Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tangled (2001)

David wakes up in the hospital after he is found injured and stumbling through the woods. The police question him regarding what happened, and whether there were other people involved.  As David tries to piece things together, the movie is told via flashback with recollections of the past several years.

David is in love with fellow student Jenny, who lives next door to  him.  The two spend lots of time together, but David doesn't dare to ask Jenny out or let her know how he feels.  

When his old friend Alan decides to attend the same college, Jenny becomes interested in Alan. Unlike David who's awkward around women, Alan is confident, charming, and has no problem getting women.

David is pissed, which is ridiculous since Alan asked him if he liked her before asking Jenny out. But wimpy old David doesn't even dare to tell his best friend that he likes Jenny.  So angry old David warns Jenny that Alan isn't good boyfriend material because he dumps girls once he's tired of them, and got kicked out of his last college due to his bad boy antics.  Jenny is not amused.

There is no way this can end well for any of our characters. There's a twist ending, and although Alan is an ass, is he really a bigger ass than the guy who doesn't dare ask out the girl of his dreams, and then gets mad when she ends up with someone else? Nah, they're both asses.  Get rid of both of them and find a confident, faithful guy with a spine, Jenny.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Nope, I don't care for it.  In the original movie, Freddie seemed otherworldly, like some sort of unstoppable monster with a spooky voice. This Freddy doesn't have a creepy voice and resembles a burn victim rather than a monster.  I'd much rather fight a burn victim than a supernatural creature.

Also how stupid is the girl trying to avoid sleep when she decides it's a good idea to take a bath? Wouldn't a cold shower be the best thing to do? At a minimum, don't take a warm freakin' bath!

I'm partial to 1980s movies and definitely like the original better than this one.  Through no fault of his own, Jackie Earle Haley can't compete with Robert Englund. Hailey is competent, but the Freddie character is too ingrained in the minds of everyone who's seen the previous movies. And if there's one thing that doesn't work, it's changing a familiar character without offering any good reason that the viewer accept this change in personality.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Teaching Mrs. Tingle (1999)

High school senior Leigh Ann is hoping to be Valedictorian and get a scholarship so she can go away to college.  Her mother is a waitress and doesn't make much money, so Leigh Ann knows her only shot at college is the scholarship.

Leigh Ann and her best friend Jo Lynn are in Mrs. Tingle's history class.  Tingle only has bad things to say about the students projects, especially Leigh Ann's.  So Leigh Ann is worried about the grade she'll get on her senior project.

Mrs. Tingle is not well liked at school.  As she walks through the hallways, the sea of teenagers parts and kids scurry to get our of her way.  She makes the principal uncomfortable, and has a nasty attitude towards everything and everyone.  She revels in cutting people down and using insinuation and blackmail to get what she wants.

When classmate Luke steals Mrs. Tingle's final exam, Tingle happens to discover Luke with Jo Lynn and Leigh Ann, who unknowingly has the exam in her bag.  When Mrs. Tingle discovers the exam, she threatens to report them to the principal. Not only would this get them expelled, but it would destroy Leigh Ann's chances at the scholarship and college.

That night the three teens head over to Mrs. Tingle's house to try to reason with her. Quite the silly thing to do based on her track record of enjoying torturing her students, but I guess they have to try.  Unfortunately Mrs. Tingle is not a reasonable woman, and doesn't care about their futures.  When Mrs. Tingle is accidentally injured, the three teens panic and try to figure out what to do now that things are horribly out of control.

This is like a dark comedy version of the movie 9 to 5, except not as good.   It's average, with characters doing some ridiculous things.  Like, why the heck are they listening to anything Mrs. Tingle says, or having conversations with her in which they feed her information?  She's a nasty woman who wants to get free and will say anything to turn the kids against each other. Divide and conquer.... although maybe they weren't paying that much attention in history class since she's so horrible.

Also I'm not liking Katie Holmes at all, who is the protagonist. I feel bad for her before she gets involved in all this stuff, but once she does, she's kind of annoying.  She does a good enough job as a milquetoast teen, but I don't know if it's the Tom Cruise thing or if her acting style is more annoying now that more time has gone by.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting (2003)

After Jim kills a kidnapper while rescuing a child, he is let go from the police force.  He decides to take a trip to visit Captain Esterhage, who helped him when as a teen Jim was framed for multiple murders by a crazy hitchhiker he picked up.

Crop duster plane mechanic Maggie, Jim's girlfriend, is glad they're going away since she thinks Jim needs a vacation. But Jim's never mentioned his traumatic experience as a teen so Maggie is totally clueless as to why Jim freaks out when she insists on picking up a hitchhiker on a desert road.

Since this is a horror movie, we know that Maggie is going to rue the day she forced Jim to stop, and that this hitcher is going to make their lives hell.  Before you know it, Jim's right back in the same situation as the first film where a psycho hitcher has framed Jim and Maggie for murders and police are after them.  Jim is convinced this is the same hitcher he picked up before. No one shall ask how the killer got younger in the seventeen years since the original murders.

Please turn off your cranial functions when viewing the scene where Jack drops Maggie into an abandoned, super rickety water tower. It's so rotten that she can kick her way out of the thing. As she climbs down, the wooden ladder breaks (no one shall ask why she was climbing down a ladder that had only five rungs and a thirty foot drop at the end).

Maggie plummets to earth breaking through every rotten support on the tower, which leads the tower to collapse.  If it was so rotten, how did Jack manage to get her up there? I mean, he literally had to climb up the tower with her unconscious body, get on top of the water silo and drop her into it.  So one hundred pound Maggie collapses a water tower but it holds up for two hundred pound Jack carrying Maggies body?

Shortly after this, the movie broke streaming Netflix. Once we got back on, none of us cared enough to watch the end. This is a Hitcher sequel only in the sense that they slapped C. Thomas Howell into the first half hour and then had a psycho hitchhiker frame Maggie for murder.   They could have left Howell out and done the same movie, but then they wouldn't get suckers saying, "Oh a sequel to the Hitcher."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

An American Ghost Story (2012)

Paul and his girlfriend Stella move into a house which is supposedly haunted, and where a family was murdered years ago.  They've both hoping to see something paranormal, and Paul is planning to write a book about his experiences in the house.

Although both went into it knowing the house was haunted, Stella loses her mind when all the doors open on the cabinets in the kitchen. Paul convinces her to stay the night, saying if she still wants to leave in the morning, they can talk about it. Whoa there Mr. Sensitivity, how very big of you to talk it over, even though you've found Stella curled up in the corner, staring like she's in shock.

Since Stella is smarter than Paul, she makes good on her intentions and leaves.  But Paul's kind of stupid and after three months, his experiences are almost none. This is  because he tends to sleep through the actually activity.  So  the only experiences Paul has involves a basketball thrown at him while he was outside in the garage, some noises in the middle of the night that he can't pinpoint, a chair in the wrong place, and a very heavy stuffed bear that sat on a bed in the children's room.

Paul knows this house must be haunted, but when he calls a list of old tenants to get their stories, they  hang up on him, which he thinks is rude. He never considers that maybe he should identify himself prior to just launching into asking them about the house, or that they may be traumatized by what happened. Lucky for him when he finally finds someone who will talk, it's the one person who's been driven insane by her experiences and blames the house for her troubles.  She also ends up practically hanging off his leg while warning him the house is trying to kill him.

Aside from Paul being a bit dense and looking like Shia LeBouf if you stepped on the side of his head, there are some decent scares. Honestly, sheets in people form are freaking creepy.

This is a low budget film but it looks better than many films in this category - other than it appears they either didn't have a makeup artist, or had one who wasn't very good.  Paul's face usually looks greasy and Stella appears to have no make up since her face is all blotchy.

There's not a lot of action in this, and almost no tension.  It takes its own sweet time to get going and even then you keep wondering if Paul is ever going to see anything paranormal.  The ending is predictable and even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, it still made me jump.  There were some other times I jumped, as well as some cheap scares. Overall, you'll have lots of questions at the end.  Who are the ghosts? Are they the murdered family?  Why does the ghost only show itself to certain people?  Why does the ghost take so freaking long to do anything when Paul is awake? And why doesn't Paul turn on the damn lights?  Also if you're outside and someone throws a basketball at you, it's more than likely it's not a ghost.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Rendering (2002)

When Sarah was an art student in college, she was stabbed by a nutzo stalker who said her paintings spoke to him.  Unlucky for him, artist Sarah takes the sketch pad from the police artist and delivers a completely accurate portrait of her attacker.  He's quickly apprehended and sentenced to a number of years in prison.

Ten years later, Sarah is preparing to testify at his next parole hearing to make sure he doesn't get released.  She's also helping the police whenever they need an amazing sketch artist, and is called for recent vicious attacks on two different women.  But Sarah balks at the victims description as the sketch of the attacker begins to look just like Sarah's husband.

Sarah and her husband are already on the outs since he wants children and she's not ready. So the possibility of him attacking women doesn't help the already strained relationship.  But even Sarah is surprised when her hubby gets arrested for murder and some polaroids of the victim are found in his closet.

Since this is a Lifetime movie, you just know her attacker is going to figure somehow into this plot, and that the movie will be predictable and full of cliches.  If you like Lifetime movies, you'll probably like this one.  It's on a horror anthology, but is it really horror? Nah, it's just your standard tv movie.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Asylum Blackout (2011)

aka The Incident

George, Max, and Ricky want to finish recording their album and get better gigs so that they don't have to spend their days working as cooks in the kitchen of an asylum for the criminally insane.

The kitchen has a small slot in the dining room window, where trays of food and meds can be dispensed to the prisoners. Once the meal is over, a metal door comes down to ensure their safety and keep them out of view of the inmates.

When the power goes out, the asylum goes into lockdown and everyone is trapped inside.  George and another worker agree to help the lone guard in the dining room and escort a small group of prisoners back to their cells, leaving the more unruly men for the guard to handle.

But the task of getting the men back into their cells proves to be more difficult than they thought.  After a quick fight breaks out between two of the men, they manage to regain control. But as they're locking in the last inmate, they hear noises and it sounds like some of the prison population have escaped their cells.

Shortly after this set up, the four kitchen workers are all alone in the asylum trying to stay out of sight of the rioting insane inhabitants. The group need to figure out how to get out of an asylum in lock down when the only place they've ever been is the corridors that lead to the kitchen.  How do you avoid rioting insane prisoners and manage to find a way out of a building you aren't familiar with?  If you picture yourself in that situation, it's incredibly distressing. Plus the lights are out so there's minimal emergency lighting and a flashlight is often needed. Of course this could draw attention to whoever has it.

For the most part the characters aren't stupid, and George is a nice guy so I wanted him to get out with his life.  Overall the film made me really tense, and was disturbing. While it was good, it left me feeling depressed.  And the end isn't satisfactory. It's confusing since there are multiple ways to interpret what happened.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Vagrant (1992)

Graham's feeling pretty good about his life.  He just bought a house, his girlfriend is coming to stay for a week, and he's expecting to get a promotion at work.  There's just one problem.  There seems to be a creepy, gross vagrant in his house.

Graham's friend changes the locks which should take care of the problem.  But the vagrant is camping in the vacant lot across the street.  Plus Graham keeps seeing the vagrant peering in his windows, or wakes up in the middle of the night to find the guy in his house.

Surprisingly the police won't do anything about the trespassing or open fire.  But if he's urinating in the vacant lot, then that's another matter.  Upset that the vagrant keeps coming back to the lot and harassing him, Graham makes multiple calls to 911, puts  a high fence around his house,  installs tons of light poles, and  warns his girlfriend that the vagrant is evil. At this point, everyone starts thinking Graham is paranoid and not taking his distress seriously.

As Graham's obsession with the vagrant and his odd behavior starts to make his life unravel, Graham starts to fear if he's losing his grip on reality. Then his neighbor is murdered, and Graham wonders if it's  the fault of the filthy deranged vagrant, or if Graham himself is doing every these horrible things in his sleep?  

Bill Paxton is great as the nebbish Graham.  In fact, the whole cast is really good and the vagrant is  particularly creepy.  There are some amusing moments (as well as a few spots where I laughed out loud), but I wouldn't really consider it a horror comedy even though it's billed as such.  I'd never heard of this and was happy that it was released on this budget DVD from Scream Factory, which is the horror label of Shout Factory. I'm always willing to take a change on their stuff.  Not something I'd ever pick as a favorite movie, but it was entertaining enough.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Beneath Still Waters (2005)

Forty years ago a dam was built which caused a nearby town to be flooded.  As the water was rising in the abandoned, fenced off town, two kids sneak past the fence for a last look and hear voices. They find the source of the voices is an old building where multiple people are chained in the basement and in a panic due to the water flowing in. When one of the kids goes in to help them escape, he releases the leader of the group who promptly murders him, and his cowardly friend runs off.

Cut to current day and the 40th Anniversary of the Dam. Strange things are starting to happen in town.  Black sludge shows up in the water, attaches itself to people and attacks them.  People keep dying in the water.  Also the Dam starts cracking, but the mayor doesn't want to ruin the upcoming celebration so he tries to keep it quiet.

Photojournalist Dan and TV reporter Teresa who are covering the exciting dam anniversary learn of the strange goings on and reluctantly team up to see if they can figure out what is going on.

Well it's devil worshippers, evil, some stupid people, and that's about it.  Not very exciting.  The DVD cover is better than the movie.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sin Reaper (2012)

Sam goes to see her psychiatrist Dr. Hoffman - played by Lance Henriksen who appears to be someone's living room - to talk about her years of ongoing nightmares.  Hoffman advises her to go to Germany since her drawings are similar to a medieval monastery there and he thinks she may be able to get to the source of her nightmares. No one shall ask why the issue of the  pencil drawings of the nightmares done while she's sleeping isn't a bigger concern. Or why the Doc thinks it's okay to send her on an international trip by herself when she's a bit on edge and her nightmare drawings seem to predict future events.

At the hotel bar, Sasha tries to pick her up but Sam isn't interested.... until ten seconds later when she realizes she'll need someone to give her a ride to the monastery.  Surprisingly Sasha is not a serial killer and Sam arrives safely at her destination.  

Everyone who works at the monastery stares at Sam as if they're seeing a ghost and a few creepily take her photo with their cell phones. Amidst this odd behavior, Sasha and Sam are unconcerned and take a tour of the grounds.  

Later that night Sam decides to go back to search the monastery office for something that doesn't look right. So vague.... and yet she finds it.  But she's also found a whole lot of trouble since there's insurance fraud and a mystery killer both on the way to the very monastery that she and Sasha's friends are roaming through.

Sam sometimes weaves in and out of an American accent. Also some of the actors don't speak English as a first language which makes for some hilarious line reads that veer into Tommy Wiseau territory.  Plus the movie gets confusing because there are flashbacks which aren't always obviously the past.

The killer actually does look like the cover illustration so that's cool. He's got a pretty impressive weapon, although oddly enough people survive multiple hits and still keep running.  But other than a cool mask and weapon and around five minutes of Lance Henriksen, there's nothing to recommend this.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Paranormal Entity (2009)

When strange things start happening in their home at night, the family sets up a video camera to see if they can figure out what's happening.  But as in most paranormal films, after the families initial good idea, everyone gets stupid.

No one shall ask why they choose to argue about why a cross fell off the wall, rather than look at the video. Or why no one notices the coffee table is in a different place in the living room. Or why no one even scans through the tapes after taking the time to set everything up and record what happens when they're asleep.

At one point son Thomas puts little bells on fishing wire six inches off the ground. This is extremely clever when considering ways in which to get a warning that something is moving through the house..... other than the fact that the ghost just left footprints on the ceiling. So a wire near the floor's not going to be much help at all, is it?

Logic is thrown out again when something bangs on the door. Thomas opens it but nothing is there.  Since there is never any visible entity in the room, then couldn't the damn ghost or demon be standing right in front of Thomas?

And if you're in a panic over attacks in the night and can't get in touch with an expert who may be able to help, then why not contact anyone else who may be able to help with supernatural issues in the home?  How about a paranormal expert or ghost hunter? How about a priest?  How about spells on the internet?  How about voodoo? How about any random thing no matter how crazy?  Better to try anything then nothing.

This is the cheapo Asylum rendering of Paranormal Activity, which I'm sure you've guessed by the plot, cover, and way too similar title.  It's typical Syfy style fodder.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Warm Bodies (2013)

Zombie R spends his days shuffling through the airport with other zombies.  The airport also houses bonies - zombies who've lost all traces of humanity and are simply skeletons who eat flesh.

When R and the other zombies get hungry, they head into town to search for food, or in other words any humans who've survived the apocalypse. Survivors live inside a huge walled off portion of the city, with armed guards and barricades strategically positioned at the front gate.   But when supplies in the city run low, someone needs to venture outside the wall for medicine, food, or whatever else is needed.

When Julie, her boyfriend Perry, and others leave the compound to search for medicine, they are attacked in the abandoned hospital by R and his fellow zombies. But something strange happens when R sees Julie. He is smitten and instead of eating her brain, he smears her with blood, grabs her hand and drags her with him when the zombies stagger off.

Will Julie get discovered by the other zombies?  Will she stay with R in the abandoned plane he uses as his hang out? Is anyone looking for Julie?  Why does R have a crush on her?  Is he changing?  Are other zombies changing?  And if they are, what are they changing into?  Will zombies and humans find a way to co-exist?

I waited awhile to watch this as I wasn't sure if I really wanted to see it. Granted, I'll watch almost any zombie movie.  But this is not a typical zombie movie since it also has elements of a romantic comedy, which I'm not that interested in, (especially a teen romantic comedy).  But it's actually pretty good and for the most part the characters are likable.  I don't think I'd ever watch it again, but Rob Corddry is in it and he's always good.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Deathrow (2006)

aka Haunted Prison

After a jewelry heist gone wrong, a gang of criminals hide out in an old prison on an island.  Coincidentally, it's the same night some teenagers sneak into the prison to make a documentary.  When the doors to the prison seem to lock on their own, both groups get trapped inside.

The prison was abandoned after a riot in which guards and prisoners were killed.  A cranky old guard in a hospital tells the teens that the place is evil and warns them to stay away. So they immediately go there to spend the night.

Well, you just know the two groups are going to meet up and since Marco, leader of the robbers, is played by Jake Busey... enough said about that.  So will criminals be able to work with clean cut kids to escape the prison lock down?  Will you care? I believe this is a Syfy film, so that tells you all you need to know.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Decoys 2: The Second Seduction (2007)

Nice guy Sam is convinced by his roommates to join in the big  contest to see who can score with the most girls by the end of the semester. Sam is really only interested in one girl. But she's his  best friend, and you know how that goes.

Luke, our survivor from the first film and is now a teaching assistant and working on finishing his degree.  He's seeing a psychiatrist to try to get over the death of his best friend and the previous alien breeding experiences at his last college.

When he sees Constance, an alien lady from the first film who's masquerading as a PhD at the college, he understandably freaks, but no one will believe anything he says. And why would they? He says she's an alien with tentacles who kills guys by sleeping with them.

With the dorm challenge to sleep with as many girls as possible, it's only a matter of time before guys start dying... because they've slept with an alien who needs their body as a host for breeding, but there are issues with that so the sex usually ends up accidentally killing them.

Luke finally finds an ally in Sam, who has started to become suspicious of strange goings on on campus.  It's the same basic premise as the first one, except there's no alien-human romance, just heartless aliens trying to fill our human males with their eggs.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Them (2006)

aka Ils

After a long day of teaching, Clementine drives home to spend the evening with her husband Lucas.  On the way, she passes police and a wrecker at the scene of an accident on an isolated stretch of road near the house.  She is unaware that this single car accident occurred the night before, or that the mother and daughter traveling in the car disappeared after being attacked.

Later that night, Clem wakes up to strange sounds outside their remote home. When she and Lucas head downstairs to investigate, her car is across the yard. When Lucas goes to investigate, someone drives off in her car. They report the theft to the police, and as they start to relax, the lights in the house go out.

Then lights start shining through the windows and noises are heard outside, causing Clem and Lucas to bolt upstairs and lock themselves in the bedroom. Soon it sounds like their tormentors are  inside the house. The couple wonders who it is, why they have been targeted, and what the intruders intend to do to them.

The premise of being cut off from the outside world and having someone outside who means you harm is super creepy.  But it doesn't seem like a bright idea when shortly after locking themselves in the bedroom, Lucas decides to go search the house to see if the intruders are still there. Good god man, stay locked in the bedroom.  Barricade yourself in until daylight when they can't sneak up on you in the dark.  Also Lucas and Clem live in a mansion so there are way too many rooms for the intruders to hide.  If Clem and Lucas stayed barricaded in the bedroom and were quiet, it might take the intruders awhile to find them.  Other than a few annoying sequences where people behave idiotically, it was an effective movie.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

R.I.P.D. (2013)

Boston cop Nick is killed by his partner Bobby during a raid at a meth lab. They'd had a disagreement regarding some gold that they found (and kept) at their last bust.   But instead of ending up in the afterlife, he ends up at the R.I.P.D. - Rest in Peace Department - where he is offered an opportunity to redeem himself so that he won't spend eternity in a horrible place.

The department is responsible for catching the dead, referred to as Deado's,  who manage to get back to Earth and continue living in disguise rather than move on to the afterlife.  Nick accepts, thinking he will be able to reunite with his wife Julia, which he is warned not to do.

He's teamed with Roy, who was a U.S. Marshall in the Old West, and is in no mood to be saddled with a rookie.  The two head back to Boston, where Nick discovers that the officers of RIPD don't appear to the living as they did before they died.  Roy looks like a super model, and Nick looks like an old Asian man.

While working on their task of bringing in Deado's, Nick finds that Bobby told his wife that Nick was corrupt. He also discovers Bobby is somehow involved with the Deado's.  It seems there's more going on here than anyone has suspected. Nick thinks he can get revenge against his partner, clear his name with his wife, and figure out what is really going on with all the gold that keeps showing up.

This is basically Men in Black but with the dead rather than aliens.  It's all fairly standard movie fodder, right down to the characters, jokes, and action.  It's got a decent budget, likable actors, and a good concept, yet for some reason, none of it works. Is Ryan Reynolds box office poison?

The comedy is typical of a big budget mainstream movie, but it's not funny. Was it the delivery of the lines?  The tone of voice?  The words used to make the jokes?  The background music?  The editing? The cinematography?  None are horrible on their own, but put them together and it's not good.

I only laughed once during the movie. There is a plot point that if numerous items were put together it would open a portal and the dead could come to Earth which would destroy the living. At this Roy incredulously screams something like, "why would anyone make something like that?"  This is an excellent question which comes up many times when watching terrible movies.

Three of us watched it and thought it was bad. But one friend said even though it was bad, she kind of liked it. This was not a surprise.  So if you're okay with bland movies that leave you feeling cold even though it seems like the right pieces are there, this may be for you.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Boogens (1981)

If you're ever thinking of reopening a mine after it's been sealed for decades, keep in mind that no good can come from it.  Roger and Mark rent a house in a small town after being hired to inspect an old mine they are hoping to reopen.  The mine had a tragedy years ago where a number of miners were trapped in a cave in. As they go deeper into the mine, they blast through this obstacle and find a pile of bones which they assume are the miners. Strangely enough only Roger thinks there might be something odd about the bones being in a pile and no longer in skeleton form.

Meanwhile a really old man skulks around outside the mine spying on them, posts cryptic warning signs, and tries to seal it off again.  As in most cases with seemingly crazy old men shouting warnings, no one listens to him.  I'm not sure why he doesn't just approach them and provide his back story since they might take his warnings a little more seriously.

Roger's girlfriend Jessica and her friend Trish come to stay with the guys.  Everyone's ready to party, but strange things start happening in the house. Unbeknownst to them, the night before they arrived, their landlady was dragged down into the basement by something creepy.  And you just know the little dog that the girls bring with them doesn't stand a chance in that house.

I like 80s horror films and I've wanted to see this for years.  Yes, there are things that don't make sense, but it's still fun to watch.   There's not a lot of action or scares, but there is some tension and for most of the movie you're wondering what kind of monster is at the end of the crazy tentacles we keep seeing.

My biggest questions are why are there tunnels all over the town that run from the mine to everyones basement?  Once the mine was sealed off, why wouldn't the monsters just go through the tunnels into the houses?  Why doesn't the old guy tell everyone the mine was sealed for a reason rather than skulking around and trying to avoid those reopening the mine?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How to Be a Serial Killer (2008)

Mike is your typical motivational speaker promoting self help through a series of lessons. But what's different about Mike is he's a serial killer and he wants to teach you to become one as well.

Mike encounters the downtrodden Bart, a video store clerk, as Bart is being berated by an obnoxious customer.  Mike sees a perfect student to learn his skills, and takes Bart under his wing to teach him how to kill and not get caught.

On the surface, Mike appears to be a happy guy living a normal life. He's got a job, is an attention considerate boyfriend, and lives with his girlfriend Abigail.  But that's part of Mikes charm and method of blending in, since a happy girlfriend won't question things that might not make sense and will help provide the perfect cover.

Surprisingly Bart is on board with with Mike's offer as he's tired of being pushed around.  So the two start spending lots of time together so Bart can study his methods, learn the rules, and eventually start killing on his own.

This is a dark comedy which covers similar ground to Man Bites Dog.  Matthew Gray Gubler is perfectly cast as the emotionally injured and vulnerable Bart.  Part of the film is done documentary style where the characters talk to the camera as if they're being interviewed.  But unlike Man Bites Dog, this has a more comedic feel and is not as dark, violent, or disturbing.

Monday, May 5, 2014

State of Emergency (2011)

After a factory explosion releases toxic gas, people start getting sick and turn into zombies.  When the military is called in, they quarantine the town, trapping zombies and survivors within.

Jim, whose girlfriend perishes at the beginning of the film, manages to stay ahead of the zombies and hole up in an empty barn.  He learns of a few other survivors in a warehouse on the other side of the farm land and manages to get over there without getting grabbed by zombies.

There he meets three other survivors.  While the married couple are friendly, the unrelated teenage girl is antagonistic, doesn't lift a finger to help anyone, and screams at him for eating her candy bar. At this point, I was hoping they'd chuck her out the door.  They don't because they're nice people.  But good god, at least stop enabling her horrible behavior. Let her take care of herself.  She doesn't need to be a jerk, especially with the zombie apocalypse right outside their door.

The group stays downstairs in a huge warehouse, where they  sleep on cots.   Jim is told this is so they can have lights on, but since there are no windows they won't be seen.  That doesn't make a lot of sense since it's a huge empty warehouse where it's impossible to protect yourself if a zombie somehow gets inside. Also a generator is running the lights, so they're going through lots of gas, plus generators make noise and may attract zombies.  So why not use the smaller rooms upstairs that have windows? It's easier to defend and has light.

The movie is not chock full of zombies or blood, and there were a few points where I was hoping the pace would pick up, but overall I enjoyed it.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2 (2011)

Picking up several months after the first movie, a small group of survivors, including military and civilians, are holed up in an army base with a fence around it to keep the zombies out.  The survivors get word that there is a zombie free zone near the coast. Then someone does something stupid and the base is overrun causing the group to hastily decide to try to get to the coast and find the safe zone.  Cliched action ensues.

This isn't an enjoyable or interesting movie.  You won't care about any of the characters, and there are many unlikable people in this film.

Your Cover is not Unique

"Hey I've got a great idea for a cover....", apparently said by everyone.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Frankenstein's Army (2013)

During World War II, Russian soldiers trek into Nazi Germany accompanied by a filmmaker.  While attempting to find some other Russians in the area, they stumble across a small town where Dr. Frankenstein has a secret laboratory. They probably wouldn't have gone looking for the doctor if they'd known that Frankenstein was experimenting on corpses to make an army of  killer soldiers that is half reanimated man / half machine.

The creatures in the film are amazing. They are reanimated bodies with horrible attachments used for mutilation: a propellor head; a drill face; a clamp head (which continually clamps so it can crush others heads); scythe hands, etc.  Even better, these  creatures are not CGI, which makes them even creepier as they mount an assault on the Russian filmmaker and soldiers.

Now the bad news - other than the creatures, there's not any reason to watch this one.  There's no real plot. It's mostly just unlikable soldiers running around. Also while the creations are unnerving, it's mostly cheap scares since they're based on the camera swinging around while loud jarring noises are heard when the creatures attack.

This is a found footage film and since it was supposedly filmed in the 1940s, the sound of the film projector/camera is included.  For someone who is supposed to be a filmmaker, you'd expect the footage to be better.  The picture swings around all over the place so if you are prone to motion sickness, at times you'll feel a bit nauseous.  Also be prepared for Russian accents which come and go.

The creature with the propellor head.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

9 Deaths of the Ninja (1985)

When a group of tourists is kidnapped by crippled German drug lord Alby, who dotes on a monkey in a diaper, and the horribly named Honey Hump and her group of girls in camouflage short shorts, the government calls in one of the best anti-terrorist teams on the planet.  The team is comprised of Captain Spike Shinobi, Captain Steve Gordon, and Lt. Jennifer Barnes.  Yup, that's it. There's only three of them.

Shinobi is a master of disguise, was trained by a ninja master (but couldn't make the cut because he wasn't devoid of emotion), is skilled at hand to hand combat, is an expert in many weapons, and likes lollipops.  Gordon is completely unappealing even though he looks like a model due to his sleazy tendencies (which are supposed to be charming), and Barnes.... is a girl. Yeah, they're not the most useful teammates.

Sho Kosugi's sons, Kane and Shane, have roles in this film, with Shane getting the larger role where he has a chance to do some ass kicking of a few bad guys and shows some nice moves with the nunchucks.

When Alby demands the release of a doofus criminal and starts killing hostages, the government releases the large giggling oaf, who is tracked by our crack team led by Gordon, who promptly loses him. Luckily Shinobi is on the case and soon the team is back on track. But can they rescue the hostages before Alby takes his revenge or whatever the hell he's going to do now that his demands are met?  Or will Alby unleash the large idiot he released from jail who has already shown how evil he is by popping the balloons of some children?  Nooooo!

Sho Kosugi is one of my favorites, but this is not a very good movie.  There aren't many opportunities for him to show his ninja skills, and his partners are duds.  Even worse, his voice is dubbed.  No idea whether they thought his accent was hard to understand, or that they thought audiences wouldn't be able to handle someone with an Asian accent.  If it's the latter, it's made even more ridiculous when faced with Alby's strange German-esque accent and high pitched voice.

The title sequence is right out of a James Bond film with dancers and a slow theme song, but unfortunately both are lame. They need a better song and get rid of the dancers and just have Sho doing ninja moves.  Other James Bond similarities?  Vijay was in one of the Bond movies, and double entendre name of Honey Hump.  Sho Kosugi deserves much better.

Ridiculous dialogue:

Master - "A ninja does not allow himself to be swayed by emotion. You are not worthy."

Shinobi, undercover in a brothel - "I want a clean girl. No clap."
Madam - "Are you kidding? My girls are sterilized, sanitized and lobotomized."

Ninja Sho Kosugi rules, even though this movie is crap
The two useless members of the three man team
Low rent James Bond opening theme and title sequence
It's funny when little kids light a rapists ass on fire. 
Blackie Dammett aka the father of Anthony Kiedis
The Wilson tennis ball phone is an in joke-
Vijay used to be a professional tennis player. 
Trip wires work much better when they're at knee level.