Thursday, December 31, 2009

Random Movie: District 9 (2009)

For some reason, this was a hard movie to watch. Not hard to watch as in terribly graphic or poorly made, but I watched the film over six days, each time falling asleep no matter if it was in the middle of the afternoon or 3 in the morning. This is not however an overall indication of the quality of the film, more an example of how I really like sleeping I suppose.

Released to theaters this past summer to critical praise, District 9 follows the existing and new denizens of Johannesburg, South Africa after an inoperable alien craft comes to rest over the city. Having no way to return home, over a million alien creatures, dubbed prawns by the locals, are rounded up in a fenced in series of shacks and tents. Twenty years later, crime has risen in the slum, the prawns are acting out against the humans, and the locals are demanding the alien residents be moved to another location. Enter Wikus Van De Merwe, middle management worker bee for MNU, a global weapons company that has been contracted to evict the aliens to a tent city over a hundred miles outside of the city.

That's the base line for the story and I feel giving more information would spoil the various twists and turns that the film takes over its runtime. Either I was not interested at the time of its release or the reviews and information I read did not delve into too many specifics, but as I sat down to watch the film, I had no idea what to expect other than the brief plot description that I gave you. And it really works better that way as the various shifts in narrative and the out-of-nowhere (but yet still realistic) plot developments shape District 9 into a movie full of twists and surprises.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Random Movie: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

I will just come right out and say that Inglourious Basterds is a great film. You may want to watch it twice at least, to appreciate all of it. I had to do that with Jackie Brown as well, another Quentin Tarantino film. I found this movie MUCH more enjoyable than Death Proof, which made me want to eat a grenade during some of the slower parts. I get it Quentin, you love movies. And yes, it was an expert replica of the Grindhouse genre. So much so that I did not care for it.

I will preface the synopsis of Basterds by telling you that this is not a complete factual account of events during World War II. The basic plot is simple: folks want to kill Hitler. There is a group called the Basterds. This is a group led by Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt). Raine has charged his men with the task of collecting 100 Nazi scalps a piece (there are 9 of them total, counting Raine). In this group is "The Bear Jew," (Eli Roth) who is particularly brutal. In addition to the Basterds, there is also Shosanna Dreyfus, whose family was killed by Nazis while hiding. She is the only survivor. In typical Tarantino fashion, these plans cross paths, but the parties involved know nothing of each other.

The standout in this film is Christoph Waltz, as Col. Hans Landa, or "The Jew Hunter." It certainly was the most well written character, and Waltz is simply outstanding. Right from the opening scene, he blew me away. Landa is very good at what he does, and knows it and Waltz does a fantastic job playing the sort of Columbo approach Landa employs; already knowing what is going on, but kind of pretending like he doesn't, and sometimes, getting his prey to participate in the revelation of what he knows. Brad Pitt was excellent as well, although he is not in the film as much as the trailers would lead you to believe. Pitt always does this kind of goofy smirk thing in all his roles (maybe not in that episode of Growing Pains) and it kind of affects his speech, but it actually works quite well here. Some odd casting choices: B.J. Novak (The Office), Eli Roth (Hostel) and Mike Myers (Austin Powers). I find the first 2 odd because they are not really actors; Novak is a writer/producer and Roth is a Director. Neither one of them can act. Mike Myers just seems odd in his scene, perhaps as my friend Phil put it best, because he is not really over the top, but he is definitely being SNL-ish. I found some other things slightly odd, as well. There are a few languages spoken in this film, it being about Nazi Occupied France. When French was spoken, in the subtitles, the words Oui and Merci were sometimes translated in to English, but other times left in French. I do not get that at all. In fact, it bothered my OCD quite a bit. Also, there were a couple of moments in the film that were narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. They seemed a bit oddly out of place as the film's overall style was a relatively normal one, as opposed to the usual Tarantino film. The narration seemed like it would be a better fit in one of his others.

There is the usual Tarantino fare with references to some of his favorite films and some of his own films. He makes 2 small and lineless (thank God) cameos. But overall, this was a different kind of film for him. No backwards storytelling, not the same bunch of actors (if you don't count the voices of Samuel L. Jackson and Harvey Keitel). I have a pretty decent record of seeing almost all of Tarantino's films in the theatre (only one I missed: Death Proof) and have yet to leave disappointed. I waited to buy the DVD and watch it a second time before revewing, because as I have found, some of his films need a second viewing. Even though the running time is over 2 and half hours, every single second is neccessary and goes by without dragging. A fine film indeed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Yes, just like that annoying significant other who always reminded you of the stupid milestones you always forgot, I am here to tell you that we have reached the tender age of one month old! We have passed the meconium stage and we almost can turn over, but otherwise we just lay around, look cute from time to time, and cry for attention. Perfect for a baby! Perfect for a blog!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Random Movie: WarGames (1983)

Ah yes. The "accidental" wreaking of havoc is one of my favorite plot formulas. In WarGames, David (Matthew Broderick) accidentally almost starts WWIII. I say almost, because no missiles actually get launched. They come close to getting launched around, oh, 11 damn times, but never get out of the silos. Oh, was that a spoiler? Sorry. You see, young David tells his 1983 computer that takes up 1/3 of his bedroom to dial numbers at random to try and find a company that is putting out some pretty hot 1983 games. Checking the results, he suspects that he may have found the company, but he in fact found a backdoor to a government computer system. David's computer runs a simulation called Global Thermonuclear War, tricking the government computer in to thinking the Russians have initiated an attack on the U.S. Obviously hilarity ensues. Not because the movie is a comedy (it isn't), but because of the extremely nonsensical film that follows. There are major holes in the story. David tries to tell the FBI that while he did break in to their system, after he saw about it on the news, he threw the phone number away. Someone tells him that they know, because they found the number in the trash. Apparently their investigation stopped there, because David tells them that the computer called him back, but no one seems to care or is able to verify that. Had they investigated that however, we may not have had the resulting high quality film to entertain us. This is a pretty run of the mill 80's movie. Marginal acting and direction and it definitely has the Weekend at Bernie's Effect going on. It was nominated for 3 Oscars, which I find hilarious. It was nominated for Best Writing, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Really? Best Sound? You want to know the name of another movie that year nominated for Best Sound? Return of the Jedi. Anyway, I actually do watch this movie fairly often, and it is one of those movies that is hilarious as time goes on, as most of it is an anachronism now, but it is still one of my "comfort movies."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movie Scum Episode #2 is on YouTube!

Another hastily thrown together video from Movie Scum!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Make this Reality: Unlimited Theater Pass

I can't fathom how no one has yet to establish this in America. The US is one of the largest producers of films in the world as well as one of the largest populace of consumers of said movies. If the UK can do it, why the hell can't we?

I'm talking about unlimited movie passes. No, Netflix (as awesome as they are) doesn't count. I want a theater chain to come up with a totally unlimited movie pass letting me see as many movies as I can and see fit within one calender year. While discussing the future of this blog with my collaborator PBF, one of the points of contention was the fact that neither of us can see as many theatrical movies as we would like. The unlimited movie pass would fix all of that.

Now, I don't expect it to be cheap but I do expect it to be cost-prohibitive for the casual movie-goers while giving us cinemanerds a good deal. Maybe $150-$250 for a 12 month span would be a good starting point provided there are not ridiculous restrictions like seating areas or valid times of day. While $300 may seem a bit steep, I figure that on average there are at least two movies per month that I want to see. If each movie is at the average cost of $8 per ticket, this is a cost of close to $200 per year at the pay-per-view rate. Therefore I can by my $200 unlimited pass, see the two movies per month I want to anyways and probably catch many more films, all the while adding to the theater's bottom line with their deliciously, artery-hardening popcorn.

Not only will this increase theater concession sales, bring more people to see those stupid ads in front of the movies, and create more of an audience to spread the word to friends, I will get to see as many movies as I want. From where I sit, its a no-brainer. Let's work on this Hollywood!

Random Movie: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)

In an effort to show that we at Movie Scum do not hate movies older than 30-ish, I sat down and watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for the very first time. In my life, I have heard random mentions of the film and even seen it reside within the top 250 of the IMDb, but never really given much thought into watching it. Knowing very little about it other than what the title gives away, I sat down in front of my computer to watch this little ditty.

Watching this movie reminded me of my senior year government class. After taking this class and listening to lectures of the innerworkings of our government taught by a state delegate, I was politically invigorated. At the time, politics held such promise as a panacea for all that was wrong in the world. The year was 2000 and I voted in that year's Presidential election and every other lesser election since then. It was only recently, a scant nine years after, that I became bitter about the American political system and all the shenanigans and tomfoolery that went on. Even though being made a good 43 years before I was even born, Mr. Smith's journey through the political system embodies my feelings toward the institution as a whole. But then again, this blog is not about politics.

For those who haven't had the pleasure to enjoy the film, the titular character is enlisted to take the place of a departed United States senator. While he arrives bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (where does that saying even come from?), Mr. Smith (played wonderfully by James Stewart) soon discovers that Washington is more about caressing the press and mincing words than standing up for freedom and values. After almost being discharged from his position due to uncovering a potential scandal, Mr. Smith takes up and performs a spectacle on the floor of the Senate until the film concludes with the right person admitting guilt and the hero redeemed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rollin' With the Homies

For those of you who don't know, Brittany Murphy is dead. It has been determined that Cardiac Arrest is the cause and she was apparently found in the shower. This a newly developing story, so more info is to come. Brittany was in movies such as 8 Mile, Clueless, and Girl, Interrupted. She was 32 years old.

The End of the World , written by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee, performed by Skeeter Davis

(song playing when Daisy in Girl, Interrupted, portrayed by Brittany Murphy, was found dead, having commited suicide.)

Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't know it's the end of the world
'cos you don't love me anymore?

Why do the birds go on singing?
Why do the stars glow above?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
It ended when I lost your love

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything's the same as it was.
I can't understand, no I can't understand how life goes on the way it does.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world,
It ended when you said goodbye.

(spoken): Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
(sung): It ended when you said goodbye.

I wake up in the morning and I wonder
Why everything's the same as it was
I can't understand, no I can't understand how life goes on the way it does.

Why does my heart go on beating?
Why do these eyes of mine cry?
Don't they know it's the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye

Oh don't, don't they know it's the end of the world
It ended when you said goodbye.

Who's the Protagonist?

While watching the excellent documentary "His Name Was Jason," one of the commentators remarked how Jason was "the protagonist in his films." This struck me as interesting but not incorrect depending on how you look at the Friday the 13th series.

The simplistic, watered-down definition of protagonist as I understood for many years was "the good guy." While this is the most commonly used definition, other means exist as illustrated by the literary definition. The term can mean anything from the first actor onstage in theatrical productions, the "hero" of the story, or even a mere participant in the story. Arguably though, the best definition is the central character, the one whom the audience conveys the most sympathy towards.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Movie: Howard the Fuck (1986)

Oops. The F is right next to the D. So, I figured that since my last post was about a movie that is damn near perfection, I figured (partly inspired by it being on right now) that I would give you my offering for worst movie ever. Howard the Duck. This piece of garbage came out in 1986 and I have a small scar in both eyes ever since, from where I tried to scratch them out. Admittedly, I have seen it more than once. Not really sure why. I probably at one point wanted to bang Lea Thompson and her crimped hair (and Holly Robinson for that matter), or I had some bizarre compulsion to see duck titties again. Whatever the reason, I am ashamed. If you want to see why a terrible movie is terrible (and believe me, you don't), look no further. Piss poor acting, terrible directing and editing, absolutely insane and unfathomable plot; this has it all. I will give you the Reader's Digest version. Howard T. Duck (yeah, that's right) is pulled from his duck planet (which is just like ours apparently, except, everyone is an English speaking duck) by a laser. He lands in Cleveland, and is taken in by Lea Thompson. You can obviously figure the main story out: Howard tries to find a way back home. "But, PBF," you are undoubtedly saying. "This film you are describing. It sounds like it can only be creafted from the finest filmakers. It couldn't possibly be that bad." I assure you it is. And as if it weren't bad enough with what I have already mentioned, let me share with you some of the witty lines: To Howard (obviously), "Listen, bird brain." After settng the kitchen on fire, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." And possibly my favorite bit of dialogue; Policeman: "I wanna see your license, Jack!" Dr, Jennings (possessed by Dark Overlord)," I have no license. I am not Jack." Oddly enough all of those lines are spoken by Jeffrey Jones, who plays Dr. Jennings, the one who accidentally brings Howard to earth and later turns into a Dark Overlord. Tim Robbins is also in it, although I am sure he would prefer me not to mention that, something that his life mate Susan Sarandon can relate to, having been in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, another epic failure. I have often asked myself why Mystery Science Theater 3000 has never done this one. I fear that the answer is that not even they could make this bearable.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random Movie: Memento (2000)

Like many people, I have a few "Top 5" or whatever denomination lists. Movies, music, tv shows, etc. Most of them, especially the music one, changes very often, sometimes by day. My movie list, everchanging as well, has always, since 2000, had Memento on it, usually at #1. I had read about this film before it came out and was quite intrigued at the concept. Bascially, it is about a man, Leonard (Guy Pearce) who cannot form new memories, and is trying to solve his wife's murder. The movie tells his story backwards, where each new scene you watch ends where the previous one began. He must keep notes and pictures and in some cases tatoos, to remind him of certain things and people. He usually forgets what is going on after about 5-15 minutes. He has normal memory up until the point of his wife's murder, an altercation in which he was injured, thus leaving him in his condition.
I had never seen a movie like this before I entered the theatre that day. I was lucky enough to see it while it ran for a short time in a theatre that no longer exists. I walked out speechless. For a number of reasons. One of them being, that I foolishly hyped this movie up based on what I had read, thinking it was going to be the greatest movie ever. Not really smart; usually a film will not live up to that. This one actually EXCEEDED it. I could not believe how well crafted it was. Christopher Nolan (Insomnia, The Dark Knight [if you had to click the Dark Knight link to find out what it is, punch yourself, you cave dweller]), the director, is a genius. Watch an internview with him if you can, about his movie making porcess. He is fantastic. This movie, is really told in 2 chronologies. Backwards and forwards, and ultimately stopping in the middle of them. The present is black and white and the backward is color, and the film goes back and forth between them. What this does, is give you the same kind of affliction Leonard does, only you still know what happened. This causes a few laughs as well as gasps, as you have already seen what is coming, but did not expect what happened immediately beforehand, which technically happened after because of the chronology of the scenes. This is a flim noir syle film and it just really really is possibly the best movie ever. There have been many a film that has tried to emulate it's style, but to no avail. I do not claim to have this movie completely figured out by any means as far as who did what, and who is good, and who is bad in relation to Leonard, bit the film does not completely go over your head, which it easily could have done. Leonard "narrating" the film during the black and white scenes kind of helps keep you focused and in snyc with what is going on. Carrie Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano also are in this film and are quite good. The DVD comes with an interactive menu with excepts of Johnathan Nolan's short story Memento Mori, and offers some further backstory, and is rather an interesting twist on the events that occur in the film.
To be honest with you, it is my hope that you will watch this film and for that reason, I do not want to delve to deeply into the events of it, because it really is a whole different experience watching it and I would like you to enjoy it fully.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Movie Scum is on You Tube!

We have made our first video! Note the cheap production! The akward pauses! This is the Movie Scum Holiday Special. We will bring you more videos so be sure to subscribe to scumomovies on You Tube and rate us and whatever else you are supposed to do to show that you like our videos.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Missing in Action: Lisa Wilcox

One of the better parts of the much maligned Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and just about the only redeeming quality in the absolutely horrid Nightmare 5 was the beautiful Alice Johnson, played by Lisa Wilcox. Alice was actually one of the better written characters in the Nightmare franchise and while some of the dialogue was clumsy at time, Wilcox performed better than expected in the third and fourth sequels in a series that was unfortunately going downhill fast.

After Nightmare 5 came out in 1989, Wilcox seems to have been largely off the grid. According to her IMDb resume, she has appeared in a handful of small films and some guest appearances on various television series. While this certainly may be an intentional choice by the actress, it is rather disheartening to see someone go from headlining two relatively popular movies to fading into the oblivion of scraping by with acting gigs here and there. Recently, she has appeared with fellow Nightmare star Robert Englund and other genre vets Kane Hodder and Danielle Harris on a Fearnet webseries Fear Clinic. Back before the remake train began for the Nightmare series, I was holding out hope that the series would be resurrected with Alice and Jacob, 15 years later battling Freddy again. Sadly, we got Freddy vs. Jason instead. If it is her desire, hopefully this series will give Lisa more exposure to get back into the swing of Hollywood and hopefully not just within the square of DTV horror films. Although, if that's what happens, I wouldn't mind seeing a familiar face in Wrong Turn 16 in a few years.

Woopity Doo!

Is Adam Sandler funny? Short answer is yes. I don't think there is anyone among us that did not like, and can't quote incessantly, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. Unless you are a communist, of course. But, honestly, why do I keep watching his movies? With a few exceptions, I can sum up the plot of any of his films as follows: Generally good hearted buffoon placed in an odd situation that he tries to get a handle on, while trying to woo a woman. Even the better of his films follow that basic recipe. It's like Mexican food. You can order 11 different items, but they all have the same stuff in them. Yet I continue to consume. I can't even really apply the Weekend at Bernie's Effect here, because while he does have some watchable films (Wedding Singer, Punch Drunk Love, Funny People), I cannot watch some of his others (Little Nicky, The Waterboy, Spanglish). When he was on Saturday Night Live, he was hilarious. The Denise Show, Canteen Boy, The Gap Girls. Basically what I think he is doing for the most part, is having fun making movies with his friends, and there will always be a demographic that appreciates loud voices, mildly suggestive language, and the word meatball (if you watch a few of his movies, you will hear that word, or a reference to meatballs somewhere. Meatball was the name of a dog he had that died). I on the other hand, would probably want to have a more memorable dent in the film industry with a resume a long as his.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Movie: Wonderland (2003)

Many people know who John Holmes was. Even if they have not seen his "work." If you do not, he was arguably the most famous porn star ever, largely (no pun intedned) due to being so well endowed. Not very many people know that along with being a drug addict, he also played some part in the Wonderland murders that took place in 1981; the brutal blugeoning of 5 people, one of which survived. I say "some part" as it has never been determined what part, but his fingerprints were found at the scene on Wonderland Ave, the namesake of the crimes and movie. What I will not do in this review is give my commentary of what I think happened, make any remark to any factual discrepensies (I obviously was not involved, therefore would not have the authority to do so) or offer any moral opinion of any of the people involved in the actual events that took place. I will simply give a review of the film.

Wonderland really serves one major purpose, aside from being entertainment: To give you 2 sides of one story, the Wonderland murders, as told by John Holmes (Val Kilmer) and David Lind (Dylan McDermott). David Lind was a regular at the Wonderland house, but was not present at the time of the murders. He and Susan Launius (who was there) were the only survivors. Each one tells their side, clearly placing the blame on the other, but a brief summary of the events would be as follows: The Wonderland "gang" sans John Holmes (who really only went there for drugs) breaks in to the residence of Eddie Nash, owner of the Starwood, and steals quite a haul, including drugs and cash, and injuring a bodyguard of Nash's. Somehow Nash finds out it was John Holmes who let them in (Lind and Holmes both offer their versions of this) and beats Holmes, force him to take the bodygard and some others over to Wonderland and let them in, and thus the murders take place. The film focuses on this and does not delve in to the porn career of Holmes, which at this point was pretty much over.

The only performance I had issue with in this film was Dylan McDermott's, but really only during one scene where he is talking to the cops. I cannot tell if it is poor acting, or his character being a bad liar, but in any event, it is not consistent with his acting during the rest of the film, which is decent. As is everyone's. Val Kilmer, who I am convinced should play every famous dead person there is, is quite fantastic. The desparation of an addict is something he portrays quite well. Holmes was reportedly quite a liar, and may have even believed his own lies, and this is also something that Kilmer portrays well. Kate Bosworth plays Dawn Schiller, Holmes's teenage girlfriend he took while still being married to his wife (played by Lisa Kudrow). Through Bosworth you see the desparation that also comes with wanting to free yourself from an abuser but also yourself being an addict, and your abuser having the means to supply you with drugs while filling your head with dreams of the better life promises to come. I find that this is a well directed film for the most part. I think the choice of having Lind and Holmes tell their sides was a better one than, say, the director (James Cox) simply telling you what he thinks happened. There are a handful of things that take away from the "film" aspect of it, such as certain buldings and cars that were in the film that were not in existence yet in 1981. One of the biggest blunders is the voice over that states that the Wonderland murders are the worst to happen in L.A. since the 1968 Sharon Tate murders. Those murders took place in 1969. Also, there are a few obvious editing errors, but obviously Wonderland is not the first nor the last film to have any of these things go on. I have yet to see a film that was edited completely without error. I first saw this movie on DVD. I bought it from a store without having seen it, only reading about it. It never played in the town I live in, and I was looking forward to seeing it. So when I saw it on the shelf I picked it up and bought it. It is packaged with a documentary of Holmes, which goes more in to his life and death and has interviews with Saron Holmes (his wife), Dawn Schiller, Misty Dawn (his second wife, who ws married to him until his death in 1988), directors of his films, and many others. This adds an eerie feel to the Wonderland experience. Even though the movie is based on actual events, you are still watching a film with actors. But then you pop the documentary in and hear the real people talk about the events, even saying things that were lines in the movie. Kind of adds a different dimension to it when you re watch the movie. Makes it feel like you are watching everything actually happen. A decent film that is worth a watch, by all means. I find this kind of thing (perhaps morbidly) fascinating, and this story, even beyond the film, is definitely interesting to say the least.

A side note to this, a book will be relaeased, called The Road Through Wonderland, in 2010. It offers yet another perspective on this story, as it is written by Dawn Schiller. I invite you to click her name and read her website. She does quite a bit of work with teens, shelters, etc., which is documented there, as well as discussions of being sober and being a mother to her daughter. If you are on Facebook, you will find her as Author Dawn Schiller and can join the Facebook group The Road Through Wonderland. You will find more information on the other wonderful work she is doing. Dawn was also kind enough to become a fan of Movie Scum on Facebook (which you should also do, if you have not already). However this was not my motivation to review this film in particular; rather share a great film with you.

News Roundup: Week of 12/11/09

Paramount to produce more micro-budget films
In the wake of Paranormal Activity, Paramount seems to be on-board with more tiny-budget films. Let's hope they do not end up in the DTV-bargain bin dreck.

The Weinstein Company Has Begun Re-Thinking 'Halloween 3D'
The last thing this battered franchise needs is a rushed sequel showcasing lackluster 3D effects. Just keep Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer on the project and it should turn out fine.

Josh Brolin in 'Men in Black 3'?!!?!?!Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones reunited again? Maybe we'll get Woody Harrelson from his 'Zombieland' stint and Javier Bardem can play the evil alien with a pressure-based-doorknob-busting thing.

Additional Scenes Being Shot for 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'
I'm still going to hold out hope that this will be a great remake. All signs seem to point otherwise though.

Random Movie: Hannibal (2001)

My love affair with the movie Hannibal is long and twisted. At the time before its release, I loved its predecessor Silence of the Lambs for many reasons but primarily due to its legendary villain, Hannibal Lector. During the pre-production phase of Hannibal, it seemed to be dealt several marks against it from Jonathan Demme and Jodie Foster dropping out as well as a general disdain for the ending of the book. I was still excited at the prospect though and even went so far as to go to an open casting call for extras as it was filming in my hometown.

And then, on opening weekend in 2001, I saw the film with a friend of mine ... and I freaking hated it. I can't remember exactly why I did not care for it. At the time, and even more so now, I liked Julianne Moore but she just seemed rather out of place as Clarice. Perhaps it was also due to a drastic shift in tone or pace from the first (technically second) Hannibal adventure. But bottom line, I was ready to write the film off and go on my merry way, nary looking back at the failed opportunity that was Hannibal. But then I bought the DVD when it was released later that year. Being at a point where I really enjoyed bonus features on DVDs and had a plethora of disposable income, I bought it knowing that I didn't care for the movie at all. Then, after watching the movie again, I decided I rather liked it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MST3K Resurrection

Well, sort of.

Those of you who are fans of horrible acting, convoluted plots, continuity errors, and major flaws in logic can take solace in knowing the great Mystery Science Theater 3000 has returned. Hulu recently picked up the show and currently have five full episodes available ranging from the terrible Giant Gila Monster to the equally bad Monster-A-Go-Go. While the episodes are not "new," they may be new to you. No sign of Mitchell or Manos yet, but hopefully they'll turn up in time.

Now go watch!

Random Movie: The Gate (1987)

Oh, my. The Gate. Why did I like you?

For the uninitiated, this is Stephen Dorf's first film. Honestly, it is not really that good, but as far as bad movies go, it is pretty good. Here is the basic plot. Parents leave teenage daugther and pre-teen son for 3 days because they "trust" them. Son and friend accidentally open a gate to hell in the backyard. Way to piss all over your parents' trust, kid. Basically what happens is, a tree with a treehouse in it is knocked over which causes a hole. While messing around back there, Glen (Stephen Dorf), the aforementioned son, and his friend Terry find a geode in it and get all excited because it will surely get them "100 bucks!" This, coupled with an accidental reciting of some magic words, and a dead dog being put in the hole, blast open a gate to hell. Terry, who is a metalhead, will discover the whole story while listening to an album by a band called Sacrifyx. The album is called The Dark Book and comes with said book. In it, it explains how the Old Gods (demons) once ruled the darkness and now they don't and are angry, and once the stars are aligned properly, they can be summoned, by doing exaclty what Glen and Terry did. Of couse, the stars are aligned properly as well.

I recall liking this movie many years ago, but upon re-watchnig it, I am not sure why. The acting is really bad, the special effects are garbage, the story line and ridiculous ending sucks. Very poor editing and directon. And man is it slow. I mean you don't even really care for the characters. You can kind of see the struggle that Al and her brother Glen go through as Al is pulled between her friends and Glen for attention, but they are such poor actors, it's like, who cares? And we hear that Terry's mother died, and that is why he is "odd," but aside from a hallucination where he sees his mother, there is no other mention of it. And he doesn't really act that odd, so again, who cares? You know what might make it better?

A remake.

Remakes usually piss me off. I really have not seen one that I like. I hated the Friday the 13th remake, the Amytiville Horror remake blew. I found the Halloween remake passable, despite it's problems. Alex Winter will be directing this one. What I think will happen, is that this will probably not be a remake as such, but more so a borrowing of the idea, told completely differently. I mean, honestly, if you saw this movie, you would not want someone to remake it using the exact same things going on, like a model rocket saving the earth. Or a demon infested house in the middle of a neighborhoodthat somehow no one manages to notice. I wouldn't mind it being period and set in the late 80's and seeng some of those clothes and hairstyles again. That was hilarious.

This movie really didn't break any new ground, and it certainly was not really even violent. There was no sex and very little swearing (the film is PG-13) so it is not your typical "horror" movie, but it isn't better, either. Just your run of the mill flick, that I and probably only 8 other people have seen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Virgin Diaries: The Breakfast Club

Born in 1982, I was technically alive in a great era of many genres ranging from the cheap slasher movie explosion of the 80s to all the teen movies made by or inspired by John Hughes and his movie-making machine. Much to the chagrin of PBF though, there are several staples of the decade that I haven't yet seen. This is one of the movies.

High school is an interesting time for anyone. For most, you are thrown together for eight hours a day with a diverse group of people that you would never otherwise associate with. Some of these people you end up bonding with, others you wish would die in a fire at your earliest convenience. You are all held together by a common set of arbitrary rules and controls dictated by people who literally seem to hate your very existence. The Breakfast Club almost perfectly embodies these typical frustrations of an adolescent during four years of their life.

At the start of the film you have the five food groups of a high school: jocks, freaks, nerds, monarchy, and troublemakers. Certainly one would expect shenanigans of sorts when representative members of these groups come together for nine hours in a confined space. One of the things that struck me about writer and director John Hughes' film is how understated it is. If this movie were made today, there would certainly be an explosive fight between the conflicting class, an explosion, probably a full-on sex scene, and an ending with a nice little bow on it as the five youths go to a house and play XBox together. Instead, we have the teens pick on each other, play mind games, smoke some pot, but mostly sit and talk and work through their individual and collective problems. This actually reminded me of 12 Angry Men in this aspect.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Random Movie: Jesus' Son (1999)

No one has ever heard of the movie Jesus' Son when I ask them about it. I myself, saw it by happenstance. I was flipping through the guide on the cable box and saw the synopsis for this film. It listed Frank Black (lead singer of the Pixies) as being in it. Having never seen Frank Black in a movie I turned it on. Turns out it was a misprint, and it was in fact Jack Black. However, what I found was quite an interesting film. Billy Crudup plays a character listed as FH, or Fuck Head. He narrates the story, which starts in the middle, backs up and then cathes up with itself around the real middle of the film. A large chunk of it deals with his heroin addiction (the title of the movie comes from a line in Lou Reed's song "Heroin") but the movie is really more than that.

We watch a journey through life, as FH deals with whatever he encounters, and how he moves from one thing to the next. The movie is actually quite nicely directed. At some points during the narration, it almost sort of feels a little messy; FH backs the story up for getting ahead of himself, and at one point after telling a 30 or 40 minute story, it ends with him telling us that he may have told us the wrong story. This is done I am sure to produce a mild feeling of confusion as the characters are strung out the whole time during this part of the film. Some excellent lines in the film as well: "...made me feel like the inside of my veins hads been scraped out." "I knew every rain drop by it's name." The film also stars Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon, all of which are great. It is a dark comedy that very much embodies both; Jack Black certainly delivers the comedy in a toned down version of his normal fashion, and the subject matter and character deaths certainly provide the darkness. I recommend viewing the film at least once just so that you have experienced it. It sits on my DVD shelf, and is played quite often.

What's the Draw of 3D?

History certainly seems to repeat itself. Films in 3D have been around for a while but seem to have peaks and valleys in their popularity. With the last burst of 3D cinema occurring close to thirty years ago (perhaps it follows the remake timeline), more films recently have been released relying on the concept of adding that extra dimension to movies. With James Cameron's much publicized Avatar set to drop later this month, 3D films could be facing a huge resurgence depending on this film's success.

But my question stems from an article quoting James Gianopulos, the CEO of Fox who was overseeing the production of Avatar:

"As Jim says, we experience the world in 3D, why should we experience film any different?"

Having only seen one film in theaters with 3D segments (for the record, that was the terrible Freddy's Dead), I can't really speak for how well depth perception is really conveyed. My questions are, if films have been shot in regular 2D for decades consistently, with 3D appearing as a fad with its many resurgences and declines, is 3D really that effective? Is it here to stay? Did it make Jaws III a better movie at the theater than what I saw at home?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Make This Movie: Resident Evil 4

While I fully realize that a fourth movie adaptation to the popular video game franchise is in the works, I would love to see a movie based on the events of the fourth video game.

In RE4 as the cool kids call it, Leon Kennedy is sent to a quaint European village to rescue the stupid daughter of the United States President. He encounters there cult members who have had their bodies taken over by a parasite of some kind and who will stop at nothing to kill Leon before he rescues the damsel in distress. Many hi-jinks ensue with Leon battling chainsaw-wielding maniacs, big baddies in lakes and castles, and some creepy guy trying to sell things in dark alleys. While it has been a while since I've last played the game, that's about the gist of the story. And it's fan-freakin-tastic.

Playing the game, I thought how cool would it be for a zombie movie (or any horror movie in general) to capture the atmosphere and mood of this game. At any time, around any corner could be some psycho with a machete or a flaming arrow aimed at your head. You find yourself low on ammo, having to rely on whatever you have at hand to fend off the attackers and escape without serious injury. You escape one village full of the infected to go straight to an abandoned bunker, or old mansion, or dock stocked with these "things."

If a writer were to merely write all the levels on postcards, mount them to a bulletin board, and throw darts aimlessly at it, I can almost guarantee a decent to great movie depending on the talent behind the scenes. So, while the film series of Resident Evil may be decent (admittedly I haven't seen any of them with little desire to), they certainly cannot match the palpable tension in RE4. I dare you Hollywood to make a film of this.

I double-dog dare you!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make Them Die Slowly!

I realize that we are all somewhat desensitized to violence and horror today. I mean, what would scare the bejesus out of someone 10-15 years ago in a movie has probably been shown on Sesame Street by now. There are a few films that, while they do not "scare" me, they are classic, gore trash, that I love. Here is a small list of them, so that you may find them for yourself and enjoy.

1. Tombs of the Blind Dead. This is Spanish (Portugal) with subtitles. There is a bit of a creepiness to it, but it is just good cheeseball horror. It is not as gory as some others on this list, but there is some people eating. Something kind of funny about blind templars wandering around until they bump into someone and then eat them.

2. Cannibal Ferox. Italian. Oh my. This is so fucking hilarious. Basically, there are the some college kids and a coked up professor. They stumble upon a tribe of cannibals. This movie is sick. I mean, member of tribe cuts penis off and eats it. Need I say more? Alright, I will. As you will read if you click that link, there were actual animal killings. WTF? I had this on laser disc (think CD that is bigger than a record, and you have to flip it over when one side is done), if you can believe that. Tagline is "Make them die slowly!"

3. Zombie 2. Lucio Fulci's classic. Italian. This is called Zombie 2 (actually Zombi 2 in Italy) because although written before Romero's Dawn of the Dead, it was released after. Dawn of the Dead was released as Zombi in Italy. Zombi 2 was given it's name to make more money as an unauthorized sequel. The 2 films have nothing to do with each other. This movie is a bit creepy at times. Zombie boat floating in the harbor in NYC. People poking their heads about to investigate? DEATH!

4. Maniac. This film is...nuts. Tom Savini does the make up (and of course must show up in the film) and does quite a good job, but I warn you: this one is disturbing. No zombies, just a sick, well, maniac. Basically this guys kills women, and takes their scalps. Puts 'em on manniquens. I'm not talking Kim Cattrall and Kristy Swanson mannequins, either. This one is actually a decent movie in my opinion and quite watchable from an aesthetic standpoint, but again, I warn you: DISTURBING.

5. B.A.P.S. Absolutely horrifying.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where Are My DVDs?

So, DVDs have been around for over ten years, yet there are still films that were released long ago on VHS that have yet to see the day on DVD. Now, I have lived this long without, but it irritates me that there are still pockets of unrecognized films without proper representation on the digital standard (no, I'm not counting Blu-Ray at this point).

While it was lauded as a groundbreaking "meta" film at the time, some of the luster has worn off Wes Craven's Scream. However, it is still a highly entertaining exercise in understanding Kevin Williamson's highly unrealistic teenage dialect wrapped in a pretty decent slasher film. While this film has been on DVD for some time, it is not anamorphic so it looks like crap on my TV in stretch-o-vision and it is even the version trimmed down to appease the dolts at the MPAA. If Paramount can release Event Horizon on DVD three times, surely Dimension can throw a few dollars toward a decent, uncut release of this "classic."

While it is probably the most maligned of the Halloween series, I've always had a special space in my heart for Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. One of the reasons it is frowned upon so is due to the chainsaw editing that was done after the film was completed. Many scenes were cut down or reshot all together resulting in a major clusterfuck of a movie. Still, this one had the best autumn atmosphere out of any of the sequels and there were many scenes of greatness trying to sneak through. Yet, all we have is a discontinued bare-bones theatrical version of the movie. Now, I'm not asking for a three hour retrospective documentary on the film, but give me the deleted scenes so I can verify the validity of the claim that while still crap, the movie makes much more sense. Coincidentally, also a Dimension Films release. Hmm ...

Maniac Cop 2. I'm not sure what else I need to say about a movie called ... Maniac Cop 2 other than its a sequel to a film about a maniac cop which starred Bruce Campbell and Tom Adkins. And this is not on DVD other than on different continents. Does whatever company own this dreck think I don't want to see a high-def version of the titular character blowing away a police station full of cops or Leo Rossi's ugly mug? If Starz feels a need to show this and its inferior second sequel, there certainly has to be some demand for a DVD.

While these movies may not represent AFI's Top 100 list, I demand respect to be paid to these ... uh, movies. Fix it, Hollywood!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Are You Ready For Freddy?

Here is a link that you must click. Only play that video. Do not click any of the other tabs like "Freddy Krueger" and watch those videos. Shitty music tributes. But that one is tight, right? Badass! Well, forget about that, that is not a trailer for the real movie.

In case you did not know, there is a remake, or reboot, or possible rape of A Nightmare On Elm Street due to be released in 2010. That trailer you watched is by Christopher Johnson , an actor, writer, and producer, although most of his work seems to be in visual effects. He apparently is so excited about the new movie that he made that trailer. I was let down a bit after finding out that it wasn't for the real movie. However, after watching one, I did feel a little better. Right off, it looks pretty damn frightening.

Terminator Salvation: Review

After watching Terminator Salvation, I was reminded of a skit that was basically a parody of dating services that used to play on MadTV called "Lowered Expectations." It's always frustrating to sit down to see a movie you've heard countless great things about only to be disappointed. Currently enjoying a rather deplorable 32% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Salvation didn't have a whole lot going for it as I sat down and pressed play.

While not the pinnacle of the Terminator franchise by any stretch, Salvation certainly was not the worst either. John Connor, now played by Christian Bale, still stuck in his gravely Batman voice, is joined by some new and old friends as he attempts to lead a small band of nuclear holocaust survivors against their machinist overlords. The funny thing about this film is that while the first three in the series focused on the Connor family in their dealings with their pending fate, this film turns more to Marcus Wright, played by Sam Worthington on the upcoming Avatar.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger Sharks Were Chumps

I came across this You Tube video while trying to find info on a Thundercats movie. While I cannot validate that it is real, it seems to have Vin Diesel as Panthro and what appears to be Posh Spice as Cheetara. It also says that is will be out in 2009, so decide for yourself. In that video, Lion-O does seem to be voiced by Larry Kenney from the cartoon, but I cannot tell if it is physically him in that get up. I do, however vow to you this: if Vin Diesel is in that movie, I will punch an immigrant. And did you see Snarf? Did someone just superimpose a drawing over the film for God's sake? Now, I also found that alternatively, the movie will be CGI and out in 2010. Note the date on that post is 2007. I cannot find any real recent info (I will admit I got as far as page 3 of the search results, so if there is decent info beyond that, my bad).

Thundercats was badass. My favorite episodes were the Lion-O Anoitment episodes. There were 5 of them and he had to challenge the others against their own talents (Cheetara's speed, Pantro's strength) to earn his rank as Lord of the Thundercats. Shit, I even liked some of the gay, copycat shows, like Silverhawks and Tiger Sharks. Well, I don't know about "like" and "Tiger Sharks," but I bet you liked hearing that song, didn't you?
Thundercats better be loose, and soon.

News Roundup: 12/3/09

The First Official Images from 'Sex and the City 2'
We still have no sequel to Ghostbusters and no progress on a feature film of Arrested Development but we do have a sequel to a movie that made men all over America cringe. Bravo, Hollywood.

Welcome Back to 'Zombieland'...In 3D!
Sadly, I did not get to see Zombieland in theaters but from all I have heard about it, a sequel in 3D is going to be awesome!

Cast Announced for 'Night of the Living Dead: Origins'
More zombies! Although, with the exception of Danielle Harris, I can't find one good thing about another g-d remake/sequel/whatever to the original Night. Pick a different public domain movie to shit on people!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sequel Schmequel

You ever notice that there is a bastard sequel stuck in most lengthy franchises? There is fairly often a sequel that doesn't have anything to do with any of the rest of the films in the series. For example,

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge. That title is misleading. Freddy isn't taking revenge on anyone from the first movie, cause no one from it shows up until part 3. In fact, he "possesses" this kid who does the killing, rather than trying to kill the kids of the parents that burned him alive. Then part 3 pickes up with Nancy, and it continues it's formula of survivor of last film gets killed in next, leave one survivor, repeat.

Next, lets look at Halloween 3: Season of the Witch. According to IMDB, the reason this one was different, was because John Carpenter planned to release a new movie each year, with a completely different story. Due to poor box office performance, Michael Meyers was resurrected for part 4. I would believe that if this were the second film and not the third. This has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other Halloween films. Michael Meyers isn't even in it, as he "died" in the previous chapter. There is even a commercial for Halloween on a TV in this movie, as if to purposely futher separate it from the rest.

I will bring up Friday the 13th: A New Beginning because I feel that the only link in this movie is Tommy Jarvis, and a hockey mask. This is part 5, in which Tommy, who "killed" Jason in part 4, is in some bizzare camp for nut jobs. Not to post a spoiler for a film released in 1985, but Jason is not the killer. You will hear people try to tell you otherwise, but do not be brainwashed. If it were really Jason, why would he kill people, bury himself in his grave, to be brought back to life in part 6? That is dumb. It was Roy. Jason is in every other movie, and even when the story line of him, his mother, and Tommy, drops off (which I think is in part 7, starring Terry Kiser of Weekend at Bernie's) it still is somewhat linear. I mean, Freddy takes his mask, he goes to hell, they fight and he ends up in space, but at least he is IN them.

Nostalgia is Awesome: True Lies

In my opinion, 1994 was one of the best years of cinema featuring many films that I continue to watch frequently. There were event films like the (overrated) Forrest Gump, summer popcorn movies like Speed, sequels that no one else seemed to like such as New Nightmare, as well as many others. One film that has withstood the test of time for effective filmmaking is True Lies.

Originally, I was going to write about how Tia Carrere seemed to drop off the face of the earth as she is especially good in this film. But then I looked at her IMDb page and was surprised she has actually been in quite a few projects, several unfortunately only showcasing her vocal talents. But as I continued watching, I remembered this is a kickass movie.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

News Roundup: 12/1/09

Summit Pictures To Distend TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN!
Will they call the second part "Breaking Dawn 2: Electric Boogalo"?

Paul Greengrass Quits 'Bourne 4'?
Well that sucks. Even if the camera work induces seizures and vomiting, Supremacy and Ultimatum were awesome. And not just because of Joan Allen either.

ClearPlay introduces first content filtering 1080p upscaling DVD player
I'm confused. Is this marketed to parents who are just too selfish to watch family-friendly movies or those who are too lazy to actually do something other than watch TV with their kids.