Shira: The Vampire Samurai

(2005) dir: Simon (aka Jeff Centauri); w/ Chona Jason, James Lew, Adrian Zmed. Teensy bit o’ skin; no gore.
This is sort of like Blade, but with more tits and less talent. It’s also the sort of diplomatic incident one gets when American nerds try to make a kick-ass movie just like those cool Japanese flicks. Ooh, ick. They pretend the fight scenes are cool with the use of very quick cuts and a lot of posing, while the rest is padded out by what appears to be several attempts at a script and a half-attempt at editing. This is the kind of movie that is so bad it’s… not even funny. Sadly, the only value here is as an example of how not to do it.


Pig Hunt

(2008) dir: Jim Isaac; w/ Travis Aaron Wade, Tina Huang, Howard Johnson, Trevor Bullock. A little skin; a little gore.
Yup, the city-boy hunters and the inbred rednecks shoot at some pigs and then eventually get to shooting at each other. Then there are some completely fruitcake hippies, and then finally we get a gargantuan boar-snout (that’s really all we ever see of it) snorting around and being threatening. Okay, the cast is great and the production quality is generally quite good. But the flick spends most of its time pretending to be several other movies that did it better, and then pretends to have substance by tossing in some random violence (and snorting). It’s a scatterbrained effort that never settles down to one idea, doesn’t provide much plot, and worst of all, does not actually give us a rampaging piggy.


The Devil’s Rock

(2011 – New Zealand) writ & dir: Paul Campion; w/ Craig Hall, Matthew Sunderland, Gina Varela. A little skin; some gore.
On a remote channel island on the eve of D-Day, a Kiwi commando and an SS occultist must team up to take down a seductive, shapeshifting demoness. Some of the ad copy for this one wants to make it out to be an exploitation flick, but this is a serious attempt at a supernatural suspense. It has a solid cast and is very well crafted. However, the story just doesn’t have enough substance to really carry it all. They try for some twists near the end, but at the bottom line, it’s still just another skull-munching demon. While it is not a waste of time, it’s not exactly memorable, either.


2012: Doomsday

(2008) writ & dir: Nick Everhart; w/ Cliff de Young, Dale Midkiff, Ami Dolenz, Danae Nason. No skin; no gore (duh).
It turns out that the Mayans knew all about the end of the world because they were Christians — and the second coming is now at Chichen Itza. Um, yeah… they really do appear to be serious about that… anyhow… just in time to ride the coattails of an actual movie, this is what you get when you update the religious scare films of yesteryear. I realized they wouldn’t have enough budget for any credible doomsday, but they certainly should have done better than to give us the same tired old platitudes and a vague segue into the Tribulation. It’s a film of vapid dialog and transparent attempts at tension – the only thing ‘profound’ about this flick is the degree of its failure.



(2009 – Japan) writ & dir: Noboru Iguchi; w/ Aya Kiguchi, Hitomi Hasebe, Takumi Saitoh. No skin; mild gore.
An evil corporation, cyborg assassins, the magic of sisterhood, and swords out the ass (literally… and that’s not mentioning the armpits). This is a frenzied and utterly gonzo farce that is filled to bursting with juvenile humor and abused body parts (and, um, abusive body parts). The budget is low, so the FX are cheap and simple, but it makes up for it with a non-stop parade of idiotic jokes and spurting blood. It would play best to rowdy 11-year-old boys — or a frat party after the first keg. I didn’t think it was near as good as Iguchi’s other flicks, but it certainly wasn’t dull.


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.


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.