Saturday, December 31, 2016

Quick Reviews: Edge of Winter

As long as I'm reviewing old-timey Racism and giant Monsters, I might as well do an Indy Drama!  My logic is fun!
A slightly-unhinged man (Joel Kinnaman) is being given his kids for the Weekend.
Good news- his oldest Son is Spider-Man.

No, he's just some kid.  He's not happy with this arrangement.
When their Car gets wrecked, the trio are now stuck in the Woods.  At least Dad is holding it together.
Oh wait.
Things are only going to get worse before they get better.  Damn you, Ice!
When 2 new people show up, will they bring salvation or more trouble?  Will Dad snap (thus showing more emotion than Kinnaman has ever shown in a U.S. Film)?

To find out, watch the Film.
Good, but kind of hollow.  To be fair, the Film is full of good, interesting performances.  Unfortunately, that was just about all there was for me.  There is a Plot- just not much to talk about.  They go to the Woods, get stuck and then stuff happens.  I can't complain about the Film overall- it just wasn't that interesting overall.  Kinnaman and Holland do good jobs with their Roles, as underwritten as they are.  Edge of Winter had potential to be an interesting, claustrophobic Character Drama...but just had the last part.  My big question: why did they put in a Special Thanks for Seth Rogen?
Very much a Character Piece...but nothing more.  The bare-bones Plot is just enough to have everyone Act.

Holiday Cover Art: New Year's Evil

As the Year ends, I'm reminded of a Horror Film that I already Reviewed.

In lieu of just reposting that like a lazy SOB, I'll do something slightly-less-lazy and show you a touched-up Poster for said Film...
Kudos to the original Designer- the concept is neat.

I also love how much text they cram at the bottom to explain the whole Plot.  It's not *that* complex.

If you're curious to see the source material, here it is...
Still a good design- just all washed-out and orange.  This ain't Halloween, fool!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Ultra Rare Flix: Disney's Song of the South

What a lovely piece of History...that Disney refuses to release.  Today's Film is Song of the South, a 1946 Disney Film that is notorious for a number of reasons, most of which are warranted.  Why do an old Disney Film on a site that normally covers Horror Films, weird Sci-Fi and Asylum Films?  Well, this one has earned its reputation and is very rare.  Simply put, there is no U.S. Release for the Film as a whole, something that has even been addressed as recently as 2010!  Roger Ebert actually supported the non-release of this Film- to protect the children.  How bad could this be?!?  The Film is based loosely on the Uncle Remus Books from the 1880s, which tell the Tale of Remus telling Tales to Children.  Like its more famous counterpart- Uncle Tom's Cabin-, it was written by a white person.  Don't get me wrong- we're generally nice people, but maybe we should write what we know.  The Film tells the Tale of a young man who befriend Remus and learns life lessons through roughly-related Cartoon Segments.  By the third time, you'll immediately know that EVERY situation reminds Remus of a Br'er Rabbit Story.  Is this the horrible, Racist Film that everyone makes it out to be, something innocent or something in-between?  To find out, read on...
In an undisclosed time (theoretically in the 1880s, if it is accurate to the Books), a kid is taken to his Grandmother's Plantation...only to find out that his Dad is now leaving.  Awkward.

By the way, I have no control of the Aspect Ratio, since the only Version of this is based on a PAL Tape.
He's sad, but fortunately finds a new friend in Uncle Remus, a long-time worker that he's never met.  I guess that throwaway line about Grandma 'always coming to see them' is supposed to explain how this makes sense.
The Film is littered with Brer Rabbit Shorts that fill up about a third of the runtime.  Lesson #1: Don't try to run away from your troubles.

Remember, this is in no way an allegory of Slaves that wanted to run away.  No sir!
These two kids serve as our primary Antagonists, as the Film constantly presents them as bullies and talks about how they want to 'drown the puppy.'

Another thing: if they are supposed to be parallels to Br'er Fox and Bear to the kid, why do they appear AFTER the first short with said Cartoon Characters?
The 2nd Short is more infamous for using the Tar Baby than anything else.  The lesson: use your head.

Also don't use Blackface.  That's just MY take-away though.
This Hattie McDaniels.  She won an Oscar in 1940 for Gone with the Wind.  She plays a Maid as a glorified Extra.  Yea.
The final Short has a very odd lesson- 'find your laughing place.'  That's...good?
After lots of silly melodrama, the kid is accidentally attacked by a bull (!!!), but survives when Remus and his Dad show up.

I'm going to push the theory that the kid actually died here from now on.  You'll see why...
The kid is next seen celebrating with his two friends and they run into...Br'er Rabbit.  Yes, him and his friends are now 'real' or something as Remus looks like he's about to say 'f#%k me'...before joining them.  The End.
Weird, melodramatic and more than a little Racist.  Is it that out there to suggest that this Film that didn't even bother to clarify that it takes place *after* Slavery has ended is Racist?  Granted- there are parts that are worse than others.  This one definitely has earned its reputation, although is still not the worst stuff I've seen.  That would probably still be most of Mantan Moreland's stuff (made around this time) and the Character in The Killer Shrews that acts like he came out of an Uncle Tom Play (even though the Film was made in 1959!!!).  To note, Disney could have avoided *some* issues with a simple Time Stamp, but instead let the NAACP say that it was 'set in the Antebellum Era.'  Why not deal with this?  If the idea is that everyone knows the Books, that is hard to say when it has been over 60 Years (and you're marketing to kids)!  The actual Film is still not *that* interesting aside from the obviously-Racist stuff.  It is chock full of the Melodrama you expect from the Era.  Incidentally, I think the Dad (who is a Newspaper Editor) is based on the Writer of the Books (who was also a Newspaper Editor).  How META is that?!?  The thing is a bit repetitive and not good with establishing how much time is passing at any given point.  You get no hint of the kid's Birthday being soon at the beginning, but it happens before the Third Act in the Film, so...has it been weeks?  To give the Film some credit, the integration of Animation and Live-Action is generally pretty good, especially for being made so long ago.  Should the Film be released?  Hell yes.  Don't be ashamed of your Racist and/or dark Past, Disney.  Besides, you were still using Br'er Rabbit and Fox as recently as 2011 (in a Kinect Game)!  Besides, how else can people tolerate the less-awful stuff like this if you don't?
Next time, I start the Year off with something good.  That doesn't mean that it is a good Film- when has it ever?!?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Quick Reviews: Shin Godzilla

Oh oh Godzilla- finally!  I've had to wait a while to see the latest Godzilla Film, so let me dive right in...
One day, a mysterious blast occurs in the Water.  It wrecks Bridges and Tunnels.  Cue bureaucracy!
Oh crap- it is Monster!

No, thankfully it is something much better!
What will the men in Suits do?  Will they cut through all of the red tape to actually help?
While they do that, Godzilla gets all big, angry and smashy.  Might want to hurry, guys!
Can Japan and its leadership muster up the military might to put a stop to Godzilla?
Or will the creature continue to rampage throughout the Country unchecked?

To find out, watch the Film!
Was it worth the 12 year wait?  Yes, I do realize that WE made a Godzilla Film.  It has been 12 years since Final Wars, so that's what I'm going from.  First and foremost, this is a hard Reboot.  This is the first time that Shin Godzilla appears, after living with nuclear waste for the last 60 years.  Secondly, this Godzilla does a bit of changing throughout the Film, so don't be too quick to judge the appearance of him.  The big thing is that this Film does its best to feel realistic- for better or for worse.  Since this is the first appearance of a giant creature, there is no Mechagodzilla, Jet Jaguar or any other Monster.  Basically, this is an updated Version of Godzilla: 1985, the last Film to finally get a proper DVD Release.  Just like that one, America also comes across as a bit of an asshole.  On the plus side, we don't act that way without *some* justification.  Geez, you can't nuke a Country twice without them getting all mad about it.  That aside, the Film focuses on the people behind the scenes more than most of these Films have, making Godzilla a fairly-ever-present menace that has to be dealt with.  There's some humor in the level of bureaucracy here.  Will everyone like it?  Probably not.  The last Film in the official Series had Aliens and just about every previous Monster showing up.  This one is much more akin to the original Film.  Ironically, the real Steve Martin is now old enough to play the *character* of Steve Martin from the U.S. Version of Gojira.  Make it happen!  I should note that a big part of the Film focuses on the U.S. Ambassador to Japan...who is Japanese (and has dreams of being President!).  Here's what the current Ambassador looks like...
It takes a bit to get started and you have to accept the slight change of focus.  Once you get there, however, the whole thing is a blast!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pilot Wings: Stan Against Evil

Getting out of the Holiday rut and the bad news that continues to plague 2016, I might as well do another one of those.

This time, it is a Horror-Comedy Show from IFC with a somewhat-familiar-sounding name...
In a Cold Open, a freaky Witch Lady attacks our Hero in a Cemetery before it tries to burn the Sheriff at the stake.
Flash back to roughly a week earlier and we meet Stan in mourning for his Wife.  He's not taking the whole thing too well, compounded by the fact that he lost his job too.
He finds out that his Wife was keeping a big secret from him: she was keeping evil Spirits and powers at bay for him, which is why he's the only Sheriff not to die quickly after entering the Office.
With her out of the picture, the new Sheriff- who is, of course, from out of Town and different- is targeted.
She goes to Stan for help, but he's a total dick.  You see, he's not like Ash, because he's sarcastic and pro-active...just only when he wants to.
Will the pair defeat the Witch?  Will they survive the other 171 that will soon follow?  Will the Show get to cover that many?

To find out, watch the Show.
An interesting concept, but not fully-formed.  To be fair, most Shows aren't 100% set in the Pilot/first Episode.  Remember Fiona's Irish Accent in the Burn Notice Pilot?  That said, this definitely needs some work.  I love me some John C. McGinley, but his Character is hard to relate to right now.  There are brief moments of humanity, but he is otherwise just kind of a petty asshole.  To compare this to the obvious source (Ash vs Evil Dead), we know Ash from the Films and can accept how he acts.  This is a fresh Character, so he needs a better transition.  Other Characters- like his Daughter and the Deputy- are barely featured as well, leaving plenty of room for improvement with them.  Beyond that, the concept sounds like it could be quite fun and I want semi-original stuff like this to succeed.  As a Pilot, it sort of works, but doesn't fully sell you (or, more accurately, me).  It still feels a bit too much like Ash vs. Evil Dead (which did come out first!), although they did flip *who* got a face full of bloody goop in this one...
Considering the people involved, I'll probably give this one at least another Episode or two.  I like the people...but the product is still a bit murky for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holiday Grapple Crap: Santa's Little Helper (2015)

After facing down Krampus, I have to face...The Miz.  Yes, he is here to haunt my Christmas yet again!  Today's Film is Santa's Little Helper, a 2015 Film that has been haunting my DVD Rack since last December.  I got it as part of a Gift Exchange I do with my friends, but knew that I wouldn't touch it until December.  Sure enough, I left it wrapped until the beginning of this Month.  I still needed time to work my way up to this Made-for-TV nonsense anyhow.  This time, The Miz is a Businessman who is a complete asshole.  In other words, not a giant stretch.  As far as Real World Cast Members go, he's somewhere between the guy who sometimes writes good Comics and the guy who puts on a Southern Accent to stay in the Senate...somehow.  When his life unravels, he's somehow the perfect guy to get a magical job with Santa Claus.  Of course!  This one is at least more appropriate for the Holidays than the one he was in in which Mobsters want to kill people on Christmas.  Is it any good?  To find out, read on...
The Miz is a complete asshole who is going to foreclose on an Orphanage in December.
...but then he loses his job, his girlfriend and his car.  He's Acting now!
When Santa's Second-in-Command is forced due to retire due to off-screen Dementia.  For kids!

His Daughter- WWE's Paige- wants the job, but can't...since Santa doesn't like her, I guess.
Santa's Personal Trainer is sent to test The Miz for the job.  Does the job require doing Squats?  Otherwise, I'm not sure why she is the person for the job.
A Douchebag in a Car Getting Coffee.
We interrupt the Film for a pointless Sub-Plot about another Elf trying to find his identity.  That is all.
Miz's Training for the job involves trying to talk down angry Bikers, deal with kids and doing shirtless Aerobics with some old Ladies.  This Mike is less Magic than promised.
His final Test involves helping a Stranger get back a Ring.  He does threatening a Teenager.

Conflict comes back when Paige challenges him for the job.  The Challenge: something out of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge.  Miz should have this in the bag!
Can Miz find himself and save the day?  Can Santa manipulate more people for the day is done?  Can this girl realize that she's using the wrong spelling of 'Center?'

To find out, watch the Film (if you insist).  The End.
Damn.  On the plus side, this is not as bad as I thought it would be.  On the negative side, I'm not sure that I laughed even once.  It wasn't unbearable, but it sure wasn't that good.  The Miz, to be fair, does try to act sometimes.  He's not that good...but at least I was being fair just then.  He's at least the Lead this time, so the Film isn't trying to trick you like Christmas Bounty.  This one does try to give you a good message- don't become a dickbag if one guy is a dickbag to you.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  I want all you kids growing up under President Trump to pay special attention to that one!  Instead of Miz being sold as a Lead and not being one, we've got Paige.  She appears in about 4 Scenes, not counting reaction shots that could have been made at any point and time.  Her conflict over leading is both odd (why is she so high-ranking if she's so bad?) and silly (why is she not assumed for the job if he Dad was doing it and presumably vouched for her?).  Thank God it and the 'Elf wants to be someone else' Subplots aren't here, otherwise the Film wouldn't hit exactly 90 minutes.  Phew!  In addition, they stole a whole Plot from Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.  I just thought that you should know that.  If you like cheap, Family Films with all of the usual stuff (schmaltz, predictability and pratfalls), this will work.  If you like better Films, watch Gremlins this Christmas.  According to his Entrance Graphic, Maryse is 'The Most Successful Businesswoman in the World' (paraphrasing), so...why is she working in a Dive Bar?
Next up, a classic Horror Film who's awful Sequels have already been covered.  Is God in the Machine or is it someone else?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Lost in Translation?: Black Christmas (1974)

Another early gift.  Considering what I have for Christmas is more horrific than any killings, this is a proper lead-in.

This alternate DVD Cover is more recent, but neat as hell!
That Tagline is...just plain awesome.  So silly, but great.

The use of only 3 Colors is also quite nice.

I was going to touch this one up too,, it is good enough.

Lost in Translation: Black Christmas (1974)

In the Spirit of the Holidays, I present a different look at a Holiday Horror Classic.  It may be overrated to some, but I dug it.

This one comes to us from Asia- forgive me for not being able to translate...
A couple things to touch here...

1) I love the little Phone just hanging there.  So cute.
2) The fact that this is a 'Character Poster' is interesting for the time.
3) The random English at the top is interesting too, right?

Just to note: this is a slightly-touched up Version of the one online.  To see the non-Photoshop-adjusted Version, look below...
Same basic one- just a bit washed out.  No shock there.