Tag Archives: Straight-to-VOD

Aquarium of the Dead review

This week we’re not strictly limited to sharks and – after the disappointment of the last few picks, which didn’t coin in on the gore or the action nearly enough – this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, this neo-classic (dare I suggest?) positively saturates (lol) the screen with re-animated marine life, large and small – and it is glorious.

Special shout out ahead of time to the sublime stylings of one Vivica A. Fox (codename: Copperhead) who is undoubtedly too good for this vehicle, yet gives it everything she’s got.

Aquarium of the Dead (2021)

Don’t touch the glass

A scientific accident causes sea creatures in an aquarium to become zombies.

Genre: Horror, Action, Comedy ∙ IMDB user rating: 2.9
My score: 2.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 86 mins

*Spoilers but it won’t matter*

Shit royally hits the fan at an aquarium, when a seemingly undead octopus kills two keepers and leaves a third battered but alive. Dr. Karen James (Madeleine Falk) is able to stumble through the thankfully quite empty aquarium space to ring the alarm. Meanwhile, other staff members – Dan and Skylar (D.C. Douglas and Robert Contrado) – encounter some seriously bad-tempered otters.

Yes, seriously.

UPDATE: Skylar is in fact a private visitor and not as I’ve suggested just another member of staff. Sucks to be him on this particular day then.

Meanwhile, aquarium owner/boss bitch Miranda Riley (Eva Ceja) is schmoozing local senator Bailey Blackburn (Anthony Jensen) for desperately needed funding to keep the whole operation afloat. Unfortunately, Bailey is unsympathetic to Miranda’s pitch, almost as though he has a different agenda on his mind…

On hand to provide probably the only sensible viewpoint is security detail (?) Clu (Fox) who quickly acts on Karen’s report and demands a swift lockdown. Skylar and Dan fight some spider crabs (which frankly don’t need to be re-animated to be the freakiest creatures ever to have walked the earth) but soon join the rest of the team.

Now locked inside the facility, Miranda, Karen, the Senator and his assistant Beth (Erica Duke) – plus Dan and Skylar – are forced to battle through each exhibit to a place they can make a call and hopefully get the help they need. I think – honestly, I’m already hazy on a lot of the details.

With the virtual help of Clu, who’s connected with Miranda via CB radio and watching the action as it unfolds on the security cameras, this rag tag bunch deal with undead starfish, Mako sharks, a crocodile, an adorable walrus and finally Patient Zero, the octopus, who conveniently oozes a clear ectoplasm allowing us to track when he might be just around the corner.

“Deep fried calamari – my favourite!” ~ Eddie ‘Clu’ Cluwirth

With all this shit going on it seems ridiculous that one of the party would still be keeping a secret about how and why this disaster has happened in the first place – but Miranda is firmly on his case, like a zombie starfish on a hysterical doctor’s ass if you will.

Will she live to serve justice? And, more importantly, what the fuck was Viv thinking agreeing to this role?

THOUGHTS

Aquarium is the third (third) film in the Zoombies saga yet I didn’t need prior education to follow along. It helped that I was just enjoying the deaths and not focusing on the nuances.

Aquarium isn’t a good film by any stretch but it is pleasingly crackers, more or less female driven and packed to the rafters with CGI beasts. The shark appearances are minimal but the Makos are part of possibly my favourite scene so I can forgive that (Why the FUCK didn’t they sneak behind them?).

Vivacia obviously stands out as the only proper actress but the woman playing Miranda isn’t horrific, while Dr Karen is hands down my favourite character. With her confusing and inconsistent accent, hysterical demeanor and dedication to butchering long medical terms, she truly steals every scene.

Otherwise, the SFX doesn’t suck but not very much effort has been put into making the creatures look like actual zombies. If they’d committed to more practical effects, this could’ve been quite something. And, finally, of all the ways to go here, I’m quite sure I’d be taken down by a disgruntled starfish which would just be embarrassing.

🐊🦈🐙🦀🦑

WHAT DOES JILL THINK? WOULD SHE DESTROY THE FISH MEDICINE AS DIRECTED OR GET INVOLVED IN A DOUBLE CROSS THAT MAKES ZERO SENSE? FIND OUT HERE.

Blood in the Water review

It seems as though Jill and I have inadvertantly stumbled across a new (to us) sub-genre of shark movie: the true crime variety. Unfortunately, it’s not an added element that works as well as you’d think – we’re all here for the underwater action after all and all these criminals want to do is talk about how bad they are.

I’ll save my detailed thoughts for tying up this post at the end but I would like to have a conversation with the writers/director about the logistics of storing a Great White in an average sized indoor pool. Or rather, stored elsewhere, to be released into the pool in 3 minute increments.

BLOOD IN THE WATER (2022)

Saw meets Jaws

A young woman, guilt-ridden for a crime she committed but got away with, is captured by a sadist for a game of Russian roulette with a great white shark and four similar opportunists who have escaped the law.

Genre: Horror, Mystery ∙ IMDB user rating: 2.5
My score: 1.5/5 ∙ Runtime: 88 mins

*Spoilers but it won’t matter*

A lawyer called Henry is chained up by the side of a swimming pool while a disembodied voice tells him off. I forget the actual words but the gist of it is that he’s not a nice man and whoever has him in captivity is keen to punish him for his crimes as a crooked man of the so-called law. This is no ordinary tale of vengeance though, this is swimming pool shark vengeance – and incidentally, not a good advertisement for getting a girl like me back in the public pool.

While Henry’s remains sink to the bottom of the heated pool (again, I have questions about the optimum temperature to keep Great Whites indoors), we meet Hannah, a young woman clearly going through it. From what we can gather, her partner has recently been incarcerated and she’s not doing well with it. Alas we don’t have time to fret about the details as she’s soon kidnapped from her flat.

Waking up with burning eyes and a lot of confusion, Hannah finds she’s – gasp – chained to the floor next to a swimming pool and she’s not alone. As her new companions – six total strangers – gradually awaken, the same disembodied voice from the beginning urges them to work together to figure out what they have in common and in turn, understand why they’re there.

At first sight, it seems unlikely this rag tag bunch could have anything in common but when they dig a little deeper and ascertain that Henry the lawyer was the common denominator, they start to get somewhere. And so unravels each individual story of nefarious behaviour followed by total injustice as each of these prisoners gets off scot-free – including Hannah.

Could the perpetrator of this glorious game – in which one of the guilty gets plopped into the shark-infested pool if they don’t answer truthfully or fast enough – be someone wronged by one (or all) of these miscarriages of justice?

While the numbers start to diminish considerably – and old toothy fills his belly – Hannah finds herself going head to head with crocked cop Cody who seems unwilling to share his truth, even after she’s spilled her guts. We get the feeling this won’t bode well with our antagonist who turns out to be both a surprise in the sense of who they are – and also, by how sympathetic the character is.

Meanwhile, can Hannah ask for forgiveness and ultimately find peace at the end of all this – if she makes it?

THOUGHTS

Fucking hell. For a start, this storyline is very flimsy and there is no explanation as to how and why the villain has chosen to gain vengeance in this way. I mean, we all want to torture our enemies via the medium of shark attack, sure but it’s not really the most practical way to go about it. See questions above. At the same time, if I could buy their motive, did they just involve everyone else because they’d been naughty? Again, seems a bit far fetched but I guess that’s where the Saw element comes in. Our faceless Jigsaw-esque leader is all about teaching life lessons.

Otherwise, the flashbacks are clunky but they do the job – especially the one about the angel of death live-in carer. Hannah’s own flashback is unfortunate but I am left a little confused by the actions of her partner. It’s a nice thing to do, to take the wrap for your girlfriend but man, I feel like the truth might have been better? After all, it was just a tragic accident.

Of course I would say this but there’s not nearly enough shark action and honestly, there’s only so much it can do in a restricted space before it gets repetitive. It would have been so satisfying if we’d got different traps incorporating the shark – and spent more time watching the victims fight for their lives.

I will say I did like the end reveal and I thought that character was one of the better ones. Had they been featured more as themselves I think this would have been a better experience. I also appreciated Hannah’s heartfelt final monologue. If I have to say something nice about it.

WHAT DOES JILL THINK OF THIS DECIDEDLY STRAIGHT-TO-VIDEO QUALITY NUMBER? WOULD SHE MAKE IT SWIM WITH THE FISHIES OR LET IT GO FREE AFTER A MILDLY SLAPPED WRIST? FIND OUT HERE.

🦈

Aileen Wournos: American Boogeywoman review

It’s anti-Award Winning month here on the blog and if I’m completely honest, I’ve been more pumped to dive into this than all the movies that were beloved by the Academy. Which I guess is hardly a shocker given our love of the sublime and ridiculous.

Anyway, rather than autopsy the work of everybody’s favourite auteurs – Campion, Spielberg, Villeneuve, Paul Thomas Anderson – in May we’re going to celebrate those movies brutally overlooked by a board of stuffy fat cats in suits who’ve probably never watched Ouija Shark anyway – and how can you trust the opinion of anyone like that?

We start with a very much yassified reconstruction of Aileen “Lee” Wournos’ early years and her 9 week marriage to a well-to-do Commodore – before the seven ‘official’ murders, incarceration and subsequent execution on Death Row.

America’s most notorious female serial killer.

Aileen Wournos: American Boogeywoman (2021)

Based on Aileen Wuornos’s early life, America’s most notorious female serial killer, back in 1976 a young Aileen arrives in Florida searching for a new life that will help her escape her tragic past, marries a wealthy Yacht Club president and has the chance to start again as part of Florida’s high society.

Director: Daniel Farrands
Starring: Peyton List, Tobin Bell, Lydia Hearst

*Spoilers*

TW: Sexual assault, violence

Rotting alone in prison, Aileen Wournos has seen better days. Still, you can’t keep a good man-hater down and she’s still relatively energetic when she’s visited by a young documentary crew on Death Row. Eager to talk non-stop about herself, Aileen (who will be referred from now on as ‘Lee’) gladly opens up about her younger, prettier days and how she came to be married to a millionaire yacht club president for nine short weeks.

It’s a rollercoaster kids, so buckle up.

1976 and a young, attractive blonde woman is doing what she can to get by on the streets. The woman, you guessed it, is Aileen Carol Wournos (an extremely generous version, played by Peyton List) and early signs suggest that things aren’t going to go smoothly for her in life – or anybody who crosses her path.

One night, Lee meets Jennifer (Lydia Hearst) a woman similar in age to herself. Jennifer invites Lee to join her and her friends on the beach for a beer – but our girl immediately assaults one of the guys when he tries it on with her, then gets aggressive. Rather than be put off, Jen immediately likes Lee more and invites her back to her home.

In the morning, Lee meets Jennifer’s old dad, Lewis Fell (Tobin Bell) in the kitchen. Mistakenly having put on the late Mrs Fell’s bathrobe, there’s an awkward moment until Lee breaks the ice with a dad joke, and Lewis is hooked.

Perturbed to catch Lee boning her father later that evening, Jennifer quickly learns this is the least of her worries, because the randy pair get married mere days later – and all their lives are changed forever. And not in a good way.

On her first day as the new Mrs Fell, Lee sneaks out to one of her old haunts – a hideous dive bar – and gets herself in a bit of a pickle with some locals, one of whom tries to rape her. She hits back and winds up in the clink waiting to be bailed out. Lewis isn’t best pleased but forgives his wife and proudly shows off their wedding notice, published in the society pages. Lee takes this surprise badly, almost as if she has something to hide…

Jennifer is still struggling with her new stepmother but decides she might catch more flies with honey and tries to reach out, which backfires magnificently. On a sailing trip, Lewis’ attorney Victor (Nick Vallelonga) tells him he’s going to dig into Lee’s past to find out what kind of a person she really is. Eeeeek.

Later Jennifer finds out Lee has written her out of her father’s will and Victor confronts her with his findings. Trying to buy her off with a neat £10k, Lee mocks the low sum then murders Victor in Lewis’ study, followed by Victor’s horrible son. Unfortunately for Lee, she’s spotted burying the bodies by an optimistic blackmailer who’s not going to let her off easy.

From here it’s only downhill as Lee loses grip on her new life, finds out who her blackmailer is – and implodes what’s left of her marriage. But, as the documentary filmmakers are inclined to ask: is any of this story actually true?

Thoughts

I mean, we weren’t expecting much were we? Despite the low score, which is as generous as the liberties they’ve taken with the young Lee, I had a good time.

The acting is appalling but also almost campy which makes it almost good. Nearing the climax there’s a delicious shot of Lee in a huge hat and it’s so pantomime villain, I had to shriek with pleasure. A couple of times I did wonder if the cinematographer deliberately lit this like a Spanish telenovela, particularly during the murders.

That’s about the most I can say about this. It’s pretty by the numbers, though it’s not clear how much of this is re-enactment or complete fiction. Aileen’s real life seemed intriguing enough without the need to embellish but perhaps the complete farce of her stories is saying something about the character herself.

As it’s told from Aileen’s POV, every man we meet – apart from Lewis – is a would-be rapist. While I understand they can be the worst, it’s a lot to stomach. However it does lend an interesting angle to the film, Lee sees every man as a threat because of everything she’s been through – which seems fair – but how long before the self defence argument gets old?

Not a good start for this month though, does that in turn make it the perfect choice?

– Genres: Drama ∙ Horror ∙ ThrillerComedy?
– IMDB user rating: 3.6
– My score: 1.5/5
– Runtime: 85 mins


What does my honey think of Aileen’s story? Would she marry it within a few days or smash its front teeth out? Find out here.