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Something about Shrooms…?

one way trip 3d 2011

ONE WAY TRIP

2 Stars  2011/86m

“They wanted the ultimate kick – they got it.”

Director: Markus Welter / Writers: Matthias Bauer & Bastian Zach / Cast: Sabrina Reiter, Matthias Britschgi, Simon Kaser, Harry Lampl, Melanie Winiger, Herbert Lesier, Isabelle Barth, Tanja Raunig, Aaron Hitz, Martin Loos.

Body Count: 7


Bluntly, if you’ve seen Shrooms, you’ve seen this. But this one has 3D. And is all in German.

Yeah, that’s right… despite the title (no regional title) and all the credits being in English, since its production in 2011, nobody has bothered cobbling together a subtitle track for One Way Trip, so I had to fall back on my remedial German skills to try and follow the plot. Not too difficult as it turned out. Beware spoilers

Six young adults drive their gorgeous VW T2 – for the first time ever, the same colour scheme as mine!!! – into the Swiss forests to look for a seasonal mushroom with hallucinogenic properties. On route they encounter a particularly unpleasant farmer, shooting wildlife, and his starey daughter, get a flat, and pick up a stranded couple at the garage. Why they were stranded I don’t know, my translation skills failed me.

one way trip 2011

Tents up, shrooms located, the group enjoy their respective trips until Timo is attacked or injured (hard to tell) and needs medical attention. Oh look, a storm is coming in too! Evidently phones don’t work and the drive back to help is further than the farm they locate on their map, so they trek through the rain there.

Nobody is home, so the group sets up in the creepy old house until the nasty old farmer from before pops up. Meanwhile, the usual reasons to go outside crop up and it’s not long before people start dying at the hands of the scarred daughter: One guy is suspended upside down by chains, gagged, has hosiery pulled over his face and then knifed in the eye, there’s a decapitation, a fall on to an iron fence, burning, blades in the back…

Obvious final girl Valerie appears to be the last dame standing, although a couple of the others have just vanished, and she fights with Psycho Farmer in some outside pit.

one way trip 2011

Then we get the twist. Pretty much the same twist as Shrooms, albeit involving more folks. Perhaps some dialogue would’ve made things more obvious, but I was pretty sure that about half the party tripped out to the extent they decided to kill everyone and, well, that’s all folks.

Well made – though the obv. 3D shots are infrequent – with some nice scenery early on, above average production merits and a good chase scene, but it seemed to reach its climax so suddenly I half expected a twenty minute in-hospital epilogue. Perhaps I should re-learn German and watch it again. The most common criticism in other reviews is that the cast all speak the ‘generic’ form of German, rather than dialects more common to the area where the characters are supposed to hail from.

Blurb-of-interest: Sabrina Reiter was also the lead in Dead in 3 Days.

“Come to Brazil!!!1!11!!”

turistas 2006

TURISTAS

3 Stars  2006/18/90m

“Go home.”

A.k.a. Paradise Lost

Director: John Stockwell / Writer: Michael Arlen Ross / Cast: Josh Duhumel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Max Brown, Beau Garrett, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Hello mate, here’s your dead nephew and, by the way, you’re out of Scotch.”


I went off backpacking the year Turistas came out, five months starting in Bangkok, into Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, India, Nepal, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I picked up this film at one of those DVD outlets in Kathmandu and before I got chance to watch it, had a conversation with some Australian girls who’d just watched Hostel before coming away on their gap year trip. A few spoilers follow.

This tamer, xenophobic rip-off of Hostel is, at least, notable for its beautiful scenery, and was filmed entirely on location in Brazil, where teen backpacking gal-pals Bea and Amy are chaperoned by Bea’s tightly-wound older brother Alex on their trip.

On a particularly frantic bus ride to their next destination, Alex’s concern for the welfare of all aboard is proven right when the vehicle skids off the road and teeters of the side of a steep drop. Everyone flees just in time as the bus rolls down. It’s almost Final Destination worthy. Recovering their luggage etc., the trio befriend solo Australian backpacker Pru, who speaks enough Portuguese to glean that the replacement bus is 10 hours away, and British buddies Finn and Liam.

turistas 2006

The group find their way to a beautiful beach bar, lark around in the ocean, try new drinks, play soccer with the kids, and party the night away, waking in the morning to find all of their stuff has been stolen, including shoes, and the Swedish couple they’d been chatting to are also gone. We already know the barmaid called a mystery number and told the person at the other end she had eight gringos in. We also know the Swedes are dead, taken away by a group of hired guns.

Stranded with nothing but the clothes they’re in, the group walks into the local town where they meet up with Kiko, who was asking them personal questions the previous evening. He volunteers to guide them to a house in the jungle where they can get the assistance they need, in lieu of the police station they can’t find.

turistas 2006

On route, they stop for a dip in beautiful water and Kiko shows them some partially submerged caves, which will come in handy later, but he then cracks his head open showing off his diving skills, leaving the group to take him the rest of the way to the house, despite his feeble protests against going.

At the house, they stitch Kiko together and find lots of international medication, passports, and various belongings and eventually bed down before being woken by the arrival of a helicopter in the night. Scary men come in and they’re soon caged up outside, while lead bad guy Zamora takes Amy and Finn away to harvest their organs in ‘payment’ for rich Americans coming to Brazil for years when they can’t be fucked to wait for legitimate donors back home.

Outside, the others manage to free themselves and stage a prison break, killing one of the guards and saving a sedated Finn from the operating table and then making a run for it into the forest with a remorseful Kiko’s help.

turistas 2006

More of the group die (usually by gunfire) and the final few have to recall their sub-aquatic tour to find a way out. The underwater scenes are beautifully shot but the sequence drags on until the predictable showdown with the Big Bad.

Turistas doesn’t have Hostel‘s bloodlust or Wolf Creek‘s unrelenting sense of hopelessness, thanks in part to the singular operating scene being practical rather than stabby or gory, but this also impacts the threat to the other characters. We only see one girl on the table, the one who showed her boobs and had the least lines, and most other people are killed off camera, shot, or, in one case, get a skewer in the eye. Ouch.

Much fuss was made of the representation of Brazil and its citizens, for which lead actor Duhamel apologised on TV (and the film tanked in the US anyway). However, aside from these lazy stereotypes, the backpackers barely do any better: The Swedish couple utter about four lines before they’re killed, the British guys are textbook football hooligan types who only want sex and beer and sound like they work on a Camden market stall, leaving boring siblings Alex and Bea (you know they’ll survive) and Pru, who comes off the best thanks to Melissa George’s appeal, although in the original script she too was to die because, you know, only American lives matter.

turistas 2006

This was the most annoying facet of Turistas, its inherent laziness when it came to characters, almost none of whom elicit any sympathy, just look great in skimpy clothing, but it scrapes a pass for its scenic backdrops, which make for a pleasant diversion from the usual farm or abandoned building. Most importantly, don’t let it put you off travelling, I’ve encountered more dodgy situations in the western nations than I ever have abroad.

Blurbs-of-interest: Desmond Askew was in No Man’s Land: Rise of the Reeker and The Hills Have Eyes remake.

L’ascension et la mauvais tournant

high lane vertige 2009

VERTIGÉ

3.5 Stars  2009/15/81m

A.k.a. High Lane

Director: Abel Ferry / Writers: Johanne Bernard, Louis-Paul Desanges, Ludovic du Clary / Cast: Fanny Valette, Raphael Lenglet, Johan Libereau, Nicolas Giraud, Maud Wyler, Justin Blanckaert.

Body Count: 7


Europe. Vast continent of a gazillion cultures, ever expanding (unless you’ve made a total fucking embarrassment of yourself by voting to leave it), and, for outsiders, possible home to assembly line killer hostels, schizophrenic lesbian maniacs, and invincible mountain men. Spoilers follow.

Vertigé, titled High Lane everywhere but its homeland of France, arrives looking like a combo of Cliffhanger, Wrong TurnWolf Creek, and The Descent. Only these kids climb rather than pot-hole, so technically The Ascent.

Set in the Croatian mountains (but filmed in the French Alps), we meet a quintet of thrill seekers: Fred and his girlfriend Karine, their friend Chloe and her new climbing-virgin boyfriend Loic, and the fifth wheel who turned up at the last minute, Chloe’s hunky ex Guillaume. Tension much?

vertige high lane 2009

They drive out to the Risnjak mountains, singing along to Supergrass, and find the trail is closed for maintenance, but decide to give it a go anyway. Loic’s vertigo almost gets the better of him, much to Guillaume’s amusement, but it’s not long before their problems get serious when the cable bridge they have to cross begins to disintegrate while Karine is still making her way over in some mini-Final Destination way. Once it completely falls away, they’re only choice is to go forward to reach a zip-wire that takes them back down.

Further along their route, they find the safety line has snapped and so Fred and Karine free-climb to the top to secure a rope, while Loic takes a tumble and has to be rescued by his nemesis. This is further thwarted when Fred walks into a bear trap and is dragged away by a mysterious off-screen figure.

vertige high lane 2009

As the daylight fades and Fred cannot be found, it becomes clear that they’re not alone when Chloe falls down a hole filled with stakes, and then Karine is shot with an arrow and dragged off into the night. The love triangle are forced to work together to find their missing friends and stumble upon a cabin where naked Fred is laid out on a table and some rare frontal male nudity is fleetingly thrown in – hey, this is France, home of the nude beach!

As all manner of backwoods films have taught us, entering ‘the terrible place’ only succeeds in meeting the killer close up: Brutal fights and double-crossings ensue, cowardice rears its ugly head, and people are tied up ready to be butchered, clued in by the number of decapitated heads found in the cellar.

vertige high lane 2009

Vertigé distinguishes itself by toying with character motivations as it goes on – nobody can be completely trusted and the predictable showdown between Chloe and the woodsman is satisfyingly raw as they beat the crap out each other vying for survival. Unfortunately, the intermittent flashbacks to the-bad-thing-that-haunts-her result in a twist you can see coming as soon as she hobbles away from the scene. It’s kinda amusing in a dark way, but undermines the quality of the film until this point by clunking in that ol’ devil that forever plagues the genre – stupid decision making.

Euro-slashers tend to impress me due to the general extra effort that appears to go into the art of the filmmaking itself: Beautiful scenery, characters not so cut n’ dried that you’re able to assign numbers as to their probable order of demise, and clichés that appear more innocent beyond American shores, because the genre is not as culturally ingrained.

vertige high lane 2009

Vertigé is no exception to this: It’s a tour of everything we’ve seen before over and over, but comes with a cultural freshness often absent in cynical US box-ticking exports (where self-proclaimed genre fans cry like babies if there’s not enough T&A), possibly due to that mountain air.

Sexyvil

american psycho 2 all american girl mila kunis 2002

AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL

2 Stars  2002/18/85m

“Angrier. Deadlier. Sexier.”

Director: Morgan J. Freeman / Writers: Alex Sanger & Karen Craig / Cast: Mila Kunis, William Shatner, Geraint Wyn-Davies, Lindy Booth, Robin Dunne, Charles Officer.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I’ll make sure to get you home in time for Murder She Wrote.”


Burgeoning starlet Mila Kunis is apparently not fond of her involvement in this bizarre sequel to Mary Harron’s adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel. Where that film examined the vicious world of capitalism, where male swagger competing eventually spills over into serial murder, AS2 is a straight up slasher flick.

Kunis is college freshman Rachael, whose babysitter took her along on a date with psycho killer Patrick Bateman and became his last victim before Rachael stabbed him dead with an ice pick. Undetected in this incident, Rachael successfully gets on to a criminal profiling course run by ex-FBI officer Robert Starkman (Shatner) whose one career black spot is the Bateman case.

In the week before Spring Break, Starkman is set to elect a teaching assistant for the following semester, and there’s no task Rachael won’t undertake to ensure she gets the job, which will lead her to her destiny – FBI training at Quantico. Firstly, her goal entails offing the three most likely contenders: Rich boy Brian, roommate Cassandra, and brainy Keith. Matters are further complicated by her interfering shrink who, after one session, diagnoses her as a ‘textbook sociopath’ and Rachael finds herself killing excess individuals to get her own way.

Sanger and Craig’s script shares more in common with the likes of Ripper: Letter From Hell and obsessed-femme-stalker sequel Teacher’s Pet than its predecessor. Kunis is a good soap opera style bad girl, but her narration of events severely tugs at the rug of credibility, and without the killings this would play more like an episode of Clarissa Explains It All than a serial-slasher pic.

Handsome production values go some way to distracting the viewer from what is really a wafer thin cash-in, probably rewritten to awkwardly tie in with the Bateman plot in order to get the greenlight. Still, seeing William Shatner traumatised is good for a laugh.

Blurbs-of-interest: Shatner was in Visiting Hours back in 1981; Lindy Booth was in Wrong Turn and the lead role in Cry_Wolf; Robin Dunne was in Scarecrow.

 

Scream if you’ve had enough of these parodies

shriek if you know what i did last friday the 13th

SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH

2 Stars  2000/15/83m

“It’s a scream!”

Director: John Blanchard / Writers: Sue Bailey & Joe Nelms / Cast: Majandra Delfino, Harley Cross, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Tom Arnold, Danny Strong, Julie Benz, Simon Rex, Aimee Graham, Chris Palermo, Coolio, Shirley Jones.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “I killed my cousin, my heart’s broken, and my sister’s dead.”


In a race against the Wayans’ Scary Movie (originally titled Scream if You Know What I Did Last Halloween), you could feel a bit sorry for Shriek… as it didn’t make it past the cutting room quick enough and was consigned to a video release, while Scary Movie inexplicably carried on to generate several increasingly cringe-worthy sequels, not to mention Epic MovieDate MovieDisaster Movie ad infinitum.

Regardless of whomever got there first, Shriek… is largely a Xerox of its competitor, as we’re thrown into the lives of the exaggerated stereotypes who go to Bulimia High, who did something last summer that they’d rather forget about.

Ergo, much silliness ensues and death abounds – but not at the hands of the killer, which only makes it more annoying. In a (failed) attempt to try and be funny and original, the characters actually die from other things before the nutter has a chance to get them: Bee stings, coronaries, etc.

So there’s no murder count and 88% of the jokes are the same as in Scary Movie. To its credit though, there is an inspired parody of VH1’s old Pop-Up Video during the final chase scenes, and a couple of other almost-laughs along the way, but it all weighs down under the forehead-tappers of fart jokes, erection jokes, gay jokes, and a killer with absolutely no motive, most likely thought up at the last second.

Blurbs-of-interest: Delfino was in RSVP; Simon Rex was in several of the Scary Movie sequels.

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