MOVIE DUN­GEON

OLD-SCHOOL THRILLS AND BLOOD-STAINED SPILLS

Empire (UK) - - THE VIEWING GUIDE - IL­LUS­TRA­TION JOHN ROYLE

CLAS­SIC MON­STERS make a come­back in Damien Leone’s wellmean­ing if over­long Franken­stein Vs. The Mummy. On a present­day Amer­i­can cam­pus, Franken­stein (bland Max Rhyser) places the brain of a vile bodys­natcher into his mon­ster (Con­stantin Tripes), while an Egyp­tol­ogy prof (Boomer Tibbs) viv­i­fies an evil mummy (Bran­don des­pain) by sac­ri­fic­ing co­eds. Tripes’ ar­tic­u­late crea­ture is un­usu­ally ma­li­cious, but (as ever) the mummy comes in a dusty sec­ond.

David Gelb’s The Lazarus Ef­fect is a sub­tler Franken­stein-on-cam­pus tale which harks back to clas­sic mad sci­ence but has a plethora of up-to-date con­cerns. Sig­nif­i­cantly named sci­en­tist Frank (Mark Du­plass) de­vises a de­fib­ril­la­tor-equiv­a­lent to over­come brain death. When part­ner Zoe (Olivia Wilde) — Greek for “life” — is elec­tro­cuted, Frank brings her back as an oth­er­worldly, al­tered be­ing with Lucy-like en­hanced brain ac­tiv­ity, Car­rie-like psy­chic pow­ers and black con­tact lenses. Well-cast and acted, de­spite hokey shocks it’s a lot of fun.

As the uni­verse dic­tates, if some­one makes a Franken­stein pic­ture, some­one else will make a Drac­ula movie. Derek Hock­en­brough’s Drac­ula: The Im­paler sees seven ob­nox­ious stu­dents (a greedy one, a lust­ful one... see where this is go­ing?) visit Drac­ula’s shack in Ro­ma­nia. Vlad’s spirit has pos­sessed a de­scen­dant and the sin­ners get iron­i­cally killed, but a bet­ter bet is Emily Ha­gins’ My Sucky Teen Ro­mance (aka My Teenage Vam­pire Ro­mance), a fresh com­edy-hor­ror with a sweet, thought­ful streak. At a comic con­ven­tion haunted by blood­suck­ers, fangirl Elaine Hurt has an odd re­la­tion­ship with just-back-from-the-dead vam­pire Pa­trick Del­gado. Ha­gins, 18 at the time of pro­duc­tion, has a gen­uine, dis­tinc­tive ta­lent; she’s a name to watch out for.

It’s been a decade since Graboids last grabbed and Ass Blasters last ass-blasted, so Tremors 5: Blood­lines is a wel­come re­vival. Shot in South Africa, it teams se­ries star Michael Gross with Scream’s Jamie Kennedy on a sa­fari to in­ves­ti­gate un­der­ground mon­ster ac­tiv­ity on a game re­serve. The for­mula of squab­bling com­edy di­a­logue and imag­i­na­tive mon­ster ac­tion still works, and it has great CG crea­tures for its bud­get level.

Ben Cresci­man’s lan­guid Sun Choke fol­lows pos­si­bly un­sta­ble Janie (Sarah Ha­gan), who is ig­nored by her jet-set­ting fa­ther and lives in a lux­u­ri­ous LA mansion with a carer (Bar­bara Cramp­ton) who is wary of let­ting her go out too much. When Janie be­comes ob­sessed with a chance ac­quain­tance (Sara Malakul Lane), she goes wildly off the rails and, in the last act, changes her role from cap­tive to cap­tor. Not an easy watch, it’s pow­er­ful and dis­turb­ing stuff.

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