Thursday, December 29, 2011

Five Across The Eyes

Five Across The Eyes is the story of five vapid, shrieking moron girls (collectively they have maybe, maybe two brain cells) and the horrible screaming shrew who wants to kill them with a shotgun for hit and running her parked car.
The movie succeeds in making the viewer intensely, immediately hate every single character. Within thirty seconds of the opening you desperately want to see all five moron girls have their faces blown off (well before the introduction of Shotgun Lady is even hinted at).
Unfortunately, the Shotgun Lady is just as hateful as the teenagers and you spend the whole movie waiting for someone (preferrably a calm, jovial man (and yes, I mean that in the most mysogynistic way possible; this movie makes me hate women) with a machete and a penchant for torture) to come along and put all of them out of my misery.
The only reason I don't hate this movie more than Paranormal Activity is because this piece of shit didn't make millions of dollars for being boring, shrill and terrible.
Oh, Calm And Jovial Machete Man, where are you?
Die, you screechy bitchwads, die!!!

End of line.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Abomination

Cody Lee's mom coughed up a "tumor" one night, which came to life and fed itself to Cody while he slept. Then he coughed it up, became possessed by it, put on sunglasses to prove that he's evil now and then went around killing people to feed to his ever-growing "tumor".
The Abomination is low budget, poorly acted, poorly written, full of religious jargle I didn't really understand and long, drawn out boring parts. It was filmed without sound, with dialogue dubbed in later. There are scenes of people just screaming, which is really hard to listen to, and it is in no way a good movie.
However, there is something about this lousy, terrible movie that made me want to watch it all the way to the end. More than that, there's a scene that genuinely creeped me out:
Cody is in the kitchen. The walls and cupboards are spattered with blood and the many giant, slimy, bloody puppet mouths of the abomination are emerging from various cupboards and washing machines. There's a bloody skull and hand on the table, along with a washtub filled with soggy yellow sheets that I guess are supposed to look like guts, which he's stirring and feeding to the monster with a pitchfork.
It felt like a room in a haunted house walk through. Which maybe isn't saying much; a lot of walk through haunted houses are pretty lame. But it was just tableauy and unsettling enough to be a gorgeously horrific moment in an otherwise lousy movie. Much as I may make fun of The Abomination as a whole (I think it would make a good episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 if it weren't so damn gory), that one scene will haunt me for all my days. I don't really know why, but it had an intangible creepiness that really got to me.
Back before I used to watch horror movies, my brother used to try a lot to get me to watch The Abomination. He tried to convince me that the special effects were so crummy that it wouldn't scare me. Having seen it now, I can safely say I was right to not watch it back then. It would have scared the crap out of me. I was a coward for a very long time.
I'm not entirely sure what changed that turned me into the gorehound I've become.

End of line.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 2011 Movie Countdown

Well, this year is almost over. It started out good but the past couple of months have been crapballs and I'm looking forward to next year, when the last month or so will bring armageddon to the Aztecs or something.
I'd been planning on writing a sort of look back at what this year has been like for me, but I don't remember most of it. Drag queens gave me a makeover, I self-published a book (it's called Sunny Ella, which is a stupid title but you should read it anyway), I didn't go to nearly as many concerts as I would have liked but I did go to a few, I was a counselor at my friends' Unitarian church camp again, two of my best friends got married, my grandpa died and I read more than I think I have in recent years.
I realized last night that television holds almost no interest for me anymore. I used to be one of those people who had to have it on almost all the time but lately I'm happier ignoring it. The only thing I watch with any regularity is The Simpsons. I didn't even watch the second half of season four of Leverage because I just didn't feel like watching television.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there.
The reason I've really gathered me all here today is to count down the top twenty movies of 2011. Why twenty? Because that's how many new movies I saw this year. (It was nineteen until very late last night; more on that when we get to it.)
Further ado is for suckers:

20) Puss In Boots - Looking back on my initial review, sometimes I think I may have been a bit harsh on Puss In Boots. I mean, as people like to point out to me, it is just a kids movie. Then I remember that's the whole attitude I have a problem with. "It's just a kids movie" shouldn't be a phrase. Why do little kids have to get shafted in the movie selection department? They're not idiots and they deserve better than this.
19) The Bleeding House - I actually only watched this movie last night because it was released in 2011 and I needed a twentieth movie for this list (I wanted it to be even), which I was determined to write today for some reason. It was terrible. I've already pretty much forgotten I saw it.
18) Hanna - The only good things about this movie are the first twenty minutes and the fact that every time I see the title I get the Freelance Whales song Hannah running through my head.
17) Cowboys And Aliens - Cowboys And Aliens was dumb fun the first time, although even then I realized everything involving the token chick was eyerollingly cliched. The problem was seeing it again, which is when I noticed it's impossible to give a damn about any character in this movie that isn't played by Sam Rockwell (which is most of them). And speaking of characters I don't like...
16) Thor - had several of them. Especially Thor. But especially Natalie Portman. But especially Thor. You know what? Call it a draw. I hate them both. Too bad they didn't make a movie called Loki And Thor's Four Warrior Friends Whose Names I Forgot. That movie would have kicked ass.
15) Scream 4 - Okay, I'm going to say this again because I don't think Kevin Williamson heard me the first time: Peeping Tom is not the correct answer to "What was the movie that started the slasher craze?" for several reasons. REASON ONE: The slasher craze didn't really begin until the late nineteen seventies and early nineteen eighties, after several other highly influential and far more "slashery" movies had been released. REASON TWO: There is no true answer to that question; the entire subject is debateable. REASON THREE: Peeping Tom and Psycho came out the same year and, while Psycho was a huge hit, Peeping Tom destroyed Michael Powell's career and wasn't given accolades until at least a decade (probably longer) after the damage was done. There are a lot of other reasons why I didn't like Scream 4, but that one damn little trivia question and it's snotty-ass answer makes me want a backalley boxing match with Kevin Williamson, where I will win with the power of nerdgirl rage.
14) Kung Fu Panda 2 - Sure, it was uneven. Sure, it made me cry. Sure, it barely had a plot and sure, I probably should have gotten as mad at this for being insulting to childrens' intelligence as I did at Puss In Boots. But for some reason I can't. I don't know if it's the awesome Gary Oldman villain or the fact that at least it was well made enough to stir up my emotions and make me weepy, but I just don't have that vitriol for Kung Fu Panda 2. It doesn't deserve my anger.
13) A Very Harold And Kumar 3-D Christmas - Wafflebot!!! Everything else in the movie (about half of which is funny and half of which is not) is completely irrelevant because Wafflebot.
12) Arthur - It's amazing how high up on this list this one ended up being, considering I only went to see it 'cause Lauren wanted to go, Russell Brand is by reputation the most irritating man alive (a reputation not helped by the fact that he married the most irritating woman alive) and I generally hate romantic comedies. Arthur was cute, though. Russell Brand was actually charming and very funny (which I was not expecting) and I'd even watch it again if circumstances led me to that point.
11) Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Yes, it is the worst of the Pirates movies. Yes, I want to beat that damn mermaid subplot to death with a shovel for being pointless and grinding the movie to a screeching halt. Yes, I hate Penelope Cruz's character for actually being a screeching halt. However, there is still a lot of good, fun stuff in this movie. Barbossa, obviously, and The Spaniard (or whatever his nonname was). And Blackbeard and Gibbs and Jack Sparrow and Scrum ... basically every part of this movie that doesn't involve any form of woman is awesome. A woman's place is outside of the pirate movie, apparently. ... Look, all I'm saying is quit putting a bunch of boringass romance in my action movies!
10) Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop - I didn't read the thread because I didn't care to read a bunch of other people arguing (which is what I'm sure it was), but the other day on IMDB I saw a message board post titled "Conan seemed like kind of a dick" or something like that. I want to address that here: Yes, he did. However, name me one person who isn't at any point "kind of a dick." Nobody is one hundred percent nice all the time. When you see Conan O'Brien hosting a television show, he's being paid to be nice to people. That's his job. No matter how much of himself he brings to the role, he's still playing the part of talk show host and talk show hosts have to play nice. In this documentary, he's not playing that part. He's simply being himself. And, like all people, he has moments of jerkitude and, like a lot of people, he has kind of a mean sense of humor. So when he's pretending to fire his staff for bringing him fish with butter sauce or when he's complaining that he has to talk to so many strangers when all he wants to do is relax, that's not "being a dick." That's "being a person."
9) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - The fact that I didn't understand this movie and yet still think about it says quite a lot. I think I want to understand it. Maybe I should see it again. (I'd also like to point out that both Kung Fu Panda 2 and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy have Gary Oldman in them.)
8) Everyday Sunshine: The Story Of Fishbone - Okay, I guess technically this one was released in 2010 (at least at movie festivals) but I saw it in the theater in 2011 so it counts. And it singlehandedly made me a Fishbone fan. I only wish Gwen Stefani and Eugene Hutz could have swapped amounts of screentime.
7) X-Men First Class - It's weird, but as I get closer to the number one spot on this list, I have less and less to say about the movies. It's really hard for me to write much of anything at all unless something pisses me off, apparently.
6) Horrible Bosses - I don't actually remember much of Horrible Bosses but I do remember laughing all the way through. And I love Charlie Day.
5) Fright Night - One of the few remakes done right (yeah, there are flaws but compared to A Remake On Elm Street, this movie is brilliant). The moment they release a "double feature" DVD of both the original and this version of Fright Night, I'm buying it. (I'd also like to point out that both Horrible Bosses and Fright Night have Colin Farrell in them.)
4) Hugo - I think the only reason Hugo isn't slightly higher on the list (in other words, in the number three spot 'cause two and one were reserved a while ago) is because it does have those chase scenes where I feel like it falls down and becomes a bore.
3) Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows - On the other hand, I was not bored once by Sherlock Holmes. Of course, I've only seen it once so far. The second time might have some slow bits. On the other hand, I've also seen Hugo once, too and I noticed the slow bits there. (I'd also like to point out that both Hugo and Sherlock Holmes feature Jude Law in rare instances where he doesn't skeeve me out.)
2) Drive - I considered putting Drive in the number one spot. It totally blew me away. I'm a little bit obsessed with it because it was just so enthralling.
1) Insidious - However, I have to be honest with myself: I just enjoyed Insidious more. Rare these days is the horror movie that actually scares me. I got almost no sleep the first time I saw Insidious. Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see were those doll people.

End of line.

The Bleeding House

I should have just watched American again.
The Bleeding House is about an on-edge family with a deep dark secret or some crap like that, whose home is invaded by a nutball in a white suit who talks like Foghorn Leghorn.
The movie wastes a lot of time pretending that Foghorn isn't a nutball (trying to make him seem like just some friendly rube) when anybody who's ever seen a movie can tell immediately that the guy's off his rocker. (Unlike the moral at the beginning of Beauty And The Beast, in the movies all strangers looking for help are actually out to kill you.)
I almost felt like I was watching Dee Snyder's Strangeland again, except instead of it being Dee Snyder not shutting up about the spirituality of piercings, it was Foghorn Leghorn not shutting up about some sort of religious redemption stuff that at first went over my head but eventually just turned into white noise. I'm not kidding, it got to the point where my brain wasn't registering what he was saying as words anymore.
And that's the movie's biggest flaw (nevermind the fact that it's boring and the big reveals weren't all that big): it can talk all it wants, but it can't make the audience listen.
I'm not even sure if we were supposed to be listening. Were the scriptwriters trying to make a point? If they were, they didn't do a very good job of it. There was no substance or clear message or anything; it was just a guy talking and I'm pretty sure he understood what he was talking about, but I'll be dipped if I comprehended a syllable of it.

End of line.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

American: The Bill Hicks Story

Bill Hicks is possibly the biggest inspiration in my life. I have never known of a more intelligent, honest, funny human being. He lived more in his thirty two years than I may ever live, good times, bad times and both at once. He worked for what he wanted, he was never anything other than what himself and if it's possible to be in love with a person who died well before you knew he existed at all, then I am in love with Bill Hicks.
It's not that I aspire to be just like him; it's that he inspires me to be just like me, but the smarter, harder-working version of me that I know exists but don't let come out much because I'm afraid of her.
American: The Bill Hicks Story is exactly what the name implies: it is the story of Bill Hicks, told in photographs, live footage and interviews with his friends and family. It's beautifully put together. It's a long-ish movie, but I wish it had been longer. I feel like there was more that could have been said.
On the other hand, I can't think of anything else to say, either. I want everyone to watch this movie and maybe feel a shred of that intangible joy (because he was there and will always be there) and frustration (because he is gone and will be gone from now on) that I feel.

End of line.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

Yes! Fuck yes!! This is so up my alley!
Sherlock Holmes is investigating a series of bombings. John Watson is getting married. A Romani fortune teller named Sim is looking for her brother. Professor James Moriarty is a jerk. Mycroft Holmes is entertaining.
Things explode a lot, Robert Downey Jr. is attractive, the dialogue is quickly paced, there are more explosions, a lot of well-choreographed fight sequences, more action and explosions, some more dialogue, Robert Downey Jr. continues to be attractive, I spend an entire scene wanting to yell at the characters to hurry up and do what I already know they're going to do, the plot twists about, Stephen Fry is hilarious, more explosions, more explosions, dialogue and the end.
Fucking fantastic.

End of line.

Made In America

I actually saw this movie in the theaters back in 1990 or whenever it was it came out, but since then I completely forgot it existed until last night when there was nothing better to watch at my friend's house.
The movie is about a girl who finds out her sperm donor father is a white guy (the girl and her mother are black) and wacky hijinks ensue.
And by "wacky hijinks" I mean "comedy racism." The mom is played by Whoopi Goldberg who seems to hate pretty much all white people; the scene where her daughter tells her "I met my dad and he's white," their reaction is essentially "THIS IS THE WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN IN HISTORY!" It was really weird.
In fact, every single character, at every turn, did and said such weirdly stupid things that I couldn't fathom how this movie got made in the first place. I spent the whole movie sitting there thinking "Well, that was a stupid thing to do. That was a stupid thing to say. Nobody would handle this situation this way." And then it eventually turned from "look at the funny, poorly handled race relations" to "romantic comedy, sort of" and I lost what little interest I had in the movie.
There were a couple scenes where White Dad is filming commercials for his used car dealership with giant animals (a bear and an elephant). I liked those scenes. I'm a big fan of giant animals that can kill you.

End of line.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Human Centipede: First Sequence

The Human Centipede is one of those movies that didn't really hold any interest for me (I generally don't go for medical horror), but I felt obligated to watch it because it's become an important and polarizing movie in its genre and, as a horror fan, I need to know where I stand on such issues.
The movie is about a German scientist who kidnaps some people so he can turn them into conjoined triplets, connected at the digestive system. This is a movie that apparently made Eli Roth throw up and made my brother fall asleep from boredom.
As often happens with "either your love it or you hate it" movies, I thought it was okay. It was interesting and it was definitely nothing I'd ever seen before, so kudos to Tom Six for doing something different. It was certainly bleak, the concept was simultaneously disgusting and thought provoking, and they threw in a surgery scene so I'd have a few minutes of watching through my fingers because I can't handle that kind of thing.
That being said, I don't think this one's going to leave much of an impression on me. I kind of feel the same way I felt after watching Martyrs: the movie had my complete attention while I was watching it, it was very interesting, it'll be on my mind for a while and in two days I'm probably going to forget that I saw it.
Maybe the movie couldn't live up to its hype. Maybe I'm just hard to impress. Maybe a third thing. I don't know.
I'm just glad I've seen it because now I know. I have seen The Human Centipede and I can join in conversations about it, should the need arise.

End of line.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top Eleven Christmas Movies

It's December. Which means it's Christmastime!!! I love Christmas! I'm not a religious person, never have been, but I adore everything about the holidays: the music, the decorations, the cold weather, the spirit of the season, the abundance of delicious foods, all of it.
I also love Christmas movies, which is why I bring you now my Top Eleven Favorite Christmas Movies (And TV Specials). In alphabetical order, because I can't bring myself to rank them.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - I can't explain it, but that's okay. I shouldn't have to. It's a classic.
A Garfield Christmas - Not considered quite as classic as A Charlie Brown Christmas, but to me they go hand in hand (probably because we had them both on tape when I was growing up). It's more sentimental than one would expect from anything Garfield related and it makes me very happy. Bonus points for having simple little get-stuck-in-your-head musical numbers.
Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas - If I were ranking these, it's most likely Emmet Otter would be in the number one spot. I was quite bummed when a friend of mine pointed out that it's basically The Gift Of The Magi, because I hadn't really noticed the similarity, and I happen to hate that story. Emmet Otter is what The Gift Of The Magi would be if it were heartwarming and worth your time (as opposed to depressing and pointless).
How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Boris Karloff, Thurl Ravenscroft and Dr. Seuss (plus, you know, a good story that has a good, solid "meaning of Christmas" moral without being preachy about it). There's no way that can go wrong.
Love Actually - For the most part, I hate romantic comedies. And it's true that I have to really be in the mood for this movie (trying to watch it when I'm not in the mood ends with a strong desire to punch everybody involved. Even Colin Firth). But when I'm in the mood, this is the perfect harmless, plotless piece of Christmas fluff. It's a marshmallow of a movie.
Mickey's Christmas Carol - This is the first version of A Christmas Carol I remember seeing, and it's still so incredibly good. And very, very nostalgic; I can say every word right along with it.
Scrooged - A 1980s Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray back when he was funny and Carol Kane hitting him with a toaster. It's so funny, so dark, so good. They don't make movies like this anymore.
The Bishop's Wife - David Niven is a bishop having a crisis of faith, Cary Grant is an angel sent to help him out. When I was a little kid I went through a phase where I refused to watch movies in black and white. The Bishop's Wife and The Marx Brothers worked in tandem to break me out of that habit.
The Muppet Christmas Carol - Michael Caine is filmdom's best Ebenezer Scrooge, hands down. Yes, this movie contains one of the most heartbreaking songs ever written and no, that doesn't make me hate the movie because the rest of it is good enough to overcome making me cry like a little sissy girl (which is more than I can say for Toy Story 2).
The Nightmare Before Christmas - I honestly forget when I'm not watching it how good this movie really is. I know I like most of the songs in it, but usually I remember Nightmare Before Christmas as being far worse than it actually is (probably because of my adversarial relationship with Tim Burton and his legions of fans).
White Christmas - Last year I was wrapping presents and watching White Christmas. When the movie ended I was about halfway done with my wrapping. I scoured the house's collection of Christmas movies, trying to decide what to watch next, then put on White Christmas again. I think that sums it up.

Honorable Mention:
A Christmas Carol (any version) - As evidenced by the fact that I have three different versions of this story in my top eleven list, I love A Christmas Carol and will watch any variation thereof.
Arthur Christmas - I haven't seen this one yet, but I have it on good authority that it's much, much better than the previews would have you believe. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Carol For Another Christmas - I've never seen this movie and I don't know if I ever will. According to my mom, Rod Serling was involved with it. I don't know the story or anything about it really, other than that its theme music is my favorite Christmas song. And that's all it needs to make the Honorable Mention list.
Desk Set - While not exactly a Christmas movie, Desk Set has a very memorable Christmas scene. And it's a damn good movie. Curfew shall not ring tonight.
Frosty The Snowman - I don't really like this special, but it does hold a special place in my heart for one reason: "Messy, messy, messy." It was hilarious to me as a child (I would watch the special up to that line and then turn it off and if given the opportunity, I'd do it again).
Inside - The most harrowing and brutal horror movie I've ever seen takes place on Christmas Eve. Whether that's good or bad depends on your taste, but it's definitely worth mentioning.
Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol - You know how The Muppet Christmas Carol has a heartbreaking song (When Love Is Gone) in it? So does Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol (I'm All Alone In The World). And, while this version does have enough good moments that I do enjoy the movie, it's not quite good enough to completely overcome that song.
The Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause - I hated this movie, as I hated the first The Santa Clause (never saw the third one). But it does have a scene where Evil Robot Tim Allen Santa Claus drinks hot chocolate for the first time that, for whatver reason, left me in teary eyed hysterics. It was the one bright spot in a terrible pool of mediocrity.
The Twilight Zone: The Night Of The Meek - If you ever want to make my dad cry, ask him about the Art Carney episode of The Twilight Zone. It turns him into a weepy mess every time. And I can't say I blame him.
The Year Without A Santa Claus - I've never been a Rankin Bass fan. I don't even really like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (I honestly can't remember it after Herbie's song about being a misfit (I do love that song. "You can't fire me, I QUIT!"). It takes a weird turn and starts being about the abominable snowman ... what?!). The Year Without A Santa Claus, despite its depressing title (and a little kid singing Blue Christmas, thus fulfilling its Christmas movie duty of making me cry), has enough bright moments to almost win me over. I love the Snow Miser and Heat Miser songs (obviously) but my favorite song always gets cut from broadcast these days: the song Mrs. Claus sings about how she could be Santa this year.

And a best-of list just wouldn't be complete without its evil counterpart, the worst-of list. Here are my Ten Least Favorite Christmas Movies (And TV Specials):
A Chipmunk Christmas - There's a part where Dave says "I'm very disappointed in you, Alvin" that made me cry so much my mom ended up taping over the special so I wouldn't have to hear it again. I'm not kidding.
A Christmas Story - I will never, ever as long as I live understand why anybody likes this movie on any level. "Here's an hour and a half of people being miserable. Isn't that hilarious?" No. It's not. The very idea of this movie makes me angry. I'd rather watch every single other movie on this least-favorite list back to back than watch A Christmas Story once more. (I've seen it three times, which is five times too many.)
Santa Claws - Awful, stupid straight to video "horror" movie (it's really more of an excuse to get acrtesses naked next to Christmas trees) that was too boring to be scary or unintentionally funny or anything other than boring.
Silent Night Deadly Night 3: Better Watch Out - I love Bill Moseley. Everybody knows I love Bill Moseley. And, terrible as the first two Silent Night Deadly Nights are, at least they're not the third one (Bill Moseley in a brain hat stalking a blind girl with whom he has a psychic connection). Silent Night Deadly Night is disturbing, and the second one has some pretty good terrible dialogue (everybody loves "Garbage day!"). The third one is just stupid, not really related to the first two and I could drive a train through the plot.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Way to try to ruin my favorite Christmas book, made-for-TV-movie-making jerks. I had no idea it was possible to make this story suck.
The Christmas Toy - If you asked me, I couldn't tell you the plot of this movie or anything about it other than reading the title is enough to make me tear up. I saw it a couple times when I was little and it made a strong enough impression of sadness that I refuse to watch it again, even though I'm curious to know what it was that made me cry so. (Not curious enough to find out, but curious.)
The Muppet Family Christmas - First of all, I don't care about Fraggle Rock at all (yes, my niece has the same name as a Fraggle, no that doesn't make me think the show isn't boring) and I'm pretty sure this special was made solely to promote Fraggle Rock. Worse, Camilla leaves Gonzo for a turkey. And at the end of the special, it stays that way. And that is why this special can go to hell and stay there.
The Polar Express - This movie is nothing but two hours of padding, which is really impressive for a movie that's only a hundred minutes long.
The Preacher's Wife - Who decided it would be a good idea to remake The Bishop's Wife by taking out everything that made the original a good movie and turning the angel into an out-and-out asshole?
The Small One - You know all that stuff I said about The Christmas Toy? That.

End of line.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


The theatrical title of this movie was Saw 3D and the video title is Saw: The Final Chapter. But seeing as I didn't watch it in 3-D and I found out about a week ago that an eighth Saw movie is being planned (more on that later) I've decided Saw VII (or Saw Seven, if you will) is the only proper name for this movie.
Since the first movie, I've been a great defender of the Saw series. The fact that I defend it as a series is saying quite a lot, actually, because usually when a movie gets to the point that it's a series (rather than a single or a duo) I've washed my hands of the whole thing. I'm a big fan of stopping at one sequel, if a sequel has to be made at all.
As far as I'm concerned, the Saw movies go like this:
Saw: Absolutely brilliant.
Saw II: Pretty good. Not great but it has its moments.
Saw III: Best in the series after the first one, in spite of the fact that I can't watch great swatches of it (the traps upset me and I can't handle surgery scenes).
Saw IV: Made me angry the first time but I've liked it better every subsequent viewing.
Saw V: Felt like a damn clip show. It should have been called Previously On Saw.
Saw VI: Back to form. Fifty times better than the fifth one.
Saw VII: Well, I guess I should stop stalling and jump into this review.
As a "Final Chapter" it's kinda ... underwhelming, I guess. Sure there was one pretty great setpiece (which involved a cheating girlfriend, her two boyfriends and three circular saws; it also had one hundred percent nothing to do with the rest of the movie; it existed solely to have a gory beginning and to show a girl wearing essentially just a bra and leggings) and I'll forgive almost any plot twist when they throw this music over it. (I actually didn't mind the twist but I have to wonder if it would hold up to scrutiny, and if it was planned earlier than the seventh film or if it was just thrown in there in order to have a twist.)
But the thing that made the original Saw so brilliant was that it was simple: two dudes trapped in a room with a mini tape player and a couple of saws. (Yeah, there was some other stuff about police investigations and a hostage situation, but those weaved into the guys-in-the-room story really well.) It was more plot driven than most people give it credit for and not nearly as gory as everyone claims. The violence was mainly implied and the blood didn't really start flowing until Saw II.
And that's kind of the problem; the rest of the series emulates Saw II much more than Saw. Much as I enjoy some of these elaborate and ultimately disgusting traps, I feel like the filmmakers lost the point a long time ago. It should be about the story. Sure, they tried to give the Saw movies a good storyline that extends over all the films and they do a good enough job that I haven't tried to find flaws in the story arc. I want the series to succeed in not being stupid.
But I'm mad at Saw Seven. I spent the whole movie missing the first film's simplicity.
Saw Seven is mainly about a self-help author who wrote a book about surviving one of Jigsaw's traps and (SPOILER: his book is nothing but lies, and so) he finds himself in a warehouse, going through a series of rooms wherein people he works with are stuck in traps from which he has to save them. Or not. Either way, he has to go through all these rooms in order to try to save his wife. who is also in a trap. Shades of Saws Three and Six.
Meanwhile, the police are doing their dangedest to track down and bring to justice Jigsaw's accomplice, who has been involving people in games willy nilly (rather than for Jigsaw's original purpose).
It wasn't quite the clip show that Saw Five was, but Saw Seven was weak and shrill and the traps weren't all that great. I couldn't watch the fishhook one or the teeth one and the rest of them, apart from the opening one, were pretty underwhelming. It had moments I liked (the gore was cool) but overall I wasn't happy with it.
What I'm less happy about is the talk of an eighth Saw movie.
Much as I love this series (hit-or-miss though it may be), I was thrilled when I found out the seventh was to be the last. I was proud of them for ending it, for knowing that the series had to end (even if they didn't realize it should have ended much sooner; sure, I enjoyed Saw Six but I do think the series should have stopped, at the latest, with Saw Four). I thought it was brilliant and admirable to have a Final Saw Movie.
I tried valiantly to defend the moviemakers' integrity when people scoffed at the idea of the seventh being the last. I went on and on about how, no, I had read an article in Fangoria about it and they all seem serious about ending it, that they all know it can't go on forever. And, of course, they've all gone on to make me look like a fool for believing in them.
I had forgotten, you see, that almost nobody makes movies because they want to tell a good story or because they have artistic integrity. People make movies to make money, audience members be damned.
"They'll go see what we tell them to go see and we'll make money off of it. They'll go see an eighth Saw movie because they all went to see seven other Saw movies. They're dumb, they'll recognize the title and they'll throw money at us for giving them something they're familiar with."
I don't want there to be a Saw Eight, and I hope very much that I will have the willpower to not see it (I know I'll be tempted by cool previews). I want to make my point (insignificant though it may be in the grand scheme of all the other people who will go see it) that the series should have ended.
Movie series all eventually need to end. Some movies don't warrant sequels at all.
For instance, Insidious was quite possibly the best new movie I saw this year. I heard recently a sequel is in the works and I am pissed. It stands so brilliantly, perfectly on its own. There's nothing more that needs to be said. Why fuck that up with a sequel?
... Actually, I felt the same thing about Saw, now that I think about it. James Wan and Leigh Whannell make great movies that don't need sequels. Dead Silence didn't have a sequel and that's a damn good movie. Saw had a bunch of sequels, but the original is so much better on its own.
Why don't people try and focus on making really good movies and telling really good stories and maybe, just maybe (for horror movies, anyway) trying to scare the fuck out of some audience members? Why not do that instead of making a bunch of sequels?
And who the hell told Diablo Cody she was allowed to write an Evil Dead remake?! Fuck her! Juno sucks and I will never forgive that bitch for writing it.

End of line.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


There's a certain feeling I get from books I read when I was a child (books like The Phantom Tollbooth, The Diamond In The Window, and those books by Edward Eager), a feeling that can only be described as magical.
Hugo feels like that.
I saw previews for it and thought it looked pretty good, with all the clockworks and all. But the previews don't do a good job of explaining what the movie's about, not even a little. 'Cause the previews make it look like Hugo is a movie about a kid named Hugo who lives in a train station, gets chased by Sacha Baron Cohen and tries to figure out how to fix a mechanical man he got from his father.
Those are all elements of the story, certainly, but that's not what the movie's about. I don't entirely know how to explain what the movie's actually about.
It's about people, I suppose. But that makes it sound boring.
It's about the movies, I suppose, but that makes it sound modern.
It's about finding your purpose, I suppose, but that makes it sound preachy.
I was blown away by this movie. I cried all the way through it, but in a good way. It's a movie that makes me happy, that makes me want to live in that world with those people.
I don't know who this Asa Butterfield kid is, but he's perfect as Hugo, and I wish him the best in his life. He's a talented actor and I hope he doesn't let that go to his head or mess him up in any way.
In fact, everybody in the movie is perfectly cast. I rolled my eyes at the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen as the station inspector simply because I tend to roll my eyes at the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen. That's unfair of me; just because I don't like Da Ali G Show doesn't mean the man's not talented. He's quite good in this movie.
As is Ben Kingsley, who is sometimes infuriating, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes both at once. Even Jude Law was adorable, and I usually find him skeevy.
If I have a complaint about Hugo, it's that I felt like the scenes that the previews tended to focus on (Hugo being chased by the station inspector) ground the film to a halt. I suppose they were necessary, but they almost felt like they belonged in a different movie; they didn't give the audience anything about the characters to latch on to and they didn't have that sense of magic that the rest of the movie has; they were just there, getting in the way.
Other than that, though, Hugo is pretty much perfect. And don't let anybody call it a "children's" or even a "family" movie. Those terms always feel derogatory. Hugo is an all-ages movie; it has no age-specific target audience, it's simply something that anybody can enjoy.

End of line.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Psycho House

There are minor spoilers in this review, but how many people out there are actually planning on reading Psycho House (or knew it existed at all)?
Robert Bloch, at least when he wrote the Psycho trilogy, has a formula. He sets up a mystery, he spends a very long time following several characters and taking forever to say not much of anything. You can't try to solve the mystery yourself (isn't that the point of mystery novels?) because he deliberately withholds all clues from the reader, making the whol process of reading the book seem futile.
Then at the end he reveals that the murderer was a well-known and trusted character all along, logic be damned, and then spends a chapter or two explaining how the logic isn't being damned, how it all fit together.
It's an obnoxious formula, but a formula nonetheless.
I'm on to you, Robert Bloch.

End of line.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Psycho II

Two decades after Alfred Hitchcock released an incredibly successful film version of Psycho, author Robert Bloch wrote a Scream 3-style (actually, I guess Scream 3 is Psycho II-style) self-referentialish sequel, and it's just as pulpy and pseudo-intellectual as the first book.
At the start of the book, Norman Bates escapes the mental hospital in which he's been incarcerated for twenty years and the psychiatrist who'd been working with him goes off to find him, certain that Norman is headed to Hollywood to stop the movie being made based on his story.
In Hollywood, we meet a self-centered actress who cares more about her own big break than pretty much anything else (which would be fine if it weren't for the fact that I think Bloch was trying to make her a sympathetic character; he failed on all counts. She's awful), a scriptwriter who I think was supposed to have a personality but the author didn't do a very good job of giving him one, a producer who's such a stereotype that he's barely worth mentioning, a sleazy and violence-obsessed director, a washed-up leading man who took the part of Norman to get his career back on track and a washed-up former scriptwriter who runs a motel and puts Norman's doctor in room Number Six, the same room Norman put Mary Crane in at the Bates Motel in the first book (which has nothing to do with anything other than it's something I noticed. The phrase "Number Six" always jumps out at me for some reason. Golly, I can't imagine why).
From then on, a whole lot of nothing happens. I mean, I stuff happens, but none of it is as interesting or suspenseful as it should be. Maybe I'm just jaded but it really did feel like three hundred pages of nothin' goin' on:
The doctor sees Norman at the supermarket, the actress tries to seduce the doctor, the screenwriter tries his damnedest to have a personality, the actor gets a chapter or two from his point of view even though he's pretty much a pointless addition to the book's cast of characters.
That's part of the problem. There are too many characters and the plot is ... not convoluted exactly, but it seems to have a lot of plot threads that, while it's not that they don't go anywhere, they do seem pointless by book's end. I guess they're red herrings. It was just really hard to care about them even when they seemed like they might be important.
Psycho II's resolution is silly and makes no sense (and this is coming from a girl who likes the end of Haute Tension). Just like the first book, Bloch uses the last couple of chapters to explain everything with psychology mumbo jumbo. Unlike the first book (where the ending was spoiled from page one by the fact that I've seen the movie), Psycho II's ending was a surprise; the book kept me guessing the whole way through. I just didn't think the ending (or even the chapters leading up to it, really) was that good.
I'm thinking maybe I'm not a fan of Robert Bloch, which doesn't bode well for the third book in the series, Psycho House, which I will be reading next.
On the other hand, it might bode well for the movie sequel to Psycho, which has absolutely nothing to do with the book, and which I do plan on seeing at some point.

End of line.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nine Lives

I started reading Rue Morgue a little less than ten years ago. The first issue I ever bought had a quite negative review of a movie called Nine Lives that, for whatever reason, completely intrigued me. I had to see it. A couple days ago I discovered Netflix finally had it available for streaming. Victory is mine!
Victory but not entertainment.
Nine Lives is about a group of nine friends (seven English, one Scottish, one Paris Hilton) gathering at one guy's family's country home. After a night of drinking and talking, most of the group goes to bed. One of the two guys who stays up finds a book and becomes possessed by an angry Scottish ghost named Murray, who wants his land back from the English or something. Also, he has no eyes.
This terrifying and murderous turn of events causes everyone to talk a lot. And cry and be incredibly melodramatic. But mostly, they talk. They talk about all kinds of things: they state the obvious, they make sure to use each others' first names as much as possible, they repeat themselves over and over, they make sure to point out the person who was most recently killed "was my best friend" and, of course, they throw in some half-assed attempts at talking about existentialism so the thirteen-year-olds this movie was obviously made for will feel like they're watching something written by someone who had a brain.
None of the acting is particularly great, but I have to make special mention of Paris Hilton's performance: I'm thrilled she was the first to die because her acting in this movie almost made me regret all the nice things I've said about her since becoming a fan of Repo! The Genetic Opera. (She is really great in Repo. My guess is that she took acting lessons between making these movies. Or maybe she only tries to put in good performances when working with talented people.)
Nine Lives is all around pretty terrible, but in more of a boring way than anything else. It's not quite an hour and a half long and most of that run time feels like padding. Nothing really happens in this movie at all. It's a whole lot of me yawning, occasionally interrupted by somebody getting stabbed (usually offscreen and with very little blood. That's not even my high gore tolerance talking; the blood is just really minimal).

End of line.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hostel II

Hostel Two tells the magical tale of three American art students (Beth The BlandyDull, Lorna The RatlikeNerd and Whitney The SlutWhore) studying abroad in a mystical, fictional Europe where all natives are in cahoots with all other natives to lure unsuspecting Americans to Slovakia, where they're sold to a murder club. (Honestly, if these movies were remotely true to real life, Americans would have stopped visiting Europe ages ago.)
Hostel Two is a bit more fun than the first one because, in spite of the fact that I didn't like a one of them, the three protagonists are more likeable than the three protagonists in the first movie (yikes; sucks to be the guys in the first movie) and, unlike the first one, I think Hostel Two has a sense of humor. I laughed exactly once during the first movie (in a scene that involved people being hit by cars). I laughed ... well, more than once this time. It wouldn't be accurate to call this movie lighthearted or a laugh riot or anything like that, but it was funnier (the online auction scene was straight up comedy) and more fun and satisfying to watch.
Ordinarily, I'm not a big fan of all that "girl power" nonsense that feminists and the Spice Girls tout left and right, but I do enjoy it when chicks get to kick some ass in movies (Leeloo in The Fifth Element, for instance, or Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare On Elm Street). Beth The BlandyDull turns out to be one tough cookie underneath all the boring, which is pretty freaking cool.
On the other hand, I thought the first movie was a bit grittier and grimier. I like that, too.
Oh, and I guess I should add: Earlier today I was telling Rebekah about how I wasn't as satisfied with the gore in Hostel as I could have been, that I was expecting it to be far grosser than it turned out to be. She pointed out that I have an extremely high gore tolerance, to which my response was "I do?" The more I think about it, the more I realize she's right. So Hostel may actually be as gory as they say and I'm just a difficult-to-please gorehound. (I still think Cabin Fever was gorier, though.)
I'd be hard pressed to say whether I like Hostel or Hostel Two more. Hostel Two has more build up, more character development and, for the most part, more boring stretches. It also has a more satisfying ending. I suppose it wins by a slight margin, but I thoroughly enjoyed both movies.

End of line.


I was told by several people that Hostel has no plot; that the first half is nothing but sex and the second half is nothing but gore.
Hostel has more plot and much less sex and gore than I was led to believe. Not that there isn't any. But I was expecting the second half to be so unbelieveably gross that I'd have a hard time watching it, and that wasn't the case. (I did end looking away during one scene, but it was a scene I'd actually seen before on Spike TV's Scream Awards. Once is enough for me.)
So even though it was less disgusting than I had expected (hoped) I ended up liking Hostel for its story as much as its violence. It's a simple story (simple enough to make people claim it isn't even there) but an engrossing one nonetheless. And a tense one. Tense enough to make me yell at the screen a few times (mostly at characters about how they are being stupid) and then unable to sleep afterwards (which caused me to put on The Simpsons and then sleep in 'til eleven thirty, which I hate doing).
Brad and Nikki also loaned me Hostel Two, so I'm sure I'll be reviewing that one soon.

End of line.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I never finished reading The Strange Case Of Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, because it was obvious the story was building to the dramatic conclusion of "they were the same guy all along!" Also known as "the one thing everybody knows about Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde." And I just didn't have the patience for that.
I did finish reading Psycho by Robert Bloch. I finished it today. It was entertaining in an old pulp novel sort of way, but it didn't have the intended dramatic impact because I have seen the movie Psycho, which was based on this book.
For the two people out there who aren't familiar with Psycho the movie (not that you're reading this blog, but just in case) I'm not going to give away the dramatic conclusion to which the book builds, but those of you who have seen the movie already know it, know it from page one, and knowing it makes entire chapters of the book almost painfully eyerolly.
The shock only works once. And it was effective the first time I saw Psycho. That movie may be a classic (it was groundbreaking in a lot of ways) but, in my opinion, it doesn't really hold up to a second viewing. Once you know, it makes the buildup kinda dull. So that's the problem with the novel.
The guy who loaned me Psycho (the book) also loaned me Psycho II and Psycho House, its sequels. I've read a synopsis of the movie Psycho 2 and I just read the back of the book Psycho II, and they have completely different plots. I think that's pretty cool.
Someday I plan on watching the movie sequels to the movie Psycho. But I have access to the books, so I'll just have to read those first.

End of line.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

They Might Be Giants at the House Of Blues in Anaheim, November 16, 2011

I'm not the sort of person to let personal drama prevent me from going to conerts. I had tickets to this show and, come hell or high water, I was going to it. (I've had a fairly dramatic week.)
On the way to the concert, Ivy's older daughter was busy getting arrested for Occupying San Francisco. I'm not a protest kind of person; even when I agree with protestors I find them motherfucking annoying. But then I don't get to have experiences like getting arrested by riot cops. (That may sound like sarcasm, but it isn't. I actually think it's pretty cool and I'm a little jealous.)
My point is, that had nothing to do with my own drama, and drama is far more entertaining when you're privy to it but not directly involved.
Anyway, none of that matters. I'm not reviewing my week so far or my friend's kid's arrest record. I'm reviewing a concert.
Jonathan Coulton was the opening act and ... Okay, see, here's the thing. I have this terrible habit of reacting negatively to extreme praise. For years I've had friends going on and on about how wonderful Jonathan Coulton is, so my natural reaction was to never want to hear his music ever. And I pretended to be familiar with him already just so people wouldn't play me any of his stuff. (I do the same thing with certain movies. But I won't say which ones, 'cause then someone'll try to make me watch them and I don't want to.)
I had heard some Jonathan Coulton songs before. I had him among my LastFM favorited artists for a while (I don't mind listening to him on my own terms) but the only song of his they ever played was I'm Having A Party (or some title along those lines) and I wasn't terribly impressed. I heard Still Alive when Ivan showed me Portal, and I liked that one enough to listen to it several times on Youtube. And on the way to the show Ivy played a song he did about the presidents (which I really liked) and some Christmas song about robot overlords (to which I was fairly indifferent).
But now that I have seen him play live, I can say with absolute certainty that he rocks. He rocks big time. I am planning on getting all his albums just as soon as I have the money to do so. And I will buy his newest album first so I can have a copy of Good Morning Tucson, which is the song that absolutely won me over to his side.
As for They Might Be Giants...
They're fantastic.
I don't know why I bother reviewing concerts because I never know what to say. I have never seen a bad They Might Be Giants show. John, John, Dan, Dan and Marty (actually I guess one of those Dans goes by Danny, but it's funnier that way) always fucking bring it.
They played (to the best of my memory) twenty seven songs, they divided the audience into apes and people, they gave away a copy of Join Us on vinyl and a very large Join Us poster, the Avatars Of They showed up and regaled us with the tale of how They Might Be Giants stole songs from their rejected demo tape because puppets don't have lawyers.
I danced, I sang, I bounced, I headbanged, I pumped my fist, I yelled "WOOOOOOO!" a lot. I was right in front, so I could see a good portion of what was going on (some of my view was blocked by Linnell's piano) and a few times John Flansburgh and Danny Weinkauf were so close to me that, if I were more rude (or creepy) I could have touched them.
I was less than six inches from John Flansburgh. It actually made me almost cry. (If I had been alive in the 1960s, I totally would have been a crying Beatle fangirl.)
So, the verdict: They Might Be Giants = wonderful. There's a reason I have a tattoo of their logo.

And, in case anyone cares, here's a list of the songs they played. I don't remember what order they played them, so I've arranged them alphabetically. (Sorry it's not in order, but I didn't get a set list. Marty Beller gave me a drumstick, though, so I can't complain.) Songs with an asterisk were encore songs:
Alphabet Of Nations
Birdhouse In Your Soul*
Can't Keep Johnny Down (first song played)
Careful What You Pack
Celebration (second song played)
Clap Your Hands*
Damn Good Times
How Can I Sing Like A Girl*
In The Middle, In The Middle, In The Middle (sung by Robin "Goldie" Goldwasser)
Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Judy Is Your Viet Nam
Marty Beller Mask*
New York City* (last song played)
Particle Man
Piece Of Dirt
Purple Toupee
Spoiler Alert (sung by The Avatars Of They)
The Famous Polka
They'll Need A Crane
We Live In A Dump
When Will You Die (last song of the main set)
Why Does The Sun Shine
Withered Hope
You Probably Get That A Lot

End of line.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


More fuel for my theory that moviegoers don't have any intelligence for filmmakers to respect:
Puss In Boots, an insultingly predictable movie (don't give me any of that "lighten up, it's a kids' movie" bullshit; kids deserve better than mediocre, pandering crap), was the number one movie in the country for two weeks in a row.
On the other end of the spectrum, Drive barely got any attention as an entity and some woman tried to sue because it wasn't like The Fast And The Furious. (And also because there are some racial slurs against Jewish people. Said by Jewish characters. And she doesn't seem to have a problem with the same characters' racial slurs against Asians and Italians.) I cannot begin to fathom how fucking stupid this woman must be.
Now, Drive isn't for everyone, certainly. For instance, I know my mom would hate it. It's tense and stressful and violent. (Oh, the violence. So much violence.) But even if I had hated Drive (I didn't, but if I had) I wouldn't have been able to deny that it's a good movie. A damn good movie. If I had gone into the theater expecting something like The Fast And The Furious and ended up instead with what Drive actually is, I'd be thrilled. When the movie ended and I tried to talk to my friend about it, I couldn't. Drive genuinely rendered me speechless; I couldn't figure out how to say words to express how I felt.
What I liked about Drive was that it understood when to be quiet. It takes its time. It starts slow and even when the action kicks in and the movie goes full tilt violence boogie all over everybody's asses, it still has its fair share of slow, quiet moments.
The acting's fantastic. I'll never understand why my friends think Ryan Gosling is hot but I can't deny the dude's a very talented actor. Bryan Cranston is great, Albert Brooks is frightening (who knew?), Ron Perlman is ... well, he's large and meatheady, which we all already knew he was good at. But still!
I can tell this one's going to stick with me for a good, long while. I just wish I knew how to put into words why Drive is such a great movie. "Great" doesn't really cut it as a descriptor.
You know how sometimes you're watching a movie, but your mind is wandering? You're thinking about other things going on in your life, thinking about what may or may not happen next in the movie, what the characters should have done, what you would have done in their situations, or a million other things? That didn't happen with Drive. It was completely engrossing. I can't exactly say that I wasn't thinking, but I wasn't thinking about anything other than what was going on, on screen, at that moment. It drew me right in and told all other parts of my brain to keep quiet for a little while while it told me this amazing story about a driver who makes friends with his neighbor and winds up in a world of trouble. It's not often a movie can do that.
Films like Drive are rare.
And when they do come along, complete idiots sue them for not being brainless action movies.
And this is why moviemakers don't respect our intelligence.

End of line.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dr. Syn Alias The Scarecrow

This is one of those old live action Disney movies that most people seem to have forgotten about. In fact, I'm pretty sure more people The Gnome Mobile than this one. And I don't even remember The Gnome Mobile.
It wasn't a bad movie, exactly. It was just ... it felt very, very long. And also it felt like two movies.
Basically, it's a superhero story. Mild mannered vicar Doctor Syn is, in fact, the mysterious Scarecrow, who smuggles alcohol and silk and probably other stuff and redistributes it to the poor. Take that, the British government!
The first half of the movie is about a guy in the Scarecrow's smuggling ring who starts working for the army because they threatened to hang him for smuggling. Of course, now the Scarecrow's gang wants to hang him for being a traitor to their cause. And it seems like all the guy really wants to do is be drunk and not get hung.
The second half of the movie is about a Navy deserter returning home and getting arrested for deserting the Navy. So now the Scarecrow has to rescue him. 'Cause he's a nice guy like that.
I liked certain things about the movie (Patrick McGoohan being the obvious example; there were neat plot points and stuff, too) but overall it was kinda boring and too long.
The Scarecrow / Doctor Syn was a cool character and his schemes to get back at the traitor smuggler and rescue the Navy deserter from jail were by far the most entertaining parts of the movie. It was all the plot exposition leading up to those setpieces I didn't care for so much.

End of line.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

100 Horror Movies "You Must See Before You Die"

Yesterday I was invited to join a Facebook page called 100 Horror Movies You Should See Before You Die. I joined it because I love horror movies and I love lists. Then I couldn't figure out how to post my list to the page (it's too long to be a wall post and I couldn't find any other posting option) so I'm writing my list here and will post a link to it on the Facebook page.
First of all, the reason I put the second part of this entry's title in quotes is because I have a hard time with being told what to do. When I worked at the library I read 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. I called it The Bossy Book and spent a lot of time yelling at it for being stupid. (Honestly, they included Meet The Parents. In what way is that movie a requirement? I'd pay good money to have everything I remember about it (except the fact that I hate it, so I won't make the mistake of watching it again) wiped from my mind.)
So, to make a long story short (too late), I've put quotes around "You Must See Before You Die" because I am not the boss of you.
Also, the "You" in the title refers to people who actually watch horror movies. I don't think I'd recommend many (any) of these movies to my mom because she is not a horror fan and I wouldn't want to traumatize her.
One final disclaimer: There are eighteen movies on this list I haven't seen (yet) and six I don't even like. They are included because, regardless of my opinion or so-far-unviewed status, I think they're important pieces of horror film history and should be seen. (I'm not going to tell you which ones I haven't seen but I will point out the ones I don't like).
Anyway, enough with the further ado. Here is my list:

1. Alien (Ridley Scott)
2. A Nightmare On Elm Street (Wes Craven)
3. Babysitter Wanted (Jonas Barnes, Michael Manasseri)
4. Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon (Scott Glosserman)
5. Blood Feast (Herschell Gordon Lewis)
6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola)
7. Bride Of Frankenstein (James Whale)
8. Cabin Fever (Eli Roth)
9. Cannibal Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato)
10. Carnival Of Souls (Herk Harvey)
11. Cherry Falls (Geoffrey Wright)
12. City Of The Living Dead (Lucio Fulci)
13. Cloverfield (Matt Reeves)
14. Creepshow (George A. Romero)
15. Cube (Vincenzo Natali)
16. Dawn Of The Dead (George A. Romero)
17. Dawn Of The Dead (Zack Snyder)
18. Day Of The Dead (George A. Romero)
19. Dead Alive (Peter Jackson) -- I really want to like this one, but I don't. I've seen it a few times in the hopes that eventually it'll grow on me (eww) but so far no dice. (Except the line "I kick arse for the lord." That makes me giggle.)
20. Dead And Buried (Gary Sherman)
21. Dead Silence (James Wan)
22. Deep Red (Dario Argento)
23. Dracula (Tod Browning)
24. Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi)
25. Feast (John Gulager)
26. Fiend Without A Face (Arthur Crabtree)
27. Frankenstein (James Whale)
28. Friday The 13th (Sean S. Cunningham)
29. Friday The 13th (Marcus Nispel)
30. Fright Night (Tom Holland)
31. Fright Night (Craig Gillespie)
32. Halloween (John Carpenter) -- A lot of people would claim I need to have my horror fan card revoked, but I think the original Halloween is boring. A lot of people see atmosphere and creepiness but all that was lost on me.
33. Halloween (Rob Zombie)
34. Halloween 2 (Rob Zombie)
35. Happy Birthday To Me (J. Lee Thompson)
36. Hatchet (Adam Green)
37. Hellraiser (Clive Barker)
38. Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (John McNaughton) -- This movie didn't bother me when I watched it but it's sat in my brain like a festering blob and the more I think about it the more disturbed by it I am. Once was enough.
39. High Tension (Alexandre Aja)
40. Horror Of Dracula (Terence Fisher)
41. House Of 1000 Corpses (Rob Zombie)
42. House On Haunted Hill (William Castle)
43. House On Haunted Hill (William Malone)
44. I Know What You Did Last Summer (Jim Gillespie)
45. Inside (Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury) -- This is possibly the most disturbing, upsetting movie I've ever seen. I highly recommend it to horror fans but I will never watch it again. The first twenty minutes alone would have left me depressed for a week.
46. Insidious (James Wan)
47. In The Mouth Of Madness (John Carpenter)
48. Ju-On (Takashi Shimizu)
49. Mad Love (Karl Freund)
50. May (Lucky McKee)
51. Night Of The Living Dead (George A. Romero)
52. Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau)
53. Parents (Bob Balaban)
54. Phantasm (Don Coscarelli)
55. Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper)
56. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
57. Re-Animator (Stuart Gordon)
58. Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski)
59. Saw (James Wan)
60. Scanners (David Cronenberg)
61. Scream (Wes Craven) -- I hate that this has become important enough for me to have to include it on my list. I really want to punch this movie in the mouth and make it apologize for being insipid.
62. Session 9 (Brad Anderson)
63. Sleepaway Camp (Robert Hiltzik)
64. Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton)
65. Slither (James Gunn)
66. Suicide Club (Sion Sono)
67. Suspiria (Dario Argento)
68. Tenebrae (Dario Argento)
69. The Beyond (Lucio Fulci)
70. The Blob (Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.)
71. The Blob (Chuck Russell)
72. The Burning (Tony Maylam)
73. The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (F.W. Murnau)
74. The Collector (Marcus Dunstan)
75. The Devil’s Rejects (Rob Zombie)
76. The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi)
77. The Exorcist (William Friedkin)
78. The Haunting (Robert Wise) -- I get that it's an excellent example of less-is-more, but it's painfully melodramatic, not as well acted as people would have you believe and (I hate to be this girl, but) absolutely shitty compared to the book.
79. The Last Horror Movie (Julian Richards)
80. The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher)
81. The Manson Family (Jim Van Bebber)
82. The Midnight Meat Train (Ryuhei Kitamura)
83. The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci)
84. The Old Dark House (James Whale)
85. The Omen (Richard Donner)
86. The People Under The Stairs (Wes Craven)
87. The Phantom Of The Opera (Rupert Julian)
88. The Phantom Of The Opera (Dwight H. Little)
89. The Return Of The Living Dead (Dan O’Bannon)
90. The Serpent And The Rainbow (Wes Craven)
91. The Silence Of The Lambs (Jonathan Demme)
92. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper)
93. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (Tobe Hooper)
94. The Thing (John Carpenter)
95. The Toolbox Murders (Tobe Hooper)
96. The Wolf Man (George Waggner)
97. Videodrome (David Cronenberg)
98. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Wes Craven)
99. Wishmaster (Robert Kurtzman)
100. Zombi 2 (Lucio Fulci)

And now, here are sixteen movies I seriously considered including on my list but decided against because I don't consider them horror movies. They have horrific elements but I would not shelve them in the Horror section:

A Bucket Of Blood (Roger Corman) -- Comedy
American Psycho (Mary Harron) -- ... I don't know what genre this is. But I do know that it isn't a horror movie. I added it and removed it to my must-see list about five times (it must be seen!) before my I-Wouldn't-Call-It-A-Horror-Movie conscience won out.
Army Of Darkness (Sam Raimi) -- Action Adventure Comedy Fantasy. Just because it's the third movie in the Evil Dead series doesn't make it a horror movie. Even if it did, I still would have eventually removed it from the list. It's definintely the weakest of the three and I don't like it all that much. I really have to be in the mood for it, and I almost never am.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Fran Rubel Kuzui) -- Comedy
Frozen (Adam Green) -- Suspense Drama
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Joe Dante) -- Comedy
Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson) -- Drama
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich) -- Suspense
Killer Tongue (Alberto Sciamma) -- Weirdass What The Fuck Am I Watching Com...ed...y?
Little Shop Of Horrors (Frank Oz) -- Musical Comedy
Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone) -- Experimental Action Drama
Repo! The Genetic Opera (Darren Lynn Bousman) -- Sci Fi Musical
The ‘Burbs (Joe Dante) -- Comedy
The Frighteners (Peter Jackson) -- Comedy
The Little Shop Of Horrors (Roger Corman) -- Comedy Rush Job
The Night Of The Hunter (Charles Laughton) -- Suspense

End of line.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

From Dusk Till Dawn

When it came out back in the mid 1990s, the only things I knew about From Dusk Till Dawn were that Quentin Tarantino had something to do with it (turns out he wrote it) and it was about vampires.
The truth is a bit more complicated than that.
From Dusk Till Dawn is about the Gecko brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Mac Tonight), who have busted Seth out of prison, robbed a bank, taken a hostage and blown up a liquor store. They hole up in a hotel, kidnap a minister with a faith crisis and his two kids, and head for the border.
I really wish I could end my summary there, but I've already mentioned the crazy plot twist, which was the main focus of the movie's marketing campaign.
Once in Mexico, the group takes refuge in a strip club that happens to be owned and operated by vampires. And from there, From Dusk Till Dawn becomes less of a "crime" movie and more of a "gory action comedy."
The thing is, the vampire angle shows up about an hour into the movie and I feel like it was supposed to be a major "what the fuck?!" moment. A moment that is completely ruined by the fact that every preview for From Dusk Till Dawn was basically a video montage of "Look, everybody! Vampires!"
In spite of knowing more about it than I would have liked, I did love the movie. Robert Rodriguez tends to make movies that appeal to me, this was the first time I saw George Clooney as a badass (other than how I usually see him: regular, kind of forgettable guy), Tom Savini was awesome as always (he always plays a biker badass in Robert Rodriguez movies and it's always entertaining) and, interestingly, I was most impressed with Harvey Keitel as the minister. He was playing a part so different than what I'm used to seeing him play, and he probably put in the best performance in the entire movie.
I still can't figure out why they cast an old McDonalds mascot as Richie, though. I would have cast Ted Raimi.

End of line.

Friday, September 30, 2011

How To Be A Serial Killer

Dameon Clarke plays a serial killer named Mike who takes a nervous, awkward video store clerk named Bart on as his protege. They go around killing people and eventually shit happens.
There are two problems with How To Be A Serial Killer:
1) It felt a bit like The Last Horror Movie, which is a British film starring ... Max Howarth is his name I think? Anyway, I love that movie quite a bit, and How To Be A Serial Killer was a little like that movie, but not as well made and less entertaining.
2) The movie starts with a commercial for, and has lessons throughout the movie from, a "How To Be A Serial Killer" seminar hosted by Mike, that is obviously fantasy but damned if it isn't the best part of the movie. I would have liked How To Be A Serial Killer much better if it were just an hour-long taping of the seminar.
So it's not perfect. I liked parts of the movie. The guy who played Bart looked familiar but I'd never heard his name before (Matthew Gray Gubler). Near the end it strays a little into action movie territory.
I will say I was impressed with Dameon Clarke's performance. The movie's pretty much worth it to see him. He does "smarmy motivational speaker," "normal guy hanging out with his girlfriend," "asshole who will shoot you in the face" and "man who thinks he has a message," and he does them all well.
But, damn it, I still wish the whole movie had just been that seminar.

End of line.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dracula: Dead And Loving It

So Frankenstein isn't my thing. You know what is? Dracula.
I love Dracula. I love the book, I love movies based on the book, I love parodies of movies based on the book.
I also tend to like Mel Brooks movies. I love Spaceballs, I like Young Frankenstein (I like it so much I don't consider it a Frankenstein movie; I also like it so much I tend to forget it stars Gene Wilder, who scares me) and ... actually I can't think of a lot of other Mel Brooks movies I've seen.
I saw Blazing Saddles. I think I like that one.
Anyway, Dracula: Dead And Loving It was the last movie he directed. I think I wanted to see it back when it came out but didn't because I heard there was a lot of blood in it (I was twelve and not into gore yet) and because I was disappointed in Robin Hood: Men In Tights. (I remember two things about that movie: "I have a mole?" which was funny, and "It's an Everlast," which was not.)
Now, the thing about Mel Brooks movies is, a lot of people think he peaked at Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles (whichever came second). I think he peaked at Spaceballs. And I admit that Dracula: Dead And Loving It is not a shining example of cinematic or comedic brilliance. The plot is choppy, the jokes are stupid, the acting is pretty lousy.
However! The acting is deliberately lousy, the plot isn't really important in a movie like this and I happen to love stupid humor. Several of the movie's gags made me laugh out loud. I actually had to pause the movie a couple of times so I could stop laughing enough to pay attention again. That doesn't happen to me a lot anymore.
The only real problem I had with the movie was genuinely a problem I was having; I kept comparing the movie to the book. I wasn't doing it on purpose. Every time the nitpicky part of my brain started to say "That's wrong!" I had to summon another part of my brain to tell her to shut up. "Honestly, you're going to complain that a Mel Brooks movie wasn't entirely true to the source material? What is wrong with you?!"
Luckily, I don't think most people will have that problem, and Dracula: Dead And Loving It is a great example of dumb, fun comedy, a genre I happen to love. I honestly want to give this movie a hug.

End of line.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Frankenstein Unbound

I was out of town for two weeks and, when I got back, I really didn't feel like watching any movies. It's the weirdest feeling in the world to me, to be actively not in the mood to watch a movie, but it happens sometimes.
Today I decided it's finally time to get back on the Movie Lottery horse and ...
I wish I had stayed not in the mood for a movie.
When I was a kid, one of the video stores we went to had a cardboard standup promoting Frankenstein Unbound. It had a picture on it of an eye that was made of three different colored eyes stitched together. First of all, it grossed me out. Second of all, it was a bit of a Fridge Horror for me (how do you sew eyes together?! I don't even want to think about it). Thirdly, I wish I had eyes that were three different colors at once (but just naturally). Fourth, it stuck with me forfuckingever. That cardboard standup was the only reason I watched this stupid movie.
That and Raul Julia.
The movie is about Scientist John Hurt, who creates a weapon that makes things disappear, but has the small side effect of causing wormholes, one of which sucks him back in time, where he meets Victor Frankenstein (who, for the purposes of this movie was a real person. And Raul Julia).
So John Hurt stalks Frankenstein for a while (completely abandoning an entire plate of food, by the way. This guy's got fucked up priorities) and watches him yell at his Monster. The next day, he stalks Frankenstein some more and follows him to the trial of a girl who is accused of killing Frankenstein's brother. He also meets Mary Eventually Shelley (in this movie she's not married yet), and takes up stalking her for a while.
Frankenstein Unbound barely has a plot (actually, it barely has about three plots) and none of the characters are likeable. There are weird, brief dream sequences that don't add up to anything and I think the ending was supposed to mean something but it was either butchered in editing or I'm really stupid, 'cause I sure as hell didn't get what the shocker or deep meaningful message or twist (or whatever) was supposed to be.
What really bothered me ... No, actually, there were two things that bothered me. One was that the movie forced me to remember the book Frankenstein, and I fucking hate that book.
More than that, though, if I've learned nothing else from time travel movies, I know John Hurt was doing everything wrong. He told people he was from the future, he showed them his car and his digital watch, and (probably worst of all) he shows Mary Shelley a copy of Frankenstein and tells her that she will finish writing it and get it published.
And the movie never addresses that these are exactly the sort of things you're not supposed to do if you travel back in time! There are no real consequences for his stupid actions. It's like in this movie, the entire concept of being careful while time traveling is thrown out the window!
I don't really know why I care so much (it's just a stupid movie) but I feel like time travel rules are logical. There's no need to rebel against them.

End of line.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Barenaked Ladies at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, September 16 2011

I've noticed that, especially amongst people around my age, Barenaked Ladies are considered a somewhat "uncool" band. And I will address that shortly.
My mom and I decided kind of at the last second to go to the concert. We bought our tickets at the box office a few hours before the show started and somehow managed, thanks to weird selling practices, to get front row, center seats. Woo hoo!
The opening band was called The Flying Burrito Brothers and they were talented, sure, but really not my cup of tea. Far more country than rock, which is just not my kind of thing. I don't mind a little bit of country (or more if it's older; for instance, I like Jerry Reed and Johnny Cash), but this was just too much.
But they were just the openers. Which is horrible to say, especially because I hate it when people don't respect or pay attention to opening acts. It's rude. No, I don't always like them but I'll still listen to them. Sometimes you hear something new and wonderful in an opening act. (A duo called Guggenheim Grotto opened for They Might Be Giants once and they were pretty wonderful. I tell you this in the hopes that I'll remember their name later.)
Then BNL took to the stage, opening with Who Needs Sleep, one of my favorite songs off of Stunt.
Now, to get back to my first statement: Barenaked Ladies are in no way uncool. Their music is good (most of it flat out rocks) and damn do they put on a good show! They throw about witty banter, Ed makes up raps on the spot, Jim dances with his stand up bass and, most importantly, they make sure the music sounds fantastic.
I wish I could come up with a highlight of the show to report but the evening was so full of highlights it's really hard to single out one moment.
I would like to announce, to someone in the audience who doesn't read this blog but needs to be told anyway, that even though you're in a theater in which plays are usually produced and you have a seat, this is a fucking rock concert and you should not be sitting down. So, instead of whining at the people in front of you to sit down so you can see, maybe you should stand up and dance and have a good time like the rest of us.
Because the rest of us were having a good time. The band did not play a single song that was boring or bad. The entire band worked at full capacity to make sure of that. It was truly a great show.
And I feel bad for the people who think Barenaked Ladies are uncool.

End of line.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Midnight Movie

Before I started reading, I had the following information about Midnight Movie:
This is a book by Tobe Hooper.
It was all I needed to make me want to read it and I deliberately waited to read the synopsis on the back cover until I'd finished the book.
I'd like to keep plot information out of my review because when I walk blindly into a movie or book, I like to believe the two people who read my blog will be able to do the same thing. I love that feeling of not knowing. Being a fan of both books and movies, it's rare to go into one without knowing something (or in some cases, everything) about it.
Midnight Movie is told mainly via personal accounts of the main characters (one of whom is Tobe Hooper), as well as news clippings, blog posts, diaries and that sort of thing.
It is split into three parts. The first part drew me right in, the second part nauseated me but also kept me interested enough to keep going and by the time I got to part three I was so desperate to find out what happened that I refused to put the book down until it was over.
Much like World War Z, Midnight Movie is equal parts fascinating, scary, disgusting and sad.
Much like World War Z, Midnight Movie is well written and on certain levels I loved and enjoyed it.
Much like World War Z, it completely drained and depressed me. I feel empty inside. I don't know if I can read it again.
Unlike World War Z, Midnight Movie has a "special feature": An actual interview with Tobe Hooper in which he discusses, among other things, the difference between the Tobe Hooper in the book and his actual self. It sounds like such a small thing, but that little interview (it was maybe two pages) improved my mood, brought me gently back to the real world, reminded me that what I had just read was fiction and there was no reason to be sad.
I think the main reason I don't read fiction as often as I'd like is because I tend to get emotionally involved and coming back to reality can be difficult, especially after a book like Midnight Movie.

End of line.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


"I am Charlie Bronson, Britain's most violent prisoner."
Before I say anything about the movie, I'd like to direct you to the Wikipedia page about Charles Bronson. They know more about him than I do. And, just to clarify, this is a different Charles Bronson than the actor. Very different.
Bronson is, obviously, a movie about Charlie Bronson (born Michael Peterson) who has spent most of his life in solitary confinement for being more likely to be a prisoner and punch you in the face than Patrick McGoohan. You know how the internet thinks Chuck Norris is a superhero who cannot be stopped? I'm pretty sure Charlie Bronson could kill Chuck Norris just by thinking about it.
Also, he totally looks like an old timey boxer. He should be calling people rough customers and saying he's going to give them what-for. ...Actually, he is a rough customer and does, in fact, give lots of people what-for.
Yes, this is a real guy and yes, I do feel kinda weird (insensitive?) making light of his situation and violent ways but for some reason I can't help it. And the movie, at least at first, sort of does the same thing.
The first half hour or so of Bronson very much appeals to me stylistically. The art direction is fantastic, they intercut scenes of Charlie talking directly to the camera and fantasy scenes of Charlie onstage in a fancy theater putting on a show about himself for hoity toity people with the (for lack of a better word) realistic scenes that tell his story. It was fascinating and I just loved it.
Around the point they started focusing on Charlie's life outside of prison, the movie sort of fell apart for me. It was still full of fantastic art direction but the narrating and theater scenes pretty much disappeared completely and it became a much more straightforward movie, which I didn't like as much. If they had kept the tone from the beginning through the whole film I would have liked it just that much more. I'd be ranting about needing to own a copy right now if they'd done it that way.
Overall, though, it was still brilliant and Tom Hardy is fantastic.

End of line.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fright Night

Fright Night is a remake of the 1980s vampire movie (also called Fright Night) and I really want to review it on its own merits, which is hard to do because I have both seen and thoroughly enjoy the original. It's obvious where the remake was inspired by the original and where it decided it wanted to do its own thing. Really, every remake aspires to do that but few pull it off the way Fright Night does.
Jerry The Vampire has moved in next door to Charlie Brewster and his mom. Charlie's nerdy friend Evil Ed tries to warn Charlie of the danger but Charlie doesn't believe him. At first. When Jerry starts blatantly being a vampire, though, Charlie takes the situation seriously and tries to enlist the help of glitzy Vegas magician Peter Vincent who claims to be a vampire expert.
Parts of the movie go on a bit too long (the car chase, for instance) and there's a bit of useless "cool kids versus nerds" bullshit near the beginning that doesn't need to be there. ("Cool kids versus nerds" is, in my experience, not a thing that exists in real life. When I was in high school everyone just hung out with their friends and didn't care enough one way or the other about people they didn't hang out with to have conflict with them.)
Colin Farrell makes a very good Jerry The Vampire. I'd be hard pressed to decide whether I like him or Chris Sarandon better, honestly, because they both perfectly nail the thing that makes vampires so fascinating to me.
My brother was saying a few weeks ago that vampires are not scary and that's why Twilight is successful; people like the romance of vampires, nobody is scared of them. I don't feel that's entirely true. At least, I feel like it's a broad generalization.
I agree that vampires are not scary, but romantic vampires are boring, defanged pussies as far as I'm concerned. I fucking hate them. They're dull. I don't care about their damn feelings.
Vampires are only interesting if they're soulless monsters. They can be attractive and all that (movies have guaranteed that vampires will always be the sexy monsters), but the second you give them souls or romantic yearnings, everything that's interesting about them flies out the window and we're stuck in Defanged Pussyville.
That's actually the one thing about the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula I don't like; they got Gary fucking Oldman as Count fucking Dracula and they threw in all that "I have crossed oceans of time to find you" bullshit. Dracula was not in love with Mina, damn it! I just reread the book and there is no romance in it (in spite of all the marriage), especially not between Dracula and ... well, anybody. (Sure, there's sexual symbolism, but that's not romance; it's obvious Dracula wasn't in love with these women. He was just hungry.)
Anyway, sorry, sidebar. Back to the topic at hand.
Christopher Sarandon (who has a cameo in the new version, by the way, which made me applaud) was a fantastic choice for Jerry The Vampire back in the '80s because he was simultaneously repulsive and fascinating. You didn't necessarily want to be looking at him, but you couldn't stop. It's that thrall thing vampires do, it's how they seduce their victims. And Colin Farrell has that same effect in the new version of Fright Night. He pulls it off beautifully. (According to an article in Rue Morgue he was a big fan of the original and it took some convincing to get him to sign on for the remake. I'm glad he did it.)
The entire core cast was great, even though it did seem like David Tennant's Peter Vincent was really just his best Russell Brand impression. I'll accept it, though, because he was thoroughly entertaining.
So, while Fright Night did seem longer than it was, it was quite entertaining and well worth the twelve dollars. It had some problems, sure (the obvious CGI blood, the obvious "we're filmed in 3-D" shots, the line "Welcome to Fright Night ... for real" which made me roll my eyes so far I could see the part of my brain that thought it was corny) but I'll still probably want to own it when it comes out on video.
Especially if they package it with the original.

End of line.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cowboys And Aliens

Once upon a time James Bond woke up in the old west with no memory and a big ol' honkin' metal thing on his wrist. After kicking the crap out of (and most likely killing) some dudes who wanted to use him for ransom he went to the nearest town, where he saved Zaphod Beeblebrox from Indiana Jones's obnoxious brat of a son. He also met Cora from Tron 2, who wanted to talk to him about his bracelet. Then James Bond found out from the sheriff that he was wanted for stealing gold from Indiana Jones (and most likely killing someone). Indiana Jones insists on taking James Bond with him to torture (and most likely kill) when fucking aliens come out of nowhere and kidnap the shit out of a bunch of townspeople, including Indiana Jones's son and Zaphod Beeblebrox's wife. Now James Bond, Indiana Jones, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Cora all have to work together to save the world from fucking aliens, which they don't know how to do because they're in the old west and science fiction action movies haven't been invented yet.
Cowboys And Aliens was a lot of fun, even if it is way more Cowboys than Aliens. I'm not usually a fan of westerns, but there are a few out there I really enjoy and this one is definitely on that list.
Sam Rockwell is by far the most likeable character in the movie, and I don't know if that's because he's truly sympathetic or because Sam Rockwell is such a good actor (or a bit of both) but he's the one person in the band of cowboys about whom I genuinely cared if he lived.
If you're sensitive to green alien gore you might have some problems. There's a lot of green alien gore. I thought it was pretty cool, but I'm a gorehound and I don't care what color the gore is or out of what it comes.
One thing happened in the movie that I considered a cop out, but I can't say what that thing is without spoiling plot points, so no elaboration will be made. You can go see the movie and try and figure out for yourself what part made me roll my eyes.
Luckily, it really was only the one part. Overall, I liked it a lot. I'm glad we went.

End of line.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kill Your Darlings

Apparantly (apparently? I need to learn how to spell) there are two movies called Kill Your Darlings: an artsy short film and a full-length movie that has Stellan Skarsgaard in it. I watched the former.
I can't describe the movie, really, because there's no plot to speak of. People talk about love and there are scenes of a pretty woman being in a relationship, not being in a relationship, sloshing around in a river and then shots of an old couple in a park. And there are some end credits.
There's also a brief segment about fairy tales, which is the whole reason I watched the movie: Eugene Hutz plays the prince. He doesn't talk, he's barely on screen and when he is he doesn't stay still long enough for you to get a good look at him (but that's not really any different than seeing him in concert, so I can't complain). But it was him, he was there and that's the whole reason I sat through twenty six minutes of art film.
I don't think I'm smart enough for art films. On the one hand, I respect people who make movies that definitely mean something to them and whether or not the audience gets it or enjoys it is none of their fucking concern because "it means something to me, damn it!" I respect that a lot. Filmmakers should make the movies they want to make.
But I'm one of those audience members who doesn't get it (which is not helped by the fact that the sound was rather quiet). I spent the whole movie singing Experimental Film to myself ("I'm still thinking about your face implodes in my experimental film...") and then my mind started wandering to movies I hate. Specifically When Harry Met Sally and Five Hundred Days Of Summer.
Which maybe is a good thing? Maybe Kill Your Darlings was supposed to make you think about love and romance and romantic comedies that you want to get into fights with. I assume that was at least part of the point. So in that respect, the movie succeeded.
It also succeeded in the "having Eugene Hutz on screen" respect, which is one of my favorite ways for a movie to succeed.
However, if I'm going to watch a movie that succeeds in that area, I'll watch Everything Is Illuminated or Filth And Wisdom, 'cause then he's not just on screen, he's the main character. He even talks. And that's just fantastic.

End of line.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Favorite Brunette

I never really understood the appeal of Bob Hope, but until now I'd never seen one of his movies before, either, so I had no reason to understand the appeal of Bob Hope. It turns out he has pretty fantastic comedic timing.
My Favorite Brunette was a pretty fun movie. Lon Chaney Jr. was endearing as the big dumb guy and Peter Lorre was gloriously dapper and villainous, wearing a dark suit, throwing knives and studying for the United States citizenship test. Peter Lorre is much funnier than anybody seems to remember him being, and I could listen to him talk all dang day. I love him so.
Overall I don't think this one's going to stick with me (I can barely remember it now and it hasn't even been over five minutes) but it was entertaining while it was on and there were a few moments that made me laugh out loud.

End of line.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Samuel Frye has a schizophrenic (I think?) patient who he has to make leave the hospital he's trying to no longer work at ... or something. You know, the first fifteen or so minutes of this movie aren't really important. Plot devices happen so Doctor Frye and Veronica will end up at Doctor Langston's insane asylum.
What appears to simply be a weirdass asylum where the patients are allowed to run amok turns out to be far weirder and more fucked up than that. You see, Langston has decided the world would be a better place if everybody had one mind and he's setting out to accomplish just that.
Because Doctor Langston was played by Patrick McGoohan, I couldn't help but see Hysteria as a royally screwed up successor to The Prisoner.
I almost began my review like this:
"Hysteria stars Patrick McGoohan and is about a man who seems to be held captive in a bizarre society where everyone thinks alike and tries to bring that man around to their way of thinking."
Except this time McGoohan's the new Number Two (he's also not truly the star of the movie so I couldn't go with that description). He's come up with a crazyass scheme to get all the Villagers conformed and, to be honest, I was pretty disturbed by the whole movie.
Disturbed and intrigued.
Amanda Plummer plays one of the inmates, a bewheelchaired teacher's pet named Myrna who loves to dance. I've always liked Amanda Plummer and, between her and Patrick McGoohan, it was pretty much a guarantee I'd enjoy Hysteria on some very basic level ("The presence of these actors makes me smile"). The subject matter was interesting enough, disturbing enough and handled well enough, though, that I'm pretty sure Hysteria is going to be one of those movies that sticks with me for a very long time.

End of line.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hmmm. I don't know.
I mean, Voldemort isn't scary. At least, the one in the movies isn't. The one in the book might be. I wouldn't mess with the Voldemort in the book. The one in the movie, though, I'd mock him to his face 'cause, what's he gonna do, shake his jazz hands at me?
Much like in the book, I wish Neville Longbottom were in it more. He's grown up to be a badass and I want to watch a movie about him. Just like I want J.K. Rowling to write the book of what was going on at Hogwarts during most of the seventh book when Harry is wandering the planet being ineffective.
Once again I realize these movies aren't made for people who haven't read the books. If I hadn't know what happens in the last book going in, I would have been royally confused. (My brother's girlfriend left the movie thinking Snape was Harry's real father because the movie did a really poor job of explaining what was actually up with him. I've decided to adopt that as my own personal interpretation. I don't care that it's inaccurate; I like it.)
Most of the movie is a giant battle interspersed with Harry doing whiny Harry stuff. There's a part where he jumps off a cliff with Voldemort (what?), there are orcs (what?), I felt like things were a bit disjointed and presented in a different order than how they happened in the book (although I haven't read the book in a while so I could just be remembering wrong).
And then, in spite of the fact that I wasn't really emotionally invested (seeing as I don't really like the Harry Potter movies), one scene made me cry. It's a scene that completely destroyed me in the book and it didn't get quite that same reaction from me in the movie, but I did cry. It's a sad, sad scene.
I'd also like to point out that, while I don't like Helena Bonham Carter's portrayal of Bellatrix Lestrange (much like the girl who plays Luna, her portrayal is simply incorrect), she did a great job playing Hermione-disguised-as-Bellatrix, all slumpy and wide-eyed and terrified-looking. I always forget that, other than these movies (and Sweeney Todd, but the less said about that, the better), I rather like Helena Bonham Carter.
Also, for the first time in the movies they let Professor McGonagall be the badass she is in the books, and you can tell Maggie Smith was loving it. "Finally! I get to be the kickass character that I signed up to be in the first place!" She was the one adult actor who really brought her A-game. (I guess I should point out it's the grown-up cast I have the problem with.)
Overall, it's pretty much on par with all the Harry Potter movies. It's a great big "meh." If you like the other ones, you'll probably like this one. If you don't, maybe you won't. If you hated the fifth movie so much you just gave up on all the other ones and only went to see them 'cause your best friend kind of made you, you'll probably think it was pretty okayish. I guess.
I wish I'd been given the chance to cast the movies. The adult characters, anyway. All of the kids are fine with me but so many of the adult actors, many of whom I like, did lousy jobs on these movies. It was like they knew they'd sell eleventy bajillion tickets either way so they didn't bother trying, which is really sad. I want to go back, start all over, make the movies right; fix up the cast a bit, explain important plot points a bit better, that kind of thing.

End of line.