Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gen X Cops (1999)

When the police are having trouble infiltrating an organized crime ring, they decide to recruit three students from the police academy since they will be unknown to the gangsters. But instead of getting the top students in the class, three wise guys with potential who were just kicked out of the academy are their choice.

The three boys get makeovers consisting of new clothes and hip haircuts, with the less attractive member of the group getting crazy hipster hair. (They don't even put his face on the cover).

Then it's on to a generic, overly long battle against organized crime and a love story which isn't all that exciting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

30,000 Leagues Under the Sea (2007)

It's Lorenzo Lamas versus a giant robotic squid. Um, well, is that a good thing? In this case, no... no, it isn't. Let's just say that the best thing about this film is the idea of a giant robotic squid. The writing and acting are just plain bad. Hell, even the sound is bad.

Lamas, his goatee, and a crack team of experts is called in to rescue a Navy sub that was the victim of a robotic squid attack. In the process, they meet the legendary and insane Captain Nemo. Usually an insane Captain is a good sign in a film, but it just doesn't matter because nothing good can come from this movie.

Dead Snow (2009)

A Nazi zombie movie made in Sweden? Oh yeah, bring it on! A group of medical students heads to a cabin in the mountains for some fun. The cabin can not be reached by car and they make the trek into the wilderness. One guy goes ahead on a snowmobile to mark a path and get a fire going before the others arrive.

They are expecting another friend, but a strange man shows up out of nowhere admonishing them for knowing nothing of the local history of Nazis and their search for gold. The group get creeped out by his story and send him on his way which is unfortunate because the zombies have already risen. Soon they are all fighting for their lives and trying to figure out how to escape from the cabin.

The Nazi's are bloody and gooey, and the footage of Nazi zombies running through the snow is fantastic. The most disturbing piece of the movie is the outhouse sex scene, yeeechhh!

5ive Girls (2006)

Five girls are enrolled at a catholic school for troubled teens where they discover they each have supernatural powers and that they are being used for a sacrifice to resurrect a girl who was previously killed in the school. Horrible movie with a twist ending that isn't anything new.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let the Right One In (2008)

12 year old Oskar, who is bullied at school, meets Eli, the new girl next door, and the two develop a friendship. Both are lonely and careful of who they can trust, which draws them together and forms a loyalty that knows no bounds. Least you think this is just a kids movie, there is a serial killer stalking through town at night and Eli is a vampire.

The film is beautifully shot, well written and atmospheric. At first I was disappointed with the film as I was expecting something more like the typical horror movie. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. I wish there were more movies like this which didn't rely on gore or special effects, but instead on characters, acting, and imagery.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Heavy Metal Parking Lot (1986)

Shot in the parking lot before a Judas Priest concert in Landover, MD in 1986, the film perfectly captures hanging out before going to a rocknroll show during this time period. There's lots of feathered hair and ridiculous comments from the high school aged crowd who are mostly drunk or stoned.

Those who will appreciate it the most are the people who went to concerts during the 80s and remember seeing people like this or were people like this.

There are also extras on the dvd, which includes current footage of some of the kids they interviewed back in 1986. All but one are excited about having been part of the documentary, and some of them are still heavily into music. Surprisingly the most extreme transformation is the kid known as zebraman who seems very uncomfortable and embarrassed that the filmmakers have tracked him down.

The dvd also contains Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which was shot years later at the same venue, clips from Monster Truck Parking Lot, and Harry Potter Parking Lot, which is actually kids on the sidewalk outside a bookstore waiting to get an autograph from J.K. Rowling. I didn't really care for any of these as I didn't find they had the same charm as Heavy Metal Parking Lot. Then again, I went to heavy metal concerts in the 1980s and have never been into any of the other things.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big Bad Wolf (2006)

College student Derek invites a couple of frat boys and their girlfriends up to his asshole step father's remote hunting cabin. Seven years earlier, Derek's dad was killed near the cabin by an unidentified animal.

On their first night at the cabin, the group is attacked by a wise cracking werewolf, with only Derek and his female friend Sam to survive. This leads to the funniest moment in the film as we see the jeep peeling out on the dirt road and hear the sound of tires squealing on tar.

Sam begins to suspect that Derek's stepfather might be responsible for the murders, especially after Derek discovers that his step father always goes to the cabin when there is a full moon. Dun dun dah!

The werewolf mask looks best at the beginning, but seems to deteriorate through the film. I'm not a fan of the wisecracking monster because, as is the case with this film, the quips aren't funny.

The Haunting of Winchester House (2009)

When I saw the title, I wondered if this was about the infamous Winchester House in San Jose. But then they showed a horrible CGI house down a dirt road in the middle of the woods, which isn't anything like the real one so I figured it wasn't.

A family arrives at the Winchester house to become caretakers and finds there is something supernatural going on. When the family approach the house, due to a problem in perspective, they appear to be walking up to a structure the size of a child's play house. The other problem being it does not appear to be the same house shown in the opening shot, and is in the middle of a dirt lot. Plus the interior is a normal old house rather than an upscale home built by the rich. Then they start talking bout the legend and I knew I was in for a bad ride. (see this review for pics of the bad CGI house)

So it turns out it is supposed to be the home owned by the heir of the Winchester rifle inventor, who continuously built onto her home to confuse the spirits of those who were killed by the guns that provided her family their fortune.

The family consists of mother, father, and a daughter who appears to be around 12. I don't know if it was really bad writing or if the daughter is supposed to be developmentally challenged, but she acted like she was about five years old. She whines, is easily confused, and constantly wants her mommy.

The strangest and funniest exchange occurs when the parents find an old Winchester family photo which includes a man wearing chalk and a slate around his neck. The woman explains that this was how the deaf communicated during this time period. The man responds, "I hate the eighteenth century." Huh?

Be prepared for the twist ending which will make you wish you'd stomped on their fake little house, crushing it flat and avoiding this whole mess in the first place.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Anvil - the Story of Anvil (2008)

When they were teenagers, Robb and Lips formed the heavy metal band Anvil and vowed to never give up on their dream of making it big. They came close during the 1980s when they played festivals in Japan with upcoming metal bands of the day. Now thirty years later, the two are still pursuing the rocknroll dream, which is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

The film follows the band on a European club tour which tests their friendship and dedication to the band. They have to deal with a well intentioned but inexperienced tour manager, not getting paid, getting lost trying to find a gig, living in a van, and playing to almost no one. Granted these are things that most musicians have to deal with on this type of tour, but when you're fifty and time is running out on your dream, it's devastating.

In another person's hands, this might make the band look like a joke, but the filmmaker knew Anvil in the 1980s when he was one of their roadies. Whether it is this friendship or good filmmaking, he never goes for the cheap laugh. There are so many scenes which are uncomfortable to watch and you root for the band to finally get a payoff for all their hard work.

The movie is incredibly well done and makes you feel for the band. The portrayal of their friendship, Lips usual ability to remain overwhelmingly positive in his belief in the band, and their families long suffering acceptance of their pursuit of their passion is really very touching.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Last of the Living (2008)

A virus has turned the population into zombies and three friends have managed to survive. They spend their days playing video games, drinking, and lounging around in whatever house strikes their fancy.

Bored with the home they are staying in, they head out to find another and meet up with a young woman who is a scientist trying to find a cure for the zombie virus. She has a sample of infected blood that she is trying to get to an island where some other survivors have gone to work on a cure. Since she is attractive and they haven't seen a female in six months, the three guys decide to help her on her mission.

I had heard good things about this movie and wanted to like it but was disappointed. While I like the concept, the humor didn't work and the ending was extremely predictable.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Silent Rage (1982)

A man goes crazy, kills people in a rooming house, and Chuck Norris shows up on the scene to stop the mayhem. And when he can't to it on his own, the police shoot the man, who is zipped off for medical attention. The doctor's decide he would be the perfect candidate to test a some sort of new genetic engineering serum that will quicken the bodies natural ability to heal. Yes, it's always good to test things on crazy people with almost inhuman strength.

The problem that the doctors do not foresee, or do not care about in their quest for test subjects, is that once Mr. Crazy is let loose on society, he kills in a...silent rage. And when the police try to stop him, any damage his body incurs is miraculously healed, even from death.

It's a sort of creepy suspenseful silly movie in the typical Chuck Norris 1980s fashion. Bad comedic relief is provided by his deputy sidekick, Stephen Furst.

Evil Remains (2004)

aka Trespassing

A college student writing a thesis on local lore takes four friends along when he goes to an abandoned house where some murders were committed twenty years ago. Legend has it that the house is haunted and supernatural activity occurs on the grounds.

While the girls wander off into the woods, the guys set up the video equipment inside and almost immediately run into problems. There are mysterious noises and traps both inside and outside the house.

The end of the film does not resolve anything and you'll wonder why you wasted your time.

Driven to Kill (2009)

Steven Seagal is a Russian ex-mobster who now writes crime novels. When he goes back to his old home town for his daughters marriage, he discovers her fiance is the son of an old enemy. After his daughter is shot and left for dead, Seagal enlists her fiance to help him get revenge.

Seagal speaks with a pseduo-Russian accent which isn't as laughable as it sounds. There also isn't the obvious dubbing with another actor's voice that has plagued many of his recent movies, although that can provide some amusement.

It's probably better than a lot of his recent work, but it's still a Seagal movie.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Run Fat Boy Run (

I like Simon Pegg. Shaun of the Dead is a great movie and I also liked Hot Fuzz . But I did not like Run Fat Boy Fun. It was trite and cliche, which would have been great if it had been a brilliant parody of cliches. But in any satire, you have to be careful you don't become what you're skewering, and in this case it just didn't work.

Dennis ditches his pregnant girlfriend at the alter and five years later is having a change of heart. However his ex is already dating a man who is the opposite of Dennis, which is rich, successful, and in great shape.

When his ex gets engaged, Dennis decides to compete in the marathon her fiance is running so that he can win her back. Yup, cliche ending on the horizon and closing fast.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Land That Time Forgot (2009)

Two couples on a boat trip and the ships captain get stranded on an island after passing through a ripple in time. While trying to figure out how to survive, they find they are not on their own as the lone crew member is eaten by a TRex.

Soon they run into other people who have been stranded, all from various time periods, including German soldiers from a Uboat. Can they work together to get off the island or will they get eaten by the dinosaurs?

C. Thomas Howell constantly rubs his head. I'm not sure whether it's his idea of acting or whether he just got a new haircut and it not used to how short it is.

This is the type of movie I'd leave on for background noise if it happened to be on tv while I was cleaning the house.

Devils of Darkness (1965)

Oh those devils of darkness, always with their gypsy curses and secret vampires. Vacationers stumble across a gypsy funeral and stay in a town where a vampire cult is looking for victims for their satanic rituals.

Paul Baxter starts to suspect Count Sinistre after his girlfriend disappears. He spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out what happened and prove to the police that something is going on.

The production is better than many 1960s horror movies, but the film lacks excitement and action.

Christmas Evil (1980)

I hate when dvd companies redo the artwork to modernize it. Not only is the artwork uninteresting, but it misleads people as to when it was made. I'm much more interested in older movies than newer movies made on someone's camcorder.

Harry Stadling is a warped individual who keeps a book of neighborhood kids who are naughty and nice. Harry has a Santa fixation and was traumatized by seeing his mom sex up dad in a Santa suit. His younger brother is successful and has a family. Harry works at a toy company and looks kind of like a low rent Jackie Mason.
At Christmas time, he makes his own Santa suit and goes out to reward good kids and give bad kids coal. He also ends up killing people who have done him wrong. This leads to a scene right out of Frankenstein with people chasing him with torches.

And the last scene? Well you've got to see it to believe it. I don't know whether to love it or hate it, but it definitely will make you wonder what the hell just happened.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Night of the Living Dorks (2004)

Three unpopular high school students go to the cemetery at night to meet up with some goth kids performing a voodoo ceremony to conjure up the dead. The ceremony goes badly with the wind blowing the contents of an urn onto the three dorks. While driving home, they crash their van into a tree and die, only to wake up in the morgue believing that they were mistakenly declared dead. They sneak past security because they are afraid of getting in trouble.

They soon realize that they have become zombies and as they start to decay will eventually crave human flesh. The dorks start standing up to people who bully them due to their super human strength. Konrad, who has kept a notebook of every incident of bullying in his school career, decides to get even with everyone who has ever bullied him and starts eating people.

Wurst and Phillip try to find a cure that will bring them all back to life, enlisting the help of the goth girl neighbor who was at the ceremony.

This isn't your typical zombie film as there are only three zombies and they are more interested in partying and girls than in eating people. There are a few scenes that made me laugh out loud, but overall I was disappointed with the humor and the ending which I could see coming a mile away.

Death Note II: The Last Name (2006)

The second part of Death Note picks up right where the first left off. A second death note and a second Kira have surfaced. L suspects Light is the first Kira, but since Light is the son of the head of the Kira task force this proves awkward. The two Kiras start working together and there are twists and turns throughout the film.

While the first death note was more about Kira, this one pits L and Light directly against each other as they are working in close proximity. There are lots of unexpected twists. There are also two Shinigami's who surprisingly enough are not all that distracting considering that they are the only cgi in the film.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Death Note (2006)

Law student Light is disturbed by how criminals can bypass the justice system and escape punishment for their crimes. After a run in with a murderer at a bar, Light stumbles across a notebook in the street. It is the death note. If a name is written in the death note, the person will die of a heart attack unless another method of death is specified.

Light starts killing criminals using the death note. The media and authorities take notice and the country becomes divided as to whether Kira - as he has been dubbed - is a hero or a murderer.

With the police powerless to track down Kira, they call in the mysterious L who has had success cracking other cases.

I was intrigued by the premise of the film, which is based on a manga. I haven't read it so I can't offer any comparison, but I really enjoyed the movie. The one thing I wish I'd known is that the conclusion of the story was released separately. So I was quite surprised after two hours of watching to find that there was no ending.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Crossworlds (1997)

College student Joe is visited by a woman from another dimension and discovers that the pendant his late father gave him is a key between worlds. The pendant also becomes a powerful weapon when combined with a certain staff. Good and evil forces have been looking for this for years and Joe gets caught in the fight.

Rutger Hauer is a warrior for the good cause who doesn't want anything to do with Joe until he finds out who Joe's father was. There are a few fight scenes and a scene in an elevator that works well even though it's sort of silly.

The film moves at a fairly slow pace and the special effects are minimal. There's a red filter on the desert scenes and a ripple effect which is supposed to simulate the crossing of the dimensions. Even though they're primitive and unexciting, I'd rather see this than bad cgi.

Flu Birds (2008)

A group of juvenile delinquents on a camping trip are attacked by giant killer birds carrying a mutated strain of flu virus. With their counselor dead, the group flees to an old military bunker to escape the birds.

Meanwhile at the local hospital, doctors try to save a hunter who was bitten by the birds and is getting sicker by the minute. The government shows up to quarantine the hospital, but lets the doctor and the park ranger head off to find the kids trapped in the bunker.

Though they are referred to as birds, they look nothing like the bird on the cover. They are more like pterodactyls. It is never explained where they came from or why they are attacking the town.

The delinquents are extremely unlikable horrible human beings that you won't care about and it doesn't matter when they die.

Strangest of all, the military man who has to enforce the quarantine at the hospital does not do anything to stop the woman who is leaving. When he warns her he will shoot her if she continues, she keeps walking. He kills her and then look sad. Couldn't he have physically tried to detain her? Or how about shooting her in the leg?