Encapsulated Cinema: Nazis at the Center of the Earth, Piranha 3DD, and Darkhunters

Nazis at the Center of the Earth (2012)
When compared to other endeavors from The Asylum, director Joseph J. Lawson and writer Paul Bales’ SyFy shocker “Nazis at the Center of the Earth” is pretty solid entertainment. Although the special effects are cheap and obvious, the acting is a notch below pathetic, and there’s not much of a plot to speak of, the flick seems to be at peace with its shortcomings. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the entire feature is its complete lack of morals; there are a fair number of disgusting moments sprinkled throughout, including a bit involving abortions and stem-cell research. It’s a pretty horrifying sequence, and it almost seems a little out-of-place amongst Asylum’s typical low-rent shenanigans. Then again, chances are you’re not watching something like “Nazis at the Center of the Earth” because you’re looking for intelligent, high-brow cinema. No, you want to see mechanized Nazis, scientists who blindly venture into the center of the earth without proper equipment, and Jake Busey wearing sunglasses inside a warehouse that’s supposed to be an underground lair. In short, it’s pretty freaking awesome, especially if you fondly remember the last level of “Wolfenstein 3D”.

Piranha 3DD (2012)
Here’s my problem with director John Gulager’s 2012 gore/comedy “Piranha 3DD”: I got exactly what I was expecting from it. With the first entry, Alexandre Aja surprised movie-goers with a sick, twisted, and dementedly hilarious offering that defied expectations. I had no idea the film would be that insanely over-the-top, and, as a result, yours truly had an absolute blast. Gulager, who directed the “Feast” trilogy, has plenty of experience delivering action and violence with a sick sense of humor. Unfortunately, “Piranha 3DD” doesn’t come close to matching the insanity on-display in his previous features. As a result, this tepid, limp-wristed follow-up pales in comparison to Aja’s inspired remake, even with the assistance of David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, and Gary Busey. The script assumes its core audience is comprised of 13 year-old males who are fixated on fake boobs, which, I guess, isn’t too far off the mark. And while having the titular creatures invade a water park sounds like a good idea, Gulager and company do nothing interesting with the premise. Sadly, “Piranha 3DD” probably makes for a better spank movie that it does a legitimate horror effort. Although I appreciate the wide release, I’m honestly a little shocked this one made it into theaters. Sex and violence can’t completely camouflage mediocrity. At least it was only and hour and ten minutes.

Darkhunters (2004)
When I discovered that Maverick Entertainment had posted a large number of their films on YouTube, I was intrigued. Since the vast majority of these features were free, I figured I’d try my luck. Since “F” director Johannes Roberts’ 2004 horror flick “Darkhunters” starred both Jeff Fahey and Dominique Pinon, I foolishly assumed I’d made the perfect selection. Big mistake. Although it opens with a fairly promising set piece — who doesn’t love attractive women who know their way around a shotgun — the picture soon descends into unchecked confusion. As far as I can tell, the film is about a woman who sends wayward souls back to God before evil forces can swoop in and use these poor bastards for their own nefarious desires. One such individual, a sad sack named Charlie (Pinon), the afterlife is a series of slow motion film school freak-outs, moments which are occasionally punctuated by the appearance of our heroine and a guy who may or may not be the devil (Fahey). Unless you have infinite patience for artsy horror or a ridiculous hard-on for Fahey and Pinon, there’s absolutely no reason to waste your time with “Darkhunters”. Boring doesn’t even begin to cover it.