Sunday, April 18, 2021

FRONTIER(S) (2007)

When this delightful film opens, our young heroes are running with a bag full of stolen money, shooting into a group of innocent people and then pistol whipping a random dude. How nice. After escaping Paris, they drive out to the countryside and then pull over to spend a peaceful night at a hostel that anybody with even 1% of self-preservation would avoid like the plague. Somehow failing to notice that their hosts are literally murderous Nazi psychopaths, they not only rent a room but eat dinner with them and even have sex with two of the women…I think. The entire scene was shot so vaguely that I’m not really sure what happened.

Eventually we get to the violence and…it’s okay. With douchebag criminals on one side and Nazi's on the other, there’s nobody to root for, so you just hope for as much the old ultraviolence as possible. Skull bashing, throat ripping, hatchet chopping, Achilles tendon trauma, meat hook hanging, cooked alive, table saw body slam. The amount of mayhem was passable, but the gun play towards the end seemed out of place. I would have much rather seen somebody getting butchered in gnarly and crazy ways than simply being shot to death.

As it is though, FRONTIER(S) is still a mildly good time. Annoying shaky cam, muted colours, meh lighting, boring casting choices, only one memorable character (Goetz), uneven pace, okay special effects, interesting bad guy lair that could have been better utilized in the story, average acting, a few good kills, disappointing ending, distracting overacting by the Final Girl. FRONTIER(S) is nothing life changing, but worth checking out for horror fans.

I remember this film being kinda popular when it originally came out. Curious as to why there was never a sequel? The elements are all there for an improved continuation of the story…or even a remake at this point.

Monday, April 12, 2021

PROJECT GRIZZLY (1996)

Not to be confused with Werner Herzog's 2005 sad documentary GRIZZLY MAN, PROJECT GRIZZLY is the befuddling and unintentionally(?) humorous documentary about inventor Troy Hurtubise.  The film opens with Troy standing in a snowy field telling us about a wild bear encounter he had years ago.  Whether or not the bear story is actually true, I have no clue and it honestly doesn't matter.  What matters (as far as the film goes) is Troy got it in his unique brain that the world needs a "grizzly-proof" suit of armour.  A bear-proof suit in and of itself isn't a bad idea, but what makes Troy's suit so goddamn horrible and fucking awesome all at the same time, is: it's over 7 feet tall, weighs "a relatively light" 147 pounds, takes multiple people to get the user into it and once you're trapped inside this death trap...you can barely even move!  And even then, only on totally flat surfaces.  You might as well be locked inside a huge block of concrete.

At only 72 minutes, PROJECT GRIZZLY flies by quickly enough.  First, we're introduced to Troy and his suit, then some of the people in his life and the suit being tested, then finally comes to big final act where Troy and team go out into the wilderness to test out the suit on a live grizzly bear in the wild.  So, naturally, once out in the deep woods, the team talk loudly on walkie-talkies, fly a helicopter around, set off large fireworks, randomly fire off their guns, playing chess next to a large fire, light a cigarette with a burning log...you know, all the stuff that attracts wild animals.  Mysteriously enough, the insanely loud noises and cigarette smoke failed to convince any grizzly bears to attack Troy (who's not even in the suit) and the film simply ends.  It's really a perfect ending to a documentary that's pretty much about nothing.

I've seen PROJECT GRIZZLY a few times over the centuries and it always puts a smile on my handsome face.  Ridiculous premise, memorable characters (mainly Troy), shaving outside in the snow with a knife bigger than your face, the word "ay" used...a lot, forced laughing, riding around on the front of a forklift while somebody shoots sparks in your rugged face, awesome VHS footage of earlier versions of the suit being tested (hit with boards, tumbling down a steep hill, hit by a truck, etc.), good pace, dope 90's hair, singing and playing a guitar inside a fast-food joint, tons of scenes that looked staged, very unsafe driving skills.  PROJECT GRIZZLY is a fun ride and 100% worth watching for fans of quirky documentaries.  The only real complaint I have is it leaves you wanting more!

Might even make a good double-feature with the short doc THE RAINBOW MAN/JOHN 3:16.

If you need me, I'll be in my workshop working on my Wookalar-proof suit of armor, ay.