WolfCop

Released: 2014

Directed by Lowell Dean

Lately, I’ve been reviewing a lot of cheese. In February and March, we looked at later entries in the Friday the 13th series, and, in April, we have reviews for Invasion of the Undead and Satanic Panic 2: Battle of the Bands (coming next week!). We’ve given all four positive reviews, especially the latter two. Now, WolfCop comes along with a good bit of hype and, though it pains me to say it, delivers a delicious heaping helping of cheese.

The first thing one will notice is that the story is pretty much flat. With one exception, the characters straightforward: Lou is a drunkard cop; Tina is a frustrated cop; etc. Revealing any more than this reveals too much, which has led some critics to conclude that the story doesn’t matter. This is surely not the case; WolfCop has a fun coherent, yet simple, story. It’s difficult to convey just how important it is to have coherence irrespective of how dumbed-down and one dimensional the characters are.

The B-Movie action is better than expected, but there is too little of it. In one particularly great sequence, a minion gets his face ripped off and thrown onto a car’s windshield. As the action scene progresses, the guy inside the car turns on the windshield wipers and the face is smeared back and forth through continual cuts back. Near the scene’s conclusion, the now-skeleton-faced man pops up on the side of the car and screams.

The cast fit the bill quite well. One thing that bothered me throughout though is that Jonathan Cherry’s (yes, the same Jonathan Cherry from House of the Dead) role as Willie reminded me a bit too much of David Arquette in Scream. It would be interesting to know whether or not Cherry or Lowell Dean, the director, was going for this.

WolfCop is the most hyped film I’ve reviewed since The Babadook, and it surprisingly does justice to the hype. To be fair, no one is claiming it to be the best film ever.

Rating: 6/10

Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead

Released: 2014

Directed by Tommy Wirkola

Dead Snow was undoubtedly a novelty film. Everything about it screamed “Look! We have Nazi Zombies!” Red vs. Dead is a direct sequel that follows Martin as he has survived mostly intact. This time around, the novelty has aged and the Nazi concept alone cannot keep the film afloat. Luckily for us, the sequel surpasses the first film in almost every meaningful category.

Why are there Nazi Zombies? There’s a good answer that surprisingly doesn’t involve cursed treasure. I spent a bit of time thinking about the backstory, not simply in search of inconsistencies, but because I was genuinely interested.

The action! This film is filled with enough blood and gore to satisfy the most depraved splatter-fiend. It’s funny too! There’s even what I think to be a masterful Evil Dead nod.

Nearly halfway through the film, the audience is introduced to handful of quirky, endearing characters. They lift this one beyond the label of ‘well thought out splatter film’ and into the ranks of the great horror films. I say this without too much qualification. From a purely action perspective, the film is top notch; that scene with the hammer and newspaper! From a storytelling perspective, it is cohesive and plays the parts out well. From a general cinematic perspective, Dead Snow 2 is a fun and rewarding watch.

The second entry of the Dead Snow series presents Nazi Zombies as the cherry-on-top rather than the main course and succeeds beautifully.

Rating: 9/10

Invasion of the Undead

Written and Directed by Torey Haas

Released: 2015

It is surely the case that one’s expectations frame one’s evaluation of cinema. I may be disappointed by the next Tarantino film, and I may be pleasantly surprised by the latest offering from The Asylum. This does not mean, however, that I prefer the Asylum film between the two. In fact, it is likely that the worst Tarantino film (my money’s on Death Proof) will be better than any present or future Asylum movie (with the obvious exception being the 50 Shades parody!).

With this in mind, Invasion of the Undead bills itself as a cheese-tastic horror comedy fitted with Evil Dead reminiscent stopmotion special effects and an appropriately goofy comedic duo. Desmond and Jake work as clerks and happen to be paranormal exterminators on the side. They are called to investigate the presence of ‘zombies’ and all hell breaks loose.

There is much cheese at work. The setup is so formulaic that it beats the audience over the head. The dialogue sometimes has that awkward and out of place feel. The presence of evil isn’t even really that menacing. At about 30 minutes in, I thought that I was watching a fun style parody of the horror/sci-fi films of yesteryear. Who doesn’t appreciate a good style parody every now and then?

Then I had a realization which I will present through a series of thoughts: “Jesus, that Jack Skellington looking fellow is scary as hell!” “WTF did he just do with his hands?!” “Wait, do I actually care about the characters?” “I think I see the plot!” “This movie is coming together out of nowhere.”

Don’t get me wrong; this one is still a cheese-fest. There are sword fights, battles with the lumbering undead, and an inter-dimensional (cosmic?) battle with some potential Star Wars nods that takes place partly in a living room. These are supplemented by legitimate storytelling elements: motivation for the characters, plausible events, a sufficient backstory, etc.

The acting is mostly spot on, within the context of the film. In particular, I love the way Jake’s character was played out. But there are a few moments when the acting misses the mark and chokes the atmosphere.

At worst, this is a weird and enjoyable film, but, at best, Invasion of the Undead is a wonderfully executed style parody of 'so-bad-they're-good' films.

Rating: 8/10

World War Z

Released: 2013

Directed by Marc Forster

It’s been interesting to see the critical response to World War Z from the Horror community over the past two years. Some complain that it does Max Brooks’ book a disservice, but, to be fair, the film is a rather loose adaptation of the book that shares more with the World War Z brand than it does with the story. In that sense, such complaints are not warranted.

More importantly, this film is cited as a boring and unimaginative zombie flick. This is all wrong! It would be like saying Die Hard is an international crime film or that House of the Dead was concerned with cinematography. Sure, these elements are there, but they aren’t what defines the film. Die Hard is about a down-on-his-luck, badass New York cop, House of the Dead was a complete nonsensical shitfest, and World War Z spends its time wishing its protagonist was as captivating as John McClane. World War Z not a so-called zombie flick; it’s an action/adventure film with zombies. The zombies can be substituted with pretty much any worldly beast (werewolves, mutant spiders, etc.) and the film will have the same effect. This cannot be said for more legitimate ‘zombie flicks’ like Night of the Living Dead though. </rant>

As an action film, it is slightly above mediocre. The visuals are excellent and well executed, usually not over-the-top. I am particularly fond of the bits in Korea and Jerusalem. The supporting cast, i.e., anyone other than Brad Pitt, is believable and well played. Elyes Gabel’s portrayal of a naive, yet brilliant, young doctor/scientist is a short-lived standout performance.

The major hangup is Brad Pitt’s character. I’ve not seen Se7en in a few years, but I can tell you much more about Detective Mills than I can about this generic ex-UN Investigator, having watched World War Z just two weeks ago. The character is simply not memorable and I suspect that’s because the audience doesn’t have too much of an emotional connection to him. The familiarity of Brad Pitt is central to keeping this film afloat, since the audience at least has the his face to go on. If this one didn’t star a well established actor, then it would have crashed soon after taking off.

Rating: 5/10

Atlanta Film Festival 2015

James Franco?! Sorry, no James Franco this time.

We at Disturbing Films have done a rather awful job at covering film festivals in the past. Some times it's been a lack of resources; other times we got in over our heads. See the Articles page for an abundance of evidence.

It's been some time since we've provided any festival coverage (nearly two and a half years!), so, when I saw that the sequel to one of our favorite films from the 2011 Buried Alive! Film Festival was to be screened at the academy-qualifying Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF), I had to go back into festival mode. To keep matters manageable, this is the only film we're going to review this time around.

The film I'm speaking of is Satanic Panic 2: Battle of the Bands. We previewed this film with an interview with co-writer/director Eddie Ray earlier this month. Our review will be up in the coming week, so from here on I'm going discuss the festival, venue, etc.

The ATLFF spread its 2015 festival across the city, featuring events at The Goat Farm and the Plaza Theatre, two historic Atlanta venues where we've covered festivals in the past. In line with being a large festival, they hosted events with some pretty great food too!

On Friday evening, we moseyed down to the 7 Stages Theatre, just east of the city. The venue is narrow and cramped, seeming more like a concert site than a theatre, which provides a good contrast to the old flowing curtains of the Plaza Theatre and the modern, urban, hipster look of The Goat Farm. In addition, 7 Stages features a coffee bar/mostly full service bar, which earns it several bonus points in my book.

The atmosphere was superb and felt much more like the small independent horror festivals that I'm accustomed to than one that occasionally reminds everyone of its Oscar-qualifying status. We made the poor decision of sitting at what seemed to be directly under the speakers. This led to some of the music bits in the film feeling like a concert. Given the venue's appearance though, it was more than fitting.

I have only positive things to say about this festival. Obtaining tickets, information, etc. was quite easy. The audience, though a good bit were affiliated with the film, was energetic. In a festival setting, often the audience can either make or break the viewing experience.



Afterward I even got a chance to snap a picture with Eddie (I'm the one in the brown jacket). I must say that it feels nice cover a festival with just a few posts. Check back for more festival coverage coming this September.

Interview: Eddie Ray

Eddie Ray is a director/producer/writer/etc. from Atlanta and worked on one of our favorite films from the 2011 Buried Alive! Film Festival: Satanic Panic: Band Out of Hell. The sequel, Satanic Panic: Battle of the Bands, will be screening at the Atlanta Film Festival on March 27th. Click here for tickets! Take a look at the music video/trailer for Part 2.

DF: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in the Himalayan Mountains with yetis. Just kidding. I wish. Let’s see I have been filming shit since I was like 10 years old and I used to work for Universal (the record label) and now work for Adult Swim in Production. I love horror movies, ghost hunting, transformer toys, buffalo wings, the season of Halloween, limes, dance music, Jem and the Holograms and Icees. I also make movies with over-the-top vulgar characters.

DF: Describe the Satanic Panic series in 11 words or less.

A musical action horror comedy about hot characters fuckin shit up.

DF: What are the inspirations for the films?

I worked in the music industry for a few years and there I realized just how regular musicians were. They get on stage and pretend to be one thing and then come off stage and are just normal people. Like Marilyn Manson, ya know, he is that character on stage then he comes home and puts on shorts and cries and watches Honey Boo Boo or whatever. He is just a person that becomes a character when he performs. Satanic Panic is a band that puts on costumes and sings about Satan but they don’t believe in or even like Satan. It’s just for show and money. They are just regular people, but their acting gets them into trouble. They used to be a Christian band but they didn’t make money doing that so they switched to Satanic and dance. The cartoon Jem and the Holograms also inspired me. Jem was about duality. It was an animated show about a plain Jane girl who turned into this over-the-top pop singer. Then got off stage and had to turn back into a plain Jane girl and pay the fuckin bills. Also in the show there were music videos and songs. I loved that. Even rival bands. Also many horror movies. The “Bad” guys in Satanic Panic are all the Satan worshippers but you sympathize with them the most. They are really the most human and caring characters in these movies. Except that they kill people, but shit they love each other. Also Purple Rain the movie.

DF: Was making the sequel more difficult than with the first film?

Shit yes. Sequels are always harder. They have to be bigger and better than the first one. Not just that, but they have to be different than the first one, it has to take you in new directions or people will get bored. Shit I will get bored. I luckily have a co-writer with me that is smart and funny with shit named Max Fisher. He balances me out. If not I would just go nuts and it may not make sense. Also you have to add more fun characters. So double the cast. Also double the music. Also double the locations. Also double the money. Thank Samhain the cast and crew are amazing and really love doing these movies and believe in me. YAY!!!!!

DF: What does the future hold for this series?

Me and Matt Gallo (he plays B. Elza Bob in the movie) created the idea of Satanic Panic and honestly I knew what would happen in part 2 and 3 while I was writing part 1. So yes hopefully if part 2 does well then there will be a part 3! Yes, we know what happens in part 3 and how it all ends. You do get to see the title for part 3 at the end of part 2! PS THE END OF PART 3 WOULD BE AMAZING! I LOVE HOW IT ALL ENDS!

DF: What other projects are you working on/developing?

Right now I write another web series about a gay horse named SPARKLE HOOVES. People seem to love it. I write it and do the voice for the main character Sparkle Hooves. A friend of mine named Tori Cook animates for it and designs the characters. You can watch his ass here: https://vimeo.com/album/3286548

Also Max Fisher and I are figuring out our next project right now. It will be horror for sure with over-the-top characters I’m sure. Characters are the most important part of any film. If the characters aren’t fun or cool to start with then what they are doing will not even matter.

DF: Which films are you most looking forward to watching in the near future?

There are movies I want to see coming that could cool or fun, but these are the ones I am excited about for real. I love going to the movies and I write reviews for movies as well. https://eddieraysmoviereviews.wordpress.com

1. Mad Mad Fury Road- I love apocalyptic films.

2. Insidious 3- I love ghost movies

3. Maze Runner 2- I was shocked I liked the first one and it’s apocalyptic too.

4. Krampus- I love Michael Dougherty

5. Trick r Treat 2- I love Michael Dougherty

!!! Wonder Woman – ummm WONDER WOMAN

Be sure to catch Satanic Panic: Battle of the Bands at the Atlanta Film Festival. To see the first installment click here.

Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood

Released: 1988

Directed by John Carl Buechler

This installment in the series does something that no sequel has accomplished thus far: legitimize Jason’s superhuman presence. Why, you ask? This one opens with a young girl killing her father (in a much less brutal way than expected) with psychic powers. Time passes and she’s now a traumatized teenager returning to the site of the incident as part of her therapy. In a fit of anger, she wills forth who she thinks is her father from the lake; it turns out that she resurrects Jason, again! Adding a second character with supernatural abilities lets the audience know that the film does not take place in the universe we inhabit, making Jason’s antics far more plausible than before.

Wait a tick, when does this film take place? I assumed that Part VI took place in the ‘80s, but between that entry and the present one considerable amounts of time had to have passed. Enough for it to be forgotten that Jason is tied to a rock at the bottom of the lake! In this universe, do the ‘80s last 80 years?

Jason is back from his watery grave to exact revenge… or just slaughter everyone in sight. The death sequences are quite the mixed bag. Most occur off screen and some are the worst the series has seen thus far. There is an excellent scene though where Jason pops up behind a character, grabs him by the head, and punches through him. This one is second only to the icepick to the head.

There is some character development; we discover that not everyone wears their motives on their sleeves, relative to the rest of the series. In the end, we want to see what becomes of the young psychic Tina Shepard. Though this is (gasp!) another new direction (unlike that joke), it does a lot in making the premise easier to swallow, making the series more enjoyable.

The New Blood features the best ending of any of the sequels. It will surely make you say something of the sort “WTF?! In this universe, can bodies not be retrieved from shallow lakes?!”

Rating: 6/10