Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Year: 2010
Director: Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch
Writer: Thommy Huston
Genre: Documentary, horror

This is one of the greatest movie documentaries I've ever seen. It probably has to do with the fact that I'm a big fan of the series, but overall it was really well done. You could tell that everyone involved in making the documentary, appearing in it, and putting it together were mad about Freddy.

It was some 4 hours long and that is incredibly more than most docs out there. However, because there is so much source material to go over in the Nightmare world it makes sense that it is so damn long. From beginning to end I was crazy about it and hung on everyone's words. I felt like a kid in a candy store getting a behind the scenes look at the awesome movies.

What was really weird was how my opinion on Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare was. Upon watching it I thought it was a completely terrible movie but after the doc it seemed so much better. Despite it being a bit of a car wreck, seeing how much everyone loved making it made it seem better overall. It was especially interesting to see that they actually went to Nintendo to see if they'd let Freddy wear a power glove during the stoner video game scene. When Nintendo said no, they did it anyway! you gotta love the guts they had to do things like that.

The only sad thing is that Johnny Depp wasn't in the documentary except for in one early 90s interview clip. It really felt like Depp was ashamed of his first film. That's really sad if true because A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic horror film. Completely on the opposite end of things, it really seemed like Heather Langenkamp is in love with her character and the series. That, I think, is wonderful.

Bottom line: Incredible documentary for anyone who likes Nightmare.

Fat Head

Year: 2009
Director: Tom Naughton
Writer: Tom Naughton
Genre: Documentary

I've got to tell you something. Nutrition, exercise, and all that kinda stuff is a big interest of mine. Possibly because of that, I've watched Super Size Me at least 5 times since it was released. It was a pretty interesting movie and when it came out I was knee deep in learning about the horrible truths behind our mass produced food culture.

It's maybe because of this that I was so shocked by Fat Head. It's basically a RE: Super Size Me where the attempt is to completely debunk what was said in it. Talking about the fact that grains and the like are not actually that amazing for you in high quantities, saturated fat being necessary in more than "low fat" degrees, and that sort of thing. Almost everything said in the film went against my old notions about nutrtion and what is honestly healthy for us.

I can't say whether or not I fully believe what was said, because it's such a stark difference from what I've always been told. And yet, it was all presented in such a convincing fashion I was rivited and soaked it up. There were many books mentioned through the course of the film and I now have the urge to read them. I want to see if the way I've been handling diet (regular food diet not weight loss diet) is completely wrong. If it is, I'll be angry at the world who has hammered it in that these foods, supplements, and nutrients are good for me.

The documentary is pretty humorous and presents facts in a very easy to digest fashion, even if they are "strange" claims. The proof presented in the film is also shown with hard results and numbers as opposed to the psuedoscience from Super Size Me. I'll need to watch it again to start wrapping my mind around what was being said before I can start debunking or believing the claims.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Children

Year: 1980
Director: Max Kalmanowicz
Writer: Edward Terry, Carlton J. Albright
Genre: Horror: Sci-fi

Going into The Children I had no expectations. I'd never heard of the film before or anything but it was in the horror section, so I went for it. Occasionally blindly jumping into movies like that has yielded some real gems (Brutal Massacre). Of course, it has also yielded some real junk (Terror Toons, Don't Scream, Stupid Teenagers Must Die!). Anyways, I like to watch random movies in case they end up being my next favorite.

The Children is not my next favorite. It's pretty dry and predicable. You have a story that starts out with some charming kids on a school bus that drives through some weird mist and then they all disappear. As they show up later they seem very interested in hugging. Once someone gives them a hug the hugging party is burned/melted. It really makes no sense and apparently has to do with a nearby nuclear power plant. How a nuclear power plant makes children go insane and give them the ability to melt people I'll never know.

The effects for the dead people are pretty good. For the children themselves not so much. They basically just have darkness around their eyes and fingernails painted black. Wow! I got really bored about 3/4th in and the finale was weird. It kind of comes out of nowhere and although it's really predicable once you're there, it feels like they just had no way to complete the script. Oh well.

American Shopper

Year: 2007
Director: Tamas Bojtor, Sybil Dessau
Writer: Adam Keker, Tamas Bojtor
Genre: Documentary

Documentaries are some of my favorite things to watch when I'm not knee deep in horror movies. I don't really care about historical or war-related docs. My main interest lies in films which document odd, obscure, or societal topics. American Shopper fits the bill quite readily.

So what this movie is about is slightly hard to explain but I'll do my best. Basically, it documents the attempt by one man to create a new sport: aisling. Aisling is not a typical sport though in any way. It comes from the word "aisle", the supermarket aisle to be specific. People engaged in aisling dance and maneuver creatively around with their shopping cart while grabbing predetermined items off the shelves. Players may also customize their carts and have music to go with their runs. It's basically a sort of performance art, but in a really unusual location.

It sounds pretty ridiculous but that's what aisling is all about. And though I never had a word to use for it, there have been many times where I've felt like bursting out dancing in supermarkets when good songs are on - or with my MP3 player. I see no problem with that... as long as I'm not damaging products or seriously bothering others, it seems a pretty legal and fun way to shop around. I might try it more in the future.

Anyway, the film shows the first (and only) aisling tournament as well as delving into the lives of some of the competitors. They're an interesting cast of people, although one couple (a geek and a beauty queen) reminded me of the weird "busy bee" couple from Best in Show. You know you're quite the character when someone compares you to ANYONE in that mockumentary.

So, it's a pretty good documentary. It makes me sad that aisling apparently didn't go anywhere after the competition but that was mostly expected. In the future, I just know I'll be more apt to dance around in the aisles. Even if everyone thinks I'm crazy I'd hope it might brighten the day a bit too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Year: 1970
Director: Jack Woods
Writer: Mark Thomas McGee
Genre: Horror: Sci-fi

Equinox is a film in the Criterion Collection. For the uninitiated, Criterion puts out DVDs of movies that are for some reason important in cinema history. Oftentimes these are films overlooked by others and usually watching something from the Criterion Collection is a good bet. They're also known for making very ornate DVDs but at extremely high prices.

That's why it was so striking to me when Equinox mostly felt like an average teen sci-fi slasher flick. I don't know the full history of the film however. What it seems to be is a more "modern" take on Ray Harryhausen-type monsters attacking people. Overall though the story is very average and the effects look hilarious. Obviously this was a different time but there are better examples of effects from the time period than this. Perhaps it truly was a love letter to older monster flicks.

There was something cool and unexpected about the film. The teenagers talked in a mostly regular fashion. They had great dialog back and forth which felt natural. This is especially good for the time period where a lot of teen flicks were relegated to weird, slang-ridden messes (Did anyone say Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?).

It was an okay film but mostly laughable. I wouldn't recommend it because nothing truly stands out. This wouldn't be the first time I've struck out with Criterion. Hausu is another film which is on their list purely for "odd" value. Apparently they're both cult classics, but they don't hit the mark for me.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Year: 1986
Director: Ted Nicolaou
Writer: Ted Nicolaou
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Usually when I haven't heard anything about a horror movie that means there's not much great going on in it. With a name like Terrorvision I had supremely low hopes. However, as soon as I started watching I realized it was one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in a good while.

Terrorvision plays out like a movie made in the 2000s mocking 80s culture. This is strange because it was made in the 80s and is strangely able to perfectly lampoon so much of the 80s. I don't know how it happened but it is excellent. Beyond that fact, the movie is just a huge romp.

It's a story of a family. The parents are swingers, at least they want to be. The kids are a cute little boy and a teenie bopper sister with a metal-loving boyfriend. The grandfather is an army vet and just a little bit off. They get some new satellite TV and get straight to enjoying it. Unfortunately, the satellite dish receives an alien transmission which beams a horrifying blob creature into their world. The blob monster is able to come out only when the TV is on (although it has a habit of turning the set on itself) and predictably eats people. What follows is a hilarious tale of an off-kilter family and how they handle an alien menace in their living room.

I really enjoyed the movie. It was so much better than I had thought. I especially loved that there was an Elvira knockoff known as Medusa. One of the silliest parts is when the Medusa show is about to go to break. The camera slowly zooms in on her before break however it zooms ever closer into her massive cleavage. Honestly, she was more impressive than Elvira. Anyway, it was a great time. I wholly recommend this movie.
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