Tuesday, January 25, 2011

BURIED

Buried Movie Review

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds Amityville Horror, Finder’s Fee) is captured in Iraq and buried alive. Equipped with a cell phone and a couple lights, he makes calls to attempt to be rescued, while also trying to get five million dollars the terrorists are demanding for his release. This is a very simply shot movie—literally the entire movie is Reynolds in a box. As such, almost the entire is movie is dialogue between Conroy and various people on the phone, and his emotional reactions to being trapped, as well as his reactions to the phone calls. I have to say I was rather bored with the first half of the movie but midway through it starts to take off as we get to know Paul better and know more about his life back home. He becomes very likable, and I found myself cheering for him. Some of the shots are questionable, as they show Reynolds from a distance, giving the impression the coffin is much larger than an actual coffin, as if we are seeing him through tunnels that do not exist.

Like this

This seems the opposite of what they should have been going for, which is the actual small space he is locked in. Reynolds, who is a hit or miss sort of actor for me, is really good in this, and brings a ton of emotion to the role, particularly towards the end. Some of his phone calls and messages, such as the ones with his mother and his son, are absolutely heartbreaking. We are also given an ending that is pretty unforgettable. If you can force yourself through about the first 45 minutes of this film you will be rewarded.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Buried Movie Trailer

Monday, January 24, 2011

SCARECROWS

 Scarecrows Movie Review

After hijacking a military plane, a group of thieves end up in the middle of nowhere, hunted and killed by a family of scarecrows, and then turned into scarecrows themselves. There is a strange mix of 80’s action movie with horror here, and the combination is probably even worse than you are imagining. The scarecrows actually look pretty cool, and there are a couple decent death scenes, but I don’t know if there is anything else positive I can say about this movie.

It gets no better in this one

The acting is beyond bad. The dialogue is awful—in fact, if, for some reason, you want to watch this movie, I would recommend watching it without sound at all, as there is nothing of any importance spoken. Some of the shots are repeated over and over throughout the film as well, for no real reason. The few special effects, as it were, are laughable. Most of the scenes where something is actually happening are done in slow motion, only adding to the pain of watching this film. Mercifully, the film is pretty short at about 75 minutes. Do yourself a favor—skip this one.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3

Scarecrows Movie Trailer (It's not in English, but that doesn't really matter)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) (aka SILENT NIGHT, EVIL NIGHT and STRANGER IN THE HOUSE)


Black Christmas / Silent Night Evil Night / Stranger In The House Movie Review

Around Christmas, a sorority house keeps getting strange phone calls and eventually start getting killed off one by one. This 1974 film, which inspired a remake in 2006, is considered somewhat of a classic horror film, but watching it, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Yes, maybe it is a bit ahead of its time, but overall it is a fairly boring movie. None of the death scenes are really interesting, or even shown for that matter. There is one thing it is known for, and deserves credit for, and that is the idea of the killer calling from inside the house.

Wait, so you're saying you're IN the house?!

Otherwise it is a fairly tame horror. There are a couple pretty good performances though. Margot Kidder (Superman 1 2, Halloween 2) is good as Barb, the mean sister of the group, and Olivia Hussey (It) is equally as impressive as Jess, the lead female (neither is bad on the eyes either). Overall I found this to be a fairly average, highly overrated film. Note the film was also released under the names Silent Night, Evil Night and Stranger In The House.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Black Christmas Movie Trailer 

DEVIL

Devil Movie Review

Five strangers are trapped in an elevator.

What could go wrong?

As the building security and detectives attempt to get to them, they begin dying off one by one and everybody realizes there may be more in that elevator than they realize. This is a fairly suspenseful film, as you spend a lot of it trying to figure out which character is killing off the others (or which one is the Devil, if you will). The film also looks at the idea that nothing is coincidence, and the story really plays out well as we learn more and more about the characters as we go along. There is not a lot of gore in this one (in fact hardly any at all) but it does provide several freaky scenes/images. The acting is fair—nothing standout but nothing offensively bad either. There is a bit of a twist ending which is sort of cool. I sometimes complain about movies being too long but seldom say a movie is too short—Devil, clocking in around 80 minutes, is too short. There are some part of the movie that drag along a bit, but there always seems to be something happening to advance the story. This is the first movie of a trilogy being written by M. Night Shyamalan (he did not direct this) titled The Night Chronicles, three stories of the supernatural in the modern urban world. He kicked it off pretty well with this movie.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

Devil Movie Trailer 

THE TOOLBOX MURDERS (1978)

The Toolbox Murders Movie Review

A maniac in an apartment complex is killing women with items from--yes--a toolbox. The first part of this movie is really, really good. The death scenes are brutal and unrelenting. There is plenty of blood, horror, and terrifying moments, with a bit of nudity thrown in as well—all a good combination for a horror flick.

Sounds good...tell me more

I was really getting into the movie—until the midway point. For some reason it does a complete one-eighty, and what was starting out as a brutal horror film became some sort of psychological-kidnapping-detective mess of a movie with horrible dialogue and even worse acting. Unfortunately, it stays this way until the end. In particular there is a scene between the killer/kidnapper and the kidnap victim that seems to go on forever and really turned me off to the film completely. I was really ready to give this film an 8 or 9 for the first half of it, but the second half absolutely killed the movie, and I am probably being generous with the score I am going to give it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

The Toolbox Murders Movie Trailer

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

SORORITY ROW

Sorority Row Movie Review

A group of sorority sisters decide to play a prank on a frat guy by convincing him his girlfriend is dead, but the prank goes wrong when he actually kills her. They all dump the body and  agree to tell nobody what happened, but now somebody is killing them off one by one. This is a remake of the 1983 movie The House On Sorority Row, and like many remakes of the past few years, it is fairly weak. This movie feels a lot more like I Know What You Did Last Summer than The House On Sorority Row. The sorority girls are all pretty much interchangeable and unlikable, making them pretty close to real life sorority girls. I enjoyed watching them get knocked off, but unfortunately, we don’t get enough of that. One standout among the girls was Leah Pipes as Jessica, the meanest of them all. She was so good at playing that character that I don’t know if she is actually like that in real life or if she was just THAT good in the role. I was surprised to see she was just 21 at the time of this film, however, as she looks at least 30.

Did I ax for your opinion?

There are a couple pretty cool kills that kept my interest, and it does a decent job of keeping you wondering who the killer is, but the payoff is disappointing. For the most part this movie is a lot of bad acting, bad dialogue, and even worse music. This is just a really average movie.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Sorority Row Movie Trailer

FIDO

Fido Movie Review

What would happen if the suburbs of the 1950’s included zombies equipped with a special collar that kept them tame enough to help out around the house? That is the premise of Fido, a 2006 Canadian zomedy. I had to wonder throughout if the idea of the movie was taken from the ending of Shaun Of The Dead, so, while a great idea in Shaun, it seemed like a bit of a rip-off here. This was a fun movie, however. First off, I am a sucker for films set in the 1950’s, so that alone earned it points in my book.

Cool car

Second, the movie is actually pretty funny from time to time—it’s not laugh out loud funny throughout, but it does have its moments. The cast does a pretty decent job with no real standouts, but nobody really bad either. The violence and gore are both kept to a minimum in this movie, which is somewhat disappointing in a zombie movie, but this really is not meant to be horror at all. The opening of the movie, a black and white video, is really good—perhaps the best part of the film. This is not going to rank as one of my favorite movies ever, but I did enjoy it and thought it was fun.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Fido Movie Trailer 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES

House of 1000 Corpses Movie Review

Two couples on a road trip to see roadside attractions find themselves trapped in a house full of psychopaths wanting to sacrifice them to Doctor Satan. Rob Zombie makes his movie writing and directing debut in this horror film that gives a nod to 70’s grindhouse flicks. The story itself is a simple one, and surprisingly the film actually has little gore. As I mentioned, this movie is done like a 70’s grindhouse film, and, in my opinion, really started the trend of such dedication movies.

And enjoy some chicken before you go

The directing is very interesting here, as Zombie uses many shots that most typical moviegoers would be unfamiliar with--this comes with mixed results. The acting is so-so, with the standouts being veteran television actor Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding and Bill Moseley (Army Of Darkness, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) as Otis, one of the psychopaths. Zombie’s wife Sheri Moon also delivers a wickedly good performance as Baby. You will likely also recognize Rainn Wilson of The Office here. This movie will not be everybody’s cup of tea, and it really is not a great movie, but as a fan of grindhouse films, I enjoy it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

House of 1000 Corpses Movie Trailer

Friday, January 14, 2011

PIRANHA 3D (2010)

Piranha 3D Movie Review

An Earthquake opens a hidden lake beneath another lake, unleashing thousands of piranha thought to be extinct for millions of years. The piranha then feast on college kids on spring break.

Extinct no more

This movie is basically full of gore, topless and/or naked chicks, bad CGI, even worse dialogue, horrible music, and a ridiculous storyline, but, in spite of everything bad about it, I couldn’t help but like the movie. This is a 2010 remake of a 1978 film that was a spoof of sorts of Jaws. There is a surprising number of recognizable actors in this film: Elizabeth Shue (Hallow Man, Back To The Future 2) plays the sheriff, Jerry O’Connell (Stand By Me, Scream 2) plays a sleazy porn director, Ving Rhames (Dawn of the Dead, Pulp Fiction) plays a police officer, and Eli Roth (Inglorious Basterds, Hostel), Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, What About Bob?), and Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future, Taxi) all have cameos—these actors all do a great job here, especially Lloyd as Mr. Goodman, the man who recognizes the piranha, in a performance very reminiscent of his character Doc Brown from the BTTF series.

Great Scott!

The rest of the actors in the film, however, range from bad to awful. As stated, the CGI is really bad in this movie, but the out of water gore is very well done. This movie is horror but with tongue planted firmly in cheek. It is really a B movie that made theatres, thanks largely to being in 3D, which, when you’re not watching it in 3D, is actually quite distracting. This is not a great movie, which is okay because it was not made to be. Instead it is made as a fun, campy horror, and it does quite well as that.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

Piranha 3D Movie Trailer 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

AFTER.LIFE

After.Life Movie Review

After dying in a car accident, Anna (Christina Ricci, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, Sleepy Hollow) awakens in a funeral parlor where the funeral director (Liam Neeson Taken, Batman Begins) is trying to convince her she is dead. The movie basically tries to keep you guessing as to whether Anna is alive or dead throughout, providing a lot of exchanges between the two main characters, to mixed results.

Has she thoughts within her head?

Honestly, most of this movie is fairly boring. There is some action every once in a while to break up the conversation scenes, but they are generally predictable and bland as well. The performances are actually pretty good between the lead characters, which helps make the movie somewhat enjoyable. Ricci also looks really good in this movie, and spends a good bit of it naked or topless, so there's that. The end is one that is meant to keep you guessing as well, but if you’re not into the movie you probably won’t care anyway. This is one of those movies that wasn’t offensively bad, but wasn’t particularly good either.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

After.Life Movie Trailer

THE CRAZIES (1973)

The Crazies Movie Review

When a plane carrying a biological weapon crashes in a small town in Pennsylvania, the chemical gets in the water and starts to make people go crazy. Soon, the military is called in to quarantine the city and a war breaks out between the soldiers and the locals. If you have seen the remake of this film you probably think this must be a good film—I did anyways, especially considering it was directed by the legendary George A Romero. I, however, was very let down by this one. It moves at an absolute snails pace and hardly anything actually happens throughout the movie except locals and military shooting at each other, reminding me more of a western film than a zombie movie.

Lots of this going on

The acting is pretty bad and the dialogue is even worse. The audio work on the film is sub par. The ending is as boring as the rest of the movie. There are one or two scenes that are pretty well done and surprising, but they are hardly worth watching the movie to see. The idea of the movie is a good one, and I appreciate how some of the scenes were shot, but other than that there is not a lot I can say for this movie. At least it inspired a much better remake many years later.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

The Crazies Movie Trailer 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

CLASS OF 1984

Class of 1984 Movie Review

New music teacher Andy Norris (Perry King, The Day After Tomorrow, Spin City) finds trouble with a gang of punks at the school, lead by Stegman (Timothy Van Patten). There were several similar movies to this one in the 80’s—a new teacher facing a rowdy school were the kids are violent and out of control, but this is probably one of the first, and probably one of the most influential. The movie has a very nice pace, slowing down only when we get glimpses of Norris at home. The acting actually isn’t too bad either. King does a fine job as Norris, Roddy McDowell (Fright Night) turns in an incredible performance as a teacher at his wits end with the kids, and we even get a glimpse of a very young Michael J. Fox (Back To The Future, Teen Wolf) as one of the few straight-laced kids.

You've got to have FAITH...wait, wrong movie

Lisa Langlois does a good job as the feisty punk Patsy as well. Van Patten seems an odd choice as the leader of the gang (and the school for that matter) as he is probably the preppiest looking “punk” you are likely to see.

Michael J looked more punk than this guy...

...maybe not

Some of the dialogue is really bad at times and some of the shots seem very amateurish. Of course most of the high school students look to be in their mid-twenties, which takes something away from the film, but you take that with a grain of salt as that has been a staple in movies for years. The beginning states this was based on a few incidents throughout the country while pointing out that very few schools were actually like that at the time and wondered if more would be like that in the future--this movie came out in 1982. We then see a scene of the kids passing through metal detectors before entering the school, giving us a chilling vision of the future we actually did get. This is really not a great movie by any stretch, and the end is very predictable, but it is a decent movie that is worth a look, especially if you are a fan of 80’s movies.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Class of 1984 Movie Trailer 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Movie Review

The third and final chapter of the series finds Frodo and Sam continuing their quest to Mount Doom to destroy the ring while their allies fight one final battle against Middle Earth. There are many more action and fight scenes in this movie than the previous, and each seems to be more spectacular than the last. The special effects and CGI in this movie are absolutely incredible most of the time. There are more side stories in this installment, and in the end all matters are tied up, with varying results and nothing of any surprise, which was a bit of a letdown. The Mount Doom scene in particular was fairly anti-climatic to me. As with the rest of the series the acting ranges from fairly good to exceptional with the exceptions of Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. Overall, like the two prior movies, this is a really good movie, and a fitting end to the series.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Movie Trailer

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers Movie Review

Picking up where the first of the series left off, Frodo and Sam continue their journey to Mordor to destroy the ring. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas and the rest of the crew meet new allies along the way and fight the orcs and other evils. We also get the return of Gandalf, and Merry and Pippin go off on their own and spend most of the movie in a tree. This movie basically serves as a bridge between the first and the final movies, but that is not to say it is not an amazing movie. Like Fellowship, this is visually stunning. This one seems to have fewer action/battle scenes than Fellowship, but it also seems to develop the story more, and the dialogue is far more interesting here. Essentially the movie switches back and forth between Frodo, Sam and Smeagol, a Gollum they encounter on the way, Aragorn and his crew, the villains, and Merry and Pippen as all groups push on, setting the stage for the final movie. The final battle scene in this movie is absolutely incredible and a must see. My only problems with this movie are largely the same as the first: Sean Astin as Sam and Elijah Wood as Frodo, though Wood does bring more to the character here than in the first film. Astin, on the other hand, is just as bad, if not worse than, the first time around. The guy slips in and out of his accent so much it is laughable (I will make a drinking game of it some day). Like Fellowship, I think a lot of this film could have been cut, especially some of the tree scenes. Still, this is a really good movie that I liked slightly better than Fellowship. I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers Movie Trailer