Sunday, March 10, 2019

No one will like A Scene at the Sea (1991).

But I like it. Ok, I'm exaggerating. Some people might like it. The film is about surfing. I don't like surfing. Ok, I'm so-so on it. I love Point Break. But not because it has surfing in it. A Scene at the Sea is not really about surfing. It is and it isn't. It's about following your dream. Following your passion and never giving up. That's easy for me to relate to. That's my life. And I like Takeshi Kitano. He isn't in the movie. He's only the director on this one but his style is so evident. If you haven't seen the films he directed, you really should, and you should start at the beginning. Violent Cop is awesome and no one will think it's slow or boring but he doesn't repeat himself. By the time he gets to this movie or Hana-bi, he isn't interested so much in showing violence anymore or pacing. He's going to go at his own pace and do his own thing. Either you're with him or you're not. Seeing his progression, it all makes sense, and I really like his films. The main character in this movie is someone I can instantly get behind. He collects trash (a garbage man... I don't know why I'm putting this in parenthesis but I love parenthesis... I have a problem) and he never speaks. He's deaf and mute. His girl is always by his side. It's really a fantastic film. I didn't think I'd be so into it. I'm pretty stupid sometimes. But I was really taken by this movie.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Tom Hardy in a car.

That doesn't sound exciting but Locke (2013) is so damn good. It's crazy because the director's other film that year is a Jason Statham action flick with tons of locations, set pieces, characters, etc. yet this insanely simple one-guy-in-a-car film kills it hands down. I had heard of this movie before but didn't see it until recently. Big mistake. It's another one that's worthy of the hype. Why? The writing is phenomenal. Writers never get credit. Everyone thinks they can write. Wrong. Writing is one of the hardest parts of filmmaking. Try writing a feature-length script. If someone says they can write, ask them how many features they've written. You'll find the bullshit real soon. Locke immediately puts you into this guy's world, makes him sympathetic and fascinating (he fucked up but he's trying to make it right), and establishes the stakes. This is life or death for him. His whole world is about to come crumbling down but he's going to try to stop that from happening. Yes, of course, Tom Hardy gives an incredible performance that seems head-scratchily low key at first but then you realize that is brilliant because it gives him so many places to go. If he was at 10 the entire time, you'd be bored. You get to see his entire range of acting, and it is amazing, but I just want to emphasize the writing again. Great writing makes all the difference. The film never cuts away from him in the car. It never shows you anyone else. You only hear the voices of the other actors. I can't believe it works but it does. It really does. I actually feel like I could see everything that was transpiring. I feel like I saw the other actors but I didn't. That's how good it is. Remember Phone Booth? That used the trick of a guy with a sniper rifle to keep you engaged. There are no guns in this movie! None. No car crashes. No police. It's just one fuckin guy going through the biggest crisis of his life. I know how that sounds but it's better than Phone Booth. A million times better. It's personal. Everything is on the line, and somehow it even makes pouring concrete seem exciting. It's nuts. I love this movie. So yeah. Tom Hardy in a car. For an hour and a half. I know, I know, but it's really that good. See it. Now.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

One Cut of the Dead (2017) deserves the acclaim.

Some possible spoilers so watch it first before reading and try to watch it without knowing anything about it. It's easy to see why this film got so much attention. The passion and love for movies is evident in every frame. Plus, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but they literally show you how difficult it is to make what you take for granted at the beginning. You can see all their trials and tribulations, trying to create that one long take. Usually, you watch an indie and you have no clue how tough it was to get that footage onscreen. It's clever too the way it switches format (even genre) and still works. In fact, it works even better, adding another layer to what you already saw. It's really genius when it comes down to it. They thought this through big time and did their homework. This film has blown up as much as The Blair Witch Project, and I think it clearly earns that status so hats off to these guys. Definitely seek it out if you haven't yet. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mandy (2018) is quite wicked.

The lighting and atmosphere is fantastic. How could you not love those demonic bikers? Like some fucked up cenobites on wheels. "The Reaper is coming." Gotta love that. Nicholas Cage is a lot of fun in this. I especially love the fate of the big baddie at the end. So well done. I burst out laughing because I loved it so much. It was over the top and perfect. Some really great gore FX all around. Glad to see practical. Lighting is so critical to horror but too often it's overlooked. It can make or break everything. I heard about the Cheddar Goblin before. It's easy to see why that stole the spotlight. It's hilarious. The dark humor is pitch black but it's great. My sense of humor exactly. If anything, I wish there were more monsters, and I don't think you need the bad LSD explanation but probably some viewers will want that. You could've gone even more weird and I would've happily gone along. The style of the filmmaking is so engrossing. It really makes this movie unique and a joy to watch.

Monday, November 12, 2018

So I finally saw Oculus (2013) and...

I loved it especially that ending. I didn't think they'd go there, but they did. Damn. Takes guts to leave your audience like that. This is by far the best haunted object movie I've seen (I'm not counting Hellraiser or Evil Dead since those are more gateways to evil that don't focus on a *haunted* object whereas this is clearly about a *haunted* mirror... eh it's splitting hairs I guess but did ya see dem rabbits outside? big as trees I tell ya! they need splitting... with battle axes... ok maybe I'm a bit nuts). So yeah, the director refused to make this a found-footage movie even though that would've allowed him to finance it much earlier. You have to admire that. That is awesome, and this film is all the more amazing because of it. The writing and the way it jumps between timelines is brilliant. By the end, you realize how cunning the force in the mirror is and how many lives it has taken... it really is genius how everything unfolds. I saw Absentia before and liked it but this is just incredible.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018) is phenomenal.

Finally a new creature feature that actually delivers. Relying only on sign language and visual storytelling for so much of its runtime was a ballsy move: you're asking the audience to sit in near silence for long stretches. Sure, you get small sounds of people walking around, ambience, a fantastic score reminiscent of Sicario, etc. but some of your patrons are going to get antsy with no one talking and yet it's genius. Film is a visual medium and often the less dialogue, the better. Show, don't tell, is the old adage. The lack of people blabbing instantly puts you into the world of these characters where any sound could mean instant death and the opening quickly establishes these stakes. Whatever these monsters are, they're not fucking around. When a little space shuttle toy nearly comes crashing down to the floor, barely saved at the last second, the reactions on the faces of our protagonist tell you clearly how one little mistake like that could cost everyone their lives. It's phenomenal writing and such an amazing concept to create tension. You don't get any explanation for what the monsters are or where they came from and you don't need one. Those questions don't matter. It's all about survival. They use CGI for the creatures but even that is done very well and the monster design is so unique I can't fault them one bit. Everything works and what a great ending. I want to make films like this.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017) was a blast.

I enjoyed this way too much. I'm a huge fan of Frank Grillo ever since The Purge: Anarchy, and he gets a ton to do here plus you get Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian from The Raid battling these extraterrestrials with a nice dash of bloody brutality for good measure. What's not to love here? I was shocked this was the same writer as the first film because I really liked the characters a lot this time around. Truth to be told, I didn't hate Skyline. The FX were incredible. Yes, CGI but done at a professional level on a low budget (very low for Hollywood, impossible for indies) so even a practical FX junkie like myself has to admire that. It wasn't boring, heck I rather enjoyed it like if Roger Corman finally got some money (the alien designs looked great), but this sequel blows it out of the water. I was shocked at everything they did in this film and the amount of FX is staggering. Frank Grillo definitely owns this movie and you get some surprising deaths. I love how ruthless the aliens are, ripping out everyone's brains in gory gruesome fashion. That sounds ridiculous writing it but they completely won me over (yeah I'm probably not that hard to win over). Ok, the ending goes off the rails a bit maybe, well definitely, but still I had fun. Not sure I'd be down for another one. This felt like an overdose by the final scene but you have to give the writer/director a lot of credit. He came out swinging and did a hell of a job. Yes, I like Skyline 2. I admit it. It isn't Aliens by any stretch but I had a good time. Everybody has some guilty pleasures. Mine just happen to be a bloody dinosaur movie that rips off Aliens and the Punisher killing some cool-looking E.T.'s.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Turbo Kid (2015) rocks.

First off, Michael Ironside. That is always a plus but this film has so much imagination and heart I don't think you could resist it. Then they spray you with some over-the-top gore, chuck in a few laughs, and a little nostalgia with every kid's dream come true: a Power Glove that blows shit up. Hell yeah. So many post-apocalyptic movies are far too bleak and dour. You don't want to sit through them but this one makes the time fly. Of course, I enjoy depressing flicks sometimes but every once in a while, you need some bright colors or you can't appreciate the dark. Our heroes are sympathetic and interesting. The bad guys are a joy too. I didn't expect it to be so bloody but that is right up my alley. It's an odd duckling and that is why it's so charming. I can't believe this was a co-production between Canada and New Zealand. There is hope for us yet. If you're in the mood for a good time, put this on. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Destiny: The Tale of Kamakura (2017) is an enchanting, delightful surprise.

I really love the humor and imagination of this film. Most importantly, it has real stakes. It's easy to like the characters and get invested. The film is a bit long (over 2 hours) but the time passed quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My Japanese girlfriend suggested this to me. I'm glad she did too. Otherwise, I never would've known about it, and it's not a film I'd normally pick to watch, which is more my mistake than anything. The poster makes it look a bit like fluffy nonsense but it's not at all. The CGI is pretty good but the story, creativity, performances, and heart really are what make it special. The actress is charming, and I like all the creatures constantly popping up. You get your Mos Eisley scene with a colorful showcase of spirit dealers. My favorite character had to be the Binbogami whose purpose is to bring bad luck to those he haunts but his reaction to the wife is priceless and such a moving part of the film. It's worth watching solely for that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Never heard of Intruders (2015) but it is so astonishingly good I can't believe it.

Alright full disclosure: I got this confused with that Clive Owen Intruders movie (by the director of 28 Weeks Later released in 2011). In other words, I'm an idiot, but damn, this newer 2015 film was fantastic. I only read a really brief synopsis before watching it so I was shocked at what unfolded. I can't believe some people didn't like it. It only has a 5.7 rating on IMDb but I would easily put it at a 7 or 8. That said, don't read any spoilers or watch a trailer. Just like most movies, it's best to go in with a blank state (they give way too much away these days). One thing is for sure: you have to admire the actress. Her range is incredible, and the storytelling was perfectly executed. You get sympathetic characters that hook you from the start and a compelling beginning that turns everything on its head. This reminded me of Don't Breathe, which was another single-location thriller I really liked. I'm still curious though if that Clive Owen flick is worth watching.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Natural City (2003) is great Korean sci-fi.

I had seen the DVD cover to this but never checked it out, figuring it couldn't possibly be as good as the insane praise on the cover. "A modern Blade Runner" is pretty damn hard to live up to but I have to say I wasn't disappointed. Like a live action Japanese anime, this has gore, futuristic soldiers with guns, cyborgs, fantastic set design, ample rain and smoke, etc. I'm amazed they were able to pull this off. The lead actor is excellent with his conflicted feelings driving the narrative (you'll recognize him as the antagonist from Oldboy). If you're at all curious, I suggest going in spoiler free without reading anything so you should stop here because I'm going to give some crappy semblance of the story. R, our badass main man, used to be one of the best Military Police until he fell in love with a machine whose expiration date keeps inching closer while he tries to get enough cash to save her and avoid his suspicious boss who also happens to be his best friend. If that's not complex enough, another girl enters the picture and there's more to it than that once you find out the truth about the big bad cyborg shooting the place up. Needless to say, it's awesome and you even get some Robocop-esque squibs from time to time. Ok not quite ED-209 boardroom massacre size but definitely nice and bloody. Sure, there's some CGI that could be better but I don't think it's bad and you get some nice practical too. If you like Korean cinema or interesting bloody sci-fi, this is a gem waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cure (1997) is brilliant.

If you never heard of this Japanese horror movie, you should check it out right away. It reminds me of Seven although Angel Dust is a more apt comparison but I saw the latter afterwards. The acting and cinematography is fantastic. You'll see imagery that won't make sense until later but I think it all clearly adds up in the end. Some might take issue with the plausibility of some aspects. Pay close attention though. The film gave plenty of justification to how this could be possible so I don't have any problem buying into it. I love these kinds of detective stories particularly when they are unaware of the real threat. It makes you want to scream at the screen but of course, our lead would have no idea the trap he is so carelessly walking into, which to me, is partly what makes it so effective. We would all stumble into that same dark jail cell without realizing what had happened until it was too late. Here comes some spoilers so stop reading if you haven't seen it yet. I thought a lot about Fallen after this but Cure is so much more clever and subtle in its mesmerizing execution. They're very similar but one is like a lunatic barking at cars in the street while the other lurks in the shadows, waiting for you to draw near. In film, the execution is everything. You could have the best script in the world, the best story, the best idea, but if your actors suck or the cinematography is terrible, if the music doesn't fit or the sound is wretched, it's all for nothing. You need that good script too though. That's why film is so challenging. All the pieces really have to come together, and I think that's clearly the case with Cure.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Werewolf in a Women's Prison (2006) is tons of fun.

I really loved this one. It's extremely gory with a pretty cool werewolf (ok sometimes it doesn't look great but other times it does... kinda like a lot of werewolf movies). The shining red eyes are awesome, and you get plenty of nudity. If you couldn't tell from the title, it's an exploitation film. Sure, the budget was clearly low and the cinematography leaves a lot to be desired (kinda looks like it was shot on a DVX), but it's entertaining as hell, the lead lady is very lovely, and the practical FX are damn good for this level of production. They kept the story and characters simple, sending up both women in prison movies and werewolf flicks. It's a unique combination that works surprisingly well. You know Hollywood would never have the guts to do this. The fact they could pull this off at all on such a tiny budget is a miracle that should be applauded. If you enjoyed this, I suggest you track down a little indie called PMS Cop. It's another great one.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Revenant (2009) is hilarious and awesome.

No, it isn't the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Yes, I love that film too. This is an indie horror flick, and it's badass. Ignore the DVD cover. That made me not want to watch it... looks like glossy photoshopped crap but the actual movie rocks. It reminds of The Boondock Saints except better and all horror. I don't want to spoil anything but it's a very unique take on a certain subgenre pre-Dracula. I hadn't heard of it either but it blew people away at festivals and it's a ton of fun. Great black humor, cool FX, kickass story, and where it ends up is nuts. I guess it's more like Dead Heat but again it's in a league of its own. This is really the type of indie horror we should support. Can't wait to see what the writer/director does next, and I'm so glad I bought this. Very thankful to the other director that recommended it to me. I don't know how I missed this but that shows you good films really can slip through the cracks these days. I suppose me being overseas didn't help.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)

Prepare for a lot of cameos in this one: Kane Hodder (Jason! Hell yes!), Fred Williamson (From Dusk Till Dawn!), and David Carradine. Plus, Eva Mendes in one of her first film roles. I think it's obvious this sequel was made by a horror fan but it didn't do much for me unfortunately. It has that same generic setup of some college kids who take a wrong turn and end up in Slasherland. The main evil child isn't believable at all. You hate him immediately (and not in a good way). The cameos are nice and do help it a bit but it's pretty dull. There is a grain silo with flames coming out of it, which I guess is their version of the corn monster, but it's disappointing. Typical cult thing except Carradine's character is used as their puppet spokesperson. These Children of the Corn sequels are pretty forgettable. It's just crazy they made so many of them, and I have to be nuts for watching them. We really need another Friday the 13th. Just have fun with it and don't take it so seriously.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: The Unnamable Returns (1992)

HP Lovecraft films are pretty rare (thank you Stuart Gordon!) much less a sequel to an HP Lovecraft movie but that's what we got here and the real kicker: I think it's better than the original. I know... the horde is coming to get me as I write such unbelievable blasphemy, but alas, it is true. I didn't even want to watch this but I was so shocked to discover there was a part two to The Unnamable that I couldn't help myself. It's like finding out there are five Silent Night, Deadly Night movies... what?!?! How could they possibly make so many? Never mind that, it's crazy sequel time! The Unnamable II picks up right where the first film ended, and immediately, I would say it is far more interesting with better characters, writing, directing, etc. Sallah from Indiana Jones is even in it! You get a lot more of the monster too and more kills, bloodshed, etc. It's more entertaining than the original, which I barely remember except for the end, and the story is extremely different. I was genuinely surprised and a bit saddened by the conclusion of part two whereas the first film didn't even register.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: Alligator II: The Mutation (1991)

This is such a strange sequel. The main character is also named David like our hero in the first one but different actor, they add a last name, give him a wife and son, etc. He's clearly not the same guy. Both are cops though but this film has no references at all to the events in the original movie. If he was the same fella, he'd remember he was attacked by a giant alligator before, right? I don't think that's something you forget. So it's basically a crappy remake. Ok crappy is a little harsh but it's nowhere near as good as the first film. I was really surprised Alligator was so good. That gave me (admittedly foolish) high hopes for this follow up. I wonder why they chose to ignore the first picture. I do like Steve Railsback (Lifeforce!) and of course Dee Wallace but the charm and intellect is gone. Yes, I thought the original was smart for a giant alligator flick. I was hoping with the sequel's subtitle, they'd make the creature into more of a monster but no dice. I like the alligator rampaging through the carnival, and *spoilers* *spoilers* *don't read past this* the death of Railsback's big baddie Vinnie. That was a fitting demise. *end spoilers* But pretty much everything in this was done better in the first film, and it's pretty dang odd for a sequel to not reference the original in any shape or form at all especially when the first Alligator was actually really good. Robert Forster is sadly missed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering (1996)

Well, you get Naomi Watts this time in one of her very early roles. Does that help? Not really. She plays an assistant to a local doctor. A job she gets when coming home to visit her ill mother. They show how all these regular children get sick at the same time (fevers for everybody!). After which, they become the titular corn kids (could you imagine that awful title? please don't but how about the prequel Corn Babies... I know, I know, cinematic gold... trust me). This entry feels quite slow and boring. They must have taken the budget down to zero. You get absolutely no corn monster. People give number three a lot of crap but man that movie goes bugnuts monster massacre in the last 30 min and it is awesome. I had no idea how spoiled I was until I watched this. Number two is definitely the best sequel so far with three being super close due to the finale alone but I'm afraid it's all downhill from here (maybe five is better? hope so... I'm a sucker I know). This film feels like an unnecessary tedious origin story. Almost like a prequel to the original even though it isn't. I guess it's attempting to inject more drama and suspense but I don't think any of it works. A low-grade sequel like this should at least be fun and good grief, I want my corn monster! Sorry, "he who walks behind the rows." One of the dang kids is supposed to be "he who walks behind the rows" here... ugh. You don't even get the bowling ball rolling underneath the ground. Zip. Zilch. The doctor does get cut in half... alright. Apparently, the doctor's office is haunted by the evil corn kids because they randomly kill Naomi's friend there too. But this movie is seriously lacking in every department. Did the people making this watch the other films? The audience is light years ahead from the very beginning, which is a horrible idea. It makes your film immediately boring like it opens with the mom's dream or future prediction of some evil kids coming. Whatever. We already know that's going to happen. Quit wasting our time. Ah who am I kidding? Clearly I have some time to waste if I'm watching this :) Did I just type a smiley emoji? Did I just type "emoji?" Oh please God, kill me. Kill me now. What have I done? What demons hath the internet spawned.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Indie Horror You Should Watch

If you haven't seen these, I highly recommend you check them out ASAP. First up, Schoolgirl Apocalypse. It's cool as hell. Very original post-apocalyptic scenario with only the men being infected, excellent directing and action, etc. It deserves a lot more love and attention. Second, End of the Line. Maurice Devereaux should already be a household name. The guy self finances all his own films. Think about that for a second. He put $200,000 of his own money to make this flick. That alone takes guts but it's a damn good movie too. I also love Slashers. You gotta see his work. Third, The Human Race. I don't know why people are being jerks on IMDb but this is another fantastic tiny-budget indie. It takes risks Hollywood would never dream of and they all pay off in spades. Last but not least, The Demon's Rook. Awesome practical FX labor of love. Cool monsters and a fun time. I really wish these guys would make more films. So please support their stuff. Believe me, it's worth it.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Review: Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest (1995)

Correction: they definitely show the corn monster in number three. Excuse me "he who walks behind the rows." Corn monster doesn't sound nearly as cool. This film is sadly weaker than part two. The opening makes you wonder if your brain gave up and forgot the second one because there's no continuity. All of a sudden you get two new kids in a cornfield with a drunken abusive father... ok. I had to double check and make sure both Joshua and Eli are new characters. Yep, they are. This sequel is very so-so until about the last ten or twenty minutes. Then it just goes nuts. You get an ugly huge latex beast that resembles the mutated dog in The Thing if it had been accidentally crushed by the prop guy. I love it, and the body count goes through the roof. All of a sudden, you get corn tentacles flying between a girl's legs (WTF), tentacles using sickles to hack people up, a guy getting hung to death by a tentacle (it's a sight to see), etc. Talk about a frenzy of blood and death. More than makes up for what came before, and it's funny too because you think the movie is over when all this insanity explodes onscreen. Genius ending but you know they're going to completely ignore the last teaser of the corn going worldwide. I'm quite certain the next one isn't set overseas. By the way, I have to mention the absolutely brutal demise we get for Malcom. Why does this poor guy have to be so eviscerated? I mean damn. He was a good sympathetic character and they make his death so gruesome like they just had to top Predator with the ultimate nasty spinal fatality. Geez. Couldn't Eli go out that way? That kid got annoying fast and I thought the demonic brat in two was tiresome. At least, they showed Micah getting possessed like he had a little extra dimension to him but this kid is too young and baby faced to be in charge. And what was with his outlandish fireball power? Eh whatever it's always going to be hard to pull off an evil kid. Done right like The Exorcist and it's unnerving (Dick Smith's phenomenal makeup went a long way though) but if it's done wrong, laugh-out-loud cheesy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: Children of the Corn II: The Final Sacrifice (1992)

I love how the *second* film in the series already has the word "final" in its title. Talk about calling the game early. I can't explain it but I have a strange fascination with these bad Children of the Corn sequels. Mostly, I think I'm a sucker for the monster hiding in the corn at the end that they pretty much never show. "He who walks behind the rows." Sounds cool, and they do The Thing trick where you have something moving under the ground (I wonder if they also pulled a bowling ball beneath the surface). I would argue there actually are some good things in this movie. You get some nice gory deaths like the glasses guy bleeding out of every orifice on his face during the church sermon. Ned Romero who plays Frank Redbear, the Native American professor, is a fantastic actor, and despite the unnecessary cliche coda with him (good intent but a little hokey), he pretty much steals the show. I love the clever bit of dialogue where he says the earth isn't in balance then the reporter asks him if that's what happened in Gatlin. Heck no, those kids went psycho and murdered their parents! Not an exact quote but it's a hilarious little moment. The young girl in it is pretty and they give her a silly showering-under-a-waterfall scene so you can get the obligatory swimsuit shots (hey gotta keep that male audience interested). The acting really isn't that bad although the evil leader of the kids could be better at times but what do you expect? I do actually like the dad and son characters. Even the lady in charge of their bed and breakfast is charming. Hard to believe a simple short story from Stephen King would go on to spawn so many sequels but I guess it's not that surprising in Hollywood. This is probably the best of the sequels but I just bought the 6-film collection so I can dig through all the rest to make sure (I'm a glutton for punishment). I've seen some of them before but they all kinda blend together (and the result ain't pretty). For some odd reason, I thought Redbear was in the first film too but I was wrong. Shows you what I know.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Here is a fun exploitation flick overflowing with style and energy. The girls all have a ton of screen presence, and the story makes you anxious what will happen next because you know things could go off the rails at any moment. Supposedly made for a budget of only $45,000, I would argue every penny is up on the screen. The music is catchy too, setting an irresistible tone. Of course, they're not taking themselves seriously with this so neither should we. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I've seen quite a few movies lately but none had this much spirit. I wish we'd get more movies like this nowadays. All our micro-budget indies seem to be way too dour. I'm sure there must be some lighter ones but doesn't seem like we get fun exploitation like this anymore. Deathgasm was pretty awesome although more horror than this but both have tons of charm.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Cube sequels are pretty good.

I wasn't expecting a whole lot. I loved the first film but didn't get around to Hypercube or Cube Zero until recently. I had heard the sequel didn't have traps but it seemed to me like it did. They were just done differently with these expanding killer prisms and this other lawnmower cube blade thingy but I still felt it had plenty of tension while being quite creative. Cube is a masterpiece you won't top, but as far as sequels go, they did a good job. This robot eye makeup on a higher up in the third film bugged me a bit since it doesn't look very convincing but all the stories are unique and interesting with good twists by the end. Heck, I actually wish they made more since this concept seems like it could keep going with pretty reliable results. Getting more of a peak behind the curtain in the third one was fascinating. You really do wonder about the people in charge making these cubes, and Cube Zero seems to set the whole series in a dystopian future. Of course, I'd rather have original films than tons of sequels, but if they're going to pump them out anyway (and you know they will), this is one horror franchise I thought actually had legs whereas some seem stretched far behind their limits (back 2 tha hood? holy cow, they've made 7 freakin Leprechaun movies now! geez). Did I mention I have a strange obsession with Children of the Corn sequels? No idea why. Yeah, I'm weird. The end boss, the monster in the corn, "he who walks behind the rows," some crap like that, always seemed cool to me. Alright, I'm incriminating myself at an alarming rate. Twilight sucks! There we go. We all on the same page now? Don't look over here. Nobody is behind the curtain.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Surprisingly, I love Alien: Covenant.

I was very mixed on Prometheus. The guy who maps the ship gets lost in it? The supposedly super smart scientists decide to throw caution to the wind and remove their helmets? Gee, why don't I pet the Alien cobra? He is her father... uhm so? This isn't Empire Strikes Back. In fact, I didn't even want to see Covenant. I figured I'd never see another good Alien movie again. Well, I'm happy to admit I was wrong, but I have to say I'm shocked at all the negativity surrounding this film. Whether I wanted to or not, I read everything people said about it beforehand and yet despite all that, I still liked it. A lot. To me, it's a billion times better than Prometheus, which again is not a high compliment since I hated the stupid characters in that one (and why didn't they leave in the deleted scene of the engineer speaking at the end?) but damn Ridley Scott got me. I did end up liking the characters in this, Fassbender was phenomenal, and the script made sense. Someone said there was a 5-minute flute scene, and like any rational person, I thought, "Damn, that sounds bad." Yet said scene has two Fassbenders in it, doesn't feel long at all, and is actually quite interesting since there's more going on than just learning the flute.

Gonna have to wade into spoiler territory here so stop reading now if you haven't seen it, but I don't understand why some are complaining Ridley screwed up the mythology with this one. Uhm, he did that already with Prometheus by saying the Space Jockey was just a stupid suit. The engineers still created the black goo. David simply refines it. Why is that bad? Sure, the gestation period is very short but David has been tinkering with his specimen a ton and I don't think we can assume the eggs in the first Alien film's Derelict Ship came from this same strain. Plus, from a practical point of view, no one these days would put up with Alien's deliberate, labored pace and AvP already jacked up the gestation time. Anyway, I love David playing creator, his great interactions with Walter, and I ended up liking Daniels and Tennessee a lot too. The Neomorph was fantastic. Same with the classic Xenomorph. I guess they painted over the practical FX with CGI, which I hate, but it looked quite good. I don't know why they needed to have practical built then in the first place unless they wanted to help the CG artists by having a real model to build off but I hope they warned the poor practical FX guys they were going to do that. Regardless, I loved it. Sometimes, the characters might make questionable decisions but they're not supposed to be super scientists in this one and they all seem realistic given how the android is meant to be their protector, they're in high stress situations, etc. People seem to be nitpicking the hell out of it and making little things seem all encompassing when they're not. At all. My dad called it, "Boring." What the heck. I was never bored in the slightest. At the beginning, I was still skeptical (listen for the music though... seems quite a few missed that) but it won me over big time. My buddy and I are both huge Aliens fans and we loved it. Now I hope Scott gets to finish this series of films but the poor box office worries me.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016) is astonishingly awful thanks to the rancid editing.

Like most who played the original Resident Evil games, I wanted a film series closer to that (really curious how Romero's adaptation would've panned out), but Paul W.S. Anderson's efforts held a certain guilty charm. At least, some of them. Well, I hate to admit his latest, and supposedly final, sequel suffers from some of the worst A.D.D. editing you'll ever see. It ruins the entire thing. It's cut so fast you can't tell what's happening, you can't enjoy anything, and you get a headache trying to decipher what the fuck is going on. It's a shame. I never want to root for a filmmaker to fail. Making any movie is a crazy shit ton of work. Try it. You'll see. Sure, it's easy to watch a film and say, "This sucks! A mutated baby ant could do better!" But actually making one, and making a good one, is insanely-difficult, grueling work. It ain't fun. Ok, sometimes, it's fun, even a lot of fun, but it's still hard work. If you don't believe me, try it. I love making movies (in my tiny little nobody indie world) and I ain't complaining at all but way too many people think filmmaking is easy. They think you can magically do whatever you want without any limitations. What a fairy tale, and the higher your budget, the more strings attached aka more pressure, more outside interference, more likely something is going to get screwed up, etc. etc. Heck, your own ego can easily derail you. Making a movie is like navigating a minefield from hell especially in Hollywood. Just watch the documentary A Foreign Filmmaker's Guide to Hollywood. Oh wait, you can't since gee, big surprise, it hasn't been released in America. Ok, end rant. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. I wanted this to be good. Iain Glen is back. An extraordinary actor who doesn't get nearly enough roles worthy of his talent. I like Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element!). Paul W.S. Anderson has done films I'm extremely fond of such as Event Horizon, Soldier (Kurt Russell!), Mortal Kombat (eh, sure it wasn't R-rated, and I can't rewatch it, but it was good at the time! great music!), etc. Well, one question: what the hell happened with the editing? Seriously, it ain't bad. It's hideous. It's migraine inducing pain. Pain pretty much sums it all up. It's like they don't want you to see anything. It's impossible to believe this is the same filmmaker who made Resident Evil: Afterlife (one I actually quite liked). Did the studio kidnap the film and butcher it or what? Why, oh why, did they cut it like this? And yes, finally got back access to my blog. I'm sure you're thrilled. Blogger support is a non-existent joke (it sucks ass).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Assassination Classroom: Graduation (2016)

I had no clue about this movie. I just happened to select it on a flight since I noticed other passengers watching it and got curious. In doing a few seconds of research, I can see it's based on an anime and apparently this is already the second live-action film. Regardless of all that and my complete ignorance, I enjoyed this film a lot. Japan has gotten a lot better at CGI and the FX in this production are extremely well done. For example, I tried to watch the live-action Death Note they made a while back, but wow, it was bad. The CGI was awful, and when one of your lead characters depends on that, it can easily sink the whole thing. But if you saw the live-action Parasyte movies, the live-action Attack on Titan, or the new Shin Godzilla, you can see they're getting a lot better (ok, Shin Godzilla isn't the best example since some of the early CGI in it is quite bad but the later stuff is better). I'm not a big fan of giving plot summaries but Assassination Classroom: Graduation deals with a bunch of misfit students training to be assassins who need to graduate by killing their instructor, a strange yellow creature made in a lab who was once human. It's kinda nuts but it's a lot of fun and very original with some surprising emotion. Now the poster to the side here makes me want to gouge my eyes out but don't judge it based on that. If you want to see something different that's totally outside your wheelhouse, here you go. Just ignore the hideously lame poster.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Invisible Man (1933) is truly magnificent.

I love watching the classic Universal horror movies. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't see all of them until recently but there is something so wonderful and pure about that era of horror. Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Claude Rains, etc. must all be celebrated for decades to come. Their work is truly extraordinary and unforgettable. In particular for this specific post, I have to single out Claude Rains. After seeing The Invisible Man (1933) and Phantom of the Opera (1943) almost back to back, you can't deny his brilliance, not that you can deny any of these gentlemen their remarkable achievements but I really enjoy Claude Rains's portrayal of both classic characters. I just hope such films and actors are not lost on future generations. Not long ago, I heard someone tell me their friend won't watch any films made before the year 2000. I can't believe that. I'm sure as that individual gets older, they will discover more and more movies from before their time (or at least I pray so) but still that statement shocks me. You'd be missing out on so many amazing films, and to think someone would consider the '80s too old is beyond depressing to me. If you have to label something "old" and I would much rather not, have the decency to go back to the 1920s when cinema was just beginning but even then you're ignoring almost all of the history of the world. Anyway, excuse my rant. I just love these films and hope others will always continue to embrace them. It'd be a dreary world without them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

That was a bit weird. I expected as much but the sexual stuff is definitely odd. Of course, when you see a lot of Japanese films particularly the underground genre ones, that shouldn't be a big surprise either. I still have to say I liked the film because it's extremely unique. I'm not a fan of shaky cam but this director just has his own special style that I think works. It's very high energy and you can see the passion behind it like the whole thing is about to explode with the main character's madness. It's really a crazy art-house kinda film I would say. There is even stop motion with the actors to make the robots, or I should call them more androids I guess since they seem to be part human and part machine, run extremely fast through their environments. It's obviously quite unlike anything the West has produced as far as these kind of robot movies. It feels very gritty and grimy, more akin to the ugly conditions of early factories and the industrial revolution than modern technological advancements (and that was clearly the filmmaker's intent with the opening shots of industrial ruin). Cyberpunk is the word my stupid brain failed to recall. I can't think of too many cyberpunk movies that really fit that term so well and actually won me over but this is one for sure. The closest thing this reminds me of is Hardware but that movie was more of a disappointment to me although I probably saw it when I was too young to appreciate its eccentricities (the design of the robot's ugly unwieldy body still bothers me... Cameron spoiled me with the T-800's incredible endoskeleton).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Review: Shin Godzilla / Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

I just got to see this in Singapore (luckily, English is one of the four official languages here so it had English subtitles), and I was blown away. No spoilers, but I think Godzilla fans will be pleased. I certainly was, and then some. There is rather crude CGI at the beginning when you first see Godzilla's tail and his initial appearance leaves a lot to be desired (neat ideas but bad CGI). Filmmakers should really know by now that if you can't do very good CGI, at least don't show it up close. Keep it at a distance and it'll look a lot better (plus, you could maintain more mystery of what it really looks like). The FX improve drastically as the film progresses though, and you get some really awe-inspiring shots of the King of Monsters particularly when he is wreaking havoc on Tokyo at night while glowing red from his radiation scars.

This Godzilla film doesn't shy away from human casualties like its recent American counterpart. In Gareth Edwards's movie, Godzilla crushes tons of buildings especially in the climatic fight with the MUTOs and you know some people were still inside them but you never see any of that. At the end of the American film, Godzilla strolls back out to sea, but if you think about it, he has to be stomping on some poor bastards on his way out. Shin Godzilla isn't quite as hardcore as the 1954 original when a doctor waves a Geiger counter over a group of children and shakes his head in a haunting display of brutal reality, but it's close. Real close, and I love how Shin Godzilla doesn't gloss over the radiation danger either. Being anywhere near Godzilla would most likely be lethal unless you had a serious radiation suit on (people near him actually wear them in this film and keep them on).

You might have heard Shin Godzilla is basically a metaphor for the recent Fukushima disaster and specifically how poorly handled it was by the authorities. Well, that is abundantly clear in the movie so no spoilers there. Some may knock the dialogue scenes, but they're done very realistically the way you could imagine the government responding to such a crisis, and there is plenty of camera movement with unique angles to keep it speeding along.

What surprised me is how mature this movie is. That probably sounds odd given this is a Godzilla movie and few except the original could warrant such a statement but they really illustrate the complex relationship between the US and Japanese governments. Sure, the Japanese actress playing the US negotiator is a bit tiring at times given how she was supposed to have been born in America to a Japanese grandmother who saw the nuclear bombs we dropped firsthand but the pretty young actress struggles a lot with her English (and her American swagger). It's obvious she isn't a native speaker despite that being what the story calls for although finding a native speaker of both Japanese and English must be difficult (not to mention, she has to be a good actress and the right age as well). No movie is perfect (a reviewer admits this? impossible I know).


Shin Godzilla almost seems like it was made by people outside Japan. Again, maybe a strange sentiment to some but this film isn't afraid to lambaste its own government. Heck, it even criticizes how Japanese interactions are too rigid and formal with hierarchy being too controlling. Characters get pissed because of all the bureaucratic nonsense and how nothing gets done until it's too late. A key plot point is bringing together a group of Japanese who aren't afraid to speak up and challenge authority so they can actually get shit done. The lead guy blatantly tells them to ignore rank and hierarchy. It's refreshing, and the US is criticized too, but you also have agents of the US like the Japanese American girl doing good behind the scenes as well so it's not some silly one-dimensional portrait of our governments. I never expected depth like that in a Godzilla film, and there are times when you think they're just knocking the US, but then they turn it around or show a counterpoint.

You get to see quite a bit of Japanese culture too. Sure, it's all probably extremely obvious to anyone who knows anything about Japan but still it's neat to see those interesting, self-reflective touches in a Godzilla film, and they're not all rosy either. You see how they will work themselves to death (not literally in the movie but in real life, they have a word for death by overworking), fall asleep in their office chairs, bow to authority even if it's clueless and incompetent, etc.

Alright, stop babbling and tell me if it has some good Godzilla action. Yes, absolutely. I won't get specific but Godzilla's atomic breath is fuckin amazing. It makes Legendary's attempt seem quaint and cute in comparison. I should stop giving the American movie such a hard time. I liked it ok (Bryan Cranston should've been in the damn movie more) and it was a colossal improvement over the dreadful, cinematic pain formerly known as Roland Emmerich's 1998 Godzilla abomination. Let's never speak of that travesty again but pretty much anything would look good next to that. Shin Godzilla is far superior in my mind, and it dares to try new things while honoring what came before (like all the best classic Godzilla music in the end credits, which made me so glad to stay to the end, and some in the film too of course).

I just love how dark Shin Godzilla is. They do have a bad misstep with a rock song weirdly inserted at one point but for all its faults (and again, every film has them), this movie delivers. They got so much more right than the few things they missed. The look of the new Godzilla is badass. He's a true monster, but more than that, this is a serious Godzilla film with real weight and consequences. Someone put some real thought behind it, and I'm not that surprised considering how awesome Evangelion is. Hideaki Anno, you rule. I have no clue how they're going to follow this one up. Will there be a direct sequel or semi-reboot? Either way, I'm in. Let's see whether the US or Japanese sequel is better. Dang, we are spoiled now.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Men in Suits (2012)

This is a fantastic documentary about a little-known and underappreciated aspect of practical effects: suit performers aka the poor bastards suffering miserably inside those wonderful monster costumes for your entertainment. I especially love hearing about the guys who wore the Godzilla suit. Holy freakin cow... one guy had his groin burned AND he kept filming! Can you imagine? Talk about dedication to your craft. That's pretty much inhuman and cruel beyond words but you can't have anything except admiration and respect for the man. Sadly, it seems this documentary came and went without much fanfare. It got funded on Kickstarter then a DVD release but now their website is gone and you can't find the DVD anymore except for some jackass selling it for $100 on Amazon (unless it's the maker of the documentary and then hey you can sell it for however much you want! you rule!). Anyway, luckily, there is an alternative for folks without an endless supply of greenbacks. You can get a digital download of it here for only $8.99. It's only standard def (not even 720p) but still it's an amazing documentary. I love things like this. I just love practical effects and everything related to them. FX guys, particularly those you never heard of doing the grunt work under famous ones like Stan Winston, are the unsung heroes of the film industry (along with screenwriters who get shit on more than anybody).
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