So Animal Planet's "Lost Tapes" came back tonight. For those still unaware of this series, and I can't blame you if you are, in high-concept short terms, the show could basically be described as "Cloverfield: The Series." Each episode chronicles an encounter with a monsterous cryptozoological creature or a monster of mythology. Each encounter is presented in the mockumentry, "found footage" style. No matter how absurd, each week the writers dream up a new reason while someone encountering this type of monster would be constantly recording it the whole time. The reason you probably haven't heard of the show is because Animal Planet is a pretty unlikely place to find a horror anthology show. The show barely fits the channel's theme to begin with and recent episodes that focus on zombies and vampires completely break with the "Animal" part of the channel's moniker.
In a world where all the best horror-related television shows are on Showtime or shitty (Or both.), this is what passes for quality horror television for me. It's an unabashed guilty pleasure of mine. Yes, "Lost Tapes" is often ridiculous, poorly acted, and quite campy. Yet there's something sincere about it. It's completely goofy and totally serious, like a latter day "Unsolved Mysteries" or a slightly better made "Fact or Fiction: Beyond Belief." A winking acknowledgment of the show's own short-comings would make it totally unbearable. The Monster Kid and amateur cryptozoologist in me can't help but kind of love it.
Also tonight, I continue to work my way through the "Subspecies" box set while also sitting down for the first time with some late-period slasher flicks I'd miss seeing.
“Lost Tapes: Zombies”
This episode seems to homage video games more then anything else. It’s first-person perspective intentionally recalls countless FPS and the premise, a private security firm brought in to deal with a house full of zombies, is reminiscent of the original “Resident Evil.” The episode does get one or two good shock moment in and the pacing isn’t bad. However, the non-cryptozoological episodes are generally less interesting for me. Max Brooks is brought in as a “Zombie Expert” and is aggravatingly self-important. The show brings up voodoo and neurotoxins but then presents typical Romero style zombies. The Enigma Corporation is also apparently going to become reoccurring characters this season. I’m not sure if I like that. (6/10)
“Lost Tapes: Kraken”
The premise is dynamite: A kraken attacking an isolated oil rig. However, the execution is pretty maudlin and there’s a major lack of giant squid action. I do like that the edutainment content is upped from the last episode but this one kind of drags. (5/10)
Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)
I like that Radu gets some character development here. While the movie never stoops so low to become an actual romantic take on the vampire legend, it’s clear he’s actually developing romantic feelings for Michele. This is also the series at its most comic booky and carefree, the addition of a trigger happy special forces guy to the cast should clue you in there. This honestly provides a pretty satisfying conclusion to the story. (7/10)
Urban Legends (1998)
The contrived melodrama of late-nineties slasher films really isn’t any more or less cheesy then that of 1980s slashers, but they are generally a lot less charming. The lack of gore and gratuitous nudity and the presence of Tara Reid and the retarded looking Abercromie Killer don’t do the movie any favors. After a pretty dire eighty minutes, the camp and ridiculousness goes up a notch and I actually began to enjoy myself some. If the movie was at that heightened level of silliness the whole time, I would’ve enjoyed it a whole lot more. (5/10)
Dark Ride (2006)
This one has all the ingredients of a classic slasher movie: A threatening killer with personality and a unique look; a cast of distinct, amusing characters (Love the movie nerd guy!); a fantastic setting which it uses extremely well; and great gory kills. The killer’s super strength is maybe exaggerated, the story structure could use some work, and I’m not sure I like that twist ending. Overall though this one really surprised me and I’d say it makes the upcoming remake of “The Funhouse” even more unnecessary then it was to begin with. (7.5/10)