Thursday, March 31, 2016

CIRCLE

Circle Movie Review

A large group of strangers wake up in an unknown room and soon discover if they move from the circle they are standing on they will die--if that's not enough, they also find that every two minutes or so another person is killed, and they each decide, via a secret vote, who the next victim is. This movie actually has a fairly interesting premise, but it quickly dissolves into predictability, political nonsense, and silliness that will leave you finding yourself with one raised eyebrow.

But it at least looks cool

After a lot of extras are cast away we are left with what apparently the writers believe defines the United States...

Liberals...

...aka people who are NEVER wrong about ANYTHING...

and everybody else...

...aka obnoxious loud mouths who couldn't be more wrong about everything in life. Oh yeah, they also throw in a pregnant girl and a kid...

 Bet they stick around a while...

...and, much to my amusement, the most obnoxious, biggest big mouth non-liberal evil person of them all, the suspenders and tie wearing...

Irwin R. Schyster?

As they go around and around about who should be the next to die, every political facet one can imagine is brought up: race and racism, illegal aliens, the disabled, religion, gay rights...mere moments before classism was brought up I told my girlfriend it was coming. Really, who DOESN'T want a political lecture in the middle of a horror film? It is all absolutely self-righteous and truly added nothing but predictability to the entire movie. Me personally, I would have had one look at who I was surrounded by and offed myself immediately. With practically every killing, you know exactly who will be next...except when they inexplicably choose a completely random person to kill off.  Even the killings are mild--they are zapped by a mysterious beam, fall back, and get dragged away by...something. No blood. No gore. All that said, I don't want to make it sound like all is bad with this movie. The story does take an interesting turn or two along the way, and the ending is a decent one. Plus, it's fun guessing who will ultimately live (I didn't get it right). As I said, Circle has a decent premise, a Saw meets Cube sort of feel, but it fails horribly in its delivery.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Circle Movie Trailer

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE

The year is 1983. Four big name directors call upon nostalgia to collaborate and remake four episodes of the legendary television series The Twilight Zone, to very mixed results. Sit back, relax, and read on as you enter...

The Twilight Zone: The Movie...movie review.

Our journey begins with two strangers (we assume) riding down the road listening to the song that enters my mind every time I think of this movie...

THIS song

...and eventually, in a wonderful bit of intertextuality, begin talking about old The Twilight Zone episodes. The characters, played by Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks, go back and forth before one asks the other if he wants to see something really scary.

He should have said no

From here we go into our first segment, the story of an angry racist (Vic Morrow) who finds out what it's like to live as the people he hates so much. This brings us to what, unfortunately, this movie will, above everything else, always be known for--the on set helicopter accident that killed Morrow and two children. As I am reviewing the movie itself and not the accident, I will skip this part of it. Rest assured, if you want to read more about the accident there is no shortage of information about it out there. Back to the segment--it was directed by John Landis and, truthfully, it really goes nowhere.

"Well that's not nice!"

The story is uninteresting and nothing of note happens at any point, with the possible exceptions of cameos by then-youngsters John Larroquette and Steven Williams. In any anthology, you want to try to lead with a story that packs a punch--Twilight Zone: The Movie starts out with one that may put you to sleep.

Segment 2, directed by Steven Spielberg, is the story of a mysterious old man (Scatman Crothers) visiting a retirement home and inspiring its denizens to feel young again. We know that with Spielberg we're not going to get anything TOO scary, and with this story, we get nothing even bordering on it. What we get instead kind of approaches science fiction and inspiration, but ultimately is a story that is more depressing than anything. I get the story, and enjoyed this segment, but it feels really out of place in this film.

Even if Scatman IS awesome

Segment 3 takes what one may expect from this movie and turns it up to eleven...and beyond. After hitting a boy with her car, Helen (Kathleen Quinlan) takes the boy home and discovers his home life is, well, different. Director Joe Dante delivers some visuals that one will likely never forget.

Or maybe recall from an acid trip

The special effects carry this segment far more than the story itself, but when what you're seeing is as over the top as what we get here, the story truly isn't that important. Not that it's a bad one--in fact, there is a bit of a twist included. There's another memorable cameo as well, this time from Cherie Currie.

Now we know where she ran away to

Our fourth and final segment proves that sometimes in life the best really is saved for last. Director George Miller's remake of the original The Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet is a masterpiece in film history. John Lithgow's portrayal of panicked flight passenger John Valentine is one of the most memorable performances ever presented, as he tries to get the other people on board to understand what is happening on the wing of the plane. This segment has been so burned into my brain that I think of it every single time I fly.

I still haven't seen him...yet

The conclusion of the fourth and final segment also includes a wraparound from the opening that gives this film a nice finishing touch. 

As anthologies go, there are many out there that are better than Twilight Zone: The Movie, but you could also do a lot worse. The opening segment is a drag to sit through, the second one will take you out of the mood entirely, but the third segment brings us back on track in an odd, outlandish manner, setting up one of the best (if not THE best) segments in any anthology film, making this movie worth watching.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7

 
Twilight Zone: The Movie Movie Trailer

Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Review

Following a car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead of Final Destination 3 and The Thing fame) awakens in a doomsday shelter built by conspiracy theorist Howard (John Goodman) and his simpleton employee Emmett (relative unknown John Gallagher Jr.), both of whom claim they cannot leave due to an unknown attack that has contaminated the air outside. Described by producer J.J. Abrams as a "blood relative" of Cloverfield, one may have a preconceived notion of what to expect with this film--without spoiling anything I will say some of what you expect you will, indeed, get, but most of what you get is not what you expect at all. The film does a fantastic job building the tension between the three characters while leaving the viewer wondering if Howard is a savior or psychopath.

Michelle wonders too

It takes really good performances in a film in which only two or three characters (for the most part) are shown, and Winstead, Goodman, and Gallagher all delivery here. It truly is hard to say which turned in the best performance as they were all three SO good. The dialogue is clever, and there is even a bit of comedy sprinkled in here and there, and it works. The twists, turns, and suspense come one after another, but the director also does a wonderful job showing a life like this can leave one bored.

While showing Life, on a board

I absolutely loved everything about this movie--until the final reveal comes. What was a fantastic, edge of your seat thriller gives way to special effects and moments that will have you rolling your eyes instead of closing them. The funny thing is you will probably expect exactly what happens at the end of this movie (especially if you've seen Cloverfield), but you will likely not expect HOW it happens--and you'll probably be as disappointed as I was. Still, this is a really solid movie and certainly one worth watching.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

 
10 Cloverfield Lane Movie Trailer

Monday, March 21, 2016

INSANITARIUM

Insanitarium Movie Review

After his sister Lily (Kiele Sanchez, A Perfect Getaway, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days) is committed to a mental institute, Jack (Jesse Metcalfe) has himself committed in a short-sighted attempt to free her. Once inside, Jack realizes the doctors are administering an experimental drug that is turning the patience into something more than just nutcases--so, yeah, the story line isn't original at all. It also doesn't take long to recognize the dialogue is pretty bad (and gets even worse as the movie progresses), the acting is largely bad, and the directing style is distracting. There are attempts at humor here and there, and every single time it fails miserably. Pretty much everything leading up to anything actually happening is predictable, and it does take a while to get to the point of action, but when we do arrive...holy smokes, is it ever...

...bloody crazy.

The gore and bloodshed comes fast and often once practically all the inmates become infected, turning them into cannibalistic killing machines. The movie gets many extra points for skipping CGI and using actual prosthetics, and this is done very, very well here. As I said before, the acting is pretty rough, with the exception being the always-awesome Peter Stormare as the Head Doctor In Charge. Others in this movie some may recognize include Kevin Sussman (veteran bit actor and Stuart from The Big Bang Theory), Carlo Gallo (Carnivale) and Olivia Munn (pro football player's trophy girlfriend). The ending leaves a little to be desired, but it does set up a sequel quite nicely--unfortunately (?), said sequel has yet to come along. Insanitarium is a test of patience, but if you can handle manage to wait it out, and you are a fan of gore, you may find yourself enjoying this one a little.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

Insanitarium Movie Trailer

Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE LOST BOYS

The Lost Boys Movie Review

Brothers Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), along with their Mom (Dianne Wiest), relocate to Santa Carla, the "murder capital of world", and soon discover that amongst the many dead are also plenty of the undead. This 1987 vampire film is one I have seen approximately three thousand five hundred and sixty seven times throughout the course of my life, and having not watched it for at least six months, I decided to pop it into the DVD player once more for the purpose of FINALLY reviewing it here. Is there anything not to love about this film? It combines sheer horror with a fine dose of comedy, brilliant special effects, a good bit of gore, and perhaps my favorite villain in film history: David.


He's not impressed by this title

Kiefer Sutherland may be known by many these days as the heroic Jack Bauer of 24, but in the 80s he turned in some of the most memorable performances as villains--his portrayal of David here and Ace in Stand By Me are a couple of the greatest bad guys in film history. Really, the entire cast does a wonderful job in this film. We have our heroes...


Sam and Michael and...

...The Frog Brothers,

our vampires,

Marko, aka "The Little One",

Paul, aka "The One Who Looks Like Twisted Sister",

Dwayne, aka "The One With No Name",

and David, aka "The Leader...?".

Throw in for good measure a half vampire,

Star, aka "The Hot Chick"

a couple awesome dogs,

Nanook...

...and Thorn

some random weird people set to Echo and the Bunnymen covering "People Are Strange",

Random Weirdos

and an unassuming yet ultimately brilliant performance from the late Edward Herrmann,

Max, aka "Mild Mannered Video Store Owner..."

a tremendous pace, wonderful dialogue, witty one-liners, an inspired story, and a decent twist, and really, what more could one ask for? Oh, you want more awesomeness? Check out the soundtrack, which from beginning to end offers a wide array of brilliance, from INXS to the aforementioned Echo to Roger Daltrey to Cry Little Sister, the beyond words fantastic theme to the movie. With the possible exception of Ghostbusters, I've seen The Lost Boys probably more than any other film, and almost thirty years after its release, it holds up as a masterpiece of its genre.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 10

The Lost Boys Movie Trailer

Monday, March 14, 2016

EXTRATERRESTRIAL

Extraterrestrial Movie Review

A group of college kids, off to a cabin in the woods to party for a weekend (no points for originality), witness a U.F.O. crash and soon (not soon enough, by the way) discover the horrors the saucer holds. Having not watched a really good alien film in a while, I scanned Netflix and came across this movie, and, having watched it, I can still say I haven't watched a really good alien film in a while. You can tell early on that for having a limited budget the special effects are actually decent, but as you continue to watch you realize there is a lot to overcome to truly enjoy this film. The irritation begins with the characters--right off the bat you get some backwards stoner clerk character and redneck cop--and that's before we even meet our aforementioned college kids. Once we get to them we get exactly what you would expect: the goody-goody final girl, April (Brittany Allen), her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma), her best friend Melanie (Melanie Papalia of the legendary horror film Smiley), the so annoying you wonder how anybody could be around this idiot for five minutes without punching him character (Seth, played by horror vet Jesse Moss) and his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic).

My sentiments exactly

So we get all the typical stuff you would expect--some drinking, pot smoking, lots of cursing, morons recording with their cell phones instead of running, horrible dialogue, one-dimensional characters, predictable--everything. The jumping back and forth between a traditional film and a found footage film is distracting and poorly executed. The attempts at humor are lame. But then we get the flip side. The effects in this film are really good, some scenes are frightening (albeit stolen borrowed from other films), and the aliens are actually very creepy. In many ways this movie feels like a throwback--a nod here and there to far superior works are included, a lot of stuff happens off camera, and lighting is heavily used to set the mood. We even get an appearance by Jack Nicholson doppelganger Michael Ironside. The makers of this film, The Vicious Brothers,...

...not him

...or even him

...but these guys...wait. THESE GUYS?!

...have taken another horror film that had potential to be one to remember but ultimately misses a couple steps along the way and turns out to be just another horror film.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Extraterrestrial Movie Trailer 

Monday, March 7, 2016

KILLJOY

Killjoy Movie Review

Michael (Kareem J Grimes, or Jamal Grimes--he goes by both) is a nice young man with a crush on a girl, but when said girl's boyfriend Lorenzo (William L. Johnson), a gang leader of some sort, finds out, he and his "gang (two other guys) beat Michael up. Tired of all this, Michael summons a...demon? Spirit? Something that appears in the form of Killjoy the ice cream truck driving clown who, for whatever reason, appears a full year after the "gang" accidently kills Michael. Killjoy does his killing by pulling the victims into his world...or something...that is entered via the back of the ice cream truck. Before I tear this movie to pieces let me start off by introducing you to the star of our show--ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...KILLJOY!!!

I hear a cricket chirping somewhere...

This might just be the worst clown in horror movie history. He's not scary. He's not creepy. He's not funny. He's not clever. He's not funny in any way, shape or form. The dialogue can best be described as mind numbing. Imagine that irritating white kid next door in the suburbs who walks around acting like he's a gangsta by using words he may have heard in a rap song or overheard the one black person he has ever actually been around say...and make a 70 minute movie of that kid and his friends doing their best to act legit and you have Killjoy, except the actors actually are black, which brings up an interesting question (that sadly the film never addresses)--it's long been a joke that horror movies always have the "token black guy" who has zero chance of surviving, and is often the first to go, sooo....if you have a horror film with an almost exclusively black cast, who dies first? Had they gone more comedic from the get-go (they awkwardly drop pinches of unfunny comedy here and there), they could have hit a home run with this concept...oh, and the answer (I would say spoiler alert but lets be honest, nobody really cares) of who dies first is the one white person in the film--more potential comedy gold that is never fulfilled. What else is bad about this film you ask? The directing--good grief, the last time I saw this much zoom in, pull out, zoom in was...actually, I have no idea. Some bad 70s Kung Fu film I would guess. The camera is so shaky at times you would swear this is a found footage film. The angles are...look at the clown photo above, but come out to the point where you see his ankles, and, yeah, that happens a lot. The CGI is beyond bad--in one scene a characters is shot multiple times but the screen looks like a first person shooter where you see red splatter where the bullets are supposed to be entering but then the spot goes away--after taking dozens of shots there's not a spot on his shirt. The acting is so horrible it is actually enjoyable, especially Lee Marks as Jamal. I know this was the first project for many of these people, and they all seems like truly likable people (which made their unlikable characters unbelievable), so you have to give them an A for effort and spirit, and somehow getting Full Moon involved, but by the time you make it to the ending (if you make it that far--and don't even get me started on how convoluted and ridiculous the ending is) you may wonder if this was, in fact, the worst movie you have ever watched--unfortunately, I've seen worse.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3


Killjoy Movie Trailer. Fellow Faith No More fans will delight in this

Saturday, March 5, 2016

I SAW THE DEVIL

I Saw The Devil Movie Review

Special agent Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) seeks revenge on Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi), a serial killer who rapes and murders Kim's pregnant wife Joo-yeon (San-ha Oh); however, this isn't a simple case of seeking out the killer and killing him instantly--instead, Soo-hyeon opts for a capture, torture, release, repeat method. This 2010 South Korean film was released to much fanfare, and, unlike some other hyped-up films I have seen lately, this one actually delivers. This film manages to take a clichéd basis (avenging the death of a loved one, and because that's not cliché enough, she's also pregnant) and take it in new directions, in the process delivering a fascinating story. The tone is a very dark one right from the beginning, the violence is unrelenting, and the movie feels so...real. You later find out that, as if being a rapist and serial killer isn't bad enough, Kyung-chul is also a cannibal, possibly leading one to recall an old joke (presented here, updated, of course, to fit this film): What did they find in Kyung-chul's bathtub?

....

Aside from a really interesting story, the movie is also carried by the acting skills of both Lee and Choi--Choi's performance makes Kyung-chul one of the most despicable, resilient, memorable villains in recent film history, and Lee makes Soo-hyeon a sympathetic victim while teetering on being a ruthless sadist himself. At almost two and a half hours this is a long movie, but it maintains a steady pace the entire time--it's rare for me to see a movie this long and find myself wishing it would continue, but alas, it's what I experienced watching this. The movie is not without it's shortcomings--the dialogue leaves a bit to be desired, and you may find yourself using the word "bastard" quite a bit after watching this. It also comes a bit too close to being a Steven Seagal movie a time or two, but manages to pull itself back before drifting too far. These minor details aren't enough to suck the awesomeness out of this movie, though the inevitable American remake will undoubtedly be.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8

I Saw The Devil Movie Trailer