Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Caged Heat (1974) is an interesting start to Jonathan Demme's long career.

Watching this I don't think you could ever predict this director would go on to do The Silence of the Lambs but there are also a ton of features separating the two so I shouldn't be so surprised. Even as someone who enjoys films like this, I had trouble getting into this one. I prefer The Big Bird Cage or Prison Heat but what do I know? I like Werewolf in a Women's Prison so you definitely shouldn't listen to me. What a strange subgenre this is. I think I might be brain dead because this was pretty dull to me. The synopsis made it sound exciting but so many of these women in prison films seem identical with almost the exact same plot. No worries if you enjoy this film. I just struggled with it but I was still very glad to see Demme's first feature. First films of famous directors are always so fascinating even if they're lackluster since you can see how very far they came. You have to put in the work and work really hard then work more and more and more.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Terrifier 2 (2022) is a huge win for uncut indie horror.

The fact this got into theaters uncut, made a bunch of money as an extreme anti-Hollywood slasher, and kept growing is just phenomenal. I really liked the first Terrifier and I loved the sequel even more. Art the Clown is so much fun, and I love how he never talks, he uses guns, etc. He's just a perfect unpredictable psychopath, and Sienna is an awesome final girl. I like how the film is over 2 hours long. It gives you a lot more time with these characters and makes it even more unconventional as a slasher. I was just so happy by the end. It's really a huge achievement for indie horror and practical FX in so many different ways. The Little Pale Girl is an excellent addition to the mayhem and I can't wait to see the next film. It makes me want to come up with a new horror icon but that's much easier said than done. The director was very smart the way he differentiated his killer clown from Pennywise. Art is a brilliantly twisted invention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1983) comes up short.

I always remember seeing the poster for this but the film itself is fairly boring unfortunately. No great slasher icon in this. Just an old lady with a sickle. Yeah... so scary. Even the kills are pretty dull. A lady gets her face slashed. Another guy is stabbed in the chest. One dude is bitten by a snake. Oh boy, can you get just a little exciting? Slasher fans will be snoring. No nudity. No great gore. No suspense really. I like how one character was just lying about owning Columbia Records but they needed to do something a lot more original and inventive or at least go gory and sleazy like Pieces. This film is just forgettable. Adding "Massacre" to the title was a clever way to get people to watch but they're all going to leave disappointed when said massacre never transpires. Definitely a lot better films out there to spend your time on. I love 80s horror but this a very poor example. Nothing memorable at all really, which is a shame. The opening is ok I guess.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996) is ridiculous fun.

I don't know how anyone could ever take this movie seriously. First of all, it's the Leprechaun series. I don't think it's possible for it to jump the shark. Go nuts. Do the craziest thing you can think of. Why not? Let's just have a blast. Leprechaun 3 was surprisingly pretty good so I was glad to see the same director back for another sequel but I was worried by the low IMDb rating. How very stupid of me. You should always see stuff yourself. You can tell watching this film that the director and writer are big fans of Aliens. You kind of get your Queen Alien, you got your low-rent space marines, etc. I thought it was very entertaining for what it is. A super sized Leprechaun? An alien space lady who just looks like a hot human girl with more makeup? Sure, go for it. Complaining about this would be like complaining about McDonald's. You should know what you're getting. It's obvious just by the title. I hope Darren Lynn Bousman gets to make his sequel, and I hope it's insane.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

I couldn't get enough of Grizzly (1976).

Yes, it's clearly aping Jaws but I enjoyed this film so much. I already want to watch it again, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the charming characters and actors or the brutal violence but this was so entertaining. You really can't predict who will die next, and that is a huge part of it I think. The relationships also feel quite real. Some characters you're certain will make it end up in the meat grinder that they call a bear. Of course, I don't think it's realistic at all but it doesn't matter. Bears can be extremely dangerous and cause some gruesome deaths (you definitely don't want to run into one in real life) but this thing seems like a furry Terminator. Just look at that tagline on the poster: "18 feet of gut-crunching, man-eating terror!" That is brilliant and boy howdy does it deliver. I know one thing for certain: if I read that tagline, I'd have to see this movie but usually you'd end up regretting that decision. Well, not in this case.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Day of the Beast (1995) is full of dark humor.

This film is really funny at times but pitch black. If you want to see a priest doing awful things because he needs to get on Satan's side to stop the birth of the Antichrist (quite twisted logic), this is your movie. I wouldn't be surprised if the director got death threats but it's just a movie and it's quite good. I can see it being controversial though, which is why the director should be applauded even more. Shudder had it under their Essentials category and you can see why. Some FX don't quite hold up but they're still impressive really and you get everything you're promised on that poster so I was happy there. I think horror fans will certainly like this film and it earns the 7.3 rating on IMDb. It's a fun unique horror comedy that subverts expectations very well. Spoiler alert but I like how the very beautiful girl who dresses all sexy is actually a virgin and the ending goes all out in the best ways so you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Xtro 3: Watch the Skies (1995) is kind of a train wreck.

Like Xtro 2, which just ripped off Aliens in a pretty lousy way, the third film in this shouldn't-be-a-series really isn't doing it any favors. My brain is already expelling the memories like some strange contagion. I can't believe the same director did all three films but each one had different writers, which is clearly the problem. I enjoyed the first Xtro quite a bit, and it was rather unique, but this one is a mess. There are some very bad dodgy FX where the alien turns invisible, cloaking like the Predator but it looks horrible especially when it's a puppet being moved in the distance. I love puppets but wow. You shouldn't try to copy Predator especially if you can't pull it off. People will just make negative comparisons. It's much better to try to do something unique. Sadly, none of this film is scary and I didn't care for the characters at all, which are your typical cliché marines. I was bored trying to watch this. I felt no suspense or anything. That said, I'm just one moron so if you really love this movie, good for you. I wish I could've enjoyed it because I do love Predator and even some of the bad knockoffs but I just couldn't get into it. In defense of the director, I will say all three Xtro films are very different from each other so that's cool and I think it would be tough to do an alien movie like this so take my silly opinion with a grain of salt.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Alien 2: On Earth (1980)... uhm... yeah...

Do I need to say anything? I mean it's obvious right? A bad Alien ripoff. A fake Italian sequel. It does have nudity in one scene and some odd kills but not nearly enough to make up for how insanely boring it is. Wait, is that an egg on the beach? Quick cut to someplace else. The FX are pretty bad even though they are practical. What sucks is how little FX you get and how everything else feels like filler for the worst cave movie you ever saw. Seriously, there is a monster in here killing people. They're trapped in a cave. How can you make it so dull? That takes a special kind of skill. No atmosphere, lifeless characters, nothing interesting going on, no sense of urgency or stakes, etc. I think my brain already expelled this dump out of self-preservation. So yeah, definitely skip this unless you just love suffering and even then there are about a billion better ways to toil in eternal pain although I guess boredom is one of the worst. But it's Alien 2... I had to watch it... please don't be as stupid as me...

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Only Real Way to Learn Directing

If you think a book, a class, or some making of doc is going to cut it, the sad truth is none of those will be enough. Sure they can help *a little* but the only way to really learn directing is by directing, and if you want to direct features, the only way to learn that is by directing features. Directing shorts can give you some insight but a short can be done in a day or a week, maybe a few months or six for post, but features take at least a year if not several. It's like running around the block compared to a cross-country marathon and even that ignores the time component, which takes forever when you get into editing (don't do it all yourself... but you will learn the most that way although you'll most likely learn you got a long way to go). Everybody wants to think you can watch someone else direct and then boom you can do it too. If you watch Spielberg, you can be Spielberg. It doesn't work like that. How many writers, producers, actors, FX artists, etc. have you seen become directors who worked with literally the best in the business but then their own work feels like a first-timer? It happens all the time because they are a first-timer, at least when it comes to directing a feature. Yes, sometimes, they can level up by paying the best crews to hoist them up but so often even that fails and it takes a lot of money. If you're watching from the sidelines, that's all you're doing. You're watching. You don't have the entire weight of that production on your shoulders, trying to juggle everything and problem solve a million things at once. Sure you can spot things *you think* they could have done better or little things they "missed" but how can you judge when you don't know all the shit they have to deal with? Until you are in that position with all that crap reigning down on you as you fight all the elements including motherfucking reality and your own people can you begin to understand the vast hellscape they're being crushed under especially on indies where so often one poor bastard is wearing far too many hats. Just look at the picture above. Staring into the jaws of the beast, that's film directing. Actually, Francis Ford Coppola's famous photo from Apocalypse Now is the most apt metaphor for being a film director especially an indie one.

All that aside, I love directing but you have to be ready to take a beating. Never let anyone say you can't do it but don't assume you know everything because you're a good cinematographer or you've been on a bunch of sets. Direct your first feature and you'll see what it's really like. Direct your first feature and you'll be humbled. Direct your first feature and you'll learn so much. It's really an incredible experience but it's not easy nor should it be. And a strange thing about directing features is it doesn't really get easier the more you make. It does kind of in some ways but it also becomes harder too especially if you really want to make something great.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Down to Hell (1997) can't measure up to Versus (2000).

But that isn't surprising considering the difference in budget and crew. It's hard to believe Versus (2000) was originally going to be Down to Hell 2 since this early effort pales in comparison but it's still cool to see. Everybody has to start somewhere. Even if you watch the first films of Hitchcock, Kubrick, or Villeneuve, it's tough to see the legends they'd become. Unless you have millions to hire professional artists to lift you up, your first film is likely to embarrass you later. That is only natural though. It means you've learned and made progress. You just have to keep working at it and try to always improve, which also means recognizing where you came up short. It's easier said than done. Down to Hell lacks cool FX or kills. Almost no gore, action, or suspense. It's pretty dull but hey, try to make a movie for no money. It's insanely difficult especially when you first start. Sure everybody says they could do better but that's just talk. Put your money where your mouth is then you'll understand.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

XX: Beautiful Weapon (1993) won me over big time.

Having watched Guzoo (and obsessed over it... I love practical FX monsters what can I say), I was curious to see the director's Beautiful Weapon film. It didn't disappoint at all. I quite like this pinky violence series especially Beautiful Beast but this one might just be better. The way the story unfolds is pretty clever and I like the lead guy who realizes the trap of our beautiful assassin. It feels very much like she is a spider luring in her victims with sex, and they always think they have the advantage. It's definitely smarter than it needed to be. Yes, I know the US DVD cover is shit but the film is good. Alright, it's good if you like these types of films. Some people don't? Sorry I'm not normal. Who is normal? Probably not the guy talking to himself on a blog. Yeah, that's a good point. Well, giant atomic turtles aren't normal either but they're good at flying. What were we talking about? Cars. The Pixar movie? Geez, what's wrong with you? Quiet mom I'm writing my novel. Nobody reads blogs anymore? Can I ticktock this?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Watch out for Dreams on Fire!

I really can't wait to see this film! It's an independent feature shot in Tokyo and directed by Philippe McKie. His shorts "Breaker" and "Be My First" were extremely well done with the first being cyberpunk and reminding me a lot of excellent old-school sci-fi anime while the second was his take on Japan's legendary pink films. Both had phenomenal cinematography with exciting original storytelling. Dreams on Fire provides an exhilarating and intoxicating look into Japanese dance and subculture communities. This movie has already won a bunch of awards at film festivals and the trailer alone is outstanding. I'm dying to see this. I think all artists can relate to the struggle of the main character, just constantly working hard and trying your best to break through while not giving up. We all know how difficult that is. You can watch that trailer below along with his previous short "Breaker."