Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Remake: Carrie (2002)

Look- can we just leave this one be?  Today's film is Carrie- the 2002 Remake that is.  Naturally, there is more than one Remake of this film.  Ugh.  This one is more than just a film- it is also a back-door pilot.  Joy.  This comes to us from Bryan Fuller, which is actually kind of funny.  As recent history as shown, the guy can turn a Film into a successful TV Series.  While I don't watch Hannibal, clearly alot of you do.  Plus, it clearly has inspired similar works *cough* The Black List *cough* on NBC.  Clearly lightning only strikes on the second time.  The previous statement is more scientifically-verifiable than anything on Ancient Aliens.  Speaking of things from outer space, Carrie can summon rocks from the sky.  Do you still want to know more?  Too late- you're going to...
After a pointless shot of Carrie's Mom, we jump to far ahead of the actual events.  Why?

"Well, we needed to frame the whole thing as being told to Cop (David Keith," said Bryan Fuller.
So yeah, Carrie is picked on because she looks like she is planning to blow up her School at all times.  They try to peg it as people mocking her for being religious, but...well, look at this 28-year-old Senior and judge for yourself.
Watch Carrie casually show her powers throughout the film, as opposed to building it up for dramatic effect.  You could argue that it is acceptable since the first film is famous, but...Carrie was a book first too.  I'm just saying.

Incidentally, how come this kid who gets sent flying 20-feet into a tree not report what happened?
Pointless flashback to Carrie's past.  Who's relating this story again?  Your pointless framing

Fun Fact: Jodelle 'Silent Hill' Ferland is Young Carrie.  You really were typecast as a kid, huh?  Good luck.
In said flashback, young Carrie shows her powers during a scene of being yelled at by Mom.  This means...summoning rocks from outer space, apparently.

Seriously, if you have a less stupid explanation, I'm all ears!
This thing is over two hours- since it was made a TV Special- so it takes a long, long time to get to where you know it is going.  Even the new Remake that few people like is less than that.
I will *kind of/sort of* give them points for teasing that the blood isn't dumped on her.  Of course, that contradicts the way the story is framed, so it less convincing than that one bit in Gravity.  You know the one.
What this film adds is a bigger body count, an extended bit of her walking around smashing stuff and some terribly-dated CG.  Yes, it was made 10 years ago and for TV...but still.  Damn.
What it also adds is an open ending with Carrie escaping...somehow and being led to safety by the not-as-bad-by-comparison girl (who also skipped the Prom).  This was done to allow a possible TV Series if this did well.

It didn't.  To be honest, what would it have been?  My best guess: The Incredible Hulk- Starring Carrie.
There is nothing new to see here (that is any good).  What was done well in the Book and first Film is done about the same here.  The difference is that it takes forever to get there!  Get to the point!  It is one thing when you are doing a tale with a foregone conclusion, but you can mix it up a bit.  Most of the time, they don't bother...but they could.  Here you can only build up to the Prom and her killing spree- unless you want to offend people.  So yeah, good job.  The whole dynamic has changed with this thing and it reminds me of a quote regarding Jaws 2.  When asked why they show the Shark so early, the Director explained that you can't replicate that first appearance again.  That is pretty much the issue with doing Carrie again and again...and again.  The 2013 film pretty much built the promotion around the Prom and things going to hell.  So this is all just a one-scene film with 80ish minutes of build-up.  Ugh.  If you've seen the first Carrie, stick with that one.  This film has almost nothing new going for it, save for meteors and the fact that the same Actress is also in the film that a bad (authorized) Remake of Children of the Corn from 2009...
Next up, I finally get my hands on a new Dario Argento film!  With him treading familiar territory, will he make something interesting out of it?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rare *Parody* Flix: Mr. Mike's Mondo Video

It's obscure and weird- my kind of movie!  Today's film is Mr. Mike's Mondo Video, a weird weird film by a weird, weird Writer.  Michael O'Donoghue was a Writer on Saturday Night Live when it first came out and made TV History.  His warped sense of humor really helped the show stand out as being weird.  This is the show that somehow segued from two men dressed in bee costumes to men in bee costumes singing Sam & Dave to The Blues Brothers.  The goal of this film is simple (yet ridiculous): parodying Mondo Films.  Laughing at Mondo Films- who would do such a thing?!?  The film is described as a direct Parody of Mondo Cane, but that's a bit misleading.  One thing that makes it somewhat different is that the Host- Mr. Mike, naturally- appears on-camera and serves a bridge for the segments.  The segments are quirky and strange- that's for damn sure!  You get cats, claymation skeletons and men disguised as dogs.  The film is notable for being an early prototype for experimental comedy used alot these days by people (as opposed to comedians) like Tim & Eric.  To see a Rare Flick that's crazy and random, read on...
This is Mr. Mike (aka Writer/Director Michael O'Donoghue).  He seems trustworthy, right?
The first segment is highlighting a man who trains cats to swim in France (to cut down on drownings).  This means tossing cats into the pool...alot.

Yeah, it is awkward to watch as a cat-lover, but it is much tamer than the shit done to animals in real Mondo films!
In the next segment, we see the secret Church of Our (Jack) Lord.  They worship the Hawaii Five-O (the original, young people) and are led by Dan Akroyd (with accompaniment from Paul Schaffer).

It is strange, but one of the stronger segments as far as being a Mondo Film Parody.
They do a Parody of the 'Man on the Street' Segments by asking people weird questions like 'Should Deaf and Dumb People Be Allowed to Sign With Both Hands While Driving.'

As a bonus, they use it as an excuse to show the Edison film in which he electrocutes an Elephant.
There's a strange bit where we see Sid Vicious sing 'My Way' as part of his solo career.  I say 'see' since the music rights were challenged for Home Video (and DVD) Release.  Rather than cut it, they just left it in to highlight the loss.

Incidentally, this same footage would be used in another film the same year (1980) and be allowed.  Weird.  It also appears in the Credits of Juan of the Dead.  Double weird!
In the 'Man on the Street' bits, we see one of the many SNL alumni here: Bill Murray.  He doesn't do a whole lot, but it's still Bill Murray.
One bit of footage is built up to for the first half of the footage.  We finally get it (after two teases).  The footage: The Laser Bra 2000.

I'll just leave it at that.
The most star-studded bit is one where women explain why they like jerks.  Said women include Margot Kidder (below), Larraine Newman, Wendy Malick (pre-Just Shoot Me), Gilda Radner, Terri Garr and Debbie Harry.
Another pair of Segments are 'Dream Sequences.'  One of them is a bit with a claymation skeleton and a cat.  The other is...Klaus Nomi.

Yes, the Pop Star/Performer/Venture Bros Character was so weird in his day that footage of him singing an Aria is weird enough to be a 'Dream Sequence' this movie.
The final bit involves an African Tribe that only gets our Pop Culture leftovers (like Pet Rocks, etc) and has abandoned their old ways.  Mike makes derisive commentary about how their society has collapsed...until they hear him and kill him.

Here's a twist: someone is doing the Cannibal Holocaust bit- 2 years before that film would come out!  The End.
It's a weird, mixed bag of madness.  There is no theme to this film other than 'Random Ideas Are Weird.'  Yes, it is framed as a film made by Mr. Mike.  Other than that though, he has no message or anything.  He doesn't even really pretend to.  Far be it from me to nitpick a film from 1980 made by a guy who died in 1995, but maybe he should have done it.  As it is, it is slightly more cohesive than A Kentucky Fried Movie.  That film tends to be more laugh out loud funny, while this one is often laugh at how odd things are funny.  I've used the word weird- or other synonyms of it- alot here.  Given that this film features footage from an old skin flick, someone's home movies (don't ask) and footage of Dan Akroyd's webbed feet, what other word(s) fit?  The whole thing is a nice bit of experimental film-making that is an easy recommendation to those who like the modern versions of such thing.  If you're not, you are just going to be very confused by the whole damn thing.  As someone who watches bad movies for a living (you pay me to do this, right?), I get it.  Let this man's fashion sense say it all...
Next up, an important film to look at for those like me who skipped the 2013 Carrie Remake.  Let's see how the 2002 Version ended up to gauge our interest level.  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Brain Dead?: Juan of the Dead

I can check another Country off of my Horror Film Bucket List.  Today's film is Juan of the Dead, a Zombie Film that comes to us from Cuba.  That place has been through a lot of change in the last Decade or so.  One Castro (Fidel) is out and a new one (Raoul) is in.  The Country has seemingly-gone a long way from being a place that was conspiring with Russia to destroy us in the Cold War (or so we're told).  So, with that in mind, let's give this fledgling democracy(?) a chance.  The film tells the tale of Juan, a lovable slacker in Cuba.  When shit starts to go down, him and his crew of miscreants/family decide to try and make a living in this new world.  Why are there Zombies?  There just are- deal with it.  Yeah, I have to kind of make peace with the fact that some films just don't bother to tell you why it happens.  Is it worse than films with incredibly-stupid explanations for it?  I'll get back to you on that.  You want to know if this film- which no doubt at least one person has told you to check out- is worth a look.  To get a relatively-SPOILER FREE answer from me, read on...
Juan and his friend live the slacker life in Cuba.  It's less glamorous and cool when you are nearly-middle-aged and have grown children, of course.
Speaking of which, Juan's daughter really doesn't like him.  She's planning on jumping ship- literally, when you live on an island- to Miami.  Juan's not happy, especially since he really has no intention of ever leaving Cuba.
 Juan and his gang- which includes a crossdresser, their blood-shy giant and his friend's son California- are planning on just getting by in this not-so-nice island paradise when...
Zombies!  In a nice touch, we see the government blame the incidents on actually being the work of U.S. paid dissidents.  They'll soon learn the truth.
 The Zombie epidemic hits home.

In my 2nd favorite scene, our heroes aren't sure what exactly the mutated person is.  As such, they try Garlic, staking and Crucifixes.  Nice touch of 'realism' there.
Everyone gets the hint and tries to get the hell out of 'dodge' (or Cuba).  Our heroes have a better idea: use this to make some money!
As you can see, the water is not exactly inviting.  You might as well stay and make money killing peoples' zombified relatives.  Hi, shark.
Things look bad until this mysterious man and his truck arrive.  I wouldn't dare SPOIL what he does though.
Things look bleak for our heroes and they must make a choice: stay or go.

What do they decide?  You'll have to watch the movie to find out.
Kudos to Cuba!  I wasn't sure how to feel about this one initially.  There are some good Horror Films from other Countries out there.  Good, that is, as viewed by this American here (not necessarily on general quality).  There is a smaller number of Horror Comedies out there- again IMHO.  So, bearing that in mind, finding a Foreign Horror Comedy that I liked was very unlikely.  In spite of that, I really liked this one.  Is it perfect?  No.  Some of the tonal Comedy can be lost in translation.  The big thing is whether or not you like Juan and his friends.  Given some of their behavior, it is understandable that some of you out there will not.  I get it.  Putting that aside, the whole thing is fun, has enough serious moments to work and just generally feels fresh.  There are some really good and unique moments in the film.  There are also alot of moments that were inspired by/ripped off from other films to boot.  Juan of the Dead is a good movie and a sign that more good things can come from that country.  Now if they would just lay off Bloggers...
Up next, after two Mondo films recently, it only seems fitting to see an obscure parody of them.  From the mind of one SNL Writer comes...completely-random insanity.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Oddly-Familiar Cover Art: Primates of the Caribbean

Let it never be said that a Redbox is not good for something besides Renting movies.

This is a 'Family Film' that I keep seeing in those color-coated Kiosks all over town.  See if you get Deja Vu like I did.
Give up?

Well, this bears a striking similarity (at least to me) to another 'Family Film' from 2012 by the folks behind Wallace and Grommit...
To be fair, there are two different Posters used for the film.  This was the more common one.

However, it is ALSO worth noting that this same film used to have a different name and Poster before it was imported here.
So yeah, less of a coincidence...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fake-o Documentary-o: Mondo Freudo

Strippers.  Exotic Dancers.  Ladies of the night.  This is their movie.  Today's film is Mondo Freudo, a film whose title makes later sense.  'Freudo' is not a word.  Mondo Bizarro sounds weird, but does actually translate (roughly) into 'Weird World.'  Using that logic, the film's title translates to 'Freud World.'  Yeah, that's not a thing.  According to Google, Freudo-Marxism is a thing.  It's a deep and complex study about Sociology, so it has nothing to do with this film.  Released the same year as Bizarro, this film feels almost like its weird leftovers.  I'm actually a bit surprised that the shitty globe doesn't reappear here.  The premise of the film: people are really weird.  Yeah, that's about it.  To find out why this film is practically-considered to be an Extra on the Disc as opposed to a companion film, read on...
The film begins with a Crew Member- actually Director Lee Frost- setting up a camera near a beach.  This is followed by B-Roll of people who clearly didn't sign Releases.

After that, we see the beach at night.  Why you'd frolic on a beach where cameras have been set-up all day is anyone's guess.  The pay-off: sex on the beach (in red vision).
Strippers exist in Los Angeles!  Scandalous.

Oh and for some reason parts of the film are in black and white.  No, they don't explain this.
More Strippers- now in Color.  Joy.
...and we're back to black-and-white.  This time we get something really scandalous: lesbian escorts!

At least, that's what they tell us.  If you think that ANYTHING is going to happen in this film, you are sorely-mistaken.  Sorry, Freud(o).
We get more scandalous with alleged footage of some Cultists doing a ceremony with a lady (with implants), hypnosis and red paint...I mean, blood.  It sure was nice of those people to let you film this.

Of course, they didn't let you film them taking her virginity...because this lady with the implants is pure as white snow.
We get some real Foreign action as we see Japanese Fetish Models doing a show.  In 1966, this may have raised some eyebrows.  Today...we have the Internet.
There is no big climax here.  Well, okay, there is mud wrestling, but...yeah.  Instead, let's close the film with some place who's name had to be removed from the Credits.  I'd love to know that story.  The End.
For crying out loud, do you have a message?  I mean, really now!  Mondo Bizarro wasn't much better, but they at least...okay, that was a bad example.  Mondo Cane had a message about how strange the World that you don't know is.  Good-Bye, Uncle Tom (aka Addio Zio Tom) had a message about how Slavery was bad (as if that wasn't obvious).  Brutes & Savages is about how one White guy can apparently survive the dangers of the Wild (of California).  None of the films are honest at all.  This film is no exception.  At least Mondo Bizarro the website is completely-honest (except when it makes fake movie posters).  The big difference here is that this film is 90% footage of Strippers/Exotic Dancers/Performers.  Mondo Strip Clubo would be more honest.  I would like to recommend this film.  However, it has much less to talk about than the film that it is bundled with.  That film is stupid, but is so hilariously-fake that I kind of love/hate it.  This film has no point, other than to establish that breasts exist.  By the way, breasts exist.  Take us away, angry kid in the B-Roll (who didn't sign a release either)...
Next up, a film from Cuba.  I'm all about firsts here, so let's take a bite.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Foreign Rehash: Cold Prey

If you have nothing new to say, just make the same movie again...apparently.  Today's film is Cold Prey, a Norwegian film that is mostly 'been there, seen that.'  Is it bad?  No.  Is it something that I definitely needed to see?  Maybe not.  The story is something you've pretty much seen many, many times before.  The difference- the location.  Yeah, that's about it.  I suppose that I could waste some more lines talking about the Director or Stars, but...I don't know any of them off-hand.  To be fair, I doubt that they know who I am either.  The place: a snowy mountain.  The people: a bunch of young adults.  The killer: well, that's something to find out later.  To see if anything new of note happens, read on...
The film begins with a weirdly-birthmark-sporting kid running in the snow.  He kind of looks like the Marvel Comics Character named Domino.

This ends abruptly, but anyone with a brain can figure out why we are seeing this.  If they had tried something different, it might have actually surprised me.
After that, we get real-looking News footage talking about how people go missing in the Mountains.  Gee- that's where are heroes are going!

As a side-note, if this is real footage of the News (which it may be), isn't this a little bit tacky?  Presumably some of these real people died, right?
So we have five people going off to go skiing.  We have two couples and Comic Relief Guy.

We see this in Movies all of the time, but does anyone travel like this?  It makes you feel bad for the fifth guy.
It's not long until Fifth Wheel hurts his leg and they need to get help.  Horror Film Cliche in 5...4...3..2...1
Now that the obvious is out of the way, they go to a nearby Cabin.  It's just as long of a walk to get to their vehicles and leave, but...then we wouldn't have a movie.

They wander around a bit and get comfy.  Yeah, I'm sure that your friend's barely-set leg will last while you 'chill out.'
Eventually- once the film is done setting up characters and showing us the house- the Killer finally gets a victim.  He takes out one of the girls, threatening to make Fifth Wheel slightly-less out of place.

Incidentally, putting a mask on your killer when his identity is obvious = kind of pointless.
Somehow nobody notices the girl missing- thinking that she's just in her room- or the massive pool of blood left in the hallway.  They *finally* decide to send one guy out for help, but...well, it doesn't end well.

Naturally, the Killer doesn't actually kill the guy.  We only have five people to kill- we have to pace this out.
To make a relatively-normal-length-story short, all but our heroine are killed.  The Killer takes the bodies out to dump them, since...well, nobody is around at all.  Why are they hiding them again?

Regardless, it gives us the film's most interesting visual- her P.O.V. of being dragged- and tensest moment- her waiting game to strike.
Shockingly, our Final Girl takes out the Killer and learns that he's...the birthmark-sporting kid from the beginning.  Oh no- it wasn't obvious at all!

She survives to wander down to a nearby Village, apparently setting up a Sequel to check out later.  The End.
It's not a bad movie.  If you like Slasher Films, this is a solid one.  My big problem is just that I have seen this movie before- many times.  Think about it for a second, won't you?  Group of people goes to a remote location and discovers a killer/killers there.  Does that sound familiar?  The most obvious example is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Beyond that, we have other American films like Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes.  It's not just American, of course.  If you're more into French films, there's Frontiers and High Lane.  Hell, I just watched a film about something like this in the last Round of Project Terrible- Creature.  Actually, come to think of it, the only other film from Norway I've done- Dead Snow- kind of gets into this same territory.  I will say again that this is not a bad movie.  I guess Norway needed their own generic Slasher Film to call their own.  Good for you.  It's just a shame that they couldn't take a basic film idea- e.c. a Vampire tale- and do something different with it- e.c. Let The Right One In- for a change.  I know that there is a Sequel out there available (and a Prequel that Netflix doesn't carry).  I will give it the benefit of the doubt and see if it is good or not.  After all, it can't be worse than most of those Wrong Turn Sequels can it...right?  I'll leave you with a glimpse of what you in the North is probably experiencing right now...
Next up, let's look at the companion film to Mondo Bizarro.  It has more Strippers, less plot and is just as fake.  Stay tuned...