Sunday, July 31, 2016

'Black' History Year: Black Mirror- White Bear

I guess I should finally start doing this again, huh?  Let's take a look at the next Episode of...
This one is all about mystery, bizarre moments and masks.  What is the secret of...
A woman wakes up alone in a mysterious house with no memories.  What has happened to her?  Did she date Bill Cosby?
Strange people in masks are here too and they are in pursuit.  What kind of 2000s Horror Movie did she wake up in?!?
On top of that, none of the unmasked people will talk to her or help her, choosing instead to just film her on their phones.  I guess they don't have those eye cameras then.
What is the dark secret behind this strange day in this woman's life?  I'd ruin it for too many people to say, so...no SPOILERS.
This is a strong one, even if I can't exactly go into too much detail as to why.  Sticking SPOILER-free, this one really lays the mystery and crazy on thick.  It just Cold Opens and takes awhile to ever tell you what is happening.  Full disclosure: this was the first Episode I ever saw.  I didn't know what this even was- as I live in America- when I was exposed to it.  All things considered, it isn't a bad way to start.  It is also worth noting that the Show's Episodes are so self-contained that you can watch any of them in any order.  Without talking about the revelation of this one, I can still praise it highly.  The way it is all shot and Edited makes you stay on your toes.  When you finally found out the reason for all of what is happening, it makes it even better.  It somehow both works well with the twists, but also doesn't 'live or die by them.'  If you don't like the reveal, the Episode is still good.  If you love the reveal, it is even better.  It just works.  Now if only I could figure out why Atari is the bad guy here...
Next time, a Political Episode about Cartoons.  Does this finally signify the return of Jib Jab?  See you then...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rare Flix: Night Eyes/Deadly Eyes

The Rats are coming!  The Review is here.  Today's Film is Deadly Eyes aka Night Eyes, a 1982 Horror Film about some familiar vermin.  This is all about Rats- big, ugly ones!  This is yet another Killer Animals Film based on a Book, although this one doesn't come to us from the 1970s.  Sorry, you're more in line with Slugs, Beaks than Bug or Night of the Lepus.  Is that an insult?  I'll get back to you on that.  This Film comes with a note from its original Author- it's bad.  He didn't like the Film apparently, but I guess the check still cashed.  The Director is notable- Robert Clouse.  The man who brought us Enter the Dragon and Jackie Chan's first big Film in America- Battle Creek- also made a Film about killer rats- go figure.  This fact was apparently not known by any of the Cast Members, which is odd when you consider that it was only 4 years past Game of Death's U.S. Release.  Ouch.  So yeah, the Plot involves vaguely-mutant Rats and a romantic love-triangle that is all sort of padding.  To find out if this is a lost Classic or something that your cat buried, read on...
Mutant Rats enter NYC via some tainted grain full of pesticides and steroids.  Thanks alot, Vince McMahon!
Our Hero is this Teacher, who has a girl in his Class with a crush on him.  She's subtle.
Here's something you probably didn't see coming...

After teasing that this kid is in danger several times, they...actually kill the kid in this Story!  Seriously!  They also kill the Responsible Teen, the same kind who'd live to the end in a Slasher Film.
The girl makes a move on the Teacher and he does his best to keep her away.  Try harder!
Meanwhile, the Rats continue their onslaught on the young, old and feeble.  Only one Teen so far!
To help the Film reach 90 minutes, he then hooks up with the lady who stopped the shipment from coming in originally.  For such a big City, it sure is small!
As the Film starts to wrap up, we get a bunch of people killed by Animals in the Subway.

Wait- this was also in Wild Beasts!  What are the odds?!?
The Film give us the Corman-Bay combo- giant explosion and burning the set down.
Our Heroes- he ditches the young girl, by the way- get the Subway started again and drive it to the next stop, revealing the Rats to everyone.  Aren't they also going to get them killed?

Oh well- the Film is over.  The End.
Where does this rank among the killer Rat Films?  Deadly Eyes is a pretty solid Film, even if the Plot doesn't ever deviate too much from the norm and is a bit padded.  The Rat effects are actually pretty convincing, even if they basically used the same trick from The Killer Shrews.  The Film apparently has a sort-of-Remake from 2002 and that just uses CG.  At least that Film has the weird notoriety of being bumped from TV on its original air date- September 11, 2001.  Ouch.  Anyhow, this one is still really not that great, but it at least deserves more than being a hard-to-find Film online.  In many ways, it is similar to stuff like those German Rat Films I covered long ago.  If you can accept the pretty stock Plot, the Film has some genuinely-good Effects (I know- I was shocked too) and a few surprises in store.  It also has some nice, dated moments like the Hero's kid watching the B.C. Cartoon and...people making out while watching Game of Death...
Next up, an even more Rare Film that isn't even on the 'big' sites.  Is it truly a hidden gem?  Stay tuned...

Almost Heroes: 'Radish' (Final Exam)

In this case, he's almost a Hero in a number of ways.

In Final Exam, a young man nicknamed 'Radish' finally takes his shot with the girl of his dreams.  What could go wrong?
Well, there is a mysterious killer on the loose and he's quickly racking up a body count.
After seeing the evidence of his crimes, the young man calls the Cops and goes to warn those close to him.
He runs to find the girl again and...gets grabbed by the killer!
So close!  So very, very close.
He died as he lived...with his head through a door.

Seriously though, he almost helped save the day.  That's more than most of these people.

Unfortunately, he was the virginal GUY in an 80s Slasher Film, so he dies.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Quick Reviews: Green Room (2016)

Rather than continue to mourn the loss of a young Actor, let's celebrate his last works.  For instance...
A down-on-their-luck Punk Rock Band- led by Anton Yelchin- is forced to take a skeezy gig when a better job drops out.  What could go wrong?
Well, he accidentally comes across the aftermath of a murder in a Skinhead Club, so...that.
They get stuck in the Green Room (roll credits) by the Gang who are trying to decide how to deal with the situation.
It comes down the group's Leader...Patrick Stewart?!?  I knews that Xavier was a jerk, but not a Neo-Nazi!
As the Band tries to plan their escape, is there any hope as their enemies attack?
Will the Band be able to fight back against the Neo-Nazis?  To find out, watch the Film.
 A reputation that is actually backed up with substance.  Green Room has unconventional Leads, an unconventional Story and some unconventional Casting.  What it does well is give you realistic Characters in a situation that hopefully never feels *too* real to you.  Should you ever find yourself held captives by Neo Nazis, this...probably won't help you too much.  I'd call the Cops.  In any case, this Film really benefits from the Casting, from Yelchin to Steward and everyone else here.  There really aren't any weak links here per se.  The Film does have some pretty gruesome moments in it, albeit in service of the Tone and Plot.  If you're squeamish about and don't like Films with a pretty dark Tone, be warned.  For everyone else, I can't help but recommend this tense, claustrophobic Thriller enough.  It also teaches you what bad Driving looks like...
Good, suspenseful Film.  A good show of what you can do with Good Actors, Story and little money.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

3,100th Post Celebration: The Gardener (1974)

Another numerical anniversary post!  This time, it is less 'safe sex' and more 'safe gardening'...
I thought I'd do something new, but I covering something old.  Makes sense, voice in my head!  Instead of just going for older Films- which I've done plenty of!-, I decided to do an older Film in context to the actual site.  In the very early days of the site (after I posted previously-written content), I talked about 2 Films- Wild Zero and The Gardener.  I thought it might be fun to look back at one of those Films now and see what has changed.  Well, the Film still sucks.  Unlike that 'Review' from 2009, I'll actually tell you more of a reason WHY it sucks.  The Gardener is a 1974 'Horror' Film by Director James H. Kay, the man behind...well, just this, it seems.  I'm not surprised!  He also Wrote this one, so no blame-sharing this time!  The Film 'Stars' Joe Dallesandro, although it mostly just Stars his shirtless chest.  Decades before Taylor Lautner, a Star dared to do his entire Film Role without a Shirt.  Well, I'm blaming him, but the Film's Budget couldn't have even been six figures, so maybe they just couldn't afford one.  Probably not the case.  The Story involves some rich White Ladies in Puerto Rico who hire a Gardener with a dubious past.  Why did his previous Employers die?  What is this secret?  Will this Film still be boring as hell?  To find out, read on...
In a Cold Open, a Woman is in the Hospital and freaks out when they put some plants in her room.  The danger of plant-based allergies shoots across the silver screen!

She dies.
We next meet our Heroine, this redhead who lives with her Businessman Husband overseas.  She finds out about her friend's death...but places more interest in what will happen to her Gardener!
To be fair, he is the guy from Andy Warhol's Dracula, so most Women would have done the same.

He sure is a vacant-looking guy in this Film.  What combination of drugs was he on here and why did he give them to Hayden Christensen?!?
He gets hired as her Gardener and the plants start to grow en masse.  Rare Plants appear with no reason.  Thrill as...people discuss Flowers!
Like any Joe Dallesandro Film, he's just waiting around to seduce the ladies (or Warhol, if necessary).
Strange things (note that I didn't say INTERESTING things) start to happen, which leads our Heroine to finally look into his past.

All of his previous Employers are now dead or ruined, which she at least found after *after* she hired him, as opposed to those morons from War (2007) who just hire Jet Li knowing that he'll kill them.
Her friend has hired him to take the stress off, but this backfires as he *immediately* tries to kill her by...apparently making vines grab her.

She dies when our Heroine just starts slashing at her arms...apparently.
In the last 5 minutes, something *kind of* happens as the Film flash cuts shots of Joe, some branches and other stuff in the dark.  He finally becomes...a tree!
...so she just burns it down as the Credits start.

So how is she going to explain any of this?  Doesn't matter, I guess!  The End.
Still bad.  Still boring.  Still kind of stupid.  The Gardener is an idea that could work, with the right Budget, Writer and Performers.  It is one of those Films that probably *needs* a Remake, as I can't imagine how you could make it worse.  Smash cut to 1313: The Gardener, right?  Honestly, I was hoping that maybe I was just remembering this one wrong.  Nope- still bad.  It took a few tries to power through this one as it just drags and drags.  It doesn't have Atmosphere at all either, so no excuse there.  It is just slow, silly and tedious.  As one Reviewer noted, most of the interesting stuff is just told to us.  The only on-screen stuff is the bit with the random swinging, a little blood and that little's overdramatic reaction to the plants.  It just sucks.  After all this time, I finally got around to really explaining why, so no need to see it yourself.  Well, maybe to figure out what is up with these two, but that's it...
I sure hope I get to watch something good 99 Posts from now!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Flix: Midnight Special (2016)

After a sudden ad blitz that sold it as the greatest Film of the Year, I...didn't see it until now.  Did I wait too long?
The Movie opens cold with a dry news read of the basic Plot set-up: a kid has been stolen from his Parents by stranger (Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton).
Said kid has something special about him...
The Government have been investigating some weird events with a Cult-like Ranch and send in...Kylo Ren?
The Ranch Members say some mysterious stuff about the boy, while the Government has some mumbo-jumbo about him hacking into satellite information...or something.
What is so special about this boy and why does he wear the same goggles that I did in the Pool as a kid?
Will the Government catch him?  What is the secret?  Why does Kylo Ren look nervous flying in a Chopper when he has a Space Ship?

To find out the answers to (most of) those questions, watch the Film.
I like a good mystery.  Watching the original Trailers for this, I certainly had many questions.  For one thing, why was it so obsessed with telling me that it was by Jeff Nichols?  If it was Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola, I'd get it.  To be fair, Nichols did make Mud and Take Shelter- the latter of which I've actually seen.  I guess I just didn't (and don't) think that his name is/was quite synonymous with great Films to *most* people that it warranted the ad regalia.  This was after Triple 9, which every Trailer told me was 'an instant Classic,' 'great' and 'Better than the return of Jesus.'  I may have made up one of those.  So how is the actual Film?  It's good.  The Film has some real mystery throughout, has some nice twists and does build up to something notable.  It is much more of an overt Film than Take Shelter (also with Shannon), which is generally a plus.  I liked the Acting overall, although Kirsten Dunst was a bit too mopey for me.  My big issue- which isn't that big, really- is that the Film plays a bit over dramatic.  It is a dramatic Film, so maybe tone it down a little.  It is only really that notable since the Film likes to be low-key for half of the time and over dramatic the other half.  It works sometimes, but not always.  Still a good Film, so no real serious complaints...even if they did put Nancy Grace in it...
Good Film overall, if a bit over dramatic for me at times.  When your Film has good Drama, you don't need to score it *quite so* over-the-top.