All Cheerleaders Die Review

All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

Starring: Caitlin Stasey, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, Brook Butler
Directed by: Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson

I don't know about you, but I'm usually pretty open about the movies I watch. I mean, I have to be, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this, right? Anyway, All Cheerleaders Die I originally heard about through a podcast from (I'd suggest you check them out, Mark and Jerry are pretty awesome and fun to listen to) and decided it couldn't hurt to give it a try. I'm not saying I was wrong, but this movie was a bit difficult to make it through.

The story is about revenge as when the head cheerleader dies, her friend decides to join the squad and get back at the captain of the football team and the rest of the squad for disrespecting her before her body has even had a chance to cool. Unfortunately, an accident triggers supernatural events that lead the girls in a slightly different direction.

Right from the beginning, this movie draws you in with a nice bone-crunching cheerleader death (because cheerleading is fucking dangerous enough as it is). I found myself losing interest quickly when soon after Maddy (Caitlin Stasey) joins the squad, there is an accident which kills all the cheerleaders, leaving lone faux-goth Leena (Sianoa Smit-McPhee) to resurrect them using witchcraft. The CG in this scene and pretty much every other scene that follows seriously gives this movie a 2002 feel, which with the advancements that have been made over the years, I found somewhat insulting. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with going a bit retro, but these effects were just terrible.

Making up for the horrible effects was the fact that, well, the cheerleaders are kinda hot. Especially racoon-eyed, faux-goth Leena (see: their comeback scene in the high school). Did I say "making up for"? I meant "Trying to make up for" as aside from a few make-out scenes between a couple of the ladies, there's really nothing else going on here besides some decent eye candy. At the least, the acting was okay, albeit annoying at times as the girls are pretty much now a pack of super hormone charged wraiths with a touch of 90's Wishing Troll action. The main antagonist of the film, Terry (Tom Williamson) basically spent the whole movie being a pompous dick. I'm talking a "black marker penis on the forehead" one-dimensional cock smear of a character. There was nothing likable about him, which is sad because even antagonists should have some sort of charisma factor. There is a plot twist involving him and one of the cheerleaders that felt a bit forced into the movie to add tension. It really only added frustration.

Most of the movie takes place either in the high school or in the woods, with occasional short scenes at various girls' houses. Nothing about this movie rang "scary", "creepy" or really even "funny". Even the kill scenes are pretty much a letdown, possibly barring their first kill. In a way, you could compare it to the proverbial train wreck one just can't look away from, no matter how hard it hurts. Really, the best scenes in the film don't come until the very end when the only real conflict happens. There is a really big twist right before the end credits that leaves the movie open for a part two that actually could have some potential, but given what we have now, I don't know if I really even care. All Cheerleaders Die is a movie I wouldn't recommend unless you're really bored or plan to turn this hour and a half of bad acting into a drinking game. If you're looking for a more interesting movie involving a hot "high school" girl who comes back from the dead, Jennifer's Body is a much better choice.



Special Effects

Overall Rating: Lightly Bandaged

Cellular Review

Cellular (2004)
Starring: Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, Jason Statham
Directed by: David R. Ellis

Remember when cell phones were about as special as pocket combs? When they were useful, but still pretty much ugly and all the same? Well, Cellular takes you back to that technological era when a woman is kidnapped and held in an attic with a destroyed land-line phone. Able to cross enough wires to place a call to a random stranger, she pleads for help. He then must race through the city and find her before time runs out.

Say what you will about Nokia brick phones and early model mobiles, but this movie puts them to good and interesting use. Granted, it feels a bit like an hour and a half of product placement, but there were some decent leap frog scenes between phones. The storyline for Cellular was okay, but not anything to get excited over. While filled with decent twists and suspense,  it felt lukewarm and predictable after about the halfway mark.

I did feel there was a decent main cast, as well as quite a few familiar faces, including William H. Macy and the guy from Hostel (you know, the guy from the blowtorch scene). With some pretty good star power, they were able to keep the movie tense, but with some decent comic relief. I felt the best overall performances were by veteran actors, Kim Basinger and William H. Macy as their characters seemed to have to most depth and substance. A happy nod goes to Chris Evans and Jason Statham as, well, I just fucking love them as actors and I think they were great for their roles in this movie.

Atmospherically, Cellular is decent at keeping you glued, waiting to see what happens next. The tension of Jessica Martin in the attic is well balanced with the fast-paced situational antics of her hero, Ryan as he careens through the city trying to find her husband and son and then eventually taking on the bad guys of the film.

Being a PG-13, there is minor blood and the majoritty of special effects are barely bleeding gunshot wounds and some tire-shredding 180° turns. The biggest special effect would have to have been an exploding car, which contributed to a decent scene I won't spoil.

All in all, Cellular was decent; enjoyable for fans of more action-oriented films, but with just enough tension to keep horror fans interested on a light day.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Gashed and Bleeding

After.Life Review

After.Life (2009)
Starring: Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Liam Neeson
Directed by: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo

It's a simple fact everybody has questions about what happens when you die. If you had a chance to try to come back from the brink, would you take it? Would you fight to return to the ones you loved?

In After.Life, a car accident leaves a young woman dead at the morgue. Or does it? While her grieving boyfriend tries to cope with the tragedy, Anna straddles the boundaries between life and death while dealing with a mortician who either wants to help her transition to the afterlife or simply wants to bury her alive.

This was a movie I was drawn to immediately, because I love Christina Ricci. I'm a fan of Liam Neeson and Justin Long as well, but the real attraction was Ms. Wednesday herself. That being said, I will say there are a lot of pretty decent things about this movie that make it worth watching. I don't honestly see it topping any favorites lists, but for the most part, it's still a solid film.

To start off, the story isn't bad. As both the feature film screen writing and directing debut for Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, I will say I'm impressed by the overall product.  It's a bit over-dramatic at points, but the arc smooths out decently. Throughout the film, there is a subtle ambiguity as to the state of living of Christina's character, which I found interesting. What helps feed into the mystery is the "ability" of Eliot the mortician (Neeson) to communicate with the dead, which at times seems like it could be a real thing, but at others feels more like he's just bat shit insane. As the movie progresses, Anna's boyfriend, Paul (Long), becomes increasingly more distraught over the death of his girlfriend, eventually lashing out in a scene that I won't spoil for you, but I will say involves an unexpected acquaintance of Anna's. As he grieves, there are more and more "clues" as to her situation, making him believe that something is not right at the mortuary.

One thing I did find fascinating was Christina's ability to handle a nude scene. Being one to have fallen in love with her back during The Addams Family days (she's three years older than me, so fuck off), it was a bit weird at first, but the realization that this is an actress who has transcended past performances and grown into a fantastic woman with acting chops to spare really put things into perspective.

Also, much like in films such as Drag Me To Hell, this is another opportunity for Justin Long to play the "straight guy" (meaning not the comic relief or the cinematic jackass), which is something I believe I remember hearing he has always wanted to do instead of being typecast, which is more than respectable.

To be fair, the only things that brought this movie down for me were the lack of real "action" and blood and gore. This is a movie that is driven on mystery and suspense. There really isn't much of any special effects going on besides blood and light wound make up. That's not my normal bag, but there are still many merits that make After.Life worth checking out for any horror fan. If you're just in it to see some breasts, your best bet is to move along as that's not what this movie's about. For those fans I'd suggest something along the lines of a Warren Speed film.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Wounded and Limping

Night Breed Review

Night Breed (1990)

Starring: Craig Sheffer, David Cronenberg, Anne Bobby
Directed by: Clive Barker

After reading a great review by Irishg3nt at The Horror Mansion, I was inspired to give my opinion on this classic Clive Barker horror masterpiece.

This was a movie that stuck with me since my days as a wee lad. As a matter of fact, reflecting on my younger years, perhaps it was the zipper-mouthed kill mask donned by one of the greatest masters of horror, David Cronenberg, that stuck with me the most.

Originally based on the novel, Cabal, Night Breed is the tale of troubled Aaron Boone looking for the hidden city of Midian. Boone (as he is referred to throughout the movie) finds himself wanting to join the monsters, feeling drawn to the mythical city, not knowing the murders and killings he thinks he has committed were not his own. Ultimately, the story spins an imagery of love, betrayal, belonging and prejudice as things come to a head and the monsters of Midian find that sometimes things aren't always as black and white as they seem and the humans learn that sometimes things are better left alone.

There are a lot of great things about this movie that any horror fan would enjoy. While not as gory as one would expect of a Clive Barker movie, it still does have some fantastic special effects, both practical and digital. I like to think of the monsters, the Night Breed, as being similar to the Morlocks of Marvel fame, but with a much better story, cooler powers and a potential TV series. Character-wise, this movie is like if you took Little Monsters, made it drop acid, then put it in a blender. I loved every character in this movie. The good, the bad and the Doug Bradley. That's right, "Pinhead" himself makes an appearance in this twisted tale. And as mentioned, the Baron of Blood, himself plays Dr. Phillip K. Decker; one of the coolest serial killers in movie history, in my humble opinion.

There is almost no end to the great scenes in this movie. Be it in Midian with the monsters or with the murderous Dr. Decker. There is no shortage of enjoyability from this movie that just works for any fan not spoiled on the wonders of computer graphics. There is a reason Night Breed has a cult following and it's because it's just so goddamned good. And now, you'll have a chance to get the new Extended Director's Cut this Halloween. Details here.




Special Effects

Overall Rating: Bloody Pulp