Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review - Divergent (2014)

If there's one kind of movie that really bothers me, it's a movie that doesn't make much sense.  And I'm not talking about a suspension of disbelief, where I go "Flying cars using refrigerator magnets?  That's impossible!"  No, I'm talking about movies that put forth a set of beliefs, then violate those very beliefs at some point in the movie, thereby not only confusing the people that are watching, but making the characters look like complete and utter morons.

Divergent (2014) isn't the best example of this, but the ending sort of puts it firmly in this category.  But let me sum up the movie, first.  In a post-apocalyptic future, where a great wall is built to keep out "something," someone decided to separate the types of people into various classes based on their personalities.  This was somehow supposed to put an end to war.  There were Erudites, the intelligent ones, the Abengation class, the selfless ones who ruled out of a sense of service to the community, and the Dauntless, the police and soldiers, the protectors of the other classes.  There were a couple other classes too, but they aren't really important.  So Beatrice, whose parents are in the government (abnegation) class, finds out she is Divergent, which means she basically doesn't fit into any one class.  Divergency is apparently bad because if you don't fit into the class system, you threaten the very foundation of the system.  So the Erudites are ferreting out the Divergents that pop up from time to time, and the Dauntless class goes and basically executes them, because different is bad.  Bear with me, here, I know it sounds stupid already, but this is the premise.  So Beatrice decides to join the Dauntless class, which is considered a bold move.  Nobody knows she's Divergent, but during her training it starts to peek out, and then she's worried she's going to get killed because of what she is.  And THEN, she finds out that the Erudite class is going to kill off the Abnegation class because they think they are doing a bad job running the system, and they could do a better one.  Shit!  What's a girl to do?

Okay, let me just get the better points of the movie out of the way first before i explain why this movie conflicts with itself.  First off, the acting was fair.  They were mostly people I had never heard of, but Ashley Judd was in there as beatrice's mom.  I think Ashley Judd's a pretty decent actress and I'd like to see her do more movies, personally.  She's easy on the eyes, too, but that has nothing to do with her acting talent.  Kate Winslet was the villain, and it's always nice to see a female villain, but I don't think she knocked the role out of the park or anything.  Maggie Q and Zoe Kravitz pop up in there but they don't have more than a little screen time.  The rest of the cast was sort of wooden and blah-y.  Jai Courtney, who i have seen before but never put a name to until now (he was also Bruce Willis' son in A Good Day to Die Hard), was actually pretty good as the Erudite's flunky in the Dauntless Class.  The special effects were, well, nonexistent, really.  There were a few computer monitor things that looked kind of cool, but other than that, I don't think there were any special effects in this film other than trying to make the actors look like they were actually doing physical stunts.  The fight scenes actually looked pretty ridiculous, except they did show some blood and bruising and how really, fights are generally pretty one-sided.  So that much at least was fairly realistic, even if the fighters didn't make it look very good.

On the bad side, there was no nudity and no real effort at trying to make things look seductive.  Supposedly beatrice and some other divergent get a little steamy but I didn't feel any chemistry there at all.  It's usually a bad sign when a movie comes out at the beginning of the year and is already on Cable TV by the end of the same year.  We never actually find out why the wall was built, or what's out there to require the necessity of the wall.  The fight scenes weren't very long or exciting, and the stances they used looked absolutely ridiculous.  I don't know if they were taken from some real and deadly martial art, and I don't care, because they looked silly.  They did a bad job of making me care about the characters.  The only person who seemed to show some real emotion was Ashley Judd, playing Beatrice's mom.  I don't know if Ashley just can do the facial expressions right, and everyone else in the cast just has no idea, or the rest of the cast was trying to play emotionless drones, but I didn't care about much of the rest of the cast at all.  And now, let's get to the root of the biggest problem with the movie.

The Ending.  Spoilers to follow, so if you actually want to watch this movie on HBO or something (where i saw it), then skip this paragraph.  So, Tris (Beatrice) finds out that Erudite is going to mind-control the majority of the dauntless class to make them kill off the abnegation class (where her parents are part of the ruling system) and then take control of the government.  Now, here's where i see a problem.  One, the Erudite in charge should realize that by destroying an entire class, she is, in fact, proving herself unfit to rule the class system.  I mean, isn't that the whole point of begin Erudite?  You KNOW what an idiot you are?  I guess not.  Two, and this gives away the bad ending to a bad movie, Tris and friends manage to defeat the Erudite in charge, stop the mind control, and then....  they run away.  Leaving the villain alive.  Leaving the Erudite Class still in charge of the whole situation.  Leaving almost the entire Abnegation class in peril.  Nope, just run away!  Forget the fact that you just saved the entire dauntless class from killing off the abnegation class, forget the fact that a dauntless NEVER RUNS AWAY, which they DRILL into Tris from the beginning of her training.  Nope, just run away!  Forget the fact that the good dauntless now totally outnumber the BAD dauntless, and could have easily overwhelmed them, saved the class system, killed off the bad guys, and set things to right.  Shit, the bad dauntless weren't even in the room when the ending of the movie went down.  Tris could have killed the villainess right then and there (and supposedly had no problem killing people earlier in the movie, so why now?), saved everyone and everybody, and had backup from 2/3rds of the dauntless class.  Instead... they run away.  I don't get it.  They went through all that to stop the erudite class from taking over, and then they just leave the erudite class in charge, with the bad guy (or girl in this case) still alive, with the entire abnegation class still in peril, and run away, which is totally against the dauntless code of ethics.  Why?  Doesn't that just make the whole movie contradictory?  The character's decisions make absolutely no sense, from the movie's own point of view.  Just kill the damn bad guy like the dauntless (which tris now is) are trained to do, call for help from the entire class of people who are trained to keep shit like this from happening in the first place, and kill off the idiots who were supporting the Erudite class in the first place, like she was trained to do.  Problem solved, everybody wins, and she's a hero.  Instead, she runs away, because... movie ending.  (shrug)  I got nothing.

See, movies like this just bug me.  I spend an hour and a half suspending my disbelief so I can enjoy a movie, and the movie takes my suspension of disbelief and slaps me in the face with it like an arrogant John slaps a two-dollar whore in the face with his penis after he's given her a facial, and I'm not even getting paid for it.  Pisses me off that a movie is going to dick me around like that, when some script guy can't even look over his own writing and go WTF THIS SHIT DON'T EVEN MAKE SENSE TO ME AND I WROTE IT!  Where's the editing?  Proofreading?  Damn, buddy, hand me the goddamn script, I'll read through it, look at you like you're crazy, hand it back to you, and tell you to do it over.  And I'll tell you for free, just so I don't have to sit through that kind of inane bullshit again.  Go ahead, I dare you!  Send me the script!

Pfeh.  So, wasn't very fond of that movie.  I wouldn't even say watch it once, because there's really nothing redeeming the movie, and Ashley Judd, despite her skill as an actress, and the other bits of talent popping up here and there, aren't on-screen very long.  Mostly it's just Tris getting her ass kicked over and over and calling it "Divergent," because "Weak and Cowardly" didn't sound like good words to apply to the heroine.  What a pile of tripe.  Skip Divergent, and hope to hell they don't make a sequel.

That's all for this week.  Hope everyone has a nice Xmas and merry Yule and zonky feast of Saturnalia or whatever it is you celebrate this time of year.  Me, I'm just happy to get presents I didn't have to pay for, and food I didn't have to cook for myself.  Plus, the shiny glittery blinky lights look damn pretty.  Don't forget, godzilla marathon on El Rey network starting at 6 pm xmas eve!  Three days of giant monster movies!  Sweaty japanese guys in rubber suits, wrecking tiny buildings!  Actors pointing up at the air and going GOJIRA! and running away by the thousands.  I wonder how much they pay the extras to just turn and run on cue?  Or is it just that they announce there's a godzilla movie being filmed and everyone flees the camera just so they aren't in it?  it would save a lot of money on the extras.  oh well.  Catch you guys next week, and if not, Happy New Year, Feliz Ano Nuevo, and all that other good stuff!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Movie Review - 47 Ronin (2013)

I can't say I'm all that big a fan of Keanu Reeves.  In fact, I think he's pretty good as a stoner, kind of walking around half-dazed and confused most of the time like he was in Bill and Ted's excellent adventure.  I'm not really sure where he picked up his interest in Martial arts films, or maybe he's just spent too long in the Matrix, I don't know.

47 Ronin (2013) is an old Japanese story about some masterless Samurai during a period in Japanese history when they had a Shogun running the country.  This take on the tale of the 47 Ronin (there have been a number of movies made about this legend over the years, none of which I have seen besides this one) begins with Kai, a young boy running away from something.  Kai is a half-breed, a mixed white and japanese boy, and if there's one thing the japanese do not like, it is anyone of mixed race (personally I think people of mixed races seem more attractive than most, but that's just my opinion).  Kai is found by a hunting party of Lord Asano, the Lord of the province where Kai ends up, and instead of killing Kai outright, Lord Asano takes him in.  As the years go by, Kai and Lord Asano's daughter form a bond of love, and then, one day, the Shogun visits.  Aside from hosting a visit from the Shogun, Lord Asano is also hosting a visit from a neighboring Lord, Lord Kira.  Lord Kira (the villain, obviously) employs a witch to subvert Lord Asano's mind and make Asano attempt to strike Kira in the presence of the Shogun, an act punishable by death.  Fortunately, the Shogun allows Lord Asano to commit seppuku (ritual disembowelment), and thus retain his honor.  However, his most loyal Samurai are cast out by the Shogun, and become Ronin.  Lord Kira does his best to break the will of Kai by taking Asano's daughter as wife, and leaves the leader of the Samurai, Oishi, in a hole for a year.  Just before Lord Kira is to marry the unwilling daughter of Lord Asano, Oishi and Kai team up with the remaining 45 Ronin and strike back at Lord Kira, intending to avenge the death of their lord at all costs!

I've been a huge fan of ancient Japanese culture for years.  I was going to say I was a big fan of japanese culture in general, but I can't fathom some of their idiosyncrasies, like for instance, used panty vending machines?  Really?  I don't get it.  The upskirt pic thing, totally.  That I get.  The used panty vending machines...  nope.  So, I'm restricting my interest in japan to their ancient past, when they had shoguns and ninjas and samural wandering the lands, just waiting for someone to impugn their honor so they could kill somebody.  Maybe they were just really cranky from having to wear dresses all the time.  Who knows?

The acting in this movie was pretty decent, if you exclude Keanu Reeves.  Basically, this movie takes the really cool Japanese legend of some guys who would rather die than let a crime go unpunished, and adds Keanu reeves, witches and monsters into the mix.  If you take out Keanu, and leave the monsters and the witch, this movie is actually pretty kick-ass.  The special effects were good, the swordplay was decent, and the veteran asian acting cast was superb.  The only guy I knew for sure was Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa as the Shogun, who has been acting as the asian bad guy in movies since the 80's, but many of the other faces were recognizable, even if I couldn't pronounce their names correctly to save my life.  The only other Japanese actor I can pick out of the cast is Hiroyuki Sanada, who appeared in Helix (that I watched earlier this year).  At this point, I would beg forgiveness for having dishonored the rest of the cast's acting skill by not remembering their names, but seriously, they're actors, not samurai.  I think I'll be okay.

I don't recall any overt nudity, but there's some scenes between the witch and Lord Asano's daughter that almost stray into lesbian territory, and frankly, my little Samurai sword was ready to cut silk, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.  There's a few funny scenes, and the rest of the movie is pretty much a showcase for keanu's ability to act like a martial artist.  If you believe that, the movie works okay.  If you don't, then it really doesn't work as well.  Frankly, it reminds me of Tom Cruise's attempt to do something similar, when he did The Last Samurai.  If you can't believe the main character in the movie, then the whole movie just kind of falls flat, you know?  (shrugs)

I'd say, give 47 Ronin a viewing on Netflix if you have some spare time and love Japanese samurai flicks, because this movie does dip slightly into the concept of honor and duty, two things that were of paramount importance to ancient Samurai.  As a westerner, I have a hard time agreeing with the concept, but that doesn't make it any less pretty to watch.  As far as a repeat viewing goes, I don't think I need to see this one again.

In other news, I missed last week's post because I was struggling with the flu.  It is that time of year, as well as it being the Holidays.  So, just in case I don't make it next week either, Happy Holidays to everybody out there.  :-D  If you're looking for holiday favorites, Netflix has lost the rights to show Christmas Vacation this season, but ABC Family Channel is playing it every few days.  Netflix still has Kung Fu Panda Holiday, one of my new favorite holiday cartoons, so at least they have that, and Christmas with the Kranks last time I checked.  Some fun things to look out for this holiday season, if you happen to be home alone for the holidays and have some time to kill, there's a few things you might enjoy.  El Rey network has a three-day Godzilla movie (kaiju, they call it, monster movies, I guess?) marathon starting at 6 pm Xmas eve, which I will try to watch as much of as possible, barring sleep and, well, you know, Christmas and all.  Also, at 1 pm Christmas day, Cary Elwes hosts a Princess Bride marathon (I forget which channel it's on), with behind-the-scenes stories about the movie.  Personally, I find it inconceivable that Cary Elwes has the time to spend hosting anything, considering how popular he was after the Princess Bride came out, but I guess movie roles are getting harder to come by lately.

If you're looking for a good game to purchase for the holidays, I can't really recommend anything with any degree of certainty.  I have an expansion to Mount and Blade: Warband on my xmas list, Viking Conquest, I believe it's called.  Once they added gunpowder to the series (Fire and Sword), the whole thing just fell apart, because they had some pretty decent hand-to-hand combat mechanics in the game, and putting guns in just ruined everything.  Viking Conquest is for the Mount and Blade portion, so that's before the invention of gunpowder, so I'm hoping there's no guns in it.  I can't say whether it's any good or not, but I guess we'll find out.  Other than that, the gaming landscape for the pre-Christmas buying time looks pretty bleak.  I find myself returning to Minecraft just to pass the hours.  The lonely, boring hours.  And winter hasn't even got here yet.  Sheesh.

That's all for tonight.  Hope to sneak a review in next week, but if not, Merry Yuletide and Happy New Year!  :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Movie Review - Escape Plan (2013)

Ah, another women in prison movie!  Nothing like a good, old fashioned, tits and ass flick with naked chicks and...   wait, what?  It's guys in prison?  With Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?  Who the hell wants to see them naked?  They're OLD!  Why would...  Oh, they're not naked?  And it's an action movie without any shower scenes?  Whew.  Okay, I can do this.  Whew.  Close one.

Escape Plan (2013) is another action movie by a couple old geezers, I mean, uh, veteran actors and action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a security expert who has made his living escaping from various federal penitentiaries and then writing about and reporting the results of his many successful escape attempts.  After escaping from a maximum security prison, Ray is approached by a CIA agent who wants him to test out one of the new, secret, corporate-run facilities for double his usual fee.  Ray decides to give it a shot, only things immediately begin to go wrong, and Ray realizes he's been set up from the get-go.  Imprisoned and abandoned, Ray is left to fend for himself in a cage full of world-class thugs and terrorists.  Can he escape the ultimate prison, even with all his skills?

I'm not really sure how to quantify this movie.  It's got a little revenge in it, it's got a little buddy-cop vibe to it, and it reminds me of escape from alcatraz with Clint Eastwood way back in the day.  There's explosions, gunfights, prison riots, black-ops covert stuff, and a mix of betrayal and insanity tossed in.  Technically, I suppose it best qualifies as an action movie.  With, those masters of the action movie genre, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  So.  if you like those guys, and like action, it's hard to go wrong with this movie.  The acting is decent enough, with Sylvester Stallone playing the lead role, Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Rottmeyer, Ray's new best friend in prison, and Jim Caviezel (from Person of Interest) playing the thoroughly corrupt corporate prison warden.  Sam Neill, interestingly enough (interesting because I didn't expect to see him in such a minor role), plays the prison doctor.  Vincent D'Onofrio plays Ray's business partner, so the cast is pretty damned experienced.  This isn't Madame Butterfly or anything, so there's not much character development, and nobody acts the shit out of it, but it is what it is.  Nobody seems to just be going through the motions, as far as I can tell.  Then again, they're professionals, so how would I know?  I couldn't act my way out of a paper bag.

I thought this was a decent enough movie.  It's action, so there's not supposed to be much character development.  I was waiting for a line from Stallone about how Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) the prison warden, had only read the book on prison security, whereas Ray Breslin (Stallone) was the one who wrote it, but that never happened, so maybe that line was too obvious.  There weren't any obvious plot holes in this movie, which I found refreshing, or at least, none that I can think of offhand.  Pretty much everything gets explained at the end, rather quickly, but it gets explained.  I think it's good that Stallone and Schwarzenegger stick to mostly outsmarting their opponents, with a minimum of hand-to-hand combat (since they really are getting up there), which made things slightly more believable.  I mean, sure, they are action heroes, so there has to be some fighting, and they manage to pull that much off well enough.  The explosions, technical know-how and mechanical gimmickry is done as well as any other blockbuster, which, I guess this movie really wasn't.

I guess what hurt the movie was possibly the lack of character development, I mean, there's a small blurb 2/3rds of the way through where we find out why Ray spends his life doing this kind of thing, but pretty much everyone else is a total damned mystery.  There's a little head-to-head mental combat going on between Hobbes and Ray that is kind of fun to watch, but you got to wonder why Hobbes tells Ray he's still in total control of the prison at a certain point in the movie.  I'm not going to give away any real spoilers, but if the addition of a successful escape artist to your prison population hasn't completely destroyed your ability to be in control of the situation, I'm not sure what would.  The fact of the other things going on at the time just underscores Hobbes' complete and total loss of control, and I wonder what makes Hobbes, who seems like an otherwise intelligent fellow, cling to his beliefs about his prison's efficiency.  Some better looking chicks, a little female nudity, and perhaps a little more character development might have really helped this movie.  Also, it might have helped to explain exactly who the hell Mandheim (or whoever the hell it was Rottmeyer mentions) really was, because I have literally no idea.  If it's something floating around in the news, I stopped watching the news years ago because it was just all bad.  Oh well.  It was still a decent enough action flick, even if Arnold doesn't say "I'll be back." in it, and sadly, nor does Sven-Ole Thorson appear in it.  I guess he and Arnold had a falling out?  Meh.

So, all in all, worth a watch for a good action movie, but not exactly something I'd watch over and over again.  That's almost all for tonight.  I already started my xmas movie viewing, and I'm going to get back to it.  I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for everything I have, and everything I am going to get.  Sure, I'm about as stressed and fucked up as anyone else, but dammit, there's always good food and a warm bed to be thankful for, right?  And shit, I still have games and internet access!  What more could a lifelong geek want?  :-D  OH, and I almost forgot!  I passed 10000 pageviews this past week!  Dayum!  I'd do a whole Sally Field thing and gush about how everyone likes me, but I couldn't possibly bring it off as well as she did.  I'd just end up looking goofy, which, is about normal for me, anyway.  :-/  Catch you guys next weekend!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Review - Sabotage (2014)

I always knew Arnold Schwarzenegger would get back into acting after his run in politics.  I personally can't figure out what would make a guy like Arnold, an actor, a man of appearances, public opinion and make-believe, want to get into the world of politics, which is really all...  appearances and...  public opinion and...  make-believe.  Uh....  Never mind.

Sabotage (2014) marks what I believe is Schwarzenegger's second or perhaps third acting gig since ending his stint playing the Governator.  I'm not sure Expendables 2 counts, because I can't tell if he was acting in that one, or just hanging out with Bruce Willis and trying not to get hit with stray shrapnel.  Sabotage is about a crack team of undercover DEA agents, led by John 'Breacher' Wharton (Arnold), who decide to dip into the ridiculous amounts of money that drug smugglers seem to rake in all the time.  During a typical (for them) drug sting, they fish about ten million off the top of a stack of money, then blow up the money to cover their tracks.  Going to recover the money later on, they find that...  it's gone.  Despite the lack of any corroborating evidence, the DEA launches an internal investigation against the team, while the team tries to figure out just where the hell their money went.  Needless to say, this kind of stress can play havoc with the bonds of trust that make a good team, and when the bodies start to pile up, the shit really hits the fan.

Sabotage wasn't a super-stellar movie, and wasn't a blockbuster.  Despite the cast of good actors led by Arnold, the movie failed to generate any real momentum, despite some excellent shooting scenes, car chase scenes, and even some suspense and intrigue.  There was a whole "whodunnit" thing going on there for a while, and I can't say the cast hit it out of the park, but there weren't really any actors in this one who were so secure in their careers that they just phoned it in (maybe Arnold).  The woman on the DEA team, and I can't remember the actress's name (if I ever knew it), did a bang-up job.  She basically played a washed-up DEA drug addict who was hanging on to her DEA job by her fingernails, and damned if I didn't believe every minute of her time on-screen.  Sure, I hated the fuck out of her character, and didn't think she should have been a DEA agent at all, but that was the point.  You were supposed to think she was a DEA agent who was just this side of a crack-whore.  And I did.  So, Mission Accomplished.  Well acted, DEA crack-whore lady.  Well done.

What I did love about this movie was that nobody was perfect.  From Arnold on down to every last member of the cast, nobody was doing the right thing.  John "Breacher" Wharton's whole damn team was dirty, loudmouthed, asshole-ish, and generally unlikable, and they were the "good guys."  Yes, that's right.  A team of dirty, corrupt DEA agents who stole ten million dollars, were the good guys.  The bad guys were everybody else, from the homicide cop who investigates the killings, to the drug-cartel-hit-men who target John's team, to the heads of the DEA who won't even cooperate with the homicide police long enough to prevent the deaths of their own agents.  And the bad guys had their flaws as well.  Even the homicide detective sleeps with a potential suspect, and I don't think I'm giving away any spoilers here.  Everyone's as imperfect as they can possibly be, and still manage to do their jobs.  Which, is probably pretty realistic, at least in my limited experience of the world.  Admittedly, I don't get out much.

This movie did have some gaping plot holes.  Possible spoilers to follow, so skip this paragraph if you want to actually watch this movie, though I'll try and keep things vague.  One, I have no idea how the hell the DEA managed to tally up how ten million went missing.  There was literally a huge pile of drug money sitting in the middle of a shitty vault in the bowels of a building, and it seems that the DEA team's only job is to blow the shit out of that pile of money.  Which, they do, with a big bomb.  How the HELL anyone could have tallied up all the scraps of currency after that kind of blast is beyond me.  The interrogators said there was a separate investigation that had an exact total on the amount of money that the drug dealers had.  However, I still fail to understand how you can count off scraps of ash and come up with a total that exactly tallies up with what went missing.  It's just not possible.  Second spoiler, and this one is especially confusing, is how the killers actually managed to kill everyone that they did.  I mean, let's think about this.  If you've seen the movie, and you know who did it, like I have, you realize that, not only did they somehow take out an entire team of hit men, but they also killed an entire team of crack DEA agents, men who were used to being undercover, who were used to being targets.  Not only don't I understand how any of that was possible, but there shouldn't have been any possible way that they knew the team of hit-men, hired by the drug cartel, was even after them.  It just doesn't make a lick of sense.  And I really hate movies like that.  Sigh.  End of spoilers.

So, if you like the occasional action movie, as I do when I am not watching horror flicks, and you enjoy your explosions, shootings, car chases and a tiny smidge of nudity, then you might like this movie.  If glaring plot holes keep you up at night and make you scream quietly into your pillow (as they do to me), then don't watch this one.  It's available on netflix if you decide to give it a viewing.  After that, just let it go, breathe, relax, do some yoga or eat some yogurt, and try to forget about what made this movie absolutely impossible.  Ridiculously impossible.  Just....  ugh.

In other news, I just found the Undo button for my blog, so when I accidentally hit Ctrl-A and delete everything, I can fix it.  It was staring me right in the face the whole time, and I just wasn't seeing it.  Figures.  The best place to hide something is usually in plain sight.  And yes, I did it this time, and i was freaking out and DAMMIT if I didn't look around for an UNDO button, and actually find it this time.  Why couldn't I find it those other times?  Did they just add it?  Who knows.  It's there now, is all I can tell you.

In other other news, I survived the snowpocalypse.  Yes, I live in Western New York State, and we had lake effect snow off of Lake Erie for pretty much an entire work week, from monday night to friday morning.  Three to five inches of heavy wet snow per hour, 30 to 40 mile per hour winds, drifting and blowing snow, white-outs, the whole works.  We got buried.  The initial storm dumped 57 inches of snow on us, and the follow-up lake effect snow later in the week gave us another 21 inches, for a snow total of 78 inches of snow in a single four-day period, or six and a half feet of snow.  That's an entire winter's worth of snow all at once (and I'm suitably amazed that we get six and a half feet of snow per winter).  Our house was buried, the front door was blocked with snow, and several roofs collapsed in our area.  I managed to shovel out the front door, and luckily our roof didn't collapse, and the national guard (I think?) was brought in to help with snow removal.  We have had dump trucks and bulldozers removing snow at all hours of the day and night, just in the immediate residential area where I live, for the last three days.  The snow plows were getting stuck in the snow during the initial blizzard, and though I saw one scoot down the street once the first day, there wasn't another one again until today.  I guess they either all got stuck, or were all working elsewhere.  But, we're almost all shoveled out now, and there's only minor damage to the garage and the gutters.  Me, I'm wrecked.  I can barely move.  Shoveling the snow was like shoveling ice.  You had to break it up for a few minutes first, just to get a shovel full.  Then you had to carry the weight of an anvil's worth of ice and snow, toss it over a snow drift that was taller than you were, and then walk back over the icy narrow walkway you just cleared and do it all over again, just to make a few inches headway.  Initial reports by the newscasters that the snow was light and fluffy were not only untrue, but deeply painful to me personally, in so many ways.  I hurt all over, and I want morphine.  Lots of it.

For those that are interested, Charlie Brown's thanksgiving special is on wednesday night at 8 pm.  I forget what channel it's on, but at least you know when, so you can look for it.  I've been watching the Peanuts holiday specials since I was a kid, and my favorite of the three is the Thanksgiving one.  The Halloween one is all about Charlie Brown getting rocks, and Linus awaiting the great Pumpkin.  The Christmas one focuses on the special religious significance of the holiday, which is all sappy and nice and all, but doesn't really reflect how I feel around the holidays.  The thanksgiving one is more my cup of tea.  It is really all about the food, and having fun, which sums up all four seasonal holidays for me, from Halloween til New Year's.  In the Thanksgiving Peanuts special, there's several fun scenes of Snoopy having a battle with a lawn chair, playing a little basketball, and hanging out with Woodstock (the little yellow bird), while charlie brown tries to organize a short turkey day feast.  What I find so amusing is that, while Snoopy actually cooks two meals that day, the first one, for Charlie Brown and friends, has toast, and jelly beans, and popcorn.  The second one, Snoopy manages to somehow perfectly cook a turkey, and make a pumpkin pie, and he and woodstock have a feast all their own.  Makes you wonder why Snoopy didn't just cook the good stuff the first time around, doesn't it?

I for one am thankful that I survived our latest round of winter storms here, in what I used to think was called the snow capital of the world (which it may well be).  For my part of the world, 4 days and nights of continuous lake-effect blizzards are all really just part of another winter.  We get one of these bad storms every two to three years or so.  That's not to make light of the 13 deaths from the storm that I know of so far, from those caught on the roads and frozen to death in their cars, to the people who had heart attacks while shoveling, but dammit, there was THUNDERSNOW, which I love.  I'm just glad I wasn't one of the heart attack victims.  I usually do my shoveling late at night, and I can't imagine a worse death than having a heart attack out on the driveway by myself and not being found til morning.  There's tons of other things I should be thankful for, and I might go into those next weekend, but that'll do for now.

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving holiday, those that celebrate it.  Catch you guys next week, when I will hopefully have recovered from my shoveling-induced agony, and all the wine I shall be drinking on Thursday (and friday, and saturday).  :-D

Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Movie Review - Deepstar Six (1989)

Deepstar Six (1989) was one of a string of underwater horror flicks that uh, 'surfaced,' (heh) in the late 80's and early 90's.  The cast wasn't as stellar as either Leviathan or the Abyss, but they did their best.  Sort of.  Maybe.  Meh, really, how the hell would I know?

Deepstar Six is the story of an underwater habitat set up to locate, place and build an underwater launch platform for nuclear missiles for the US Navy.  Six months in, they are already three months overdue for finishing their job, and the inhabitants are getting a little stir-crazy.  With only a week before the deadline, the captain and the doctor in charge are pushing the crew a little hard.  When the final site for the last missile silo is about to be finalized, sonar soundings reveal a large cavern beneath the site.  Because any instability in the sea floor might throw off the missile's targeting systems, the small crew in charge of placing the final silo is ordered to blow up the cavern and place the silo atop the flattened area.  The technician team sent to blow up the cavern is nearly swallowed by the collapse of the sea floor, and the biologist warns that the cavern could contain sea life that is hundreds or thousands of years old.  The technicians send in a remote camera to explore the remains of the cavern, and the camera is lost.  The technicians go in after the camera drone, and the work team loses contact with the technicians.  Then, Deepstar Six, the habitat containing the rest of the underwater team, loses contact with the work crew.  Yep, you guessed it.  All hell has broken loose.

Deepstar Six has a number of veteran actors among the cast.  Greg Evigan plays a mini-sub driver who is friends with the Captain of Deepstar Six.  Nia Peeples plays the biologist who tries to warn them to proceed with caution.  Miguel Ferrer (son of jose ferrer, whom you may remember from the original Robocop) does an awesome job playing the fuckup that manages to make everything go from bad, to really, really, really bad.  Matt McCoy (who was good in Abominable, which was one of the few mildly scary bigfoot movies) is the mini-sub co-pilot, and Elya Baskin (who I last saw in Spider-Man, playing Peter Parker's affable landlord) plays a scientist on the work crew.  All of these are veteran actors, but the movie is of rushed along by the action, leaving little time for character development.

There's a lot of water, a lot of explosions, and a bit of a weird conundrum that I haven't really been able to figure out.  Spoilers to follow, because, well, this movie is ancient and not really that good.  Supposedly, this thing is large enough to take out a camera drone, then a small work vehicle, then knock the large, heavy work station over the edge of the sea wall.  When seen on radar, it's mistaken for a whale, and it moves ridiculously fast underwater.  Then it attacks the large steel habitat, hard enough to do damage.  Then...  it sneaks in through an airlock and is only slightly larger than one of the underwater work suits the divers wear.  Wait.  What?  Now I'm confused.  End spoilers.

Deepstar Six, despite the adequate acting job by the veteran cast, lacks in a number of other areas.  While technically somewhat sound, with reasonable special effects, the monster and the whole plot around it is somewhat lacking.  The action tries to move you along fast enough that you don't have time to think about it, and that is somewhat successful, but then you wonder why someone like Snyder (Miguel Ferrer), who is so ridiculously inept that they'd never have let him handle scrubbing the toilets, let alone working the machinery.  Minus the ever-shrinking beast and Snyder's complete idiocy, the movie might have been entertainingly thrilling.  With them, you just wonder how Snyder didn't manage to wreck the place his first week there, instead of 6 months in, because the 'monster' certainly couldn't have done the damage without a lot of help.

Surprisingly, each of the three underwater movies I mentioned above, Deepstar Six, the Abyss and Leviathan, all have a similar background.  They each have an undersea base, they each have a monster, and they each have paranoia generated by the Russians.  There was a Cold War going on between the US and Russia at the time, and they made good villains in all three of these movies, despite the fact that no russians actually showed up in any of them.  Well, unless you count Elya Baskin, who acted in Deepstar Six, and may very well be russian (I'm too lazy to look it up).  Still, the paranoia and tension at the time was enough to serve well as the backdrop to these movies.

This movie is currently on Netflix if you want to watch it, however, I highly recommend watching Leviathan instead if you want a solid B-monster-movie, or the Abyss if you want something a bit more uplifting (and a bit more A-list).  There's no nudity in Deepstar Six, but the gorgeous Nia Peeples almost has a shower scene anyway.  So, if you like almost seeing Nia Peeples naked, or want to see a wise-cracking Matt McCoy, Deepstar six is the movie for you.  Otherwise, this movie is memorable only for the massive screwups, both on purpose (Snyder) and by accident (the incredible shrinking monster).  Watch it once to laugh at Snyder's screwups, then move on.

That's all for tonight.  Catch you guys next weekend!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Movie Reviews - The Debt (2010), The Legend of Hercules (2014)

Short review tonight.  I'm actually in the midst of being deathly ill.  Okay, maybe not deathly ill, but I have a cough that would make Death stop and tell me I better go see a doctor.  Tonight's review isn't even a horror movie, but I'll do a double review so at least one of the movies is a fantasy flick.

The Debt (2010) is a story about a team of Israeli agents who went after a Death-camp doctor in 1965, and were supposed to take him to trial for his war crimes.  It was a normal enough tale in the years after the war, jewish agents searching for the nazi war criminals who had fled after the fall of the third reich.  I guess some of them went to Brazil, or had been there during the war, or something.  In any case, the one they were after decided to stick around berlin, and become a gynecologist, because...  well, why wouldn't he?  The 3-man team of israelis verifies his identity, kidnaps him, and then, due to circumstances beyond their control, they screw shit up.  The Debt is the 30-year story of how the mistake is finally rectified.

I liked this movie well enough.  I'm not such a huge fan of horror or gore that I need a body to drop every 15 minutes or I give up on the movie.  This movie was more about the human element of the aftermath of the war, and the story of an older agent that goes back in the field for one last gasp, than it was about the horrors of the nazi death camps.  That having been said, the death camp doctor is sure one hell of a scary villain.  I like how, 30 years after the original mission, and many years past his prime (he was old in 1965, which would have been 20 years after the end of WW2, and he's 30 years older than that when this movie takes place), the nazi death camp doctor is still just as goddamned dangerous as he was back then, perhaps even more so.  And if a story about an escaped nazi death camp doctor isn't partially a horror story, then what is, I ask you?  This movie was also kind of a spy/espionage thriller, without much action to it.  Which is fine.  I like spy stories, too.

The acting was good overall, and I thought Jessica Chastain as the young Rachel was suitably attractive.  She seemed to draw my eye on several occasions, and the rest of the cast did well enough.  Helen Mirren plays the lead role, as the older Rachel.  Not a ton of action, but more of a suspense and atmospheric thriller, with a message, something about telling the truth, I guess.  What action there was, was very well done, I thought.  Pretty realistic.  But, there wasn't any nudity at all.  I don't think I've given away too many spoilers that you wouldn't enjoy the movie, so please, watch it on Netflix, where I did, or see if it's still playing on HBO, as I remember seeing it on there once or twice.  When, I can't tell you right now.  I'm pumped so full of cough medicine I'm not even sure I'm wearing pants.

The Legend of Hercules (2014) was on HBO last night.  I can tell you right now, that HBO managing to get this movie in the same year it was released is not a testament to HBO's aggressive desire to bring you the best movies out there as soon as they can.  Mainly because the Legend of hercules wasn't very good.

The Legend of Hercules (2014) is, in case you haven't guessed, about Hercules.  yea, you know the guy, probably heard of him.  Greek hero, bit of a strong man, son of Zeus?  Rings a bell, right?  Anyway, this is sort of a different take on his legend, which, as you may know, if how they do thins nowadays.  They reinvent the same bored old trash.  But I digress.  This movie tells a little backstory of hercules birth, and why he came into the world, and pretty much tells you why the greeks referred to him as Heracles (the romans renamed him Hercules because the queen of the gods was named Juno in their pantheon, not Hera, and they pretty much just stole all the greek gods and made them roman because they didn't have any gods of their own, the thieving wankers).  Then, you fast-fowards 20 years to a short 3-month period in hercules young life when he was son to the king of...  um...  well, wherever he was born.  yea.

No nudity in this movie either.  Strange for a sword-swinging fantasy epic that there wouldn't be any nudity but eh, there it is.  The actors were mainly forgettable and unknown to me except for the guy that plays Chiron, hercules' tutor.  Supposedly, in the myth, he was a centaur, but the guy in this movie didn't ever even ride a horse as far as I recall.  The special effects were a bit lame and the action was, meh, so-so, I guess.  There were a few good fight scenes, though mostly short ones, and the only really heroic thing hercules did in this movie, I mean, something that you might recall from knowing his legend, was to kill the Namean Lion.

Which brings up an important point.  Supposedly, the Namean Lion's skin couldn't be pierced (much like achilles, perhaps... maybe they swam in the same pool of magic water), so really, the only way you could kill the thing was with the strength of hercules, or maybe catching him in a rockslide or something.  So hercules does the heroic thing, and kills the lion, and I thought, yay, now the movie is going somewhere! and then.. it didn't.  hercules let his brother take the credit for killing the lion (wait, what?) and then, somehow, in the final fight, the Lion's skin ends up being worn by hercules.  But..  how'd he get it?  Maybe i dozed off at some point during the movie, because, his brother supposedly killed the lion, then kept the hide, and hercules went away, and was never near it again, and then POOF it's around his shoulders during the final battle.  Where the shit did that come from?  :-o  Either I missed that part or they edited it out.  Meh.  There wasn't much else in the movie that was of note.

So, to sum up, maybe catch The Debt if you like aging spy thrillers or suspenseful dramas, or like seeing Jessica Chastain's legs.  Only watch hercules if you really want to see just how a lion whose skin can't be pierced can be killed, because otherwise, the rest of the movie is kind of lame.

Okay, I'm going to go crawl into bed and try not to die.  Catch you guys next weekend, assuming I make it.  No, go away Death, it's just a cold.  Shut up, it is not ebola.  That Death guy, what a jokester!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Horrorthon Review #31 - Trick r Treat (2007)

I made it!  Thirty one movies in 31 days!  Well, technically, I reviewed 32 movies, so, you got a bonus, but it still took me 31 days to do them all.  As it does every year.  I suppose I could just review a bunch of movies beforehand, and post 31 reviews on Halloween day, but where's the fun in that?  Besides, If I watched 31 horror movies front to back, it would take approximately sixty hours, give or take, and that's one damn full 3-day weekend.  Maybe I'll try it someday, when I want to watch so much TV that my eyes bleed.  heh

Trick R Treat (2007) is technically speaking, an anthology.  Okay, I know I said I hate anthology movies, but calling Trick R Treat an "anthology" is like calling an orchestra a "collection of instruments played by musicians."  Singly, they each do their own parts, but together, they make up a musical symphony of surpassing beauty.  It's the same thing with Trick R Treat.  I can't even really tell you how many different stories are interwoven in this mess of intertwined short stories.  I've seen it half a dozen times since I got it on DVD, and I still find something new every time I view it.  I wouldn't be surprised if I was drinking heavily one night, and watching this on Halloween (it's a bit of a tradition for me, now), and I saw myself in the Halloween parade in this movie.  Suffice it to say that, in the town of Warren Valley, Ohio (where the movie is set, I have no idea if the town is real or not), there's a HELL of a lot of weird shit happening on the night of October 31st.

You really can't take in all of this movie in one viewing.  In fact, I would recommend watching it back to back, just to see some of what you missed the first time you saw it.  Or, like me, you could watch it every year on October 31st if you get tired of seeing Halloween parts 1 through 6.  Trick R Treat, as a movie, doesn't focus on one particular killer, but there's a whole bunch of them running amok in Warren Valley on this particular Halloween night.  There's the nicely-dressed vampire guy who goes around biting women's necks with very sharp teeth.  There's the crotchety old geezer who lives next to the vampire guy.  There's the little hooded kid with the pumpkin-head sucker who visits them both.  There's Little Bo Peep, who's having a party in Sheeps Meadow, and of course, there's Little Red Riding Hood, who drives down the street where the vampire guy and the old geezer live.  And that's only part of the story.

You might be surprised to learn just how much of this movie interacts with the other parts.  See a kid running across the street in the first scene?  That's not an extra.  That's part of another story, that happened 20 minutes before the movie starts.  Hear a wolf howl?  That's not just a lonely dog, but part of another story that happens later.  See a smashed pumpkin on the ground?  One of the other actors in the movie did that two scenes ago.  This movie is like a roller coaster of horror.  Sure, you go up and down and loop the loop and zip around the curves in a big circuitous route, but when you come back to the beginning, it's just as thrilling going on the ride all over again.

The only real side story in this movie, and I'm going to spoil things a little a bit here (not too much, because there's no way to spoil this movie), is the flashback of what happened on the Halloween Bus, oh-so-many years before this movie is set.  Because most of the movie is set on Halloween night, you don't get to see a lot of daytime scenery, but this flashback gives a little treat to those who like a good background in a movie.  For instance, in The Shining, if you liked the long drive up to the Overlook Hotel that showed a lot of fall scenery (I loved it, best way to show the opening credits I have ever seen in a movie), then you'll probably like the flashback in this movie.  It's a short enough episode, and it's basically just a scary story told by one of the other characters in the movie, but it has fall foliage, and every single person in the story shows up elsewhere, in another story, or in another part of the movie.  Like I said, every part of the movie is interwoven with every other part, like a tapestry of horror, where you are admiring the artwork and you come to realize the threads that make up the tapestry are actually made of human hair, attached to bloody scalps.  Okay, I imagine that's never actually happened to anyone, so it's a horrible, scary analogy.  I've never been good with analogies.

I tried to do a Hellgate double feature today, since there's two movies on Netflix that are called hellgate, but one turned out to be an anthology (which was bad enough), and a very badly done one at that, so i skipped it.  The other Hellgate movie had pretty bad reviews, and didn't really sound like a horror movie, either.  I wanted to do a hellgate double feature because, as often happens in horror movies, there's some event or gateway, and once you reach it, (say it with me) ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.  Which, would make sense when you are talking about an actual gateway to hell.  Alas, neither of the movies called Hellgate seemed to feature an actual gate to Hell, so I gave up on them.  Movie titles are so misleading, usually.  Luckily that's not the case with Trick r Treat, as most everyone in the movie is in the midst of a trick, a treat, or actually trick or treating.

I hope you guys like Trick R Treat as much as I do; however, good luck finding it to watch.  I have it on DVD, but it was filmed in Canada, and I haven't seen it on HBO or anything for some years now.  :-(  Most of you probably won't even read this review, anyways.  You're either getting ready to go Trick or Treating yourselves, watching horror movies all day and night (as I will be returning to shortly), or already so blazed from partying all week that you're dreaming you're in a horror movie.  However you spend your day, I hope you all have a Happy Halloween, and remember the rules!  Always check your candy!  Especially if that's your date's name and she happens to be passed out drunk in front of your car.  :-/

In other news, my blog posts will return to once every weekend or so after tonight.  This review a movie a day thing can be very taxing on your free time, as most of you can guess.  You guys have fun out there, and try not to kill anyone who might come back from the dead for vengeance.  :-o  Until next time!

Horrorthon Review #30 - VHS (2012) and VHS 2 (2013)

Surprise Double feature!  Okay, I kind of knew it was coming, but you guys didn't.  So.  It's a surprise for you.  I had planned on more double features throughout the month, but as always, there's just never enough time to watch ALL the horror movies I want to watch.  You'd think being unemployed and all, I'd have tons of time to kill watching horror movies, but, no.  No.    heh.  "Kill watching horror movies..."   Sometimes, I am just unintentionally funny.  One has to pick and choose what one watches, doesn't one?  And why the fuck am I talking about myself in the third person?  Meh.  Anthologies always did kind of ruin my brain.  I think I'm stupider for having watched them.

VHS (2012) is a horror found-footage anthology.  Basically, a bunch of morons are filming themselves breaking shit (as morons will do) and they decide they need more money to pay for breaking shit, so they go into this house to rob a VHS tape.  Apparently, someone will pay big money for this tape.  What tape?  What's on the tape?  It's never discussed.  The morons break into a house with an old man in it, and find him dead in front of a bunch of TV's and a few VCR's.  I didn't think VCR's even still existed, but what do I know.  So they start playing the VCR tapes to find the right one (which is just dumb considering they have no idea what they are looking for, but since I've been referring to them as morons, well, there you go), and that's where you get your stories from.  The wraparound story about the morns breaking into the house just doesn't go anywhere.  Apparently the dead guy isn't dead, or he is, but he's a zombie?  It's never really discussed, but the morons start disappearing one at a time.

VHS 2 (2013) doesn't exactly continue the story, but picks up with what appears to be a private investigator and his assistant, looking for a missing college kid.  They don't really find him, exactly, but what they do find in his house is a stack of VHS tapes and a laptop recording images of the college kid they are looking for.  The investigator begins searching the house, and sets his assistant to watching the VHS tapes to look for clues.

Okay, remember when I said I hate found footage?  Yea. I hate it worse now.  I also hate anthologies.  So basically, what's going on here is this.  A bunch of really cheap film-makers decide to keep their stories short, to save on filming costs, and THEN, decide to go with found-footage technique, to save on special effects costs.  So what you end up with are really short flicks, with poor acting, ridiculously (and purposely) bad camera work, and the cheapest, most off-screen special effects you've ever (not) seen.  After watching both VHS, and its sequel, VHS 2, I think I've gone blind from the shaky camera work and blurry visuals.  I just have one question.  You've got a button-cam.  You're wearing it.  How the HELL does the camera keep going in and out of focus while you're standing there?  It's not like there's a telephoto lens attached to it that you're trying to focus!  Jesus.

Let me just give a little recap of the anthology stories involved here.  There's a zombie outbreak in a state park.  There's a Philippine religious cult.  There's an alien invasion.  There's a vampire attack in a hotel room.  There's a murder/robbery.  There's a ... well, a thing caught on film in the woods.  Honestly, you know what questions I would be asking myself, if I actually saw any of these tapes in anyone's collection and even thought they might be real recordings?  How the hell do you have an alien invasion, a zombie apocalypse, and a demon brought to earth, and not have anyone else find out about any of it?  What, it just shows up on some VHS tape in a college guy's room, and that's the first anyone' ever heard of it?  Yea, right.  Another thing I found myself asking is, it's obvious these recordings were made on a variety of media.  Digital cams, phones, cameras, just about anything.  So...  why are all the recordings transferred to VHS tapes?  Isn't that just a little ridiculous?  Sure, I think I might have an old copy of The Terminator on VHS tape somewhere in my house, but I threw out my VCR some years ago.  Who would bother transferring what is obviously a digital computer recording onto a VHS tape so someone, who might still be using a VCR, could play the tape?

Okay, what did I like about these two films.  Lots of nudity?  I can't really say anyone was particularly hot, but there was a fair amount of nudity.  The two girls in the segment set in the forest weren't bad, but the rest weren't exactly Zoe Saldana, you know what I mean?  There was one segment about a guy who gets an electronic eye installed to replace a real eye, and starts seeing dead people.  The segment was pretty dumb, but the house it was set in was pretty awesome.  Hmmmm, I think that was it?  Meh.

Okay, no more anthologies for me, and I'm going to try and stay away from found footage from now on.  Sure, it's probably the wave of the future, in that it saves a tremendous amount of money on, you know, actual cameramen, special effects, and acting (since the camera isn't really on the actors much, who needs acting skills?) and since the production companies are all money-grubbing, greedy slobs who don't give a rat's ass about quality, only cash, I guess we're going to see more and more found footage crap popping up.  Why do you think we don't even have VHS tapes anymore, or use writable DVD's to record movies?  Because someone can make a buck selling movie DVD's, and the cable companies wanted to charge you an extra fee for digitally recording what they broadcast, even though they're already charging you for broadcasting it to your house, anyways.  Maybe broadcasting isn't the right word when you've got cable, but, whatever.  Well, I'm not watching found footage anymore.  I'm just not.  Screw it.

You like found footage?  Watch VHS 1 and 2 and be cured of your liking for it.  All praise to the inventor of the Steadi-cam used in real movies.  Amen, hallejulah.

One more night!  I have an idea for another double feature tomorrow, but I don't know if it's going to work out.  Maybe I can try and get it done earlier in the day, so if the movies suck balls, I can review something else for Halloween.  We shall see how things go.

That's all for tonight!  And it's one minute before midnight.  Go me!  :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Horrorthon Review #29 - Psycho (1960)

Having recently reviewed John Carpenter's Halloween and Halloween 2, and having stated that they are my personal favorite scariest movies of all time (considering it's really one four-hour long horror movie), I felt it was only fair to give The Exorcist and Psycho a fair chance.  I reviewed the Exorcist last October, so tonight, it was time to review Psycho.

Psycho (1960) is Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller starring Janet Leigh as Marion Crane and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates.  Marion is a bored office worker who is given $40,000 in cash to deposit into a bank.  Instead, she takes the money and hotfoots it out of town.  She might have got away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids!  Actually, there's no kids in this movie, and it's just bad luck that she doesn't get away clean.  As Janet is on her way out of town, her boss crosses the street right in front of her car, and recognizes her.  Since she had told him she was spending the weekend in bed, her boss seems to wonder, then continues on his way.  Marion begins to worry immediately, and it's not long before she suspects the authorities may be after her.  Getting clear of the major highway, she happens on the Bates Motel, and checks in for the night.  Unfortunately, the proprietor of the Bates Motel, one Norman Bates, isn't exactly in his right mind.

I am sure most everyone has seen this movie, but I won't give away any further details.  Sure, I could discuss a good monster movie all day long, but this isn't really a monster movie.  Sure, it's a classic thriller from Alfred Hitchcock, and yes, it's freakin Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins in their most famous film roles, but there's no real monster.  Sure, this movie was voted most thrilling horror movie of all time by some important magazine, and yea, usually on lists of the best horror movies ever, this one is usually right behind the number one spot, the Exorcist.  Sure, I could go on and on about how famous and popular this movie was back in the day.

However, I guess this movie hasn't really aged well.  One, nowadays, psychiatrists don't even think there is such a thing as multiple personalities.  I'm not really sure how they can just erase some 50 years of psychiatry.  They used lots of white-out, I guess.  Personally, it seems to me that if you're going to deny something you've been trying to prove for the last 50 years, then wouldn't that kind of shatter whatever credibility you've managed to gather thus far?  (shrugs)  Second thing, Psycho is in black and white, which just kind of bugs me.  Thirdly, transvestites were pretty shocking back in the 60's.  Nowadays, I could be wearing a dress and stockings right now, and nobody would really care.  Norman Bates rushing out of a darkened doorway in a wig, a dress, and wielding a knife would just make me laugh.  Sure, he'd probably still get me, but I'd be laughing the whole time anyway.  Fifth, I guess I'm just a little too jaded to be startled by a desiccated corpse in a fruit cellar at this point in my life.

All that having been said, this isn't one of the most famous thrillers of all time for no reason.  Hitchcock was a master film-maker in his day, and I think Janet Leigh got an oscar nomination for her role in this movie, which is almost unheard of for a horror film.  Between 1983 and 1990, Anthony Perkins even starred in 3 sequels, Psycho 2 through 4, before his death in 1992.  The sequels were actually pretty decent, too, if you ever get the chance to view them.  There's no nudity, but there is one hell of a famous shower scene, in which Janet Leigh gets brutally stabbed to death.  Pretty sure everyone is familiar with that one.  Having just watched it, and having watched it before, I can say with all honesty that it is worth more than one viewing, and watching it over again doesn't hurt it at all.  Norman Bates is already batshit crazy by the time this movie starts, so you can't really catalog his descent into madness, but it's still damn creepy to hear him talking to himself in his mother's voice.  Not that we don't all talk to ourselves in our mother's voice from time to time...   or maybe, that's just me...  but it's still creepy.  Even when I do it.

So, to sum up, excellent thriller, pretty frightening if you're scared of guys in drag with long knives, or, you know, Psychos (heh, see what I did there?).  No nudity, famous shower scene, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins (a fine actor).  Rewatchable, but a bit dated, also, in black and white.

In other news, I carved my first Jack-O-Lantern in several years today!  :-D  I used to do it every year, but I gave it up for about a half-dozen years.  Too stressed out, I guess?  Hard to say.  I used to be pretty decent at it, but I'm a little rusty.  Sure, today's Lantern is creepy, and scary, and I almost shit myself when I finished and took a look at it, but it's just not my best work.  Meh.  Practice makes perfect.  Next year's will be better.  :-)

Two more reviews to go!  Catch you guys tomorrow night.

Horrorthon Review #28 - The Ninth Gate (1999)

I know, I talk about this movie a lot, but that's only because I like it so much.  But I did check my blog from last year, and I didn't review it then.  I chose it this year because, sadly, Netflix is pulling it from the instant streaming lineup at the end of this week.  So, if you want to watch this movie on Netflix, you have til Halloween.  :-/

The Ninth Gate (1999) is probably the only time you'll ever see Johnny Depp without a weird looking wig or a funny hat and costume on.  This movie begins with the death of a book-owner, and the sale of his book to a rather malicious collector of, shall we say, books of a certain devilish nature.  Enter Corso (Johnny Depp), a mercenary acquirer of rare books, with rather loose morals.  Corso is only in it for the money, and his greed leads him to work with the lowest underbelly of the literary world.  However, his skill at acquiring rare books brings him to the attention of one Boris Balkan (Frank Langella), who has just acquired a copy of the 'Nine Gates' (there's more to the title that I forget), by Aristide de Torchia, a celebrated devil-worshipper who was burned at the stake in 1667, a year after he wrote the book.  According to legend, Aristide de Torchia acquired a book written directly by Lucifer himself, and with Lucifer's assistance, interpreted the book into his own work, the Nine Gates.  According to legend, the book is designed to summon Satan himself.  Boris Balkan hires Corso because, as he puts it, there is something 'wrong' with his recently acquired copy of the book.  Corso is offered a great deal of money to take the case, and investigate the authenticity of not only Balkan's copy of the Nine Gates, but the other two surviving copies, as well...

Come on say it with me!  "And then... ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!"  :-D  Because...  the book is designed to summon the devil... geddit?  All hell tends to break loose a lot in horror movies, you ever notice that?  Well, I have.

Right.  Well, I really liked this movie for several reasons.  One, Johnny Depp isn't totally over-acting in this movie, like he is in most of his movies.  He's just your average, geeky agent who deals in rather shadily-acquired rare books.  Two, Frank Langella is an awesome actor who DOES totally overact in this movie.  He plays a great bad guy, and he does it with gusto.  Lena Olin also has a role as a bad girl, as it were, and she even has a nude scene, which really should have garnered her an Oscar for this performance, but it was a very short nude scene, in my opinion.  Emanuelle Seigner (who I have never heard of, before or since) plays an extremely mysterious girl who seems to shadow Corso in his travels.  Everyone seemed to do a good job acting in this movie, and the effects are minimal but used to good effect.

I call this one a "thinking man's horror movie," mostly because it's more of a slow build, there's a lot of atmosphere, suspense, and general tension, and you really have to know what's going on to appreciate the horror.  There's only a few bodies, very little gunplay, and a little violence.  One of the reviewers on Netflix mentioned something about some jewish mysticism involved in the engravings pictured in the Nine Gates, but you don't need to know that to understand the movie.  There's some brief nudity in a couple places, and well, let's face it, the book they're trying to piece together is designed to summon the devil.  Sure, along the way, it's more of a mystery, basically a detective story with Corso playing the part of the investigator, but there's satanic cults, mysterious assassins, and any magic or witchery involved is all very discrete and disguised.

Just in case you have trouble figuring it out (and I'm not underestimating my audience, I am sure all of you guys can follow the movie, but just in case you have to pee during an important part), I'm going to simplify the end of the movie for you.  Spoilers to follow.  Each of the images in the engraving of the book are scenes that Corso himself runs across.  The hanged man, etc.  Balkan may have set Corso on the task, but it was Corso who walked the path, uncovered the deception, and figured out the key, and when Balkan takes credit for Corso's work, and assumes that he alone is the one to reach the ultimate goal, just because he has all the engravings, he soon finds out he's sadly mistaken.  As it turns out, the story itself, the journey Corso has taken, decides his fate, and Balkan never walked that path, so he can't share Corso's ultimate fate.  End spoilers, and really, I was so vague about it, that you shouldn't be able to figure out the ending from that.  But, if you've watched the end, it should all make sense for you.

I guess what the movie is trying to say is, we each choose our own fate by the path we walk, by the decisions we make.  The little decisions, the ones we make every day, and how we live our lives, that's what decides our fate.  I personally agree with that assessment.  For some of us, taking a long look at what we are, and the decisions we've made, is too much of a horror story as it is.  I can't really blame those people for not looking too closely at their own lives.  :-/

Well, aren't I just the creepy philosopher tonight?  heh  As usual, I am a tad late with my review this evening.  I had stuff to do.  It happens.  Only a few more days!  Might even get a couple new movies in there before the end.  For those who care, the peanuts Halloween special is on thursday night at 8 pm, not sure what channel.  I watch it every year.  The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  I've been a fan of Snoopy for years.  Coolest dog, ever.  Also, AMC is doing Halloween marathons.  All the Halloween movies, One through 4 or 5, I guess.  Even 3!  Yes, even three.  Season of the Witch, indeed.

Hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween season.  :-)  Catch you guys tomorrow night for more horror!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Horrothon Review #27 - Halloween (1978) and Halloween 2 (1981)

It's double feature Monday here at Scrolls of Wisdom!  :-D

And yes, I know these films have been around for years, but look, I absolutely love discussing horror films, and as long as I'm not giving anything away, I can really talk about the entire film, and not just the beginning!  :-D  Maybe some day I'll be a guest host on Turner Classic Movies or something, discussing films with Robert Osborne, or Drew Barrymore, or whoever the hell else they have hosting that channel.

As a quick aside, having a host introduce movies is an awesome idea, and I think more channels should do it.  It's not like it's copy-written by Turner Classic Movies, for crying out loud.  Joe-Bob Briggs used to do it on the Movie Channel back in the early 90's, and Walt Disney used to do it way way back for a long long time, to introduce almost all of the Disney films.  Svengoolie continues the proud tradition of introducing horror films on Saturday nights at 10 pm, or at least, he does where I live.  It's a nice set-up for the movie, and introduces us to a lot of little details we might otherwise have missed.  Now, on to the review!

Halloween (1978) begins telling the story of one Michael Myers, quite possibly one of the scariest characters in film history.  Michael's story begins one Halloween in 1963, when, as a 6-year-old boy, he brutally murders his older sister and her boyfriend, for no apparent reason.  This movie begins with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance), Michael's psychiatrist, heading up to the Smith's Grove medical facility where Michael has been kept for the 15 years since the murder, on the night of October 30th.  Dr. Loomis is there to oversee the transfer of Michael Myers to a court-ordered judicial hearing.  It's a typical dark and stormy night, but when Dr. Loomis notices the patients running around loose, he knows immediately what has happened.  Michael has escaped, and in short order, he steals the very car Dr. Loomis approached the facility in.  What follows is a slowly-building, intensely suspenseful and creepy manhunt for the escaped lunatic that is Michael Myers.

First, let me just say, the whole escaped lunatic thing is a basic staple of horror films from years back.  Even the Night of the Creeps, which I reviewed a few nights ago, started with an escaped lunatic.  Hell, pretty much every ghost story, told around every campfire, in every horror film involving a bunch of slaughtered campers, involves an escaped lunatic.  There's nothing scarier than someone who's just completely apeshit, wielding an axe and running around hacking people apart, because usually there's no rhyme or reason to who or when he kills.  Serial killers all have a pattern, and sometimes, so do escaped lunatics, but in the case of a nutcase, it's usually a pattern no one else can decipher.  John Carpenter tapped into this fear of lunacy to write Halloween all those years ago, and he also made some of the creepiest damn music ever heard in a horror film.

Once Myers escapes the mental facility, we really have no idea where he's going, at first.  Dr. Loomis knows he's heading home, back to his house in Haddonfield, where he took a knife and stabbed his teenage sister and her boyfriend to death 15 years earlier, on Halloween night.  Dr. Loomis tracks the stolen car, and arrives in Haddonfield during the day on Halloween, immediately notifying the police of the escaped mental patient.  We, as the viewer of the movie, have already seen Michael Myers several times, driving around town in the stolen vehicle, tracking one Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), who turns out to be Michael's baby sister, who escaped his killing spree some 15 years previous.  Once his quarry is located, Michael abandons the car, and begins following Laurie on foot, creeping the shit out of her, because she keeps thinking she sees someone, and then Michael vanishes back into the shadows before Laurie can verify what she saw.

Laurie Strode, a geeky high school teenager, was having a fairly normal Halloween.  With absolutely no idea that she is Michael Myers' long-lost sister, she meets her friends after school, walks home while the little kids are trick or treating, and tries to make plans around her babysitting duties later that evening (interestingly enough, the original title of this film was the Babysitter Murders).  All the while, Michael follows her, and Laurie gets more and more nervous as the night wears on.  Finally, in the midst of her babysitting, Michael Myers finally begins his killing spree, taking out Laurie's friends in the neighboring house, then heading over to kill her, all while Dr. Loomis and the police are out searching the streets for Myers.

One of the best parts about this film is how much it actually revolves around Halloween.  Older folks head out to party, teen girls settle in to babysit or hook up with their boyfriends, and little kids settle in to a night of watching scary movies.  At several points during the movie, scenes are shown on TV of old horror films, everything from Night of the Living Dead to The Thing and Forbidden Planet.    Jack-o-lanterns are frequently seen, and trick-or-treaters are heading from house to house, looking for candy.  You get the feeling that if Michael wasn't out killing everybody he could get his hands on, then this would just be a normal Halloween night for everyone concerned, including the viewer.  But this is certainly anything but your normal Halloween night.

Halloween 2 (1981) picks up where Halloween left off, with literally no time elapsed in between.  I think this is quite possibly one of the only series of movies I have ever seen that did this, making Halloween and Halloween 2 basically one long 4-hour horror film, encompassing a roughly 24-hour period in the life of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode.  Halloween 2 begins as Dr. Loomis sees Laurie Strode's young charges flee the house where she was babysitting them, and heads into the house just in time to fire six shots into the body of Michael Myers, saving Laurie's life, which we saw at the end of the first Halloween movie.  Michael falls over a balcony railing, landing in a bloody heap on the front lawn.  Dr. Loomis checks on Laurie, but when he returns to check the corpse of Michael, he realizes that Michael has gone.  After taking six bullets fired from short range, Michael has simply gotten up, and walked away.  The manhunt for Michael begins anew as Laurie Strode is taken to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, suffering from numerous injuries, none of which are particularly life-threatening.

At this point in the 4-hour marathon of blood, it's getting late in Haddonfield, and the news media have clued in to the deaths of the 3 teenagers that Michael has slaughtered so far.  As news reports begins to interrupt the horror films and the little kiddies get to bed, the older kids are still out causing trouble and the police and adults in Haddonfield are starting to freak out a bit.  Michael Myers, that little boy who stabbed his sister to death 15 years ago, is back in Haddonfield, and he's pissed.  Further complicating matters, a teen boy wearing a mask similar to Michael Myers has been killed, and police are convinced that Michael Myers is dead.  Dr. Loomis, feeling that Michael is not dispatched so easily, has the medical examiner inspect the burned corpse, and Dr. Loomis informs the authorities that the teeth don't seem to match that of Michael.  After searching the entire town of Haddonfield, and supposedly finding their killer, the manhunt must begin all over again.

It's the very early hours of the morning at this point, and after being treated for her injuries, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role here) is sleeping it off in Haddonfield memorial.  While parties are still going on and police are still searching the nighttime streets, Dr. Loomis is recalled by the governor, and learns that Laurie Strode is secretly Michael Myers' little sister.  In the meantime, bodies are starting to pile up in Haddonfield memorial, as Michael locates Laurie Strode, and goes about taking out every single living thing in his way, including the nurses, doctors and hospital staff.  Only one of the two EMT's (Lance Guest and Leo Rossi) who transported Laurie manages to survive, by sheer accidental luck, as Dr. Loomis heads to the hospital to save Laurie's life and end Michael's murderous rampage.

Interesting side note here, both Lance Guest and Leo Rossi went on to minor stardom.  Lance Guest was almost as big a star as Jamie Lee Curtis back in the 80's, starring in Jaws 4 and the Last Starfighter, as Leo Rossi went on to become a staple in a number of B-movies.  Nowadays, Lance Guest and Leo Rossi are all but forgotten, and Jamie Lee Curtis is doing yogurt commercials.  Another interesting little tidbit, john Carpenter was paid merely $10,000 to write the script and the music for Halloween, and awarded with 10% of the movie's profits.  I wonder if he still gets royalty checks every Halloween?  There is just no escaping this movie in October.  It's probably on more often than the Peanuts Halloween special with Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

Final note, Laurie Strode is one hell of a shot.  At the end of Halloween 2, doped up and in pain, after a long day and night of horror, she manages to put two bullets into Michael's head, one into each eye, and blinds him.  I'm not sure which is scarier, the fact that this barely slows Michael down, or that Laurie is suddenly a deadly shot with a revolver when she's never touched a gun before in her life.  Certainly the Myers family seems to have a knack for killing.

What possessed Michael to become a killing machine in 1963, when he was but 6 years old?  When most kids think of Halloween, they think of candy, not grabbing up a butcher knife and stabbing their sister to death.  For 15 years after the murder in 1963, Michael sits complacent in a psychiatric hospital, patiently waiting for Laurie's 17th birthday, and then he's out and killing his way to Laurie and Haddonfield.  Our only clue to Michael's behavior comes in Halloween 2, as Michael (or someone) mysteriously writes the word "Samhain" in blood on a school blackboard.  As we already know from reading my blog, Samhain was the festival of the dead, marking the end of the growing season and the harvest of the crops.  This is quite simply, our only clue to Michael's behavior, and the only one we need.  Not only does it link the Halloween of today with the possibly-sacrificial traditions of the bloody past, but it bodes ill for the future, giving some hint to Michael's intentions.  Adding to the mystery, how does Michael even know of Samhain, when he's been in a mental hospital since the age of 6?

These questions seemed poised to be answered in Halloween 3, but alas, Hollywood machinations resulted in the Halloween 3 title being absconded by another film-maker, and Halloween 3: Season of the Wtich was made.  Although a fairly decent and creepy standalone movie in its own right, it doesn't take up the tale of Michael Myers at all, instead focusing on a mask-making company, ancient druids and magical stone monoliths.  We don't get to learn more of Michael Myers til Halloween 4 and 5, which were both pretty good movies, but which probably weren't written by John Carpenter, and while Donald Pleasance returned to his role of Dr. Loomis, no one else came back.  Jamie Lee Curtis wouldn't return to the series until Halloween H20, a full twenty years after the original movie.  However, Halloween 4 and 5 did introduce us to the adorable Danielle Harris, who recently completed the "Hatchet" series of horror films.

While most people may focus on the Exorcist and Psycho as the scariest movies of all time, I much prefer Halloween and Halloween 2.  I mean, let's face it, Linda Blair might have been as frightening as the devil himself, but how many people did she kill?  One priest?  Another guy or two at most?  And Anthony Perkins in a dress and a wig, talking to himself in a high pitched voice?  That's more laughable than scary, if you ask me.  Michael Myers is supposedly a living human, but from the age of 6 onwards, not only acts in a very inhuman manner, but becomes an unstoppable killing machine that neither bullets nor fire can slow down.  We have no rhyme nor reason for Michael's onslaught, only the fact that Michael targets his own bloodline, and anyone else who happens to be nearby at the time.  Even Jason Voorhees is a zombie by now, giving him an excuse for his unending killing spree, but Michael, as Dr. Loomis puts it, is just pure evil.  Evil itself keeps Michael alive and killing, and isn't that creepier than an explanation, no matter how graphic that explanation is?

To sum up, lots of bodies over the two movies, mostly teen girls, and obviously some nudity here and there.  Lots of blood, no real gore, some gunplay and an explosion.  Suspense and creepiness run amok.  Excellent acting by Donald Pleasance and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Gratuitous scenery of Haddonfield at Halloween, with trick-or-treaters running about, and leaves blowing off of trees.  Interesting thing to note, none of the trees in the background seem to actually have anything but green leaves, yet there are plenty of brown leaves strewn about on the ground and supposedly falling from the trees in certain scenes.  Makes me think it was summer during filming, and some brown leaves were just repeatedly tossed around, but it doesn't really detract from the movie in any way.  What I do wonder about is, Laurie's friend picks her up in what is, I guess, late afternoon, then has possibly the longest car ride in movie history as she heads to her babysitting gig.  Halfway through, the sun is going down, and by the time they get there, it's full dark.  What is that, in elapsed time?  Forty five minutes to an hour of travel time?  How are they still even in Haddonfield at this point?  Oh well.  It's barely noticeable unless you're looking for it.

Final fun fact:  The mask Michael Myers wears throughout the Halloween movies is a white, unpainted mask of Captain Kirk, otherwise known as actor William Shatner.  Star Trek, originally airing in the late 60's, was experiencing a fan-induced comeback in the late 70's when this movie was made, and Captain Kirk masks would have been popular items.  Which means, one of the scariest killers in movie history, to make himself even more frightening, dons a mask of William Shatner.  I wonder how Mr. Shatner feels about that?  Do you think he's flattered, or insulted?  ;-)

That's all for tonight!  Catch you guys tomorrow with more reviews!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Horrorthon Review #26 - The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014)

Yes, I know.  I'm extremely late with my post again.  I had out of town company, we went to dinner, and it's been a busy night!  Sheesh!  Nag.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) starts out innocently enough.  A film crew is trying to do a documentary on Alzheimer's, so they choose an older woman named Deborah Logan who has been diagnosed as being in the early stages of the disease, to try and document not only the progression of the disease, but the effects on the caregivers, as well.  Her daughter, Sarah Logan, has contacted the documentary crew, and the crew has graciously offered to pay Sarah some money to help Deborah retain her house, and the foundation the camera crew works for has offered to help pay for part of Deborah's care.  At first, Deborah changes her mind when the crew arrives, but since Sarah is financially strapped, she convinces her mother to accept the presence of the film crew.  However, as the film crew settles in, Deborah begins to deteriorate rapidly.  The film crew, and Sarah, begin to wonder if she just has Alzheimer's, or if something more sinister is going on.

This is another sort of found footage film, but I think I'm just getting used to them  or maybe they are getting better as time goes on.  Nah, probably not.  This actually wasn't a bad film.  The only recognizable actress was Sarah, played by Anne Ramsey.  I've never actually heard of Anne Ramsey before, but the actress was instantly recognizable, so I guess she's one of those background character actors/actresses that do a lot of good work but never have any starring roles so you never find out who they are.  The acting was decent enough, and Sarah pretty much takes the lead throughout the entire film, aside from the title character, of course.  Special effects were minimal, as with most found footage films, and done decently enough, I suppose, except for one particular episode early on where there's obviously just a camera trick done to simulate what would otherwise be done with special effects.  It's kind of obvious when it happens, and seemed kind of cheaply done for the amount of time they spent focussing on it in the film.

Spoiler:  This is pretty much your bog-standard, found-footage possession film.  End spoiler.  People have been trying to remake the Exorcist since the movie came out, and this isn't the Exorcist Mark 2.  It's not bad, and there's even a little nudity, if you like naked old women, you pervert.  I wouldn't say this is something I wouldn't watch over again, because it was reasonably exciting, slightly scary, and a fair enough way to spend a couple hours, but still nothing that was so enjoyable that I'd want to watch it all over again right away.  This movie is available on Netflix, and since it came out this same year, you might be correct in assuming it wasn't particularly great.  Or, you might not, depending on how much you like the movie.  It's probably worth at least one viewing, if I had to guess.

That's all for tonight.  It's late, been kind of a long day (not in a bad way), and I'm not only getting sleepy, but I think all this horror might be getting to me.  Kind of feel like I am being watched, right now.  Damn creepy, considering it's after 1 am.  :-/  Probably not the first Peeping Tom I've had, but ew.  Just, ew.  Who the hell wants to see an overweight, slightly balding, middle-aged man undress?  Honestly, if you're looking for that, you're damned desperate, that's all I got to say.   Hmmm, desperate....   if it's female, that's my kinda woman!  heh  Catch you guys tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Horrorthon Review #25 - The Skeptic (2009)

You know, I think I'm starting to realize something.  I keep lucking on to these pretty decent movies, and I come to realize that there are good movies out there, you just have to look for them!  Sure, some of them turn out to be stinkers, but if it wasn't for the bad ones, what would we have to compare the good ones to, right?  Exactly!

The Skeptic (2009) stars Tim Daly as Bryan Becket, a mainly unemotional lawyer whose Aunt dies and leaves him a house.  Bryan's wife (Andrea Roth) was considering a brief separation from him, so he moves into the old house in hopes of quickly selling it and anything else of value in the home, only to find out that his Aunt had left the house to a foundation for Psychic research.  As it turns out, the Aunt had thought the house haunted in the last year of her life, and the longer Becket remains in the home, the more haunted the place begins to seem...

For a basically low budget ghost story, this movie has all the star power and polish of a Hollywood blockbuster.  Tom Arnold co-stars as Sully, Becket's partner in his law firm, Zoe Saldana stars as a psychic that decides to investigate Becket's house, Edward Herrmann stars as Becket's psychologist and Robert Prosky (in his final performance) is the local Priest.  That's a pretty star-studded cast right there.  I wouldn't say they acted the shit out of this movie, but these are all professionals.  Every performance was acceptably done.  Some of the Netflix reviews cast a negative light on Tom Arnold as Becket's partner, but I personally think the man's a fine actor, and looks like he'd be fun to have a drink with.  I was pleased to see Edward Herrmann again, playing the psychologist, who is an absolutely excellent but highly underrated actor.  I think I was too distracted by how hot Zoe Saldana was to really rate her acting performance.  :-)  I'm only human.

This was a good story, I thought.  I didn't really know where it was going, and I had my theories here and there, all of which turned out to be completely wrong.  This movie was a bit of a surprise, but nothing needed to be explained at the end.  The ending pretty much wrapped every little thing up, and between the psychiatrist and the priest, we (and Becket) find out everything else we needed to know.  I enjoyed this movie.  I wouldn't watch it again, but I didn't have to, much as one watching the Sixth Sense, once you've seen it, you know how it ends (and thus you know the twist) and don't need to watch it again.  Of course, there's nothing stopping one from watching it again, just to see how hot Zoe Saldana looks in her few scenes.  Sadly, there's no nudity in this movie.  Special effects were absolutely minimal, but a lot of effects weren't necessary to tell the story.  Oh, also interesting to note, this movie is set around Halloween, so it's kind of a holiday movie as well.

This movie is only available on Netflix until the end of the week, so if you want to watch it, better catch it before then!

That's all for tonight.  A whole bunch of channels, including Turner Classic Movies, have joined the Halloween bandwagon, and are finally showing horror movies.  I have much to watch!  :-D

Horrorthon Review #24 - Witching and Bitching (2013)

You don't see too many spanish horror movies.  I saw a french one last year sometime, about a monster in a museum, which made sense.  There's lots of museums in france, I guess.  But witches in spain?  Well, it's a new one on me, but what the hey.  I'm easy.  Ask anyone.  Witching and Bitching is popular on Netflix, where I found it.

Witching and Bitching (2013) is about a dad who robs a jewelry store to pay for a new life for himself and his son.  Things go a little haywire during the otherwise seemingly well-planned robbery, and the dad and his son, along with one of his surviving partners in crime, make their getaway in a Taxi that already had a passenger in it.  The boy's mother finds out that her ex kidnapped her son, and goes after them.  The dad and his son flee through the backroads on their way to france, but have to pass through a town famed for being the birthplace of witchcraft...

I'm not sure what to make of this movie.  Sure, it's spanish, and there's like, one or maybe two hot chicks, tops.  No nudity, despite this being a movie about witches which, is odd.  Usually any witch movie is an excuse for tons of nudity.  Well, except 'The Craft.'  Witching and Bitching was almost two hours long, which is unusual for a movie about witches, as well.  So, it's basically a high-quality, good-special-effects production of a horror movie.  Except, it's not completely horror, and there's some comedy in it, and it's completely misogynistic.  In other words, it's anti-women.  Basically, every single woman in this movie is either a witch, a bitch, or both at the same time, which is just impressive.  And there's not really any secret about it, so it's not like I'm giving away spoilers.  Whoever wrote this really doesn't like women much.  :-D

This movie was a fun watch, I guess.  I sort of knew where it was going when it started, but it was kind of a roller-coaster ride to get where it was going.  No actual dead bodies in this movie, or at least, none of the main characters died that I can remember, so it's almost like a Disney movie of horror films, or at least the Harry Potter version.  The constant depiction of women as evil, conniving witches (and bitches) was funny, and the men complaining about it (the bitching part, I guess) was even funnier, but it's ALL TRUE.  At least, in this movie, it is.

Minor spoiler, and one of the parts I really liked about this movie, was that this may be the only time I've ever seen the 'Mother' depicted on film.  I don't suppose it matters whether you call her Gaia or Mother nature or Mom or what, but she was worshipped way, way back before anyone ever considered worshipping a man, mostly because men were shocked and awed by the seeming miraculous ability of women to create life from their bodies.  Sure, science pretty much has a handle on what's going on in a woman's womb during the nine months of pregnancy now, but back then, to be able to create another human being from your nether region was probably pretty friggin amazing.  So, it's no wonder we thought women were gods, and the ultimate embodiment of the miraculous woman was a big, fatty old faceless mother-figure with enormous boobs and thighs.  Since most of our mothers eventually end up looking like that, it's no wonder we worshipped some goddess who looked just like her.  Whether we based our worship off of a single wise old woman who looked like that, or the 'Mother' figure was just an embodiment of all our crotchety old moms, who can say?  But either way, this film does depict an actual avatar of 'The mother' figure.  I guess she's still worshipped in some, many or all wicca practices (I have no idea, I'm not wiccan), and probably the only reason I'm familar with her is because of watching other horror movies, notably Rawhead Rex, where a small figurine of the Mother was enough to drive away a rampaging demon.  Rawhead Rex, if you ever get the chance to watch it, was actually a pretty good movie, too.  End spoilers!

(Oh, and Google spell-check?  It's "worshipped."  With TWO P's, not one.  I checked the internet, and the internet KNOWS ALL.  So stop marking my spelling with red underlines, biatch.  I know my shit.)

So, to sum up, kind of a weird foreign horror movie, but a funny one.  I don't think I'm watching it again, not because it was bad, but there weren't really any 'monsters,' nor was the action all that outstanding.  So, a fun watch, but nothing exceptional, to be enjoyed time and again.  Give it a viewing for the misogynistic humor alone (if you enjoy that sort of thing) or maybe the mob of spanish witches in the flick, then move on.

In other news, I watched the premieres of Grimm and Constantine earlier this evening.  The Grimm (Nick) is still missing his Grimm-powers, which is probably going to become a major goal this season.  Captain Renaud seems to have passed away from the bullet wounds inflicted on him at the end of last season, and there seems to be a new breed of Wesen operating in the seattle area.

Constantine, sadly, has a british guy playing the title role.  Look, I got nothing against british guys, and I'm part English and part irish myself, but does every British guy have to be that same whiny, smarmy little geeky guy?  Really?  Look, I'm sure Doctor Who is a huge success over in England, and every guy who played Doctor Who over the last 50 years is probably the equivalent of a rock-star-turned-god over there, but I really don't see the draw.  Does every british fellow have to be skinny, and geeky, with bad hair, look suicidal, and be completely Emo about everything?  Are all british guys actually Japanese?  Because I'm really seeing a strong resemblance to the average vampire/manga/cartoon character/schoolboy samurai archetype that's huge over in Japan right now.  Sure, maybe Keanu Reeves wasn't exactly the best Constantine, and maybe the DC comics character is actually british (I don't know, I never read the comic), but I really can't see someone who looks like they just dropped out of high school, and has the same mental attitude, playing a guy who routinely deports demons back to hell, goes home and has a beer at the end of the day.  If we absolutely had to have Constantine played by a british guy, could we have had Jason Statham, Pierce Brosnan, or maybe even Sean Connery?  At least those guys look like they know how to kick ass, and don't look like they're faking it, and badly.

Also, why does every single new show, movie, or whatever, have to try and rewrite the origin story?  I was fine with the Constantine movie.  Sure, Keanu Reeves was maybe not the best choice, but the movie was made, and replayed a LOT.  So, what we had was a guy who offed himself, found redemption, and decided to get back into the world of demon-hunting.  Why not just continue from there?  Nope!  Got to rewrite it!  Look, I'm no expert on the hard and fast rules of Christianity, but this series' story of Constantine summoning a greater demon to try and wrest the soul of a little girl away from a lesser demon, and failing, thereby damning the little girl to hell?  Wasn't he trying to help?  Wasn't her soul pretty much in jeopardy to begin with?  Isn't it impossible for an innocent soul to be forced into hell?  How exactly did Constantine 'damn' her soul to hell by trying to help free her from possession?  Sure, he screwed up, but his heart was in the right place, wasn't it?  He certainly didn't intend for the girl's soul to be carried off by the greater demon, so how is it his fault?  Meh, I've always thought the christian/catholic mythology system was totally messed up, and that was even when I was a faithfully hardcore, church-going Catholic schoolboy.  I'm not sure a series that relies on exploiting every little pickaninny rule in the Catholic belief system is going to work, especially with someone who doesn't look like he could kick an injured Imp's ass, let alone a major demon.  (shrug)  I'll give it a few episodes to see how it goes, I guess.

What else have I got to do on friday nights?  Not like us geniuses have an easy time getting dates, right?  Maybe I should stop trolling ice cream shops looking for lonely girls.  Hmmmm.  On that note, has anyone else out there ever had a pumpkin- flavored ice cream milkshake?  I had my first one ever today!  Pumpkin-y, with just a hint of cinnamon in it.  Good stuff!  I mean, sure, I could have gone with the maple-syrup-soft-serve ice cream, and maybe I should have, but I like to try new things.  Come to think of it, the maple-syrup-flavored ice cream was new, too.  Maybe I'll get that next time.  The attractive (and probably underage) girl behind the counter seemed to enjoy giving me free samples.  I'd like to think she was flirting with me (if only to stroke my own ego a bit), but I probably just look like a fat guy who loves ice cream.  Which, I can't really argue with.  :-D

That's all for tonight.  Catch you guys tomorrow night with another review.  Seven more movies left to review this month!  Can I do it?  OR WILL I FAIL?  :-o  Who can say?  Keep checking back for more ranting monologues, whining bitch-sessions, and general perversion disguised as a witty movie review!  :-)