Renny Harlin may today be nothing more than a piece of movie trivia, but before he died harder and dragged us to Cutthroat Island, he was an up and coming genre fixture - and this intriguing film is proof of his directorial prowess. A very low budget affair - it has the stamp (and stink) of Albert and Charles Band all over it - the otherwise atmospheric and quite effect spookshow sees an incredibly young Viggo Mortensen and a psycho Lane Smith battling restless spirits behind penitentiary walls. Along with some brilliant practical effects, the results are creative…and creepy.
Fright fans - if you don’t know the name Jaume Balagueró, you should. Granted, his only English language films - Darkness and The Nameless - were undermined by problems with their interfering American distributor, but the Spanish director redeemed himself with the marvelous [REC] franchise. Those first person POV ersatz zombie epics (made in collaboration with Paco Plaza) have gained such international acclaim that, naturally, his back catalog is being reevaluated and rereleased. Thus we have this 2005 haunted hospital effort. It’s one of the moodiest, most satisfying scarefests in a while.
Hell’s Ground is one of the most unique motion pictures ever. Not for what it does since there is nothing new here, technically. No, what’s most fascinating about this exceptional movie is watching director/co-writer Omar Ali Khan balance his love of old school fear, the mandates of his Muslin society, the censorship inherent in Pakistan’s film industry, and the changing face of his adolescent audience, all in one blood-soaked romp. Watching him wade through Raimi revisionism while still keeping one foot clearly in the Koran is one the movie’s main delights.
Here it is, all you home-movie hopefuls—100 percent proof positive that epic entertainment can be crafted out of a camcorder, a cast and crew of friends, and a great deal of cinematic creativity. This bravado brainchild of Argentinean auteurs Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez is like watching Peter Jackson’s private personal video experiments, or Sam Raimi’s first forays into Evil Dead-based fright. Consisting of two installments in a proposed trilogy, Plaga Zombie (“Zombie Plague”) and its sensational sequel, Plaga Zombie: Mutant Zone, these movies represent the height of auspicious outsider moviemaking.
Imagine if David Lynch and Rob Zombie had a baby, gave said abnormal infant to John Waters to wet nurse, and on weekends, all three allowed Kenneth Anger and the Kuchar Brothers to come over and babysit. With Tobe Hooper and Jack Hill as the godparents and Edith Massey as thrift store style consultant, the results would begin to resemble something similar to the wonderfully weird brain damaged b-movie . The conceptual offspring of couture auteur Alan Rowe Kelly, this tasty take on the entire Texas Chainmail Massacre trip is one of the best unknown independent movies.