In the year 2027, enhanced humanistic cyborgs virtually run the planet with the renowned L.A.P.D. being no exception. Alex Rain, one of L.A.’s finest brute cops, is partially cyborg himself, but the essence of his soul remains human intact while his synthetic flesh cloaks the icy machine beneath. After tracking down suspected cyborg terrorists and almost losing his life in the struggle to stop them, Alex questions his dwindling humanity, leading him down a path of unfulfilling revenge and botched smuggling before his former employer, the L.A.P.D. commissioner named Farnsworth, tracks him down and uses deadly coercion to force Alex as a pawn in dangerous covert mission. The burnt out cop is thrusted back into the fray of his former life when Farnsworth orders him to retrieve data from the treacherous female cyborg, Jared, who was once Alex’s partner and lover, before she hands over the sensitive information to a group of cyborg terrorists who call themselves The Red Army Hammerheads. With a micro bomb implanted near his heart as insurance, Alex has no choice but to accept the assignment before detonation in 3 days and with his time running out, finding Jared isn’t the problem as Alex comes to realize that deception has convoluted the stakes and nothing is who or what they seem.
Albert Pyun’s 1992 cyberpunk action-thriller “Nemesis” is an explosive-heavy, science fiction existentialism film never before seen, or even aware of, by this reviewer, but the ground-worked narrative has remained a constant piece of foundation in being the byproduct of inspiration extracted from other cyberpunk films of its kind, such as “Robocop,” “Blade Runner,” and “The Terminator.” “Nemesis” has a presence much to the tune of another film, “Cyborg,” starring John-Claude Van Damme and that inclination would inevitably make a world of sense when the awe-striking epiphany lands that Pyun also directed that film, also utilizing some of the same actors for his early 90’s cybernetic dystopian feature. In reviewing Pyun’s credits, the assumption can be made that the filmmaker has a sturdy hard-on for the intertwining of mankind and machine as not only did the director write and direct “Cyborg” and helmed “Nemesis,” but went on to be a part of, whether director, writer, or producer, of four more “Nemesis” sequels with a fifth being produced and shot, but scrapped in post-production due to Pyun’s flailing mental health. Rebecca Charles fed the scribal beast as “Nemesis’” screenwriter, along with penning “Nemesis 2: Nebula” and “Nemesis 3: Time Lapse.”
Alex Rain is a cold cut character, sliced thick like a cool cucumber on top of a hard to wedge salad. Rain’s iciness symbolizes his downtrodden humanity status and with each part of his body shattered from destruction, he becomes one step closer to being an automaton with eye brows. B-movie action star Olivier Guner essentially make a big career breakthrough with “Nemesis” as his sophomore feature. Guner’s military background suitably solidifies his physique as a workaholic cyborg cop while also presenting a rough cut speech impediment that’s very straight forward and without emotion. Some would say that Gruner’s approach fits his half-human, half-toaster oven character and I would say that would be correct. The 80’s and 90’s saw a crowded entry list of action stars, including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and many others in various degrees of success – and Olivier Gruner became one of those faces that had since then been lost over the years; Gruner’s performance in “Nemesis” lacked pizazz which could have been the contributing factor to his success, but the monotonic, unflattering one-liners and blank face stare didn’t spark any fires on top of his average muscular frame. His performance, to keep with the fire motif, didn’t provide the oxygen, a combustible, or a flammable source to quickly set ablaze a trail for semi-popularity amongst his peers and that’s where “Nemesis” falters in entertainment value. Comparatively, “Trancers” franchise actor, Tim Thomerson, is full of range and vigor as an concealing Commissioner Farnsworth. Thomerson, in his early 40’s at the time of filming, displayed an impressive physicality to his role, keeping up nicely with his onscreen rival. Farnsworth, from the get-go, reeks of desperation when pressuring Alex to do his bidding and Thomerson really nails the part and can switch on the proverbial dime as an egocentric field operative when chasing Alex through the jungles on the Hawaii set. The night and day performance is a stark contrast between the two actors. What’s mostly disappointing about “Nemesis’” cast that favorable characters come and go; some the characters a pinned with terrific actors such as Shang Tsung himself, “Mortal Kombat’s” Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, as the leader of The Red Army Hammerheads and the late, great Brion James (“Red Heat”) chirping a lousy German accent of the Commissioner’s right hand man. The cast has many other recognizable names that, again, come and go, including a strung out looking Merle Kennedy (“Night of the Demons 2”) as Max Impact, Marjorie Monaghan as the algorithmic beauty Jared, Vincent Klyn (“Cyborg”) as a disposable bodyguard, an extremely fit and nude Deborah Shelton (“Body Double”), voice actor Nicholas Guest (“Dollman”), brief cameo by Jackie Earle Haley (“Watchmen”), a fresh faced version of “The Predator’s” Thomas Jane, and Thomas Jane’s bare ass.
The financial backing was obviously designated for a particular department in the “Nemesis” workshop and that department was special effects. Explosions, rotoscoping, stop-motion, sculpture, implosions, practical effects and makeup are just the tip of the iceberg. Frayed wires and eye ball cannons are the elegant touch that makes “Nemesis” a cult favorite and bring substance to a clunky storyline and divisively dynamic acting. However, not all the specials are pinpoint precision and grounded by reality. The one scene that stands above the rest when Farnsworth is hot in pursuit of Alex and Max and he’s shelling off rounds of a shotgun, standing relatively still, blasting away without moving the barrel around to compensate for his prey’s length of distance gained or even when they decided to make quick pivots in direction. Somehow, the rounds hit very close to Alex and Max and that’s not all, they even explode like a single stick of TNT. ACME must have had a hand in the special effects department because the scene sure was loony. Yet, the implosion of a monolithic silo was uber-impressive, well-executed, and really ritzy for the silver screen.
Imperial Entertainment’s “Nemesis” infiltrates onto another home video release, a region free, dual DVD and Hi-Def 1080p Blu-ray format release, from MVDVisual under their MVD Rewind Collection series. Sheathed by a slick, retro-grade slipcover with familiar art, reminiscent of the now decade old Sterling DVD release, the special collector’s edition provides two aspect ratios, an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 and a widescreen 1.78:1. This MVDVisual Release has stellar detail in the texture and in framing that are exhibited in various tint shades, such as yellow and blue, and eventually cough up toward a more natural look into the second act when Alex reaches the rough neighborhood of Shang Loo, Java. Even though the visual compositions and mold work doesn’t pop with color and are a bit fuzzy, “Nemesis” is a product of it’s time, the early 1990’s and you can’t fault Pyun’s film for that. The English 5.1 surround sound is beautiful. So beautiful and potent, in fact, that you can actually understand Olivier Gruner’s mumbling, putting dialogue for all characters right into the front row while offering a stimulating range and depth of ambience sound, an unlimited variety of explosions, and plenty of miscellany cyborg hubbub. Other language are available, including French, German, as well as English in 2.0 stereo and there are English and German SDH subtitles available The Blu-ray bonus features include new interviews with producer Eric Karson and director Albert Pyun, “Nemesis 2.0” the director’s cut with Albert Pyun audio commentary, and original theatrical trailer. The DVD is the director’s cut and also includes the Japanese cut with Japanese subtitles burnt-in. Bonus features for the DVD include introductions by the director Albert Pyun and star Olivier Gruner, an afterword by Albert Pyun, a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interview with star Olivier Gruner, the making of segment involving the hefty special effects, stunt work, and visual effects, a featurette entitled “Killcount,” a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, TV spots, Key Art Photo gallery, and, top it all off, a mini-poster inside the casing. Inside a killer definitive, two-format and disc set from MVDvisual, “Nemesis” hones in on the existentialism notion of what being human actually means to each and every one of us through the bombardment of gun fights and jumbo explosions on top of a conglomerate cyborg coup that peaks with hard bodies and even harder viewer contemplation.
After receiving a distressing call warranting a trip to Mexico, alcoholic and drug dealer Warran Novak attempts to sell half cooked crystal meth to junkies that ends in two fatalities and two armed drug pushers in hot pursuit of Warren after he steals their cash for the road trip to the border. Before entering Mexico after a tireless drive and unaware of where to exactly go next once crossed the border, the fallen military soldier rents a motel room in the rundown town of Bedford Flats, a once thriving community lush with value and tourism derived from it’s once popular hunting tradition of bison and other wildlife. Now that the wildlife has dried up, Bedford Flats has landed in a stage of an ugly depression and to keep on the tradition of hunting, the foundation of which Bedford Flats has been built, the towns people gather to conduct a merciless hunting expedition of drifters and unsavory folk. Warren and his two pursuers, plus a homeless Mexican and the town drunk, are forced to participate in the hunt as prey with only their able bodies to carry themselves across the salt flats and seek shelter in the rocky landscape just beyond, but Warren decides to fight back against the towns’ most capable hunters in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse.
Western horror has always been a fascinating subgenre with a bleak and barren landscape denizened with colorful, hellbent characters committing one of three sole acts: taking, surviving, or dying. Selective Collective and Waterstone Entertainment’s “Happy Hunting” steps ever so lightly beyond the border into the realm of modern western horror involving a deranged game of hunting and killing humans for sport backdropped mostly in Bombay Beach, California and written and directed by first time feature film filmmakers Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson, who is one of the sons of Hollywood superstar, and who knows all about western dystopias, Mel Gibson (“Mad Max”). Louie Gibson might have learned a thing or two from his “Apocalypto” directing old man by delivering the brash ferocity and the stoned-heart, icy personas into the story and into the shot twisting an already vulnerable situation into sheer, bite-the-bullet terror.
Martin Dingle Wall delivers every shaky alcoholic tremor as drifter Warren Novak. Wall’s soft eyes, but rugged appeal justifies the 46-year-old actor as an unlikely, likable hero even though Warren will do just about anything for money and for the drink. Wall is able to tap into Warren’s subtle high intelligence and exploit it for the screen against a variety of aberrant game hunters by actors including “Devil Girls'” C.J. Baker, Michael Tipps, Kenneth Billings, and Liesel Handson of “Planet of the Vampire Women.” Dietsch and Gibson pick out one hunter to be the most versatile bad guy in Ken Lally. Lally, whose voice has captured legendary video game characters such as Mortal Kombat’s Smoke, Goro, and Shinnok, brings that malevolent tone to the silver screen as Bedford Flats all around nice guy, Steve Patterson. Of course, “all around nice guy” is an oxymoron in “Happy Hunting” because there are no such thing as nice guys in Bedford Flats, not even the crooked Sheriff Burnside (“Sasquatch Hunters'” Gary Sturm) who acts as the maestro for Bedford Flat’s great annual hunt.
What’s interesting about the film is that there is no love interest which is a rarity; instead, Warren is motivated by a mysterious phone call regarding a possible Mexican love child in the need of help. The mysterious plea over the phone line provides Warren with a purpose in this purposeless life, but that purpose is amplified by the very abrupt detour by a deranged town seeking to rid, what they consider to be, lowlife scum. Another side to Warren’s plight is that the whole sadistic game, the entire inhuman hunt, could be a figment of his withdrawal. Being a drifter and a person who doesn’t amount to much, Warren self worth goes in and out of various stages of withdrawal throughout the duration, before and during life stakes, with dropped dialogue and visible hints about symptoms of going cold turkey. Lets not forget to mention that the directors make an elucidation of Warren’s withdrawals with visions of a dead man, one in which Warren kills prior to his trek to the border, conversing with him, providing him undue advice during the predicament. Then, there’s the very end scene which shoots the likelihood of Warren’s version realism and sanity right out the window and begs the question if everything Warren went through, every struggle, and every death experienced was all inside his head.
“Happy Hunting” has been released on DVD courtesy of Umbrella Entertainment. The region 4 DVD is presented in a widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio that’s utterly gorgeous and stupefyingly frightening in the long and wide shots of Bombay Beach’s desert wasteland. Heavy in dusty yellow and rich in lifeless landscape, the color palette is understandably one-sided, but the merit is in the detail of every dry land crack and every minuscule dust bite being disseminated about with every action. The English 5.1 Dolby audio track has balance, range, and fidelity. Dialogue’s clear and prominent, even with Martin Dingle Wall’s slightly raspy and sluggish deliveries. A blight on the DVD is the bonus material and that goes without saying because a single extra doesn’t grace the package, constructing an anemic, film-only DVD presentation of Joe Diestsch and Louie Gibson’s first feature run. However, “Happy Hunting” re-illuminates Western horror stark with a dire need for survival during trying times and Joe Diestch and Louie Gibson have fashioned a subtle analogy of what life would be like in a supposed Trump America where the U.S.-Mexico border wall would be infact 10 feet high, “deplorable” people are axed from today’s American society, and the small rural, once thriving, communities are stuck in the past with outdated viewpoints and assumptions of how maintain existence in a world changing around them. In the end, “Happy Hunting” goes beyond Western horror into being an insightful dystopia of exploitive western survival horror.
King Osiris and his black magic queen Isis rule ancient Egypt and were beloved by all. All except Osiris’s brother Set whose envy led to the murderous slain of Osiris. Isis, heartbroken and vengeful, tries to use her black magic to rise Osiris from the grave and seek revenge on all who wished their demise. In the middle of Isis’s ritual, Set interrupts and decides to dismember his brother’s body in order for the ritual not come to fruition and snaps Isis’s neck to ensure his will, but Isis’s vow to return and curse anyone who stands in her way. Present day, a college research group along side an Egyptian historian stay overnight at a closed history museum to study closely lost Egyptian artifacts. Isis’s spirit is accidentally released from her sarcophagus and seeks to finish what she began by taking the body parts from the research students in order to reconstruct the body her love Osiris and put the world into an eternal damnation.
“Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy” resembles the much loved late night Cinemax skin flicks without any of the nudity or the sex. All the elements are there: busty women, bad acting, and the underlined plot that is overshadowed by the soft core love scenes. From the DVD cover and the two well established porno industry actors in this film, one would, without a doubt, conclude that “Isis Rising” would fall right into the middle of that sleazy category. What the Lisa Palenica directed film is is a C-movie production that attempts to take itself seriously in the horror genre with completed results that are whole-heartedly felt in micro-budget, non-horrific, and non-stimulating, efforts.
Priya Rai is a big busted porn star of Indian background and she headlines the film as the vengeful Isis and while Priya isn’t riding the big Egyptian camel hump, her role is severely limited in dialogue and in on screen appearances. Isis’s powers include turning into a digestible body inhabiting mist, fireball conjuring, and teleportation, but Isis’s real threats are her massive chest bombs – bigger and pointier than the great Egyptian pyramids themselves. To be technical about the film’s title, Isis isn’t even a mummy. Yet the film’s subtitle is “Curse of the Lady Mummy.” The definition of mummy is the preservation of the body by removing internal organs and treat the body with resins and wraps. Isis is more like a spiritual demon and this oil should ought to be bettered labeled and regarded as “Curse of the Lady Egyptian” rather than “Curse of the Lady Mummy.” That is, if you wanted to be technical.
James Bartholet, mainly a supporting actor in all those XXX parody movies, makes his presence felt as the bumbling and perverted security guard Harry. The rest of the cast is rounded out with relatively unknowns with minor film credits to their names. Director Lisa Palenica also had a role in the film as Felicia, the goth girl who probably received one of the better death scenes in the movie. The characters are a rather stereotypical horror ensemble. There is the jock, the nerd, the hot chick, her goth-hipster friend, the nerdy asian girl, and pot head who ends up smoking the resurrection essence that awakens Isis from her slumber dooming all to savagry, as well as seductively, of detaching limbs and heads from the characters’ bodies. The only character that has girth and background value is Isis with her tragic backstory filled with treachery and black magic. Killing off characters is a lot more understandable when there is a motive.
The special effects are truly shameful, especially in a time where CGI has been perfected to the point where anybody with a Mac computer can create stunning effects. “Isis Risings” doesn’t even seem to try by implementing seriously awkward post-CGI effects, Halloween prop store plastic severed limbs, and even going as far as adding in fake exhaled smoke from our essence-high smokers. Some of the Egyptian scenes in the beginning reminded me of how Mortal Kombat 1 and 2 looked on a Sega Genesis console with the still background and the engaged, superimposed fighters. Some of the more practical effects where encouraging, but only a few scenes had those types of effects.
“Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy” resurrects another disappointment in the ever-failing Egyptian related horror genre. When will Brendan Frasier’s “The Mummy” ever be dethroned? Perhaps Alexandre Aja’s “The Pyramid” will be the next ruler of such said genre. Tom Cat Films, a production company much like Asylum Entertainment, develops the film into reality but “Isis” fails to wrap itself into a neat little mummified package of terror. I would rather have seen more of Priya Rai conducting ominously seductive measures in her quest of blood and resurrection and a little more effort in the effects, because if you’re going to have a porn star headline your film, you might as well go all Sasha Grey-out and make the experience worth wild. But don’t take my word for it and judge for yourself by heading over to MVDVisual and purchasing “Isis Rising: Curse of the Lady Mummy.”
Occupant Entertainment and Deep Silver announced that they will be backing a screen adaptation of their 8-million copies sold, mega-hit “Dead Island”. Deep Silver is the video game publishing label for Koch Media, an independent theatrical and home entertainment productions company. Occupant is eyeing a Q1 production start date in 2015.
“Dead Island” revolves around a isolated beach resort over-ran by fast-paced, blood thirsty zombies. Apocalyptic zombie films have been a dime-a-dozen with today’s technology advancement relying more of CGI than practical effects, but Koch Media’s CEO Klemens Kundratitz says that “The “Dead Island” universe offers a rich and unique setting that can expand beyond the pure gaming experience. We are very much looking forward to seeing Dead Island open up to new audiences and showing off the fun everybody at Deep Silver has with this brand.”
My faith in Kundratitz’s statement is strong due to sheer fact that “JCVD”, “Before The Devil Knows Your Dead”, and “Moon” were solid, independent films in the last 5 years. Dead Island is set on a much bigger scale and in the grand scheme of things, Koch Media will have to step up their involvement and maybe help Occupant Entertainment some with more cash on the table. We’ve seen video game adaptations go south before. Of course, most failure credits reside with Uwe Boll, but there was also “DOA”, “Mortal Kombat Annihilation”, and “Max Payne.”
In June, “Dead Island 2” promo trailer was released and already has a million plus hits on Youtube and while the trailer is great and quirky, nothing out beats the announcement trailer for “Dead Island” with it’s dramatic, frightening reverse sequence.
Dead Island 2
I’m a long time Mortal Kombat fan, ever since the original MK was released on the Genesis – yes – the Genesis for you 13, 14, 15, 16 year olds. Sub-Zero all the way! And by the way, this post is not definitely not for those age ranges. The character Princess Kitana always had an appeal whether the appeal was her Japanese steel fans or her massive sex appeal with her scantily clad outfit. But if you’re just a big fan of Kitana, than this will certainly appeal more to her sexual side as we’re introduced to a 3-D mousepad of the Princess.
What makes it 3-D you ask? We’ll her Princess rack, duh! Her weapons are popping up so you can comfortably rest your wrist right on top or in between them. I’m sure there will be users who will do more to this product than I’m will to share here in my post. But check this baby out because the product, despite it’s sexist nature, is fantastic and you can find it, and many more like it and more explicit than it, on Amazon.com.