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23.6.10

100 Feet (2008)


Director: Eric Red
Starring: Famke Janssen, Bobby Cannavale, Ed Westwick, Michael Pare
Rated R  Running time:  101 minutes
Released by The Asylum

After a twelve year absence from the movie biz, writer/director Eric Red (Near Dark, The Hitcher) returns with this haunted house thriller starring Famke Janssen. Janssen plays Marnie Watson, a woman just released from prison for killing her abusive cop husband. Marnie says it was self-defense; Shanks, (Bobby Cannavale) her dead husband's partner, doesn't believe her.  As a condition of her release, Marnie is placed under house arrest -  the same house where she offed her hubby. If she moves more then 100 feet out of range of the monitoring system, Marnie goes back to the slammer. In the meantime, Shanks vows to make Marnie as miserable as possible for killing his partner.

It turns out that Shanks doesn't have to do a thing, since the husband's ghost (Michael Pare in a wordless role) has decided to not go towards the light. At first he seems content to frighten and annoy Marnie. But when she becomes romantically involved with a much younger (and still living) delivery guy, he gets much, much nastier.

Right off the bat, Red earns points for two things: not indulging in the usual J-horror inspired ghost antics, and for keeping  100 Feet from turning into an R-rated domestic violence PSA. Most of the action takes place in the haunted townhouse, with Janssen being the focal point of nearly every scene. She's very good in this; tough, battle-scarred, and resourceful. I can forgive her for sticking her hand down the garbage disposal late in the second act.

The ghost effects are exceptional. Pare hovers around the apartment, his face bone white and out of focus. It's the kind of thing you'd see in a nightmare. It's also worth mentioning that the film features one of the nastiest death-by-poltergeist scenes I've ever witnessed.

My only real quibble is with the film's grand finale. Janssen's character does something (or maybe doesn't do something) that is completely inconsistent with every thing else we've learned about her. It bothered me, but not enough to ruin 100 Feet. It's one of the better recent horror films, and certainly the best thing The Asylum has ever released.

3 out of 5. 

21.6.10

Blood Suckers from Outer Space (1984)



Director: Glen Coburn
Starring: Thom Meyers, Dennis Letts, Robert Bradeen, Laura Ellis
Rated R  Running time: 79 minutes
Released by Shriek Show

Occasionally amusing low budget zombie comedy filmed outside of Dallas, Texas. Toxic gas leaking from a sinister military research facility turns the residents of a small farming town into blue-faced flesheating ghouls. A young photgrapher and an attractive party girl from the city manage to survive the outbreak (by huffing from a tank of nitrous oxide), but face an even greater danger from a nuke happy General (Dennis Letts) who hopes to cover the military's butt by vaporizing everything in sight.

 Most of the jokes are painfully unfunny, yet the film's goofy tone helps make Blood Suckers from Outer Space much more entertaining than most of the other 104,653 "zombie comedies"  currently in circulation. There's a couple of gore scenes (one featuring a farmer and a dismembered arm provides the biggest laugh), a guy in bikini briefs, a couple of boobies, and a zippy new wave via Broadway theme song. Pat Paulsen has a bit part as the President of the USA - a joke reference that will be totally lost on viewers under 40 years of age.

Shriek Show loaded the disc up with extras, including an making of documentary in which nearly everyone involved disparages the film. I don't think Blood Suckers from Outer Space is nearly as bad as the makers do, apparently.  It would fit in perfectly on the USA Network's departed "Up All Night" program. If you even know what that show was all about, then this movie might be right up your alley.