SCOURGE (2008) Review. [Netflix Watch Instantly]

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Written and Directed by Jonas Quastel, 2008

If a movie exceeds expectations by being exactly what it should be can I call that the TAKEN effect? If so, can I then say that I was TAKEN by SCOURGE? Hopefully that makes grammatical sense, because after being pleasantly surprised by my first two NWI picks, SCOURGE is exactly what I hoped it would be – a mildly amusing, extremely low-budget, and completely harmless creature feature akin to something I would’ve seen on the USA Network’s “Up All Night” fifteen years ago. Some originality would have been nice too, but let’s not get greedy, the movie did magically appear on my television through a videogame system after all.

SCOURGE begins in the late 19th century as a parasitic monster is terrorizing a small Canadian town. The creature is soon trapped by mysterious religious types in a jug of wine (obviously) in the basement of a CGI church. Over a hundred years later the CGI church is destroyed by CGI fire and, as a result, the parasite is set free into a fireman. The creature has a suspiciously similar effect on its hosts as the alien in SLITHER – it causes a hell of an appetite. However, instead of raw meat, the SCOURGE craves dairy products (is mayonnaise a dairy product?), and instead of it being an ongoing theme, it is (inexplicably) only the first victim that experiences this symptom.

If it can eat a Helicopter, Don’t Call it a Serpent.

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I know where I’ll be Saturday night.

Trailer for HISSS may Prove 2009 the Year of the Creature Feature.

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I am unclear what number of films is necessary to declare an entire orbit around the sun in the name of a niche, but going on quality, the inhuman ones are posed for a comeback.  The stretch is a touch arid between the recent DVD of THE BURROWERS (review) and THE WOLF MAN in November, but I imagine that the intervening months will see Jennifer Lynch’s HISSS hit the festival circuit.  I’ve got an itch that says age old tales of beasties prove to be some of the best horror of the year.

If in doubt that 2K9 is going to shake up the field, shoot some HISSS in those pessimistic veins.  It’s quixotic.

Trailer removed.  That’s a first.  It is still at Twitch, though.

Review: ROGUE

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Written and Directed by Greg Mclean, 2007

Giant crocodile movies are a dime a dozen and for a simple reason; they’re easy.  The nature of the animal covers the majority of elements for you.  It can go on land and can vanish in the water.  Long rows of jagged teeth, scaly skin and a realistic reputation for larger than life sizes lets filmmakers get away with stretching the beast a few more giant feet.  Regardless of what your standards are, those elements are hard to fudge beyond redemption.

ROGUE is, as laws of probability would suspect, no exception.  Set in the beautiful riverscape of outback Australia, Greg Mclean sets his chompers on a tour boat filled with folk.  Boat captain Radha Mitchell takes a detour towards a distress flare when the giant reptile in question rams the boat, flooding it in the process.  Cappin’ takes emergency action and docks the boat on a dockless bit of island at the river’s bend.  It isn’t too long before one of the customers disappears off the island, which just so happens to be on a tidal river.  In due time night will fall, the tide will rise and the terra firma separating them from the inky black will disappear.

Review: TEETH

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Written and Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007

It took three years for the world over to generate a peer to Edgar Wright’s unassailable masterpiece SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The time is finally upon us and it is with a wave of relief that I am honored to declare a heroic cohort in the horror comedy realm; Mitchell Lichtenstein’s feature length directorial debut, TEETH. What Wright and Pegg did for zombies, Lichtenstein has done for creature features: toil within the rigid conventions of the genre in order to bestow upon the field an intimate humanity, a story bifurcated with implacable comedy and deeply personal terrors.

People tend to discount the circadian heart beats of horror at the core of SHAUN OF THE DEAD. I suppose this is because that British gold packs irresistible comedy. I fear the same fate will befall TEETH. The pitch Lichtenstein reaches is one of refined, timeless perfection.

Jess Weixler is a casting Godsend in her role of Dawn, the God loving virgin soul struck with a curse of such divine inspiration that anyone who sees the film will go to their grave remembering it. And yet such inspiration (which I can only hope out of professional jealousy percolated within Lichtenstein for years until it evolved into the unique beauty we were gifted with) will also be the film’s downfall with mainstream viewers. They will never appreciate how rare it is, for they will be too busy either giggling or squirming over Dawn’s extraordinary plight; Vagina Dentata.

Or, put less elegantly; Dawn has teeth in her vajayjay.

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