Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Road to 500: Fearing Itself

It's been a while, I'll say that. I got preoccupied once again with fruitless job searching, delaying me from here even more but here I am again. While the Road to 500 ultimately failed, I still watched a hell of a lot of movies for it so I need to get going on them. With this post, I'm clearing out the last of the Fear Itself installments. While it ended up being mostly a mixed bag of disappointment steeped in "meh"-ness, I still believe in the concept of the series. If they would have only moved away from aping well-worn story avenues and tried something fresh while keeping in mind the time frame of the show, I think it would have turned out fantastic. I'm sure it'll be a while before anything like this is attempted again so we'll never know, I suppose.

83. Skin and Bones

Larry Fessenden directs what's easily the best in the entire Fear Itself series. Doug Jones returns from a stint lost in the mountains that no man should have survived, only he's not quite the same man he was before. This is the only entry that I would go so far as to say it was actually creepy, primarily due to Doug Jones's performance. He's already an unsettling individual so it only takes a minimal of make up to push towards terrifying. His mannerisms come across as outright ghoulish here, obsessed with only one thing: meat. The ending takes place during one of the more grotesque meals I've seen prepared in a film. Even though not much is actually shown, the implication is enough to turn the stomach. Fessenden packs a lot of nuance in the too short running time, achieving more with his camera than any other director in this entire uneven film series. It carries the air of subtle menace that all of Fessenden films seem to excel at. This is the closest out of them all to feel like a true film. The only negative I can say is that it's not a feature length movie. I could see the ideas and characters easily being pushed into even greater limits outside of the confines of the Fear Itself format.
Sights within:
-World's worst case of anorexia.
-Dude, what have you been doing with those fingers?
-Art of cookery abuse.
-Great, another 13 year old being portrayed with the mannerisms of a bratty 5 year old.
-Try telling this guy to go vegan.
-Best performance by a bowl of stew.
Grade: A


84. Chance

See, this is the problem with going through the Fear Itself films: they're all so damn middle of the road and generic, how can you keep writing about them when you've seen everything in them done better a thousand times, save for a few examples. Here, Ethan Embry is screwed out of his savings and commits a crime out of panic, only to find help in cleaning it up from his doppelganger. What follows is what you've seen in a hundred Hitchcockian movies. Gee, you think cops might show up and narrowly miss seeing that blood stain over there? You betcha. Embry is alright as the main character, though still not stretching much further than his typical awkward guy roles. John Dahl's direction perfectly perfunctory but nothing to write home about. The real sad thing is to see Vondie Curtis Hall killing time on something like this when he's capable of making such great movies. See it if you want, just don't expect to remember it much the next day.
Sights within:
-Nothing like delivering the most interesting parts of the story through expository dialog shoved into the opening of the film.
-Best performance by a vase.
-Double the Embrage.
-Gridlock'd director abuse.
-World's biggest prick of a double.
Grade: D+

Fear Itself "Chance" - Exclusive Clip
Uploaded by dreadcentral. - Check out other Film & TV videos.


85. Spirit Box

Rob Schmidt does his goddamned best to shoehorn an entire feature length run of the mill teen horror movie into forty minutes. Two teens get bored and play with an Ouija...sorry...spirit board (damn Hasbro) and find out a classmate demands vengeance on her murderer. Cue the Nancy Drew twins running around, digging up clues in as efficient a manner as the running time allows. This thing pretty much covers every base that any PG-13 teen horror film has already beaten into a pulp, including the predictable twist ending. The only benefit here is that it takes about half the typical running time to be disappointed so that you can begin forgetting all about it even sooner. Schmidt, who made one of the better Masters of Horror installments, does a commendable job of keeping the look of the film slick and the performances are decent. The problem here lies in the script. It's the same filler we've been fed for the last fifteen years or so now. Should you care? If you're over the age of 13, not really.
Sights within:
-The morons probably spent three hours on just prettying their pizza box up.
-Best performance by the same goddamn swimming pool you see in just about every Canadian teen film.
-Gym teacher abuse.
-Yeah, just go on ahead and steal police evidence. You'll be fine.
-World's biggest waste of Martin Donovan.
Grade: C-


86. Echoes

Okay, this one wasn't so bad, especially considering it comes from the outright bastard behind the Fog remake, one of the most despicable movies ever unleashed. Here, Pyro from the X-Men films rents an apartment in the heart of New Orleans and begins to be haunted by the past inhabitants. The film plays with the resonance of memories and past lives, with the feeling of prohibition-era New Orleans giving it a unique feel that rises it above similar stories. The problem remains that this still isn't terribly original. You know what will happen, save for a small twist in the specifics, so there's nothing that really drives you through the film other than the interplay between the two time frames. Aaron Stanford gives a great performance while Eric Balfour appears slimier than ever. It's a decent watch that I think could have gone a lot further if given the proper breathing room.
Sights within:
-Best performance by people kissing. They were so good, they drove two seperate guys into a murderous frenzy.
-World's most unfortunately named couple: Maxie and Zelda.
-Curb stompin', 1920's style.
-Switchblade abuse.
-How many baths can one person take before being labeled amphibious?
Grade: B


87. The Circle

At last, the final fucking Fear Itself. Too bad it ended on such a bummer. Johnathon Schaech is a philandering horror writer who gets his when out on a celebratory stint in the woods. When his book begins coming true, he has to own up to being the asshole he is. This one has an intriguing idea, though not necessarily an original one as keeping in line with the rest of the series, but the execution is flawed. Even ignoring my dislike for Schaech as an actor, the film suffers from the lack of money and time it would take to successfully pull off what they were trying to accomplish. Things seem like they're heading in the right direction, and then they just stop, another victim preyed upon by the restrictions placed by the series's format. Decent, but, (once again) you've been here before.
Sights within:
-Best performance by quarts of oil.
-It's called The Circle, right? Let's shoehorn circles everywhere we can.
-World's palest imitation of Stephen King.
-What a random coven of witches.
-Once again, shaky cam abuse.
-Ah, here's where the witches come in, over-explaining where the air of mystery could have been much more effective.
-What's more horrible: being the story's characters and reliving everything over and over, or having to watch Fear Itself over and over?
Grade: C-

Movies Watched: 5
-Skin and Bones
-Spirit Box
-The Circle
New Movies Bought: 36 (Keep in mind, this is from the last five months or so. Even with almost no money I was able to either get these through gifts or found them for less than two bucks so unfortunately the glory days have not returned but I'm working hard now to get back to them.)
-Outpost Doom
-The Grand Horror
-Paranormal Activity (blu)
-Pig Hunt
-The Tomb
-Dark House
-Grimm Love
-Hunger (2010)
-Road Kill
-A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) (blu)
-Splice (blu)
-Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie) (blu)
-The Human Centipede (blu)
-Sorority Row (blu)
-The Wolfman (2010) (blu)
-Night of the Demons (2010) (blu)
-The Changeling (Eastwood) (blu)
-Black Kiss
-Head Trauma
-Scarlet Letter
-To Live and Die in LA (blu)
-Outlander (blu)
-Mega Piranha (blu)
-Lakeview Terrace
-The Recruit
-The Sweetest Thing
-Angel of Death
-Fast Food Nation
-Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties
-Year One
-Your Friends and Neighbors
-Tailor of Panama
-Talk to Her
Unseen DVDS: 3209
Unseen Blu-rays: 77
Unseen VHS: 119
Unseen DVD-R'S: 5

Is there something you need from me
Are you having your fun
I never agreed to be
Your holy one

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Kiss Off

Because everyone loves lists.

2010 saw the creation of this place and by some unexplained force, it's still here. As is the custom with just about any blog you'll come across, January is the time for lists. All sorts of them; best lists, worst lists, lists of lists, yadda yadda yadda. So here I am throwing my hat into the obligatory ring.

Problem is: I'm living in the past, man. I called this blog DVD Fiend because it's a tribute to the format that allowed for my obsession with films to take on an almost transcendent level of fanaticism. You'll notice that I also talk about theatrical films, blu-rays, vhs, and hell, sometimes nothing in general. The one thing in common is that they are all rooted in catalog titles. I'm more about digging into what's already come versus jumping on the bandwagon for what's out now and messing up my objective view on a film, which is why I'll wait a few years for the hoopla to die down about a movie before giving it a go like with Benjamin Button, though it didn't save that movie from being any less awful. Having a toddler doesn't help when you want to rush out and see Black Swan either.

Now, I used to be able to catch up when they hit home video (hence, the huge unwatched count at the bottom of the Pile of Shame posts) but I lost my job some time back and that hasn't been an option. So by and large, I've missed 2010 film-wise. Here's my Top list if you want to see everything from 2010 I've seen so far, including this year's After Dark Horrorfest titles:

Top Films of 2010 I Actually Watched:
1. Lake Mungo
2. Clash of the Titans
3. Predators
4. Dread
5. Splice
6. The Reeds
7. The Crazies
8. Piranha 3D
9. The Wolfman
10. Hidden
11. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
12. The Final
13. Kill Theory
14. A Nightmare on Elm Street
15. Zombies of Mass Destruction
16. The Graves

Pretty much just genre stuff, none of the indies or dramas I would usually see and enjoy.

Top 10 Movies I Would Have Liked To See This Year:
1. Tron: Legacy
2. True Grit
3. Black Swan
4. The Town
5. The A-Team
6. Daybreakers
7. Toy Story 3
8. The Expendables
9. The King's Speech
10. Paranormal Activity 2

Top 10 Movies I Hope To Never See If I Can Help It:
1. Catfish
2. The Tooth Fairy
3. Furry Vengeance
4. The Spy Next Door
5. Alice in Wonderland
6. Death at a Funeral
7. Tangled
8. Yogi Bear
9. Salt
10. Robin Hood

Now, since this blog is all about watching past movies, here's the best movies I saw for the first time this year, many of which you'll find write-ups in the archives or they're coming soon.

Best First Time Viewings of 2010:
1. Grizzly Man
2. The Wicker Man (original)
3. Rolling Thunder
4. Black Belt Jones
5. Savage Streets
6. Dog Bite Dog
7. Forbidden Planet
8. Strangers on a Train
9. Lake Mungo
10. Cherry Blossoms
11. Prince of Darkness
12. Trick R Treat
13. Bug
14. Where the Wild Things Are
15. Vinyan
16. Home Movie
17. Girly
18. Drag Me to Hell
19. Triangle
20. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer
21. 100 Feet
22. Surveillance
23. Autopsy
24. Primal Rage
25. Hamlet 2

And of course, there can be no light without darkness:

Worst First Time Viewings of 2010:
1. Cemetery High
2. Fangoria Blood Drive, both of them
3. The Hitcher 2
4. The Happening
5. The Graves
6. The Brotherhood 3
7. The Strangers
8. The Cavern
9. Zombies of Mass Destruction
10. Ghost Game
11. Spirit Box
12. An American Carol
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010
14. It Waits
15. Wicker Man (remake)
16. Hellhounds
17. Perkins 14
18. Hell's Bloody Devils
19. Bloody Murder
20. Choke
21. The Messengers 2
22. Jennifer's Body
23. The Final Destination
24. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
25. Trancers 4 or 5, pick one

And now for some various other awards I singled out.

Best Trailer:

Best Poster:
How did this shit get by so many producers without getting noticed?

Best Assassination of a Comic Book Character I've Always Loved:
Jonah Hex

How Does He Keep Getting Work?:
Ashton Kutcher

How Does She Keep Getting Work?:
Rachel Miner

Most Overrated Movie I Saw:
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World- I'm supposed to care about a whiny asshole that cheats on his girlfriend with an ice queen who not once did I ever buy that she was actually into him. And then somehow the movie becomes about his self-esteem? What the hell? If you get rid of the Scott and Ramona characters, I'd love it. Knives Chau stole the movie and should have been the focus.

Most Depressing:
Curse of the Fly- The ending is almost Shakespeareanly tragic.

Most Disgusting:
Deadgirl- Just icky.

Most WTF?:
Sisters- It's been almost three months since I saw it and I still have no idea how I'm going to articulate my thoughts on this thing when I do the write-up.

Most Under-appreciated:
Bug- Come on, it's amazingly engrossing and insane. If you've ever hung around meth-heads, you'll realize how spot on this is.

Best Movie Made On $500 Bucks:
Outpost Doom- A genuinely interesting and fun throwback to classic horror movies.

Surprisingly Wasn't Completely Horrible:
Stan Helsing

Movie I Would Have Walked Out Of And Fucking Killed Someone If I Had Actually Paid Money To See It:
Catfish- Thanks to Dead Lantern's review, I know everything I need to know about this mis-marketed joke. It pisses me off and I haven't even seen it. Seriously, give their review a listen and tell me if you would still want to see it.

Best Score To A Movie I Haven't Seen:
Tron: Legacy by Daft Punk- It's been months and I still haven't stopped listening to it.

Best Song Still Stuck in My Head After Seeing the Movie:

Movies I've Seen More Than I Ever Wanted To Thanks To My Son's Daily Rituals:
1. Garfield
2. Lilo and Stitch
3. Toy Story
4. Surf's Up
5. Monster House/Monsters Inc., depending on what type of mood he's in.

I think that's all I got at the moment. I'll end this saying that despite my outside pressures, I've had a lot of fun running this blog and it motivates me to push myself even more for the next year. I have to thank everyone that ends up here, through whatever means they arrive, for coming by and reading. I love finding new movies and exposing them to others, so if even one person goes and checks out a few new titles because of something they read here, I'm flattered. I thank you all again and here's to a cinematic 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Road to 500: Failure

Alternatively titled: I Suck, Here's Why I Sucked, and Here's Hoping I Don't Suck So Much This Year.

I know many have been waiting with bated breath for the return of regular Fiend postings, okay maybe not but it'd be nice to imagine such, and an update on how goes the brain sucking marathon.

Well, I'll tell you up front, it did not happen.

I think it topped out around 273 or something like that, which some would say nearly 300 movies in three months is an achievement in and of itself, but I still see it as a mark of shame. I made a public bet and I fell through to which I apologize. You may have noticed that with my last post I promised a follow up post with my thoughts on another remake which would have been 2010's A Nightmare on Elm Street but it never materialized. Well okay, here's my reasons for why these and other planned events did not occur. Please don't take this as whining.

After I threw up the last post, we had what could be considered a very minor snow falling. While I laughed at this place freaking out over a quarter inch worth of snow, karma would have other plans. The next morning while returning some gear I slipped on a tiny patch of ice, apparently breaking one of my ribs. As I stood up, I think I heard the heavens laughing. Or it was my breath wheezing in and out. I don't know. Anyways, this naturally put a crimp on anything computer related as it felt as though Satan was running a belt sander under my arm every time I lifted it up. I lost two weeks worth of working time on both the blog and my college thesis film, putting me at odds with both. When I could operate a keyboard again, I found my file for the Elm Street posting missing and hasn't been seen from again, gone to the recycle bin forever it seems. Something I wish could happen to the film itself. December was pretty much committed to finishing the movie and graduating. (Shameless Plug #3: if you want a hint of how it came out check it out here)

All in all, during the entirety of December and most of November, I managed to watch all of one movie, which was The Ref, a heartfelt Christmas movie if there ever was one.

With my case presented, I stand here for your judgment. Do you continue to follow a welsher that can't live up to his bargains? Do you still kill time by reading the blathering of a writer who can't fulfill his work load? Is there anyone that's actually still reading this?

I hope there is because there's a lot coming up. Overlooking this post which was originally supposed to state why the Road to 500 didn't materialize and has now become one of the whiniest blog posts on the 'net, I think there's some really fun content brewing. I've still got over 200 horror movie write-ups to do from the Road to 500 debacle as well as the other movies I've been able to start catching up with. Over the next few days there should be your typical "end of the year" type of post, though done in a personalized Fiend fashion. And over the last week or so, I've been hard at work on a marathon of kaiju-like proportions that should be fun to type up. There'll be new features, essays, lists, and all types of movie nerd shit going on right here at the DVD Fiend so stay tuned and here's to a productive 2011.

I mean it this time, too.