The Devil’s Tomb

(2009) dir: Jason Connery; w/ Cuba Gooding, Jr., Taryn Manning, Valerie Cruz, (Ron Perlman cameo). A tidbit o’ skin; a little gore.
A team of mercenaries dive into an archaeological dig (which looks remarkably like the basement of an old factory) and find themselves in a duel with the devil, some demon-possessed zombies, and a whole lot of pus. The cast really tries to give this thing some respectability, but the imagination just isn’t here. Their attempt to turn it into an apocalyptic struggle with the forces of Hell falls afoul of weak storytelling and a rather simplistic notion of evil. So really, what we get is the usual commandos versus zombies, but with some bible verses stuffed in the cracks. Pretty much a waste of time, no matter what you were looking for.

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Dark Rising

(2007 – Canada) writ & dir: Andrew Cymek; w/ Landy Cannon, Brigite Kingsley, Julia Schneider, Jason Reso. A little skin, a little blood.
A lovelorn schmuck goes on a camping trip with some pals… then the witchy girl opens a portal and suddenly there’s a bloodthirsty demon and a kick-ass babe. The budget and expectations are pretty low here – but surprisingly, there’s some genuine talent and some hard work. It almost succeeds in being a fun little tongue-in-cheek romp. What fails it is not the budget, but a poorly constructed script that didn’t survive the trip through the editing room. If the flick had actually told a story and used its characters better, it might have been a right giggle. It’s still kinda tolerable, if you can afford enough slack.

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Mega-Shark Versus Crocosaurus

(2010) dir: Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray; w/ Jaleel White, Gary Stretch, Sarah Lieving, Robert Picardo. No skin; no gore.
The Big Shark chases the Big Croc because… eggs! The nervous Navy Guy and the smelly Hunter Guy run around and yell a lot because… experts! This one fails to live up to its own low standards. It almost sorta makes sense for a while, but halfway in, the screenwriter goes stark staring mad. From that point, it’s reduced to a jumble of gibbering nonsense, extra scenes for random bit players, and nukes, volcanoes, and more running and yelling. Even the FX work is weak for this entry. Actually, this flick has the odor of a broken production; as if the plot were invented in the editing room long after everyone else had moved on with their lives. Even for Critter Flick fans, this one is a miss.

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Hercules, Prisoner of Evil

(1964 – Italy – aka Ursus, il Terrore dei Kirghisi) dir: Anthony Dawson (aka Antonio Margheriti); w/ Reg Park, Mireille Granelli, Ettore Manni.
Herc/Ursus must contend with a monster in the woods, conspiracies in the palace, and pretty women who are never what they seem. Originally an Ursus flick, AIP took a hatchet to it and tried to sell it as a Hercules flick – but despite the dub-actors saying “Hercules” an awful lot, it’s not at all convincing. But with a plot like this, it probably doesn’t matter; it is mostly padding and random plot twists that just tie themselves in knots. I assume the original must make a bit more sense, but that’s not saying a lot. It is low-budget and low-effort; a waste of time for all but the most determined muscle-man fanatic.

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Gallowwalkers

(2012) dir: Andrew Goth; w/ Wesley Snipes, Kevin Howarth, Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix. No skin (almost); a little gore.
In a whacked-out version of the wild west, gunslinger Wesley battles bad men who won’t stay dead. The flick is very well made and beautifully filmed, but it’s a shame that the script couldn’t back that up. It tries for a supernatural horror-revenge sort of thing, but tosses around way too many scatterbrained notions and half-baked characters for any of it to really work. It is a harmless little potboiler, I suppose, but besides looking good, it doesn’t actually do much of anything.

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Hercules and the Captive Women

(1961 – Italy/France – aka Ercole alla Conquista di Atlantide) dir: Vittorio Cottafavi; w/ Reg Park, Fay Spain.
Hercules and his faithful midget go to Atlantis – and pull the plug. They certainly dressed this one up with a lot of color and spectacle, but they obviously thought plot was an unnecessary complication. Instead, we get a string of wacky notions… evil queen (rowr), captive woman (only one, but she keeps getting captured, so perhaps she counts as more), attack of the clones, and of course, volcano! Fun enough for fans of the genre, just be sure to check your brains at the door.

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Avalanche (1978)

(1978) dir: Corey Allen; w/ Rock Hudson, Mia Farrow, Robert Forster. No skin; no gore.

Producer Roger Corman tried to give this a big-budget varnish with some name stars, but the coating is damned thin. This entry in the Disaster Flick sweepstakes seems half-hearted at best. The script, based on all the usual gimmicks, is a feeble little thing barely adequate to string together a few scenes before they dump a truckload of Styrofoam on everyone; the rest of the running time is filled with some disjointed and undramatic rescue scenes. There’s a lot of snow, yeah, but nothing much actually happens in this flick.

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