal the formula. Not only is this subplot completely unnecessary, it makes absolute zero sense. No matter since this is pretty much her last scene in the movie.
The army General, who for some reason has chose this particular occasion to swap out his uniform and snazzy red beret for a business suit, is at Ting Ting’s house questioning her parents about having seen or come across anything unusual in the area. Ting Ting overhears this conversation and realizes the jig is up. Mom and dad are horrified by her giant snake, Solomon and company show up to commit some terrorism, and Mozlah saves the day with some tail fu. Billy still manages to nab Ting Ting. Mozlah gives chase. Oh, and Mozlah is now bulletproof for reasons unknown.
But wait, the terrorists have actually set a trap for the snake because they’re psychic, I guess, and fully expected it to chase them into this field out back. What is the trap? Why they’ve set up a few metal stakes in the ground in a rectangular shape with metallic wires attached so that Mozlah will slither right into the center and get electrocuted. This backfires on them when the electricity causes Mozlah to grow even larger. Mozlah, roaring like an elephant now, does some super-sized tail fu on a couple of hapless henchmen and then Ting Ting rides off on the snake’s back as if it were a pony.
Next we see Mozlah the snake will now officially be Godzilla-sized. Solomon must have had a back-up plan in case a gigantic snake showed up because how else does one explain the fighter plane he orders in? Silly becomes even sillier as the attack plane proves to be a model Cessna that fires lasers. Still no match for giant tail fu though.
Ting Ting gets nabbed by Billy again. Cops… Car chase… Gun battle… As Billy speeds towards the city, Ting Ting yells for Mozlah to save her. Despite being miles away, it hears her and takes off into the nearby river to give chase like Lassie.
Cut to Ted Fast back in his office calling the general and to tell him to break out the army because a giant snake is now on the loose. How does he know about this? He must really be that good.
A major difference between Mozlah and Lassie: Lassie never indiscriminately killed innocent people and destroyed tons of infrastructure when trying to rescue Timmy. First casualty: a bridge and everyone on it. Second casualty: a passenger train on another bridge. Third casualty: a dam is destroyed. Tens of thousands Hong Kong civilians appeared to have been killed in the ensuing flood.
Back out to some country road where Ted Fast comes strolling by on one of his many nature hikes and casually approaches the only other guy on the street, a guy he recognizes as one of Solomon’s men. Ted beats the hell out of the guy and demands Solomon’s whereabouts.
Back in the city, Ting Ting continues screaming for Mozlah to save her. If I were Billy I swear I would have shot her by now just to shut her up. Guess who arrives by water and begins trashing the city Toho-style? To be perfectly honest, the effects here are pretty decent, though this really is a movie made in the 1980s with effects that look straight out of the 1960s. I will say that giant-sized Mozlah is still more realistic looking than the Reptilicus marionette.
A close-up of a still picture of a tank with an explosion effect added to the gun barrel is what passes for attacking tank action. There’s cheap and then there’s this. They must have blown the film’s budget on all those snazzy red berets.
Billy sees a news report about the giant snake heading in his direction but doesn’t care because he’s convinced the military will kill it first. He’s clearly never seen a giant Asian monster movie in his life. Ting Ting then finally gets on his nerves to the point that he slaps the hell out of her. I know I shouldn’t be cheering a grown man smacking around a small girl, but good for him.
Meanwhile, Ted Fast is back in his office sitting at his desk (WHAT?!?!) and calls up Inspector Chow to inform him that Billy has Ting Ting held hostage in the Starlight Building skyscraper downtown. No point with a movie like this to even bother asking how he knew this or how he got back to his desk so fast. I’m also not going to ask how Inspector Chow magically teleported to the building that the snake has begun encircling upwards in a serpentine-like grasp.
Billy is about to do the world a favor and silence this annoying little girl once and for all when Inspector Chow barges in. Judging by the fixed position his body drops dead in, either rigamortis set in instantaneously upon being shot or Billy chose to die while dancing “the robot.” Chow grabs Ting Ting and now it’s a mad dash to get out of the building before the Air Forces goes all King Kong on her pet snake. Once again, she starts screaming Mozlah’s name non-stop. Shut up!
For some reason whenever Mozlah takes a direct hit it lights up like a glow worm. A pilot finally decides to go all kamikaze and rams his jet right into Mozlah’s head causing a huge explosion that decimates the top of the building and sends Mozlah’s corpse crashing to the ground.
Ting Ting runs over and goes into full-on Susan Lucci overdrive begging it not to die. As reality sets it, the little bitch throws the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums, blaming everyone – mom, dad, the cops, the military, etc. – for conspiring to kill her beloved pet snake, the one responsible for the deaths of untold thousands. She finally collapses into her mother’s arms sobbing hysterically. Inspector Chow then lectures the General about the dangers of scientific experiments that tamper with nature and that they should learn to “trust their local constables”. Say what? Then Inspector Chow punches out the General for costing so many people their lives. Sure. Why not?
But the movie isn’t over because there’s still one last issue to resolve. Ted Fast, now wearing what looks like a snazzy red baker’s hat and the uniform of a fast food seafood employee confronts Solomon in a parking lot leading to a Mexican standoff. Fast even tells Solomon to “make his day.” So, of course, they drop their guns and have a kung fu battle instead. Solomon, the sneaky bastard he is, snatches up one of the guns off the ground and is about to kill our hero when Ted “He must be pretty good then” Fast flings his puffy red beret at him as if it were a ninja star to knock the gun out of his hand and then shoots Solomon right through the heart. Ted Fast kicks his snazzy red beret into the air, catches it, turns, and walks away. He takes all of about two steps when the movie abruptly cuts to a red title card stating that this is “THE END”.
What the hell did I just watch? It wasn’t good but it was definitely something.
2 out of 5
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
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 Popcorn, and 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!
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.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
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.
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.
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.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
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.
- 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.
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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