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.