Quick Shot: American Movie

Directed by: Chris Smith
Category: Documentary

Here's a quick funny little anecdote. My brother-in-law has been riding my ass for years to see this film; randomly throwing a "Have you seen American Move yet?". He insisted that I would love it, knowing how much I love films and how much I love a good documentary, especially those on the subject of film. Well I finally sat down to watch it and let me tell ya, I can kick myself for waiting so fuckin' long. This was.............awesome.

Sometimes when I watch something I'll immediately start a post with just the title and save it so that I don't forget. I watch so many movies that that is often times the case. Sitting here on Thanksgiving day I decided to browse my list of drafts that I started but never finished (of which there are plenty), and came across this one from many, many months ago. I've had plenty of time to let this simmer in my brain so what the hell. Let's do this.

American Movie should be required viewing at any film school or film program on what "not" to do when you're trying to get a film made, much like the fascinating documentary Overnight. Maybe these two documentaries should be all they need to show you in film school. "Here you go kids. Watch these 2 docs. You see what they do in here? Do the complete opposite.".

I don't really want to give too much away; the more you witness first hand upon your initial viewing the better the experience will be. Let me just say that while informative, it's also utterly fascinating as the films protagonist, Mark Borchardt, is one odd duck. You wonder how he's able to continue moving forward after some of the decisions he's made and the people he chooses to surround himself with. You wonder how much a single man with no money can take before he's defeated. It's his passion really. He's extremely passionate about making movies made all the more intriguing by his ability to charm almost anyone with his words. Does he possess any genuine talent? That's debatable. One things for certain; despite his background, his upbringing, his lack of education and book smarts, the guy has massive amounts of ambition and knows how to think quick on his feet and can manipulate almost anyone around him. In the film industry, I think that's a positive attribute.

What's especially fascinating is how Borchardt, at random times, seems to have moments of clarity. These aren't very often, but when they happen you finally start to feel for the guy instead of wondering what's he on that makes him apparently oblivious to the fact that this project of his just isn't feasible. I mean, there are a mountain of setbacks that would deter any die-hard filmmaker, but these are all setbacks that happen because of extremely poor decision making on his part. While articulate, unfortunately he's also a very bad planner. But I guess if he gave up as easily as most of us do, then we wouldn't have this thoroughly entertaining documentary to experience.

His years long quest to make his short horror film Coven is chronicled by documentary filmmaker Chris Smith in this fascinating documentary about one man's struggles to overcome his personal demons, of which there are many, to prevail in his attempt at finally finishing his dream project. Debuting back in '99, American Movie has garnered a cult status. After having finally seen it, I can understand why.


robotGEEK'S Review: Santa Sangre

Poster Print courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse, Mondo Archive and artist Florian Bertmer

Directed by: Alejandro Jodorowsky

I'll admit, I'm late to the game with Jodorowsky, only recently emerging myself in his filmography. And let me tell you, immersing yourself in his films is quite the odyssey. A strange, surreal odyssey and Santa Sangre, the first film he directed in 9 years after Tusk, is a slight departure from his usual fare, but not any less intriguing or fascinating to watch.

Bear in mind, I went into this after just having seen The Holy Mountain, which was a tour de force of the senses; just to give you an idea of where my mindset was and what I was sort of expecting with this film. What made wanting to see this even more intriguing was having heard that it was essentially Jodorowsky's "Horror" film, something that got me really excited. So did it blow my mind?

Santa Sangre left me with mixed feelings. While it's certainly an odd tale, often times visually arresting (I like these kinds of films), and one that only someone like Jodorowsky can tell, it's certainly not a horror film, not even in the unconventional sense, which, when all said and done, was a bit of a disappointment. I would call it a psychological drama with some dark surreal undertones. Fascinating, yes, but it didn't "wow" me the way The Holy Mountain or El Topo did. As I watched it, the excitement I had going in started to slowly wane and when it was all said and done, the overall feeling I took away from it was that Jodorowsky had slightly lost his touch, or in the least, some of his sizzle. Not to say Santa Sangre is bad, it's not. Maybe a tad on the dull side, but thankfully it's filled with enough oddball characters, nonsensical sequences (a Jodorowosky trademark), surreal imagery and religious overtones that it keeps you invested. Just not on par with his earlier work.

Interestingly though, this is probably one of his most linear films. For the most part, it tells a straightforward story about a boy who grew up in the circus in a crazy environment with his even crazier mother only to grow up into adulthood with some serious psychological trauma and a severe case of mommy issues. Of course it's filled with other subplots and naturally, things that don't make sense, but you get the idea. But that's also what makes his films so unique, the experimental vibe that's acquired him such a cult following. What also makes it unique is that it's like two separate films divided down the middle where the first half deals with the circus life, and the second half dealing with Fenix's (Axel Jodorowsky) survival in the adult world after having spent some time in a mental facility. Or at least, I think that's where he was? One performance that will more than likely knock your socks off though is that of Blanca Guerra, who plays Fenix's mother. A raw, unfiltered and completely unsettling performance that will surprise you. You know, it's shame that Jodorowsky takes such huge gaps between films. While not for everyone, they are overwhelmingly original. But as I previously said, being new to the Jodorwosky experience, I'm coming off having just recently seen The Holy Mountain, and having a vague memory of watching El Topo many years ago. Had I seen Santa Sangre first, my opinion might be vastly different. Or it might not. I guess we'll never know.

What I find most interesting I think is that when you watch any Jodorowsky film, and then watch him in interviews try to explain his films or his reasons for putting certain random things in there or what he was ultimately trying to achieve with each film are more often times than not, completely different. He seems to be living on a completely different plane of existence than about 95% of the planet, which obviously makes him quite a colorful character. An extremely talented one I might add. Then again, some might just call him a nut.

Of the few films of his that I have seen, I feel that Santa Sangre takes a step back from the surreal and delves more into the fantastical. Even then, I found an unevenness to it that ultimately made it less entertaining than some of his earlier efforts and it felt incredibly drawn out a times, as if half an hour could or should have easily been cut out to help it's structure. Basically it feels like a much older Jodorowsky has matured somewhat into mainstream. Not a bad film, but not a great one either. Bizzare? Most certainly. A unique surreal film that works as both a drama and a psychological nightmare, but not as great as you hope it will be. Santa Sangre is a film you won't forget, for better or worse. A quick shout out to my buddy Dennis for lending this to me, as well as the DVD Box Set that I will soon devour. It's on! Thanks man.

Severin Films 2011 Blu ray
How to watch it:
Apparently, Santa Sangre was unseen or unavailable in the U.S. for 20 years until Severin Films released a standout DVD and Blu-ray back in 2011. Finally, those die-hard Jodorowsky fans could revel in the madness of his first film in nearly 10 years. Surprisingly, it wasn't included in the 2007 DVD Box Set The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky, considering it's one of his better known films.

The specs are pretty standard with it being in 1.77:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and a running time of 124 minutes. The standout of this release though is the insane amount of Special Features to delve into, and there is a lot, beginning with an in depth and multi-part Making-Of Documentary called "Forget What You Have Seen: The World of Santa Sangre". You also get multiple interviews, shorts, deletes scenes, commentary and other documentaries.

If you would prefer to stream it, Netflix isn't offering it anymore, but you can rent or download it digitally at Amazon Instant Video HERE.


robotGEEK'S Review: Bad Moon

Directed by: Eric Red
Category: Horror

I'm just gonna cut to the chase; Bad Moon was awesome. A film that took me so long to finally watch, and one that I find surprisingly low on the "Best Werewolf Films" lists of other bloggers, critics and filmgeeks. Why is that? For me personally, this is going to rank high up on that list and for good reason. I'll explain.

I've always been a big fan of Eric Red whether he's just writing a screenplay or both writing and directing. The guy has genuine talent in both the horror and thriller genre's and while he doesn't have a large output, the films he does have under his belt are quite memorable, beginning with The Hitcher. Does anyone out there "not" love this movie? To date it's one of my all-time favorites. He's also co-writer of Near Dark. I'll admit, Near Dark didn't really do much for me as far as cool vampire films go. The ingredients are all there, but it was the execution that fell flat, which is surprising when you consider that you have both Eric Red and Kathryn Bigelow writing and Bigelow (Blue Steel, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker) directing. Even with it's rock solid cast of Bill Paxton and Lance Henrickson, it just always felt like it was missing something. But despite Near Dark's slightly lackluster vibe, he's continued to turn out quality work ever since with some personal favorites being Blue Steel, Body Parts, The Last Outlaw and now Bad Moon.

Okay, so....Bad Moon. I've known this film existed but have never really heard anything about it. Usually a cult film will generate some kind of buzz, but this one never got any for some reason, so I never really gave it a second thought until recently when it was featured on JoBlo's "Best Movie You Never Saw" (I think?) column and finally, "someone" had something good to say about it. Let me rephrase that, they had something "great" to say about it and it was just the push I needed to get my ass in gear to check this sucker out.

Based on the novel Thor, by Wayne Smith, Bad Moon kicks off with one helluva bang. I mean literally, the first 10 minutes are the absolute best 10 minutes of the film. I actually found myself rewinding that whole segment about 3 times because it was that badass. Sure the rest of the film doesn't quite live up to that incredible opening, but it doesn't make the film as a whole any less entertaining because despite it's minimal setting and pretty straightforward approach, it's got tension up the wazoo and enough suspense, great camera work, outstanding monster effects and a stellar performance by Michael Pare that drive this baby home. I've always liked the guy because he's a solid actor, but man he really delivers in this one. It's really Pare's performance that makes the film work as well as it does. Interestingly, besides Pare there's really only 3 other co-stars, adding to the films small scale approach and setting.

What makes this film interesting is that when it's over, it's such a simple premise. After getting bit in the jungle by a werewolf, Uncle Ted (Pare) decides to go visit his sister and her son in the hope that the family bond and the power of love will cure him of his new curse. Their family dog Thor knows what's up though, and he will play an integral part to the story. And that's pretty much it. 95% of the film takes place either in or on the land surrounding the sister's house in the woods. Yet writer/director Eric Red is able to build up so much tension, suspense and moments of pure genius in the film's short running time, and at 1 hour and 20 minutes, it's as long as it needs to be. And as I mentioned before, the makeup effects are outstanding. In fact, while werewolf films are not exactly scarce, the practical effects in this one are downright impressive and raise this one heaps above most. I also got to give credit where credit is due and with this film, a lot of that needs to go to Eric Red, hands down. While having only made a handful of films as a director, Bad Moon is surprisingly polished and Red turns out some really stunning visuals as well as moments of inventive filmmaking.

But wait, let's get to the few issues I had with it before I end up marrying this thing. For one, and probably it's one biggest flaw, is the one "change" scene it had, which happened at the end of the film. Even by 1996 standards, it's pretty weak, made all the more unsatisfying by the overuse of 90's CGI. And that's a real bummer considering it's the films one and only "changing" scene and the only time it uses said CGI. I'm sure at the time Red and the effects crew felt that CGI was the practical way to go, or that maybe they had come up with a way to make it look more inventive and natural, but by today's standards it's somewhat comical, even resulting in a slight chuckle......for me at least. But you know, that's really it's biggest issue even when you consider some of the plot goofs like the time the sister gets 8 shots out of a 6 shot revolver. Funny stuff.

Nitpicking aside, one of the best werewolf films out there and one that more people need to discover. It's also a testament to writer/director Eric Red's talent as a director and genre filmmaker. I only wish he had made more films, even if he was just a director because the aesthetics he uses are awesome.

The rundown on releases:
As far as releases go, sadly there hasn't been a real standout one, which is a shame. First off we have a bare bones 2000 release from Warner Brothers devoid of any real special features. It is in widescreen though, so that's something. And while not insanely expensive, it seems to go for a lot higher than I would have imagined, even in the "used DVD" market. Must be because of it's cult status. The only other release we have to choose from would be where it's included in Warner Brother's "4 Film Favorites" pack as seen here on the right, along with Wolfen, Abel Ferrera's Body Snatchers remake and Coma. This set is actually a little cheaper than the other release if you want to actually own a hard copy. You can, however, rent or buy it digitally from Amazon Instant Video, which is how I saw it. Whichever way you decide to go, watch it. It's reeeaaally good.


My review of Halloween (2007) and an apology to Rob Zombie

Directed by: Rob Zombie
Category: Horror

Before I get going with this, I need to get something off of my chest. I feel I owe Mr. Rob Zombie an apology. While I dig his style of filmmaking, I've always dismissed his two Halloween films purely on an experience I had watching this first one last year. It was Halloween 2012, and TBS or one of those cable stations was showing this in a severely edited version (obviously). I don't know why though, because it's got an abundant amount of nudity and gore. It's like when they try to show Scarface. What's the point when so much of it "must" be edited out? Anyway, it was on and I figured "What the hell? I still haven't seen it yet and there's nothing else on so why not?". Well, I must have been busy doing something else while this was playing and the few scenes that I did notice as I randomly looked up at it just reminded me of House of 1,000 Corpses with all the shaky-cam stuff. So I was not impressed and practically dismissed it on the spot.

His Halloween films notwithstanding, I'm a huge fan of Rob Zombie as a filmmaker. Probably more than most people, I have an insane amount of respect for the guy because he's a genuinely talented filmmaker who's not afraid to make some ballsy choices, knowing full well the backlash he will most likely receive. He's the genuine article. An artist in every sense of the word. He's authentic, even when he's paying homage to different genre's. It's been said many times that he's been simply copying other films, but I don't agree with that analysis. He's such a huge fan of films in general, really just a big movie nerd, that with each film he makes, he's paying tribute to different genre's of films that he loves. Because when you look at the 5 films he's directed to date, they're all distinctly different in style and most importantly, genre.

With The Lords of Salem blowing my mind this past year, I've become a full-fledged Rob Zombie fan. So with me being in full on Halloween mode this past Halloween season, and after having already seen all of the Halloween sequels to date, I thought I should take the opportunity to check out the one Halloween film I hadn't seen yet, Rob Zombie's Halloween 2. What resulted was a shock to my system and my favorite Halloween film experience to date. I have never had a more fun experience watching a Halloween film as I had watching Halloween 2. Straight up. So then I started wondering if my experience with his first Halloween film was off. Maybe I wasn't in the right mindset when I attempted to watch that one or "Did I just not get it?". I think it was time to revisit it and as luck would have it, I found the Unrated 2-disc set at a local pawn shop for $2. The force was with me my friends. On that Sunday afternoon, we watched Rob Zombie's Halloween 1 & 2 back to back.

What struck me almost immediately was how "off" my original assessment was of this when I saw it a year ago and honestly, I feel pretty shitty for giving it such flack for so long. Even before I saw it last year, since it's release I just never gave it a shot because even with the trailers, Zombie's signature handheld style was all over the thing and it drove me nuts. So I just dismissed it and never had the urge to actually watch it. What the trailers don't show is that while there is indeed a lot of handheld camerawork involved, it's only about a good 25% of the time whereas he implores several different styles throughout the film, all reflecting specific segments of the film. So while there is handheld stuff, there's also some really great composed shots and some pretty inventive and spectacular visual flair all throughout. In other words, this film is badass and I was wrong to judge it so harshly all these years.

I mentioned it before in my Halloween 2 review and I'll mention it again, the casting of Tyler Mane as Michael Myers is just pure genius. So far, my favorite Myers to date. Of all the guys who have donned the mask and jumpsuit throughout the years, I don't think any of them were as perfect as this guy. To date, he's the biggest Michael Myers and the most intimidating. And it was interesting taking on Part 2 before this one because in the case of the character of Dr. Loomis as played by Malcolm McDowell, it's like he's playing two completely different characters in both films. In Part 2, he's a self-indulgent egomaniac and a pig. In this film, he more closely resembles the doctor we've grown accustomed to through Donald Pleasance in the original films. And when you look at both films together, it's fascinating how vastly different all these characters are from one film to the next. Take the character of Laurie Strode for example. In the first film she's a typical teenager; cute and dresses like any other teenager you'd see in high school. In the sequel, she's an emotional mess and a much darker person because of the events of the previous film. You sense she's even somewhat goth or punk simply by the way she dresses now. And again, as with all of Zombie's films, hell-even more so with this one, he's got a plethora of genre actors all over this thing, with Danny Trejo playing a sympathetic orderly being my favorite. While I'm at it, I need to give some props to Sherri Moon Zombie. Again, simply based on a few scenes I had scene, I had misjudged her in this thinking she was rehashing her role as Baby from 1,000 Corpses, when in fact she turns in a solid performance as Myers's struggling mother with a big heart. With each film she's in, she's getting better and better.

But I do have an issue. As much as I love this film, I'm still not sold on the idea of needing to know why or how Myers became evil at a young age. And in taking the hillbilly approach for that matter. Even then, ultimately it doesn't explain why he is the way he is, only that he comes from a shitty home life. What's problematic is that with Carpenter's original, in the first act of the film he kills his sister and you get no back-story. He's a silent killer in every single film after that, never utters a word, ever. So for all we know, he's never been able to talk since they never actually show that in the original film. For me, that kind of adds to the mystery. It's never made clear so you always wonder, "Was he always mute?". But here Zombie shows him as an "almost" typical kid, you know, except for the killing part. Having him talk and slowly showing him regress throughout the years to silence kind of takes away a lot of the mystique behind the character. Or maybe that's just me?

This film was indeed so much better than I was expecting. To be quite honest, I think I really wanted to see it simply because it's the only Halloween film to date I have not yet seen and wanted to just complete the series and say that I have seen them all. I never, ever expected it to impress me as much as it did and to consider Rob Zombie's two Halloween films to be some of my absolute favorite from the entire franchise. He's done something truly remarkable with these films, he's reinvigorated my love for the Halloween franchise. A franchise, I might add, that I really had lost all faith in in the last 30 years with all of the sub-par sequels. I dismissed him and his Halloween films almost immediately and it's taken me this long to finally sit down to watch them and to fully appreciate their merit and his artistic integrity regarding these films. I was wrong in thinking that he had ruined an already stale franchise and for discounting him as the auteur that he is, and for that I apologize. Halloween 1 & 2 are two of the best slasher films you'll see out there.

This is also bittersweet because I've read recently that Rob Zombie is completely done with the "Horror" genre, and that before he had made this statement, he had also stated he would not have any involvement in the next Halloween film. So this is a real bummer to say the least. But, we can't discount him yet. I think he's got a lot of other things up his sleeve and I for one, can't wait to see what else he may have in store for us; horror genre or not.


robotGEEK'S Review: Dead Bang

Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Category: Action

Dead Bang is a film I've been trying to see for 24 years. Okay, maybe I haven't been really trying all that hard, but ever since it was released in '89, I have always wanted to catch it, but never succeeding for one reason or another. It just looks cool as hell, and it's got Don "Crockett!" Johnson in his prime and has genre director John Frankenheimer behind the camera. Sounds like a good enough bag of ingredients to turn out a healthy dose of Badass Cinema to me!

Well, frankly, Dead Bang is a mixed bag. It's a well made and competently made film with a hard-edged approach to the material, with some good action scenes and an intense performance from Johnson, but it lacks any real excitement or gusto. Visually, it's made simple and pretty straight-forward. You'd never call it stylish (as is the case with any Frankenheimer film), but it sustains a constant hard-edged look and vibe made all the better by the use of practical effects for the few action sequences spread throughout the film. And surprisingly, there is depth to the character of Jerry Beck (Johnson). He's a divorced father who's been served a restraining order, so he's dealing with the blow of not being able to see his kids anymore as well as getting into heated exchanges with his ex. So they try to give Beck some character, and they succeed, but it doesn't really make the film all the better for it either. They could have easily cut 20 or 30 minutes of this backstory stuff on Beck's character and instead focused more on some of the gritty aspects of the story, or just on the action in general, which is pretty sparse.

But it's really hard to dwell on the negatives because as I said before, it's a well made film after all and you've got Don Johnson being a badass. Even when the film lulls for a bit from time to time, it's fun watching him on the screen. This was made at his tail end run on Miami Vice and I assume he was hoping to transfer his star power onto the big screen, which shockingly didn't happen. Not sure if he just wasn't being offered the roles or if there was some other reason at play, but regardless, he never received the star power he had when he was on television. Just as well I suppose, because 7 years later he had another hit show for another 5 years with Nash Bridges. What's strange though is that if you look at his filmography, apparently he's been acting nonstop all these years, which is news to me since I assumed he had retired after Nash Bridges. I mean, I never saw the guy again. No cameos or full on roles in anything from shows to movies, until he popped up in Machete in 2010 and again in Tarantino's Django Unchained in 2012. But yea, he'd been busy all that time. I just didn't know about it. And here I was thinking "Hey! Johnson came out of retirement for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino!". Apparently not. I was wrong. Dead Bang wrong. Ah hell, that didn't work. Forget it.

What I find most interesting about this film is it's eclectic cast and production crew. For one, you have John Frankenheimer (French Connection II, Ronin, The Island of Dr. Moreau), who's never been consistent with his quality of work. But it's also the only film written by Robert Foster that made it to the big screen. The rest of his career has kept him busy writing and producing television shows. So maybe that explains why this isn't as badass as it could be. But then there's the cast. The one and only William Forsythe turns up as a stiff and unreliable FBI agent with an usual way of delivering his lines and a who's who of character actors like Penelope Ann Miller, Tim Reid, Michael Jeter, Mickey Jones, Tate Donovan, and Bob Balaban of all people.

A solid effort and overall, and a solid film that could have used a little more action and maybe a little more style. What makes it worth the trip though is that it's got substance. You gotta give them credit for that. And even though it didn't have a lot of action, the action sequences they did have were handles nicely.

As far as releases go, all we have is a bare bones full frame release going all the way back to 2004 when they still used cardboard for the DVD covers. So if you're as anal as I am about watching films in widescreen or in their proper aspect ratio, you're going to be disappointed because this version is really no different than watching it on VHS. But being as it's not generally well known or considered a fan favorite, I doubt any studio will ever fork out the dough to give this a decent release. Sad but true.


robotGEEK'S Review: Darkness Falls

Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Category: Horror

Oh Christ, where do I begin. I've heard of this film. I've heard it's horrible, stupid, lame, whatever...all those things. I've also heard it's a horror film about the tooth fairy. Ok, I'm game. I mean, it sounds silly, but you never know, right? But then I learned it's directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who I happen to really like. You might not recognize the name, but you've probably recognized his signature style. While not being a fan of the shaky-cam concept in general, I've always felt Liebesman was one of the very few that could handle it well and make it look artistic, whereas most others just do it because it's fast and easy. Liebesman has a keen eye for visuals and because of this, I'm a huge fan of his Texas Chainsaw prequel, TCM: The Beginning, and Battle: Los Angeles. So despite some reservations, I thought "What the hell?". "Maybe it's not that bad".

While I love watching a bad film and loving it for the sake of it being so bad, I honestly hate ripping films to pieces when they're just bad, which is where Darkness Falls......ahem, falls under. Pun intended. What a mess. No, scratch that. What a terrible, nonsensical mess. I'll admit, the first few minutes got my attention. If anything, the film looks good. While not shooting in his trademark shaky-cam style, he gives the film a clean stylish look. And the opening credits were pretty cool, but when the films over, you'll realize that the opening and ending credits were probably the best things about the film, and that's never a good thing.

I'm going to share Wikipedia's synopsis because it sums it up clearly and quite honestly, I don't have the energy to come up with one myself:
The events of the film take place in the town of Darkness Falls, which is based on the town of Fall River, Massachusetts. It begins with the legend of a widow, Matilda Dixon, who was adored by all the town's children. Matilda gave them gifts and gold coins when they lost a tooth, thus earning her the name "Tooth Fairy".
After a fire in her home left her horribly disfigured with an extreme sensitivity to light, she wore a porcelain mask, and only went out at night.
Although the children adored Matilda, the adults were suspicious of her and one day, when two children went missing, the townspeople quickly blamed Matilda. In their anger and paranoia, they hanged her, ripping off her porcelain mask and exposing her face to the light. Out of despair and betrayal, Matilda, with her dying breath, swore vengeance upon the town. Soon afterward, the two missing children returned home unharmed. The town, realizing their mistake, quickly buried Matilda's body along with their secret.
The story of Matilda Dixon, the Tooth Fairy, is told for many generations after her violent murder. Legend has it that her spirit visits children on the night they lose their last baby tooth, as they slumber in bed. However, should any person see her when she visits, they become cursed and marked for her deadly vengeance for the rest of their life-- assuming they even survive their first encounter.
So much of this film makes no sense, which is where all the frustration comes from. So she comes to you when you lose your last baby tooth, which is usually early teens I believe. In this story, a young boy named Kyle sees her after she attempts to take Kyle's last tooth, but instead kills his mother. Kyle is able to live because he was smart enough to turn the lights on, something nobody else seems to be aware of. So since he's seen her, he's cursed for the rest of his life until she can finally kill him if he's ever in the dark. She is a vengeful bitch. Jump a good 20 years later and he's still fighting this incident on a daily basis when an old girl he used to like when he was young has a little brother who's going through the same thing and she wants his help. Reluctantly, he agrees. And the story pretty much unfolds as the tooth fairy basically stalking these two, (Kyle, the old girlfriend and her little brother) for the remainder of the film and killing anybody else in her path. 

Here's what I don't understand. In the beginning, when Matilda was hanged and issued that curse to the town, how the hell did she even know how to do that if she was just an innocent woman who loved children? It's not like we all have a curse handy when the time calls for it. And why is she obsessing all these years over this one kid when you stop and think about it, she's gotta be a busy gal/demon. So while she's chasing this now adult Kyle and this little boy pretty much on a minute by minute basis, she's also killing countless of others who come across her path in the process. I don't understand what her purpose is. So since she swore vengeance on this entire town, she shows up when you lose your last tooth and if you see her, she kills you? Does she actually collect your tooth? And what if you don't see her? Does she just show up and takes your tooth and moves on to the next kid? Why kill all those others, the adults, in the film when she's after Kyle and this little boy? I thought it was a curse for the children? Because if she was just going to kill anybody randomly because they saw her, there wouldn't even be a population left in that town after a few years, let alone 150. So much of this film just makes no sense whatsoever. Not to mention the fact that it's dull, and devoid of any scares or gore. Maybe they were going for mood and atmosphere, but it didn't seem to hit the mark in that department. 

If you've read anything on this film, it's had a storied and tough production, though financially it actually turned a slight profit. I've even read that director Jonathan Liebesman has basically disowned this film completely. And that the studio, for whatever reason, had Stan Winston come in and redo Steve Wang's tooth fairy makeup for the final product. Even that is a surprise considering the tooth fairy that Winston did was nothing to write home about. 

I don't blame director Liebesman for wanting to have nothing to do with this. It doesn't look or feel like any of his other films and if this is the worst he can do, then he's made out alright in the end. It's just that as far as horror films go, it's about as uninteresting and uninspired as they come. Though truth be told, it seems studio interference might be to blame for this one. 

Verdict: Skip it. You'll only be frustrated at all the insane plot holes and devices used to move the story along that just don't make any sense. 


robotGEEK'S Review: John Carpenter's Halloween

Directed by: John Carpenter
Category: Horror

This Halloween season, more than any other, I've immersed myself in the Halloween franchise and with horror films in general. I've always loved horror, but most of the time I'm changing it up with horror, action, badass cinema, or almost any other genre. But seriously, I don't think I've ever had the need or want or drive to check out as much Halloween as I possibly could as much as I have this past goulish season.

With Rob Zombie reinvigorating my love for the franchise recently, I decided I should revisit Carpenter's original classic masterpiece. It helps that I've also been in somewhat of a Carpenter kick these past few months also, devouring everything Carpenter I could get my hands on. And oddly enough, Christine has been popping up a lot on AMC, whereas I don't ever recall seeing it on television before. But recently, I've caught it about 3 different times and I'll sit down and watch it every single time. I've also seen this pop up regularly the whole month of October, but it's always in a dreaded pan and scan or full frame. Seriously AMC? But anyway....

It's been a long while since I've sat down to watch this one. Undoubtedly Carpenter's most popular film to date, I just never felt the need to revisit this one often. We all know what happens, how it plays out and why it's as popular as it is. But finally making the time to revisit this for the sake of the Halloween season, I'm still struck at how amazingly effective it all came together so perfectly. Beginning with it's opening credits and opening sequences, his use of the steadicam is just nothing short of brilliant. This is made all the more apparent by director Rick Rosenthal's mediocre use of the concept in the sequel just a few years later. Not that Rosenthal is a bad director, just not a very inspired one.

What also makes Halloween so effective is it's simple take on the slasher film material. I mean, we've had slasher films before Halloween, but they were never made as popular until John Carpenter revitalized that little sub-genre in 1978. Let's face it, we wouldn't even have Friday the 13th were it not for Halloween. But because of so many "right" choices Carpenter makes, it comes off as just brilliant indie filmmaking. His camerawork, his music, the casting choices and most importantly of all, a cool looking and tough as hell Michael Myers. See, that's a crucial aspect to this series because let's face it, some of these dudes who have donned the Myer's mask in these sequels are just not up to snuff for the gig. I know I've bitched about it before, but man, George Wilbur in the Myers jumpsuit for Halloween 4 was.......distracting. Yes, he's tall, but he's also the thinnest of the Myers bunch. So thin in fact that he has to have shoulder pads underneath that jumpsuit. But I digress. In this film, Nick Castle's portrayal of Michael Myers pretty much defined the role for anyone to follow, some with varying degrees of success.

We've all seen Halloween right? I don't think I need to bother with a synopsis or a play by play. As basic a story structure and premise as it is, that's also one of it's biggest strengths. It's never really explained "why" Myers is pure evil, or why he was so evil at such a young age, unlike Rob Zombie's need to explain or justify this in his remake from 2007. He just is and nobody except Dr. Loomis is completely aware of this. But do we really need all that backstory? Not really. Carpenter and writing partner Debra Hill pretty much sum it up with the opening sequence to get the story going, but without really pinpointing anything that led him to be this way. One day he just snaps, end of story. Sometimes less is more, or the power of your imagination is better than what could have been written on paper. Clearly Carpenter and Hill figured this out a long time ago.

As many films as I've seen and as many horror films as I try to devour, Halloween still holds up remarkably well 35 years later. No gimmicks, no over-reliance on gore or effects, or tricky camerawork; instead Carpenter utilizes good ol' fashioned storytelling, beautiful fluid camerawork with a keen sense of how to properly frame a shot, an amazingly simple yet effective score and strong performances from his leading cast. Just try and think of all the other little independent horror films that came out about the same time and see where they ended up. John Carpenter's Halloween has sustained and lasted and overcome because of his sheer talent. It honestly just doesn't get any better than this.

As far as releases go and trying to determine which one is the best bang for your buck, there are just way too many to even comprehend. I myself watched the "Extended Edition", which I didn't even know existed until a friend lent it to me for this review. From what I understand, Carpenter and the cast went back after the film was completed and shot additional scenes to fill in some time gaps for it's television airing since it apparently wasn't long enough. But the newly restored 35th Anniversary Blu-ray also seems to be a great investment and at an incredibly great price. Seriously, you can't beat the price. Whichever way you go, it's surely a trip worth taking and proves time and time again why it's considered one of the best of the genre.


Death Wish 3 German Clamshell VHS

Death Wish 3 VHS Cover scan courtesy of robotGEEKSCultCinema.blogspot.com

A big thank you to to Ingo over at hellford667 Move Reviews for this incredible piece of VHS awesomeness. This baby looks killer on my shelf. I gotta admit, I was never a big fan of these Death Wish films. In the revenge film genre, they were alright. I mean, Bronson is surely a badass, but they never really did anything for me. That is until I saw Death Wish 3, and holy shit balls, what a mindfuck this movie was. It's like they decided to just go all out and say "Fuck it! Let's give 'em something they'll remember!", as opposed to it's restrained hard-edged approach in the first two films in the series. Death Wish 3 is nuts, in the best possible way.


robotGEEK'S Review: Frailty

Directed by: Bill Paxton
Category: Psychological Thriller

I'll bet you've seen this DVD at your local retailer for like five bucks or local video rental place countless times and just passed it by. For one, you've probably never heard of it. And secondly, the cover offers nothing in the way of explanation in terms of what the film is about. Yea, it's kinda cool and dark, but an image of a farmhouse and a closeup of McConaughey's face is as generic as they come. And the title Frailty doesn't really exude any kind of excitement. I mean, that's literally a title you can use in almost any genre when you think about it. I'll bet you also didn't know that it's the directorial debut of Bill Paxton. Yes, "That" Bill Paxton. You know, Chet, Pvt. Hudson, whatever you wanna call him. And oh boy, what a helluva debut this is.

Should you take the time to actually sit down to watch this however, you'll be treated to one of the most underrated psychological thrillers in the last couple of decades. Not only that, it's undoubtedly one of the most stylish and impressive directorial debut's I've ever come across, and one you'll more than likely agree with.

Frailty centers around a west Texas single father of two boys who's about as wholesome and hardworking as they come. Things are all fine and dandy until one day the father (only known as "Dad") has a vision from God that tells him he will be a demonslayer and that God will give him a list of demons posing as humans that he needs to slay.

Frailty is a Gothic America nightmare. What makes it so scary is because the things that happen can indeed happen in real life. I don't know anybody like this personally, but we all know they're out there. And while not a horror film in the conventional sense with monsters and jumps and scares, the constant eerie atmosphere and overall tone make for an ultimate scary experience because of it's religious overtones. God has told the father to do these horrible things, so he takes them as fact and feels no guilt or remorse about it because according to God, they are demons and not humans. When he finds these demons he supposedly sees their sins when he touches them. What's eerie and most of all disturbing is that you never know whether the father is just crazy, hallucinating or in fact seeing visions from God and Angels who tell him to do these horrible things.

Frailty, while not a perfect film, has so much to offer in the way of a genuine psychological thriller that because it's beautifully shot by Bill Butler (Jaws), stylishly directed by Bill Paxton and with some outstanding performances by everyone involved, that you can forgive it's very minor flaws. More than anything though, mad props need to go out to Bill Paxton in the directors chair. Of course he nails the role of the hard working single father who would do anything to protect his kids, but it's his role as first time director that will really leave a lot of people quite shocked. It's damn good stuff with a major Hitchock influence. Of all the projects to take on in his long career, I'm not sure what compelled him to choose this as his first attempt behind the camera, but the dude knows what he's doing. It's like he's been studying or taking meticulous notes for that one day he'd finally get his shot. Let that sink in for a bit. Chet directed a psychological thriller, and it's a damn fine one. Who knew he had it in him? And why hasn't he directed more films other than that golf pic 4 years later?! Seriously, he's only made 2 films, but I can't vouch for his second effort as hit's a........golf drama. But with Frailty he's certainly left an impression.

Aside from it's bleak and dark subject matter, Frailty offers a healthy dose of surprises so I think it's best to end it here so as to not spoil too much for you. It really is a film you need to discover for yourself and immerse whole-heartedly in this Southern Gothic nightmare.


robotGEEK'S Review: Trick 'r Treat

Directed by: Michael Dougherty
Category: Horror

6 years. It's taken me 6 years to finally sit down and watch this Halloween themed gem. I always knew it had a sort of cult following ever since it's release, but I don't think it was as apparent as this past Halloween season where I was made fully aware of how much of an impact this film has garnered in the horror community. Hell, one channel had a 24 hour Trick 'r Treat marathon right before Halloween. What does that tell ya? Well after having finally seen it, I can see why.

Anthologies are a tricky thing. It's incredibly rare to find an anthology where all the stories are equally good. It's a hard thing to pull off effectively, which is why the "anthology" sub-genre is an extremely rare one. And even when we do get one, it's almost always a mixed bag. But there are a few greats like Creepshow and Twilight Zone: The Movie that come to mind. And then there are films like The ABC's of Death, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie or V/H/S that offer up a mixed bag of quality with some stories being great, while others are just awful. Which is the most frustrating thing really. You expect a film to be either good or bad, but with anthologies, it's almost always "some of it good and some of it bad". You're probably wondering why Body Bags isn't listed. There's a simple answer for that; I haven't seen it yet.

Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat was an extremely pleasant surprise in almost every aspect. It's rare when a horror film and even a horror anthology film entertain me as much as this one did. But T'rT has so much going for it also that make it heaps better than your average film in this particular genre. Mainly because of writer/director Michael Dougherty's even handed and professional take on the material. Unlike most other anthology films, the stories presented in here all interconnect with one another, at times offering the same story in a different point of view while also having the timeline go back and forth. It's a bold and genius move for sure, but one that works effectively well because of it's strong cast and even stronger script. But that's not all. Considering this is Dougherty's only feature film as a director, you'd never know it. He's got a strong sense of "quality" that is immediately apparent in almost every shot. In the day and age of quantity over quality, that's a rare thing indeed. You couldn't quite distinguish his particular style over any other even-handed director, but regardless, it looks slick.

I have to admit, I'm really surprised that this didn't get a full on theatrical release. Yet, they'll put out these endless Paranormal style or possession themed films one after the other with intense marketing behind them, which is such a joke in the horror community. And what's funny is that T'rT is so much better than any of those films. In fact, now that I've finally seen it, and love it, I can guarantee you that this will now be a regular Halloween tradition for me and any other unsuspecting victim I force to watch this with. Because while also being a horror film, it's also a fun film. Scratch that, T'rT is a blast.

Initially this was an animated short that Dougherty had made back in '96. It took 11 years to find it's way to becoming a feature film, but even then, for some reason, it was never given the full backing of a studio, even having been delayed for a while, which is surprising considering every showing of the handful it was allowed to be presented at were extremely well received. I just don't get it. But maybe that was to it's benefit since while it didn't result in any box office numbers, it's certainly become a bonafide cult classic in every sense of the word and deservedly so.

I think what makes T'rT work so well, aside from Dougherty's deft hand at directing, is it's equally smart script. You're engaged in every story and I can't remember one instance where it ever felt dull or flat. While categorically being a horror film, it's also a clever one. There are moments where you forget that something that happened in the previous story has already happened in this one, and vice versa, until things become connected when it's all said and done. That right there is a testament to it's creative ability to effectively jump timelines and then come full circle again to wrap things up nice and neat. Before this, writer/director Michael Dougherty was a screenwriter for X-Men and Superman Returns. It's safe to say T'rT will be his legacy in the film industry.

Halloween 2013 has been such a special one for me because unlike any other ones from the last few years, I've discovered some genuine horror gems that have now become personal favorites, with T'rT be on the top of that list. As far as horror anthologies go, it's one of the best ones out there.

DVD and Blu-ray specs:
The only DVD release here in the states is pretty bare bones with only the original 1996 animated short with optional commentary by Dougherty that this originated from included as a Special Feature. Other than that it comes in both full frame or widescreen with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

The Blu ray however comes with a bit more supplemental material for just a few bucks more. Thankfully, full frame is not an option on this disc, so you just get the widescreen version, but it comes slightly different than the DVD as it's a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Additionally, you get:
Audio commentary by director Michael Dougherty, storyboard artist Simeon Wilkins, concept artist Breehn Burns, and composer Douglas Pipes.
Trick 'r Treat: The Lore and Legends of Halloween (28 min)
Additional scenes with optional commentary by Michael Dougherty (17 min)
Trick 'r Treat: Season's Greetings: Animated short with optional commentary by Michael Dougherty (17 min)
School bus FX comparison (1 min)

So it's kind of a no-brainer if you own a Blu-ray player. Just get the Blu-ray.


Quick Shot: Bad Grandpa

Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Category: Comedy

I honestly can't remember the last time I laughed this hard in a theater. I think maybe the closest would be with This is the End, but even then, it wasn't nearly as much or as hard as with this film. And I should also mention that when I went to see this, I was feeling really crappy with a bad cold. The thing is that when I get sick, which is incredibly rare, instead of really being bothered with a stuffy head and runny nose and all that, it manifests itself more with body aches and the feeling of being hit by a dump truck and then run over countless times after. That's how I feel when I get sick. So with that being said, having a film being able to muster some genuine laughs out of me when I'm feeling my absolute worst is a testament to it's authentic power of how funny this really is.

Unlike the previous Jackass films, this one actually follows a storyline about a belligerent, horny, unloving and alcoholic grandfather named Irving who is left with the task of taking his grandson across the country to his father, who is far worse a human being than the grandpa and only wants the kid because he thinks of him as a $600 a month government paycheck. So what follows is a series of misadventures as they continuously get themselves into all kinds of trouble with hilarious results.

So it's all staged, obviously, and they film everything with strategically placed hidden cameras that capture unsuspecting people's reactions, which is just priceless. Because as funny as the shit they do here is, it's really the people's reaction to these situations that sell it and boy are you in for a treat. As hilarious as the trailers are for this, thankfully they save the really good stuff for the film, which as I said, is just jaw droppingly and laugh out loud funny.

Johnny Knoxville as Irving is hilarious and crazy as shit, but it's really the kid who steals the show. His name is Jackson Nicoll and I think we'll be seeing a lot of him after this. Man, this kid is something else. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but seriously, this kid is awesome.

Rest assured, if you think they put all their best stuff in the trailers, I can guarantee you that they saved the best stuff for the film and it was just hilarious. Looking for a good genuine laugh? Bad Grandpa will fill the bill.


The Raid 2: Berandal trailer is up and kicks some serious ass!

If you're a die hard action fan like myself, then it's safe to say that if you've seen Gareth Evan's Indonesian action-fest The Raid, and you were blown away by it's nonstop brutality. The Raid is without a doubt one of the best action films to come out in many, many years.

Good news! Writer/Director Gareth Evan's follow-up is almost here and here's a taste of what to expect in this insane Indonesian trailer. I don't know man, it looks like Evan's has topped himself with this one, if that's even possible. I'm super stoked, are you? This looks seriously insane and badass on every level.

Here's the official word via Todd Brown over at TwitchFilm:
Indonesian action star Iko Uwais will be back on the big screen in 2014 with the release of Gareth Evans' The Raid 2: Berandal and Twitch is proud to premiere the first Indonesian teaser trailer for the film. While the first film may have been confined to a single building this new offering continues that story and broadens things out considerably, both in terms of locations and the scale and scope of the characters and action. And while this may be a teaser it shows off a lot of the key faces and snippets of a handful of major set pieces to give a sense of what is coming.

Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Alex Abad, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Julie Estelle, Cecep Arif Rahman, Cok Simbara, Yayan Ruhian, Matsuda Ryuhei, Endo Kenichi, and Kitamura Kazuki star. Check the trailer below. And be warned: Evans says it's to be played loud through headphones or big ass speakers only. Listen through a phone or laptop and Hammer Girl is coming to get you.


robotGEEK'S Review: Halloween 2 (2009)

* This review is based off of the 119 minute Unrated Director's Cut

Directed by: Rob Zombie
Category: Horror

I can't believe I'm saying this, in fact, I never thought I'd even "want" to actually watch this after not being a fan at all of Zombie's first Halloween film, buuuuuuuut.......I really like this film. Call me crazy!

And I know what you're thinking, "what's with all the remakes if you don't like them?". I hear ya. Sometimes I want to punish myself, or hold out hope that there is a solid one out there. I gotta be in the mood though, as was the case with Rob Zombie's Halloween 2. I wanted to see a Halloween film I hadn't seen before, and you know, I dig a Rob Zombie flick from time to time, even if it has to be one of his Halloween films. So let me be clear. I did not want to see this after seeing the first one. His first *Halloween film was just all wrong. I still can't wrap my brain around some of the gawd awful decisions he made making that film. As much as I love the Halloween franchise, and as much as I love Rob Zombie films, I just can't like Rob Zombie's Halloween.

Without turning this into a review of his first Halloween film, I'll just point out a few quick points of interest that ruined that film experience for me.
I dig Zombie's Exploitation style of filmmaking, when it suits the material. But with Halloween, the hand-held shaky-cam stuff just didn't jive well at all. Not when you compare it to Carpenter's fluid and expertly choreographed panavision extreme widescreen compositions in the original. Yet, because Zombie had made 2 films prior to this using his Grindhouse/Exploitation style, he delved right into this one with the same concept, only ruining what could have been a decent horror remake. I hate that shit and it makes me physically sick. Is it that difficult to keep the fucking camera still man? You know what they say don't you? all that shaky-cam/hand-held/quick-edit crap is a device directors use to mask the fact that they do not possess any talent behind the camera. Is that really the road you want to go down? I surely hope not. Not sure why he feels the need to make so many of his characters back country hillbillies, but when you include that into the Michael Myers/Halloween lore, it's getting pretty old.

But that's not to say that Halloween is not without it's pluses. It certainly has them, but I'll get into that when I decide to do a review of it sometime. For now, I just want to make my point across that he seriously missed the mark with that one. Halloween should have and could have been the start of a fucking fruitful and profitable franchise for Zombie, but alas, with certain key decisions he made it was a missed opportunity.

Which is why I'm more than happy to say that for the most part, for me anyway, he's almost completely redeemed himself with this sequel 2 years later. Holy shit. It's almost like somebody else had made this. As I was watching the first 20 minutes unfold in the hospital, I'm thinking to myself "Now this is the Halloween film I wanted to see!". He's done away with the hand-held shaky-cam stuff, and has amped up the carnage considerably. What writer/director/producer Rob Zombie has done here is spin the franchise on it's head and going a slightly different direction than with the first one. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the reaction he got from the first film, or if he was already stylistically leaning more towards this visual style because Halloween 2 seems to bridge the gap in two tonally different visual styles he used in Halloween in 2007, and then with The Lords of Salem in 2012. Immediately with this film you see a huge difference. He's taken the time to set up some really killer shots, and though he does revert back to his signature hand-held style from time to time, it's  minimal.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I think the casting of Tyler Mane as Myers was just brilliant. The guy just fits the role so perfectly. And I can say the same thing about Malcolm McDowell. If there was ever any other actor perfect for taking over the role of Dr. Loomis that Donald Pleasance made so iconic, it's him. And overall, the rest of the cast was pretty good. I always enjoy seeing Danielle Harris up on the big screen and always enjoy the cult and character actors he peppers his films with. Sherri Moon Zombie returns, but only for the trippy sequences, so her role is very minimal...thankfully. Look, I think she can be a good actress, and her work in The Lords of Salem is a huge step in that direction, but she's just not there yet, but she could be. One actor I did have a problem with was, amazingly, the lead actress Scout-Taylor Compton, who plays Laurie Strode. I found her to be incredibly annoying. I don't know if it's because of her age, or the constant crying and unintelligible yelling, but she got on my nerves pretty quick. Though, I did like the material she had to work with. Clearly Zombie was really trying to give his lead actress some moments to shine and to show a wide range of emotions that shift as the film progresses, but her delivery ruins what could have been some great dramatic scenes.

I've heard Zombie state numerous times that this was the worst experience he's ever had making a film. Too much studio interference and pressure resulted in a film he's not entirely happy with. For me personally, that's an interesting thing to hear considering in my humble opinion, this ended up being a much stronger film than the first. Originally this film was in other hands, but Zombie didn't want someone else to ruin his vision, so even though he was exhausted from his first Halloween experience, he just couldn't let anyone else handle this so he agreed to come back and write and direct the sequel. Honestly, Zombie knows his shit. It's painfully apparent that he's a genuine film nerd, and when it comes to making films in different styles and tones, he succeeds the way a lot of other horror filmmakers fail. Each and every one of his films to date offer something different in the horror genre, and they're done exceptionally well............with the exception of Halloween. But then here we are with Halloween 2 basically putting my faith back into Zombie and the Halloween franchise. Unfortunately, I believe he's done with these Halloween films and with the horror genre in general. So he says. If this is true, then that would be a shame because while his films are not everyone's cup of tea, he's definitely got balls and talent and I think with a few more "horror" films under his belt, he can deliver that truly great horror film. It's in his blood, I know it. On the plus side though, maybe his retirement from the horror genre will allow him to dip his hands into other genres. I actually see him making a fantastic, violent and gritty as hell action film in the vein of late 70's and early 80's Italian Euro Crime Cinema. His style suits that idea incredibly well.

Here's a bold statement; Zombie's Halloween 2 is one of the top 3 Halloween films. Yes, I said it. In fact, let me blow your mind a little bit more. Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 is the best Halloween film in the last 32 years. Though I consider Halloween III: Season of the Witch to be a great and severely underrated horror film, I do not consider it a Halloween film. So let's just scratch that one and let's say this is the best Halloween film since Rick Rosenthal's 1981 sequel to Carpenter's original classic. Seriously, this has everything that you'd want in a slasher film that all of it's many sub-par sequels were never able to get right ever since 1981. This film is dark, brutal, bloody, intense and you've got a Michael Myers that actually looks menacing as hell and imposing like a force of nature. Sure as a whole, this film is a bit uneven with it's trippy dream sequences and bizarre hallucinations-which honestly kind of take you out of the film a bit-but on all other fronts, it delivers a classic slasher film experience we crave but just don't get anymore.

I mean, tell me that opening hospital sequence doesn't make you all giddy with excitement? I actually wish the entire film had stuck to that concept. That would have been something. A good ol' fashioned "unstoppable killer stalking a hospital picking off people one by one" type of film. And that's where things get tricky, because while there are plenty of flashes of genius that Zombie displays with this film, there are also some unusual and questionable decisions that quite frankly, leave you dumbfounded. For one, he continuously shows Michael Myers face without his mask for a good chunk of the film. That's pretty ballsy. And though I kind of dig the monster roaming the land routine, having him look like a drifter sporting long hair and a long beard was odd. And to top that off, he has Myers grunt......often, whereas in every other Halloween film ever made, he was a silent killer. And get this, he actually utters a word once in the film. Again, another odd creative decision that might have served the film better had it not been included. But above anything, I think it's the dream and hallucination sequences that throw the film off a bit and ultimately make this film while uneven, also weird. But I love weird, so there you go.

I stand by my word when I say this is one of the best films in the franchise. I don't know why it's gotten so much hate. I mean, it's not like "any" of the Halloween films have gotten any love from critics, but in the case of this film, it seemed the critics were exceptionally harsh. And for what? Here we finally have an honest to goodness straight up slasher film (do they even make those anymore?), and still, nobody's happy. The IMDB's 4.8 positive rating is a joke, and Rotten Tomato's 21% fresh rating makes no sense. What movie are they all watching? Get with the program. Enjoy this film for what it is and for what it offers and leave all your snide criticisms at the door. Uneven yes, but a damn fine and brutal slasher flick.

* Update
In my naivete, I feel I may have jumped the gun in my opinion on Rob Zombie's first Halloween film rather harshly. My comments that I made at the beginning of this review in regards to his previous Halloween film were based on my pre-conceived notions and not on a full scale experience watching the film from beginning to end, rather from scenes I saw here and there where I wasn't fully invested in the experience of watching the film the way I should have. I've since changed my opinion on his first Halloween film.....rather drastically too I may add. 

I've since done a comprehensive review of Rob Zombie's Halloween, which you can find HERE.


robotGEEK'S Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Category: Horror

Not being a fan of remakes in general, in fact quite loathing a good 90% of them, I find myself liking these Chainsaw (TCM, TCM:The Beginning, TCM 3D) updates more than I should. In fact, these along with the Friday the 13th reboot are actually pretty damn good horror films. Whether you think it's a good thing or a bad thing, I should add that both the Friday and Chainsaw reboots were both helmed by video and commercial director Marcus Nispel.

But getting back to my point. I remember loving this thing when it first hit, but I think this was at the beginning of the whole remake/reboot craze and I don't think that whole concept had yet gotten to the bottom of the barrel garbage that we've been getting lately; a lot, I might add, that also came from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes banner.

So it's Halloween night, and while everyone else has something going on, I'm sitting home alone looking for a horror film to watch. Particularly, I was in a "Slasher" type of mood. Being as I was itching to watch John Carpenter's Halloween, but not owning a copy (GASP!!), I went with what I had in stock. And I'd been meaning to revisit this one for some time. So what better excuse right? Well let's do this.

I realize a LOT of others don't agree with my point of view, but I seriously think this is a great horror film done right, remake/reboot or not. Director Marcus Nispel has done a bangup job bringing this dying franchise to life, and not in the sense that it necessarily tries to eclipse or even make you forget about the 4 films that came before it, but rather offers a refreshing and much needed update. Considering all the other horror franchises out there, the Chainsaw films have had about the least made, which is surprising because you'd think it could be easy coming up with different ways to have a guy running around with a chainsaw killing people. But yea, not the case with this one.

After blowing us away with the original in all it's dingy, gritty and almost documentary style realism, co-creator/writer/director Tobe Hooper decided to go the complete opposite direction with his follow-up, to mixed results. I'll admit, I've seen it countless times, and as much as I try to like it, I find it hard to sit through. Mainly because the constant screaming and yelling from Chop Top and others give me a headache. But overall, the silly vibe just doesn't gel very well with me, even though Dennis Hopper is pretty badass. Great effects, great set design and amazing trailer, but as a finished product, it's not a very good Chainsaw film. Now Part 3 I consider a great horror sequel, but I know a lot of other's don't. Personally, it's top notch filmmaking and holds that constant dark "something bad is about to happen" vibe throughout. Sure it's not very gory, but maybe we'll get an "uncut" version some day. Yes, I realize we already have an "uncut" release, but it's not really "uncut". Let's be honest here. Watch the "Special Features" on that disc and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Five years after Part 3 was released and failed to impress at the box office, the co-creator/writer of the original classic decides to give us another one called "The Next Generation". I'm just gonna leave that one alone.

Almost a good 10 years passes by before Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes decides to use this film as one of their first franchise reboots and while a lot of people were skeptical, ultimately became a box office hit. And why not? It's got a "lot" to admire. Great camerawork, an authentic gritty atmosphere and a no-holds-barred attitude that makes this better than you expect it to be. But most important, Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface is one big scary son of a bitch, taking a different approach than all the other's before him.

They stick to the original story pretty well, only changing a few minor plot points, characters and adding a few new ones, but overall, it's very similar. Yet it plays out so differently because of it's structure. It really never slows down to be dull at any point. In fact, about a good 15 minutes in and it's just a nonstop ride of death and dread and chases and well, you get the picture. The infamous "dinner scene" is cut, but that's alright. This film moves fast enough that you won't miss it.

Not to beat a topic to death, but as I mentioned this earlier with my Chainsaw 3D review, and several times in others, I just don't dig remakes in general, especially in this era of the quick-cut shaky-cam. But I enjoy these new Chainsaw films. Maybe it's the simple fact that in the 4 previous films, between 1974 and 1994, (and the fact that there were only 4 of them in 20 years), we were only given 2 good ones (*open to debate). Of course with these new ones, the ending of 3D was stupid and ridiculous, but I even liked that film for the most part; I just need to erase that last 20 or 30 minutes from my memory. I sure as hell can't say that for a lot of these other horror reboots. Right off the top of my head, Samuel Bayer's Nightmare on Elm Street reboot/remake comes to mind. What a pointless, needless piece of crap.

For my money, this is about as good a horror film you can get, let alone in the "remake" sub-genre. It's got all the bells and whistles that come with a big budget horror film, yet made with a gritty realism that you rarely find in films anymore.