I guess you could call this a blog about four movies that were satisfactory—nothing blew me away, but if they’re on cable or streaming, they’re worth a watch.
SOUTHERN GOTHIC (2007)
Southern Gothic is one of those oddities you can’t really pin down, which does it no favors. It tries to be a somber portrait of a man struggling with the guilt of losing his daughter, which leads to him becoming the self-anointed guardian of a stripper’s daughter when a crazed vampire preacher comes to town. However, considering it’s a movie about a guy trying to save a stripper’s daughter from a vampire preacher, all seriousness just flies out the window and it ends up having more of a grindhouse tone. Which is fine, because it’s really all about the awesome, gruesome, violent vampire scenes.
Personally, I feel the plot just gets in the way of all the coolness, confuses the senses, and leaves you wanting more—the too cool horror moments are not satiating enough, and for a dark, gritty film that revolves around a strip club, there’s pretty much no sleaze or nudity. WTF?
A bunch of strangers waking up to find they’re trapped together in a strange place and don’t know why has become a pretty routine plot for horror movies these days. So is pretty much everything else here. Someone pulls the puppet strings to get people trapped down in a well to reveal their dark secrets, relishing the moments when they start turning against each other, and savoring the ravenous insanity that sets in, causing them to start killing and eating each other.
Even the conclusion is cliché. The buildup to the cannibalism is really the only thing that keeps this one alive. While not overly graphic when it finally happens, what’s implied is pretty disturbing. The captor’s motivation is pretty good as well. Plus the leads are familiar horror faces: Linden Ashby plays the sheriff on Teen Wolf and has been in films like Resident Evil: Extinction, Prom Night remake, and Anacondas: Trail of Blood; Lori Huering has appeared in Prom Night remake and Wicked Little Things.
One thing really nagged at me. As days and days pass and the captives begin eating each other in this small space, where do they poop? That shit’s gotta start smelling pretty bad.
DARK HAUL (2014)
This one is another mind-boggler. It’s a serious movie with some quality acting—but is plagued by the cheesiest SyFy CGI monster and gore money can save. Not to mention, the backstory, which has the movie opening in the 1700s (cringe), is way too complex for what amounts to just another action-packed creature feature.
There’s some chick and her gargoyle-like, flying brother. Since they were born, they’ve been watched over for centuries by a bunch of men known as “The Keepers.” I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention, because what I got was that all of a sudden, the sister decides she wants to bust her brother out of his cage at the same time as The Keepers decide they want to transport him to another location in an 18-wheeler.
And so commences loads of car chases, gunfights, CGI monster attacks, and members of The Keepers having monster attack hallucinations, plus way too much exposition about the history of this monster. Despite the attention put into every other aspect of the film, what I enjoyed most about it was the laughable CGI gore and monster. Not to mention, it appears they actually bothered to apply makeup effects to a real person to make the monster look cooler in the final battle.
Well, this is confusing. A cheesy CGI creature feature that’s not a SyFy original. What are the chances that a movie about zoo animals turning zombies wouldn’t be? Weird.
Anyway, the setup is quick in Zoombies. There’s a lab, an airborne virus, monkeys—put it all together. Then we meet our cast of interns at a sort of zoo safari, and as they’re given a tour of the place, we keep thinking, “What is this? Jurassic Park?” Clearly, the writers knew we’d think that, because someone makes a crack about it!
Once the outbreak takes over, there are some deliciously awesome bad CGI zoombies and plenty of intentionally laughable moments, but somehow, the movie is too restrained instead of hitting us over the head with how stupid it is. It’s not quite as fun or campy as the types of films after which it is modeled, but there are highlights. The zoombie monkeys look funny when they launch at people. The zoombie giraffe scene gave me a giggle. The stars riding CGI elephants cracked me up. The big giant zoombie gorilla makes a great main boss.
Plus, star Marcus Anderson is scorching hot.
However, what makes Zoombies totally worth it is the big zoombird scene at the end. The zoombirds fricking rule, particularly the parrot, which keeps repeating the last thing its dinner said as it was eating her….