After a brief opening that takes place in the 80s, the film jumps to present day where there is a convention being held to commemorate the Toulon puppet murders from three decades previous. There are going to be some replica puppets given away and a tour of Toulon’s mansion. Comic artist Edgar (Thomas Lennon) and his hot girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) are there to attend and soon find the puppets present are the real thing and Toulon (Udo Kier) is not done with his reign of terror, even from beyond the grave.
Reboot is directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund who gave us the derivative but entertaining Blood Runs Cold and Wither. They direct from a script by S. Craig Zahler based on the characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall. One would probably have to be a fan of the original series to appreciate this dull reboot. If not, it’s just a series of gruesome murders of various puppet fodder characters, that has only some well executed practical gore effects to hold one’s interest. It’s just a random series of killings with no real plot other than to see toys kill people leading up to a Sharknado-esque finale. The tone of the flick goes from silly to trying to take itself seriously and if puppets, blood and boobs are all you came for, than it does at least deliver that…though still lacks the goofy charm of the original movie. Also stars genre favorites Barbara Crampton, Michael Paré and Matthias Hues.
Vicious prison flick tells the story of down on his luck Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) who after losing his job as a tow truck driver and finding out his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter) is cheating, takes a high paying job as a drug courier to try to improve his current state of life. A year and a half later, he’s living in a nice home and Lauren is pregnant. His good fortune runs out, however, when a drug pick-up goes wrong and he lands in jail. That’s not the worst of his problems, his wife is kidnapped by an angry drug lord and Bradley must get himself transferred to the notorious maximum security prison of Redleaf to kill an inmate there, to ensure her release. Armed only with his fists, Bradley must now survive this hell on earth with a target on his back.
Brutal flick is written and directed by S. Craig Zahler who did the same on Bone Tomahawk. Much like that film, it takes it’s time to tell it’s story and for a film that is basically an exploitation flick, treats it’s subject with a lot of respect. It’s almost 90 minutes before the real intense violence starts and Bradley finds he has been brought to Redleaf for a far more sinister purpose and now must fight for his life and that of his wife. The fights in the film are quite brutal, though some poorly rendered gore FX do lessen their impact and the depiction of prison life is quite nightmarish. Vaughn is surprisingly good in a non-comic, action role and Carpenter, Udo Kier and Don Johnson as a sadistic warden, make for a solid supporting cast. An effective and sometimes brutal drama with an old fashioned B-movie prison flick at it’s center.
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Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, this is a brooding and methodically paced western that switches gears into a full blown horror for it’s last act. The story has Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), who presides over the small western town of Bright Hope, heading into hostile territory to rescue a young wife (Lili Simmons) and his own deputy (Evan Jonigkeit) from a tribe of cave dwelling cannibals, that even the local Native Americans are afraid of. Along with him are his friend and back-up Chicory (Richard Jenkins), an aristocratic gunslinger (Matthew Fox) and the woman’s crippled husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson).
Zahler takes a good 90 minutes letting us get to know his slightly eccentric characters before throwing them into a meat grinder…almost literally…when they finally encounter the vicious tribe. A good portion of the film is the journey where the moderate pace let’s us really become familiar with Hunt and his party and it lulls us into a sort of sense of security, which we are then shocked out of when the would-be rescuers reach their grim destination. It works very well as when we finally get into the mountain lair of these brutal ‘troglodytes’, we are shocked at the gruesome brutality we are forced to witness after the more laid back 90 minutes. The last act is a bloodbath and as we know these characters so well by now, it makes us feel for them. It’s a cruel and intense and makes the long wait definitely worth the while.
There are some really intriguing characters here and the entire cast does really solid work bringing them to life. To single anyone out would be unfair, though obviously Russell is great as always.
Sure it’s a very slow burn and maybe we would have liked to know more about this ‘tribe’, but it is still a very satisfying and unique movie that is a refreshing change from a lot of the cookie cutter horror that we have seen over the last few years. It can be quite brutal at times, but Zahler gives us a well scripted thriller especially when it comes to his eclectic cast of characters and a real nail-biting finale. Recommended.