Friday, August 31, 2007

Harry Potter 5

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Directed by: David Yates

Written by: Michael Goldenberg, based on the book by J.K. Rowling

Featuring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Imelda Staunton, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jason Isaacs, Katie Leung, Robert Hardy, David Bradley, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Felton, Mark Willaims, Julie Walters, Warwick Davis, David Thewlis, George Harris, Natalia Tena, Timothy Bateson... I think that's everybody...

Part five in the ongoing Harry Potter saga, I decided I had to see it even though my friends all said it was bad. I wouldn't go that far - I've seen a lot of fucking awful movies (like Caddyshack. I sat through Caddyshack the other day. Sweet Jesus, did that suck).

Anyway, in this installment... I can't really remember what happens. It seems to me that it's the bridge between part four and part six, and nothing really happens at all (it is to Harry Potter what Two Towers is to Lord of the Rings). Um... this really evil lady from the ministry sort of takes over the school and makes everyone's lives generally difficult. Meanwhile, the Dark Lord is coming back, though everyone refuses to believe Harry about it. He and his friends form an underground rebel force to combat the new headmistress (aforementioned ministry appointed biotch) and prepare themselves for the war against his evilness, Lord Voldemort. Who has formed a connection with Harry's mind and is severely fucking him up.

That probably made no sense to the uninitiated, who have no doubt stopped reading altogether by now. Yay!

Okay. So, I'd say that the filmmakers did the best they could with the material they were given - they took a few liberties with the plot, and cut a lot of stuff, but who can blame them. Part Five was about the longest and the least interesting of all of them. It was pretty much where the books stopped being well written, actually, and pretty much when they started making the movies.

Rowling was obviously very heavily influenced by films anyway, but writing her books at the same time as they were being made into films was not at all good for her writing.

This one is very well shot and chopped, it looks quite beautiful, although the CGI crap is really bothering me. You couldn't really do it without the CGI crap (although I have my doubts as to whether they should have done it at all - I think they really should have waited, at least until she'd finished writing the series, but then the cast would have been different... I guess they make the best of it).

That was the real reason I wanted to see this movie. I'm a fool for the supporting cast, many of whom don't really do anything else. In this segment, however, most of them are pretty underused. I mean, Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith probably get about ten lines between them, Helena Bonham Carter doesn't get to do anything except look scary, Alan Rickman just walks around talking funny, Emma Thompson just walks around looking funny (my friend thought she looked like Pete Postelthwaite - she was right) and Gary Oldman doesn't get to do anything except die (although, what did you expect? It's Gary frigging Oldman, he has to die in every movie he's in, it's in his contract). And poor Ralph Fiennes. Fuck. He's a generally creepy guy, just looking at pictures of his scares the shit out of me, but in this he's just sort of ugly. He looks like an idiot, actually. They could have tried a little harder to make him mildly intimidating.

Oh well. The best person in the movie is the chick who plays the ministry biotch. Imelda Staunton. I've never heard of her, but she was very good. I liked the girl who played Luna, too. She was cute. Oh yeah, and that Rupert Grint guy. He just keeps getting uglier and uglier, but he's pretty good.

Daniel Radcliffe has a sort of Frodo with glasses thing going on. Actually, there's a lot of Lord of the Rings stuff in this... the firework dragon, Dumbledore battling the giant fire monster thing... of course, J.K. was probably watching Lord of the Rings while she was writing the book, so...

Anyway, apart from the obvious problems I have with the wizard world (why do they have moving newspapers when they could just watch TV? Why don't they use phones instead of owls? Why don't they dress like normal people? What's wrong with them? Who drives the train? Who grows the food? How do they buy stuff in the muggle world?), the only major thing was the lack of dramatic tension, which is hardly the filmmakers' fault. It's not a bad movie. It's fairly engaging. Actually, the first little bit was pretty dull, I kept thinking to myself "What the hell am I doing here?" and then Gary Oldman showed up and everything was okay. So even though there isn't a lot of my beloved supporting cast (they should just cut Emma Watson's lines, she's awful, and divide the screen time up between the other people, handing it out in order of age (my reasoning: Michael Gambon and Maggie Smith are going to drop any day now, so give them more screen time. Then Alan Rickman, then Brendan Gleeson, and so on)), I still enjoy seeing them. And, you know, it's an action packed adventure...


Sunday, August 26, 2007


Shooter (2007)

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Written by: Jonathan Lemkin based on Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter
: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Peña, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Jonathan Walker, Justin Louis, Tate Donovan, Rade Sherbedgia, Ned Beatty

Okay, so this disillusioned former government sniper dude gets framed for an assassination attempt on the President and must go on the run. He and an FBI guy who knows he didn't do it must figure out why he was set up and how to prove that he was. They uncover this conspiracy or something to keep the Ethiopian government quiet about the injustices done in their country.

Or something like that. I don't know, there was shit blowing up all over the place, I wasn't paying attention to the plot. The plot wasn't terribly important, and was kind of weak.

However, I found the movie strangely engaging. I didn't think I was going to like it, seeing as it's a macho fuckin' sniper movie, and I kept spacing out, but there was lots of shit going on, and it was mildly entertaining.

The cinematography was quite good (which is unusual in a movie like this) and a lot of the scenery was very pretty. I'm sure a lot of it was CGI, but the digital FX were handled nicely in this. They didn't stick out for me.

I'm not really crazy about Mark Wahlburg - I get him confused with Matt Damon and occasionally Ben Affleck - though he's not too bad. I just don't have a whole lot of love for him. There were other people I would have picked for that role. According to IMDb, Keanu Reeves was the original choice. That wouldn't have been good at all. I'd prefer Mark Wahlberg, personally. Keanu Reeves shouldn't be given that much dialogue.

Anyway, it was mindless entertainment, and a little on the bogus side, but it was fine. I'm kind of wondering how you get high on whipped cream, though (for purely academic reasons...). There was something about inhaling the fumes. I wasn't aware that whipped cream had fumes. I was hoping that an overdose of cream would knock you out or something, but that doesn't really make sense either.

Ah well. I guess I'll just have to give it a shot...



Hollywoodland (2006)

Directed by: Allen Coulter
Written by: Paul Bernbaum
Starring: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Larry Cedar, Caroline Dhavernas, Molly Parker, Zach Mills, I dunno... some other people...

I'm feeling remarkably apathetic at the moment. Um, this is about a private detective who is hired to solve the mystery of George Reeves' death. The police say that it is a suicide, but some people are convinced that he was murdered, and this guy is determined to find out the truth, whatever the cost.

He doesn't, of course, find out the truth. If anyone had discovered that George Reeves had, in fact, been murdered, surely we would have heard about it by now. Well, okay, there's a lot of discussion on the matter, but who fucking cares, really.

That's sort of the problem I was having with this movie. I don't care whether or not George Reeves killed himself. I guess the movie was also supposed to be about the corruption of Hollywood or something, but I don't really care about that either. It isn't exactly breaking news. It reminded me of The Black Dahlia, though it was marginally better. For one thing, I like Adrien Brody a hell of a lot better than that Josh Hartnett dipshit (I think Josh Hartnett was in that movie... I remember the other guy, Aaron Eckhart or whatever his name is, but not the leading dude).

I can't get enough of Adrien Brody - he made the movie kind of interesting. I mean, I didn't care about anything in it, but I wanted to see what happened to him. He's good. A lot of people make fun of his nose, but I don't find it all that distracting.

I don't really like Ben Affleck all that much, although he plays a crappy actor quite convincingly. Go figure...

Anyway, it feels a lot like an HBO special, not surprisingly seeing as Allen Coulter had directed episodes of Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Rome, Sex and the City, among other things. It just had that tone, you know.

It actually looked quite good, it was well shot, the colours were appealing to me, but I just didn't really care about what was going on. I would have been much more interested in a story that didn't have to do with the film industry. I'm tired of movies about movies (movies like this about movies anyway - I could watch, say, Ed Wood again).

Yeah. And just to answer a question that has plagued me for so long, George Reeves and Christopher Reeves were not related. They just both played Superman, had the same last name and died in nasty ways. That's all. Coincidence? Maybe they should make a movie about that...


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Invasion

The Invasion (2007)

Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Written by: Dave Kajganich, based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jackson Bond, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright, Veronica Cartwright, Eric Benjamin, Josef Sommer, Celia Weston, Roger Rees

It turns out that OBG was right and I did in fact win tickets for this movie from The Coast. This leads me to believe that he does, in fact, have divine power. Or that he is intercepting my phone calls. Perve.

Anyway, this is the fourth adaptation of the novel about aliens who invade Earth and snatch the bodies of humans, becoming emotionless drones (maybe that's a little harsh...). In this version, Nicole Kidman plays a psychiatrist who is separated from her young son during the outbreak of Pod People. She and her (boy)friend must then run around trying to find the boy before it's too late. Oh yeah, for those of you unfamiliar with the Pod People, they invade your body while you sleep, making a Pod in which they make an identical replica, hence the name. The don't exactly do that in this one - they instead cover their victims with goo. Same idea.

What can I say? I want to like this movie. It's got Nicole Kidman in it, and Daniel Craig (who I haven't seen too much of (I have yet to watch Casino Royale) as yet, but I do like him), and Veronica Cartwright, of the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, among other people. And I'm fond of that story.

They just cocked it up a little bit. The first half of the movie feels like a sort of psychological science fiction thriller with something to do with human nature and possibly Iraq (the aliens, trying to spread peace, are greeted not by earthlings with open arms but by hostile insurgents? I don't know), but it devolves into an action movie with zombies. The Pod People have a startling resemblance to the Infected of 28 Days Later, what with the vomiting on their victims and running around like crazy people.

There's a whole scene with a flaming car which I kind of object to. The reason for all this, I gather, is that Oliver Hirschbiegel submitted a finished film, which the producers rejected. The Wachowski Brothers of all people were brought in to do a rewrite, and James McTeigue came in an directed a number of additional scenes and an alternate ending.

That seems like a really bad idea to me. As the old saying goes, when rewriting and/or reshooting a psychological sci-fi thriller, do not use the guys who did The Matrix. Bad, bad idea. What's more, this is Oliver Hirschbiegel's English-language debut, and fucking with his movie is just mean.

The movie was full of wasted potential - Nicole Kidman was wasted as the worried mom. The kid was a waste. It turned into the kind of movie with a kid, which has to have a happy ending because we can't possibly bear to see the kid turn into a soulless alien.

The ending was wasted. Both versions of the story I've seen have had great endings. In this one, they make a vaccine out of some weird strain of the chicken pox and blow those mothers away. It's all very War of the Worlds. Spoilers. Heh. One of my friends even suggested that perhaps, since Tom Cruise made War of the Worlds, Nicole Kidman wanted something just like it. It even had the same lost child bullshit.

Anyway, on it's own it's an okay movie. There are some pretty good scenes, and I do like the Pod People. They're blank, emotionless stare. It's just when compared to the 1956 and 1978 versions, it really doesn't hold up. Which makes you wonder what the hell's the point...?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Halloween 6

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

Directed by:
Joe Chappelle
Written by: Daniel Farrands
Starring: Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, Donald Pleasence, Devin Gardner, Mitchell Ryan, George P. Wilbur, Keith Bogart, Mariah O'Brien, Leo Geter, Bradford English, Kim Darby, J.C. Brandy

Five years after Michael Myers and his niece, Jamie (not as in "Lee Curtis"), supposedly died in a fire, they turn out to be alive! Jamie has a baby and escapes from Satan's hospital (or whatever), only to be tracked down and killed by her weirdo uncle. Somehow Paul Rudd (playing a grown up version of the little boy Jamie (Lee Curtis) was babysitting in the first movie) finds the baby and decides to raise it or something. He teams up with Dr. Loomis and the girl across the street who is apparently related to Laurie Strode's foster family in some way.

Turns out the whole thing is part of an ancient pagan ritual - every generation one child is picked to kill his entire family in order to appease the gods or something. This person happened to be Michael Myers, and all he's trying to do is destroy his family. Why, then, does he go after all those other people? Who fucking knows.

This movie is a hell of a lot slicker than the other ones - it doesn't have that stain of the '80s all over it, for obvious reasons, and it's a little more self conscious.

But... well, it's just totally retarded. I mean, come on. What the hell? I guess they were trying to do something new with it, but it didn't work out too well.

I like Paul Rudd, even as a creepo. He was pretty cute back then, and there were one or two scenes which weren't bad. The editing job was pretty good.

Donald Pleasence sure was old, though. He died pretty soon after making this movie. I didn't realize that until the very end (although before the title that said "In Memory of Donald Pleasence". Eerie, no?). It seemed like they were going to do something with him an Mike but didn't get the chance. Although, from what I read, the director cut out a lot of his stuff.

There's something on IMDb about the problems with the movie - creative differences between the director and producer, a number of reshoots, a different cut. The cast and crew, apparently, were really pissed off. But you can look that up.

It was also supposed to be the last in the series. That's pretty rich. Anyway, it was okay. It just didn't have that much to care about. I shed my tears for Dr. Loomis (even though I think he was a child molester), but that's about it...


Halloween 5

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

Directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard
Written by: Dominique Othenin-Girard, Michael Jacobs, Shem Bitterman
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Danielle Harris, Wendy Kaplan, Beau Starr, Tamara Glynn, Jeffrey Landman, Jonathan Chapin, Matthew Walker, Donald L. Shanks, Ellie Cornell

Okay, this time, indestructible, dog-killing, psychopath Michael Myers doesn't get killed when he fell down a mineshaft and got dynamite thrown on him. He survived, and was washed down the river where he was rescued by a hermit and nursed back to health. Come Halloween time, he murders the kind hermit and goes off to kill his niece and his indestructible, psychopathic doctor.

Along the way, he goes around stabbing young people who have sex, and a few who don't, and one or two people who look at him funny (never give the guy with the white mask and the pitchfork a funny stare).

Oh yeah, and there's this other guy who never really does anything. He just walks around and looks mysterious. I guess he tries to set Mike on fire at the end, but it's kind of hard to tell...

From what I heard this movie had some really bad script problems, which is apparent in it's lack of an ending. They try to make up for it in the next sequel, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The little girl, Danielle Harris, is pretty good. I just found out today that she's in the new movie, playing some more Michael-fodder no doubt. She's better than a lot of the older women in the movie. They killed off Ellie Cornell (yay!) but a couple of others popped up to take her place (yay!). It's like the hydra (yay!).

Anyway, there was a part with a scythe that I liked... I just like scythes...


I watched Dr.Who last night... no surprise there... I liked those amblin' shamblin' scarecrows. They were good. Yep.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)

Directed by: Ivan Reitman
Written by: Don Payne
Starring: Luke Wilson, Uma Thurman, Anna Faris, Eddie Izzard, Rainn Wilson, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Anne Florence

I thought this movie looked kind of interesting - it's about a guy who meets a girl (surprise!) who turns out to be the local superhero. She also turns out to be neurotic, jealous, and totally nutso so, despite the fact that she's a great fuck, he dumps her for his slightly more normal co-worker. Then (because she's jealous, possessive and totally nutso) she goes on a rampage and tries to kill the shit out of him.

And then I guess he teams up with her arch nemesis/ex-boyfriend or something. I don't know. I was trying to pick the last little bits of meat out of a peach pit so I wasn't paying too much attention.

The movie presents women as controlling, vengeful psycho bitches (which, to be fair, we are, but we don't exactly need a movie to point that out). The only possible reason buddy would stay with psycho chickie for as long as he did was, like I said, she was great in bed. And the only reason that he would go for normal chickie was because she was great in bed without being crazy.

The movie was way too juvenile to be taken seriously, but way too sex-obsessed to be a kids movie. It would have made a half decent kid's movie, if only it had been given the chance.

I like Uma Thurman (even though she looks like a man), but she needs to get better parts. I mean, come on. This was a horrible thing to cast her in. And I like Luke Wilson (I like his brother better, but it wasn't always that way), but again, why the fuck was he in this movie? I'm not all that crazy about Anna Faris. She's bad and she has that Scary Movie thing going on.

Nor am I particularly partial to Rainn Wilson. He's in way too much stuff. I liked him okay when he was on Six Feet Under, playing the dorky homeschooled guy (I was homeschooled so I found that pretty amusing. Did I mention that already? I can't remember), but in this he plays the sex obsessed buddy who, though he is a total asshole, everybody seems to listen to. I mean, why would you take this guy's advice? He's obviously a jerk, and a failure.

Anyway, this movie wasn't funny, it just pissed me off.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Sunshine (2007)

Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by: Alex Garland
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Benedict Wong, Cliff Curtis, Hiroyuki Sanada, Mark Strong, Chipo Chung

Okay, so the sun is basically going out, and a team of astronauts is sent to reignite it using a giant bomb. The Earth loses contact with them, and they are never heard from again. Seven years later, a second ship is sent out. When they receive a distress signal form the first ship, they alter their course in the hopes that they can rescue the crew members and or salvage the bomb. And then everything goes wrong.

First, the guy who alters the course of the ship forgets to change the angle of the sun screen. Then the captain is killed trying to fix the damage done to the ship by the lack of sunscreen. Then the oxygen gardens burn up and they are left without enough air to make it all the way to the sun (unless they kill three of the crew members). They also have to overcome personal problems, madness, paranoia. The difficulties begin to get more and more ridiculous. They hook up with the first space ship, but accidentally disconnect. The guys left on the first ship have to make it back to the second ship sharing a space suit (three guys to one shiny gold space suit. Sound crowded?). And somehow this burn-covered, knife wielding slasher ends up aboard the ship. This is when I really stopped paying attention.

I had fairly high expectations of this movie (despite the reviews I read. Mark Palermo of The Coast (go Coast!) wrote "By the time Sunshine devolves into Freddy Krueger-in-space, any promise it had gets wasted." I didn't believe him. Silly me). I mean, Danny Boyle, Alex Garland, Cillian Murphy. Hey!

And it was a cool idea. I like science fiction movies as much as the next person, and this one really appealed to me. The kind of sci-fi movie where everybody dies. Groovy. However, I didn't have any emotional investments with any of the characters, so I really didn't care when they all died (and yet another spoiler). I didn't feel attached to anything. I mean, I was rooting for Cillian Murphy, because I like Cillian Murphy, even though he freaks me out (he's a freaky looking guy! He needs to grow a beard, he really does).

But it was just... all over the place. And I'm sorry, but some of the disastrous happenings were totally bogus. The characters weren't that great (which is why I guess I didn't feel attached to any of them). The acting was pretty good (the cast was actually quite impressive) considering the frequently poor dialogue.

And it felt like 2001. I kept thinking of 2001, particularly when they had those extreme close-ups of people's eyes. You know what I mean. When the computer shut down, I expected her to sing "Daisy, Daisy".

And then of course there was the Alien feeling. They actually mentioned Alien, so I am slightly appeased on that front.

The visuals were quite lovely, but they often relied to heavily of special FX (I don't know how well that will transfer to video - computer FX look a lot shittier on my TV than they do in the movie theatre).

It strives to be something more than it was. This makes me sad, because it could have been so much better - it could have been to science fiction movies what 28 Days Later... was to horror, but it got confused.

Although it was marginally better than The Core. Remember that movie where the big old ship had to voyage to the centre of the Earth to jumpstart the... core... using a giant bomb only everything went wrong and characters had to sacrifice themselves for the good of man kind? Shit.


Sunday, August 12, 2007


300 (2007)

Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad & Michael B. Gordon, based on the comic by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Dominic West, Vincent Regan, Michael Fassbender, Tom Wisdom, Andrew Pleavin, Andrew Tiernan, Rodrigo Santoro, Giovani Antonio Cimmino, Stephen McHattie

A lot of people got very pissed off about this movie. I don't blame them. It's an uber-stylized, super-macho piece of American propaganda which portrays Easterners (specifically Persians) as evil, disgusting, freak-show monsters with their weird things with saws for arms and shit. A lot of it looked like something out of The Hills Have Eyes. And then of course there was the whole homosexuality thing (of course they're evil, they're all bi. What the fuck?!)

It tells the story of the 300 Spartans who went up against the entire Persian army and lost really badly. I'm not really a history aficionado, but it seems to me that they took a few liberties with the historical details.

Not that that really matters. What matters is that it's complete bullshit. And offensive bullshit. Even though I'm not Persian, I don't have a whole lot of Persian in me whatsoever, that still really pisses me off.

It ripped off movies like Gladiator in the style of the fight scenes and the music. It was really just another epic battle movie, except it only focused on one battle. Gladiator had one big one, plus a bunch of little ones and a lot of filler - Lord of the Rings had at least two per movie. This movie only had one. It was two hours long and it only had one battle. Mind you, it was mostly shot in slow motion.

Again, it was way too frigging macho - I mean, it's about a bunch of really muscular guys wearing little black speedos killing the shit out of each other. And screaming. Always screaming.

It wasn't particularly well written. The dialogue (not that there was a whole lot of that) was bogus ("our arrows will black out the sun" "then we will fight in the shade"; "tonight we dine in hell" fucking bogus). The narration was not only bad, but it was also unnecessary. And it was done by David Wenham. I'm very fond of David Wenham, but he has a funny voice.

Everything was monochromatic and obviously CGI. They used computer graphics way more than was necessary. I guess it's cheaper than hiring a whole fuckload of extras, but it looks like shit.

It was actually kind of funny for a while - I mean, everyone in it sounded slightly retarded. Especially Gerard Butler. What accent was that exactly? He's Scottish, but he sure as hell didn't sound like it. I usually like him, but not a whole lot in this. And there were funny lines, like "pile those Persians high". That made me snicker ever so much.

Eventually the funny wore away and I just got bored. By the time the elephants (which bore an uncanny resemblance to the mumakil of LOTR) came out, I had stopped caring. Because there was only one battle scene and nothing else. There was something going on with Lena Headey, but I'm dammed if I know what the point of it was.

It was directed by the same guy who did the remake of Dawn of the Dead, and you can really tell when the blood starts a-splattering. I liked Dawn of the Dead a hell of a lot more than this movie. He did a better job of it. He should go back to zombie movies.

And it's obviously based on a comic book. There were a number of shots I recognized from the comic (or graphic novel or whatever), particularly the one of the people falling off the cliff. I like that shot.

But anyway, the end credits were cool. What with they're silhouettes and they're blood splatters. They were sort of the best part of the movie... the rest was just dull.



Creepshow (1982)

Directed by: George Romero
Written by: Stephen King
Starring: Viveca Lindfors, John Amplas, Carrie Nye, Stephen King, Leslie Nielsen, Ted Danson, Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, E.G. Marshall, Joe King (son of Steve), Tom Atkins, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Regan, Warner Shook, John Lormer, Gaylen Ross, Bingo O'Malley, David Early, Tom Savini, Mary Schiff

A five part anthology inspired by E.C. Comics (which is why it feels something like a bunch of episodes of Tales from the Crypt).

The first part, Father's Day, is about a man murdered by his daughter who comes back from the grave on the anniversary of his death to get revenge and his cake. That one was kind of cliched, but done in an amusing way. It had some sort of jumpy bits in it. I didn't get the dead guy at all, though. I mean, all he wants is his cake, so he goes around killing the people who could make it for him. Then he sticks a bunch of candles in a dead lady's head. Which only proves the old saying my grandmother taught me, "Zombies are fuckin' idiots".

Part 2, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill involves a meteor which lands out in the country and is found by an ignorant hick who puts it in a bucket, hoping to sell it to scientists. Then all this green shit starts growing on him and everything else and he is turned into a giant moss monster. That's the one with Stephen King in it. He's weirdly good in it. Usually, he sucks major ass, but they used that to their advantage.

Part 3, Something to Tide You Over is about a jealous husband who buries his wife and her lover up to their necks in sand and watches the tide come in. They, of course, come back as sea zombies for revenge. Fucking sea zombies. This one had Leslie Nielsen in it. Weird. It was mildly amusing/scary.

Part 4, The Crate is about a man who finds a crate containing a ravenous monster under the stairs at the college. It eats a few people and then his buddy uses it to rid himself of his bitchy wife. The monster, spawned by Tom Savini, is pretty silly looking, but that's okay. That one had a few moments of scary too... waiting for something really nasty to happen. It really sloshed on the blood, too.

Part 5, Creeping Up On You is about a Howard Hughes-like character being devoured by cockroaches in his spotless penthouse. That one really grossed me out, I'm sorry. I can't even stand to look at cockroaches, especially in large quantities. They make my skin crawl. It's a fucking miracle I don't have any.

The whole thing had a sort of stylized, comic book feel to it. It wasn't deep or meaningful or anything, it was just entertaining and pretty harmless, really. And you get a lot for what you pay for. Five stories. Mind you, it's two hours long. I don't mind.


Friday the 13th 3

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

Directed by: Steve Miner
Written by: Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson
Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Richard Brooker, Nick Savage, Rachel Howard, Larry Zerner, David Katim, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, Cheri Maugans, Catherine Parks, Kevin O'Brien, Gloria Charles

AGAIN!!!! This one was shot in 3D. The DVD is not in 3D, which makes for many laughs. There are lots of scenes with yo-yos, and eyeballs popping out of people's heads, and snakes jumping into people's faces, and people offering joints (the 3D joint was, perhaps, one of the greatest moments in cinematic history).

In this installment, a bunch of teenagers go out to somebody's cottage to do drugs and have sex near the lake. Crystal Lake. Bwahahaha. Jason sets about killing them off for no reason. There's something about one of the girls having had a nasty run in with him in the woods some years back. I don't know what the fuck that was supposed to mean.

Anyway, in this movie, Jason finally gets the hockey mask on (they finally decided what to do with him). Although it's not very significant...

One of the characters decides to scare one of the girls by putting on a scuba suit and a hockey mask and jumping out of lake at her. She tells him to go get stuffed. He wanders off to the barn (?) where he gets attacked by Jason. Jason then shows up wearing the hockey mask. It means nothing! And why the hell was the guy wearing the hockey mask? It makes no sense in any context whatsoever. I don't even mean inside the movie. I'm trying to figure out why the filmmakers would even think of it? It makes no sense. Wouldn't it make more sense to have, like, a diving mask or something? It's fucking weird.

Anyway, the acting is agonizingly bad. I couldn't believe how bad some of it was. It outdoes the first two movies. It still looks like crap. It's still ripping off Psycho (shower scene), and now it's starting to rip itself off. There's a scene at the end of this one exactly like the scene at the end of the first one, only now Jason's mother jumps out of the lake. God knows how her head got reattached.

And I start thinking, they're going to need a separate ward for all these traumatized young women who survived Jason. I mean, the Freddy survivors sort of got their own ward in the crazy house. Why not? Maybe they could admit, like, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ellie Cornell just to fill it out.

: 13/32
Best Death: Main chickie's boyfriend gets his head squished, and his eyeball pops out on a spring. Ah, the miracle of 3D technology.


The Three Faces of Eve

The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

Written and Directed by: Nunnally Johnson, based on a book by Corbett Thigpen and Hervey M. Cleckley
Starring: Joanne Woodward, Lee J. Cobb, David Wayne, Edwin Jerome, Terry Ann Ross, Ken Scott, Alena Murray, Nancy Kulp, Douglas Spencer. Narrated by Alistair Cook

Based on the real story of a lady called Chris Costner Sizemore. Apparently, she wrote a book called I'm Eve!. Maybe I'll read it?

Anyway, it's about a housewife who develops two alternate personalities. One of them is a rampaging psychopath who sets about to destroy everyone the Host Personality loves. No, I'm lying. Or am I?

Plotwise, the movie is pretty dull. The lady undergoes therapy, but still her extra personalities plague her. It all seems vaguely bogus. Particularly when we learn that the reason she has three personalities is because her mother made her kiss a corpse when she was about six. What the fuck? Okay, sure, that's disturbing as all hell and would no doubt traumatize a young child, but that's it? Frig.

The only really interesting thing about the movie is watching Joanne Woodward play all three personalities (Eve White, the regular one; Eve Black, the slut and Jane the modest, polite young lady), switching back and forth between them quite frequently sometimes.

Of course this whole multiple personality business is really very trying on the woman's husband and young daughter. And the doctor. I guess. I've got to feel bad for him.

Yeah, anyway, to negate the bogusness of the plot (I'm going back to that because my other tangent was going nowhere) they have a narrator to explain what's going on. Obviously it's a true story, the narrator said so. And if George of the Jungle has taught me anything, it's not to argue with the narrator.

At the beginning of the movie, narrator comes out and explains the entire plot to us in the audience (we're completely moronic, apparently). Then, of course, it's no surprise when the extra personality shows up.

Yeah, that was pretty dumb. So not a great movie per se, but Joanne Woodward was pretty good. She won an Oscar for best actress. Good for her.


Friday the 13th 2

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Directed by:
Steve Miner
Written by: Ron Kurz
Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Kirsten Baker, Stu Charno, Steve Dash, Warrington Gillette (cool name, huh?), Marta Kober, Tom McBride, Bill Randolph, Lauren Marie Taylor, Russell Todd, Walt Gorney, Adrienne King, Betsy Palmer

This is the one where Jason shows up. Okay, he was in the first one briefly, but he didn't really get his freak on until now.

Now... what the hell happened in this movie? I think a bunch of teenagers go out to Crystal Lake to train to be camp counselors or something. Or maybe it's some kind of sex camp? I don't know. Anyway, there's a whole bunch of topless women and they get killed off by Jason who is pissed off that his mom got decapitated in the first movie.

This movie rips off Texas Chainsaw Massacre (they even have a chainsaw!), Jaws, as well as the perpetual Psycho thievery. I'm not sure if that sentence made sense grammatically, but who frigging cares.

So yeah, Jason is actually in this one, albeit without the hockey mask. I was kind of disappointed, actually. I was hoping to see him in the hockey mask, but instead he just has like, a bag over his head or something. They take it off at the end of the movie and he turns out to be some sort of freaky Hills Have Eyes baby. Why? Because he drowned. That doesn't make sense to me, either.

But man is he dumb. There's a scene where he's coming after this girl with an axe, and how does she stop him? She puts on his mother's sweater and he gets totally confused. It was kind of cute, actually. Poor guy just misses his mom. Of course, he then notices his mother's severed head is still there (oh, yeah, yeah, he's got this shrine to his dead momma, complete with her head and everything). I'm not quite sure who's dumber - him or Michael Myers. I mean, Michael Myers doesn't get confused that easily, but there's that whole gun thing in part 4 which really got me (what do you do when you have a shotgun pointed at the person you want to kill? Stab? No, that isn't right). They're both robots, the question doesn't really apply.

Anyway, this was vaguely more interesting than the first one, but it still looked like crap. The only reason to watch this movie would be if you were disappointed by the total lack of Jason in the first one.

Most Interesting Death: The girl from part one gets an icepick in the head. Pretty lame.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Monster House

Monster House (2006)

Directed by: Gil Kenan
Written by: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettler
Voices of: Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Jon Heder, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard

I don't ordinarily watch animated pics, leastways not the little kiddie ones. I have, on occasion, gone on anime binges, but that's an entirely different thing right there. But hey, this is like a horror movie for little kiddies. I think they should make more of them. In fact, I think they should start adapting regular horror movies into animations. They made an animated version of The Passion for God's sake, why not, like, Hostel?

Anyway, this is about a house that's alive. It's a live and it's angry and when it's owner leaves it starts eating people. Turns out that the wife of the owner died while the house was being built and her nutso spirit became part of it. Or something. So it's up to a band of kids to destroy it before Halloween.

The movie was okay, like I said, it was a good idea and I think they should really keep making stuff like it. However, I had the following problems.

#1: The animation was done with computers. I believe in traditional animation, preferably stop motion, but regular animation is also acceptable. Stop motion not only looks cool, but it takes forever, so even if the movie's no good, you have to admire the people involved.

The animation also didn't look very nice. The people were all lumpy and gross looking. Sure, they did one or two things you couldn't do with live action people (although with everyone so frigging CG-happy they could have just animated those parts anyway) but it would have looked a lot better.

#2: There were some pretty big name celebrities involved. Why? They cost more and you aren't even going to see them. I didn't recognize any of them (my friends got Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard, but I didn't know Steve Buscemi was in it until a day or so after I saw it). Not only are their voices not particularly distinctive, but they're also putting professional voice actors out of business.

#3: The house was totally bogus. I mean, come on. The part where it uproots it self and chases people down the street was a little bit over kill. It couldn't just be a subtle mellowed out haunted house movie (I know, I know, kids wouldn't appreciate the subtlety, but I think they would. It would make them more interesting people, and they would thank you for it when they got older. Or, better yet, don't let children watch television at all! It will build character!).

The characters in this were okay, and there were one or two moderately funny lines, but it had that dinky thing going on. You know, where everything ends up just fine and dandy. That bugged me. Why can't they make children's movies with real value? They do, actually, but not always.

Anyway, it was only mildly irksome. I have no idea if kids would enjoy it or not.



V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta (2005)

Directed by: James McTeigue
Written by: The Wachowski Brothers, based on the comic written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd
Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, John Hurt, Tim Piggott-Smith, Rupert Graves, Roger Allam, Sinéad Cusack, Natasha Wightman, Billie Cook

I don't usually like movies based on comic books. I don't usually like comic books (which is perhaps why I insist on calling them 'comic books' rather than 'graphic novels'. The term 'graphic novel' is a pile of horseshit). I read V for Vendetta around the time the movie came out, and quite enjoyed it. It was so good, in fact, that though the film is inferior, it's still manages to be good in it's own right.

It's about a young woman living in a totalitarian society, who teams with this masked anarchist who calls himself 'V' and apparently really digs Guy Fawkes. He is trying to destroy said totalitarian society, as well as off a bunch of people he has a beef with.

That was a terrible description of the movie, but I'm sure you can find a better one somewhere. Checking out Xenon's review is probably not a bad idea (there's probably a link to his blog around here somewhere. EDIT: his blog either moved or disappeared so nevermind that). It makes a hell of a lot more sense than this is going to.

V actually has a lot in common with the masked killers of many a bad slasher pic. He wears a mask, he kills a group of people, he has a mysterious past and apparently had his face burned off. He wears a black cape and slashes people with knives.

Sure, he's a tad cooler than most of those guys (he has a whole Phantom of the Opera thing going on). Not as cool as he thinks he is, of course. He thinks he's really cool, you can just tell.

And Hugo Weaving was very good. He has a lovely voice. He almost pulled it off. The number one problem I have with V (nevermind his lack of a personality) is that his face does not move. In the book, this is not a problem. Nobody's face moves in the book. But it really bothered me here. Hugo Weaving had to work really hard to convince me he was talking. He moved his hands around and bobbed his head up and down way too much. It was pretty freakish. I think putting a half-mask on him would have been a good idea, but artistically I guess it just wouldn't have done.

Anyway, I didn't think that Natalie Portman was half as sexy as everyone made her out to be (I never do). People went on about how she proved that shaving your head can be sexy. She looked awful, and she was supposed to. Whoever thought she was really hot crawling on the floor and wearing a bag is a real fuckin' perv.

She was pretty good though.

Okay, what else? The visuals were gorgeous. The script was very good (again, the book was so good they were hard pressed to fuck it up). They adapted it to modern issues remarkably well. And it was really heavy on dialogue - V gets some pretty good dialogue... Everything is sick and disturbing enough. The action scenes (like V killing twenty people in a room because he's so cool) were unnecessary. They just reminded me of the slasher thing.

And John Hurt looked like a Bond villain. I kept thinking Bong villain, with his big TV and his room full of minions. The first movie I saw him in was Alien, too, which made for a few good laughs inside my head.

Yeah, it was pretty cool. And the big finale where they blow up Parliament is weirdly satisfying. I don't have anything against Parliament, but for whatever reason watching that building explode was a feel good experience. It really made my day.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Halloween 4

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

Directed by:
Dwight H. Little
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, Beau Starr, Sasha Jensen, Kathleen Kinmont, George P. Wilbur, George Sullivan, Patrick Cranshaw

The second sequel to Halloween following Halloween 2. As I've discussed previously, Halloween 3 has nothing to do with the rest of the series. And John Carpenter had nothing to do with this movie.

In the last movie, Michael Myers and Donald Pleasence were killed in a fire. This time, it turns out that they survived to fight another day or something. When Mike is being transported from one hospital to another, he awakens from his comatose state and runs off to kill again. It seems that Jamie Lee Curtis wasn't ready to do another sequel, so he goes after her young daughter (apparently Laurie Strode is dead, but I don't believe it) who is living in foster care and hasn't had the sense to get out of Haddonfield. And Donald Pleasence, still alive but very badly burned, limps around after him, raving about evil and stuff like that.

Oh yeah, and a bunch of people get killed. Notably the fornicating teenagers (only two this time).

The movie isn't bad. The acting is sub-par and it's the whole thing is really unbelievable, but the same goes for the first one. This one really just lacks originality. The slasher genre was exploding by this point, and this one doesn't really have anything new going for it.

Actually, the only things going for it at all are the music (which didn't bother me this time) and Donald Pleasence being weird. And the ending was pretty good. It's almost exactly the same as the opening scene in the first Halloween, only instead of Michael Myers, it's the little girl he was stalking all through the movie, wearing the same clown costume. I feel bad for Dr. Loomis - now he has to deal with two of them. Poor bastard.

Anyway, with those burn scars on his hands and arms, Michael Myers is starting to look eerily like Freddy (a big, silent Freddy with a mask and no stripy sweater, but Freddy none the less). That bugged me. They were already up to Nightmare 4 by 1988.

But despite all of that, it was still so much better than Halloween 2.


Lake Placid

Lake Placid (1999)

Directed by:
Steve Miner
Written by: David E. Kelley
Starring: Bridget Fonda, Bill Pullman, Oliver Platt, Brendan Gleeson, Betty White, Meredith Salenger

I saw this movie a while ago on television - the reception was crap on that channel, so I had no frigging idea what the hell was going. It was almost like watching static with dialogue. I don't know why I kept watching it... but anyway, I finally saw this movie as it was meant to be...

It's about this 30 foot crocodile living in a lake in Maine (not New York, apparently) and a bunch of people who are trying to capture and/or kill it. None of them can really figure out what it's doing there - it seems to have migrated from Asia.

And it's sort of a comedy. Not like, I dunno, Scary Movie or whatever, it's just really sarcastic. There are a lot of snappy lines. It's funny. I laughed.

Anyway, it's not exactly a great movie, but it's a pretty good monster flick, and for some reason I love Bill Pullman. He's kind of gross and smug or something, but I like him. Maybe it was after I saw him play a crazy person. I don't know.

Actually, the cast is quite good, particularly for a giant reptile movie. Yeah, Anaconda had Jennifer Lopez and Jon Voight. And Ice Cube and Owen Wilson, but they seemed to skip out on the production values for that movie (the backwards waterfall is one of the funniest fuck ups ever). And the script really sucked. Anyway, this one had Oliver Platt in it. Hey. He and Brendan Gleeson were good together. They make a good couple.

This movie was actually well made, which is important. I mean, there are some really obvious cliches - the obnoxious mean lady from New York who initially hates the rugged Maine forest ranger guy, but falls in love with him after stitching his wounds. Okay, the lady wasn't obnoxious and mean, she was just sarcastic and negative.

And the crocodile didn't look too bad. Some of the stuff was obviously CG, but it looked okay, and a lot of the croc stuff was done with puppets and models, which is always good. Not too much Ray Harryhausen style stop motion goodness, but that's okay.

Another perk - they weren't afraid to pile on the gore. In the first scene a guy gets bitten in half, people get decapitated, deer heads get thrown around. It's great. There wasn't a lot of splatter type stuff, but it wasn't necessary. It didn't need to be disgusting, really.

I enjoyed the movie. And it had a nice open ending. I was always surprised that they didn't make a sequel to it, although now I can see they have.

Oh yeah, and it's a Canadian co-production, all shot out in B.C. (of course - most American movies set in the woods are shot in Vancouver). Which is odd seeing as it's on the wrong side of the continent...