To conclude the Philadelphia Film Festival, I took in a pair of low-budget, cheesy horror films. One was good, the other not as much, but they’re both worth a watch (if you’re a fan of the genre).
- Evil Aliens: Back before they were A-list directors, both Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi were known for their low budget, gory horror “splat-stick” films. Whether we can expect the same trajectory from new British director Jake West remains to be seen, but his first feature certainly owes a debt to the early Jackson/Raimi horror films. The movie starts with an abduction, followed by a television tabloid show going to investigate. The tabloid show doesn’t believe any such abduction took place, they just seek to exploit the story. Naturally, they’re wrong, and the coasal island they travel to is actually being invaded by, well, evil aliens. Along the way, we get treated to abductions, anal probes, decapitations, inbred Welsh farmers, shotguns, cattle mutilations, hot alien-on-human lovin’, and blood spraying mayhem in general. Obviously, this film ain’t for the faint of heart, but it’s a lot of fun for fans of the genre, who should also be able to pick apart all of the references. Perhaps not as seamless and inventive as, for example, Evil Dead II, but still a solid effort. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this appears to be a part of the recent revival in British horror, though unlike The Descent, Evil Aliens plays the monster story more for laughs and gory fun than anything else. Excellent for its genre, though it’s graphic depictions and the like are certainly not for everyone. (**1/2)
- Tokyo Zombie: An interesting Japanese parody of zombie Films, Tokyo Zombie has a lot of potential, but ultimately falls a little flat. Like Evil Aliens, Tokyo Zombie is not playing it’s story straight, but it doesn’t quite have the rapid-fire pace that other films of this nature require. On the other hand, it is more ambitious than Evil Aliens, and it even follows through on some of that ambition. Two blue-collar laborers with a penchant for jujitsu have thir plans cut short by a sudden invasion of a zombies from “Dark Mt. Fuji” (essentially a landfill where all sorts of garbage is dumped, including industrial waste and, of course, human bodies). The duo (sporting hilarious haircuts, including a Japanese afro) are separated, and the film take some interesting turns, including an unexpected Kill Bill-style anime sequence that bridges five years in the story and a Romero parody featuring wealthy survivors pitting zombies versus poor human survivors in battle. Compared to Evil Aliens, the gore is practically nonexistent and the laughter is slightly less. However, it tries to leaven its story with a little more depth. Unfortunately, when compared to another brilliant zombie parody, Shaun of the Dead, it still doesn’t really stack up. A bit of a disappointment, but probably still worth seeing for fans of the genre (**)
And that about wraps it up. It was a fun experience, though I wish I had taken some time off or something, because I certainly would have liked to have seen several other films during the week. For those interested, I’ve created a category for all posts from the Philadelphia Film Festival.