Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Films to die for... or so they say.

Two films I recently got from Netflix are two of the 'After Dark HorrorFest' series - where each year there are "8 Films to Die For" and they are supposed to be "too graphic, too disturbing, and too shocking for general audiences". Ok, right. I'll be the judge of that.

First I saw Borderland.

I didn't know any of the actors except Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, in a complete character turn-around from that role) and Rider Strong (Cabin Fever).

After an initial gory sequence to set up who the bad guys are, it starts out like most typical movies of this kind. Some college-age guys are looking to score and have some fun so they take off to the Borderland - the area where Texas and Mexico meet, notorious for drugs and other illegal activities.

They (almost too quickly) find some women, eat some magic mushrooms, smoke some weed and drink some drinks. They head off to a local carnival so the rides can make them sick. (that doesn't happen but it should have!)
Then one of the dudes decides to go home alone and for some reason takes a ride offered by one of the said bad guys (who, in their right - or even messed up- mind, would do this?) They take him to a farm of some sort and proceed to hang him upside down like a butchered hog. It's obvious he's going to be someone's hobby.

The other dudes eventually start looking for their friend when he never comes back to the hotel and eventually contact police who are not at all helpful and in fact seem petrified of the men they assume have abducted this young man.

These criminals are involved in a Satanic cult, are drug lords, and have taken to kidnapping tourists and apparently sacrificing them in the name of Satan.

The pursuit to find their friend is basically the rest of the movie, which almost turns into a 'shoot-em-up' type of film before it is all said and done. There is a moderate amount of gore but no real sense of reason or continuity throughout.

Sean Astin really does shock here as a sadistic thug. It's hard to see Samwise be so cruel!

Borderland is supposedly based on actual events, and the dvd extras delve into that story if you care to watch them. I do remember the Matamoros story- it broke when a 21 y/o American tourist disappeared there in 1989 and was later to be found murdered by this cult. Supposedly tons of bodies were discovered in shallow graves around the property. Nice.

In any event, the movie had its moments. I wouldn't say it's purchase-worthy or even a 'must-see', but it passed the time sufficiently.

The same cannot be said for Crazy Eights.

Actually, it isn't really that bad. It is more confusing than anything - and me explaining it here won't be easy.

So, here we have a group of six thirty-somethings who have come back to their small hometown to attend the funeral of a close childhood friend. The cast is really quite impressive, with some regulars of the genre (Dina Meyer of the 'Saw' series, Traci Lords of porn star fame as well as several low budget horror outings, Frank Whaley (from 'Vacancy' and 'Pulp Fiction') as well as George Newbern (Brian from 'Father of the Bride'), and Gabrielle Anwar (Scent of a Woman)...

Anyway, of course the friend has a letter for them, detailing that they are to find a time capsule they made years ago, hidden in a certain trunk, located in a deserted barn nearby. They all seem to have trouble remembering this event. Though they all admit to having been plagued with bad dreams and odd recollections throughout their lives.

However- they do, in fact, find this trunk, but when they haul it out of the barn and open it, besides the dolly and the slingshot, a small skeleton of a child is inside. One guy, Brent (Whaley) decides he's outta there, and the rest have to follow 'cause he has the keys. They try to leave but the road keeps going in circles, and they drive past the same decrepit old plantation-type house over and over. Brent thinks he sees a little girl in the yard, so he decides they should all go ask her if she knows how to reach the main road.

Of course they then cannot find the girl.

The investigate the house, after splitting into two groups. One of the men, Wayne (Dan DeLuca) gets injured, breaking his leg after falling down some cellar steps... (not much for being careful I guess) ... They drag him further into the basement (which surprisingly still has electric. Go figure) and try to splint it.

Once inside they all become overwhelmed by the house and memories that overcome them that they cannot explain. They find pictures of themselves as little children on the walls, and come to realize they must have been orphans who grew up together there at that very house.

But something very bad is lurking there as well. I don't want to give everything away, but suffice it to say - there is a reason they have all been 'summoned' back here. One by one, they must face their fears and their ultimate destiny.

I actually thought the premise and the beginning of the movie seemed pretty good, but as time went on and they were trying to tie things together and wrap things up, it just got more and more convoluted for me. By the end I was saying: WTF?

There are a few truly creepy scenes, which almost made it worth it, and the actors did the best with the material they had.....I guarantee if they had casted nobodies, this would have been unwatchable.

In the end, this kinda falls rather flat for me.

And I had heard this was one of the best of the '8 films to die for'.... well it isn't making me slit my throat any time soon. Oy.

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