Sunday, October 31, 2010

Red: Werewolf Hunter-A review with spoilers

            As much as I enjoy the internet shows “The Guild” and “The Adventures of Neil” and laughed a lot at “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”, it really is a bad sign when the only star in your movie is Felicia Day.  If that is your only draw then maybe you are better off running for the hills.  This made for TV movie was laughably bad.
Let’s start with the beginning. First we get a bit of text

“Many many moons ago,
almost too many to count,
in a small village deep within the forest,
there lived a young girl her
hair a red as the setting sun.”

What the hell does this have to do with anything? Not a thing.  There is a small hovel and an old Granny is reading to her BLONDE granddaughter.  Suddenly she hears a howl and tells her to haul butt up the ladder to the attic to hide. 

            Granny does about as well as Betty White in a bullfight while a really crappy CGI werewolf beats the crap out of her.  Still, the young girl yells “Leave her alone!” This gets the werewolf’s attention so that Granny makes a killing blow before keeling over with an eye missing.

            Flash forward to the present. Felicia Day is in what looks like a ghost town. Wandering with her gun out Felicia Day looks like she’d cry to use a pistol. She has NO gravitas at all.  Nathan, her fiancé, is meeting her family for the first time.  Exposition is shoved down our gob. Since characters are meeting one another you find out Nathan and Virginia, Felicia Day’s character, are FBI agents.  Nathan is apparently a total dumb ass too.

            Nathan asks her brother Jake, “Why do they call her Red?” For real movie?  They are asking why Felicia Day, a blazing red head is called red? Either way her brother can’t seem to make up an answer and tells Nathan he needs to ask Virginia.  So since this is a piece of crap movie they need to let you know that cell service is bad. Nathan goes to find a signal and gets bumped into by a balding bloodied guy.  He whispers “Gabriel” and falls over.

            Nathan runs to get help but when he returns he finds out the dead guy turned to ash.  Needless to say the entire family, Marcus, Jake, present day Granny, and Virginia decide to tell Nathan they hunt werewolves. He decides he needs time to let this sink in.  So he goes wandering in the woods.  Nathan gets caught in a storm and bumps into a werewolf.  He shifts and knocks him to the ground then says “Gabriel!” and bites him.  Okay. So the werewolf says his own name before biting people.  That is really pointless.

            Felicia and family find Nathan on the ground.  His wounds have healed.  They are freaked out since there is a werewolf that can phase at will and are breaking the truce.  They don’t think Nathan has been bitten so it’s no biggie.  “Maybe he is cut out to be in this family.” Marcus says Granny replies with “Maybe they wanted him to survive.” REALLY?  That is insightful.  Truly she is a wise matriarch.

            They go to there blade style arsenal where they get silver weapons.  They even explain to Nathan they have an easy method to test if a person is a werewolf.  Do they bother to try it on Nathan though?  Gosh no. That would be something a sane person would do.

            They go back into the ghost town and explain to Nathan that werewolves are destroyed by silver.  They town they are in was attacked by werewolves and were turning the rest of the town so they killed everyone.  Holy shit! These are the good guys? They see a car drive by full of “rogues” so they whip out there weapons and kill the werewolves.  I call foul! They weren’t even doing anything.  Profiling! Then they open up the cars truck to reveal a kidnapped girl who said she was going to be their next game.  Well, that puts my profiling argument in its place.
            So we see a mass of humans hanging from chains scared out of their wits while the werewolves who look more like homeless people roam among them looking mean.  Gabriel gives a rousing Saruman speech to the wolves “You will taste man flesh!”  They let the people out to hunt them down and kill them.  But when they transform the CGI is really bad.  They don’t look like wolves at all.  They look like rat/monkey/men. And why the hell can werewolves in movies climb walls? Is that a wolf trait?    Anyway one of the humans, a teen boy tells Gabriel, he wants to be turned rather than die.  Hell, I didn’t know they had options.  He was lucky.

            So while camping out during the full moon Nathan turns. Luckily Virginia stuns him with a stun gun.  What a weak werewolf.  Virginia gets in an argument with Marcus over whether they should kill him or not.  “Not everything is black and white Marcus.”  Ok up until now it has been for you.  You killed a whole town because they were werewolves you psycho.

            Virginia, Marcus and Jake go to kill the werewolves leaving Granny with Nathan.  She tells him how her husbanded turned into a werewolf and she found a way to turn him back human. But he resented her for it because it liked be a wolfman so much.  So when he succeed in turning himself again.  She killed him. Wow….I guess psycho runs in the family.  At least it isn’t brains.  The three hunters are caught by a single gas grenade. 

            Virginia is hanging in chains and the other brothers are going to be hunted.  Luckily one was able to sneak a knife in his boot.  He kills a great deal of werewolves but both of them are torn apart by Gabriel.  Nathan goes in the morning to rescue Virginia.  After finding the bodies of the two brothers he is met with no resistance.
            There is a gearing up for war montage.  Nathan gets locked in a cell again.  Virginia kills tons of werewolves with a harpoon cannon then she is able to beat them in hand to hand combat.  Nathan changes forms in his cell and breaks free and kills Granny.  For whatever reason she looks just like the Granny in the beginning of the movie, missing an eye.  Now there is a Gabriel and Virginia fight and match banter for a while until Virginia rams a Harpoon into him. 

            She sees that Nathan is on the loose and killed Granny.  So she goes after him.  But she is not careful and gets knocked out wolfman Nathan who proceeds to bite her.  She wakes in the morning and finds Nathan.  She is broken up about the situation.  He thinks they can live together still as werewolves.  They embrace and she shanks him with a silver knife.  Wow what a totally cold-hearted bitch move.  Is she going to kill herself to make sure this lycanthrope curse ends? Nope.  Next we see her reading to a little blonde girl on her lap.  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! WTF! Well at least she didn’t have enough problems living with the curse she moved on with her life. 

            What a piece of crap. But honestly what did I expect form the network that brought us such gems as “Frankenfish” “Sharktopus” and “Ice Spiders”. The only draw is Felicia Day and I’m sure she just was happy to cash that check at the end of the day.  It doesn’t even have the funny camp value you get form a Bruce Campbell movie.  Good lord what a glorious waste of time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

White Zombie-A retrospective with spoilers

White Zombie was a 1932 horror film that was produced independently.   At the time it didn’t do very well compared to the other larger budget productions from studios like Universal.  Still, it is considered by many to be the first feature length zombie film even though zombies in this case is more the hypnotic state of being rather than walking dead.   It’s an interesting movie and worth seeing if you like classic horror.

On arrival to Haiti fiancés Madeline and Neil take a carriage ride to the Charles Beaumont plantation.  On the way the driver stops to ask for directions but sees the men staring vacantly back at him.  “Zombies!” he yells and whips his horses to haul ass out of there.  In his escape Murder Legendre, played by Bela Legosi, steals Madeline’s scarf.  They arrive at the plantation and are greeted by Dr. Bruner, a missionary sent to perform the marriage for the two of them asks, “Excuse me have you got a match?”  The mature man in me immediately yells at the screen “Yeah my butt and your face.”

Charles meets up with them and is bummed since he is in love with Madeline.  He decides then to meet in secret with Murder.  He meets him at his creepy sugar mill that is being worked by zombies.  There they strike a bargain and Murder gives him a potion that will turn Madeline into a zombie too.  Make her follow him like one of his mill workers.  Charles is really hesitant.

Charles literally asks Madeline not to go through with the marriage as he is about to walk her down the aisle.  He gives her a flower laced with the potion.  Then the marriage takes place.  By now I am wondering what kind of cheap potion he paid for.  But apparently it requires some sort of arcane element as well.  Murder is watching outside with Bela’s patented Dracula glare.  He makes a wax voodoo doll of Madeline out of a candle and seemingly kills her.

She is put in a crypt and Neil is a mess.  Meanwhile Charles, Murder and the gang of zombies get to the crypt and get zombie Madeline.  Neil actual catches a glimpse of her walking away and runs to talk to Dr. Bruner “Can I trouble you for a match?” he asks again. I told you “My butt and your face.” Are they really making that line this guy’s catch phrase? They talk about the process of zombification and who might have a motive.  Well it must be the one guy who has always wanted Madeline, Charles. They also talk about how Murder has turned all his former rivals into zombies.

Meanwhile, Madeline is playing the piano in a zombie state.  Charles is regretting turning her this way.  He asks Murder to turn her back.  He says he won’t so they have a drink and Murder reveals he has poisoned Charles and soon he will become one of his zombies as well.  He then has his horde of zombies kill Chuck’s butler.  Neil and the Doctor are waiting outside thinking of an opportune time to go inside.  Madeline and Neil share a moment locked in time.

So he and the Doc break into the castle of Charles.  The Doctor and Neil separate. Neil finds Madeline in a room with Murder and the almost drugged out Charles.  Murder orders Madeline to kill Charles with a knife.  Dr. Bruner grabs the knife from her and they escape to an escarpment.  Murder has had enough of this crap and orders his zombies to attack but is shortly knocked unconscious by Dr. Bruner.  The Zombies, with no command now wander off the cliff to their death. Murder gets up and is about to make a bond villain style escape when Charles stumbles in and wrestles him off the cliff to both their deaths.

The resulting death frees Madeline from the zombie state she was in apparently.  She and Neil are happily together at last. The Doctor asks “Does either of you have a match?” “I told you! MY BUTT AND YOUR….OH FORGET IT.” Roll credits on the zaniness.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Journey Through Wonderland

One of my favorite Disney movies is “Alice in Wonderland”.  In a lot of ways it shows a fun journey through an insane landscape of spectacles.  The movie also is really nice to not have a romance tossed in for the hell of it and actually takes a progressive chance at allowing it to remain a story about a strong female lead.

​Of course there are various other versions of this classic as well.  A TV miniseries made in the 1985 was very popular with my sister.  She would play the 6 hour VHS copy complete with commercials all the time.  Without the commercials it’s about half that time but damn, that was a chunk of the day.  It had an all start cast and it went on FOREVER.  But it was an all-encompassing version of the story too. Years later after I read the book I sort of appreciated how much that TV special had actually covered.

​There are other versions too.  Another TV miniseries with Tina Majorino in 1999 also came out on NBC.  It was so-so.  To be honest I don’t remember much of it since except the CGI was pretty poor at the time though they tried REALLY hard to be clever.  Like introducing all the characters in the beginning as normal folks and then having them appear later in Wonderland as if their strange versions would blow our minds.

​ “Alice” was made for the Syfy channel in 2009 in the style of “Tin Man” where Alice returns to Wonderland after some time away.  She’s a martial art expert though and can kick butt.  Are you interested?  Neither was I.   There was a foreign “Alice” made in 1988 that used stop motion and stuffed animals that looked surreal and nightmarish.   I also gave up on this one.

​In 1991-1995 there was Disney’s “Adventures in Wonderland”.  It was a television series on the Disney channel where Alice would talk to her cat Dinah after coming home from her modern school.  Then walk into Wonderland via her mirror to face a similar crisis.  At the end she would return home having learned about herself.  That is really all there is.   The Carebears also went to Wonderland for a movie. But that was really stupid and not fully worth mentioning besides that it happened.  

There is a silent movie from 1903 which I find charming. Mostly because of its stop motion effects at the heyday of film and the use of the family cat as the Cheshire Cat.   It is short but it has a funny charm.  It’s worth seeing just to say you’ve seen it.  Also if you can see the early “Wizard of Oz” silent movies give them a peek as well.  They use a lot of music from “The Nutcracker” ballet and they are pretty well made for the time.

​Finally we get to Tim Burton’s 2010 “Alice in Wonderland”.  Why not just tell the damn Lewis Carroll story we know and love?  Do we really need a movie version of “American McGee’s Alice”?  It came out sounding more like Narnia and it made me wonder a lot of questions.  Like, why do they NEED Alice on their side?  Sure there is that whole prophesy thing but the Cheshire Cat is a can go invisible, can shape shift, and can teleport.  Why the hell isn’t he the White Queen’s champion?

​Let’s not forget they also have foodstuffs that make you grow to giant size.  Like that wouldn’t help in battle.  As for the heartwarming ending where she tells off everyone she knows to go be an apprentice seeking trade routes at age 19.  I have to be a the cynic here that reminds you that in Victorian London you were probably more likely to be stuck in an asylum or killed by Jack the Ripper than have THAT good fortune fall in your lap as a young, uneducated, woman.

​Looking on IMDB I see there are dozens of other varieties I have never seen.   Some I have only caught glimpses of via YouTube like the 1933 version that had Cary Grant, and W.C. Fields. The production actually is pretty impressive and if I get a chance I really want to see it in its entirety.  The girl they got to play Alice actually seems genuine too.  Sort of nice since a lot of versions play her off like a hard- hearted bitch or a whiny brat.  Yes, I know she can be both of those things in the story and she is sometimes but not ALL the time.

She is first and foremost a child and this is a place made of imagination and wonder that she has finally come into.  Her confusion makes her all the more frustrated since everything she has been told is wrong in this place. Some adaptations immediately jump the gun I think and leap to the frustration.  I think they should relax it a tad.  After all, she is there because she was chasing a white rabbit. Which is a pretty childish should she think of it in hindsight.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Fame Wall

    As you know I have a love of movies. This love has translated in various ways.  One has been to collect tons of videos in various formats. Over the years I have also obtained a few autographs.  Usually on books and DVDs so I can't frame them well since I normally am one of those people that wants to watch or read them again.  Only now have I begun to frame what I have and put them up in my library.

    These ones are interesting.  I'll explain the flashed one in a second.  The top girl is Ivonna Cadaver.  She is the horror host of "Macabre Theater".  A very funny and talented girl. I remember watching her and so I looked up her site and wrote her an email.  She wrote me back asking for my address and she sent me the autographed 8x10.  That is so cool and classy.  To her right is Natalie Portman.  I won that one on ebay along with a certificate of authenticity.  Which I recommend that EVERYONE gets if they attempt to get into collectibles or memorabilia.

    Below her is adult film star Belladonna, just met her at the Castle one day after work.  Incredibly nice girl.  To her left is Kyra Schon. She played the little girl, Karen in "Night of the Living Dead."  To her left is a dual signature. Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu, who played Joel, and Crow/Dr.Forrester on Mystery Science Theater 3000. 

    Next we have a floating frame that has two promo cards form San Diego ComicCon.  They have Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston's autograph and a swatch of the costume they were wearing in the picture.  So for Katie it's the black tank top and for Micah it's the grey t-shirt.  A pretty decent find.  

    Finally, there is this awesome little piece.  It's three original film cells from "Bride of Frankenstein"  I love the way it was presented too.  It's got all the main characters on each cell and having the title card and Elsa Lanchester's image on the left there is just fantastic.
    Besides theses I have an autographed Kevin Smith script.  A couple Bruce Campbell books that he signed when he came up to plug his movie "Man with the Screaming Brain".  As well as a DVD of "Road Trip" signed by Tom Green when he was relevant.

    I've got other stuff too.  Not worth mentioning but its now just feels like I've been hearing bragging about what a collection I've got.  Honestly, it's nothing compared to most people who REALLY collect things. I have a bobble-head collection too but I don't have nearly enough to make it worth anyone's time to look at. 

      If you are into a certain thing.  Like sports or
movies or what have you memoribila is a fun little investment.  Just remember it can get expensive fast and remember to get certificates and proof that the items are authentic. 

    Anyway I hope this was at least entertaining.  I am  figuring out this blog thing enough now to be able to post pictures and movie clips too.  Maybe that will enhance the reviews down the road. We shall see.  Take care, dear readers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Smokin’ Aces- A retrospective

Just recently I was asked what I thought of the movie “Smokin’ Aces.” Honestly I haven’t thought of that movie in forever.  But thinking about it reminds me of a few memorable things: It had a crazy number of cameo characters and it had a twist ending that was really wretched. I also remember enough explosions it’d make Michael Bay scream in ecstasy. 
The story takes place in Las Vegas where a magician/gangster Buddy Israel, played by Jeremy Piven, is hiding in his penthouse because there is a million dollar hit out on him for his heart.  Well, it brings out all the crazies who want the money.  Honestly that is the sole charm of the movie.  Seeing all the nuts go after this money.  It’s an ultra-violent version of “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”.
            All the while I kept thinking this movie tried so hard to be a Guy Ritchie movie.  It wanted so hard to be a “Snatch” or “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” But if you have a huge cast like that there is a problem.  You have to make me give a crap about someone.  I didn’t care whether Israel lived or died.  I didn’t really side with any killer and I didn’t get to know the F.B.I agents enough to care about their losses or cause. 
            So when the two central things that make a movie work, plot and character, are less developed than a Curious George book I’d say something is the matter.  At least renting is the way to see it.  It’s not awful. There are some laughs but you can do so much better with your time.  For me to say that says a lot considering some of the sewage I’ve seen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2- review

I’ll start by saying this movie is pretty weak in my opinion. I hate to say it but I got in a huge fight with the person I saw it with. While I wasn’t able to explain perfectly why I found it so sub-par I can certainly slander it online.  For all it’s weakness it does add to the story a bit more.  Katie and Micah are present since it’s not a sequel in all manners but a prequel leading up to the events of the first movie and then the day after. 

So let me tell you why it bugged me.  It’s uses TONS and I mean tons of aspects and ideas from the first one and the first STILL was 100 times creepier.  First off on a side note in the preview I thought I saw the baby crawling in the highway, why isn’t that in there any more? I HATE when movies are missing scenes that are in their previews.  Anyway, in the first film you had a build up that was slow and first but it gets bigger and bigger every night, leading to the thrilling scary climax. This movie had a few big scares and some creep factor.  But it took a much, much longer time to build up to it.  I mean come on the first one had the demon’s foot prints like Donald Duck put on the ring of power. You have to top that somehow.

For this reason lets count the many ways these movies are way too similar:
·        A crucifix is used to ward of the demon in some way
·        A person is dismissed by the owner of the house after being warned of the paranormal entities they are dealing with.
·        The main characters research demonic occult via the web.
·        There is use of a Ouija board with eerie results.
·        A woman is dragged across the hall like a rag doll.
·        A woman is bitten by the demon.
·        A girl walks up from bad dream of a dark being saying their name.
·        A woman is possessed.
·        The movies end with a title card saying character’s whereabouts are unknown.
And that immediately strikes me as bullshit too. In the first movie it says Katie’s whereabouts are unknown and yet for the second movie we do get to see her AFTER she killed Micah.  Granted she vanishes after that fact but still, details people.  During the fight I kept getting asked “What did I expect?”  I don’t know.  The story line did progress and it was nice to see the Katie and Micah characters again but honestly if I want to see them I can always watch them in the first movie and be more thrilled. 
Maybe I expected to be surprised or shocked.  But when you take the elements of the first movie put it in a blender and hit puree it doesn’t make it original.  Is it worth seeing?  If you loved the original as much as I did, yes.  But if you are new to the series take a pass and see the first.  As a side note: for the love of Krishna STOP TALKING during horror movies you idiots! Your banter is not witty and will not affect the outcome of the film.    

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Mummy movies-a comparison

Universal Pictures had the feather in its cap as creating some of the classic golden age horror movies of American cinema.  Having seen both versions it’s amazing though that they not only changed the story with of the remake but altered characters to make the new one more of a display of special effects of the time.  

The first version of “The Mummy” came out in 1932 and stared Boris Karloff.   Despite what you would think he hardly walks around in his bandages.  In fact he only does that at the very beginning of the movie.  It starts with some archeologist digging out Im-ho-tep’s sarcophagus.  They read the curse on the inscription that says he was buried alive for sacrilege but open it anyway and read from the scroll of Thoth.  This brings him back to life. Only one man sees this happen though and he is goes mad after seeing a mummified human shamble away.

Ten years later Im-ho-tep is disguised as a regular Egyptian named Ardath Bey.  He doesn’t care about destroying the world or causing pain to untold thousands he basically wants to steal the scroll of Thoth back to resurrect his dead girlfriend.  But he finds out his girlfriend’s soul is trapped in the body of a socialite, Helen, played by Zita Johann, and must be sacrificed for the ritual to work.  She eventually summons the aid of Isis who fires out a beam destroying the scroll and causing Im-ho-tep to crumble into a skeleton.

It’s a creepy love story from beyond the grave.  It was definitely a good one but as anyone who as seen the 1999 version with Brendan Fraser will know these movies are different as night and day.  First let’s talk about the cast.  In the original the leading male, Frank Whemple, played by David Manners sort of took a back seat.  Meanwhile the lead we get in the 1999 version is the Encino Man himself Brendan Fraser.  An American in the French Foreign Legion stationed in Egypt built as a poor man’s Indiana Jones, Rick O’Connell.

The Helen has gone from the classy socialite who can pretty much take care of herself to the librarian damsel in distress, Evy Carnahan, played by Rachel Weisz.  When she isn’t getting herself kidnapped she is making laughably goofy faces with the hero as if to say “As if you can do better out here.”  So because O’Connell knows the location of a secret city they hire him to help uncover it. The expedition helps reveal a book which some dupes read from this bringing Imotep to life.

In this version he has to go around draining the folks that read from the book and have his canopic jars to gain strength and look human.  It’s actually kind of a cool effect.    The heroes are followed by a guy named ARDETH BEY.  Played by Oded Fehr, but I just think of him as the man whore in “Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo”.  They have to content with the fact this Mummy wants Evy to sacrifice for the same reason as the old version.   But for some reason this one also can magically cause the ten plagues of Egypt and has more magical ability than Gandalf the Grey.

I know this is nitpicking but that is REALLY stupid.  He was cursed with this horrible death that involved death by being mummified alive and for some reason having scarab beetles poured on him (which shouldn’t do anything to him unless he is made of vegetation or poop).  So what was the brilliant plan of the Egyptian leaders there?  If he comes back he’ll have all the powers of a god?  So why bury the book that makes him an immortal badass with him?  Anyway it’s a plot hole in the original as well.  If you are going to put someone to death just make sure you don’t put the key to immortality buried next to them to resurrect them.

So the heroes tangle with him in various forms so the producers can show their CGI prowess.  Then during the ritual to resurrect his girlfriend it turns out there is another book that will kill him.  So they read form that book and his soul gets taken by a ghostly chariot. O’Connell runs him through and he falls in some sort of ghostly water and dies.  Then heroes get rich on the gold of the temple.

Yes I have left a lot out.  It’s a cheesy movie to say the least but it can be enjoyable in the right mood.  They are both so wildly different that saying both are even in the same league is pretty wrong.  I do prefer the original mostly because I like the simplicity and the fact that it doesn’t seem to insult the audience’s intelligence by throwing more CGI to make up for a lack of story and some really BAD comic relief.  I recommend seeing them both just to compare the two.  It is a strange what 67 years difference will do.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Film Preservation

Having recently become single again I find myself unable to sleep.  One of the things I do when I can’t sleep is watch movies on Turner Classic Movies or American Movie Channel.  I was lucky last night and caught a Lon Chaney Movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”  Chaney was an expert at makeup artistry since he did all his own makeup and really earned the title “Man of A Thousand Faces” One thing that impresses me to no end is his incredibly stylized movements to portray his emotions.  Chaney had deaf parents so he was well versed the art of pantomime.
Unfortunately some of his performances are lost. The most popular lost film is probably “London After Midnight.” In the old days of film when a movie was distributed to theaters it was then sent back to the studio. They would lock the film in huge vaults.  Old nitrate film use to be shot on incredibly flammable stock and once in a while the vaults would suffer fires and because people back then had no idea how to preserve film the things we do have from that bygone era are often in conditions that are sometimes unwatchable.  Another big cause of film loss was the wholesale junking of film.  Studios saw the films as having no commercial value so often they were simply destroyed to make room for other things in their vaults.
It’s a shame because if you go to Wikipedia there is a huge list of films that have become lost to us.  Not that it is not without hope.  They also have a large list of discovered films as well.  For example, there was a “Frankenstein” from 1910 that a film collector had in his personal collection in the 50s not knowing what he had was a piece of film history.  Or if you want an even better movie that is REALLY worth seeing check out “The Passion of Joan of Arc” this one had crappy prints available at the time but a pristine version was found in janitor’s closet in a Norwegian insane asylum.  That is awesome.
Who knows, maybe some private collector has a mass of film he or she hasn’t gone through and somewhere some of these greats are just waiting for discovery.  If so let’s hope we can find them in our life time.  It’d be amazing to preserve these in the Library of Congress finally and get to work restoring and digitizing them so others can see them.   Until then I guess we should appreciate the old ones we have and at least hope they are taking care of them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Genius of Back to the Future

I LOVE “Back to the Future” besides the amazing quotes, great characters, and connections that weave it all together.  It’s a comedy, a sci-fi, a romance, an adventure, a high-school movie all wrapped in an exquisite gift.  The genius of this movie is how well it utilizes time travel.  Time travel is nothing new in fiction.  But this one does it for a couple reasons as opposed to the usual one goal that a time traveler has in mind.
Marty McFly is sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 Hill Valley California in a time traveling DeLorean.  Now he has to prevent Doc Brown’s death by the Libyans.  He needs to get his parents to kiss and inevitably marry thus creating him, and then he needs to get struck by lightning at a precise moment to go back to his own time of 1985.  Has your head exploded yet?
Well as if it wasn’t enough Marty has to contend with Biff Tannen.  I seriously do not understand that family.  It’s one thing when a bully has got a serious hate on for a guy but when every member of your family throughout history and even in alternate realities is an asshole I’d say that is pretty ingrained in your DNA.  This guy is the monkey wrench that is thrown into the machinery at every turn.
​There is also the fact that the more changes he makes to the past the more drastic the changes will be to his present.  Don’t believe me?  Remember how Marty goes to Twin Pines Mall to meet Doc Brown in the beginning of the movie?  Marty is blasted back to 1955 to what the mall used to be farmland owned by old man Peabody.  Doc says “He had a crazy idea about breeding pine trees.” Marty kills a pine escaping Peabody’s farm.  This seems like no big deal but if you look closely when Marty returns back to 1985 the mall is now called Lone Pines Mall.
​It will blow your mind to think of all the paradoxes and ins and outs of time travel.  And this is just the first movie.  It’s my favorite movie of all time because I notice something new every time I watch it.  I recommend it to everyone.  It really takes you for a journey that you can appreciate.  I just wish one day I could find out how Doc and Marty got to be such good friends.  That seems like it would have been and interesting story to since it doesn’t seem like Marty’s parents are close with him.

Sylvester Stallone's Best

Sylvester Stallone has been in a ton of hilarious movies.  From “Stop or my Mom will Shoot.” To “Judge Dredd” but there was a time when what he made had heart.  These movies showed us that he actually could portray a dramatic character sometimes.  The ones that really shine for me are “Rocky” and “First Blood”
Let’s start by talking about “Rocky”.  Sly plays Rocky Balboa, a washed up palooka that makes money collecting for a loan shark.  As an audience we get to like him when we see him refuse to break a man’s thumbs.  He also has a crush on the shy, somewhat nerdy pet shop worker Adrian. He tries to help a kid get on the right path away from hoodlums.  All in all he’s an incredibly likable guy.  The problem is he wants to box and he’s past his prime.
His shot at the title comes when the cocky Apollo Creed comes to town for an exhibition show.  He chooses to fight Rocky strictly on the choice of his nickname, “The Italian Stallion”. Then he goes into training with the help of Micky.  Eventually he has his shot and brings Apollo a long fight and gives it all he’s got.
It’s a great movie but when I was younger I would balk at it thinking it was a meathead movie because of Stallone’s later work.  But it’s his best movie.  He plays the everyman and does it well.  Now let’s switch gears a tad.  “First Blood” was the first Rambo movie.  But it doesn’t take place in the jungles of Vietnam or someplace like that.  No this one is right back in America.
John Rambo has come home from the war.  He finds that all his buddies have died recently so he is pretty much alone.  So he wanders into a new town only to get harassed by the police.  They beat Rambo and arrest him on ridiculous charges thinking he is just some drifter.  Rambo escapes and makes for the woods.  The rest of the movie is the police and National Guard out to get this highly trained killing machine.  
He makes traps and kills many of them. Eventually his Commanding Officer gets the word what is going on and comes out to talk to him.  It’s here we get the best scene in the movie.  Rambo starts off yelling about how it was BS coming home to people spitting on him and calling him baby killer.   Then he breaks down and starts crying when he thinks about the friends he lost.
Both of these movies show some range.  It’s funny that Sly needs to keep going back to his old roots to make some of his best material.  How come he can’t spread out from the shadow of Balboa and Rambo?  Well, he made gold with those two. If you haven’t seen them I recommend them.  Especially, “Rocky” since it’s much more heartwarming drama.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Super Scribblenauts-Second verse, better than the first.

When Scribblenauts came out I was incredibly impressed by what I saw.  For those of you new to the idea the game it’s a Nintendo DS game that lets you write out anything not copyrighted or vulgar and you use these to solve puzzles to get items called starites.   So for example if a starite is in a tree you could write “ladder” climb the ladder and get the starite.  It’s a fairly basic concept but it was fun and gets challenging fast with more advanced puzzles.
​Super Scribblenauts brings it to a whole new level.  The developers have fixed it so now you can use the d-pad to control Maxwell which is a lovely change.  Everything has a visible life bar this time.  Also instead of just nouns you have to use adjectives to solve puzzles.  For example I can now write “giant ham” when I want to attract the attention of a lion and because it’s a so big he’ll eat it and put him to sleep.
​It’s a really great game.  I recommend it for anyone who wants to enjoy a bit of a challenge and try something new.  The first is still a great game as and you certainly don’t need to play one with before the other but this one fixes some of the flaws of the original that were a tad annoying and takes the challenge up a notch with adding adjectives.  I can only imagine if they come out with another maybe they will add verbs.  Then puzzles will be a snap then.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Steven Seagal: Lawman(review)

Steven Seagal is the punch line to a joke left unsaid.  I remember being in the theater waiting for some movie and seeing the commercial for this joke.  It starts off like the show “Cops”.  Then in waddles Steven Seagal.  Who still thinks he is as bad as the days of “Under Siege”, when his movies didn’t’ go direct to DVD and him appearing on screen didn’t warrant a laugh.  This is reality TV at its best because it ALL centers around this living canned ham that considers himself an Aikido master and Zen genius.
After seeing the preview of the cops kissing his fat ass while he literally bitch-slaps them I realized had to see this show.  I noticed the first season is now on Netflix.  It is EXACTLY as I pictured it.   Seagal swaggers into frame saying “You were expecting someone else?”  The screen says he’s been a deputy in Louisiana for over 20 years and they are just starting to make a buck off that.  He gets into a car and gets ready to patrol the night.  Like an out of shape Batman.
As if it wasn’t funny enough watching Seagal toot his own horn and spout Zen sayings like he was the Dali Lama he’s got a group of officers ready to lick the mud off his boots at a moment’s notice. Best example is when an officer needs to pass a shooting test or he’ll end up behind a desk pushing papers.  They send Actor Steven Seagal to teach him how to shoot.  Steven is wearing a doo rag and sweating like a whore in church the whole time.
In Zen archery you have to tell the arrow where to go through yourself not the bow. He basically tells the officer.  I suppose that is sound advice, IF YOU ARE AN ARCHER! WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH A GUN YOU CRAZY WALRUS?  Does he expect his chi to focus to kill a target?  How Buddhist of him.  I figure that is why the gun inventor developed a thing called a “sight” on a gun.  Makes you not rely on a chi, or the force or whatever to shoot a target.
  In another episode he teaches some officers some take down moves with Aikido.  Basically he gets to manhandle a few cops when they are not ready and he bitch slaps a few saying “I found an opening.” If he wasn’t an action star I get the feeling he’d be on his fat ass trying to get the mace out of his eyes.  Hey I’m first to say I’m overweight and you might think it’s unfair to poke so much fun of Seagal.  But to that I just need to say watch this show.  The fact that he was once in action movies seems to give poor Steven the illusion that he is bullet-proof.  
The fact is Steve is more ham-hock now than man, twisted and evil.  His career is in the toilet and I don’t think he got the memo.  But for an actor crap work is better than no work.  I mean he did the “Machete” movie and that was a real movie that was in theaters.  All I can say is this show is so weird to watch it’s almost surreal. You truly are watching a washed up has been that can never go back to his glory days and it’s funny for that very reason.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Troll 2 (review with spoilers)

One of my best friends, Brent, knows my love of good crap movies.  Somehow our latest conversation got around to this gem.  Of course this movie is a gem in the way that some sick dog found it and now you have you dig around its stool for the diamond ring he ate.  It’s hilarious at times and really bad the rest.
The movie starts with a boy being read a story.  The story plays out for us in the audience.  So we can enjoy this bit of wretchedness too. Apparently, some dork in a Robin Hood hat wanders through the woods until he stumbles upon goblins (there are no trolls in this friggin’ movie).  They are as menacing as Ewoks and they give chase.  He is a wuss so he runs until he falls.  Then he wakes to see a lovely girl with painted freckles (Why are they painted like bad play? I don’t know)
She feeds him some Nickelodeon Gak which makes him ooze green slime from his temples.  He then turns into green jelly, plant material which goblins eat.  So the Grandfather is telling this tale to his grandson Josh to warn him that goblins are real and will come out to eat him.  His Mom comes in to tell him to shut up and go to bed but is not at all disturbed when Joshua tells him he got a bedtime story from his dead Grandfather. 
Then you get an exposition that is about as subtle as a train wreck. All you need to get from it.  Grandfather is dead but parents don’t seem to care enough to send Josh to get electroshock for his hallucinations and instead want to go on vacation to a farm in Nilbog (Sounds reasonable to me). Meanwhile his sister Holly gets a visit from her boyfriend Elliot in her room.  He scares her so she kicks him in the groin. “Are you nuts? You tryin' to turn me into a homo?”  Wow…just wow.  Then she accuses him of being a homosexual because he spends a lot of time with his friends. 
Damn dude. That is a lot of abuse for this high school relationship.  You are one lucky guy to have ALL THAT!  His three buddies show up in the window too and I wonder if they brought their own ladder or if they are all sharing a section to stand there and peer like asses at Holly who hates them.   He says he’ll meet her along the way on her vacation.  She agrees only if he doesn’t bring his friends.
            So they don’t meet up.  This causes some family strife which is boring to watch and mental to want to keep the camera on but it keeps up with it.  Josh has a dream he is turned into a tree and consumed by his parents who are goblins in disguise.  He wakes up and says he has to throw up and runs to a hitchhiker that he sees as his Grandpa Seth.  Seth tells him to not let his family got to Nilbog as it is the kingdom of the goblins. Just as his parents pull up Seth transforms back into a crusty hitchhiker.  I am thinking Russell Crowe was saner in “A Beautiful Mind” than this kid.
Food has been prepared at the house where they are staying, complete with green food coloring but Joshua's grandfather shows up again to tell Josh to stop them from eating no matter what and freezes time for thirty seconds to help, so besides having power over time this ghost also knows that the goblins set out food for the unsuspecting family to eat.  Having no brains to swipe the food in the time given, or fake a seizure, Joshua stands up on the table pisses on the food. Instead of being taken outside and beaten or taken to a doctor to find out what the pluperfect hell is wrong with him they take him upstairs and give him a stern talking too.  Like a 10-11 year knows what the hell a hunger strike is.
Meanwhile one of Elliot's friends, Arnold goes out for a walk and meets a woman being pursued by the goblins. He tackles the girl and makes a really creepy line.  For all you single guys out there.  If a girl in a torn shirt is running away from something.  Take my advice, don’t tackle them.  Makes you seem like a real freak.  They face off with the goblins and end up running into a church like building which is the house of the goblins' druid leader, Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed), who uses the "Stonehenge Magic Stone" to give the goblins power. This girl is the funniest part of this movie. 
She actually looks like she is having a good time hamming this crap dialogue up.  It’s like watching a horror host on television.  Creedence dupes the two into drinking a magic potion which causes the woman to disintegrate into a puddle of green vegetable goo. which is then eaten by the goblins, and Arnold is turned into a plant-man. Another of Elliot's friends, Drew arrives at the house later on in search of Arnold, but is apparently killed off-screen by Creedence.

That night Holly is unintentionally contacted by Seth via a mirror and she and Joshua swap rooms. So ghost Seth can pause time but can’t figure out the pesky rooms.  Seth gets through to Joshua and tells him to convince his parents to leave Nilbog and return home. Joshua looks into a car mirror to summon Seth again like Bloody Mary but only succeeds in noticing from the reflection that Nilbog is Goblin spelled backwards. No shit Sherlock.  Maybe I’m the sort of person that overly thinks about words but I notice things like words backwards and anagrams (Did you know that Nosferatu is an anagram for Anus Forte?  Tell me THAT doesn’t mean something.)

 He concludes that the area must be their kingdom and skateboards off to an abandoned church where the goblins are listening to a sermon telling the evils of eating meat. However, he is noticed and brought to the basement where they attempt to feed him goblin ice cream. Josh’s Dad walks in and grows slightly suspicious, of the huge crowd of adults surrounding his kid and he and Josh back out.
The family returns to find that the village has prepared a surprise party. Joshua runs to his room hoping to summon Seth but instead is confronted by Creedence in goblin form. Seth appears and chops her hand off with an axe, causing her to retreat back to her house. So now the ghost can appear corporeal.  Being dead is apparently only an inconvenience in this universe.  The two go outside in an attempt to create a distraction but the local priest catches them and attempts to banish Seth to Hell. Seth defeats him by igniting a molotov cocktail with magic lightning powers (Seriously? I want it explained to me right now how this guy can do all this?), killing the priest and causing him to revert to goblin form. Seeing this finally convinces Josh's family of what is really happening, and the locals turn on them.
Instead of murdering them on the spot they let them mosey into the house and barricade it In the meantime, Creedence deals with Elliot's one remaining friend, Brent, by making herself sexy and drowning him in popcorn. Her powers sort of suck compared to Ghost Grampa Seth.
The family holds a séance to communicate with Seth, who tells them that he has ten minutes before he disappears from the mortal world.  Joshua is sent to Creedence's house through magic plot convenience and the rest of the family is pursued by the goblins. Seth tells Joshua to put his hands on the Magic Stone and focus in order to defeat the goblins and gives him a lunch bag which he must only open if he is in danger.
Just when Seth leaves, the goblins chasing the family disappear; Creedence appears before Joshua and he is backed into a corner by the goblins. He opens the bag to find it contains a double-decker bologna sandwich, which he consumes.  Somehow this works like garlic to a vampire.  That is a new one to me, and I play Dungeons and Dragons.   The rest of the family, guided by Ghost Grampa (whom I thought was supposed to be the gone by now), arrive at the house; Joshua passes on the instructions he got from Seth and together they defeat Creedence and the goblins by touching the Magic Stone and concentrating turning Creedence into an old hag and the goblins into green snot.
After going home, The Mom bites and apple and is killed by consuming goblin food left in the house. Joshua discovers her corpse being eaten by the goblins. Then one of the goblins says "Do you want some, Joshua?". The movie the closes with Joshua screaming in terror at the horror he is witnessing.  BOO! Somehow this pile has cult status.  If you have a chance to see something like this and you have a very open mind and maybe a few beers it might be fun. Otherwise avoid it like goblin droppings. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Let me in-review with spoilers

Normally out of principal I wouldn’t see this movie.  But when the movie you were going to see isn’t playing and there is nothing that you haven’t seen your options are limited.  So with that my friend and I saddled up to see “Let Me In” the remake of the “Let the Right One In.”.

            At first my hopes rose a tad because I see it’s a Hammer production.  Hammer produced some of the finest horror movies of the seventies and remade many of the monster classics with decent new versions.  So the film takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico.  They should have picked a better location there since honestly. I had no clue until this movie that New Mexico ever received snow.  Also there is a subtitle that this is 1983 as if the clothing, the music and everything else won’t let you know this fact that you are in fact transported to that magic era…the eighties.  So there is an ambulance and a couple police cars racing through the roads to get to the hospital.

            We hear from the radio the man who is in the ambulance has received massive burns to his face from a certain type of acid.  We as the audience see nothing of this horrible mess.  They take him in.   A cop played by the actor who played Casey Jones in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie ages ago arrives.  He wants to question the man about a satanic cult he thinks he is involved with. 

            Casey Jones leaves to take a call.  There is a scream and the nurses rush in.  The man took a swan dive out the window making a Rorschach of blood on the ground below.  We get a screen saying 3 weeks earlier. Owen is a poor little boy who lives with his mom while his folks are in the process of a divorce.  Like “Roger Rabbit” you never see the Mom’s face.  But considering that every scene she is in has an open wine bottle as a prop you can discover that they made this version of her an alcoholic.
            Owen goes to school and is picked on by bullies.  If you saw the first movie you may have thought it was strange that Oskar was picked on so mercilessly by the bullies. In this one they take it to new levels.  If Owen as much as looks at these guys he gets tormented.  So he gets a wedgie and pisses himself.  Life is great for him.  It’s the kind of kid you read about that brings a gun to school one day.

            Well one night while wearing a mask and pretending to threaten a girl with a kitchen knife (YA RLY!). He spies a new family moving next door.  This is Abby and her keeper.  Abby doesn’t wear shoes for the most part and they make a lot of noise moving in.  Owen meets Abby outside where she says they can’t be friends.  Owen says he didn’t want to be friends anyway. 

            That night the Keeper goes out and dressed in his finest trash bag mask hides in a kid’s backseat of their car.  He waits till they are parked and renders them unconscious. The then hoists them up in a tree and drains his blood to fill a container.  The container spills and he has to go home empty handed.  This pisses off Abby.  So after hanging with Owen, in which Owen lends he a Rubik’s cube (this is the eighties remember) to solve she goes hunting herself. 

            A man is jogging through a tunnel at around midnight, ok, unless you are Batman I think most people avoid doing that kind of insane crap.  So he sees the little Abby there and she plays like she’s hurt.  She then attacks him in a really crappy CGI scene that was more funny then scary.  The morning comes.  Owen goes to school after finding the cube solved.  There is an assembly about the dead kid.  Owen takes a book to learn Morse code so he and Abby can communicate through the wall.  For some reason the fact that Owen is writing in the middle of class pisses of the lead bully.

            So while in the bathroom the lead d-bag gives him a cut on the cheek.  But because he is scared he won’t tell his crappy parents who aren’t really involved in this story anyway.  Owen takes Abby to a play Ms. PacMan (did I mention this was the eighties?).  They also eat buy some Now and Later candy from a guy dressed as Boy George (I CAN’T GET OVER HOW EIGHTIES THIS MOVIE IS).  This candy makes her throw up.

            So the Keeper finds another victim but it things go awry.  Another guy joins him in the car.  He goes to get gas.  The passenger notices him. They fight.  He steals the car and he crashes the car.  It’s filmed really cool actually.  In the process of laying there waiting to be apprehended he takes a bottle of acid and pours it on his face. So now we are back to the beginning. A nurse is watching Pres. Reagan make a speech (It’s like a time warp!) Abby spider climbs up the building to her keeper and bites him to put him out of his misery and lets him fall to his death out the window. 

            She comes to Owen’s window and they sleep in the same bed.  She says she’ll go steady with him even though she is not a girl.  In the morning she is gone.  Owen’s class is going ice skating.  The bullies want to push him into the water so Owen nails the head bully with a metal pole in the head.  He gets in trouble but it’s not near as bad since the little kids discover the body of the jogger stuck in the ice. It made for a fun field trip.

            Happy he stood up to the bullies Owen takes Abby to a make out spot to make it their secret area.  He cuts his thumb to make them have a blood oath.  This freaks little Abby out. She starts lapping at the blood and gets all monstrous.  She then races out the room and goes and bites a local girl with more CGI and runs away. 

            Owen puts a band-aid when he should get stitches for the cut he just gave himself. He calls his Dad asking about the nature of evil.  His Dad doesn’t know what the hell is going on and blows him off.  So he sees Abby finds out that her Keeper was once young like he was with her.  He finds out what she is.  She even comes over. But he doesn’t invite her in. When she just comes in she spouts blood and gets gross until invited.  So he lets her shower and change into one of his mom’s old dresses.  While she is changing he peeks in at Abby and he sees something.  If you saw the original you know what it is.  But in this movie it’s never spoken of again.
            The girl that was bitten is in the hospital awakes and starts gnawing on her arm.  The nurse, not noticing this mind you, walks in and opens the shades, causing them both to dies as the flames erupt from the new vampire girl immolating the room.  The Casey Jones cop now has a lead.  He goes to the house of the Keeper.  He breaks the door.  He digs around and finds Abby in the bathroom sleeping in the he almost burns her but Owen saves the day causing he cop to get killed by Abby.

            Abby realized since she killed a cop she has to go.  He gives Owen a blood covered kiss and leaves.  Owen stays late after school one day for some strength training.  The bullies come back with the older brother of the one that got his ear split.  They grab Owen and with a knife tell him to that if he can hold his breath for 3 minutes he’ll just get knick but if he can’t he looses and eye.  So he goes underwater.  There are screams and more crappy CGI as you see body parts enter the water.  Abby saved the day.  The end is Owen on a train running away with Abby in a truck as her new Keeper.

            This movie took something good and totally took a dump on it.  The characters are bland the story is a weaker version.  If American audiences hate reading so much during foreign movies watch the original with the dubbing. It’s still better than this.  This movie was basically saying “Well American audiences are dullards that need symbolism and simple story so let’s simplify this story by a huge percentage and hand it to them on a silver platter.”  It’s a huge middle finger. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

The social network- a review with spoilers

I remember when I first used Facebook.  A college friend of mine, told me about it and I signed up for it thinking it was neat.  At the time only college folks could use it since you needed a university email to get in.  A few years later it blew MySpace out of the water and now it has changes the way we look at marketing in the business world.  Did I think it was worthy of a movie?  Not in the least.
​In fact the previews made me wonder why I should care.  The movie came out.  Reviews came in.  People seemed to love it. So I was curious.  What makes this movie so damn good for people?   Having just seen this movie I must say I still don’t quite get it. The story is acted well but it’s a mediocre story.
​Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jesse Eisenberg, gets dumped by his girlfriend for basically being a social loser.  So he goes home to do what social losers do; savage her on the internet after a few drinks.  He does this and creates a program with Eduardo Saverin, to compare the girls in school with one another.  So this causes so much traffic it causes the servers at Harvard to crash.  He gets a slap on the wrist for this but he also gets the attention of the Winklevoss twins.
​They want him to create a site for them that will be an elite Harvard social sort of page idea.  Zuckerberg agrees to do it.  Then hooks up with his buddy Saverin, Saverin gives him funds and he gets to work creating Facebook.  There are lots of cuts to Zuckerberg in court being sued by Saverin and the twins during this tale.  There is a lot going on with the creation of the code, they get popular, they get groupies.  Wow! Who knew nerds could be rockstars?
​During the creation of Facebook at no time does Zuckerberg show any intention of making the social page for the Winklevoss brothers.  In fact he kind of leads them on every time they want to meet with him he blows them off.  Up until basically the day of the launch of Facebook he finally sends them an email saying he doesn’t think their site will work.  So naturally when they see a huge site working he created they figure he stole their idea.
So through a twist of fate they get the attention of Sean Parker, the founder of Napster, he is played by Justin Timberlake.  May sound crazy but it ain’t no lie baby…bye bye bye.  Zurkerberg takes Parker’s advice on how to make a sweet cool company much to the chagrin of Saverin who is busting his butt to make deals.  It makes the relationship tough.  Eventually the company goes huge and Zuckerberg completely shanks his friend Saverin in the back by turning his percentage of stock into squat.
So it leads to the court case where you find out they will just settle.  Zuckerberg is a billionare and what they want will be a drop in the bucket to him.  The movie ends with Zuckerberg trying to friend that girl he was a d-bag to at the beginning of the movie while the Beatles “Baby you’re a rich man” plays in the background.
Who thought this would make good drama?  The protagonist doesn’t learn anything from his actions.  There is no rise and fall.  Basically his brilliance made him rich and it got him out of his troubles.  As much as I am not a fan of “Citizen Kane” because of the unlikeable protagonist at least it had a rise from nothing and realization at the end.  It had catharsis.  This movie lacks that and would have been better as a documentary.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

31 days of horror

I got a request recently to create a list of the Horror movies in the spirit of Halloween.  Since I love the holiday and it is the last of the month I think I can do better than my usual 5, 10, or even 20 best, or worst lists.  So I am going to give you 31 movies and why they are great working their way to Halloween.  That being said, the order will be least to greatest working from 1-31 as opposed to how I normally do it. So now every day of October you can watch a really good horror movie with this guide.
1. Bride of Frankenstein- I think this is the best of the golden age classic horror movies.  Yes it’s a sequel, but it follows the book a lot better and the mad scientist Dr. Pretorius is played really well and is a much worse villain than Dr. Frankenstein.
2. The Fly (original) - Another classic. While the remake is awesome for its gross-out value, this one stands out to me for being genuinely creepy during the monster movie era.  That fly man screeching “Help me.” at the end is an awful scene to behold.
3. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? - A psychological thriller. When you watch this you can’t help but feel trapped in this house.  Meanwhile this psycho woman is torturing her invalid sister and you can’t help but feel the tragedy of it.
4. The Omen- Gregory Peck’s son is the antichrist.  The panic and terror he portrays is awesome.  It can’t end well for his character but he’ll be damned if he won’t try to make things right.
5. Suspiria- A dance school run by a coven of witches.  It’s a gore filled mess that hits the ground running.  Lots of surprise kills that threw me for a loop the first time I saw it.
6. An American Werewolf in London- A funny movie that has one of the best transformation scenes I’ve ever seen of a man turning into a werewolf.
7. Psycho- Killing the main star was unheard of in the 60s but Hitchcock had guts.  The movie makes you really like all the characters and the psychology that leads to the murder at the Bates Motel.
8. Jaws-Whenever I swim in a lake I think about the fish and crap I can’t see beneath me.  When I swim in an Ocean it’s a billion times worse since the ocean has stuff in it that would make the lake creatures look like Bambi.  “Jaws” reminds us that there is still something to fear about the sea.  Even though you are more likely to killed on the way to the ocean then by a shark.
9. Carnival of Souls- A car accident starts things off into a creepy chain of events. The surviving woman is haunted by ghastly images of ghoulish people that follow her, especially around an abandoned carnival.  The images and settings make this a haunting piece perfect for the Halloween season.
10. Night of the Living Dead- A creepy movie featuring some great racial tension at the time and displays of cannibalism which elevated the horror genre to new heights.
11. Scream- The slasher genre was pretty dead and this movie brought it back.  The script is hip and funny.  It made for an enjoyable story and brought a new mass of slasher horror crowd into the theaters.
12. Saw- Before it became just a series of endless torture-porn this story was genuinely creepy and had an interesting motive and idea behind it.  I loved the twists and turns and the gritty look the film had which made it seem all the dirtier.  After a while the series started to rely on the schadenfreude of the audience and them saying “Ooh that’s gotta hurt.”
13. Friday the 13th- The first one is great.  When viewed for what it is it’s a story of a mother seeking vengeance for her dead kid.  It makes perfect sense.  It’s a full and decent story and then they brought Jason back as an adult in number 2 and the bottom dropped out.
14. Nightmare on Elm Street- The idea of nightmares killing you is pretty silly but Robert Englund and his humorous take on a very evil character made for a series that had a view good moments.  The first is still gold.  Plus, it’s the screen debut of Johnny Depp for all you Jack Sparrow fanatics out there.
15. Halloween- Michael Myer’s blank cold expression and the silent kills make him an amazing villain for the Halloween films.  Jamie Lee Curtis is fantastic as the babysitter Laurie Strode.  Everyone plays well off one another and the music cues sell it to make a truly mesmerizing and creepy movie.
16. Dawn of the Dead (original) - If “Night of the Living Dead” popularized the zombie genre “Dawn of the Dead” perfected it.  “Dawn of the Dead” showed a world taken over by the walking dead and what was worse the things we had to worry about wasn’t just the zombies but gangs of raiders and ourselves.
17. Death Proof- A cleverly written bit about a psychotic stuntman.  This movie is great because it puts you on the edge of your seat with its stunts and gore and keeps you there with its smart dialogue.
18. Cloverfield- A modern day monster movie told through first person camera.  The panic and destruction of this cthuloid horror destroying New York is portrayed well. I also really liked the aspect that that the tape they were using was recording over another tape so you got hints of that day it was recording over.  It made it seem a lot more realistic and sold it more for me.
19. Hellraiser- This movie horrific and bloody with lots of S&M themes tossed throughout.  It had some great make up effects that are wildly disgusting.
20. The Mist- As a Lovecraft and King book fan I loved this movie. It’s hard not to see their influence in the work.  I know it’s based on the King short story but the ending is different and much, much darker.  I was impressed they took it that far and I tip my hat to a movie that will do that.
21. The Last Exorcism- Like “The Mist” this movie had a very Lovecraft feel to it.  It was incredibly well told though and while it could have made you HATE the main character for being a total fraud it gives you lots of reasons and builds him into a very likeable protagonist that you care about.
22. The Shining- While wildly different from the book this movie is very creepy.  While not having a large kill count Kubrick manages to creep us out with music cues, amazing camera work and Jack Nicholson’s overall crazy act.
23. 28 Days Later- A story of infection, fast zombies, and man against man.  There is a charm to this movie and the way the characters fight so hard against madness zombies and struggle to stay together as a unit in the face of this adversity.
24. The Exorcist- The battle over faith and the soul of a sweet little girl.  The desperation really is played well by all the actors and in all it’s a great movies with a mix of wonderful effects and visuals used to compliment the acting.
25. Let the Right One In- A dark, romantic, and yet frighteningly lonely tale of a vampire and boy.  It’s the best vampire story I’ve ever seen.  The Swedish setting only compliments the cold loneliness.
26. Alien- The alien’s life cycle itself is terrifying.  A bizarre spider-crab attaches to your face and lays an egg in your chest which burst out releasing a hellish spawn.  That is awful.
27. The Thing- “The Thing” is an awesome view of paranoia and terror.  An alien that can turn itself into anyone lands in Antarctica and begins taking over a research facility there.  It is a story right out of H.P. Lovecraft and the effects are amazing for 1982.
28. Drag Me to Hell- Sam Raimi returning to his horror roots.  This movie had some wonderful gory scenes and terrifying shots.  The cast worked well to play it off and in the end you had a movie that really was a chilling ride.
29. Texas Chainsaw Massacre- This movie is the ultimate in Rural-terror.  Like “Deliverance” the mood is you step out in the country and you are doomed.  A family of cannibals terrorizes a group of young adults.  One of which is played expertly by Marilyn Burns.  Her terror is portrayed so perfectly.
30. The Blair Witch Project- This movie is so eerie and does so much with so little. That is awesome.  It made me scared of the woods by just using sound effects and some small camera techniques.  The acting was good in my opinion though the plot ridiculous.  It was a genuinely scary movie that was parodied years to come.
31. Paranormal Activity- The best scary movie I’ve ever seen.  Like “The Blair Witch Project” it did a lot with a little however it was more believable in doing so.  Taking it to a home setting instead of the woods made it even more terrifying because if you can’t be safe at home. Where can you be safe?  Even on multiple viewings it still manages to bring chills to my blood.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My thoughts on Ghost Adventures

“Ghost Adventures” is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Like “Deadliest Warrior” it is television at its most ridiculous. Zak Bagans, a tight shirt lout and his two buddies walk around spooky buildings with night vision armed with Electromagnetic Field Detectors, Video Cameras, A voice recorder to record electronic voice phenomena, thermometers, and often other things such as witch doctors, exorcists or other paranormal experts.  They interview some people then lock themselves in a room and run around yelling around like Shaggy and the gang until dawn when they conclude they have proof of spiritual activity.
They use cold spots and electromagnetic fluxuations to determine that a spirit is nearby.  Somehow their word is all we have to go on.  Did you know you can find Aliens because whenever they are nearby you can smell limeade? That logic is the same. Can you prove me wrong? Batteries will die so they assume spirits do it to fuel themselves with energy.   Electronics are truly unreliable equipment and you can attribute it to anything you are interested in.   The floating orbs they show on film are dismissed to make people believe it’s not dust.  But considering he isn’t a camera expert and the room isn’t a dustless room like where they develop microchips I find their theories rather flawed.
EVP, getting a noise and voice sounds creepy but if you are listening for something the human mind will play tricks on you.  Wandering around a decrepit house or old hospital makes tons of noise. Plus I’m sure there are insects and pests that roam about too making it full of various sounds.  They say they have been possessed and have been attacked. I think they have found fun acts to make for cheesy TV. Electromagnetic fields are everywhere there are wires. So saying that the electromagnetic energy proves there is spiritual activity is a touch flawed.  Acting like some greasy honky-tonk bar where a botched abortion took place was a place of satanic rituals makes you out to be a jackass.  One of his team even said the ghost’s followed him home and ruined his marriage.
​ The show is amusing. They really get into the whole game for the show of it.  I won’t kid you Zak calls each location hell.  He overdramatizes everything. He threatens the “Ghosts” to spur them on to prove their existence.  If there were ghosts would they have anything to fear from three jerks that piss themselves every time they feel a cold draft of air?  But hey, 51% of American’s believe in ghosts.   I’ve seen some amazing magicians since I was a kid and if it taught me anything it has been that illusion can look an awful lot like real magic if you can’t explain it.  I am pretty sure that is what this show counts on.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Case 39 - a review with spoilers.

Movies these days rely more and more on the jump scare.  I personally find that so annoying that writers are so lazy for a cheap scare they will constantly cut the music and have some jerk appear out of nowhere.  How often does that happen in life?  If you were a guy that snuck up on people with ninja stealth and then reached out your hand behind them when they least suspected it just to say stuff like “HEY BOB! CAN I BORROW YOUR STAPPLER?” you’d get teeth bashed in after Bob recovered from his heart attack.   People generally make their presence known to prevent this sort of faux pas.

So enough prattle on the stupidity of the jump scare let’s talk about Case 39.  It starts with the woman who looks like she’s been sucking on lemons her whole life Renee Zellweger.  She plays Emily, a social worker who just got her 39th case.  This case happens to be Lilith, played expertly by Jodelle Ferland who looks like at least she is stepping up her game from “Silent Hill”.  Lilth is 10 year old living in a house with two people who are obviously not sane.  But because of the red tape there is not much Emily can do to help Lilth.

After consulting her child psychologist friend and her cop friend about the case she pursues it a bit further. She gives Lilith, her phone number and gets a late night call for help.  After a quick call to her cop friend they break into the house to discover the Mother and Father putting the child in THE OVEN to cook the girl like Gretel in the Witch’s house. I won’t even get into what a stupid way that is to attempt to kill a person who is still alive, scary as it is in concept.

The parents are caught and arrested.  They get insanity pleas because their daughter is unspeakable evil. She causes death of those around her.  Where have I heard about a kid that did that before?  Oh yeah, “The Omen.”  So after some runaround we have Lilith living with Emily.  At first it’s peaches in cream.  Then people start dying.  A boy in Lilith’s group kills off his parents.  Lilith then has a talk with the child psychologist that makes him spooked as if he just talked to Dexter or something.  He goes home and because he is afraid of hornets imagines hornet swarms all over him until he kills himself. 

Meanwhile in prison the parents have illusions plague them until they basically kill themselves.  There is a lot of back and forth with the catholic cop who thinks Emily is crazy. You begin to see how screwed up this kid is and how she is actually demonic.  There are some creepy effects and Jodelle plays it off well.  Good and creepy.  Finally the cop, the CATHOLIC freaking cop mind you, says he believes Emily and he will help kill this child.  Wow.  He might have to say a few Hail Mary’s for that one.

But Lilith kills the cop in the back seat of his car.  This actually spurs Emily to drug the little girl and light her house on fire attempting to immolate the little bitch. She survives and they follow some police to find a place to stay.  Deciding to try a new route Emily puts the pedal to the metal and goes through traffic like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  Lilith, the demon seed, tries scaring Emily with illusions which don’t work. Finally Emily drives into a river.  They struggle in the car.  Lilith changes into a bestial creature and tries to take Emily down with her but Renee kicks free and rises to the surface. She then greets the sunrise of a brand new day.

It’s not a bad movie but it’s got a lot of “The Omen” in it.  Too much if you ask me.   The whole idea of a parent stuck with a demon child while friends are getting killed off by his/her malevolence is too close not to compare the two.  “The Omen” of course was much more of a psychological terror too and really had a terrifying ending.  This one leaves you on a happy note for the most part though I guess a sequel could always happen.

 The biggest drawback was the constant jump scares.  Someone would knock on a cubicle at an inopportune time, a pair of feet would show beneath a door she was looking under, or peek in a room only to see someone staring right back.  But is that what horror is reduced to?  I think there are much more scary things out there then some jackasses that leap out and go “boo” when I don’t expect it.  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Dead Rising 2- full review

Ok, I tried to like it.  Especially, after waiting so long for a new game to come out and impress me.  Dead Rising 2 sucks.  There is no way around it and after less than a week with it I am already prepared to trade it back for credit.   But why is this game such a flop?  Oh I’ll feed you, baby birds.
For starters the graphics is somewhat lacking for a next generation game console.  The people really have wooden expressions and lack of depth in facial clarity which I expect out of the PS3.  This however, is really the least of the game’s problems.  When everyone plays a game the first thing on everyone’s mind should be: “Is it playable?” and this game fall’s flat pretty hard on that note.
Maybe I am a stick in the mud but it pisses me right off when I finally get my hands on a ranged weapon like a gun or a flame thrower and it takes 6 bullets to take down a zombie. Then if a human mercenary shows up that you need to take out he is bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali and your gun is useless to hit him it and now it takes even more ammo. So now you have to use a melee weapon to take him out meanwhile he has just about killed you because they don’t miss.
Yeah hit detection is very suspect in this game.  You can wade through a team of zombies and no one will touch you.  Then out of the blue you will be dragged down and have to struggle to wrestle away from the maniac chewing on your throat.  The boss battles may as well be a joke too.  Most times you spend running away because your hits do jack squat to the guys you’re trying to hit. Why does the A.I. for saving people suck so hard?  These people don’t seem to give a crap at all that it’s their ass you are trying to save.
The missions are ridiculous.  Unless you are the Beyonder and can warp time and space there is no way you can get to all these places and finish the story without running out of time.  Also this might be nitpicking but as a player I like to get the trophies that come in games. I don’t understand what the hell is going on but this game has been ridiculous about giving out the trophies for any successes.  Several hours in and I’ve only gotten a couple.  That is bad.  Normal PS3 games will actually toss out trophies left and right for playing and enjoying the game.  Bottom line Dead Rising 2 is a very broken game.  I know Capcom can do better.  After all Resident Evil 5 was better and that game really stands out for the PS3.