Thursday, October 05, 2006

Horror reviews for October- Sequels nobody asked for!

A few years ago I started reviewing a lot of horror films during the month of October and emailing the mini-reviews out to my unsuspecting friends. This year I'm going to do it here! First- a few of the older ones to get me in the mood. I use a 5 star rating scale.

STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION (2003)-- I’m one of the few, the proud, the fans of the first film. I loved its black humored satiric take on Heinlien’s rah-rah patriotism and the fact that most people miss the social commentary only makes me happier. That type of intelligent vitriol can rarely be maintained so I was unsurprised when they didn’t even try. More of a horror film than anything else, the story centers on a small number of troopers trapped behind enemy lines on a bug planet. Holing up in an abandoned fortification they slowly discover they’ve been infiltrated by a new kind of bug that takes over a human host body. Poorly written, poorly directed and just generally crappy this is one to avoid. If not for the pretty good special effects I would have dozed off. (1 star)

BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2004)-- The joy is gone. While I consider the original a classic and loved the madness of the first sequel this third trip to the well comes up dry. Herbert West has been in prison for his earlier crimes for 13 years when he is given the chance to continue his experiments behind bars. It’s great to see Jeffery Combs playing the cold-blooded West again and the movie has flashes of fun but it never comes together. A mess, but at least it leaves the door open for another sequel that might be better. Produced in Spain and at times the (funding mandated) need to have a mostly Spanish cast is a major hindrance. (1 & 1/2 stars)

GINGER SNAPS BACK: THE BEGINNING (2004)-- While I really liked both of the first two GINGER SNAPS films this one just doesn’t quite make it. It’s not bad but it has many elements that felt too 20th century for me to take the 1815 setting seriously. Still, there’s a lot in the film to like, including the ending. This one tells the tale of how the werewolf curse came to be loosed on the countryside (i.e. Canada) by events surrounding a pair of orphaned sisters attacked by beasts in the woods. Brought into a lycanthrope-besieged fort by an Indian warrior they try to survive and rid themselves of the shape changing disease. (2 & 1/2 stars)

THE HITCHER 2: I’VE BEEN WAITING (2003)-- This unnecessary sequel isn’t in the same league as the original but it isn't the disaster I expected either. C. Thomas Howell returns as the poor sucker scared forever by Rutger Hauer’s serial killer John Ryder. Still troubled by the past he and girlfriend Kari Wuhrer return to the Texas crimes to lay old ghosts to rest. Unfortunately they run across hitchhiker Jake Busey who Howell immediately suspects is Ryder reborn. Busy is great doing his patented psycho performance capped by the scene in which he removes his own finger to appear innocent. The movie isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. It is beautifully photographed and well paced but succumbs to the common sequel problem of following the original too closely. By the time a character is strung between a tractor-trailer and a truck you know they couldn’t top the first film’s darkest moment. Also it has one nagging ‘Oh, give me a break’ moment near the climax that should have been rethought. Overall, not bad and worth seeing for the sharp opening sequence at least. (2 &1/2 stars)

1 comment:

Rhatfink said...

Starship Troopers 2 - No, it isn't a great film, but I was solidly entertained with its mix of Assault on Precinct 13 crossed with a variation on Body Snatchers. Low budget pulp, my friend, perfect for a lazy afternoon. Also, while it is not as prevalent, there is some of the winking satire of the first.