Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quick Reviews: Beware the Slenderman

I don't normally cover Documentaries (let alone TV ones), but this one was given to me recently and relates to Creepypasta, so...why not?
Do you know who Slenderman is?  The Internet sure does and Hollywood will be sure to let you know by the time 2017 is over.

In any event, here is some fake footage to begin the Film.
In 2014, two girls attacked their friend.  The reason: Slenderman.
To know the origin of this creepy creature, you have to look at Creepypastas.

Fun Fact: 'Creepypasta' is a Portmanteau.  Most people who share Creepypastas don't know what the hell that even is.
Since the Film deals with so much dark material and genuine heartache, enjoy this shout-out to SomethingAwful.com.

Was someone honestly fooled by this Photo?
The Film discusses both the real Case and the whole Mythology that has led to people actually believing in stuff like this.

Leave it to HBO to produce a Film that features B-Roll of Planking AND Richard Dawkins.
This whole thing is all about a real event and it sure is tragic.  Don't go in expecting anything fun, folks!
Dark, but interesting stuff.  I know a little about Slender Man/Slenderman, but not nearly as much as alot of the Internet.  I know that alot of people are obsessed with the Character, even if it is just for the visual.  The so-called Mythos is pretty vague, so don't get too hung up on it.  This Film is here to address two things.  First, it is to discuss the idea of how Slenderman came to be an Internet Icon and the origins of all that stuff.  It tells you about the general idea behind how Memes spread and the historical stuff that clearly inspired it (like The Pied Piper).  Second, it wants you to know about the attempted Murder and the people involved.  You meet all of the people that they could actually show- since 2 of them are in Jail right now and the 3rd was the Victim- and really make you connect with them.  You can choose to accept the logic given in the Film for why it all happened or not- your call.  The whole thing hinges upon you wanting to know more- I sure did.  All told, Beware the Slenderman sounds like a terrible Horror Film (like The Bye Bye Man looks), but is actually an interesting Documentary.  Since it is all so serious and dark, here is actual B-Roll from the Film of a Cat watching a Cartoon Character on an iPad...
Considering the strange and curious subject matter, the Documentary works.  It feels real and genuine, even if it is about a made-up Internet Demon.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Rare Flix: Deathrow Gameshow

Is the Original better than the newer one?  Today's Film is Deathrow Gameshow, a fairly-obscure 1980s Horror-Comedy.  It has a very similar premise to The Uh-Oh Show, only it actually has less holes in it.  To be fair, Swiss Cheese has less holes in it than that Movie's Plot too.  In this oddity, a Game Show is built around killing Death Row Inmates if they don't answer questions right.  If they answer them right, they get their freedom.  Presumably nobody ever wins, but they don't actually address this issue.  It is either a giant cheat designed to speed up the Death Row process or it accidentally releases Murderers- pick one.  The Film comes to us from the Director of Curse of the Queerwolf and A Polish Vampire in Burbank, so expect quality.  Our Star- John McCafferty- has had an interesting Career, starting out with stuff like this (with Mark Pirro), moving to a bunch of Emmanuelle 2000 Films and seemingly back to more normal stuff in recent years.  In 1999, he appeared in both Sex Court (that's a thing) and a Family Film where he dates an Angel- no, really.  This comes to us from the Airplane School of Comedy- lots of jokes, some of which land, but also fly by in seconds.  Is this one a forgotten gem or something to be given 'the chair?'  To find out, read on...
On Live or Die, Convicts on Death Row play challenges for their freedom and/or money.  They lose.
Just like in The Uh-Oh Show, we focus on both the Host when he's outside of the Show and a Reporter.  The big change...
He is being targeted for death.  Not for any of the countless murders that he facilitated, but rather just one incident involving a Mob Boss.  Naturally.
This Film is silly.  Need I say more?
The Boss' Son shows up after many failed attempts to kill the Host and decides to do it himself.  He's not to be messed with...
...unless you can get his Mother on a Game Show.

The only catch- she accidentally ends up on Live or Die and is killed by the Host.
He takes it well.
This leads to an odd bit where our Host tries to kill the Mobster with his Show, fails and then kills him later indirectly.  Morals!
In the aftermath, our Host quits (like in that other Film) and uses the dead bodies left lying around to test Infomercial Products like Electric Fences and Blenders.  No, really.  The End.
Dumb and pretty damn silly.  This one is all sorts of strange.  It is a Comedy about a Game Show where people are killed on-air.  Unlike The Uh-Oh Show, this one is at least a more official way of doing things.  You could sort of rationalize how this thing would be allowed- especially under you-know-who.  There are still a whole slew of problems here, mostly that this is PRIME TIME TELEVISION.  Could you imagine?  Yes, it is Satire.  I get that.  It is still crazy to think that something like this could work- ever.  As far as the actual Film goes, it is ridiculous.  The whole thing is just a slew of sight gags and puns.  Some of them work, but most of them don't.  Your penchant for dumb, dumb jokes will decide how much you agree with me.  As far as Comedies go, Deathrow Gameshow has some neat ideas and it could definitely work.  Just don't make it a complete rip-off of other ideas when you do it in, say, 2009.  I kid, I kid.  If you like stuff like Repossessed and others, this one just might work for you.  For most people, the odd mix of macabre and slapstick will just not though.  On the plus side, it won't give you gas.
Next up, Japan goes full-on crazy yet again.  This is too weird to just get a Quick Review.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Old School TV: One Step Beyond- Anniversary of a Murder

As we continue to process a Year that refuses to stop killing our beloved Celebrities, let us take...
Beloved Host/Narrator introduces us to 'Anniversary of a Murder.'  It should be as light-hearted as the last Episode!
This guy is haunted by a mysterious voice he keeps hearing on his Phone and Voice Recorder (which is the size of VCR!).  Why?
Well, a year earlier, he was driving home after a date with his Mistress and they ran over a teenager, who's sad final words haunted them for the next 365 days.

They ran away and never reported it.  Such nice people.

On a fun note, Cloris Leachman is in this Episode.  Fun!
After another Narrator interlude (weird considering that he did none of these in the last 2 Episodes I saw), the voice continues to haunt him.

Yeah, there's not much to this one really.  Weird voice, upset calls, weird voice again...
He continues to be bothered by the voices until he crashes his car into a tree and dies.  In the aftermath, the woman confesses to the crime and we learn that there was no Audio Recording- just guilt.  The End.
Joy.  To be fair, these don't HAVE to be fun to be good.  Plus, if I'm being honest, the last one was all kinds of silly.  In this case, we get a bi-polar swing in the opposite direction.  Dead kids, crushing guilt and dark secrets- fun stuff!  The Segment is well-acted and well-produced.  The big issue is just that there isn't much too it.  We find out the basic Premise pretty quickly, find out the hook and then...it just kind of finishes...eventually.  The thing is about 20 minutes long, but could easily be 10 the way that it plays out.  There's certainly more you could have done with this premise, so it isn't like they were working with bad material.  It is just kind of one-note and dreary.  Oh well- it is early TV.  You don't make great TV in a day, to completely butcher a famous quote.  Hey look- the Narrator is tampering with Police Evidence- get him!
Next time, something hopefully more upbeat.  Given the random nature of the Set though, there's no telling!  See you then...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lost TV: Stephen King's Golden Years- Episode 5

As time waits for no man, so can I no longer wait to talk about...
In this Episode, our Villain is away from the Base and gets locked out from the information.
Stephen Root- Super Hacker.

Hacking Scenes sure were weird back in the '90s and this is no exception.
The trio splits up to look less conspicuous, the wife and Agent taking a bus.  Just keep talking about the Lab Explosion in front of this lady pretending to be asleep, ladies!
Speaking of the Bus, say 'Hi' to Stephen King and his random cameo!
As for Harlan, he finally gets a ride from a Trucker, but passes out and strange things start to happen. 
Harlan unconsciously seems to move time itself forward- as shown by shots of this Trucker staring.

What is going on?  To find out, keep watching...
Some good, some bad.  This one does an odd thing by making its main Villain be completely useless the whole time.  To be fair, this is clearly a counterpoint to last Episode in which Ed Lauter's General lost all of his power.  I get that.  It just feels weird to see this direct, confrontational guy just sitting around waiting for a phone call.  This whole Episode is not quite as filler as one before it, but it is close.  It is mostly about them just trying to get from one place to another.  In fairness, the stuff that does happen at the end certainly makes up for most of it.  I did complain about the lack of Stephen Root recently too, so I guess I have to be happy here.  All in all, this Episode is pretty forgettable save for the end, King's Cameo and that sneaky Boom Mic...
Next time, an explanation for Harlan's powers?  I sure hope so.  See you then...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rare Flix: The Uh Oh Show (2009)

Alright, I think enough time has passed for me to be mean to this one.  Today's Film is The Uh Oh Show, a 2009 Film that has now become Herschell Gordon Lewis' final Feature Film.  I put this off for obvious reasons.  I suppose I could have done it while he was alive too, but...I never really got around to it.  Not everything has a good Story behind it!  I suppose I'll have to get around to doing the more recent Astro-Zombies Film this year too...but no rush.  The Plot involves a TV Show in which people either win ridiculously-expensive prizes or get maimed and/or killed.  Naturally, it garners huge ratings, despite being a late-night Game Show.  Naturally, everyone just assumes that it is all fake and never looks into it.  That is, of course, until our Heroine's Boyfriend gets killed on the Show.  The Plot bears a number of similarities to other Lewis Films, not even counting the part where they just name-drop 4 Films in one sentence.  You know that this is going to be weird, crazy and bloody.  The only question: is it good?  To find out, read on...
On the titular TV Show, you answer questions to win crazy prizes (like $2 million) or get maimed by a madman with a buzz saw.

The question- what happens if you get a question right and just quit?  Do they really give you the Prizes (which are still amazing!)?  The Film never answers that.
The Show is a massive hit and this leads the Network Heads to want a Primetime Show.

Get it- the Executives are Arabs, not Jewish.  Laugh- damn you!!!
After a Reporter's dumb-ass boyfriend is killed on the Show, she starts to investigate.  She even attend the Show, which is no way like The Wizard of Gore at all!
To make a somewhat-tedious Story short, the new Show- Grimm Fairy Tales- is made, but the Uh Oh Show Host won't do it, so he sells out the Show.

Yes, this is why he reveals all of the murders- not guilt or anything!
Son of a...

Moving on.
When the Reporter gets too close, she gets captured by the Creator of the Show to be killed on-air.
However, they eventually reveal the truth about the murders.  Why nobody thought to do this before is anyone's guess.
The tools are turned on him now and it sure isn't pretty.
In the aftermath, the Host and Presenter Girl leave town and, presumably, are not prosecuted for any of the dozens of murders.  The End.
Dumb, bloody and...not that fun.  I feel a bit like a dick for saying this, but maybe H.G. Lewis should have stayed retired.  Don't get me wrong- I was happy to see him back in 2002.  Unfortunately, all he did was make underwhelming Sequels (like Blood Feast 2) and stuff like this.  Speaking for Blood Feast, did you know that there was a 2016 Remake?!?  Did you know that there is apparently also a Remake of Corpse Grinders coming up?  Damn!  I only say what I said about Lewis because his original Films are still a bit of a mess, but they are old enough to give them a certain, crazy charm.  The Gore Gore Girls was silly and Sexist as hell, but it was made in 1972.  Blood Feast has laughably-ridiculous gore, but it was made 50 years ago.  His two newer Films have no such defense available.  I wanted to like this Film more than I did.  Unfortunately, no matter how silly they treat this thing, it still kind of sucked.  If you like stupid gore for no reason other than gore, it has that.  Other than that, the Plot is stupid, barely makes sense and doesn't even wrap up very well.  Hell, the late introduction of the Fairy Tales bit is barely used and not that interesting either!  This whole thing is just kind of cheap and sad- but at least they had fun.  I'll remember your more sane Films instead- like the one where the guy uses blood as paint.  Sleep tight, Godfather of Gore.
Next up, a 1980's Film with a very similar Plot.  Will this one be less gory and more interesting?  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Quick Reviews: Sinbad and the War of the Furies

Another Asylum Film with John Morrison/Nitro/Mundo/Hennigan?  Really?  Alright...
In the Modern Day, the descendant of Sinbad (Hennigan) goes after a new treasure- Medusa's Heart.
After he sells it (still pursued by a rival), we awkwardly-learn his backstory: he was an Archeologist who's work was stolen and co-opted by another, who's Daughter is in love with him.

All good?  Great.
Unfortunately, Sinbad and his black friend are pursued by the titular Furies.  They also want the Heart.
They find the buyer, but their enemies continue to pursue them.

To save on the Budget, this all takes place in Los Angeles.  Big shock.
Nearly an hour into your Film- you might as well introduce a Genie.  Why not?
Can Sinbad stop the Heart from empowering evil?  Will good triumph?  Are they just filming in David Michael Latt's House to save money?

To find out the answer to *some* of those questions, watch the Film.
You're not good enough, Mundo.  This one should be fun.  It tries to be a modern-day swashbuckling Action Film.  There are a number of problems with this.  Right off the bat, the Budget.  This things looks and feels cheap.  Like 'shot over a weekend in a Sound Stage' cheap.  They are always inside and rarely use CG Effects.  The ones you get are cheap.  This is important because the fun and craziness is pretty much nullified by the fact that they can't do it.  Great example: the Flying Carpet.  Trapped in a Room, our Heroes activate a magic carpet...that we don't get to see.  They just sit down on the floor and we get a sound effect.  We get a 2-second shot of shadows in front of the Moon before they awkwardly just kind of land.  How did the Carpet get them out of the Room in the first place?  Why do so little with it?  That's this Film in a nutshell- good ideas for fun that just don't happen.  While Hennigan/Mundo/whatever was good as a one-dimensional, moping Hercules, he just can't play this Lead.  His limited Charisma is strained by the bad Dialog and Direction, but he tries.  This is just plain dull and not worth your time.  It is sad to say that the OTHER Sinbad Film by The Asylum is way more stupid fun this.  It does, inexplicably, bring us the return of this popular B-Roll...
Bad, fairly uninteresting stuff.  Not really silly enough to be 'so bad, it is good.'  Just dull.