13 Assassins hits DVD & Bluray on July 5th

I just found out that 13 Assassins hit's DVD and Bluray this Tuesday, July 5th.
I'm really excited because this is a samurai movie that got extremely limited release, but is hailed as one of the best samurai films of all time along side Seven Samurai and directed by none other than the prolific Takashi Miike. If your a fan of Takashi Miike like I am, this is good news because as you know while he throws out up to 8 films a year, a lot of them are utter crap. But there are a few gems here and there, namely Ichi the Killer, Fudoh: The New Generation, Audition, The Bird People in China and the Dead or Alive trilogy.
But every single review and comment I've read regarding 13 Assassins is overwhelmingly good and are saying this might be his crowning achievement. Extremely violent and brutal, but with a storyline to match. Just watching the trailer gives me goosebumps.
Check it out here:

I'm really excited about this one. Tuesday can't come soon enough.


The Nightbreed Saga

Directed by: Clive Barker

I'm really surprised at how little I actually knew about this film. The history about this film is amazing, and I had no idea!
I mean, I saw it in the theater back in 1990 and have loved it ever since. Often throwing the DVD in at least once a year. I know it's written and directed by my favorite horror writer, Clive Barker. But that's really all I knew. But the most important fact that I recently learned about Nightbreed, more important than anything else is the fact that there is a "Director's Cut" out there! More on that in a bit.

Look at this poster. Right off the bat, just looking at this poster image says everything. It shows that the studio had no idea what kind of film they had and didn't even "try" to market it correctly. It's all so overwhelmingly wrong. That doesn't even look like the actual actress in the movie! Instead they make the film look like a typical slasher flick. Even the trailers, if you can remember them, gave the same impression. Not once did they show a single monster, instead relying on showing Dr. Decker most of the time as a serial killer. Not ever mentioning that the film is more of a fantasy/horror film really about monsters and a place called Midian.

Some history:
Doing some research I found a plethora of information regarding Nightbreed. Stuff that I had no idea was going on. First off, Clive Barker envisioned this as a trilogy, calling it the Star Wars of the fantasy/horror genre. He had so many ideas and so much lush and rich imagination in the design, the characters and there backstory that he envisioned spreading it all out into 3 films eventually. The studio, Morgan Creek, really screwed him over royally with this film. As i'm reading up on all the drama behind the scenes, i'm immediately reminded of David Fincher's experience on Alien3. First off, they made him change the title from Cabal, from which his novella was named, to Nightbreed. Second, they contractually obligated him to deliver an R rated film, which had to be less gory than his previous film Hellraiser. Almost impossible to even comprehend when you consider what Nightbreed is about and what the plot is. Because of this obligation, he was forced several times to cut the film. His first cut was an epic 2 1/2 hours long. After two more cuts, they made him bring it down to 102 minutes, making it 25 minutes shorter than his favored initial directors cut. This decision alone greatly affects the story in so many ways. As much as I love the movie for so many reasons, the cutting of nearly 30 minutes of story really complicates things. For one, you never know what Dr. Decker's motives are.
Yea he wants to destroy Midian and all the monsters, but why?
And what's Narcisse's story?
Why is he in the hospital when he meets Boone and not in Midian if that's where he's supposed to be?
And how the hell does he have razors in his pocket in a hospital?
The same ones he uses to rip his face off.
And what of the inhabitants of Midian?
How have they survived undetected for so long seemingly right under everyone's noses?
And what about there story?
Who comes up with all these law's that they so passionately follow?

There's just so many things with the story that are never explained and make it hard to really sympathize with any of the characters or even understand there motives. But then again, i'm sure that has to do with the drastic cuts the studio imposed on Barker. It's really sad, because in the end, it leaves the story somewhat incoherent and the movie suffered because of it, in so many ways. He was also forced to do extensive re-shoots. Hoping it would help the narrative. Even with these re-shoots all done, the studio again made him do another drastic cut of nearly an hour, further hurting the films success. And you know there's stuff missing here. You see it throughout. So much imagination and work went into designing and creating hundreds of individual creatures and monsters, with most of them only getting a mere 2 seconds of screen time. It's almost unbelievable. You know that there's more footage out there somewhere involving these things.

I really love this film. Clive Barker has only directed 3 feature length films in his career, this being his 2nd and my favorite from his filmography. This one I felt was his crowning achievement, even with all the problems it ultimately suffered. It's a great fantasy/horror film with never a dull moment. I also thought his direction in this was a vast improvement compared to his previous film Hellraiser. You can see he's grown as a visual filmmaker and the scope of this thing is epic. It's a sprawling fantasy/horror epic that looks limited by constraints. But it doesn't make it any less entertaining. It's scary, gory, violent, thrilling and even funny at times. You've also got Danny Elfman supplying the score here. And you know immediately during that awesome opening title sequence when the words Nightbreed scrawl along the screen that it's an Elfman score. That title sequence is the shit!!
Here he was at the peak of his career, just coming off the year before with Batman and that monumental theme, and then moving onto Dick Tracy, Darkman, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. His thunderous score keeps the film exciting and makes it much more grand than it would have been with anyone else handling the music. Oh! And I love that scene where the Berserkers come tearing through the ground and kill all those rednecks. Awesomeness!!

The studio just didn't know how to market this thing. Apparently, the head of marketing never even finished the movie because he thought it was too horrific. So they marketed it as a slasher flick. Big mistake, because it's anything but. It's a fantasy more than anything, with elements of horror and even a little action. I mean, just look at the poster! What does that look like? A slasher flick, right?! Idiots!
The studio also refused to preview it to critics, which is always the kiss of death. In the end, because of Morgan Creek's repeated involvement, the movie tanked. Critics were harsh (again because of the enormous cuts that were made which left the end result incoherent) and the public not knowing what kind of movie it really was stayed away. It only ended up recouping a third of it's budget. So the other 2 films in this trilogy were scrapped unfortunately. As it stands, officially there is only one version of this film available, the theatrical cut. However, 2 VHS workprints have been discovered. One being 145-minutes long and the other 159-minutes. Oh there is a heaven!! And these 2 workprints, unfortunately only on VHS, are the only known copies of these versions of the film known to exist. There is no other master copy anywhere.

Apparently this footage has never been "lost", but safely tucked away in the studio's vaults only to be discovered by an extremely dedicated and passionate fan with a lot of time on his hands who was motivated by the legends of this mythical directors cut that nobody actually knew really existed or not.
Contacted by Clive Barker himself and a legion of fans within the horror community to finally release this found footage and get a true directors cut of Nightbreed officially released on DVD and Blu-ray, the studio refused saying that they don't think there is a big enough community out there to warrant spending the money to get this thing released. They did however authorize a screening of one of these workprints at the Horrorhound Weekend in Indianapolis on March 27, 2010. I will forever be jealous of anyone who was lucky enough to attend this screening. And that's it, the only time we will ever get a chance to see this legendary directors cut, UNLESS we are able to convince the studio that there is indeed an audience for one.
Follow the link here to Clive Barker's website for more info on everything regarding the infamous Nightbreed workprint and directors cut.

On this link that takes you to his official website, you can add your signature to a petition that gets sent to the studio heads in the hopes that one day us horror fans will finally get to see the movie Clive Barker intended us to see.
Do your part for the horror genre and sign this petition so that maybe one day we will get that epic directors cut this film deserves.


Currently Reading.......

A direct movie tie-in with the 1995 film, this book covers everything from the entire history of the Judge Dredd character to all aspects of making the movie. It's a great read, whether your just into the Judge Dredd character in general, a fan of the movie or in what it takes in getting a movie made.

It's fascinating how the studio heads make decisions based on there own financial interests or there own naive judgement when there handling a property this big, considering there is millions or possibly billions of dollars at stake with tie-ins, sequals and spin-offs. Listen to the fans people, we know what we want to see. You can't help but think that there logic was that they hired the biggest action star of that time, so why if they were going to pay him millions of dollars to play this character, would they hide his face under a helmet for 2 hours?

Judge Dredd was and still is the biggest comic book character to ever come out of the U.K. since his first appearance in 2000 AD, a weekly hard-edged science fiction anthology in 1977. Producer Charles M. Lippincott had begun negotiations around '78 and had been trying to get a movie version of this character off the ground since then. It's hard to imagine that they had been trying to make a movie of this character since then and the decisions they chose to implore in the final version that ultimately ruined it for most people. The main thing being that he took his damn helmet off for most of the movie. Because if you're a fan of the comics at all, you know he never, ever took his helmet off. Never.
When will these guys finally listen to the geek community when it comes to handling a property so important?

Review: I Come in Peace

Directed by: Craig R. Baxley

Now this is a Dolph Lundgren film that I really, really love, even if the only way to currently watch it is on VHS officially. Though "thank the heavens" it's available in Widescreen VHS.

It's not perfect by any means, but it's got a lot of things going for it like the combination of Dolph "Motherfuckin" Lundgren and director Craig R. Baxley. But it's also got some choices that really hurt the film and prevented it from really hitting the big time.

The Good:
Dolph Lundgren. Director Craig R. Baxley, a director that if you've read any of my past reviews, I have a lot of love for. A ton of action. Explosions galore. If this isn't in the guiness book of world records for the most explosions in a single movie, i'd be damned surprised.

The Bad:
The music, it's just awful. Completely dreadful, but i'll get into that later. The look of the aliens. And I know it's a little nit-picky, but the opening title sequence. It just looks cheap and doesn't give the film a very promising opening. And that last shot, it makes me laugh every time.

This is one of my favorite Dolph Lundgren flicks. Say what you want about the quality of some of his movies, but you can't deny the guy is a force to be reckoned with, right along side Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Bruce Willis. The guy's developed an extreme cult following through the years and his output is enormous. Since 1985 he's come out with a movie every single year since and often coming out with anywhere from 2-4 in any given year. The guy is a non-stop movie making machine. He's also been writing and directing some of his films since 2004 and so far has done 7. So the guy know's what he's doing, becoming a one-man-operation in the direct to DVD market. Though I've seen many of these, he still hasn't done that one action masterpiece. Even with direct to DVD, it can still be accomplished. He tries really hard though, coming really close with 2007's Missionary Man, a modern day western kinda flick shot in Texas, but still not close enough. The cover art is cool though! I think technically, he just doesn't have that "eye" for setting up cool shots. It's not something you can really learn, no matter how many movies you turn out. You're either born with it or your not. Case-in-point, Troy Duffy, writer/director of The Boondock Saints 1 & 2. As a human being, the guy is a piece of shit. Just watch the riveting documentary Overnight if you don't believe me, or read my review. Even though he had never gone to film school or made a film, you can't deny the guy has a keen visual eye, just too bad his mouth gets in the way. The guy could have really become a successful film director if he wasn't such a douche bag. Back to Lundgren. I hope he continues to make his movies, but i'm still waiting for that "ultra-violent" crazy balls to the walls action flick, his opus. Though he hadn't been on the big screen since 1995's horrendous Johnny Mnemonic, that changed with 2010's The Expendables and I couldn't be happier. I hope it means he'll get more big screen work.

Anyway, back to I Come in Peace. It centers around a Houston cop named Det. Jack Caine, played by Lundgren. He's a vice cop with a bad attitude who, believe it or not, doesn't follow the rules. In the meantime a mysterious alien has just landed, looking like he came out of Mad Max with a hint of The Matrix, to collect a rare drug invaluable on his planet. During a sequence in the beginning of the film, Cain's partner is murdered during a botched undercover heroin deal. The alien shows up immediately after killing the drug dealers with his cool flying CD contraption and stealing the heroin and always uttering the line "I Come in Peace". It seems to be the only English language phrase he knows. Why this phrase? I have no idea, because he kills you immediately after saying it, like some kind of fucked up joke. Using a cable contraption from his wrist that shoots out like lightning, he kills his victims by injecting them with a massive dose of heroin (the same heroin he stole from the drug deal) and taking the potent endorphin's from the brain. The endorphin is the powerful drug on his planet. During all this, another alien has also landed, you assume he's like the cop on his planet, and shows up almost every time the bad alien is killing someone. Each encounter results in a massive gun battle/chase scene with exploding cars, buildings, and various other pieces of public property. The city cleanup bill must have been massive. After Caine's partner is killed, he's assigned an FBI agent to tag along named Smith. Right away the two do not get along as Smith is as straight edged and by the book as you can possibly be and Caine just doesn't give a shit about rules. He relies solely on instinct. Slowly Caine starts to realize there might be an extraterrestrial element to the investigation, though Smith doesn't believe so. Right off the bat, Caine does't trust Smith. He's shady and you get the impression he's not always telling the truth. There are several scenes throughout where Caine just give Smith a "look", and you (the audience) get immediately that Caine knows something is up with this guy, though it's never confirmed until later on. So the hard edged cop and the straight edgent FBI agent have to work together to find out what's going on, even when it seems Smith is constantly getting in the way and making things way more complicated than they need to be.

This movie seriously kicks some ass. Right from the beginning it starts with a bang and never stops. There's an explosion in what seems at least every 5 minutes and a good shootout every 15. Lundgren completely owns the movie here. He's charismatic as hell and reminds us that at one time, the guy was a big name action star. He can delivery the lines with barely a hint of that Swedish accent and delivery a roundhouse kick with ease, in this case often in the most unexpected places. It's funny actually, he's got a gun and can easily pull a trigger, but instead throws a roundhouse just to prove that he can, in skin tight jeans no less. I love the last thing he says to the bad alien when he's kicking his ass in the end. "Fuck you spaceman!". Classic!

The scenes with the aliens doing battle in the middle of the city at night are crazy awesome, if they just didn't look so ridiculous. They're aliens from another planet, being about 7 feet tall with outfits looking like they came out of Mad Max. They don't really look alien except for the fact that they have weird white eyes and really bad haircuts. That's it, because you can excuse the ridiculous Mad Max outfits for poor fashion taste. This is one of the decisions that ultimately hurts the film, because it just doesn't make any sense that they are aliens from anther planet but don't really look it. The bad alien only utters the same line over and over again, "I Come in Peace", where the good alien actually speaks English and can carry on a conversation. Why this is is never explained. It would have been cool if they had done some kind of makeup or even decent looking masks for the aliens, as in They Live, because it just looks like they didn't even try here. They also never explain why the bad alien shows up at the undercover drug deal and steals the case full of heroin. It's what he uses to kill his victims to produce the endorphin, but how does an alien know what heroin on planet Earth is or even looks like?
Those are silly little issues that I had while watching this flick, issues that could have easily been overlooked had it not been for one MAJOR decision that ultimately just kills the movie. The music. That damned score. The horror, the horror. It is all wrong for this movie. I'm watching it, even from the very beginning and all I can think of is how it seems like it instead belongs in an episode of Miami Vice. And there's a reason, because the composer here, Jan Hammer, actually did the theme music for Miami Vice. It's just ridiculous, all high note keyboards with absolutely no dramatic effect. It literally sounds like they just took the music from Miami Vice and just used it for the movie. I don't know who, whether it be the director or the producers or the studio heads, thought this was a good idea. I remember even way back in 1990 when I was 14 years old seeing this in the theater with my friend and his dad, thinking "wow, this music sucks!". It really just kills the movie.

To be honest, the movie is kind of weird. Especially considering it was a theatrical feature. There are just some elements and decisions that were made that just don't work whether it be lack of budget or just poor decision making. Director Craig R. Baxley, just coming off of the super awesome Action Jackson does a bang up job here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the guy know's how to direct action and he doesn't disappoint here. Somebody needs to bring this guy out of the TV world and hire him to do the next Die Hard film. That would be something truly spectacular. I can't be the only one who thinks that. Dolph Lundgren is also in top form here. Though this is only 1 of 2 films in his entire career where he dyed his hair black, the first being The Punisher which came out the year before, and it just looks odd. But he's charismatic and likable enough as an action hero here that you get over it quick. This was also a career high for him. In a span of five years or so, he was churning out cult classics from Masters of the Universe, The Punisher, I Come in Peace, Showdown in Little Tokyo (a personal favorite), to even Universal Soldier.
Also of special note, this film is only called I Come in Peace here in the states. Elsewhere in the world it's known as Dark Angel. Something to do with legal issues here in the states as there were 2 other films with that title from waaaaay back.

There are 3 things that they "could" do to make this a really badass Blu-ray release that would make it worth spending the money to buy, even making back some of what it lost during it's theatrical run because it was a big flop, costing $7 million to make and only making back $4 million.
1. They need to use this original poster art for the cover and not that horrendous cheapy looking photoshop image of 2 seperate photographs of Dolph and the bad alien blended together with a cheap looking background and horrible font.
2. Replace the music with an entirely new score using an actual talent and an actual orchestra.
3. Replace the font in the title sequence completely. It looks cheap and bad.

Those 3 little changes would do wonders for an official release. Because as I said before, it's never been officially released on DVD as of yet and people like me can't wait for a true official Blu-ray release with tons of extras and the works.

Bottom line: This film is completely entertaining from beginning to end and doesn't take itself seriously at all. For a low-budget action/sci-fi film it delivers the goods and then some. A good time is to be had here if you give it a shot.


Review: The Gauntlet

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

This is probably one of Clint Eastwood's most overlooked films. Right off the bat, it's a pretty damn good movie. I just wish this poster art by the legendary Frank Franzetta lived up to the movie. This came out a year after The Enforcer, and to be honest, it could have easily been another Dirty Harry flick. Right after The Enforcer, but before Sudden Impact. I mean, he essentially plays the same character. A cop with a bad attitude. I think had they called it Dirty Harry 4: The Gauntlet, it would have had a much bigger audience. And they totally could have gotten away with it because he's pretty much Dirty Harry in this. He just doesn't have that big ass revolver.

So the story goes like this. He's a washed up alcoholic cop named Ben Shockley. He's often referred to as a drunk, though they never actually show him drunk. He's given an assignment to transport a witness named Gus from Las Vegas to Phoenix to testify at a mob trial. What he doesn't know is Gus is actually a female prostitute played by his then real life girlfriend Sandra Locke. She has incriminating information about a high placed figure that involves the mob, gambling and stuff like that and what was supposed to be an easy assignment turns out to be a life and death situation.

Spoiler Alert:
He soon learns that he was only given the assignment because his superiors didn't think he could actually pull it off and probably die in the process because this witness has such damning information that everyone, including the mob and the police are trying to kill them to prevent her from testifying. That's the basic plot in a nutshell. Throughout the movie they're being chased by everyone you could possibly think of. The cops, the mobs, bikers, you name it. And it's a lot of fun. Shockley is a grumpy ol' pain in the ass. Gus is belligerent, stubborn and doesn't take like to take orders from anybody. So essentially, a match made in heave. When Shockley figures out that he was never meant to actually produce this witness, he is hell bent on proving everyone wrong, even if it means dying in the process. He is going to produce this witness to the courthouse to prove a point, that he is not a washed up alcoholic and indeed a good cop. He can still do his job.

Along the way they get caught up in so many chases that it keeps the movie running along nicely. There's lots of action, lots of chases, lots of fights, shootings and even comedy. The chemistry between Eastwood and Locke is undeniable, which is where a lot of the funny moments come from. I guess that's why they ended up making about 6 movies together. They're characters here are both so incredibly hard headed that it's pretty funny watching them just try to carry on a conversation without fighting, because they just can't without wanting to rip each other's head off. But you know what all that means in the end, that if they fight so much and claim to hate each other, they'll inevitably fall in love, which they do. You can see it coming from a mile away. I love Shockley's favorite quote throughout the movie: "Nag, nag, nag". Just like a real couple. And I also gotta point out, Eastwood is so cool in this. The guy doesn't even have to ever try, he just is. It's effortless for him. That goes a long way in carrying the film.

There's a ton of action here, especially during the climax, it's insane. You see, once Shockley figures out that everyone will do whatever it takes to prevent him from getting his witness to Phoenix to testify, he devises a plan to hijack a bus, which he then reinforces with steel along the front to run the gauntlet to Phoenix; hence the title. So as you can imagine, once they reach Phoenix all hell breaks loose. Every police officer in the city unleashes a barrage of bullets upon the bus that can rival The Killer or even Hard Boiled. I read something like 8,000 rounds were fired for the climax. We learn that it's in fact his boss who is the main villain here and since he's the chief of police, he's got the entire Phoenix police department and then some lined up along the entire route for what seems like miles, ready to kill on sight. And they do try, but remember, Shockley's on this super awesome steel-reinforced bus. So they can't stop him. If only one of them out of the hundreds that were there just thought to shoot out the tires. Believe it or not, not one single cop came up with that genius idea.

There are two things about this film that drove me nuts though.
One was the fact that this bus seems to go on for blocks while being assaulted by a hail of bullets, not one of them hitting the tires. The second is in the end. Shockley and Gus unbelievably do reach the courthouse and are confronted by hundreds of cops with there weapons drawn and Shockley's boss, who they both know is the ringleader here. The Chief, in a moment of panic, pulls a revolver from one of the officers belt and shoots Shockley. Gus, being the tough cookie that she is, also grabs a gun and shoots the chief dead, right in front of hundreds of police officers. Not one of them draw there weapons or try to intervene. They all just stand there and watch the chief shoot a guy, and then a woman shoot the chief dead. It was just ridiculous, I still can't get over that sequence. I guess for that one moment all 100 of them forgot that they were peace officers.

Though I usually am against remakes, I feel this would be a good candidate for one. Made by a really good action director who doesn't pull any shaky-cam shit. I liked it immensely, but I wasn't a fan of Eastwood's directing style here. This was in the early phase of his directing career and he just hadn't found his style yet. Not like it is now with all his Oscars under his belt. Because here, there is none. It's just kind of there. I watch it and think what it could have been like had someone like Walter Hill or Sam Peckinpah directed it. They both were set to direct it at different times, but bowed out leaving Eastwood to take the reigns. Though it's a pretty awesome action flick, had either one of these gods done it themselves, it would have been certifiably badass. I love discovering old flicks like this. It just reaffirms my love for the cop/action genre, even if it was made 34 years ago.


Geek news of the day - 06.21.11

I can barely contain my excitement here. The Mr. T cartoon from 1983 is finally hitting DVD this Friday!!
This is a cartoon I remember fondly, watching Saturday mornings I believe, in my living room while my parents were still asleep in the morning.
I remember it being pretty weird, but hey, have you ever seen his "Treat Your Mother Right" rap video from the early 80's? It's truly hilarious and remarkable and has to be seen to believe. This thing really exists. Look it up on YouTube if you don't believe me. Or what about his PSA's on drugs and staying in school? Only Mr. T can get away with looking the way he does and doing things like this. That's why he rules!

This 2-disc DVD set of the complete first season from 1983 hits DVD on Friday, June 24th and you can find it on Amazon for $35.99. I doubt you'll find it in retail stores like Target or Best Buy, but wouldn't it be something if I was wrong?
Friday can't come soon enough.

Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

Directed by: Marcus Nispel

I have to admit, I enjoyed this one a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. I purposely held off on watching it these past 2 years because I just didn't think it looked very good from the trailers. I love a good horror movie, but even this didn't get me excited enough to shell out $8.50 to go see it at the cineplex, especially coming out during a time when it was endless remake after endless remake. Some should never have been touched, rebooted or remade (A Nightmare on Elm Street specifically), but this was a nice surprise.
Directed by former music video and commercial director Marcus Nispel, apparently the go-to guy for remakes these days after remaking The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Firday the 13th and the soon to be released Conan, it's surprisingly entertaining with lots of kills, gratuitous nudity and a fair amount of nail-biting moments; all the ingredients for a decent horror flick.

I'm not going to go into the backstory of Jason as after 30 years since the original, we all know what the story is about. I was surprised though that in this one, they decided to forgo the entire Jason history and events that led up to why and how he or it (depending on how you view him) becomes what he or it ultimately becomes. It goes right into present day where he's the age, size and unstoppable killing force from his previous films, mainly from Part 3 on, because that's the sequal where he gets his trademark hockey mask. Instead, we get a 2 minute ( I guess you can call it a flashback ) sequence where were shown a teenage girl trying to defend herself from Jason's evil mother as she spouts blame for not watching her son and saying it's there fault and all that. She, like in the original, cuts Jason's mother's head off and we see a young Jason (apparently still alive) watching this unfold from the woods. And that's the first 2 minutes of the film. We have to assume it's a flashback because Jason is young, in case you couldn't figure it out. After that were immediately thrown into the present day where, wait for it............................a bunch of young adults decide to go camping on Camp Crystal Lake and have lots of sex and drink lots of alcohol. Can you believe it? For a Friday the 13th movie?! During this sequence while there all around a camp fire naturally, one of the young adults happens to know the story and history of Crystal Lake and tells the story about a young boy named Jason who drowned and his mother went insane killing everybody she thought were responsible for her sons death. That's basically how were given the information on Jason's entire history up until this point. And they all die by the way, because it is of course a Friday the 13th film.
That's of course, just the first sequence. After these events another group of young adults head out to a fancy shmancy log cabin by the lake not far from what just happened that belongs to a schmuck named Trent for a weekend of partying. Right away you get that this guy is rich, he's an asshole and he only invited everyone up to his fancy cabin to show off. In the meantime this guy named Clay rolls into town on a motorcycle at the same time passing out flyers of a missing girl, his sister. We learn later that the missing sister is one of the girls from the beginning of the film who went camping on the lake a few weeks before and disappeared. Clay immediately butts heads with Trent, the asshole, and what ensues is more sex, more drinking, lots of smoking, Jason killing lots of people and Clay looking for his sister. I should also mention that he doesn't have the hockey mask for the first quarter of the movie. He finds it during one of his kills later on, which kind of in a weird way blends the first 3 films from the original series into one as he wears both the burlap sack and the hockey mask in this one.

Spoiler Alert:
You end up finding out that Jason has Clay's missing sister being held prisoner in his underground bunker. That just doesn't make any sense to me. Why in the world after all these years of killing people would he decide to hold this one girl prisoner after killing all of her friends? Certainly not for sexual satisfaction or anything like that. He has no emotions and he doesn't feel. He just kills and kills relentlessly if anyone comes near Camp Crystal Lake. So why does he hold this girl hostage? You got me because it's never given an explanation. Again, that just makes no sense to me. When has he ever in the history of Friday the 13th films held one of these drunken oversexed teenagers hostage? Or even have the mental capacity to do so? I suppose the writers needed a reason to have one of the characters looking for something with a possible good outcome to keep the story moving along. I don't know.

What I also find odd is that if this cabin belongs to this guy Trent's family, why is this the first time they've ever had to deal with the threat of Jason if he's been living in the woods in that area for decades apparently? And you have to assume they've owned this cabin for a while as it's a fully furnished house basically complete with a boat and a shed itself the size of a house. I'm just sayin'.

Director Marcus Nispel did a pretty bang up job here. And I have to admit, I was a little worried after seeing his previous effort Pathfinder. Cool look and concept, but his camera work drove me nuts. Keep the fucking camera still for 2 seconds!! Though he touched on that a little in his film before that, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake), it wasn't as bad as in Pathfinder. But i'm happy to report he refrains from this style of camera work here and actually mounts the camera for most of the movie, which is a nice change these days. And he makes it look good too. It's never boring, unlike A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake), with plenty of suspense and a few edge-of-your-seat thrills. I did wish though that they would have come up with more interesting kills, because ultimately that's why we go to see these Jason movies. Yea, there were a lot of them. But they were mostly stabbings or impalings. I would have like to have seen more dismemberment's, gushing blood, limbs being torn or cut off or even a disembowelment or two. I wish they had just gotten a little more creative with the kills, speaking as a true horror fan. One thing I gotta say is that I like the way they did Jason here. The guy who plays Jason, Derek Mears, is a hulk, i'm talking huge. I'll always be partial to Kane Hodder's portrayal of Jason from parts 7 through 9, but this guy here is pretty badass too.

As far as effects go, there top notch and as realistic looking as you can get looking like they used real practical effects a la Tom Savini's amazing work from the original and especially Part 4: The Final Chapter, one of my fav's from the series. If it was digital here in this remake, I couldn't tell.

I really hope they keep the series going and get different directors for every single one like they did in the 80's. Having a unique vision from different directors can keep this series alive for years if they can figure out how to make them cheap.


Review: I Saw the Devil

Directed by: Ji-Woon Kim

Right from the opening sequence, this film grabbed me by the throat and preceded to assault my senses for the next 142 minutes. Brutal. Just incredibly brutal from beginning to end and another top notch product of Korea after the incredible The Man From Nowhere. I can't remember the last time i'd seen a film this disturbing, this violent, this graphic and this intense in a long time.

Director Ji-Woon Kim has masterfully crafted one of the most intense psychological thrillers I've ever seen, and without a doubt one of the most violent. I'm telling you, every time I thought the violence couldn't get anymore graphic, they up the ante by a mile. And it has a different effect than when watching something like say, Ichi the Killer. Yea, that movie is just as violent, bloody and gory if not more, but its an action/yakuza flick with the violence being so over the top it ends up being cartoony and you just can't take it seriously. Here, it has much more of an impact and often leaves you uneasy. It's as realistic and unflinching as it could possibly get, and if you don't have a strong stomach, you probably couldn't handle a lot of this. But I loved every second of it.
As I was watching this all I could think of was how this film would never play in a U.S. theater without getting an X Rating, even if the violence was cut significantly. This is not an action film, which if it were it could get away with a lot of the violence. Rather this is an intense character study of revenge........no guns, no fights. It begs the question, how far would you go to exact revenge on the person who brutally killed someone you love and how much would be enough?

Byun-hun Lee, again reteaming with director Ji-Woon Kim after The Good, the Bad, the Weird, plays secret service agent Kim Soo-hyeon. His fiance is murdered by a sadistic serial killer right from the incredibly unsettling opening sequence. He is so distraught that he promises to exact the same pain and torture to whoever did this. After narrowing down the list of potential suspects, thanks to the help of his would-be father in law who is the chief of police, he zeros in on Kyung-chul, played by the magnificent Min-sik Choi of Oldboy. Looking a lot older and a lot heavier since Oldboy, Min-sik Choi plays the serial killer here with such ferocity and ambivalence that he's genuinely scary as hell. Kim finds the killer, but doesn't kill him. He beats the living daylights out of him, a mere inch of his life, and implants a tracking device down his throat and lets him go so he can hunt him. When Kyung-chul awakens, he's at a loss for words as to why he was beaten so severely, but left to live? Immediately after escaping, he starts killing again relentlessly in one of the most brutal and bloody sequences in the entire film. It takes place in a taxi cab and it was simply ferocious and bloody as hell. He soon realizes that this guy who beat him so severely is following him, always happening to stop his next kill, and toying with him. These scenes where Kim Soo-hyeon finds, tortures and again leaves Kyung-chul alive are incredibly graphic. He's got a plan, to exact slow and painful revenge on the man who killed his fiance with each time being more painful, more brutal and more merciless than before. These scenes left my jaw dropped to the floor every time. For someone who enjoys a good horror movie and good use of blood and gore, it left me kind of squeamish throughout. Whats amusing is that even though the serial killer is being repeatedly tortured to the point of near death, it doesn't faze him. He gets up, laughs it off and proceeds to seek out his next victim, always uttering "That crazy bastard!"(referring to the protagonist) under his breath. This guy is nuts and certifiably insane. He soon realizes who this guy is though, and what begins about half way through the film is a game of cat and mouse between the two. Because though he finds it amusing, he's also getting pissed off because he's disturbing his work, his killing. The scenes of torture bestowed upon Kyung-chul, the serial killer, are incredibly unsettling. Repeatedly victimized, you start to wonder, how can this guy live after that? But he does, and lives to take another beating.
What we also see happening is the protagonist, who in the beginning of the film is a well respected secret service agent, slowly starts becoming the monster he is chasing. And that's what's at the heart of the film, showing you how far a man will go to exact revenge, not realizing he is becoming a monster himself. These two men, who in the beginning couldn't be more different, slowly become more alike than they realize. He doesn't eat, he doesn't sleep and will not stop until he's finished exacting unflinching horror on this guy and your often left wondering when will enough be enough? You start asking yourself, what makes him any different than the killer? Because in the beginning there's a good guy and a bad guy. By the end, you don't know who's side to be on.

Min-sik Choi, who was amazing in Oldboy, outdoes himself here. His performance should go down in history along side Anthony Hopkins performance as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, another serial killer, as truly incredible. Director Ji-Woon Kim has also crafted an exceptional thriller with precision camera work. Though I felt it went on a little too long, about 2 1/2 hours, you never really feel it because it's incredibly engaging throughout. It's exciting, thrilling, horrifying, brutal, graphic and intense from beginning to end with every set piece and sequence leaving you floored in awe. Be warned, this film is incredibly brutal and graphic and it's definitely not for the squeamish, but if you can stomach the excessive gore and violence it's an experience you won't soon forget.


Review: They Live

Directed by: John Carpenter
Category: Sci-fi, Cult Classic, Badass Cinema

This movie is so far ahead of it's time. Back in 1988, I just don't think the average movie-goer knew how to take it, much like Carpenters previous effort from 2 years before Big Trouble in Little China. For 1988, I can understand. The concept is pretty far out there, but looking back on it today, it's such a product of it's time.

The plot goes like this. Wrestling legend Roddy Piper plays a no-named (he's never given a name in the entire film) drifter who's looking for work. He finds a job in construction and befriends a co-worker named Frank, played by the awesome Keith David. Frank takes the drifter to a place for homeless people where they can get a bite to eat and a place to stay. Immediately the drifter starts noticing strange things going on. You see, he's a watcher and a man of few words. He's constantly noticing things and seeing all kinds of things in the background. One being the strange goings on at the local church, soon realizing it's not even a church at all but a front for something, he doesn't know what. Also whenever anyone is watching a television set, there always seems to be an interference, like a weak signal coming from somewhere else and trying to break into every channel it can. During these interference's you see an older guy reading from a text spewing propaganda about how "they" are trying to control the planet and everything you do. It's pretty interesting stuff with a lot of what you think is political jargon. This group of people who run the homeless center are up to something. The drifter stumbles upon a box of seemingly regular looking sunglasses manufactured by this group and takes a pair. Once he puts them on he notices something different. Everything is in black and white and when looking at certain people, they look like weird skinless aliens. Also, on everything with written words like billboards, newspapers and magazines, there are subliminal messages that can only be seen with the sunglasses like "conform", "submit to authority" or "obey" and such. All meant to control you subliminally. And that's when the movie really kicks into gear. The rest of the film deals with the drifter and his buddy Frank stumbling upon a race of aliens who are here on Earth to take over and have been hiding under our noses right in front of us. The drifter doesn't like the fact that they are here and intends to somehow deal with the problem any way he can. Like immediately after discovering this, he goes berserk and just starts killing as many of them as he can. He doesn't know why there here (they could be actually here to help for all he knows) but he doesn't give a shit and thinks the best thing to do is to just blow them all away. There aliens on our planet and he don't like it.

This is such an interesting movie. When you watch it now, it just seems so incredibly relevant in this day and age. When it came out in '88, it didn't have much love. But now, it's considered a certified cult classic and one of John Carpenter's most famous and most loved films. Which I think is funny because at the time of it's release, Carpenter used a pseudonym for the writing credits, calling himself Frank Armitage, which just so happens to be the name of Keith David's character in the movie. I don't know if it was because he was unhappy with the final product or even embarrassed and didn't want people to know that he in fact wrote the screenplay? I don't know. Whatever the reason, he certainly embraces the love now. It's one of those classic films that's closely associated with his name. And it's a fun film. It's an action film, a thriller, a sci-fi film, a horror film and a propaganda film all rolled into one. It's one of those rare films that works in either of these genre's. It starts off a little slow, showing the drifter rolling into town and looking for work, but Carpenters visual flair and keen camera work keeps the pace rolling nicely. As with most of his films, he did the musical score here. It's got a jazzy, slow-tempo vibe that even when nothing is really happening, you enjoy listening to the beat of the score because it keeps things consistent.

I have to say, Roddy Piper surprised the hell out of me in this, even going way back to 1988 when I first saw this, I think I must have been 12. But even then, I thought this guy had presence. I used to watch wrestling back in the 80's, back when it was cool. Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Captain Lou Albano, The Sheike and Rowdy Roddy Piper. In the ring, this guy was crazy nuts. Always wore that kilt and always screaming his head off. But shockingly here, he plays the drifter calm and cool throughout. And when the time comes to chew bubble gum or kick some ass, he does it with such ease. I'm really surprised that he didn't have a bigger acting career. Just this movie alone should have been enough to show anybody that he does in fact possess the chops to do it. After this I thought the guy was going to blow up big time. He didn't, and I don't know if that was a personal choice or what. Keith David is also pretty awesome in this, as he is in anything he does. Carpenter had previously worked with him in my all time favorite horror movie, The Thing. This film also has the longest bare knuckled fist fight ever in film history, and it's pretty brutal and hilarious at the same time. Piper's character is trying to convince Frank of what is really going on by asking him to put the sunglasses on. Frank refuses because he thinks he's nuts and dangerous and a fight ensues. All for the sole purpose of making Frank wear those damn sunglasses so he can see for himself. They kick each other's asses so brutally and the drifter just keeps screaming "Put the glasses on!!" over and over again. You start to think, how horrible would it be to put a pair of sunglasses on? Whats wrong with this Frank guy? There is actually a whole "legend" behind this fight, with lots of different stories and theories. They say that the fight was supposed to be a lot shorter, but that Piper and David actually started to get aggravated and fight for real so Carpenter just kept filming. I find this hard to believe as there are camera's set up all over the place for specific shots and landings and punches and whatnot and unless they had a guy with a handheld camera filming everything, it would have just been impossible to not get the crew, or other cameras in the shot. It's a beautifully choreographed sequence and in the end you can't help but laugh out loud as these two guys beat the living shit out of each other over a pair of sunglasses. Just in case you were wondering, yes, he does put the glasses on.

This movie also has some of the most hilarious catch phrases. The main one being when the drifter walks into a bank with a shotgun and those sunglasses and says "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubble gum.". Classic! That line was actually ad-libbed by Piper himself. This film is full of them and you can quote them for days.

This film is so full of surreal images that have been burned into our subconscious. There's a scene where the drifter, after first putting the sunglasses on and he's walking around the city in awe and confusion, walks into a grocery store that has a television playing. On the television is a figure, one of the aliens because he is wearing those special sunglasses at this time, who's preaching propaganda from a podium. He's wearing a suit, but still looks like one of the aliens and behind him is a large sign with the words "OBEY" in big black letters against a white background. Even though this scene lasts no more than 3 seconds, it is this scene that this film is most rembered for. It's such an iconic scene because it represents what the entire film is about.

The budget for this film is very tame, even for 1980's standards. Maybe that's why towards the end of the movie when the drifter and Frank are infiltrating the aliens headquarters, the guards are using some kind of communication device to talk to each other. If you look closely, they are actually P.K.E. meters, the same one that Egon uses in Ghostbusters. But still, despite the budget being relatively small, it doesn't look cheap at all. Carpenter knows how to shoot a film whether it's a big budget film or low budget film. Costing $4 million to make it ultimately made $13 million at the box office. Technically not a lot for a sci-fi action flick, but 3 times it's budget, which makes it a hit.......technically, if your going by figures alone.
This film is by now 23 years old, and I for one am so glad they never tried to remake this one. It deserves to be left alone. It's remembered fondly by all of us geeks for all the reasons that the critics feel that it failed. I'm still waiting and hoping that one day we'll get this sucker on blu-ray with a feast of extra features. Wouldn't that be something?

This came out during a period in John Carpenters career that he is most remembered for. The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, Christine, Starman, Big Trouble in Little China, The Prince of Darkness and They Live all coming out back to back and permanently cementing his status as a true movie god in our hearts, mine especially. Four of these films are on my all-time favorites list. So I love John Carpenter films, even going back to Assault on Precinct 13, one of the most brutal and unflinching action flicks I've ever seen and a personal favorite. He has a specific style and a specific take on horror and action. It's safe to say that nobody makes a film like John Carpenter can. A lot of these movies listed here in his filmography unfortunately have not gotten much praise from the critics, except Starman, but we love them anyway because he makes movies his own way. During this time in the 80's, nobody was making them as consistently as him. He was a maverick in his prime and though he's fallen off the map because of unbelievable misfires like 1996's Escape from L.A. (a film that literally hurts to watch) and even 2001's Ghosts of Mars, he's been forgiven for his sins and has finally made his first big budget film in 10 years with The Ward which so far has gotten lots of praise.

Though overlooked from his filmography for many years, even decades, it's finally been considered an iconic piece of sci-fi filmmaking and one that deserves another viewing and a proper blu-ray release.


Review: Judge Dredd

Directed by: 
Danny Cannon
Category: Sci-fi

I know i'm in the minority with this, but I happen to really love this film.
And after finishing my last post, it got me to thinking about other Stallone films that i'd like to see redone or sequalized. Cobra is one of them, and Judge Dredd the other. Cobra i'd like to see done into a sequal. But Judge Dredd was one of those completely missed opportunities, where it could have been one of the seminal sci-fi flicks of the 90's, but ultimately didn't satisfy any fans of the comics. There was so much that was done right with this one, but a few bad choices are what ultimately sank it.

I personally still enjoy it, quite a lot actually. And there is a lot to like. Stallone cast as Judge Joseph Dredd for one. The character is just plain badass. Tall, big, tough and doesn't give a fuck about anybody or anything. He handles the law his way and you take it or leave it. This was at the height of Stallones career, where he was larger than life and hadn't yet been relegated to the Direct-to-DVD market. He plays him so over the top, so stoic and brash that he almost came out like a cartoon. And that's what was most peoples complaints. If they only knew that they actually held back so much compared to the Dredd character of the comics. His interpretation was pretty tame in comparison. And besides, who else could scream out "I Am The Law" better than Stallone with that slight slur? Nobody!
The look of this film is another. It looks great. Right from the opening credits they blare the Judge Dredd logo with pages of Judge Dredd comics (just in case you didn't know it was indeed based on a comic book) flipping behind the credits, Alan Silvestri's hard hitting and thunderous theme song pounding your ear drums, and the movie kicks into gear right from the get go. I love the look of this film. The effects are some of the best i've seen.........ever. You can quote me on that! I"m dead serious, the effects team here did an outstanding job. Mega City One looks simply amazing, whether it be the breathtaking, sweeping city skyline or the dark, crime ridden and gritty underbelly below, it just all looks amazing. I just wish they had put as much work into the script as they did with the effects, but i'll get to that later. The costume design work by Emma Porteus and production design by Nigel Phelps is outstanding, just simply outstanding. Everything from Dredd's outfit, to his Lawgiver, to his Motorcycle were all done perfectly. Director Danny Cannon's visual style worked perfectly here, especially if you consider this was his first big budget film. All in all, this is a really great looking sci-fi action flick. Oh! And that fucking robot! All done completely with animatronics and not one bit of CGI and looks cool as hell. And for all of these reasons, I can watch it over and over as i often do.

First, the story:
In the year 2139, crime has completely taken over Mega City One, with the justice system powerless to control it. In this time, there was a new breed of officers called Judges. They were given the power of judge, jury and executioner with Judge Dredd being the most celebrated and most powerful Judge. Judge Dredd is framed for murder and sent to prison, (a bad move on the script writers part) where he ultimately has to escape so he can clear his name. And that's what this movie basically becomes, a "chase movie". He ends up finding out that he was framed by his brother who he didn't even know he had, also a former judge named Rico. It has something to do with Rico working with a few other bad guys trying to create clones using Rico's DNA, which also happens to be Dredds, to take over the city and whatnot.

Now on to the bad. There are two main problems I and most other people have with this movie. Actually, lets make that three. The fact that he did "NOT" wear his helmet or judges outfit for like 90% of the movie, the casting of Rob Schneider as his sidekick (obviously for comic relief), and the R rating.

The outfit:
The appeal of the comics and the character in general is that he's just simply a badass don't you dare fuck with me kind of character. In his judges outfit, he exudes threatening. All you ever really see is his mouth, the rest of his head being covered with that awesome helmet. You don't even see his eyes. Why the studio, writers, producers or whoever thought that it was a good idea to not have him wear his custom for most of the movie is beyond me. I know Stallone was one of the biggest and highest paid action stars at the time, but you still know it's fucking Stallone. Did you think we would forget? It just simply amazes me that somebody thought it was a good idea to have Judge Dredd look all super cool and badass for the first 10 minutes of the movie and then take him out of his outfit for the rest of the film. THAT is my number one biggest complaint.

The casting of Rob Schneider:
One of the biggest missteps I have ever seen. I can just see the studio suits sitting there in there office, watching the daily's coming in.
Studio suit #1:"You know, this movie looks so dark and violent".
Studio suit #2:"We need something silly and funny in here to lighten the mood, and who knows, maybe it'll appeal to a broader audience?".
Studio suite#3:"Hey! What about that funny guy from Saturday Night Live?" "The one that makes those funny comments by the fax machine in those skits!" "That's hot right now isn't it?".
Unfuckingbelievable! That one stupid decision ruins the entire vibe of this movie. This is a movie about a character who kills without hesitation, who dispenses punishment without remorse, and the powers that be decide to add a wise cracking sidekick in the mix to lighten things up. Unfuckingbelievable!

The dreaded R Rating:
The MPAA (your worst enemy if you were a filmmaker back then) thought that the film was too violent and refused to give it a PG-13 rating, feeling the dreaded R was more suitable. By today's standards, it would have been given a PG-13 for sure, but back in 1995 maybe it wasn't so acceptable. And to this day, I don't know what the problem was. It's violent, but in a fun way. It's not bloody, gory or anything where you have heads, limbs and blood spraying all over the place. Though I wish it was. A lot of people get killed, but theres rarely any blood. And I say "dreaded R" because receiving an R rating pretty much guarantees to cut your audience in half, and when your target audience is teenagers, that's a deathblow. I only wish that if they knew there was no way of getting out of that R rating, why not just go all out then and bloody the thing up? It's a violent character, it's a violent comic, why not make an Ultra-Violent film? Bah!!

And who knows who is ultimately responsible for all of these bad decisions? Director Danny Cannon was a die hard Judge Dredd fan and championed for the job of directing this and was intent on making the best Judge Dredd movie he possibly could. But Stallone was one of the biggest stars in the world back then and you often hear stories about the constant butting of heads between the two over creative differences during the production. I honestly don't think they (meaning Stallone and the studio suits) knew what kind of property they had. A few changes could have turned this movie completely around, because inevitably it was a bomb. It cost $90 million dollars to make and only made a third of that, $34 million to be exact. Ouch!

All in all, this film deserves much more respect than it's gotten. If you can look past Rob Schneider's stupid character and the fact that Judge Dredd doesn't look like Judge Dredd for most of the movie, you could actually enjoy it, because it is quite entertaining.
There is good news though. There is currently a remake in the works, filming as I type this I believe, simply titled Dredd. With Karl Urban taking over the role of Judge Dredd, and vowing to fans and loyalists of the comic that Judge Dredd will never take off his helmet for the entire movie, I think we finally might have the Judge Dredd movie we've all been waiting for.


Movie News 06.16.11

For the bad news of the day.
Simon West has been signed to direct The Expendables 2, a decision being blasted in the world of badass cinema.
I love The Expendables, but not necessarily Stallone's direction. I thought he did a tremendous job with Rambo, but in Expendables it just seemed messy. Too much shaky-cam and shaky-cam drives me nuts. When i'm watching a movie, an action movie to be exact, I want to see what the fuck is going on and who's fighting who. Michael Bay, you reading this? So when I heard Stallone was not going to return as director for the inevitable sequel, I was a tad bit delighted, thinking ooooohhhh what big name action director are they going to get to bring this franchise to the next level! Simon West? For real?
The guy is alright, but not who I would have expected to be chosen for this. If you don't know his work, he did Con Air, Tomb Raider, The General's Daughter and The Mechanic. The Mechanic, his latest, was alright. Nothing really special to distinguish him from any other director. And when it came to the action sequences, crap. Shaky-cam shit all over again. So i'm not happy with this news. I hope he hears the criticism and does something about it. This is an action fans dream ensemble cast and as far as mindless action movies go, something a badass cinephile can geek out and look forward to.
My personal pick? Craig R. Baxley or Walter Hill. Two of badass cinema's most awesome action directors from the 80's and 90's who unfortunately haven't made a theatrical film in forever. Between the two, I would go with Baxley. From 1988 to 1991 this guy was on fire. Action Jackson, I Come in Peace and Stone Cold all came out back to back. Action Jackson is one of my favorite action flicks of all time. Though I Come in Peace doesn't have much love, I still dig it. It's a cool concept and it has it's moments. Dolph Lundgren is even surprisingly good in it. Stone Cold with ex-football player Brian Bosworth is just all kinds of cool. A straight up biker action flick. Not a single digital effect in any of these films. It's all straight up stunt work and hard work. I like Baxley for this because he's at heart a stuntman. He knows how to film and choreograph a stunt. Just watch Action Jackson if you don't believe me. He still works as a director, but just in TV now. I think he has what it takes to make Expendables 2 completely badass.
Now Walter Hill is responsible for some of the most iconic action films from the 80's. Warriors, yea I know it came out in '79, The Long Riders, 48 Hours, Extreme Prejudice, Red Heat, this guy was a god to people like me. He hasn't directed a big budget film since 2002's Undisputed though, but he's finally slated to direct Stallone in a new action film in the near future, so I think it's time to show the world he's still got it.


Review: Drive Angry

Directed by: Patrick Lussier

You see this poster image here?
This is what the poster should have been for this film. Just the look gives you an idea of what kind of film they were going for. A late 70's balls to the walls exploitation flick with crazy ass stunts, violence and nudity. Sadly, the poster they ended up using for the final poster was completely different, a much more refined and cleaner look. And that's just exactly how to describe this movie. It could have been a real badass flick in the vein of Machete, Death Proof and even From Dusk till Dawn. It's got all the ingredients, but none of the flavor.

And I blame it all on director Patrick Lussier. As with his previous film My Bloody Valentine, it just always feel like it's missing something. I mean, it's got a crazy ass script. It's got Nicolas Cage who can be all kinds of crazy when given the right material. It was filmed specifically in 3D, something that was both a good and bad decision ultimately. It's got crazy stunts, excessive violence and excessive nudity. All the key ingredients for a good exploitation style flick. But here, the execution was just all wrong. I couldn't help thinking as I watched it that it looked like it "could" have been so much better. I just don't think the director has any kind of identifiable style. It's just.......there. You would never be able to identify his films from one to the next if his name wasn't attached to them. This film deserved to be so much better.

The premise is, and i'm not spoiling anything for you because it's all in the trailers, is that Cage plays Milton, a guy who broke out of hell to rescue his granddaughter who has been kidnapped by a satan worshiping cult for sacrifice after killing his daughter and fiance. Along the way he hooks up with Piper, a woman who just lost her job and immediately after finds her boyfriend fucking another woman in there bed. She kicks the completely naked girls ass, spilling the fight out onto the street. She attempts to kick her boyfriends ass, but since the guy is twice her size, Milton ends up having to finish the job. So since she's got nothing left to stick around for she decides to give Milton a cross country ride as she's heading in that direction anyway. In the meantime, The Accountant, played by the awesome William Fichtner, shows up and is on the hunt for Milton. The guy escaped from Hell and it's his job to "account"(get it?) for him and bring him back. This one character was the best thing about the movie. They need to make a spinoff of this character and call it simply The Accountant, traveling the land to round up all the prisoners who escaped from Hell. Thats a movie I want to see!

One thing this film has going for it is that theres lots of violence, nudity and car chases. The car chases were actually pretty damn cool. As far as stunt work, this film had a top notch stunt team. If only it could have been filmed better!!!
Another problem is the 3D effects. I'm sure in the theater it looked cool, but at home on your widescreen flatscreen 1080p TV, it just looks bad, like direct to DVD quality effects. And you have to remember, yea the 3D effects look badass while your in the theater wearing your 3D glasses, but the movies only going to be out like for a month tops. After that its back to watching it on your TV at home in regular 2D and it will be like that for decades and decades to come. If they had gone practical with the gore and effects, then that would have made a huge difference. But instead everythings CGI and it's annoying as hell. Everthing, from the gun shot powder coming off of a gun, to the gun shot wounds, to the blood splatter flying off of someones face. Everything was lame CGI and it just feels like such a copout. It's so easy for these guys to go digital after the fact then to put any effort into actually making a squib or whatever.
And they cast this guy, Billy Burke; who I've never heard of, to play the leader of the Satanic Cult. He just has not charisma, no presence. It seemed like he was channeling Billy Bob Thornton, right down to his southern drawl and his clothes. They should have just gotten him for the part because this guy is not the least bit threatening or menacing here. He actually just kind of looks and sounds ridiculous.

The awesome David Morse has a small role here. And it's a shame because with him, Nicolas Cage and William Fichtner there could have been a really gritty no holds barred exploitation flick. Just that ensemble alone is enough to get any real film geek excited. But that's not what we got. We got a really cool concept that was executed badly.


Review: Super 8

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

This is why I go to the movies. It's movies like this that fully immerses the viewer through story, visuals and nostalgia and leaves you wondering why they just don't make movies like these anymore.
Right from the get go, Super 8 wears it's nostalgia on it's sleeve. You feel like your watching an early Spielberg film, and that's what your going to hear the most about when reading about this film. Everything from the story, feel, design, characters, down to the locations and imagery.
Director J.J. Abrams has single handedly created one of the most authentic Spielbergian experiences with Super 8 and the guy deserves nothing but kudos for it. Of course, there will be detractors. Those who feel like it's nothing but a ripoff of Spielberg's earlier work or how it's a mishmash of our favorite 80's flicks, if you were a teenager at that time. I'm talking about The Goonies, E.T., and even The Monster Squad. There are bits and pieces of all of those films here and I for one love it for that reason alone.
Watching this in the theater, I felt like a little kid again. The movie is simply amazing. It's got an enormous amount of heart. It's full of suspense and even maybe a little scary at times. But not too much that you shouldn't take your kid to go see it, because scary can be fun. One thing I have to say, thank god they did not release this in 3D. That would have only taken away from the impact this film has. 3D is fun to watch for some things, but not for everything. Drive Angry is a recent example of how 3D can totally ruin a films impact. But i'll get to that in another posting.

If you've read any of my other reviews, I try not to tell every single detail of the movie scene for scene like most other reviewers. If you haven't seen it, then why have it ruined for you? When I read a review, I want to know what that particular reviewer thought of the film and whether they liked it or not. I don't need a scene for scene play by play of the entire film. I like to give a basic overall view of it and not give away too many of the elements that could take away from your experience when seeing it for the first time. However with this one, after I've given my overall opinion, i'll get into specifics afterwards about certain key elements of this particular film that i'd like to discuss. But i'll forewarn any spoilers.

The story centers around 5 preteen friends trying to film a zombie movie with there super 8 camera for a local film festival. They are out filming a scene one night when they inadvertently witness a horrific train accident, not realizing at the time that while fleeing the accident as it's happening, the fallen camera has captured something horrifying, amazing and unbelievable on film. Immediately after the train accident, and i'm talking minutes, the army has descended upon the scene and within a day, have taken over the town. So right off the bat, you know something was on that train, something big and something dangerous and the government does not want you to know about it. After the accident, a series of strange disappearances of local residents as well as the fleeing of all the dogs in the town have started to get everyone panicked. Nobody knows what's going on and there are just no answers. While this is all going on, Joe; one of the main kids here, is going through a tough time. His mother has just passed away and his dad or step-dad, I can't remember which, just doesn't understand him and they constantly butt heads. Joe loves makeup, special effects makeup to be exact and he wants to be a special effects artist for the movies. His buddy Charles is the director and also aspires to get into the film business when they are older. Without giving too much away that's the "basic" story in a nutshell. Abrams is notorious for secrecy surrounding his films and right up until the numbers came in yesterday for the weekend grosses, most studio analysts thought that was going to hurt the film because even the trailers don't show too much about the story or even that there is another entity involved here, whether it be an alien or a monster or some kind of hybrid, i'm not saying.

I love the look of this film. Abrams has created a genuine vintage feel with it's setting. The story takes place in 1979 and you literally feel like you've gone back in time. Everything looks and feels authentic here and that's one of the best things this movie has going for it, I can't stress that enough. The scene that kick starts the events in this movie is the train sequence, and what a sequence it is. It is truly an amazing piece and one that I hope goes down as one of the best crash scenes on film.
It's just crazy intense. It's so well staged that your either biting your lip the entire time or clutching the arm rest on the theater chair for dear life. It's really that well done and impressive as hell. Another thing that makes this film rise above most others is the actors. Except for Elle Fanning, I had never heard or seen any of them in anything else and you would never know. They all act like pros here and give truly outstanding performances, especially Joel Courtney, the main kid. He's really impressive, such a natural. He's the one you follow throughout the film and it's through his eyes that you see what's going on. He's able to pull of sad, scared, happy, excited, morose, all with ease. I'm telling you, this kid is going far.
The ending is as sappy, heartbreaking, sad and happy as anything done by Spielberg, especially E.T., in a good way.

I liked the direction they went with the creature . I like that they didn't go with cute and instead went with terrifying and threatening. Because in all honesty, it could have gone either way and had two totally different outcomes, all because of the design of the creature. This sucker is big and scary, even though they hardly ever show it, usually hiding in shadows or just seeing it's silhouette until the big reveal at the very end. Though i'm not really a fan of the design. It just looked way too complicated and I felt the simpler they went, the more of an impact it would have had. But that's just me. And that's really my only complaint. Because this film is just awesome! I loved so much about this film and it was one of the best times I've had watching a movie in a very long time. This film is exciting, scary, heartbreaking, intense and full of wonder. It's everything that I hoped it would be and so much more.


new vintage style CAPTAIN AMERICA poster - 06.12.11

Holy Crap this is awesome!!!
I don't know if this incredible poster by artist Paolo Rivera will ever go on sale to the public as this was initially intended by Director Joe Johnston to go only to the cast and crew of the film with only a run of 100 prints. But if it ever does, it's definitely going on my wall. Framed and Mounted!!!
This only gets me even more excited about this film.
Captain America is my favorite comic right now and this film has gotten me giddy like a little kid again.
And as for the poster, I love the retro art deco style. It would go perfectly next to my comic con exclusive "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" limited edition print.
I love this thing!

Review: Overnight

Direced by: Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith

This documentary should be labeled a cautionary tale. It should be mandatory viewing for every single film school student and should most definitely be required viewing for every wanna be film geek who wants to break into the movie biz.
This is one of the most riveting and jaw-dropping documentaries I've seen in a really long time. If your unfamiliar with it, it centers around Troy Duffy. He's the bartender who wrote a screenplay back in 1996 called "The Boondock Saints". It hit the rounds and became one of the most sought after scripts on the market. Bear in mind, on paper, "Saints" reads amazing and coulda been something truly remarkable as a film. But we'll get back to that later. A bidding war ensued between the major studios and ultimately Miramax won. Duffy sold the script for a whopping $300,000 and he became an instant celebrity. The poster boy for the rags to riches in Hollywood story. Hence the title "Overnight". But, just as fast as this guy rose to the top of the Hollywood food chain, he came falling harder and faster than a freight train without breaks. It is truly remarkable how fast this guy was single handedly able to fuck up a once in a lifetime opportunity so drastically and so quickly. Not just for him, but his long suffering posse of musicians and filmmakers.

So here's an overview. He's a foul mouthed and chain smoking bartender who wrote the screenplay for The Boondock Saints during his breaks. He's also in a band with his brother and 2 friends called The Brood. The Brood is there most important aspect of all there lives. It's what they are most passionate about, hoping one day to score a record deal. That all changes though once his script hits Hollywood and he's the toast of the town. Right from the beginning though you see this guy is an asshole. Like a major asshole. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone or anything. It's his way or the highway and he makes sure to point that out loudly and often. He's got ambitions, but he also has the biggest ego on the planet. He's also the ringleader of the group. But that's just his personality. He comes across like he's the don of a mafia family. Always giving speeches to his friends about how there's nothing more important than respect and friendship. Unfortunately he doesn't practice what he preaches because when it's all over, he's managed to royally screw over every single person in his life whether it be a friend, family member or business associate. He doesn't care if he's talking to studio heads, prospective actors, lawyers or whoever. He talks to everybody like they are beneath him and constantly states that they will all be kneeling before him and begging to work for him one day. You get immediately that he thinks he's the next undiscovered talent waiting to be discovered. Basically the next Quentin Tarantino. He probably saw the success of Pulp Fiction and what it did for Tarantino that he thought he could do better. Uuumm, he didn't. You have to realize also that this guy looks like he fell off the back of a garbage truck. He constantly wears overalls. Always dirty looking and always unshaven. He drinks and swears like a fish and smokes more cigarettes than Robert De Niro in "Casino".

Immediately after selling his script, he becomes a problem. With selling the script, he negotiated into the contract that he would also be the director and have final decisions on casting and the final cut. Something truly unheard of in the world of filmmaking with first time writer/directors. Things immediately fall south as he becomes demanding, flamboyant, arrogant and alienates literally everyone around him.
It's pretty hilarious when immediately after they start getting to know this guy, the studio heads who so passionately championed this man in the beginning, just stop accepting his calls and any correspondence.
Though he's an ass for the entirety of the movie, the scene that most amused me was when he was asked to speak at a film school to aspiring filmmakers. Kind of like a Q&A for the students, because at that time he was hot property in Hollywood. It's simply hilarious and completely uncomfortable at the same time. Here he is in a room full of film students who are so passionate about the art, so excited and exhilarated to have this real life Hollywood script writer in the same room with them, and he's a complete arrogant and grumpy ass. Instead of inspiring them and giving them any kind of hope of making it in the business, the students all basically tell him how they can't believe how unhappy and ungrateful he is. That he should be appreciative to have this once in a lifetime opportunity and he seems like he just doesn't care. He even starts taunting this poor dude who's just sitting there minding his own business, not uttering one single word. He just happened to be unlucky enough to be in the front row and in the line of fire of this guy. You really feel for the guy because Duffy starts picking on him and he doesn't know what to say. Even the teacher is speechless.

While all of this is going on he's also trying to get his band The Brood off the ground. In the negotiation he was also able to secure the band to do the soundtrack for the film. To any other person on the planet, this deal sounds like a godsend. Like all of there dreams are finally going to come true. Because remember, it's not just him involved here, it's also his brother and posse of band mates and friends. Two of these friends are also documenting everything that happens from the moment he got signed, turning it into this documentary here. So these two guys, Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith, are also the unofficial band managers. So they are also in front of the camera as much as they are behind it. So from the time the script gets sold to the time that it actually gets made, months and then years go by. This is because of Duffy's refusal to cooperate with any of the studio big wigs and his constant taunts of how everyone on the planet should beg him to work with them. During this period nobody is getting paid, except Duffy with his fat $300 grand paycheck in his pocket. He keeps giving speeches and making promises on a constant basis to his posse. And it's pretty hilarious how they all just hang on his every word. I don't know if it's because they are clueless or if they are just scared of the guy, because he's intimidating and has a pretty nasty tempr, often exploding into a volatile rage at the drop of a hat.
Inevitably, the studio drops him. A record company that signed his band dropped them. The movie gets made, but for less than half of what Miramax was set to spend on it. None of the actors he demanded to have in his film wanted to do it. When it's finally completed, no distributor at Cannes wanted to touch his film. In Hollywood, he basically became blacklisted. He loses his bar. He loses his friends. The movie he constantly claimed would change the way they would make movies could not get a distributor and ultimately released. The band he claimed would change the face of music sold less that 700 copies of there CD when released. And he ran through his $300,000 script money till he had nothing. Basically becoming a failure in every sense of the word. Simply all because of his arrogance and his massive ego. I love the last shot of the documentary. It's of him standing in front of a bar outside, basically a doorman or bouncer. That's what he has become.

I have to say, while I quite enjoy "The Boondock Saints"; even going recently to a special 1 Night screening with a buddy at our local theater to see it, it's not a game changer or revolutionary in any way. Even had it been given to a top notch director, while it could have been much better, I don't think it's great. It's no Pulp Fiction. I mention that because Tarantino's film came out a few years earlier and he was another rags to riches in Hollywood story about a video rental clerk who made his first movie "Reservoir Dogs" to critical acclaim and then followed that up by the actual (game-changer) Pulp Fiction. That film literally influenced thousands of filmmakers and honestly did change the way movies are made. That story has a completely different ending though as most people will tell you, Tarantino is anything but an ego maniac. His story has a happy ending.

The Boondock Saints did end up getting released theatrically to a very limited amount of theaters, like 500 or something like that, and for only one week. It only found it's audience on the home video market and has since become a certified cult classic, and deservedly so. It's not amazing, but it's got all the markings of a cult film. It did not make it's budget back and Troy Duffy unfortunately received no money from the home video sales, as per his contract. So he made nothing off of this film. I read somewhere though that years later he sued the studio or something and he did ultimately negotiate to receive some kind of compensation for it. But the number is undisclosed.

And it's funny that I came across this documentary. I had always wondered who was the guy who made that "Saints" movie and whatever happened to him? He made that one movie that seemed pretty hip and that was it? Why didn't he make anything else and why ins't his name all over the place? Where did he go? Well, now I know.

Special Note:
As I write this I do know that exactly 10 years later he did end up making "The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day", his only other film. How or why anybody would want to ever deal with this guy and give him money to make another movie is beyond me. I do own the sequal, but I still have yet to see it. I will now after seeing this documentary for sure.