Monday, January 31, 2011

Dead Space 2- review


            After much annoyance I decided to trade in DC Universe online as well as a few other games and get this one instead.  It turned out it was a smart trade in. I really enjoyed the survival horror game that was its predecessor.  One thing that made it work so well was that it worked much like Resident Evil 4…IN SPACE!

            One of the major differences is instead of a plague it involves a strange marker that was found on a distant planet that has caused an alien infection.  There is a ship called the USG Ishimura that is about as well lit as Nostromo in “Alien”.  The character Isaac Clark had to get on board in an attempt to find out what happened and hopefully find his girlfriend.  He comes out the lone survivor and quite insane.

            So what is new?  Well for one thing Dead Space 2 added on the prequel Dead Space: Extraction which normally costs money on the Playstation Network.  So it’s like getting a free extra game.  Pretty keen.  It’s also got a multiplayer option so the replay has grown quite a bit.  The game it self does raise the bar quite a bit.

            There are less stupid back and forth puzzles which make the game feel much smoother and less tedious.  But the challenge is there in much more frustrating ways.  The necromorphs attack in the dark form just flying out the walls and ammo is much scarcer in this sequel.  It makes things a lot tenser.  They also made zero gravity sections a lot more intricate.  You can now move all over rather than just jump form wall to wall. 

            The story is good but I still have no damn idea how the marker works.  It intrigues me more than annoys me though.  I’ve played the prequel now, Dead Space and now Dead Space 2 and then there is the animated movie called “Dead Space: Downfall”.  It’s ok if you enjoy the series.  But I still don’t get it. 

            Mostly I wonder if the original marker is human origin or alien.  The game really does well showing Isaac’s grip on reality is slipping. He hallucinates constantly and the entire beginning he starts in a straight jacket.  It makes avoiding the necromorphs a bitch since he can’t use his arms. 

            All in all it’s a fun game.  If you loved the first you’ll love this one.  If you are in the mood for something scary to play it’ll make you jump.  There is a lot of blood and oodles of jump scares and really great scares that come out from all just about anywhere.  The bar has certainly been raised.  It’s a great game and is like playing a really great sci-fi horror movie. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Nightmare on Elm Street- a mass retrospective

            For the 100th review I wanted to talk about a series that is iconic in the horror genre.  Freddy Krueger is easily one of the best villains of the slasher style films for his humor and comic timing that went into each inventive kill.

The development of the story, according to Wes Craven, started when he read a story in the paper about a Hmong man that was not sleeping because he was terrified he was going to die.  His family kept trying all sorts of things but he kept fighting them claiming that if he slept he would die.  Eventually they got him to sleep and sure enough he died.  All I know is that is an awesome way to come up with the concept.

So anyway there are nine movies out there and we got a lot of ground to cover.  Oh well, reviewing them is nothing.  Robert Englund played the Freddy character in EVERY movie with the exception of the remake.  Not even the goober in the Jason mask had that kind of stamina.  So without further ado let’s get this nightmare in gear. 

Oh this guy is bad.  This is his first and last movie.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
            This movie is great. It’s the one that started it all. It’s all based around the question what happens if you die in your dreams?  In this case there is an imaginative God-like serial child murderer in the dream realm to help the kids along.  It is also a story of revenge as Freddy died at the hands of the parent of the teenager’s he now kills.  Even though it seems rather justified since he did supposedly kill over 20 kids. Luckily the teenager Nancy has the genius and the gumption to stop him despite all her friends dropping like flies.

            It also marks the feature film debut of a young Johnny Depp.  And he gets knocked off in a most awesome way, sucked into a bed, liquefied, and blasted onto the ceiling.   All in all it’s very cleverly done for 1984.  It has themes of loss of innocence in suburban American life.   I totally recommend it if you have never seen it.   

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
            Supposedly taking place five years after the first story we have a new family that has moved into the house on Elm Street that Nancy, the protagonist of the last film lived in.  Oddly enough Nancy left her journal in the new teenage boy, Jesse’s, closet and he is slowly discovering that he is having dreams about the Freddy fellow. 

Viagra anyone?
            Except now Freddy is working THROUGH Jesse like a split personality and killing people.  This is an okay concept and might actually work for a bit until he literally rips out of the teenage boy’s skin. There are all sorts of neat effects with it for the time but as a whole it’s probably the most forgettable of the series. 
           
The writer claims to have made this script with homoerotic overtones though the director knew nothing of this.  I find that a bit odd because a homoerotic subtext is supposed to be obvious and I missed it in a big way on my first viewing and I think it had a lot to do with the fact that it is so damn forgettable and you will honestly not care about these people, gay or straight. 

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
            People generally say this is the best of the series.  Not only did it wisely bring back John Saxon and Heather Langenkamp from the original film but it also has Patricia Arquette in her first roll, Laurence Fishburne, and Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dick Cavett in funny cameos.  It was showed that maybe the series had folks that gave a rat’s ass about the story and wanted it to have some power. 

Turkey time.  Gobble Gobble.
            Patricia is a girl named Kristen who gets sent to an insane asylum after Freddy almost causes her to kill herself.  She meets and befriends all the other colorful characters and soon realizes that Freddy Krueger is tormenting the asylum.  Nancy’s character returns this time as a psychiatrist trying to help these kids fight off the dream demon.

            Along the way Freddy displays some awesome powers and really amazing kills.  Such as using a kid’s veins and arteries to turn him into a marionette and cause him to leap to his death.  However Kristen has a power of her own.  She can bring other people into her dreams.  This sort of makes things interesting since it allows the kids to attempt to gang up on Freddy in their idealized dream selves. 

            It’s in this movie that it’s revealed that Freddy is the son of 100 murderers supposedly.  Apparently years ago a nun names Amanda Krueger was watching over some of the dangerous criminals. The guards just decided to leave for the weekend and locked her in.  So I guess they don’t’ feed the insane in this story. If you’re crazy it’s your ass.  They all rape the shit out of her until she is almost dead and thus Freddy is born.  It’s definitely a sequel worth seeing.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: Dream Master
When they had a good thing going with good characters that happen to survive the producers pull a bland sequel with a complete recast.  Kristen is back with a few survivors and she even has a few other friends.  Not that it really matters the characters from the third movie get killed by the newly resurrected Freddy and Kristen gets killed mid-movie and passes her power of bringing people into her dreams to a friend of hers named Alice.

Wish you were here.
            Alice is a nice, shy character who has to now face Freddy which sucks for her.  Luckily she is somehow able to absorb abilities from her loved ones in order to face Freddy.  It’s a tad odd because in the battle there is a big reveal that Freddy collects the souls of the kids he kills.  It’s very creepy and stuff but honestly I liked it more when it comes off more as being a modern boogie man.  Not some sort of soul stealing demon.  It’s also a bit of a forgettable sequel.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
            In this movie Alice is back but now she has her own friends and a boyfriend named Dan.  At this point the formula is about the same standard.  A group of teens are hanging around and Freddy kills then in their dreams in creative ways.  In this movie we expand the story of Amanda Krueger’s rape.  Freddy also kills Dan but not before he knocks up Alice.  Real nice movie. 

The Swedish Chef really let himself go.
            Alice’s power that she got from Kristen is passing to her baby.  This is causing issues since Freddy is using her unborn kid to kill her friends.  With the help of the soul of Amanda they find a way to stop these shenanigans.  All you really need to know is everything revolves around the unborn kid.  It’s a bit convoluted and it was the lowest grossing of the Nightmare movies.  Once again we have a sequel that I don’t care much about.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
            With a supporting cast of Breckin Meyer, and Yaphet Kotto this movie wanted to put an end to the Freddy character.  This movie even brought back Johnny Depp in a brief cameo.  All in all this movie is much more like the first movie.  Freddy has to be killed by dragging him into the real world. 

3D?  Oh this will never catch on.
            The big draw for the movie was that when going into the dream world it goes into 3-D. The effect is very weak but I’m sure it would have been funny back before 3-D was overused for damn near every movie.  I guess even Peter Jackson tried to get a version of a script in but it never got made.   It’s just as forgettable as the other sequels thus far.   


Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
            Wes Craven is back and it shows.  This movie was really great.  It’s got most of the original cast from the first movie playing themselves.  The concept is that they are making a movie about Freddy and because of it the legend becomes reality.  It’s a really cool concept and the effects have gotten a great overhaul.
 Nothing beats kids. Juicy to a fault. Chomp!

            There is a big theme connection with Hansel and Gretel’s story.  Freddy reveals himself to be a type of demon in the end.  It’s all a very well done movie and makes a great conclusion to the series. However, in the last Friday the 13th movie “Jason Goes to Hell” There were two hints of characters that would face Jason next.  Before Jason is dragged to hell there is a necronomicon from “Evil Dead” and as Jason is dragged into hell his mask is grabbed down by Freddy’s glove.

Freddy vs. Jason

This comic was the bomb.com!
            A movie that fanboys and the fangoria crowd were clamoring to see.  There was a lot wrong with this movie. The dialogue was a joke and the acting was awful.  They basically made it so that folks could watch teens get chopped up in that “ooh that’s gotta hurt” factor.  Strangely enough they decided to make Jason Voorhees an antihero of sorts.  I don’t see it.  Sure he is a big dumb zombie but it’s never stopped him from killing indiscriminately.  Does anyone really win?  You’d have to see it to really judge.

            They also made a sequel to this movie in comic book form which pitted Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash from “Army of Darkness”.  It’s a good follow up.  Really it makes up for the pretty lackluster end that you get with the film.  It’s not as bad a versus movie as “Alien vs. Predator” but still kicks both franchises in the balls which might be a reason they decided to go ahead and remake the originals rather than make a sequel. Sort of a sad note to end on.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
            Well the remake is not too bad.  Jackie Earle Haley is the new Freddy and he is wildly different.  Mostly because he lacks the humor that Robert gave the roll.  Jackie is still a great actor and it’s played well.  But you don’t really care about the teen characters. 


That's never gonna heal if you don't stop picking.
            That is a big flaw.  For whatever reason they decided to only focus on the killer as a character but the teens get no real depth.  It’s a movie that really makes a person miss the old 1984 version. Hopefully they won’t go nuts and make a shitload of sequels based on the new version of Freddy.

            In conclusion there the series is rather decent but as a whole the ones that are really worth watching are the first the third and new nightmare.  The first film, because it gives you all the great scares and clever tension in one great movie.  The third because it raises the bar a tad with new effects and funny jokes tossed in to make it a worthwhile add-on to the series. Finally “New Nightmare” because it takes the same old concept and gives it a great new look.  All of which have many of the same actors.  So pull on a red and green sweater and check out some of the greatest horror series of our time.

The Rite-review


I'll eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
            Gosh I’d love to say this movie is worth it.  It does have some decent points so I’ll start with the good things about it.  The acting is decent.  Anthony Hopkins is top notch and I really think that Marta Gastini did a really great job as the possessed pregnant girl Rosaria.  Others were very decent and it would have been a very good movie if it had been written differently.

            Yes, the script is this movie’s enemy and it sucks the life out scenes in ways that should be taut and thrilling.  When they have not added a creepy image they try to toss in a jump scare in the cheapest ways as filler, such as a cat running across the screen.  That is very lazy.  A lot of the dialogue comes off as stagnant and trite. 

The money is in the....ughhhhh.
            For example, at one point a pudgy Father Matthew wants to chat with Michael at night so he chases after him in the street calling after him.  Having his head up his ass his leg clips a girl on a bicycle and causes her to swerve into traffic and get hit by a truck.  The next day he says “I can’t help but think that this was somehow my fault.”  ASSHOLE! It’s a great deal your fault.  If you would have looked both ways that girl would have been alive. The only think your could have done that would have contributed more to her death is to drive the fucking truck that killed her.  They could have thought of a million things that would have been better to say.

            There are all sorts of insane things like that that the script is just spewing out.  Matthew is studying to be a Priest because he thinks it’s the best way to get free college and get out of his family business which happens to be a mortuary.  Frankly I don’t know what he is bitching about.  Morticians make bank.  Plus considering he obviously has problems with faith maybe he should have considered the military and its college programs.  I’m just saying there ARE options beyond mortician and priesthood which is what he literally tells a friend of his are his only choices.

And the Winona Ryder in "Beetle Juice" lookalike contest winner is...
            I also have some questions for the director.  If there is supposed to be a demonic, red-eyed mule and you show the audiences a horse do you think no one will know the difference?  Is the Catholic Church so hard up for Priest’s that it will blackmail a man to stay in even though he clearly has lost his faith?  Is there a quota I am not aware of?  Seems odd that demons can often summon great powers but usually can’t (there is one exception in this movie) do something as simple as rip the bindings holding them in a chair.

            Clearly I am nitpicking as I am wont to do.  Frankly I thought the story was mediocre and even with the good acting it probably wouldn’t be enough to make it a movie worth seeing in theaters.  Rent it if you are curious but certainly don’t expect it to be scary or even particularly clever.  If you have seen any other exorcism movie then you’ve seen this one before.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dead Alive –review


Pull harder ladies!
            Oh my sweet, tap-dancing Jesus!  This movie is so damn good.  It reminds me how I felt the first time I watched “Army of Darkness” in college.  It’s not only by far the goriest movie I have ever seen in leaps and bounds but it has a lot of very fun gags in it that work to it’s advantage.  I am shocked that some of these Kiwis are not seen more in other mainstream horror movies or even in Jackson’s other productions.

            It’s a movie set in the 1950s where a man captures a Sumatran rat monkey off of Skull Island.  So I guess even early in his career Peter Jackson liked to reference “King Kong” since this is the Island that they got Kong on.  Plus, it too has spear wielding savages.   Though if you want to know an actual film fact; that particular spot they meet the natives is the spot they filmed the Paths of the Dead in “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” The monkey is taken to New Zealand and before long it finds a way to bite an old woman.  I would be remiss to not mention that the rat monkey is awesome looking stop motion by the way.  It’s very creepy looking nightmare fuel.  Best part is according to legend the creature came to be when rats came to the island and raped the tree monkeys.  What the hell?  It’s like something you tell at a campfire.

            So the old woman is this horrible old bitch whose has her son, Lionel on a tight leash.  He is in love with an adorable girl named Paquita who thinks that they are destined to be together because of a tarot reading her Grandmother gave her.  Without spending too much time delving into EVERY little detail the mother dies and comes back a zombie only to make more of the ravenous undead. 

Even the undead need to find a way to save face.
            What makes this tale unique from the millions of other zombie movies like it?  Well it actually is an almost perverse amount of gore.  The final scene does involve a lawnmower attack on a horde of zombies.  There is zombie baby that really does a lot of damage to people.  I know some of you might remember the zombie birth in the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” but that baby was killed before it could do damage.

            There is a kung fu priest.  When Lionel is being attacked, out comes the Priest who says “I kick ass for the Lord.”  And he isn’t lying.  He gives a lot of boots to the head before meeting a bloody end himself. There are tons of zombies and countless colorful deaths to behold.  It all leads up to an interesting climax that can only be described as Freudian.  The effects are just over the top enough to look really disgusting and creepy. Top notch work.

I got a splitting headache...get it?
            Really anyone that enjoys a gory movie will love it.  Or anyone that likes a movie for that silly zany humor that Sam Raimi has in his horror films will flock to this type of wit and charm.  I highly recommend this movie and think it’s completely worth the time to check out.  Not only because it’s awesome but because I challenge anyone to find anything with more gore.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Picks of 2011

            So I am a bit guilty of watching more crap this year than the nominees.  Last year I caught a lot of nominees and I was pretty ready for the awards but this year I have seen only a few.  So with that in mind I am giving my guesses.  Some of which are guesses based on their popularity or how they did at the Golden Globes. 

Best Picture
The Social Network

Best Director
Joel and Ethan Coen –True Grit

Best Actress
Natalie Portman- Black Swan

Best Actor
James Franco- 127 Hours

Best Supporting Actress
Hailee Steinfeld- True Grit

Best Supporting Actor
Geoffrey Rush- The Kings Speech

Best Foreign Language Film
Biutiful-Mexico

Best Film Editing
Black Swan- Andrew Weisblum

Best Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop

Best Animated Feature Film
Toy Story 3

Best Visual Effects
Inception- Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley & and Peter Bebb

Best Original Score
We Belong Together from Toy Story 3- Randy Newman

Best Original Score
The Social Network-Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Best Cinematography
True Grit- Roger Deakins

Best Sound Mixing
Inception- Lora Hirsberg, Gary A. Rizzo & Ed Novick

Best Sound Editing
Unstoppable- Mark P. Stoeckinger

Best Costume Design
True Grit- Mary Zophres

Best Art Direction
Inception- Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat

Best Adapted Screenplay
True Grit- Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

Best Original Screenplay
Christopher Nolan- Inception

Best Makeup
The Wolfman-Rick Baker & Dave Elsey

Knowing-review


WTF!
            Oh man.  When Kira suggested this I was skeptical.  Mostly because I thought it was “Next” which looked awful.  But for a disaster movie this one is okay.  The star is Nicolas Cage and he is in top form.  He plays an alcoholic professor of astrophysics who recently lost his wife. 

The next big disaster is "The Green Hornet"!
            There are elements of “The Number 23” but where that movie was b-grade bullshit this one at least leaves you in a state of suspension of disbelief.  Turns out this wee girl from 1959 predicted events all the way leading up to 2009 and beyond that are catastrophic in nature.  So there are some pretty cool disaster effects.  After being in “Con Air” I guess Nicolas Cage considers himself the last son of Krypton since he leaps into danger in the hopes of outwitting disaster.

            Of course he can’t and I guess what the overall theme of the movie is “shit happens”.   That is sort of a good theme.  Honestly I liked the movie and now if you don’t like spoilers I’d suggest you avoid reading the rest of the review since I am going to bring up a slight debate on the ending. 

            Matthäus Merian's engraving of Ezekiel's "chariot vision" is a dominant theme when it comes to the Strangers.  Kira told me at first they were angels but I think they are aliens.  Yes I know they had otherworldly forms and wing like wisps that might suggest an angelic creature but for fuck’s sake they fly mechanical ships through space.  Would an angel be troubled by space travel or the vacuum of space? 
A race of Dr. Manhattan's

            My guess is that they took the kids to start a strange wildlife reserve for humanity to maybe observe and record.  Clearly other’s much have had psychic ability to hear their call hence the other ships around the planet landing.  Also if it WERE heaven since the kids parents are dead and all they know is gone wouldn’t Heaven include the existence of the family? 

            Clearly I read too much into this.  It’s a worth seeing movie.  While not being too in your face ridiculous it’s at least an entertaining distraction with an unexpected ending.  Give it a watch sometime if you can handle a bit of Nic Cage fun.  I just hope he gets around to playing Fu Manchu finally.  
This is my Mecca!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Gore Gore Girls-review with spoilers


            Yikes!  This movie is another exploitation movie from 1972 that doesn’t even attempt at being good.  If you look it up on Wikipedia it’ll say it’s known for being “particularly infamous for its scene of chocolate milk produced when the nipple of a woman is severed.”  Yeah it tries to be funny but it comes off more obnoxious.  And the music is noticeably awful.  The strippers throughout this movie will dance to porno-sax, to surfer music to marching band music.  Sousa would be so proud.

            So the story begins with a stripper at a mirror.  A shadowy figure wastes no time bashing her head in to the glass several times and then taking the shards to her eyes.  Only they are clearly not hers In order to make this as gory as possibly it’s as if they just filled a dummy with meat and said go with it.  Sure it looks gross and the sound effects are foul but it looks more like it belongs in a haunted house then on screen.  Then we get the opening credits.
What do you mean I am reading off cue cards?  I'm illiterate.

            After a list of nobodies we the scene opens on a Borat- looking man with a cane.  This is Abraham Gentry, private eye and asshole who thinks he is the next Oscar Wilde.  He gets the doors and in comes a red headed Nicole Richie-looking girl who is actually a reporter named Nancy Weston but who is as bright as Richie.  She offers him $25, 000 to investigate the murder of the stripper Suzie Cream Puff and another $25, 000 if he solves the case.
           
            Nancy and Abe go to a stripper lead but it’s too late she is busy having her throat slit and then her face bashed in.  When they arrive Nancy faints but Abe acts like its no big deal he just calls up the police and quips “Lt. Anderson, one of my friends seems to have run into a bit of trouble... and lost her face.” What an asshole.  The cop is really an idiot since the only thing he cares about the crime scene is the number of people around taking pictures.
No way is this fake.

            They go to the bar where Suzie worked.  Abraham meets a bar maid who is just as annoying as he is.  He comes across another suspect and follows a new stripper home after saving her from angry feminists to ask her questions.  The new girl is either wonderful at acting stupid or she is really reading cue cards.  After Abe leaves the killer shows up. Slits her throat and spanks her ass to death with a meat tenderizer.  Then the killer puts salt and pepper on the wound and leaves. 

            When the cops arrive Abe, I am dead serious, tastes the blood for the sign of salt.  I hope he caught something from doing something so stupid.  Brilliant detective my ass. The paper clearly got their $50k worth out of this joker.    So now Abe goes to question one of the club owners into holding a stripper contest.  For no reason whatsoever the owner sics goons on Abe which he easily dispatches with his cane in seconds.  They agree to hold a big amateur stripper contest.   Sure is a laundry list of red-herrings in this case for Abe to consider. If I cared.

            Meanwhile a stripper, I assume, is ironing clothes while frying some fries.  The killer shows up and slits her throat and then burns her face with the iron.  The using scissors to cut one nipple which pours milk into a glass and then the other which for some reason pours chocolate milk into a glass the killer then clinks the glasses. 

            Her roommate I guess shows up because she gets grabbed and gets her face dunked into the boiling oil. Then a horde of women storm the room to find the bodies.  The police are idiots still thinking it’s a religious nut since Abe lead them on the wrong path so he can catch the killer first and get the money.  What an asshole.

            So the stripper contest goes on and like a real nice guy Abe gets Nancy drunk and has her strip and win the contest.  Thus use her as bait.  He takes her home and the killer arrives with a knife and bottle of acid “Made in Poland”.  What the hell?  So after a brief fight it turns out the killer was the annoying bar maid who wanted to be a stripper but had a burnt chest and head she kept covered.  Then she falls out of the window and into the street where her head is run over by a car like an old pumpkin. 
Made in Poland? What the hell?

            “That’s Marlene…all over” he says.  What an asshole.  Then for reasons I can’t explain Nancy sits there while he tells the story like he knew the whole time Marlene was the killer despite the red herrings and the run around when really the trap was all he had to do the whole time.   Then after all the unromantic crap they make it seem as if they are going to get it on and the screen goes black to “We announce with pride: this movie is over!”
Seriously? Who ends a movie like this?

            I hated the main character so much it made it a hard watch.  Plus he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience which just makes this movie even more cartoonish and stupid.  I am sure that it was made for B-movie fans to enjoy the girls and gore but when you mess up the gore and the girls are that poorly written its no wonder these movies are the kind you see in grindhouse variety.  There are better movies out there but if you are desperate it’ll make you squirm with how bad it is. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Stepford Wives- a comparison


            Having finally seen the 1975 version of “The Stepford Wives” and the 2004 I can honestly say the original was the better version.  A great novel written in 1972 by Ira Levin the 1975 movie follows rather well.  I was really really impressed by the paranoia and simplicity used to make it a decent thriller. 

            The 2004 version has a good cast and snappy writing but takes away the terror of that the book and the 1975 movie gave by letting us see a strong independent woman ultimately betrayed by the man she loved and had children with.  I will say this though.  It’s insane how the some of the actresses in this movie look like other actresses.  Katharine Ross has a hint of Diane Keaton and Paula Prentiss looks like Linda Lovelace.
            The story is very dark and very interesting and the new version just glosses over every thing.  Mathew Broderick plays the husband and he looks like Nicole Kidman could kick the shit out of him.  I don’t believe for a second this man could force any sort of power trip on his wife much less a conspiracy of control.  Not wee Ferris Bueller.  At least Katherine has the wee frame that makes her seem a mix of intimidated and willing to risk it all to get her kids back.

            Whether you like one or the other the story is has been parodied.  Its good book and most people would benefit to read it.  Anyway, if you are looking for something dark about a town where nothing is as it seems then “The Stepford Wives” (1975) is a good movie and even better book.  It’s very feminist and takes a very interesting view of the modern housewife.  There are hints of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” but with a much more obvious message. 

Megamind-review


Would you ever guess the loser on the left is Jonah Hill? Shocker!
            Like “Monsters vs. Aliens” it’s worth seeing…once and only once.  I don’t know why but DreamWorks just bottled gold with “Shrek” but other movies they have put out have been just by the book movies that will never beat Pixar for their creativity.   Don’t get me wrong this is a good movie and it’s really worth seeing but it doesn’t have much in the way interest fore extended viewings.

Hmmm. Will anyone believe I'm a villain?
            For example I am not sure whose bright idea it was to make Jonah Hill the antagonist.  Too say his name on the poster a dozen times like its drawing power does nothing.  I am not sure if there are that many Jonah Hill fans but I am one of those people that don’t really give a hoot in hell when it comes to a cartoon what celebrity does the voice.  If it were up to me I’d say cast nobodies and let the art and story speak for them selves.

            But America it seems rather likes paying more so that the crafty cat can sound like Cate Blanchett or some such person.  Markets are funny that way.  Still, I am getting off track.  “Megamind” has loads of in jokes and some neat gags that are pretty worthwhile but I won’t lie the whole superhero computer animated feature felt done with more style in “The Incredibles” this felt a wee forced sometimes and like it wanted too much to be something edgy like when you saw older people trying to be cool and you knew it just came off sad…that is sometimes how this comes off to me.

I admit this is a good gag.
            Still it’s worth a rental.  Oh and in the theater I had a moment that I can chalk up on my list of best things overheard yelled at the screen.  This one came from a little girl behind me when Megamind is driving a flying car at top speed away from a building flying towards him.  She yells “Just TURN!”  That is so brilliantly logical and I can see some little girl will grow to be a cynic like me one day.  Little girl I salute you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Monsters-review


            I went into this movie with the wrong idea.  I was not disappointed in what I got, but still it was not what I expected.  I had expected a creature feature like a “Cloverfield” meets a “District 9” yes there are some vague elements of them in “Monsters” but it’s not really so much about the monsters and their attacks.  It’s about relationships that go on with the two protagonists in the wake of an extraordinary situation.

Please pass the mustard gas.
            There is a lot of fear and build up for the monsters that you hear about.  These things are giant creatures that you only catch glimpses of and hear as they cry in the jungle.  They don’t seem to attack unless provoked if that makes sense.  There are lots of themes that this movie explores as well including the border issue, corruption, nonchalance with violence and it even gives a nod to movies like “Apocalypse Now”.

            It would be wrong not to mention the actors who do a great job playing off one another and the other folks they come across on their journey.  From what I read many of the other performers were not actors but were locals that were untrained and shot on location to give it more authenticity.  I’ll tell you this.  It works. 

If only I knew what happened here.
            The Mexico it portrays is a mix of beautiful and deadly.  Slowly being taken back by nature as the area near the border is considered the Infection Zone and then there are aspects of seeing total devastation treated with complete nonchalance which is almost humorous to watch.  It’s a really good movie with a theme that really monsters and not just beauty may be in the eye of the beholder. 

            I can just tell that walking out at first it took me a second to absorb it all. If this movie didn’t have the relationships and the themes I don’t think the movie would have been nearly as effective.  It would have been just trying to M. Night us by giving us a monster movie without monsters and that would just be cheating.  This works so much better. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tombs of the Blind Dead-review with spoilers


Next stop, Castle Greyskull!
            This 1971 Spanish exploitation flick was actually kind of fun to watch.  The atmosphere is damn creepy and the costumes are pretty decent for such an old piece of work.  All in all I can see how it’s gaining in cult status since it’s got a lot going for it in terms of entertaining horror culture of the foreign variety.  It certainly has a grindhouse feel so if you liked that style of movie you’ll like this. 
            It starts out with Virginia and Betty meeting outside a pool in a nice resort.  They talk about their college days and how they are single.  Virginia says she is seeing a guy named Roger, though it is not serious.  Roger then shows up and invites Betty to join them in a little holiday if she can bring a friend.
Sweetheart! Time to bleach that mustache.
            They meet at a train station but Betty is alone. She attempts to cancel the plans as she knows that she will be a third wheel.  Still Roger insists she comes along.  They board the train and it isn’t long before they are laughing and falling into each others arms.  It’s pretty wild.   Virginia has had just about enough and gets up to get some air.  Betty joins her and they reminisce about their college days when apparently they experiment their lesbian tendencies on one another. 
            Roger shows up and suddenly it’s more like he is the third wheel.  Virginia tries to find out if she can get off the train some how but the brakeman tells her the train doesn’t stop until it reaches its so she grabs her bag and jumps off the fucking train.  I’ll admit you have to want to get away from someone pretty damn bad to risk doing that. Considering her build and what she is wearing she should have had a bone sticking out of her leg landing the way she did. 
The undead leave lethal hickeys.
            Still she wanders to a nearby castle and sadly it is not filled with transvestites from transsexual Transylvania.  It’s an empty ruin.  Virginia doesn’t even seem downtrodden by this.  She just unpacks after realizing nobody is home and makes a fire changes and gets a camp going.  Now THAT is a girl who adapts to her situation.  She won’t even leave the place to find one that has a phone.  She says “Screw it! I’ll stay here.”
            The castles graves start pouring out dry ice fog.  Soon cloaked skeletal figures come out.  Some of the dead are on horseback which I don’t get.  The horses look to be in good health.  So were they buried with the men?  Did they rise with the knights?  So they start to go after the girl and she freaks out and runs.  Even stealing one of their horses and making it out to a field.  She doesn’t get far until she is pulled off and they surround her biting her to death.
            The next day Roger and Betty go out on horseback to look for Virginia.  They find some of her stuff but no body.  The police are there having just discovered her body and need them to come identify the body.  At the morgue you meet an insane looking bearded guy who shows them the bodies.  Then he is left alone.  While alone I thought for sure he was going to fuck the body.  The way he looked at and talked about the body I it’s hard to not come to that conclusion.  But no, he plays with frogs instead.  The body of Virginia gets up and bites him.
Do you know what happens when you are cruel to frogs?
This happens!!!!
        
           Roger and Betty research some about the former castle and find out the former occupants were knights who were Satanist that would sacrifice virgins and drink their blood.  When they were caught and hung crows ate out their eyes so now it’s said they rise from the grave as the blind dead.  The police hear it might be a rumor of a local pirate using fear of the legend to keep people away so he can smuggle goods.
            While Roger and Betty investigate that lead zombie-Virginia attacks a young girl in a mannequin factory.  She is beaten and immolated though.  Roger, Betty the mercenary Pedro and Nina decide to go to the castle to see what is what.  Nina is jealous of Betty and hits on Roger.  Roger being the 70s man immediately starts making out with her the second he is alone with her.  Meanwhile Betty and Pedro walk off to the graveyard where Pedro savagely rapes Betty.
Sir, I implore you, put your pants back on!
            After putting their clothes back on Pedro has the gall to look at Betty like “Gee that was no fun whatsoever.”  The graves begin to quake and suddenly the dead are up and at it again.  This time they surround Pedro and bite him to death.  They chase after Nina, Betty and Roger.  This time Roger gets his arm cut off and bleeds to death.  Nina is surrounded and bitten as well. Roger reveals to Betty with his dying words that it’s noise that draws the dead. 
            So Betty shuts up but the pounding of her heart betrays her location.  So she runs again.  Luckily the train is on the way.  She manages to get aboard with the help of the brakeman but unfortunately he gets killed.  As does the conductor even though the train has started taking off Betty has found a hiding spot onboard while the dead found a way into the passenger car and have begun killing every man, woman and child onboard the train. 
            The train arrives at the destination and a man is able to stop the rogue train.  They find Betty and see she is in shock.  Some passengers try to board the car and open the door but open the door to the screams of the Betty who sees it’s full of the dead and their slaughter.  Fin.  Not bad considering the low budget and the pretty old style of it all.  If you want a fun fair with a grindhouse throw back feel to it give it a watch. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer-review


I feel pretty, Oh so pretty
            “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer” is a really great movie.  Not so much scary as it was disturbing.  Michael Rooker (of “Mallrats”, “Tombstone”, and the AMC hit show the “Walking Dead”) plays a chilling killer with no remorse, no emotion, and no problem dealing death.  Whoever wrote the script must have a great knowledge into the mind of a sociopath because it really was spot on and Michael did a fantastic job pulling off the story of the killer based on serial murder Henry Lee Lucas.

            There are aspects that seemed familiar to me from other mediums but since this came first I have to bring them up.  For example Henry was in jail for killing his mother but his story changes constantly regarding the method of how he killed her.  One time it’s with a baseball bat, another he stabbed her and yet again he shot her.  Reminded me a lot of the Joker in “Dark Knight” telling how he got his scars. 

And I thought what happened to Tila Tequila with a bottle was harsh.
He also takes a fellow named Otis under his wings to teach how to kill and not get caught. This doesn’t go well as Otis has killing methods that differ widely from Henry and his own little code.  This entire plot device including the code of sorts on not getting caught was almost pound for pound “Dexter”.  Like I said, this came first so I see that this one is likely not ripping off the other but WOW that is too obvious not to notice.

            Where Dexter holds some things sacred such as not harming children and protection for what matters to him Henry does not.  I thought that made this so much creepier and more realistic as a sociopath.  There is a dark element to this movie and the fact that it’s set in a time when DNA and forensic science was not the caliber it was today.  All he is doing is basically changing his modus operandi every time he kills and moving around to make it seem like a different person each time.  In a modern crime scene he’d have left hair and prints all over the place.

Henry finds its best to stay one step ahead of the competition.
            Either way I recommend seeing it if you want a scarier look into a criminal mind that takes you to a different place.  Lower class then Hannibal Lecter and with fewer ties to humanity than Dexter it would make any anyone squirm a bit.  Most of the gruesome killings are done off-screen leaving much to the imagination.  Still, like I said it’s a disturbing bit of work but worth the ride.                

The Last House on the Left- review with spoilers


            Oh yeah this 1972 movie was scary enough to be remade in 2009.  But let me tell you something it’s more scary in the way juxtapose screwball comedy with a rape murder movie.  The music choices are a total weird one too.  I think Wes Craven went to see if he could combine elements of parent’s worst fear with “Smoky and the Bandit”.
Whew! Did you fart?
Young Mari Collingwood starts this exploitation movie off right getting out of the shower and telling her parents she is going out to celebrate her seventeenth birthday by attending a concert with her friend, Phyllis. Her parents express concern at the fact she is not wearing a bra. They let her go, giving her a peace symbol necklace as a gift before she leaves.
Phyllis and Mari have a drink by a river then go to the city for the concert. On the way, they hear a news report on the car radio of a recent prison escape, involving violent criminals by the names of Krug Stillo, his son Junior who seems to be about the same age and his father, Sadie, and Fred "Weasel" Podowski.  It’s an exposition news report and it’s introducing us to the villains who do things like talk about killing, and raping, and getting a fix.  They are smart criminals as you’ll find out.
 After the concert, Mari and Phyllis stroll the bad part of town, seeking someone who might sell weed.  A clever girl might just find a friend with a hook up rather then roam throughout the ghetto for a $20 bag of grass.  They find Junior, who leads them back to an apartment, where they are immediately trapped by the criminals. Phyllis tries to reason with the criminals to let her go and is punched in the stomach and raped. Meanwhile, Mari's unsuspecting parents prepare a surprise party for her while music you might hear at a jamboree is playing. 
This is his O face.
The next morning, the girls in a car trunk and taken to the countryside as the gang intends to leave the state. The car malfunctions right in front of Mari's house while two bumbling cops right out of “Smoky and the Bandit” are in her home talking to Mari's parents about her disappearance. Removed from the trunk, Mari realizes that they are near her own home while she is dragged to the woods. In the woods, the girls are untied, and Phyllis forced to piss herself. Mari and Phyllis are forced to have sex with each other and then Sadie goes down on a weeping Mari.
Phyllis makes a run for it to distract the kidnappers and offer Mari a chance to escape. She is chased by Sadie and Weasel, while Junior stays behind to guard Mari, who tries to convince Junior that her father can help him and give him a fix since he is a doctor who helps junkies, and she gives him her peace symbol necklace as a symbol of her trust.  Phyllis manages to hit Sadie in the face with a rock and runs. She is then cornered, and Weasel stabs her in the back.  Phyllis is then stabbed several times kicked when down.  But as if they couldn’t just finish her off with a quick kill they have to gut her and play with hey guts and then cut off her fucking arm for the hell of it.
Other than this the concert went well for Mari.
Mari is presented Phyllis' severed arm and Krug proceeds to carve his name into Mari's chest. Mari screams at the top of her lungs while the caveman name is marked "Krug" on her chest. Then Krug rapes her. Seconds later Mari, sick from the shock of being raped, vomits and then walks into a nearby lake. Krug shoots Mari and she floats on the top of the lake. Krug, Sadie, and Weasel wash and change out of their bloody clothes.
In their new attire, the gang goes to the Collingwoods' home, masquerading as traveling salesmen. Mari's parents agree to let them stay overnight.  Because that is what people do for complete fucking strangers.  The killers also are asked to stay in Mari’s room so they know they are in the home of the girl they just murdered.  Why wouldn’t they kill the parents too instead of tempt fate?  Clearly the criminal mind is a brilliant one.
Junior exposes their identity when Mari's mother sees Mari's peace symbol necklace dangling around his neck. Later that night she hears them fucking TALKING about killing both the girls and leaving them in the woods.  I know they are probably worked up after a long day but they really got to think out a better strategy since they know these people are the girl’s parents.  
She and he husband rush out into the woods, where they find Mari on the bank of the swamp dead. They carry Mari's body back to the house.  Outside, the mom seduces Weasel into getting tied up, then performs fellatio on him biting his penis off and spits it out.  She leaves him to bleed to death.  Though I wouldn’t think that would kill a person.  Many men I know in politics seem to function with no dicks. 
Inside the house, the dad carries a double barreled shotgun into his daughter's room, where two of the criminals are sleeping. Instead of painting the room with their brains he has setup elaborate traps like a middle-aged Kevin from “Home Alone”.  Krug escapes into the living room slipping on shaving cream and even electrocuting him on one of the traps. He overpowers the doctor, but the criminal is then confronted by his own son, who now brandishes a firearm. Junior threatens to kill his father. Krug psychologically manipulates Junior to commits suicide with the weapon.  I don’t think even Darth Vader was able to literally tell people “Take the gun! Kill yourself!”  
This chainsaw is for trimming those 70s sideburns
Sadie rushes outside where she is tackled by the mom. The two of them wrestle in the leaves. Sadie falls in the pool like a spaz so the mom grabs a knife and pulls Sadie up and cuts her throat open. The dad chases the Krug around the living room with a chainsaw for a long time until he finally manages a killing blow. Finally the police arrive in time to see the carnage.  Where were they?  Well they ran out of gas earlier in the picture and spent the rest of it trying to find ways back to the station in HILARIOUS ways.
Wes Craven is good at what he does.  But clearly he had to work to get there.  This proves it.  This movie has editing and writing so questionable it is a wonder how it even made it into production.  Why does a movie about a teenage rape and murder need comic relief by two bumbling cops?  Why is the music so goofy and upbeat given the subject matter?  Is it worth seeing?  Not in the least.