Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: The Woman by Jack Ketchum

I thought Jack Ketchum had gone just about as far as he could go with books like Off Season and The Girl Next Door. Turns out that there are new levels of evil and grotesqueness that I never realized - or maybe I just didn't want to. The Woman is one of the most disturbing things I've read simply for the amount of sin and hellish acts depicted by just about every character.

Many spoilers ahead.

In The Woman, the last survivor of the feral cannibal clan from Off Season and Offspring - aptly given the name "the Woman" - is captured by hunter Chris Cleek. He restrains her in his fruit cellar in an attempt to tame her, with the help of his wife and children.

When first reading the synopses for this book, I thought that the character of the man who captures the Woman would be a normal guy who was really actually trying to help her to stop being a feral cannibal killer. This most certainly turns out not to be the case.

Cleek is in fact the most amoral, evil, and misogynistic person I've ever had the displeasure of reading about (I can't wait to see how angry I get at him when I see the movie). Like I said there are spoilers here, and I just have to put down all the horrible things this man represents and what he does. Let's see... he captures the Woman; chains her in his fruit cellar; introduces her to his family as some sort of trophy; abuses the Woman; rapes the Woman; beats his wife (in front of his children); keeps his 10-year-old disabled daughter chained in the barn with the dogs, letting her become a feral flesh-eater not unlike the Woman herself; has been raping his daughter Peg for several years and has gotten her pregnant; and murders Peg's lesbian teacher by literally feeding her to the dogs. I've left out some little things, but that is the bulk of his evil deeds. On top of all this, he is teaching and encouraging his son to be just like him - and the son happily obliges.

So how could anyone not get angered and/or offended by what they read in The Woman? Is Ketchum simply out to shock his readers with the most vile things he can think of? To a point... maybe he is. It's what has gotten him noticed and sells books, but, and I know I don't the man personally, he doesn't seem like that kind of guy to me. I like books and movies who take things to the extreme, I like people who have the balls to show us the ugly side of things, and not just because they can but because sometimes really profound things can actually be learned. Ketchum proved that with the complexity of The Girl Next Door - another book that on the surface is simply full of cruel acts of torture with no moral compass. But TGND brings up many important moral and societal issues, as does The Woman - so why does it matter what means Ketchum uses to convey these points?

The problem with The Woman, and most of Ketchum's other novels, is that it was too short. I read this book on a lazy Sunday afternoon in only a few hours. And this is a shame for a book with such power - or at least the potential for a powerful message. Many will think that the focus is only on the gore and the continual degradation of the women in the book, but in a strange way, this is can be seen as a story of female empowerment.

Okay, wait, hear me out. This is a common thing with Ketchum's works. He often hides the most poignant messages and insights into society underneath the most brutal stories and unlikable characters. The Woman gives us the epitome of the worst man in the world put up against this physically strong and powerful woman who doesn't really give a shit what he does to her because those things don't matter to her. She's a survivor and a fighter and Cleek is no match for her, despite what his male ego tells him. In the end, all of the women untainted by his evil mindset come out the winners and go on to survive and thrive, living the way they want to.

Fans of Ketchum and gorehounds alike will probably enjoy The Woman for its nastiness, but I'm not ready to dismiss it just yet as nothing but sleaze. Looking deeper, I see something more to it and I hope others do, too.

I'm still a bit confused about the inclusion of the last section of the book entitled "Cow." It is essentially an epilogue, but quite a long one, and though it reveals what I thought the end of the book meant for Peg and the Woman's future, it's an odd way to present it. It's told from the point of view of the women's male captive, and if you've read Off Season and Offspring, you know what it means when this guy is known as a "cow" to the women. Not saying I didn't like it, just that it was different.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Project Terrible: Zombie Nation (2004)

OH-kay! Now this is what Project Terrible is all about, folks! Zombie Nation, my movie challenge from Cinema Gonzo, was without a doubt the worst movie in the history of bad movies. I can't even wrap my head around how shitty this was. This would normally infuriate me but instead it makes me strangely excited because I can finally rant about a movie's shortcomings - and this movie has PLENTY of them - and not feel bad about it at all. Because this movie deserves every bad review it gets.

Believe it or not, there is a basic plot to the movie although the bulk of the movie's "excitement" does not occur until almost an hour into this dung pile. Basically, a disturbed police officer has murdered several women and buried their bodies in the desert. Voodoo priestesses bring them back to life as zombies so the girls can get revenge on their killer.

To be truthful, this isn't a bad idea for a movie - on paper. Bringing back the dead and giving them a mission of sorts to kill the person or persons who killed them could make for a fun horror flick. Alas, I don't think the people who made this movie had any idea what the hell they were doing. Everything about Zombie Nation sucks. Really hard. We all love some of those "so bad it's good" movies, but this is ridiculously awful. This is so bad it's... really fucking bad. In the words of Butthead, "this sucks more than anything that has sucked before." Have I properly conveyed how shitty this movie is yet? Let's go over the specs just to make absolutely sure.

The ridiculousness starts off almost right from the beginning. We have a throwaway scene of a girl at home with her lover and then leaving and driving away. This is when the crazy cop shows up with his partner when he pulls her over for no reason. She gets mouthy, he gets unusually angry, and he basically assaults her while getting her out of the car and handcuffing her. His partner doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with this. When crazy cop takes the woman to a random building instead of the police station and pulls her up the stairs alone, the partner doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with this. When the crazy cop returns to the car without the woman, instead dragging a large body-sized duffel bag into the trunk, the partner really shows his true stupidity by believing that the crazy cop "let her go." Oh. My. Goodness.

Interspersed with scenes of the crazy cop we get these ungodly awful flashbacks to something that makes no sense. There's a kid walking down a row of people in beds with his wheelchair-bound mother who constantly gives him crap for his dirty hands. And there's a guy savagely beating a fat bald guy with a stick on the ass. Obviously his mother is some kind of doctor or whatever but this is NEVER explained properly just what the hell kind of research or experiments she's doing on crazy people. It only serves to give a vague reason of why this cop turns out to be a crazy killer.

Probably the funniest part about the movie is the set design of the police station. It seems to be in a warehouse with "Police Precinct 707" painted unceremoniously on a wall by the door. When the guy who I'm guessing is supposed to be the chief or captain orders somebody out of his "office," it's hilarious because his office is nothing more than a desk separated from everybody else by two walls on either side. The walls of the whole place are only about 6 feet high so you see all the exposed pipes and whatnot of the warehouse. It's pathetic.

When we finally get to the zombie part of the movie promised in the title, it takes about AN HOUR to get there. The girls buried in the ground dig themselves out and I was like Yay! Zombies! But these are the worst kind of zombies I've ever seen. They talk normally, walk normally and basically look normal. Actually the makeup used on these chicks to identify them as zombies is nothing more than black eye-liner smudged around their eyes. Really?! I did that for a Halloween costume when I was eight.

So what happens in the hour before the zombies show up? Nothing. Just a lot of horribly acted scenes of crazy cop's partner finally conveying his concerns about how the guy was obviously MURDERING women, and the precinct not taking him the least bit seriously. I may have zoned out on some of these parts but I don't think you can blame me.

The only gore in the movie when the zombie chicks pull off and eat a guy's penis and when they're munching on the crazy cop's intestines. It's really nothing to get excited about and was so disappointing because there wasn't even anything funny about these parts. It was just kind of sad how lame all this crap was.

At the end, after the zombie chicks have killed crazy cop and dumped his body in the water, they go back to the voodoo chicks and tell them that they ate him. This is when the voodoo chicks get all surprised and are like, "Oh, didn't we tell you not to eat people? That turns them into zombies too!" The movie ends with crazy cop emerging from the water all zombi-fied. Oh, but before that it is revealed that the zombie chicks have now become the new police officers at the 707. Thank you jebus, the torture is over.

I wouldn't even really recommend this as a "so bad it's good" movie. The only mild joy you'll get out of this movie is laughing at its numerous and achingly bad flaws. There's a lot of other bad stuff that I left out, but if you're wildly curious, and really brave, watch the movie yourself because one could write a whole book about the shit in Zombie Nation.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Movie Review: Duel (1971)

"A duel is about to begin between a man, a truck and an open road." There have been plenty of ripoffs of this film premise in the past few decades but Duel is probably the granddaddy of them all. This television movie was Steven Spielberg's first feature length foray into the world of filmmaking, and a most successful one.

I've found in recent years that I tend to judge a director on their more earlier attempts than the movies they make after they have already become big names. Usually the first film means little money and little time to pull off an entire movie and make it good. True ingenuity and talent comes from working with limitations and overcoming them to get the best possible results. 

I honestly haven't ever been the biggest fan of Steven Spielberg - though he has definitely made some films that I admire and love - but I could never quite see him like most others could, as one of the greatest directors ever. But now after seeing Duel, I believe in him. This is Spielberg stripped of the big budgets and the big name actors and showing us what he can really do behind the camera with a simple story, very little dialogue, and a long stretch of desert highway.

Duel tells the story of motorist David Mann being relentlessly pursued on the open road by an large diesel truck with an unseen driver. All David did, seemingly, was pass the slow-moving truck, which for a never explained reason makes the driver continually follow David closely, try to run him off the road, and follow him wherever he goes. This is based off of a short story written by Richard Matheson.

The film opens with a nice long tracking shot of David's car backing out of his driveway, turning down the street and eventually entering the highway where his nightmare will start. The entire movie is actually filled with a nice variety of shots and shot compositions, which impressed me. I mean, how many different ways can you show this car following that car, the other car bumping into them, this car and that car driving down the highway... it could get extremely tedious and lose all the suspense that it so needed in a film like this.

Yet Duel never lost the suspense for me. Even in the first 20 or so minutes when I thought the "dueling" scenes were getting a little boring, suddenly the music started picking up (and there's not a lot of music in the film) and the trucker started actually bumping David's car as his speed slowly crept toward a dangerous 100 mph... and I was into it.

David's inner monologue starts to be presented as a voiceover after he starts to go a little crazy from almost being run off the road and killed. This dialogue reminded me a lot of Matheson's writing, and Dennis Weaver's performance of David in these scenes also reminded me of the way Vincent Price acted in another Matheson adaptation, The Last Man on Earth. The frenzied look in Weaver's eyes as he scopes out the truck drivers in the diner tells you everything about how this situation has affected him and sort of makes you think that he's not the kind of man that could deal with something like this.

The truck in Duel is obviously the second main character. It doesn't even really matter after a while that the driver is never seen, save for a hand or a pair of boots, because the truck itself starts to seem alive, a sentient thing whose only purpose is David's destruction. It is the lack of reasoning behind this that makes David go a little mad and what confuses and frustrates the audience. Why doesn't this truck leave him alone? Why doesn't David just start driving the other way? But what exactly can one do when confronted and threatened with this kind of unnamed and unprovoked violence?

In the end, the truck is finally destroyed in probably the longest slow motion crash ever captured on film. Even this part was suspenseful for me, though I figured the film was probably over, I was still sitting there in anticipation of what was to come, so tense in waiting for David to finally triumph. David finally rests and the sun sets behind him, his nightmare over. Duel is yet another example that some of the best and most hard-hitting movies can come from just three simple elements - a good story, good acting, and good directing - and not need a big budget or big names. This is a very impressive, and sadly little known, debut from one of the biggest names in Hollywood. And yeah, I guess I am more of a Spielberg fan now than I was before.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Movie Review: Shark Night 3D (2011)

I actually saw this movie a week ago and am just now writing a review. Me a slacker. Me admit it.

Oh, Shark Night. You could have been sooooo much better. And yet, you were one of the biggest disappointments this year for me. In Shark Night, a group of college friends travels to pretty girl Sarah's remote island home on a local lake. Ready for a weekend of fun, their plans are soon screeched to a halt by the discovery of several sharks in the water. 

The first question about this movie of course is why the hell are there freaking sharks in a lake? Well, I'll tell you. The first possible explanation given is because it is a salt water lake, it's possible that recent hurricanes could have relocated the sharks by washing them over a dam or something. Okay, I might buy that. THEN, we find out that the real reason is something different entirely. The bad guys in the movie (and it's not hard to spot who they are) have brought the sharks into the lake so that they can film the monsters eating people and sell the footage online. Because everybody loves Shark Week. Yeah.

While this diabolical plan is on the one hand kind of hokey and ridiculous, I like it. For one thing, it solves the plot problem that befalls any Animals Run Amok movie having to do with water animals - if there's a killer shark or whatever in the water, don't go in the water. Problem solved. But, if you have some crazy bastards throwing you in the water and feeding you to the sharks, then you have a movie. So I actually didn't mind that aspect of the film because it turned out to be a good way to keep our main characters in danger when they could have just stayed out of the water. 

Despite the PG-13 rating, I was still mostly expecting from Shark Night a film along the lines of Piranha, minus most of the excessive gore and boobs, of course. Just a fun, action-filled movie with some sharks eating people, which I love (Deep Blue Sea... I'm thinking of you here, baby). But somehow Shark Night got it wrong. The action is minimal and the cliches abound. We've got crazy racist townies, the twist of the good guy who's really a bad guy, and a guy who thinks it's all noble to feed himself to the sharks after they've killed his true love. Blah. The gore is also quite minimal and had the film been rated R and put in a few more buckets of blood and intestines, I (and everyone else) probably would have liked it a lot more.  

The obvious CGI sharks took me out of it a bit. Have filmmakers just completely said "fuck you" to practical effects because you can build whatever you want on a computer? Or does it make the 3D stuff easier? I don't know, but CGI sharks have nothing on the real McCoy mainly because the facial mannerisms and body movements just don't look that genuine. 

As for the 3D aspect... I didn't love it. I'm already way over the 3D craze, and while it's a different way to watch a movie, it's usually not as cool as the advertisements make it out to be. The only cool 3D part in Shark Night is when one of the shark's face takes up the whole screen and it's pokey head appears to be coming out the screen at you. 

There's no real emotion in the film, whether dramatic or comedic. It tries to be funny throughout but never got a laugh or a chuckle out of me. Bad jokes, though, not bad acting. Most of the actors are alright, and pretty natural in their roles but I wouldn't say that this would be a hard movie to act in. I liked the main bad guy, Sarah's crazy ex-BF, and the water sheriff, Donal Logue, is one of my favorite character actors. Always loved his stuff. 

So despite the promise of some fun romping around with sharks, Shark Night turns out to be lackluster. There is no climactic ending, even when the "big" shark makes its appearance. Sarah's in the shark cage, Big Momma shark comes a-charging, and then it gets killed. Hm. It took 2 hours for three men to kill Jaws and about 2 minutes for two college kids to kill a similar shark. Kind of lame. There are a few good moments here and there but overall, a disappointment Shark Night is, as Yoda would say. 

A question I still have for this movie: Is freaking Sarah Paxton ever going to get dressed??? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Project Terrible: Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009)

The first Wrong Turn film from 2003 is undoubtedly one of the best horror films of the last decade and one of my personal favorite horror films of all time. That's probably the reason why I was so disappointed by Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Admittedly, I shut it off halfway through simply because of the dramatic shift in tone and style from the first one - it made me a little angry, sure.

Knowing all this, a person whom I thought was my blog buddy, Maynard of Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary, gave me Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead as my movie for Project Terrible. I was dreading this movie like nothing I've ever dreaded before. I knew it was going to suck, knew it was going to be nothing but retarded characters running around the woods and getting killed. Blah.

So here's the thing. It almost pains me to admit it and Maynard is gonna make me eat some words here, but I actually didn't hate this movie. At least I didn't hate it as much as I did the second film and this one is no way as good as the first, but it had enough of what I like in a horror movie - a quick story and fun gore - to make me dig it a bit. But this is Project Terrible and I'm going to start the review with what I didn't enjoy so much about the movie.

This is probably the only time I will show
partial boobs on my site.
The story is more involved than I thought it would be, and sometimes not in a good way. The movie starts off with quite a bang as four kayakers are almost immediately dispatched of by our favorite hillbillies (well, three kayakers - one escapes and shows up later). Then we get into some weird story of a prison transfer and a guard's last night on duty and a prisoner's plan for escape during the drive to another prison. This brings about some annoying scenes of the prisoners - Chavez and Floyd - fighting and backstabbing over and over and over and OVER again. It gets even worse when the group randomly finds in the woods an old armored truck full of money.

These parts also get quite irritating when there is constant fighting over the money and the prisoners making the guards and Alex, the survivor from the kayak massacre, carrying the money through the woods as the main guard, Nate, leads Chavez to a phone or something so he can contact his "boys." The group gets picked off one by one by the 3 Finger mutant and after each death, it seems like there is yet ANOTHER fight over the money and whether or not the prisoners should kill the others. Just make up your mind already, seriously. Then that whole side story suddenly doesn't matter anymore when the money gets burned up by 3 Finger. Oi, how annoying.

The biggest sour note to this movie has to do with the special effects work. The main thing is that the mutants are simply not as well done as in the original film. Granted, Wrong Turn had the genius of Stan Winston behind those mutants and they looked freaking GREAT. The bad teeth, the bulbous and deformed hands, heads and limbs (I always loved the guy with the hunchback) all made these guys truly grotesque and terrifying.

The Wrong Turn 3 bad guys, however, not only don't have the same quality makeup as before, but the mutant family has dwindled down to just two members, and later on only the mutant known as 3 Finger is left to do all the carnage himself. This was a disappointment because to me, one guy is not really as scary as three.

The good part about this movie was most of the death scenes. The original film was pretty much all hack-and-slash with axes and arrows but this one pumps that up much more. Three Finger has set up booby traps in the woods - including an "egg slicer" that slices an guy's entire body into three pieces and a trap on his truck that encases a guy in wire then hoists him up so 3 Finger can drag him down the street. Niiiiiiiice. There are also some nice impalings like a pipe through the mouth and an arrow through the boob and eye for one poor girl.

However. The CGI blood sucked. Especially on the egg slicer death which was cool in theory and got hokey at the end when the guy split apart and there was very obvious CG blood spurting up from his body. But this was the only part where it really bothered me, thank goodness.

Small question: What happened to the female deputy? I'm thinking that she was the half-dead naked girl all twisted up in barbed wire inside the mutants' house but I couldn't tell for sure. Anybody got word on that?

I'm seriously shocked at how much I liked this movie. Though it falters a bit in story, the action is well-paced and the gore is inventive and, for the most part, fairly well done. The first film in the Wrong Turn series is still at the top of the pack for me while the second one is well below the bottom of the pack. I'd say the third is at about a happy medium.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Project Terrible: Mutants (2009)

Mutants is a hard one to review, especially for Project Terrible (this pick comes from Mr. Project Terrible Host himself, creator of Mondo Bizarro). The movie for the most part is actually really good. However, the ending reveals that the whole is not the sum of its parts in this case; for while the parts are great, the whole is a major letdown.

The mutantatious plot: The typical unnamed virus has swept the nation, turning humans into mutated, rage-aholic flesh-eaters. We meet up with Sonia and Marco, traveling in an ambulance to get to the requisite "safe zone" at the NOAH army base. But they are slowed down when Marco gets infected, and the two hole up in an abandoned building.

So, for most of the movie I was quite confused. I was wondering why Mondo picked this for Project Terrible and thought about asking him to give me another movie because Mutants, on first glance, is certainly not terrible at all. It wasn't until the end, and all was said and done, that I got really angry with the movie. But we'll get to that later. Let's start with the positive aspects.

The main thing I really liked about the movie was the special effects work on the mutants. Mutants is a zombie-slash-infection movie and, as Mondo told me, is "like 28 Days Later but in France." Some fans would rather call 28 Days Later an "infection" movie as opposed to a zombie movie because the villains are not dead, and therefore not true zombies. I say bullshit. Medically based infection or not, I call any kind of rage-aholic flesh-eater a zombie. Anyway. Like I was saying about the effects, these mutants look great. The very features of their faces change until they are skeletal, balding, snake-like heads with horrible teeth. The mutants are also kind of slimy and veiny with almost see-through pale skin. Quite gross, and definitely not something I'd ever want to turn into.

I also enjoyed the earlier scenes with Marco and Sonia as Marco slowly gets sicker and sicker and Sonia tries to keep it together. Marco starts to deteriorate like a cancer patient; he loses patches of hair and even pees blood in one gross scene. It was the concentration on his change that I liked about this part because that is something not usually explored in other zombie horror films. The change into a zombie is usually quick, followed by a loved one torturously putting the infected person out of their misery, but knowing it's the right thing to do. Not so here. Sonia knows what's going to happen to Marco - and therefore what's going to happen to her since he will probably attack her - but she cares for him like any other sick person, keeping him alive in the hope of figuring out how to turn him back.

That's about where my love for the movie stops...

...because for one thing, Mutants is not without its zombie movie cliches. Before I even saw the movie, I was thinking, Okay there's going to be backstabbing, the aforementioned requisite "safe zone" army base, and probably a group of gun-toting rape-and-pillaging humans who are enjoying the zombie apocalypse a little too much. Think of any zombie movie - most of them have at least one if not all of those things and Mutants sadly turned out to be no exception. The rape-and-pillaging humans are led by a guy named Frank and his crazy girlfriend. Frank answers Sonia's radio call for help and shows up only to mess with her and steal the ambulance she and Marco arrived in. Thankfully, their scenes aren't all that involved because I really didn't like those people.

What mostly hurts this otherwise fairly good zombie flick is the extremely thin and un-exciting plot. Frankly, NOTHING happens, and the focus of the movie keeps shifting like it never knows where it wants to go and therefore ends up going nowhere. So many different scenarios here are set up and never followed through. It just ends. And as the credits rolled, all I could think was that while the film was well made and all, there was no point to it.

After Marco starts showing signs of his infection, we find out that Sonia had been bitten by one of the mutants several weeks ago and never turned into one of them. She is immune. With her medical background, she tries to cure Marco by transfusing his blood with hers - but that doesn't work and she locks him in a cage in one of the tunnels underneath the building. So then I thought she was keeping him around until the army guys get there and they can take them both back to the base and use Sonia's immunity to try to find a cure for Marco and the rest of the mutants. But this doesn't happen in the least! The rape-and-pillaging group shows up, causes some problems, and when the building gets surrounded by the infected, they all try to fight them off but end up dying. Sonia escapes through a little tunnel but she ends up being trapped in this fenced in area outside, Mutant Marco follows her and Sonia has to kill him. And just as you'd except, that's when the army guys show up - when their help in fighting the mutants is no longer needed. Way to be, guys.

But that's it, y'all! Do you see what I mean when I say that NOTHING HAPPENS in this movie? Yes there's all the action that I just described but the rub is that aside from some earlier sequences, I have already seen everything that happens in Mutants in other movies. It's the classic zombie apocalypse tale and there is nothing new here. There COULD have been something new if the storyline of Sonia's immunity and possible cure for the infection was explored but that important plot element was tossed aside. Basically, the entirety of Mutants should have only been about the first 20 minutes of the movie. Then the story should have progressed further to the army base, maybe, or even something happy like Sonia curing Marco and putting a stop to the infection entirely, I don't care. The emotion at the beginning and the relationship of Sonia and Marco is nice but even that falls flat after Marco becomes almost full mutant and has to be locked up.

Maybe I just didn't "get" the movie or I'm focusing too much on what's not there as opposed to what is there, but I didn't think Mutants was all that great. I still say it's kinda good because there is definite technical achievement (the cinematography was really quite pretty) but the absence of any real plot or overall point to the movie makes this one kind of a dud for me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Project Terrible: Death Machine (1994)

Hey there, folks! So I decided to torture myself and become a part of Mondo Bizarro's Project Terrible thing where other bloggers make me watch bad movies and then review them. Happy to say that I survived all the movies fairly well, and here's the first review of a movie challenged to me by Wolf Ninja at Gaming Creatively.

Wow, Death Machine was, indeed, pretty terrible. But at the same time it was still strangely watchable. Most of this has to do with some pretty hilarious effects and the acting by the film's only star, Brad Dourif.

So for the longest time I wasn't really sure what this movie was about while I was watching but I think I got it now. Let's just go through the whole plot to get it straight. It's in the future and this hot chick named Hayden Cale is the new chief executive of some company called Chaank which makes these super-duper weapons and shit. There's been some bad press about the company having to do with the Hard Man project (where they make half-man half-machines and they do bad things sometimes) and she goes in there to change it all around, and there's a guy who looks like Jake Busey who doesn't like her or something. There's also Brad Dourif, who plays Jack Dante, and he's the cliched eccentric mad scientist genius who has built this mega-all mechanical-weapon called Warbeast. He's in love with Cale but she wants to fire him and he's batshit crazy. So one night, Cale's at the company for some reason I can't remember and there's also these terrorist-type dudes who break into the building to steal or blow up some shit, and Dante is there and he sics the Warbeast on all of them so they have to try to get out.

As crazy as all that sounds, I still say that this movie was slightly entertaining, believe it or not. There are some terrible moments - the bad dialogue, the over-the-top acting, and the plot that is hard to follow at points - but this is part of the fun of terrible movies. And I was actually able to sit through the whole thing in one sitting and stay somewhat interested so we've gotta give Death Machine points for that.

Sidenote: Warbeast, the name of the "death machine" that stars in the film, probably would have been a better title than Death Machine for this movie. Still a little vague, but intriguing.

The best thing about this movie was Brad Dourif, who is probably the one reason that some people might actually seek this movie out instead of being forced to watch it like I was. His performance is pretty much what you would expect if you tell someone "Dourif is an eccentric mad scientist genius." He's got a bitchin' haircut and delivers his lines with all the craziness and hilarity he can muster and it is absolutely enjoyable to watch. If not for him, I probably would have zoned out on this flick a third of the way through - EVEN THOUGH, as some of you who know me might guess, I am slightly terrified of Dourif himself. I'll give you a hint why: it's the voice!

Now, one of my problems with moves like this that I don't really care about is that I hardly ever catch any of the characters names. I got Ridley and Cale and Dante, but fuck knows who those other people were. Stopping to read the credits, however, I find out that many of the characters were actually named after horror directors. The fat bearded guy was John Carpenter; somebody else was Sam Raimi (maybe one of the terrorist guys); Ridley's first name is Scott so there's Ridley Scott; and Dante is probably Joe Dante. Normally I like this kind of homage-y stuff but it really doesn't make sense here because this is a piece of shit sci-fi future movie that no one has ever seen.

As for the sci-fi aspect, it wasn't that bad. Apparently in the future, hi-tech companies still use keycards and the look of their computer programming hasn't changed since 1994, when this movie came out. The setting and the Warbeast itself, however, were fairly well done. The building is a maze of cold metal hallways and heavy doors so there is some attempt at a good design. But the Warbeast... oh the Warbeast... he's amazing.

The Warbeast is this like 8-foot tall mechanical thing with a bit metal mouth and big metal claws. Think of that robot that Lara Croft was practicing with at the beginning of Tomb Raider. And the claws move around in a way that also reminds me of the beginning of Wes Craven's New Nightmare when the Freddy glove goes crazy on the movie set and kills those two dudes. Put those together and you've got the villain of Death Machine. The effects on this thing are kind of funny with the way it moves and kills - which we sadly hardly get to see any of. I wanted to see that big metal mouth biting someone in half or something but the attack scenes are conveniently edited so we miss all the good stuff and we just see a bit of the aftermath, which is not that exciting.

I was expecting a lot more bad dialogue than was actually present in the movie. Not to fear, though! There are some pretty funny lines to be found. When Dante sends the group a threatening fax (scary, right?) one of the men actually says the line, "Go fax yourself!" I know. I couldn't believe it either. Probably the worst one is when Cale and the other dude finally escape the building and run into a cop. The Warbeats jumps off the roof right onto him, but before he dies, the cop yells out.... wait for this... "Holy donuts!" Fantastic.

While not a complete disaster, Death Machine is certainly deserving of a spot in Project Terrible.