Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Post Nuke 'Bots Kinda Rule In ...

Robot Holocaust

‘‘The Dark One has consumed your father’’

The Post Nuke genre has provided great entertainment from many a low budget filmmaking auteur, particularly during the Eighties when the cycle of Mad Max (1979) clones was most prevalent, but with Robot Holocaust something far more devastating than a global disaster brought this to be !.

The opening credits have the traditional serious toned foreboding voiceover, post script the nuclear devastation, and telling of the age of the Mechanoids and the great robot rebellion of 2033. Earth is now known as New Terra, after the robots turned on their masters. The planet is governed by an unseen being known as The Dark One. This all powerful entity rules by enslaving the surviving human race by controlling the planets oxygen. His source is a structure known as the power station. Here the mighty mechanical machinery siphons the atmosphere and The Dark One’s robotic minions, aided by the still human supreme bitch Valaria, in order to rule over the populace. The enslaved people are known as Air Slaves, as they are kept in order by The Dark One’s constant threat of any and all being intoxicated by air restriction, and lethal exposure to New Terra’s true toxic environment.

From the ashes of the destruction, and from out of the wastelands comes Neo, a new champion of the people and a nemesis to The Dark One. Oh dear lord, if only the premise could deliver !. In all honesty the best, and truly only way to derive any pleasure from this shot in a few days, on the budget of the revenue from a car boot sale, is to buy into the fact that this is trying it’s best to actually pay homage to the Italian Post Nuke movies of the Eighties, ironically putting a spin on the fact that the European market at that time was of course cashing in on the far bigger budgeted Hollywood movies.

Any true lover of the Italian futuristic Sci-Fi, after the bomb type delights such as 2019: After The Fall Of New York (1983), The Bronx Warriors (1982), Bronx Warriors II: Escape From The Bronx (1983) and The New Barbarians (1982), will be able to recognise many elements of plagiarism. Mutant gangs and characters, along with costume and defiant swagger are noticeable, but truly only if you are an aficionado of the genre, anyone else is going to wonder what the heck is this dreck !. And to be fair, that would perfectly sum it all up.

For a general audience, without the benefit of having glorified in the delights of Post Nuke goodness Robot Holocaust is like a puerile futuristic variation of The Wizard Of Oz (1939) . Certainly the overall experience is a brainless mess, the movie lacks any real heart and it surely took all the courage of those involved on screen to ever show their faces at the screen actors guild again !. Up on the celluloid though is Nero, who along with his humanoid robot companion Klyton, unites with various futuristic misfits, including a barbarian she wolf Amazonian, a Tarzan look alike and a scientists daughter with the ability to breathe both pure and contaminated air unaided.

The band of misfits come together during Neo’s trek to the power station, and not with the purpose of seeking out Robert Palmer to sign him up for a record label deal with a couple of disenchanted members of Duran Duran at that time, as Neo and new metallic tag along buddy Kryton seek to bring down The Dark One !.

It is genuinely laugh out loud hysterical clearly recognising that the journey undertaken is through Central Park in Manhattan, New York. There isn’t really any great attempt to disguise this fact, but it is stupefying brilliant that director Tim Kincaid still rallies proceedings along with interjected action silliness, and designer disaster characters to at least create the illusion of delivering entertainment.

Inferred bog creatures, and pool creatures in the Central Park scenic ponds is creative only to the degree that the camera is kept low level to hide the obvious fact of where they are actually filming. Shooting at a restricted degree at these times is often through conveniently placed reeds and plants to create the illusion of futuristic foliage. At times it most definitely is cringe worthy stuff, but gorilla film making at its most desperate for sure.

There are a few Fun moments to be had, one of which is the scene in which Neo and followers first enter the underground tract in order to gain undetected access into the realm of The Dark One, in order to storm the power station. Here they are beset by sewage worms, bloodthirsty oversized blind slither critters that dwell within the walls of the sewer. Okay so they’re hand puppets, but use your imagination and role with it for cripes sake.

The overall tone and colour of the under ground segments show the movie in its best light, now let’s not get too excited, we are not talking Mario Bava here, but clearly the Roger Corman school of lighting, set decoration, and good use of what is naturally at hand, is to be fair, put to good use. Look out for an inferred big spider creature effect as the scientists daughter is ensnared within a web, only to be teasingly pawed by an off screen beastie shyly reaching out to our maiden in distress with a briefly seen wobbly hairy leg with a clawed foot !, The Giant Claw (1957) should be considered an Oscar winning feature on the back of this display !.

Robot Holocaust, likely to cash in on its piggy back European veneer, even carries the title of, I Robot Conquistano Il Mondo, cleverly slipping out onto Eighties VHS no doubt to return a modest sum very much in line with the Italian faux film Xeroxed clones of the time. Due accolade to the film makers on that score, exporting American garbage cleverly packaged back to Italy as if produced in Europe, but overall Robot Holocaust is without doubt a Post ApoCRAPalyptic disaster.

If you truly need to experience then seek it out on the MGM HD channel, as it at least cleans up very nicely, and those underground scenes do look fresh and vibrant in colour and hue with a high definition enhancement. The movie also runs out at sub eighty minutes. Be sure to disengage brain, and imbue yourself with plenty of to hand cold brews if deciding to still pursue the Post Nuke abomination that is Robot Holocaust.

Movie Rating: 3/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source The MGM HD Movie Channel

Robot Holocaust (1986)

Director Tim Kincaid
With Norris Culf, Nadine Hartstein,
J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, Jennifer Delora,
Andrew Howarth, Angelika Jager,
Michael Downend & Rick Gianasi

Friday, 19 November 2010

Get Infected On ...

Dark Island
aka Infected

‘‘If you’re receiving this message, Test Forty Eight did not go as planned’’

Insidious biological government experimentation is taking place on a remote island and all indigenous species are dead. Only a small unit of scientific researchers remains at the testing ground, but when all contact with them is lost another team of specialists is sent in to investigate. What they discover cannot be allowed to leave the island with them !.

Multi corporation Altracorp are developing a safe energy program with radical results via secret testing, outside of the USA governing practices, and well outside of ethical constraints. Development of a biological weapon, intended to aid mankind against the threat of global terrorism, in order to act as a deterrent against war. Just how far do you go though in order to create something so all powerful in order to stop something just as all consuming and devastating as that which it is intended to counteract !?.

Dr. Sophie Miller, a highly regarded toxicologist, joins an Altracorp reconnaissance and rescue team, suitably kitted up and destined for the secluded island. Their mission to determine what has happened to the original scientific team and to re-establish contact with Altracorp to relay back information as to the test results carried out.

The team is made up of three guys and two women, and immediately upon arrival at the beach of the island it is very clear that all is not well !. There is not a sound of any wildlife at all, and at the tree line of the dense tropical jungle is littered with dead birds. The flightless and lifeless organisms are saturated with a bizarre black treacle like substance, oozing from their carcasses.

The plot is standard fare but the Action is maintained throughout proceedings, and there are a few nice moments to keep an audience embroiled in this low budget horror. Fans of top TV show Lost will draw semblance from the foreboding presence of the evil entity that terrorises the human survivors. An all enveloping mass of black cloud like being possesses, eviscerates and re-manifests itself in order to take control of any living host. This tremendous force is a destructive living entity born out of human experimentation and in its unfettered form is free to do what it wants to !.

The team must gather important test data and formulate a counter agent against this malevolent entity in order to harness its force. A makeshift repellent gas gun keeps the aggressive formation at bay but does little against its intuitive ability to manipulate what is around it. There is an Evil Dead (1981) segment where the jungle tree vines attack the retreating Altracorp people, along with several splurges of blood letting to add to proceedings.

It’s up to the doctor to attain a direct sample of the black gloop living organism from a possessed living host in order to reverse engineer the substance and develop an antidote

With an evacuation swat team preparing to storm the island and retrieve whatever they can before destructively pulling the plug on the project time is running out for the few surviving. In the heart of the jungle at the main testing site a battle for supremacy plays out as an Altracorp insider strives to take control of the entity, whilst his rational counterpart fights to directly feed the antitoxin into the heart of the island to bring an end to the abomination.

There’s plenty of edge of the seat Action at closure and still enough time to deliver a reveal to turn events, leaving things up in the air with a suitably sinister twist.

Movie Rating: 6/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD

Dark Island (2010)

Director Sam Gorski & Niko Pueringer
With Jai Koutrae, Zero Kazama, Mary Christina Brown,
Rob O’Brien, Eric Raymond Lim & Rodney Wiseman

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Undead Uprise In ...

La Horde

‘‘Religion is just death insurance’’

Cops, criminals and an army of undying human carnivores square off in a Zombie Armageddon. Another flesh feast from France, and this one thunders along at a cracking bloody pace.

Seasoned cops treading a very fine line between call of duty, and traversing the same path taken by those they seek to bring to justice, seek to take violent revenge when one of their own is killed.

Attending the cemetery during the day to pay respects at the funeral, by night the resolute agents of the law turn vigilantes and seek vengeance upon a gang headed up by a notorious Nigerian villainous savant. The acquired intelligence on their targets leads them to a near derelict super high rise middle class residence. The building is empty apart from a few stubborn residents ignoring notices to quit, and the pocket of drugs and arms dealers headed up by the Nigerian named Adewale.

Storming the high rise for violent reprisal the cops more than meet their match in Adewale and his better organised men. Two are viciously killed and one is badly wounded as the diversity of weaponry at the gangs disposal is brutally displayed.

With the remainder of the cops, including one feisty female officer, at the mercy of the gang suddenly there is a cataclysmic turn of events that occurs outside. The surrounding city is turned into chaos as the night sky is turned into a pulsating pastel of explosions. An epidemic has broken out and is immediately affecting the populace. People are turning on each other and those that are killed within a few minutes return from the dead, imbued with an overpowering strength of adrenalin and a hunger for flesh.

Described by most as a Zombie movie, and in certain quarters criticised for its lack of character development and perceived as being without anyone to cheer for or get behind, it really is deserving of neither attribute. It’s intent is not to atypically compartmentalise but allow for a fallow dichotomy, empathic to a contemporary society. The film is a frenetic Action movie with the fast paced humans infected by an unknown contagion. The unexplained virus also reanimates the recent dead but at no time in the film does it show or imply that the rotting corpses of long deceased people are reviving.

La Horde is at its best enjoyed as a non Zombie film as the super enhanced manic delivery is far more striking and realistic buying into an outbreak of unknown origin. Watching the two diverse groups of gang and cops having to pull together in order to defend themselves against a far greater threat adds heightened believability to proceedings. There is a multitude of close quarter street fights where the anti hero’s have to use their hand to hand combat skills against the unyielding mutants. The results being some of the most intense pummelling witnessed on screen in a long time.

It is, however, incredible that each time a new ‘Zombie’ type take on the genre comes out how hapless the protagonists are in not working out that the only way to stop these monstrous manifestations is to shoot them in the head. It certainly adds to the deliriousness of the wanton deluge of blood and guts spillage as the infected are riddled with bullets in every other part of their bodies, but please, get serious, splatter the grey matter by blasting the damned things in the skull !.

The close proximity setting of floor after floor of corridors in the high rise make for some claustrophobic encounters, and the darkly lit environment more than adds to the effectiveness of this Action horror.

With their combined numbers dwindled down to just a handful the unified group meets up with a quirky old timer, survivor of a great war and a veteran stubborn enough to remain resident in the complex in his solitude from society. This old timer knows how to look after himself, and the groups first encounter with has them witness his ability with a long handled mighty pickaxe, repeatedly dispatched upon the flailing mutant beings with dissecting effectiveness. Looking a little like a more seasoned version of Hannibal Smith from The A Team, this guy definitely loves it when a bloody plan comes together.

With news of the contagious outbreak hitting the city, witnessed upon a weak signalled television set in the old mans apartment, Adawale and his beleaguered cohorts join with the veteran, making use of his apparent skills and knowledge of the complex, in order to exact a passage to the outside and a better chance of survival.

There is always an edge to proceedings with a volatile element of tenuous trust between all, and combined with the all too prevalent threat to them all this brilliantly enhances the realistic flavour of the movie.

Blood, guts, gore, guns, grenades and a joyously unbelievable Mexican stand off as one of the main lead cops squares off against a surging mass of flesh hungry ghouls, within the high rise parking facility, propels La Horde into crowd pleasing rapture.

Throw in a suitably down beat and bleak closure and this stands up there with some of the best implied ‘Zombie’ type films produced. This is without doubt an accomplished ghoulish Grenache of Gallic gruel to revel in.

Movie Rating: 7/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source Pal Region 2 DVD

La Horde (2009)

Directors Yannick Dahan & Benjamin Rocher
With Claude Perron, Jean-Pierre Martins,Eriq Ebouaney,
Aurélien Recoing, Doudou Masta, Jo Prestia,
Antoine Oppenheim, Yves Pignot & Adam Pensawang