Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cold Prey (2006)

 If anyone is doubtful that a good slasher film can still be made nowadays,  they need look no further than Norwegian horror film, Cold Prey, a perfect example that a good slasher film is still definitely possible to make.

Five friends are going on a skiing trip to Jotunheimen (Norwegian mountain ranges). When one of the party breaks an ankle, and the nearest town is too far away too reach by nightfall, the group decides to stay in the seemingly deserted hotel that they found until the morning. By the time they realize that someone else is there with them, it's too late to leave quietly!

One of the great things about Cold Prey is the scenery. Filmed on location in Jotunheimen, Norway, the locale is beautiful to behold.
The acting is good and the movie has human, likable characters who react to this kind of situation how anyone would react to it; going Ellen Ripley on the killers ass with a shotgun and pick-axe. Needless to say, the killer is royally fucked up by the film's final girl in the last few minutes!

The movie's atmosphere is tense and the film's villain is a realistically tough opponent who is experienced in the harsh Alpine region and is always one step ahead of the protagonists, who spend half of the movie unaware of the killer's existence and the other half fighting for their lives in this dark and hostile territory.

The main acting fixture (no, I don't know what that means either) of the film is Ingrid Bolse Berdal, who does a fine job as an Ellen Ripley-ish final girl, bringing some feministic action to the role, especially in the film's final minutes.

The film is also notable for it's long and arduous production. Heavy production equipment had to be airlifted to he secluded filming spot via helicopter and the cast and crew had to work in temperatures below 25 degrees Celsius! All in all, the filming reportedly took 2 years, and editing took another 9 months!

Cold Prey is also the proud recipient of something rare in today's horror scene, a worthy follow-up! Now I haven't seen Cold Prey II but I've only heard glowing things about it, I'll need to give it-and the recent prequel Cold Prey III-a watch sometime soon!

So if you're in the mood for a fun modern slasher flick, look no further than the Cold Prey series.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Zombie Nation (2004)

I spent $10 on Zombie Nation. I'm not proud. What is Zombie Nation you ask? No. 11 on IMDB's bottom 100 list. It's a film by notorious German director Ulli Lommel (who made the so-so 1982 The Boogeyman and others).

 Zombie Nation is about a murderous cop Joe Singer (AMERICAN actor Gunther Ziegler) who abducts and kills women. I would mention more of the plot, but for a whole hour, that's all we get!

When the movie isn't repeating the same formula of Singer picking up women and taking them to his 'love shack', it includes random scenes of people fight clubbing and main characters who vanish from the plot without explanation.

Singer, when not taking away duffel bags containing corpses right in front of his rookie partner-who's completely oblivious to what's in them-has flashbacks to his childhood at an asylum that his nutso mother ran. I can only assume that after his mom's asylum was shut down, Singer was relocated to somewhere in Germany, because AMERICAN cop Joe Singer, born and raised in AMERICA has exactly the kind of accent you'd expect from someone named Gunther Ziegler.

Having served with Singer in Iraq, all the other senior cops in the precinct try their best to cover up their friend's crimes in their state of the art police station...

...that apparently also moonlights as an Asian history goods storage warehouse. The police station in this film is seriously one of the worst I've ever seen. Apart from the pipes and steam dials, the walls of the set aren't even painted all the way!

This whole covering up their friend's murders doesn't seem like such a big deal to them though as they're probably the most corrupt police team ever on film, having their own hit-list of people, who they readily use as fall guys and sending masked thugs to beat up the rookie cop and his wife for reporting that Singer might be a little wacko.

So I suppose you're all probably wondering where the zombies are in this movie, it's called Zombie Nation after all, you only need to look at that box cover to see a ravenous monster out for human flesh...who is not in this film. There is only a grand total of six zombies in a film that's called Zombie Nation! And they're not even zombies, they're just women with raccoon make-up over their eyes!

Thanks to a ritual performed by a group of voodoo priestesses, all of Singer's victims come back to life to take revenge on him. They're not zombies though, they act just like normal people, except in their first scenes as zombies, where, in both scenes in question, the worst, the absolute worst suited music play as they chow down on their unsuspecting victims (who makes business calls in the middle of the woods anyway?). This revenge though only takes place in the final ten minutes of the film, so for the rest of their onscreen time, the dead women devote to dancing and talking with the voodoo priestesses, who talk about the women's perception of themselves and that instead of eating people, they should eat cheeseburgers.

One of the film's funniest moments comes with the arrival of Singer's father, the pastor at the local church in Sunville, Austria...Whoops, I mean Alabama. Yes, we're really supposed to buy that the heavily accented German Gunther Ziegler is from the South! His father's accent is also German and even more ridiculous, almost literally inflecting Z's and V's as he talks! Even stranger is that the actor playing the father isn't even German, he's just putting on the accent! As for who this actor is, I won't say, but if you choose to find out (or if you recognise him from the below photo), chances are, you'll be surprised as hell!

And one of the film's more baffling scenes is when a psychiatrist (played by producer/director/writer Ulli Lommel) visits Singer. In a nonsensical homage to The Marathon Man, all this shrink does is repeat the word 'is it safe' about thirty times.

Ulli Lommel has made quite a boring affair with Zombie Nation, but it looks like he did his best, since the movie's budget was unimaginably low, only about $1500. The lack of budget is especially noticeable in some parts of the film where the film quality plunges from normal to terrible and back.

As for Lommell's film's, they get worse, far far FAR worse! I'll get to them and to Lommel himself (and why I don't hate him as a film-maker) in later posts, for now though, everyone pick up their camcorders and try to make a worse film than Zombie Nation!

Edit: Because I'm an idiot, I forgot to talk about this film's acting, and how awesome Gunther Ziegler is. I rectify this in my post for other Lommel film, The Devonsville Terror.