Sunday, November 21, 2010

Initial Thoughts: Friday the 13th (2009)


(Truth be told, this is an old post from what was basically the prototype for this blog (some would argue this place is still in the beta phase which I wouldn't disagree with). I figured I'd post it here for archival purposes before its other home disappears. (Myspace, what the hell happened to you? It's like you're an assault victim desperately clinging to the idea that everything's fine.) Plus, I figured it'd be a nice companion to tomorrow's post where I'll do the same format for another film. Bet you can't guess which one?

Anyway, after I saw this thing in the theater, I was still so frustrated with it that I had to spit out the points that were bothering me in order to find the peace within once again. Sadly, I'm not exaggerating. Just ask my wife who witnessed me have an emotional freak-out while stuck in the theater, something I think I've just now gotten over from tomorrow's movie. Looking at this now, it strikes me as being even more profane than I usually am but I attribute that to the anger the movie induced. I'd like to imagine my writing's improved since then, an old adage I'll be saying about this come two years from now. There's probably more bitching points forgotten that I'll remember whenever I revisit the movie, but for now I'd like to think these are enough, even now almost two years later.)

Originally appeared on 2/19/2009:
Okay, so I'm skipping class and having to use the school's computer since mine's screwed up right now, but I figured I'd have to vent while it's fresh. I liked the Leatherface remake enough and dug the hell out of the prequel, so I was wasn't expecting horrible things; and it's not like any of the original Jason flicks were that good. The only one that comes close to being a truly good movie was the very first one. The rest were just really fun in a schlocky way, so it's not like this one had too far to go to top the others. I just don't know how they could possibly fuck it up. Wow. Here's some individual thoughts. Beware, much of the film's....."plot" is spoiled below.

-The opening credits almost sent me into a seizure. By the time your eyes adjust to being strobed, they hit you with another one. From the very first second, the movie was just inviting The Rage out of me.

-Jason's mother sounds like she couldn't punish a poodle let alone kill a whole camp. She looks like she should be selling bibles.

-Okay, so we're introduced to the first group of losers. In a slasher, these are typically the opening fodder dispensed with in five minutes to set the rest of the movie up. But guess what? These fuckers hang around for what feels like half an hour at least. Maybe it was only fifteen minutes but it easily felt like twice that.

-What makes that all the worse is that these guys are insufferably annoying. Hell, if they had a black guy with them you already have all the stereotypes in the first batch. The jock, the vapid girlfriend, the stupid-ass comic relief, the survivor girl, and her helpful but naive boyfriend who'll get it in the end right before the end of the movie. That's right, this is it's entirely own movie, one that's completely uninteresting and boring as hell since you've already seen it a hundred times.

-Oh yeah, this movie has nudity out it's ass, as though that's going to make up for the rest of horseshit slung around. This movie has enough silicone and plastic to give Cher a new lease on life.

-So the chick finds a locket with a photo of Jason's mother on it, which apparently she looks like. Yep, at the 7 minute mark, I already knew the ending.

-So, uh, when did Jason become a Graboid? Call Kevin Bacon.

-Why the fuck does a summer camp have a boiler attached to labyrinthine tunnels? Were they smuggling slaves in the Civil War? Why does Fuller and Form think every horror movie has to have a set stolen from the Goonies and pumped up to be grittier?

-Oh, there's the title card. Shouldn't it have a "Part 3" by now?

-Oh, GODDMAMIT!! Are you fucking telling me we have to sit through a whole other half hour of setting up even more vapid characters than the first group? AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I literally almost walked out at this point.

-I swear to god, Trent is the love child of Tom Cruise and Christian Bale. Look:

-I almost want to say that the only character even remotely likable is Jared Paladecki, but then I realize that's only because I like him in every single other thing I've seen him in. His character in this is just as one note and flat as any other, it's just that he's trying hard to make it better. The Asian guy is the only one that's tolerable, and even that's only for a couple of scenes.

-When the hell did the 70's flocked haircuts comeback? I know dipshit skaters have had them for a while now, but when did the rest of the world drink the Kool-Aid? This movie is more flocked than most major migration paths for birds.

+Awesome! The Sentinel's playing the sheriff!

-...who only gets two lines.

-I honestly haven't heard just outright retarded dialog like this in years. Who fucking talks like that? At one point Trent complaints a woman's chest in mid-coitus by calling them "stupendous". Whaddafuck?

-Basically, this movie's concept for Jason was take Leatherface from the remake and make him look like a bum. Sorry, it doesn't scare me at all. In fact I ended up laughing at him in every scene. I've seen scarier looking people at the bus stop. Mentally stunted, clodding, something-not-quite-right Frankenstein's Monster Jason was freaky to me. Meth-head homeless Joe Jason is not. Simple.

-The mask's big reveal issss.....(drumroll)...under a pile of dirty linens and random shit that he slips on without even really giving a shit, helping us to not give a shit either.

-The kill's in the movie aren't even entertaining, which could have been it's only saving grace, but they all feel like a twelve year old tried to emulate shit from a Hostel movie. The weakest kills in the whole series to me.

-Sorry, I was wrong. Jason's apparently patterned after Ted Nugent. He sure is a good shot with that bow and arrow.

-Jason wants to hide from the world. This movie teaches us that the best way to do that is to light up your stomping grounds like a fucking funpark. "They'll never find me under these stadium lights." But there really is no explanation why every other scene at night is lit like there's a high school football game going on next door. You can actually count how many spotlights are being used in every shot. Platinum Dunes might want to look for at least one new guy to rig their lights. I know that guy with the hairlip has been around for a while, Mr. Bay, but I think it's time we let him go quietly into that good night.

-I swear to god, at least 30% of the movie was out of focus. I thought at first it was just the projector, but no, it was for specific shots. Hell, some shots would start in focus and then go completely soft by the end for no justifible reason. I can get why people use shaky cam, as much as I hate it. But if out of focus shots combined with fucking shaky cam becomes the new trend, then we, as a collective human race, are retarded. As someone who's capable of sight, I like to be able to see my movies.

+The only, and I mean only, good scene in the movie is when the black guy gets it (as though you didn't think he would). He's laying out there with an axe in his back and screaming, then it cuts back to the cabin where Trent is doing the whole "You're full of shit. There's nothing out there" spiel while you can still hear the black guy screaming for help offscreen. I was fucking dying laughing. I couldn't breathe. Holy shit. "It's cold out here" hahahahahahahaha

-Wow, Trent's death is very anticlimatic. I wish the truck driver had gone "Fuuuuuuuccck this" and peeled out. I know I would have laughed.

-Ohhh, the survivor girl got killed. What a twist! Maybe it would have mattered if anyone gave half a damn for even one of the characters instead of simply filling the quota of stock characters.

-You know the ending of Rob Zombie's Halloween where Michael's playing Rob Villa in the old house with the 2x4? Just take that but change it to homeless Jason in the tunnels (which somehow empty into an overturned bus? Huh? Was I seeing that right?) and there's your ending.

-See the sister there doing the whole momma routine? Yeah, I harken back to the seven minute mark.

- Really? That's how you try to top the last minute ending of the original? Just have a seat over there. We need to have a talk about some things.

-The credits are just now rolling but I swear to god this movie ended a lot earlier. My brain feels like it checked out halfway through.

The sad part is there was at least twice as many mental notes I had watching it, but even as I was leaving it was hard retaining any of them. The movie was so goddamn vapid I could barely hold onto a cohesive thought about it. I know I had watched it, but nothing stuck because every single thing was so meaningless throughout the entire movie. To put it in perspective, I wasn't this angry or frustrated coming out of The Unborn last month. Hell, I actually think I like Zombie's Halloween a little more after this. At least that could be entertaining as you watch it. This was just tedious. It felt like work sitting through it. Never before have I literally felt like I should be paid for watching a movie. The old movies, while not being very good, were a blast to watch. They're great for horror kids to watch and adults can get cheesy kicks out of them. Jason X is one of the most rewatchable movies to me just because of how fun it is. The pretentiousness of the remake just sickens me. It feels like they thought "Oh, we're going to make an actual good Jason movie" and were snubbing their noses at the past films, when those were at least enjoyable. The My Bloody Valentine remake puts it's bootheels to this movie's neck, man. You can tell it was made by people that really respect the original and other slsashers of the time and paid tribute while still doing their own thing. That movie grabs you by the throat by the opening shot and screams in your face "YOU READY FOR SOME FUN, FUCKERS? WOOOOOOOO!!!!!" And it's in 3-D. And it's got Tom Atkins. And 3-D midgets. Who get spiked to the ceiling. Holy shit, that sounds awesome, and I've already seen it! Go see that instead.

I'll let you know if the unrated Blu-ray of Friday the 13th is any better when I eventually buy it.

God, I'm such a tool.

(For the record, I did end up buying the blu-ray for about six bucks, proving that: indeed, I am a tool.)

These two have ruined studio horror as well as childhood memories for years. Consider them the Fiend's Most Wanted.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Hope you enjoyed what’s pretty much the one big “hurrah” for us horror fiends, sorry I haven’t been around much lately to celebrate it. What was supposed to be a pretty big month for the blog turned out to be complete absenteeism on my part. I had lists and features and all sorts of nerd boy rantings planned but unfortunately real life decided to kick my ass. Family health problems as well as having to shoot my thesis film robbed me of my writing time, soooooo…uh…..look forward to Halloween Fest 2011 here at DVD Fiend! But I do hope you stick around as things are starting to wind down a bit out here in the real world and the urge to blather about on here is coming back fierce. There should be new stuff soon and eventually I hope to be back into the full swing of things. There’s still the Road to 500 countdown which despite everything else, I’ve still had time to watch movies somehow. I think I left off somewhere around title #80 and I’ve watched weeeellll beyond that so I think I’ll be able to make my goal for the year, even if I end up still trying to catch up blog-wise well into next spring. I can tell you this; I will not be remiss for writing topics anytime soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Top 10: Horror Music Video Tie-Ins Part 2

Hi there! This certainly took way longer than it should have, didn't it? Crap keeps popping up and delaying everything. Something tells me this month is going to be crazy. Speaking of which, I'm hoping to have a post up tomorrow related to the month, but you never know what the hell will throw a monkey wrench in to the Mangler, grinding everything up. Anyway, here's the long-delayed final half of the top horror movie music videos. The last half was full of kitschy songs that I liked for their camp value, but this half's selections are songs I truly enjoy. I would willingly rock out to these songs any given time. So, at last, here you go. Rock on!

5. Alice Cooper - The Man Behind the Mask
By the time the sixth Jason movie came out, the series had already established itself as a cultural icon. What better way to tap into that than a trendy music video for the kiddies? And what better way to reach them than by pairing up what was once the most shocking rocker of all time with the slasher with the highest body count? The result: a pretty damn corny rocker that fits right in line with the tone of the series at the time. Even though Alice was already showing his mileage at this point in the 80's, it didn't stop him from his leather and theatrics. It begins with him popping up in a theater showing Friday 6 and breaking glass over his head right in the patron's faces and eventually escalates with him whipping various his minions in an elaborate set, including one girl with black wings taking flight from a giant unicorn. What this has to do with a guy in a mask stabbing people, I have no idea. In the end, the song's cool and the video's a trip, so it's all good in the end.

4. The Dickies - Killer Klowns From Outer Space
The perfect song for such a whacked out movie. The music sounds like it comes from a carnival in Hell as you whip around their most ludicrous roller coaster, meanwhile the singer sounds like a worm being choked out every time he hits the chorus. And yet, it works. It's catchy as hell and always brings a smile to whoever's listening to it. The video itself, besides the obligatory film clips, works with the movie pretty well. The band is dressed like an amalgamation of Mick Jagger, Sid Vicious, Ratt, Paul McCartney, Amish guy, so wardrobe synchronization was never an issue here, apparently. Someone decided to bring these yahoos together and give them the power of judge, jury, and executioner. That's right. Together, they are Judge Dredd-ful. These rejects from the Cuckoo's Nest send a Klown to jail, and then torment him with their music until the other Klowns boot them and take over. At least, that's how I read the narrative, which I believe was penned by John Grisham.

Dickies - Killer Klowns From Outer Space
Uploaded by lucky33. - Click for more funny videos.

3. The Ramones - Pet Sematary
It takes a certain type of 8-year old to rip off Columbia House's video program, and I was that type. After committing mail fraud at an exceptionally young age, I watched this movie for the first time and was subsequently wrecked from it. Yet, I kept watching it. At the time it was the most adult movie I had ever seen and I thought it was great. It wasn't until years later that I found out The Ramones had recorded a tie-in song for it. I have no idea how an infectious, amazingly written (for The Ramones anyways) pop song became the banner advertisement for such a solemn, depressing movie, but I'm glad it happened. I can only assume it was due to Stephen King's personal love for the band. No matter how it came to be, it became one of my very favorite Ramones songs, over even "Beat on the Brat" which I sang to myself constantly throughout my elementary school tour of duty. While the video may not be anything fancy, just the sight of The Ramones playing this song at a graveyard while still in their prime is probably one of the coolest sights ever to be produced. It reeks of awesome. And cadavers. I can only hope that one day, my funeral will be exactly like this one.

2. Motorhead - Hellraiser
Now, this is actually a newer one to me. If it wasn't for Youtube, I probably never would known there was any such thing as a Hellraiser-themed music video. It makes sense that it would be for the third one since that was the lone attempt at throwing money at the series to bring it to a Freddy Krueger-level of success. When I came across this video online, I was blown away. The song is simply awesome. Motorhead is known as a heavy metal band, but something about their music has always pushed them far above others in the same genre for me, so already I'm going to like this on some level. It may not be one of their hardest songs, but it's definitely one of their catchiest, maybe even over "Ace of Spades." Every time, and I mean every goddamn time, I hear this song, it's stuck in my head for days. I'll be walking to the store and I'll be set upon by an overpowering urge to start chanting "Hellraiser!" in a voice that sounds like gravel. It's like a disease for me. The video for the song is great. It incorporates the requisite film clips into the video far more seamlessly than most others and runs with their own storyline of Motorhead taking on Pinhead while others are turned into human-boar-beast cenobites patterned after the band's signature skull logo. Personally, I believe that if Pinhead were a real person, Lemmy would be one of the few people on the planet who wouldn't even bat an eye as he walked up and kicked the cenobite king right in the balls. That's just how he rolls.

1. Dr. Reanimator - Move Your Dead Bones
And now, ladies and gentlemen, we come to the real deal. I liked the movie enough, but after it was over I flipped through the special features and came across this little number. Needless to say, my life was changed. Chills ran down my body as this giddy piece of eurotrash unfurled. I have no belief whatsoever that a musical entity entitled "Dr. Reanimator" existed before or after this movie, but for one shining moment, they conquered the world. I'm sure the underwear model front-lining the video had nothing to do with the creation or performance of the song, but whoever you are and wherever you are, you are a genius, Dr. Reanimator. This is a game-changer. There's a reason there hasn't been any horror tie-ins since this, the bar was just set so high. The only reason this isn't as revered as Citizen Kane is because no one had the inspiration to have Jeffrey Combs leading the goth rave-line while wearing a top-hat and monocle while twirling a cane. Prepare to have your mind blown:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top 10: Horror Music Video Tie-Ins Part 1

Sorry for being away for a while. Various issues continue to pop up and they always end up taking most of the time I set aside for writing. At least I've been trying my best to continue watching films for the Road to 500 marathon so I'm hoping to be able to reach my goal by the end of the year, though catching up on the write-ups is a whole other story.

Anyway, this Top 10 stems from my love of music videos. Growing up along with MTV developed a love for the format which might as well be dead as far as the ability to view them anymore. If it wasn't for places like Youtube, they might as well not even exist anymore. Hell, I don't think people buy the cds they promote anyway so what does it all matter. One special category of music video belonged to the movie tie-in video which was a product of corporate synergy at its shrewdest. Market your hip movie using the most popular method of music delivery amongst the audience. What can I say? It worked. They were infectious and if the song was for a movie you loved, you wanted to watch it over and over. For me, the best of these came from horror movies. This list presents my favorite ten videos I've seen over the years. For all of these, I loved the song at some level and the videos were memorable enough to me that I could think of them off the top of my head. Thanks to the magic of the internet, they can now be shared to all that bother to stumble upon this blog. I cut them up into two parts again just to make it easier to read due to length. Anyway, get rockin'.

10. The Fat Boys - Are You Ready for Freddy?
From the days of rap when people actually, you know, rapped, the pioneering hip-hop group The Fat Boys, stars of the international smash Disorderlies, bust out some rhymes with the gloved one. Somewhere along the lines, Freddy must have got jungle fever and left his estate to his three nephews, twenty years after he was burned alive but that's the legal system for you. The boys arrive with coordinated outfits and bumble their way around the house while Freddy halfheartedly shoos them out. The way the song incorporates elements of Freddy's theme weaves its way into the songs beat pretty well, surprisingly, and holds up as a decent tune. Props must be given for not simply relying on movie clips as so many video tie-ins did. And I'll take Freddy rapping over Kanye West any day of the week.

9. Coup de Villes - Big Trouble in Little China
Technically not a horror movie, but with two genre directors showing their faces in this atrocity, I'll count it. The beat would work well in a scene in a Carpenter movie, but as the major backing track for an entire song it wears out its welcome. It'd all be so horrible if it wasn't so funny. What was the mandate for wardrobe that day? Find the nerdiest sweaters that were rejected from The Cosby Show? Who thought this would be a good idea? I can imagine an intense editing session being interrupted by breaking out some quaaludes and reliving those high school days of being in a rock band. Carpenter just looks so serious while looking at his editing screen. It's like they're serenading the edit bay, praying for a good movie to come out of it. Nick Castle is so goddamn adamant while turning around at that keyboard you have to imagine he was making up for never being able to show his face in Halloween. And what in the holy fuck is Tommy Lee Wallace sporting? It's like he killed a fox with a perm and decided it looked pretty happening before stapling it to his scalp. And then they break out the sherpa robes. Those shades, man. Those shades...How did this pass Standards and Practices? How could this happen? Whatever celestial configuration enabled this monstrosity, it delivered unto us a sliced of fried comedy that encapsulates everything that was so horribly awesome about the 80's. The funniest thing is, I could easily imagine the post-production on any Carpenter movie ending up like this.

8. Bobby Brown - On Our Own
The only rap song that mentions proton packs as well as Viggo, the Master of Evil. When you're a seven year old child who's world revolved around Ghostbusters, this song is the greatest piece of music that could ever grace your eardrums. The lyrics and beats are so immediate and urgent, you can easily believe that, yes, we have to take a stand, right now. Against what, you'd never know. You're a fucking seven year old for Christ's sake, but somehow it mattered to you, almost as if the Ghostbusters were the symbols for everything righteous in the world. Of course, as an adult you see it as an overtly obvious money cash-grab tying in the hippest trend in music with the newest blockbuster sung by someone who probably had (and still has) no idea what the hell he was saying, only useful for unintentional comedy, but hey, growing up sucks. It's funny how in this day and age, I can watch this over and over on Youtube if I wanted, but I spent seven hours one day sitting by the radio with a blank tape loaded in the deck and my fingers itching to push the record buttons as soon as I heard those opening beats cue up. And keep in mind, this was back when you had to hit both the "Play" and "Record" buttons at the same time lest you be screwed out of your tunes and end up eating the tape. You kids have it so easy with your MP3s and whatnot. Bonus points for being the only place with Bobby Brown's lethal hairstyle, Donald Trump, Iman, Rick Moranis, and a still mobile Christopher Reeve all in one video.

7. The L.A. Posse - Lost in Time
Now, I know most will watch this video and be thoroughly unimpressed but it's here out of my own personal nostalgia. Waxwork 2 was like a revelation of craziness the first time I watched it, inspiring my brothers and I to come up with our own wacko time jumping scenarios based on what we had seen. That's what happens when impressionable eight year olds are subjected to this stuff. Anyway, we especially loved the end credits which functions as its own promotional music video. Why it would be promoting itself to viewers that had just finished watching the movie I have no idea. You can see that they took the time to actually film sections of the video at various sets as they were filming so they had to have been planning the video the whole time. I'm betting they were thinking the film would get a theatrical release like the original and wanted a tie-in video for MTV, which sadly was never realistic. The song itself is kind of funny. It's another video back when people still rapped in a rap song, and you can tell whoever wrote it actually watched the movie but it's hilarious how bored the main singer sounds. It's like Steven Wright trying to rap. And the chorus is so damn goofy it's all too easy to burrow into your subconscious and play itself over and over. As a kid, this video was awesome, adding another layer of love for an already childhood classic. As an adult, it's a hilarious reminder of the way things once were and probably won't be again.

6. J. Geils Band - Fright Night
Besides being one of the best movies, ever, it also apparently had one of the best music producers in charge of the film's soundtrack. Other than Brad Fidel's score being one of the best from the 80's (which I can't believe there was never a score album released, the one track on the soundtrack is not enough and I'm still hoping Varese or some specialty label releases it someday), the film also had a great compilation of tracks from various New Wave bands, which for me personally always gets my attention. The J. Geils Band title song is everything you need in a promotional video: it's immediately catchy, with its refrains of "Fright Night!" immediately grabbing listeners' attention, and fits the fun tone of the movie. The video itself could only come from the 80's, when men's hairstyles typically ran along the lines of a transvestite's worst nightmare. There's scarves, there's glitter, there's unintentional homoeroticism everywhere; just your typical 80's video. Besides rolling the expected film clips during the video, they also bother to play with the voyeurism themes from the movie with a few sequences of interplay involving very fake windowsills. I have no idea where the idea for the bed scenes came from, but they sure do look happy, romping around and necking with each other... Wow. There's just no way something like that wouldn't have been caught by the film's P.R. people before being released.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Road to 500: The Hand of 500

Another post, another round of movies. Still trekking onwards though I feel like I'm getting behind if I'm to make the main goal so I've got to step it up a notch. There'll be few more articles in the next week once finals are over so be on the look out for that. Now, carry on!

76. Piranha 3D

Man, that really chafes my ass that the 3D is actually part of the title. Anyway, this remake is refreshingly nothing like the original, apart from killer fish. An earthquake unleashes prehistoric piranha upon spring break in some dingy, run down fuck of a town that I can't believe would ever have such a healthy spring break industry (but what do I know about such things?), all in post-converted 3D. This is easily Alexandre Aja's best movie thus far, but considering how low I think of his prior films, that may not be saying much. I will say that for the first time, Aja doesn't have any pretensions of what his movie is and goes for bottom-of-the-barrel gore gags wherever he can, with some being truly inspired. KNB even manages to do good work here, with nothing having their typical pink-plastic sheen on all of their prosthetics, though I wonder if that has more to do with everything being in the water versus any actual improvement upon their part. It's hard to comment on the acting as no one really has enough time to stand out, other than Jerry O'Connell who is slobbingly manic as a take on Jerry Francis, proprietor of Girls Gone Wild. People like Ving Rhames show up to deliver three lines and then they're gone, leaving you with absolutely nobody to really give a damn about. That's really the only problem with the movie; the writing is awful. It constantly feels like it doesn't know if it should go to old-school nature flick "sheriff and scientist saves the town" angle or run with the newer Syfy Channel outline of "partying teens stuck somewhere," feeling like a mixture of both and never really satisfying either. Interactions between human beings are forced into trying to pass as reality and any attempt at characterization is a joke. The movie feels empty once you start looking back on it, which made me a little cheated after the exorbitant 3D prices. Don't get me wrong, the movie's a blast while you're watching it, as stupid as it all is, but try not to think about it too much once it's over lest you ruin the boneheaded escapism it is.
Sights within:
-Eli Roth in the role he was born for.
-World's most unexpected cameo of a character from a far better movie.
-The underwater "ballet" sequence is probably one of the most absurdly stupid scenes of the year.
-Penis abuse.
-A boat motor skins a woman's face by yanking her hair off, the best argument for CGI gore effects yet.
-A complete slaughter of spring break dipshits, which should have been the climax since anything that came afterwards was just boring in comparison.
-Best performance by a survivor of Stand By Me.
Grade: C+


77. The Wicker Man

I can't believe I didn't get around to this one sooner. A devoutly religious inspector gets a message alerting him to the disappearance of a little girl on an isolated island community, but when he arrives the town doesn't know what he's talking about. The town seems fine at first, but as the movie goes on, there's something off about it that actually starts to get under your skin as you watch. As the inspector uncovers the different layers of the town's religion, it gets progressively unnerving, until the rituals performed by the town come across as horrifying. A large part of the movie's success is due to Edward Woodward's role as the inspector. He plays it so earnestly and committed that we can't help but feel for him when his faith is torn apart by these "heathens." To believably portray a man broken is one of the most harrowing sights in a film. If this aspect didn't come across, the rituals depicted in the movie would be laughable. Adding to the atmosphere is the music of the movie. Everybody on this fucking island sings, constantly. This would be a bad thing if the music wasn't as good as it is. The Scottish folk music fits in with the old-fashioned pagan ways of the island. The film ends a little predictably, but it still feels haunting and depressing even knowing what's about to happen. The way the movie lingers on what's happening along with both the inspector's and the villager's reactions are the epitomes of trauma.
Sights within:
-Corn rigs?
-World's most nightmarish visions of Christopher Lee in a dress.
-Quit fucking singing! I'm trying to sleep!
-Midnight orgies. What happens in Summerisle stays in Summerisle.
-Best performance by a man in a horse costume.
-Folk music has never seemed so sinister.
-Best performance of a song Eli Roth had no fucking right to use in his worst movie.
-Innkeeper abuse.
Grade: A


78. The Wicker Man

Take everything I just said about the original, and reverse it. What a fucking joke. It has the same basic story as the first one, even though I still have no idea what the point of the prologue is. Is it to give him motivation to find the missing girl as redemption? But couldn't that be accomplished through what he learns about the missing girl? Fuck it, I don't know. Anyways, instead of it being your typical seeming town who relies on an apple harvest, the remake turns Summerisle into a matriarchal society who depends on honey for their crop. It's an interesting take, with women in power and tying it into the society of the bees where the queen is the most important member, but the movie doesn't really do anything with it. Nor anything else, for the most point. Nicholas Cage, who must of stopped taking his meds in a bid for method acting, runs around the island emoting like a fifteen-year old on Facebook. I don't know if he was trying to portray a man with bipolar, but he succeeds admirably. The movie's story consists of Cage hitting different points on the island as a "best-of" from the original and taking time out to slap women around. If you didn't think Neil LaBute hated women before with his other films, you can't deny it with this one. It somehow accomplishes being both boring and rushed at the same time, until it ends in the most ludicrous way possible, all thanks to Cage. That's really the only saving grace for the entire film. Cage's unintentional hilarity is already the thing of internet memes history, and deservedly so. But if you were going in to this thinking it'll be hilariously bad the whole way through, you'll be sadly let down. It's a mostly humorless, ridiculous wreck of a film. It's just all so stupid, you almost want to put a helmet on it to stop it from hurting itself.
Sights within:
-How did the fucking truck get on that side of the road anyway? How is that whole scene even possible?
-How many times does someone have to yell "Rowan" before they realize it's not accomplishing anything.
-Best performance by Nicholas Cage in a bear costume.
-World's largest assembly of man-hating she-bitches on one island.
-Nicholas Cage: He really likes his bicycles.
-That scene in the classroom is just great.
-Ellen Burstyn abuse.
-Does Leelee Sobieski even serve a point in this movie?
-World's worst tacked on epilogue.
Grade: D+


79. Hit and Run

What an oddity. It looks cheap but has some polish, it tries to be serious but it's so stupid at the same time. The movie's constantly at odds with it self. A complete moron is heading home after binge drinking and runs over a guy, embedding him pretty well into her grill. She finds this out later of course, while she's grabbing a midnight snack, and thinks she's killed him. She drives out to the woods to bury the guy, without bothering to throw on a pair of pants or warm shirt even though there's a monsoon going on outside, indicative of the level of intelligence we're dealing with here. Of course he's not dead, and soon he's terrorizing the dip as you would imagine. The director tries to inject a lot of style and it gives the movie a slick feel even though it was obviously made on the cheap. I can't imagine what percentage of the budget went to using the Modest Mouse song. The problem is the film is just laughably stupid. The girl and her boyfriend are running on the same brain capacity as Delmar from O Brother, Where Art Thou? so you can never take them seriously. When Mr. Roadkill comes back, he's played so over the top by Kevin Corrigan that there's no hope for menace. It's just so absurd that you can't help but laugh. You can't help but think the movie was funded by rich dipshits from Jersey shore and somehow found distribution. It's hard to make up my mind about this movie. I hate it because of its idiocy, but I love it for the perverse glee I got while watching it. I guess I'll meet it in the middle and declare it as "alright."
Sights within:
-Modest Mouse abuse.
-"Help me." "Die!"
-A frisbee is the most practical of all digging utensils.
-Are bipolar people allowed to be kindergarten teachers?
-Best performance by hyper-intelligent parrots.
-To cover up a possible hit and run, it is best to repeatedly bash your car into a tree to cover up any sort of evidence on your bumper.
-Car bumper adorned with human girl and lit Christmas lights.
-She's worried about being traced by a blanket, but apparently the traces of blood on her clothes, her car and in her house aren't a problem.
-When your husband chokes you out, maybe there's a call for more concern then you're showing.
-Electrical cord to the eye.
-World's most asshole boyfriend.
Grade: C


80. Something with Bite

It's kind of sad that the one funny Fear Itself episode isn't from John Landis, but then again, most of Ernest Dickerson's movies have had a pretty good sense of humor. This one involves a sad-sack veterinarian getting bit by a dying werewolf and soon doesn't know whether he's responsible for a rash of killings. Wilbur, the vet, is what keeps the movie entertaining as we see him gain his confidence back and becomes someone we care about, all with a sense of fun. It's a shame the movie even has to deal with the sub-plot of the wolf killings since it takes away from the enjoyment of Wilbur and his family. But the manages to bring up a creative explanation that make sit worth it. This has one of the only memorable endings in the whole series thanks to how well it was pulled off. There were a few things I would have liked to see expanded on, but it was hobbled by the format of the series from the get-go. Still, it's one of the more enjoyable episodes.
Sights within:
-World's most realistic depiction of a slob.
-I'm pretty sure a vet could tell the difference between a dog and a man-beast.
-Best performance by bushy eyebrows.
-Slacker abuse.
-A pretty cool, practical wolf outfit.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B
(Couldn't find any specific videos for this one and I'm skipping the generic trailer so you're off the hook)


81. The Girl Next Door

I think I may have been ruined by the book. After reading Ketchum's novel for the first time, I felt traumatized, almost to the point of questioning why I like the genre so much and what that says about me. Thankfully, that passed by the next Tuesday's releases. I was hoping the movie would be able to inspire the same feeling but it falls somewhat short. The story concerns two young girls sent to live with their aunt, who then gradually heaps more and more abuse on them, inspiring the neighborhood boys to go along with it. We start out in the typical notion of what the 60's look like in films; sunny, hazy, yellows and oranges everywhere with kids smiling and classic cars driving around. By the time the movie ends, it's degenerated to the point of delving in filthy basements with ghoulish children sneering. It's not easy to watch this young girl broken down, but it still feels as though something's missing to make it really hit home. The movie stays relatively faithful to the book, only omitting elements for the sake of time. Every horrible element from the novel makes it here without any compromises, which means it should have the same impact but the execution diminishes it, especially the final few moments which feel very rushed. The look and feel of the movie comes across as very "TV Movie Of the Week," with the acting falling in line. It's never hard to forget you're watching a movie compared to the immersive experience of reading the book. The movie's not an easy watch, but for the full capabilities of the story, I'd suggest reading the novel first.
Sights within:
-World's worst fatherly talk about spouse abuse.
-Wonder how many cans of pomade they went through during production?
-Best performance by alcoholic minors.
-Blow torch abuse.
-Always walking in at the wrong time.
Grade: B


82. New Year's Day

One of the more disappointing entries of Fear Itself. When the combined talents of Steve Niles and Darren Lynn Bousman can't save ya, who can? A chain smoker wakes up with a mean hangover after a New Year's Eve party only to find a zombie outbreak. Cue up your typical story of trying to get through the zombies to a loved one, only shot in the most ADD way possible. I dare you to find a still image anywhere in this. The camera stutters around like the operator stepped on a live wire and was being fried even as the film rolled and the editing only serves as a back-up for sheer confusion. For forty minutes, we're treated to this chick wandering around through every zombie cliche as she agonizes over her maudlin boy troubles, the film losing momentum the longer it goes on. You just want to slap her before the movie's over. This was only forty-something minutes and it still felt long. It ends with a somewhat unique twist but it can't make up for the tedium that comes before it.
Sights within:
-Jump cut abuse.
-She has the voice of someone who's hung out in dive bars for twenty years.
-World's longest, uninteresting scene inside of a car park.
-Is she sure her roommate's not gay?
-Wow, who didn't see that coming about her boyfriend? That was so telegraphed, Western Union sent Joe Flaherty to deliver it.
-Best performance by motion sickness.
-Lionsgate seems to have a mandate where 80% of everything they distribute has to be shot with sickly blue, green, and orange filters.
-Watch it here.
Grade: D-

Movies Watched: 6
-The Wicker Man
-The Wicker Man ('06)
-Hit and Run
-Something With Bite
-The Girl Next Door
-New Year's Day
New Movies Bought: 0
Unseen DVDS: 3190
Unseen Blu-rays: 65
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

Momma squeeze
Grace my spine
Walk on thru the camera eye

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Road to 500: The Blood Stone

Hello again. Kind of a brief update today, but that's what happens when most of the movies in it are short and boring. There's some more interesting movies coming up on the next post so stay tuned. Until then, be brave.

70. Community

Another of the Fear Itself mini-movies, this one directed by Mary Harron, of American Psycho fame. Here she digs into another look at how society functions and how that can be twisted. Superman and Roswell chick buy their first house in an exclusive private community but find out they don't agree with all of the rules placed upon them. This was actually fairly enjoyable after the first few minutes had me dreading what was to come. It's not terribly original (you sensing a pattern with these yet?), but does a competent job of keeping interest. Brandon Routh is the standout actor in this one and I'd like to see him get more roles since I think he got kind of maimed in the Superman Returns aftermath. He's similar to Tom Cruise, but with talent and has his sanity in check. One of the better entries in the series, even if The X-Files did it better in one of their episodes.
Sights within:
-Did I ever tell you how much I hate when a movie opens with something near the climax of the film, and then cuts to a flashback for the rest of the movie until it catches up to the prologue/climax? It's a fucking cheat. Just because you can't think of an attention-grabber in the first few minutes doesn't mean you can recycle shit from later on in the script. Cut it out.
-Yeah, that's just where I'd want to live. W.A.S.P. Central. I'd never survive there.
-World's most invasive bedroom television.
-Adulteress abuse.
-Dismemberment, Superman's only weakness.
-Best performance by a pair of scissors, a.k.a The Inside Award.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B-


71. The Sacrifice

The first of the Fear Itself movies to flat-out bore me. A bunch of dipshit hunters make their way to a giant-ass fort tended to by three sisters for help not knowing what lives in its walls. Blah blah blah. It's shot as boring as could be and the writing falls right in line with it. Every character is unlikeable and are the type of people you'd rather see get in a car accident caused by Bud Light. Rachel Miner shows up just because she heard Lionsgate was distributing a series of horror movies and was contractually obliged to appear in one. The story has trouble finding things to do even with a forty minute running time and...I've already run out of things to talk about. There's just nothing here worth a damn to even bring up, good or bad. This is more in line from what I'd expect from Breck Eisner. Bleh.
Sights within:
-Best performance by the fort from Ginger Snaps 3, outside of Ginger Snaps 3.
-If only all three of the sisters could have been mute.
-When there's even the tiniest bit of action, they bust out the piss-poor shaky-cam. WHY WON'T THIS FUCKING TREND DIE ALREADY?
-Uh, what's the story with the automatic weapons?
-Drunk in a leper-vampire costume abuse.
-World's most out-of-place wire-fu.
Grade: D


72. Hellhounds

When I saw the cover for this at the store, it had me, man. Some primitive part of my mind was all like "Alright man, fuckin' hellhounds. I'm gonna get me some hellhoundage on. HELLHOUNDS! WOOOOO!" After plunking down the $3.50 to add this little gem to the wall'o'DVDs, I bid my time, waiting for the right hour to strike Hellhound time. Alas, it arrived. Time to unleash hell. Hounds. I put the disc in and waited. Waited for the hounds of hell. And waited. And kept waiting. For over an hour. Sure, there was a bunch of shit about going to Hades to save a queen's soul and yadda yadda. Don't care. Already saw Clash of the Titans. Both of them. Don't need anymore. What I did need was hellhounds. Right away. Which I got, 72 minutes into an 86 minute movie. The hellhounds themselves looked like overgrown rats from a PS1 videogame and stood there while Whateverhisname-eseus stabbed them lethargically to end the movie. Needless to say this hellfan was helladisappointed with this one. I didn't ask for the kind of melodrama that would have been laughed out of a Xena writing session. I asked for hellhounds, and got hellshit on. Fuck this.
Sights within:
-World's worst case of sour-lemon face for the entire movie.
-Everyone looks like they bought their costumes from Spencer's the day after Halloween.
-Attack of the rubber snake!
-Best performance of the line "Great Zeus!"
-Could that guy have a bigger mouth?
-Personal hopes and dreams abuse.
Grade: D


73. In Sickness and In Health

From John Landis comes a mini-movie that has no reason for existing. On her wedding day, a bride gets an anonymous note implying that her new groom is a murderer. Decent idea, poor execution. There is no tension, no surprises, no one to root for, just nothing worth watching it for. You can guess the twist ending three minutes into the movie which leaves you with nothing but 38 minutes of over-privileged going "What's wrong?" "Nothing. Well..." "What?" "Forget it." Is he or isn't he? Who cares? The acting is awful and everyone is played either smarmy, conceited, or just plain stupid, all of which leaves every actor looking like they're constipated. There's a few funny moments due to framing or items in the background but they're far too fleeting. Just, an exercise in tedium.
Sights within:
-World's most obvious twist ending.
-Every character acts in a completely unmotivated way, slaves to the path the story wishes to take.
-Best performance by a mentally handicapped bridesmaid, which is really the only way I can explain why she is truly one of the stupidest characters in film history.
-There's like four subplots that seem about to bubble up and then they're left to die.
-John Landis abuse.
Grade: D+


74. Dragon Wars

You have to understand that when I say that this is a good movie, I'm saying so because it's so deliriously incompetent. It's a horribly fun movie just a step above House of the Dead. The plot involves some overly complicated legend about dragons coming true in downtown L.A., but I don't think even the director could make sense of it. Some wouldn't classify this as a horror movie, but I lump it in the same way I do with the Godzilla movies. They're about giant monsters slamming the shit out of things so they fit in my book. This one is so fun simple because of the complete lack of any rational thought in the film. Character's action make no sense and neither does one aspect of the storytelling. It's almost like any sort of even the most basic touches of humanity's common sense was jettisoned during the production of this film. The editing is all over the place which is one of the main sources of laughter, as is the thought of the world depicted in this movie actually behaving in this manner. If any government force behaved the way they do in this, the world would be fucked. Surprisingly, even though this is obviously amateur hour, the dragon scenes are fantastic. The grand siege on L.A. is a blast to watch. The CGI isn't the greatest but it's definitely a few steps above the Syfy Channel's typical fare. With the army and dragons tearing the shit out of the city being so fun, you almost feel angry that the movie has to return to the two main characters of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but at least it finishes off with one last good dragon fight. If you enjoy bad movies, this is one of this generation's funnest. Enjoy with an ice-cold six-pack for maximum enjoyment.
Sights within:
-Any movie that begins right away with flashbacks within flashbacks is okay in my book.
-So she's just turned 20, yet the best solution is for her to hit the bar?
-Token black character abuse. They fucking leave Craig Robinson on the side of the road with the evil dude, only for him to be perfectly cool with it the next day.
-Best performance by Robert Forster's hairplugs.
-They run away for dear life, only to take a romantic, leisurely stroll on the beach during sunset?
-World's only awesome depiction of a traditional Chinese dragon.
-There are scenes in here that I swear are stolen from Power Rangers.
-The final scene is hilarious. WHERE THE FUCK IS HE WALKING TO?
-There's really nothing that I could write about this movie that could top what Scott Foy wrote in what's basically a thesis on the film. Check it out here.
Grade: B+


75. Family Man

The most boring of the Fear Itself films. A man gets in a car crash and switches bodies with a serial killer for no reason whatsoever, thus the nice guy is in prison while the killer lives with the man's family. You'd imagine there'd be something interesting here but there's not. Even Clifton Collins looks bored. The whole thing consists of the two meeting at the jail, the nice guy warning the killer to stay from his family and the killer responds with thinly veiled threats. Repeat and repeat until the climax ends lethargically. It's shot flatly which is disappointing as Ronny Yu is usually quite capable of making even the worst movie look great. This feels like a TV movie, with a TV plot, starring primarily TV actors. This was obviously not for me.
Sights within:
-World's best example of why you shouldn't use your fucking cell phone while driving.
-Bumblebee costume abuse.
-There's a decent fight until it ends abruptly. It was so good it almost raised me out of my stupor.
-Best performance by an angry family dinner scene.
-This guy is probably one of the most shit upon characters in a movie.
-Watch it here.
Grade: D
(Once again, generic trailer time.)

Movies Watched: 6
-The Sacrifice
-In Sickness and In Health
-Dragon Wars
-Family Man
New Movies Bought: 0
Unseen DVDS: 3196
Unseen Blu-rays: 65
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

My mom says I'm a catch
I'm popular

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Road to 500: Aftershocks

See, told you there'd be new stuff, and there's still some other features I'm hoping to start up here. Send me any suggestions or criticisms you may have as any would be appreciated. For now, welcome back to the challenge of the insane.

63. The Baby's Room

Yet another one of the 6 Films to Keep You Awake (don't worry, they're almost done). This was one of the better entries of the set, even if it's full of cliches and rather predictable, but the execution pulls it off. A couple buys a baby monitor for their newborn and the father begins seeing a man lounging in the house when he shouldn't be there, escalating from there. It's not overly flashy but the way it's directed lends itself to some decent chills, especially when the father is running around the house with a baby monitor like it's a weapon in DOOM, though the predictability of the ending takes away some the suspense it manages to sustain up until then. The acting is great and believable, something that's nice to see for a shorter movie when they're typically the victim of Movie-of-the-Week syndrome. A decent movie and probably the third best of the six films.
Sights within:
-Baby monitor abuse.
-Best performance by a magazine editor.
-Come on, you dense bastard. Even if you've only read Bruce Corville stories as a kid, you should know where this is going.
-World's most debonair doppleganger.
-Hitting on the baby-store lady. Shameless.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B-
(And once again...)


64. To Let

Finally, the last of the 6 Films, this one directed by one of my favorite newer director of the last ten years, Jaume Balagueró. Somehow, he's the one director on the same wavelength as to what can actually scare me, with most of his films leaving me on edge and thinking about them later on in the night, even with his lesser films such as Darkness. With To Let, he's not going for fright so much as he is suspense, which it delivers. A couple go out to scout a possible new apartment only to find out that the landlord is a couple bottles short of a six-pack. All of Balagueró's films utilize their setting to deliver a large amount of the film's atmosphere with this one being no different. The apartment building is rundown and broken, bringing to mind rusted industrial areas, without which the film wouldn't be as good as it is. The acting is decent enough to serve the story but only the landlord really stood out, though the leads don't really have enough time to develop anymore than your standard horror protagonists. It's good suspense piece that keeps things moving once it gets going. Probably the second best of the set.
Sights within:
-World's biggest pizza cutter.
-What's with the painting with the baby?
-Loved the theremin music.
-Toaster abuse.
-A mean-ass garbage disposal.
-Best performance by a man on a chain.
Grade: B
(Now I'm just being an asshole.)


65. Primal Rage

Code Red does it again. I had this on VHS, but I didn't realize it until after I ordered the DVD so I can't complain about never knowing about this movie just because I fucking forgot I had already shelled out money for it before. Still, it's one most people must have overlooked because I've never heard anyone, online even, ever mentioning it. Prior to 28 Days Later, a journalist for the university's newspaper breaks into the science professor's lab to document his experiments on animals gets bit by an infected monkey and unleashes a virus that brings out the animalistic rage in its victims. It was obviously made in America, but you can tell it's an Italian production. The tone and style fits hand-in-hand with other mid-80's Italian horrors, such as Demons. Claudio Simonetti even does the music score, causing a double take every time it comes on just because you're not expecting a score like his when there's no one being dubbed anywhere. The characters are surprisingly likable for a film like this and you genuinely don't want anything bad to happen to them. When things do go south, it has a very mean-spirited tone underneath it all that gives the film more bite than it otherwise would. It's still fun but it's not lighthearted fun with many gruesome kills played seriously. It's not a life changing movie or anything, but it is a hell of a lot of fun and never felt boring once. It definitely deserves a larger following than it has and I'd say it's one of the better films Code Red has released thus far.
Sights within:
-Ahhh!! 80's teen-life montage during the opening credits! Run!
-World's oldest man to have a rat-tail. Holy shit, it's Bo Svenson!
-Yeah, man. Fuck waiting rooms!
-Monkey abuse.
-Best performance by a splattered windshield.
-Surprisingly effective skeleton costumes.
-The movie needs to be seen just for the Halloween party scene. There is some crazy-ass costumes going on that puts anything I've seen in the last ten or fifteen years to shame.
Grade: B+


66. Ghost Game

I realized I was having too much fun watching respectable films so I forced myself to watch one of the dozens of DV movies I had picked up for eighty cents a pop once, regretting it almost instantly. A group of teens (whoa! originality!) go to a cabin in the woods (whoa! whoa!) and find themselves haunted by the ghosts of wiccans (kill me now, please) who had died trying to raise some all-powerful she-bitch or something (it's never quite clear). Do I care about any of this? No. Every character is a moron with no grounding in reality, the movie looks like it was shot on a cellphone, and nothing in the story makes any sense. If even one of those aspects had been done adequately it could have maintained some interest. It just drug on and on going through the motions of what's required for the most generic horror plot imaginable. I've already spent more time writing this than it deserves. Run away from this and never look back.
Sights with:
-These broads are what wiccans looked like in the 70's? To me, it just looked like they had bought a bunch of shit from Hot Topic, but what do I know?
-Tail light's out, bub.
-World's worst human interactions.
-Every shot ends 15 seconds later than it should like they're waiting for lines or something.
-Best performance by stock fireplace sound effects even when THERE IS NO FUCKING FIRE IN THE FIREPLACE!
-Why is everyone obsessed with Cousin Ted? He's the dippiest dipshit to grace tv screens in years.
-Canoe photography abuse.
-Acid dirt! NOOOOO!
-Watch it here.
Grade: D-


67. Eater

(There are apparently no individual posters for these films so I'll just post some decent screenshots.)
Just when you end one fucking film series, it turns out you've got another boxset just waiting for you. This is from the first and only series of Fear Itself, which is really just Masters of Horror series 3. Some would argue that these aren't films, but Masters of Horror were originally created as direct-to-video stand alone movies before Showtime offered to throw them some money if they could premiere them before their DVD release. This being the next generation of that plan, I'm still going to go with the idea that they're stand alone movies, even if they run even shorter and are watered-down to meet broadcast standards. Besides, this is Stuart Gordon we're talking about here and anything he touches is worth checking out at least. In this one, a voodoo-endowed cannibal is caught and kept in police lock-up overnight with a minimally staffed crew. The beginning of the movie is full of awful dialog and forced characterization, but the last half is decent even if it's a touch predictable. The cannibal himself is played by a Stephen Hart that you may have seen elsewhere but he always leaves an impression no matter where you see him. It uses the setting to great effect and adds a lot to the movie. Without Hart or the setting this would be pretty forgettable, but as it stands, it's fun, quick little diversion for less than an hour.
Sights within:
-World's most annoying fucking menus that always spends half a minute playing the Eater's chant before you can do anything. And it's the same for all four fucking discs!
-Big-ass cannibal.
-World's worst generalizing of horror fans.
-Pizza abuse.
-Don't waste that heart. Why, you get some water on the stove and you got yourself a stew brewing.
-Best performance by an abused pizza.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B-


68. Spooked

This is Brad Anderson's entry, which was enough reason for me to buy the set. After Session 9, I'll buy whatever his name ends up attached to. This is one of his lesser efforts, but it's still worth checking out. Eric Roberts plays an ex-cop with a past who now works as a private investigator and finds more than he wanted to during an investigation. Despite all the jokes made at his expense, I've always liked Eric Roberts and this whole thing hinges on him, which he manages to hold together by bringing an authentic worn-down aesthetic to the story. It seems as though it wants to go for more atmosphere than the shortened, low budget television format will allow, but the effort is appreciated. It's a fairly predictable once it gets going but some of the minor touches, such as the paintings on the wall, add some effective touches that make it worth watching. It's entertaining, just don't expect anything you haven't seen before.
Sights within:
-World's most graffitied house.
-Best performance by a flashback.
-Eric Roberts, like Julia but less equine.
-A really effective thermal-vision scene.
-Jack Noseworthy abuse.
-Watch it here.
Grade: B
(Can't find any specific clips, so welcome to general trailer town.)


69. Vampyres

Fairly appropriate numbering. One of the films to launch an entire wave of Euro-vamp films, it functions well as a dreamlike excursion into gothic horror. A pair of vamps lure men home to their castle while another couple camping on the castle grounds begin to suspect something's going on. Really though, plot matters very little in films as this. Ideas are presented but never expounded upon, leaving them up to your own interpretations, something I always really enjoy to a reasonable extent but I know others can't stand it, so you should probably know that going in. Are the women really vampires? Ghosts? Or most horrible of all, vampire ghosts? The movie lets you figure it out as it's too busy working a haze around the whole thing. Just who or what some of the other characters are never explained, almost to a frustrating degree, but it all works to create a film that's focused on mood and atmosphere. If you're able to slip out of your typical expectations of films and slide into the movie's groove, it's worth the experience.
Sights within:
-World's most batty credits.
-Best performance by two absolutely disgusting kissers.
-Who would ever think Ted was special enough to keep around?
-It's been three weeks since I watched this and I still have no idea what their attitude with Harriett was.
-I'm doubting we'll see a resurgence of the old-fashioned gothic vampire story of the likes of this one. Lord knows we need our vampires wearing fashionable latex and brandishing automatic weapons.
-Conclusion of a story abuse.
Grade: B

Movies Watched: 7
-The Baby's Room
-To Let
-Primal Rage (VHS)
-Ghost Game
New Movies Bought: 0
Unseen DVDS: 3202
Unseen Blu-rays: 65
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

There's nothin' wrong with goin' nowhere, baby
But we should be goin' nowhere fast

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Everyone's a Critic

As I'm about to embark on a separate undertaking only tenuously related to this blog, I began thinking about what it really means to review something; to ingest a film or book or album, whatever may be one's field of choice, and pick it apart, holding each aspect up to one's own standards of excellence and then presuming they have the knowledge to tell others what is worthy of being seen and what should be discarded. How do we decide who has the right to make these calls? And just what in the hell is the point of it all anyways?

Opinions, much like assholes, are within even the simplest minds' capabilities. "I like this." "That sucked." All rather eloquent and to the point. These are the examples of what the typical person would say to sum up an experience with a film. Rarely do they offer up any substantial points to back up their opinion. When they do, it falls along the lines of "It was boring," or "That ending fucking sucked." If we were having just a simple conversation to kill time, I would have no trouble accepting such remarks, and as such, is the method of the majority of how the general populace discusses film, and as casual moviegoers, that's their right. However, these people end up making a lot of their film choices based upon the word of the "professional" critics, strangers they have never met but are willing to place their hard earned money (and let's not forget time) on a movie decided on by which direction the critic's appendage is pointing or some arbitrary scoring system which could range from 1-10, 1-5, 1-100, or any number of little tokens, i.e. "five stars," "five points," or, in one particular website, "five stabbys." What exactly is the conversion factor in stars to stabbys anyway?

Since the dawn of art, there have been professional critics there to tear the work asunder. They are always there, telling you what you should see and how to see it. They state their remarks along with whatever trivial scoring system they use just in case the reader hasn't the capability for the reading comprehension needed in order to get the gist of the review when reading the main text, and leave it as gospel. How exactly do we choose these figureheads, these cultural trailblazers? It can't be for writing prowess. Here's an excerpt from the first review I came across on the website for Roger Ebert, probably the most well known and respected movie critic of our time (go to hell, Peter Travers), where he judges the recent George Clooney film, The American:

"His weakness is love. Clara, the prostitute, should not be trusted. We sense he uses prostitutes because he made a mistake in the relationship that opens the film. In his business he cannot trust anybody. But perhaps Clara is different. Do not assume from what I've written that she isn't different. It is very possible. The film ends like a clockwork mechanism arriving at its final, clarifying tick."

Now there's nothing wrong with that, other than it feels like something no more profound or insightful than what a high school freshman is capable of, it's perfectly serviceable for alerting others that this is a decent movie. However, as a serious film critic, a film scholar some would say, it is not what I would call engaging film discussion. I want some finesse, some style, some fucking meat in my film discussion (probably because I don't feel like my writing is adequate enough to do so enough on my own-ed.). Ebert's typical reviews consist of primarily recounting the major plot points and adding his own insights on them as he goes, witty or not, that's up to the reader I suppose. And that's fairly typical review writing no matter the source from what I've gathered by reading dozens of them a day. The excerpt above comes from the concluding paragraph of Ebert's review, a place where all the threads of discussion and any points he may have been bringing up are typically woven together into an overarching comment on what the movie means and its merits, much like how every aspect of the film's plot should come together as one final denouement that sums the entirety of its parts into a cohesive meaning (much unlike my writing, apparently - ed.). There is no more thought put into the review than the first ramble of shit that came to mind before he had some lemonade and quit for the day. And sadly, this is considered the best film criticism in the world, it seems. I will say this for Armond White, he writes his fucking heart out, even if it doesn't make any sense in the end.

Now, that's the typical viewpoint of critics. In my dealings with the human race, I'm perfectly aware that there are such feeble minded patrons out there that actually need to be told what they should see. The senior citizens that go see films such as District 9 just because they're nominated for Best Picture and end up walking out halfway through after realizing their ungodly mistake are such an example. But I believe the rest of the world are perfectly capable of making the call on what to see on their own. They know what they want to see and look for the critics' opinions to back them up. For some reason, mankind is determined to always be right. If a person likes a movie, they'll look for others' reviews online. The ones that disagree with their own personal opinions "can go fuck themselves" while the reviews that fall in line with their own views "know what they're talking about. Man." God help you if you want to discuss a film you didn't care for while the other person loved it. They'll take it as a personal attack, even in an environment such as a film school where you should actually be active in discussing and comparing views on film. Go ahead and try it sometime, see how the other person reacts.

But I think that's a negative view on why people are obsessed with reviews. What I'd really like to believe is that we're all just looking for some real discussion. Those that are passionate about film love to push their favorites and talk about everything they can. At least for me, when I see a new movie that I love, I need to tell someone. I need others to see what I've seen because I feel like it needs to be shared. For example, I recently watched Code Red's release of Primal Rage, a great 80's precursor to 28 Days Later. I know for a fucking fact no one around me has seen that movie. Even my wife, my go-to liaison for such things, had to sleep when I watched it so she'd have no idea what the hell I was talking about. I did pop it back in so she could at least see the great costumes made up for the Halloween sequence. When you get into the really obscure titles, the internet is sometimes the only place to turn to for any thoughts on subject at all. In Primal Rage's case, the DVD sold piss-poor numbers (something you could help rectify by checking it out yourself) so there's not a lot in the way of internet discussion either. Still, there's someone out there willing to talk shop with you, even if they're thousands of miles away.

This is where I think blogs come in handy. Just from a horror fan's perspective, there are hundreds, nay, thousands of them littering the information superhighway, each barking their opinions and views for others to ingest. And that's not counting the insurgence of podcasts either. These are people with varying degrees of education or experience in the film industry, if any at all, so you can access a vast ocean of ideas and discussions. There's every style of writing for any kind of reader. They can range from a very specifically focused subject such as only dealing with Paul Naschy films, to grab-bag blogs where they go on about anything under the sun, kind of like this damn thing. They typically follow the pattern of running through the plot and summing up their experience in their reviews, followed by whatever scoring system they've chosen to adopt. But the thing that differentiates them from the "professional" reviews is that there is no pretentiousness. They know they're fans and they're really using these blogs as a means to discussion and pointing out films others may like. Most telling is that the passion is still there. If you read Ebert's reviews, you'll notice almost a dejected feeling coming through. They typically read as he was there, he saw, and this is what he saw. Even the films he loves read across as disinterested anymore. It's just a job. Bloggers and podcasters are doing it out of love for their field. It takes more hours than you'd expect for even the simplest of posts, and they're not expecting anything out of it save for maybe a comment every now and then. True some make money off their sites, but I'd hardly call it a career. The motivating factor is out of the honest love for the genre, something that gives anyone of their articles more heart than anything Ebert's shuffled across in years. There's an honesty there that can't be found on your major news-sites.

I know, I know. Who the fuck am I to go about Roger Ebert and criticism and blah blah blah? Well, I'm nobody. I have absolutely no pretensions about who I am other than I've been reading this shit for a long time. At this point in my life, I've become obsessed with film criticism and discussion, reading everything I can and spending at least three or four hours a day listening to various podcasts, and these are the things I've noticed. I won't pretend to not fall into the same traps that I just bitched about. I will say, I have yet to do what I'd offically call a "review" on this site. I consider what I have been doing no more than what I'd call little "write-ups," amounting to just whatever's on the tip of my tongue about any given movie when I write about it. I don't really put much thought into and spit it all out, word vomit if you will, and chug on through to the next one. I've yet to go back and do a polish or re-write on any of them so everything's been pretty much rushed-through first drafts so far. Probably not something you want to read on a blog you're visiting, but I'm being honest. I'll probably do real reviews at some point when it's called for but for now I'm fine with the way things have been going. I'm not pretending like I know what the fuck I'm doing, just that I want to write about my film experiences and hopefully point the way to some films that a reader may otherwise have overlooked. If some are actually entertained by my ramblings, then that's great to hear. Otherwise, I'm not really looking for anything out of this other than discussing film and inciting discussion, which is what I believe is the whole purpose of film criticism in the first place.

Just watch some fuckin' movies, man.