Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rare Flix: The Woman in Black (1989)

Expecto Rare Flixo!  Today's film is The Woman in Black- the original Film version made in England.  Before a Dutch Company bought out the Hammer name and Produced new films like Let Me In (a Remake of a Swedish film Directed by an American and Starring an Australian) and 2012's The Woman in Black.  This was made in England and released as a TV Movie on Christmas in 1989.  I guess they had to play Horror Films on Christmas before they started running Dr. Who every year.  The film is about a young man from an Appraising Office checking on a property out in the Countryside, only to find a dark history attached to it.  I won't hold back on SPOILERS here, but that's because I have no idea if the Remake changes anything or not.  If it doesn't, oops.  One thing that is quite notable about this Rare film is its Star: Adrian Rawlins.  While not a big name here, he did play one role that alot of people younger than myself will know: Harry Potter's Dad.  It's true- the guy who played Harry Potter was Cast in the same role as the guy who played his dad twenty-odd years later.  I can't imagine that it is intentional- life is just weird like that!  To find out what it was like Previously in Black, read on...
Rawlins is sent out to the lovely (and foggy) countryside to check out an Estate for his Boss.  He calls his Boss on not going himself...but not much comes from it.
In true Creaky House Tale-style, he talks to people in the Village and can't get clear answers.  He also sees a mysterious figure lurking in the background as he does so.
Let's just say that she looks better far away than up close & leave it at that.
In fitting with the tale's timeline, our hero investigates the tale by looking at old documents and playing Wax Cylinder Recordings.  Archaic Technology- how fun!
Our hero gets a little freaked when he keeps seeings the silent Woman in Black and starts to hear ghostly sounds of death.  I kind of like that you never see the wagon crash that plays such a big role in the Story, since it allows you to imagine it.

Since he's so scared, he gets company- a tiny dog.
The harrowing landscape and experience is making him a little...well, crazy.

When you start to resemble Eraserhead, it is a bad sign.
He continues to try and find the answers, but finally reaches his breaking point.  In his defense, seeing this face when I wake up would do it to me too!
When he finally recovers back home, he resumes his search for the answers.  Having them denied once more, he takes a more drastic approach.
In spite of being fired (pun fully intended), he seeks to move on with his life and family.  They go out for a paddle boat ride..but the Woman in Black returns and causes a tree to fall, killing them.

Oak no!  The End.
It is a good film, provided you understand how films used to be.  While the film is not that old (coming on 25 years now), it has the feel of a much older one.  That can be a blessing or a curse, really.  If you like that kind of thing, it is right up your alley.  If you just love blood, guts and jump scares, you're just going to say that the film is boring.  Honestly, the Reviews has only taken this long due to technical issues on my side (which don't come up when just watching a Disc).  Just sitting through the film was no chore.  It would be nice if the film would be on DVD here in the United States, but there is apparently some confusion about the rights to it.  It is nice to see that modern technology can make stuff like this available if the simple idea of just 'releasing films/TV Shows available on DVD/Blu-Ray' is too hard for some people!  For better or worse, it feels like a Story that aims to be older than it is.  Apparently the Novella is from 1983 and anything from that year is definitely not old!  The Story clearly works for someone as the play is the second-longest running one in The West End!  As for the film, it is going to be a bit divisive.  It also makes me want to look into the 2012 Film now (since I should have already to begin with!).  As for me, I am going to continue to never go Fishing based on what I might see...
Up next, another dose of Rare Flix from one of the most infamous Directors of all-time.  How can you make a topical Courtroom Drama so tacky?  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Reviews: 3 Days to Kill

This is another 'I'll wait for Netflix' Movie for me.  The film was...a bit different than I expected.

So, if you are in the same boat as I was, allow me to shed some light on yet another 'Because Taken Did Well' Film...
Costner is an older spy who has pretty much separated himself from his family and his now-teenage daughter.  Unfortunately, he gets some bad news: he has cancer and he will die soon.

This drives him to go to Paris (since Luc Besson wrote this film) and try to make up for lost time.
While he's not looking for work, work finds him.  He's offered a possible cure for his Cancer in exchange for killing the man who previously escaped him on his last mission.
Can he balance family and his job for once in his life?  Is living longer worth it if he goes back on his word?
The world of a spy is dangerous enough- let alone if you're a dying man.  Can he trust anyone?

To find out, watch the movie.
Don't believe the way this film was sold.  The Trailers were all 'Kevin Costner kills people' and that's pretty much it.  What the film actually is amounts to two things: Kevin Costner kills people and Kevin Costner indulges in Family-Related Comedy/Drama.  There is a running gag where Costner keeps getting family advice from a source working for his target when he learns that the guy has two teenage girls himself.  There is a 'Find This Guy and Kill Him' Plot, but there are long breaks where it is just the family stuff.  The thing is this: both parts are good.  As much as I don't go for the schmaltzy stuff, it works well enough here to not bother me.  Fun Aside: the title line is given by the daughter and in reference to them hanging out together (and not the assignment).  The Action is shot well enough by McG (whose career is such that his films aren't marketed as being made by him anymore!) and I have no real complaints about that.  Having said that, I can see that fans of only one part of the Story having an issue with it.  Here's one thing I do have an issue: this film's Rating.  The film features a good two-to-three dozen on-screen kills, but shows little blood and gets a PG-13 Rating.  On top of that, the Blu-Ray (and I assume DVD) Release has a bit where a giant cloud of convenient smoke covers a pair of topless dancers' tits- twice!  The MPAA, ladies and gentlemen.
A good Story and Action...but done in a weird blend.  The film's two divergent parts don't always work in sync, but they are both good on their own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Totally-Over-The-Top Cover Art: The Mist

While retrieving the Cover Art for The Mist to use in a previous Post, I found this thing on Google Image Search.  Ain't that Service, grand?

So yeah, just check this DVD Art for Frank Darabont's film about a town trying to outlast a mysterious storm and occupation by mysterious creatures...
Ho-ly shit!  That's...I...I mean...just wow.

Don't get me wrong- there are monsters like the one you see on the Cover, but the tone is just all wrong.

For a movie like say Monsters or a Godzilla film, this would totally kick ass though!

Quick Reviews: The Lego Movie

This is another 'I'm late to the party' Review, but I'm sure that there are a few of you wondering how I felt about it.  Since it is on Video now and there were probably six people other than me that didn't see it, I can help you make up your mind.  It ain't the Duplo Film, it's...
Emmett is an ordinary, ordinary guy (as far as Lego people go).  He lives in a City controlled by President Business and sees nothing wrong with it.
He discovers world's outside of his own, however, like Middle Zealand (ha), The Old West and others.  He becomes part of a quest to stop LORD Business before he destroys their world with...well, I won't SPOIL it.
Things got big and bad, forcing such diverse people as Metalbeard, 1980's Spaceman Guy, Batman, Wild Child and others to team up to save the day.

Will the real battle take place...outside though?  To find out, watch the movie (if you still haven't).  The End.
Consider me off the fence.  When the giant Lego Movie Promotional Machine was active, I just kind of rolled my eyes.  I'm sure that I wasn't alone.  Some months later, I thought 'well, I might as well see it.'  I was the same way with Frozen.  That one was well-made and all, but i'm still not big on Musicals.  As far as this movie goes, I like that it wasn't so kid-friendly that it pulled all of its punches.  There aren't dirty jokes or anything really, but there was at least a good amount of non-goofy stuff (like, say, Olaf).  Given that the two guys behind Clone High and 21 Jump Street were behind it, you get some good stuff.  The fact that most of the Cast of the latter film are here (some in cameos like Tatum and Hill) is also a bonus.  The way they used Batman was quite good, making him not act overtly-silly, but seem that way compared to everyone else.  Among the more overt jokes, you get little ones like Freeman's character introducing Michelangelo the Painter followed by Michelangelo the Ninja Turtle.  Oh crap- they're going to make Lego Ninja Turtles in like a year, aren't they?!?  As a whole, it was alot of what I expected, but contained alot of stuff that I didn't.  The key, of course, is to find the balance of cute and creepy...unlike what they did for some of the film's promotion...
Overall, a fun movie for adults (if you're weird like me) and probably even better for kids.  It also has more to say than the 'Everything is Awesome' promotion said too.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oddly-Familiar Cover Art: The Last Days (2013)

Every time I've scoured the New Release section of Streaming on Netflix, I pass this movie and think 'I've seen this poster before.'  It was driving me freaking crazy!  See for yourself...
Have you figured it out yet?

Can you see it through the fog of your memory?

Give up?  Well, here's the answer...
To be fair, it isn't like they invented the idea of people looking out a window, but still...it is a pretty famous cover.

Like many other Films like this, there is a less-derivative Cover out there...that Netflix didn't use.  It is like they want to help me out or something.

Mondo Bizarro Reviews Anime: Squid Girl

It is weird, wacky and NOT a Harem Anime!  While seeking a new Anime to cover, I saw that Bob owns Squid Girl: Season 1 on Blu-Ray.  As a bonus, it is also on Streaming via Netflix.  Okay then...
Squid Girl comes from the Ocean to inkvade the surface via Japan.  It beats just smashing up Tokyo like in Monster!  While sea prepares to do that, she gets stuck working her kraken butt off at a Beach Hut with the Supporting Cast.

Oh and she makes a million fish/ocean puns like above.  Love it or hate it!

With the Three Short Stories per Episode Format and 12 Episodes in Season 1 (which I watched), there is way too much to cover.  I will just highlight one bit that I liked from Episode 4- the one with the guy who tried to make his own Squid Girl.
That's his shy daughter dressed up in the mask- creepy.

It gets worse when the Mark II version is debuted (with 'realistic' face), the ability to dispense condiments (which come out of the eyes and nose) and...this.
Another weird highlight is a dream Episode where Eiko finds a little Squid Girl and raises it.  I won't SPOIL the extra twist to this bizarre tale.
The thing that you may love or hate is the use of the character Sanae.  She falls for Squid Girl right away and it is in no way reciprocated.  There is PG-Level creepy stuff like her taking photos of Squid Girl in Cosplay Outfits...and then there is the point near the end of Season 1 where Sanae is now a Masochist.

It is much less creepy and offensive by the 'Everyone wants to molest/rape everyone else' bit in Nyarko San.  That's something.
Aside from that, I really, really liked Squid Girl.  It is goofy.  It is fun.  It is...not always easy to understand.  I don't mind though, since the multistory structure allows them to do silly stuff without having to explain a whole lot.  One Segment has Squid Girl learning what umbrellas are, while another will have Squid Girl targeted by U.S. Scientists (who think she's an alien) and yet another has Squid Girl taking over a live-action kid's show (a la Power Rangers) when she feels for the Octopus villain.  The format also allows you to start and stop easier, much like I did.  I could watch four or five segments if I wanted or I could power through three Episodes (9 Segments) in one go (which I did for the final Episodes).  There are many things left unexplained (like a clear definition of how Squid Girl works) that would be a bigger deal if this was serious.  Having just come off of the either melodramatic or super goofy Sekirei (Season 2), it was nice to see a Show that just picked what it wanted to be.  The show manages the cliche character concepts and premises well, playing with them for new ideas at times.  Of course, Squid Girl is still kind of a moron.
By the way, a Google Search for 'Squid Girl' brings up this.  What the hell is this thing?!?
Anyhow, it's a fun show.  If you can just enjoy the silliness and fun, it is a strong recommendation.

SPOILER Theatre SPOtlight: Leonard Nimoy

Taking a break from full SPOILER activity, let me switch things up by just doing it with one Actor...

Nimoy has had a long, storied Career in Film and TV.  He got oddly and intermittently typecast though.

1) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1973): If you don't know that Ending yet, you must be Amish.  Nimoy is notably playing a friend to our Lead...but was actually already a Pod Person!

What a jerk!
2) Land of the Lost (2009): Ferrell and company see a message to stop The Zarn (Nimoy) from getting a MacGuffin Crystal and know to give it to a good one.

As it turns out though, Nimoy was the good one!  What a...jerk?

3) Transformers- Dark of the Moon: Optimus and company find a lost Autobot on the Moon- naturally.  Said Autobot (Nimoy) helps them make new tech to help the Earth and restore Cybertron.
Or does he?

As it turns out, Nimoy's Autobot is a turncoat and tries to help Megatron conquer us.  What a jerk!
The only connection between the films are Nimoy, so...weird, right?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Immediate Response: Rifftrax Live!- Godzilla (1998)

I just got back from the show a little while ago and you want to know 'Should I see the Replay if I missed it tonight?'  Well, let's get into that...
The Good
* The film is terrible.  In any other Immediate Response, that would be in the other Category.  This is Rifftrax though, so...Good.
* They hit all the right notes, mocking the film's silly logic, obvious errors and some nice callbacks to boot (Norman- Uggggh).
* New Animated Rifftrax Intro with The Guy From Harlem, Torgo, The Ice Cream Bunny AND Supersonic Man.  Yes, please!
* The 'Trivia' Reel before the Show is great.  It is something that is worth sticking around for.  That and the Teaser for Rifftrax Live!: Anaconda (coming in October, thanks to folks like you and I).

The Bad
* Due to the length of the Film, there was no Short.
* They mess up a couple of the Punch Lines, but that is kind of funny in a different way.

All in all, a great show.  If you missed it, see the Replay on Tuesday, August 19th.

You will believe that a 300-foot lizard can disappear in NYC!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quick Reviews: I, Frankenstein (2014)

I'm late to the outrage, but since this thing is out on video now, I might as well join in.  As for why I didn't see it in Theaters, well...

I already saw Underworld in Theaters.  Why would I do that again?
In this Comic Adaptation (which I haven't read), Adam is born, buries Victor and is immediately targeted by Demons since, well, he has no soul.  The Angels/Gargoyles protect him for 200 years (time skip!), but he takes care of himself too.
In the Present, the conflict is escalating all the more.  The lead Demon (aka the villain from Underworld) is seeking to make his own Adams, so he needs either Victor's Journal or Adam- but he'll settle for both.

The lead Angel (aka Judy Dench's character from The Chronicles of Riddick) puts it to her top warrior (aka John McClane's son) to keep humanity safe.
Who will win- Demon or Angel?  Will the Story ever rise above copying films like Van Helsing (the cloning plot), Underworld (the tone), Priest (the way the action is shot) and even Underworld: Awakening (evil medical company as the villains)?  Will it be worth two hours to see this cool, Demon guy (which I'm showing you now)?

To find out, watch the movie (if you really want to).
This was...something.  On the plus side, the film was loud, often pretty and full of action.  On the negative side, pretty much everything else.  There are good ideas here- like the creature design-, but they are outweighed by the bad- the Adam design.  As some have said, it is just Aaron Eckhart with a few fake scars on his body.  I know that some design variations are either under Copyright (like the neck bolts) or considered silly, but the way they went was...disappointing.  The Plot is so silly and generic that it just left me time to think of things that I shouldn't.  Did Adam get muscular through training?  If so, how (given that he's made of dead tissue)?  Did Victor just take all of the parts from John Cena, Paul Orndorff and The Ultimate Warrior?  If the story really happened, but the book version also happened does that make this in the same 'Universe' as Frankenstein Unbound?  Should I expect Demons to show up in the Sequel to The Frankenstein Theory (if it ever happens)?  More importantly, let me ask what someone on IMDB asked- do they know what a Gargoyle is?  They call the Angel's alternate form Gargoyles, but they are actually Grotesques (since they don't drain water off of rooftops).  Yes, that is a nerdy thing to point out- thanks.  All joking aside, the Film is a big, bright and loud mess.  The 3-D aspects makes the CG affects look a little goofy in 2-D, another little knock against this (at least on 2-D DVD).  As a weird aside, this Adam looks less like the one from the Comic and more like the one from this comic...
The film is generic as hell, but also flashy and loud.  Decide for yourself which is more important.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Giallo-a-Go-Go: Short Night of Glass Dolls

Am I alive or am I dead?  Today's film is Short Night of Glass Dolls, the Debut film by Aldo Lado- the man who's name is its own anagram.  He's done some memorable films like The Night Train Murders, so let's see where it all began.  Truth be told, I rented this film in the early days of when I had a Website, but didn't review it.  I bought it during the really-truly last hurrah of Blockbuster and it has been sitting in a DVD Sleeve ever since.  Why do I keep putting this thing off?  Who knows?  I sure don't!  The film tells the parallel tales of a mostly-dead man found in the grass and the days leading up to his fate.  Can he solve the mystery behind what happened to him and his girlfriend?  Can he convince someone that he's still alive before it is too late?  No matter what happens Barbara Bach is here (for a while), so I'm happy regardless.  To see a better version of Scared to Death, read on...
This man is discovered 'dead' in the garden at a random building.  He's not dead, however...
...but only he knows it.  He can't move and appears to just be a corpse.  But how did this happen?
He is/was a Reporter who isn't looking for a big Story to break or conspiracy to uncover.
His girlfriend- Bach- comes to visit and all seems well.  However, he's called away for a lead later that night and...
...returns to find her missing.  He clothes and suitcase are there, which makes him very, very suspicious.
In classic Giallo fashion, he tries to solve the crime alongside the Police.  He is at least an Investigative Journalist, as opposed to, say, a Novelist.

A Novelist solving crime- who'd ever think of that?
Unfortunately, he keeps getting cut off before he can get to the truth.  Either evidence disappears, the Police distrust him or witnesses die before he can speak to them.
On top of that, a random Singer appears to interrupt the flow of the investigation (and the film).

I'm honestly sure why this Scene was shot as a mix of group shots and close-ups (in 'another dimension' The Brain That Wouldn't Die-style) either.
With a public autopsy (for a Lecture Class) approaching, can our hero prove that he's still alive and solve the crime proper?  To find out, watch the movie (since I'm a dick).  The End.
It has taken me almost five years and two viewings to do this, but it has been worth it.  Short Night is not the greatest film ever made or anything, but it is a neat variation on the Giallo formula.  The dead Narrator is obviously not a new idea.  The basic structure of Giallo Films is here and not changed too much.  So why is this unique?  Well, there's very little gore or on-screen death.  Almost all of the major stuff (save for the End) is implied and works better that way.  I have seen plenty of Giallos with throat-slitting, head bashing and decapitation- that was all just in Deep Red!  Director Aldo Lado (always a fun name to write) doesn't give this film the visual flourish of Dario Argento or Mario Bava, but the film is still shot well.  Even the lower-quality Giallo films are neat to look at and this film is too.  The film can be a bit slow at times and the pay-off is...odd, to say the least.  Nonetheless, I've gotten my money's worth out of the film.  Did I mention that I paid $1 for it from a Blockbuster (since it was a Disc with no case)?  I didn't?  Oh well.  In all seriousness, it is a neat mix of Art Film and Giallo that will appease those that like either.  It may not be perfect, but it does feature a random amputee for no good reason...
Next up, a very-much-overlooked film that spawned a Remake (that most people assumed was new).  Without Mr. Potter, can the Original be good?  Stay tuned...