Saturday, May 23, 2015

Twin Piqued: Demons

Another Saturday and another day in that kooky town of..
In this Episode, some Stories seem to end...but it can't be that simple.  Certainly not in this Town...
Important Stuff
- Leo is all set up at home (Hi, Ian Abercrombie!), but his payout is only $700!  The pair throw a sarcastic Party all the same...but worry that Leo is somewhat responsive.
- One of Cooper's colleagues arrives in Town and he's...David Lynch?!?  He drops some info and talks real loud (since he's mostly deaf).

- Oh and another note from Cooper's former-Partner arrives.

- Josie is forced to leave by threat of violence, but first has to get her money from Ben.  They verbally-joust and she manages to win (for now).
- The Teen Detectives escape from the crazy guy, but he still has the Diary.  Donna talks to the Sheriff, but he's not much help.

- Leland gets to work again...but then goes crazy again and sings a song from 'The King and I.'

- Audrey is rescued and brought home, but tensions between her and Dad are high.  Will she spill the beans on his side business?
- They bring in the 1-Armed Man for questioning after finding out that the drug he was taking is an anti-psychotic.  When they don't give it to him in time, he changes behavior and reveals that he's possessed by the Man from Cooper's Dreams.

He wants to find Evil Bob and he's...at the Hotel!!!
Theme(s)
The loose Theme here is Secrets.  For example...

- Keeping Secrets gets the Teen Detectives in trouble that they must be saved from.
- Ben Horne's secrets about One-Eyed Jacks stand to be revealed if he's not careful.
- The biggest secret: that the 1-Armed Man is actually a vessel for an ancient Spirit!
Like super-trippy man!
Weird Moment(s)
Nothing can top the arrival of David Lynch's mostly-deaf FBI Agent.  Yes, not even Ian Abercrombie's plaid sport coat!

He talks way too loud (even with secrets), constantly talks just a little too late and does the same voice as he did as 'Gus' on The Cleveland Show.  Sum it up, David.
Good stuff.  This has alot of build-up to future Stories, but keeps the momentum going.  Some Characters- like Renault or Andy- don't appear in this Episode, which will make their return more impactful.  New Characters and events- be them Lynch's arrival- keep the Story building and humming.  What will happen with Josie?  What will happen to Laura's Cousin now that she plans to leave?  Who is possessed by Bob?  What will Cooper's Partner do?  Will they get the Secret Diary back?  All of these questions and more will be answered...in time.  In the meantime, here is Gus bonding with a Llama (as only Lynch could do)...
Next week, so many things are dying to come out.  What does and what doesn't?  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Buy the DVD!: Suspiria

No Segment is dead!  Sometimes they are just sleeping...for a real long time.

As if you need a reason to own Suspiria (unless you're an Irish know-nothing), here's one.  Look under Languages-Audio Setup...
What is a THX Optimizer?  Why do I have like 200 DVDs and only one with this?
One part runs a Test Sound through your Speakers to make sure that they are working.  Nice.
The other part helps you adjust your Color, Sharpness and Filter Settings.  Sure is helpful.
To be fair, I don't need this to help all that much, but it sure is nice.

It is like Sprinkles on your Ice Cream Cone.  You don't need them, but...why not take them too?

Sons of Kong?: White Pongo (1945)

After the awkwardly-bad White Gorilla, can you blame me for waiting a bit?  Regardless, I am determined to finish this Set.  Today's Film is White Pongo, the other White Gorilla-type movie in the Set...that is also from 1945.  After this, there was a sad lack of Films like this- at least until The White Shadow.  The Film is about, well, a White Gorilla.  I don't know why it is called Pongo, so don't ask.  After so many of these things, I don't necessarily have alot to say.  These 'Jungle Peril' Film are just...so similar at this point.  If nothing else, this can't be worse than the last one, so...enjoy, I guess...
Somewhere in the Jungle, there lies a rare, white Gorilla.  No, not the one from the last movie!

Some guy saw it while he escaped from *sigh* some Natives.
These people find him and want to be led to where he saw it.  They want to catch this Gorilla!
So...off they go.  Huzzah and what not.
In a B-Plot, the leading lady starts to take a shine to a guy in the crew and not her fiance-to-be.
They get on the Gorilla's trail and try to catch it!
Oh no!  One of the people in the group is actually a bad guy?!?  Gasp.
Pongo gets his hands on the leading lady.  What a shocking(ly obvious) development!
In the Climax, Pongo and a regular-colored Ape (aka the same damn suit in ALL OF THESE) fight!
The bad guy dies and they catch Pongo.  Hurray for captivity!  The End.
Nothing special.  Nothing terrible.  This is...just another Jungle Peril Film.  If you've only seen one or two of them, it will seem better.  If you're slogging through a Film Set full of them, not so much.  Never mind the whole Genre being taken 'to 11' by stuff like Cannibal Ferox or Jungle Holocaust.  Never mind stuff like Cannibal Holocaust flipping the whole thing on its head either.  Some Films are Classics and age pretty gracefully.  Some of these kinds of Films even do alright.  Other Films are mainly showcases for how this kind of stuff used to be made.  This is one of these Films.  There is just nothing unique here.  Animal Stock Footage, Gorillas and Natives- the usual.  The only big positive I can say- it could have been worse.
Next up, I'll try to get to some Screeners sent my way.  The first one has Maynard's approval, so I should be worried, right?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Quick Reviews: Frankenstein vs The Mummy (2014)

This recent bit of Direct-to-DVD Horror hasn't made its way overseas yet.  That gives me the rare opportunity to see something new and trashy before Maynard does.  Will the Director of All Hallows Eve follow it up with something better?  Let's find out...
Our two leads are Professor F(rankenstein).  He's teaching at a small College (barely shown) and working on his private experiment off-site.
This lady here is an Egyptologist and she's just back from...well, guess.  She's dating the Professor, but that's not the big news.
The big news is that they brought back a (very blue) Mummy.  He's an obscure one, so they can just make shit up.
After a bloody incident, Professor F finishes his creation, but it is a bit angry.  On the plus side, it is smarter than 'Fire- bad!'
Likewise, the Mummy comes to life again and makes the lead Doctor his Servant.  Demoted!

As it turns out, the Mummy was cursed by a lady in death and you'll never guess who she resembles!
I won't SPOIL too many of the Plot Twists, but I will tell you that the two do eventually do battle.  Who wins?  Who loses?  Who cleans up the mess?  To find out, watch the Film.
Some good moments here, but not enough.  The Story has some parts, I will say that.  It was refreshing to see some minor tweaks to the Frankenstein story.  The Mummy tale was pretty routine here, but they didn't mess anything up.  The whole conceit here- that Frankenstein and the Mummy end up at the same place and against each other- is handled pretty well.  The Story isn't amazing or mind-blowing- it is just alright.  The best part here is the amount of detail and make-up work behind the two creatures.  While it isn't my favorite Adam/Frankenstein design, they did a good job with it.  I really liked the design behind the Mummy here though.  The titular face-off is set-up differently than usual, which I liked.  The actual face-off is...alright.  That's the Word of the Day, I guess.  After All Hallows Eve, I was curious to see what the Director could do.  This one isn't a failure, but it isn't much a success either.  It is a base hit, I guess.  What is even less successful, however, is their use of Photoshop for a key moment...
Not a great Film, but it shows some promise.  I'll give the Director another shot, but my hopes aren't high. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dario Reborn?: Giallo (2009)

I am curious Giallo.  Today's Film is Giallo, a Title that works on a couple of levels.  If you don't know, Giallo is the name for a Sub-Genre of Films that were very popular in the 60s and 70s.  One of the most famous Directors of this Genre- Dario Argento.  Wouldn't you know it, he Directed this one too!  Why Giallo?  Well, Giallo is the Italian word for 'yellow' (explains the opening pun, huh?) and the old, Pulp Crime Novels that inspired these Films tended to get paper that quickly turned yellow (since it was so cheap).  It is a stretch of the imagination to get there, but I don't question the Italians.  This Genre gave us many great Films and even more great Film Titles (with sub-par Films).  Highlights include The Red Queen Kills Seven Times, Black Belly of the Tarantula, The Killer Must Kill Again and The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave.  Good stuff.  For this Film, Giallo takes on its more literal translation as it describes the killer.  It is not the return of That Yellow Bastard- sadly.  The Story involves a yellow-ish Killer in Italy who kidnaps and kills women.  Can a Detective with a dark past and the Sister of the current victim put an end to his crime spree?  I should note that the Film is sadly more famous for a Lawsuit filed by its Star (Adrien Brody) over an alleged pay dispute.  Bummer.  Can I help turn it around?  Probably not, but here's my attempt...
A mysterious maniac is loose in the City and he kidnaps women while driving his Taxi (Van).
After catching and torturing a Japanese Tourist (diversity!), he kidnaps a Model (Elsa Pataky).

Yes, before she was the most mistreated Character in Fast & Furious Franchise (seriously, she is constantly screwed over!), she was in a Dario Argento Film.
The woman's Sister had just come into town and presses the issue of her disappearance.  She ends up meeting...
...this sad, mopey Detective (Brody).  He works alone (since you can do that in Italy, I guess) and is super-obsessed with the case.  He is initially-hesitant of working with the woman and has...
...a sad, dark back-story involving the death of his Mother in front of him and stuff I won't SPOIL.
While the killer is all sorts of crazy, he too has a dark back-story.  In his case, it is being abandoned by a Junkie of a Mother and abused by Nuns.

To add to the parallel structure of this, both roles are played by Brody.
Working about as close to outside the law as you can get, Brody and the Sister find out that the killer is yellow (due to Jaundice) and needs lots of medical treatment.  Who cares about Doctor-Patient Confidentiality after all?
Can the pair rescue the Model and bring the killer to justice?  Sorry- no SPOILERS.  The End.
Not bad at all.  Like most of his recent work, this Argento Film got alot of haters...and don't quite get it.  To be fair, it was weird to see an Argento Film which was more about already knowing the identity of the killer from the get-go.  The Story is different than what he usually does.  Mind you, there is a reason: he didn't Write it.  He apparently had some sort of dispute with the Producers and doesn't like the official Cut of the Film.  Having only seen this one, I have nothing to compare it to...so this one is fine.  Putting that aside, the Story is fine, the Acting is good and the tone is appropriately-dark.  Alot of people seem to attack this one for delving into 'Torture Porn' territory, but I disagree.  It may be closer to that idea than other Argento Films, but it isn't exactly a huge departure.  There is some freaky stuff in other Argento Films, be it the mouth-sewing in Pelts, the Barbed Wire Room in Suspiria or the super-bloody Climax to Tenebrae.  It is not like he made Disney-style Films and is now making dark stuff.  I'll also point out that alot of the really gross stuff is implied and not actually shown.  Overall, I liked the Film.  It isn't so great that I think it will dissuade Argento's haters, but it is good enough for me to defend.  Watch it and decide for yourself.  If my words don't convince you, how about an Audio Version...
Next up, I return to the Sons of Kong set with another White Gorilla movie.  This isn't Stock Footage, so it is already better.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Before 'Age of Ultron': Crash (1996)

At long last, a Film about Sex, Car Crashes and James Spader.  Yes, while most of you have certainly rediscovered Mr. Spader in the wake of the one-two punch that has been The Blacklist and Avengers: Age of Ultron, he made alot of weird-ass Films.  I was SOOOO tempted to do Secretary, but this one is more obscure.  Today's Film is Crash, the 1996 Film about Auto-Erotica and not the one about Racial Tension.  This Film's Director hasn't been blacklisted by Scientology- yet!  In this Film, a pair of people discover that they share a unique fetish: car crashes.  Natural reaction, right?  Can this relationship work out or are they bound for disaster?  To find out, let's try to skip past the sex in this NC-17 (remember when that was a thing?!?) release by David Cronenberg...
Told in a roundabout way, we learn about this blond lady and her husband (Spader).  He's a Screenwriter and kind of weird.  She's in an open marriage with a weirdo.
After hitting another car (by driving like a moron), he ends up in the Hospital & meets this brunette and a strange man (Elias Koteas).
Koteas has some weird hobbies.  For example, he stages a recreation of the Crash that killed James Deen for an audience, because...um...Cronenberg.

Holy crap- this is based on a Book too?  The 1970s- what a Decade.
Spader learns that the woman (Holly Hunter) has a history of being in Car Crashes...which doesn't bother him.
Spader, his wife (Deborah Unger), Koteas and Hunter get involved in some freaky stuff like sex in a Car Wash...
...and the pair of Koteas and Spader hooking up.  Who said that people with a Car Crash Fetish can't be progressive?
Koteas finally meets his end in a Car Crash- shocking, I know.
Spader and Unger continue to the Auto Erotica, however, and survive the next Crash.  They have passion in their sex for once, however, so they plan to keep it up (no pun intended).  The End.
Alright then.  As usual, Cronenberg delivers with the crazy and twisted.  This one was treated like the creepy kid with the neck brace trying to find a Table in the Lunch Room when it came out.  Hell, even Cannes was wary of it!  Seeing it in 2015, I can understand it.  I don't necessarily agree with it, but I can see it.  This one is sometimes described as a high-class Porn Film.  To be fair, there is alot of sex in this one.  I kind of glossed over that stuff when watching it, so the Film sped along well because of it.  Fun Fact: James Spader apparently has really bad vision, so when you see him in Films without glasses, he can't see shit!  That must make seeing your Co-Stars naked alot less fun.  If you can get past the freaky sex stuff in here, there is some nice Character work by all.  It is definitely not for everyone- no ifs, ands or buts.  Ultimately, this is just Cronenberg being Cronenberg.  If nothing else, it inspired an Episode of Drawn Together (that I already covered)...
Next up, Dario Argento and his Film marred by a Lawsuit.  Did Adrien Brody get paid or do I pay?  Stay tuned...