Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Movie Review: Orca: The Killer Whale (1977)

So while I was watching Orca the other day, I hadn't really planned on writing a review for it. However, I simply cannot let this movie go. Orca: The Killer Whale is... my goodness, this thing is an atrocity. This is not the way to respond to a blockbuster like Jaws, this is a way to make everyone whoever sees this movie take vengeance on those that made it for so hurting their psyches with this rubbish. Alright let's get into it and get this over with.

Captain Nolan is trying to catch a great white shark to sell to an aquarium. But when he witnesses an orca, or killer whale, attack a shark, he decides that capturing one of them will be more profitable. He gets himself in deep trouble with the animal, however, when he kills its mate and unborn baby, the orca vows vengeance.

No, seriously. I swear to goodness that that is what the movie is about. How ridiculous is that? I thought Jaws: The Revenge was bad enough with its similar storyline, but holy hell, Orca: The Killer Whale just goes so far beyond ridiculous. Perhaps I'm mad at the movie because of my love for Free Willy because, honestly, who doesn't love that 90s feel-good movie? I was 26 years old when I got all giddy after finding the Free Willy DVD pack at Wal-mart. It's one of my favorites, not gonna lie. So now here comes this piece of shit that turns these beautiful and intelligent creatures in vengeance-filled assholes. That's not cool.

You all should know I love me a good animals-run-amok piece but I definitely did not love Orca. I don't even feel the need to remark on the acting, or the fake orcas vs. the real orcas, or anything other than how stupidly the orcas are portrayed in this movie, and what the filmmakers want us to believe they are capable of. First of all, the orca is able to pick out Nolan on the deck of the ship as the one responsible for the death of his mate and baby - not any of the other guys. Just Nolan. He sorta gets imprinted in the orca's brain and from then on the whale always knows where he is and has this whole elaborate plan to get his revenge.

Thus begins Father Orca's scheme to ruin Nolan's life. His continual presence makes the other fishermen pissed at Nolan because the orca is scaring all the fish in the area away. The orca attacks all the fishermen's boats in the harbor (except Nolan's because, as they theorize, the orca wants to fight him on the water... okay, sure...). The orca starts an explosion. The orca knocks out the support beams on Nolan's rental house, making it fall into the water. The orca bites off Bo Derek's leg. The orca eats another of Nolan's crew members. Now, I knew orcas were smart but this one must be the smartest goshdarn whale in the water. It boggles the mind, yes?

There was one thing I actually loved during all these orca-on-a-rampage escapades. Like I said before, this beyond brilliant whale is actually able to execute a very effective explosion. Amazing, right? He leaps out of the water to precisely bust the gas lines which leads to a huge explosion on the island. The really awesome part is all the different shots of the orca sort of triumphantly leaping out of the water several times (in a composite shot) as the fire rages behind him. I couldn't help but imagine him saying something like, "Boo-ya!" every time he jumped. It was hilarious, trust me.

The absolute worst part of this movie (and trust me, there are many to choose from) is the god-awful ridiculous, and slightly traumatizing, scene where the female orca gives birth on the deck on the deck of the ship. This isn't a sweet, miracle of life birthing scene either - the mother is half dead, hanging upside down above the ship when the little pink fetus kind of poops out of her. It was another one of those times when I was so stunned at the stupidity that I wasn't sure whether I should laugh my ass off or throw something at the television.

But all that is only part of the crap this movie has to offer, my friends. The whole last third consists of the orca actually leading Nolan and his crew to their final battle ground of some polar ice caps or some shit. The orca tips an ice sheet that Nolan is standing on, sliding him into the water, then picks Nolan up with his tail and throws him against an iceberg, finally killing him. It's actually not all that bad of an ending - just how the movie ended up there is the stupid part. And as stupid as it all is and as much as I didn't like this movie, I must say that you all need to see Orca: The Killer Whale. You must see what I have seen to believe it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Movie Review: Grave Encounters (2011)

Just call me The Girl Who Loves Ghosts. And found footage. I am a complete sucker for both and will watch a movie that merely mentions either one. But put the two of them together in a movie? Oh, hell, I don't have a chance. Thus we have Grave Encounters. I didn't know much about it before today except that it seems to be pretty popular with some audiences, pretty unpopular with other audiences, and it already has a sequel. And all I can say, should I be talking to anyone else who is as finicky about their ghost movies as I am, is that despite a well-known premise and a somewhat uninteresting beginning - stick with this movie. Hopefully, you won't be disappointed.

Lance Preston and his crew are filming a new episode of their reality ghost-hunting show called "Grave Encounters." They spend the night locked inside the abandoned and rumored haunted Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital, filming themselves as they explore the building and setting up other cameras around the hospital as well in order to capture some paranormal activity - and end up getting much more than they expected.

Like I said, this movie does not have a very promising beginning. As a found footage movie, they have to do something right off the bat that tells us that this is something that really happened and all this stuff you're going to see is stuff they found and edited together for us. Then they introduce the film crew with its foul-mouthed cameraman, fake medium, too-cool-for-you equipment guy, the token female, and the obnoxious host. He was the worst for me because I absolutely hate the real ghost-hunting shows, and the way this guy acted reminded me so much of the host of Ghost Adventures. What a tool. I couldn't have stood for that crap much longer.

But again, like I said, stick with the movie. Because just when I was ready to completely give up on it, they threw in the first twist which made me realize that this was going to be something different. After experiencing some mildly spooky phenomena, the team freaks out and decides to bash open the front door because the caretaker, who was supposed to let them out at six o'clock in the morning, is late. They get the front doors open only to reveal... another hallway. The building is apparently not only haunted, but also kinda possessed as it constantly changes and also doesn't seem to follow the rules of time (their clocks show 8:30 in the morning and it's still dark outside).

Though I can't at the moment put my finger on where I've seen this sort of thing before, I know it's been done in some way shape or form. Maybe I'm just thinking of Labyrinth. Anyway, I can't lie. I dug this plot twist mostly because it instantly saved the movie from what was becoming dangerously close to mediocrity. From then on, Grave Encounters continually surprised me with its fresh ideas pertaining to the creepy stuff - the food they brought spoils fast, the roof access stairwell that leads only to a solid wall, the patient wristbands that appear after the group wakes up, the hand coming through the door, the many hands and arms that come out of the ceiling and walls, and disappearing into a bathtub of blood. What can I say? I freaking love that shit and I'll love it 'til the day I die. And you have to admit that they actually did a pretty good job of taking one of the biggest horror cliche premises and turning it into something completely different and unexpected, and gave the audience something totally new to experience for the last half the movie.

The only problem is that I wish they had left the creepy stuff at the usual ghost manipulations. I wasn't too happy with the ghost-patients and their digitally-demonized faces. That's been done in other movies too and you know what? It wasn't scary then either... just kinda lame. I guess it's just my personal preference about what scares me the most - I never really need to actually see the ghost in full form or any kind of form; I only need to see what the ghost is able to do. The other bad thing about most of these found footage movies is that they are usually only good for the first run. Some are rewatchable simply because they kick ass, but ones like Grave Encounters, where half of the movie's effectiveness comes from the discovery of what's to come, don't do as well on subsequent viewings. I think I'd be skipping the entire first 45 minutes

Much like [REC], Grave Encounters ends with only a slight peek into what was really responsible for all the phenomena. I bought it. It's the easy explanation, but it works. And this episode of Grave Encounters comes to an end! I didn't have much faith once this movie began but it totally came through for itself by providing this lover of all things ghost with some really awesome ghost stuff to enjoy. If you also dig the found footage, I would recommend this one. It hasn't become my new favorite or anything, but it is sure better than some of the other found footage attempts out there.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Project Terrible: Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption (2011)

In the previous Project Terrible round that we did, Robert from Gaming Creatively made me watch this horribly bad zombie movie with the clever title of The Zombie Apocalypse. And because I hated it so much, naturally he thought that I would enjoy its sequel - Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption. I seriously hope nobody expects me to actually remember anything about the first movie when talking about this one. The memory of that movie was erased from my brain about five seconds after I finished watching it, thank goodness. Let's see how quickly I can forget about this one.

So there's some kind of plot here. I'm sure of it. There's some text at the beginning that gives us a rundown of what's happened in the ZA - pretty much what you would expect because you've seen it before in an umpteen number of other zombie movies. Blah, blah, barren wasteland, blah, blah, horde of the undead. Basically the movie deals with two groups of ZA survivors - the good people and the bad people. Moses (Fred Williamson) is head of the good people and Rome (some really, really bad actor) is head of the bad people, but there's this other guy Knox who used to be with the bad people but got kicked out and is now helping the good people. Or something like that.

This is the kind of movie where you can only put up with so much for so long. I was okay with it when at the beginning Knox, who is left alone in the desert, pees on his handkerchief and puts it on his head to keep cool. And then he does it again. I was okay with the movie when they said earlier that zombies outnumbered people 10,000 to 1 and yet they still managed to have two huge groups of survivors that live so close together. I was okay with all the cliche characters and the cheesy line delivery. However, I think I lost any kind of faith in the movie with a single line of dialogue. The main bad guy Rome says to his slutty little concubine chick, "When I want your opinion, I'll rape it out of you."

No joke. Those words actually came out of somebody's mouth. I seriously didn't know whether to burst out laughing or throw my TV out the window. I was dumbstruck. Struck dumb. Really stupid or really horrible? I don't know that I'll ever be sure.

All the actors in this movie have a problem. That problem is, well, ACTING. They just... they just can't do it, you know? Sure, the awesome Fred Williamson is in this but he isn't given that much to do, and believe me, he wasn't enough to even  remotely save this movie from stupidity. I guess he's the reason why Redemption seems to have this little cult following on the Internet, or maybe its the awesomely awful actor who plays Knox and goes by the kick ass name of Johnny Gel. Please, please tell me that is his real name. It would make me so happy.

I'll be honest - I'm not really doing that fair of a review. I watched the movie... okay, well, half-watched the movie about a week ago and I didn't even finish it. I haven't felt the need to go back to it and I'm pretty sure that I never will. A zombie apocalypse movie is just fine in my book but to get my attention and interest you have to do something seriously different. Wasn't getting that from this one. Sorry if that means copping out on my Project Terrible duties but there are some things that just aren't happening. I won't be sharing a romantic dinner on a bearskin rug with the man of my dreams any time soon, and I sure as hell will not be watching Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption again. So my experience with the movie will have to stand as is.

I have real respect for anyone who not only got through this whole movie but who also actually likes it. I've got dedication for the genre, fo' shizz y'all and don't forget it, but this little gal can't handle it all. This is certainly not the worst out there by far so, by all means, give this puppy a go if you want! I'm thinking it could use a little love.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Get a Load of This "Twixt"ed Stuff

Just today an interesting new website became live (or possibly alive... mwhaha) that is trying to show some of the most "twixt"ed images on the internet. Why do I keep saying "twixt" instead of "twist" you ask? Because this website is supporting the DVD release of Francis Ford Coppola's movie TWIXT. And since I normally don't like doing this random promotional stuff unless it's something I personally support, I had to check out the trailer for this movie. 

Definitely looks interesting, right? I'll probably give it a go. The DVD and Blu-Ray will be released on July 23 and until then you can check out all the cool and creepy things people are posting on the twixtnightmares website!

If you want to contribute your own disturbing image, just hashtag #nightmare from your Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr account to post and be a part of the site. I'd say if you like photography or other art in this genre, this would be a great place to show your stuff or get inspired to make your own. Since I have neither a Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr account, I can't contribute, but I've been to the site a few times today and there is some pretty cool stuff there to look at! You all know I love that kind of creepy shit. Keep 'em coming, people!

Project Terrible: Alien Origin (2012)

Oh snap, horror fiends! You better believe I came back for some more terribly awesome movies in this latest round of Project Terrible. Along for the ride are my good buddies Alec from Mondo Bizarro, Robert from Gaming Creatively, and Maynard from Maynard Morrissey's Horror Movie Diary. This round I've got an interesting combination of movies that has aliens, zombies, and robots - and all those words in the titles, too! First up is Alien Origin, assigned to me by Alec.

Alien Origin is a found footage movie about a documentary crew (and by "crew" I mean one videographer and a chick that carries around a Flip camera) following a small group of the Belize Special Forces on one of their missions. We know that they are all going to die because the beginning of the movie tells us this, as they so often due with these FF movies. Anyway, when they go off to look for two missing archaeologists, they have to deal with a bunch of aliens that we never see.

This is one of those movies that kind of makes your brain hurt a little bit after watching it. The brain-hurting is not so much from the movie's suckiness, though, as it is from its complete and utter DULLNESS. Sure, there are some terrible things about Alien Origin but mostly the damn thing is just boring. Found footage can indeed be a very effective technique at upping suspense and fear - it just works a lot better if you have an interesting story to back it up.

I can't fault the movie too much for the actual FF filmmaking technique because they do it quite well for the most part. The framing is good and all that jazz, and it looks like every other FF movie out there. Granted, most of what we have watch is not that interesting to begin with. There are far too many big chunks of the movie that involve nothing more than following the group as they walk through the jungle. No dialogue, no suspense that anything is going to happen - just walking. The last 30 minutes is even worse as they try to add some action in there of the guys shooting at something that keeps launching grenades and shit at them, but to us it looks like they are shooting at nothing. So I was bored. Again.

Not only is the plot incredibly boring and uninteresting, the characters also bring absolutely nothing to the story. For one thing, there is no main character to follow. You think it's going to be the documentary host, Julia, but she ends up not only totally disappearing about 20 minutes until the end, but she also gets just as much screen time as anybody else. That's good for the actors, I guess, but not for the audience, as we have to follow a bunch of no-names that we don't care about. And we don't care about these guys because the actors do not give any of them any sort of personality or character traits. The guy who is supposed to be in charge of the group is hilarious because he has the most un-commanding and unimposing voice and mannerisms. Nobody would take orders from this dude. He stutters, and he uses these ridiculous quasi-military hand gestures that I'm pretty sure he made up as he went along.

Another thing that became a major problem for me is something a little strange, I guess - the title cards. They have the typical ones that show what day of the mission we are on and the time of day, but there are also these ones give little plot synopses and such. Now, I didn't think it was possible to screw up a title card, but seriously, these guys weren't even trying. They were all just white text on a black screen with horrible grammar. They were all left-justified on the screen instead of centered so that some entries
looked like somebody
was having
with the
and some were completely missing punctuation and capitalization. That would have been, like, a two-second fix. I think y'all had time for that.

(Did you like what I did earlier there??)

Lastly, as for the alien action, there was fucking NONE. There's a dead alien skull and a little bit of an alien spaceship but I never saw the dang thing. Those guys could have been shooting at giant ferrets for all I know. Every time the alien supposedly showed up in the camera's sights, the video conveniently goes all wonky with interference so only a small glimpse is given. I seriously feel cheated. Was it just not in the budget or did they think it would make the movie more mysterious or something? Hate to break it to you, but... not so much. Oh, then they add this whole stupid thing at the end about one of the archaeologists explaining about how the alien (or giant ferret) actually shared 70% of our DNA, making them ancestors of the human race (and hence the title). Aliens are our ancestors. Sure. Why not.

Hopefully I didn't say anything that would make you even remotely curious about Alien Origin because it is so not worth the effort. Even if you enjoy found footage like I do, you won't find anything to enjoy with this borefest - especially if you actually want to see some damn aliens.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Movie Review: The Eye 2 (2004)

The Eye, a Chinese supernatural horror film from 2002, has always seemed like one of the most underrated of the Asian horror films - perhaps outshined by its similar counterparts like Ringu and Ju-On (and their American remakes). I have never forgotten The Eye and in particular its spectacular ending that makes it all the more memorable. Now I've finally watched the sequel and though it has a bit of a different feel than the original, it is still a highly enjoyable spooky flick - especially if you're me and love ghosts as much as I do.

Joey Cheng is a young woman who attempts suicide over another failed relationship. Soon after, she not only finds out that she is pregnant, but that she is also now able to see spirits all around her. Fearing that one of these spirits wishes to take over the life of her unborn child, Joey must find out who she is and how to to get rid of her before she gives birth.

My first reaction to The Eye 2 is simply "YES." Hell yes, even, because this is exactly what I want to out my ghost movies. This is the kind of supernatural activity I want to see, and this is the kind of story that I want to see play out. Also, The Eye 2 is not a true sequel to The Eye - a true sequel being one that continues the original story in some way. The only thing these two really have in common is the name and a chick who can see ghosts. She has "the eye," or something I guess. Not that I cared too much about that while watching the movie because I think The Eye 2 is certainly good enough to stand on its own.

Some of the ghostly phenomenon is stuff that we've seen many times before. The movie makes it work because it understands the concept of timing and suspense. Things like a door that opens and closes again on its own after Joey walks through it, a picture flying off the shelf, even simple jump moments like just a random ghost turning up unexpectedly when Joey turns around are all highly effective at getting the spooky mojo flowing. The image of when Joey first sees the ghosts, when she is on the brink of death at the beginning, and the final image of some ghosts in another room were the only things I didn't like so much because they had this stupid shaky, gray, digital effect thing to them that looked really hokey. Other than that though, all the ghosts appear as regular people, with only a little bit of "dead" makeup.

Asian horror is known for providing some very unsettling images that stay with the viewer for a long time. No-Jaw Woman from The Grudge still terrifies the fuck out of me. When these ghosts take over the bodies or lives of babies in this movie, it seems to happen right at the moment of birth, and we get an in-your-face representation of just what that looks like. Joey, some nurses, and a woman in labor get stuck in an elevator at the hospital and the woman must deliver right there. A ghost woman comes floating down from the ceiling, her body very stiff and straight, and she slowly heads towards... well, between the woman's legs. Too freaky. Other good ghost stuff includes the freak-ass ghost woman in the taxi cab and the two (not real) bodies that fall from the sky while Joey is at the bus stop. Really nice effects work on them as they just lay there, half their heads squished flat on the pavement, in a huge pool of blood, talking to Joey and freaking her out. I really wish I could have found a picture of that scene, because DAMN.

Toward the end of the movie, more of what the story is really about comes out and this is where The Eye 2 sold itself for me. Joey gets an endoscope procedure done and she can see her baby's face - which she recognizes as one of the ghosts she saw earlier in the film that jumped in front of a train. While researching her newfound ability, the belief in reincarnation comes up. You're thinking all along that all of these ghosts Joey sees have some sort of sinister intention with invading the lives of these babies but the ending shows us that that is not at all true. Despite them trying to fit in one last scary image before the credits, the ending is actually a very happy one. That might be a disappointment to some from a horror film but within the scope of this particular story, it totally works and is actually a nicer way to end this kind of film rather than just banishing the ghost or whatever. There's a real message and belief to this story, and if you believe what they are talking about, it makes you feel a lot better about the possibility of life after death.

I didn't have too much hope for The Eye 2 when I first started watching it because I'd never heard it mentioned anywhere else before, but it ended up really surprising me. The lead actress is wonderful and carries the film exceptionally well, the direction is perfect, and it scared me a couple times. Big win for me! Watch The Eye 2 for the good ghostly stuff, but definitely stay for the really nice ending.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Movie Review: The ABCs of Death (2012)

Oh dear goodness, this was a test of perseverance. As I often like to take notes while I'm watching a new movie - just random thoughts that help me write my reviews later - The ABCs of Death nearly kicked my ass because a movie that was already over 2 hours long took me around 3 hours to watch because I had to keep pausing and writing. And like I predicted, I was sometimes writing very positive things and sometimes writing very, very negative things. The ABCs of Death is just like any anthology wherein you have hits and misses, but this one had far too many misses to make me recommend the whole thing.

So you probably know the deal here: Twenty-six filmmakers from around the world were each given a letter of the alphabet, and they had to come up with a word that started with that letter to make a short film about death. Out of the 26, I count 9 that I put stars by, meaning that I really liked it, and 3 that I put half stars by, meaning that I sorta liked it. I guess that's not so bad but a lot of these dudes could have done so much better. And a lot of them needed to stay away from anything having to do with the bathroom.

"A is for Apocalypse"
Directed by Nacho Vigalando

This was an excellent way to start things out. This is the kind of short film that I really like - they get the main point across but the story has so much room to grow if it was given more time. The lighting is beautiful and the effects work is absolutely killer. This one definitely gets a star.

"B is for Bigfoot"
Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Could have been so much better if two things had happened: one, if there had actually been a freaking Bigfoot in the short, and two, if the director hadn't wasted so much of the minimal time on the two characters telling the story rather than showing us something interesting. Weak. The main actress was good, though.

"C is for Cycle"
Directed by Diaz Espinoza

A mysterious hole in the bushes of a man's backyard are the center of a strange "cycle" of events in this short. The production quality leaves a little to be desired, but again this was semi-interesting because I can see it being a part of a much larger story. 

"D is for Dogfight"
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento

Easily my favorite one of all! "Dogfight" shows a boxer in some kind of underground Fight Club type thing were he has to fight a vicious dog. The whole thing is in slow motion and it looks so freaking pretty, you guys! The angles are perfect, and I'll be damned if the dog isn't one really good actor. It's a simple story with a simple little twist to it that had me totally LOLing and falling in love with this thing at the same time. Two thumbs up!

"E is for Exterminate"
Directed by Angela Bettis

I'm so sorry, my dear Angela, but this was lame. The CGI spider was bad enough but then the whole ending was completely ruined because it's so similar to an urban legend that's been around for years. I guess I was expecting something a bit more imaginative. Still love you, girlfriend.

"F is for Fart"
Directed by Noboru Iguchi

I have nothing nice to say about this. That is all.

"G is for Gravity"
Directed by Andrew Traucki

The death of a surfer is so... boring. All this consisted of was a POV shot of a guy getting his stuff out of the back of his car, running onto the beach and into the water, paddling around for a little bit, and then somehow falling in the water and drowning or something. The last shot is the surfboard standing on end in the water. Guess I don't get it, or it's just not all that impressive. Boo.

"H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion"
Directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling

Thus begins one of the many "What in the holy fuck is this" shorts. Or maybe it began with the fart one. A Nazi cat stripteasing for a dogfighter dog and then trying to kill him with some electric machine thing? Was this a reference to something else that I totally didn't get? Whatever. Hated it.

"I is for Ingrown"
Directed by Jorge Michel Grau

Gorgeous. A woman tied up in a bathtub is being murdered by her husband, with some really beautiful and meaningful dialogue playing in the background. The actress is also beautiful and so committed to the role that it is painful to watch the way she scratches at her throat and arms, and the way whatever her husband injected her with makes her vomit through her gag. Ew. Really nice job here, Mr. Grau!

"J is for Jidai-Geki (Samurai Movie)"
Directed by Yudai Yamaguchi

There's not a lot of substance or meaning to this short, but it's good for a bit of a laugh. The effects aren't bad, however, I'm still wondering about those wigs or whatever it was those guys had on the tops of their heads. Was there a point to that?

"K is for Klutz"
Directed by Anders Morganthaler

"K is for Klutz" is one of a few animated shorts in the bunch. Though the animation is nice, poo and toilet humor has, was, and always will be incredibly juvenile and unfunny so this one lost points with me for the subject matter.

"L is for Libido"
Directed by Timo Tjahjanto

This is one that started out like it could be half-funny, half-serious but then turned into all kinds of serious. It actually turns out to be pretty fucking fucked up, as it deals with the depths of sexual perversion and gratification. The gore is excellent with the spikes that come up through the chairs, and the images just get worse and worse as this short invades your mind. You all know I love the dark stuff so I was all over this one - even though there is a quick scene involving a child that... I can't even go there. The set is amazing, the acting is good, this looks like a real movie. Loved it.

"M is for Miscarriage"
Directed by Ti West

A shorter than short, lazy piece of "filmmaking." I expected so much more from Ti West because though this short does deliver an effective punch, it is by far the weakest of all the shorts and even worse than the fart one. So, so disappointing.

"N is for Nuptials"
Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun

Surprisingly a very cute and entertaining piece about a man who buys a parrot to help him propose to his girlfriend and the parrot ends up revealing one of the man's secrets which turns out to be deadly for him! This one got a half star just for being funny even though there's not much else to the story. The actors are also beyond adorable.

"O is for Orgasm"
Directed by Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet

Not so much a short film as an experimental film, and a well done one at that. I couldn't give it a star because it just didn't do anything for me on a personal level, but I can admit that it is beautifully shot and is very good at keeping your attention. I would appreciate if someone would explain the bubbles to me, though.

"P is for Pressure"
Directed by Simon Rumley

Really nice story that is told with no dialogue and a succession of quick shots and short scenes to show the hard life of a young single woman with three kids. There's no horror element to the story, and it instead reaches you on a real emotional level that hits hard. I'll never condone the killing of a kitten for a bicycle but at least there's a happy ending. This one gets a star for sure.

"Q is for Quack"
Directed by Adam Wingard

OMG, this was genius. Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett (love both of these dudes) play themselves in the short, lamenting over the fact that they were assigned the letter "Q" for their ABCs of Death segment. Needless to say, they come up with a clever way to solve their problem - even if it doesn't have very good consequences for them. Too funny. I love these dudes even more now!

"R is for Removed"
Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic

From the director of the controversial A Serbian Film (which I still need to write about...) comes another hardcore - no pun intended - story about... something. Yeah, it was another one I didn't get at all. Some kind of medical experiment on a guy who's got pieces of film strip in his flesh or something? Is that right? Then he escapes and kills everyone in pretty gross ways. A lot of these shorts are starting to make me feel really, really stupid and like I should have paid more attention in English lit class about symbolism and all that crap. I need to read up on this one some more.

"S is for Speed"
Directed by Jake West

Hated this at first because it was incredibly amateurish and hokey looking, but it ended up getting a half star for turning into a more serious story about death chasing a pair of junkie girls. Nice turnaround!

"T is for Toilet"
Directed by Lee Hardcastle

After Dogfight, this is definitely my second favorite of all the segments. It's a pretty crude (effects-wise) claymation short about a boy's fear of the toilet. He has a dream where the toilet turns into a monster and hideously devours his parents, with some great stuff that is all the more entertaining because it's claymation. The ending is funny in a really, really horrible way - but you will completely love it. "Danny Glover had nothing to be afraid of in Lethal Weapon 2." So true.

"U is for Unearthed"
Directed by Ben Wheatley

Unearthed is the only short to take on a true horror trope - vampires! It's another one that avoids the cost of effects by doing it in POV but it works here, as a vampire first escapes from the earth, attacks people in the woods, and then is ceremoniously put down. Simple, but effective. That's all you need to do, people. Good work.

"V is for Vagitus (The Cry of a Newborn Baby)"
Directed by Kaare Andrews

Okay, um... wow! So put Vagitus up next to Miscarriage, and you'll understand my frustration with Mr. Ti West. Vagitus has this whole crazy sci-fi story about the future and prophets and babies - I don't care! There was wonderful action, acting, and effects work in such a short time that it felt like someone had cut together the best parts of a full length movie. Excellent!

"W is for WTF!"
Directed by Jon Schnepp

WTF indeed. It starts out as a real story, similar to what they did in Quack actually, but then just turns into a series of random shots of stuff I don't remember. The title pops onto screen at the end and you go, Oh. So none of that was supposed to make any sense or anything. Just a lot of WTF shots. Boring. Not creative.

"X is for XXL"
Directed Xavier Gens

Fucking YES, you guys. This was beyond perfect in so many ways. It's a social commentary, a moral commentary, and so incredibly gruesome and disturbing in an incredibly meaningful, heartbreaking way. Love, love, love it.

"Y is for Youngbuck"
Directed Jason Eisener

So, no one likes a perverted old guy and Eisener goes about the subject of revenge in a very interesting way. Still, I didn't like it. Not enough explanation or exploration, and it really needed to flesh out the story just a bit more.

"Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)"
Directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura

Very much the biggest WTF short of all - it out-WTFs the previous WTF segment, and I didn't know that was possible. I have no idea what this was about or what the point of it was so therefore I don't care and I don't like it. There's naked chicks and big penises, and way more ridiculousness than I can handle. An ADULT made this thing, right? Oi vey.

FINALLY, THE END. Okay, so I'm naming my top three favorites as Dogfight, Toilet, and XXL. Least favorite and most disappointing was Miscarriage, and also Hydro-Electric Diffusion, Gravity... and about 10 other ones. I was hoping for a better balance of hits and misses with all these shorts but I guess that might have been impossible with all these different personalities and styles. We'll see what a new crop of directors can come up with in the next ABCs of Death!