Thursday, July 28, 2011

Film Geek

Year: 2005
Director: James Westby
Writer: James Westby
Genre: Comedy

Film Geek is a devise movie. If you're a film geek you might think this is a great watch. I think that only people who consider themselves such should attempt to watch the movie. However, it might disgust and turn off film fans because it may hit a little too close to home. Or it may just serve as a hilarious example of the worst of film fans. I don't know, but I enjoyed it.

The film centers around a huge film fan. He's good-hearted and runs his own movie blog (which has zero hits). He works at a rental store and loves attempting to recommend films to everyone who comes in. The only problem is that he's completely blind to the fact he's viewed by everyone as annoying. He is not well versed in the ways of social life. He'll just blabber on and on about films to anyone who is in his vicinity. Films are his life - he has no other interests.

The movie feels older than 2005 but maybe that's due to almost every movie in the film being on VHS. It's definitely a blast from the past to see aisles packed with the wonderful boxes. It made me a little sad that the character's social ineptitude kept me from liking him more. However, I still rooted for him through a good portion of the film.

For anyone who considers themselves a big movie fan they might as well check it out. It also serves as a good warning to not act like this guy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The House of Yes

Year: 1997
Director: Mark Waters
Writer: Wendy MacLeod, Mark Waters
Genre: Drama: Black Comedy

This is one strange movie. The story makes me wonder who would have ever come up with such a thing. Basically, a brother comes home to his sister with his fiance for a nice dinner. However, the sister happens to be mentally unstable and believes herself to be Jackie Kennedy. The bringing home of the fiance makes the sister completely lose it. It's weird.

I really enjoyed the film. It was just so unusual but never felt too far gone. That is, except for one climactic scene which just struck me as tremendously crazed. I suppose in the world of the characters though it had some degree of normalcy. That's something that was especially great about the film... The actors were very immersed in their roles and those who were supposed to be accustomed to the crazy seemed to be.

The background makes this a dramatic tale but it's very much a black comedy. All that happens is incredibly dark but somehow deeply hilarious. The situation is almost entirely implausible which lends itself well to nervous laughter. The "Jackie" character is incredibly well done as well. You watch her interactions with everyone and know something has to happen and it's tantalizing to wonder about.

I wholly recommend this movie to fans of black comedy and weird cinema. It won't appeal to a lot of people, but for some (like me) it is one hell of an hour and a half.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Year: 1998
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Mystery, Drama

I'm starting to think I'm not a fan of Christopher Nolan. I'm sure that's blasphemous to say in the film community but I just can't get into his movies. He seems to really like nonlinear storytelling, which I suppose is fine, but I don't like how the eventual reveals are meant to be huge deals. I've seen Memento and Inception and didn't enjoy either of them. I'm sure that will lose me a few fans right there.

Honestly, I just don't find the point to these films. But this is not a discussion of those other movies this is a discussion of Following. I wasn't grabbed right at the start and never ended up getting grabbed. I had a bit of trouble distinguishing between characters. Because I did have this issue may mean that was purposeful and "significant" but I never caught on to the significance. I'm not a stupid movie-watcher by any means it just never clicked.

As for the story that was being told nothing really interesting seemed to be going on. I'm not really a fan of crime or mafia/gang drama as is so that may have been why. I liked the look of the film, at least. It was very attractively done in black and white. I'm not sure if that was necessary but I suppose it was an unusual noir tale.

So, fans of Memento would probably find a great film here. If not though, then feel free to skip right over this.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monster in the Closet

Year: 1986
Director: Bob Dahlin
Writer: Bob Dahlin
Genre: Horror: Monster

Upon starting this movie I thought it was going to be absolutely abysmal. The introduction to the film is supremely low budget and silly as all get out. However, if you can get past the first few minutes of the movie I think you'll find a decent monster flick.

The film focuses around a monster who inhabits closets. People who come near closets are typically the prey of the beast as closets are his "safe space". There isn't all together that much gore in the movie due to the fact that most killings go on off-screen (in the closet). Because of this it is the tamest Troma film I've seen. There's barely even any breasts on display either save for one appropriate shower scene. In the world of Troma this is probably the most kid friendly of their movies.

So what makes this move stand out? It realizes the idea of people being terrorized by closet monsters is hilarious so the film pokes a lot of fun at itself. The characters are also relatively well-defined and fit into their roles well. It must take quite a talent to shriek hysterically at a closet.

Overall the movie isn't especially fresh or anything, but if you have nothing better to do with your time it could be fun. This is one of those films that probably works best in a group viewing. Apparently there is a 2011 remake but I fail to see how that could in any way be a good thing. I expect it'd be like the Death Race remake which just killed all the soul of the original.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Downloaded a Ghost

Year: 2004
Director: Kelly Sandefur
Writer: Jeff Phillips
Genre: Comedy: Family

I Downloaded a Ghost is just a simple made-for-TV Halloween film. It barely focuses on the actual holiday, but it involves a ghost which makes it spooooky! Well, not quiet. In this story, the ghost is of a man who was wrongly accused of a crime and then died. The main character, a young Ellen Page, uses the internet to download some ghost file for her haunted house and somehow it ends up being the accused guy! It makes enough sense for a children's film.

What follows is a pretty standard movie with a lovably dorky lead. This wasn't Ellen Page's first film, but she did get in on it just a year before Hard Candy. It's incredible to imagine just how young she was when that came out, just seeing her so tiny and cute in this film.

The ghost guy is pretty annoying. He's a wannabe stand up comic so expect lots of unfortunate jokes to come from him. The other characters aren't all very exciting but they're about par for the course in these kinds of films. The story doesn't really go anywhere that interesting, but it's okay. The strangest thing really is that if this is a Halloween time film for children, why aren't there more scares to be found? More focus on the guy in a ghost form instead of just hanging around in his ugly shirt? Kids tend to like creative things and fantasy, not dull reality.

What's especially amusing is that only at the very end do you really get to see a "ghost" (in more classic ghost form). Oh well, I can't complain. It was an acceptably amusing romp although I wouldn't watch it again. It might be a nice way to pass an hour and a half with a young child. Or if you want to watch the complete filmography of Ellen Page.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Year: 1994
Director: Stephan Elliot
Writer: Stephan Elliot
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Where do I start with Priscilla... Well, suffice to say I love it.

For a film from 1994 it's surprisingly candid and sweet for the subject matter. The story by the way focuses on a troop of crossdressers going cross country for a performance. Predictably, the story focuses around all the exciting events and people they come across on their journey. Sometimes the characters must face insult and injury but the main focal point of the movie is fun, fun, fun and having lots of it.

Movies about cross country journeys tend to be hit or miss with me. They can fall completely flat with stupid characters or come to life because of interactions. This film definitely got it all right and with a distinctly fabulous edge. I like that the characters are shown as being able to take care of themselves and with their heads screwed on straight. Again, for 1994 this is pretty solid.

The characters are campy but that's the whole point. It's great fun and still manages to have heart. I can't accurately convey how much fun I had with the film, but it was pretty great. It almost make me want to try out drag although I doubt I could ever be as cool as these characters.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Year: 2005
Director: Kieran Galvin
Writer: Kieran Galvin
Genre: Drama: Black comedy

I'm not sure what it was that spurred me to watch Puppy. It was just sitting in a long line of streamable titles... Maybe it was the simple name that drew me in. Either way, it's an odd little film. The basic premise revolves around a woman who's life is falling apart at home. She's so damn unlucky and things keep piling up until she decides she can't take it anymore. Unfortunately, things become much worse when a man rescues her from a suicide attempt. The trouble with this lies with the fact that her savior believes she is his wife who had run away and may himself be dangerous.

The lead may have gotten herself out of one situation but then threw herself into a whole other can of worms. The setup got me hooked immediately because it was just so strange. I needed to see how they would work out together and how it would all end. That may also be reason enough for others to watch the film, but it won't interest everyone.

Puppy is darkly comedic. For the most part you are viewing unpleasant and maybe even scary scenes. However, the film is punctuated with pitch perfect bits of humor that made me laugh audibly. It may because of the overall tension of the film that made these small accents extra funny, but they work.

It's not a movie I would recommend but it is an interesting experience. I didn't feel my time was wasted while watching.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One Hour Photo

Year: 2002
Director: Mark Romanec
Writer: Mark Romanec
Genre: Drama, Thriller

I'd never seen Robin Williams in a "serious" role before. I don't know why but it just seems to have never been the case that I sit down with one. It may be partially related to this that the film really struck me. Williams had a character who was completely out of the realm I'd ever seen him as. At first I was like "how funny, that's Robin Williams" but as the movie continued I forgot all about the association. He was no longer Mrs. Doubtfire to me or anything like that but his character in this film. He was sad, disturbed, and incredible.

I adored this movie. I felt really nervous and antsy watching it, which believe it or not is a positive. It takes a certain kind of movie to make me feel that way and only a few have ever really managed it. Some other films like that for me were Hard Candy and Fatal Attraction. Fatal Attraction in particular is so bad that I will leave the room when the climax approaches.

Back to One Hour Photo though... It's a stellar film. There are some very gorgeous scenes, the music is perfect, and it is just a very taut piece of film making. Since I think it's better to leave first-time viewers without any ideas about this film, I won't discuss any plot points. I had no clue about what the film was really about, aside from maybe photos, and that aided my viewing.

The movie certainly won't be for everyone but it was perfect for me. In fact, I'm probably going to add it to my list of "must-watch movies" that I pass out to friends. That list is kept to a reasonable amount, so any new additions is always a cause for celebration. If you're in the mood to feel vaguely disturbed and worried for an hour and a half this is the film for you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Return of the Living Dead

Year: 1985
Director: Dan O'Bannon
Writer: Ban O'Bannon, Rudy Ricci
Genre: Horror: Zombies

I've circled around this film for years without ever giving it a chance. For some reason, despite growing up loving zombie films I felt I couldn't watch this one. It seemed like it was going to tapdance on the tomb of the more "serious" zombie movies I'd seen. I never really wanted to see my favorite films made a mockery of. But then Shaun of the Dead, Dance of the Dead, and Zombieland came out and made me change my thought process. Now, films like Dead Alive are the ones I'm madly in love with. Still, I couldn't get over my silly fear of watching this film until recently.

Having finally watched the film I can tell you it's a great time. The start of the story is with a guy who's just taken up a job and is learning the ropes. The job is one of supplying medical schools with various dead things from the warehouse as well as other teaching implements. The story goes that deep in the basement of the warehouse are old dead bodies that had come to life due to some crazy military experimentation (something like that anyway). Stupidly, the man showing the new guy around smacks a dead body bin, the toxic fumes escape, and well I'm sure you can guess that something happens. Oh, and did I mention that this building is right across the street from a graveyard? Yep.

I really like the humor in this film. It's a lot sharper than one might expect from an 80s film and for that I applaud it. It also takes a keen eye to have put together a more lighthearted zombie film when there weren't many on the market currently. Night of the Creeps came out a year later. Either way, it's a fun way to turn the genre on its head and it still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat at times.

The zombies looked great, the cast became their characters, the jokes were perfect, and there's even a naked Linnea Quigley running around for about half the movie. Poor Linnea... I think her role in this film is what pushed her into B-horror semi-stardom. The tagline for this film is "they're back from the grave and ready to party!" which basically sums it up perfectly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beware! Children at Play

Year: 1989
Director: Mik Cribben
Writer: Fred Scharkey
Genre: Horror: Evil children

For being a Troma production this was pretty tame - and that's a good thing. Here, let me try and explain...

The film felt like a mid-80s thriller about kids who are disappearing in a small town. They don't turn up dead or anything - just go missing. The same can be said for some adults as well, although it's a rather slow progression. It's all very mysterious for a while until the film ramps up and you see what is going on with the children lost out there. Aside from the fact that it gets rather violent the film isn't anything "outrageous" even when kids are pegged as the aggressors. Obviously that's been done many times before.

While it is a little disturbing with the level of violence against children as well as depicting the kids being violent it never quite feels as crazy as a Troma film should. Only during the climax would I say the film finally veers a little bit out of bounds. Beyond that, it mostly looks like a film that wanted to shock and failed. It's kind of a shame really that the climax is so over the top because it colors your perspective over the rest of the film like it was a complete waste.

The Troma edge is distinctly lacking (in every part except the last 10 minutes) although that's not a bad thing. As a movie, I think it does rather well. It's the kind of movie people might go to a theater to see just like any other Hollywood blockbuster. It has 4 stars on IMDB but that doesn't make a lick of sense because this is just the kind of stuff casual horror fans would eat up.

Children at Play drags on a bit but overall it's a nice production, even if it feels dated. Just don't go into it expecting another Mother's Day or Toxie flick because you'll find that spirit distinctly lacking.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Teen Wolf

Year: 1985
Director: Rod Daniel
Writer: Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman
Genre: Comedy, Werewolves

During the 80s Michael J. Fox was huge. It was all thanks mostly to Back to the Future which came out in '85. That wasn't the only movie the same year to star him though. Here's Teen Wolf and it's an extremely 80s experience.

The story focuses around Fox's character who's mostly a scrawny loser kid on the basketball team in high school. One day he comes to realize that he (and other males in his family line) are werewolves. They don't change during full moons though it's more of a stress thing. If he gets really angry he can turn into one although he's not really in control of when it happens either.

Instead of a regular response which would be to run far away the high schoolers think he is completely awesome. He becomes king of the school and even catches the eye of the "popular girl". It's super goofy and 80s through and through. Obviously, there's not a thing wrong with that but the film lacks substance. It's a lighthearted teenage tale just spiced up a bit. It'd probably be good for a group watching.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Year: 1988
Director: Stan Winston
Writer: Mark Patrick Carducci
Genre: Horror: Monster

Despite the supremely cheesy name, this movie has a strange depth and life to it. I almost expected a goofy villain with a pumpkin for a head or something of the sort. When that turned out to not be the case I was surprised. Apparently, the film is based off a poem and so that's where the creature got the awkward name.

So Pumpkinhead has rural townsfolk living with a terrifying tale. For them, if a man is wronged then he can summon Pumpkinhead to take revenge (by killing whoever of course). It's been years since the last time Pumpkinhead came around but the townsfolk still have that knowledge firmly in their minds.

Cue a group of city kids coming to spend some time in a cabin there. They meet up with a man and his child at the gas station and try to put on their friendly faces. Unfortunately, an unforeseen accident occurs and they inadvertently kill his child. Feeling deeply wronged by the cityfolk, he goes on to exact revenge the only way he knows how - by calling upon Pumpkinhead. Oh no!

The characters are all pretty lively even if some of them die off really fast. It's nice to see that an attempt was made to give them character. I like the story and had no idea really how it would turn out until nearer to the end. It's still mostly predictable but worth watching due to the character interactions. It's also shot very nicely which sometimes is lacking in random horror films. It feels a lot like a fairy tale but the old kinds. Grim, violent tales not the happy Disneyesque things we have now. If you're into that sort of thing this is for you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Deadly Friend

Year: 1986
Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Diana Henstell, Bruce Joel Rubin
Genre: Horror: Sci-fi

Deadly Friend is definitely a child of the 80s. That's the very first thing I thought as the movie started off with a boy and a large, friendly-looking robot buddy. The movie may verge on sci-fi for some important plot points, but  there's still a horror movie at the base of it. It feels more like a young teen horror flick than anything else, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth a watch. If for nothing else, it's worth watching to see a woman get her face smashed clean to bits after getting hit with a basketball.

Basically, the story revolves around a mother and son family who have moved into a new town. The teen is a genius and makes a robot that is able to learn and act of its own accord. Nothing could ever go wrong with that! Anyway, he makes friends with the neighbor girl. Boy likes girl, girl dies, boy puts robot brain into girl, girl comes back to life, girl-with-robot-brain goes on a killing spree... Same old, same old.

The theme of not being able to let someone go reminds me of the movie I watched earlier, Make-Out with Violence. It's handled differently obviously since she's not a zombie but a robot-brained girl. Either way, I found it fun. The sci-fi aspect doesn't make that much sense but if you just go with it you can enjoy the film. The ending in particular makes absolutely no sense. I think that Wes was forced to shove in an "exciting!" ending by others though, kind of like how he had to change the ending for the first Elm Street flick to satisfy others.

If you're watching the movie just because Wes Craven directed it you may be a little disappointed. A Nightmare on Elm Street this is not. For a movie that starts off with a cute babbling yellow robot though it's surprisingly enthralling.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Year: 1988
Director: Tony Randel
Writer: Clive Barker, Peter Atkins
Genre: Horror

So here we are at the second Hellraiser film and it takes place after the first. The daughter Kristy has been sent to a mental institution because of her cenobite-related ramblings. For purposes of the plot, her doctor is madly interested in the occult and cenobites in particular. Hearing her story he believes her completely and in fact brings  someone back to life. Then everything goes crazy when he uses another patient of his, a young girl who likes puzzles, to solve the puzzle box and send everyone into their own vision of Hell.

It feels kind of cheesy to have everyone coming face to face with the cenobites already. It seems like a showdown in their territory is something that would typically come much later in a series. The main cenobites also seem horrendously underpowered which also completely dissolves any fear we had about them from the first movie.

Despite those negative points it is still a wholly watchable film. It's still fun and I like rooting for the two girls to make it out of the situation alive. There's a plot segment dealing with the history of cenobites but it doesn't really make sense. In fact, nothing much is every really mentioned aside from a handful of lines. It's weird but maybe they were setting us up for future films.

Honestly, there's not much to say about this one. Think of it as Hellraiser part 2 if you wish.
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