From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Trailer is up!

Haven't been feeling the itch to write, but here's something I felt worth posting, the first trailer for Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn television series for the El Rey Network. 

You know, it doesn't look bad at all. First off, I had no idea it would be in English, let alone star Don Johnson and Robert Patrick! I assumed since it was a Mexican production it would be a show only playing in Mexico. I'd never heard otherwise. Not sure how we will be able to catch this since I've never heard of the El Rey Network, but we shall see. But this is a nice surprise and a slightly different take on Rodriguez's cult classic film. 


Quick Shot: Lady Terminator

Directed by. H. Tjut Djalil
Category: Cult Classic

So here's a film I've been hearing about for a long, long time; Lady Terminator aka Nasty Hunter. A "Cult Film", apparently like no other cult film (so I've read), is a weird mish-mash of The Terminator and some Eastern folklore. Something about a curse being put on a woman, who's the descendant of a man who "wronged" an Asian Goddess. So this goddess possesses the body of this woman, an anthropologist, who generally kills her male victims by sleeping with them and the film plays out like a female version of The Terminator, for some odd reason. It was such a blatant rip off from one scene to the next that I eventually just started counting how many sequences they stole directly from the first Terminator film. And we've all read the stories about how model turned actress Barbara Anne Constable nearly died multiple times while making this movie since they don't really follow any normal safety rules.

I have to be honest, after everything I've read about this, I was expecting something a lot more fucked up than this. Lady Terminator has a huge reputation in the "Cult Film" community and until Mondo Macabro gave it a sassy release back in 2004, it wasn't an easy film to come by. So after reading about it repeatedly from time to time, and not being able to find it for under $20 anywhere, I was excited to finally get the chance to check this out and unfortunately, wasn't able to meet my high expectations for an Indonesian Exploitation flick.

The sex scenes, while there are many, are lame. You see her boobs an awful lot, but that's about it. It's really the Terminator rip offs where this things gets interesting. The action is constant, and ridiculous, with some truly awful acting thrown in and an 80's aesthetic that adds a little extra flavor to enhance your experience. We all know right off the bat going in that this is a "bad" films. And it most certainly is. However, it never reaches that level of "So Bad It's Good", so what we're left with is a mediocre bad film with a lot of boob shots of actress Barbara Anne Constable shooting a lot of guns and doing a lot of what Arnie did in the first Terminator. With much conviction I might add. But it never "wow's" you or blows you away like you hope it will. It seems, for me at least, the premise is much more what draws people in than the actual film. It just never pays off the way it should. Lots of action, lots of boob action, and plenty of bad acting, but ultimately a somewhat mediocre affair.


Quick Shot: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Directed by: Charles B. Pierce

Let's cut to the chase. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is probably one of the biggest letdowns for me in quite some time. Knowing very little going into this other than it's a film made in 1976 and only ever having a VHS release in 1980, it's partially based on an actual case of someone dubbed The Phantom Killer who killed 5 people in 1946, and was never caught. But this 37 year old film has a following, and with Scream Factory's recent Blu-ray/DVD combo release this past year, I felt now was the time to see what all the fuss was about.

Even by 1976 standards, Sundown is a very tame film. Honestly, I'm not even sure if it's supposed to be considered a horror film or just a thriller, because most of the time it plays out more like an episode of "In The Heat of the Night" or "Unsolved Mysteries". And you know, that's fine. It was an interesting take on the serial killer genre, but boy is this one slow and dull. Even when it gets to the moments when the masked killer strikes, it's all very ho-hum. If this had been a little more gruesome, creative or had a faster pace, then it might have been a decent watch. But it wasn't, and for the most part, I was bored to tears.

I will admit though, they do take an interesting approach to the material. Obviously on a limited budget, the film looks good for the most part, and they use a narrator who sounds like someone right out of a detective show from the 70's. So if you're confused even by just a little bit, he's there to tell you what the hell's going on. Ultimately though, not really my cup of tea.


Quick Shot: 2 Guns (2013)

Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur
Category: Action

Just when I've about given up on the modern action film, a film like 2 Guns comes along and makes me re-evaluate my stance on modern action cinema. 2 Guns was fantastic. A straight up no-holds-barred homage to the action/buddy films of the 80's and 90's, only done exceedingly well. A few have tried this past decade, but rarely ever succeeding quite nearly as well as the way they pull it off here.

I'll be honest, when this hit theaters I didn't even give this one a second thought. It looked like a paint-by-numbers modern action film that didn't offer anything new to the table. With ticket prices being so damn high, I'm insanely selective of what I will fork out $10 to go see in a theater. What screenwriter Blake Masters and director Baltasar Kormakur have done is taken what made those action/buddy movies so damn great back in the day and threw in all the right elements for one helluva good time. Seriously, I can't remember the last time I had such a good time beginning to end watching an action film. And there's a lot of factors that make this happen. The sharp script by Masters based off of Steven Grant's graphic novel, Baltasar Kormakur's (Contraband) slick and tight camerawork; no shaky-cam, handheld or quick-edit crap here! Fuck yea! Old school style filmmaking at it's best only. Apparently, Baltasar Kormakur (from Iceland) is an all around actor/writer/director/producer, but only recently having dipped his hand in the action genre with Contraband and now 2 Guns, both starring Mark Wahlberg. The guy's a natural talent with material like this. It's enormously evident in every shot and sequence he shoots. I've never seen Contraband, but I plan to rectify that ASAP. I also hope he sticks to action. He's easily becoming one of my new favorite directors to keep an eye on and he clearly displays some natural talent for the genre.

2 Guns is a story about double crosses, drug dealers, and undercover cops. With some excellent performances from every single actor involved, it's really Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg's chemistry that really makes this work as well as it does. These two have a natural chemistry together. I mean, it shows in every scene stealing scene they're in together. In fact, let's hope some geniuses capitalize on this and find a few more projects they can work on together. Speaking of actors, Edward James Olmos show's up as a crime boss badass, as well as a sexy as hell Paula Patton, finally undressing in front of the cameras. Nice.

About as good a time as you're likely to have watching an action film with a couple of wise-cracking smart asses trying to outsmart each other. Better than the trailers lead you to believe and a breath of fresh air in the action genre. Check it out!


Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's Fantastic Four Documentary coming soon!!

So, holy crap. I had no idea this was even being made let alone a full length documentary already set to be released! When I came across this yesterday I nearly shit myself. Needless to say, I'm floored and it's some of the best news I've heard all week. 

So if you're a comic book geek and/or a film buff, then you already know this movie exists. If you don't, here's a quick rundown. Back in the 80's and 90's, Marvel wasn't the empire it is today. Back then they were selling there properties left and right to practically anybody. There were projects that never got off the ground, like the Spider-Man movie that was supposed to be directed by Captain America director Albert Pyun and also at one time, Joseph Zito, of Invasion USA and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter fame. But they were able to get a few low-budget films off the ground like Captain America, The Punisher (Which is pretty fucking spectacular), and of course, 1994's The Fantastic Four, produced by schlock king Roger Corman. I knew of it's existence right from the beginning. I remember reading about it periodically in fan magazines and following it's progress. Rumor has it that it was so gawd awful that it was never officially released. And it wasn't available forever, until the internet came around. But even before that, you might have gotten lucky finding a copy of a copy of a copy on VHS at

some convention. I actually own a shitty copy myself, but I have no clue where I got it from. It's a bad movie folks, let's just be clear. It sucks. Though, I will say that Dr. Doom looks 100% badass. If anything, they did a great job at creating his suit. Everything else, not so much. 

What this documentary teases at is that maybe Roger Corman's Fantastic Four film was never actually meant to be released at all. Weird concept, but I have heard of weirder things. So you never know. In any case, I can't wait for this to come out. No official word on when this is set to be released, other than it's slated for 2014. You can pre-order the DVD/Blu-ray Combo as well as other merchandise directly related to this documentary as well as the legendary Fantastic Four film from their website at Doomedthemovie.com.


Review - Stitches (2012)

Being a horror fan, I follow a few horror film sites on a daily basis. And as with most movie news or review sites this past December, they started rolling out a lot of "Best Of" and "Worst Of" lists for 2013. One of them caught my eye because it was so random and didn't offer much in terms of what the film was about. But it was mentioned in one particular reviewer's "Best Of" list and so I tried to keep that in the back of my head if I ever came across it. Well guess what, I did recently at my local Blockbuster of all places.

Every so often, when you watch as many horror films as I do, and a good number of them turn out to be duds, one will pop up from time to time seemingly out of nowhere and surprise the hell out of you. For me, Stitches is that movie. I knew nothing about this; the story, where it came from, who starred in it, the specific genre it was supposed to try and tackle, nothing. And let's be completely honest here, the cover art is pretty lame. Now that I knew to look out for it, I realize that I probably passed this one by countless times thinking it was some low-budget ghetto horror film in the hood or something. At least, that's what it looked like to me. But holy shit, that couldn't be any further from the truth boys and girls.

Stitches was a total and complete surprise. First, that it was a horror/comedy, secondly, that it was actually funny when it was supposed to be, and thirdly, that it was made exceptionally well. It's a much higher budgeted film than I was led to believe by the cover and add to that writer/director Conor McMahon's impressive visuals and ability to handle both practical and limited CGI effects well and you have pretty much a slam dunk as far as ridiculous horror/comedies go. Let's get one thing clear. Stitches is completely absurd, but that's what makes it so great. It doesn't take itself seriously and if you know that it's at least partly funny and utterly ridiculous, then you'll enjoy the shit out of it.

Stitches the clown is accidentally killed during a kids birthday party. Apparently, he was part of a "cult" of clowns who do all kinds of worshiping and shit like that. According to them, the soul of a clown cannot rest if he died before finishing up an act, in this case, he died in the middle of one of his routines during a birthday party. 10 years later he emerges from his grave to seek vengeance on the same group of kids that basically tortured him during that fateful birthday party years earlier. 

One of the great things about this premise is that these kids, who are responsible for Stitches death, have only grown up to become even more horrible than they were as kids. I mean, these teenagers are just the worst fucking human beings and so when Stitches rises from the grave to exact revenge, you kind of root for him because you want to see these fuck-tards die some gruesome deaths. And boy do they ever. One of the best things about this film are it's inventive kills and skillful use of practical effects. While you're  reveling in some good ol' effects work and the absurdity of some of the kills, you're also laughing. That's why this is so awesome.

Writer/director Conor McMahon clearly displays some genuine talent as a director and some love for the genre. My fears of a low-budget killer clown film looking like shit were quickly put to rest right in the beginning with some stylish camerawork. The guy knows what he's doing and I'm eager to see what he comes up with next.

How to see it:
You're in luck. Stitches is currently streaming on Netflix. So check it out while it's still available. But gather some friends, it's the best way to watch it. You can also pick up the DVD and Blu-ray for fairly cheap. They both come in widescreen with a "making of" documentary.


Quick Shot: The Lone Ranger

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Just wanted to throw some quick thoughts on this and not waste too much time thinking about it. I'm in a lucky position in that I have a 10 year old, which affords me the opportunity to check out some more family friendly fare than I'm normally used to. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't bother with some of these films but these days it gets harder and harder to find things that we can watch together that would be appropriate for a child. So here we go.

Far and wide, not the disaster I was expecting it to be. Critics can really blow things way out of proportion when they all ride the coat tails of other reviewers. I feel The Lone Ranger, while deeply flawed, is not the train wreck the media made it out to be. It's a little weird for sure, and definitely way too long for its own good, but the parts that work work exceptionally well and director Gore Verbinski offers up some stunning visual eye candy and some breathtaking sequences. While I'm doting out compliments, I might as well add that I felt Armie Hammer certainly did a fine job filling the shoes as the titular character, and even Johnny Depp, though I was hesitant at first to accept in the role of Tonto, handled the part very well. Sure we would have loved to have seen an actual Native American actor in the part, but an unknown is not going to fill the theater seats. But I guess even having a name like Johnny Depp didn't help things much in this case either.

Now on to the problems. It's just too damn long, and not in a good way. When the action set pieces hit and the comedy comes into play, it works and they hit all the right notes. But when the film delves into the mystical aspect, it slows down significantly and boy does it make things dull when it didn't need to be. And for some strange reason, instead of just telling the story straight forward, instead we are treated to an older Tonto who now works as part of a traveling roadshow who tells the story of The Lone Ranger to a boy and instead of being interesting, comes off as just plain odd, not to mention slows things down rather abruptly throughout the film. Not a wise creative choice in my humble opinion. Going back to the length though, it feels they could easily have shaved 30 minutes out of this thing without really affecting the story drastically. I'm serious, the film is that long and it's completely unnecessary.

When it's all said and done, I had fun watching it with my son. It's funny when it needs to be and the action sequences were impressive to say the least. The cinematography and the visuals are just gorgeous. But it's just too long and a bit odd in some places. I'll bet that someday a few years down the line, there'll be an appreciation for this film. Especially if they decide to give it a massive re-edit. But it's just not right now.


Review - White House Down (2013)

Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Category: Action

For the past 10 years, writer/director Roland Emmerich has been referred to as the "King of the Disaster Flicks". * I'm not making this up. I know I've read that several times online. Cuz you know, everything on the internet is true. But I feel that's a fair call. I don't think any other director has tackled as many big budget CGI laden disaster flicks as he has and has made them look so effortless. Like them or not, you have to admit, the guy is good at making them. Yes they're CGI orgy-fests, but to his credit, he makes them cheap and they never go over-budget, but most importantly, they look good. He knows how to handle effects and how to get the most out of them with minimal cost. As a director, he's dipped his hand in all different genre's, action, sci-fi, monster movies, disaster flicks, period pieces, but my favorite Roland Emmerich films are his action/sci-fi films with Stargate, Universal Soldier and Independence Day being his most popular. Universal Soldier was my first introduction to him, and it was shortly after seeing that for the first time that I found out he was responsible for a great looking DTV sci-fi flick I really enjoyed a few years before called Moon 44 starring Michael Pare and Malcolm McDowell. Unfortunately, this little gem isn't available on DVD here in the U.S., but I hope it will be one day. Though not big on action, thematically and cinematically, it's visually brilliant.

But we're here for his latest straight-up action-fest, the James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man,The Rundown, Zodiac) scripted and Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx starring White House Down. Here's a few facts you should know before we get into this. This came out just a mere 3 months after the similarly themed Olympus Has Fallen and while Olympus was successful-though not hugely, White House Down, off of a $150 million dollar budget, was a massive theatrical flop financially speaking. Honestly, I'm not really sure why. It certainly delivers the goods as far as action films go, and I would have thought there were enough Channing Tatum fans out there to at least make this semi-successful. But alas, that was not the case. Even with my gripes, which I'll get to in a minute, it's an extremely well made action film made by a guy who knows how to make good action films.

Here's what I noticed with White House Down. Though big on spectacle with lots of action and explosions and some pretty badass set pieces, it all feels watered down a bit. It's violent in the sense that there are lots of guns being fired and lots of explosions, but not a lot of blood. It feels like they were doing their absolute hardest to make this a PG-13 affair so that they could fill as many seats as possible and strayed away from showing any graphic or unnecessary violence and gore. But you know what? That's the shit I love in action films. So while entertaining as hell moving to a fast pace, it was leaving me "Ooohhh"ing and "Aaaahhh"ing like I hoped it would. Let me put it this way. I watched it with my 10 year old son, and there was nothing in it that I had second thoughts about letting him see.

Emmerich is an extremely talented and efficient filmmaker. No question. But he doesn't always hit his mark. White House Down looks slick as hell. In fact, it's a rare example of an action director taking the time to make his film look good and not rely on some shaky-cam. That's what I've always loved about him. Whether they're great or just okay, he always makes them look good and this one is no exception. Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx do respectable work here, but it just constantly feels like they're playing it safe. You feel like they could have pushed it a little harder with some action and violence, which is surprising considering how much there is in here already.

Overall, I prefer Olympus Has Fallen to White House Down only because it's a much more brutal film. In this day and age of studio's trying to deliver "safe" films so they can fill the seats, brutal is a rare thing to come by and a type of film that we need more of. If you recall my little "Quick Shot" review of Olympus, I like to refer to it as the best Die Hard film that's not actually a Die Hard film. It's actually immensely better than the last 3 Die Hard films put together made all the more satisfying with Gerard Butler doing his best John McClane impression and nailing it. Maybe that's why Olympus was so much more successful than White House Down?


Review - Devil's Pass (2013)

Directed by: Renny Harlin
Category: Horror

Oh Renny Harlin. How I want you to succeed so bad. Since the 90's, I've been waiting and waiting for Harlin to find his comeback film. Because believe it or not, there was as time when he was a big time A List Hollywood director with films like Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and The Long Kiss Goodnight among others under his belt. And this was after he had dipped his hand in the horror genre with Prison and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. But his winning streak quickly deteriorated in the mid 90's and the guy has been struggling ever since. The last Renny Harlin flick I liked was Deep Blue Sea back in '99. But I know he's still got some juice left. Known for 2 distinct signature styles, he's adopted several others in the last 15 years with very little results. I've always hoped that he would go back to making films the way he used to in his heyday. I strongly feel 12 Rounds would have been a decent attempt as a badass no-holds-barred action flick, had he not ruined it filming the entire thing in hand-held and giving me a headache. I couldn't even finish it. It was a ridiculous mess.

Devils Pass had popped up on my radar recently through several horror sites that I follow and it was the fact that it was a horror film directed by Harlin that peaked my interest more than anything; he hasn't done one in almost 10 years. And this one sounded interesting, partly based on true events. I'd actually never heard of this incident before this film. After watching it, I felt compelled to do a little digging and was surprised that as much as I love unsolved mysteries and the unexplained, I'd never come across this story before. Unfortunately though, once I realized it was going to be "another" Found Footage film, my interest severely waned. But Netflix just added it to their streaming service so I thought "Why not?".

I'll be honest, as much as I despise "found footage" films, this one wasn't anywhere near as bad as 90% of them. Harlin actually does a good job of making this look good, and never goes the "shaky-cam" route. Thanks! Even as a "found footage" film, there are some impressive shots. The kind that remind me of the talent he has. A trait that I hope will continue on through his next projects. He's already got a big budget theatrical release in the can with Hercules 3D, which looks slick as hell. So I'm starting to finally get excited about this guy again.

Devils Pass centers around the true story of the "Dyatlov Pass Incident in 1959 where 9 experienced Russian skiers died under mysterious circumstances on a mountain during a hiking expedition. To this day, there has been many theories as to their cause of death, but no one definitive explanation that satisfies everyone. In this film, a group of American students go to investigate the place where it happened and see if they can finally uncover the mystery 54 years later.

As a horror film though, it's not really scary. It certainly plays out like one, but doesn't really offer up any genuine scares. There's some tension, and it's a nice build up to "something", but when it finally comes to "pay-off time", it sort of turns into a ridiculous scenario; one you would expect to see in a lot of DTV horror flicks. Which was a shame because the true story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident is fascinating in and of itself. But the fact that the story takes this massive detour into the absurd in the final act throws you off with some shoddy CGI work thrown in the mix to only drive that point home. That poster doesn't accurately represent the film either. I don't even know what that's supposed to mean. That girl certainly isn't in the film. And a naked girl in the snow doesn't refer to anything that actually happens here.

Not a bad film, but not a great one either. It's a strong start though to a comeback I hope. If his next film, Hercules 3D is any indication, then it looks like the old Renny Harlin is on his way back.


Review - The Wolverine (2013)

Directed by: James Mangold

So this was a total surprise, in that it ended up being really good and even exceeded my expectations. Not being a huge X-Men fan myself, though I did collect their comics in the 90's when Jim Lee revamped the series for Marvel and again when Joss Whedon and John Cassaday did the same around 2004  with Astonishing X-Men (a great comic). I also remember owning the original storyline way back in the 80's by Frank Miller of which this particular entry is based on. My memory of that particular comic is fuzzy at best, but I remember it being pretty badass and loving Miller's hard-edged approach to the material. So I was excited to hear that's what they would be basing this film on and that early on Darren Aronofsky would be at the helm. Of course the directing duties ended up in the hands of James Mangold (Cop Land, Identity, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight and Day), who's always been a hit or miss director for me. He's done some great things for sure, but he's also done some stuff I'm just not a big fan of and so with hearing he would be the one ultimately directing The Wolverine, I was nervous to say the least. And so when the trailers finally started coming out my feelings were only magnified as I just didn't seem too keen on getting my ass to the theater to see this. It didn't "wow" me like I hoped it would. So it's on Blu-ray now and I finally made myself sit down to check this sucker out. Did it bore me to tears like I assumed it would based on those trailers?

Absolutely not. In fact, The Wolverine is a straight-up, intense, super-charged tale of a lost soul struggling with his identity, loss, loyalty and his constant struggle to do what's right. Jackman, to his credit, nails the part with zero effort. The guy was born to play Wolverine. Even though there's been talk and questions of whether he's ready to hang up the claws (to date, he's already filmed X-Men: Days of Future Past and has signed on for another Wolverine film), and no matter how many other films he does, he is Wolverine. 'Nuff said.

So, one of the things that impressed me almost immediately was how stylish this film is. You certainly can't pick up on that by watching the trailers. Not sure why though, but in the context of a trailer certain scenes just didn't do anything for me, which didn't get me very excited to see it. But in the film, well all my worries about having Mangold behind the camera were put to bed almost immediately. This film is slick. In fact, I dare to say Mangold's most visually impressive film to date. Would Aronofsky have done any better? Oh it's hard to say these days. The guy seems to switch up styles as frequently as Mangold does, but I think I would have liked to see Aronofsky go with his real/gritty/Black Swan/The Wrestler style with this one. That could have been a pretty great unique superhero film indeed. But Mangold films with a slick restrained style here. It suits the material well, more so since the majority of the film takes place in Japan. I tip my hat to you Mr. Mangold. Stellar job.

The effects work in here is pretty outstanding. Even that ridiculous train sequence that they showed in the trailers that reeked of X-Men Origins: Wolverine quality, comes off so much better in the finished product and actually ends up being a highlight of the film. Silly, ridiculous fun, but damn if it wasn't badass and thrilling. Same goes for the epic robot samurai showdown at the end of the film. Great stuff. If there was anything to complain about, it would be that for a long stretch of the midsection it slows down significantly. But that's nitpicking, because despite this, it's never really boring. It's building up to a strong finish and it certainly delivers.

The Wolverine is a much better film than I was expecting. Did it need to be in 3D? Absolutely not. I didn't notice any scenes or sequences that could have benefited from that format at all. It didn't seem to be in Mangold's thought process as he filmed this; more like an afterthought on the studio's part. Regardless, a fun film and a vast improvement to the legacy of the character of Wolverine. This is definitely one worth checking out.