Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lost in Translation: Evil Dead 2

After covering the first Film's Italian Poster, you had to know that this was coming.

Is The House 2 a scarier Title than the last one?  Is the fact that they used the skull face that actually belongs enough to make up for things?

Let's see...
So much to unpack here...

The Moon, the '2', the skull and the House are all fighting for attention here.  Pick one!

That's also *still* not even close to the what the Cabin looks like in the Film.

As always, the untouched Original...
Aside from cropping a bit, I mostly just added contrast and texture.  Lots of little improvements, no? 

Netflix and Thrill: Marvel's Luke Cage (Part 2)

Somehow I never got around to writing about this section, even though I saw it.  Oops.

Before I talk about Season 2, I suppose I have to finish this...
After serving as a strong, steady defender of his Town (once he feels like he has to), Luke faces a harsh reality- he can be wounded.
This necessitates a retreat and a look back at his own past, revealing the truth about the new villain.
While he's away, his nemesis' sister has stepped up to take over his empire.  She doesn't play around!
Can Luke find the strength to stop Diamondback when he has powers just like him?

To find out, stream the Show.
A solid, if different finish.  The first half of Luke Cage is about a powered-man proving to himself that he can be a hero.  The second half of Luke Cage is still the same- it just features a guy in a super-power suit.  There are some other differences, to be fair.  The second half really helps fill in the backstory for Cage.  Some people did not like the reveal for Diamondback and his importance to Luke.  I get it- I don't agree, but I get it.  Does it affect the drama to bring in a new villain halfway through?  Sure.  Does it make the second half of the Season weaker?  Maybe, it still worked for me.  I don't think that the Show falters in the 'home stretch.'  I liked it.  It also helps to properly set the stage for what would come in The Defenders and the second Season of his Show.  If you liked the first half, stick with it.  If you thought it started out too slow, watch the second half and give it a try.  As for me, I'll continue to be amused by the persistence of stuff like outdated fan-art.  For example...
It's easy to say that there's a quality drop-off without the original Villain.  If you view it with no expectations, however, it holds strong.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Quick Reviews: 47 Meters Down

While everyone is still thinking about Sharks, I might as well get around to doing this one...
2 Sisters go on a Vacation to Mexico together...but one of them just got dumped by their boyfriend for being 'too boring.'
To spice things up, the other Sister wants them to go Shark Diving in a Cage.  The other one has literally never even dived before...but is coerced into doing it.
Things go wrong, however, as the winch breaks and the cage falls to the bottom of the current ocean floor level.  Guess how many meters it is.
So now they are trapped in a cage and, oh look, a guest.
Still trapped and the rescue options are slim.  What can they do?
Can the 'shy' sister step up and prove her bravery?  Will they survive?
Or will the sharks get a nice brunch?

To find out, watch the Film.
If I was ever dumb enough to try this before, I'm definitely not going to now!  Are the odds of this actual thing happening pretty high?  No.  Do I care?  Hell no!  Getting past my own logical Phobias, this one really delivers as far as atmosphere and tension.  The sharks are obviously a big part of the Film, but they also don't hang around all the time.  They could have easily had them lurking more apparently in more shots, but they chose not to.  Good choice.  This way, when the sharks appear, it is a big, dramatic deal.  You don't get 'used' to them (as much as you ever could in this scenario) and their appearances are all the more dramatic because of it.  They show up at big moments and move very quickly.  The Film makes great use of the watery environment, giving you long, dark shots where you never know when (or if) a shark is going to appear.  Without SPOILing anything, the Film goes in an interesting direction in the Third Act.  I really can't say more, other than to mention how obvious the foreshadowing is in hindsight.  When it is all clear, you go 'Oh, duh.'  Personally, I think the Film is better for it.  I know that some people probably disagree and that's alright.  47 Meters Down is a great Film as far as being tense and dramatic goes.  It walk that fine line between being a real scenario that could happen- like Adam Greens' Frozen or Black Water- and still being an interesting Film too.  It is far better than stuff like Open Water 2!  Even so, it is still not going to be for everyone.  Just remember- now matter how scared you may be of Sharks, they still aren't the real predator here...
A good, tense Film that exploits a natural fear.  The Third Act may make or break it for you though.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Lost in Translation: The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead is a Classic.

In Italy, the Film was marketed as an 'Evil House' Film.  That sure helped.

Let's see that Poster...
So, um, does Norman Bates know that you're in his House...and that's it's now a Cabin...I guess.

Seriously though, they went from The Evil Dead to The House.

I mean, Spain beat them to the name by nearly a Decade, but that's no excuse for Italy!

Here's the original...
More color = more mood.  Anything to liven up a static shot of a House...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Quick Reviews: Jumanji- Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

After Rampage, will I get a Film with The Rock that aims to be more than just Disaster Porn?  Let's find out...
A quartet of teens (although one of them is played by a 30-year old) are transported into Jumanji via a PS1-style cartridge.  It evolved itself, since nobody plays Board Games- sorry, Steve Jackson Games.

This Intro is oddly-reminiscent of the new Power Rangers Film.  Weird.
The group is all mixed up in their new Avatars- the hot girl as Jack Black, etc.

It's also kind of fun to see them explaining all of the Video Game Terminology.  Is it that obscure?
They are given a quest- return an Emerald to save the world of Jumanji!
Can they get over their real-world hang-ups to become Heroes and make it home?
Will an evil Explorer use the gems power to kill them via Jumanji's animals?

About that- he loses the gem before the 'Game' begins, but keeps all of the powers.  How?  Why?
Can they find their 'missing piece' and return home?  Will Jack Black continue to steal every Scene?

To find out, watch the Film.
A fun Film, even if it can be a bit formulaic.  What the Film does is use a lot of 'varnish' to make the Film appear to be more than what it is.  If you strip out the 'We're playing as Avatars' aspect, it's just another 'be the best version of yourself you can be' Story.  The Story is nothing special really.  That said, it is still a pretty well-made Version of the Story.  All of the Leads are charismatic and likable.  The Film is shot well and looks nice.  It is funny how it is supposed to be some sort of African Jungle...even though it is clearly Hawaii.  Don't get me wrong- Hawaii is a beautiful locale...but it is not at all like Africa.  If it was supposed to fool me, it didn't.  They make some good jokes about the Video Game conceits and thankfully don't waste too much time explaining 'the rules.'  This is a Film that you can have fun with and enjoy the general themes of.  Beyond that, there's not much substance here.  Fun fact: I watched this one on Blu-Ray, while I own the original on Video Disc.
A fun adventure Film that indulges in a lot of clich├ęs.  It's probably not going to be a Classic in 20 years, but it is what it is.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Old School TV: One Step Beyond- Tonight at 12:17

A return of a classic Show.  I've got like 40 more Episodes on DVD now, so I can do this forever!
In this Episode, a pregnant woman keeps hearing the sounds of a plane flying overhead at the same time every night.
When nobody sees it, they naturally think that she's crazy.

Even for this time period, the misogyny here is...just, wow.
She continues to be worried about this seemingly-invisible plane and her husband tries to calm her down.
Her Doctor insists that she will stress herself out and possibly lose the baby.

It makes you wonder what Donnie Darko would be like if he was a pregnant woman now, doesn't it?
He investigates the plane and sees that it is not going to be flown that night.  Later on, that changes.

In spite of him trying to calm her again, they go to a Motel and...the wing crashes down there!

Don't worry- they survived.
Is it fate?  Is it ESP?  The Show posits the idea that her pregnancy amplified all of her senses- including her 6th one.  Yeah, no.  'No' to all of that.  Accepting all of this as bull crap, it is still a good Episode.  Is it mostly just a woman being called crazy when she hears noises that nobody else does?  Yes.  It is still well-acted, well-shot and has a decent enough twist.  You have to know that *something* is going to happen with the plane, but it seemingly-following them was still good.  You really feel for all of the people involved.  Well, except for that Doctor- he's kind of an asshole.  Seriously though, it's a good Episode and all that.  See us out, Mr. Newland...
Next time, more old-school scares and/or drama.  Will I find any future Stars in the set?  See you then...

Monday, July 23, 2018

Lost in Translation?: Return of the Living Dead

Italy loved Zombies in the '80s.  The World joined them in that love.

One of the more famous ones was Return of the Living Dead.

How did this get sold in Italy then?  Let's see...
Mystique?

I'm kidding, but you must see that too.

Is that Tar Man in the back?  He doesn't look right...

As always...
The deep blues and subtle reds really make it pop for me.  It may not be related much to the Film, but I love this Poster- either version.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

3,700th Post Celebration: Uganda's 1st Action Movie

After skipping/forgetting the last one of these, I'm going to make the most of this one...
Uganda.  It's a Country that I'll probably never go to.   Thanks to the Internet, however, weird Films from them are available to watch here.  They aren't hidden- it's just that most people aren't looking for them.  They don't have an official industry- that I know of- or anything- they just have some guys having fun with cameras.  This goes all of the way back to...2010.  Okay, short history.  Today's Film is Who Killed Captain Alex?, a 2010 Film by a guy who's name that spell check will hate.  This is weird.  This is silly.  I don't mean to mock those without resources who try to make something- I just want to make fun of a silly Film that also happens to check those boxes.  To find out just how silly this all is, read on...
I found this on YouTube (since I wasn't buying this) and the intro they added sure is convenient.
The basic Story- Soldiers come into a Village (the same one the Film was made by) to stop the 'Tiger Mafia.'

This one's for you, Bob.
The Soldiers go to break up a drug deal.  While showing off their skills, one of them splashes the camera.

If you were wondering, yes, that water drop manages to stay on the lens for the next 20 minutes.
A shooting breaks out and it's really hard to follow.  I yearn for a Michael Bay Scene.

On the plus side, silly CGI.
The leader of the Tiger Mafia finds out that his brother- of course- was killed by the...News?
He demands vengeance against the leader- the titular Captain.
Guess what happens.
When his brother- of course- shows up to solve the mystery of his death, more action ensues (eventually).

To find out how it all goes (and how great the CGI is), watch the Film (on YouTube).
Silly stuff.  For a Film made for $200, it looks good.  It is pretty cheesy.  It is pretty silly.  It is pretty dumb.  To be fair, this Version is apparently self-riffed version...for some reason.  The Director makes random jokes/re-dubs over the Film in English.  I don't know why.  In spite of that, they try to be serious...mostly.  It's nothing special.  It's just a cheesy Action Film rife with production issues and no Budget.  At least it was their first attempt and not, you know, Seagal's 400th.  Besides, it was free and it gave me this out-of-context shot...
It's all silly fun, but don't expect consistent laughs.  It's not all fun, but there's enough there for us weirdos.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Forgotten TV: The Hitchhiker- O.D. Feelin'

As a purveyor of older, forgotten Shows, this was an interesting find.  Here's a brief bit of history...

The Hitchhiker was a Sci-Fi/Horror Anthology Show that ran on HBO from 1983 to 1987.  It was later run on the USA Network from 1989 to 1991, which is where a wider audience saw it.  The only connective threads is the presence of the titular Character.
In this Episode, a drug deal in a Detroit-looking City goes awry.
He (even though it is played by Sandra Bernhard) finds some drugs and takes the bag.
After all of that, our Host shows up to, well, not do anything.

I get that Rod Steiger and others never interfered, but the Show also wasn't named after them.  It's just weird that he has no interaction with anyone.
That begins a chain of events over the night as people kill the person who has the bag, find another...
…(including this guy from SCTV) and then kill the next person.  It all leads to...
Mr. Big (Gene Simmons).

He's the 'owner' of the powerful drugs and, naturally, kills the last guy who had it.
While celebrating his victory, he starts to choke up as something strange happens with the drugs!
When the coast clears (and the Cleaning Lady shows up), the men are somehow skeletons in a room full of cocaine!  Alright then!  The End.
A good, if repetitive Episode.  For starters, this has a real strong '80s feel to it.  It is supposedly set in a Dystopian-looking City, but it is very much '80s.  The fact that the whole thing is about a bag of cocaine, for one.  The Setting and Tone here is really interesting, looking both gritty and real.  The Acting is all nice here too.  The whole thing has an interesting feel to it, if that makes any sense.  I can't possibly explain the Ending, but the moral is pretty clear.  All in all, the Episode is an interesting look back at '80s TV Shows and a forgotten piece of TV History.  Plus it is back when HBO wasn't 'too cool' to go by their full name...
I've got two whole Discs of Episodes to go through, so let's see if anything else catches my interest.  For now, keep ignoring those Hitchhikers- they're more likely to kill you than narrate a Show.