Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Texas Frightmare Weekend 2011

Last weekend the Gates of Hell opened in Dallas, and , of course, I was there...

...Deiter Laser, who portrayed Dr. Heiter in The Human Centipede. He was very nice, and seemed to be having a lot of fun with his American fans.

...with Nick Principe (Laid To Rest , Laid To Rest 2: Chromeskull, Madison County). A villain onscreen, Nick is one of the coolest guys you'll ever meet in real life.

.....more to come....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Beast's DVD Cave: Aliens vs Ninjas

Ninjas (or Shinobi, if you will) from the Iga Clan have just completed a mission , easily taking care of rival Ninjas along the way. On their way back to their village, they see a fireball descending from the sky. They are dispatched to investigate, but what they find is not of this world...they soon find themselves in the fight of their lives, possibly their last. Who will win in Alien vs Ninja ?

Alien vs Ninja (2010) is a blast. It hits the ground running, jumping right into the action, with few breaks to catch one's breath. This is a fun film, one that's not overly serious...if you need a break from serious films, or Real Life in general, this will do the trick.

Written, edited, and directed by Seiji Chiba, AvN is like a comic book come to life, and a Japanese comic (or Manga) at that. The action scenes (directed by Yuji Shimamura) are fast and fierce. Though set in Feudal Japan, the look of the Ninjas' armor (designed by Sochi Umezawa) is anything but ancient or traditional. Using leather and metal, their look is more modern, conributing to the overall comic-book feel . The background music is also modern, a Rock and Techno sound. The alien beasts (also designed by Umezawa) are of the latex suit variety, augmented by CG. This Old School-with-a -bit -of-New School approach works for this type of film, and being a fan of actual monster make-up and suits, this made me happy. Honsetly, do most of the CG-spawned monsters you've seen look any more realistic than a guy in a suit anyway? Anyhow, the aliens in question are definately inspired by the monstrosity from the horror classic Alien (1979), but have almost dolphin-like faces and large spines portruding from the backs of their heads. Also, they spawn nasty little larval aliens from holes/pores in their heads. Overall, the beasties look OK... I would have preferred something scarier, but it's a minor quibble.

There's quite a bit of humor in the film, from the antics of the cowardly Nezumi (Donpei Tsuchihira), to the pretty female Ninja Rin (Mika Hijii) giving the finger to a defeated alien that was trying to grope her breasts. Add to this a battle scene where an alien grabs a sword to battle a Ninja, and you have a fairly light-hearted affair...as I said earlier, the film isn't overly serious.

The rest of the cast does a good job, too. Yamata, the main character, played by Masanori Mimoto, is a hot-headed , charge in-type of hero. Shuji Kashiwabara is Jinnai, a cool , somewhat narcissistic buddy to Yamata. There's just enough backstory for the characters to get by, and things don't get very deep or complicated, because this isn't that kind of film. This was meant to be an action fest, and in that, it succeeds.

The action does get gory at times. While not a crimson splatterfest like, say, Tokyo Gore Police or Samurai Princess, the gore, both human and alien, does flow pretty freely on occasion. There's also some alien larvae/parasites that possess some of the Ninja later in the film, and they're a bit gross. But, that's to be expected in a movie like this, and again, it keeps with the Manga feel of the whole production.

If you're looking for an Action/Martial Arts/Sci Fi flick that's got heaping helpings of action, gore, comedy, and monsters, Alien vs Ninja is a good bet. Go watch it already.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beast's Beauty Of The Week

The Beast is back, with a new weekly feature that spotlights ladies who have done some kind of work in the genre. This week's feature is bittersweet, however, because we recently lost this screen siren. The lovely and talented Ingrid Pitt passed away on November 23rd , 2010, at the age of 73.

Ingrid was from Poland, and survived the Nazi camps and managed to escape the Communist police. She went on to become an actress and appear in some pictures in Spain, and eventually went on to star in horror films at the famous Hammer Studios. Films such as The Vampire Lovers and Countess Dracula gained her a following that continues today. Ingrid also appeared in Where Eagles Dare with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, as well as the horror classic The Wicker Man with Christopher Lee. By all accounts Ingrid was a class act...in the extras on the Anchor Bay version of The Wicker Man people involved with the film told about another actress behaving like a prima donna while shooting in the brisk Scottish locations, demanding a coat and coffee and such. When someone asked Ingrid if she wanted a coat, she gestured to all the extras and said to the effect, "If they all don't need coats, then I certainly don't need one either!" Even though she was a star, she was a team player.

Ingrid went on to write several books, including her autobiography Life's a Scream. She was still active on the convention scene as well. Ingrid possessed a charm, beauty, and class that few actresses have. She was a wonderful part of horror history, and will be missed. RIP.

Still lovely...