Monday, June 8, 2015

Late Phases (2014), Wolfcop (2014), Flu (2013)

It's a Netflix triple feature tonight!  And a werewolf double feature, which is always cool. I love werewolves.  They're so...  Were-wolf-y.  Yea.

Let's start with Late Phases (2014)!  Quite possibly the best of the three movies I'm reviewing tonight, Late Phases starts out pretty depressingly.  An old, blind veteran of the armed forces is being dropped off at his new home by his son.  Ambrose (the old war veteran) seems pretty bitter, either about his wife's recent passing, his son dropping him off as far away from his family as he can, or about his blindness.  Or perhaps all three.  The community he's moving into is basically an old folks home, but the old folks can pretty much take care of themselves.  Ambrose and his seeing-eye dog make a couple friends while they are waiting for the moving crew to finish unloading his things.  It isn't long before we find out just how well Ambrose can take care of himself.  One of Ambrose's new neighbors is savagely attacked by some unseen beast, and Ambrose, still up and unable to sleep, hears the whole thing.  Then, the beast attacks Ambrose...

I liked Late Phases, for a few reasons.  The first and most prominent reason was how fast it got into the action.  In the first few minutes, there's a scene of bloody massacre that most other werewolf movies would have saved for the very end of the film.  No, here, we are treated to a bloody battle right in the first few minutes, and then, much like Stephen King's Silver Bullet, we have a 4-week lunar cycle where the werewolf goes to ground, while the hero tries to figure out who is actually the werewolf.

There's no nudity that I can recall, and this movie may seem low budget, but that gives the impression that it doesn't have good acting or good action, or even good special effects.  I'm not about to say this movie is oscar worthy, but it's a fun watch.  I'm also not going to give anything good away, because I'd like you to go watch this film on Netflix, but I encourage viewing, and then repeat viewing, if you've a mind to.  Honestly, I may watch this one again myself, just to see the understated performances of the supporting cast.  They did their roles so damn smoothly, it was hard for me to tell who was the werewolf, and who wasn't.

We've got Tom Noonan as the local Priest, who befriends our hero.  Tom Noonan is a veteran actor who's been in a host of movies, but I like him because he's been in a host of monster/horror movies.  I immediately remembered him as the guy with the roadside spider-stand in Eight-Legged Freaks (One of my favorite movies about giant killer spiders, and yes, it's a short list), but he's also been in Wolfen (another werewolf movie with Albert Finney and Edward James Olmos), The Monster Squad (A very underrated kid-friendly horror movie with Dracula, Frankenstein, Van helsing, the Mummy, the Werewolf, AND the Creature from the Black Lagoon), and of course, he was the drug lord Cain in Robocop 2 (opposite Peter Weller).  He's also been in movies with the likes of Tom hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe), Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy (Best Defense), Rodney Dangerfield (Easy Money) and of course, he played himself AND the Ripper in Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Not to be outdone, Lance Guest has a very minor supporting role as the guy who drives our hero to town to visit with the local Priest.  Lance Guest, as you may recall, was pretty huge back in the 70's and 80's.  After appearing as the EMT opposite Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween 2, Lance was recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada in The Last Starfighter, (with Robert Preston and the lovely Katherine Mary Stewart), and played the son of Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider) in Jaws: The Revenge (with Michael Caine), where he helped kill the great white shark once and for all.  Or at least, til they dust off the old mechanical shark and go for Jaws 5.  I'm pretty sure Richard Dreyfuss isn't doing too much these days.  Maybe he's up for a repeat performance?

Also on Netflix is Woflcop (2014).  Not quite in the same league with Late Phases, Wolfcop is about a drunk, boozing slob of a rural deputy who stumbles across a cult of devil-worshippers and is turned into a werewolf.  I'm not giving away anything, because that short introduction happens in about the first 15 minutes of the movie.

I almost started to like Wolfcop for a bit there.  Right after the drunk deputy was turned and he's starting to realize he's not quite human anymore, he starts trying to do some research, and figure out just wtf is going on in his dinky little one-horse town.  It's obvious to me that he's only drinking because he's bored out of his skull, and then when he stumbles onto the cult of devil worshippers, he's finally got some real police work to do.  This is what they call character development, and I thought that part of the movie was done pretty well.  Then, of course, the cult of devil worshippers decides to fast-forward the plot, and Wolfcop goes all hairy, and character development gets thrown out the window, so I kind of lost interest in what happened after that.  I still watched it, and it was still mildly entertaining, but it could have been much better.  I'm sure they are already hard at work making Wolfcop 2, so maybe that one will be better, who knows.

Short summary of Wolfcop, I'm sure there was maybe a boob or two, lots of bloodshed, plenty of alcoholic beverages, and an explosion.  Watch it once for the novelty of the Wolfcar, then wait around for the sequel.

Third review of the night, Flu (2013).  This asian horror film is basically similar to Outbreak (1995) with Dustin Hoffman.  Flu starts out quite well, with a bunch of illegal immigrants being smuggled into another country in a shipping container aboard a freighter.  One of them has the flu, and by the time the container arrives at its destination, we can immediately tell that things have gone horribly wrong, because almost everyone in the container is dead.  Needless to say, the infection is accidentally spread, and yep, you guessed it, all hell breaks loose.

I liked Flu except for the fact that the ending was basically a bowl full of corned beef hash, like my mother used to feed me for lunch when I was a kid, and I'm kind of overdosed on the stuff, despite being 1/4th Irish.  The action was fast and steady, the production values were high, the cast of extras numbered in the hundreds, and the story arcs were numerous and interwoven.  Don't recall any nudity offhand, but the movie was an enjoyable watch, at least until the ending.  Flu is also available on Netflix.

Special mention goes out to Knights of Badassdom, also on Netflix, just for having the clanking brass cojones to gather together 3 actors from massively popular series, and smush them together into one admittedly okay movie.

Knights of Badassdom (2013) stars Ryan Kwanten (from HBO's True Blood) as a broken hearted songwriter who is dragged off by his friends (Peter Dinklage from HBO's Game of Thrones) into a LARP, or Live-Action Role-Play, in the hopes of lifting his spirits.  Around the same time he meets Gwen (Summer Glau from Firefly/Serenity), his LARP friends accidentally summon a real demon, which then proceeds to wander about the woods at night, slaughtering LARPers left and right.  Uh oh, I made a rhyme.  Must be getting tired, look at the time.  Shit, I did it again.

Knights of Badassdom had the predictably goofy ending I expected, but wasn't entirely horrible.  It can be pretty funny watching a bunch of LARPers trying to role play while being torn apart by a demon.  Well, you're not supposed to break character, that ruins the experience for everybody!  Haven't you ever been to a LARP before?  Me neither, but after watching this movie, I'm game to give it a shot.  It actually looked kind of fun, minus the whole demon-slaughter thing.

Look at that, four movie reviews in the space I usually fit one!  In other news, John Oliver did in fact pee himself over Sepp Blatter stepping down as head of FIFA, on his weekly news review on HBO.  No, wait, that's not pee, he's just spilled Lime Beer on himself.  Tastes like champagne, as John would probably be the first to say.  And seriously, John, was the McDonald's food that bad?  I've eaten there a few times myself, and while I don't actually like the food when compared to, well, anything else, really, it's probably still better than what I could whip up in my own kitchen.  As Frances Sternhagen said to Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood, "I'm a bad cook."

Hope you folks are having a nice night.  We're about to get a T-storm here, I think.  I love a good storm.  Just a few rumbles of thunder, now.  Always puts me right to sleep, thunder and lightning storms, but I guess I'm a bit weird.  Til next time, then.

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