Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Harper's Island

"One by one."
Henry and Trish are getting married on Harper's Island, where they met and grew up together. Six years ago Henry's best friend Abby's mom was killed by a guy named John Wakefield on that island, and she damn near didn't come to the wedding because of it. But arrive she did, and it turns out that was a bad idea because now the wedding party are getting all kinds of killed and all the deaths seem to be Abby-related.
The first few episodes are kind of dull and very soap opera-y. It starts to pick up around episode six or seven, and then around episode eleven or twelve it took another turn and I kind of stopped caring again.
Harper's Island was interesting and entertaining, but it absolutely wasn't what I wanted it to be. There was too much interpersonal drama and soap operainess, not nearly enough murder mystery.
I have to give the show credit, though, in making me care about characters I didn't think I could ever care about. Most of them are snooty rich people but the writers put in the effort to make them human, and I actually cried at a few of the deaths.
The show also gave me really screwed up dreams, which is a total downside. Maybe I shouldn't have watched the whole series in one day.

End of line.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Thus endeth Movie Lottery: The Revenge. Guess it's time to go buy up a bunch more movies I've never seen. Movie Lottery is becoming a bit of an addiction for me. It's fun. I like the luck of the draw aspect and I like the fact that I picked all the movies so if I really hate one, I have no one to blame but myself.
Except Inside; that one is totally Mark's fault.
And Red is Robert Englund's fault; I never would have given it a second glance if he wasn't in it. I want to see the new movie that's called Red because I guarantee you it'll be a hundred times better than that godawful dead dog movie.
So, yeah, Movie Lottery = Good and as soon as I get a job I'll probably start a new one up.
For now, though, I have to talk about Hide.
I am a sucker for villain protagonists and outlaw love stories. I have no idea what it is about them that draws me to them; maybe it's the fact that I am and forever will be a goodie two shoes that I'm fascinated by badasses and evil fuckers. That would be my guess. At any rate, I love The Devil's Rejects, I love Natural Born Killers and, what do you know, I love Hide.
Once upon a time, Billy and Betty went on a killing spree, which ended in Billy getting arrested. He went to prison for seven years until, while being transferred from one state to another, Betty smashed the prison truck he was in and busted him loose. Now they're going to find the money he stashed and take that trip to Bolivia they were planning when they got caught.
But Billy's not the man Betty remembered. He feels bad now about all the things he did. So he spends a lot of time talking about souls and redemption and his feelings and junk, which annoys Betty.
Then, about two thirds of the way through, Hide's cousin Straight To Video Horror Movie reminds Hide that it totally promised him a job, so Straight To Video Horror Movie takes the rest of the movie on a bizarre left turn.
Good times!
It's not the greatest movie ever made, there's a lot more talk than action and Rachel Miner was almost impossible to understand (I'd bet money her Sourthern accent wasn't real). It entertained me, though, and that's all that really matters as far as this blog is concerned.
I don't have any sort of deep reasoning for it. I just like this kind of movie, that's all.

End of line.


The movie starts out horribly, brutally violent with Lucie getting revenge on people who abused her fifteen years previous. Then the second act takes a turn for the weird. Then the audience (or me, at least) figured out where the movie decided it was going to go and the (what felt like) hour it took to get there was mostly tedious and dull.
I don't think it was intended to be tedious and dull. I think it was meant to be harrowing. It just didn't do anything like that for me. I wanted it to get where it was going. It did eventually pick up again and wander back into somewhat interesting territory. It just took the scenic route through Okay I Get Itville.
Martyrs is the other movie Mark gave me and, after Inside, I was expecting another impossible to watch cryfest. It wasn't, not for me at least. The beginning is hard to watch but it was the most interesting part of the movie. The turn for the weird really ground everything to a halt as far as I'm concerned. Action stopped and some lady did a lot of talking. And then we took the trip into I Know Where This Is Goingland.
Honestly, it could've stopped at the end of act one (act two? I'm not sure how many acts movies have). It would've, for me at least, been a far more interesting movie. The title wouldn't have made any sense, but I would have been rivited through the whole thing.

End of line.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Donner Party

Oh, Movie Lottery, how do you magically pick double feature themes for me?
Today's theme: Crispin Glover.
In the eighteen hundreds a big ol' group of people decided to cross the mountains from Nevada into California. But there was an uncommonly wintery winter that winter, the group got lost and most of them didn't survive. Cannibalism rumours abound.
And here's a movie about that. It starts after they've all been lost for a while, some stuff happens and then it ends before the few survivors are saved.
I really hope that fifth grade teachers show this movie to their classes after they do a unit on the Donner Party. I feel like that's exactly what this movie was made for (it's rated R, but other than a couple of brief head wounds and the pukey implications of eating another person (which you've already dealt with in class if you're any sort of a decent teacher at all), I don't know why it got such a harsh rating). I felt like I should have been watching it in a darkened classroom, only half paying attention and drawing band names on my arms (which I did a lot in fifth grade).
Just out of curiosity, this movie inspired a What Would You Do? question in me:
You're a member of the Donner Party. A group of three men (they tried but failed to put together a larger search party; thanks a lot, war with Mexico) has come to rescue you, one of whom dies upon walking in the door of your makeshift cabin. One of the remaining two doesn't speak English. The third man tells you there's a stockpile of food three days away. So your group follows the two surviving rescuers. But the one who speaks English is dying of ... I don't know, being sick in the eighteen hundreds. After five days you ask him why you haven't reached the stockpile of food and he tells you he lied. There is no food, it was just the only way he could get you out of the camp and, hopefully, safely to California. Then he croaks. Your party is completely out of rations (not counting the rations one party member stole for himself and hid in his backpack). Would you:
A) eat the guy who lied to you and is already dead?
B) draw sticks to see which of your surviving companions you're going to shoot in the head so you can eat him?
I say eat the guy who's already dead. It's a lot less murderous, seeing how he died of natural causes and all. The people in the movie chose Option B. One of them even mentioned how they were all going to go to Hell for it. I cannot figure out why they didn't just eat the dead dude who lied to them.
Or, rather than draw sticks, just kill William Eddy. He stole rations from the rest of the group to keep himself alive. I got the feeling the audience was supposed to be on his side, since the movie began and ended with him, but he was my least favorite character. He was a theif and an asshole and he bossed his wife around, which does not sit well with me.
Sure, Crispin Glover's character went all Shannon Wilson Bell all over everybody's asses (if you don't get that reference, watch Cannibal! The Musical, which is a far more entertaining cannibal movie than this classroom movie day "at least it's better than doing work" thing), but at least he treated his wife with respect. He didn't treat anybody else with respect but what can you do, really?
Actually, the main problem with this movie is that it begins when it does. When the audience meets these people, they're all already at their worst. You can't care about them if you don't meet their good sides first. If the movie had started earlier the audience could decide who they liked and who they didn't and we'd have someone to stand by as they all started to unravel. In this case I was rooting for Christian Kane, Crispin Glover and Mark Boone Jr. because I like the actors and not necessarily the charactets.
Also, the guy who played William Eddy looked almost exactly like the guy who played Mark Boone Jr.'s son in law. I spent half the movie being confused why Eddy had two different wives, only one of whom he allowed to leave the campground. Took for flippin' ever to realize it was two different guys.
It got a lot less confusing after I figured that out.
One more thing: Why didn't anybody bother to put on their snowshoes? They're all struggling through the snow with snowshoes strapped to their backs but nobody ever bothers to wear the damn things!
Was the real Donner Party that stupid?

End of line.


Once (twice, actually; this is a remake) there was a guy named Willard who had rats in his basement, a terrifying gargoyle woman for a mother and the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket for a boss. His life sucked until he figured out he could make his basement rats do whatever he wanted. Then his life still sucked, but he had rat minions.
Now, I know when you have about a bajillion rats doing your bidding, you're not going to know all of them by name. The problem with Willard is, he only likes white rats, of which there is only one in his house. That rat's name is Socrates and Willard loves him. There's also a bigass brown rat named Ben who Willard hates because ... I don't know why. 'Cause he's really big, I guess.
Willard's kind of an asshole but he's the only protagonist we've got.
I kind of liked the movie. I liked bits and pieces of it. It started out good and there was a pretty satisfying revenge scene. I liked the fact that Willard's dad was played by pictures of Senator Mutant Hater (Bruce Davidson, who played Willard in the original movie).
I hated the way Willard treated Ben, which took up most of the movie, and I really hated the scene with the cat. It was completely unnecessary, it had nothing to do with the plot and it was, if you're me, genuinely upsetting. I think it was intended to be dark humor but it wasn't funny. It made me cry.
So the movie was kinda meh. Which is too bad because I remember the previews looking really cool.
Oh, and I'm confused because it had the American Humane Association's "No animals were harmed" seal on the end credits (hooray!) but there are several scenes when Willard picks Ben up by his tail which is, as I learned back when I was first reading up on pet rats, something you never ever do. What the hell, American Humane Association? Were you having a smoke break when they filmed those scenes or was that a pretend rat?
Actually, I think Ben was the best actor in the movie. He had a way of sort of narrowing one eye that really made it look like he was glaring at Crispin Glover. It was pretty cool.

End of line.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sorority Row

How come moviemakers think the only way audiences will know a character is "the smart one" is if you make her a crybaby and put her in Eliot Spencer's nerd glasses? Most of the smart people I know aren't crybabies and wear less obvious styles of glasses (if they wear glasses at all).
I'm pretty sure Sorority Row is a remake of House On Sorority Row, which I never saw. I want to now, though, to compare them. Anybody out there got a copy they'd like to loan me?
In this movie, six girls in the Theta Pi sorority decide to play a prank on one of the girls' cheating boyfriend (who is the brother of one of the other girls). However, they don't really plan the prank, which involves the cheated-on pretending to be dead. So nobody really thinks it through when they drive out to an abandoned field and "look for sharp objects to dismember the body." And nobody expects the boyfriend to stab her through the chest with a tire iron. Well, that's what you get for being stupid.
At the end of the school year, the Theta Pi sorority house throws a graduation party and people start getting brutally killed. Well, that's what you get for being stupid.
The best thing about movies like Sorority Row is the characters are all outwardly horrible, and that way the audience isn't sad to see anybody go. I openly cheered a few deaths (and at least one of them was pretty funny).
I wasn't happy with who the killer turned out to be, but I can't think of any character I would have preferred as the killer, so I guess that's a pretty minor complaint.
The only other real problem with the movie is a lot of the characters looked ridiculously similar to me, to the point where there were some scenes where I wasn't actually sure who was involved.
Oh well. You know what makes up for that, though? Cursing, shotgun toting Carrie Fisher.

End of line.

Monday, October 11, 2010


This movie didn't have enough going on for me to have a cohesive reaction to it. For such a short movie, it was awfully slow moving. Mostly it's about a guy and his son killing the people who are trying to kick them off their old abandoned slaughterhouse property. But they also kill a bunch of teenagers because it was the '80s.
Here are my thoughts in no particular order:

1) Why does Buddy only speak in pig-esque noises when his dad speaks to him in perfect English, which Buddy clearly understands?
2) While it was cool that there was a character named Sally Jean (she's named like my name!) she was too dumb to live. "Oh no, I'm being attacked! I'll climb back in my car, roll up the windows, lock the doors and then, rather than drive away like any logical person would do, I'll cower and scream until he smashes my windshield. Then I'll get back out and run so he's guaranteed to catch me."
3) All the dead animals (pigs especially) in this movie made me a little nauseous. I didn't watch the opening credits sequence 'cause I could tell what was coming (for a clue, see the name of the movie). I don't want to watch pigs getting killed. Just 'cause I eat bacon doesn't mean I need to see the process used to harvest it.
4) And how come Buddy's dad could understand Buddy's odd grunting language? They had the weirdest conversations.
5) I want to know if Rob Zombie's seen this one, 'cause the part when Buddy puts on the deputy's bloody shirt and drives around in the cop car with the siren blaring was straight out of House Of 1000 Corpses (only backwards, 'cause this movie was first). Also, similar endings. Hmmmm. (I like House Of 1000 Corpses much better.)

End of line.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer

Really, Movie Lottery? After the hell you put me through with Inside you couldn't give me The Ghost And Mister Chicken? Seriously?
Actually, I guess it's a testament to how fucked up Inside is that Henry barely affected me.
The thing I noticed most about Henry: Portait Of A Serial Killer is that I personally wouldn't categorize it as a horror movie. It's a meandering, almost plotless but quite violent and disturbing drama. It's a Weird Movie About People that happens to be Based On True Events. The true events being the doings of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Oh joy.
You know what? I feel bad for Michael Rooker. I've never ever seen him play a nice man. Not once. I'll bet he's perfectly pleasant in real life, but he never gets to play anything other than serial killers and asshole dads and corrupt cops. And maybe that's fun for him, but it tends to make audiences hate him.
Anyway, as for a review of the movie itself, I don't know. Overall it was, to me at least, a Weird Movie About People, which is one of my least favorite genres ever. They're always depressing and plotless, and Henry is not an exception. It's the least exceptiony it could be.
I don't understand why I like, for instance, Natural Born Killers but not this movie. They're both full of senseless attacks on people who probably don't deserve it. Maybe it's a style thing. This one just isn't my cup of tea. Didn't sit right with me. No bueno.
It is, however, a pretty well respected movie in the horror realm, and I can see why that is. It's certainly disturbing. I once read a story (whether or not it's true I do not know) that Michael Rooker was running late to a screening of Henry and, on his way in, literally ran into a woman who was running away from the movie. She looked up at him and started screaming. I hope it is true, 'cause it's a good story and it pretty well sums up what the goal of the movie is.
I do kinda feel bad for the lady in the story, though. I'd be scared, too, if I ran into Michael Rooker in my attempt to escape him. That's like the world's scariest Looney Toons gag.

End of line.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Remember how I said Dimension Extreme is good to go to for "entertaining horror movies for a rainy, unemployed afternoon?" Sometimes that's not true. Sometimes they're also good for "brutal French movies that make you wonder why you're alive."
Funnily enough, there was a preview for Inside on Steel Trap, to which my reaction was "Oh, hell no; I'm never watching that." I wasn't thinking about the fact that it was one of the movies my mom's friend Mark had given me and was waiting patiently for me in the Movie Lottery Box.
I should point out that there are two kinds of horror movies I don't do well with:
1) Ones about babies or pregnancy (Even A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child upset me; I'm a wuss when it comes to baby horror; there's a reason I've never seen It's Alive or Grace)
2) Ones about being trapped and helpless in a house (I'll point out again that The Collector terrified me, as did Them and The Strangers. Hell, the first time I saw House Of 1000 Corpses I was a bit of a wreck; just an enthusastic wreck)
Inside is both of those.
Four months after the car crash that killed her husband, nine-months-pregnant Sarah is attacked in her home by a crazy woman. Sarah locks herself in the bathroom. Lots of people die.
The movie is extremely bloody and extremely serious. By halfway through (probably even before that, actually) I was curled in a ball, crying and sobbing, smacking myself in the head and wishing it was over so I wouldn't have to be watching it anymore. I do not leave movies unfinished unless they're terrible.
Which Inside wasn't. It was smart, it was scary, it was gruesome, it was well acted, it was well made. Nothing about it was a bad movie. But, oh, it is so not my kind of movie. I don't have the emotional stamina to ever watch it again.
The main thing that got to me, though, was that they kept showing CGI shots of the unborn baby reacting to the attacks on its mother. It seemed like every time the tears started to dry up they'd show one of those and I'd lose it again. The movie's hard enough to watch, you know? Actually seeing the baby, even if it is a cartoon, just makes it a thousand times worse.
We all know I'm not really into serious horror because it either bores me or completely drains me, and Inside definitely falls into the latter. I can't say it was bad. I can't say I don't recommend it. I recommend it with a disclaimer, but it's worth watching if you have the emotional stamina to deal with it.
Basically, I recommend it to people who are stronger than I am.

End of line.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steel Trap

Five people at a New Years party on the top floor of an abandoned building receive text messages telling them to join the "real party" on a different floor. Unrealistically (honestly, if you got a text message from a number you didn't know saying "come join the real party downstairs," would you go?) all five of them and two tagalongs actually go, which turns out to be a very bad idea. "Real party" is code for "series of traps that will kill your asses."
Steel Trap was released by Dimension Extreme, which is a reliable label for horror movies that are entertaining and a good way to spend a rainy, unemployed afternoon. They're not brilliant or life changing, but they're always worth the rental fees (or, in this case, the five dollars you pay for it at a video store that's closing).
I happen to like "series of traps" movies. Obviously, seeing as I'm a Saw fan and all. And The Collector actually made me afraid of the dark again (and to all those people who complained that it was a Saw rip off, I have ten words: boo hoo for you; I didn't see it that way). Steel Trap was not nearly as effective as The Collector or any of the Saw movies (...well, maybe Saw V) but I enjoyed it. I even cared if any of the people made it out alive, which is amazing considering there wasn't one damn likeable person in the group.
The acting was average, the dialogue was weird (I don't know how to describe it other than that; it was stilted and obvious and sounded like real conversations and arguments but only if you overlook the fact that nobody talks the way these people did) and every character was just awful. And it kind of fell apart near the end.
But the movie was well made enough that I rather enjoyed it. I'm glad I saw it and I'd probably even recommend it to people if they asked. It's not exactly a glowing review. It's like a glow stick review. It's fun for a while but only really worth it if you don't think about it too hard. (I like glow sticks, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get one, you know?)

End of line.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Phantom Of The Opera

Once upon a time, Claude Rains thought a publisher was trying to steal a concerto he wrote. So, like any rational person would, he killed the guy. The dead guy's wife grabbed a convenient nearby cake pan that had some green water in it and threw it in Claude Rains's face, horribly scarring him.
Then some people sang for way too long.
Okay, I know I'm very shaky on the story of The Phantom Of The Opera, but I think this movie followed it even less than the Robert Englund one does. Mainly because, this one doesn't really have a story. It has extended opera sequences.
It's a very 1943 kind of movie. The drama is melo, the color is techni, the music is boring (non-musicals that focused on music were not great back then) the women's voices are all so shrill only dogs can hear them and the two guys (other than the Phantom) vying for Christine's affections look exactly the same so it doesn't matter who you're rooting for.
The two guys both liking Christine was supposed to be the comic relief, them both always being around and speaking at the same time, and Christine never choosing between either of them because in this version Christine's entirely self absorbed.
Seriously, did nobody teach this woman humility at all? Every time her maid tells her how wonderful she sounded that night (gag) Christine's response is "I was good, wasn't I?" Gag me with a spoon (I'm bringing that one back, I've decided)! That is not the proper response to a compliment, lady.
P.S. Isn't everything I do fantastic? (Eyeroll.)

End of line.