Thursday, December 31, 2015

*My* Top 10 Disappointments of 2015

As the year comes to a close, let me look back at the Films that just disappointed.

Some of the worst Films won't make this List, since, well, I expected them to suck...

10. Fantastic Four (2015): Okay, I expected this one to suck a little.  While I defend the original Fantastic Four Films (as they are), it is harder to defend this one.  The tone is so bleak and murky.  Nobody gets along.  All of the interesting stuff is squeezed into the last 20 minutes.  So bad.  Let Marvel do this already!

9. White Gorilla: Even by this Set's standards, this was bad.  So, if you missed the Review, here's the summary: someone took a Silent Film Serial, added new Footage with a Suit Performer and then tried to re-sell it.  This was only about 20 years later.  So, so disappointing.

8. Island of the Dead: The Flies.  This is about evil Flies that represent our sins...or something.  Long before stuff like the Halloween Films and Silent Night, Malcolm McDowell was in stuff like this.  Oh well- it was cheap.

7. Devil Story: So crazy that it confusing and boring.  How did this one go wrong?  This French Horror Film features a Zombie AND a Mummy.  What could go wrong?  Well, the answer lies in how someone tried to make it 'Arty.'  The result: it isn't all that fun.  Weird...but not fun.

6. The Burning Dead: Lava Zombies!  What can go wrong?  Well, everything.  Sorry, People Who Sent Me This Screener Link.  Danny Trejo can't save you this time!

5. Inara the Jungle Girl: Meh.  This one sounds like it will be lots of fun.  A bunch of lady Wrestlers play Jungle Girls that fend off Mercenaries.  Great.  What could go wrong?  Well, make the first hour of it an emotional drama- that's how.  How do you mess up Exploitation?

4. Crazy Hong Kong (aka The Gods Must Be Crazy IV): I waited so long for this, huh?  After years of hearing about the Film, this Rare Flix Feature is just kind of fast and silly.  The original Films weren't Hamlet, but they had a certain charm to them.  The original Films are a good Comic telling you a bit.  This Film is a kid who saw it on TV trying to tell you the same bit.  It is mostly the same, but the magic is missing.

3. Under the Skin: I know so many people love it.  I don't.  There is at least one good thing for going for it.  You don't need me to spell it out, right?

2. Vampire in Venice: Another Film that wasn't really worth the wait.  An unofficial Sequel to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu (itself a Remake of a Film that was a rip-off of Dracula)- why not?  Well, I think that the Behind the Scenes stuff sets the mood.  It is an unofficial Sequel since Klaus Kinski refused to shave his head.  On top of that, about a third of the Film was shot by the 2nd Unit due to Actor issues.  That tells you what was going on there and why the final Product is a bit of a letdown.

1. Primer (2004): Sorry, Maynard.  Actually, I'm not.  This one sucked.  I didn't like it.  At all.  Period.  End of sentence.

Bring on the hate-mail.  I'm looking at you, Maynard.  

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

*My* Top 10 Crazy Films WATCHED IN 2015

After the previous List, let me expand the options.

To qualify, the Films must be...

1. Watched in 2015
2. Crazy

That's it.  These are the weirdest Films I watched in 2015, regardless of when they were made and/or released.  The Films run the gamut of the early 1900s to 2014.  Some of these *just* missed the cut, one of them purely on a technicality.

As a final note, this categorization is based on how crazy they are to me and NOT on quality...

10. Under the Skin: While not my kind of Film, it sure was weird.  An Alien who goes around tricking men and apparently minding their bodies for resources- strange.  In spite of the crazy moments and premise, it was still far too dry and lacking in dialog for me.
9. Bad Biology: The last Film of an eccentric Director?  This 2008 Film is by Frank Henenlotter, so you know to expect the strange.  Even by his standards, this one is crazy as hell though!  A lady with a sex drive that leads her to kill.  A man with a mutated, sentient member.  This one has it all- provided you like freaky stuff.

8. The Magic Cloak of Oz: Going very Old-School for this one.  This Film was made before readily-available Sound, Color Film and most of what we take for granted today.  In spite of that, it brings the crazy with trippy visuals, old-school effects and some freaky costume work.  This kind of stuff is nightmare-fuel now, while it was apparently 'cute' around the time of WWI.  Go figure!
7. Der Samurai: I'm not quite sure what to make of this.  A small Town/Village Cop runs afoul of a cross-dressing man with a Katana.  Chaos ensues.  Weirdness ensues as well.

6. Zebraman 2- Attack on Zebra City: What an odd sequel.  In this Film, our Hero has been split into his good and bad halfs in a dystopian future.  As if the first one wasn't strange enough, they up the ante here.
5. Dead Snow 2- Red vs Dead: If nothing else, it was just alot better than the Original.  The Plot of this one involves Nazi Zombies and Soviet Zombies doing battle in the present day.  Need I say anymore?

4. Society: I'll go into this one more on another List.  Basically, we learn that rich people are super-freaky monsters that absorb the poor into their bodies like Clayface.  How did nobody tell me about this one for so long?!?

3. Zombeavers: Silly and strange.  Horror Comedies are a tricky thing, so combining them with a Creature Feature is doubly-hard.  In this case, it mostly works.  As a comedic venture, the idea of mutated zombie beavers is just great.  The Film doesn't exactly break new ground, but it works for what it is.
2. The Wax Mask: Unlike Society, I have looked for this one for a long time.  After all of the wait, it still met my expectations for the most part.  The Plot sounds simple at first- creepy guy kidnapping people and turning them into wax figures.  At a certain point, however, it gets all sci-fi and you see him use a machine to make them literally into wax.  By the end, he turns out to be a Robot...or something.

1. Roar (1981): A simple Film made strange by careless and insane people.  I just covered this one, but how could it not top the list?  While the Story didn't have inexplicable robots, zombie animals or Zebramen, it did feature real people put in peril by their family!  I still can't figure out the logic of surrounding your new family, your wife and your actual sons with apex predators!  While not as strange in Plot, it absolutely makes up for it in the real action!
Did you get enough of these Top 10 Lists?

Well, too bad- there's more!

TV on the Internet: Ash vs Evil Dead- 'Fire in the Hole'

After escaping a casual Diner (of Death!), the group looks to stock up.  What could go wrong?
The group heads out to the nearby Woods to meet up with some Militia guys.  Why not?
As it turns out, Ash's now-Deadite pal has shown up first and wreaked havoc!
The angry Militia Men lock Ash and the Cop up in a Bunker with the guy since they don't trust them.
Their only hope: these two guys.  Sorry, Ash.
Can they escape with their lives or are they just plain screwed?  Watch the Show and see.
A good old time.  While I'd never want to visit a bunch of gun-toting Militia Men (no offense!), I don't mind watching Ash and company do it.  The Deadites this time are armed, but just as crazy.  The high point: the one dressed like the guy from The Prowler.  His big scene was quite fun and bloody.  In the Bunker, we get some fun action and Character Moments involving Ash and the Cop.  They have to work together to survive, leading to some good moments.  The Show stays fresh by moving around new locales and that is quite prevalent here.  The Bunker especially offers a nice location, as it is dark, dank and claustrophobic.   The Camp is nice too, full of little touches that make it feel real.  All in all, another good, fun Episode of the Show.  It also teaches a good lesson: no matter how bad you may feel when you wake up, it could always be worse...
Next time, the Cabin is in sight.  Will they immediately regret going there?  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

*My* Top 10 Crazy Films of 2015

As a Year of actually doing Films made and released in the year I'm in (a first!), I decided to do my own Top 10 List.

This is still a List for Mondo Bizarro, so don't expect to see the normal stuff.  In addition, I'm only including Films given a full or Quick Review.

These Films qualify and are ranked if they fit two Categories...

1. Release in 2015
2. Gave me some craziness.

10. We Are Still Here: It was only a little crazy, so it is this low (or high...shut up).  This Film involves a nice couple, an old house and some black (as in burned) ghosts.  The climax is all sorts of crazy, especially in contrast to how dry and deliberate everything else is.

9. Ant-Man: While I really liked Avengers: Age of Ultron, this one featured more unexpected craziness.  The Film was quite fun and played with its small stuff gimmick quite well.  The sight gags are great, so this one makes the list.
8. Tale of Tales: Salma Hayek eats a giant monster's heart to get pregnant.  This speaks for itself.

7. Deathgasm: It is called Deathgasm.  It lives up to the name.  Say no more.

6. It Follows: It creeps me out is what it does!  This Low-Budget Horror Film shined with its crazy visuals, even if its Monster is pretty inept.  With a creature that can appear as any person, it continually keeps you on your toes.  All of this is what makes it so unique.

5. The Final Girls: A good Horror-Comedy that plays by its own rules- great.  This one features some loving Satire, unique Sight Gags and all-around fun stuff.  For example, the way they play with the Flashback Scene.  Good, crazy stuff.
4. Zombieworld: Jesus fights Zombies.  A mute Giant fights Aqua Zombies.  This mediocre Anthology Film is bookended by 2 crazy Shorts by the same Directors.  They should make more.

3. Dude Bro Party Massacre: Light on actual content, but chock full of crazy.  This one was funded in part by Kickstarter and you can kind of tell.  It is just a big bag of crazy that is all over the place.  If you like that kind of stuff, it works for you.  While I found it to be eventually be a bit taxing, I can't deny the insanity of it all.

2. Turbo Kid: Good for you, Canada!  This riff on the Mad Max-style Genre is quite fun and crazy.  A BMX-based Superhero.  Exploding Heads!  A Robot Girl!  That Dude From the 3rd Season of Seaquest DSV That Most People Think Was a Letdown!  With all of the hype, this one delivered big time.  The only thing that can top it...
1. Mad Max- Fury Road: Good for you, Mr. Miller.  After a couple of Decades away, George Miller made a great Mad Max Sequel and filled it with crazy moments.  Even better, each moment is thought out and appears to have its own backstory to explain it.  This is world-building done right...and crazy.  For giving us a guy who's only job is to play an Electric Guitar while strapped to a car, this one wins!
More Top Tens to come!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Internet TV: Marvel's Jessica Jones (Part 2)

Another Review pushed back by the Holidays.  It is here now though!

It is time for Part 2 of the Series Review of...
I'm in a tricky situation here as I don't want to SPOIL a thing.  Let's see how vague and general I can be...

As things escalate with Killgrave/Purple Man (especially in Episode 7!), our Heroine must work with new allies, old family and strangers.  It ain't easy.
She must confront her own past- quite literally at times!- and make peace with people she doesn't like to achieve her goal.
As Kilgrave schemes, plans and acts, can Jessica put a stop to him without losing herself?  Can she save the people she cares about?

No SPOILERS, so...just watch the Show already!
 This one continued to win me over.  As I noted previously, I have not read the Comics featuring Jessica Jones.  I think I own one Comic featuring The Purple Man!  That said, I really, really liked this Show.  While I'm obviously a Marvel fanboy (having gotten Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron for Christmas), I can still approach this Show like most people do.  In that regard, the Show does a good job of setting things up, keeping you hooked and raising the stakes approrpriately.  There are so many great moments in this Show that I really want to talk about.  Of course, by doing so, I may be SPOILing things for someone who may be reading this.  Let's see how vague I can continue to be.  For one, there is the 'Death by 1,000 Cuts' Scene.  How about *the* Police Station Scene?  Both are SOOOO good.  Before I ruin anything, let me switch gears.  Ritter shines as Jessica Jones, Tennant is suave and creepy & everyone else is good in their own way.  Even the Minor Players have Arcs here, from the Crackhead Neighbor to the 'Bitch Down the Hall.'  Considering that this Show features an Actress from Don't Trust the B--- in Apartment 23, that's just a weird bonus.  All in all, it is a really good Show.  What else can I say at this point?  Go see it.  Just bear in mind that the above duo looked a bit different in the Comics...
Netflix continues to deliver with their Marvel Shows.  Can a famous 1970s Comic Book duo keep the trend going?

*Not Quite* Immediate Response: Star Wars- The Force Awakens

Well, this one was coming one way or another.  This one is a bit late, as I've simply been away from the site since the 24th.

Since I saw this almost 3 days ago now, I have some perspective on...
The Good
* The Film is a visual spectacle.  I saw it in 3-D (who doesn't love a headache), so that was enhanced.
* The size and scope is right, starting out somewhat small and building nicely.
* The new Characters are pretty good, for the most part.  Time will tell how they match up, of course.
* Seeing the Original Cast is always nice too.
* The Film feels very familiar in many good ways.  Then again...

The Bad
* It almost feels too similar at times.  Most of the new Cast fits the same Roles from the Original Trilogy in almost the exact same way.  As cute as he is, BB-8 is WAY too close to being R2-D2.
* Kylo Ren definitely has some big shoes to fill.  His outbursts are right on the borderline of being silly, so that's something to be careful about in future Films.
* SO MANY QUESTIONS!  While maybe this should be in The Good, some of it feels so cheap with its lack of explanation.  Where the hell did a new Sith Lord come from exactly?!?
* Without SPOILERS, I will say that one big Character turn really comes without the proper build-up and wreaks of Plot Contrivance.

It is kind of ironic, if you think about it.  J.J. Abrams gets alot of flack for making Star Trek Films that are so different that the name is a giant misnomer.

Now he's made a Star Wars Film that is TOO similar to the Original Films and he's getting crap from me.

Regardless, the Film is big, loud and fun overall.  If you can look past the stuff that just feels cheap or easy, you will have a great time.  The Film is going to make a bundle, so why not be a part of it?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Holiday Flix: A Christmas Horror Story

It's the most murderous time of the year!  Today's Review is A Christmas Horror Story, a 2015 Horror Anthology that is totally festive.  Oh and let me get this out of the way- Wal-Mart carries it in store as A Holiday Horror Story.  Do I care?  No.  Does it matter one bit?  No.  We over that whole thing now?  Great.  The Film tells the Story of 4 different events happening around Christmas in what is apparently the worst Town to live in since Haddonfield was finally abandoned.  The 4 Stories apparently take place concurrently, although no direct connection exists between them after they have started.  I appreciated the attempt to create a shared World...when they bothered.  Once they gave up on that, I was just stuck watching a Film that couldn't stop cross-cutting for no reason.  One Story involves Teens trapped with something in a School.  The second involves a kid going through some mysterious changes at home.  The third involves a dysfunctional Family being targeted by something powerful, while the final one involves Santa Claus & some Zombie Elves.  I won't SPOIL the results here, so don't tune out just yet.  To find out if this one will be a repeat viewing, read on...
In this Story, a traumatized Cop takes his Family to get a Tree.  Do they bring back something else though?
In another Story, a jerk-ass Family shows up to Grandma's House, but is kicked out after a statue of Krampus is damaged.  What is following them?
In the 3rd Story, an Elf working for Santa dies.  Elves can't stay dead, so...Zombies.  Why not?
In the final Story, some Teens check out their School after dark on the anniversary of a killing done there last year.  It is *so* close to Found Footage, but not quite.
What happened to their kid?  Will they both survive the revelation?
At the School, what secret is behind the earlier deaths and will it claim some more lives?
As for the terrible Family, will they survive the wrath of everyone's suddenly-favorite creature?

To find out the answer to all these questions (and about those Zombie Elves), you'll just have to watch the Film.  Ho Ho Ho.
Fun at times, but should be better.  On the surface, this is a pretty can't miss Film.  Four separate Tales of Horror in a small Town.  Ghosts in one story, a strange creature in another, Krampus in a third and freaking Zombie Elves in the final one.  What could go wrong?!?  Well, as I mentioned, the Editing and Pacing.  There is ZERO reason that this couldn't just be a normal Anthology.  Give me one tale, cut to Narrator/Framing Device and then cut to the next Tale.  The only reason to cross-cut and have them take place simultaneously is if there is any pay-off.  There is none.  It seems to have just been a purely artistic choice that didn't (at least for me) pay off.  As with any of these, you are going to like some Stories better.  So if you have to keep getting pulled away from said Stories for the other ones, you may be annoyed.  Much like a fancy toy without the batteries, the Film just isn't *quite* what it should be.  There are strong parts and then there are weak ones.  If this was more balanced and put together better, it might be a modern-day Cult Classic.  As it is, it is a flawed work that has glimmers of promise.  Oh well- at least they got Shatner.
Next up, let's tackle the post-Holiday blues with some Horror.  Can you face what is not natural?  Stay tuned... 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Import Holiday: Black Mirror- White Christmas

I'm dreaming of a Sci-Fi Christmas.  Thankfully, I mean that in the Genre term and not in the 'once the name of a Channel' way.  A Syfy Christmas is just all of their Monster Movies set in or around snow.  Instead, I bring you White Christmas, the Special from Black Mirror.  If you don't know, Black Mirror is a Sci-Fi Anthology Show from the UK that got some attention when one of their Stories mirrored a rumor in the real world.  Just Google it- I'm not your Mother!  Anyhow, they made this Special last year and now I'm going to cover it.  The Story involves two men- including Jon Hamm!- in a Cabin somewhere.  They share their stories before the ultimate truth is revealed.  I won't SPOIL that, of course, so deal with it.  Before you watch all of the new Specials this year, let's take a look back at last year's...
Two men are staying together in a Cabin for the Winter.  There is some mystery about how long they've been there, but it is diffused when one of them- Hamm- tells his Story...
He was a Dating Expert who would guide you through tough situations.  How?  By using the internal camera that we all have in this possible future and talking to you over Skype (of the future).
He helps one Client nab a curious girl at the Office Christmas Party.  However, as you may guess, something goes awry this time...
In the 2nd Story, Hamm is an Engineer who has to train an advanced A.I.  He doesn't play nice, however, as the training method is a bit strange...
Finally, the other guy tells his Story.  He was really in love with a girl and all seemed well.
However, the relationship turned sour and she blocked him.  In this Sci-Fi world, it is much more than just keeping you from reading their Facebook posts!

Things escalate to a point...which, of course, I won't SPOIL either.
All of this- and the previous Stories- tie back together for the final truth of the tale.  All will not end well this Christmas for someone.  The End.
Good stuff.  This Special really represents what makes Black Mirror work.  Somewhat simple Stories that turn complex and always have a moral.  They aren't quite on par with the Classic Twilight Zone stuff, but they are pretty worthy successors.  The first Story has an interesting, voyeuristic quality to it.  As it turns, you can feel for the guy in trouble and for Hamm, who can't do anything but watch.  The second Story is quite surreal, but also quite dark.  It speaks to how we interact with technology and each other.  The final Story builds upon that with some intense emotion behind it all.  The whole Special wraps together nicely like a good present as well.  I have to be vague, lest I take all the fun away from you.  Sufficed to say, it all works and all of the clues you need are there.  As usual, the Special is pretty dark, so bear that in mind.  As a side-note, I considered building up to reviewing this one, but, as my brother pointed out, this is how most people heard of this Show.  So why not start here?  If things work out, you just may see more of this Show on the site.  After all, I've still got like a year until there is more Twin Peaks.  If you don't want to be left out, check out this Special already.  As for me, I'll be invisible for a little while
Next up, the official Christmas Review.  This Holiday, enjoy some Horror Tales.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Flix: #Horror

A Horror Film for the Modern Age?  Today's Film is #Horror, a subversive 2015 Horror Film/Thriller.  The Film comes to us from Tara Subkoff, an Actress who had a big presence in the 1990s, but dropped out of the spotlight.  Now she's back to make a Film that is quite divisive.  There appears to be no middle-ground on this one.  This should be quite interesting then, huh?  The Film tells the tale of some young girls- age 12- being stalked as they hang out alone at one of their Mothers' House.  With a heavy emphasis on our current obsession with Social Media, this one is all sorts of topical.  Is it the good kind or the bad kind though?  To find out, read on...
After a couple of sudden deaths in the Intro, we meet a girl who is having all sorts of issues with her family and friends.
She ends up hanging out with her other friends at the House belonging to their Mom (Chloe Sevigny).  She is all about crazy, Modern Art, giving the place a real surreal feel.
The group does all sorts of things I can't relate to- having never been a 12-year old girl- and basically acting all sorts of terrible to each other.

They're this bad and they aren't even Teenagers yet!
 Things take a turn and the group turns on one of the other girls.  She says something bad...but it isn't like they haven't all said worse.
She makes an emotional call to her Father (Timothy Hutton) from the Woods, which only escalates the situation.  They continue to be stalked...
As the killer makes his move and his stalker photos continue to get likes, will any of the girls survive?  To find out, you know the drill.
An interesting watch, even if it is a tough one.  I won't lie- this isn't exactly my kind of Film.  It is slow-paced, all about atmosphere and chock full of unlikable people.  I like my Films to be more fun and fast.  That said, there is alot about this Film that is good and I can at least appreciate it.  The Film has a very natural feel, which is hard enough to do with a normal Cast.  With such a young Cast playing such tricky roles, it is especially-impressive.  Kudos, Subkoff.  The Film was also shot quite well, using the surrounding area to really highlight the isolation of the House.  Speaking of the House, it is chock full of crazy Art.  The Film makes good use of Modern Art to highlight the surreal nature of the whole Film.  The use of all sorts of Social Media imagery (like Hashtags and Emojis) is something that is quite unique as well.  You may love it or you may hate it.  All in all, #Horror is an interesting, thought-provoking Film.  It isn't a fun Film, but it shouldn't be.  With all of this dark, harsh truth, let's lighten things up.  Bring em in, boys!
Next up, I cover a British TV Special for the Holidays.  It is both black and white, so Michael Jackson should feel neutral about the whole thing.  Stay tuned...

Friday, December 18, 2015

New Flix: Assassination Classroom (2015)

You sure are wacky, Japan!  Today's Film is Assassination Classroom, the Live-Action Adaptation of a strange Anime.  The Story- weird.  The execution- weird.  The Special Effects- also quite weird.  The Story- an Alien shows up on Earth with plans to destroy the Earth.  The only way to stop him- train a bunch of Middle-School Students to kill him.  Of course- what other solution is there?!?  This one doesn't try to play it too straight, so don't get hung up on how little sense it makes.  The real question- is it good?  Considering that I know NOTHING about the Show, I'll only judge it based on what I can see.  Until I make Bob Review the Show, this will have to do...
Who is this weird creature and why are all of the kids pointing guns at it?
He's an evil(ish) Space Alien who will destroy all of the Earth if he can't be killed by end of the Semester.

It is also worth noting that he has super-speed and is nigh invulnerable too.
Thus begins a series of plans to kill the creature.  This thing is so random that nothing can really explain this kind of stuff...
Hell, the fact that the Japanese Government makes an advanced Robot to join the Class is only like the 5th weirdest thing in this Film!
Even this isn't the weirdest thing in the Movie!
This is close...but still not quite it.
As the end of the Semester looms, are our heroes prepared to kill this creature?  At this point, are they too close to it to even want to?  To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
Crazy, but funny stuff.  The whole thing is just patently-ridiculous.  I mean, just...just all of it.  It isn't like the Japanese can't turn something crazy into something almost logical.  Right, Death Note?  In this case, they don't really try.  The Film wears its crazy on its sleeve like a badge of honor.  One thing to note is that they have to obviously age up the Characters.  A bunch of kids that young becoming assassins and pointing guns all the time is acceptable in Animation, but not Live-Action.  Kind of a weird standard if you think about it though.  As such, people that are obviously at least 18 now plays these roles.  If that bothers you, well, there are certainly bigger problems in life.  From what little I know of the Show, the crazy spirit is intact and that is all that matters.  The Film is chock full of crazy, random moments that I imagine are pulled right from the Show.  I will say that it highlights one of the few issues I had with the Show.  At certain points, it appears like Episode Plots from the Show- like the new Teacher- are introduced and dealt with in a condensed manner.  It isn't completely against the formula, but it feels a little off.  Overall though, I really enjoyed it.  I was worried that it was going to be too crazy for its own good- see Cromartie High School: The Movie-, but it walked the fine line of sanity.  Now I just need to get Bob to Review the Show for me...
Next up, some more new Flix to check out.  Is a revisionist take on the Horror Film all it cracks up to be?  Stay tuned...