Monday, January 30, 2012

Game Box 1.0

Year: 2004
Director: David Hillenbrand, Scott Hillenbrand
Writer: Worm Miller, Patrick Casey
Genre: Sci-fi

Although video games are definitely big business there haven't been many movies based around them. There are a few like Gamer and the like, but not really all that much considering. In fact, it feels like there are more movies based around retro arcades than anything attempting to be modern. Anyway, here's this sci-fi or horror movie about a new video game machine - Game Box 1.0.

So what's special about this latest gizmo? Unlike every console before it, it interfaces directly with your head. By using the included attachment that fits onto the player's head, the machine can pull out pertinent thoughts and memories to use in games. For example, you use your thoughts to plug in someone to be the game's villain.

In theory it's pretty cool but in action Game Box 1.0 is painfully bad. The effects are shameful and would make anyone who actually plays modern games laugh. The story is completely dumb and the characters are to. The only redeeming value of the film is how juvenile the story is. This is a good thing because it makes it a lot of fun to watch with friends and joke about it being awful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Crush

Year: 1993
Director: Alan Shapiro
Writer: Alan Shapiro
Genre: Drama

I don't know why I continue to subject myself to drama films. They often make me get that knot in my stomach but I'm stuck watching them anyway. So, The Crush is basically a sort of modernized Lolita. It's not exactly though since it's a whole new story going on but the ties are there. Obviously, a young girl attempts to seduce the lead character - that's a given.

Unlike Lolita though (from what little I remember) it feels a whole lot more sinister. The girl in question is 14, although much smarter than her peers, and is able to manipulate everyone around her. In a way, it felt like Poison Ivy with how secretly diabolical she is.

Beyond that though I didn't honestly care much for the movie. It's melodramatic and not so bad as a Lifetime movie but close enough. I never really felt engaged with the lead and those around him weren't very important either. Who cares if they die? So yeah, it's an acceptable way to spend your time but I'd look elsewhere. Or, if you really need some sort of hebephilic film might as well go with Lolita.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Year's Evil

Year: 1980
Director: Emmett Alston
Writer: Leonard Neubauer
Genre: Horror: Holiday

Normally I'm a big fan of holiday-related horror flicks but in this case it just didn't work out. New Year's Evil is a passable film which focuses on a rockin' party. A band is busy performing in a hotel when a call comes in from someone claiming that he will start killing people soon. Apparently, when it reaches midnight in each timezone he will kill someone. It's an interesting enough idea, I suppose.

As it turns out though you never end up caring much for any of the characters. They're mostly one-dimensional and while they act adequately, there's little to keep you involved in watching. There's nothing notable about the movie aside from perhaps being one of the very few New Year's-themed horror films.

There's really nothing else I can say about the movie. It might not have been as much of a total bore as other films I've sat through, but it ranks right up there. However, it could be just me not being able to jive with the film. Give it a watch yourself sometime and maybe you'll get more out of it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Terror Train

Year: 1980
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Writer: T.Y. Drake
Genre: Horror: Slasher

Jamie Lee Curtis was the best when she was just starting out. Between this, Halloween, and Prom Night there is probably no role that comes closer to perfection. Obviously my favorite role for her was in Halloween but this one is a close second.

In Terror Train the story is that a few years ago this fraternity decided to pull a stupid joke on one of the newbies. They led him to believe that a girl was interested in him, but instead scared him senseless with a cadaver. After that, the story fast forwards to today where the college kids are all about ready to graduate. They're celebrating their almost independence by having a party on a train as it drives on and on. Unfortunately it seems that the poor boy they teased back then has come back for revenge.

The movie is great because it takes place in an unusual location and uses that to its advantage. The enclosed cars are perfect and make you wonder how long it will be until bodies will be discovered. It's great fun and the characters are rather realistic, even if that means you'll end up hating some of them.

Really, if you've never seen Terror Train it's definitely worth watching. It's not a movie I've ever really heard mentioned before and that seems like a huge shame. I guess it got passed over alongside all other slashers coming out at the same time. The name isn't the most exciting thing out there so it probably didn't help attract viewers. Although I don't have much to say I'm absolutely smitten with the feature so please check it out.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fright Night Part 2

Year: 1988
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace
Writer: Tom Holland, Tim Metcalfe
Genre: Horror: Comedy, Vampire

Fright Night is an excellent movie. It may be supremely 80s but it's a ton of fun and a great take on vampires that I'd love to see again these days. Fright Night Part 2 attempts to continue the story of the first but mostly just falls apart.

In Part 2 we hear Charley Brewster recounting the events of the first film (in case you forgot?). After he finishes his tale we see that he's in an office and that his therapist has helped convince him none of that stuff ever occurred. There's no such thing as vampires!

Soon after we see that Charley also has a new flame. Why? Wasn't the huge climax of the first film not only defeating the vampires that moved in next door, but also saving his girlfriend from vampirism? What was the point of that if he was just going to toss her aside for some new girl? After I managed to get over that though a new thought crossed my mind. Did they rush to make this movie right after the first one? I asked this question because it feels like a big pile of nonsensical parts stuck into one somewhat cohesive whole.

There are multiple parts of the film where scenes change with no real explanation between them as to what occurred. There is a part where you see some characters in one scene, and then the next they are in jail. What, how did that even happen? There are a few points like that and it makes it feel like the director was in a hurry to pump this out after the success of the original. This isn't the case though as Part 2 was made a few years after the original, not immediately. You've got to wonder what was going on in production where they had to cut out scenes that explained what on earth was going on. Not only that, but this movie is supremely 80s. This is a plus or minus depending on who you are - to me it was a plus.

This is not to say the movie wasn't enjoyable. It still was pretty fun and I liked the new vampire crew a lot. My favorite in particular was Regina. The movie quickly escalates to the climactic showdown. While it's not as drawn out or cool as the first film it still is alright. Check it out if you got a kick out of the original Fright Night.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell

Year: 1990
Director: Brett Piper
Writer: Brett Piper
Genre: Fantasy

If there's ever a movie people would gravitate toward due to the title this is it. A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell sets itself up to be quite a ride with a name like that. Unfortunately, beyond the first few minutes, almost nothing to do with "nympoids" or dinosaurs occurs.

The movie is hugely low budget and with a pretty dull story. Honestly, I can't even remember what really happened aside from the girl barbarian meeting the boy barbarian and then for some reason they try to destroy this evil guy. Yep, that's about as deep as it goes.

Troma certainly isn't a big budget studio but it seems like even LESS money was somehow spent on producing this. While many Troma films feature the famous car chase/flip/explosion scene, this film takes scenes from a handful of the Troma library for no good reason. Thankfully that's only the case for the introduction but I was worried the entire movie might be that way. If I'd let my fear get the best of me then I probably would have just stopped watching before 10 minutes were done.

As it stands this movie is pretty dull. The name is great but everything else is supremely lackluster. Skip it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Last Circus

Year: 2010
Director: Álex de la Iglesia
Writer: Álex de la Iglesia
Genre: Drama, Comedy

I came into this movie pretty cold. It was simply a suggestion and I only looked at the stars it scored before jumping in. The Last Circus is foreign film where a boy grows up quickly after his father is killed right before his eyes. He inherits the role of a clown just like his father before him and joins the circus. There he meets a girl and, predictably, starts to feel something for her.

From then on, things manage to take the worst turns possible and the movie ends up being one filled with bullets, bloodshed, and disfigurement. It's alright. I have a feeling this movie will or has already been on favorite film lists. It definitely has the stuff to be something special, but or me it was just filler.

I liked the story progression well enough but it just came out too dramatic for my tastes. What can you expect from a drama film but drama? It's an odd criticism coming from me too though since I loved the whacked out Fatal Attraction. That certainly never let up on the intense drama... Well, somehow The Last Circus didn't click with me.

Still, the movie is a neat little experience and will probably please some. Check it out if you're interested in some clown-related craziness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Graduation Day

Year: 1981
Director: Herb Freed
Writer: Anne Marisse, Herb Freed
Genre: Slasher

The 80s were the decade of the slasher film. I've seen a great deal of them but there's always more out there to dig up. Since Graduation Day was up on streaming I decided to give it a look. While it doesn't realy stand out among the crowded genre, it's still an alright film. That's better than being a total and complete disaster, at least.

I've heard people complain about the acting a lot but it wasn't a big deal to me. Overall the characters seem to be relatively regular high schoolers (except that they look to be college aged a lot of the time). The story starts out where a young track star mysteriously dies after winning a race. It wasn't foul play as far as anyone can tell anyway, just a high school athlete being pushed too hard. I think that's a pretty pertinent tale even today where many students are pushing themselves much further than they can handle.

Anyway, quickly the film sets us up with suspects. If there's one thing that this movie deserves a compliment for it's how it manages to give us a list of suspects who all could be the killer. A smart horror fan could probably deduce the true murderer before too long, but even I was happy to let the movie guide my perception of who the killer was all the way through. The reveal makes sense too although it isn't the most exciting one.

The movie was okay. I wasn't crazy about it but it at least held my interest for the near hour and fourty minutes it drew on. If there was one thing I'd change it would be to cut down on some of the movie. Graduation Day is an acceptable film but not something to watch if you want to get your blood pumping.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Class of Nuke 'Em High

Year: 1986
Director: Richard W. Haines
Writer: Richard W. Haines, Mark Rudnitsky
Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy

Is it sacrilegious of me to not like this movie? I feel like it's supposed to be a classic Troma centerpiece, but I just couldn't get into it very much at all. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that I was tired. Or maybe it's just due to the fact that it's not very good.

Class of Nuke 'Em High starts us off in a small town which is right by a nuclear facility. Of course, something goes wrong there but they mostly don't seem to care about it. Water tainted with nuclear goo seeps into the local school and from there things get a little disgusting.

For a Troma film it's not all that gross. You've got weirdo teens screwing around with other oddballs but nobody is really that interesting or entertaining. The characters are all such caricatures but not in a way that I found appealing. There was a lot going on but I never cared for anyone so obviously didn't care when they came up on screen. But, when you don't like anyone in a movie then that means every seen is dull.

I still intend to watch the rest of the films in this series but I hope they pick up. This one seems a little close to The Toxic Avenger but without any real heart.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

Year: 1988
Director: John De Bello
Writer: Stephen F. Andrich, John De Bello
Genre: Horror: Comedy

I haven't seen the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in a long time. I remember it not impressing me much even though I was a middle schooler or so when I saw it. I knew the premise was utterly ridiculous but the film itself seemed only to drag on and on and be really stupid. Who knows if I'd feel the same way upon rewatching it, but that initially viewing has skewed me away from any more tomato-based cinema.

I don't know what it was that made me decide to check out the sequel. I guess I wanted to know how things worked out or if it was any better. As it turns out, I had a fair bit of fun with this movie although it is tremendously stupid. It's probably due to the huge amounts of stupid slopped on that it becomes such a fun film.

Although it starts off only being semi-wacky it continues to get crazier and crazier until the end where there is nothing left to do but laugh. It definitely pokes fun at films in general and I liked that. It certainly seemed more fresh then than it would if people were making fun of things like product placement today. Anyway, it's super dumb and that's the reason to watch it.

I like that the movie also makes fun of the 80s cinema landscape and promotion around films. Like, the main tomato of this movie is no longer a real one but a medium-sized fluffy plush guy. He's cute and the perfect way to attempt to sell merchandise from the film. Of course, I don't think there were ever any real FT plush guys produced, but I like that they poke fun at how horrible movies are with trying to string along new merchandise alongside them.

Return of the Killer Tomatoes! would probably make for a nice watch with friends. Just make sure you're not expecting anything serious when you press play.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Return to Sleepaway Camp

Year: 2008
Director: Robert Hiltzik
Writer: Robert Hiltzik
Genre: Horror: Slasher

I think I liked this movie a lot more than I should have. For it to be a sequel some 20 years after the originals in the series came out... well, that usually spells doom. Somehow Return to Sleepaway Camp manages to be completely captivating.

The characters are once again young teens as opposed to the late teenaged cast of the 2nd and 3rd films. I'm glad this change was made because I couldn't for the life of me understand why 17-19 year olds would be going off to a summer camp. Does anyone of that age really do so unless they're a counselor? Oh well.

For the content of the movie I really like that it mostly seems to be a new start to the brand. It can basically be watched as someone's first jump into the Sleepaway Camp world but it works much better if you're a fan of the series, as the films do actually correlate. The campgoers themselves are all new though and they mostly all give realistic performances of stupid, mean teens.

I hate to harp on it but it still bothers me that the film finds a place to continue to rake Angela's character through the mud though by bringing up the whole "he" thing. Why is that still touted as a massively important fact of her existence? Apparently between the first and second film she has a "life-saving operation" which renders her physically female. While I see a problem with using that as the barometer of defining who is what as is, it seems like that really should settle the case for all the characters. But of course not. Angela may at this point in time have been living as a woman with a basically female body for 20 some years but they must still force the idea that she's "really a man".

For all the fussing I do over Angela I still really find myself enjoying the movies. Since the characters are relatively normal portrayals of kids, I found myself more interested in what was going on in their snotty little world. I never really empathized with any of the characters, but that's fine. It's just too bad Angela wasn't prominently in most of the film because she's always my favorite.
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