Wednesday, April 28, 2010

His Name Was Jason

It's pretty obvious that I'm a Nightmare On Elm Street fan. None of the rest of the Big Five can hold my attention the way Freddy and that coolass glove of his can.
That being said, I want to be a Friday The 13th fan, too. I'm just too damn lazy. Counting both Freddy Versus Jason and the remake, there's twelve Friday movies and that just too dang many. I've seen three (one, two and FvJ).
Maybe when I'm done with Movie Lottery I'll start in watching all the Fridays. But only if all of the unrated versions have been released (I know the first three were, I don't know if the other several made it). I ain't interested in the rated versions. As the director of one of the movies (I don't remember which one) said: "The MPAA raped my movie."
His Name Was Jason certainly gave me a bit more incentive to want to watch all the Friday The 13ths, if only to appreciate His Name Was Jason a little bit more. It was a cool documentary, but it seemed sort of rushed and abbreviated.
"Here's a summary of each of the movies. Let's talk about the characters. Here's some stuff about Jason in pop culture. Now we're talking about some of the cooler kills in the series. These movies were more censored than they should've been. Hey, they're making a remake. Documentary over. Bye." The end.
In spite of that, I caught myself checking the clock every three minutes. How can a ninety minute movie seem so long when everything in it seems rushed?
I'm going to blame all the stuff I didn't like about His Name Was Jason on the fact that I didn't see all the movies.
If, when I get myself a copy, I give Never Sleep Again: The Legacy Of A Nightmare On Elm Street rave reviews, you just roll your eyes and chuckle to yourself and say "Oh, Sally, you biased ding dong."

End of line.

Horror Hotel

"The woman trying desperately to see through the fog is Miss Nan Barlow, a headstrong college student currently enrolled in a course on the history of witchcraft. Miss Barlow has made last minute changes to her vacation plans. Now, instead of visiting a relative and attending a birthday party, Nan is heading to a small, forgotten town in Massachusettes in the hopes of finding information that will put her term paper head and shoulders above her classmates'. But the fog isn't the only thing obscuring her view. The fork in the road won't just take her to Whitewood; it will take her to The Twilight Zone."
That is both my plot summary and my review. Horror Hotel feels like an overly long and not particularly good episode of The Twilight Zone.

End of line.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Conan O'Brien at the Gibson Amphitheatre, April 25, 2010

I didn't watch a movie yesterday. One week in and I've already failed on my "watch at least one movie per day" goal.
On the other hand, I saw Conan O'Brien! Hooray for the Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour!
Reggie Watts opened for him, which was awesome. Reggie Watts is a sort of experimental comedian / musician / beatboxer / DJ guy and as far as I'm concerned he's a freakin' genius. I love Reggie Watts and last night was only the second time I'd seen him live. I ought to take more opportunities to go to his shows.
Anyway, then the Legally Prohibited Band (formerly the Tonight Show Band, formerly the Max Weinberg Seven ... Max Weinberg wasn't there, though) played a couple of songs and then Conan came out.
I have never seen an audience go from sitting to standing that quickly. Team Conan is a loyal bunch.
After that I don't really remember the order of things. Conan monologued, he and the band played songs with backup singers The Co-quettes. ("Since we're on tour we were going to call them the Tour-ettes but they wouldn't stop saying 'fuck.'")
Andy Richter wore a "guy riding a horse" costume and told the audience some things he's learned. At one point Conan threw to a commercial, provided by Andy. A video was played of a Generic Network Executive, who mocked us and booed us and got very angry and killed his stuffed cat. They showed a video of Triumph The Insult Comic Dog. Conan and the audience had a (scripted) conversation where we demanded he kiss La Bamba "like he's your girlfriend and you've been on a submarine for six months."
Conan played a lot of songs, including that Superman song by Five For Fighting (also known as the only song by Five For Fighting as far as the general public is concerned), in the middle of which Jim Carrey showed up dressed as Kick Ass and sang along. (Why is it the second he breaks up with "Little Miss I 'Cured' My Son's Autism And I Think I Know Enough About Anything To Write Four Books," I like Jim Carrey again?)
Because NBC may own the intellectual property from Conan's shows, he couldn't really use popular material such as the Masturbating Bear or the Walker Texas Ranger Lever. There was, however, an appearance by the Self Pleasuring Panda and lots of celebrity guests came out to take turns pulling the Chuck Norris Rural Crime Fighter Handle. (As far as I'm concerned, the coolest guest was Seth Green. The rest of the audience seemed more thrilled with Aziz Ansari, by whom I am unimpressed, and Sarah Silverman, by whom I am much less than uninmpressed).
During his encore, Conan ran through the audience with his arm out, letting everybody who could reach him give him a high five. For the first time in my life, I was thrilled to have an aisle seat. I high fived Conan O'Brien. That's almost-to-equally as cool as getting to shake Eugene Hutz's hand.
I just realized this isn't a review so much as a list of some things that happened at the show. You know why?
1) I can't remember everything that happened (hence the "some").
2) It goes without saying that I had a wonderful time.
It hit me last night that simply by hosting a couple of television shows, Conan O'Brien has become a rockstar. Getting screwed over by NBC probably helped, but even before the Tonight Show Fiasco it was pretty obvious that Conan fans are very loyal and very fan-ful. He very well may be the luckiest guy in the world. And I'm more than willing to help to keep things that way.

End of line.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Genies are evil and they feed on wishes, which they grant in horrifically ironic ways (for instance, turning a girl into a mannequin when she wishes to be beautiful forever. Rimshot!). The person who wakes up a genie (who are actually called Djinn) gets three wishes, after which all the Djinn wake up and take over the world (I would assume in horrifically ironic ways).
Wishmaster is very mid '90s, and has everything you'd think a movie from the mid '90s would have: unpolished CGI (honestly, I was railing against this stuff? It's so lovably imperfect! What I really hate is the really good "blue people in Avatar" CGI), basketball, a Ted Raimi cameo and lots of talking.
It also had a pretty damn cool villain and a surprisingly likeable heroine. Wishmaster is pre-Scream, so instead of shrill teenagers being stalked by an equally shrill guy with a knife, we actually get a story and characters and things that happen.
Woah, look at me bashing the slasher subgenre. That's out of character. I love slasher movies. I don't love Scream, though. And I think this movie just made me appreciate what non-slasher movies can be: really interesting and really good.
I have no idea why I don't ever hear about Wishmaster. The most I knew about it was that I'd heard the title before (and, of course, that there's a Robert Englund in it) and all through the movie I couldn't figure out why it isn't more popular.
It kind of reminded me of Candyman (it even had a Tony Todd cameo to go with its Ted Raimi cameo) but I liked it infinitely better than Candyman. I guess not a lot of people share my opinion, though. Of the two, Candyman seems to be the more popular film, which is a shame. It's been a while since I saw it, but I recall Candyman bored me, gave me a stomachache and then ended. Wishmaster, on the other hand, is really damn entertaining and it actually kinda scared me without making me feel stressed or nauseous (the two things that caused my Candyman stomachache).
That's it. I'm going to start a one woman pro-Wishmaster movement. It's time somebody give this movie the credit it deserves!

End of line.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

House On Haunted Hill

I've seen the remake of House On Haunted Hill several times (I rather love it), but I never saw the original until last night. I'm amazed at how many plot points from the original actually turned up in the remake. I'd just assumed that the remake was going off on its own crazy tangents. And it did, but not as much as I thought it did.
Vincent Price invites five people he doesn't know (Pretty Girl, Handsome Guy, Business Man, Gosspy Lady and Scaredy Man) to a haunted house party he's throwing for his Bitchy Wife and tells them anyone who stays through the night will be given ten thousand dollars. Then spooky shit starts happening.
The movie is very of its time. It was stagey, it was talky, Handsome Guy was named Lance and Pretty Girl went from zero to hysterical in nothing flat. Is it just me, or is it the fifties in here?
Anyway, the point is, I generally like stagey, talky movies from before I was born and the parts of this movie that were supposed to be scary really were pretty scary, which was more than I was expecting. I guess I just assumed William Castle movies were campy and, without the gimmicks, boring.
And maybe that's true of some of his other movies, but House On Haunted Hill is solid.

End of line.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gogol Bordello Nonstop

There is a reason I didn't run home and watch this movie the day it came out on DVD the way I ran out and bought it. There is something I know about myself, about documentaries and about Gogol Bordello.
I knew it would make me feel left out.
Gogol Bordello is one of those bands that I want to be. Their music is amazing, they're the most energetic people I've ever seen in my life and this movie filled me with all kinds of energy and inspiration to run out and accomplish everything I've ever wanted to.
What it didn't fill me with was knowhow, bravery or focus. My mind is all over the place right now. I'm filled with a want and a need to go out and do something but I have no idea what that something might be and if I figured it out, the likelihood I'd actually go out and do it is slim because I am a scaredychicken.
I want to learn to play the tuba. I want to drive and drive and plant myself in a city I've never been before, just for a little while, just for the fuck of it. I want to get another tattoo. I want to finish writing my book and then make a movie out of it. I want, I want, I want.
But I never do.
What was awesome about the movie was that the overall feeling was very positive and happy, as opposed to The Pied Piper Of Hutzovina, which I liked but left me feeling very sad (I cried through the whole thing). I'm still not sure why, and I haven't had the nerve to watch it again to figure it out.
Gogol Bordello Nonstop, though, I could watch again and again. It's one of the most inspiring and, by influence, frustrating movies I've ever seen. But man was it worth it. It's fascinating, it's fun, and Sergey Ryabtsev is fast becoming one of my favorite people ever. He seems to be always smiling. I love people like that.
Not to put down anyone else in the band. The entire band is one of my favorite people. There just happens to be several of them.
And I want to be one of them.

End of line.
-Sally (was a fifteen year old girl from Nebraska)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Black Swarm

SciFi Channel movies have a reputation for being kind of terrible. I'd never sat through an entire one before but I'd seen clips of them on The Soup and they all look like movies about one "name" actor (in this case Robert Englund. ... Surprise!) and a bunch of unknowns battling mutant CGI versions of common animals.
And that's exactly what this one was, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. Either I'm very patient or I picked a good one.
I just wish they'd named the movie ZomBees! (with the exclamation point as part of the title). Black Swarm sounds too much like it's trying to be ominous.
You see, a swarm of mutant wasps is going around stinging people and taking over their bodies, making them wasp-filled zombies. Meanwhile, a sheriff moves back to her hometown so she can have soap opera dramas with her ex-boyfriend/ex-brother in law. The sheriff's daughter makes friends with the weird scientist who lives next door to her babysitter. Gee, I wonder if he knows anything about the killer wasps?
Also, the government is involved. 'Cause we didn't have enough plots.
Other than the soap opera drama between the main character and her ex-everything, I liked Black Swarm. It was fun. A little too much talk and a little too little action, but still fun.
And some of the situations follow a logic that only exists in made for TV movies, but that just pushed the movie into the realm of Unintentionally Hilarious. For example:
Daughter and Babysitter have gone missing. So Sheriff does the only logical thing and sneaks into Scientist's lab, where she threatens to blow his head off because she assumes he knows where Daughter is.
Wait, what?
First of all, she doesn't have a warrant, so she can't just go barging in uninvited wherever she pleases. Second of all, why does she suspect him? Nobody knows that Daughter had been talking to Scientist at all, so basically Sheriff suspects him of being guilty by reason of living next door.
And about two minutes later Daughter shows up (also just running into the lab uninvited) and two minutes after that Sheiff trusts Scientist to take her daughter to safety while she and her Ex-Everything to try to stop the wasps. So at least there were no hard feelings. It's like those unfounded those threats against his life never happened.
It doesn't make any sense and it cracked me right up.
If all SciFi Channel movies are like this, I should watch them more often.
P.S. The little girl in this movie got paid to do almost nothing but talk to, hug and run around holding hands with Robert Englund. How do I get a job like that?!

End of line.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Meet The Deedles

Remember back in the '90s when there were a bunch of comedies about two dopey guys? Bio-Dome, Wayne's World, Encino Man, probably some other Pauly Shore movies, that sort of thing? This is one of those.
In this case, the two dopey guys are Phil and Stew Deedle, whose father is very ashamed of them for being so dopey. So he sends them off to Camp Broken Spirits, but that doesn't exist anymore. So they sort of accidentally steal the identities of two nature freak ladies to become rangers at Yellowstone National Park, where they have to stop an infestation of prarie dogs.
The prarie dogs are part of Dennis Hopper's plot to get revenge on Old Faithful. (pause) I'm not kidding.
There's the obligatory "dopey guy romances smart hot girl" subplot, the bad guy's two obligatory dopey sidekicks and a Big Lipped Alligator Subplot about escaped circus animals.
Meet The Deedles is a stupid movie. I didn't dislike it, but it was stupid. If I had been younger when it came out, I probably would have gone to see it in theaters, loved it, and would own a copy for non-Robert Englund reasons. (As it stands, he's not in it enough to make it worth keeping on its own merits.)
Basically, it's obvious this movie wanted what all the Two Dopey Guys movies wanted: it wanted to be the 1990s Bill And Ted. The problem is, they didn't bother to really look at what made the Bill And Ted movies good. They just saw that the central characters were a couple of dopey guys and figured that must be the correct formula. So on that level, it fails.
On another level, the "well, that was stupid but at least I didn't have to think for the past two hours" level, it was just fine. I kinda liked it. It wasn't great but it had some lines that made me laugh and that's good enough for me. I was expecting Meet The Deedles to be awful but it was more formulaic than anything else, and I'm okay with that.
And I would love to see a Nostalgia Critic review of it.

End of line.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dead And Buried

Apparently the folks who live in Potter's Bluff don't like out-of-towners. I base this assumption on the fact that, in the first scene of the movie, they burn a tourist alive.
Dead And Buried is a slow moving and weird movie, the kind of movie that's boring if you're distracted but really creepy if you're into it.
And that's all I can think of to say about it. I'm glad I paid attention because I thought it was really good, but on a bad night I would have thought it was the dullest piece of boring in the history of snore.

End of line.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dance Macabre

The biggest problem with Dance Macabre is that the back of the box promised me a "shocking twist ending," which I figured out the first moment a person showed up on the screen. I then spent the rest of the movie hoping that that particular twist was a red herring and that the killer would be someone far more interesting. It wasn't.
Oh, yeah, the plot. Jessica's father buys her way into a Russian dance school, run by Svetlana, who was crippled in a motorcycle accident decades before. Jessica looks exactly like Svetlana did back in the day, which is just fine with Anthony, one of the instructors at the school who used to be Svetlana's boyfriend and was the cause of the accident.
While there's not really anything wrong with the movie overall, it is pretty much completely forgettable, but in a weirdly loveable way. It reminds me of the heyday of video stores: finding some movie you've never heard of and renting it based on the artwork and the summary on the back. Like the idealized 1950s (you know, the one that's all housedresses and casseroles and there's no such thing as segregation), it's something I'm nostalgic for even though I've never really experienced it. So for that reason, I loved watching this movie.
That being said, I'm thinking about getting into moviemaking by pitching a remake of Dance Macabre that ends with one of the twist endings I made up while waiting for the big reveal of the actual "twist" ending.

Oh, okay, fine; I was determined to write one review where I didn't develop my opinion based on a fangirl crush I've had since I was nine, but I just have to complain about one more thing:
I'm obviously in the middle of a big Robert Englund kick right now, he's the only reason I've even heard of this movie and, in a way, he's the second biggest problem with it. His character is obviously obsessed with Jessica, but she's always galavanting off with some weird faced magazine photographer who keeps sneaking into the school.
It's the same problem I have with The Phantom Of The Opera: Robert Englund is throwing himself at this girl, and she's rejecting him? In what universe does that make any sense?

End of line.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Brothers Grimm

Here is the plot of The Brothers Grimm: it's The Three Amigos but with fairy tales.
I loved it!
It had flaws, certainly, but I have no idea why it did so poorly when it came out. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for fairy tale movies, but come on! This is really awesome! The story is interesting, the performances are good and visually it's like a movie Tim Burton would make if he actually had any range.
This is the third movie I've seen Heath Ledger in, and I'm starting to realize why everyone made such a big deal about him while he was alive. I wasn't impressed by him in Brokeback Mountain (but, to be fair, I wasn't impressed by anything in Brokeback Mountain) and I thought he was the only good thing in The Dark Knight (but it's likely I would have thought that of the Joker regardless of who played him). Now that I have three roles to compare, I can see that he was really talented. I like the guy.
I guess it helps that he plays the more likeable of the Grimm brothers. Matt Damon's character, on the other hand, has two personality traits: he's Boring and A Jerk Who I Hate. I don't have a problem with Matt Damon, he's generally a good actor but I don't think he really brought it this time around. He could have done more with the character.
I've seen worse performances, though so it's really a minor complaint.
A major complaint, however, is this subplot about the French army. Every time the story really started to get rolling and I really started getting involved with what was going on, in popped the French army subplot to grind everything to a screeching halt. I never thought I'd say this but: Go away Jonathan Pryce. This movie would have been better off without you.
Could someone explain to me why this movie bombed? I thought it was awesome! Is the world just conspiring against Terry Gilliam to never give him a fair chance?
This movie is so cool! It's pretty to look at, it has some genuinely creepy parts (the face stealing mud and the thing with the horse and the spiders both gave me the heebie jeebies) and there's action and pretty girls and pretty guys and scared villagers and monsters and fire and an amused looking Henchfop.
What is not to love?

End of line.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reaction to Nightmare On Elm Street article in Fangoria # 292, April 2010

I have tried to keep an open mind about the Nightmare On Elm Street remake. I've been such a champion for Rob Zombie's Halloween films that I feel like I have no right to bitch when someone remakes a movie I actually like. I want to go into Remake On Elm Street as unbiased as humanly possible.
I am, however, an emotional creature who is easily offended (actually, I'm not easily offended so much as I'm extremely offended by specific things).
So maybe I shouldn't have tried to read the Fangoria article about Remake On Elm Street. I didn't finish it. I got stuck on some quotes, one from the director and several from one of the actors. I'm going to give my two cents on them now.
I'm hoping if I get this off my chest I'll feel better and will be able to go into the movie theater in a couple weeks with that open mind I've been trying to have.

Quote # 1, from director Samuel Bayer: "I told all my cast and crew that we must do with Freddy what Christopher Nolan did with Batman. I'm trying to make a dark and serious film and I hope I'm achieving that. One of the most extraordinary aspects of Dark Knight is the way it integrates Batman into a believable world and I want to do just the same with Freddy."
Oh, you mean like how Wes Craven did with New Nightmare? And, my mom's complaint with that quote is why is he giving Christopher Nolan credit for Frank Miller's work? I explained to her that it's because Christopher Nolan made the movie version of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight and she kind of harumphed. So there that is.

Quote # 2, from actor Thomas Dekker (the rest of the quotes are from him): "I hate Hostel. ... The violence is pointless and grotesque, and the movie invites you to enjoy it. ... On the other hand, films like Martyrs ... use the violence in emotional and intelligent ways. ... But you aren't enjoying in any way the cruelty suffered by the characters. You feel devastated about it."
Okay. I haven't seen Hostel or Martyrs, so I can't argue his examples. What I can argue, though, is: I don't want to go to a horror movie to see realistic, devastating violence! I don't want to feel people's suffering! I don't want to leave a movie theater feeling depressed! I don't go see war movies because war is a real thing that happens every day. I go see slasher movies because I don't know anybody who was attacked in their dream by a dead guy with a razor glove. Yes, violence in real life is horrible, and I don't enjoy it one bit. I do enjoy it in the movies because it's catharsis and it isn't real, just like explosions in real life can be awful things but in action movies they're nothing but awesome. These people are actors and they're not actually being hurt. So I'm allowed to enjoy the movie. I can't take myself out of a realistic movie enough to enjoy it. I hate that everyone seems to be leaning more toward "darker and edgier" in their movies lately. I don't like "darker and edgier." I also feel the need to point out that, according to what I've read, Wes Craven still thinks the original Nightmare should have had the happy ending, and he's not pleased with the nonsensical twist ending New Line foisted upon him. I don't know why I thought that fact seemed relevant, but it did.

Quote # 3: "Generally, I don't like remakes. I consider myself a true horror fan, and those are often missed opportunities to do something new - or worse, sacreligious ripoffs of cult favorites. But A Nightmare On Elm Street is different."
Said the guy who's getting a big, fat paycheck from it. He goes on to say he's not just promoting a movie because he's in it. But you know what, dude? Everyone reading this magazine considers themselves true horror fans. And I, for one, don't like your attitude. I don't like being talked down to. Fans will be the judge of whether or not a remake is good. And be prepared to fight your battle, man. Because I was fighting on the Pro-Halloween Remake side pretty much alone, and I lost. I still like the movie, but the majority of the fans didn't. It makes me very sad, but that's the way it is.

Quote # 4: "I signed on for this movie because the original, while it's still a classic, failed, in my opinion, to take full advantage of its own subject. We're talking about an ex-child molester who can penetrate your dreams. And what Samuel Bayer is aiming for is to go very deep into the character's psychology without using one-liners. And we've done just that."
Okay, you know the original had almost no budget, right? It's hard to reach whatever potential you, some douchecanoe in the future, thought the movie should have when there's no money to get there (nor did they have the money for psychics to read the future to add whatever stuff you thought the movie needed). Second of all, Freddy Krueger is not a child molester. Maybe in the new one he is, but in the original series he was never, not once, referred to as a child molester. He was a child murderer. Both crimes are reprehensible, but he was only guilty of one of them. Do your fucking research. (Editor's Note: I should point out that, in the original script, Freddy was a child molestor, but they took that plot point out before filming. I'm of the opinion that, because it wasn't in the movies, it isn't canon.) I just watched all seven movies a couple weeks ago. No molesting. Sorry. Last, the one liners didn't show up until later in the series. Wes Craven hated the silly direction Freddy went in. Have you even watched the original or are you basing your arguments on the sequels and reputation?

Quote # 5: "What Jackie [Earl Haley] has brought to the character is marvelous. ... He prepared for the role with a very serious approach. ... He was human once, but not a regular Joe ... so Jackie knew that understanding the character was the key to not being one-dimensional."
And Robert Englund didn't? Bite me, kid.

Okay. Thank you for letting me rant.
I'm hoping my distaste for these quotes (and for Thomas Dekker in general; I think I want to throw tomatoes at that kid) won't make me decide going in to hate Remake On Elm Street. I want to judge it on its own merits, which is going to be hard enough to do, since I love the original so much. I guess now I know how all those Halloween fans felt.
I will do my best to not throw a hissy fit and to, instead, just remind myself that it's not like Samuel Bayer's going to go around and destroy all the copies of the original movie.

End of line.