Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Movie: Yonggary (1999)

Written by: Digger

Before I even get started, let me set a few things straight about this film. The movie Yonggary has kind of a twisted past.   Although billed as a remake of the 1967 South Korean monster movie Yongary, the title and country of origin are really the only things the original film shares with its 1999 counterpart.  In an attempt to help the movie appeal to a broader international market, the film was produced with an English-speaking American cast.  The film was initially released in South Korea and internationally in 1999 but a second version of the film, with additional scenes and “improved” special effects, was released in 2001.  This remastered version, retitled Reptilian or Reptile 2001 in the United States, is currently available on DVD, and is the version that I am reviewing.

Now, with all that out of the way, this movie opens with a team of archaeologists exploring a cave and some of the most horrific line deliveries in recorded history. Throughout this picture the acting ranges in quality from stiff and unnatural to hammy and laughable, but what we get inside the first five minutes of screen time is absolutely terrifying.  Thankfully, the acting never gets any worse than this and most of these guys in the cave get torched after one of the diggers hits a glowing rock with a hatchet. A couple of years later, one of the surviving archaeologists from earlier, Dr. Campbell, (Richard B. Livingston) is heading an excavation to unearth a massive dinosaur skeleton. A photojournalist is dispatched to the sight who’s name escapes me because he serves no purpose to the plot other than to introduce the audience to other, more important characters. He meets Campbell’s sometimes British assistant Holly, (Donna Philipson) and Campbell’s old and seemingly insane associate Dr. Hughes. (Harrison Young) Hughes has come to warn everyone that the skeleton they are uncovering, which he calls Yonggary, will destroy mankind. He apparently learned this from some unexplained prophecy written in hieroglyphics in that cave from the opening scene. Of course no one buys this prophecy crap, not even I do and I watched the whole movie, and Dr. Hughes is escorted out of the camp. It turns out that there have been a lot of ominous and plot convenient fatal accidents happening around the dig site, but Dr. Campbell acts like a monomaniacal ass hole the entire time and tries to play them off as run-of-the-mill industrial accidents and threatens people to keep quiet about them.

At the same time the military, represented here by the very fictional United National Defense Agency, is having trouble with some missing satellites. Turns out there’s a big, badly rendered alien spaceship special effect orbiting the Earth, and the hand puppet aliens inside, that also speak English, are here to wipe out humanity and conquer the planet. For what reason, we don’t know, but they intend to do this thing by reanimating the giant fossilized skeleton. The evil insectoid aliens, because there are no good insectoid aliens, fire a massive energy beam down to Earth that resurrects Yonggary and puts muscle and skin back on him. In typical monster movie fashion, Yonggary, who is being controlled by the aliens via a diamond shaped device on his forehead, is set loose to destroy humanity. Let me just recap that. The aliens came to Earth two hundred million years ago, found a giant monster (apparently the only one of its kind) fitted it with a brain control device, then let it die and waited for hundreds of millions of year to come back to Earth, which they knew would eventually be controlled by the human race, and then bring a fossilized monster, which has just recently been conveniently unearthed, back to life to kill all humans. That is their master plan. Why not just return to Earth while humans are still living in caves and conquer the Earth then? How about invade Earth with more than one battleship and wipe out civilization yourselves? But it’s this flimsy premise that finally gets us to the giant monster wrecking stuff portion of the film. Anyway, after the fake army throws helicopters and jets at the monster to no avail, they turn to a newer, more high-tech option to take the monster down. That option is to send in guys wearing jet-packs and fly around Yonggary like tiny, foul mouthed gnats and shoot at him with assault rifles. The strike vehicles with missiles and large caliber guns didn’t work, so they send in smaller, less well armored troops with smaller guns to finish the job. How does this make any logical sense? Needless to say, there are a lot of holes in this plot. It’s just to bad that the giant monster they’re shooting at is so bland, unoriginal, and badly made. If I was director Shim Hyung-rae and I saw these lifeless, rubbery, completely unnatural looking creature effects during production, I would have scrapped those scenes and re-shot them with a man in a foam-rubber Yonggary costume. This computer generated abomination actually looks worse than the worst guy-in-a-rubber-suit effect.

On top of all the acting, writing, and special effects problems, this movie is so full of cliches and scenes that seem almost completely ripped off from other films that I had to watch it twice just to find them all. It follows all of the giant monster movie tropes that have been cultivated over three decades of kaiju cinema. Aliens start out in control the creature to use as a super weapon to crush humanity. The monster runs a muck in a major city. All of the major human characters are either scientists, in the military, or in the news media. And, after Yonggary is freed from his alien overlords, those aliens bring in another monster so the two beasts can slug it out in a major metropolitan area. However, the film seems to take more inspiration from certain Roland Emmerich movies than it does from classic monster films. The aliens bare a striking resemblance to the invaders from Independence Day, and there are several scenes involving fighter pilots firing missiles and spouting jargon that sounds like it was lifted right out of that film. The director also makes the mistake of trying to recreate several scenes from the 1998 American Godzilla, including Yonggary dueling with a squadron of helicopters and many instances of missiles failing to lock on to the creature and striking nearby buildings instead. I’m sure one could make a wonderful drinking game out of this movie. Every time the old crazy guy mentions something about the supposed prophecy that no body cares about, take a shot. Every time you see a bad composite image, take a shot. Every time Holly forgets to talk with her British accent, take a shot. Every time there’s a scene where the stupid aliens talk about something that we just saw happen on screen thirty seconds ago, take a shot. Come to think of it, where is my bourbon? I need to drink the pain away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random Movie: Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Written by: PBF

Glengarry Glen Ross is quite brilliant. David Mamet (screenwriter, the film is adapted from his play) loves dialogue, and if an actor cannot handle it, it’s very easy to tell. There is no issue of that in this film. Everyone in this film execute his words perfectly.

Basically, the film is the story of four real estate salesmen who work for Premiere Properties (played by Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris). The owners of the company ask Blake (Alec Baldwin) to come in and “motivate” the salesmen. He explains that the top seller for the month will win a new Cadillac, the second place salesman will win steak knives and everyone else will be fired. He gives a quite HR inappropriate, vulgar, insulting and yet entertaining speech which scares and pisses everyone off  except Roma, (played by Pacino) who is not required to attend the meeting, as he is top salesman. Blake shows the salesmen the Glengarry leads, which are “gold.” Levine (Lemmon), whose character is the inspiration for the Simpsons character Gil Gunderson, begs Williamson, the office manager (Kevin Spacey) to give him one of those leads, as the salesman are of the opinion that the current leads are weak and they cannot close them. The film depicts 2 days in the life of this office; the night of the meeting and the following day in which it is discovered that the office has been broken in to and the leads have been stolen. What results is an awesome character study, and highly satisfying film.

David Mamet has a very firm grasphold of the way people actually talk. This is prominent in pretty much all of his films and plays. That being said, and as I mentioned before, if an actor cannot deliver this dialogue very well, they will stand out like a sore thumb in a Mamet piece. Once again, this is not a problem in Glengarry Glen Ross. Every single actor, not matter what the size of  the role, deliver Mamet’s lines with excellence, and firm believability. Alan Arkin is especially great. He seems to have the same masterful understanding of the English language as Mamet does, and his performance seems like it was rudimentary to him.

What’s most impressive about this film, is that Mamet can take the same talent that makes his plays so engaging (strong dialogue) and apply it in to a film. A lot of film goers prefer some kind of “eye candy,” whether it is an explosion, or Vin Diesel. Mamet films will almost never deliver that.

The casual movie goer does not understand the “mechanics” of film. They do not isolate line delivery, blocking, or the tightness of an ensemble cast. They just see flashiness. If you are one of those people, you will hate this film. It is a showcase of superb acting, directing and writing. Yet, it does not insist upon itself. It just exists, waiting for appreciation, which it very much deserves. It’s highly quotable, and simply watching this (or reading Mamet in general) makes a writer suddenly want to write something fantastic. Awesome picture.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Random Movie: The Other Guys (2010)

Written by: PBF

I am an Adam McKay fan. Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers? I enjoy all of those. The Other Guys, however; was an utter disappointment.

Detectives Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) are your typical action movie cops. Hanging on to the roof of bad guys’ cars as they are being chased by the rest of the police. Jumping from moving vehicles. Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg) are desk jockeys, Gamble having been transferred from Forensic Accounting and Hoitz having accidentally shot Derek Jeter. Gamble and Hoitz are desk mates, and thus “partners” and are made fun of quite a bit. Gamble actually enjoys his desk work, while Hoitz is a “peacock that needs to fly.” Hoitz and Gamble (Gamble by force) seize an opportunity to become the kind of detectives that Highsmith and Danson are by trying to take on an exciting case, but largely screw up. However, by slowly focusing on what seems like a routine, boring non-movie case, they keep uncovering suspicious activity until they are involved in a half blown action film.

Quite simply, the reason why this movie sucks, is because the comedy isn’t funny, and the cop story is uninteresting. McKay films are typically full of humor, starting right away, and then consistent throughout. This was not only unfunny, but completely boring. It’s actually quite weird. It is not funny for one second. I would never had known it was a McKay film, had I not known that prior to viewing.

Everyone is fine in this film. Ferrell and Wahlberg (the actor, not the alter ego, Puck!) do their best given the material they have to work with, but even they cannot save it. It is just uninteresting and unfunny.

I do not recommend this. Waste of time.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Random Movie: The Kids Are All Right (2010)

One of my all-time favorite movies (and one I am terrified to do a proper review on) is American Beauty. Something in that film just grabs me every time I even think about it whether it be the music, the great acting, or the exposé on real life. Perhaps not strangely then, I thought about American Beauty quite a bit while watching The Kids Are All Right. And not just because Annette Bening was in both.

Perhaps you can view this as the American Beauty for the new millennium. Nic and Jules have a dedicated, yet stressful marriage. Nic is a successful doctor who sometimes can be a bit overbearing; Jules is more of a free-spirit: a homemaker with an occassional odd job on the side. They have a two kids, Jodi and Laser, a nice house, and even a Volvo. If it hasn’t been spoiled for you already, allow me: Nic and Jules are gay.

When the almost-college-bound Jodi (Mia Wasikowska) reaches out to the man whose sperm conceived her and her brother, the family is introduced to Paul (Mark Ruffalo) whose nonchalant, free-spirit attitude towards the world in general wins over almost everyone. He’s not into school, doesn’t like team sports, rides a motorcycle and runs an organic, local farm and restaurant. Jodi and Laser (Josh Hutcherson) develop close bonds to their almost dad while Jules (Julianne Moore) starts having, well, other feelings for him. Only Nic (Bening) is left out as she sees the rest of her family flock towards the new almost-member of the family.

The opinions that you or I may have about non-traditional families is not really important here as life goes on regardless just like drug use and Pauly Shore. Really, the lesbian angle is a non-factor here. Granted, Nic and Jules are gay and they display affection toward each other appropriately. But this story could have easily been told from a traditional family model with Paul being replaced by a previous fling for one spouse or the other.

Co-writer and director Lisa Cholodenko wisely keeps the tone of the film fairly light. There are some heavily emotional scenes between the family and their new dynamic but there are as many scenes of just playful conversation or bonding between Paul and his almost kids. This helps deflect some of the deeper issues as ultimately this is a story about the deterioration of a relationship due to an outside influence. After meeting the kids, Paul wises up and realizes that he does not want to spend the rest of his life going between fleeting interests in women or careers. He comes to see this as his family and when him and Jules have an affair, he is convinced that they will be a normal family.

Okay, a large part of the reason I kept thinking of Sam Mendes‘ award-winning debut film was actually because of Bening. In fact, Nic and Carolyn Burnham are like kindred cinematic spirits. Nic undoubtedly is the dominant head of the household. She exerts control but at a cost of alienating those around her and coming to terms with that by copious amounts of alcohol. Both Bening and Moore exert a great chemistry together making these two (as far as I am aware) straight women seem like life-time partners. When the damage is done to their relationship, things unfold as they would in any other household with despair, distrust, and ultimately someone sleeping on the couch.

Ruffalo has the troublesome job as the guy who is yoked into an awkward situation (which there were plenty throughout the film) and foolishly tries to make the best of it by less than honorable means. His is a thankless role as he is the main catalyst for the narrative’s unfolding but yet, just like to the family, he is an outsider who is less important to the point that Paul’s role does not get a proper conclusion other than being told off by Nic.

At its conclusion, after dropping Jodi off at her first day of college after a tearful goodbye, Laser remarks that Nic and Jules should stay together. Because they’re too old that is. In its final moments, the film solidifies its hook: it is a real but yet comedic look at a family, one which may be different than yours or mine, but one that is just as imperfect as everyone else.

Oh, and as for Wasikowska and Hutcherson: well, those kids were all right.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Random Movie: Devil (2010)

I trust you heard of the response that average movie-goers had when M. Night Shyamalan‘s name appeared at the end of the trailer for Devil. If you did not, (Spoiler alert!) they laughed heartily. Honestly, after the string of dreck that the man has churned out over the years, any goodwill his name would have afforded ten years ago has mostly evaporated. However, Devil is allegedly the first in the Night Chronicles, a series of films based on ideas from Shyamalan acting as a producer only. Given the output of this film, I’d say this is a better way for him to rebuild his fanbase.

Admittedly, the premise doesn’t sound like much other than a 30 minute episode of some anthology series. Five strangers are trapped in an elevator. One of them is the devil. I shouldn’t have to put a spoiler warning to let you know that not all of them survive. As a movie focused only on that would run thin rather quickly, there are also a couple security guards, a maintenance man, and a Philadelphia detective to switch to as they try to figure out the failure causing the stuck elevator but also who the five strangers are.

Given the slim cast of mostly unknown, or underknown, actors, writer Brian Nelson off of Shyamalan’s story weaves back and forth between those trapped and those outside in a largely effective fashion. Normally the problem with a bifurcated story such as this is generally one half is more interesting than the other. But with a brief runtime and very tight pacing by director John Erick Dowdle, there is always something going on worth paying attention to. The five in the elevator must combat the tight space, their increasing agitation, and of course that pesky devil who picks off one of them every time the lights go out. Meanwhile, Detective Bowden (Chris Messina) and the security guards race around the building to try to access those trapped when they are not glued to the security monitors watching as everyone unravels.

This is not a traditional horror film in the standard jump-scare sense but Dowdle is able to create a very palpable and tense atmosphere. The possible outcome in the elevator is somewhat limited due to the confined space but that doesn’t stop other random occurrences around the building with people jumping to their death, falling to their death, or being pretty stupid to their death. The whole devil aspect was a bit clumsily handled as its introduction and progression occur mostly due to an uber-religious Hispanic security guard. His evidence that the devil is abound? A piece a toast falls jelly side down. The devil does however leave some pretty unsettling images on the security camera (I had goosebumps, that should say something) and had a pretty effective way of getting his point across.

The crew in the elevator is pretty decent even though some of the characters are somewhat flat. The one that counts though (no spoilers) has a nice tie in with the rest of the story. Given that it’s a Shyamalan-based film, you might be looking for a twist. There isn’t one but the reveal of who is who is pretty shocking. Messina’s performance is damn terrific though and I look forward to more of him in the future.

It’s not a perfect film to say the least but with some great visuals from DP Tak Fujimoto, a delightfully creepy score by Fernando Velázquez, and acting that doesn’t make you want to hang yourself from a tree Happening-style, Devil is proof that Shyamalan can be involved in something worthwhile in the world of film.

Random Movie: The Expendables (2010)

Every once in a while, someone comes up with an idea that makes you think “Man, why hasn’t that been done sooner?” About a year ago in a conversation with Digger, I remarked how I’d like to see a balls-to-the-wall action movie with all of the action heroes of old. Little did I know, and Digger was quick to point out, that Sylvester Stallone already had that idea with his upcoming movie The Expendables.

Even though I had heard mostly positive things about the movie (mostly from my testosterone-driven friends and associates), I was hesitant. When you put Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, and more together in an action movie, it could either be awesome in a manly kind of way or very over-the-top and cheesy. I assume that director Stallone was going for the former but the cheese factor came into play far too much for my taste.

We have all of the requisite action tale staples: an exotic locale, a former colleague who goes rogue, a main bad guy, and a love interest whose part mainly consists of giving exposition and being dragged from room to room. The plot is basically a thinly veiled ruse for action-packed scenes and the details are not important for us to know. I just want to see death and destruction. On that front, Expendables delivers in spades with some of the more off-the-wall but similarly spectacular action sequences since the heydays of the 80s. Once, my father and I tried to keep a running tally of the people Schwarzenegger gunned down in Commando. Needless to say, we lost track. I wouldn’t be able to make tic marks fast enough to keep up here.

For its intended purpose, the aforementioned cast as well as Terry Crews, Steve Austin, and Eric Roberts (!) do their best to chew scenery and look busy while things explode around them. But everything comes to a grinding halt whenever there is any talky-bits that I assume are supposed to provide depth to the characters. This does not work well. Rourke has a tender reflection on the preciousness of life (I think that was the point at least) that not only reeked of overacting but it was also incredibly out of place. Similar for Li’s crying that he has to work harder because he is smaller than the rest of the team. I assume that scene was also for comedic purposes but it was odd and wholly unnecessary especially considering the kick-ass car chase that was about to commence.

In fact, one of my main problems was that there was so much freaking dialogue. Save for a few members, this cast is not well known for substantial acting abilities. All I needed were a few one-liners sprinkled into the wall-to-wall gun fights and car chases and a line or so just to give a flimsy story of why these men are going to this foreign country to kill a bunch of people. Admittedly in most films, I get irritated at the lack of a narrative but this is one of those movies where I am all but willing to give that a pass.

The main thing I would have liked to see in the movie is some silly, self-referential material. I’m not asking for Kevin Williamson style awareness but let’s be honest. Stallone is well within the AARP membership bracket and to have him, or even some of the others on the team, address that would have elevated it from a random action movie to a random action movie that knows it’s an action movie. There’s a big difference.

All in all, Expendables wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. Granted, I had no idea what the hell to expect from it but still. Perhaps with the apparently already greenlit sequel, Stallone can take things a little more lightly and give us what we want. Hot girls like Charisma Carpenter and Giselle Itié, senseless violence, and not a lot of pointless character-driven scenes. I feel a bit silly criticizing a movie for having too much plot, but then again, I know I did not expect that from this movie.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Random Movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Written by: PBF

Guess what? I kind of liked this one. If nothing else, I appreciate that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning adheres to the previously established storyline, etc. of the preceding film.

Same basic plot is once again employed; small group of young adults travelling through Texas for one reason or another are interrupted in their trip and fall into the hands of Leatherface and whatever random family he is with this time. In this installment we witness the “origin” of Leatherface, or Thomas Hewitt (in this universe). His mother works in a slaughter house and dies giving birth to him while on the job. Her boss, throws the baby (Leatherface) away in a dumpster. He is found by a member of the Hewitt family and taken to the plantation house from the previous film. Thomas ends up working at the same slaughterhouse but it gets closed down. Thomas kills his boss (the very same one that threw him away) and is stopped on the road by the only law enforcement person in an ever-deteriorating town. Charlie Hewitt shoots the deputy (as he is Thomas’s uncle) and kills him, and takes Thomas back home, also assuming the role of Sheriff. Meanwhile, Eric and his brother Dean, travelling with their girlfriends end up having a car accident and unfortunately become victims of the Hewitt family.

Nothing satisfying happens as a result of seeing “the beginning.” In fact, “the beginning” is really just the birth. We sort of see pieces of Thomas’s life during the credits (killing animals as a child, etc.), there really is no complete transformation from Thomas to Leatherface. Just troubled birth to insane person. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter, but you would kind of want to see maybe a study of young Thomas and his progression, what with the “the beginning” part of the title.

The film is quite brutal. Unlike the first film, most of the violence happens on screen, but it is necessary. This is just an ugly film and it makes sense to see the nastiness.

The main thing that separates and makes this better than the rest of the films is that is continues (or restarts, as it is a prequel) the previous storyline and makes sense. Combined with the previous film, it remakes, and continues. The first 4 films really can all exist on their own, and the fact that they are so different and yet are included in the cannon as sequels just piss me off. This film and its predecessor are dark, new visions of the story and on their own are not bad horror films. Still not as good as the original, but not as insulting as the middle section of this franchise.

I still hold my opinion that there really only needs to be the original film and no others. What’s alarming is the Leatherface 3D film that is planned for 2013. Besides the decision to continue the story, the fact that it will be in 3D, just infuriates me. This just needs to stop.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Random Movie: Fido (2006)

Written by: Phil Carpenter

Is that blood on your Zombie?

For my first review, I thought I'd choose a movie about a subject very near and dear to my heart: Zombies. This is a quaint, heartwarming movie about a young boy named Timmy Robinson (Kesun Loder), his parents, and his beloved pet, Fido. Timmy and Fido go the park, take walks, etc. Timmy gets picked on by bullies and Fido saves the day. Oh, I forgot to mention Fido is a zombie.

The beginning of the movie explains that the zombie war/apocalypse has already taken place, humanity has taken the majority of control over the situation, and everyone's lives can return back to normal-ish. The corporation Zomcon has invented a collar that renders the zombies docile and semi-functional, allowing them to be controlled and used as house servants. All this takes place in 1950's America, with all the trappings you'd expect: the music, brightly colored houses with white picket fences, and prejudices against anything different than yourself. This time though, instead of minorities we have zombies.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Case Study: Why I Hate the Notion of Remakes (NOES ’10)


A remake/reboot/reimagining/whatever is truly not a bad idea at the surface. There are many films or even ideas that are not fully realized in their original form whether it suffered from technological limitations, poor production, or other issues. Other than the George Lucases of the world, most filmmakers or companies are not able to retroactively go back and fix problem areas in an already released movie. The problem comes in when a remake offers nothing over the original other than a polished look, a slew of teen actors, and a more modern setting. The Nightmare on Elm Street remake is one of those offending movies.

For any movie, whether it is based on an existing property or somewhat original idea, the goal should be to create something not only enjoyable but a film that can stand on its own. The Nightmare remake (which PBF did a wonderful job summarizing my thoughts before I had them in his review) leans far too much on the existing films to be seen as anything other than a money-grab from nostalgic fanboys like myself.

To find the essence of a good, nay spectacular, remake let’s look at 2004′s Dawn of the Dead. It had zombies and people in a mall. Other than cameos and a few repeated lines, there was little else in that remake that was ripped from the remake. In contrast, I would guesstimate approximately 68% of everything in the NOES remake was either directly lifted from at least one movie of the original series or a sometimes subtle, and at other times not, homage.

Like PBF said before, if you are going to rip off iconic shots from a movie, do it shot-by-shot like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho. It might not turn out well but at least it had a clear intention. Others, like Dawn, take the mere essence of the story and branch off. Would I have been upset to have a movie titled “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that had the burned-face Freddy Krueger hunting kids in their dreams? No, as long as the story was something that I hadn’t seen before.

Where I will give the remake credit is that the underlying story was different than the original films and largely interesting. A group of kids have similar nightmares, discover that at one time they knew each other, and have to piece together both their connections and the man of their dreams.

In fact, the main crux of the tale is what would stop me from labeling it as crap. In fact, it was pretty cool. It takes the pop-culture knowledge of Freddy and further vilifies him as Krueger is not merely a child killer but a child molester. Add to that the guilt that the characters feel thinking that their accusations may have killed an innocent man and we’ve got a pretty decent story going. Why does Freddy then have a razor-blade glove in the flashbacks? Oh, just another stupid allusion to its source.

What isn’t cool is to rip me out of this story to have gratuitous callbacks to the original movie (and even the sequels which I really did not understand). For the sake of nostalgia, I was willing to forgive the inclusion of the bathtub scene or the hallway that turns into a blood-red sea of unwalkable sludge like the stairs from the original. What I was not forgiving of was random quips like “How’s this for a wet dream?” or pointless shots like Freddy coming out of Nancy’s wall (albeit in horrible CGI) which quickly cut to another scene with no further reflection.

I hate that movie producers are so quick to harp on those that bash a remake because it is a remake. Well, geniuses, if you weren’t reminding me every three minutes that you are unoriginal enough to fill your movie with pointless references to another film, I might be more open-minded. That argument holds as much water as someone remaking Star Wars as ‘Star Battles’ with a character named Jon Soho complaining about the constant comparison.

Going back to the Dawn remake, it had rather subtle references to the original movie. Ken Foree had a brief part as a preacher. A store was called Gallen Ross (one of the actors in the original). These sorts of things are homages, not blatant plagiarism. There was some subtly here though with Nancy driving a Volvo station wagon (that type of car shows up at least three times in the original series) or a particular shot of Kris driving in her convertible that mirrors a shot in Nightmare 4. I’m convinced these cannot be accidentally but purposefully included for the fans like me who grew up on this series.

Why then must the characters of Kris and Jesse (obviously patterned after Tina and Rod but named after previous series characters) have expanded storylines? They die. We know this. But every minute they are on screen, we have less time with Nancy (Nancy) and Quentin (Glen) which makes their time together so awkward that their casual conversation consists of “What’s your favorite color?” Whereas in the first film, we had a firm grasp on Nancy and her personality as it slowly became unraveled, no one character gets time to expand because of another stupid reference shoehorned into the movie!

To summarize, I agree with PBF’s assessment that you cannot like both the new and old NOES. If you like the old, you will find the new one irritatingly different and similar at the same time. If you like the new, you have not seen the old. If that is the case, you should rectify that as soon as fucking possible. /endrant

Random Movie: Phantoms (1998)

I’m sure you’ve probably seen Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. If not, I’m sure you know someone who has seen it. Even if that isn’t the case, I am confident to say at some point in the past ten years, you’ve heard the following: “Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms.”

This throwaway line from a completely different movie probably sums up what most of the population knows of director Joe Chappelle‘s film. However there is a line actually in Phantoms which is more appropriate: “I needed the money” renowned professor Timothy Flyte (Peter O’Toole) replies to the question of why he works at a trashy tabloid. I suspect that would be the response from most when questioned about their involvement to this movie.

Adapted from his novel of the same name, writer Dean Koontz takes what I recall was a decent, if largely forgettable, tale of a band of survivors in a deserted town against an unknown enemy and turns it into a clusterfuck of random occurrences and plot points that make no sense whatsoever. When sisters Jennifer (Joanna Going) and Lisa (Rose McGowan) arrive in the quaint town of Snowfield, they find streets, houses, and idling cars barren and Jennifer’s housekeeper dead on the floor in the kitchen. They go to the police station to report the death but there too is a dead deputy.

Sheriff Hammond (Ben Affleck) and two deputies randomly appear and the group tries to figure out what has caused the majority of the town to vanish as they wait for backup. When Flyte arrives with a military brigade and monster-fodder scientists, he explains in a lengthy diatribe that whatever it is that has wiped out the town is responsible for numerous lost colonies throughout history as well as the extinction of the dinosaurs.

You would think that having Koontz adapt his own book would be beneficial to retain not only the basic structure but the character’s attributes. After all I’d image it is quite difficult to take a several hundred page book chock full of internal dialogue and other side plots and fit everything into an coherent hour and a half long movie. Yet any character development and eerie scenes poking around in the abandoned town is almost entirely absent here (this is going off of my insanely horrible memory of a book I read over ten years ago FWIW). It kind of works for the movie as the weird stuff gets going almost immediately but that excises any reason to give a damn for the characters.

It also leads to things that I assume were fleshed out in the book but recreated here with the broadest of strokes. Is there a reason why most of the town disappeared while some bodies remained in a gelatinous form and still others were able to get up and strike back at the remaining townsfolk? How can this prehistoric creature kill the electricity to all of the town and bring it back at will? Same thing with the phones being down except for when the being wants to call and make some scary gargling noises. It seems the story was written in individual scenes and then lazily stitched together without any contemplation about how to blend them together. Not only was it quite jarring but really bizarre.

While he is able to conjure up a few decent scares or effectively creepy shots, Chappelle shows (as he did in Halloween 6 before) that he has nary a clue how the basics of horror movies work aside from borrowing heavily from other films like The Thing. Coming off of his Good Will Hunting acclaim, Affleck brings a slight waft of respectability that not even O’Toole with his silly ramblings can manage. Affleck’s Sheriff Hammond is the calm and level headed guy of the bunch and while I’d stop short of saying he was “the bomb” at least he was manageable.

McGowan comes off badly but look at this line: “Well, its the devil don’t you think, come up from hell tonight? I think he wants to dance with us.” Yikes. Pretty much everyone other than Affleck is either horribly underwritten or saddled with lines like that which even the most renowned Shakespearean actor would come off as bad while reciting. Going’s character is painfully dull and even the normally reliable Liev Schreiber is just wasted in his flash of screentime.

At a certain point, I was heavily considering a crap category here but the complete batshit crazy randomness that occurs is at least entertaining even if it isn’t particularly well done or coherent for that matter. As such, it is probably best that the world at large is largely ignorant about Phantoms. If you’ve seen the movie and someone asks about it, it is probably best just to say “Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms” and move on.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Random Movie: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Written by: PBF

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the first of many remakes by Platinum Dunes. While I feel it is better than most of their others, I still question the need of making any sequel, remake or otherwise to the original.

In this “chapter,” we are taken to August 18, 1973, two days before the police archive video we watch takes place, complimented with narration by, once again, John Larroquette. 5 young people are travelling to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in a van all stoned and having a good time. The driver, Kemper (Eric Balfour), almost hits a girl wandering in the middle of the rural road they are travelling. They pick her up, only to be subjected to her ramblings about a “bad man” and eventually her suicide, via a handgun produced from her crotch. Traumatized they attempt to find local law enforcement in the backwoods that they are travelling in and come across a gas station. The old lady working there says that the sheriff is at the mill but he will be there in 2 hours. Not wanting to haul around a carcass, the group of young people seek out the mill, with the hitchhiker’s body in tow. They come across a young boy, who tells them that the sheriff is at home getting drunk. Erin (Jessica Biel) and Kemper go the house, which merely produces an amputee in a wheelchair, who states that the sheriff does not live there, but Erin, and only Erin may go in to use the phone to call the sheriff. She is told that he will be there in 30 minutes, but he (R. Lee Ermey) actually shows up at the mill, “investigates,” and wraps up the hitchhiker’s body in cling wrap, stuffs her in the trunk and drives off. While this is going on, Kemper is killed by Leatherface (now called Thomas Hewitt, as opposed to just Leatherface, or Leatherface “Bubba” Sawyer, Leatherface ”Junior” Sawyer or Leatherface Slaughter as he has been up to this point) unbeknown to Erin as she makes her way back to the mill. Guess what? More chainsaw massacre!

I am really over this shit. Not only does the bizarrely weird timeline of this franchise bother me, I just don’t get the point of going on. I mean, I can buy that this one could be an attempt to redeem the series from where it went awry, but even so I can’t help but compare it to the original from which it is a supposed remake. If I do that, it sucks. Indeed, there are not many films (of any genre) if any at all, that compare to such a film as the 1974 original.

As an autonomous horror film, it isn’t bad. Jessica Biel, and everyone else is good. I mean it doesn’t stand out, but it plays the formula well. False scares, gruesome murders. But, the original is special (at least to me). Why keep attaching its name? Oh, I see. Because Leatherface is in every one. Doesn’t matter that he seems to float through time and end up with different families. Doesn’t matter that the story may change or stay the same or even be nonlinear; as long as his name is on it, who gives a shit? Well, it bothers me. And as each one applies the TCM name, it just angers me more that it is related to such a perfect film as the original.

I mean, Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th (both remade by Platinum Dunes) were not aesthetically great films, but their sequels were in kind. The original Chainsaw was a brilliant vision. Years ahead of the aforementioned less quality sequelheads, and it just seems to be an insult a chapter.

You could definitely do worse as a horror film in general, but this remake only serves to show the gore that the original did not (and incidentally was so successful for not showing) in quite a less tension filled execution. It really feels like we are getting robbed more, each film after another.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Random Movie: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994)

Written by: PBF

This piece of shit is the most insulting installment in the Chainsaw franchise. Without question. And if you disagree, you are wrong. I really hate Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

Honestly, the specifics of the plot do not matter. It’s the same basic shit. A group of kids get lost in the backwoods of Texas for whatever reason and they run across random strangers that all end up members of the same murderous cannibalistic family with a different last name, depending on what sequel we’re in. This time the family’s last name is Slaughter. W.E. (mentioned as the only apprehended family member to stand trial in part III’s narration) is in this one, which takes place in 1994, which contradicts ONLY THE ENTIRE PREVIOUS TIMELINE. I fucking swear to God, did no one see how sloppily this franchise was put together? Also, yet again, Leatherface is here, but with a completely different family. Also, once again, there is narration referring to the events of the first film, which I have come to the conclusion only serves to piss off the viewer. So, more death, more chasing with a chainsaw.

This really is a horrible film. The writing is terrible. The acting is really not all that bad considering what they had to work with. Leatherface is now a cross-dressing, screaming retard. The most unbelievably fucked up part of this film is that after we are subjected to the most shitty, sacrilegious (in comparison to the original) pile of trash we have ever seen thus far, we are handed some bizarre storyline where the family is part of some international alien government program and is assigned to kill and/or torture people. In fact, this is but one of many families across the world that do the same. I would rather this film just showed a title card that read “fuck you” for the entire runtime, than have me watch the events of this film.

All of the above makes it almost impossible to tell the story coherently which it most certainly was not. Especially with the outer space storyline explained in the 2nd half of the film. It was like two pieces of shit from different farm animals sewn together into one giant, smelly, differently textured dung log.

I should mention that Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey are in it. Not that it matters.

There is not one thing in this film that is enjoyable. It also serves no purpose in the entire series. This could, and should utterly not exist and it would make no difference. It is the antithesis of the original. I cannot swear enough to describe how much I hate it.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Random Movie: Black Swan (2010)

Where has this Natalie Portman been hiding? In the horrendous Star Wars prequels and the other generic rom-coms that I haven’t seen, Portman has never received much applause for her performances; they weren’t bad but nothing special either. But if you would have told me ten years ago that Padmé from Episode I would go from a wooden performance of terrible dialog to a serious contender for Best Actress, I would have laughed at your absurdity.

In Black Swan, Portman plays Nina, a dancer in a prestigous New York dance company who works hard but mostly without notice. After the announcement that the lead ballerina is set to retire, the troup’s director Thomas (Vincent Cassel) sets out to find a lead for his version of Swan Lake. Nina is considered due to her precise dancing ability but Thomas worries about her ability to play the parts of both the pristine White Swan and the devious Black Swan convincingly.

Nina ends up getting the lead role but that leads her to obsess over her technique which Thomas says is too calculating for the role of the Black Swan. When Lily (Mila Kunis) joins the company, Nina becomes worried that her counterpart is vying for the role as well. And Nina’s overbearing roommate/manager/mother (Barbara Hershey) worries over her increasingly odd behavior. All of this on the surface is an interesting enough story but director Darren Aronofsky is able to take these elements (which also borrow heavily from the production of focus) and concoct a dark and haunting tale of obsession, the pursuit of perfection and its toll on Nina.

Portman almost certainly is a shoe-in for her career-best performance of the idealistic dancer whose mental state slowly breaks down under the constant pressure from her herself, her director, and her mother. She allegedly spent a year before production polishing her childhood dance skills and lost a fair amount of weight to accurately portray a professional dancer. Seeing her emaciated frame and pale figure transforms the normally beautiful actress into an almost different person altogether. Seeing her slow descent into madness is quite a depressing notion (not unlike some of Aronofsky’s other films) as we see and experience the physical and psychological changes that transpire as Nina strives for perfection.

I am hesitant about filing this under the horror category as even though there are certain components from a standard horror flick, it is not the main focus. Early on there are some unsettling images (especially given the almost constant use of mirrors in the film) but at a certain point around the beginning of the third act, Aronofsky amps up the horror tropes and very effectively I might add. To some, such a shift might seem jarring (as I have read in other reviews of the film) but given that we are with Nina for the entirety of the movie, it perfectly visualizes her deepening distress.

Kunis as Lily shows up early on in the picture and we are mostly left in the dark about her true motivations. Is she trying her best to steal the role by any means necessary or just being a supportive friend for the mostly shut-in and friendless Nina? And for some of the more horrorific parts, we never really get clarification as to what is real and what isn’t. The ambiguity is frustrating but justified being that the story is doggedly focused on Nina which just furthers illustrates her paranoia and further decline.

The fact that Aronofsky is able to create such a compelling story about professional dancers is commendable. Like most those who watch this film I fathom, I am not the target audience for ballet. However, everything from the rigorous, almost torturous, routine, the self-doubt, the backstage shenanigans, and of course the eerie imagery flow together as smoothly as a musical ballad. The film is further helped by Clint Mansell‘s haunting score that is built upon the music from the production. Mansell in addition to scoring Aronofsky’s other films also did the music for Moon.

While the movie is not really that complicated, it is quite complex which makes its standard two hour runtime feel longer with everything that is being absorbed. Yet there is nary a dull moment throughout. It is not often in a film that everything comes together as nicely as it did here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Random Movie: The Fighter (2010)

It doesn’t take long to think of a sports movie, usually based on a true story, with a scrappy underdog mounting a triumphant comeback to reclaim the respect of his love, his family, or himself. It is a tried and true formula with a feel good ending after some points of hardship for the main character. Since its release in December, The Fighter has received much acclaim from critics and associations declaring it to be one of the best pictures of the year. But the question I had going into this movie: does the world really need another one of these movies?

Director David O. Russell weaves the tale of Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) as his ascension in the world of professional boxing is fraught with obstacles. The greatest is Micky’s hero and older half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale), previously an accomplished fighter who now is Micky’s trainer when he is not too high off crack to remember. Micky’s family is supportive to an extent but only as his mother Alice (Melissa Leo) sees fit when she is not too busy chastising him for his life choices or chasing down Dicky. If a modicum of anything is true in this movie, it is a miracle that Ward amounted to much with the level of dysfunction in his family.

Now, there is very little story wise in this movie that will shock or surprise you. Even though it is based (probably loosely given these types of films) on true events, the sequence of events are the template that feel-good sports-based movies are made from. What differentiates The Fighter though are the little scenes and lines of dialogue that pop up in between the tragic set-back or the miraculous victory.

Unlike a standard Hollywood production, most everything in this picture feels genuine. Wahlberg aside, there are no actors here that look plucked out of a fashion catalog or ABC Family TV show. Bale, in another drastic physical transformation, is miles away from Bruce Wayne with his pale face and sunken eyes. Amy Adams as the love interest Charlene is cute but not in an artificially or distracting way. I was even convinced that Olympia Dukakis was playing Alice; Leo is buried underneath the tall hair and heavy makeup.

During The Fighter, I thought of a previous Russel film, Three Kings, as both are able to change scenes and tone on a dime between the underlying dramatic story to quirky comedic scenes such as Alice and her gaggle of daughters going to confront Charlene for turning Micky against them. One consistent thing that has been said is of the performances of damn near everyone in the film. Wahlberg has long shed his laughable boy-band image from two decades ago but he is still able to bring out serious acting chops that are surprising against his co-stars.

Bale’s performance as Dicky is a tricky proposition as it ranges from drug-induced craziness to emotional reflection on his misdeeds. He pulls it off nicely as if only to make us purge that Terminator movie from recent memory. Everyone else from Adams to Leo to Conan’s sister played their roles with earnestness that is easily lost in the glut of typical rom-coms or mindless action flicks.

While ultimately the story is primarily centered around Ward and his dogged desire to accomplish something, his character was a bit too passive as his path in life seems to be mostly shaped by the determination of anyone else around him. The picture loses a bit of punch for the duration of time that Dicky is imprisoned as he, whether as high as the clouds or sober, leads to a lot of the heavier drama as he represents the rift between Micky, his family, and Charlene. I would have liked more from Dicky but given that the real Dicky was the subject of an HBO documentary featured in the movie, it is probably more fair to focus on Ward.

It is notable though that Russell is able to create fight scenes that practically transport you in the middle of the boxing ring in between two sweaty guys. Most of the movie it seems was shot with handheld cameras that sell the realism and bring you more into the tale which would otherwise not be possible with a slick and polished film. So, to answer my question from before, yes this movie is certainly necessary, not for the been-there, done-that story, but for the rich characters and performances in it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random Movie: Hanger (2009)

Written by: PBF

The most important piece of advice that I can offer you prior to watching Hanger is: do not take it seriously. An appearance by Lloyd Kaufman should suggest that to you, even without my advice.

Rose is a pregnant hooker who is often beat mercilessly by her pimp, Leroy. Leroy has told Rose many times that she needs to get rid of her unborn child. Rose no longer wants to be a hooker and wants to have her baby. One of her regular dates, referred to as “The John” no longer wants to pay her for sex so long as she is pregnant. As this means less money for him, Leroy decides to take matters in to his own hands. Using a hanger, he extracts Rose’s child, killing Rose in the process. He then tosses the child in to a dumpster. Flash forward 18 years, and we learn that the child (named Hanger) has been living with a homeless man who found him in the dumpster. On his 18th birthday, “The John” picks up Hanger and takes him to his new home and job. Hanger’s face is usually obscured as it has scars from the hanger, and his teeth are quite sharp and ugly. He lives with a roommate Russell, who is also a bit deformed and apparently Chinese (not convincingly). Russell likes beer and porn. “The John” eventually tells Hanger of his mother and how he came to be. He has also devised a plan to kill Leroy.

Hanger is a vile and disgustingly foul picture. However, I found myself disgusted at the less violent scenes. For example, Russell dipping a freshly used tampon in to his tea and then drinking particularly disturbed me. Russell removing a tampon from a passed out woman’s body also was a tad jarring. A man dressed as Santa Claus, raping Hanger in an open wound; also a little unnerving. While these depictions were treated also with humor, it did nothing to deflect the near nausea I suffered.

Having said that the film cannot possibly be taken seriously, it seems futile to give any sort of aesthetic review, but I shall try. Surprisingly, the acting wasn’t as horrible as I expected. Russell (Wade Gibb) was quite hilarious. Fortunately, he was in most of the film. There was a lot of “downtime” (no killing) which was terribly uninteresting, with the exception of Russell spouting off hilarious lines. That made for a bit of an uncomfortable pace. There was also quite a bit of nudity, both male and female. In fact, at one point, the film rotated back and forth between 3 scenes: Santa Claus raping Russell and Hanger, a woman masturbating on her desk, and a hooker tormenting “The John” with her smelly crotch. It was quite a dizzying bit of disturbia.

Really, all flaws and nonsense aside, I caught myself having a good time watching this. It is not without value. To appreciate it, you definitely need to have an appreciation for exploitation and over the top violence. It’s kind of hard to be offensive when you are completely tongue in cheek, but no doubt some folks will not understand that and become offended within minutes. If you are one of the people, I would just stay very far away from this.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Celebrity Death: Pete Postlethwaite

You may be asking yourself, “who the hell is Pete Postlethwaite?” 

I know I certainly did.

Most recently, he was seen as Maurice Fischer in Inception and in Ben Affleck’s The Town but Postlethwaite is one of those character actors that seem to pop up in every other movie. He also played in Romeo + Juliet, the Lost World, In the Name of the Father, and The Usual Suspects. He died of cancer at the age of 64.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Random Movie: The 'Burbs (1989)

Suburbia is such a wacky modern invention. Regardless of what reality is, all nicely arranged neighborhoods seem to consist of people who never work, get bent out of shape over ordinances about shingle color, and gossip nonstop regardless of gender. Perhaps I have seen too much Desperate Housewives.

The ‘Burbs takes place in one of these planned communities where everyone’s house is the right color, has the right landscaping for aesthetic appeal, and the most frequent daily adventures are to a neighbor’s house to chat. Well, everyone except the newest residents on Mayfield Place, the Klopeks. They own a run-down Victorian looking structure and keep to themselves except during nocturnal drives to the curb to beat the hell out of oddly-shaped bags of garbage. Their presence has attracted the attention of everyone in the cul-de-sac, especially Ray (Tom Hanks) and his pals Art (Rick Ducommun) and Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) who are convinced that their new neighbors are Satanists or cult members.

While most everyone else on the block puts up good fronts, the Klopeks don’t socialize, don’t obsess over their lawn, and run what sounds like the world’s largest sander in their basement, usurping all the neighborhood’s electricity. With Ray on vacation for the purposes of relaxing at home and Art and Rumsfield those seemingly aforementioned unemployed types, the three have too much time on their hands as they start spying on their kooky neighbors leading to slipping notes under doors and breaking and entering to figure out their game. The Klopeks though do little to assuage their image when one man goes missing and a human bone turns up.

While the story could have been played either as a straight comedy or for legitimate scares, director Joe Dante melds the two into a farcical romp in suburban life. It’s not altogether humorous unless you can relate to some of the proclivities of suburban dwellers with the nagging wife, the boy-like guy across the street, or the constant wondering of what goes on behind closed doors. Hanks plays Ray with almost-manic tendencies that he has mostly left behind with his more recent dramatic roles. He is the comedy staple of the straight-man, one who is mostly skeptical about the weird happenings but gets caught up in the hysteria leading to some of his old-school freakouts while warring with his neighbors.

Dante made the movie with a tongue-in-cheek approach in mind as the laughs are played way past the over-the-top marker. Ducommun as the trouble-marker and Dern as the suburban commando (apologies for any other horrid movie you might think of there) are not real characters but more of caricatures of real people to expand the story’s absurd nature. Even some of the individual shots are overly-dramatized like the crash zoom-in and zoom-out as Hanks and Ducommun find the bone or the dramatic zoom-in that even the dog gets. The score by Jerry Goldsmith works the same as it goes from plucky, comedic sounds to ominous, Gothic horror music at the drop of a hat.

For some reason, this movie isn’t too highly regarded in the serious critics’ circles but I cannot fathom why unless the notion of suburbs were too foreign a concept. Even Corey Feldman is here as the stoner punk, a role I am convinced led to him becoming Donatello. The ending is a bit on the ridiculous, Scooby-Doo-like side as Dr. Klopek (Henry Gibson) tries to kill Ray but not before confirming Ray’s suspicions and explaining how the previous tenants of the house moved out so quickly. But I’m sure that was largely intentional as well: a ridiculously funny ending to a ridiculously funny film.

Random Movie: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990)

Written by: PBF

I really am almost at a loss for words after watching Leatherface. I really have no fucking idea what I just watched.

The film opens with a narration that refers to the event of the first film. We learn that Sally died in a mental health facility in 1977. One of the Saywers, W.E. Sawyer, was put on trial and given the gas chamber. The jury apparently concluded that Leatherface was another personality of W.E. The narration suggests that this may or may not have been correct, and if not, Leatherface is still at large. Either way, the events of 1973 were just the beginning. We are then planted somewhere between the first 2 films (from what I can gather) and meet Michelle and Ryan. They are travelling from Los Angeles to Florida to deliver the Mercedes they are driving. They stop at a gas station and meet a creepy attendant and a hitchhiker. As Michelle uses the bathroom, Alfredo (the attendant) watched through a hole in the wall. He and Tex (the hitchhiker, played by Viggo Mortensen) get into a scuffle over it and Alfredo shoots Tex as Michelle and Ryan speed away. A truck chases them and someone throws a dead coyote on their car causing them to stop. As they are changing a tire, Leatherface attacks them with a chainsaw, only damaging the vehicle. The speed off again only to end up crashing after seeing Tex in the road. Another driver, Benny, crashes as well. Another driver, Tinker, stops and at first appears to want to help Benny. We find out that he was the driver in the truck that was chasing Michelle and Ryan. We also end up learning that Tinker, Tex and Alfredo are all part of the Sawyer clan and that they watch the road for travelers to kill and eat. Guess what? Another chainsaw massacre happens!

I don’t know what this film is supposed to be. A sequel is directly suggested, what with the part III in the title, and the mention of previous characters in the beginning. However, at the end of the last film, it seems like all the Sawyers died. If they did not, I sure would like an explanation on how they survived (and where they are). Probably the most confusing part of this film is that Sawyer family was entirely different, other than Leatherface and Grandpa. However, in this installment, Grandpa was dead. Also, Leatherface apparently has a daughter. All of this made absolutely no sense.

The film was not scary at all. Probably the least scared one could be with chainsaws involved. The acting was not terrible if you can make it through some scenes that had missed cues large enough to drive a car through. This really was just a train wreck.

There were way too many references to the first film. Alfredo has a Polaroid camera and tries to charge for a picture he takes, as the hitchhiker from the first film did. There was also yet another dinner scene that was nowhere near as frightening than the first. The little girl’s doll is named Sally.

Really, I spent the majority of the film trying to figure out where it fits in the TCM universe than what was going on. It was not entertaining and is just a generic horror film. It lacks any originality and did nothing to further a story along (that doesn’t really need to keep going anyway). Quite simply, this film does not need to exist.

Random Movie: Quick Change (1990)

It's a good thing that Bill Murray is naturally hilarious. As star, producer, and co-director of Quick Change, the entire film could have easily gone south in lesser hands.