“Scrapbook”markets itself as being shocking and edgy, which it would have been had it not been so poorly executed. It’s essentially just an hour and thirty five minutes of the creators trying to come up with different ways to torture some woman to make the audience feel uncomfortable. Pretty standard for this type of film, but unfortunately, not only does this movie fail to also include a compelling or interesting story, it also fails to shock. Clara, the victim, is raped, beaten and humiliated over and over, all the while doing little to nothing to actually save herself. For the majority of the film she isn’t even tied up, and she never actually tries to fight back against her attacker. The obvious argument is that she was scared of what her kidnapper would do if she fought back. However, the kidnapper isn’t armed throughout most of the attacks and to be honest, she looks like she could over power him. There’s a stupid sub plot about the kidnapper creating a “Scrapbook” of all his victims, detailing each of his assaults. Clara analyzes the Scrapbook to convince Leonard (The kidnapper) to let her tie him up because overall, he desired to be submissive, or something like that. The writers attempted to make Leonard seem interesting by giving him a traumatic past and a bunch of mental illnesses that cause his depraved actions and his hatred of women. He ends up looking like an idiot man child attempting to be as edgy as possible. I half expected to see Leonard posting on Reddit about what an edge lord he thinks he is. The rape and torture scenes, as well as the humiliation that Clara undergoes, serve as nothing more than cheap gimmicks intended to distract you from the fact that there is virtually no story being told. If you’re looking for a psychological thriller, then this isn’t the film for you. If your just looking for torture porn, then there are still better options out there for you. This movie fails to satisfy any of their intended audience.
“The Last House on Hell Street” doesn’t seem to know why it exist and plays out as if the creators were writing the script as it was being filmed. Some guy marries some woman and the two decided to have their honey moon in the middle of a field. Seriously, they had no plans beyond laying in a field. The couple luckily comes across an abandoned house, where they take refuge. However, it turns out that this house is actually cursed by the guy’s mother, who became a ghost after she was murdered by the guy’s father. Apparently in this universe, being murdered causes your face to become distorted by cheap color effects. The guy then goes crazy (Jack Nicolson in “The Shining” style) and tries to kill his wife. Luckily for the woman, her husband turns out to be completely incompetent at the art of murder. I guess he did not inherit that skill from his father. Somehow the woman manages to kill her husband, causing the house to re-birth him. I’m not kidding. This house literally grows a womb and gives birth to a dead man. The couple then walk off into the sunset together as if nothing ever happened. This is by far the worst film by Eric Stanze that I’ve seen. It’s boring, makes little sense, and is just plain weird at times. The plot consist almost entirely of the characters trying to find things do, just to transition to the next scene. Luckily even Stanze himself admits this movie is terrible, so it shouldn’t be used to judge his films as a whole. Still, “The Last House on Hell Street” manages to be one of the most bizarre films I’ve seen in awhile. Unfortunately, it does not manage to be entertaining.
Director Eric Stanze has become infamous for taking a minuscule amount of resources and turning them into art. His most famous (and in my opinion best) film “Ice from the Sun” managed to be both visually impressive and unique despite having virtually no budget to work with. “Savage Harvest” was created five years earlier, and it’s clear to see that Stanze was no stranger to stretching limited resources to do amazing things. The characters in this film were likable, even if underdeveloped. Most of their relationship conflicts were less than interesting and worked mostly to set up the plot. This is typical of slasher films, so I won’t hold it against this film in particular. Once the slaughtering began, this movie became a non stop Gore fest that actually took some unexpected turns. The ending was a bit confusing, as I’m not entirely sure what happened to the surviving character. Still, it did seem to tie the film together, while adding a much appreciated element of mystery. Savage harvest doesn’t offer much as far as originality. However, it manages to be an entertaining horror film, with enough realistic blood and gore to satisfy any seasoned gore hound.
Having never seen the original two “Kung Fu Panda” films, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Jack Black is hit or miss for me as far as comedy goes. He constantly seems to border the line between funny and annoying. I was pleasantly surprised after watching “Kung Fu Panada 3” to find that not only was Black’s performance not over the top, but that this movie was overall enjoyable. I didn’t really need to see the first two films to figure out that Po was a clumsy, over weight, under dog with a mysterious destiny. The jokes in this movie were delivered quite well, and neither felt forced or drawn out as is the case in far too many children’s movies. Each character was likable in their own way and felt three dimensional, having individual personalities and flaws. Brian Cranston did a phenomenal job as Po’s father. His interactions with Black’s character felt natural, showing that the two veteran actors perform quite well together. The plot was a typical good versus evil story, with the twist being that Po was put in the position of teacher, as opposed to student. I wasn’t expecting a deep story from a movie about talking animals doing martial arts, so I was not disappointed by the typical plot. This movie actually makes me want to watch the original films.
Puppet Master is a fun and entertaining film… when the puppets are actually on screen. The human characters are less than engaging and the plot is ridiculous. Still, the scenes in which the puppets interact with the human characters help to make up for the slow paced plot and uninspired story. Each puppet is unique in movement, ability and even personality. The climax of the film is just amazing and makes this extremely long hour and a half journey worth it. Charles Band is the master of writing inanimate objects, coming to life and killing people, and David Schmoeller managed to perfectly bring Band’s vision to life. While not a perfect film, Puppet master definitely deserves it’s cult classic status due to it’s unique style and brutal death scenes.