Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Flix: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse

It is long after Halloween, but just in time for this one.  Today's Film is Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, a 2015 Horror-Comedy that came out in October.  I didn't see it then, but I'm seeing it now.  Big whoop- wanna fight about it?!?  Anyhow, the Film is all about 3 teenage Scouts who's skills suddenly become more important when all hell breaks loose.  They say that when there is no room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.  Will the be able to stop someone with a shirt full of Merit Badges though?  The Film is notable for having no real big Stars in it and just being marketed purely for the gimmick.  It is from the Director of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (the one where being marked by a Demon gives you super powers), but thankfully he didn't write it.  Interesting (to me) note: one of our leads is going to be the new (young) Cyclops this year, while the other is the voice of Nova in Marvel's Cartoons.  What a weird way for Marvel to cross over.  Throw in the fact that the female lead was a random person in the Agents of SHIELD Pilot and you've got some randomness.  In addition, those two aforementioned leads were also in The Stanford Prison Experiment- the Film, that is.  Will this Horror-Comedy have teeth or just plain stink?  To find out, read on...
This dumb-ass Janitor starts a small-scale Zombie Apocalypse.

Side-note: this is the 2nd Horror Comedy I've seen now with a Cast Member from Workahaulics.  Will I get the final person to complete the set?
These two are teenage Scouts, but want out.  They just feel like they have to stay because of their friend.  It was quite handy of them to remind each other of that stuff they knew in order for us to also know it!
Meanwhile, remnants of the initial outbreak make it to the Woods and start infect.  First to go- Champ Kind.

Incidentally, the Film jumps ahead quite a bit later and we never see the Janitor again.  Was he killed during the later outbreak or just only available for the one day of the Shoot?
Out in the Woods, our Heroes go to ditch their friend...but he catches them.  Cue Conflict!
They go back to Town and discover what is going on.  The dead are rising, which probably means that Frank West is in a TV Station doing jack shit.  Call back!
Now aligned with the Stripper...I mean, Cocktail Waitress from earlier, our Heroes get trapped.  Will they escape?
More importantly, can these Scouts put their personal issues aside to save the Town?  Relying on hormonal Teens- you're doomed.
Are even their skills and ingenuity enough?  To find out, watch the Film.  The End.
Surprisingly-fun and entertaining.  While the Previews looked alright, the Film didn't look like anything special.  As it turned out, it was pretty good.  To get the negatives out of the way, the conflict wasn't all that unique and the Soundtrack- the Instrumental stuff, that is- was pretty uninspired.  It was appropriate for each Scene, but felt like they took it from a Stock Music Catalog.  That said, their use of eidetic Music was quite fut.  With that said, let me focus on the positive.  The Characters are all pretty likable, the Story was good overall and the Make-Up work was good.  They also used blatant CG pretty sparingly and it was mostly for stuff that is alot harder to replicate practically (like below).  They got to play a little with the idea of who would become a Zombie and how they'd act, which was fun.  The Comedy set pieces were pretty funny and only ventured into the really gross a few times.  It also walked an interesting line by having some explicit content- like Zombie boobs- while also having teen Characters.  There's a lesson in Marketing that kind of thing, right Fun Size?  While it doesn't reinvent the Genre or anything, Scouts Guide is fun, original at times and not disappointing.  Ain't that a shot to the face?
Next, my favorite target continues to make I must watch them.  It is the best Jason Statham Film to Star...ugh...Steven Seagal.  Stay tuned...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Quick Reviews: Rotor DR-1

I have no problem going into a Film blind.  Sometimes, however, a Film is just...well, not interesting.  For example...
In a bleak future, a vague disease has led to the death of millions.  Not so fun.
Aside from a small number of people, the biggest survivors: Drones.
Our Hero- a young man searching for his missing father- finds the DR-1 drone and revives it.
He works with some other survivors to try and find his dad.  They walk around, play with the drones and...
...yeah, this is boring.  Sorry, dude.  The End.
 Yeah, I couldn't muster the interest.  There's nothing really wrong with Rotor DR-1, as far as I could tell.  It was shot alright, the Sound was in synch and all the usual 'stuff that goes wrong' is absent.  It just wasn't interesting.  All of the interesting stuff- the mysterious virus and the breakdown of society- was just told to have happened.  In its place, Drones.  Yeah, that's it.  I don't really find Drones flying around to be all that interesting.  Am I wrong?  If you find that interesting, this Movie will work for you.  It didn't for me.  Take it away, 2014 Kevin Smith...
It isn't just didn't interest me all that much.  If you love bleak Sci-Fi and drones, this is your Film.  If not, well, don't say that I didn't warn you.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Quick Reviews: Incident On and Off A Mountain Road (MoH)

Well, it took 10 years and the death of one of the Actors to finally get me to see this one.  It is yet another tale from...
In this tale from the Director of Phantasm, a woman runs across some evil and only some darkness from her past can keep her alive.
While driving at night, a woman runs into a mysteriously-vacant car.  A dark stranger appears carrying her body!
In some important flashbacks, we see how she ended up dating- and later marrying- this psycho.
In the present, she is now being hunted.  She uses survival skills and trap-making that he taught her to try and survive.
She ends up in the clutches of the killer- Moonface- and runs across this weird old dude- the now-late Angus Scrimm- he also keeps captive.
After an intense struggle, she manages to kill Moonface by making him fall out his cliff-side window.
In the aftermath, we learn that she was assaulted by her crazy Husband when she told him she was leaving.  She put his training to good use as she manages to kill him.

She leaves his body at Moonface's Farm and drives off into the sunset.  The End.
Not exactly full of uplifting morals.  Incident is a dark Tale that plays well with action in the present and Flashbacks.  The Story is pretty simple- crazed killer targets woman- but they only use this as a format to play with.  The woman is much more dangerous than he initially gives her credit for.  Even when Moonface adjusts for her skills, she still manages to escape his clutches and fight him.  What part of Survival Training involves teaching you to use a dead baby's skeleton as a flail?  The Flashbacks are used well to show the progression of her training and relationship with her husband.  Is it a cheat to only show the Flashback of her killing him last?  Of course it is.  Regardless, the whole thing works well.  Another thing it does well is showing you enough gore to be effective, but not so much as to make it like one of those Saw Films.  The most gory-seeming scene- involving a drill and a person's face- is well done.  How?  You don't see the drill go in.  You see it approach, see something else entirely and then see a drill covered in a blood-like substance in close-up.  You know what happened, but you don't see any of it.  Good on you, Coscarelli.  All in all, Incident is an intense watch, but a good one.  If you like the dark, seedier stuff, check this one out.  If you don't like it, complain to someone other than her...
Dark, twisted stuff.  Even so, it is a good effort from Coscarelli and company.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Quick Review: Pixels (2015)

Adam Sandler.  The name alone makes me groan.  Even so, I finally watched this one (via Netflix), so let's see how it turned out...
The World is threatened by a brand new kind of evil...
Even scarier than the Atari port of Pac-Man- a giant, 'real' version!
With this and other threats on the rise, only one person can save us.  It is...ugh...this guy.

Well, that and the no doubt THOUSANDS of people who know how Video Games work.
Can he- along with 2 other 'Gamers,' a Military Expert and the President- save the day?
More importantly, will it be better than the Short Film they copied?  To find out, watch the Film.
Ugh.  Is there really a better description to give?  A once-good Director, a once-reliable Actor (even if I never liked him) and a subject matter that should be fun.  How do all three of these things go wrong?  On top of that, a guy who's been very successful on Broadway (Josh Gad), but pretty much sucked everywhere else.  Yes, he was in Frozen, but did that really succeed due to him?   You also have someone who everyone likes from Game of Thrones.  He's fun, at least...even if he's a poorly-written Character and talks like a Cartoon.  The basic idea is fine, but the Story is full of a million holes.  Why does a Video Game Tournament (a local one at that!) sent with a bunch of other footage make unseen Aliens think that these pixelated characters are our Soldiers?  How do Aliens reacting to 1982 footage respond with clips of Madonna from 1984?  How do they also do it with a 1984 Burger King commercial?  How does any of the fake science here make any sense?  How do we decipher it without 48 hours and make a million new devices that are necessary?  Why did we make our devices to work with the weaknesses of the game too?  There are plenty more, but I think you get the point.  Some good Effects help make it palatable, but it quickly wears thin.  Sandler's Character is just kind of a dick and the whole Movie is misogynistic is a somewhat subtle way.  It is just not good.  Stick with the Futurama segment that they don't bother to credit instead...
Really not that good.  Bad enough to make you all sorts of questions, but not interesting enough to make you care all that much.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Old School Horror: The Return of the Vampire

Not exactly a Sequel, but it really wants you to think it is!  Today's Film is The Return of the Vampire, a 1943 Vampire Film Starring Bela Lugosi (!) that is NOT a Dracula Film.  Well, he's not playing Dracula, but he is.  This one comes to us from Columbia Pictures and not Universal, hence the name change.  They find a rather different way to make the Title fit, so this isn't completely misdirection.  The intention is still clear here, however, so let's not shy away from it.  Bela himself wouldn't return to the role until 1948's Abbot & Costello Meet the Frankenstein, making this the awkward middle child of the 'series.'  The Film involves a different Vampire going on a killing spree, getting stopped and then coming back years later (in the year the Film was actually made).  He also has a Wolfman.  The Film is very casual about this, so I will be too, I guess.  Notably, the Film features a fairly-strong female heroine.  It is 1943, so good for you.  How good is the whole Film though?  To find out, read on...
A Wolfman!  Wow, that was fast.

He wakes up his Master to do some evil back in 1918.
I have to note how idyllic and silly this Family looks by today's standards.  The Son is asking if he can play a song on the Piano before he goes to bed!  If only!
 Fairly soon, the Wolfman is followed back to the Vampire's Tomb and the latter is slain.  It is only 15 minutes in, so I thought my Disc had skipped or something!
Cut to 1943 and the Nazi Bombing of London shakes free the Vampire's coffin.  Two blokes see a stake in his heart and think it is shrapnel, removing it.

Oddly, they don't die.  Go figure.
The Vampire returns (first showing Bela) and takes on the identity of a dead Scientist.  He wants to get back at the woman who killed him before.

Now, I guess she didn't see his face before.  Otherwise, how the hell does this Plot work?
He targets her Son's fiancee and later the Son himself.

Oddly, they imply that the girl attacked the Son...but then the Vampire later casually cops to doing it.  Weird, right?
The woman figures it all out and makes a play against the Vampire.  Kudos to the Film for this nice bit of imagery.  Since it is only 1943, it isn't nearly so cliche to boot!
In an interesting turn, the Wolfman- who was freed when the Vampire was killed and then re-enslaved- does the final deed, dragging the Vampire out and staking him.
As Not Dracula melts, I should note that the Bombing inadvertently aids the deed.  Bonus credit to the Nazis!

Oh...The End.
Fun, old school stuff.  What else can I say?  Bela is back- fun.  A Vampire and a Wolfman- fun.  A WWII-era Vampire Film- bonus.  All it needs now is the cliche shot of someone walking down the Stairs in a trance...
Next up, I continue to sort through the mixed 'bag' of Films.  It is probably going to involve Zombies, so heads up.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Quick Reviews: The Lobster (2015)

Wow, this is weird.  Leave it to my Irish brethren to make a crazy, low-key Sci-Fi Film...
In a bleak future, men like David (Colin Farrell) are forced to be part of a couple or else they are turned into an animal!
He's sent to a Resort where the Loners (Single people) are given a small window of time to find a mate or be punished.

Oh and don't touch yourself or they'll burn your hand.
David reluctantly hooks up with a cruel woman in order to avoid being turned into a Lobster.
Things don't exactly work out, so he flees to the Woods to live a new life.
He finds some people living as Loners there and finds someone he is actually attracted to.  Can things work out for the best?
Or will this bleak future prove to be too much for true love and all that?  To find out, watch the Film.
Weird, dry stuff.  The whole thing works and/or fails based on one thing: it's dry humor.  Even though the premise is absolutely bizarre, they never treat it like that.  For better or worse, the Film treats everything with a casual, disinterested tone.  Crazy stuff like being turned into a Horse if you don't marry is just, well, something that happens.  They also get very oddly-specific about certain details- strange.  If you don't like that kind of thing, it just isn't going to work for you.  After Absolutely Anything and its wacky tone, this one sure feels strange.  The Irish and the Brits really don't get along!  Everyone here does a good job, from Farrell's casual tone to Ben Whishaw's angry Loner.  Again- you won't like them if you don't buy into the Film's humor.  The Lobster isn't a great Film, but I had a bizarrely-good time with it.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to an NRA Picnic...
Curious stuff that won't be for everyone.  The whole thing is drier than white toast, but also crazy.