Friday, March 31, 2017

90s Class: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Hollywood has a way of making me watch stuff I already should have.  Today's Film is Ghost in the Shell, the 1995 Anime Film that is arguably the second-most-famous.  If your Live-Action Adaptation doesn't suck, you may overtake Akira.  They keep putting off its Film, so go for it!  Yes, this is the first time I've watched Ghost.  In case it is not already clear, I've never been a big Anime Guy.  In spite of how famous this one is, I didn't watch this one until just recently.  If you don't know, the Plot involves Kusanagi working for Section 9 to find a mysterious Puppet Master.  If Six-Shooter shows up, I'm leaving!  This one has become very famous over the years and copied by many.  Even after all this time, the question remains- do I like it?  To find out, read on...
In the year 2029, Section is trying to catch a mysterious Hacker known as The Puppet Master.  They send in their best agent...
She makes quick work of a Government Agent offering him asylum and shows off her invisibility suit...which sounds counter-intuitive.

Ouch.
The mysterious Puppet Master is hacking into people's digital minds (aka Ghosts) for his own ends.
She tracks down people close to the Puppet Master, having a fight so iconic that they outright copied it for the new Film.  Could be worse.
In an interesting twist, they set this guy up as the most obvious 'Going to die for tragedy' and then don't!  Kudos.
The whole Story is pulled back and forth between 90s-style Action Scenes and Existential Dialog.
The Puppet Master argues for his existence and yadda yadda.  It is all super-deep, yo.
Kusanagi goes for a big, climactic battle against a tank that nearly cripples her 'body.'  She links up with The Puppet Master to end things once and for all.
In the end, the Puppet Master is gone and she has evolved...or something.  It is all very complicated.  The End.
It is easy to see why this is such a notable Film.  For something made 20 years ago, it looks quite great.  Just to be clear- I did not watch the 2.0 Version.  From what I gather, it is just the *good* version of the Special Edition-style Film.  The Story is complicated, but still pretty engrossing.  This was made in 1995, so there is going to be an obsession with A.I., Hackers and all that jazz.  They give you some nice, simple glimpses into Kusanagi without giving away too much.  She keeps her general mystique, while also being a bit relatable.  Who can't relate to what is basically an Android who shoots people and turns invisible?  The Film is most notable for its sense of style.  Thankfully, it looks less like Blade Runner than the new, live-action one does!  The Action is quite good here, thanks to fluid Animation that helps keep it vibrant.  The only, minor, downside for me is just how entrenched the Film gets in its own techno-babble lore.  Some of you love it- that's fine.  For me, it was a bit too much by the end.  All in all, Ghost in the Shell is undisputedly a classic of Anime Films, in spit of my minor complaints.  That said, what is with the 1980s Fashion in 2029?
Next up, the long-delayed Sequel.  Will it be more soaring action and less Sartre?  Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Quick Reviews: The Cloth (2013)

Nearly 4 years after making fun of the then-recent Film's Cover, I finally watch the Film.  Joy.
In a Cold Open, 2 Priests try to exorcise the girl from the cover.  In the process, the Lead Priest dies.

That Priest- Danny Trejo.  He disappears after the first 5 minutes (save for one Flashback), so enjoy this out-of-focus shot of him to symbolize his importance.
The surviving Priest goes to this Calvin Klein Model to be his new helper, since his Dad used to be a part of The Cloth.  He's apathetic to it...but he does have abs, so...he's our Hero.
Eric Roberts again?  Cthulhu dammit!

On the plus side, he appears for 3 minutes here and then once more with no dialog later.  He has top-billing.
Despite not being on-board that much, CKM joins The Cloth and gets his sometimes-neat-looking outfit.

In case you were wondering, they did see Priest before they made this.
The duo fight against evil as a minion of Satan tries to clear the path for a gateway.

While they have neat IDEAS, they can't make good CG to save their lives and their Action Scenes are chopped to hell.  Paul Greengrass thinks that your shaky cam is too much!
Can they save the World from like 3 or 4 Demons and a Mini-Boss?  Can they make me not fall asleep halfway through?  To find out the answers (the 2nd is 'no' BTW), watch the Film.
Disappointing stuff.  Some Movies are just bad, while others are disappointing.  If I'm watching a Film called Blood Gnome (which I have), for example, I don't expect much in the way of quality.  If I'm watching a Film like this, however, I want it to be better.  It checks so many boxes in the 'This Sounds Cool as a Film' Checklist...but sucks.  For one, their CG is bad.  No matter how neat the Weapons may sound, the Effects suck.  Second, the Action Scenes are just hard to follow.  There is a general complaint on the Internet about overly-Edited/Cut Fight Scenes in Films.  While I get it, I'm less bothered by it than most.  That said, these ones are awful.  It is just sad.  Speaking of sad, the glorified Cameos of Trejo and Roberts.  I get it- you're making a cheap Film and can only get them for so much time.  If you are going to go that route, don't bill them so high.  At best, you can say that the people that released the DVD were responsible for this.  Regardless, The Cloth is an interesting disappointment that just doesn't work.  As for that silly Cover I mentioned years ago, it does occur in the Film...before she is shot 4 seconds later.
A Film that has promise, but no clear way to live up to it.  If this was in the hands of someone with money and more talent, it would be great!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Quick Reviews: The Tomb (2009)

This one is super-forgettable, so I probably shouldn't put this one off any longer.  Sorry, Poe...
In this 'Poe-inspired' Film, we meet a Professor with a Fiancee who teaches stuff like Edgar Alle Poe's works.
He's kind of a quirky guy.  After all, why else is he mixing Shakespeare with Poe?
A mysterious Student comes into his life and make a move on him, giving him Absinthe and doing some kind of vague magic.
With very little build-up, the affair is revealed and the pair get married via the Exposition Newspaper.
His new- and sudden- wife is doing weird experiments with dead people and trapping souls!
Can he escape this madness?  Can you give a Poe Story a happy ending?

To find out, watch the Film.
A pretty nothing Film.  The Story has promise.  It features murder, weird science and some sort of magic.  The end result, however, is both too long and rushed.  It rushes through the first part and then drags a bit in the 2nd half.  I won't SPOIL the Film directly, but it is based on 'The Tomb of Ligeia,' so it doesn't have *that* much in the way of secrets.  The Story is over 100 years old (and quite famous) after all.  The changes they make kind of work.  Apparently Poe was actually critiqued for his Ending at the time by a famous Writer, so I guess the change is less annoying.  This Version sets up some neat ideas, has some good locations, but just didn't do much for me.  The fact that Michael Madsen sort of tries to act here almost counter-balances Eric Roberts doing a highly-dubious accent.  'The Tomb of Ligeia' is a Classic Tale.  The Tomb is a so-so Film that has already mostly-been-forgotten in the last 7 odd years.  Any final thoughts, Mr. Madsen?
By-the-number stuff that doesn't really suck or impress.  The take on Poe's Story has promise, but doesn't really deliver for me.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bob's Birthday Review: King of the Ring 1995

Last year, I watched a Short Film about a literal piece of shit.  Today, I watch a Show that is generally considered to be a piece of shit.  Irony?  I have covered many Wrestling Films- be them Horror Films with Kurt Angle, Horror Films with DDP or Action Films with The Ultimate Warrior-, but never a Wrestling PPV.  This is King of the Ring 1995, a very infamous WWF (at the time) Show.  Here's the basic set-up for you: Wrestlers battle in a Tournament and the Winner is crowned King.  They get a Crown, a Scepter and all that.  King of the Ring worked well for some in the past- like Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar-, but not so well for others- HHH and Billy Gunn.  Even someone who doesn't follow Wrestling in the 1990s knows Austin 3:16, an expression coined at 1996's King of the Ring.  Instead of that, we get...King Mabel, the 2 biggest Stars getting shafted, another 2 forced to hang around ringside and a House Show Main Event.  It is pretty bad.  To find out if this Show is as bad as many say, read on...
The man on the left is Razor Ramon (aka Scott Hall).  A legitimate injury forced him out of wrestling that night.  Don't worry- he gets to hang around at ringside all night though!

The man on the right is Savio Vega.  Due to Razor's injury, he gets to wrestle 4 TIMES on the Show.  No, he wasn't a big Star at this point.
Why does Savio Vega make it so far on this Show?  Well, he has the ability to make a guy do a Flying Nothing (aka jumping to get hit when you aren't doing a real move in the first place).

Seriously, what would this have been without his foot being raised?
In Tournament Matches (featuring Bob 'Spark Plug' Holly, The Roadie and Kama Mustafa), the Flying Nothing returns to cost Holly the win.
Don't worry- a big pair of Stars do appear on the Show.

The Hardy Boys open the door for the Entrances.  No, really.
The Show is just a big, slow grind with few good spots.  Here is a representation of how the Show feels when you watch it.
Pro-Tip: Take a Shot every time they mention Mabel's weight.  You'll either be too drunk by the end to care OR too amped up on Red Bull to notice how much of an anti-climax this is.
After winning the King of the Ring Crown, Mabel attacks Razor Ramon.  Since his rib injury is actually real (and not just kayfabe), he takes an...elbow to the face.
Don't worry- the second one will definitely hit his....never mind.
As if to highlight this whole thing, a man or woman with great aim manages to clock King Mabel with some trash during his Coronation Ceremony.  Good on ya, mate or matie!
This is not good.  Right off the bat, let me cover the good.  Bret Hart, The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels all wrestle here in their relative primes.  On top of that, Mabel has a few good moves.  Alright, now let us get to the bad stuff.  Hart is wrestling Jerry Lawler in a Kiss My Foot Match, so the quality is way down.  On top of that, it features two 'I'll Hold Him and You'll Hit- OOPS- Me' spots in five minutes.  Does Lawler ever learn?  Next, The Undertaker does his best with Mabel, but can't win his match due to a dumb, long-running Story with the Million Dollar Corporation.  This crap took up the first THREE MAIN SHOWS OF THE YEAR (The Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania and Summerslam).  Lastly, Michaels was booked to wrestle to a 15-minute Time Limit Draw against Kama Mustafa.  The best reason I could think for you to possibly do this would be to avoid having HBK lost to Mabel.  Would you do it?  Would he have said yes (as his reputation during this time is damn bad!)?  As a bonus, Ramon hangs out at ringside and Intercontinental Champion Jeff (ha ha) Jarrett is managing The Roadie (as he was eliminated by The Undertaker in the Tournament).  So with all this talent, you have Savio Vega wrestle 3x on the main Show and once before it (with the first Flying Nothing), The Roadie/Road Dogg go on twice and Mabel wrestle twice.  Damn.  King Mabel is not the worst thing they could have done, as he does get some legitimate heat and was at least a more mobile giant than Yokozuna (who loses via Count Out after previously winning in the same Tournament via Count Out) at the time.  In case you don't know, this leads to Mabel injuring WWF Champ Diesel, losing in a 7 minute Summerslam Main Event, losing in 1 minute to Diesel later and then legit injuring The Undertaker.

So yeah, this Show is bad.  At least it features some subtle plugs for their Sponsor though...
Happy Birthday, Bob!

I hope that this was worth sitting through another version of Hard to Be A God in July.  :-)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Poor Bastards of Cinema: The Thompsons

As I already have another Poor Bastards of Cinema induction lined up, I might as well do this one now...

In The Thompsons, the titular Family is hiding out in Europe.  The older Brother and Sister hide out in France where they hire a Hooker.

When she annoys them (and they get hungry), they kill and feed on her.
As if THAT wasn't enough, her Pimp/Security is outside the door.
When he hears the ruckus, he pokes his head in to see what is going on...
...which leads them killing him too!
In their *slight* defense, he was now a witness.  Mind you, he was a witness to THEM KILLING A HOOKER FOR NO GOOD REASON.

The moral: pimping ain't easy- especially when dealing with Vampires.

Friday, March 24, 2017

3,300th Post Special: The Corpse Grinders 3

It isn't insulting to the dead if they only signed off on it.  Today's Film is The Corpse Grinders 3, a 2012 Film 'inspired' by Ted V. Mikels.  Unfortunately, 2016 was a bad Film for old Exploitation Directors with famous initials in their name- e.c. Ted V. Mikels and H.G. Lewis.  As such, I'm in even less of a rush to cover Mikels' last couple of Films.  Given the works before it, they are probably going to suck no matter when.  Here's the good news: he only signed off on this one.  He has no Writing or Producing Credit- just one for the Story.  If you don't know Corpse Grinders, here's a refresher- people make cat food out of people.  The first Film features a Doctor and Nurse investigating strange cat attacks tied to a Cat Food Company.  In the second Film, there are Cat Aliens and all sorts of other crap.  In this one, it...is a Remake.  Basically, some guy apparently bought the rights to make a new Film, called it the '3rd' Film and now I suffer for it 5 years later.  This is basically the 'everyone agrees that it is shit' Version of the new Evil Dead.  Manolito Motosierra (really) is on-board to just sort of coast through with a Remake called a Sequel- joy.  To find out how much I suffer for you, read on...
Lotus Cat Food is apparently made and sold in a tiny Village in Spain now.  Maybe they explain this...but do you really care?
They get some bad press after someone related to the food dies.  Thankfully, someone was nice enough to add the headstone engraving via terrible CG.
This new guy- who is one part Gustavo Fring and one part Keith Ellison- is an Investor to help them grow.  They get a new (mostly-fake) machine to make food faster.

Yes, before he came, two guys were grinding and canning all the food by hand!
This apparently makes all the Newspapers.  Does this qualify as The World's Slowest News Day?
They get into a ruckus with a lady and she ends up getting sucked into the machine.  Shocking.
This Cat loves it, so why not just keep making more of it?

In the last Film, the murderous people got RICH off of this with zero consequences, so go for it!
The cats go crazy, which escalates from random scratching to apparently a herd of them killing this guy under his bed.
"Hey, we only have 25 minutes left- let's introduce this Detective!  He will be important...now."
Speaking of suddenly important, this lady shows up to help the dorky guy who has kept popping up.  The whole climax of the Film involves killer cats, Bikers and this mysterious (always in shadow) creature that emerges from the machine.

If any of that sounded interesting, it wasn't.  The End.
Recycled disappointment.  Why Remake this Film?  Why call it a Sequel if you are going to re-make it?  The whole thing is just a dumb, silly mess.  The original Corpse Grinders is a schlocky-Classic, but it still wasn't good.  The Sequel is utter rubbish, somehow looking cheaper and more ridiculous when it was made in the 2000s!  Why did we need a 3rd one at all (regardless of how it turned out)?  It is not a deep, complex Film that somehow needed this much attention.  The Story is simple enough, so, of course, they muck it all up.  Basically, it is a bunch of awkward Comedy and terrible Acting.  The Film is only 80 minutes long (with Credits), but it feels 2x as long.  I saw it.  You don't have to.  This one is just plain bad.  Unlike the Director below, I have many Comments...
Next time, Poe gets another disappointing Film with his name slapped on it.  Can we just bury this one alive?  Stay tuned...