Training Day Film Review

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Category: Action/Thriller

Wow. That was the first word that came out of my mouth when I finished this gritty crime drama masterpiece. I honestly can't tell you why I hadn't seen this film until now. Even knowing how badass Antoine Fuqua is as an action director and the fact that Washington won an Oscar for his performance here somehow never pushed me to actually watch it. Crazy, I know. You'd think this was right up my alley, and you'd be right. I'm just stupid because it took me 15 years to finally get around to this.

Written by David Ayer (Fury, Suicide Squad) and directed with gusto by Antoine Fuqua (The Equilizer, Olympus Has Fallen, Shooter), Training Day is a textbook example of how to correctly formulate dramatic tension, suspense, and action. In fact, it should be required viewing in film school. It's so fucking good, and incredibly bleak and intense, even when you "think" you know what direction it's heading.

For the most part, Training Day plays out pretty much as you expect. The trailer pretty much lays most of it out for you, and what the trailer doesn't provide, you figure out rather quickly, even down to the finale. But that doesn't mean there aren't any surprises along the way, because there are plenty. But that's for you to find out for yourself. To sum it up, it doesn't really re-invent the genre, but does such a damn good job at giving us a cop/thriller filled with an immense amount of tension, and made with an intensity you don't come to expect from these types of films anymore, this taut thriller is a benchmark in the cop/thriller genre and that's thanks to the combined forces of both Antoine Fuqua and David Ayer. Writer David Ayer came onto the gritty cop scene with a bang on this one, and so far, he's proven himself to be quite good and consistent in his writing, even though he's hit or miss with me as a director. I hated Sabotage, but I liked Fury, so you never know. But, every time I see a new Suicide Squad trailer, I get excited.

I've always been a fan of Fuqua as a director. The guy, even though most of his films are solid, just doesn't get the credit or respect he deserves. Sure, you could say he doesn't carry a definable "style" like say Tony Scott or Michael Bay, but the guy is consistent in terms of quality, and each film he directs is stylish, even if that style is hard to define in general terms. I guess what I'm trying to say is that they all look great; some more than others. You won't find a lazy or incompetent looking film in his entire filmography, and that right there says a lot when most seem to switch up their style so frequently you can never identify who's directing what anymore. Not like in the old days, before the shaky-cam/handheld revolution. Fuck that. Fuqua liked to keep it old school, and for that, I love him.

Training Day was a HUGE surprise. I mean, I knew it would be good, but I honestly didn't expect it to be this good.


Joe Dante's "Burying the Ex"; A Fun Spirited Homage to Classic Horror Perfectly Suited for a Date Night

Directed by: Joe Dante
Category: Horror/Comedy

This film has been sitting in my Netflix list for what seems like ages now. Not because the cover was awesome or anything, because it's not. In fact, it's pretty damn tacky if you ask me. But because I knew this was a new Joe Dante film, I figured I'd eventually get to it someday, and that day was a lazy Sunday afternoon last week. As it turns out, this was just what we were needing after the intense experience of watching Training Day for the very first time.

Max (Anton Yelchin) is a horror buff working retail and living with his vegan green-friendly girlfriend Evelyn (Ashley Greene). One day he meets Olivia (Alexandra Daddario), a like-minded horror enthusiast who seems to be the most perfect woman Max could ever want. As Max tries to work up the courage to break up with his girlfriend (who he has nothing in common with), to pursue Olivia, a freak accident kills Evelyn. As time goes by and Max feels comfortable enough to start pursuing Olivia, Evelyn returns from the dead, intent on maintaining their relationship at any cost, much to Max's dismay.

While Joe Dante's latest doesn't bring anything new to the table, or is even really all that great for that matter, what it is is fun and entertaining when you're looking for something "light" and "fluffy" to fill your time. I have to admit, I really enjoyed this, but at the same time, I couldn't imagine watching this alone and enjoying it as much. This really seems to work better while watching with a date or significant other. That's the kind of movie this is, and in that regard, it was cute, funny, and just the right kind of light-hearted fare we needed after an intense 2 hour experience watching a hard-edged cop thriller. While it doesn't really offer anything that would make it easily identifiable as a Joe Dante film, his love of classic horror is seen and felt throughout. The effects work is good, the production is decent enough, and Dante directs with Made-for-TV vibe that the film just can't ever shake. If anything, that would really be this films only big downside, that it looks like any Joe "Somebody" could have directed it, and not the once great Joe Dante. But, what really elevates the film above average is the standout performances by everyone involved, namely the ever reliable Anton Yelchin (Odd Thomas, Star Trek), and the impossibly cute and criminally hot Alexandra Daddario. While the entire film is filled with great performances all around and spot-on casting to boot, it's Yelchin and Daddario's performances as the love-struck Max and Olivia that really shine. The chemistry between these two is undeniable, and you really, really want things to work out between this perfectly-matched pair. Too bad the whole zombie ex-girlfriend thing is really mucking things up.

The film is mindless, silly fluff, yet it's so endearing and charming at the same time. You stay invested, and though it can never really shake it's PG-13 vibe, it's fun, and if anything, something to watch with your significant other that's cute and has some clever horror elements that act as both a homage and a parody to classic monster movies.


Ken Russell's "Lair of the White Worm"; A Strange Surreal Trip Worth Taking

Image courtesy of Horrorpedia.com and Banned In Queensland blog
Directed by: Ken Russell
Category: Horror

Nothing about this film's VHS cover ever struck me as something worth checking out. Indeed, while I was a kid, and moving on into adulthood, I would see this cover on the shelf of my local VHS rental store, and even though I'd come across numerous articles in Fangoria, Gorezone and others, at the time it was released, none of it won me over. So I never gave it a shot, and honestly, never gave it a second thought......until recently. All it usually takes is someone to say something positive about something to get me interested, and up until recently, that never happened. But someone had posted an image in a facebook group with the caption "Right when this turns batshit crazy". That's all it took. I was sold. I immediately rented it at my local Blockbuster (yes, it still exists in my small ass town), and knowing it was a Ken Russell (The Devils, The Witches) film got us even more pumped.

Via Alik Widge's IMDB Synopsis:
Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion, far earlier than expected. At a party in the village, Angus meets Lord James D'Ampton, who has just inherited his family's land right next to Temple House. Angus learns of the D'Ampton Worm, a huge dragon-snake that an earlier D'Ampton killed by cutting it in half. (There's a pretty catchy rock-folk song that tells the D'Ampton Worm legend.) As people begin disappearing and acting strangely over the next few days, the skull is stolen from Angus's room, and the watch of a missing person is found in a cavern that was the legendary home of the D'Ampton worm. Angus and James discover that there was an ancient cult that worshiped the worm as a god, and they theorize that the creature somehow survived its destruction, but it was trapped inside the cavern.

I can honestly say that our experience watching Lair of the White Worm was completely unlike
Atrocious U.S. DVD Cover
anything we were expecting. What I assumed would be a Gothic horror period piece, instead turned out to be a film set in the mid 80's (you'd swear it was much earlier though), and so fucking weird. When I say weird, I mean that in the best possible way. It's because of these weird moments that the film ultimately gets it's cult status that it so richly deserves. I have to admit, from the first moment I audibly yelled "WTF?!", I was hooked. And it only got better and better and more bizarre from there.

The opening credits boast that it's based on a story by Bram Stoker, but I can only assume it's very loosely based, because.....this film is nuts. For starters, there are a few trippy sequences that literally come out of nowhere, filled with such bizarre imagery that it will more than likely blow your mind. The cast, for the most part, is solid. A young Hugh Grant was a surprise, and I never really found Amanda Donohoe to be all that attractive or interesting. At least, not in roles like this where her character is supposed to be a seductress. But that's just me.

And then there's the story itself. Personally speaking, I couldn't tell you what the film is about, as it's just all over the fucking place. The synopsis above gives you a good idea, but really, it's a head-scratcher most of the time. It doesn't really matter though, because it never once gets dull or tired, something which I found rather surprising. But it's really the films ability to be so weird, yet highly charming and amusing that keeps you invested throughout. I'm not really sure what I'd classify this under, as it doesn't really fall under any one single genre, but be that as it may, it's one seriously fucked up good time.



Directed by: Ryan Wise
Category: Documentary

Up until a year ago, I had never heard of Jon Mikl Thor. It wasn't until I was browsing the record section of a music shop in Austin, TX when I came upon his album "Unchained", and noticed that magnificently cheesy and amazing cover. For some reason I assumed they were a band from Sweden or something, but then, randomly, I stumbled upon his cult classic film Rock n' Roll Nightmare, and I realized that this guy Thor was not only the real deal, but also from Canada. Since then, I've had my eye on the guy and when it was announced that a full length documentary was being made about him, I honestly couldn't wait.

Flash forward almost a full year when I learn, to my shock, that the doc had already been released with very little buzz. I had no idea it was already out, and once I did, immediately set out to getting my hands on a copy, or rather, streaming it from Amazon with a few of my movie buddies.

Via the I Am Thor official website:
Jon Mikl Thor always wanted to be a superhero. At school he would wear a Superman outfit
underneath his clothes and at recess have kids throw bricks at his head. Shortly after the wounds healed he got into bodybuilding and went on to win numerous titles including Mr. Canada and Mr. USA all before his 21st birthday. Jon combined his love of music, strength, and superheroes and created one of the first theatrical rock bands, Thor (based off the Norse legend). Voted one of the best front men of all time, Jon bends steel bars in his teeth, blows up hot water bottles with his lungs until they explode, and has bricks smashed on his chest. The band enjoyed modest success in the 80’s, mostly in Europe, but never quite made it big. After suffering a severe nervous breakdown in 1987 Jon retired from show business and moved to North Carolina with his wife to become a normal mortal human being. Ten years after retirement he attempts a comeback to finally achieve the success that had eluded him throughout his career. The film follows Thor on his comeback for over a decade as he searches for success in the rock and roll business. With Jon’s reluctance to hire a manager, he tries to manage himself, which leads to another nervous breakdown that nearly kills him.

I have to say, I Am Thor is without a doubt, one of the most entertaining documentaries I have ever seen. Even if you're not a fan of his music necessarily, if you're just a fan of hard rock or heavy metal in general, you're sure to appreciate this fascinating look into the life of a living legend, a man who is arguably one of the hardest working entertainers in the business, who busts his ass for only a fraction of the success and fame of more well known groups like KISS. I mention KISS because they're often mentioned in the doc, where Thor is often compared to in terms of theatrics. The lengths this guy goes to to put on a show is just incredible. He doesn't just come out and sing. No sir. He puts on a production, complete with all the bells and whistles. Truth be told, I'm shocked I'd never heard of him until recently, and I'm flabbergasted in the fact that he's just not a household name. During the documentary, when they show footage of him performing at small scale venues all around the world, even today, where he's got to be in his 50's or 60's, you hear the same thing from nearly every single person interviewed afterwards, and that is that "this has got to be the most METAL show I've ever seen".  After watching this insanely entertaining and heartwarming documentary, I think you'll agree.


New Blog for Bad Movie Night Lovers

If you read this blog, then you know I have a HUGE love for Bad Movies. Not just any bad movie, because we all know there are plenty of those. No, I'm talking about "entertaining" Bad Movies. The kind that for all intent and purposes, was supposed to be a straight shooter, made with passion and gusto, but ultimately falling more into the "WTF?" category because of sheer incompetence. And it's these films that end up being the most hilarious, because you know they were really striving for greatness, but failing miserably. These are generally the most entertaining ones, because they're not funny on purpose. It's purely accidental.

Being a huge fan of this particular little sub-genre of films, I decided to start hosting a monthly Bad Movie Night over a year ago at my place and it's been so successful, that it's pretty much the one thing I look forward to the most. Other than spending time with my awesome wife of course. If you've ever hosted one of these films for a group of people, whether it be strangers or your friends, then you know these are always hit or miss. As I said before, there are plenty of terrible films to choose from, but not many of them are so bad that they end up being entertaining. But they're out there! You just have to know where to look and what to look for, which is where my problem comes in. I really had nowhere to look. Other than a random suggestion from a person or two, I had no real database or source to fall on that would suggest the right kind of Bad Movies for me to show for a crowd of hungry Bad Movie enthusiasts. If you do any kind of google search for bad movies, you're sure to find a few blogs and whatnot that do offer suggestions and reviews on bad films, but what I found in the majority of them was that yes, they are indeed bad films....and nothing more. Boring, dull, lazy, and completely uninteresting trash that would bore my group to death. Case in point, the 90's low-budget sci-fi/horror feature Soultaker. Having never seen it myself or previewed it beforehand (something I always do), I threw this on based on a friends suggestion because it was indeed a bad film, but what ultimately happened was that it ended up being boring as fuck, and the consensus was that this was one of the worst (worst meaning just terrible) experiences we had up to that point watching these films. Needless to say it was a learning experience for me. Never again will I throw a movie on without doing some die-hard research or just plain previewing myself to gauge whether it's an entertaining bad film, or just a bad film.

I am always on the hunt for these, and having no real reliable source, I've spent countless hours and a lot of money trying to find these hidden gems. I figured there's got to be more people out there like me, more Bad Movie Night fans who want to watch a terrible film with a bunch of friends, and laugh their asses off at the sheer insanity and ineptness of these wonderful slices of entertainment. So that's what my new blog, www.BadMovieNightHQ.blogspot.com is all about. This will be where I post "ONLY" Bad Movie Night suggestions, reviews and news. Hopefully, in time, when someone types in "Bad Movie Night Reviews", this blog will be one of the top posts that pops up, and because of my research and dedication, you will have an honest to goodness Bad Movie to show your friends that will guarantee a great time.

I'm currently in the process of sprucing up the website, but for now, it'll just be simple until I'm motivated enough to make some changes. So please, stay tuned! And add BadMovieNightHQ to your blog list and please share!