Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2012)

Sally has come to live with her father and his young girlfriend Kim,  played by Katie Holmes who seems to be crafting the look of a sickly Popsicle (hollow cheeks, sallow complexion, and giant head on a little stick body).

Her dad and Kim are fixing up an old mansion that's been abandoned for years.  In the process, they discover a massive basement that has been sealed up behind the wall.

Sally runs down to explore and as the adults look around, she heads over to a grate in the wall where she hears her name being whispered.  She starts to undo the locks and screws that keep the grate in place, but is dragged upstairs by the adults.

The creatures finish what Sally has started, and soon a hulking handyman is dead on the floor.  Sally realizes it's the creatures, but no one will believe her - even though the handyman died alone in the basement and was stabbed and slashed to ribbons.

After watching mostly bad movies, this is well done.  The acting is good, and even the kid does a good job. The story moves along at a good pace, but it's not necessarily satisfying.  There are various things that drive me nuts.  Why weren't they more concerned about who killed the handyman?  Why does she not show the creature she crushed to the people at the party so they will believe her?  Why did no one look into why a room would be sealed off behind a wall or get creeped out by it?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fallen Angels (2002)

Nell "Freaky" Fisher is targeted by the popular girls at school and sleeps in the dorms basement.  She has been an outcast since she reported popular, dreamy Professor Layton's attempted sexual assault.  All the students loved Layton and since he's been fired, they blame Nell.

When Layton attacks Nell in the basement, a fire breaks out. Layton ends up locked inside the basement  and it explodes.  This is why you should never have lit candles and gasoline in the same room.

Years later, a filmmaker doing a documentary on the story gets the girls back together for a visit to the school.  Unknown to them, he  plans on having them stay overnight in the school.  None of them are happy about it, but they aren't as angry as the town folk who don't want to revisit such a bad memory.

Soon strange things are happening and people are dying.  Is it the townies?  The ghost of Layton?  Someone else?  It's just like being right back in high school and everyone still hates Nell. Yikes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Horror House on Highway 5 (1985)

This is one crazy, crappy, shot on VHS movie.  A killer in a Richard Nixon mask breaks into a random house and chases a woman down the hall, where she falls straight through a large glass coffee table.  Why?  How?  It's her house!  The lights are on in the hall!  What does she have to do with the rest of the movie?  Nothing.

Cut to an extremely awkward professor who is mostly concerned with keeping his face towards the camera.  Sally, Louise, and the Pothead are assigned to do research on Frederick Bartholomew, a German rock scientist sought in connection with a series of unsolved murders.  The professor tells Sally she should interview Dr. Mabuse.

Creepy Dr. Mabuse knows things no one else knows and is willing to tell Sally, who might actually be the worst actress I have ever seen.  She makes everyone else look good by comparison, but they're not.

Mabuse tells Gary, his mentally challenged assistant, to drug Sally.  Then they can take her back to Bartholomews house, which has a groovy record player. Gary likes listening to music, so isn't that great?  Sally's not so happy about it since she's chained to a radiator.

Sally's partners go off in a van to test some rockets or something.  Louise's glasses fall off and the lenses break. What is she, Velma?  They've got a bunch of chemicals in the back of the van, which don't really figure that much into the rest of the movie, but it does give us the classic line, "What'd you do? Run over something? The chemicals... we could've been exploded!"

Sally and Gary do so much talking in their horrible stilted voices that you'll forget there's a killer in a Nixon mask running around.

The soundtrack is good if you like surf and garage music, which I do. It features Dick Dale, Link Wray, the Surfari's and The Count Five.  There may be more but I can't remember.  Also interesting is that the only music credit in the film is for the Dictators, which I don't remember hearing, but I'm guessing they must have gone rogue regarding licensing all the other songs.

The Brink (2005)

Annoying, abrasive Megan convinces Todd and Bianca to go to an isolated, abandoned home to conduct experiments using Edison's machine that talks to the dead.  Somehow they got the blueprints and were able to build one.

The home is boarded up, but they manage to get in and start to clean up a bit.  No one thinks it's odd that the bathroom has a new shower curtain in it.  Megan decides to take a bath, but the tub is full of sludge and insects.  So she makes one of the others clean it up - booo!  I hate her already.

Years ago a family murdered each other in the home, which has since been empty.  The kids start to use the machine and strange things start happening. When a man with an ax appears out of thin air, they shut it down.  Why do people looking for ghosts always bail when they find them?  Also the group is ill prepared as they bring no extra supplies, such as fuses for the machine in case one blows or doesn't work.

They turn off the machine, it turns itself back on, oh my god there's a big friggin ghost with an ax, oh no there goes my head, Megan had ulterior motives, wish we could all look back and laugh but we're dead.  Damn you, stupid movie.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slugs (1988)

aka Slugs: The Movie

Slugs with big teeth begin taking over a small town sitting on top of a toxic waste dump.  Slugs are all over the place. They're  infiltrating houses and ending up in food.  They also bite and if you're not careful, they'll kill you.  Heck, even if you are careful, they'll still kill you.  They can even fill the room with their slow, crawling, slimy bodies... if you're indefinitely distracted so you don't notice your floor is being covered by slugs.

When a woman inadvertently serves her husband a slug salad for dinner, he gets stomach pains.  The next day he's still not feeling well, but he has a business lunch to attend, which is unfortunate for the other diners when his head explodes.  Yuck!

As more townsfolk are killed by slugs, Mike Brady, the health inspector, figures out what's going on, but the Mayor and Sheriff won't believe him.

Mike and Don, who works in sanitation, come up with a plan to use a chemical to make the slugs explode.  The chemical has explosive powers when introduced to water and they decide to go into the sewers to find the slug stronghold.  Okay let's go over that again. They're going to take a chemical that explodes when introduced to water into the sewers.  Oh yeah, that ought to work out just fine.

The music is right out of a 1980s cop show.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Primal (2010)

Dace is working on his anthropology thesis and brings a group of friends to a remote location to find cave paintings that have not been seen for one hundred and twenty years.

They set up camp and Mel decides to go swimming.  Bad idea because the water is full of leeches and they attach themselves to Mel.

As the night goes on, Mel gets a fever and her teeth start falling out.  The others decide she needs to go to the hospital. But insects have begun to consume their vehicle, starting with the tires.  I don't know about you, but if bugs were eating my car, I think I'd high tail it out of there on the rims rather than wait around.

By morning, Mel has turned into a razor toothed monster and starts attacking her friends.  Too late they figure out the cave paintings are a warning and now they need to figure out how to survive crazy Mel with her razor teeth and her super human jumping abilities.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Skeptic (2009)

Bryan moves into his recently deceased Aunt's house when he starts having problems with his wife - which is probably because Bryan is an uptight, arrogant, unemotional lawyer.  At the reading of the will he's angry to discover that her estate is not left to him like he expected, but to a University Professor doing research on psychic phenomenon.

When Bryan starts hearing and seeing things in the home, he seeks help from the Professor who tells him that his Aunt had become involved in his research because she believed there was something supernatural in her home.  Unfortunately, the Professor believes that science can explain anything that appears psychic in nature and does not believe in ghosts.  Once again Bryan ends up angry.

However when one of the Professor's subjects in the psychic research study shows up on his doorstep.  She claims to be able to be able to feel spirits, and more importantly believes his stories about his experiences.  The haunting is not what it seems and with the psychics help, secret memories from Bryan's past are brought to light.

It's nothing I'd ever watch again, but the movie makes very effective use of music and quick cuts to induce tension.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Piranha 3D (2010)

A fissure opens in the floor of the lake and releases prehistoric piranha who go on a spring break rampage and attack, attack, attack!  Not only do we have an authority figure who risks the publics lives, but we have another similarity to the Jaws franchise when the Sheriff's two kids end up stranded on an island in the lake.  There is gratuitous nudity and Jerry O'Connell plays a sleazy promoter.  It's okay but I like the original one better.

Dungeonmaster (1984)

aka Ragewar

A computer nerd who is more involved with his computer than his live in girlfriend (I know, computer nerds do not have live in girlfriends) is challenged by the evil Mestema.  Multiple scenarios are played out, each done by a different writer and director.  So in a sense it's an anthology held together by the common theme of nerd dialogue delivered as a girl looks scared while chained to a giant rock.

Please note the expression on Mestema's face on the poster.  I think it's supposed to be scary, but it just looks like he's doing a forced smile for school photo day.

Also features an appearance by Blackie Lawless and Wasp!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Day Time Ended (1979)

A man unknowingly builds his families new home in the middle of a vortex. No one notices until strange things start to happen, like aliens materializing in the front yard, or the young daughter touching a radioactive, green, glowing, alien-plutonium-pyramid type object.  Yup, he picked one crappy place to build a home.

Lots of confusing things happen, aliens knock on the door (very polite, these aliens), and there is a stop motion clay alien fight.  The vacuum cleaner goes nuts, and the little girl is the only one not scared when the tiny green alien comes dancing into her room and their house starts ripping apart in the vortex.

Grant - It's a time-space warp!
Steve - I don't think I really know what that is."

Yes.... no better words can sum up this film.

Puberty kills another child actor's career as Scott Kolden goes through an awkward teenage stage with a bad haircut.  Scott is probably best known for Sigmund and the Seamonsters, and Disney films such as The Mystery of Dracula's Castle.  I totally loved both of those when I was a kid, and would watch anything with Scott in it.

Also of note:
  • Marcy Lafferty was married to William Shatner
  • Chris Mitchum is Robert Mitchum's son
  • Jim Davis played patriarch Jock Ewing on the tv show Dallas

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Two Headed Shark Attack (2012)

A college professor/boat captain takes his class on a trip to a  location several days away by boat.  The boat is not the type you would stay overnight on and there is no explanation of where they might sleep.

The professor isn't very good. He shows them a sexton which they need to do an exercise for class, but never shows them how to use it.  The class is annoyed that he wants to teach and have them to schoolwork as all they want to do is party.

They notice something up ahead in the water. But instead of slowing down or attempting to go around it, they steam full ahead and it wraps around the front of the boat.  Eventually the professor uses a spear type thing to drag it away (while the boat continues to chug forward) but the item gets caught in the propeller and damages the hull.  Good move, captain.

The class evacuates to a nearby island where they look for scrap metal to weld and repair the hull.  A kid in class has more knowledge than the professor does about everything, especially the ocean and islands.

The professor is a wimp and gets really whiny after he cuts his leg, making him even more useless than he already was.  Luckily his students know how to fix boats motors and generators. Thank god they don't have to rely on the professor.

Brooke Hogan plays a manly lady student who is not as horrible an actress as you'd think.  Most of the other characters are useless and tend to scream frequently.

Watch for the oil barrel whose top is made of cardboard painted black. Also of note: when the class are in the water talking about how the Atoll is sinking and what ever will they do, in the background you can see the rocks of the breakwater on the island behind them.  Plus when it starts to sink they do a jump cut to everyone popping up out of the water likes the island just sank quick.

Also in the ridiculous category -  if you just plunged underwater by a sinking island and need a wick to light something on fire, apparently all you need to do is wring out your t-shirt.

Oh and the two headed shark is ridiculous.  It seems to be different sizes at times.  And enjoy the inconsistent distance between boat and the shore. Sometimes the boat is way out at sea.  While other times, it is near enough to the shore that they can swim fast enough to avoid the shark.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Movie House Massacre (1984)

In an olde tyme movie theatre, an usher discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him and sets fire to the movie.  Somehow everyone in the theater dies.

Cut to the present where there's a $25,000 reward to whoever can reopen the theater. Why?  I don't know.  A local theater owner buys the building and sends his three best teenage workers to fix it up.  The theater has been closed for decades so it makes no sense that three teens could clean it and get it up to code.

One of the girls looks like Tommy Shaw from Styx.  Her hair is like a big triangle on her head that looks worse and worse as the movie goes on.

Strange things start happening while they're doing the restoration.  Seems the new owner has neglected to tell the teens about the previous deaths and the rumored haunting of the theater.  A slow old man, who I guess is the spirit of the 1920s usher - so why has he aged? - takes up where he left off.

There is some humor in unexpected places, and things that are supposed to be funny usually fall flat.  It's not much of a slasher, especially since the killer is an old man who can't move very fast.  Even though it's not very good, I kind of liked it, but I can't figure out why.  Mary Woronov plays the owners assistant.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Enemy Gold (1993)

Chris Canon and Mark Austin have been best friends since they were kids and dreamed of working at the Agency. Now they're living the dream and have their own bachelor pad.

When they get suspended by a crooked supervisor at a drug bust, Chris, Mark and agent Becky Midnight find an old diary which tells the location of Quantrill's gold. (Points for actually using a real Confederate guerrilla leader, although I don't suspect many people watching this were history majors).

As the fun loving group tries to find the location of the buried gold, an evil drug lord hires assassins to take out the agents so he can get the gold for himself.

There is a ton of padding in this film. As if there isn't enough nudity in this already, the guys head to a strip club and there are some shower scenes. The music is super cheesy.

The Dallas Connection (1994)

The IWAR (International World Arms Removal) program, which pinpoints weapons in the possession of drug lords and criminals, is within days of going online. In order to keep the program from falling into the wrong hands, computer chips have been distributed to the four scientists who worked on it. Three of the scientists are seduced and murdered by assassins, while the fourth is sent protection in the form of Chris Canon and Mark Austin.

The computer chips are put in medallions and given to four agents. Nothing suspicious about four agents who go into a room without jewelry and all leave wearing the same medallion.

Even though the agents need to keep the chips safe for three or four days and three of the scientists have already been murdered, the agents prove to be idiots.  They are not at all suspicious of random women who want to go home with them or just happen to rescue them after their perfectly working jet ski mysteriously craps out.

These amazing female assassins work out of the Cowboys Club and Restaurant, a combination strip club / line dancing establishment. And yes, the line dancing and stripping are in the same room at the same time. Imagine the fun as DJ Platypus spins cheesy country-esque music, girls strip on stage, people drink, and line dancers stomp around the dance floor.

This is a ridiculous movie, but somewhat entertaining. There is quite a bit of nudity, which I fast forwarded through.  The scenes are overly long and I couldn't care less about seeing girls with fake bazooms bigger than their heads.

The silliest scene is when one of the guys, who was tipped off about an assassination attempt, stops his car at the gate, leans over and inflates a blow up doll, which he puts it in the drivers seat,.  Then he crawls out the passenger side door just before the bad guys blow up his car. Bwahahahaha.... oh god, its so stupid.

Most ridiculous dialogue:
  • "For a scientist, you seem incredibly normal."
  • "What I'm going to do is unusual as hell...."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cropsey (2009)

Two filmmakers, Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, who grew up on Staten Island investigate the legend of Cropsey, a boogeyman whose name parents would invoke to scare their children into staying safe or following rules.  "Hey don't go playing in the vacant lot or Cropsey might get you."

As Joshua and Barbara investigate the legend, they focus on convicted child killer Andre Rand who seems to be a living embodiment of the Cropsey legend, although not the originator.

Rand was convicted of the murder of a child whose body was found near his campsite.  He was homeless and appears to be mentally ill.  Other child disappearances in the area were attributted to him, since he lived near where they disappeared or people thought they had seen him with the missing kids.

Everyone believes Rand is guilty. Yet there is no concrete proof via forensic evidence or witnesses to the abductions or murders. The area Rand camped and lived on was an old aslyum where they had released patients when the doors closed, some of whom stayed in the area.  Rand was a worker there, but not a patient.  However he seems to have some serious mental issues

The filmmakers begin corresponding with Rand.  This leads to talks on the phone and eventually a promise to speak to them in person if they visit. But after a long drive to the prison, Rand refuses to talk to them.

The film centers around the filmmakers search for answers to the local legend. They both grew up in the area and have personal recollections of the time of the kidnappings and murders.  They try to be sensitve to victims, but it starts to weigh heavily on them.  They are also worried about the possibility of opening up old wounds for the victims families.

While I liked the movie, it did not live up to my expectations based on how great I'd heard it was.  The problem is that it is mostly about the filmmakers own journey - they are in front of the camera a lot -  with less emphasis on the details of the case.  I don't need to know the details of the crimes. But I would have liked to hear basic information on the case and the evidence that lead to Rands conviction.  The case was circumstantial and there are questions as to whether Cropsey was a convenient scapegoat used to help quell the fear in the neighborhood.  Consequently the film ends and I'm left knowing almost nothing more about the case than when I started. However, even with this limitation, it's still a well done and interesting film.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Drive In Massacre (1977)

There's a serial killer with a sword on the loose in the drive in.  You've got to give them credit for having a kill in the first seven minutes of the film.  You'd think that would make things exciting, but it's pretty slow moving.

There's really not much going on in this film.  A couple of overweight cops wander around trying to find the killer.  There's a pervert in the bushes watching couples make out.  People drive around to try to find a place to park.  There's lots more padding in this film plus there's a character called Germy.  Yup, that about sums it up.

Oh except I should add that once word gets out that there is a killer stalking the drive in, their attendance actually goes up rather than down.  Don't know about you, but if there's a known killer stalking a certain place, I'm staying away from that location.

My favorite scene had to be when cops killed a little girls father and the girl questioned them.  I'm paraphrasing here, but it was basically the following interaction:

Little Girl: Did you have to kill him?
Police: Yes, he killed a lot of people.
Little Girl:  He just got out of the hospital yesterday.
Police: Ooops!

There's no real ending to the movie.  It was cool to see footage shot in a drive in though.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Snowbeast (1977)

Snowbeast stars Bo Svenson, and is about skiing and a Yeti.  Actually it was mostly about skiiing.  Now if it was about a skiiing Yeti, I would have been psyched.  Instead we've got  characters who ski everywhere, all the time.  There are a couple of times where we get a Yeti point-of-view shot, and a freeze frame of a Yeti paw moving towards its victim.  But mostly you're going to watch people ski.

It's time for the Winter Festival. Yay!  Uh oh , there's a mystery death where the victims friend declares the killer was a strange beast.  So in the best interest of fun, frolic and income that only the Winter Festival can bring,  authority figures decide to say a bear killed her.

The best scenes when the Yeti crashes a prom or dance at the high school gym.  However he is a tricky Yeti and manages to destroy the event without ever going into the building.  His big ugly face staring in the window causes everyone to panic.  As the kids freak out and run, an old lady falls over and drops the prom queen crown.   When Bo tells her to run, she cries, "the crown!!" and a foot steps on it.

Next we see a mother pull up outside in a jeep.  Does she drive away when sees a Yeti looking in the gym window?  No, she just sits there.  But she does scream when the Yeti walks over to the car,  smashes the window and kills her.  There is no explaining why she didn't step on the gas and drive off.

In the aftermath of the Yeti dance fiasco - oh how I wish there were a dance called the Yeti -  the old lady is loaded into an ambulance with the smooshed crown beside her on the pillow.  Hooo boy!  Later we see the old lady crying as a casket is being lowered into the ground.  I speculate that they are burying the crown.

The Sheriff comes up with a brilliant plan to hang out in a camper in the woods and wait for the Yeti to show up so they can kill it.  Surprisingly the Yeti does show up and throws trees at them.  Why they don't move away to avoid the trees is a mystery.

Eventually only Bo is left to track the dreaded Yeti.  Fortunately for Bo, he is the victim of a Yeti  attack.  In one of the lamest endings every in a monster movie, the Yeti rushes at Bo, who braces his ski pole perpendicular against a tree... and the Yeti runs straight into it.  Then the poor critter careens off and we get to see things from the Yeti-with-a-ski-pole-in-it's-chest-cam.  Eventually it falls down and dies.  Threat neutralized.

Now I find it hard to believe that this damn Yeti has survived for years in the woods, but stupidly runs smack dab into the pointy end of a ski pole just because it's there.  Hurrah for ski poles!  If you're ever attacked by a Yeti or Bigfoot, just brace a ski pole against a tree, and the stupid thing will just run right into it.  Safety guaranteed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

Five friends go on a weekend climbing trip and while trekking through the woods, discover a little girl imprisoned in a hole underground.  The nearest town is fifteen to twenty miles away by path.

Rob and Alison, the two best climbers, decide to rappel down a dangerous cliff.  If they manage to safely get down, it is only two to four miles to the village and they can get help.

Since the girl was a prisoner, they know that at some point her kidnappers will be back for her.  The girl doesn't speak English so they can't determine exactly who put her there or why.  As Rob and Alyson try to rappel down the rock, they encounter trouble and there is an accident.  The kidnappers are back and they want the girl, which means they will do anything to get her, including murder.

The film does have some tension, but I couldn't get past one major plot point.  Rob and Alyson went down the rock face as it would only be 2-4 miles rather than 15-20 miles.  Yet when Alyson gets to the bottom of the cliff and runs off the path down by the river, she runs into the other people in her party.  So.... how was that supposed to save time and distance if she meets up with them shortly after getting to the bottom of the cliff?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mortuary (1983)

Something is going on at the old mortuary.  Owner Mr. Andrews is presiding over a group of women dressed in black robes, who are dancing around a smoking cauldron in the mortuary warehouse.

Josh and Greg go to the warehouse so Josh can steal some tires because Mr. Andrews fired him and didn't give him his last paycheck.  When Josh disappears, Greg knows it's something to do with the ceremony they witnessed.  But the sheriff won't believe him and he doesn't want to mention that his girlfriend Christie's mother was one of the women.

Christie is convinced her father was murdered, but her mother says it's all in her imagination. No one will believe Christie.  Greg tries to help, but doesn't really believe her either.

Greg and Christie go to college with Paul, the mortuary owner's son who has a crush on Christie. Paul, played by Bill Paxton, will skip his way into your heart with the odd little run he does when he's heading through the graveyard.  However Paul's a strange guy so don't get too attached to him as he's kind of nuts.

Christie and Greg, who has amazing feathered blond hair, decide to look into what is really going on at the mortuary and see if it has anything to do with her fathers death.  They discover Mr. Andrews, Christie's mother, and the Sheriff meeting together.  But things are not as they seem and there is a black robed killer stalking Christie.

Aside from the cover being misleading since no one gets buried alive, this is an okay slasher from the 80s.  It's not a big surprise who the killer is as you can see the persons face, and though it's painted white, it's not much of a disguise.  This was the last role for Christopher George, who plays Mr. Andrews, as he died unexpectedly at age 52 the same year.  He was married to Lynda Day George who plays Christie's mother.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Legend of Bloody Jack (2007)

Wow, is this bad!  A guy and his girlfriend decide to debunk the legend of Bloody Jack, a serial killer whose spirit is said to haunt the woods.  The guy, who is Jack's descendent, brings along Jack's journal so he can read rituals to resurrect him. The ritual works and the guy dies. Too bad he didn't plan ahead on what to do if the legend was true.

A group of friends go to party in the woods over the weekend.  The younger brother hears the legend when they stop for gas and is worried about recent disappearances in the woods.  He thinks they should leave, but everyone laughs at him.

Once at their cabin, the group splits up as young couples in slashers do, and one guy goes to get wood for a fire.  He never returns because the killer has found our young friends and plans on dispatching them all.

There are so many problems with this film.  But the major one appears to be that their post processing didn't work for the night scenes.  They were obviously shot during the day, and there are shadows and patches of sunlight. Plus it's just too darn bright to be night.  I'm sure this is why there is an explanation at the beginning which says that the story takes place in Alaska when there is sun 24 hours every day.

Well that's a great explanation, except they forgot that this means there are other scenes which now make no sense.  The porch lights are on, the lights inside the cabin are on, and there are multiple scenes where the kids are inside and it is obviously pitch black outside.  At one point a ranger shows up at the door and it is dark behind him.

The most hilarious scenes are when the ranger uses a flashlight to search around the cabin and in the woods.  He hears a noise, jumps, spins around and asks who it is, while frantically trying to locate the source of the noise using his flashlight.  It's daylight!  We can see everything!  And so can you!

The dialogue also suffers from poor writing.  A prime example is when one couple are in the van getting naked when the girl hears a noise outside.  Again, it's daylight so you can see everything out the van windows. The guy doesn't want to check it out because they're right in the middle of things.  She tells the guy he needs to check on the noise because she's about to be murdered, to which the guy replies, "I thought this weekend would be different."  So... she gets murdered every weekend?  We all burst out laughing at that.

Plus there is a woman driving her car down the deserted road and two of the kids flag her down for help.  She gets out and notices the guy has a gun and says she won't give them a ride as they may be psychos.  They deny this and toss the gun away.  This starts an argument between the woman and the kids.  Seriously?  She thinks they're going to kill her, yet she stands there and argues about why she won't give them a ride.  Palm slap to the forehead!  Unbelievable.

The film has weird edits where you can't tell where the people are located in relation to each other.  There is a ranger who resembles Dick Miller, which is a plus even though its not relevant.  And there is a strange scene where one of the kids has been disemboweled and asks her friends to kill her and they do?!  Geez, how about seeing if you can get some help before she dies?

This movie will leave you with lots of questions.  Who is Bloody Jack?  Why does he keep coming back?  Why does he kill people, especially strangers?  Why does he wear a scarf?  Why does he disappear and reappear at will?

This movie is terrible and the twist at the end is really irritating, but if you watch it with a group of friends you might have a good laugh.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Devil's Carnival (2012)

If you liked Repo: The Genetic Opera, then chances are you'll like The Devil's Carnival.  Unfortunately for me, I hated Repo.

Three people die and go to hell, which is represented by the Devil's Carnival.  They don't know where they are or how they got there, but each has arrived due to their sins.  The Devil tests them to see if they've learned anything, and each story line is based on an Aesop's Fable.

There are some good things about The Devil's Carnival.  It's only an hour long.  The make up, lighting, and sets are great, and the singers have good voices.

However, the main problem with it is that you will hear each tale three times.  First Satan reads it, then it is acted out, and finally the story is sung by the carnival folks.  Yes, I get it. I don't need to hear it again phrased in a different way.

Plus the songs are super annoying.  Often they are spoken rather than sung, and the music seems to meander and never follow any pattern.  It's kind of dissonant.  I found out after I watched it that it was a touring musical, which makes sense since it reminded me of a play rather than a movie.

Three of us watched it and none of us liked it.  We saw it on streaming Netflix and when it was time to rate it, one of my friends said we should give it an extra star for being short.  If that's part of your consideration for why it's good, that's doesn't say much for the movie.  If you like annoying, artsy musicals, then this is the film for you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rumplestiltskin (1995)

After villagers in the 1400s imprison him in a statue, Rumplestiltskin is released when Shelly, a policeman's widow, buys the statue at a mystery shop in an alley, even though she is warned not to buy it by the proprieter.  When Shelly makes a wish, a lone tear rolls down her check and lands on the statue, lifting the curse on it's occupant.   Rumplestiltskin comes back to life to make her wish come true.  The bad thing is that in exchange for the wish, he wants Shelly's baby.

The rest of the film is creepy little Rumplestiltskin looking like Billy Crystal in the Princess Bride and chasing Shelly while repeatedly saying "I just want the baby Johnny."  No one shall question why an imp from the 1400s knows how to drive a motorcycle, an 18 wheeler, or makes quips referencing current pop culture, including the A-Team.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dead Wood (2007)

Four friends tramp into the woods for a weekend of camping and stumble into stupidity.  They find a trashed campsite with a tent filled with belongings, which they disagree as to whether it is long abandoned or not.

The next day, they find Ketsy at the campsite.  She says her boyfriend Rob disappeared after he left their tent to tend the fire.  The group takes her in and decides to go to the lake to cheer everyone up.

At the lake, Ketsy strips and hits the water.  Webb goes in after her while his girlfriend Larri stays on the shore.  Webb is an idiot.  They splash, laugh, and dunk each other until Webb suddenly disappears underwater.

Then Jess goes missing. The remaining two can't figure out that the common denominator in mysteriously missing people is Ketsy.

This movie is bad.  There's a dissonant campfire song, which is not the usual type of stuff people play around campfires.  They have the worst flashlights ever - if you drop them, they stop working.   There are subtitles to note which day it is, but there is no point of reference as to the days are significant.
river bank that is probably two feet high.  Next thing you know, they cut to Rob hanging off a cliff. Huh?  That is not the same location!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Fear: Halloween Night (1999)

Michael invites his friends to stay at his parents house for the weekend.  His hometown is the home of a legendary serial killer named the Highwayman who targeted lone motorists on the highway and tortured them until they revealed their deepest fears.  Michael's mother was murdered by the Highwayman and Michael saw it.  Nothing could possibly go wrong with this homecoming.

Michael plans to have a costume party whose theme will be dress as your worst fear.  Well that may be fine for Michael ,who is trying to face his fear, but it sounds like a drag for everyone else.

What Michael has neglected to tell his friends is that he is going to perform a ceremony using Monty, a life size Native American totem.  The ritual will involve a fear circle with everyone masquerading as their worst fear and if everything goes okay, their fears will be gone.

Monty wears a raven's claw around his neck and as long as it isn't removed, his evil in contained.  Oh, you know that's not a good idea because next thing that happens is  one of Michael's friends steals the necklace.  Now you'd think that would be apparent to Crow, the Native American taking care of Monty, but he doesn't notice until his fate is sealed.

The actors are decent, but Morty looks like a guy in a rubber suit instead of a totem made of wood.  There's not anything special about the story.  It's not the worst thing ever, but it's nothing you'll be recommending to anyone.  The best thing about the film is that Betsy Palmer plays Michael's grandmother.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2004)

I knew I was in trouble when the quote on the cover stated, "Opens the porthole... into Lovecraft's mind."  Ummm, I hope you mean portal.  Because a porthole is just going to give him some fresh air.

In 1908 an inbred hillbilly is institutionalized for killing his entire family.  He has a deformity on his back that appears to house a second mind.  Intern Edward (played by the interestingly named Fountain Yount), is a resident at the asylum who becomes obsessed with the strange hillbilly.  And by resident, I mean not yet a doctor rather than a patient who lives there.

He is experimenting on patients by placing electrodes in their brains while he's wearing a horribly, bad, freakin' distracting wig!  Seriously, this is one of the worst wigs you'll ever find perched upon someones cranium.

No one enunciates clearly, the film is shot in black and white in a faux artsy style, the editing is annoying, and there is that horrible laughable wig. The film is so bad it's hard to get through and is often unbelievably tedious.

There is a huge continuity error involving a disappearing hat.  First they're wearing the hat as they run through the woods, then it's gone. They run into a house and the hat is back - no wait, it's gone again. Then hat comes back and.. yup, gone again.

At one point a gurney hits a dwarf and tips over.  Yup, that's as ridiculous as it sounds, folks.  If I could, I would have a tape loop of the gurney hitting the dwarf, the scenes of the disappearing hat, and then lots of laughable shots of Edward's horrible wig.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Necroville (2007)

Alex and Jack are best friends.  Jack's girlfriend Penny is a lazy manipulative loser who finds fault with everything Jack does.  On top of that, Penny doesn't work and expects Jack to support her and pay for everything, including taking out a loan to buy her a car.  Yeah, you'll hate her.

After Alex and Jack get fired from their jobs, they accept new jobs with Zom-B-Gone, a company that handles requests for zombie removals.  The Zom-B-Gone commercial is pretty funny with the announcer doing a Christopher Walken-like voice.

Not sure how I feel about this one.  The comedy often falls flat, and the two lead characters aren't that appealing.  But there were a few moments that made me laugh out loud.  One of my favorite scenes was when their plan to kill the vampire involved dropping a grand piano three stories on top of him, like something out of the old silent movies or Three Stooges shorts.  It was so ridiculous.

Although I ended up having mixed feelings about it, the movie does have some charm.  I also liked the extras where they show short clips of before and after the effects (done via rotoscope) were added.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Collinsville (2003)

Collinsville is a small town known for being the home of ax factory owner, Kane Barker, who murdered fifty people with a machete.  No one shall ask why the ax factory owner used a machete for his murder spree.

His factory has been abandoned for one hundred years and legend has it that his spirit haunts the place.  Yet the doors to the factory stand open, welcoming drifters, teenagers, rabid dogs, and spirits of the dead.

Stephanie, who just moved to town, randomly follows a stray dog into the abandoned factor and accidentally machetes a drifter.  Horrified, she runs away.

Later that night, we see shots of her at the teen dance interspersed with shots of the still bleeding drifter lying on the floor of the factory.  What?  She didn't tell anyone?  She just left him there? What kind of horrible person is she?

As we stare at the poor bleeding drifter he morphs into Kane Barker.  Somehow he knows Stephanie's name and that she is at the teen dance.  But since he can't find her, he kills some innocent teenagers.

Kane is able to figure out everywhere that Stephanie goes, even though she is randomly running away  and he's not right behind her.  When he finally catches up to her, he rises out of the water (completely dry) behind Stephanie.  Someone throws her an ax, Kane conveniently trips and falls over backwards which makes him easier to kill, and his hat floats off down stream.  The end of the story.

At this point the movie takes a giant curve.  Cut to six months later where exposition for what has happened is provided via a psychologist who interviews cast and crew, and they explain how the movie is lacking.  I've never seen anything like this.

The exposition tells us that when Stephanie machetes the drifter, blood sprays onto Kane's hat and the spirit of Kane, who has been in the stray dog, is awakened.   Huh?  Everyone talks about how there was a new script each day and the writer says the movie makes no sense and is nothing like his script.  Then there is another twist at the end. Gak!  It's not clever, just jarring to the senses.

My favorite part of the movie was that the ax factory owner killed everyone with a machete.   Other than that, it's not good.

Collinsville Too: Axes of Evil (2004)

aka Collinsville 2

The movie picks up right where Collinsville ended, but with different actors who can't really act (not that the first ones were great).  Kane Barker is obviously played by a different actor as his voice is not the same and he's wearing a sack over his head.  I'm not joking.  He wasn't wearing a sack in the first one, so it makes it even more apparent that it's not the same actor.

The kids keep talking about the ax murderers, which is odd as the killings were all done with a machete.  I guess if a dead ax factory owner kills people the assumption is that he would use a weapon from his factory.

Unlike the first movie, this one is tongue in cheek (I hope).   God if it's not, then it's worse than I thought.  The police dispatch is located in the local Mom and Pop store which always has 1930s music playing.  The coroner's office is in the barber shop, and the Sheriff keeps wondering "Why is the ghost picking on me?"  There is a ridiculous phone call that provides exposition for the first movie.

This doesn't even have an entry on IMDB and I couldn't even find a dvd cover for this when I searched for it.  It's not a good movie, but it was more entertaining than the first one.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grizzly Man (2005)

For 13 years, Timothy Treadwell spent a few months each year living in the wilderness.  But unlike most campers, Treadwell's goal was to interact with grizzly bears on a personal level, as well as champion their protection.  He brought a video camera with him and his footage is amazing.  There are close up shots of animals in the wild.  Generally they ignore him but sometimes they approach to check him out.  A plus for the footage is that Treadwell's cinematography is really well done.

Cute little foxes follow him around and he pats them as if they are house pets.  He stands his ground when bears approach and puts out his hand so they can sniff his scent as he gently speaks to them. When bears get pushy, he scolds them.  He even gets in a pond with a bathing bear and touches it's back as he walks by.  The bear is not amused.

But for all the tranquility and good intentions, the portrait of Treadwell also shows a man who manufactures his own image and spews vitriol at society.  He does take after take of the same dialogue, trying to hone his delivery and movements, while also trying on different clothing and colored bandannas.  He always claims to be alone, but his girlfriend was on a few trips including his last one.

He is also way too emotionally involved with the bears.  He has nicknames for them all and mistakenly believes that they have accepted him into the bear brotherhood.  He speaks of the emotional connection he has with the bears, but as director Werner Herzog points out, there is nothing in the bears eyes that shows any connection to Tim.  He is seeing them through his own desires and interests.  Who wouldn't want to believe they have a connection with the animals they champion?  Also he is so into the bears that he gets misty eyed over their scat, which is an embarrassing obsessive view and so odd it makes the viewer uncomfortable.

In his last shot footage, it is obvious that he has come to believe his own mythology.  He stands in the middle of what he refers to as the Bear Maze and indignantly shouts that no one could survive here except him.  He knows how to commune with his brother bears. They love and respect him, as he does them.  This special bond he's fostered allows him to camp right next to their paths as he is one with the bears.

The sad thing is he was wrong.  Whether Treadwell became careless or whether he thought he was their brother, he stays later than usual in the season.  Food is hard to find and the bears he knows have already started hibernating.  The bears around now are unfamiliar to him.  Unfortunately his location in the Bear Maze and his lack of fear lead to his downfall when he and his girlfriend are attacked and killed by that which he loves - a bear.

Treadwell shot amazing footage and was fearless with the bears.  The documentary is fascinating, and while it is respectful, it also includes other viewpoints of people who thought he was doing the bears a disservice. So there's an overall tone of loss from the people who knew and loved him, but there is input from those who thought he was crazy or that his involvement was self serving and hurt the bears he purported to love.

I highly recommend this documentary. The footage is fantastic.  At times you'll be caught up in his passion, while at other times it will make you uncomfortable when he starts crying over scat or goes on  some crazy rant about society and how people treat bears.

After I watched this, I was asked what I thought about Treadwell.  My response? "He's kind of crazy. They're bears."

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Devil Bat (1940)

Bela Lugosi stars as a scientist who electrifies bats, which somehow increases their size and makes them hate his new aftershave lotion.  He manufactures the lotion for the owners of the company where he works.  Bela is angry because they are getting rich from his concoctions for health and beauty products.

Thus when the rich owners put aftershave on their neck - per Bela, they should put it on "the tender part of the neck" - the devil bat screeches, swoops down upon them, bites their necks and they die a horrible death.  Take that, rich oppressor!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

When young Conan's entire family are slaughtered and his village is destroyed, he vows revenge.  After he becomes an adult, Conan wields a sword, has fun with his men, and tries to find the jerk who killed his father.

The ancients/gods/whoever split a headdress into seven pieces and gave each piece to a different tribe so that no one group could ever have complete power.  Well you know how that goes, and soon enough our villain is on a quest for all the pieces.

There is lots of blood, violence and Conan baring his large chesticular region.  Part of the movie reminds me of the sacrifice in the first Indiana Jones movie, what with the ceremony in the cave, the blood, silly helmet, and woman as a human sacrifice.

Everything is well done.  It's pretty entertaining except there is one thing that doesn't fit.  The villains daughter is a young goth looking teen who could be thrown into a Twilight movie without a change of hair, costume, or smirk.  As an adult she's more like someone from Star Trek the Next Generation.  But either way she's annoying as hell.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gappa The Triphibean Monster (1967)

A group including a scientist, a reporter, and a TV star head out to Obelisk Island in a very Gilligans Island opening scene.  The island has an erupting volcano and a tribe who constantly talks about Gappa.

When the scientist and reporter find a huge skeleton in a cave, they mistakenly believe is Gappa.  Why they assume that is beyond me since the natives always speak of Gappa in the present tense.  So how about the consideration that this may be  something Gappa ate?

When they discover there is a baby Gappa, dollar signs form in the scientists head.  He decides to bring the baby back to the mainland  where he can charge people to see it.  The Gappa parents are not amused.

Who could have foreseen that the Gappa would follow their offspring to the mainland, shooting lasers from their mouths?  I didn't.  Plus they are taller than buildings and can cause lots of carnage and destruction.  Will scientists ever learn kidnapping a monster baby is wrong?

Two things of note:

  1. the Asian kid in black face and Afro wig
  2. ridiculous dialogue - "How is the ___ area?"  "We don't have any information, but it's very bad."

Kurt Cobain: Early Life of a Legend (2004)

If you're looking for any Nirvana music, videos or photos you've never seen before, this is not the film for you.  The video consists of interviews with Kurt's friends from when he was younger, his grandfather, and former girlfriend Tracey Marander.  There is no Nirvana music, so I assume they were unable to get the rights or couldn't afford it.

The problem with this type of film is that unless a person was mentioned by Kurt before he died, you have no idea if the person was even friends with him, or is just jumping on the bandwagon.  Once someone is famous, everyone wants to say they knew him and wants their fifteen minutes of fame.  So many of the stories need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Also some acquaintances would have had a superficial relationship, and no real knowledge of who he truly was as a person. Thus in hindsight, they may misinterpret conversations or make things up based on current known facts.  Let's face it, there are people I hung out with in high school who I considered friends, but we were really more of acquaintances who never had any deeply personal conversations.  They were just someone to do something with, not someone to share my feelings with.

There are conflicting points of view offered, but no new ground covered. In fact, there may not be any new information in this film.  It's funny to see some people say he was happy and hung out with them all the time, and then see other people who say he was miserable.

A huge issue with the film is that based on the cinematography, it was done by amateurs.  It looks like it was done on a consumer grade video camera by available light.  Now that's fine if you know how to frame, know basic lighting, and can adjust your white balance for different types of light, but if not, you've got one bad looking video.  When people are interviewed inside, the color balance is yellow as they're using lamps in the room as the only source of light.  But it's when people are outside that the video is the most brutal.  There is direct, harsh, unflattering sunlight with no regard to where the shadows fall on their faces.  Also the color is extremely washed out in most of the film.

This is recommended for completists or people who don't know much about Kurt and are just starting to delve into his life.

Nature Unleashed: Avalanche (2004)

Brothers Thom and Jock, who run a snowmobile tour company, take a couple of vacationers who are loose canons to the mountains.  The idiots ignore the brothers instructions and immediately cause a small avalanche.  Everyone in town blames the brothers, even though they tried to stop the rogue tourists.

A luxury hotel is being built near the slopes and an avalanche expert wants the hotel shut down as she says they are poised for a Super Avalanche!  But the grand opening of the hotel is in a week so they will not evacuate the slopes.

The avalanche expert hires the brothers to take her up the mountain where she checks the likelihood of an avalanche.  She accomplishes this by putting her ear to the ground, eating some snow and falling head first into a crevasse.  Yup, definitely the signs of a Super Avalanche.

This movie might best be described as Jaws set in the mountains.The expert is fixated on warning the town. But  everyone is more concerned about the grand opening of the hotel.  And why is she so intent, practically obsessed, with avalanche warnings?  She clues us in by ripping off her boot to show us that an avalanche took her toes!

We had a great time watching this due to the many ridiculous lines, strange dubbing, and obviously fake avalanche - which appears to be someone off camera throwing fake snow at people on screen.  There are also shots of ice cracking, CGI snow, people in town watching the avalanche coming at them rather than running, and most importantly, snow that growls.

At one point, rescuers head up the mountain to help people caught in the slide.  One brother hangs upside down in a hole (does he really need to be upside down?).  There are six guys up there so it doesn't seem the best use of a rescue team to have one guy digging upside down in a hole with the others watching.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eyeborgs (2009)

In the future, the government employs cameras to fight crime.  Cameras are everywhere, including in robots called eyeborgs.  When a crime is committed, cameras capture everything that happens, and the eyeborgs are used to stop the crimes and convict the criminals.

Detective Gunner Reynolds and a reporter grow suspicious when video footage of a murder scene doesn't match what they remember happening at the scene.  They realize that those who oppose constant supervision are considered threats and enemies of the state.  So the government justifies disposing of these people by using fake footage manufactured  by the eyeborgs to cover their kills.

So who is watching the cameras?  Not only is there the question of whether to government has a right to disregard the publics privacy, but the logistical question that if we need people to watch each of these cameras covering every living  person, then the work force is going to be ridiculously huge.

The killer robot eyeborgs are actually kind of cute, which makes them less threatening.  Danny Trejo appears as one of the rebels.