Thursday, July 31, 2014

Weird Patterns: Horror Films In Space

It is time again for another random observation from a man that is full of nothing but that.

Here is a list of films and see if you can find the common thread...

Jason X
Galaxy of Terror
The Dark Side of the Moon
Ghosts of Mars
Critters 4
Leprechaun 4
Creature (1985)
Dracula 3000
Hellraiser: Bloodlines
Apollo 18

I've reviewed most of them at this point, so the answer should be obvious...

They are all set in Space.
Here's my question: why?  Many of these films are Sequels or copies of one of the films.  Alien mostly gets a pass here.  That said, they break down like so...

Zombies in Space (Plaguers/Ghosts of Mars), Lead Villain in Space (Jason X/Critters 4/Leprechaun 4/Hellraiser 4), Vampires in Space (Dracula 3000), evil power in Space (Galaxy of Terror/The Dark Side of the Moon), random Monster in Space (Alien/Creature) and tiny rock monsters in Space (Apollo 18).

My question: is there a huge crossover of people that love Sci-Fi Films about new Worlds, advanced technology and exploration & people that like to see people die in different ways?

Just for comparison, how many Sci-Fi Franchises have added Horror to themselves later?  Silent Running...From Zombies?  2011: The Day We Made Contact With Dracula?  Logan's Run: The Full Moon?

I didn't think so.
Horror Films in Space.  Weird, right?

(Mostly) Immediate Response: Sharknado 2

I needed some time to process this thing properly.  Given how ridiculous it is, I'm sure that you understand.

Last night brought us the debut of Sharknado 2: The Second One.  With the original fresh in my mind (thanks to Rifftrax), I was ready.

Look- If I didn't watch this, I'd have to turn in my Internet Relevancy Card.  I'm not always proud of what I *have* to do to keep that thing...
The Good
* It is ridiculous and over-the-top.
* For better or worse, it embraces its ridiculous nature.
* As silly as it is, the variety of Sharks is a nice addition.  They all act the same, but it is a visual bonus.
* Random Kurt Angle (which TNA did not promote)!
* To The Asylum's credit, they got alot of people to agree to be in the film that would never have a year ago.  Having said that...

The Bad
* The 'Stars' they got include Kelly Osborne, Wil Wheaton, Perez Hilton, Jared from 'Subway,' Biz Markie I need to continue?
* Incidentally, all of the 'celebrities' die in the same, lazy effect.  Disappointing.
* What was with that random accent, Kurt?  Weird.
* Logic has gone out the window.  That can be funny, but two hours of it is kind of tiring.
* I'm pretty sure that watching this would give Neil Degrasse Tyson an Aneurysm.  Don't fall into their trap, Mr. Tyson!
* Lastly, can we agree that Matt Lauer, Kelly Ripa & Michael Straihan should never be asked to act again?

Is it good?  No.  Was it trying to be good?  No.  Is that something that we should applaud?  That's for society to decide.

As for me, this was...ridiculous.  If you go into it seeking only to laugh, you can enjoy it.  If you look for the closest resemblance to a good movie, you will be sorely-disappointed.  Remember this: just because you make a 'Jump the Shark' joke doesn't mean that you didn't actually do the deed.

Good Flix: The Host (2006)

Damn you, Stephanie Meyer.  Today's films is the South Korean Horror/Thriller called The Host.  Thanks to that apparently-bad book and film adaptation of the same name by the Author of the 'Twilight' books, I now have to *specify* if I'm talking about THIS film and not her's.  Bitch.  Anyhow, this Host is one of my favorite movies ever.  It is just damn good.  On the surface, it is the tale of a mutated tadpole-thing that starts wreaking havoc and killing people in South Korea.  Beneath that basic Plot, you get Themes of Father-Son bonding, family togetherness, government control, issues with raising children and an economy that doesn't support new people coming into the workplace.  It does all this is a nice and subtle way, so it doesn't feel preachy.  On top of that, so many of the issues are topical to the time and place (or country), but still work for other people.  Besides, the creature- nicknamed Steve Buscemi by the Director- is kick ass!  Do you need to know more?  That's why I'm here then.  Since this film is great and I want more people to see it, I will keep it as SPOILER-FREE as possible.  To find out why you should get off your ass and see this film (again, if you already did), read on...
A nice family runs a Food Truck (sort of) by a main river in South Korea.  All seems well until...
A mysterious creature appears on a nearby bridge, drawing the attention of all of the onlookers- including our lead.  What could go wrong?
Oh right- that.

I should have seen this coming.
'Steve' is not friendly.  He is also ugly as #%$@!
Our hero's daughter is taken by the creature and he can't save her.  Bummer.
The rest of the family is reunited, but finds that the local authorities are not going to help them alot.  It is all because one injured man from the attack comes down with a virus, making anyone exposed to the creature the titular host of something.
The daughter turns out to be alive, but now trapped in the Sewer Lair of the creature, along with alot of bones and bodies.  Can she escape?
Will the allied governments finally get off their asses and stop the monster?
If all else fails, can our heroes take the responsibility into their own hands and kill 'Steve?'  To find out, watch the movie.  The End.
It is still damn good.  Some films lessen for me on repeat viewings- like Return of the Evil Dead-, while others- like Top Secret- find me noticing more to enjoy.  In this case, The Host ages quite well.  It helps that this is the only version of this Story- at time of writing- since the U.S. Remake has not panned out and the Sequel has yet to hit our shores.  One thing to bear in mind is that I'm not a huge fan of K-Horror in general, but I love this film.  The movie is so good that it got past my inherent dislike of a whole Genre!  The Characters are deep and nuanced, while the Pacing is not sacrificed for this character work.  The design work behind 'Steve' is still one to marvel at.  Is it the best CG out there?  Probably not.  However, the amount of detail and the creativity in the design elevates it to another level.  The fact that there is actually a good film behind this CG helps alot- I'm looking at you, Transformers films!  Have you not seen this film because it is Foreign?  It has dubbing and Subtitles- take your pick.  Have you not seen it because it is a Horror Film?  It is far more than that, so give it a try.  If you still need more incentive, it also features 'Herschel' from The Walking Dead...
Since I want to put off my Project Terrible Films for one more day, let me take a look at the other The Host.  Roger Ebert's final review in his lifetime was a mocking of this film, so who am I to disagree?  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Good Flix: Puncture (2011)

Would you hire this man to be your Lawyer?  Today's film is Puncture, a 2011 Drama Starring Chris Evans.  Why?  Well, Evans also plays a dramatic role in Snowpiercer and I can't see that film yet.  On top of that, my Parents bought it from a Blockbuster that was closing.  To make a long story short, if they had held onto it, it would have been given for store credit to a Moviestop (since one of them really didn't like it) and now I have it.  One man's 'bad movie' is my review.  As it turns out, I like the movie.  The film tells the real story of two Lawyers who take on a case bigger than they normally would.  One of them is straight-laced and the other does drugs- it is like a really dark version of Franklin & Bash.  Humor aside, the film handles the drama quite well and I really took to it.  Evans plays the drug-addicted, but alpha-personality Mike Weiss, while one of the two Directors plays his straight-laced partner Paul Danzinger.  Why is giving people a simple and safe solution so hard?  To find out, read on...
In 1995, this woman is accidentally poked by a needle while trying to sedate an E.R. Patient.  She ends getting a serious disease from this, setting the plot in motion.
Evans' Weiss is a real go-getter, but also does lots of drugs.  Do his Cons outweigh his Pros?
His life is full of drama as well, punctuated by his wife's demand for a divorce at gun point.

As a fun side note, Evans is once referred to as 'Law & Order' and the film actually features Jesse L. Martin!
Anyhow, the case they take on involves a man who has made a safety needle (with a retracting point) that will stop the spread of disease through accidental pricking.  The problem: no Hospital will buy it.

It all comes down to one thing: money.  Big shock.
Evans really takes to the case, possibly inspired by the fact he himself shoots up Heroin.
Unfortunately, he does this at the expense of the work that the pair must do to stay in business.

Plus, he does still do alot of drugs and is not good with doing things on time.
Can he overcome his issues and win the case of his life?
With lots of money and power against them, the pair can't possibly win...can they?
Will a last minute bit of evidence help them?  I'm not going to say, that's for sure.

To find out, watch the movie.
I don't have much negative to really say here.  The film hinges upon whether you connect with the two Lawyers and feel for their case.  For me, it worked.  Some people I know couldn't get past how Evans' character is flawed.  That's perfectly fine.  As for me, I can accept films like Flight that have a less-than-perfect who may or may not learn from their mistakes.  The film works for me because you can see how good he can truly be, drugs or no drugs.  He really takes to the case and wants to do right.  His partner is more practical, but is still not opposed to doing the right thing.  Opinions may differ on the film, but I really liked it.  It had the right amount of humanity that these kind of Legal Thrillers need.  If this is the kind of thing that Evans can do in a more serious role, it makes me really want to see him in Snowpiercer.  Okay, that film and The Iceman, which is surprisingly not a Marvel film.  Since nothing all that goofy happens here, I will leave you with what appears to be a cameo of Bloodsucking Freaks on the TV...
Next up, I take a nice look back at one of my favorite films ever.  Before he pierced snow, he unleashed tadpoles on South Korea!  Stay tuned...

Quick Reviews: Jodorowsky's Dune

This is one that I meant to cover earlier, but things just got in the way.  Let's rectify this oversight.  This is Jodorowsky's Dune...
The film is a Documentary which talks to (all of the living) people behind Alejandro Jodorowky's attempt to make a feature-length version of 'Dune'...back in the early 1970s.  You see the amazing Concept Art, hear all of the neat ideas and get a major look at what could have been.
You get to see how visually-inspiring the film could have been, how unique (and great) the Casting was/would have been and just how ahead of its time it was going to be.
Bear in mind that this was in the works *before* Star Wars, so this would have likely-been the Sci-Fi follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey and skewed how future works of the Genre would have become.
Behind all of the disappointment about it not getting made (no SPOILER, right?), you get to see what the film that never was set in motion, be it the Production Casting behind Alien and other such works.
If you are one of those people that thinks that creativity is dead in the Film Industry, you need to see this.  While the film ultimately never got made, you can be inspired by the amazing creativity and effort of those who attempted it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Poor Bastards of Cinema: War (2007)

I was actually looking for something else when this just fell into place.  Works for me!

In War, Jet Li's character is a Hitman called Ghost.  He targets all sorts of enemies of his Employers.  This includes this Yakuza guy, hanging out in the back of his Club with his dogs.
With Li approaching and his men failing, he sends his dogs to get him.  You think you know where this is going, don't you?
After seeing and hearing nothing, the audience sees just one dog come back to the room.  What happened?
Hey- what's that on the dog's collar?  Let me look at it closely...
Bang- you dead.
In case it wasn't clear, I don't really feel bad for the Yakuza Boss killed by another professional killer.  No, it is the Dogs that are my Poor Bastards.

Their only crime: being owned by a criminal.  Their punishment: explosive death!

You'll see more of War in the future- I just won't say why or when.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rare Flix: The Devils (1971)

It is rare and it is crazy!  Today's film is The Devils, a film made by the madman Ken Russell.  He's one of those guys that I had never seen one of his films before- in full, at least- but I knew his reputation quite well.  When I learned that this was made by Ken Russell, I kind of knew what to expect.  So what is The Devils about?  It is a lovely, family film about the Plague and religious control of the land.  The film goes for a mix of surreal and historical drama, but it is clear which side it ends up on most of the time.  Notable Cast Members include Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed, who's 'credited' the experience of working on the film as having aged him four years!  He would nearly be killed on-set two years later, so its notable that he still even talked about this one at all.  Is this film Rare because of the quality of its content or because it was just trying to offend anyone remotely fond of Christianity?  To find out, read on...
I like that the film includes this footnote at the beginning about what is about to take place.  I take it with several grains of salt, but so be it.
The early part of the film is made up two clear Themes.  One- the rich (like the Cardinal) live a life of extreme luxury and debauchery.

Just to spare you any future Therapy, I will tell you that this is a guy...
While, in contrast, everyone else live with constant threat of death, starvation and pestilence.  Subtle, huh?
Reed is the lead Priest- Father Urbain Grandier- in the town and struggles with certain parts of his vows.  The main one: not having sex with this Harley Quinn-looking lady and getting her pregnant.
Redgrave's Sister is a bit crazy and repressed.  Some might say that the two are connected.
It gives the film excuses for her to act crazy and to set up bizarre visions like this...
The two stories collide when the elite want to keep exploiting the poor and Reed stands up to them.  This leads to him to him being targeted by so-called Demon Hunters and this early version of the Klan.
As Reed's Father undergoes torture and interrogation, he doesn't crack.

Considering that Reed himself only died after downing an inhuman amount of alcohol and arm-wrestling Sailors (in one night) at age 61, that's no surprise.
Things get really crazy, culminating in the Father's execution, a big explosion and the Sister pleasuring herself with a charred bone of Grandier.

His wife leaves the city, apparently wandering off into a Salvador Dali painting.  The End.
Not recommended for those who are remotely-easy to offend.  Hell, if you've ever been offended at a Catholic Priest joke, this may not be for you.  Devils is a weird sort of masterpiece.  You can see the amount of care and detail work put into it.  Every single detail seems planned out to a meticulous degree.  The question is not one of quality, it is one of taste.  Will the film offend you?  Maybe.  I was pretty tame in my Screencap selection, so bear that in mind.  For all the talk of deviant sexual activity (which there is some) and violence (which there is plenty), there is alot that you don't see here.  So much of Grandier's torture is implied (thankfully) and you can just imagine the kind of stuff that happens.  The same can be said for much of the sex, but to a lesser degree.  The film reads like weird mix of an historical account and one of those Passion Play-style shows that tries to offend.  The film pulls no punches- for better or for worse.  It is bleak.  It is dark.  It is insane.  All of this explains why the film has taken ages to get proper video releases in any format.  It took until 2010 to start seeing proper DVD releases of it and even those were not complete.  Cuts of the Film range from anywhere between 105 minutes to 117 minutes (the Restored Version).  For the record, my general source of DVDs- Netflix- doesn't carry it right now.  One upside of being known as 'someone who likes weird movies' is that people get you stuff like this.  Isn't that just 'for the Birds?'
Next up, I bide my time until I get to see Snowpiercer.  That's a good pretense to do this Chris Evans film that's already on my shelf.  Stay tuned...

Friday, July 25, 2014

He's Dead, Jim!: Goldeneye

Another new segment- why not?

He's Dead, Jim! is all about the most ridiculous and/or overkill deaths in Cinema History.  I will also feature ones that stand out for their inexplicably-painful nature.  Why not start with one of the most famous ones?

In Goldeneye, Bond must battle Alec (the less cool one), who is trying to be super-evil by controlling the titular satellite.  Bond travels to Cuba- before the current embargo- to stop him.  After a rough fight, the pair end on the very bottom part of the receiver...
Bond, naturally, prevails and is left holding Alec dangling from it.  He gives his famous retort and...
Lets him fall.  Considering the distance- well over 300 feet!-, he is going to...
Hit it really hard, but still survive.

Those Brits and their adamantium bones- I always forget!
Things go further awry as explosion go off above them, so Bond gets the hell out of there!  If this is exploding in the air above Alec, what is going to happen to...
DAMN!  He's dead!
Bonus points for the burning spike end of the receiver coming down right our poor villain.  That's just cruel.

So now the stage is set.  What other ludicrous and violent deaths will be featured?

You will just have to Stay Tuned...