Monday, August 31, 2015

Wan and Cheese: The Conjuring

Am I ready to possibly offend all of the online Horror Critics out there?  Today's Film is The Conjuring, a 2013 Film by Internet Darling James Wan.  I guess if you make enough Saw Films, we have to like you.  So how does he follow up the Insidious Films?  By basically just kind of making another one- that's how!  I suppose I can't blame the guy, but this isn't exactly a big step forward.  It is still about an evil Spirit (or two) haunting a house with a nice Family in it and some Experts come to help them.  The difference- this one is 'based on a true Story.'  Well, the people's names sure are the same.  This Story involves the Warrens, who are most famous for writing about the so-called Amityville Horror.  Show of hands for who believes any of that Story?  I thought so.  Naturally, I'm a bit skeptical since the idea here is that this big-time 'true Story' happened, but they kept it secret.  Really- the Warrens kept a Story about how they battled Demons secret?  Really?  Another difference here is that Leigh Whannel is nowhere to be seen.  Oh darn, my least Favorite part of the Insidious Films is gone?  Say it ain't so!  Will this oh-so-familiar tale finally be the one to truly impress me or will I continue to say 'Meh?'  To find out (without major SPOILERS, so relax), read on...
The Warrens wrote 6 Books, but they kept this Story 'locked away?'  Right...
This is the tale of a young family- with 5 daughters- who moves to a new House, but weird stuff starts to happen.

You know the drill- creaking doors, mysterious sounds and the clocks stop.  How original.
The Conjuring would just like to take a minute to remind you of Poltergeist.  That is all.
Lili Taylor- who should be familiar with this after 1999's The Haunting- is targeted by the spirit more overtly than anyone.  Why?
The woman finally calls the Warrens (with their own B-Plot to get this Film to 90 minutes) and they discover that that House is mega-haunted.  It is almost comical the degree that this placed is haunted.
The Conjuring would like to remind you that Annabelle is apparently scary and totally important to this Plot.  It isn't...but it would just like to justify the spin-off that would come next year (and be Directed by the man behind Mortal Kombat: Annihilation).

Hurray for Corporate Synergy over Art!
The Warrens investigate the House and try to find what they can do to cleanse it.  They...

Hey, don't even pretend to go Found Footage on me, Movie!  Not cool.
Things escalate at the House as the Warrens start to get close to the truth.  Mind you, the Comic Relief replacements for Whannell and Angus Sampson are so insufferable that they may be the real target.
 Can the Warrens save the day or does this ghost story have an unhappy Ending?  To find out, watch the Film already.  The End.
I'm sorry, but I don't really get the mega-hype here.  Don't get me wrong- it isn't a bad Movie.  It has some good moments, is pretty well-acted and has some good (sometimes low-key) Special Effects.  The problem: it just didn't feel like anything all that special.  I just watched 2 James Wan Films like this.  Admittedly, the Plot doesn't take ridiculous turns like Insidious: Chapter 2, but it still quite similar.  The differences are really pretty minor and that is kind of disappointing.  While there are some good visuals here, they aren't all that different from anything you've seen somewhere else.  I suppose you could argue that THIS version of those cliches/Tropes is the best one (but I'm not).  The Conjuring just didn't do anything unique enough to really 'click' for me.  Bring it on, Internet- I can take it.  Speaking of which, is it wrong to point out how flattering the Casting of Ed Warren was here?  I mean, do you see the likeness?
Next up, a Film that nobody is going to get bothered by me going after.  I suppose I can't put off this Charles Band Film any longer.  Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Twin Piqued: Variations on Relations

Even though it is Sunday, the adventures still continue in...
This week, people plot, people investigate and one man dies!
Important Stuff
- Donna continues to press her Parents on their Ben Horne connection.

- Pete, Harry and Catherine manage to open Eckhardt's Puzzle Box, but aren't sure what is inside.
- Many people sign up for the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant, including Nadine.  Gotta love her!

- In Owl Cave, the gang discovers some weird drawings.  Elsewhere, Windom speaks of the White and Black Lodges.
- In a Comedy Subplot, Dick teaches people how to be a Sommelier.  They did this on Parks & Recreation like 20 years later.

- Teen Witch asks her Mayor Husband to rig the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant, but he refuses.

- Romance blooms between Cooper and Graham, but they are being watched by Windom.  Uh oh.
- In spite of a pep talk from Cooper, Billy Zane leaves Town after getting an unseen message.

- Cooper learns of the Poems delivered from Windom to the ladies of the Town.

- In his biggest move yet, Windom Earle kills Ted Raimi (who hasn't?!?) and delivers him as a message.
The unofficial Title of this Episode speaks on it, but the key Theme here is Love.

- Donna investigates whether it exists between her Mother and Ben.
- Mike and Bobby discuss his romance with Nadine, which the latter doesn't want to know more about!
- Speaking of Bobby, Shelly makes out with Gordon in front of him!
- Lastly, Cooper and Graham seem to be kindred spirits.  Love is beautiful!
Love is doomed, right?
Weird Moment(s)
This one is an easy one- even with a dash of Nadine and an Andy scene- and it it Gordon.

To make this Scene super-silly, he talks normally to Shelly, shouts at everyone and then makes out with Shelly...after explaining what he is doing to Bobby...and going back to it again.  Glorious.
Not alot of forward progress, but still good.  Some of the mystical stuff is a bit cryptic here, but I'm still curious to see where it goes.  The Character Moments are still what keep me hooked though.  Cooper and Graham's relationship seems doomed (given the Show), but you hope that it will survive.  Seeing Ben Horne now fight against Ghostwood and try to redeem himself is interesting.  Gordon Cole is...well, just bizarre fun.  As unclear as his end goal seems, watching Windom Earle work is fun.  Plus, seeing all of the build-up to the Miss Twin Peaks Pageant makes for a fun diversion from all of the scheming and murder.  This is the 'bad part of the Show,' huh?  To each his own, I guess.  Even knowing what I know, I'm going to keep with this one to see how the whole thing plays out.  Since her run on the Show appears to be fully over, let's see what the future held for Josie...
Next week, the plans of many continue to move to a head.  Will someone Cooper knows die next?  See you then...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Recent Flix: Monsters (2010)

Should I blame this one for boring mess that it led to?  Today's Film is Monsters, the 2010 Movie that eventually led to its Director being given Godzilla.  That 2014 Film was all sorts of wrong and disappointing.  For all of its massive Budget, it kept cutting away from what you paid to see.  Is that what Gareth Edwards just does?  Considering that he apparently did all of the CG for this Film on his personal computer and had very little money, I guess we'll find out.  The Film tells the tale of a future where it is dangerous to go to Mexico because of U.S. Laws and Regulations put in place.  Right- the Future!  Anyways, this danger comes from space aliens apparently floating around by the Border.  Our heroes get stuck on one side and have to get to the other.  Can this mismatched pair make it?  I won't SPOIL too much for you, so feel free to read on...
These two folks- one a Photographer for a Paper and one the Daughter of its Owner- have to get out of Mexico before passage is cut off for 6 months!
What's making the journey difficult?

Well, it is the large zone full of Alien Monsters battling the Military, a side-effect of a Space Probe that crashed 6 years earlier.
The situation doesn't go how they planned- shocking in a Movie, right?- and they end up having to take the worst possible route home- through the Zone!
With all of the Monsters in the area- both dead and alive- is an exit through this area possible...
...or will the dangers in the Infected Zone spell the end for our Heroes?  To find out, well, you know.
A good Film, but nothing great.  Gareth Edwards succeeds at giving the Film some good Atmosphere and a really natural feel.  This was done by shooting on Location and having a looser Script than normal.  It wasn't quite all Scripted, but it wasn't exactly Improv either.  Make sense?  The trade-off is that this feel also gives the Movie a very laid back Pace.  As such, the Movie won't be for everyone.  Overall, I liked it pretty well.  It wasn't my favorite Film this year, but it was still enjoyable.  Kudos to Edwards for making these Effects on his own Computer.  Of course, the Special Effects weren't the problem with Godzilla (2014).  This Film wisely focuses on the Characters that people care about and keeps the Story nice and tight.  I wonder if we need to remind Edwards of what he did here to avoid such issues in the future.  Yes, I do know about the Direct-to-Video Sequel and I will do it shortly, so don't change the metaphorical Channel just yet.
Next up, I finally Review the Film that every Horror Blogger was frothing over a while back.  Will this James Wan Film hit the spot?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Millennial Trash: Insecticidal

This is the kind of shit I'm used to.  Today's Film is Insecticidal, a 2005 Direct-to-Video Horror Film.  Guess what it is about.  I bet you figured it out.  The Film is about giant(ish) killer insects that attack a bunch of coeds in a Dormitory.  There's not much more to it.  Notable Cast includes a lady who was uncredited in Flight 93 (an A&E Film, not United 93), a lady who Guest-Starred on Blade: The Series, a guy who was a one-time Jobber (guy paid just to lose) on WCW Thunder and a lady who now writes CMT Star Specials.  Hmm...that didn't work.  Let's try someone behind the Camera.  The Writer also wrote Alien Incursion and wrote Additional Dialogue for both Ghost in a Teeny Bikini AND Bikini Girls From The Lost Planet.  He also wrote the 2008 Remake of Attack of the Giant Leeches- yea.  The Director has had a more prolific Career...if you watch the Syfy Channel.  He's Directed such 'Classics' as Haunted High, Goblin (not the Band!) and the recent Film Roboshark.  Considering how silly the Science behind these Insects, the Story in Roboshark seems to make more sense.  Is this terrible or just plain dumb?  To find out, read on...
The Film begins In Media Res, which is the last artistic thing in the Film.

Yes, I have used this joke before.  Why not read all of my Reviews to find out which one it was from?
Our heroine- Cami- is experimenting with Insects to prove that they were once larger in the Age of Dinosaurs.  I can't see this going badly.
One of the other girls in her Dormitory sprays all of her (CG) bugs with pesticide, which causes them to become much larger.  No, really.
With a bunch of people over for a party, the body count begins to rise (slowly).

Not to sound bad, but I'm kind of disappointed that the lady on the left is NOT the one who signed the Waiver to be topless in the Film.  -2 Stars.
One of them is infected by one of the bugs (but not killed) and is now a Host for them.  Why?  How?
To make a long Story (only about 85 minutes) short, the remaining group kills the bugs with electricity...but only after the only Asian Character in the Film does Karate.
As a Teaser, they suggest that Bugs always find a way (thanks, Jurassic Park) they walk by what is obviously a bug-human hybrid.  The End?

Yes, The End.
Crap.  Of course, you already knew that.  Is this the good kind or the bad kind? is kind of in the middle.  Thankfully, this is NOT played for laughs, since that usually leads to the least funny outcome.  In this case, they play it pretty straight...even if the Plot should lend itself to some sort of humor.  A Giant Praying Mantis doesn't lead to a joke?  Well, I guess it didn't in Dario Argento's Dracula either.  Let's break it down, shall we?  The Writing- not impressive.  The Direction- not notable.  The Special Effects- bad.  You've seen the Screen Caps right?  Seriously, this CG is just plain awful.  The CG in some Big-Budget Films made over 10 years earlier looks better.  As I've said countless times, I don't fault Low-Budget Films for being Low-Budget.  I will, however, fault them for using their low-budget badly.  This is one of those cases.  The Film is so stupid that it is entertaining at times, but not nearly enough.  It is mostly just kind of bad in a way that isn't funny.  Oh well.  One more bit of crappy CG for the road...
Next up, I finally cover the Film that led to that boring Godzilla Film.  With a much, much smaller Budget, will the Director actually deliver?  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Import Flix: What We Do In The Shadows

Despite what one Film says, Vampires don't Suck.  Today's Film is What We Do In The Shadows, a 2014 Horror Comedy from New Zealand.  The Film is a mix of Dracula, The Odd Couple and This is Spinal Tap.  Interesting combination, huh?  The basic Premise is that a Documentary Crew was given the right to shoot a quartet of Vampires in their 'flat' as they prepare for the yearly gathering known as The Masquerade.  You can't sue me, White Wolf!  With one half of The Flight of the Conchords behind this (Jermaine Clement), you know that this is going to be quirky.  The question at hand is this: is it good?  To find out (with very limited SPOILERS), read on...
A Documentary Team is allowed to follow some lovely folks around for a few months before they attend a big event.  Unfortunately, they are Vampires.
 The group of Vampires are trying to adjust to life in the modern world, but are still pretty cool about the idea that they have to kill humans and drink their blood for sustenance.
When they get a new housemate (no SPOILERs), things in the house get more complicated as he doesn't quite fit in.
There is also an issue with some local Werewolves (led by At Midnight regular Rhys Darby).
The Documentary style allows them to play with the focus.  For example, one of the group has a Familiar/Slave who sets up people to be killed and cleans up after them.
All of this builds towards the Masquerade, but there's no guarantee that they will all make it there (and back) in one piece.  To find out more, watch the Film.
Despite my low expectations, this one was quite good.  Don't get me wrong- I don't hate Jermaine Clement or anything.  I was just unsure of what to expect as far as the tone, so I didn't get too hyped up.  The worst kind of Bad Movies are Bad Comedies, so I didn't want one of those.  Thankfully, I got nothing of the sort.  The movie isn't always laugh-out-loud funny (at least for me), but it is consistently-entertaining, clever and engaging.  The Film plays with some Vampire Tropes well- like having them sketch each other in their outfits in lieu of mirrors- and turns some other Tropes into Vampire ones- like making being a Familiar like being in 'the friend zone.'  In that respect, it does quite well.  One thing I will note is that they do a couple of time jumps and change the Story in big ways when they do that.  It is a little bit of a cheat, but not an unforgivable one.  What Documentary Crew would just cut out 6 Months of Footage though, to be fair.  In spite of minor gripes, the Film is fun, fresh (even if it is just an expansion of their 2006 Short Film) and different.  I wasn't expecting it to be this good.  To put things in perspective, imagine how much more pleasant waking up your spouse/roommate is in comparison to what Viago has to do...
Next up, I return to my roots- trashy Horror Films.  With babes and bugs, this one is sure to be interesting.  Stay tuned...

Monday, August 24, 2015

Twin Piqued: On The Wings of Love

It is...well, Monday as a new day closes in the famous Town of...
This week, evidence is uncovered, romance is in the air and a familiar (and loud) face is back in Town...
Important Moments
- Harry is awakened by a mysterious woman who then tries to kill him, which he stops.  Her motivation- unclear.

- Windom Earle leave a bug-laden Bonsai Tree in Truman's Office to get some intel.

- Gordon (David Lynch) is back in Town to reinstate Cooper and...hit on Shelly Johnson.  More on that later...
- James tells Donna that he's in San Francisco and going to Mexico.  Okay.

- Donna learns that there is a lurid past between her Mother and Ben Horne, which her Dad denies.

- Windom Earle plans his next move- after running into Audrey in disguise- and is based around the Miss Twin Peaks Contest...
- Audrey plans to make a romantic play with Billy Zane, but ends up getting sent out of Town by her Dad at the wrong moment.

- Cooper takes the gang spelunking into Owl Cave and they find a mysterious rock near the cave marking matches the marks on Log Lady and Colonel Stargate.
-  Cooper makes a play for Heather Graham, who is in Town fresh out of a Convent.  She seems to feel the same way.
- In on last tease, Windom Earle sets something in motion in the Owl Cave...
Since I'm doing this on a special day, I might as well do a special Theme Choice.  I choose...

Love Makes You Do Crazy Things
- Cooper is so smitten with Graham that he tells a corny joke.
- The unspoken love between Mrs. Hayward and Ben Horne is revealed.
- Windom Earle makes crazy plans to get 'his Queen.'
- Gordon falls for Shelly Johnson when his hearing somehow works only for her (more on that later)

Can you blame Cooper here?
Weird Moment(s)
In Second Place, we have Deputy Andy practicing his the Police Station.
Our Winner- Gordon Cole.  He earns it this week by...

- Annoying a hungover Truman with his 'shouting.'
- Nearly making Windom Earle deaf by inadvertently shouting into his hidden mic.
- Being instantly smitten by Shelly Johnson and not using his 'indoor voice.'
- Somehow being able to hear what she says fine, while still having to shout at Log Lady.

This is just even better in 2015 when I can't help but hear him as 'Gus' from The Cleveland Show!
Even on a different night, this Show is still good.  For being 'the bad part of the Show,' I still like it alot.  Everyone plays their parts well, be them big or small.  Cooper and Windom Earle plot big things, while Log Lady and Nadine sneak some small moments in.  Speaking of Earle, his mysterious Plot continues to keep me wondering, while ability to disguise himself amuses me.  They really should send out fliers of what he looks like by now!  The Characters on the Show continue to evolve, be it Ben Horne finding his good side or Cooper falling in love.  I still don't know where all of this is going, but I can't wait to find out.  Keeping the Director focus going, here is the Film that this Episode's Director made after working on the Show...
Next week, Windom Earle continues to scheme for the future.  Can a reinstated Cooper stop him before it is too late?  See you then...