MovieNugget reviews

0-9 - A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

Directed by Bruno Mattei
Starring Margit Newton, Franco Garofalo, Jose Gras, Gabriel Renom
Written by Jose Maria Cunilles, Claudio Fragasso
Produced by Isabel Mula
Music by Goblin and others

WARNING: Do NOT see this film if you have an appreciation for the zombie genre and want to see something that is at least on a par with the genre's semi-decent efforts like the remake of Dawn Of The Dead or, hell, even Zombi Holocaust. Only see this film if you have a sense of humour, enjoy "so-bad-they're-good" movies and films that contain scene after scene of jaw-dropping ineptness and idiocy.

"Hmm, maybe you're right, that suit is a little too tight..."

Hell of the Living Dead is hilariously inept in almost every way, save the use of music lifted from better films, most notably the far (far, far far!) superior original Dawn Of The Dead, which Hell liberally and consistently rips off every chance it gets. Absolutely nothing works in this piece of stillborn dreck - the acting is stupefying, the editing abysmal, the special effects are, for the most part, laughably pathetic, and the dialogue is on par with your typical Ed Wood film. Almost every scene screams ineptitude, for example:

- 'Scientists' in white labcoats spout inane gibberish like "how's the linear momentum?" and "check the component ratios for the module" whilst attacking 70's sci-fi panel controls that do nothing
- A scientist bemoans the fact that their geiger counter is "going crazy", but only after clearly turning the meter's dial to the right and thereby ensuring the needle moves to the right (this is before a rat easily slips into their supposedly protective radiation suits)
- There are lines of the quality: "Buildings have people in them, we'd better go investigate" and "She may not know much about chemestry, but in bed, her reactions are terrific" (!)
- The SWAT team, strongly reminiscent of the team in Romero's Dawn, act like they've never handled a gun before (clearly they haven't) and take on the most ridiculous postures and "sweeps" of enemy-laden territories
- Time and time again characters stare goggle-eyed at incoming zombie hordes and don't run, fight back or do ANYTHING - even the supposed trained SWAT team can't understand the concept of shooting them in the head, and have to be INSTRUCTED by one of the team members (the lunatic one) to go for the head, not the body
- A dead body hanging from the roof ejects blood out of her mouth on cue as instructed by the director
- The lead female gets naked and paints herself like a reject from Live And Let Die in order to infiltrate a Papua New Guinea tribe; a pointless move as it turns out
- There are countless scenes of stock footage interspersed throughout, of monkeys, storks, natives, owls (!) and elephants (!!)
- One of the SWAT team members gets killed prancing around in a tutu and top hat
- Zombies either move unbelievably slow, to the point of catatonia, or fast, like the granny or the zombie who flies out of nowhere at the end
- Characters who have survived the entire film for some reason throw all caution into the wind at the end so they end up like fodder

The critics' reaction to Hell of the Living Dead was hostile.

And so on. On top of it all, the dubbing is dreadful and the gore for the most part is woeful; the film also feels about an hour too long. As a zombie horror film, Hell of the Living Dead is a trainwreck. As an unintentional comedy, it's passable. As a textbook example for film students as how to get everything wrong, it's invaluable.

Best bit
so many "best" moments to choose from - I'll go with the ridiculous tutu and top hat scene

Iconic moment
the sort of iconic moment that summarises the idiocy of this film? - the SWAT team's ASSault on the US embassy

Worst bit
this is relatively speaking, of course, in a film engorged with "worst bits" -

Best line
"She may not know much about chemestry, but in bed, her reactions are terrific!"

Best performance
Margit Newton's breasts

the guy who filmed all that stock footage

What would have made this better
any semblance of filmmaking skill

What would have made this worse
the ending that informed us it was "all a dream"; a four-hour director's cut

Companion film
the almost equally lame Nightmare City

What to watch instead
why not the original magnum opus this so clearly rips off - Romero's Dawn of the Dead

If you liked this...
you have a preference for "bad cinema" and should immediately watch The Room

+ Goblin's music
+ a couple of gore scenes are fairly executed (only a couple, mind you)
+ it's hilarious if you're drunk
+ some scenes and lines are unintentional comedy gold

- too long, and some scenes are much too drawn out
- too much stock footage which clashes badly with the rest of the film
- the acting and dubbing is atrocious
- the script is woeful and has some truly appalling dialogue
- the gore is mostly pretty lame and cheap
- almost every scene has something stupefying in it (move this to Pros if you like)
- virtually all scenes are poorly shot, lit and/or staged
- massively rips off Dawn of the Dead

Rating on the David Emge/Zombie Roger level of cinematic shamblers:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Catwoman (2004)

Directed by Pitof
Starring Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Bratt
Written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris and John Rogers
Produced by Denise Di Novi, Edward McDonnell
Music by Klaus Badelt

Sometimes a movie comes along on a wave of such negativity that it's impossible to determine whether it's simply hyperbole or in fact actually warranted. Universally panned by critics, ignored by moviegoers, Catwoman has built such a reputation of shit that you can't watch it without some sort of preconceived opinion. This is what I felt when I started to watch it. I had heard all the horror stories. This is the film that swept the Razzies, the film for which Halle Berry herself turned up to accept her Razzie award as Worst Actress. I had read positively scathing reviews that were so vitriolic you'd think the film had been responsible for the Holocaust. So I went into this with incredibly low expectations. If the movie had turned out to be bad but unintentionally hilarious (much like The Wicker Man remake) then I would have come away with the feeling that this was simply a poor film that got unfairly lambasted. But my low - nay, virtually non-existent - expectations weren't met in the slightest. This is one film that truly does live up to its awful reputation.

Halle Berry is a graphic designer called Patience Phillips (!) who works at this twatty company called Beau-Line (!!) and gets killed, then is revived by a magical cat (!!@&#!). This prompts her to get into the crime-fighting business...wearing the worst superhero costume ever conceived by man. She fights Sharon Stone, who has ended up being the CEO of Beau-Line. Like it matters. Catwoman is so bad it's like being punched in the face by a boxer with shards of glass embedded in his knuckles, then dipping your head in chili sauce. The film does NOTHING right. Let's look at the most obvious problems...

Even a surreptitious handjob from Halle Berry couldn't
keep Benjamin Bratt's attention on the scene.

1. It's directed by some French guy whose name is Pitof. Now, going by anything McG has directed in the past, you should be wary of any directors with singular names. They are a definite warning sign of crapness. This guy thinks that overedited action scenes that make Michael Bay's style look aenimic is a good thing. Cuts in fight scenes happen practically every second in a failed bid to make it look fast and exciting (and hide the fact that none of the actors can do their own stunts or fight scenes). It is almost unbearable. Pitof also likes long swooping shots over and around the city. Unfortunately they look like cheap CGI that fucked other cheap CGI and had a retarded CGI child. I assume the producers hired Pitof because of some TV commercials he directed, I bet that's his background. You can just tell. Anyway, he's crap and hopefully his career is dead in the water.

2. The CGI. Truly this was some diabolically bad shit. I've seen better computer effects in the intro movies from a ten-year old PC computer game. They've gone the route of Spider-Man in having a CGI character nip around the place, but it looks horrid. Not for one moment was I convinced this was Halle Berry running up walls and along buildings. In the scene where Berry is revived by a gaggle (or whatever the collective description is) of cats, they use a CGI cat to walk along, over her prone body and breathe life into her. Now, surely they could have filmed a real cat doing this (okay, maybe not where it breathes life into her, but why the hell couldn't they get a real cat for the scenes where it's WALKING along?) I mean, it's not like cats are on the endangered species list, for God's sake.

3. The acting. Halle may have the looks, but the way she plays this role (and as Catwoman in particular) suggests she was either high on drugs through the shoot or not high enough. Michelle Pfeiffer's turn as Catwoman in Batman Returns worked; she played the role with the right mix of camp and sexiness. But any time Berry purrs or makes some other cat-like noise, you just want to bludgeon yourself to death with a jar of your own sick. And the supporting cast suck too. Not that they could have saved this.

4. Catwoman. Face it, the character's a bit lame. But she can work when the ingredients are right, and when she's not the star of her own film. I reckon the character only works in limited amounts. Somehow the filmmakers managed to make the ridiculously good-looking Halle Berry look crap in this. Her outfit is like some lame S&M outfit that not even the most nihilistic moron would dare wear out in the open.

5. The script. There's a conspiracy involving cosmetic makeup which causes long-term damage to consumers. There's a plot twist involving Sharon Stone's character which is so ridiculous you'll wish you had killed yourself beforehand. You have a guy who's supposed to be a cop who has all this evidence thrust in his face suggesting Berry's character is Catwoman: mysterious disappearances, handwriting evidence, stolen jewelry made into cat claws found IN HER APARTMENT, and he's still not sure. I swear, if all cops were as clueless as this guy you could go out and murder anyone you liked with no fear of being caught unless you carved your name and address into the victim’s forehead.

6. Everything else. The only positive thing I can say about this film was that it was mercifully short (even then it felt overlong).

Halle realises this is the point where her career jumped the shark.

Is this the worst film ever made? No. But it's certainly the poorest piece of scum-sucking filth I've seen in a long time. The only way you can possibly cope with this film's awfulness is to get drunk with a bunch of mates and rip into it. Otherwise you're setting yourself up for some serious pain. It's not one of those "so-bad-it's-good" movies. It's one of those "dear God, life's too short for me to be watching this, what the hell is wrong with me, do I hate myself THIS much?" films.

Best bit
the trailers included with the DVD, or the moment you throw the disc across the room in a blaze of profanity

Iconic moment
are you KIDDING?

Worst bit
the whole film except for the end credits

Best line
sigh, if I must...I suppose there's that bit where Halle's crapping on about her death at the start..."If there had been an obituary, it would have described the unremarkable life of an unremarkable woman, survived by no one."

Best performance

certainly not the producers or the director for making this heap of shit - let's say YOU, the viewer, for putting up with this

What would have made this better
lots and lots, actually: a change of director, hire someone who can actually film an action scene; completely revamp the script to either make it MORE tongue-in-cheek and camp, or go the other way and make it grim and violent; redesign Catwoman's outfit; never, NEVER let Halle Berry purr; don't use cheap CGI, go with more practical effects; match Catwoman up with another superhero; snatch up every copy of this film and bury it in the earth so future generations won't have to suffer

What would have made this worse
um...if the producers stabbed you repeatedly in the chest and laughed while they forced you to watch their film over and over?

Companion film
the unbelievably superior Batman Returns

If you liked this...
you need drugs, lots of drugs, and you shouldn't be allowed to vote or drive a car

+ it's short

- poor acting
- even poorer direction
- an incredibly poor script
- confusing, badly directed action scenes
- howlingly lame lines and delivery
- no sense of pace, tension or thrills
- the Catwoman outfit is horrible
- unbelievably lame CGI
- not even camp or knowing enough to make fun of itself

Rating on the Ben Stiller/Mr Furious level of shithouse superheroes:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Resident (2011)

Directed by Antti Jokinen
Starring Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace
Produced by Tobin Armbrust, Cary Brokaw, Guy East and Simon Oakes
Written by Antti Jokinen and Robert Orr
Music by John Ottman

In what's designed to give the biggest "MEH" reaction from the audience, The Resident is a generic, by-the-numbers stalker-thriller that brings nothing new at all to the genre. Were it not for some very nice cinematography and the lead performances, this would probably have self-combusted under its own mediocrity.

Look, I don't want to pretend that The Resident isn't unwatchable. In fact, it's quite watchable in the same way that an episode of The Amazing Race is watchable but you immediately forget what just happened the moment you finish watching it. The Resident's main problem is that it's a flatline of a film - there are no genuine scares, no genuine thrills, nothing but a middle-of-the-road viewing experience. It's not especially creepy either, which is probably its biggest failing.

The Resident is brought to you by Grade-A Coffee,
the brand of choice for beardy serial voyeurs!

Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, in one of her latest failed attempts to break the mainstream market, is stalked by Jeffrey Dean Morgan who has the looks and charm of a hairy Brad Pitt but, for some unexplained reason, the deep, dark secrets of Anthony Perkins from Psycho. He's the landlord, so there's a little bit of sexual tension between him and his latest tenant, but that's soon ditched for a positively uninspired game of cat-and-mouse. Christopher Lee pops up in what is essentially an extended cameo, there's some stuff that happens and then other stuff, and something else, and the viewer promptly falls asleep.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan's new eye cologne didn't work as well as he'd hoped

What little positives The Resident manages to bring to the table are the excellent cinematography by Guillermo Del Toro cinematographer-of-choice Guillermo Navarro and various semi-gratuitous shots of Hilary Swank's extremely fit body. There are precious few other reasons to watch this unless you absolutely must watch everything that Jeffrey Dean Morgan appears in or you have some time to waste and absolutely everything else that was available to watch has summarily disappeared.

Best bit
the 'flashback' scene where we see Morgan's plan in motion

Iconic moment
absolutely not applicable here

Worst bit
the toothbrush scene - it's "worst" on many different levels

Best line
I honestly can't recall a single memorable line - next

Best performance
pick a name out of the hat: either Jeffrey Dean Morgan or Hilary Swank

I *suppose* Hilary Swank, because she exec-produced it as well...thanks

What would have made this better
either gone completely for the jugular and amped up the gore to Takashi Miike levels of insanity, or rejig the screenplay and make it truly creepy and unsettling -- oh, and hire another director

What would have made this worse
if the main roles were reversed...actually, scratch that, it would have made this AWESOME

Companion film
this has some similarities with Single White Female and even Sliver, though I couldn't imagine watching The Resident and Sliver back-to-back

If you liked this...
watch the original Psycho and ask yourself why you liked The Resident in the first place

+ there are a handful of decent scenes that play with the landlord-tenant sexual tension (which are unfortunately jettisoned early on)
+ very nice cinematography
+ Jeffrey Dean Morgan for the ladies, Hilary Swank's bits for the guys

- Christopher Lee is woefully underused
- quickly becomes a bog-standard thriller
- the script is bland and generic
- not scary, creepy or bloody enough to satisfy thriller or horror fans
- the boyfriend played by Lee Pace is as bland as a beige sponge
- some plot holes and "what the hell?" moments

Rating on the Anthony Perkins/Norman Bates level of perverted hotel proprieters: