Quick Shot: The Innkeepers
Directed by: Ti West
So you may have noticed that these have become increasingly short and not very thorough. For that I do apologize. As much as I love watching these films, I just don't have the time to write about them as much as I want, and now I am in the middle of a move and it will get harder. So that's what these "Quick Shot's" are all about. I just want to in the least be able to throw out some quick thoughts on them before I forget I even saw them. At my age, it happens. If time permits, I will delve deeper into these, but for now I hope these quick little blurbs will not annoy you too much.
Ever since the excellent The House of the Devil, Ti West will always be a name to look out for. Sure he'd made a few films before that one, but it was that film that really put him on the map by creating an eerily authentic horror film reminiscent of some of the best stuff from the late 70's to early 80's. I mean, it honest to goodness looks and feels like it came right outta the 70's, and I love it.
So then I heard he was making another horror independent horror film about a haunted hotel and well, of course I got excited. A lot of the feedback I read about this was mainly about Kelly McGillis's performance, and I must say she was quite excellent. Almost completely unrecognizable for a while until I realized it was in fact her. But she was great, as was the rest of the minimal cast.
With that being said, I can't say that I was as impressed with this one as his last outing, or that I enjoyed it as much. Just as House of the Devil was, this is a very slow burn kinda film, and while that's fine and all when done well, I have to say that I was also a little bored from time to time. Which isn't a bad thing if other elements of the film pay off, but I just didn't feel they did with this one. The "haunting" aspects of the film were okay, but didn't really feel the ending was all that great. I know, it sounds like I'm bashing this thing, and it's not bad at all. I just wasn't really entertained with it as I had hoped to be I guess.
Basic premise goes as this, two employees of an old hotel that's about to close decide to see if they can capture any "haunting" on film as the hotel has a reputation for being haunted, with one of the employees even creating a website to document these occurrences. On the last night a few customers check in, and eerie things start happening.
Very well made, and the cast was great. The effects, of what little there were, were decent. Overall, a nice moody little horror film.
Quick Shot: Belly of the Beast
Directed by: Siu-Tung Ching
Category: Badass Cinema
I should mention right off the bat that as a Seagal fan, I do not like most of his DTV output at all, and if I'm to be perfectly frank, I haven't seen a whole lot of them either because I just don't want to. The ones I have seen are just terrible, where all I end up doing is asking a million questions instead of trying to enjoy the damn thing like "Why do they have someone else dubbing his voice who sounds nothing like him?".
But anyway, I read a very favorable review of this in Seagology: The Ass-Kicking films of Steven Seagal by Badass Cinema reviewer Vern, an awesome read by the way and strongly suggested, and you know, I have to agree with him. This is so much better than you expect it to be and a helluva lot better than 99% of his DTV output in general. I think a lot of that has to do with director Siu-Tung Ching, a Hong Kong action choreographer, action director, stunt coordinator and film director who's worked on some pretty impressive big budget films. But this has a much more polished look and feel than so many of his other films that it's immediately apparent right from the beginning. For me, that makes for a much more enjoyable experience. And it definitely has an authentic Hong Kong feel to it, with even a few dashes of brilliance in the action sequences.
So yea, the first thing you'll notice when this starts is that it just looks badass, because it is. It actually ends up being a pretty good piece of Badass Cinema.
The second thing you'll notice is that Seagal just looks terrible. Up until this point, I can't remember him looking this bad. He's huge and looks so completely out of shape, which is sad if you're an action star, am I right? I mean, is it that hard to hire a personal trainer to a least get you in semi-good shape. We all know he can afford it. You can't honestly expect us to believe he can do any of the shit he "supposedly" does in this in the shape he's in. I say "supposedly" because it's painstakingly obvious he uses a double for most of action sequences. Though there is one hilarious scene in the beginning where he does a summer-salt and they make damn sure you can tell it's him, though it looked completely painful to do if you read the expression on his face.
Third thing you'll also notice is that this cover art just doesn't represent this film very well at all. I don't remember a car, or one flying through the air for that matter, and either they used an old picture of Seagal, or photoshopped it like crazy because he does not look like that in the film. But whatever.
The story is just plain ridiculous and silly and oddly goes off into other things here and there making it sometimes incoherent and overly complicated, as is the standard for most of these Seagal DTV films. And you know what? I have no idea what "Belly of the Beast" even refers to because it doesn't seem to fit this film at all, but whatever. It's an easy name to remember.
Without getting into the complicated storyline, basically his daughter is kidnapped and held for ransom in another country and he goes off to rescue her. But who really cares? I just wanted to see a good Seagal flick and this certainly delivers. Cool action sequences aplenty, some truly badass moments and a slick look easily raises this one far above a lot of his others from this era. I enjoyed it, I hope you will too.
Quick Shot: Cronos
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
del Toro is one of my favorite filmmakers today. He remains one of the last filmmakers whose use of traditional and practical effects, while mixed with outstanding digital effects, give his films more of an organic look and feel. While the majority of filmmakers lean more towards 100% digital these days, he's always been a strong supporter of old fashioned puppetry and practical makeup effects, which just makes him awesome.
Ah, enough of that and on to Cronos. You know, I never got around to watching this one. I always remember seeing that dreadful VHS cover for so many years, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I was even aware that del Toro was behind this. That cover man, it's pretty bad. I'm sure that's the reason I stayed away from it, and after finally seeing the film, I see that that particular lame VHS cover is a total misrepresentation of the film in general. First of all, that chick on the cover isn't even in the film! But this new cover from Criterion is just awesome and speaks volumes about the film as a whole.
I had no idea what I had in store for me. I knew nothing of the story or the cast. And just based on the title alone, I was expecting some sort of sci-fi fable/thriller maybe. Or something to do with bugs? But what I got was something entirely different, and very refreshing. One of the things I noticed immediately was that this is a small film, and only hints at del Toro's brilliance as a filmmaker. It doesn't possess his trademark style, or even much of his standard color palette, but it does offer a solid piece of Independent filmmaking and a very enjoyable one full of mood, atmosphere and a constant sense of dread.
I don't want to necessarily offer a synopsis because I didn't know anything about this and I think I enjoyed it a whole lot more that way. What I will say is that this was a great little hybrid film, as done only the way Guillermo del Toro can do it. Not as ambitious as say Pan's Labyrinth, not by a long shot, but it's very well done with a clever script. One of the more surprising elements for me was that it had none other than del Toro regular Ron Pearlman in this. Again, totally surprised by this since it's technically a Spanish film (yea I know he was also in City of Lost Children - a French film), but I just wasn't expecting it. Sue me.
Sooooooo I'm done. Just wanted to put my two cents in and hope to entice someone else to check this out soon. I'm surprised it took me so long to discover this, and I think it mainly has to do with Criterion's new cover art, to be frank. Brilliant decision on their part.
Quick Shot: Basic Instinct
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Can you believe I hadn't seen this until recently? I know, shame on me. It's weird how the universe works sometimes. This was just one of those that always seemed to pass me by. Even the promise of excessive nudity and Sharon Stones crotch shot wasn't enough to get me to make the effort to watch this. Not that I "didn't" want to, I just always seem to go with something else. But I finally sat my ass down to give it a shot, so here we go.
This was great. So, so great. First off, Michael Douglas is just a badass. I miss that guy. The guy who kicked ass in Black Rain (still one of my favorites), Romancing the Stone and Falling Down. Didn't care too much for the erotic thriller's he was becoming well known for, but I'm glad to say that in this one, he's still a badass. Angry, moody, tough and doesn't seem to give a shit about anything. I love that.
Here he plays a cop who's investigating a local author who may or may not also be a killer. Of course, he's ultimately seduced by her because she just has that way with people, male and female, and his life becomes much more complicated as he dives head first into a plot of sex and murder where everyone is a suspect.
I felt a lot of elements in here to be pretty cheesy, but it's taken so seriously and done so well by director Paul Verhoeven that you just don't care, it's still a fun ride. Best of all, when the violence kicks in, you can bet your ass it's going to be bloody and over the top, with the sex and nudity being gratuitous, and I just can't stress enough how much of a badass Michael Douglas was in this. Artistically, I feel Verhoeven knocked this one out of the park. It's just a really slick piece of filmmaking. Great style, score, ensemble cast, feel and oh yea, Sharon Stone is naked a lot. As incredibly predictable as this was from beginning to end, I still had a blast with it. Very fun and intense cop thriller with an outstanding cast all around. I can't believe I waited so long to see this.
Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives
Directed by: Tom McLoughlin
Wow. What a complete 180 from the last entry in this series. I have to say, Part 5: A New Beginning left a really bad taste in my mouth, as you can tell from my review of that piece of crap. But this one more than makes up for it. In fact, next to Part 4: The Final Chapter, I can easily say this one is my second favorite to date.
Now I should remind you, I have in fact seen all of these before, except for the first one and Jason X, but it was so long ago that I remember almost nothing about them. So it's almost like watching them for the first time, which is really exciting. What stands out from my memories of this one the most was that when it was released, MTV had a badass Alice Cooper video with clips from the film in it and I always remember loving it. Especially of that cool shot of Jason emerging from the wrecked RV after it crashed on the highway. Awesome. Aaaaand, they actually do play that Alice Cooper song in the film, albeit in the end credits.
So yea, I loved every second of this one. Right from it's opening frame down to the last shot. This was a blast from beginning to end. Unlike the last one, this had a certain tongue-in-cheek humor "purposely" injected into the action and horror elements that make such a difference in the tone. Throw in a rad James Bond style opening title sequence, a cameo by Horshack (Ron Pallilo) and Tony Goldwyn (Ghost), and the always reliable Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead) taking over the role of Tommy (Thank Gawd!), and you've got one helluva good Jason film here.
Long story short, Tommy still can't get over what Jason did to him in Part 4: The Final Chapter. As an adult male now, he's pretty fucked up about it still. So he takes his buddy over to Jason's grave to burn him to a crisp and make sure he's dead once and for all. But wouldn't you know, a storm starts a brewin' and with a bolt of lightning to the heart by a strategically placed metal rod, Jason is reborn a la Frankenstein and begins his reign of terror once again. Love it!
I had always thought Kane Hodder took over the role of Jason in this one, but it appears I was wrong (doesn't take over the role of Jason till Part 7), which sucks because I actually thought the guy portraying Jason here was badass. He walks with such a ferociousness that it's just fuckin' scary. And director Tom McLouglin makes it a point to show how ferocious by having lots and lots of shots of Jason walking, roaming and chasing. And though he's not as bulky as the type of Jason we're used to, he's still big and intimidating. The kills were also fun in this one. Not as bloody or as gory as some of the past in the series, but more inventive and certainly more plentiful than what I remember from the last one. Shit, I need to stop hatin' on Part 5 so much. Anyway...........
This is another perfect example and a sad reminder of how great horror movies were in the 80's and where they are now. Speaking of which, I was surprised to see that writer/director Tom McLoughlin, who does such an amazing job on this one, hasn't really ever done anything like this either since this one. Okay, so he did do a few episodes of the Friday the 13th TV series, but does that really count? What a shame too, because he easily give this film a great look, feel and tone that you would have thought this was a genre he had worked in for years before and after this release. But that doesn't seem to be the case, except for one horror film early in his career, he's mainly stuck to television work. Again, such a shame. This guy's got some serious talent, why doesn't anybody else seem to see that?
So to cap this off, I loved this one to death, making it my favorite one next to Part 4.
A special thanks to Mitch over at The Video Vacuum for the words of encouragement. :)
First an apology, then a quick note on Sinister
So I'd like to apologize to my followers, (if I actually have any, I don't know, I don't think I actually do, but you never know) for the lack of posts these past few months. I'm currently in a transitional period in my life and everything is different. I'm still making changes, adjusting to these changes, and then making more changes and honestly, posts aren't high up on the list of priories. Still watching a ridiculous number of films of course, but just not finding the time to be able to sit down and write down my thoughts on them. I do miss it though, and I keep a log of the ones I see so that I can go back and write something someday if I can, but so far I haven't gotten off my lazy ass to do so. So I figure if I try one small one right now, I'll be motivated to do the rest. lol. Let's see. If you all have stuck around, I'm forever grateful. My opinion on films might not mean much, but the fact that you all take the time to sit and read them means the world to me. So here we go........
Review: Sinister (2012)
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
You know, I generally don't ever see these new horror films. They all just look, feel and play out the same. No originality and usually having nothing new to bring to the table. Call me old school, but 80's horror is where it was at. Maybe some 90's too, but I just can't get excited about any of these new films. They all share the same look, the annoying hand held shaky-cam look, whether it's a "found footage" film or not, they all look like them. But they keep making them because they cost almost nothing to make and almost always make money. So yea, I just don't bother. But I had read that this one was written by a former reviewer on one of my favorite movie sites and curiosity got the better of me on this one. And I must say, the premise seemed intriguing and I liked that you could tell what the fuck was going on even in the trailers. It looked like it was filmed pretty straight forward with no lame camera gimmicks to cover up the fact that the director might not have any talent.
I'm happy to say that this was pretty good. Not excellent, but much, much better than I was expecting it to be. Pretty unusual idea to begin with, and though they don't explain a whole lot in terms of this "Sinister" character, I still enjoyed it. Director Derrickson keeps the movie moving along nicely and gives the film a stylish and consistent sheen that immediately makes it better than most of the horror stuff coming out these days. At least, that's my opinion anyway. I like when a filmmaker takes the time to frame a shot, put it on a track, a dolly or whatever. Things like that go a long way with me.
I'm sure you've heard this before, as I've read it in several reviews myself, but it's true. Ethan Hawke carries this film squarely on his shoulders. I don't think it would have been as good had he not been the star. He really surprised me in this. He's always been a great actor, no doubt, but it's his passion that constantly amazes me, no matter what genre he's tackling. Here you see him put his heart and soul into this deeply flawed character. A loving family man on one hand, but a conniving shallow person on the other. Some of the decisions he chooses to make in here make you laugh, as well as make you gasp. Nobody's perfect, but he surely seems to make it a point to prove this to the audience.
The ending was also a surprise, one that I did not anticipate but still left me wanting more unfortunately. But hey, that's just a minor complaint. All in all, it was made really well, plays out smoothly with a healthy dose of jumps and with a unique villain that really only leaves you asking more questions when it's all over.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning AKA Part 5
Directed by: Danny Steinmann
Oh dear lord. I don't even know where to begin with this one. I'll just be brutally honest I guess. This sucked. Probably the worst in the series and now I know why I never felt the need to ever watch it. Well, wait. I never saw Jason X either, so I shouldn't judge yet until I've gotten to that one.Yup, much like a few films I've just seen recently, this is another one that I've never actually gotten around to until now. Even though I have the entire series on DVD, and have seen most of them countless times. Something always kept me from watching this one though.
Uuuuuuhhhh, ok. You know, I love bad movies. I love when a movie is so bad that it actually falls under the "So Bad It's Good" category. Some of my all-time favorites fall under this category. But this, this was just lame on almost every single level. The direction, the kills, the effects, the story and the fact that it's not even about Jason Voorhees. And I could forgive that, if there was some gratuitous nudity and awesome kills. But yea, there's nudity (often times just hilarious rather than enjoyable) and the deaths, kills and effects were amazingly gawd awful and lame. I can't remember the last time I yelled so much at my TV.
A year ago I bought all of these as a set with the intent of watching them in chronological order. But apparently it's taken me almost a whole year just to get to Part 5. Ever since I was young though, I've always regarded Part 4: The Final Chapter as my favorite in the series. It has everything you'd want from a Friday the 13th film and it's done so well. Great kills. Great effects by none other than Tom Savini. Nudity. Gore. A young Corey Feldman and a young Crispin Glover. And tight direction. But I don't know what the hell they were thinking when they decided to continue on with this one even though Part 4 was supposed to be the last one. Obviously when they saw how much Part 4 made, they were seeing dollar signs again. Maybe at the time they thought it was a "fresh" take on the horror genre by offering something different? I don't know. But I just felt constantly annoyed when watching this.
Tommy, who Corey Feldman played in the last one, is now in his 20's and sent to live in a Mental Institute/Half Way House full of other twenty somethings because you know, killing Jason Voorhees can really mess with your head. Even though Tommy killed Jason in the last film, Jason seems to be up to his old tricks again picking off people left and right. Waitresses, paramedics, teenagers, gangsters, whoever. Not just the kids from the Half Way House, but pretty much everybody. And it's the way these scenes are carried out that drive you nuts. You never see the killer..........ever. Not until the very end. Then you think, "Hhhhmmmm, I remember Jason looking bigger". "Why does he look so skinny?". And you rarely see the actual killing either. And when you do, it always seems half-assed. It's immediately made obvious Savini had no hand in the effects this time around. The dialogue is atrocious. The acting, if you can even call it that, is sub-par. And some of the creative decisions in here just make no sense. Thank the heavens that the producers redeemed themselves with Part 6: Jason Lives, which is a true sequel to Part 4 and a much better film than this garbage. I'm sure some will argue that this is an "underrated" film. No, it's just a bad film plain and simple. Director Danny Steinmann never made another film after this, and that's a good thing. As much as I don't care for Steve Miner as a director, I prefer his work in Parts 2 and 3 to this any day of the week.
For a recap on my reviews for the first 4 films in the series and the remake, check out the links below:
Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 3
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter AKA Part 4
Friday the 13th (2009)
Quick Shot: The Thing (2011)
Directed by: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
I held off on watching this for as long as I could. Seriously, I avoided it like the fucking plague. For me, it just seemed ridiculous to think that anybody could top John Carpenter's version. I mean, seriously! You just can't touch it! For me, John Carpenter's The Thing still represents the best that 80's horror and practical effects has to offer. So then comes word almost 30 years later that they will attempt a reboot, prequel, sequel or whatever the hell you wanna call it. I don't think they ever actually clearly defined what this was supposed to be. But yea, fanboys all over the world were in disbelief, including me, and so I just made it a point to avoid this for as long as I could. But then the other day I was looking for something to watch and had this in my possession, don't ask me how, and thought "what the hell?". So here we go.
I'll be honest and give you the lowdown right up front. This wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting it to be. It's not great, but I didn't hate it like I wanted to. Because I really, really wanted to. First of all, it looks great. Beautifully shot with a decent ensemble cast. And despite the use of CGI, there is a nice amount of practical physical effects too. What I didn't like is the excessive use of CGI (yea I know it's cheaper to do it that way), Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the lead, and not ever knowing until the very end what the hell this is supposed to be. I'll just tell you. It's a "prequel". Though for 90% of the film it feels like a direct remake. I'm telling you, it seriously does. Yea there are changes here and there as you would expect from a remake, but man this looked and felt like an identical remake of Carpenter's 1982 version and I just could not shake that feeling the entire time I was watching this. Not until the very end is it made abundantly clear that this is a prequel with events leading right up to the opening sequence of The Thing (1982). So there, now we all know.
But you know, it was a decent flick. I had moderate fun with it and all the actors did there best. There was some nice suspense, good effects (just too much digital), some interesting gore sequences, and I liked the overall look of it. The first time director here gives it all a nice clean, streamlined look, and integrates some of the bigger special effects well. The ending even surprised me a bit, which says something I guess. All in all, not a bad film. My main thing is that it just felt "needless", much like the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake. There just felt no need for this to be made at all.
Quick Shot: Beyond the Black Rainbow
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
This is going to be a hard film to categorize. Not really falling under any one category, it combines sci-fi, drama, thriller and a lot of experimental elements. And you know, for the most part it works. Sometimes I felt the trippy experimental sequences to go on too long, but they were beautiful nonetheless and all in all, this is certainly worthy of a viewing from a very talented visualist newcomer.
I can honestly say that I don't think I fully grasped the entire "meaning" of the very small storyline, but from what I could gather, Elena is trapped in a secluded futuristic facility where she is constantly sedated by a demented doctor by the name of Barry Nyle. Somehow (never fully explained how or why I think) Elena is able to escape and make it out of the facility, only to have the crazed Dr. Nyle after her.
I don't know if it's just me, but a lot of this just didn't make sense and I didn't understand how or why things were happening. But then again, maybe they were never fully explained on purpose? Or maybe I was just too immersed in the visual aspect, having my mind blown by some truly inventive and jaw dropping sequences. It's a very slow picture, and you must possess an immense amount of focus, concentration and most of all, patience to sit through this. But if you can, you will be rewarded with some amazing futuristic space age mod set designs a la A Clockwork Orange, an incredible 80's electronic synthesizer score reminiscent of John Carpenter's output in the 80's and some outstanding trippy experimental sequences. Sure, some of them run a little too long, but they are gorgeously executed and photographed. The story might not do anything for most people, but just for the visuals alone, it's enough for a lot of others, like me. I'm glad I saw it because it's an amazingly constructed little piece of retro sci-fi fanfare, clearly drawing inspiration from a lot of well known classic science fiction films, most notably for me George Lucas' THX 1138. But I'm sure a lot of people might disagree and say it plays out more like this or that. Whatever the inspiration may be, it's a trippy mind-fuck that plays out more of a homage to 70's and early 80's sci-fi than anything. Director Panos Cosmatos, son of the late great George P. Cosmatos (Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Cobra, Leviathan, Tombstone) can certainly say that he gave it his all in this one, his first foray into filmmaking, impressing the hell out of me with this debut much the way director Duncan Jones did with his first feature Moon, another throwback to classic science fiction filmmaking. From a design and technical standpoint, Beyond the Black Rainbow is impressive. Very impressive. The only problem is that's not enough to win a lot of people over. Some, but not a lot. From a story driven standpoint, it can grow tiresome and you need a lot of patience to sit through this. I say take the trip, because it's a fascinating one for sure. Be sure to check out this trailer. If this doesn't pique your interest, I don't know what will.
Directed by: Pete Travis
Category: Badass Cinema
It seriously does. Dredd is one of the best Hard R action films I've seen in many, many years to actually hit the theaters. By now I'm sure you've read that that's probably why it isn't making much money at the box office, because we all know PG 13 means more butts in the seats, but I just couldn't imagine a softened version of this insanely badass film. I just couldn't. It wouldn't work, because that's not the world Judge Dredd lives in. And that's not the kind of world we in the filmgeek community want to see him in either.
Dredd starts off with a bang and does not let up until the film is over 95 minutes later. It's dark, gritty, violent, bloody and visually impressive from start to finish. No cop-out shaky cam or quick editing here. Director Pete Travis takes his time and gives the film an impressive visual panache, but most importantly, he keeps the camera still. I mean, honestly, that's a big deal for me because that rarely happens anymore. But we've also got a great script from 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland, who keeps the story simple, yet effective. Essentially, Dredd is stuck training a rookie (Judge Anderson) for a day, who ultimately get stuck in a building run by drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) while responding to a couple of dead bodies who seem to have fallen from several stories up. Except for an excellent chase sequence at the beginning of the film, the majority of Dredd takes place inside this building where Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) and their suspect must try to make their way out alive. That's me putting it simply. There's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it and all you really need to know going in. You don't want me to spell "everything" out for you, do you?
Let me just say, Karl Urban nails it. Tough as nails, but more subdued than Stallone's 1995 interpretation and with kind of a Clint Eastwood rasp, Urban embodies everything we have come to love about the Judge Dredd character and succeeds in breathing life into a character that's still not very well known to the average moviegoer. You want to know the best thing? Dredd never once takes off his helmet in the entire film. Who cares what he looks like under there? Who cares where he came from or how he came to be one of the toughest Judges in Mega City One? These were all things that the filmmakers felt a need to explain in detail in director Danny Cannon's original 1995 Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, currently holding the #1 spot as my most viewed review here on robotGEEK's Cult Cinema for quite some time. I love that deeply flawed original film, but for different reasons altogether. In this new version, the events take place through the course of one single day, and it's about survival. When it's all over and done with, it was just another day on the job for one of Mega City One's toughest Judges and it's back to work the next day. You see here, he's not yet the city's most feared Judge. Some know who he is, but he's just another hard working Judge doing what he does best, not having had that one case that brings him notoriety yet, unlike Stallone's version where he's considered almost a myth and feared by all.
You may have noticed I titled this Dredd and not Dredd 3D. That's because I chose to watch this in 2D rather than 3D. I know, I know. I hear this is one of the rare occasions where 3D worked really well for the film but I figured when it hits DVD and Blu ray, it's "not" going to be in 3D anyway, so why bother? Plus it saved me a few bucks. I'm just not a fan of 3D. I don't like how muted everything looks and I don't like how it's a post conversion job, as it ends up being most of the time. Hell, Guillermo del Toro's new film Pacific Rim is now going to be converted post into 3D. He, one of the last traditionalist filmmakers out there, has finally given in and frankly, I'm still trying to understand why.
I still enjoyed Dredd in 2D immensely and the now famous "Slow-Mo" sequences were still jaw dropping in there execution. 2D and all. Your senses just can't prepare you for the insane carnage you'll find in here. It's bloody awesome, reminding me a lot of the trio of Paul Verhoeven films that made him a household name with films like Robocop, Totoal Recall and Starship Troopers in terms of over the top violence. My buddy Renning made a striking comment on Facebook right after he saw this. He basically said that he hadn't liked a movie like this since the original Robocop. I have to agree.
While I wrap this up I'd like to touch on something that seems more evident with this film than any other of recent memory. Dredd opened to a weak 6 million at the box office, when I was almost certain it would have opened at number one, blowing away the competition. I'm still shocked at that. I'm shocked that a lame teen horror film and a Clint Eastwood baseball drama beat out Dredd. I just can't understand why, or how that can be. In this haze I stumbled upon a fascinating article by Paul Shirey over at JoBlo.com titled "C'mon Hollywood: What does the failure of Dredd tell us?". Such a good article and goes into detail as to why he thinks Dredd tanked at the box office it's opening weekend while other mediocre films went on to almost tie for the number one spot and where the general movie-going audience's state of mind is these days. Great article and it makes a lot of sense.
The general consensus for Dredd so far is very positive, receiving a 7.8 rating on IMDB and certified "fresh" with a 76 % rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this posting. Very good ratings for a film these days. But go see it for yourself and make up your own mind.
Quick Shot: The Cabin in the Woods
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Sometimes a horror movie comes along and just kicks my ass. It is indeed a rare occurance, but it does happen and it just happened recently when I sat down to finally watch The Cabin in the Woods from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. Man oh man, what a blast! Let me just say, the trailers or even the positive buzz doesn't even begin to hint at the brilliance and vibe of this film.
I had every intention of checking this out in the theater, but as with most films I want to see at the theater, it just didn't happen. Recently hitting DVD and Blu-ray here in the states, I was strongly persuaded to see it by a huge fan, someone who shares almost the exact same taste in films as I and well, just simply based on her enthusiasm, I just had to. I was not only thoroughly entertained from beginning to end, but I was constantly surprised and while I knew what the big secret was before going in (some spoiler heavy reviewers just can't keep their mouth shut!), it still didn't prepare me for the insane amount of shit going on in here. While knowing what the secret was going in, of which the viewer is pretty much told right at the beginning, this still went in so many other directions that I hadn't anticipated that it was just so fucking refreshing and such a blast to watch. I only wish I had been able to see this with someone else and not by myself, but even then, I loved it because it was just awesome.
That being said, I won't get into the story................at all! No spoilers here because the less you know, the better. But what I will say, besides being such a blast, is that it's a very well made film from all angles, the production, the script, the actors, the effects and the genres, of which it tends to blend hardcore 80's horror with elements of sci-fi, classic horror while playing homage to a "lot" of our favorite horror films of the past with a wink, of which only hardcore filmgeeks will get most of the time. Written by Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Firefly, well you know who he is) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield and big time television producer and writer), they seem to have set out to turn the horror genre on it's ear and to give it a new spin, something that the genre has been sorely missing for many, many years in the wake of all these lame ass remakes and shitty sub par horror films. They succeed ten fold. While praising these two guys I also have to give props to Goddard for doing a bang-up job on directing duties. I can't believe he's never directed a film before or since, because technically this was actually made in 2009. The full on horror elements are intense, and the gore aplenty, but never over the top to where it delves into the ridiculous. Ok, maybe towards the end, but even then it was just aaaaaaaawesome. Aaaahhh! I can't say enough about this film. Just go see it!
Quick Shot: The Devils Rejects
Directed by: Rob Zombie
You know, sometimes I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that Rob Zombie is a big time Hollywood filmmaker. It just blows my mind. I might not like everything he's done, but I have tremendous respect for the guy. He's done something not a lot of people have ever done by transitioning from music to filmmaking successfully. But he still does music and tours to this day, which blows my mind even more.
Zombie is a love him or hate him kinda filmmaker. He definitely possesses a specific type of look and feel for his films, kind of a late 70's to early 80's style of filmmaking, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I dug his first feature quite a bit with House of a 1,000 Corpses, which felt like more of a homage to 70's horror films than anything. But I only saw it that one time and never felt the need to revisit it. I'm not even going to discuss the Halloween films. I had and have no desire to see those. I wish I could give an explanation as to why, but I can't. They just don't seem very good to me. I mean, why mess with the original when it was so great to begin with?
So for some reason this one passed me buy. I didn't actively avoid it or anything, but I never made an effort to take it in. Now I'm kicking myself because as I'm sure most of you will agree, this is definitely his most accomplished film to date. A great violent, bloody and dirty film about a family of killers with no remorse on the run from the law led by family matriarch Captain Spalding (Sid Haig). One of the things most will notice almost immediately is Zombie's gift for casting. Here it's about as good as it could possibly get. Besides the three principle players of Bill Moseley, Sid Haig and Sheri Moon Zombie, you have greats like William Forsythe as a crazy cop on their trail, Ken Foree, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes and none other than Danny Trejo. Great, great cast all around that only lend this film's awesome vibe.
Another aspect I liked was how Zombie tried to push the envelope with this one in terms of shock value. A sex scene early on is a good example, as is a torture sequence in a hotel room. Zombie's gritty style does wonders for the story in general, but the violence and makeup effects work is nicely done as well. A fun, gritty, violent and bloody tale as told the way only Rob Zombie could tell it. Definitely the best he's done so far, but I am hearing really good things about his soon to be released film The Lords of Salem. So we might just have another contender.
Quick Shot: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
Directed by: Geoff Murphy
Category: Badass Cinema
Somebody please slap me. Can you believe that I've never seen this film before until now? I honestly have no reasonable excuse as to why, but it's true. Maybe I didn't like the poster? Maybe I didn't like the idea that it was a sequel? I don't know. But for some strange reason I never gave this a shot and boy am I kicking myself for it right now. Why? Because this was really great. Another prime example of Seagal's "Golden Age" and the kind of films they just don't make anymore.
Here he plays Casey Ryback, the chef from the first film only this time at the wrong place at the wrong time. He's on a train with his niece, who doesn't seem to like him when the train they are riding on is hijacked and it's up to Ryback to save the day.
So yea, though I was a big Seagal fan back in the day, even during this era, this one passed me by but here I am. Finally giving it a shot so here we go. So this was about the time when his star started to fade. Maybe it was because of the atrocity he committed in the form of On Deadly Ground, maybe because he was getting bigger or older or slower or harder to understand? Maybe it was all of these things? The fact of the matter is that "message" film On Deadly Ground severely changed everything and things were never the same again. So I suppose after a disaster like that he thought the best thing to do would be to revisit probably the biggest film of his career up until that point, the box office smash Under Siege. I probably would have.
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory is a great good ol' fashioned 90's action film. It's got a great look, a great vibe and a great cast. I love how Seagal is a very specific and atypical kind of action star. His fights are never flashy and he's not doing flips or roundhouses or anything like that. In his case it's more about getting in close and bringing him down with the least amount of moves possible, which isn't very big on spectacle, but very effective. He also has a nice supporting cast to round out the film. Eric Bogosian as the nerdy tech mastermind was great. I know he's well known for his one man shows, but I have only ever seen him as the captain on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which he's great in. But to see him play a little whacko was also great and refreshing. Of course Seagal has a sidekick in this one in the form of a baggage handler, which also provides a lot of the laughs which was also nice. The who's who of character actors that make up the small army of bad guys was awesome. Much like my experience watching Brain Smasher, A Love Story recently, it was fun pointing every single one of them out and pinpointing which films I remember them from, where they also played bad guys. Great stuff and great fun.
It was about this time where I started to lose interest in him as an action star. Personally, my favorites are all his early films up until this point. Only sporadically would I enjoy one in the years after this, but there were a few like The Glimmer Man and Exit Wounds that I do in fact enjoy. Buuuuut hey, we have some really great late 80's to mid 90's action films from this guy that have stood the test of time.
Special thanks to Jack over at Collected Cinema for his enthusiastic review of this one recently, which got me to finally get off my ass and seek it out.
Television Test Pattern Messenger Bag by craftieROBOT
As well as squeezing in reviews from time to time and working a full time job, I also dabble in art and photography as well as run an online site where I make and sell handmade items with a Geek flair. Messenger bags, web belts, wrist cuffs, you name it.
All of the items in my shop are made, packaged and shipped by me personally. Being a nerd myself, you can see that every design has a Geek vibe to it, whether it's related to pop culture, films, music and everything in between. These are items that I could never find when looking for a cool book bag or cuff or web belt, so I decided to just make them myself. I also love to do custom work, so if there is an image you'd like printed onto a bag or belt buckle, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com for any questions or requests.
From time to time I will spotlight an item I feel would be of interest to the Geek community and hopefully drum up a few more sales, as they have been seriously lagging these past few months. Anyway! Take a gander and hope you like what you see!
Television Test Pattern Medium Messenger Bag - $23
• 100% cotton canvas
• Heavy enzyme washed
• Cotton webbing straps
• Front flap with antique brass turn buckles
• Inside hanging zippered pocket
• 12inch x 16inch x 3 1/2inch
Click the link to view shipping details as well as any other important information.
You can check out my full line of Geekery at:
Directed by: Craig Moss
Category: Badass Cinema
First thing's first. Yes, Bad Ass is indeed very Badass!
So that's out of the way and you can calm your fears and be rest assured that in the end, when it's all over you will have the comfort of knowing that this film kicks ass for 2 reasons, writer/director Craig Moss's self assured and even handed direction and Danny Trejo just simply owning this fucking movie. Danny Trejo rules. End of discussion.
This was a really fun flick. Danny Trejo delivers the goods. I mean, you just know he will but even I was kinda blown away by how awesome he was in here. I just love that guy! I have to tell you, I am just so happy that Trejo has been given the opportunity to show the world that he can do more than play the scary looking prisoner in the background. Here he shows more range than I've ever seen before, even crying in one sequence. And though he has a reputation for dispersing justice through his fists, he's one helluva nice guy. Very sweet, caring and charming. But you get in his face, or try holding up a liquor store or start rough housing your wife, you're gonna be sorry. He still comes out in an insane amount of DTV flicks as a supporting character, but at least we get gems like this and the Machete films from time to time.
In Bad Ass, Trejo plays a war vet who's down on his luck, barely able to make ends meet and who just wants to be left alone. When two skinheads start bothering an elderly man on the bus, he steps in and literally wipes the floor with them. Filmed by someone's cellphone camera he becomes an instant internet sensation and folk hero. Soon, trouble and trouble makers seem to follow him wherever he goes and his life will never be the same.
Sooooooo I don't feel like I can be completely honest if I didn't mention the one thing that bothered me about this movie. So the movie's rolling along nicely. It's made very well, has a lot of fights, a lot of heart and a lot of laughs. Bad Ass aka Frank Vega (Danny Trejo) finds the guy who's responsible for ordering the hit on his life long friend Klondike and next thing you know, they're on a full on bus chase knocking cars out of the road at the end of the film, destroying a water fountain in the process and crashing through a building when I realize I'm seeing a shot for shot sequence from the bus chase at the end of Walter Hill's excellent Red Heat.
Is it a ripoff? A homage? I don't know, but I go with it. It's ridiculous and feels completely out of place, but you know, it's a fun movie and this is a fun sequence. But being the die hard fan of Red Heat that I am it was bothering me. It looked almost exactly the same except for some intersplicing of Trejo and the bad guy pretending to drive a bus against a green screen and with a few digital effects thrown in for good measure. Then the sequence is over after the game of chicken they are playing and the bad guy's bus crashes into an oncoming train and yea, again shot for shot, even the way Trejo breaks out of his bus after he crashes it. Just like in Red Heat. But anyway, we move onto another location and another fight scene and the film wraps up nicely. But I can't get that whole bus chase sequence out of my head and so I do a little digging and find out that the director "did" use that sequence from Red Heat, only slightly altering it digitally and adding Trejo and the bad guy. Ok, so I have no idea why they took a whole complete sequence out of one of one of the best action movies to come out of the 80's and decided to put it in a small scale film 24 years later, but I digress. I don't know why it bothers me so much, but it does.
This is supposedly based on a true story, but from what I understand they changed a lot of the details. But whatever, it's fun. And I'll be honest, I wasn't really sure about this one. I love Danny Trejo, but I'd never heard of writer/director Craig Moss and you know how that goes. Sometimes these new young filmmakers just deliver shit. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised. Bad Ass retains a nice professional look and quality throughout and throw in an nice eclectic supporting cast that includes Charles S. Dutton and Ron Pearlman and you have one Bad Ass film.
Quick Shot: Hostel III
Directed by: Scott Spiegel
Hhhmmm, well, you have to expect that since this is the first in the series to not hit theaters, it's going to have a difference in substance and quality and that's exactly what we get here.
It's not a bad or crappy movie by any means.......it just feels so tame compared to the first two because in all honesty, there is not a lot of violence or even shock value. Yes, a few scenes here and there, but not what you'd come to expect from a Hostel film.
Typical story, except this time it's set in Las Vegas. The cast was fine, nothing really to complain about in that department, and the effects (when there were some) were pretty good. But really, the biggest problem with this film is that there just wasn't enough of it. Not enough kills, not enough violence and not enough "Oh Shit!" moments. Because that's really what you want from these kinds of torture porn films, plenty of "Oh Shit!" moments and I can vaguely remember maybe 1 scene like that.
I admire Scott Spiegel as a director. His inventive camera work in Intruder is what really made that film what it was, besides the awesome amount of gore (Unrated Director's Cut Edition). You can tell he got a lot of inspiration and know how from his good friend Sam Raimi. His imprint is felt all around that movie. But with this film, it's very tame compared to his other films, which really surprised me because if ever there was a film that a filmmaker can go bugnuts insane with the inventive camera work and violence, you'd think it would be a Hostel film. But not in this case. While his style is very nice to look at and professional in Hostel III, it was a bit of a surprise to see Spiegel not go all out as he has in the past.
All in all, not a bad horror film. Well made with a professional look, not something you can say often these days with DTV horror films. It just needed more of everything to make it awesome. Noble effort though......
Brain Smasher, A Love Story
Directed by: Albert Pyun
Category: Cult Classics
Ya know, for some reason, much like Fright Night Part 2, this is a very rare and hard to find film on DVD, and because so, it goes for insane amounts of money. Not really justifiable in my opinion, but that's the way the collectors market goes when dealing with OOP DVD's.
But anyway, Brain Smasher. I've always heard about this one. I'm a big Albert Pyun fan and he has a few titles in his long and vast filmography that are just really hard to come by these days. Sometimes I get lucky, like when I scored my Nemesis Widescreen Laserdisc, but a lot of his 80's and 90's stuff is very rare or just not even available on DVD altogether. And if it is, more often than not it's not available in it's proper aspect ratio and you get a bad full frame presentation. Another film of his I have yet to get my hands on that doesn't seem to available is Knights. But that's another story.
You gotta love Andrew Dice Clay. He's just great. He can be tough, charismatic and a much better actor than people give him credit for. I can only assume it has to do with a few of his missteps related to his brand of comedy, like the whole ridiculous MTV thing. But that was the 90's, if that had happened today or if he was telling those same jokes today, it wouldn't even be an issue. I honestly thought that after the awesome Adventures of Ford Fairlane hit theaters, his star would rise. Obviously that wasn't the case. But we did get a few good films out of him, though none as great as Ford Fairlane.
Here he plays a bouncer known as Brain Smasher, because apparently he's just really good at smashing brains while beating you to a pulp. He unwittingly gets caught up in a scheme where Sam Cain's (Teri Hatcher) sister tries to get her to smuggle a rare flower into the U.S. Soon a band of coolly dressed monks (not ninjas!) arrive in search of this rare flower and its up to Brain Smasher (Andrew Dice Clay) to protect Sam and save the day.
This was a fun movie. It's very simple and very understated, which only adds to it's charm. Clay was great as the bouncer with a big heart, and Teri Hatcher didn't get on my nerves. Oh, and most importantly, she's actually hot in this. I have to say it was around the late 90's where she got too skinny for my taste, but here she's got a healthy dose of curves and there is one 2 second long scene in particular where they show here in a bathing suit during a photo shoot (she's a model) that almost makes your jaw drop to the floor. You think, "Wow, she was actually hot once!".
Really, it's just an endless array of fight scenes where Brain Smasher kicks the living shit out of these ninjas (oops! Sorry, they hate to be called ninjas!) with only his bare fists over and over. You'd think they'd learn their lesson, but they don't and they keep coming back for more only to be shown again and again that a roundhouse is no match for Brain Smasher's fists. Despite the action, it's also funny. Clay doesn't throw around the jokes and ad lib like he did in Fairlane, but he has enough funny lines that work well and his chemistry with Hatcher is pretty good. This just seemed like such a good fit for him. Too bad he didn't get enough roles worthy of his kind of style.
Albert Pyun. I have to say this one made me happy. Here he used the same style he used in a lot of my favorite Pyun flicks. Stylish, yet a little free flowing with the steadicam shots, but never looking half-assed. It all looks good. I can't say the same for some of his later films, but this was a good example of the Albert Pyun style of filmmaking that I like so much.
The supporting cast I must admit is also really, really fun here. In very small roles you have Brion James and Tim fucking Thomerson. But you've also got a plethora of who's who in the action and B Movie world of the 80's and 90's and it's fun to sit there and point out where you remember them from. Like Peter Kwong for instance. He was "Rain" from Big Trouble in Little China and Stargrove's friend in one of my all time fav's, Never Too Young To Die. But dude, there's a lot of people in this film and it's a blast.
Now for the kicker.
Right now, this is actually available on Netflix Instant. Yes, you read that right. For how long? I don't know. But currently you don't need to shell out insane figures to watch this, just hit up Netflix's streaming service and you can watch it this very second.
Quick Shot: The Raid - Redemption
Directed by: Gareth Evans
Category: Badass Cinema
I know I'm really late jumping on the bandwagon with this one. The problem is that it only now hit DVD where I live and the one week it was showing in our theaters, I was unable to attend. So here we are.
I'm going to keep this short and sweet.
The Raid is hands down one of the best action and martial arts films I've seen in the last 20 years. It's fucking brutal in it's depiction of violence, which often seems endless, and it's stunningly shot and choreographed by director Gareth Evans and up and coming star Iko Uwais (Merantau) that I hope it becomes an inspiration for other filmmakers, to show you that you don't have to revert to shaky cam quick edit bullshit to make a film like this. You can use good ol' fashioned filmmaking and still achieve the same results.
What really works for this film is that the premise is pretty simple and straightforward. An elite special forces team is assigned to storm a building run by a drug lord. When the team enters the building, they become trapped and sabotaged by the drug lord and his small army and must fight there way through the many stories just to make it out alive.
It's simple, yet very effective because while there are a few surprises in store when it comes to the story, it's really all about the bone crunching fight scenes and the insane amount of blood and violence on display, and oh how beautiful it is. The action and fight scenes come fast and furious (no slow mo in here) and amazingly choreographed. Some of the stuff on display in here, I've never seen put on film before and it literally blew me away.
This guy Iko Uwais, he's gonna be huge. Such a natural talent in front of the camera, and one hell of a martial artist. He helped choreograph the fights in here as well, and if this is just the beginning of his career, I can only imagine what he has in store for us in the near future. I was already blown away with him in Merantau, and this just solidifies his "Badass" stature in the world of Badass Cinema.
See it! Just do it. Don't think, just do it.
Quick Shot: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
Directed by: Eli Craig
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil has a LOT of things going for it. For one, it's insanely clever. It's also authentically funny and very well made. In the confines of a spoof, this things still looks and feels like a really good horror film, reminiscent of the output of slasher flicks from the 80's.
This one really surprised me. I already had a preconceived notion about what I thought it was going to be like just based on the title alone, but I was wrong. It ended up going in a completely different direction than where I thought it was going and it was just one of many surprises this had in store for me.
Basically, it's a spoof on 80's slasher flicks, only I don't think spoof is the right term because it's not stupid or sill, but it's very clever, and never goes the Scary Movie route. Instead they decide to tell a straight story about a bunch of obnoxious teenagers who head out to the lake in the backwoods and encounter Tucker & Dale, two best friends and hillbillies who just like to keep to themselves and fish. Only circumstances won't have that and with one ridiculously hilarious situation after another they are injected into these horrible situations where they always come out looking like bloodthirsty killers out to kill the entire group of teenagers. Only that's not the case at all.
Alan Tudyk is always a pleasure to watch. He seems to excel in comedy, but I've seen him in a lot of different roles and genres and the guy can certainly handle himself in any type of film. But here as the one half of the duo he's just hilarious. Tyler Labine, who plays the other half of this duo is also great. I also need to give props to the casting of the overly annoying and stereotypical teenagers. They were annoying and they were pure stereotype.
What surprised me the most was that Tucker & Dale vs. Evil doesn't play for cheap laughs just to make you laugh. The laughs are genuine and they never pull any pop culture references or try to imitate a scene from the current big horror film to make it interesting. It's a full on horror film, and then it's not when you realize what's really happening, which makes it pretty fuckin' hilarious. This was such a breathe of fresh air and one of the better times I've had watching a movie recently. I was surprised to discover that this is writer/director Eli Craig's only feature film and hasn't really done much other than an episode of Brothers & Sisters, which really surprising because he seems to have genuine talent behind the camera. This film looks more authentic and professional than half the shit that comes out in the theaters these days. So I really hope he hasn't abandoned his directing aspirations. Just with his work here, you can tell he's capable of something really amazing given the right budget and project. Definitely do yourself a favor and check this one out. You'll be glad you did.
Quick Shot: The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
Directed by: Renny Harlin
Category: Action/Badass Cinema
Call me crazy, but I have a really soft spot for this film. In fact, I love it. I know Andrew Dice Clay isn't everybody's cup of tea, and I don't really care much for his brand of humor myself, but the guy can be funny, and above all else he can act when he needs to act, pretty well actually. I remember a television show he did a while back where he played an average Joe and he was married to Cathy Moriarty. I don't remember the name of it but thought he was great as a Al Bundy type. I thought this was the film that was going to make his acting career explode, but that never happened. The film was a flop and his box office career went nowhere after this.
There are a few reasons why I love this so much. Renny Harlin in the directors chair for one. He made this the same year as Die Hard 2 and it's a stylish testament to his "former" directing chops. The guy had a talent and a unique style back then. Unfortunately he seemed to have lost this style and converted into different styles altogether, first with a more freestyle steadicam approach with insane amounts of slow motion with films like Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and then into something else entirely that I can only describe as lazy and uninspired with pretty much every film after Deep Blue Sea in 1999. I keep hoping and waiting he will deliver another winner again, but it's been a long, long wait.
But anyway, I'm getting off track here. Visually, it's stylistically awesome, brilliant even in some scenes. It's got a fun frenetic energy and pace, an insane amount of over the top characters, and Andrew Dice Clay just knocking this out of the park. Yes, his jokes are vulgar, offensive and insanely insensitive, but they're also hilarious. Most of them anyway. His voice over narration even had me cracking up. I had been wanting to see this again for years, but never got the chance. And when this came up on Netflix the other day, I jumped at it and on a day where I needed some cheering up, this did the trick ten fold. It was funny, it had action, a ridiculous plot with even more ridiculous scenarios, and and a who's who of entertainment types in all fields supplying cameos and supporting roles. Just a fun time all around. And when is it not fun to watch Wayne Newton as an evil villain? Never!
I've gotta say it again. I'm surprised Clay's acting career never took off. I thought he did great in this, funny when he needed to be, but also really good when it called for him to be serious. I had envisioned this being a series of films, with a different director and a different tone with each one. Like maybe one would be more serious than the other or maybe it would have progressed into something like that. Or maybe it would've just turned into another Beverly Hills Cop trilogy. First was good, second was the best and most awesome, and the third just left a bad taste your mouth. I guess we'll never know. What I do know though is that Clay nails the character and director Renny Harlin knocks this one out of the park creating a fun ridiculous movie. A cool mix of style, cameos, action and comedy and Robert Englund as an English hitman with a penchant for dominatrix. It just doesn't get any better than this.
Art: Bruce Lee Portrait
I've always enjoyed drawing ever since I was really young. Comic book characters, cars, whatever. For as long as I can remember I've enjoyed drawing. But around 1995 when I was about 19 I gave it up. I don't fully understand why. I started getting into different things, collecting, partying, moving around, eventually getting married and working various jobs. But I've recently entered a new transition in my life, a new phase and as a result I've met some new and fascinating people, artists in almost every respect in different areas and I've become inspired by them. My creativity is at an all time high right now and I'm finally drawing again.
This is the first pencil drawing I've attempted in 17 years. When I sat down to think of who I wanted to draw, it took me about 30 seconds and Bruce Lee was the first name that came to mind. I'd never done a Bruce Lee portrait before and now was my chance. When it comes to drawing, I always do portraits, I don't know why. It's what I've always been drawn to as opposed to drawing dragons or fantasy pictures. But I'm a little rusty still having not ever attempted this in almost 20 years, so I have a little ways to go to where I feel comfortable with it. But I'm going to do it, every day and with practice I hope to get better and to be able to do these faster and faster. This one took me a week (way too long) and I just wanted to be done with it already! Anyway, hope you like it!
Quick Shot: Internal Affairs
Directed by: Mike Figgis
Richard fuckin' Gere man. What a bastard he is in this movie. When this first came out, I was too young to really appreciate it. Some of these kinds of films always stood out in my head from this time period, even at a young age, like Black Rain or Blue Steel. But a lot of these passed me by and it's only now that I can fully appreciate the awesomeness of these kinds of films. And this one is good. This one is really fuckin' good.
I love these kinds of films. I'm finding myself digging and scouring the late 80's to early 90's for such treasures and boy have I found some gems. It's amazing that these kinds of films were made, and made a particular way, rampantly in this era. A really great one I just had the pleasure of watching for the very first time was Michael Mann's excellent Manhunter. Oh to be the age I am now and to have the opportunity to see these films in the theater.
Internal Affairs tells the story of a corrupt cop named Dennis Peck (Richard Gere) and the Internal Affairs agent (Andy Garcia) assigned to investigate a case within the Los Angeles police force. Soon though, he sets his sights on Peck and uncovers a much bigger case than he could have imagined.
What I liked about this is that it's pretty straight forward. It's not over stylized or anything like that, and it's pretty devoid of any unnecessary fluff. The main draw here though is Gere and Garcia. These guys bring their A game and pull of some pretty damn impressive performances. Gere as the diabolical, conniving and just plain evil LA police officer Dennis Peck, and Garcia as the dedicated and passionate IA agent who sets his sights on Peck soon after being assigned to investigate a case involving one of Peck's fellow officers. I think what surprised me the most is that I'm just not used to seeing Richard Gere like this. Man, he is really fucking evil in this and the worst part is that he's such a charmer that he often gets away with it. He knows how to manipulate people and get inside their head, a technique he uses to ultimately get inside agent Raymond Avilla's (Andy Garcia) head that brings out his personal problems and inner demons for all the world to see. It also helps that he's incredibly good looking.
This is a taut and tense crime thriller of the best caliber. Great story. Great performances and a great look keep you hooked from beginning to end, even if it felt it maybe ran a tad too long. Speaking of the great cast, I just loved the casting of Laurie Metcalf as agent Avilla's new partner. She was outstanding in this role and I couldn't imagine anybody else pulling it off as well as she did.
Quick Shot: The Man Who Wasn't There
Directed by: Joel Coen
Category: Crime Thriller
One thing's for sure. Only the Coen Brothers are able to pull of making films like this. I felt the same way when I saw A Serious Man. If anybody else had attempted to take the concept of that film and it's script to a studio, I doubt they would have ever greenlit the thing. But the Coen Brother's can pretty much do anything they want, so they do.
If you're looking for a slow burn kinda film to put you to sleep, this is it. It's not bad at all, just very uneventful, yet it looks beautiful and has a pretty outstanding cast, which makes it hard to hate on it too much.
This was a Coen Brother's entry that I just had no desire to see when it came out. Even the trailers didn't make it look the least bit interesting. I can dig Billy Bob in some roles, but having to sit through an entire movie where he hardly utters a word or express any real kind of emotion just didn't really peak my interest. Did I mention he also narrates the entire film in a monotone drull? And before you jump down my throat, yes I know what kind of film this is supposed to be, I get it. I just didn't dig it. Would it have been any better with someone other than Billy Bob in the lead? I don't know. And while we're on the subject, the Coen Brother's seem to be hit or miss with me. They have a good handful of films I have yet to see because I just have no interest. But I respect them as filmmakers because they have come to make films their way and on their terms, somehow beating the Hollywood system. I must admit though, I do enjoy the majority of their output because they've turned out some pretty amazing films in their long career. The type of films not a lot of other filmmakers could make successfully.
Buuuut whatever. Visually impressive film with style to burn, just not a lot of substance for my taste.
Quick Shot: Savages
Directed by: Oliver Stone
I went into this thinking, simply based on the trailers alone, that this was going to be something similar to True Romance, or a cross between True Romance and Natural Born Killers. This is not that kind of film, even though you're kinda led to believe this. It's a good flick mind you, just not the type I was expecting.
Here we have Oliver Stone returning "somewhat" to his former directing style. Sure he throws in some of his hyper-active new style of camera tricks here and there, but he's surprisingly restrained here, yet still not achieving the visual greatness of some of his earlier and better films. Complaining aside, it's indeed a noble effort and I must commend him for not converting back to his NBK style of filmmaking.
The best thing Savages has going for it is it's ensemble cast. This cast is amazing. I keep reading a lot of shit about Taylor Kitsch as an actor. How he's the one anchor responsible for two of this summer's biggest flops, but I think he's a kick ass actor. Maybe he's not ready to be the summer blockbuster leading man the studios had hoped, but in a supporting role, especially this one, he's killer. Technically Kitsch, Blake Lively and Aaron Johnson are the leads here, but Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek and John Travolta own this fucking movie. Every single scene they are in "makes" Savages what it is, Del Toro in particular. The guy's a sick fucking bastard, yet surprisingly likable at the same time, even garnering some laughs from you at some of the most disturbing sequences.
I was surprised to see that there wasn't nearly as much action as I was expecting, and that it maybe ran a little longer than it needed to. The cast is great, the look and sometimes gritty feel is pretty decent, but there felt like times when it seemed to drag on and on when it didn't need to, and maybe some decent bursts of violence and action would have broken up the monotony, at least for me anyway, but if you take it for what it is, then you won't be let down. I found the ending, and then the surprise semi-twist to be entertaining enough to make up for the lack of any excitement during the long stretches in the mid section. But it's really Del Toro, Hayek and Travolta's performances that really elevate this thing. If they weren't in here, I doubt this would be as watchable as it is. They really brought their A Game in here.
To wrap it up, this wasn't the badass shoot 'em up Oliver Stone film I was hoping for. It's not bad, but it's not great either. This seems more like a matinee or discount cinema type film, so save your money or just wait for it to hit DVD or Netflix. Oh, and I had no idea Travolta was actually going bald. I'm totally serious. I couldn't believe it. I'd heard rumors, but I'd never actually seen a picture of him like that before. I know he's always had some weird hairstyle going on in almost every film he's in, but it was surprising to see him finally admit it and just let show on the big screen.
Quick Shot: Manhunter
Directed by: Michael Mann
First and foremost:
I would like to take a quick moment to apologize for the lack of postings of late. I have recently found a new passion (photography) and have also re-acquainted myself with an old passion (drawing) and I've dove into these mediums full force. Yet I still continue to watch an insane amount of films, just not really having the time to sit down and do a thorough review on them. So this will be a new format I would like to call "Quick Shot", basically meaning Mini Review. I have a handful I will be posting like this just so I can get these suckers out before they start building to such a ridiculous number that I would just give up on them altogether. So I hope you don't mind the shorter format, but at least it's something. So now, back to my first Quick Shot review, the awesome title Manhunter, a movie looooong overdue for a viewing.
You gotta respect a film, and a Hannibal Lecter film for that matter, that ends with Iron Butterfly's In-a-gadda-da-vida blaring over the finale. A pretty outstanding finale I might add.
First off, I need to admit something. I'd never seen this until now. I know, I know.....for shame. Honestly, I'd never seen anything about it and it wasn't until seeing some of Mann's earlier stuff that I got the bug to check this out. Thief and The Keep just blew me away. Two completely different types of films, but brilliant cinematic experiences by a truly gifted filmmaker. I figured if Manhunter was even half as good as those films, then I'd be in for a treat.
Manhunter didn't disappoint. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that I prefer this to Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon (the Thomas Harris book of which this was also based on). This is a solid and intelligent psychological thriller done the way that only someone of writer/director Michael Mann's caliber can deliver. I found the script quite intelligent, surprisingly. I think I was expecting something along the lines of an action thriller, when in fact there's no real action at all. It's a psychological mindgame that takes up the majority of the films running time, but done with an 80's pizzazz. I think if this had been made today, it wouldn't have the same effect, but having been made in the mid to late 80's, it has that special something that gives it the perfect edge to make this ever so enjoyable.
William Peterson, all brooding and and serious, carries the film quite well. As the recently retired FBI profiler Will Graham who gets pulled back into the job at the request of his old friend Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), Peterson plays him as a very unlikable character with a severe case of OCD. In fact, he's an asshole plain and simple and he doesn't care who thinks so. Tom Noonan as the "Tooth Fairy Killer" was great. Only, I must have seen the theatrical cut and not the Extended or Directors Cut because I keep seeing pictures of him shirtless sporting an impressively badass chest and back tattoo, yet there were no such scenes in the cut I saw sadly. So it looks like I'll be forking over some cash for this Extended Cut, which is fine because I need to own this film. It's an essential.
Did I mention during the harrowing and riveting finale that Iron Butterfly's In-a-gadda-da-vida is blaring through your speakers? Awesome. Just awesome.
So after doing some digging, I see there are at least 3 different cuts of this film. I know I must have seen the Theatrical Cut, so it looks like of all the versions out there, this 2003 Divimax Restored Directors Cut release looks like the best way to go. Get it, that's all I'm gonna say. It rules.
P.S. I really wish Mann was making more films like this. I don't really dig his new style of filmmaking at all.
They Live Blu-ray release info!!
Yes, I know you've probably already heard and if you're smart, have already put your pre-order in for this awesome piece of Badass Cinema, but I'm seriously lagging in my posts and reviews. I have a good half dozen on my computer needing to be finished, but as I've recently found a new passion (Photography), and well, it's very time consuming but a lot of fun. So anyway, I thought I should post "something", so here you go.
I LOVE this fucking movie and am so glad to hear this is finally getting a Blu-ray release, and by Shout! Factory no less! Details are still pending on what will actually be on this release, but hey, does it really matter that much at all? It's fucking They Live on Blu-ray!
As if just having this new release isn't enough to make you squeal like a girl, you also get an exclusive extremely limited edition 18 X 24 poster of this awesome new cover art. Heeeell yea!
Special thanks to Ingo over at Hellford667 Movie Reviews for the heads up!
To pre-order this cult classic release, go to Shout! Factory's store page by clicking HERE
To visit Shout! Factory's website, click HERE
Here's some general info via Shout! Factory:
They influence our decisions without us knowing it. They numb our senses without us feeling it. They control our lives without us realizing it. They Live.
Horror master John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) directs this heart-pounding thriller in which aliens are systematically gaining control of the Earth by masquerading as humans and lulling the public into submission. Humanity’s last chance lies with a lone drifter who stumbles upon a harrowing discovery — a unique pair of sunglasses that reveals the terrifying and deadly truth.
Production now underway for extensive and insightful bonus features that include all-new interviews, an audio commentary and archival material. We will announce in-depth bonus features and additional news in the next couple months.
Also available on DVD.
Horror master John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing) directs this heart-pounding thriller in which aliens are systematically gaining control of the Earth by masquerading as humans and lulling the public into submission. Humanity’s last chance lies with a lone drifter who stumbles upon a harrowing discovery — a unique pair of sunglasses that reveals the terrifying and deadly truth.
Production now underway for extensive and insightful bonus features that include all-new interviews, an audio commentary and archival material. We will announce in-depth bonus features and additional news in the next couple months.
Also available on DVD.
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