Monday, May 25, 2020

BLACK ROCK

Black Rock Movie Review

Three women reunite for a trip to an island they visited as children. While there, they run into three men. When one of the chicks seduces one of the dudes and lures him into the woods, she teases him but kills him when he tries to take her up on her offers. At this point, you may be thinking this movie will possibly deliver a message of "maybe women shouldn't get drunk and all but promise drunk guys sex only to stop him when he tries", but alas, it's not to be. Instead, the other two dudes get mad, and with revenge on their minds, stalk the women all around the island, and Abby (Katie Aselton), the woman who could one hundred percent be blamed for everything that happens, is made out to be the hero.

"Thanks a lot, Abby!"

Now, before you go all crazy on me, no, I'm not saying women don't have the right to say no in these situations...of course they do, but this movie never gave the impression she was in any great danger before bashing the guy in the head with a rock, and everything leading up to that moment was Abby's friends telling her to stop acting that way--the guy even tried to get her to stop early on, and she kept going. All I'm saying, Abby, is had you not taken a complete stranger into the woods to fornicate, your friend wouldn't have been killed and you and the other friend wouldn't have been beaten and hunted. Oh yeah, the three guys were in the Army together, so naturally, Hollywood makes them nuts. This 2012 disaster is brought to us by writer Mark Duplass of Creep fame, and was directed by Aselton, who happens to be married to Duplass. Kate Bosworth (Straw Dogs) is here as Sarah, the only likable character in the movie--I'll let you guess her fate. A lot of what happens will make you laugh or roll your eyes--my personal favorite was the Army-trained guy who had previously accurately made shots from approximately the next county not being able to shoot one of the victims from about thirty feet. It's sad really, as the movie started off well enough, but as soon as they started the campfire, it was all down hill. There's some cool scenery throughout the movie, a fair amount of gore, and some weird sense we are watching the guys from Without A Paddle in an alternate universe where they are women, but there's really not much else to see with this one.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Black Rock Movie Trailer

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

INTO THE DARK: UNCANNY ANNIE

Into the Dark: Uncanny Annie Movie Review

A group of college students celebrate Halloween by staying home to play a board game called "Uncanny Annie"--picture Jumanji, only a lot more sinister. This is the first episode of the second season of the Hulu series Into the Dark, and if you have read the couple other reviews I have done of this series, you know I'm not watching or reviewing them in any order at all--this doesn't matter, as each episode stands alone. Back to this episode--our gang of nerdy gamers discover this game in their basement, and having never known of it before, decide to check it out. They find that to win, they must complete tasks one at a time to spell out the name "Annie"--if they fail, they come face to face with evil, including the gal the game is named for.

Here she is now!

This movie pulls off the rare feat of making the college-aged characters somewhat likable from the start, building a bit of (gasp!) depth to them. Unfortunately, once the action gets going, the students--who have already been established as legit geniuses--devolve into profanity-dropping dopes. When I reviewed a different episode of Into the Dark recently, I explained how this shows a lack of creativity from the writers and why this is not effective--while the characters in this episode didn't rely on this one word as much as the characters in that episode did, it was distracting nonetheless when they did and it really helped kill what was building up to be a very good movie. As is the case with all the Into the Dark episodes, there is some comedy thrown in, but there was less here than in the other episodes I have watched to this point. The games the characters must play are fun, and while not overly scary, there are some creepy moments. Annie herself looks eerie enough, but the overuse of sound effects with the character take away from that. There are some twists and turns along the way, and the ending is a decent one. Of the handful of Into the Dark episodes I have watched so far, this one is the best...that's really not saying much. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Into the Dark: Uncanny Annie Movie Trailer

Monday, May 11, 2020

HOME MADE

Home Made Movie Review

Filmmaker Jack Hess (played by this film's maker, Jason Impey) is on a mission to shoot the perfect snuff film. This one-man band production has almost no budget, and Impey is credited as not only the lead actor, but also the writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, stunt man, camera operator, and he did the music to boot. Incidentally, Impey has over one hundred directing credits to his name, so he's a busy dude. The movie starts off slowly, as we follow the every move of a woman who is eventually killed, and this seems to go on for an eternity. The interactions between the killer and the victims are less scary and more unintentionally hilarious, from the exaggerated falls down the hills to the fake blood to the fight in the woods, which is one of the greatest horrible fight scenes I have ever watched.

The whip sound makes it even better

The awfulness and hilarity don't stop there--the acting is atrocious, and the dialogue (what little there is) is mind-numbing. As I watched, I wondered how much better this movie could have been had it been made a silent film...but with better music than the song the plays on a loop throughout. Perhaps my favorite thing about the movie was near the end--Hess goes in for the kill, and there, under the victim's shirt, you can see a large bulge. As Hess digs in, we find out the purpose of this--it holds the fake organs Hess will soon remove and chop to pieces before his dramatic final cut call. From a technical standpoint, this movie is a train wreck (though considering the budget, Impey did a good job working with what he had). That said, it is inexplicably entertaining and will have you hooked until the end.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Home Made Movie Trailer

Sunday, May 10, 2020

PET SEMATARY (2019)

Pet Sematary Movie Review

After the family cat is killed, Louis (Jason Clarke, Winchester), the father of the house, follows the guidance of his neighbor (film and television legend, and one of my personal favorite actors, John Lithgow), walking through a pet cemetery and to a sacred ground, where they bury the cat...only for the feline to come back to life. The zombie cat is evil now, and terrorizes the family. Things only get worse when the daughter, Ellie (Jeté Laurence), is killed in an accident. Will Louis attempt to bring her back to life as well?

I'd call that a big yes

We know this movie is based on the 1983 Stephen King novel of the same name. We also know another film based on this book was released in 1989 (I'll review it one day). I am going to try my best to, for as much as I can, steer away from comparing this movie to either the book or the 1989 film, as I struggle to decide if this movie should even be considered a remake of the first movie--if it's based on a book, is it truly a remake? No matter, as I will not mention the first movie or the book again. I'll start off with the good, and the best part of this movie is the acting. Clarke, who I am generally not a fan of, does a fair job as the dad, and Amy Seimetz (You're Next) is a step above as the mom, Rachel. Lithgow turns in a fantastic performance, making Jud an extremely compassionate character. The real surprise here, however, is Laurence--she is likable as Ellie, and turns it up to eleven when she portrays the back-from-the-dead version of her--it's been a while since we've seen a kid THIS creepy. The main drawback of the film is in the terror, which suffers from some questionable CGI and overuse of jump scares--this is a scary story that could have done much better without either. The film does spin its wheels at times as well, dragging on more than it should have--shaving about ten minutes off would have been nice. This is a tough one to grade, as I feel it deserves better than a six, but not quite a seven, so...

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6


Pet Sematary Movie Trailer



Special bonus. If you are like me, you can't see or hear the words "Pet Sematary" without this Ramones classic getting stuck in your head (it was with me the entire time I watched this movie). If you experience this as well, this one's for you. 

Saturday, May 9, 2020

INTO THE DARK: CRAWLERS

Into the Dark: Crawlers Movie Review

What do you get when you cross Invasion of the Body Snatchers with hilarity and a pub crawl? The World’s End. What do you get when you take The World’s End, remove all the awesomeness, change all the characters to college students, and make it happen on St. Patrick’s Day? You get Crawlers, the sixth episode from season two of the Hulu horror series Into the Dark. Right off the bat, you will likely want to mute the television, as the song that plays over the opening credits is one of the more irksome I have ever heard. From there, the lead character/narrator Shauna (Giorgia Whigham) introduces the rest of the characters via pauses in the action. Eventually, we get a group of youngsters out to save the town.

Here they come to save the day!

As is the case with most Blumhouse productions, we get a combination of horror and comedy, but neither really hits the mark in this outing. The characters are unlikable...literally, every single character is unlikable. F-bombs are dropped as if dollars were given out for each, dumbing down the already one-dimensional characters. Here is what I have always said about cursing (particularly F-bombs): if you use the word once, twice, or a few times, it can be very effective in getting a point or a message across. If you use it more than that, it kind of gets buried and becomes just another word that nobody notices. If you use it in excess, it becomes very much equal to the word "like"--distracting to the point it is irritating and you want to choke the life out of the person speaking. So, dear reader, picture a typical teenage girl and imagine her trying to complete even one sentence without saying "like" at least twice--now make that girl a college student, and replace the word "like" with the F-bomb--you are now picturing every character in this movie. Writers and directors, please take note of what I have told you about the use of this word...you're welcome. That annoyance aside, there's still not a lot to like about this movie. It brings nothing original to the table, and never gives the viewer a reason to care about what they're watching. Some of the visuals are cool I guess, the story is just enough to keep you interested until the end, and it has a fairly short run time (though it feels much longer). Unless you are on a mission to watch all the Into the Dark episodes, I can find no reason to recommend this one (I have a feeling I will be closing many upcoming reviews with that very sentence).

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4



Into the Dark: Crawlers Movie Trailer

Friday, May 8, 2020

WONDER VALLEY (2020)

Wonder Valley Movie Review

Four friends take a road trip, with the destination being a desert town called Wonder Valley. Once there, strange things happen. If you are a longtime reader, you may be thinking "Have you lost your mind, Josh? You already reviewed this movie", and for a good part of this film, I was thinking to myself "I swear I have already reviewed a movie called Wonder Valley, but this doesn't look familiar". Let me clear it all up for all of us--yes, I did indeed review a movie about four friends going to the desert town of Wonder Valley, and it was titled Wonder Valley, but this is an entirely different movie about four friends going to the desert town of Wonder Valley, and is also titled Wonder Valley.

"You're hurting my brain!"

This movie features four female friends. The lead chick is completely mental, one is completely deplorable, the two blondes are completely interchangeable, and all four are completely annoying. Once they arrive at the vacation home (which looks really cool), they take moonflowers, begin to hallucinate, then the rest is uneventful--it's pretty much up to you to decide if what you are seeing is really happening...if you care enough by this point. The acting is atrocious. There is Western themed music, which is fine, but it's the same few seconds on repeat, and played so loudly it's hard to hear what the characters are saying. There is nothing bordering on scary or suspenseful. If you have a love of the desert (as I do), you will enjoy the scenery and some of the shots, but honestly, there's nothing much more to this movie. Shot in 2017 but not released until 2020, this will be the first movie I have reviewed to get the 2020-2029 label...let's hope this decade's horror gets better.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 3


Wonder Valley Movie Trailer

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

DEVIL'S TRAIL

Devil's Trail Movie Review

Two reality survival show hosts go out into the New Jersey woods to shoot a 3 week survival trip. Along the way they run into three naked witches, unexpected snow and sleet, see some mysterious red eyes, and fight with each other...often.

"Can we just kiss and make up already?"

I can't remember their names, and to be honest, am feeling a bit too uncaring to Google it, so we'll go with this--the bearded guy is the typical obnoxious character and the other guy, the alleged slingshot expert, is the whiny voice guy. Naturally, this is a found footage film, and it very much steals borrows from The Blair Witch Project--I expected the whiny voice guy to hold the camera to his face and cry about how scared he was at any moment. Though we didn't get that, we did get other elements from that movie, such as the weird symbols found in the woods and the walking in one direction all day to find yourself back where you started. The ending reveals this may have been intentional, but more on that later. Other than the witches and a girl who drives the two to their destination, the acting is pretty much limited to the two guys--at first, you very much get the sense they are just being themselves, which is fine, as it added to the "this is all real" feeling they were going for. As the movie progressed, however, and dramatics were added, their true acting chops (or lack thereof) are revealed. They bicker almost constantly, reminding me of an old, married couple, and the more this happens, the whinier whiny voice guy gets. Still, I held on to hope for this one, as God knows I've seen worse found footage films, but that hope was destroyed by the ending, which is as ridiculously convoluted as one can imagine. Skip it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 4

Devil's Trail Movie Review

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

COLOR ME BLOOD RED

Color Me Blood Red Movie Review

Artist Adam Sorg (Gordon Oas-Heim) discovers blood provides the perfect shade of red for his paintings, inspiring him to go on a murderous rampage. This 1965 splatter film is brought to us by Herschell Gordon Lewis, AKA "The Godfather of Gore", and he really lives up to that moniker with this one. If you watch this movie and think it reminds you of something else you have seen, but you can't put your finger on it, let me help you out--you're thinking of A Bucket of Blood. This movie is so similar to that one that I really couldn't take my mind off it, to the point I wrote Color Me Blood Red off as a cheap imitation. Eventually, I was able to look past that, however, as there is tons of gore to keep you watching. Some of the gore is extreme, especially for 1965--in one scene, Sorg disembowels a woman and squeezes her intestine to get more blood from her. Aside from the extreme gore, there's not a whole lot going for this movie--unless hot chicks from the 1960's light your fire, in which case you're really going to like this movie.

60's hot chick, the killer and...that other guy

The acting is really bad. The story doesn't ever go anywhere, and no characters are developed, so by the time you get to the climax of the film, you likely won't care about the fate of anybody involved. There is also some rather unfunny comedic elements to the film, especially in the end. All that said, if you're looking for a mindless old-school bloodfest, you could do a lot worse than Color Me Blood Red.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5

Color Me Blood Red Movie Trailer

Monday, May 4, 2020

THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH

The Horror of Party Beach Movie Review

Time for a quick lesson in film and Americana history. In the early 1960's, surfing and hanging out on the beach became a huge favorite of the youth. This was the early days of teenage rebellion-- a sort of bridging between the James Dean and Jack Kerouac worshiping teens of the late 1950's and the hippies that would come along later in the 60's. From this, a new genre of music, dubbed surf music, was born, as well as what would be known as beach party movies. These movies would feature teenagers partying on the beach, surfing, driving muscle cars, and having a goofy good time, often set to the aforementioned surf music or poppier teenage stuff such as Frankie Avalon (who also starred in some of these films). At the height of these films' popularity, somebody must have had the idea of "Hey, what would happen if we made a beach party film, but also crossed it with Creature from the Black Lagoon?" and, voila, The Horror of Party Beach was born. The creation of the creatures is as generic as one can imagine--barrels of toxic waste are thrown into the water--but the result is a handful of sea creatures that look less Gill Man and more...

Hot dog eating master

The movie, made in 1964, certainly has elements of the beach party movies--we get extended scenes of teens on a beach, partying and dancing to the catchy tunes of live band The Del-Aires. Not content with what was already an odd combination of movie genres, the filmmakers also, just for the heck of it, I guess, decided to throw a bunch of other stuff in. We briefly have a motorcycle gang, resulting in one of the most hilariously bad fight scenes I have ever witnessed. Mention of zombies is thrown in, just because. Eulabelle (Eulabelle Moore), the maid of Dr. Gavin, the would-be hero, goes on and on about voodoo. There are feeble attempts at love stories, and apparently, to get a girl in this city, all you gotta do is just wink your eye. The movie is very enjoyable during the beach scenes and whenever we see the monsters, but you may lose interest when the focus shifts to the adults trying to figure out how to defeat the creatures and all the "scientific" mumbo jumbo is thrown at you. If you're a fan of catching movie mistakes, keep an eye out for all the times the scenes change from night to day and back again. Largely considered one of the all-time worst films, I found a lot to enjoy while watching The Horror of Party Beach--as somebody who generally prefers the rubber-suit monsters over the CGI ones, I loved the creatures in the film, I loved the beach scenes, and thought this movie was a lot of fun.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 6

The Horror of Party Beach Movie Trailer

Sunday, May 3, 2020

MISERY

Misery Movie Review

Acclaimed writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) is knocked unconscious in a car accident. He awakens to find himself in the home of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates), his self-proclaimed number one fan. Wilkes, a nurse, helps Sheldon recover from his injuries, but when she reads Sheldon's latest, unpublished novel, and finds the title character has been killed off, Wilkes kind of loses her mind, and Sheldon realizes he is in more trouble than he suspected. This 1990 movie, based on the 1987 Stephen King novel, won critical acclaim upon its release, and landed Bates a much-deserved Oscar for Best Actress.

I'm not a dirty bird! I promise!

It had been years since I watched this movie--so many, in fact, that as my girlfriend and I were watching the show Castle Rock and she pointed how similar Lizzy Caplan's portrayal of the character Annie Wilkes on the show was to Bates', I couldn't remember. We continued watching the show (as a side note, I recommend checking that out), making a mental note to watch the movie when we could find it. Months later, we discovered it on Hulu and yes, the similarities between the two performances are impressive. This movie is one that will have you on the edge of your seat--early on, we realize Wilkes is not all there, and for the remainder of the movie you are just waiting for her to inevitably snap. Caan also turns in a nice performance as the helpless Sheldon. Director Rob Reiner (Meathead from All in the Family and director of Stand By Me) does a fantastic job setting up the tension in this film, creating an atmosphere that leaves the viewer mentally on edge the entire time. This movie is known for one scene in particular--I won't go into detail in case you've never seen it, but if you don't know it's coming, it is quite shocking and very brutal. The ending creates a bit of a conundrum--while you know Wilkes is insane and extremely dangerous, you may find a part of yourself feeling sorry for her, making it tough to know who to cheer for. In the unlikely event you have never seen the movie Misery, do yourself a huge favor and track it down. It is one of the better horror films from the 1990's, and one of the best screen adaptations of a Stephen King story.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 8


Misery Movie Trailer