Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rare Flix: Tragic Ceremony

Front-loading my Netflix Queue with the Long Wait and Very Long Wait films proved to net some interesting results.  Today's film is Tragic Ceremony, a fairly-obscure Italian film with some notable people working on it.  This 1972 film tells the tale of some youths that get pushed towards a creepy house and discover a dark secret.  Notable Cast includes a pre-I Spit on Your Grave Camille Keaton (although this came out the same year as What Have You Done To Solange?) and Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key star Luigi Pastilli.  The Credits of its Director and Writers include The Iguana With The Tongue of Fire, The Erotic Adventures of Zorro and Lucio Fulci's The Maniacs.  Interesting collection of work, no?  A man who's work you will see, but not know him directly for it is the late Carlo Rambaldi, who did notable Special Effects work on a number of films.  You may not know his name, but he did create the design of E.T., made the head work in Alien, designed the creatures in Dune and designed 'Dagoth' from Conan the Destroyer.  A notable, but also dubious, credit he has is also the Special Effects Man behind Medusa Against The Son of Hercules!  Of course, he doesn't do a whole lot here (save for one scene), so that whole bit was mostly just to show off how much IMDB research that I do (sometimes).  The film is weird and lopsided, so let's not dally any longer.  To see how this film has a completely different title in Italian, read on...
Basically, we get a bunch of rich jerks traveling around for a bit.  They are...well, jerks.  To highlight this...
They show us a random flashback to explain that a necklace that our hero gives to Keating was originally given to his Mother...who didn't want it after he told the item's dark past.  Naturally, he just steals it right back...
In a long, drawn-out bit, the group ends up with just enough gas to get to a mysterious house (after being hassled by the only Gas Station Attendent for miles) and meeting up with some...friendly rich folks.  I see no ulterior motive here.
Cutting to the chase, here is the best part of the movie.  Basically, the group break up the (American) titular event and all hell breaks loose with the drug-addled rich folk.  This is where Rambaldi shines...

Shot in the gut!
Splitting headache!
Leaking head!
Feel the bang!
After that chaos at around the forty-five minute mark, it is hard to make out exactly where it goes from there.  To sum it up as best as I can, the group find out the Police are investigating the scene...
...they feel bad (why?), all but Keating die, leading to her...spirit going out on the loose (I think)...
...and I guess the Baroness lady killing her.  This guy tries to explain it, but he's not much help.  See for yourself.  The End.
Damn- that was just a big, old pile of weird!  Slow build, crazy middle scene and bizarre slow-burn to the finale.  It is that up and down!  There's also the two or three random flashbacks to give back-story on our lead which feel out of place.  It is like they shot them and knew that they needed to be shown (since they set up the dissension with the mother), but couldn't decide where they went.  The solution: just show them whenever you feel like!  I didn't necessarily hate the Characters like I tend to in the worst of Modern Horror Films, but I was a lot less interested in them than I was perhaps supposed to be.  They are just not good people, really.  I liked enough parts of the film to recommend it to Horror buffs and fans of Eurotrash films like this.  If it were a more even mix (despite having three Writers!), I could definitely recommend it alot more.  It has crazy, crazy elements of Old-School (Practical) Horror Films that are a sight to see.  The packaging around those moments is both too confusing to be arty and too arty to be reach a bigger audience.  On the plus side, they already got to work on painting my new floor...
Next up, a rare film from England courtesy of TV's Svengoolie.  The Cat knows and sees all!  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Project Terrible: 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity With The Devil Inside The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Craig Moss is a name that many of you probably don't know.  I envy you.  

He is behind a series of films that I will henceforth refer to as 'Other Movies Exist' Cinema.  They are Parody Films that just kind of show you stuff from other films and expect you to laugh.  Someone dressed as Paris Hilton- laugh!  Moss has Parodied Twilight and the works of Judd Apatow in the past.  In 2013, he made this stupid, stupid film.  I won't even dignify this title by writing it out again.  One question though: where does the 30 part come in?  It isn't Alaska and we have no Vampires (despite having a non Bill Oberst Jr 'Lincoln').  Weird.  There is so little Plot to sum up that I won't bother.  To see why you will curse the name of Craig Moss, read on...
You won't believe the so-called Setup here.  First, we see a Skittle Parody with a money shot.  Joy.

Since it doesn't involve shit or piss, Moss didn't make it.
This is a fake YouTube ad for...a Storage Wars parody.  That is Horror now?
In that 'show' (with only 2 people on it) buy a Locker with crap, Pop Singer Adele(?!?) and a tape called 'Found Footage.'  No, really.
The Plot is...well, it is just a series of random Scenes.  They are at least *mostly* related to the main film they're Parodying (Paranormal Activity 2).

The Sources include The Bachelor, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Black Swan, Resident Evil (kind of), Bridesmaids and...the Allstate Commercials?
I won't bother to pretend that there's much Plot here.  There still isn't.

The other Sources include Super Mario Bros (?), The Hunger Games (again?!?), The Dark Knight Rises, Project X, The Devil Inside and...this random Bruce Lee rip-off Film.  Random!
To give you an idea of how bad this Film, they fail at basic Peanut Butter Placement Continuity (for a joke I won't justify with an explanation)!  Citizen Kane can get that right, but you can't?!?
The worst part: a person I actually like is here.  Christopher Daniels (of TNA fame) appears as Bane- who is used for a 'you can't understand him' joke.  Of course, you actually can, so I'll just let his actual line sum up my feelings.
That one hurt.  Even after watching The Starving Games (to help Bob keep his sanity), this was still bad.  Let me focus on the good.  For the most part, they stayed on-topic.  It went 'off the rails' a bit at the end with the Ghost apparently summoning the lady from Games, the Bridesmaids and (I guess) revealing himself to be Bane.  The jokes were built on a pretty simple foundation: the plot of Paranormal Activity 2.  It didn't always stay even, veering out of The Devil Inside as quick as possible at the beginning, for example.  Now here are the bad parts. First off, it is just not that funny- at all.  This is a Comedy, so that is a big deal.  Second, the film is far more offensive than The Starving Games.  That one was crass and stupid, but never that offensive (except to my sense of humor).  This film is intentionally-gross and indulges in just about every stereotype, just short of having a person in blackface sing about watermelons or having a Mexican man selling people Tacos.  Two words: Pee Cam.  Twice.  So it is not funny, sometimes offensive (even to someone who can laugh at a good Anne Frank joke)...but it is at least mostly a Parody of what it meant to be.  It is not for me.  After all, he who is without sin is the only one who can throw the first stone.  Take it away, He Who Is Without Sin...
I Am Love, But I Totally Hate this Movie.
Next up, a rare film from Italy that is just...strange.  Driving, raining and head-splitting- oh my!  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fiction vs. Fiction: Psycho II

Hey, it took 24 years for Robert Bloch to write the Book Sequel, so my delay is nothing.

If you missed the first one of these, the Concept is simple: comparing the Book version of a Story to the film one.  This is a doozy!
In Psycho 2 (the film), Norman Bates is released from the Institution and tries to resume a normal life in Town.  Nobody wants that.

In 'Psycho 2' (the book), Norman escapes the Asylum by killing a Nun and flees to...Hollywood!
In the film, the sister of Marion Crane stays close to Norman to stop future killings.

In the film, the sister of Marion Crane is killed about 10 Chapters in.  31 year-old SPOILER btw.
In the film, Mrs. Crane goes mad and takes the fall for Norman's crimes.  A lady who is his real Mom shows up...and dies.

In the Book, Norman is not the real killer...but 2 others are.  Limited SPOILER.
The Studio distanced itself from Bloch and allegedly told him not to publish the book.  He did.  The film and book versions are night and day.  The book is a dark, pointed Satire of Hollywood.  It spends more time skewering Writers than people.  Hollywood likes Satire...until it is about them. I would love to see this version get a film.  The film is perhaps a bit too lambasted, but not as good as this either.  I got my very-worn copy for 99 cents and you can too!
Next up, I got the book version of my favorite film ever.  Is it better or worse?  Stay tuned...

SPOILER Theatre: Vampire Film Repetition

I'm back to SPOIL more films you haven't bothered to see yet.  Be warned!

In Count Yorga, Vampire (confusing comma!), our hero seeks to stop the titular monster.  He does and escapes with her.

However, she was already turned and kills him!

In The Return of Count Yorga, new heroes are out in a similar scenario.  The AIP way!

Anyhow, Yorga is killed and our heroes escape...only for the guy to reveal that he was turned and kill her!
Finally, we have The Fearless Vampire Killers.  A young and old pair seek to...well, guess.

The pair escape with Sharon Tate (aw!)... but she was turned and bites them!
So wow, those feel familiar, huh?

Just to note, Fearless came first (in 1967) and is the most awesome.  See them all, but that one first!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Immediate Response: The Expendables 3

Nobody else is apparently seeing it, so I will (and did last night)!

Can Stallone and company keep it up in a third film.  Let's see...
The Good
- The film plays to its base (like me) well.  Big Action, Characters and explosions.
- The new guys like Snipes, Banderas and Rousey all bring something new.
- There is some fun Meta Humor involving Snipes being broken out of jail and Bruce Willis being gone ("Church is...out of the picture.").   Plus 'Get to the Choppa!'
- Even though I hate him as a person (do I need to explain?), Mel Gibson is a good Gonzo villain.
- The youth influx is a good idea and could play into future tales.

The Bad
- I missed Terry Crews here (his part is small).
-With the whole Youth vs Experience Story, poor Liam Hemsworth (who was a young member in the last film) gets no mention?  Weird, right?
- Jet Li is back...to do no Kung-Fu.  Alright then.
- While it is fun, the movie's talk of mortality and revenge doesn't make it deep.  Sorry, Stallone.

Ultimately, The Expendables 3 is a big, loud and fun film.  Everyone shines a bit.  If you aren't a fan though, this one probably won't convert you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

He's Dead Jim!: War (2007)

At last, the Scene that inspired this Segment.  It only took me 7 Years to do something with it.

In War, Jet Li works for and then betrays these Mob Bosses that hire him to kill other Mob Bosses.  I won't SPOIL why.

As part of this, he targets his new Boss and has to get through the Security...
As the guy casually greets him, the famous Martial Artist straight up kicks him in the groin!  It's like he was going for a Goal!
Immediately following that, he goes to finish the guy off.
With one bullet, the guy reaches a sudden and decisive end.  Bang- you dead, as Chris Claremont would say (look it up, non-Nerds!).
That was quick and relatively-painless, you're saying.  Why highlight it?

Well, put yourself in this Guard's shoes.  He's living a nice, criminal life when he's suddenly Punt Kicked in the groin by a Wuxia Star!  As his brain processes this sudden and sharp pain, a bullet pierces his brain.

His last moments were nothing but sheer, groin-related pain!  Is that something you'd want?

I didn't think so.

Got any idea of what Movie Moment to feature next in this Segment?  If so, hit me up in the Comments!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Indie Flix: Dr. Liebenstein

Well, it was free.  Today's film is Dr. Liebenstein, which happens to be my first real Screener.  I've gotten a few 'here's a link to my film on Vimeo' invites on occasion, but this was a real Disc and everything.  The film is the work of one Erik Karl, who is also the Lead.  I hear he knows the Director, so that helps.  The film tells the tale of a community overrun by Vampires...or, well, at least one Vampire of note.  Our only hope is the titular Doctor, who knows all about Vampires and how to kill them.  Can this small town remain under his protection or will the blood-suckers strike too close to home?  To find out, read on...
The film begins with roughly five minutes of this lady telling you about a scary scene.  How does that expression go again- Tell, Don't Show?  Something like that.

When this happens or how it affects the story- no clue.  Still no Opening Credits yet.
We then see a random lady go home, strip down to her underwear and discover that someone broke into her house.  She runs out to yell at him, only to discover that he's a Vampire...that appears in a pyro a la a WWE Superstar.
In one of the most 'Wow, Really?!?' things I've ever seen, she's stopped by a locked door...in her own house.  That...that's just...I mean...wow, really?!?
She's killed by the Vampire and then we get...a Time Stamp.  That's...helpful?
Two things happen...
1. Liebenstein and his girl break up, only for her to be killed by a Vampire.  This leads him to be a hero.
2. Around Halloween 1998, these people get together.  So yeah, they're going to die, right?
Two of them are targeted in the Woods and the guy dies.  Our hero shows up...to save the lady.
I'm not going to mock an Indie Film for not having ILM Effects.  However, when they show me Vampires dissolving like Cigar Paper...
Dr. Liebenstein ends up with the woman he saved...since I guess that's not weird or anything.  We needed a romance sub-plot, so there you go.
With the Vampire on the loose and things getting personal (in many ways), can the good Doctor save the day?  To find out, watch the movie.
The effort is there, but the results are not quite up to par.  I'm going to be nice here since, hey, why not try something new.  Seriously though, I can see the parts that could be made into a real good movie.  The ideas are certainly there and they fail, although not for lack of trying.  The Acting is not terrible and the CG Effects are not bad.  The issue with the CG is how they are used and in what context.  The more films people make, the more they usually learn when to use CG and when not to.  Obviously the exception to the rule is Michael Bay.  The big problem here is the Pacing and overall Plot Setup.  The Plot should be simple, but it gets complicated with the excess Characters, seemingly-random order of Scenes and focus on the wrong people.  Did we need 'Webcam Elvira' for the Story to work?  Did we need that odd and seemingly-random bit of exposition from the girl in the Hoodie?  I could go on, but you get the idea.  I could also mention that the Soundtrack is...just kind of odd.  It is alot of generic Alt Rock at random points that just feels out of place.  Atmosphere is important in a film like this and it should be created.  In the End, the film is not a real success, but it has some weird stuff going on for sure...
Next up, I resume Project Terrible with an awful, awful 'Comedy.'  While it has slightly-less farting than his previous works, this Craig Moss is as bad as its title is needlessly-long.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

'Deep Blue Sea' Moments: Age of the Hobbits (aka Clash of the Empires)

This is seriously been a long time coming.  Bob suggested I do this one like...what...200 months ago.  I might be exaggerating.

In Age/Clash, the Tribe is getting ready to leave the Tree Tribe's Camp to find their friends.  These two are upset.
The guy on the right decides to make a stand...for some reason.  Macho stuff, I guess.
Even though they have been hanging around the Camp for a while, he steps on a trip wire and...
...is hit by a trap that couldn't have been hidden that well in the first place.
Requisite angry 'Noooo!' and we're out of here.
Getting killed in a silly manner right after promising to protect someone- yeah, that works.

Seriously though, how did you not see it?  Secondly, why was that trap so close to their Camp?  Weren't they worried about randomly activating it while getting up to take a piss in the middle of the night?

Got any more suggestions to keep this Segment from going into hiatus for months again?  Hit me up in the Comments!