Friday, December 30, 2011
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Writer: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher, Comedy
Somehow I managed to make it to the 3rd Sleepaway Camp film. Although the first never really struck a chord with me, the 2nd was pretty fun and so of course I had to keep on going. This film seems to finish off the original trilogy, even though later there was a "fifth" film that came out in the 2000s. Yeah, fifth after third. Apparently there was a 4th film in production but it got scrapped before getting anywhere important. Because of that, Return to Sleepaway camp has the alternate title of Sleepaway Camp V even though 4 is nebulous and incomplete. Apparently you could have nabbed it as a special gift from Best Buy some years ago but now your best bet is eBay. Doesn't seem too worth it though.
Anyway, in regards to Sleepaway Camp III it's an alright film. I certainly didn't enjoy it as much as the 2nd but it was alright. Angela is still a pretty cool girl although she seems to have jumped further into the deep end now (yes, even more than she had in the previous rendition). Murders seem less and less important and just there to fill the quota for dead bodies.
Still, I liked the movie. I like Angela even if I don't fully understand her motives and am happy to watch annoying teens get knocked off one by one. There's probably a lot of other slasher films you could spend your time with though. I wouldn't really suggest checking this one out unless you've already gone to the trouble of seeing other films in the series.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Director: Michael A. Simpson
Writer: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher
Here we go again. I didn't really love the original Sleepaway Camp too much but the famous ending certainly stuck with me. Later I realized that there were sequels to the film and wondered what they brought to the table, if anything. So here I am, slowly watching through each of them.
I liked this movie a lot more than the first. The characters felt more alive to me (certainly more annoying). There's something about annoying characters though... You just know that they're going to get it and keep watching to see when and how. I felt myself really digging the killer too, which certainly isn't the normal passing of events when watching a horror film. Usually we're made to fear or despise the killer. In this case, it felt like she was simply taking out the garbage.
Something I didn't enjoy was the first few minutes of the film where they basically rehash what happened in the first. Honestly, I'm glad they explained it because it was quite contrived in the original. Either way, I didn't like that the characters were poking fun at the possibly trans status of the killer. It seemed odd though, since the characters suggested the mother of the killer simply dressed her boy up as a girl since he was 3. Even if that were the case, if he still felt he were fully a boy inside he wouldn't be happy about the dresses and stuff his mother forced him into. So, that seems an odd way of describing his growing life. I guess there's not really much that can be said though since certainly most people of the 80s probably had no clue about the existence of transgender people beyond their awkward and psychotic depictions in media (which, of course, this film continues).
Getting past that stuff though it was a cool movie. I'm happy that I watched it and can't wait to see the third. I've heard that the 3rd is done on even more of a shoestring budget than this one. Personally, I couldn't tell that this was a low-budget flick any more than all the other low-budget horror films I'm accustomed to watching. Since the original film's story is summed up in the sequel you probably don't even need to watch or re-watch the first to have fun with the sequel. However, if you were crazy about the first it's entirely possible this version might not do it for you, since it definitely changes the reasons for killing.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Director: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Writer: Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Adam Rifkin, Tim Sullivan
Genre: Horror: Anthology
Chillerama is a recent horror anthology effort. I've been a fan of anthologies since I first saw Creepshow and am always interested in seeing new ones. Some are certainly hit and miss but at least every collection usually has at least one good short. This film contains four shorts: Wadzilla, I Was a Teenage Wearbear, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein, and Zom-B-Movie.
Of the four, I really enjoyed three of them. The final one in particular is not just a short but basically the wraparound story which contains the other segments. It's probably the best overarching story I've seen for an anthology yet. Although I didn't much care for the Wearbear flick I could see where they were coming from. Each film has it's own thing going on and I like that they all take on different timeframes and ideas. The Frankenstein film takes place during the WW2 era while Zom-B-Movie brings us right up to the modern day.
The anthology clocks in around 2 hours. If I could make a suggestion I would say skip past the werewolf-style flick for something else. I found myself on an enjoyable ride with the other films but that one just seems to slow it down. Maybe that's just me though. So, I guess actually watch them all and let me know what you think.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Director: Jordan Downey
Writer: Jordan Downey, Kevin Stewart
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Animal attack
I'd been avoiding watching Thankskilling for a while now. There was just something abot it that seemed like it was attempting to be too campy and I was worried. Either way, over Thanksgiving I decided to give it a spin since it fit the theme of the week. I'm glad I did.
The movie is tremendously low budget with nobodies left and right. Still, it's never taken exorbitant amounts of money to make a good feature and this proves it. Well, it's not "good" in the typical sense but it's good for some silly, dumb laughs. The film pokes fun at horror tropes and is completely unbelievable. For example, there is a part when the teenagers are vigilantly seeking to stay far away from the vile turkey, but fail to notice that he is actually in their house, just wearing a mask.
The movie is supremely dumb but somehow it becomes endearing because of it. Everyone who was involved in this movie must have known exactly what they were making and so it exudes fun. The characters aren't all wonderfully likable but you're still interested in seeing what they get up to. They're a motley crew to be sure and not one really ready to go up against a demonic bird. I think it's their sheer incompetence at stopping the turkey that helps make it even more fun.
It probably isn't to everyone's tastes but if you're looking for a very simple, silly film this might satisfy you. Definitely watch it if you've got time on a future Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Paul Rudnik
Genre: Thriller, comedy
I don't know what Frank Oz was thinking when he made this movie but I can attempt to guess at it. It's the 2000s and feminism is over and done with. Women are completely equal. Actually, women might even be more powerful now and are definitely wearing the pants and asserting it. So, let's make fun of that! Even the original movie was pretty hilarious! Men wanting their wives to be subordinates to them? Naaaah that's so dumb we've got to ratchet it up times a million now! That's what I think he was thinking and it just not work for me.
You see, in this take of the film, Joanna is no longer a sort of meek feminist. She's now a powerhouse media icon along the lines of Oprah. She has tremendous power and only loses it when one of her TV shows causes far too much of a ruckus for the CEO. They fire her, and in an attempt to make her feel better, her husband whisks the family away to the gated community of Stepford.
One of the things I don't like about this film is that it immediately presents the women as 100% warped from the get go. There's no question as to the fakeness of them and maybe they figured everyone already knew. Still, that basically kills off all potential growing drama when there's nothing to wonder about. Beyond that, Joanna is tremendously unlikable. She is what I imagine a lot of men view feminists as. They are always stiff and unfeeling in their dark power suits and have nothing but disdain for most around them. Since I believe the point of the original The Stepford Wives is still pertinent I find this version to be mocking the mere notion of it.
Anyway, beyond that the movie is actually very different from the original film. It takes mostly a life of its own by injecting some new characters and changing around the big reveal. I guess that's cool because then it would give people more of a reason to see the new film. There's nothing more useless than a remake that is a carbon copy of the original. Still, I'm not sure the changes that were made were for the best. I guess there's nothing I can do about it now though except wait for the eventual remake of this remake to come out down the line.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Director: Bryan Forbes
Writer: Ira Levin, William Goldman
I went into The Stepford Wives with little interest or knowledge of the film. I knew that there was something wrong with the Stepford women, of course, but that's all. Beyond that I've managed to avoid most analysis or spoilers of the story all this time.
Basically the story starts off with a husband and wife who are moving to the small, kindly town Stepford. It seems like a real taste of the country when they speak to neighbors who seem completely radiant, polite, and proper. Joanna quickly makes friends with a couple of the women but finds the others are wholly impenetrable. All they seem to want to talk about is housework or other simple things.
Joanna and her newfound friend Bobbie attempt to start a consciousness raising group because there is obviously something a little dated about the women inhabitants. From there, things slowly become more chilling and weirder. The story is wound tight and as it continues you can almost taste the tension getting tighter and tighter until it finally snaps.
I absolutely adored this movie. It isn't technically horror but it honestly might as well be for anyone sitting down and watching it today. While we have come pretty far thanks to the feminists movements of the past The Stepford Wives is still insanely pertinent. While the "truth" behind the story may be goofball, it certainly doesn't diminish the point of the film (although it does diffuse a lot of the tension of the climax). There's something about Ira Levin that I really appreciate. He might not have a knack for believable endings, but he seems to really have an interest in women and the world and rights they have.
Definitely check this one out. Now I need to hurry up and read the book so I can see if that's even more enthralling than this brief film affair.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Director: Dae-wung Lim
Writer: Se-yeol Park
Genre: Horror: Thriller, slasher
Also known as To Sir With Love, Bloody Reunion is a pretty sweet movie. That is, sweet as in good not as in sweet as sugar and candy and things. In fact, it's probably as far from anything nice as can be, and that's just the reason I like it.
In Bloody Reunion we are being told a story from an older, sick woman in her hospital bed. She recounts the tale of when all her old students came to visit her in her home. She had been an elementary school teacher back when she was healthy and just wanted to see how everyone turned out after all those years. Each of the small class of students appears at the reunion to recount older times.
Unfortunately, the old times aren't so shining like the teacher might have remembered them. From there, the story slowly breaks down all pretense and gets down to business. Obviously I won't delve further into that but I did quite enjoy the movie. It also felt a bit awkward and worrying to watch like how I felt when seeing Meet the Parents for the first time. I'd say it's definitely worth watching this movie if you've got the stomach for some really unfortunate scenes.
As I'm writing this review over a week after watching I've honestly kind of become blurry as to what the reveal in the ending was. However, I would still like to mention it as it struck me when I was watching. This paragraph is definitely a spoiler so just skip over it if you're not interested. Apparently, the shy "turtle" boy was not ever a boy at all but the daughter of someone (adopted by the teacher?). I'm left really unsure when or why they then started presenting themselves as male. Or did they never and that is just the level of insanity of the teacher who perceives her own child as just a shy boy? From what I gathered, it seems they were always a shy girl, but decided to present as male after horrible events in her life. It was a new self to protect her from those old memories or something but she still had her female identity - presented as the teacher's nurse - to finally seek revenge. Anyway, whatever the root if they were presenting as an alternate gender it makes me a bit annoyed to think that's the way the writer went with it. I'm tired of movies where a mentally unstable character is also trans, both genders, or gender-nonconforming. Yeah, I'm looking at you Sleepaway Camp and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And others.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Director: David Steiman
Writer: David Steiman
Genre: Horror: Holiday, slasher
When I first decided to watch this one I was unaware it was so recent. To me it seems like most of the original holiday slasher films were left to the 80s and 90s, not so much now. Apparently I was wrong though and I'm glad I did decide to give it a watch. Unfortunately, it has since gone off Netflix streaming but it's probably available in those cheap horror compilation DVDs found in stores everywhere.
The first thing I honestly noticed about this movie is that it has a brief Fran Drescher cameo in the beginning. I was worried that this was going to be an otherwise subpar film which spent the majority of its budget to get her to appear. Thankfully that didn't turn out to be quite the case although I'm still confused as to why or how they had her in there at all.
Anyway, the film is based around the idea that Santa is actually a terrible demon. He has only been spreading joy and presents for the past 2,000 years because he lost a bet to an angel. The 2,000 year bet is up this Christmas though so Santa finally reverts back to his murderous ways in a small town named Hell. Fitting.
While it's not the smartest movie out there I found it pretty fun to watch. That's often how I feel about holiday-themed horror but maybe that's due to having such low expectations every time. Either way, it's really great to see Santa as some huge, biker-looking guy. There's some really dumb and random humor at parts of the film but I'll let that slide too as who can really take a movie about a murderous Santa Claus seriously?
Seemingly out of nowhere I decided over the weekend that I wanted to start writing user reviews on Amazon. I think it was due to the fact that I was using them to try and determine which headset I wanted to buy. Some reviews were completely useless but others were just what I needed to hear. It's actually probably related to that which spurred me to write my own.
What does that have at all to do with this blog? Well, my main focus of reviews for Amazon is going to be movies. Well, that and games. As I don't think it would be very helpful or allowed to just copy and paste my content I am figuring on writing up wholly new blurbs for Amazon. They'll be lacking my random talks and tangents and stick to the films at hand. I think it's a fun idea and already put up one for The Crush. Interestingly, it took 3+ hours for the review to go live although apparently many go up instantly if they are free of certain flagged words. Obviously Amazon can't have humans check over everything.
I'm hoping mostly that the delay was due to it being my first review on the site. Hopefully future ones will go up sooner because it's really fun to go to the product page and see it there. Although apparently if you write a review that everyone marks as negative or bad then it will get taken down. Hopefully no fans will attack my reviews enough to get them pulled, but I think I'm pretty levelheaded with reviewing.
I'm just curious - do you ever review products on Amazon? What has your experience been like?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I can't always post up a little blurb about the movies I see. Mostly, I tend to not talk about documentaries much. I'm not sure why but it just is often harder to formulate something about them. Anyway, here's some films I have watched over the past month or so but won't be having their own posts.
- Blair Witch Project
- Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
- The Eyes of Tammy Faye
- A Certain Kind of Death
- Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
- Page One: Inside the New York Times
- Nightmares in Red, White and Blue
- Reel Injun
- Just Ask My Children
Going to Pieces and Nightmares in Red, White and Blue are both some nice horror movie documentaries. I can't remember which one it was but one of them also doles out a lot of spoilers, so watch out. I'd seen most of the movies it spoiled, thankfully, but there were a few surprises I didn't want to see!
Monday, December 12, 2011
Director: Adam Green
Writer: Adam Green
Genre: Horror: Slasher
There are a lot of modern horror movies which try so hard to cash in on the timeless popularity of slashers. Many follow the old tropes and load up a bunch of drunken and lusty teens together to all get slaughtered. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that but it's a bit dull. Hatchet keeps things fresh by giving an interesting sort of premise for the death as well as a decent cast of characters. You don't really hate any of them, whereas in certain horror flicks, you're apt to hate absolutely everyone.
Hatchet is extremely enjoyable. The film starts off with some Mardi Gras celebrations going on. Our main character, however, is completely unamused by the goings on and leaves the festivities. Annoyed, his best friend follows and they both end up taking a boat tour since that sounds much better. The boat is loaded up with quite the cast of characters from a lovely older couple to a pornographer and his two actresses. As one might expect, the boat tour is a horrible idea when they cross into the territory of a murderous man.
From then on the film manages to showcase a lot of gory effects and keep you laughing all the way. It's not completely stupid like some teen or youth focused films which really helps to keep you interested too. I was really pleased with the wit demonstrated in the script as well as some creative kills.
Apparently I wasn't the only one who enjoyed it as Hatchet II came out in 2010. I've yet to see it but it's high up on my list after the fun that was Hatchet.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Director: Lloyd Kaufman
Writer: Patrick Cassidy, Douglas Buck
Genre: Horror: Comedy
Here's yet another one of those movies I've been meaning to watch. Terror Firmer basically shows the world what it's like filming a Troma movie. As one might expect, it's extremely irreverent and comical.
I'm pleased that no matter the decade that Troma always seems able to pump out films of similar low quality. It does seem that this may be a bit on the higher end of low quality though, which is a bit odd. So the film is basically about the cast of a film crew working on a Toxie project. As it proceeds, people begin to die. What a shocking plot, right?
Anyway, most of the movie's fun comes from the cast who are all equally unusual. From the character who slowly transforms from man to woman throughout the feature to the handsome pickle canner, there's enough strangeness to go around. Although it's filled with pretty lowball humor I still had a ball with it. There are times when these kind of movies really hit the spot.
It's hard to think of what to say about this movie aside from the fact that I really enjoyed it. The effects are pretty good and the laughs are creative as well. Overall I'd love to recommend this movie to everyone but certainly some just won't like the humor. If you have liked other Troma comedy films though maybe this will be right for you.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Director: Paul F. Ryan
Writer: Paul F. Ryan
It is probably strange to say but I have quite an interest in school shootings. It is not some sort of crazy death-chasing thing but I am very curious about what kids may have to go through to end up taking such extreme actions. Or, I'm curious about what minds might be fundamentally damaged to lead to events like that. Then I am curious about how teenagers cope after having to live through it. As such, I've devoted a lot of time to watching movies on the subject matter over the years.
Home Room is a pretty good movie mostly because it takes a different angle on school shooting. A lot of films have bravely (or stupidly) attempted to share the stories of the ones who commit the crime. That's fine to do of course but in this film we are instead treated to how characters are dealing with it after the fact. It may be more powerful this way.
One preppy popular teen was grazed by a bullet and is now recovering in the hospital. Another girl, one who has been held back and is anything but preppy, is forced into spending time with her. If not, the principal would just hold her back another year. The two are extreme opposites but slowly bond - but they can't talk about "it". The two seem like nicely realistic characters and because of that I found myself bonding to both of them with ease.
I would have honestly liked there to be a bit more to the film. The characters had such a nice back and forth that there could have easily been a bit more scenes. As is though the film feels mostly perfect in execution. I think at a part near the end of the film it gets a little ham-fisted, but beyond that this is a film worth checking out if you're at all curious about the subject matter.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Director: Gaspar Noe
Writer: Gaspar Noe, Lucile Hadzihalilovic
I'm not really sure what I can say about Enter the Void. I wholly enjoyed my experience with it but I'm pretty sure everyone's mileage will vary. This was honestly my first film from this director (which is probably blasphemous to even say) but whatever. I've wanted to go and watch I Stand Alone and Irreversible for a while but it seems you need to be in a specific mood to enjoy them. As is, I don't think I've been in the right kind of mood yet for many months.
Anyway, onto Enter the Void. It starts us off in the world of a young man who's doing some drugs. Apparently he's a small-time dealer in Tokyo. Everything seems to be fine but when he goes to drop something off it turns out to be a sting operation. He's chased into the bathroom, shot, and killed. From there the movie really begins and we see his life leading up to this moment and what transpires because of it.
I thought it was a really cool film overall. I'm always a fan for neat cinematic effects and obviously a film about life, death, and drugs would have some cool visuals. It was very nice although I was worried I might have my first seizure during an almost two minute long sequence of a flashing white light. Either way, it was a pretty cool adventure, although not something I would probably watch when just feeling bored.
For one, it's over two hours long which may be too much of a time investment. It's also not an easy movie, necessarily. It feels harsh at times and you have to be at least a little dedicated to the world to enjoy it. Honestly, I don't know what to say other than it was pretty neat but not for everyone. Like, for me I was not a fan of the whole ending sequence for 2001: A Space Odyssey the first time but only because I was watching it for an assignment. Had I been given free run to discover the film on my own and watch on a quiet evening it would have been much more enjoyable.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Writer: W. Boyd Ford
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Slasher
I still haven't seen the original Blood Feast (as far as I remember, anyway) but this one was on streaming so I decided to give it a look. After all was said and done I'm really glad that I did give it a look although hopefully the original will show up for me to watch soon too.
Blood Feast 2 is pretty awesome. The story starts us off with a man moving into a small town. He wants to start up his catering business there but then is shocked to find that his grandfather had done the same but then was found out to have murdered 3 women. Because small towns have long memories almost nobody is willing to visit the shop. Although the young man initially seems to know nothing about it, he quickly is swayed to the dark side just as his grandfather had been. Oh no.
I like the movie because it's pretty funny. In the first few minutes it seems stupid funny and I was worried the whole movie would be that way. Thankfully, it gets better as it goes on. The humor is still pretty dumb but enjoyably so. Then there's the gore effects which is where the movie shines. With all the slasher and gory films I've seen it is hard to surprise me with effects. In this film however things were just shown in such a way I was psyched and honestly a little grossed out. But this is a good thing! I think.
Cannibalism is something that's always been pretty gross in my mind. In case you can't tell by the title of the film, this movie has a lot of cannibalistic things going on. My reaction to the gore and all may have been due to this. Either way, the movie is a pretty good comedy and probably better than it should be. What's strangest is that while the film was made in 2002 it feels like an 80s film. Blood Feast 2 is quite the fun movie. Just be sure not to watch it right after a big meal.