Iron Contracted Insidious Sky Chapter 2 – Director’s Cut

Contracted, Insidious Chapter 2, and Iron Sky – Director’s Cut are currently available on instant Netflix

Contracted

 

Contracted (2013) – Not rated

After a one-night-stand, a young woman becomes alarmingly ill — but what she thinks is a sexually transmitted disease turns out to be far worse.”

Okay umm so Netflix is using ‘one night stand’ as a euphemism for date rape. This is a low-budget chiller with a unique way of looking at a premise. There is very little violence and when it comes, it actually struck me as Pythonesque. There are some lapses in logic but luckily they are attributed to characters who have reason to have their logic impaired.

Contracted is an interesting, low-key story told from a good viewpoint.

Insidious 2

 

Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) – Rated PG-13

While the Lambert family struggles to overcome their son’s recent battle with evil spirits, father Josh must confront his own horrifying childhood.

Well the whole Chapter thing implies that there are going to be a string of these. I was not a big fan of Insidious. I though it was okay and well-shot but rather derivative.

I really enjoyed Insidious 2 which makes me want to go back and rewatch the original. Insidious 2 begins, as many sequels do, by showing us something we didn’t know about the past of one of our characters. Insidious 2 deftly weaves a main storyline with a series of flashbacks fleshing out a story of possession.

The first half of the film features all kinds of mysterious happenings (as opposed to the Paranormal series which seems to use the first half to sell more snacks and permit bathroom breaks). The second half picks up a lot of speed as we switch back and forth between locales. Almost none of the scares were of the cheap variety and there is a fair amount of atmosphere.

The family is very sympathetic. The researchers are nerdy but not overly annoying. The threat is gradually revealed in a very interesting manner. I suppose the only thing disappointing was the third act, which fell in line with the film’s PG-13 sensibilities.

Iron Sky

Iron Sky – Director’s Cut (2013) – Not rated

Okay I am a sucker for movies where Nazis are the bad guy. I love Dead Snow, The Boys from Brazil, Outpost, even the super-cheezy Shock Waves. On the other hand I’m not completely blind – Blood Creek was a ridiculous mess in spite of the sublime Michael Fassbender and Outpost: Black Sun clearly didn’t understand what made Outpost so much fun.

Iron Sky treads the middle ground. It is quite ludicrous (in a good way) but also tasteless (not in a good way). It is funny enough to be amusing (Nazi base on the far side of the moon) but many of the jokes fall flat (a faux President Palin) and some dip into the offensive (albinoing an African-American astronaut). I found Iron Sky to be worth a watch but only just.

Now Netflix advertises the director’s cut of Iron Sky as an exclusive. It is 18 minutes longer so there is substantially more goofiness on display.

Terror in Space – Dracula 3000

Dracula 3000 aka Infinite Darkness is currently available on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

One-Line Review: I can think of several thousand reasons not to watch this.

Dracula 3000Dracula 3000 (2004) – Rated R

In the year 3000, the crew of a deep space salvage ship come across a starship that had vanished and go on board to investigate. They find the ship abandoned, but they don’t know about the vessel’s history — or the evil they’re about to unleash.

Could they have picked a cast that screamed direct-to-video more than this? Casper Van Dien? Baywatch actress Erika Eleniak? Udo Kier? Rap artist Coolio? Wrestler Tiny Lister?

Dracula 3000 was directed by Darrell Roodt and written by Roodt and Ivan Milborrow. While Dracula 3000 is mostly dreck, it is clear that one of the writers had real affection for the source material. The film starts off with the space explorers discovering the spaceship Demeter a la the ship that brings Dracula to England in Stoker’s novel. The captain is lashed to his chair (the wheel in the novel).

Characters are named Capt. Abraham van Helsing, Mina Murry, Arthur “The Professor” Holmwood, Capt. Varna. Dracula is named Orlock. Locations mentioned include Transylvania and the Carpathian system. Unfortunately the rest of the script is just awful.

I won’t say the film is racist but the four white crew members have full names and the two African Americans are called 187 (the police code for homicide) and Humvee respectively. 187 is a dope-smoking fiend played by Coolio. Humvee is played by former pro wrestler Tiny Lister. 187 quickly moves from stoner to vampire lackey, filling the Renfield role.

I have to say that I would rate this but a single star for Coolio’s performance alone. This has to be one of the grating renditions I have ever sat through. The other performances are better but not good. Casper van Dien is in just-give-me-the-check-already mode.

The movie is set on a spaceship but they all just travel down various industrial tunnels. They meander here and there firing pistols and automatic weapons. Exterior ship shots are lifted from Space Rangers.

All of the coffins on the Demeter are filled with dust (ash) and 187’s accidental cutting of his arm gives Orlock the blood he needs to revive himself. If that is the case, who killed the captain and crew? How did the captain tie both of his hands to his chair? Was this Orlock’s master plan? To just hope someone would accidentally cut themselves and bleed on the ashes? Why is everyone dust except the captain?

Trust me you won’t want to sit through this to find out (and you won’t find out regardless).

People Watch: Casper van Dien was brought back for Starship Troopers 3 in 2008. Grant Swanby who plays Arthur Holmwood here is a barkeep in Starship Troopers 3.

Far Cry – Videogames are bad for you week

This is videogames are bad for you week. So far they’ve been bad to me – I’ve had to endure two terrible movies. Hopefully today’s movie will be better. Far Cry is currently available on instant Netflix.

Far Cry

AVOID: Far Cry (2008) – NR (Theatrical version rated R for bloody violence).

“When Seattle reporter Valerie Cardinal (Emmanuelle Vaugier) hires troubled ex-commando Jack Carver (Til Schweiger) to guide her to a remote Pacific island, she soon falls prey to mercenaries sworn to protect the island’s dark military secret. Now Carver must save Cardinal and confront the sinister Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier), whose biological experiments have gone wildly awry. Uwe Boll directs this action-thriller based on the popular video game.”

“Watch out for the rocks here – they’re pretty big and sharp.”

“Okay so maybe it’s super covert.”

“I wanted to die fast you know, like by a shark.”

Augh! As you can see the dialogue here is equivalent to what we got in Alone in the Dark II. This is not surprising as while the film is directed by Uwe Boll, it is written by Michael Roesch and Peter Scheerer.

German actor Til Schweiger plays our lead hero. It is a shame to see this after seeing his wonderful turn as Hugo Stiglitz in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Emmanuelle Vaugier is the attractive intrepid reporter.

Til and Emmanuelle are joined by Uwe Boll regulars Udo Kier (Bloodrayne, Dracula 3000, Shadow of the Vampire, Blade, Andy Warhol’s Dracula – what is it with this guy and vampire movies?) and Ralf Moeller (Gladiator, Alone in the Dark II). Michael Pare (Bloodrayne, Alone in the Dark II) also puts in an appearance.

As with the last two films, this one is filled with stupidity. The reporter, after being told that she’s holding a grenade (as if someone in this day and age wouldn’t know what a grenade is), lobs the grenade at the other vehicle without pulling the pin. She then pulls the pin on and drops the next grenade.

After this she accidentally (no wait I’m serious – stop laughing) shoots the helicopter above them through the roof of their car with a spear gun/grappling hook. Don’t ask me why there was a grappling hook in the back of the vehicle or why a helicopter that was presumably following the car would be directly overhead.

Don’t get me started on the enemy soldier with an empty gun – wait a full gun – no wait it was empty. A forest full of trees and two characters get tied face-to-face to the same tree so that they can easily untie each other.

Apparently all it takes to create genetically engineered super soldiers is to take actors and smear them with sunblock. Once you do that they can punch aluminum trashcans like nobody’s business. Also if their skin is impervious to bullets, why do they have to wear vests?

I did feel quite a bit of empathy for the civilian contractor. He just wanted to eat his meatball sub. Then again I’m probably just hungry. There is a good running gag about people owing each other something.

Unfortunately I am forced to admit that while I can’t come close to recommending this film, it is nowhere near as bad as the two previous movies.

People Watch: This one is for my daughter – Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations) briefly plays a scientist.

Bloodrayne – Videogames are bad for you week

This is videogames are bad for you week. Bloodrayne is currently available on instant Netflix.

Bloodrayne

AVOID: Bloodrayne (2006) – UR – This movie is unrated

The theatrical version is rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality, and nudity. Presumably the unrated version is a little stronger.

“A half-human, half vampire sets out to destroy her vampire king father in this Gothic horror film based on the video game. Bloodthirsty Lord Kagan (Ben Kingsley) wants his daughter to become a full-fledged vampiress, but fanged femme fatale Rayne (Kristanna Loken) denounces her father’s legacy and instead joins up with a trio of vampire hunters (Michael Madsen, Michelle Rodriguez and Matt Davis). Billy Zane and Udo Kier co-star.”

“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer”

Yes this film doesn’t even bother with its own dialogue. It simply borrows from other films. When it does have original dialogue that dialogue is awful.

“Where are you going?” – “I’m going on my own.”

Thankfully there isn’t as much shaky cam, jump cutting, shifting camera angles and out of focus photography as in yesterday’s Alone in the Dark II but all are present to an annoying degree here as well.

Kristanna Loken, last seen as the hot Terminator in Terminator 3, is actually an ideal choice as Bloodrayne. It seems a shame that they didn’t keep the Nazi setting of the game. My guess is that Uwe Boll must have had easy access to medieval costumes. Also of course since much of his financing is German, Nazis probably don’t play well there.

The stupidity on display here is amazing. Vladimir (Michael Madsen) has a wrist-mounted mini-crossbow that apparently can reload itself. Characters are not so much killed by others as they do fall on other character’s weapons. Every unimportant character (villagers for example) is dressed in completely drab clothing, most lacking any color at all.

At one point the heroes get ‘black powder from China’. Is this somehow better than the gunpowder that Europeans had had for hundreds of years by this point?

No one looks askance at Bloodrayne’s midriff and cleavage baring outfit, much less that she seems to be the only character allowed outdoors in the color red. Don’t even get me started on the tattoo she sports. Also it apparently only takes Bloodrayne two seconds to completely drain a vampire of blood.

I love how the monastery has been guarding a sacred artifact for centuries yet Bloodrayne shows up and minutes later she has not only killed the guardian and foiled the videogame like puzzle, she also has the artifact. The monastery is then completely wiped out in a hilariously bad gorefest.

The only bright spot in the film is a single scene with a must be slumming Geraldine Chaplin (The Four Musketeers, Jane Eyre). She plays a fortune teller and in spite of all the other good actors in the film, she is the only one to give a good performance.

In fact I shouldn’t let the good actors off so lightly. Michael Madsen appears to be pretending that he is in a completely different film. Michelle Rodriguez just plays the same tough girl she always does – it would be nice to see her play against type sometime. Ben Kingsley is completely and somewhat inexplicably dreadful.

By all means AVOID this movie. If by any chance you missed any of the hilariously bad gore effects, don’t worry. They replay all of them at the end of the film in a flashback.

People Watch: Meat Loaf appears as Leonid. He is billed as Meat Loaf Aday – is this to distinguish him from all the other actors out there named Meat Loaf? At any rate his scene is the most embarrassing one in the film.