December 13, 2009 28 comments

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13 Sins – 6

Director – Daniel Stamm

Cast – Mark Webber, Devon Graye, Tom Bower, Rutina Wesley, Ron Perlman, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Clyde Jones, Deneen Tyler

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

There are two reasons why I had been waiting anxiously to give this flick a watch. First, it is the American remake of 13: Game of Death, which remains one of the better Asian horror films of last decade. Second, it has one of my favorite actors and one who is no stranger to the genre…Ron Perlman. What I hoped to get from 13 Sins was the same intensity felt in the original, and to an extent that same intensity was there for me to enjoy. While it does a decent job of proving good thrills, the story pales in comparison to its longer original and the missing details make this an under-whelming and slightly stupid film.

Life is not easy for Elliot. He is the sole caretaker of his mentally disabled brother and the medical bills that come with him. He is in the same situation with his elderly and racist father who shows no love for him nor his sweet, beautiful African American fiancé, Lily. Now to top it off, he has just lost his job, which means he lost the insurance that greatly aided him in paying for his brother’s treatment. With his life dwindling down the drain and his wedding date soon approaching, an anonymous phone call promises to change his life for the better. All he has to do is complete 13 tasks and he will leave the game a millionaire, but there is always a catch, and each of the 13 tasks will be more sinister than the last.

The adapted screenplay comes penned by director Daniel Stamm and Dahmer / Gacy writer David Birke, and they only take about 13 minutes getting to the goods. The story kicks off with a full view of the overbearing problems plaguing Elliot’s life, and soon enough he gets the phone call that changes everything. The person he is speaking to is never identified nor are we shown just how he knows so much about Elliot, including what he is currently doing. Simply put, it feels like this guy is the person behind the spying in Eagle Eye. Left without much of a choice, Elliot takes on what seems like an easy game, and at first the tasks are simple and quite harmless. Eventually the tasks begin to take on a more sinister route, like making a child cry, and from then on out Elliot must commit crimes that will land him decades in prison. There is a failsafe though, and if he completes all 13 tasks he will not serve a day in prison nor face any charges. These tasks make the film high in tension and include some gut-wrenching scenes that are sure to grab your undivided attention. While this seems like a really good thing, and it is to an extent, these tasks don’t push boundaries as much as I expected them too. Now, there is at least one damn good kill scene that will rival the opening sequence to Ghost Ship, but aside from that the horror did not flourish to the level it could have reached. Throw in the film’s numerous plot holes and lack of attention to important details and you get a story that has much potential but instead winds up mediocre at best, and that is a real shame. On top of this shame, Ron Perlman’s character, Det. Chilcoat, was a near waste who was never used to full potential and seemed to merely serve as a way to get an “big name” on the credits.

I was expecting at last mostly positive direction from Daniel Stamm and I can say that he did well for his follow up film to The Last Exorcism. His execution of the tension was pretty good and he shows his ability to keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. There are a few scenes that involve kills and his direction was especially good during the Ghost Ship-esque sequence mentioned earlier, with decent gore albeit some of it coming from CGI. The acting performances are important in a high stress film like this and I enjoyed what Mark Webber had to offer as Elliot. Birke’s screenplay relied heavily on this character and it forced him to go through a wide array of emotions that Webber portrayed very well. It is always a joy for me to see Ron Perlman, and while his acting performance was swell I just wish his character had been used differently.

Overall, 13 Sins gets a lot of the important things right as far as the horror goes but as a film I would chalk this down as a mediocre experience due to its numerous story-related faults.

Rating: 6/10

Oculus – 7

Director – Mike Flanagan

Cast – Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso, Garrett Ryan, James Lafferty, Kate Siegel, Miguel Sandoval

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

When I first learned of Oculus I was excited for the opportunity to see another supernatural flick on the big screen. I had fairly high hopes for this film given director Michael Flanagan’s previous flick, Absentia, showed much potential, especially in the writing department for its interesting and not-so-cliché story. As I usually TRY to do, I abstained from watching a trailer for Oculus or reading reviews, hoping to attain a more exciting experience by going into the film “blind”. Not knowing what to expect, Flanagan’s direction was good and I was pleased overall with this ambitiously creepy story, but in the end this story also made the film a mediocre one.

11 years ago Tim and Kaylie Russell suffered months of haunting torment that lead up to the most horrifying night of their lives – the night their parents were killed thanks to a supernatural force hiding within an antique mirror. Now fresh out of his incarceration from a mental facility, Tim is reunited with his sister Kaylie and looks forward to reclaiming his life, but he will have no such chance. As children they promised to kill the mirror and the evil behind it, and Kaylie is making that promise come true.

With films like Insidious and The Conjuring kicking so much supernatural ass on the big screen I had hopes that Oculus would do the same. Flangan’s story, co-written with first-time writer Jeff Howard, starts off very well and had me hooked from the start. The first act is so utterly creepy and in my opinion was unfortunately the best act in the film. Flicks are supposed to get better as the the runtime grows, right? We learn early on that fighting the mirror will not be smooth sailing, and not merely due to the mirror’s supernatural capabilities. After over a decade of rehabilitation Tim has been conditioned to forget what happened that night, at least the way Kaylie remembers it. They are now different people and she does not quite have her brother on board with her mission. Instead, he serves as the voice of reason and constantly exposes the logical fallacies in what Kaylie is trying to do – destroy the mirror while getting video proof of the supernatural events. Eventually, though, Tim is not only reminded of what happened to his family as a child, but learns that the mirror has not forgotten either. From then on out, the story seemlessly darts between the past and present and from both Tim and Kaylie’s perspectives, giving us what I referred to earlier as very ambitious writing. The constant jumps between past and present rely heavily on Tim and Kaytie as adults but also as children, along with their parents Marie and Alan. Marie’s character was definitely the most impressive of these characters as she underwent the most trauma as the loving wife who suffers the most torment at the hands of the mirror. The mirror plagues her husband Alan, using him to break her down and keep her children under an iron fist of control. While I loved this idea and appreciated Flanaga/Howard giving us something different, the execution of this tactic was not up to par and the story began to drag. I knew this was the case when I started to think to myself that the film was dragging, and the person next to me leaned over and said the same thing. Now these scenes did manage to keep my interest, but the quality of the story continued to degrade and the scares did little to save it. With the past and present both sharing equal screentime I felt that neither was able to develop quick enough, dragging the story (and the viewer’s patience) until the very end.

Initially the horror is very good and even gave me goosebumps at times. The second act does not contain as much of the goods and instead focuses on the conflict between the siblings and the flackbacks to the mirror’s effect on their family. The third act however brings on the horror in full force, but for multiple reasons it really was not very scary. Much of the horror is psychological, despite this being a supernatural flick, and when we do see supernatural horror it did not hit as hard as it could have. We do see ghosts, who are really victims of the mirror from days passed, but by the time things really kick into gear we have seen the ghosts so many times that they are just not scary anymore. Is this a bad thing? Not particularly, as I can appreciate a film heavy in scares in comparison to a borefest thath does not focus on what we come to see. What I must say though, is that the real root of Oculus’ scares is not the ghosts but the games it plays on the protagonists’ minds, as well as the viewer’s. With fiction and reality blurred our leads find themselves in daunting situations of life or death and only seconds to decide on what is real (aka what will kill them) and what is not. On top of all this, the film’s climax is heavy in shock factor and sure to leave the viewer in bewilderment over the horrific final sequence that will leave your gut wrenching.

Mike Flanagan’s direction is solid and he shows growth in comparison to Abstentia. His execution played a heavy role in the scary first act scenes that left me chills, and I also credit him with keeping my attention during the film’s dragging third act. He sets a fairly spooky atmosphere throughout the piece, but I did expect better when the story took us to the location of the Tim and Kaylie’s childhood home. The atmosphere was decent, but it was nowhere near Insidious’ atmosphere (I’d reference The Conjuring but the home is from a different era). We get good performances from our leads, Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites, with both selling their roles but neither giving a stand-out performance worthy of additional praise. Katee Sackoff, however, was fantastic as Marie Russell, Tim and Kaytie’s childhood mother, as her role was the most daunting and she stood up to the task. I will also speak highly of Flanagan for relying mostly on practical effects for the film’s horror and gore, which always goes a long way in today’s age where CGI rules and ruins horror films. Much like Insidious, his ghosts were portrayed by live actors and came off very human, which in a way adds a more realistic feel to the horror even though I don’t find them as scary as others.

Overall, Oculus is a mixed bag of good and bad that makes for a hard film to recommend but at the same time not recommend. The story is so ambitious it makes for a marvel in this convoluted genre, but at the same time it may turn off some viewers who get antsy when the film drags for a solid 30 minutes. Flanagan’s direction is good and he provides some solid scares to keep you focused, but in the end this is a film that you yourself must decide is good, bad, or just mediocre. For me, it is a little of everything.

Rating: 7/10

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Afflicted (2014) – 8

Director – Derek Lee, Clif Prowse

Cast – Clif Prowse, Derek Lee, Michael Gill, Jason Lee, Gary Redekop, Baya Rehaz

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I took a gamble watching Afflicted, and boy am I glad that I did. While searching iTunes’ movie section I came across this flick, and after reading its storyline decided that I was in the mood for a “found footage” piece like this one. Going in “blind” I was not sure what to expect. All I knew was that this was a found footage flick and I did not recognize the directors, writers, or cast, meaning there was a possibility I would pay $6.99 for a piece of junk. Thankfully, Afflicted more than surpassed my mediocre expectations and gave me one of the best horror films of 2014, as well as the best found-footage flick I have seen in years.

Best friends Derek and Clif set out on the trip of a lifetime with plans to see the world and live life to its fullest, all while recording with a chest mounted camera with a wide-angle lens. However, soon into the trip the fun takes a dark and bloody turn as Derek begins to succumb to a mysterious affliction gradually taking over his body. Now thousands of miles from home, the two friends race against time to uncover the source of this terror before it devours him completely.

Filmmakers Derek Lee and Clif Prowse both write, direct, and star in this effort, and for both of them this is their debut feature film after filming several shorts together. The story begins in a fun and happy fashion, giving us insight into the lives Derek and Clif lead and their thirst for adventure. Before embarking we learn that Derek is suffering from a strange aneurism with the potential to produce fatal results at a moment’s notice, and against his doctor’s wishes he continues his plan to see the world. To Derek, his ailment only furthers his desire for adventure, as any upcoming day could be his last. Their journey begins in Spain, where they spend a week until arriving in France, where the horror begins. Early into their trip Derek is attacked after meeting a beautiful woman at a nightclub, but despite his injuries he wishes to avoid hospitals and sleep it off. They make their way to Italy, and that is when the effects of his ailment begin to surface. He is unable to keep food in his stomach for more than a few moments, and to make matters worse his skin erupts with boils when in contact with sunlight. All is not negative though, as he also realizes he has superhuman strength and abilities. After having a bit of fun with his new powers (like BLAHBLAH did in Paranormal Activity: The Last Ones) the horror takes a new turn as he then tries to figure out what is wrong with him. Due to his reaction to sunlight both Derek and Clif believe he could be some sort of vampire, and his efforts to test this theory also test his humanity, or the now lack thereof.

I really loved how the story kept constantly developing and never really slowed down, even during the usual “slow” second act. On top of this the story shoots for the stars when we receive a huge development halfway into the film that left me wondering what on Earth they could possibly do to occupy the remainder of the film. Now time and time again I see writers come up with awesome twists and breakthroughs that sadly also write them into a corner they cannot get themselves out of, and the resulting escape is an utter mess. Well, that is not the case with this storyline, and I applaud the writers for keeping the second half of the film just as interesting as the first. The latter half of the flick really kicks things into high gear with Interpol hot on Derek’s trail, which is the result of some of the crazy actions he took trying to test his vampire hypothesis. With the authorities on his trail and his affliction slowly getting the best of him, the tension is high and eventually tosses us into another amazing development that I never saw coming, as well as a solid climax sure to leave the viewer smiling.

With one hell of a screenplay it was only fitting that Derek and Clif would execute this film in top-notch fashion, proving that these guys have what it takes to hang in their sub-genre. I really loved the idea of the footage being filmed with a wide-angle chest-mounted lens because it gives the viewer a true feeling as if they were Derek or Clif himself. If you have seen GoPro videos of people doing awesome things then you can relate to what Affliction has in store. This filming made it incredibly entertaining to watch Derek run from the authorities while being shot, jumping from building to building and crashing through walls. When Clif isn’t catching the horror on tape we view awesome POV footage of Derek laying waste to those who get in his way, or simply need to be killed for certain reasons. Gone are the traditional video cameras and instead we are treated to something new for what has become a convoluted sub-genre. I can talk for days about how awesome these scenes were, but they are not all the film has to offer. The acting performances are great and we get an especially solid performance from Derek, who was forced to undergo much torment and many emotions during what should have been the best trip of his life. These filmmakers also use amazing sets and locations that take full advantage of the inner city and landscape settings that Spain, France, and Italy have to offer. Visually this is a very appealing film, and the visuals of the horror are solid as well. We see live-action gore effects and full-frontal kills, making for some of the best horror I have seen in a very long time. The effect of these kills and overall horror is long-lasting and as I mentioned earlier…will leave you smiling in the end.

Overall, Affliction is a film I highly recommend you check out, especially if you are into the found-footage sub-genre. This is low-budget filmmaking at its finest, where filmmakers focus on what is important in the film, like story, characters, horror and practical effects. I really mean it when I say that this is one of the best films of the year and absolutely one of the best found-footage films of all time, and that is thanks much to its creative and highly intense approach to the filming.

Rating: 8/10

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Texas Chainsaw 3D – 4

Director – John Luessenhop

Cast – Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Shaun Sipos, Keram Malicki-Sánchez, James MacDonald, Thom Barry

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

This may seem odd to some, but when I first heard about Texas Chainsaw I breathed a sigh of relief. I was not particularly glad to learn of ANOTHER entry into the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, but I know to expect more and more of these until the producers eventually die off. My relief came when I learned that this would be a devout sequel and not a remake like the one in 2003 nor a prequel like the one in 2006, which would make this the first sequel since 1994’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. I avoided watching this in theaters and forgot to check it out when it hit the dollar cinema, and after finally giving it a watch I can say I really did not miss out waiting as long as I did.

Heather, a young woman on a road trip to Louisiana with her friends, makes a stop in Texas to collect an inheritance from a deceased relative she has never met nor heard of. Much to her surprise, her relative left her a large country estate with a dark past and an even darker, chainsaw-welding resident lurking within.

Texas Chainsaw begins with a bit of backstory behind the chaos that occurred at the Sawyer family home thanks to the murderous antics of a young Leatherface. Only Heather and Leatherface survived the angry flash mob, with Leatherface hiding within the home and Heather, then a newborn child, taken away to be raised by another family. Fast forward until present day and Heather is now a grown woman whose inheritance proves to her that she was adopted – something her “parents” have kept from her to save her from her past. Much to their behest the curious butcher (it runs in the family, huh?) decides she will make a pit stop in Texas to check out her newly acquired property, and that proves to be a big mistake. Soon after arriving her friends convince her to stay one night so they can party and enjoy the large home, and naturally Leatherface crashes this party before it gets going. It does not take long for this carnage to appear on screen, making for one hell of a first act and then leaving things a bit awkward for the remainder of the film. Why? (SPOILER ALERT) Well, there are so many protagonist character deaths during this early segment of the film that the rest of the flick pales in comparison as far as the horror goes. Instead we see a lot of character drama involving small town politics and old vendettas, but thankfully the final act brings back a bit of gore. There are several other interesting writing ideas that I was not expecting, with the most prevalent one being the use of Leatherface as an anti-hero. I cannot say whether this was a good or bad move. I am sure that some will enjoy it while others will prefer to preserve his established character, but nonetheless it did make for something different for a change.

Director John Luessenhop’s execution is where the film really suffered, and it becomes really apparent after the initial carnage. At first the mean and gory kills had me enjoying the film, but as the runtime increased the quality of the film decreased, and in nearly every way possible. The acting performances were sub-bar, the special effects needed a lot of work, and his overall execution just faltered. Watching this as a 2D experience definitely had its negatives in regards to the gore. Since this is a 3D film the gore is all of CGI origin and the quality of this CGI gore is very poor. I also noticed what appeared to be some bonehead faults in the sound department, like a pitchfork impalement that came without sound effects. The the direction this poor I am shocked that Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper gave a praising remark for this film. Let’s hope Djinn is better than this.

Overall, Texas Chainsaw continues the popular series but does so with poor results. The gore is heavy, but that is the only positive the film has to offer.

Rating: 4/10

…Additional Stills…

13 Eerie – 5

Director – Lowell Dean

Cast – Katharine Isabelle, Michael Shanks, Brendan Fehr, Brendan Fletcher, Nick Moran, Jesse Moss, Kristie Patterson, Michael Eisner, Lyndon Bray, Ryland Alexander, Jason Truong, Shannon Jardine

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I heard very conflicting remarks about 13 Eerie over these last few months and decided that I had to find out for myself. The remarks I kept hearing were “it’s horrible” and “it’s not as bad as people say it is”, so I did not go in expecting a solid effort. Also, Katherine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps, American Mary) starring in the film may have had everything to do with why I gave this a shot, heh. After viewing this piece I can see how some would say it’s horrible, but it really is not THAT bad and I did feel the antagonists were used in an interesting fashion. 13 Eerie is not without many faults though, and is far from a good film that I would recommend.

Six forensic undergraduates partake in a grueling scientific expedition taught by the infamous Professor Michael Shanks. The study takes place on a deserted island that was once used for illegal biological experiments on life-term inmates, but has since been cleared…or so they thought. When the students come across extra cadavers that are not part of the experiment, they find themselves in a fight for their lives against the undead prisoners that were never killed off.

Aside from Katherine Isabelle what really interested me about this flick was its storyline. I liked the idea of forensic students partaking in a study where they come across cadavers in a film to mimic what real fieldwork will be like, and they do so under the grueling surveillance of Professor Shanks. Throw in the mystique surrounding the island and its terrifying past and you have a story that has my attention. It does not take long for the first horror to hit the screen at the 23-minute mark, and slowly but surely the film become more horrific than I had expected. The source of the horror lies in the remaining bodies of prisoners that were experimented on that were apparently never discarded and have now reanimated. There are not very many of these “zombies”, but they bring a hell of a punch with them so numbers are not very important in this case. These were not the usual slow moving zombies either, and nor were they the fast infected type, they were just…average and I found some relief in that. This did not slow them down when it came to the kills though, with the main zombie coming off much like Resident Evil: Apocalypse’s Nemesis but without the firepower. While the horror was good the rest of the film is not, and that comes from silly use of its characters, dialogue, and pacing, to name a few.

The direction helped in bringing the horror to life, and I am glad that the film’s resources went to its horror before anything else. The look of the zombies was different, and while I won’t say it was unique it worked in giving us something unlike the usual clichés – which I don’t necessarily mind. Anywho, the gore is good, plentiful, and comes via live action practical effects. I enjoyed the execution of the zombies and the horror they provided, and with a few good character performances (none were amazing) the cast at least played their role to the extent of not making the film any worse. The rest of the execution was pretty cheap and I think that is where a lot of the hate for the film lies, and rightfully so. The musical score is cheesy and the camerawork can be amateur at times and leave you wondering to yourself whey they chose to film certain scenes that way.

Overall, 13 Eerie lives up to its reputation of being a mixed back of feelings, but ultimately this is a film I would stay away from unless you are really bored, and even then there are better options out there.

Rating: 5/10

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Terminal Invasion – 5

Director – Sean S. Cunningham

Cast – Bruce Campbell, Chase Masterson, C. David Johnson, Kedar Brown, Andrew Tarbet, Sarah Lafleur, Marcia Bennett, Chuck Byrn, Jason Jones, Stephen Joffe, Hannah Lochner, Dylan Bierk, Ian Downie

Release Year – 2002

Reviewed by John of the Dead

It was late, I was bored, and the movie starred Bruce Campbell, so how could I not watch what I was sure to be a horrible B-movie. I planned to fall asleep by the end of the first act, but much to my surprise I instead found myself actually interested in the film and watching it until its conclusion. Sure Terminal Invasion is a cheesy experience that I would not recommend to the multitude of genre fans, but if you need some late night cheese and enjoy seeing Bruce do his thing then you might find yourself as surprised as I was.

When aliens in human disguise take over a rural airport during a heavy snowstorm, the grounded passengers must determine who is not of this Earth and put their fate in the hands of Jack (Bruce Campbell), a wiseass prisoner in transport to death row.

Going into this film I had no idea that it came from the same filmmaking duo behind Deep Star Six – director Sean S. Cunningham, famous for Friday the 13th, and writer Lewis Abernathy. The story starts off well, leaving our protagonists in a nowhere to run scenario as they are stuck in the isolated airport due to a snowstorm the pilot is refusing to fly in. To add to the headache they must wait in the lobby alongside a hardened criminal, Jack, who soon makes “waste” of his security escorts. The passengers subdue him, but soon enough they realize that he is the least of their concerns when the alien impostors begin attacking, and leaving a gooey mess in their wake. As expected, they must now rely on Jack and his ability to kill in order to escape this ordeal, and the remainder of the film focuses on their quest to survive the night and fly on home. Abernathy’s story does not try to be anything it is not and instead focuses on the important stuff, like kills and alien action. Much to my surprise this was a much better story than I anticipated, especially when I learned that this flick is really a TV movie.

Cunningham’s direction is fair and it seems he did what he could with what he had to work with given the film’s very low budget. While the flick will appear cheap at first, once things get going and the action kicks in I found myself surprisingly hooked. The gore is live-action and the look of the aliens is positive, but what really sold me is the tension and action when the passengers go on the run inside the small airport. Cunningham brought Abernathy’s story to life during these scenes and gave us a full-frontal view of the carnage. Of course, the film’s biggest, and maybe only selling point, is Bruce Campbell, and he is his usual awesome self. I’m sure he did not have to try very hard for his measly paycheck, but seeing him portray an alien-slaying death row inmate is something we may never see again.

Overall, Terminal Invasion is a surprisingly better film than I expected, but it is still a mediocre TV movie. If you enjoy seeing Bruce Campbell in action then you may enjoy this more than you should, as I did. Cunningham and Abernathy do a good job at making the rest of the film watchable and even enjoyable at times, so if you find yourself like I did then this may be worth a shot.

Rating: 5/10

…Additional Stills…

Big Ass Spider – 7

April 5, 2014 1 comment

Director – Mike Mendez

Cast – Greg Grunberg, Lombardo Boyar, Clare Kramer, Ray Wise, Lin Shaye

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

It has been a long time since I have seen a good, devout killer spider movie. Spiders 3D was a waste and I recently I have only seen spiders used in a positive manner in films that are really not about spiders, such as The Mist. Anyway, after years of waiting I can finally say that I have seen a good killer spider film in Big Ass Spider – a film that definitely lives up to its title. Intentionally heavy in all of the usual clichés associated with these films, like a bumbling hero and cheesy use of the military, I had more fun watching this flick than I should have and I do not mind that one bit. Not only that, but the horror is fantastic and comes with the utmost in kills and gore. I can’t ask for more than what Big Ass Spider provides.

Alex Mathis is not your typical bug and pest exterminator. He not only accepts baked goods as payment, he is also the best when it comes to killing spiders…and the United States military is in dire need of his services. When a genetically mutated spider escapes their facility, grows to massive proportions, and wreaks havoc on Los Angeles, the fate of humanity lies in the hands of an overweight buffoon ready for his 15 minutes of fame.

Writer Gregory Gieras (Dark Asylum) kicks off the film in awesome fashion with one of the coolest intros I have seen in a long time, consisting of a slow-motion foreshadowing of the carnage to come accompanied by blahblah’s soft and tender version of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?”. After this intro we are introduced to our star, Alex, and the hilarious life he lives. He is fully aware that most people overlook the value of a pest control agent, and he is damn proud of what he does – even to the point of accepting fruit cake as payment from older woman (Lin Shaye) who would snatch him up in a heartbeat if they could. As fate would have it, Alex winds up in the hospital at the same time as a dead person carrying the genetically modified spider who is currently using the body as a host. Once the spider breaks out it immediately begins feasting on and killing each human/patient it comes across, quickly growing in size and ferocity. When Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) arrives on scene to secure the area he brushes off the need for a common pest control worker, but soon enough he will rely on Alex’s expertise because as he puts it, he “becomes a spider…to catch a spider.”. From then on out the remainder of the film focuses on Alex and the military’s attempts to kill the giant spider as it treks across Los Angeles and kills multitudes of people in its path and in gory fashion. If I could give an accurate kill count I would, but if I had to guess I’d say there are about 50 on screen kills, which is downright awesome in my book. Alex does have help in saving the day though, and it comes via a hilarious supporting character: a very Hispanic hospital security guard. Clichés of all sorts are at play here, from ethnic stereotypes to the usual rent-a-cop jokes, and in the end they provide solid fun without going overboard. Gieras keeps things simple and focuses on the gore values of these types of horror films: cheese, humor, gore, kills, and perfectly mixes them into one really awesome story.

Director Mike Mendes does a really good job executing this story and making it come to life in the best way possible for a film of its budget and production value. After seeing his 2006 After Dark film The Gravedancers I knew this guy had some serious talent, and 7 years later he proves he still has it. Great acting performances also sell the film, and they relied heavily on Greg Gutfield to sell his role and he did so with flying colors. It was also a pleasure to see Ray Wise portray the cheesy Army Major, and Lombardo Boyar was highly enjoyable as the security guard Jose Ramos, but Gutfield stole the show and right fully so given how much the story relies on his character. Mendes’ execution of the horror is great as well, giving us lots of spooky scenes early on when the spider was only slightly large and still terrorizing its hospital victims. Once the spider left the hospital the scares were replaced with entertaining deaths that looked pretty good considering they came via CGI effects. Normally I hate on heavy use of CGI, but in this film’s case I could not see them accomplishing what they did with a giant live-action spider impaling people and sucking them in from 50 yards away with its web-spewing abilities.

Overall, Big Ass Spider is one of the most fun horror films I have seen in a long time. The cheese reigns high in the best way possible, providing gory kills, lots of action, and plenty of laughs. I highly recommend you check this out.

Rating: 7/10

…Additional Stills…


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