Review: John Carpenter’s The Ward

There is only so much you can say about a used-to-be-great director before you finally give up. John Carpenter was one of those guys for me. I’d say to my friends, “Who cares if he made The Village of the Damned or Ghosts of Mars… this dude made The Thing (1982), Halloween, and Big Trouble in Little China!” But that didn’t matter after a while. There is only so much you could say about a director who hasn’t made a decent film in quite some time (1995’s In the Mouth of Madness might be his last worthy effort).

There is only so much you can say about a used-to-be-great director before you finally give up. John Carpenter was one of those guys for me. I’d say to my friends, “Who cares if he made The Village of the Damned or Ghosts of Mars… this dude made The Thing (1982), Halloween, and Big Trouble in Little China!” But that didn’t matter after a while. There is only so much you could say about a director who hasn’t made a decent film in quite some time (1995s In the Mouth of Madness might be his last worthy effort). Continue reading “Review: John Carpenter’s The Ward”

Review: Troll Hunter

Leave it to those crazy Norwegians to finally get that whole “found footage” genre a satisfying entry. You see, this whole genre has been plagued with problems since it first started. For every good one (Man Bites Dog or [Rec]), comes 57 bad ones (Cloverfield, Apollo 18, The Last Exorcism). The problems with those films are all the same too. The story takes too long to get off the ground (remember that painfully bad party sequence at the beginning of Cloverfield?), the characters are nothing shy of awful and/or disconnected (again, see Cloverfield), the premise never fully realizes itself until it’s too late (I’ll point you to The Last Exorcism for that), and most of the time they take themselves way too seriously. Continue reading “Review: Troll Hunter”

Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

I am going to start off this entry with a bold statement that will sure to attract the attention of cinema snobs all over – horror films simply don’t exist anymore. You can argue the finer points of some lesser-known foreign masterpiece all you want. But deep down in your heart, you know you weren’t actually scared when you watched [Rec] or Martyrs. Not like you were when you saw Jaws for the first time. No matter how much we love to watch teenagers (or anyone really) get destroyed on screen, there hasn’t been a film in a while that really connects us with the characters to have us even care in the first place. Continue reading “Review: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

This is one Crank that was yanked a bit too hard this time…

2006 was a fantastic year in cinema. And I am not talking about the Academy Awards or anything. Truth be told, I can’t even think of one single movie that was nominated for anything that year… and I am pretty on top of that shit.

No, I am talking about the year that brought us Wayne Kramer’s chaotic Paul Walker vehicle, Running Scared, and also the film-making team of Neveldine/Taylor and their frenzied Crank. These two movies were out to prove that R-rated action extravaganzas didn’t have to have $200 million budgets. They just need a little vulgarity, ridiculousness, nudity, violence, and a significant body count to keep the interest flowing.

And they both do it pretty fucking well – Crank especially. If you haven’t seen this film by now (you fucking loser), we follow Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) as he runs around Los Angeles looking for an antidote to something called the Beijing Cocktail. Apparently some low-level thugs injected him with it and the only way he can stay alive is by keeping his adrenaline levels on the high.

So he kills people, drives cars through malls, fucks, shoots more people, cuts a dude hand off, yells, breaks a tv I’m too poor to afford, etc. And for as ridiculous as this movie sounds, it’s actually a really well-made film to boot.

For example, in some movies, people go swimming. A cut or two later, the characters are instantly dry. Or they are made to look wet but they really aren’t. There is a part in Crank where Chelios jumps into a pool, yells at some dude, then gets out. He is dripping wet as he gets out of the pool, walks down a hall, keeps walking – cut after glorious cut – and then finally makes his way out of the building, still dripping wet.

This movie couldn’t be further from plausible yet it also has the balls to rock continuity’s asshole?

Even the camera shots are glorious. And all this (and more) was done with a modest budget.

On top of that, the film did have a few real moments. He is in love with a girl, played by Amy Smart, who is as ditzy as a dodo bird on crack. Dwight Yoakam plays his doctor to a pretty serious degree, and even delivers the best (and perhaps most serious) line in the whole film, “You’re a good dude.” In context with the movie, it’s pretty fucking touching. It was these semi-serious moments that kept the film grounded. They sort of made you care about these characters way more than you should. This is what made this film work so well.

At the end, however, Chev falls out of a helicopter and (fake) dies.

I didn’t want this to end. I wanted him to get up and deliver more havoc. Sometimes, dreams really do come true. Only they turn into nightmares.

The lady and I went to a midnight screening of Crank: High Voltage at a drive-in movie theater in Tampa called Funland. If any movie was made for a drive-in, it’d be a Jason Statham movie. I had high-low hopes for this movie. Because how can they fuck up this formula?

chelios

Today’s History Lesson (4/2009)

They can fuck it up by not giving a shit about it. High Voltage is everything Crank wasn’t and much more. Gone is any shred of caring for the audience. Calling this movie over-the-top doesn’t define it enough. It’s shocking for shock sake – that’s it. It was made for a laugh, not for a purpose. It somehow makes all the characters you loved in the first one giant pieces of annoying shit. I hated Chelios and the Doctor within the first act.

Even the filmmaking techniques were a huge downgrade from the first one. I’m not saying the first film was Citizen Kane or anything, but at least they had something there. This film was probably made because Neveldine/Taylor’s last film came and went from theaters without anyone on the Earth seeing the fucking thing. So they needed some quick bread for their next feature.

If they did indeed need that, however, why not just try and make a good movie again?

But as far as moneymaking sequels go, this film is still a shit load better than, say, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But that’s like saying your leaking hemerroid is better than mine.

Please do not let this be the beginning of an awful movie summer. And let’s hope Crank 3-D is better than this…

Perhaps my hopes were too high. Maybe I will like this movie better upon further evaluation. Time will only tell.

Did no one watch the Watchmen?

Everyone raved last summer about an angry little superhero movie called The Dark Knight. What happens, however, when you make a more pissed off superhero movie and mix it with political/social commentary? You get Watchmen… a movie based on a fantastic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Say what you say about comics but this book pretty much invented the graphic novel genre and had a lot more to say than any issue of Spider-Man (or the trilogy of films for that matter).

Perhaps it was too angry though. The film came out this past March and, while some people saw it, it’s box office receipts weren’t too fantastical. Perhaps people didn’t get it? I mean, it takes place in an alternate 1985 (not like the one in Back in to the Future II) where Nixon is still president. The Cold War is in the air and superheroes, though once employees of the government, have been outlawed (sounds like The Incredibles but obviously that used this as inspiration).

watchmen1

Somebody Killed The Comedian (4/2009)

I think I can say with a certain amount of authority that children see rated R movies on a daily basis. I teach 14 year-old kids and they come in every day wanting to talk to me about whichever horror movie they saw that weekend. They wanted to talk to me about Watchmen too, only the few (and I mean few) students who saw it absolutely hated it.

I guess I understand why. It has no clear villain for a while. It’s essentially a mystery – we don’t know who they are fighting or why. Nor is there the typical origin story. There is no crime-fighting to be found, outside a one single short episode, and there is a blue man running around without his pants on half the time.

Perhaps it was to make some of them feel a bit stupid, or perhaps I was trying to educate them, but I decided to talk a little bit about the politics of film. What was the significance of the Nixon era, Nuclear War, Russia, etc. None of them had a fucking clue.

I was at a bar shortly after, talking about the film with some friends, who are much older than my students I might add. Now, I am not that old. I didn’t live through JFK and shit. But I do know a thing or two about American history. This novel/movie isn’t that complex to your average everyday paper reader but it seems a lot what was going on was lost to a good portion of the movie public. I guess that’s why people stayed away from it. It certainly had nothing to do with length (remember how long Dark Knight was?).

The purpose of this post escapes me for the time being. I guess I just wanted to write something about Watchmen from the persepective of a huge fan. I rarely rap about comic shit but this book is one of my favorites. And the movie is pretty fucking good too. In fact, I prefer it over Dark Knight.

So if it’s still playing in a dollar theater in your town, check it out. Or just wait for blu-ray. Give the book a good readin’ too.

And maybe if you’re lucky, I’ll soon talk about the new Fast and Furious soon.

Sigourney in the Mist – 2009

Last year I decided to “remake” a blog entry I wrote a few years ago for a completely different website. If filmmakers can remake shit less than a year old, why couldn’t I do the same in with a blog? No one cares about blogs anyway.

I actually liked the remaking idea because you can clearly see how much I’ve evolved as an “artist” over a few years time. This blog appeared in May of 2006 on Film Threat’s Blog page. You can see the original right here by clicking. Here is the remake version, complete with original words and artwork (with new artistry posted also).

Kids often times have one single moment, perhaps more, of complete and utter stupidity that they’ll never forget for the rest of their lives. I have one such moment, a moment that has stayed with me for the past 17 or so years. And the sad thing is, it was a moment that last about 17 seconds, yet, it still resides within my memory; haunting me, teasing me.

It was September of 1988 and I was seven years-old. I traveled with my mom from Jersey to Zephyrhills (yes, that Zephyrhills), Florida to visit my grandparents and their new home. Seeing how Zephyrhills is as exciting as you can imagine, we decided to head to the movie theater and watch movie.

The theater in this amazing town only held two films at a time. Our choices were Lethal Weapon 2 and Gorillas in the Mist. Being that I was only 7, my mom opted not for the Rated R action spectacular. She instead chose the safe PG-13 movie about the life and times of Dian Fossey. I wanted fire, explosions, gun fights, etc. My mom wanted Sigourney Weaver and a couple of monkeys.

I remember the film being longer than one could care for. By the end, when some unknown person stabs Weaver and kills her, I was happy to see the screen fade to black.

As we walked out of the theater, my mom says, “That’s sad. Did you know that was a true story?”

My ignorant mind at the time couldn’t quite comprehend what my mom meant by that. My brain spun that as meaning that the actual Sigourney Weaver went to Africa, fought for some gorillas, then got stabbed. My 7 year-old mind thought that meant that when Ghostbusters 2 finally came out, it would be Weaver-less.

“So, that lady really died?” I asked.

“Yes, yes she did.”

Check out how dumb I was…

“So, Sigourney Weaver is really dead?”

requiems

Sigourney’s Requiem (5/2006)

requiem

Sigourney’s Requiem – Redux (3/2009)

My mom looked at me like I was the dumbest kid on the planet. She had a look on her face like, “This kid came out of my womb?”

She then explained to me what a film “based on a true story” meant. It was a film, fiction, fake… like The Da Vinci Code. Sigourney Weaver wasn’t dead. The person she was playing was dead.

That was the dumbest 17 seconds of my life. And a moment I will never forget, although my mother has no recollection of this story, which is for the best.

Sigourney Weaver was nominated for an Academy Award for this film. Perhaps there was a member of the Academy who thought she was dead too. But she wasn’t and because of this, we were able to see a few more Alien sequels, that second Ghostbusters movie I was so amped about then, and lest we forget 1492: Conquest of Paradise.

Actually, maybe we lest.

So that’s it. The story pretty much speaks for itself and is, sadly, true. The picture – the new one anyway – isn’t that much better than the old. Sigourney looks a lot stranger in this new one…

Hot or Not: Zelda from Pet Semetary

Holy orafice clogger. I saw this movie when I was in 2nd grade and let me tell you, this movie fucked me up. It wasn’t because of how it showed people burying things that came back to life or how it had a creepy little kid running around killing people and biting their necks.

No, something else fucked me up. This one scene I am about to describe messed my sleeping schedule up for weeks when I was young. I remember lying on my back with my eyes open for hours, constantly looking around, making sure this creepy thing wasn’t in my room.

“What are you talking about bro?”

There is a scene where a woman describes her childhood with her sister. It cuts to a flashback and shows said sister – Zelda’s her name – rolling around in a bed with soup pouring out of her mouth. This bitch made Regan from The Exorcist look like Strawberry Shortcake. Hideous fucking creature! The worst part of it all happens near the end of the film. It cuts back to present day and Zelda’s sister is wandering about looking for her son. She opens a door to a bedroom and there is Zelda – all creepy looking in the corner of the room. Then she turns around and charges the camera, screaming, “Never get out of bed again!”

Fucking creepy.

When I watch it now, of course, there is nothing about that scene that is even remotely scary (other than the fact that I learned Zelda was actually played by a dude). Here it is: fast-forward to minute 3. Nothing, right? When I was a kid, that scene messed me up like a tornado in Oklahoma. I literally thought she was going to come out of my television.

So now I dare ask, is Zelda hot or not (and for the sake of argument, let’s forget she is played by a dude)?

zelda

Put it to my lips… (2/2009)