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Wednesday, March 28, 2012


  Many of us have seen zombie movies such as, "Night of the Living Dead," "Survival of the Dead," and "_____ of the Dead.” We have seen some characters become great zombie killers like Tallahassee, and Shaun. Now it is Juan’s turn to try to fill in the blank. Does Juan earn his place as “Juan of the Dead (Juan de los Muertos)?"
  Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) and his best friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) are enjoying life as much as they can on the island of Cuba. They are continuously looking for a new way to make some money while doing as little work as possible. In the middle of their latest plan, their country suddenly becomes infested with zombies. After learning a little bit about the zombies, Juan comes up with a plan to form a group of zombie killers for hire.
  This movie certainly has an interesting cast of characters. Lazaro isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but is as loyal of a friend as you can find. His son, Vladi (Andros Perugorria), would much rather hunt ladies than zombies. One lady that catches his eye is Juan's daughter, Camila (Andrea Duro). She is tough on her father, but even tougher on the few zombies she gets a hold of.
  Then comes the unique tandem of La China (Jazz Vila), and La Primo (Eliecer Ramirez). At first glance the audience might think La China is a woman, but nope, that's a guy who is determined not to let Juan have all the money for himself. La Primo is the brawn of the operation. He looks like one of the strongest guys on the island, but has one huge weakness in a world of zombies. La Primo faints at the sight of blood so La China has to lead him around with a blindfold on.
  Last but not least is Juan. He might not be book smart, but he is certainly street smart. He uses his street smarts to lead this group in the battle against the zombies. Besides the great idea to form this group, he comes up with a creative and amusing catch phrase to answer phone calls for their service. With Lazaro armed with machetes and La China a slingshot, Juan uses the all mighty paddle. While he might seem to be all about the money, Juan proves to care for his daughter, friends, and country in the end.
  Besides all these great characters, there are plenty of zombies. None particularly stand out, but there is definitely a high zombie body count. In one scene, maybe 30 or 40 zombies get wiped out in seconds. With the high body count comes a great deal of blood. Juan continually has his shirts soaked in blood, and even takes a blood bath in one scene. Not all the zombie scenes are about killing them, as some of them are out right hilarious. One of the funniest zombie scenes is when Juan, Lazaro, and Vladi try to figure out if an old man zombie is a vampire, or just possessed.
  Being that the movie takes place in Cuba, there are some political themes, but they don't get in the way of the movie. If you are Cuban, there are certain things that you may relate to that others might miss. If you’re not Cuban, there is still plenty to laugh at, and enjoy. The movie is in Spanish, so some of you should be prepared to read some subtitles.
  Not everything is smooth in the movie. There are a few moments when the special effects fail. In one scene, they try to be creative with the use of a car, but the effects are kind of awkward. The underwater zombies are interesting, but there just seems to be something off with them. However, they do a nice shot looking up from under the boat. 
  Unsure of what is happening to his country, Juan tries to take advantage of the situation by forming an unusual group of zombie killers. Each member of the group brings something different to the table making this an extremely entertaining movie. When the jokes aren’t flying, the zombie heads are. They do an excellent job of pointing out certain aspects of life in Cuba without it interfering in all the zombie fun. Besides a few special effects glitches, Juan earns his spot as “Juan of the Dead.” I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood.


Monday, March 12, 2012


  “Full House” is a late 80’s television show that starred the likes of Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier. Of course, it is also the show that put Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen on the map, and on their way to being multi-millionaires. Over two decades later comes a movie, “Silent House,” about a much different house, and starring a different Olsen. Now the question is will “Silent House” be good enough to lead to the same success for Elizabeth Olsen?
  Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen), and her father John (Adam Trese) join her uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens) at their old home. The plan is to renovate, and sell it before any more squatters can do more damage to it. After the discovery of some mold and some family awkwardness, Peter leaves to run an errand. With Peter gone, Sarah and John get to work on the house. That is until her father mysteriously disappears.
  As many of you may know by now, “Silent House” is a remake of an Uruguayan film, which is known for being shot once in real time. Now I have read different accounts of how this remake is shot, and I’m not completely sure what to believe. It does appear that they try to shoot this in real time, and with as little editing as possible. That might explain some of the bad acting and/or dialogue from John and Peter.
  It won’t take long for the audience to realize their attempt to shoot the movie in real time. Besides the star of the movie Elizabeth Olsen, its next biggest star is the person the audience never sees… the cameraman. The cameraman follows Sarah throughout the entire movie, and never films John or Peter unless they are with her. It does create an interesting view of things, and some good shots. On the other hand, it gets annoying in spots, including one scene when Sarah runs from the house. The audience will get dizzy, as the camera bounces up and down while chasing after her. Just think of it as a found footage, or documentary style movie, but the characters never acknowledge a camera being there with them.
  The way the movie is shot definitely helps fill it with suspense, and tension. From the time her father disappears, the audience gets to see Sarah roam around the house, while trying to escape from weird noises and unexpected visitors. The house is locked up pretty well, including having the windows all boarded up, making it a challenge for her to escape. While the suspense and tension are great, it lacks the scares to complete the puzzle. The only scene that is remotely scary is when the lights go out, and Sarah is forced to take photos in order to see. Horror fans have seen this trick before, and it kind of takes away from the movie being shot from that one cameraman’s point of view. Really, only those that scare easy will find this movie scary.
  As previously mentioned, the star of this movie is Elizabeth Olsen. It certainly isn’t her fault that the movie is not scary. She certainly plays the part of a young woman who is trapped in a house with someone out to get her. She easily masters being terrified, scared, confused, and definitely does her fair share of crying. It couldn’t have been easy having that cameraman following her around so closely for the entire movie.
  I’m not sure what it is about the horror movies this year, but they sure as hell are doing a great job coming up with some crappy endings. As usual, I’m not going to give it away, but this is another movie that is going to have horror fans scratching their heads. There are some small signs of this kind of ending happening, but they do a good job of hiding it. It does help that the audience only sees Sarah the entire time. I can’t get too mad because I did expect a let down at the end, but at least it did make sense. However, the final scene of the movie is extremely weak.
  While “Silent House” might not be the greatest movie, it certainly should lead to some success for Elizabeth Olsen. She easily handles everything that is thrown at her, including having the camera on her almost the entire time. If you are looking for suspense, and tension, then this is the movie for you. Just don’t expect to be scared unless you scare easily. And the ending, well you will just have to tell me whether that satisfied you or not. Because of a performance that her sister’s would be proud of, I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood.


Friday, March 9, 2012


  With civilization in ruins, man called upon his primal instincts to survive. Hunters and scavengers alike made their way in this savage land. But when the Northern Warlords united, skulls cracked and spirits broke, as they conquered everything in their path. Now, deep in that Outlands, a partisan movement, known as Vox Populi, stands their ground against an enemy bred for battle. 

  Below find videos to the beginning of each chapter, and links to the rest of the chapter if you want to continue watching (which I'm sure you will). You will also find the chapter synopsis and some of my brief comments on each chapter being as spoiler free as possible (in case you read my review before watching). At the end, find my final comments on the SWINE trilogy.

  Ch. 1: After discovering a weakness in the Colonial garrison, Vox Populi comes out of hiding to strike at the heart of the Colonial army.

   Ch. 1 Part 2             Ch. 1 Part 3

  Ch. 1: Chapter one opens giving the audience a look at the enemy, and how ruthless they can be. From there, it moves to the Vox camp, and the audience gets a feel for some of the characters. Besides the twist, the best thing about this chapter is the laser/blaster battle. It might remind you of Star Wars, but to a lesser degree.

  Ch. 2: Ready to sell strategic information, three concubines escape their Colonial masters and make their way to Vox Populi rendezvous.

   Ch. 2 Part 2       Ch. 2 Part 3      Ch. 2 Part 4

  Ch. 2: After the surprising twist in chapter 1, I was prepared for another twist. However, chapter 2 basically becomes a series of twists and turns. While some might not be totally surprising, once you see what is going on, I'm sure there's enough to keep you guessing until the end. By now, the audience gets to see what a good job they have done creating this post apocalyptic atmosphere.

  Ch 3: An unexpected betrayal costs Vox Populi dearly and threatens to destroy the resistance from within.

    Ch. 3 Part 2           Ch. 3 Part 3

  Ch. 3: Vox Populi will never be the same after this chapter because they save the biggest twist for last. This sets up a fight the audience would never expect to see. Every time it appears to be over, there is just a little bit more until it finally comes to an explosive ending. With the turn of events in this chapter, it will be interesting to see where the two additional chapters go.

  After watching the SWINE trilogy, I can't wait to see the final full-length feature. Yes, there are two more chapters in the works. As for this trilogy, the acting is pretty good, and what they were able to pull off on a tight budget is impressive. Honestly, it is more enjoyable than some of the full-length movies on SyFy. The chapters aren't that long but accomplish a lot, including some fantastic twists. I give this trilogy 3 pools of blood!

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