Battledogs (2013)

Battledogs-poster

We’re back with a couple of old ISCFC favourites – the misleading title and our old friends at The Asylum! “Battledogs” appears to not be a direct ripoff of any film, indicating a slight change from the mockbuster format, maybe, but will that improve the quality?

Haha, of course not! Are you lot mad? Donna Voorhees, a wildlife photographer, gets bitten by a wolf while in Canada. Rather than, I don’t know, going to hospital there, she flies to JFK Airport in New York (filmed in New York, just a different airport, I was surprised to learn), and the Lupine Virus in the wolf’s bite starts to kick in and transforms her in seconds into a giant wolf. That word is “wolf”, not “dog”. She tears through the airport, killing dozens and infecting many more, before the Army rolls up with gas and knocks them all out.

A nearby hangar becomes a quarantine zone for people suffering from the virus. People seem incredibly hostile about going into quarantine – they remember what just happened, right? – but luckily the army is on hand. Dennis Haysbert is the General in charge and 80s movie heart-throb Craig Sheffer is the Major with personal problems a-plenty. The General thinks it would be a good idea to figure out how to weaponise the wolves, but the Major, who apparently has the President’s number on his phone, realises the danger and tries to help them, along with a friendly doctor.

lamberson4-031913

And that, pretty much, is the film. Sheffer takes a trip to the airport to view the security footage and resolve the mystery of who patient zero is (for potential antidote purposes), and runs into Ernie Hudson, who reveals an amazing hologram security camera thing which I want to see happen so badly. I know this will come as a shock to you all, but Haysbert’s plans don’t work and the wolves invade Manhattan – will the President (played by Bill Duke, who I remember from “Commando” but who is one of the all-time great “hey, it’s that guy!” actors) authorise the big bomb for Manhattan before Sheffer and pals can make an antidote? Will Haysbert kill Sheffer?

This film almost defies you to be interested in it. Character motivation is all over the place, and it’s so flat and dull. It reminds me of someone you don’t like all that much telling you a long story that you’re not really interested in…never even hinted at by the film is the phenomenal amount of guilt that Donna should be feeling – her stupidity causes the deaths of thousands and the destruction of a large chunk of New York.

Minor pluses – Bill Duke is always good to see, and it was apparently filmed in and around New York, which is a pleasant change.

Glancing round other review sites to see if I could rip them off if there was something big I missed, I discovered an excellent review from “The Girl Who Loves Horror” – read her stuff here. Not sure why I’m linking you to better reviewers, but I love you ISCFC readers.

Battledogs

Advertisements

100 Degrees Below Zero (2013)

100-1

I couldn’t let the weekend be over without another film from the Asylum. I feel like some sort of addict who has to watch all of these damn films before I can move on with my life, so I come to their attempt at “The Day After Tomorrow”, with a soupcon of the torn-from-the-headlines Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull thrown in for good measure. For those of you keeping score, this is another in our recent tradition of reviewing films where the title is, at best, misleading – it gets cold, for sure, but any film where the lead actress can walk round in a tanktop pretty much all the way through is not 100 degrees below.

 

After a few films which appeared to have stuff like production values and special effects and stuff, we’re back on familiar ground with this one. The military base shown at the beginning of the film is just a fairly big house, and the interior shots of the base are entirely filmed in what looks like the office of a normal house; the scientist who figures out what’s happening appears to be working in an empty office with no equipment other than a laptop; while the film appears to have shot, briefly, in Paris itself, the city only has seven people in it. Then we get this gem, which is the IMDB description of the film:

 

“After freak climate and weather events destroy the world around them, a group of rogue scientists attempt to reverse the deadly new ice age.”

 

Not true, at all. I would have liked to see that film, because it sounds fun, and not even remotely like what we ended up with.

 

What we get is John Rhys Davies, star of more rotten films than you could shake a stick at, as a British Army colonel somewhere in Germany. He’s informed by a scientist that Europe is pretty much doomed, thanks to a volcanic eruption in Iceland, which in turn messed up a lot of fault lines leading to pretty much every volcano in Europe erupting, which in turn would cause a dust cloud which would drop the temperature, ruin agriculture, kill millions of people, and so on. The scientist guy also tells a group of what I think are supposed to be world leaders that Europe is doomed via a multi-person Skype chat, but all these people are just dressed in normal clothes and are filmed in their bedrooms or against blank walls.

 

We then get the second strand of the story. Jeff Fahey is a pilot (using some of that pilot-acting experience he got from “Lost”) taking his new wife to London on a small plane. Where the plane set off from is never mentioned, I just think it seemed like a good idea to establish he was a pilot. His two children are together in Paris, and they’re all planning to meet up. The son is a bit nondescript, it must be said, but the daughter is the lovely Sara Malakul Lane. She can’t act worth a damn, but she’s almost too beautiful – and she’s also been in “Sharktopus”, which sadly for you I watched before I started working for the ISCFC.

 

The weather changes sharpish, and Fahey is forced to land somewhere near London. Luckily, he used to fight alongside John Rhys Davies in NATO, so Fahey and family are offered slots on a plane leaving for Australia (weird choice of location, but maybe they’ve been offered money to film a sequel over there). From then on, a really unacceptably long portion of the film is devoted to the family trying to find each other, in true “Day After Tomorrow” fashion. Fahey and wife drive to the Euro-Tunnel, then towards Paris, while the brother and sister try and make it to the Eiffel Tower. This would be fine for maybe 20 minutes, but it’s almost an hour out of a 90 minute film, and as much fun as watching Fahey and looking at Lane is, it’s still d-u-l-l. Fahey crashes his car (while driving across a field, for some reason)! Lane has a set of incredibly cheap shelves fall on her while trying to loot a coat, and her brother can’t lift them for some reason! Fahey gets on a helicopter, but the ash cloud makes it difficult to fly! The brother and sister are trapped inside the US Embassy! And so on. In place of drama or character deepening, we get roadblocks which achieve nothing.

 

That’s not to say the film is completely worthless. We get some fun death scenes and the bit where Lane manages to kick away a falling lump of ice (falling from the sky, I hasten to add) before it lands on her brother is hilarious. We also get to ponder in what universe the half-Thai Lane and the entirely Caucasian Marc McKevitt Ewins as her brother could be born from the same two parents. There’s also the classic low-budget disaster movie problem of not being able to afford closed sets, so we get scenes of absolute disaster where people are just going about their day peacefully in the background.

 

The ending will surprise no-one, if you’re still able to give a damn by that point. Tying a “Day After Tomorrow” plot into real world events is a fun idea, but they really weren’t prepared to spend any money on it at all. The scenes that appear to have been shot in the real Paris must have been a result of one of the cast members being on holiday there, or something. For all its sins, being ponderously slow is its worst.

"We should have a hotel here, right? Why don't we pop back there and put the kettle on?"

“We should have a hotel here, right? Why don’t we pop back there and put the kettle on?”