Monday, February 28, 2011


"Hello. My name is William Wallace. You killed my father (and my brother and my wife and possibly my uncle for all I know). Prepare to die."
The story goes that King Longshanks Of England took over Scotland when their king died and thought it was a nice place but didn't like that it was full of Scottish people. So he put forth pro-military laws in an attempt to make everybody in Scotland dead. Good ol' William Wallace took all of this personally. He said "My heart is braver than your shanks are long!" Then he rallyed everybody in Scotland to join his Roaring Rampage Of Revenge.
I'm still trying to decide how I feel about Braveheart. I think it was an overall positive reaction, but I am depressed now. And I have a headache.
The movie is quite long, but there's nothing in it that could really be taken out. And it doesn't really feel like it takes three hours to watch, so that's all right.
The battle scenes were exciting, but too many of them required the death of innocent horses. Kill each other all you want, but the horses can't help who their riders pledge allegiance to! Leave them out of it!
My favorite character was a guy I like to call Crazy Irish Steven, who claims he talks to the almighty, but I think he's actually just psychic. I think Braveheart could have done with more Crazy Irish Steven.
Patrick McGoohan looked very old (which was the point I guess; he was playing a king who was dying of "oldness in the 1300s") but he still had the same eyes, and he was still the baddest motherfucker ever to be called "Longshanks." He shouted, slapped his son around and threw a guy out a damn window. And he had the one line in the movie that made me laugh out loud: "Bring me Wallace. Alive, if possible. Dead ... just as good."
I miss the days before Mel Gibson went crazy. I'd like to think he could bring himself back from the brink, but if some of the things I've heard about him are true (like that he's one of those "the Holocaust didn't happen" people), there may be no hope. Which is too bad, 'cause this was a really good movie.
Braveheart was different than I was expecting it to be. I thought it would be boring, which is why I never bothered to watch it before. I blame that on the fact that it won a lot of Oscars. I assumed it was going to be a lot of heavy, soggy drama and scenes of people talking about heavy, soggy drama stuff. And, sure, there was some of that (mainly near the end when you're starting to get tired and you're realizing how bad of a headache you've got so you're barely paying attention anyway) but mostly it kept up a good pace and there were a lot of kickass action scenes.
I always claim I don't like war movies, but apparently I'm okay with war movies that take place before there were guns.
So I really liked most of the movie although, like I said, I developed a headache midway through and my attention shifted from the movie to "ow, my head!" But it did get my attention back eventually.
And now I'm kinda depressed.
I should've kept focusing on my headache.

End of line.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Night Long

I've never seen Othello, so I can tell you right off I don't know how accurate an adaptation it is, but All Night Long is a retelling of Othello in the 1960s jazz scene. (The one thing I do know about Othello, "Othello's the fellow whose wife ends up strangled," only kind of happens.)
Jazz musicians Aurelius Rex and Delia Lane are celebrating their one year anniversary. Delia, a singer, quit working when she married Rex, which doesn't sit well with Johnny Cousin, a drummer, who wants her to join a band he's putting together and trying to get some bigwig agent to represent.
So, like any good Magnificent Bastard of filmdom, rather than just go ahead and be straightforward about things ('cause that never works) Johnny goes around the party and tells everybody lies and half-truths in order to turn everyone against everyone else and split up Rex and Delia.
Everybody at the party seems to be friends with Johnny, if occasionally in a "what a jackass that guy is" kind of way. They all seem like they've known him for years. With that in mind, I want to know how the heck do none of them know he's a lying sonofabitch? Why does nobody go "Wait a minute, what ulterior motive does Johnny have in telling me this?" If I knew the guy, I'd always suspect an ulterior motive. (Even his wife mentions he's never told the truth in his life.)
In spite of that, I really liked All Night Long. If I ever find a copy for sale, I'll buy it. It was interesting, it made me want to read Othello (if only so I'd know what was different; I doubt Othello all takes place at one party) and it was, in general, just plain ol' entertaining (my movie priority number one).
If there was anything about it I didn't like, it was that the movie kept pausing to show jazz numbers. That would be fine once or twice, but it happened frequently enough that it kinda messed up the momentum of the movie.
Overall, that's barely a complaint because the music wasn't bad at all (even though I'm not really a jazz fan). It just cut into the plot a bit. If I'm complaining about the presence of good music, I'm not really complaining at all.
And my favorite thing about about the movie was in one of the musical interludes (the one where Johnny Cousin was playing): Either Patrick McGoohan is the greatest faker ever, or that man really knew how to play the drums. Just when I thought he couldn't get any cooler.

End of line.

The Three Lives Of Thomasina

I happen to love old Disney Studios movies. They're charming and always better than you expect them to be. I'm not going to run out and watch Old Yeller or anything (I know better than to do that) but I think Disney's old live action movies are quite underrated. I'm not sure why I never saw The Three Lives Of Thomasina before today, but meh. Things happen.
Andrew McDhui was a widowed veterinarian in Scotland in 1912. He had a daughter named Mary, who had a cat named Thomasina. Mary loved Thomasina, dressed her in doll clothes, let her eat at the table and slept with the cat in her bed. Andrew wasn't a fan of the cat being spoiled and spent a lot of time lecturing people about spoiling their pets. He also showed no signs of sympathising with people whose pets he had to put to sleep.
One day, Thomasina got wounded very badly and, at the same time, a blind man's dog got hit by a milk truck. While Andrew was performing surgery on the dog, Mary busted in with her cat and demanded he save her. The dog lived through his surgery and the cat didn't make it (sort of?). The entire town decided the vet should've put his daughter's happiness before the welfare of a blind man and the kids in town try to make Andrew leave (nobody mentions that if Andrew left town, so would Mary). Mary, meanwhile, plays the "you're dead to me" card against her father to an extreme measure.
Also, there's a woman who lives in the woods who everybody thinks is a witch because she's really good with animals. Or something?
The Three Lives Of Thomasina is, now that I think about it, a very episodic movie. Which makes sense because I've heard it was originally a Wonderful World Of Color movie, shown in three installments. I hear tell there's about fifty minutes of movie that got cut for the VHS version, but I don't know if that's true.
Anyway, long story short, I liked it. It was entertaining, it was cute and charming and parts of it were very stressful. Patrick McGoohan punched some people (like he does), Karen Dotrice was adorable (and very good at the stoney silence thing) and Matthew Garber is my favorite child actor ever (my mom says he reminds her of Ringo Starr and I'm inclined to agree).
There was only one thing I was kind of bummed about. You see, when I was a kid, the cover of the movie was a shot of the cat at the foot of a long staircase and lots of golden light surrounding her. It looked like a cat about to board a UFO. Obviously I thought Disney had made a movie about a cat that was an alien. (There was also a movie called The Cat From Outer Space; I think I thought they were the same movie.)
The cat's not an alien. She's kind of a snooty bitch but she's not an alien. And that sucks. So the five year old me would have been disappointed that the movie wasn't what she thought it was. I was mostly okay with it, but I still think it would have been cool.

End of line.

High Tide At Noon

High Tide At Noon goes for the two pronged soap opera attack.
Its main plot is about a girl named Jo, the daughter of a man who owns an island where everybody earns their living lobster fishing, and the various loves of her life:
- Simon, who isn't really a love of her life at all he's just the dreamy and overbearing rebel who Jo decides she doesn't like about five minutes into their first date when he tries to get her into bed (jeez, he's not as bad as the guy he played in Silver Streak, but Patrick McGoohan is not nice guys tonight).
- Nils, Jo's childhood friend who's been in love with her forever even though she doesn't return the feelings (I felt so damn bad for him and could understand how he felt. Therefore, I was rooting for him).
- Alec, the charming newcomer to the island who is a manly gamblin' man, but who quotes poetry and plays the violin so obviously she wants to marry him (I didn't like him; he's not as good looking as Simon nor as sympathetic as Nils).
Lurking over the main plot is the underlying plot of all the lobsters disappearing due to not wanting to be killed (I guess) and the island community disappearing to find work on the main land.
There's also a third, minor plot (that wraps itself up by about half an hour in) about Jo's brother marrying a girl "because he had to." Yeah.
The thing that's weird about High Tide At Noon is there's no way at all to tell how much time has passed. When it starts, Jo is seventeen and coming home from school on the main land. The next day she goes on a date with Simon until she realizes she's better off running away. The day after that she tells Nils she doesn't love him back. The next day she meets Alec, the day after that they're getting married and the day after that she's twenty and is talking about wanting a baby.
Wait, what? Those weren't days? I thought she was ready to get married awfully fast, but the movie made no attempt to let us know how much time passed and that made things kind of confusing.
Also, you know how my general reaction to the 1989 version of The Phantom Of The Opera is "Robert Englund is throwing himself at you, and you're saying no?!? What is wrong with you?" Replace "Robert Englund" with "Patrick McGoohan" and you've got my reaction to High Tide At Noon. Sure, I was rooting for Nils (poor guy). Sure, Simon's pretty much entirely unsavory with no redeeming qualities that the audience can see and he went too far for a first date. So kick him until he backs off, but don't write him off completely. (...I guess Silver Streak didn't completely destroy my tendency to take his side.)
P.S. What the heck kind of a name is Nils, anyway? Was I just hearing it wrong or is it really kind of an odd name?

End of line.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Silver Streak

Let's take a look at three things that are important to a movie's success in relation to Silver Streak:
The first thing is Promotion.
Obviously promotion is important to any movie's success. Not only in the existance of promotion at all (if nobody's ever heard of your movie, no one will watch it) but also in how the movie is promoted. When a movie is called a "Hitchcockian-influenced cross country adventure [that] is as funny as it is suspenseful," you expect a certain thing. When a movie is promoted as "starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor," you expect a certain thing.
Now, I'm not certain that I'd call Silver Streak "Hitchcockian." In fact, I'm not sure if I'd call anything "Hitchcockian." That's not a word I use because I tend to speak like a simpleton. But I do know that parts of it were funny, parts of it were suspenseful and parts of it left my brain numb, which I guess are all things Alfred Hitchcock movies tend to do. I'm not sure if Silver Streak pulled all of those things off in a good way, but we'll leave that 'til the next section.
I will say that I wouldn't describe a movie as "starring ... Richard Pryor" when he doesn't show up until an hour of the movie has alredy happened. That's not "starring," that's "featuring." Which is too bad, because the movie really picked up when Pryor showed up. I don't think I'd ever seen him in a movie before, but I'm going to be inclined to from now on. Not only did he make the movie more entertaining, he's pretty much where all the funny was living.
So, to sum up, Silver Streak's promotion was midleading at best. Irritating but certainly not unheard of.
The second subject I'd like to discuss is Tone.
Now, I cannot categorically say that violence in movies is never funny. Especially since I think violence, and even death, in movies is often very, very funny. Clue, for instance, revolves entirely around murder and it is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.
You'd think they could have shared their secret with Silver Streak. (Except Clue came out about a decade later, so I guess they couldn't have.)
I'm not a movie expert but I do know that it takes a lot to make the chemistry of a movie work, and if something is off it can ruin everything. Something was off in Silver Streak. It could have been so perfect; there was action, there was suspense and there was some humor, and those are all things I like. But the proportions were off.
The humor didn't mesh well with the death. At one point, the movie's hero, a regular guy on the way to his sister's wedding, kills a man (who was sent to kill him) with a spear gun and he feels no guilt about what he did. I don't care if he was trying to kill you, an average guy can't kill someone that easily and casually.
Later deaths are more serious and off-screenly gruesome and I'm surprised by how much they upset me (considering I find things like slasher movies very enjoyable and sometimes very funny).
It's all in the tone, and Silver Streak's tone was off. It was hard to find the funny bits funny because of the upsetting suspenseful bits, and the suspenseful bits were made unusually upsetting because of the funny bits.
The third subject I'd like to address is Audience Perception. In response to Silver Streak, this subject is entirely personal but I'm sure it can be adapted to fit other people's responses to other movies.
I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I don't like Gene Wilder. I kind of want to; I know he's considered a comedic genius. But, you see, I saw Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory at a young age (maybe four or five), before I saw Wilder in anything else. So, thanks to my being highly impressionable at the time and my tendency to hold grudges forever, I look at Gene Wilder and I see a mean, unpleasant man who kills children. In Silver Streak, he plays the aforementioned regular, everyday guy hero of the film.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Patrick McGoohan who, thanks to The Prisoner (which I first saw when I was twelve, another highly impressionable age) I see as trustworthy, brave and a true hero. I admire and adore him, there's something about him that just screams "inherently good" to me. In Silver Streak, he plays not only the villain, but a wicked, wretched villain who slaps women, orders his flunkys to kill people and does a lot of killing people himself. He's mean and manipulative, thinks only of himself, threatens everyone and at one point hurls a racial slur at Richard Pryor so viciously it stung something inside me.
They took my own personal audience expectation (Gene Wilder = mean; Patrick McGoohan = hero) and flipped it over on me. And so on a level exclusive only to me, Silver Streak was incredibly hard to watch.
On the plus side, I think I'd like it a lot more if I watched it again, now that I know what to expect. I'd have my footing the second time around and, therefore, would probably be able to see more of the humor.
Plus, Richard Pryor and Scatman Crothers were both high points of the movie for me. I'm not terribly familiar with either of them (the only other movie I'd seen Crothers in was The Shining, which we all know I'm not a fan of) but Scatman Crothers was given some good lines and, like I said before, Richard Pryor was the high point of the film.
Oh, and there's a shot in the movie when Gene Wilder's character is on the roof of a train and grabs onto a signal post and hangs there while the train drives away without him. They used that shot in the opeining credits of The Fall Guy, which has one of the best theme songs ever (The Unknown Stuntman).
I have to wonder, if I had this hard a time watching Patrick McGoohan be a villain, how am I going to make it through Braveheart or (assuming I ever find a copy) Hell Drivers?

End of line.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I'm including spoilers, mainly because I don't think I understood the movie and I feel like I might be able to figure stuff out if I give things away. I am sorry for the inconvenience.
Brand is a British TV movie of a Henrik Ibsen play starring Patrick McGoohan as (and this is probably not entirely accurate because I had a hard time following the story) a priest who kind of accidentally steals another guy's woman, whom he marries and they have a kid (I thought priests weren't allowed to get married?). But the kid dies and the wife dies and I assume Brand is sad but he's to busy trying to be Captain Purity Pants to show any emotion or something. Then he gives the villagers a rousing speech and they all follow him into the mountains before they realize "Hey, he never told us what our reward was going to be." So he tells them death is the only thing that will save them and isn't that an awesome reward? Nobody agrees and they all beat him with rocks and go back home. Then a crazy lady thinks he's Jesus and he starts crying because his life sucked and his philosophy of "all or nothing" was pretty much wrong. Then an avalanche kills him. The end.
I get the feeling Brand would be a pretty powerful play to watch for people who understand it. Me and my tenuous grasp of religion and flowery monologues were left in the dust. I got that Brand was a jerk (he refused to give last rites to his own mother because she wasn't willing to give "all" to God, and when their son dies he implies that his wife's mourning is her "worshipping an idol" and that it's a sin for her to remember him or something) and that he was pretty much insane the entire time (Patrick McGoohan's got crazy eyes for most of the movie). But if there was a deeper meaning than that, it went right over my head.
In spite of his royal jerkass attitude, I did feel bad for the guy at the end. I don't know how much of that has to do with Patrick McGoohan being a good actor and how much of that has to do with the fact that I have a bad case of hero worship (which Brand would not approve of) and a pretty big crush on the guy. The review of Brand I read on IMDB in an attempt to try and figure out what I just watched seemed to think it was just brilliant acting, so I'll go with that.
And, because I am a Prisoner nerd, it would be wrong of me to skip my favorite part of the movie: Brand is talking to somebody who I think is supposed to be another priest but resembles a Dracula (widow's peak, bushy eyebrows, cape, fancy medals or something around his neck), who tells Brand that you have to curb your individuality for the good of the community. My resonse was a hearty laugh and a "Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" There were a couple of moments where I got the chance to throw out lines from The Prisoner (at one point he says "What do you want?" and I never heard the answer in the movie because I was too busy saying "Information." When the crazy lady starts telling him "You are the savior man!" I couldn't help but add "You are Number Six!").
So, yeah, I'm maybe not the target audience for Brand. I assume Ibsen wanted people to see this play and think deeply about philisophical things, not just giggle at references that didn't yet exist when the play was written.

End of line.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Three college kids on a skiing trip talk a chairlift operator into breaking the rules so they can take one last trip down the mountain before going home. Through a series of wacky communications failures, they end up stranded on the chairlift. In the freezing cold. For at least five days unless they do something to save themselves. Oh, but they're stranded ridiculously high in the air and there are wolves.
Frozen was written and directed by Adam Green, the man who brought us Hatchet, and Kane Hodder's in it for about two minutes. Somehow those two minor, barely visible factors confused and fooled everybody, who then went on to talk about Frozen as an amazing horror movie.
This isn't horror. It's a drama. It's an upsetting drama about a horrific situation, but horror implies, you know, scary. I wasn't scared. I was too busy crying.
And, based on what I've heard about 127 Hours, it's pretty much the same movie, except it's about one guy trapped under a rock instead of three people trapped in freezing air. But if 127 Hours is a drama (and it is), then so is Frozen and everybody who said it's a horror movie owes me a quarter.
Frozen is one of those movies that I can't criticize. It's a well made, tense and moving movie. There's nothing wrong with it at all. But that didn't stop me from hating it. I want to be entertained by movies; I don't watch movies so I can spend an hour and a half crying and occasionally shouting at the screen "Why won't you end?!"
Hell, I might even recommend Frozen to people I know who think movies are meant to be depressing (Scott would probably like it) and I really want to give it a good review. It is an amazing movie. It's just an amazing movie that I hated.
And, I cannot stress this enough, it's a drama, not a horror film. There is some gore in it, but it's the realistic sort of gore that I can't stand to watch. For instance, one character decides to jump for it but forgets that the best thing to do when falling from a great height is to not keep your legs as straight and stiff as possible. I watched the next several minutes of the movie through my fingers in an attempt to shield myself from having to see the aftermath of the landing.
This from the girl who can watch and enjoy Hatchet without so much as a wince. It's all about context and tone.
The hardest part to watch, though, had nothing to do with gore or frostbite or any of the physical effects of the characters' plight. No, the part where I lost it completely (and couldn't hear a good portion of the next scene, thanks to all the sobbing I was doing) is when the token girl remembers her dog at home and starts talking about how "she's not going to understand that I died," and how the dog's going to think she was just abandoned. That scene made my soul hurt.
Adam Green's a hell of a writer.
If I ever meet him, I'm going to shake his hand, tell him he's fantastic and then kick him in the knee for subjecting me to this.

End of line.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Going To Pieces: The Rise And Fall Of The Slasher Movie

I think I've figured out why I love these documentaries about horror movies (not to mention making of documentaries in general, books about horror movies and, of course, horror movie magazines). It's got something to do with how every movie, no matter how lousy, has at least one interesting story behind it.
A lot of slasher movies are pretty boring. Sad, but true. Prom Night is the best example of that I can think of. Sure, there were a few cool scenes I guess, but most of that movie is extended dance sequences. If I want to watch a movie of extended dance sequences (sometimes I do), I'll rent a movie about dancing. It doesn't work to advertise your movie as a slasher movie when all those pesky murders are getting in the way of the disco scenes.
It's still weird to me that Prom Night is one of the more famous and popular '80s slashers. I guess the appeal of Jamie Lee Curtis is just that great.
My point, children (???), is that even though I didn't like Prom Night, I still really enjoyed the part of Going To Pieces where they talked about Prom Night. The people who made it and the people who like it made it sound interesting. And that is awesome.
Every movie has at least one good story behind it.
Hell, I'd watch a making of documentary about Paranormal Activity (if there was nothing better on) and I fucking hate that movie!
Going To Pieces was exactly what I wanted it to be: there were segments about specific movies, a segment about Tom Savini, a segment about common slasher tropes (the final girl and such); they talked about how slasher movies got popular, then boring, then popular again but this time with television stars.
And I might've mentioned this before, but with the upcoming Scream 4 and the fact that Going To Pieces talks quite a bit about Scream, I'd like to take this opportunity to say: I hate Sidney Prescott and if she lives through Scream 4, I'm going to be super pissed. She's annoying as all hell and I think part of the reason Scream 3 is the best one is because she's only in about twenty minutes of it. I do like it when she tells the killer to quit whining and grow up, but considering that was the only time in three movies that I didn't want to punch her ... Yeah, not a good character.
And I'd also like to point out that the whole "Never ever say 'I'll be right back'" rule doesn't work because I can't think of any slasher movies other than Scream where somebody says "I'll be right back."
Especially not one where somebody says it and then immediately gets killed, which doesn't even happen in Scream. Two people say "I'll be right back;" one is joking (SPOILER: and one of the killers, who does die eventually but that has nothing to do with being right back) and the other one lives through not only Scream but Screams 2 and 3, and is supposed to be in the fourth one.
Sorry, Jamie Kennedy, I'm calling shenanigans on that rule.
Sorry, person reading this, I'm off topic.
Going To Pieces was awesome and entertaining and all kinds of good stuff. It does give away some endings (don't watch Going To Pieces if you haven't seen Sleepaway Camp) and probably didn't tell me anything I didn't really already know, but that didn't detract from the movie at all. (P.S. "Didn't.")
And it was full of all kinds of gory montages. Isn't that the main draw of slasher movies in the first place?

End of line.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Red Hook

Oh, Wal Mart five dollar bin, why do I fall for your tricks?
Jenny, who about ten years ago witnessed her older sister being stabbed to death by a guy dressed like a police officer, has just arrived at college in New York. There she meets a grand total of one nice people but somehow she considers all the ass hats she encounters her friends.
The one nice person she meets is a guy named Gavin whose brother died in the whole September eleventh debacle and naturally he and Jenny start dating because people who have lost a family member need to be together or something.
Meanwhile, one of their "friends" is trying desperately to rope everybody into a scavenger hunt, which no one wants to do. So he bribes them by offering White Stripes tickets as a prize, and everybody signs up.
But on the day of the scavenger hunt, Gavin never shows up and the clues start becoming weird / sinister / made of severed fingers. And then people start to get killed somewhat bloodily.
Red Hook goes with the "no likeable characters" slasher route so you root for carnage instead of the defeat of evil:
Jenny is bland and flat; her roommate, Angela (pronounced ann-jella, just to guarantee you despise her) is a stereotypical phony drama student bitch; Paula is a hateful and self centered wannabe reporter (who is also a big phony whose smile frightens me); Gavin isn't in the movie enough to have a personality; Tim is a creep; Camille is a one-note slut character; her boyfriend is a one-note jealous type; Paula's boyfriend is henpecked and awkward and the token ethnic kid is a one-note "guy with a crush on the slut." Oh, and there's the tough chick from across the hall who seems to have a crush on Jenny even though in her first scene she tells Jenny she likes "bigger girls."
Anyway, what was I talking about?
Oh, yeah! Not only does the viewer not care if any of these people die (they're too bland to care about) but some of the characters you actually want to see killed. Which sometimes works but it's not sitting right with me this time around, most likely because if you make the audience want to see these horrible people get killed, you have to get crazy with the Cheez Whiz. And by that I mean the deaths have to be over the top and gory. But they weren't; they were pretty much standard issue slasher fare, nothing to get excited over.
Which is probably why I found Red Hook in a five dollar bin at Wal Mart and I shouldn't even be complaining right now because it's my own fault I bought it.
The movie is split up into days, and it comes off as weird that, on the first day Jenny meets Gavin but tells her roommate she's "undateable" and can't go out with him. On the second day Jenny and Gavin go on a date and on the third day they're having a conversation that sounds like they've been together for weeks, with Jenny thanking Gavin for being so patient with her. Patient? You gave up on your whole "undateable" excuse after, like, twelve hours!
Red Hook was pretty okay, but something about it is off and it doesn't really draw you in or make you interested in what's happening.

End of line.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Final Stab

Yarr, there be minor spoilers ahead. (I forgot that's something you're supposed to do. I hope I didn't give stuff away in other reviews. ... Oh well. Too late now.)

"That sounded like it came from the basement." "Basement?"
Soap opera + straight to video horror movie = Final Stab.
Estranged sisters! Mediocre acting! Secret gay lovers! Awkward dialogue! Tragic pasts! Characters that exist only to be killed! A needlessly complicated plot that falls apart if you think about it! More talking than action! Long slow motion shots of the masked killer walking toward the camera! Final Stab has got it all.
Director David DeCoteau is the man behind a movie that is legendary amongst ... well, mainly among my friends Kristin and Tom and me; a straight to video gay vampire movie called The Brotherhood. It's legendary because it's not very good, not exactly terrible and endlessly entertaining (it's the kind of movie you can't help but MST3K at).
So when I found out he did a (I can't believe I'm about to use this phrase) post-Scream self reflexive slasher movie (somebody please punch me) I had to see it.
And it's not as good as The Brotherhood. But, really, what is?
Final Stab is about a girl named Kristin (hey!) who is throwing a murder mystery party weekend to get back together with / broaden the distance between her and her estranged sister, Angela. Or maybe it's to get revenge on Angela's boyfriend Charlie, who spurned Kristin's drunken advances. Or maybe it's to drive a wedge between Angela and Charlie, or to make Charlie go crazy because he witnessed his parents' murder several years ago and has been having nightmares. Or some other motive, I don't know. Kristin is up to Something and she roped all her snobby rich friends into the party to help her.
But then someone starts going around killing people for real, although it takes until almost the end of the movie for anybody to figure that out.
The identity of the killer is not a surprise at all because, by the time it's revealed, there's only one suspect left. Not that anybody really wonders about it. At all. It's not really an issue in this movie. Sure, everybody's dead but those left alive only seem mildly concerned. Nobody even bothers to call the police even though it's established that everybody's cell phones are working. Gotta love that self-absorbed slasher fodder.
My favorite part, though, is three characters named Bud, Earl and Cosmo. Bud really hates Kristin for unmentioned reasons (well, nothing broader than "She's a bitch" and variations thereof) and he drags his friends Earl and Cosmo up to the house where she's throwing her party, and they skulk around to find out what's going on / ruin Kristin's good time.
Guess who are three of the first four characters to die?
Now, the reason this is my favorite part is: none of these guys interact with anybody but each other and the masked killer. They serve absolutely no purpose at all. They're as superfluous as Billy in Spookies; they exist simply to disappear.
And that, my friends (I almost typed "my fiends;" I almost wish I'd kept it), is why I enjoy David DeCoteau movies.

End of line.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Darkness Falls

There is a town called Darkness Falls where, one hundred fifty years ago, there was an old lady who all the kids in town loved, and every time one of them lost a tooth they'd give it to her in exchange for a gold coin. Apparently that kind of thing wasn't considered creepy back then.
But then the old lady was horribly scarred in a house fire and could only come out at night while wearing a porcelain mask and everybody decided she was creepy after all, and she was wrongfully executed for killing two kids who turned out to still be alive.
So now she's a sinister Tooth Fairy, and when kids in Darkness Falls lose their last baby tooth, she comes and takes it but if you look at her, she kills your ass. Unless there's light shining on you. She's allergic to light.
Whoo. Okay. That's the first two minutes of Darkness Falls.
The next five minutes are about a kid named Kyle who loses his last tooth, asks a girl to the dance, catches a glimpse of Sinister Tooth Fairy and then watches it kill his mom. He gets arrested for the murder and is taken away.
Twelve years later, the younger brother of the girl he asked to the dance (who has grown up to be Anya from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) is afraid of the dark and telling the same stories of peeking at Sinister Tooth Fairy and fearing for his life that Kyle told back in the day. So Anya calls Kyle and asks him to help out with her brother.
Meanwhile, Sinister Tooth Fairy is killing minor characters willy nilly and framing Kyle for the murders. Hilarity ensues.
Darkness Falls is one of those movies that's good and entertaining while you're watching it and, by the next week, you've completely forgotten you saw it at all. It was more like a supernatural action movie than a horror film, which tends to be a side effect of being rated PG-13. You can't have a lot of blood and cursing, but you can have police officers ineffectively shooting at a spectre and then being snatched away into the darkness while a guy shouts "Stay in the light!" over and over until you just want to smack him with one of his precious flashlights.
And it was a total bummer to see Emma Caulfield, who was so funny and effective on Buffy, given pretty much nothing to do but look concerned and run. Isn't the female lead supposed to have some sort of job to do in the story? Her job was plot exposition and wearing a tank top.
I will say, though, it was awfully considerate of Sinister Tooth Fairy to pick off all the background and minor characters first. There were scenes where everybody was enshrouded in darkness, even the three characters who had gotten a good look at her, two of whom she's been following for a solid amount of time (Kyle for twelve years; the kid for at least a few weeks, I gather).
So who does she go for? Various cops and nurses who have no names, some of whom never even saw her and, according to the guidelines established earlier in the movie, shouldn't even be in danger.
I don't get it! If I was Sinister Tooth Fairy, I'd go straight for Kyle while I had the chance. "I'll get you later, Nameless Doctor Who Caught A Brief Glimpse Of Me About Two Minutes Ago. I've been chasing this jerk for more than a decade!" Swoop, grab, kill, success! Evil triumphs!
I guess you can't do that in a PG-13 horror movie.

End of line.