Age of Tomorrow (2014)

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I hope people are still fooled by The Asylum. That some kid right now is opening a present from his Grandma, and inside is “Age of Tomorrow”, and there’s a note attached that says “I thought this was still at the cinema! Enjoy, little Timmy!” fills me with joy.

Amazingly, that kid will enjoy the Asylum’s latest mockbuster, named after the new Tom Cruise film but taking its ideas from “Armageddon”, “Predators”, “Aliens”, “War Of The Worlds” and “Independence Day”. But initially I was worried they were cannibalising their own films for ideas, when it’s announced that an asteroid a quarter the size of the moon is heading for Earth. Hold on, didn’t we just see an one, of identical size, in “Asteroid vs. Earth”?

After quickly establishing that Asylum favourite, father-daughter separation, we get a rain of mini-asteroids in preparation for the big one, and the main strands of story are introduced. Father is a firefighter, and his crew are a wisecracking bunch (the axe gag near the beginning is brilliant); then there’s a “retired” army guy with some serious issues, called back in for one more job. Backing up the Army guy is Robert Picardo (off of Star Trek: Voyager), Kelly Hu, and his gang of badass soldiers, the “Roughnecks”. So far, so good, Asylum! You have the pieces in place, set them going into awesomeness!

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The Roughnecks, with Hu in tow, set off for the asteroid to do a bit of “Armageddon”-style detonation. I hated “Armageddon”, the stupid film based on the stupid idea that it’s easier to train miners to be astronauts than it is to train astronauts to be miners; but luckily this gets past that stage rather quickly and we discover that not only is it not an asteroid but an alien attack ship launching platform; also, it contains a teleport device thing that sends them to the aliens’ home world. The aliens appear to be beaming people off the street back to their home planet, for purposes we never really become aware of – but there’s weird pressure chambers and medical equipment involved. Will they be able to stop the aliens, save Earth, and will the firefighter be able to save his daughter?

These questions are, amazingly in this one instance, not rhetorical. This film is action-packed, and for the Asylum insanely so. That list of “inspirations” I mentioned above is a good indication of how much action is packed into this film, so you get waves of attack and defence and heroism and the mysterious alien plan. Main cast members drop like flies too, which adds to the sense of “where are they going with this? Is there going to be some time-travel reset?” I felt bad when I noticed the sound of footsteps and drilling while they were on the asteroid (no air in space, so everything would be silent) because there’s a real sense everyone was trying their hardest with this one – and that comment caused my wife and I to pause the film for a few minutes and discuss the “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no-one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” philosophical question, so thumbs up this movie.

The acting is almost universally strong, with the exception of Robert Picardo’s second-in-command, who must have bought his role in this movie via Kickstarter or something – he’s spectacularly rubbish. The Roughnecks all have characters, when someone loses a friend or relative, there’s a real sense of loss…add that to really decent special effects, a strong visual style and one of the most bummer endings in recent cinema and you’ve got an absolute top-drawer Asylum effort.

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Not too surprising when you see the crew – directed by James Kondelik, who also directed the excellent “Airplane vs. Volcano” with his brother Jon. I think if they can make a film this interesting with the mini-budget the Asylum provides them with, then if they get their hands on a decent amount of money I predict really good things from them. It’s not perfect, like I’ve said, but it wasn’t boring for a second and had a lot of interesting ideas in it.

Rating: thumbs up

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Trailer Trash: The Hungover Games (Red Band Edition)

First thought. Who watches these piss weak parody films? Second thought. Who actually laughs when they watch them?

I’m guessing the thought process behind the making of this movie was to combine ‘The Hangover’ with ‘The Hunger Games’ and then sprinkle on top the rancid muck of pop culture in the hope that beautiful flowers bloom from the manure. Voila! You have ‘The Hungover Games’. I think the key to making a good parody film is simple enough, pour on thick a rapid fire host of zinger one liners and get a talented cast to play it mostly straight. Nowadays makers of parody films aim for familiarity and lowest common denominator humour. The shit is literally thrown on the drawing board in the hope that it sticks. It appears ‘The Hungover Games’ goes beyond being so bad it’s good territory, like a carelessly thrown boomerang that flies full circle and ends up getting stuck straight in the arse crack inducing a splintering bleeding anus of agony.

The trailer features the three main guys in ‘The Hangover’ played by Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis and Ed Helms played by lookalikes with the names Bradley, Zach and Ed. Fumes from a dodgy air freshener take the trio forward in time into a dystopian future. We see ISCFC favourite Tara Reid dressed up as Effie Trinket and then a bizarre action sequence that is a mix of ‘The Hunger Games’ (duh) and the chaotic melee fight scenes from the two ‘Anchorman’ films. There’s a Django lookalike, a Captain Jack Sparrow, Ted (complete with oversized dangling furry meat and two veg), the blue lass from ‘Avatar’ and Kardashian doormat Bruce Jenner dressed up as Cesar Romero from the old ‘Batman’ TV series.

‘The Hungover Games’ came out this year and already it feels dated. Jeez, I guess Pop Culture doesn’t age well in the high speed Tweetin’ and Tumblr-in’ digital age. With a trailer that showcases the most crass and unfunny moments of the film, an endless montage of bad lookalikes that wouldn’t look out of place in the Great Yarmouth waxwork museum and dick jokes. Limp, flaccid dick jokes ***sigh***. ‘The Hungover Games’ makes ‘Scary Movie 5’ look like ‘The Godfather Part II’.

– RJW

twothumbsdown

Oni-Gokko (Tag) (2012)

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Directed by: Shane Ryan

This will be a flash review. I don’t really think you can go overboard when you review a short film, especially one that runs for just under eight minutes. Writing any more than a few hundred words seems excessive. Here’s the premise, a simple nostalgic game of tag played between two Japanese women is spiced up with a razor blade. We open with a shot of a damp bloody stomach and then go back in time to the start of the harmful game. A waifish young Japanese woman wearing a white gown walks down some wooden steps, we see a hand reaching up between the steps; the hand is holding a razor blade and it pokes the girl just below the Achilles tendon. Ouchy.

The voice under the steps says “You’re it”. Now, I’m not going to spoilt the rest of the short film but actresses Miki (Eri Akita) and Aki (Mariko Miyamitsu) do a pretty good job in their short time on screen. ‘Oni-Gokko (Tag)’ is a tense tale of revenge that is available as part of the ‘Theatre of the Deranged II’ anthology. If you like skin crawling close up shots of gouging gore and naked Japanese women then this might just be up your street.

– RJW
7/10

‘Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader’ due for release June 21, 2014

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‘Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader’ is a return to the classic midnight movie slasher genre featuring horror hostess Peaches McNeil (Samantha Glovin). It continues where part one left off.

After years of nightmares and therapy sessions Casey (Leah Rudick) sets out to find the author of a mysterious novel that foretold the brutal murder of her brother at the hands of a masked maniac.

Meanwhile it’s all boobs, blood and rock ‘n’ roll for a group of teenagers at a house party. All except for Brian (Bradley Creanzo) who is buried in Charles Carver’s (Steve Buja) latest novel.

When the crazed killer (Alexander Kollar) returns to slaughter their sexcapades with bloodsplattering similarity found within the novel Brian and Casey must struggle to unseal their own fates before it’s too late.

Are they just characters in a story living out the brutal fantasies of a mad man? Or can freewill save them from the clutches of a gruesome destiny?

Trailer:
http://vimeo.com/94212603

For more info about the movie check out:
http://www.kidsgetdead.com/
http://www.darkstarentertainment.net/

Asteroid vs. Earth (2014)

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Now, I know I said this about the last Asylum film I watched, but I’ve definitely seen this one before, right? Perhaps it’s “Collision Earth” or an old episode of “Sliders” or perhaps, like the Matrix, I’ve begun to see behind the scenes to see the weird machine that churns out the plots for these movies. Or perhaps it’s…

THE SET! Making its fourth appearance in an Asylum movie – after “The 3 Musketeers”, “Super Cyclone” and “Airplane v. Volcano” (and probably a few others), is the circular room with wooden shutters, filled with computers and, usually, busy soldiers, scientists, whatever. The Kondelik Brothers, directors of “Airplane v. Volcano” were kind enough to tell me that it’s the San Pedro Water Treatment plant, so if you’re planning a tour of the venues of Asylum for your next holiday, be sure to add that to the list.

So, there’s an asteroid headed for Earth. Really, I hear you ask? It’s not just a weird title for a mature relationship drama, then? Even though it’s far too far away to have any sort of impact on the planet, the weather starts going screwy, which gives the Asylum the opportunity to use their stock footage again. Fair play to em, they’re getting pretty good at making it look like part of the movie. This weather turns Robert Davi’s house from perfectly normal to bombed-out-looking in about 30 seconds, but he just leaves his wife there (who’s young enough to be his granddaughter) when he gets called up to save the world (he’s an Army General, or something high up). He’s fairly unique in low-budget disaster movie Army guys because when the oddball genius spots the IMPENDING DISASTER, he believes him immediately and signs him up as a special adviser.

The other side of this film is an interesting threesome. First up is Tia Carrere as Marissa Knox, some sort of deep-sea scientist, and then there’s a couple of Marines- Lt Cmdr Chase Seward (Jason Brooks, the main guy from “Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys”) and Lt. Rudy (Wade F Wilson). Rudy acts as matchmmaker for Seward and Knox, and they go from being complete strangers to ready for lovin’ with the simple addition of several hours of drinking. On their way for some sex, they’re stopped by the Army, bundled in a car and taken to save the world – lucky coincidence, eh?

I’m getting bogged down in detail! Rudy is another interesting character, as he’s gay, stopping regularly to phone up his boyfriend (and his Mum). When he tells one of his fellow Marines that he’s gay, the response is “we know” and then everyone gets on with their jobs. Well done, this movie! The director is Christopher Ray, Asylum mainstay and son of cheap-o “master” Fred Olen Ray, so he ought to be commended for showing how gays in the military would be dealt with in an ideal world (no-one would care, either way).

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What he shouldn’t be commended for is what might politely be called a lack of polish in some scenes. Rudy and a few other Marines survive a meteor fragment hitting their base, and are tasked with taking a few nuclear warheads to a volcano – but it’s never really established where they are, how they’re getting to the volcano, and there’s a lot of scenes in their sub-plot that feel like they were filmed with very careful camera angles to hide the normal business going on all around them. Also, they don’t start on this mission til about 15 minutes before the end, so it all feels tacked on, like they realised they’d not filmed enough. Apart from this mission, the rest of the film doesn’t have tons of drama in it – smart and capable people behaving in smart and capable ways does not an exciting thriller make.

It’s not all bad, though. The acting is pretty solid, and the front cover has a pretty funny joke on it. Under the title is “The classic sci-fi thriller returns” – what? Is this a sequel to a film I was previously unaware of? Or are they just referring very specifically to other sci-fi thrillers, and how they’ve not had any classics in a while? A very confusing sentence if it’s not a joke from someone at the Asylum. Also, and I almost didn’t mention it because it shouldn’t be worth mentioning, but people of colour make up a majority of this film’s cast. It’s a good sign, I think, and it’s a shame we have to go to the lower-end of the budget / talent scale to find films where this is a thing and it’s not commented on (inside the film itself).

I don’t like nit-picking, but there are a couple of beautiful moments in this film. It features the greatest mobile phone in the history of mobile phones. Rudy is stood at the edge of a very active volcano, next to two nuclear warheads, on a deserted Japanese island. And he makes a call! Whatever provider he’s with, sign me up, because my reception cuts out if I go into a lift. Also, General Robert Davi liaises with his counterparts from Russia and China. Russia seems okay, but the location of the Chinese high-level military personnel? A lovely suburban living room, complete with swords on the wall and a pot of flowers in the background. WHAT?

Ultimately, the problem this film has isn’t its rather odd moments, but in the main narrative thrust. It’s just not particularly exciting, and they try and cram in too many sub-plots (not a problem I thought I’d ever have with an Asylum movie). Chase and Marissa actually get locked in a room for a decent portion of the film just so the film can concentrate on other people for a bit, but it’d have benefited from trimming their part even more and concentrating on Rudy, who’s clearly the film’s hero. If you’re really desperate for an Asylum fix, you could do worse, I suppose.

Rating: thumbs down

A ton of news about Shane Ryan’s Upcoming Projects

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Wild Eye Releasing will be unleashing Shane Ryan’s latest film, My Name is A by anonymous, on September 23, 2014. A tells the inspired-by-true-story of Alyssa Bustamante, who was accused of stabbing, strangling, and slicing the throat of her 9 year old neighbor. Alyssa was just 15 at the time of the murder. Trailer – https://vimeo.com/86505041.

Coincidentally Ryan’s Amateur Porn Star Killer Trilogy is being re-released for a 3rd time in a limited box set by Cinema Epoch on the same day, with an early release on Amazon in July. Ryan recently posted a trailer teasing the idea of a possible Amateur Porn Star Killer reboot, currently titled Ted Bundy had a Son. Trailer – https://vimeo.com/96971794.

2014 is a busy year for Ryan. It also sees the release of Dysmorphia in August (Wild Eye Releasing) a new anthology from James Cullen Bressack (Animal Planet’s Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys, 13/13/13) featuring an award-winning short by Ryan. And this Fall will see the release of another anthology from Bressack, Theatre of the Deranged 2, featuring Ryan’s fully uncut Japanese film Oni-gokko (Tag) on DVD from Troma Entertainment. Ryan has also signed on to two more anthologies; World of Death – featuring flicks by 200 filmmakers worldwide, and Paranoia Tapes (currently in production). Ryan’s feature The Girl Who Wasn’t Missing has recently secured VOD rights (release TBA). The film tells the story of a 15 year old girl who is gang-raped, impregnated, and kicked out of her home to live on the streets. Trailer – https://vimeo.com/78456749. As a leading actor, Ryan can next be seen in director Albert Pyun’s (Cyborg, Nemesis) The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper.

On the filmmaker side, Ryan is currently in post-production of his corrupt cop feature, The Owl in Echo Park, starring Kevin Gage (Heat, Call of Duty: Ghosts) Trailer – https://vimeo.com/93788625, as well as developing the script for The Birmingham Cycle, along with Eric Pereira (American Girls). The story evolves around a woman seeking revenge for the death of her siblings by a rival crime family and was inspired by an actual true crime cover-up which occurred down the street from Ryan’s residence. He hopes to attach Bianca Bree or Zoë Bell for the lead role.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Filming in Norwich

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Exciting news for all you Avengers fans out there. It appears that scenes for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ are currently being shot in Norwich. When I arrived for a meeting this morning at the University of East Anglia’s picturesque campus I was greeted by the sight of several young men going through hair and makeup in the Lawrence Stenhouse Building. I then was informed by some of the colleagues that filming was currently taking place at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

I made my way down to the Sainsbury Centre around noon and witnessed a giant green screen that was erected at the back of the Sainsbury Centre. Security was tight, so it was difficult to get photos, but what I saw was several young men and women running up and down in front of a green screen. They seemed to be dressed like S.H.I.E.L.D. recruits. In front of the Sainsbury Centre were several sports cars, and I could just about make out a big circled red ‘A’ painted on the interior of the building.

Star fuckers and eager autograph hunters in attendance seemed to be disappointed by lack of Hollywood A-listers. There were no sightings of Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson when I was lurking about and many people, keen to take pictures and videos of the spectacle, were left disappointed by overzealous security personnel. Later Downey Jr. was sighted just before he flew off in a helicopter.

– RJW


For more info about the filming check out:

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/MarvelFreshman/news/?a=101821

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/photo_gallery_robert_downey_jr_and_scarlett_johansson_in_norwich_uea_transformed_into_set_for_new_avengers_film_1_3641307

Exterminators of the Year 3000 (1983)

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After a break from bad movies, perhaps it was a mistake to jump right back into the deep end with one like “Exterminators Of The Year 3000”. I remained convinced for the first half hour or so that I’d seen it before, for reasons which may well become apparent as this review continues, and for the last half hour I wondered what on earth was going on and why I should be bothered by it.

Anyway, police. A couple of rebellious but decent-seeming cops keep going when they’re asked to turn in, and their penalty for wanting to do too good a job is to be murdered by the apparent hero of the movie, “Alien”. Whether he’s a literal or metaphorical alien is sadly never mentioned in the film, but what he does have is a sweet perm, and that crap-covered leather that we fans of films like this know and love. Then, I think, someone unrelated to this brawl steals Alien’s car and we get a seemingly endless car chase (don’t worry, the piece of garbage gets found later on). Why we’re supposed to give a damn about any of this is an important fact the filmmakers sadly chose to leave out.

Never seen anything like this beforzzzz

Never seen anything like this beforzzzz

The plot is…I bet I could say “Italian early 80s post-apocalyptic movie” and you’d be able to get 75% of it off the top of your head. A town needs water and sends out a search party to get some, everyone apart from the plucky kid gets killed, Alien and the kid sort of team up with Alien’s ex-girlfriend against a pack of buggy-driving scumbags who also want the water. Hey, dummies! If you know where the water is, why not move your town there rather than staying in the middle of a damn desert?

One thing to “like” about this is how they don’t really bother with any backstory for anyone, or reasonable justifications for anyone’s actions. Another thing to definitely like is how the people dubbing this Italian masterpiece didn’t want to swear so we get a heck of a lot of people called “mothergrabber”. One final thing to enjoy is despite the world apparently having pretty much no water left, about half the scenes were obviously filmed on overcast days (so it’s definitely raining somewhere) and there’s a ton of vegetation, including a couple of presumably accidental shots of lovely lush meadows off in the distance. And there’s the music, rarely used sensibly and often wonderfully out of place with the action taking place on screen.

It’s rubbish, obviously. It looks so much like “Warriors of the Lost World” and “Warriors of the Wasteland” that I kept dozing off then waking up and wondering why I was watching either of those pieces of crap again. One thumbs up comes from seeing Luciano Pigozzi (aka Alan Collins) pop up, one of my favourite “That Guy” actors – seriously, check out his IMDB page and it’s just wonderful-terrible B-movies.

Anyway, I’m glad…it’s over, I suppose. When my memories of this film fade, the abiding memory will just be of buggy-fights, and lots of people getting angry about not much, and one of the most hilariously out of place downbeat endings I’ve seen in ages. And wondering when those cars were made to still be operational in the year 3000. Still, it’s on Youtube for nothing, so if you’re really stumped for entertainment choices?

Rating: thumbs down

Her second from the left kills them all, in case you were wondering

Her second from the left kills them all, in case you were wondering