New Releases for Tuesday, January 5, 2016
What's new in stores and on video shelves this week:
Genre: Horror Directed by: Jason Lei Howden Run time: 86 minutes Rating: Unrated Format: Blu-Ray
The Lowdown: Remember when directors just had fun making movies? Remember watching “Dead Alive” for the first time? Or “Re-Animator”? Horror movies weren’t always so super serious and drenched with wince-inducing torture.
There used to be a spirit of playfulness, a youthful exuberance, a willingness to be goofy that fueled some of the best cult classics in the 1980s. Deathgasm is that kind of film.
It’s not perfect. It has continuity issues and plot holes and brief stretches that add little to its propulsive narrative, threatening to undermine the initial grip of its hysterical opening segments. But, damn, if it doesn’t just leave a big smile on your face by the time the credits roll.
Deathgasm is the film equivalent of an awkward high school outcast trying to get to third base with the cheerleader who is way out of his league. It’s got chutzpah to burn. It’s high on its own endorphin rush, and that feeling is contagious, seeping off the screen like billowing clouds of smoke from the behind-the-dumpsters burnouts huffing on a joint.
It gets you high on its own aspirations, and then it just barrels forward, throwing everything – animation, surreal sequences of Boris Vallejo-inspired art come to life and sex toys, yes, sex toys – into its story of a ragtag band of death metal wannabes who release and then must kill a growing horde of hell-spawn demons to prevent literal Hell on Earth.
It’s also a ridiculously funny film, filled with off-the-cuff zingers that land and land and land. You seriously have to watch it twice, or even three times, to catch all the hysterical one-liners.
Go, now, and rent it, buy it, order it on VOD. Deathgasm is a cult classic. Don’t be the last one to jump on the wagon.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes! Nudity – Yes! Gore – Over the top. Drug use – No. Bad Guys/Killers – Demons, man, demons. Buy/Rent – Buy it.
The Green Inferno (Universal, 101 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): There’s a reason why the controversial cannibal subgenre of gory horror never made a bigger splash. It’s really hard to make a good cannibal movie. That doesn’t mean you can’t make an entertaining cannibal movie, which Eli Roth has done with The Green Inferno.
His heartfelt homage to Umberto Lenzi (1981’s Cannibal Ferox) and Ruggero Deodato (1979’s Cannibal Holocaust) includes all the hallmarks of the genre. It starts in the jungle then jumps inexplicably to the U.S. There are misguided activists/explorers/relief workers who believe they can make a difference with indigenous tribes. There’s at least one “villain,” a member of the captives whose lack of empathy for his or her colleagues means an immediate ticket to the top of the menu. And there’s no shortage of people being eaten alive and tortured.
The Green Inferno flirts briefly with character development before writer/director Eli Roth successfully strands a college-aged group of activists in the Peruvian jungle. But you won’t care much about any of these potential human appetizers. The heroine comes off as ridiculously naïve, yet oddly capable when it comes to surviving. The rest of her classmates are broad-stroke
brushworks of seemingly real people with few defining or memorable qualities.
Let’s face it, you don’t watch a cannibal movie to be inspired. You want to see the goods, and Roth doesn’t hold back, offering a gruesome series of deaths that try to one up the other. Eyeballs are scooped out, killer ants are employed, limbs are hacked off. This is definitely not for the squeamish.
Like his predecessors, Roth can’t resist goosing his audience before the final credits roll with an inspired dream sequence that fades into a wacky, fun mid-credits scene that seems ripped straight from a 1980s straight-to-VHS grindhouse feature.
Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Paramount, 93 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): I will admit being giddy and geeked out to finally watch Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, and thankfully it did not disappoint. This is not top-shelf filmmaking by any means, but it’s consistently funny, ridiculously gory and quite clever with some of its visual gags. “Scout’s Guide…” is a welcome reminder of cult classics like “Vamp” and “Return of the Living Dead,” movies that didn’t take themselves too seriously but still managed to be entertaining as hell.
The Visit (Universal, 94 minutes, PG-13, Blu-Ray): It’s official. M. Night Shyamalan has finally made another good movie. And whoa, boy, The Visit is surprisingly good for its first 85 minutes or so.
I would actually place it third on my list of favorite films by the director. It utilizes found footage in a very competent way that actually makes sense. It offers up a number of stellar performances. It includes several legitimate scares. And the twist – it’s a damn good one that I didn’t see coming. Here’s the downside, though. Take my advice and hit stop on your remote as soon as the police arrive and the scene appears secure. That’s where The Visit should have ended. If it had faded to black right then, The Visit would be a much better film, worthy of cult classic status. As it is, Shyamalan can’t resist two epilogues that only serve to undermine and diminish everything he accomplished to that point.
It’s still worthy of your time, regardless of how you’ve felt about M. Night for the past six or seven years.
Condemned (Image/RLJ Entertainment, 83 minutes, Unrated, DVD): Director Eli Morgan Gesner must have seen “Street Trash,” the lurid 1987 horror comedy gorefest where homeless denizens become mutated monsters after drinking a contaminated batch of ripple.
His low-budget Condemned, about a group of drug dealers, addicts and homeless residents who take up residence in an abandoned NYC building only to be locked inside when a toxic sewage cocktail starts turning everyone into frothing, crazed killers, is better than you would expect.
There’s actual character development taking place, an anomaly for films like this, and above average acting.
When the gory goodness kicks off, the practical effects are top notch and inspired. I really, really
liked it, and I’m betting you will too.
Sicario (Lionsgate, 121 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Damn, but Benecio Del Toro just gets better and better, and Emily Blunt has incredible range. The pair propel this taunt, white-knuckle thrill ride into the Mexican drug cartel and the United States’ effort to control and defang it. Movies don’t get much better than this.
Little Dead Rotting Hood (Cinedigm, 90 minutes, Unrated, DVD): What if Little Red Riding Hood was actually a zombie spirit born from a pagan blood ritual to wage war against werewolves? Wow. That would be pretty cool, right? It would be pretty cool. If only someone had told that to the people who made Little Dead Rotting Hood. Not even gratuitous nudity can save this turkey.
Wrecker (XLRator, 83 minutes, Unrated, DVD): For anyone itching for a remake to 2001’s “Joyride,” I offer you Wrecker, one of the most lame excuses for an original horror film in years. Years! It’s so bad that literally the first 20 or so minutes are nothing but establishing shots of two female best buds driving at 180 miles per hour on a completely desolate stretch of California highway.This is beyond bad.
Also Available: Flesh and Bone: The Complete First Season, Full of Grace, Infinitely Polar Bear, Kill Game, True Detective: The Complete Second Season, Over Your Dead Body, Sleeping with Other People, The Walk, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, Stock Option, Mercury Plains, Battle for Skyark, Lyfe’s Journey, Ancient Aliens: Season 8, Scream Factory Double Feature: The House Where Evil Dwells/Ghost Warrior, Captive, Experimenter