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THE COLLECTION

THE COLLECTION-United States-82 Min. 2012

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Josh Stewart as Arkin

Josh Stewart as Arkin

Emma Fitzpatrick as Elena

Emma Fitzpatrick as Elena

Lee Tergesen as Lucello

Lee Tergesen as Lucello

Directed by Marcus Dunstan

Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

Based on characters created by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

When last we saw Arkin (Josh Stewart, The Dark Knight Rises, The Haunting of Molly Hartley) he was being stuffed into a trunk by the titular serial killer in The Collector (2009). Now at the beginning of The Collection, Arkin escapes the Collector only to find himself forced back into the fray by a group of mercenaries lead by Lucello (Lee Tergesen, Monster, No One Lives), the right hand man of Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald, Thelma & Louise, Requiem for a Dream) whose daughter, Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick, The Social Network, In Time) has become the Collector’s latest captive. As the saying goes, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Hurt they do, as the Collector leads them all through a merry maze of traps that would make Jigsaw proud; which is no big surprise considering that writer-director Marcus Dunstan (The Collector) and writer Patrick Melton were the writing team for Saw IV, V and VI). There’s even a scene with a wheat thresher that rivals the cable scene in Ghost Ship for coolest opening kill in a horror film.

The Collection is well-acted, well-written and well-directed. It’s gory enough to keep it interesting, which is always a plus. The minus to the film is that I felt no emotional attachment to the characters in the film. I didn’t care whether they lived or died. The only connection I felt was in wondering what horrendous way they would meet their demise. Most of the time as I watched I kept thinking that the last 60 minutes felt like a survival-horror video game. I’m going to go through this door and find this; I’m going to turn this corner and find that; if I can get to that trunk I’m going to get an extra life or some other sort of power-up to keep me going. The trouble is two-fold; I’ve felt more emotionally attached to the characters I’ve played as in video games than I did the characters in The Collection. The other trouble is that like those characters I am always getting killed. Oh well, there’s always the reset button. It’s too bad The Collection doesn’t have that option. Oh wait, it does; it’s called the stop button.

TRIVIA

The “Hotel Argento” where the Collector has his victims is most likely a nod to the cult Italian horror director Dario Argento.

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FEAST

FEAST-United States-2005

Balthazar Getty as Bozo

Eric Dane as Hero

Henry Rollins as Coach

Navi Rawat as Heroine

Judah Friedlander as Beer Guy

Josh Zuckerman as Hot Wheels

Jason Mewes as Edgy Cat

Jenny Wade as Honey Pie

Krista Allen as Tuffy

Clu Gulager as Bartender

Directed by John Gulager

Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

If you enter into watching “Feast” with lowered expectations, then you’re not going to be disappointed. Think John Carpenter‘s “Assault on Precinct 13“; but set in a hick bar with douchebags, barflys and dumb-asses surrounded by bloodthirsty creatures that are as horny as they are hungry (they hump each other on the hood of a car and out pops baby monster). They’ve got big teeth and big Johnson’s and no one has any idea where they came from. As I re-read that last sentence it seems confusing to me. The trailer for “Feast” tells us that they were created by the military as a secret weapon and that before they could be used on the enemy they had to be field tested…on us. Now, unless I missed something somewhere or wasn’t paying attention in class there is no mention of this anywhere in the movie. What I do know is that I was hoping for half the people in the bar to become monster food. Balthazar Getty (“Ladder 49″), leads the merry assortment of idiots that include Henry Rollins (“Wrong Turn 2: Dead End“), Clu Gulager (“Return of the Living Dead”) and Judah Friedlander (“The Wrestler”). Needless to say I wouldn’t trust these losers with cap guns, much less shotguns and Molotov cocktails. It comes as no surprise that the women of this film, Krista Allen and Navi Rawat in particular, are the ones that give these bumpkins any chance of seeing the light of day. Feast is directed in a fast paced, take no prisoners style that has become the thing to do these last few years or so. One thing I found amusing for a while is the way that the characters were introduced. A short bio with their name, occupation and life expectancy is flashed across the screen. It’s funny but it wears out its welcome quickly. Like I said at the beginning; don’t expect too much and you will not be disappointed. Dig any deeper and it all falls apart.

TRIVIA

Clu Gulager, the actor playing Bartender, is the father of the film’s director, John Gulager. Also, Diane Ayala Goldner, who plays Harley Mama, is John’s wife.

The movie’s development was part of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight 3 program.

The role of Hero was offered to Mark Wahlberg, but he turned it down. Josh Duhamel was also interested but forced to drop out for scheduling conflicts.

PIRANHA 3DD

PIRANHA 3DD-United States-2012

Danielle Panabaker as Maddy

Matt Bush as Barry

David Koechner as Chet

Chris Zylka as Kyle

Meagan Tandy as Ashley and Katrina Bowden as Shelby

Gary Busey as Clayton

Christopher Lloyd as Carl Goodman

David Hasselhoff as Himself

Directed by John Gulager

Written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Joel Soisson

Characters by Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water park. John Gulager (“Feast”) picks up where Alexandre Aja left off with “Piranha 3DD”. This time the prehistoric fish wreak havoc on an adult water park on its very first day of business. The park comes complete with lifeguard strippers and special guest star David Hasselhoff.Here is a movie that takes the mutated monster fish sub-genre (if there ever was one to begin with) to a whole new level of ridiculous. “Piranha 3DD” is a movie that would make Herschel Gordon Lewis and Hugh Hefner equally proud. The film is a mash-up of blood and boobs, gore and gams and any other body part these ichthyologic beasties can put in their mouths. The piranha goes from anal to oral in this one and you just have to see it for yourself to believe it.

The plot behind the whole shebang is that the fanged flippers make their way from Lake Victoria to the water park to wreak their havoc. The explanation for how they get from one place to another is so half-ass that we pay no attention to it at all. But then again, that’s the idea. “Piranha 3DD isn’t about style and substance. Nobody is going to be collecting a statue on Oscar night for their efforts. But then again, I do believe they could be in the running for an AVN award for the best depiction of ‘blowjob by piranha.’ The little snapper gave head until it hurt. Ouch!

TRIVIA

The first entry in the “Piranha” series to be entirely filmed in 3D.

½

SAW: A LOOK BACK: PART 7

SAW VII-United States-90 Mins. 2010

Directed by Kevin Greutert

Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

Starring

Tobin Bell as John Kramer/Jigsaw

Costas Mandylor as Detective Mark Hoffman

Betsy Russell as Jill Tuck

Cary Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon

Sean Patrick Flannery as Bobby Dagen

“And now, the end is near/ I stand and face the final curtain…the record shows/I took the blow/and did it my way.”

Okay, so Frank Sinatra is rolling over in his grave right about now. No disrespect intended to the Chairman of the Board, but this is my way of saying that this is Jigsaw’s world and we just survive in it. Saw VII is in the can and we may now all worship at the feet of one of cinema’s greatest horror villains. Throughout seven films Jigsaw never changed. His mission never wavered. But the most important thing is that his victims, whether they lived or died, always knew where they stood with him. I’m not talking about Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor), no. His days were numbered the minute he laid hands on the one thing that John Kramer loved more than life itself and that was his widow, Jill Tuck. That’s the premise of one half of the storyline composing Saw VII.

The other is that of a man who claims to be a survivor of the Jigsaw traps. After one minute of listening to this windbag one would have to be mentally challenged not to realize he’s full of natural fertilizer. So now this idiot (played quite convincingly by Sean Patrick Flannery) must actually survive a Jigsaw trap in order to save his wife and friends. At this point it would good idea to mention to any moms out there that Saw VII is a good film to show your kids to warn them of the dangers of lying. Once they see one woman get four spikes through her neck, another get her mouth and eyes impaled, a man become well hung and the last woman become the toast of the evening they will never tell a lie as long as they live.

Okay, I was kidding about showing your kids all that gruesome stuff. That was my way of letting you know that they really have cranked up the volume on the intensity of the traps. It’s not as gruesome as some of the other films, it’s just more in your face.

I truly hope that this is not the last we see of Tobin Bell. I have been so impressed by his acting in this series that I feel that it would be a crime for him to fade into oblivion. I said once before that he was the glue that held this series together. I meant it then and I mean it now.

This is supposed to be the final film in the series and if it is then it’s going out with a bang. There are surprises and unlike the last two films in the series I’m not going to spoil it for everyone else. All I can say is that the legacy of one John Kramer is fiendishly intact.

SAW: A LOOK BACK: PART 5

Saw V

Image via Wikipedia

SAW V-United States-92 Mins. 2008

 

Directed by David Hackl

Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

Starring Tobin Bell as Jigsaw/John Kramer

Costas Mandylor as Mark Hoffman

Scott Patterson as Agent Strahm

Betsy Russell as Jill

Julie Benz as Brit

Okay, so this is supposed to be the Saw where we find out a little bit more than the last Saw about what makes the dear departed Jigsaw tick. We know that Detective Hoffman is an accomplice and in this film we find out it’s because some scumbag named Seth killed her in a domestic dispute. Before I go any further let me just say one thing: There may or may not be spoilers in this review. The film was released in 2008 so I think everybody has had ample time to see it. Alright, now that’s off my chest I will now say this; Saw V is the worst film in the Saw series. It’s got all the stuff the other films in the series had. Wicked traps, people who are put into those traps because they didn’t cherish their lives, flashback, etc. What it doesn’t have is any excitement. I mean, when you sit and watch a film and you’re watching some guy on a table auditioning for the Jigsaw Playhouse production of the Pit and the Pendulum and you start putting words in the poor jerks mouth then you know that you are already freaking bored. Also, again, where in the hell does Jigsaw or his little helper get these dumb asses that they put through this stuff. I knew throughout their ordeal that if they had all worked together that they had a chance of surviving with minimal injury. Did they think of that? Of course not. As for the acting I will say it again and that is that Tobin Bell is still the go to guy for this series. I become more and more impressed by his acting each time he is on-screen. He is and will always be the glue that holds this series together. It sure isn’t Costas Mandylor. The guy has one facial expression for just about every scene. The only other person in the film who has any acting ability to brag about is Julie Benz. Her talent stems from  the fact that she was a co-star on one of the best dramas on TV and that would of course be Dexter. You don’t co-star for four seasons on a show of that caliber and not learn something. I went into this film with eyes wide open. I wanted so much to like it. I’m sorry, I can’t do it. Here’s hoping Saw VI is a far better effort.

SAW: A LOOK BACK: PART 4

Hoffman listening to the tape found in Jigsaw'...

Image via Wikipedia

SAW IV-United States-93 Mins. 2007

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

Story by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Thomas H. Fenton

Screenplay by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

Starring

Tobin Bell as John Kramer/Jigsaw

Costas Mandylor as Lt. Mark Hoffman

Scott Patterson as Agent Peter Strahm

Betsy Russell as Jill Tuck

Lyriq Bent as Lt. Daniel Rigg

So, now we have Saw IV. Jigsaw is dead, his throat slashed open in the final moments of Saw III. Game over, right? Think again. This guy may be dead, but he wins the resiliency award of the decade. I have to say that Jigsaw is one of the few characters that I can think of offhand who dies in one film but can still get top billing for the films that follow it.

Anyways, I’m getting off the subject. Jigsaw is dead. Amanda Young is dead. Yet somehow, someway somebody is carrying on the legacy of building the sickest and most twisted playground equipment this side of  a hostel in Bratislava.

The one cool thing that I liked about Saw IV was the way it gave us a little more insight into the mind of John Kramer aka He Who Would Become the Screwed Up Mess known as Jigsaw. The flashbacks clearly show that even though Mr. Kramer wasn’t the most handsome fella, he wasn’t off  his rocker yet either. There are events in the mans life that led him to become the serial killer we all know and love. There’s stuff involving his wife, the clinic where she works as a doctor and the people who frequent the place. All of  this plays into the evolution of Jigsaw.

Now for the bad news. Saw IV is not a perfect horror film. First of all, let’s go over the traps. In the previous films we find out that Jigsaw was an engineer before he became a wacko serial killer. He had the brains to know how to build the traps that he sprung on people. Shoot, after that most of the people in the films don’t have the brains not to go through an unsecured door much less design and build an elaborate torture device.

Now on to the acting. It’s not going to win any awards. I mean, Tobin Bell still gives the best performance and all his is done as a flashback. It’s pretty sad whenever the guy in the flashbacks gives a better performance than the ones that are supposed to be in the present time. Costas Mandylor hasn’t been in anything of significance since Picket Fences and that show ended in 1996. All the casting director had to do was call him and say “Hey, Cost, I got a part for you in the next Saw film. Now the other films have made a shit–hello? Hello? Costas?” Next thing they know there’s a knock at their door and it’s guess who? Yep. Good old Costas.

So, on the one hand we have a Saw that has great flashback sequences and a very good performance from Tobin Bell. On the other hand we have a Saw that expects us to suspend our disbelief that anybody could design those wonderful toys and some pretty bad performances from the rest of the cast. I guess it kinda evens out.

THE COLLECTOR

THE COLLECTOR-United States-90 Mins. 2009

Directed by Marcus Dunstan

Written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan

Starring

Josh Stewart as Arkin

Michael Reilly Burke as Michael Chase

Andrea Roth as Victoria Chase

Karley Scott Collins as Hannah Chase

The Collector is a hybrid horror thriller that starts as a heist/slasher film and ends as a slasher/rescue film. It was originally intended to be a prequel to the original Saw.  The idea was nixed, but the influence is still evident. The film could have been called Saw Lite or Saw: The Early Years.

Josh Stewart (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and TV’s Criminal Minds) plays an ex-convict named Arkin, who owes money to his estranged wife. He is doing contractual work for a wealthy  jeweler who keeps a large uncut gem in the family  safe. Deciding to rob the family, he arrives later that night and breaks into the house believing that the family (they have a little girl of about six and a teenaged daughter ) are away on a trip. What he hopes to find, and what he does find, are very different indeed. The husband and the wife are being held captive in the cellar by the titular character of the film. So now Arkin must put aside his opportunity to rob the family and figure out a way to save them instead. This will not be easy. Not only is the youngest child missing, but the Collector has the house set up with an arsenal of deadly booby traps such as a room full of spring-loaded traps and a  window that acts as a guillotine when triggered.

The Collector is a decent entry into the slasher sub-genre of the horror film. It would have made a credible prequel to the Saw films if the creators had decided to go along with it. The traps in the film could be seen as the kind Jigsaw would have set while in the beginning of his new “career”. The opening credits are straight out of Se7en with its’ industrial rock music and random images designed as an insight into the Collectors mind. Josh Stewart does a good job as Paxton. However, he brings nothing new to the role and it could have been filled by any actor looking to make a paycheck. The rest of the cast is your  typical interchangeable and expendable family that you see in countless films of this type. The Collector is an interesting and somewhat creepy villain. I would have liked to have seen what his creators would have done with him had they decided on a sequel.

The film definitely  has its’ flaws. The most glaring being the traps. Unless the Collector broke into the house and set them while the family was still at home (unlikely). then there is no way he could build them all in the short period of time from when Arkin leaves the house to the time he comes back to break in. This could have been thought out more thoroughly had the writers taken a little more time with the script.

The Collector is a film that has its moments as well as its mistakes. If you have nothing better to do and can’t decide what to rent at the Red Box, then it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

NO TRIVIA

1/2

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