Watchin’ Stuff

I’ve seen some really bad horror movies, and sometimes I even enjoy them, but this was a special kind of awful. Let me set a scene for you. A naked girl that’s very visibly completely covered in blood awkwardly stumbles up to people at a campfire.

Girl at campfire: “There’s something wrong with her.”
Guy at campfire: “She’s standing right in front of us. Completely nude. There’s nothing wrong about this.”

People were actually paid to say this out loud. It’s just a small example of how childishly unpleasant the characters and dialogue are in this movie. These characters go far beyond the usual stereotypes of dumb teenagers in horror movies, to the point where it’s not funny, it’s just uncomfortable because it legitimately feels like this was written by a 12 year old child shut-in who doesn’t know what real people act like. Some poor dumb kid who thought “Gee whiz, it sure would be cool to make a horror movie where the monster is a nekkid lady!”, but didn’t consider that movies need things like writers and effects artists and etc., and so just slapped together a movie that’s almost entirely dialogue, all of which is excruciatingly bad, and padded it out with a few horribly juvenile gross-out scenes that lack any humor, and a bunch of cheap jump scares. If you’re going to make a ridiculous gross-out movie, you have to at least bring some funny writing and good effects, because otherwise what do you have? Just another piece of bargain bin trash.

This was an interesting old action movie. It really goes against most of the major action movie cliches of the old days. Jeff Speakman‘s character is a great fighter and ultimately comes out the final winner of the story, but unlike typical action heroes, he takes a lot of nasty hits in the process and even actually loses a few fights. His character is portrayed as surprisingly flawed too, with his hot-headedness and lust for vengeance actually having a pretty negative impact on him and the people around him, as he slowly comes to realize that he needs to learn some self control before he gets someone killed. It’s basically the complete opposite of your standard action hero story, which is perhaps why no knows who Jeff Speakman is anymore, despite there being no shortage of impressive martial arts on display here.

A compelling train wreck by Oliver Stone. U-Turn tells the story of a scumbag criminal who gets stranded in a small town full of other scumbag criminals and finds himself wrapped up in a bunch of their smalltown scumbag politics, as they all try to screw each other over in various ways. There is not one single likable character here, yet they were all interesting and well-acted enough characters to keep me interested in seeing what depravity they would each unleash upon each other next.

Another attempt to get into the giallo genre, since I’ve seen just about everything there is in world of supernatural horror, which I tend to prefer. This is an early Dario Argento movie, who I’ve only ever seen crazy supernatural horror from before. This one holds up pretty well for its age. It’s about an American visiting Italy, who was about to leave, but ends up witnessing a bizarre murder attempt and ends up getting caught up in the hunt for a mysterious serial killer. It’s not as bizarre as Body Puzzle, but it’s a pretty interesting mystery, with some great looking sets. There’s a surprising lack of any real graphic content too for a Dario Argento movie about stabbing people, though it managed to be a good enough story that I didn’t really mind.

Another 70’s giallo by Argento, but I didn’t really enjoy this one as much. It started off with a great premise, but things just don’t come together as well as in the previous one. This time the story is about a man who accidentally kills someone and is then apparently blackmailed by a mysterious stranger, but this stranger doesn’t seem to want money, they just start stalking the guy in increasingly strange ways. The main character just isn’t that likable this time though, and since his situation is all about saving his own ass instead of stopping a killer, his attempts to deal with the situation all end up coming off as pretty weasely. The final reveal of the killer and their explanation for their actions feels a little more convoluted and forced too, and things are resolved much too quickly immediately afterwards. Oh well.

Man, I haven’t seen this in a loooong time. Great animation and a fascinating story that makes you wonder even more exactly why the hell they changed the story of the modern remake so much. The only real downside of this movie is that it goes by so quickly, setting up this amazing cyberpunk world and then ending right when things get most interesting.

I had never seen the sequel. It’s pretty good and satisfyingly continues the adventures of some of the characters from the previous movie, despite being a bit heavy on the exposition and philosophy quotes. I had no idea just how many more sequels and prequels there have been since this came out. It’s going to take quite some time to get through all of them after this…

One final item of interest, the final season of The Strain has begun. I can only hope that Zack, the absolute worst child character to ever live, dies a horrible, horrible death before it all ends. Hopefully he becomes the new king of the vampires only to get locked in a box and dropped to the bottom of the ocean for eternity…

Watchin’ Stuff

Watched this and its sequel on Netflix. They’re certainly interesting experiments in film-making. 26 different directors do their own short horror story for each of the letters of the alphabet. There are a good deal of segments that are merely mediocre, but surprisingly, there are very few that I would call full-on bad. In fact, only one really stood out as truly awful (“P-p-p-p-p is for scary”, which is even worse than that awful title makes it sound). There are enough good segments and enough variety that they manage to be entertaining overall, despite their inconsistency. There’s some reeeeeally strange stories in here too, like a disturbing Indonesian segment about a to-the-death masturbation tournament or a claymation segment about a young child and a killer toilet.

Also on Netflix, Black Road is a near future cyberpunk/Noir story that I have to give SOME credit for trying so hard and doing so many things so well despite having such a blatantly low budget. Ultimately, it doesn’t seem to know how to resolve anything it spends most of its time building up though. There’s this whole weird pseudo-mystical element thrown in there, where the ex-husband, who is the target of the investigation, is some kind of weird cult leader who gets all these people hooked on this weird mind controlling black root, which seems to give him some kind of special powers, but it’s never really explored or explained any further than this. Instead, despite all its valiant efforts to appear otherwise, it never manages to rise above being a very straightforward and cliched detective story, with a boring, too-convenient ending. Oh well.

This was decent. It’s visually amazing, and it’s very impressive that we’ve come so far that a story like this can be done in live action and look almost entirely convincing. I guess I can see why a lot of people are upset about it though. It’s strange and disappointing that they worked so hard to do so many scene-for-scene recreations from the original manga and anime, yet felt the need to dumb down the core plot and the ending by entirely removing A.I. from the story. Where the original was more about accepting the merge with machinekind in order to evolve, this version instead seems to be on the verge of demonizing technology and suggesting that we must uncompromisingly hold on to our humanity at all costs, and does so with a generic, happy Hollywood ending that doesn’t seem to serve any purpose other than to try to leave things open for sequels (which we’ll never see, because it sold horribly). As a sci-fi action movie in general, it was entertaining enough that I didn’t really think about any of this until afterwards because it was successfully holding my attention, but as an adaptation of a previously existing story, it’s a little depressing in its oddly specifically sanitized nature.

I tell ya, it sure made us want to go watch the original anime again though. In fact, it really got me thinking about all the old anime I used to watch and how I haven’t touched any of that stuff in so many years now, and I think I might have to go on a veritable anime frenzy now. Time to dig up all that old stuff like Bubblegum Crisis, Guyver, Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D and etc!

An 80’s horror about a haunted prison, starring a young Viggo Mortensen, and directed by the semi-controversial and semi-competent action-movie-maker Renny Harlin. It’s pretty goofy and it’s very clear that everyone involved in this production did little to no research on how prisons actually work. It has some decent effects for its time and its not completely awful, but its not particularly memorable either.

The Attorney is a Korean legal drama set in the 80’s that is nowhere near as happy and pleasant as it seems to want you to think it is. It starts off being pretty light and goofy and continues along these lines, while focusing on the main character’s road to success in the legal world and sticks with this for around half of the whole movie before suddenly plunging into a super serious and somewhat dark case involving the arrest and torture of a group of youths who are falsely accused of being communists. These kind of jarring shifts in tone and slow, heavy focus on the development of single characters are pretty typical for Korean films and they can be a bit hard to digest if you’re not used to them, especially if done poorly, but I think it worked pretty well here. It’s a pretty interesting story that will probably leave you simultaneously depressed and inspired.

Sorry to the friend that recommended this to me, but I just couldn’t get into this at all. It makes the recent disappointing American remake of Godzilla look action packed in comparison. I didn’t even finish it, having had enough after the first hour, which was literally made up of about 5 minutes of monster action and 55 minutes of old bureaucrats sitting in various rooms, arguing about what to do about the situation. That’s…not for me.

The last bizarre comedy by Robert Zemeckis before he suddenly turned into “that guy who does all those biopics”. I don’t think I’ve seen this since it came out. It holds up decently. It’s no Back To The Future or Beetlejuice, but it’s decently funny and interesting.

 

Watchin’ stuff

Saw this tonight finally. Man, it was great. They changed so much from the original stories, yet somehow it still felt like the most authentic Spider-Man I’ve ever seen in a movie. Spider-Man is one of my very favorite characters, but Raimi’s Spider-Man and The Amazing Sony-Man just didn’t do it for me and I’ve been waiting so, so long for a Spider-Man movie that I could actually enjoy, and this really delivered. Now that the non-origin origin movie is out of the way, I expect that things will get even better from here on out too. Oh man, it’s going to be so damn long until the next one comes out. Arghhhh.

A Dan O’Bannon classic. Maybe not as iconic or tightly produced as other movies he’s been attached to, but it’s still a pretty solid horror film. It’s a modern day (at least it was in the 80’s) re-telling of H.P. Lovecraft‘s The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Just that whole part where they explore the catacombs makes it worth watching (and re-watching).

A supernatural horror movie starring Robert DeNiro, Sigourney Weaver, Cilian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen, and more? How the hell have I never heard of this? Oh. Because it’s not that good, and not even actually a horror movie at all. Weaver and Murphy play a pair of supernatural debunkers who end up facing off against DeNiro‘s character, who is basically the Moby Dick of spiritual performers. It plays out just how you’d expect such a story to play out, except with a twist, but the twist is telegraphed too blatantly too early on, and fails to have any impact when it’s finally confirmed in the end. Not a terrible movie, but not one I’d ever watch again.

Somehow, while watching old Twin Peaks, I got the bright idea to give this movie another chance because I seemed to remember it having the people who played Ed and Nadine as the villains. I never really got into this movie back in the day, and I personally don’t think Wes Craven had done anything worthwhile since Shocker, and I should have stuck with that original impression. I just don’t see the appeal. It’s like a cross between an episode of Goosebumps and a Tom and Jerry cartoon. If it weren’t for an occasional splash of blood and all the swearing, I’d think that this was made for children. I suppose the same could really be said of things like Nightmare on Elm Street (the later movies anyway) or Shocker too, but those had much more interesting villains and death scenes to make them stand out.

Uzumaki, or Spiral, is based on the manga of the same name by Junji Ito, one of the rare few manga creators I know and enjoy the works of. The original story was a dark and twisted tale that felt like a lost relative of Silent Hill or something, but this movie adaptation decided to take a much goofier tone for some reason. It was just too slow and silly to make the rare disturbing parts worth waiting around for. Better to just read the comic instead. In fact, now I really want to read some Junji Ito stuff again, and maybe find some new similar stuff (anyone know of any?).

Ahhh, now this was a manga adaptation that was much more to my liking. I actually haven’t read Blame! yet (it’s on my to-read list), but this was a really good dark sci-fi story that felt kind of like all the old 80’s cyberpunk anime I liked so much. It’s set in a future where machines have become the dominant life-form and turned the world into this giant, ever-expanding machine city where only a small village of humans remain in hiding. It’s a world with a whole lot of potential, that this movie only has time to get into a little bit of, but it does it really well and I think that manga just jumped up quite a few places on that to-read list. Apparently Knights of Sedonia, an ongoing anime also on Netflix, was made by the same creator too. I’ll have to check that out soon.

Oh boy, finally it’s time to watch the new Twin Peaks and see the resolution to that massive cliffhanger that the old show left! Too bad it’s fucking awful! Holy shit is this a disappointing mess. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something in such dire need of heavy editing. I know David Lynch loves to take his time and dwell on really superfluous and/or awkward details, but this is ridiculous. I’ve never seen a movie or show with so many completely unnecessary scenes, and I’m not even talking about the weird, confusing parts, because I fully understand that those are a part of any given Lynch production and most actually probably do have some yet-to-be-explained significance. No, I’m talking about the absolutely worthless nonsense like a doddering old lady noticing that there’s a weird smell coming from next door, then calls the police, then they show the police arriving and walking in, then have an overly long conversation with her about who might have the keys to the door, then she finally tells them who might have a key, they go to talk to him, end up running into someone else that they have another overly long and awkward conversation with, only to have the woman come to the window and tell them she actually had the key all along because she waters her neighbors plants when she’s on vacation. This is an excruciating almost 10 minutes of empty nonsense, all just so they can get in this door and find a dead woman, which anyone with half a brain could have told you was where this was heading in the first few seconds when no one answered the door and a weird smell was noticed.

Lynch uses this tactic of a lot in his work, the unnecessary drawing out of so many scenes, in what I feel is an annoying approach to trying to build suspense and apprehension, but he’s taken it too far this time. It just goes on and on like this, meandering all over the place with little to no direction, and a bizarrely small amount of screen time given to any familiar old characters. My wife and I couldn’t take any more after just 2 episodes of this, and you want us to sit through 18 HOURS of this? We have this awful feeling that this is all going to end with even more unanswered questions than there were before too. Boy, I would really like to know how this all finally ends though. Can I really force myself to watch another 16 hours of this crap? Maybe if we only watch 1 or 2 at a time until we’re caught up? I just don’t know. What a disappointment.

Awww yeah. An R rated Castlevania show written by fucking Warren Ellis? This can’t go wrong this time…can it? Oh good, some good news! This show is amazing! Much more violent and vulgar than I was expecting. You can sure tell that Ellis wrote this. The story and dialogue are top notch and the action is reminiscent of a dark, serious, hyper-violent anime. Vampire Hunter D comes to mind. The only downside is that there are only 4 half hour episodes for some reason. I know first seasons tend to be hesitant to be long, but man that’s short. There’s just enough time to set the characters up to embark on a grand journey to defeat Dracula and his minions, and then things are over just when they’re getting really good. On the plus side, it seems to have already been renewed for a second season, so I imagine it’ll be longer next time.

Watchin’ Stuff

Wow, look at that crazy 80’s cover! This movie is about Jeffrey Combs, who’s a comic book artist who brings a monster to life with his art because he was for some reason drawing a comic and reading passages out of some Satanic grimoire simultaneously! How could I have missed something like this for all these years? Well, probably because Jeffrey Combs dies in the first 5 minutes and the rest is pretty awful. It’s just like a longer, more boring version of that Tales From The Crypt episode with the same plot, which now that I think of it was based on a Tales From The Crypt comic, so I guess Cellar Dweller read that same issue and stole it. Bleh. Also, I just realized they spelled cellar wrong on the cover there. Ugh.

A strange little giallo film from Lamberto Bava of Demons fame. It’s a bizarre little murder mystery that was filmed well for its time and has some pretty imaginative death scenes. If you have any interest in this sort of thing I would suggest that you don’t look up descriptions of it, because they give away one of the major secrets of the movie, one that otherwise isn’t revealed until pretty late in the movie and would have probably been quite a surprise if it hadn’t already been revealed by IMDB. Let’s just say that the killer is removing various pieces of his victims for mysterious reasons. Knowing the “what” seemed to render the “why” very easy to figure out. Knowing what I did, I thought I could see what the motive was within the first 15 minutes. I turned out to be quite wrong though. Things were not at all as they seemed and the mystery was much more clever and interesting than I’d expected.

The Dinner is described as “Two sets of wealthy parents meet for dinner to decide what to do about a crime their sons have committed”. Two hours of people talking at dinner isn’t usually my idea of a thrilling movie, but it had some good reviews and a good cast so I thought I’d give it a shot. Unfortunately they spend 3/4 of the movie avoiding actually talking about the main subject of the story and instead end up wandering off into endless flashback tangents, mostly involving how mentally ill and utterly unpleasant Steve Coogan‘s character is. I just didn’t find it all that interesting, watching a movie mostly comprised of him being a miserable petulant asshole to his family. I stuck with it hoping there would be some point to it all, but instead the final quarter just devolved into everyone being completely unlikable and spoiler alert: the whole thing just comes to an extremely abrupt non-ending where absolutely nothing was resolved for anyone. Great. Ultimately it was all just a dead-end character study of an absolutely miserable bunch of people, with nothing at all to say except “family politics can be messed up, yo!”. That’s deep, bro.

Well that was wayyyyy better than the unfortunate Godzilla reboot from a few years ago where they spent most of the movie trying their best to avoid showing any of the creatures the movie was supposedly about. Instead, Kong is an almost non-stop visual spectacle with a much better cast of characters and a heaping helping of crazy looking action scenes with a pretty good variety of monsters. This made me actually interested in the “Monsterverse” again.

Eh. This was ok. A bunch of people are locked in an office building and forced to kill each other to survive. It evokes memories of movies like Cube or Saw, but doesn’t manage to be as memorable as either of those. It claims to be a study of human behavior during times of crisis, but it’s all pretty by-the-numbers. The people who are portrayed as the jerks of the office in the beginning, naturally turn out to be the worst of the lot, the morally righteous nice guy protagonist does his standard duty of trying to get everyone to do the right thing, and it all turns out pretty much exactly how you would expect it to.

An early Danny Boyle film that ironically, is also about a bunch of miserable people doing terrible things, yet somehow manages to be enjoyable. It must be a tricky thing, trying to make a movie about terrible, unlikable people doing terrible things, but at the same time making them and their story compelling enough to be entertaining instead of just being repulsive. Boyle has proven many times to be a director that’s capable of successfully finding that balance.

Season 2 of Preacher has begun. I never expected to like this show, with it being just about my favorite comic ever, I never in a million years expected anyone could do it justice in television or movie form. The show strays pretty damn far away from the original story, but that’s turned out to work out rather well for it. It manages to capture the feeling of the comic pretty well, but is taking it in its own very different direction, and amazingly it works.

We also just finished catching up on old Twin Peaks in order to finally watch the new season. I had never seen all the old ones, because I’d heard about it all ending on a massive cliffhanger that was never resolved, so I figured I shouldn’t bother setting myself up for disappointment, but here we are 25 years later with the story finally receiving a conclusion. Not one to do these things half-assed, I ended up tracking down the fan-edited version of the Fire Walk With Me movie, which impressively sticks all the deleted footage from the later released The Missing Pieces back into the movie in proper order, resulting in a massive 3 and half hour production. Now we’re finally ready to begin Twin Peaks season 3…

Watchin’ stuff

Cub is a Belgian horror movie that came out in 2014. I found it randomly on Amazon Prime‘s movie streaming service (it may or may not be part of our recent Starz add-on, I’m not entirely sure). It has actually been the only good “new” horror movie I’ve found in the piles and piles of crap on there so far (aside from the obvious big good ones that we’ve all seen a million times already). Cub is about a troubled young Boy Scout who meets a strange feral child in the woods on a Scout camping trip. The movie kind of makes it seem like it’s going to be one of those cutesy coming-of-age stories where they become friends and everything works out fine in the end, but then it suddenly take some very dark turns. It’s not particularly gory for a horror movie, but it manages to be pretty disturbing anyway. Very memorable ending. Definitely recommended for horror fans.

As ridiculously cheesy and over-dramatic as you’d expect from a Resident Evil story. Vendetta is packed full of painfully moronic cannon fodder characters, people screaming NOOOOOO at the sky, and a lot of amazing looking action sequences. It’s nothing more than a mindless spectacle of zombies, monsters, and explosions, but it does a good job of it and doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is. A nice treat for Resident Evil fans, but probably not so much for anyone else.

Raistlin0903 convinced me to give this another chance. It really is better than I remember it being. There are some occasional iffy effects, mainly that guy with the splitting face, and I still feel like there are an unusually high amount of plot points that were exactly the same as the Carpenter version, but it still sets itself apart enough to be enjoyable overall.

The television series of The Mist premiered this week. There wasn’t much mist action yet, as the first episode was mostly introducing the various characters and setting things up for the mist to arrive near the end of the episode, but the few moments of horror were surprisingly graphic and good looking. The character drama so far is pretty dark right from the beginning too, so this looks like it’s going to be another fun horror show. Amazing how many quality horror shows are appearing these days.

Movie Night XI: The Goatening

This contains the movie night of this week and last week…COMBINED! Not that this is a relevant distinction in any way, but there it is anyway.

Fracture (2007)fractureAnother law thriller from the director of Primal Fear. A bit more predictable than Primal Fear, but it was still clever and interesting enough to be worthwhile.

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Movie Night X: The unbelievable tenth occurrence of the night of the watching of videofilms

Down Terrace (2009)downterraceEarly Ben Wheatley film about a family of petty, messed up criminals and the shenanigans they get up to. Dark, twisted, and cleverly awkward, as usual for a Wheatley movie.

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Movie Night IX: Daylight Savings Strikes Back

Seriously, fuck you daylight savings. Anyway…

Prisoners (2013)prisonersAnother Denis Villeneuve film. This one is a very David Fincher feeling thriller about a kidnapping mystery. Really keeps you guessing. I’m surprised I haven’t heard about this before now, it was really good. Villeneuve is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

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Movie Night VIII: Movie Night Double Feature

Oops forgot to post the one last week so here’s two…

Come Back To Me (2014)
comebacktomeAt first, and from the description, this seems like just a predictable movie about some weird kid who may be secretly drugging and raping his new neighbor because she reminds him of mom and…actually, no, that’s pretty much it. They add a supernatural twist to switch it up, but other than that it’s exactly what it seems to be. Super predictable, but it was still decent and sufficiently disturbing I guess.

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