January 12th, 2014

CONTAMINATION .7 (1993) **

Contamination .7 was marketed in some territories as Troll 3, but it is far from the camp classic that is Troll 2. Hell, it’s not even up to snuff with the first Troll. But even though the flick is crappy, I’ll admit there are some laughs to be had here.

A shady chemical plant in a small town has been doing some dubious stuff. Their illicit experiments have caused the local vegetation to turn into bloodthirsty killers. One plant worker knows that the trees are killing people and the corrupt sheriff (who is in cahoots with the evil scientist) has him locked up. It’s then up to a pair of teenage lovers to warn the town.

Contamination .7 was directed by Joe D’Amato, but don’t let that get your hopes up. Unfortunately, it’s light on gore and features none of the sleaze you’d expect from one of his films. The dialogue scenes are boring as heck and the plant attacks are all pretty bogus. (The effects, as expected, are piss-poor.) But on the plus side, the costumes were designed by Emanuelle herself, Laura Gemser; so there is that.

Two things really stick out about the film though and save it from going directly into the compost heap. One is the hilarious sheriff character. He gets a lot of great lines like, “You kids really get my goat”, and his general unpleasantness is good for a chuckle or two. I also enjoyed the town whore character. The great thing about her is that her customers never actually have sex with her; they just tell her their feelings. She’s basically a cross between Heidi Fleiss and Dr. Phil! And oh, what the heck, the set-up for a sequel (which involves a Christmas tree attack) is pretty funny.

AKA: The Crawlers. AKA: Creepers. AKA: Troll 3.

FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (2013) **

During WWII, some Russian soldiers make their way through Nazi Germany with a cameraman in tow. They stumble upon an installation full of Nazi mutant zombie robot medical experiments. Eventually, they learn the cameraman has an ulterior motive; one that ultimately seals their fate.

Sigh. This is the obligatory “Found Footage Horror Movies Should Get Lost” paragraph. If you are a fan of Found Footage Horror Movies and choose to skip this paragraph, I won’t blame you. I don’t know how most horror fans feel, but I’d be happy if I’d never had to see another Found Footage Horror Movie ever again. This storytelling device has completely run its course. Low budget filmmakers love this genre because they can cover their tracks so easily. Why spend good money for a tripod when you can just shake the shit out of the camera and boast, “REALISM!” I think it’s high time people started making “real” horror movies again.

Anyway, Frankenstein’s Army has a neat idea. I liked seeing Russian soldiers fighting Nazi monsters during WWII. However, the shaky-cam nonsense pretty much ruins the enjoyment of the whole enterprise. Plus, it’s pretty lame that the movie is in color. I mean what kind of Russian soldier could afford (let alone lug around) a color camera during WWII? If it was grainy black and white newsreel footage, I might have bought it, but the color photography gives the film a feeling of artificiality. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t you make a Found Footage Horror Movie to create a sense of realism? Isn’t that completely at odds with why you chose this gimmick (I mean… storytelling device)? So in that respect, the film falls flat on its face.

Not only that, but the editing really sucks. I know it’s a Found Footage movie and all that, but it seemed to me like the Found Footageness was just an excuse to cover up some glaring editing mistakes and/or story lapses. (At one point, the film runs out of the camera during a big monster battle, and then it simply picks up after they’ve been defeated.)

I will say this: The monsters are pretty darn cool. The downside to that is that whenever they appear, all they do is just wave their arms in front of the camera. It looks like a Wolfenstein fan film or something. If only the filmmakers had found a more fitting showcase for their creations, Frankenstein’s Army would’ve been something special.

MIRROR MIRROR 3: THE VOYEUR (1996) **

Skinamax siren Monique Parent stars as a witch who is in love with starving artist Billy Drago. When she gets killed by a drug dealer, her spirit goes into her mirror. Drago moves into a new house and brings the mirror along with him. Pretty soon, Monique’s spirit is crawling out of the mirror to have multiple softcore sex scenes with Billy Drago. One day, Monique catches Billy balling his hot agent and she flies into a rage and starts killing people.

Directed by Rachel (Death Run to Istanbul) Gordon and Virginia (Bikini Witness) Perfili; Mirror Mirror 3: The Voyeur is a very cheap looking affair. It often feels like a bad Witchcraft sequel and is full of visions, flashbacks, and bizarre montages that help to pad the running time. It also features a heck of a lot of scenes of Parent and Drago doing the softcore nasty. I can honestly say that if I was compiling a list of actors I wouldn’t want to see in a softcore sex scene, Billy Drago would be near the top of the list. On the plus side, you do get to see Parent naked a lot though (enough for me to allow the film to skate by with a ** rating).

At least the cast is eclectic. Parent looks good in her many nude scenes (one of them is repeated several times) and delivers an OK performance. Perennial screen villain Drago is severely miscast playing a “normal” guy, unfortunately. An American Werewolf in London’s David Naughton also turns up as a detective and Mirror Mirror 2’s Mark Ruffalo also appears (albeit playing a different character).

Oh, and for some reason, the film takes 18 minutes to get to the opening credits scene!

AKA: Dreaming of Angelica.