December 31, 2013

2013: The Best of, the Back 10 of the Top 10 (aka 20-11)

Welcome to the back ten of the top ten, more simply put this is the countdown from 20 to 11. This is the beginning of a list that contains titles that you are unlikely to find anywhere else. It is not that I know any better, it is just I have different tastes. I actually hope that there are movies here that you have not seen and that you may be enticed to seek them out. The only real rules are that I had to have seen it in a theater. I do not see everything, I do not get paid for this, and this is my opinion based on what I have seen in 2013.

December 30, 2013

Movie Review: 47 Ronin (2013)

The much delayed Japanese epic 47 Ronin has finally arrived in theaters and it has displeased the critics. Now, this does not automatically mean it is a bad movie, but it certainly doesn't help. Well, I went and saw it for myself and found myself not so much conflicted as merely entertained. There are things to like about this movie, but it also feels somewhat incomplete, unexplained, and decidedly not meant for everyone. Still, it is a mediocre experience that never quite pulls itself together.

2013: Worst 10 Movies

So, as I type this, the year is nearly over and while there are still a couple films to see before the first rolls around I sincerely doubt there will be any contenders for the worst of the year list. As for the list itself, I think I did a pretty good job of avoiding known quantities like Scary Movie V, A Haunted House, and Grown Ups 2. Even still, I managed to see my fair share of terrible movies, including a few that could have made this list like The Family, Riddick, and Identity Thief. After that, there were still 10 movies worthy of appearing here. Let me also say the rules I set say that I have to have seen the movie in the theater and it had to be a release for that year. Many of these titles are interchangeable with regards to where they fall, save for number one... You'll see it soon enough. Without further adieu...

December 29, 2013

Movie Review: Revenge of the Ninja

There are times when I regret not getting into movies at a younger age. It's no ones fault, my parents were not big movie buffs and I would not have known where to begin. At the same time, there is no telling if my tastes would have developed properly at that young of an age. The good thing is that I did eventually discover the glory of the movies and my tastes are developing, coming into their own, and allowing me to discover and thoroughly enjoy movies such as Revenge of the Ninja, which show I need to expand further and see more Sho Kosugi movies.

December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from everyone here at Critical Outcast! We hope you are all enjoying the day with family and loved ones! Below is a selection of Christmassy clips to help you get and stay in the mood!

December 24, 2013

Movie Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker

I find it hard to believe that a movie that had so much protest against it that it got pulled from theaters would go on to spawn not just one but four sequels. Not only that but its final sequel stars Mickey Rooney, who famously wrote a letter criticizing the original, calling the filmmakers “scum” who should be “run out of town.” It is just a humorous turn of events. Now, it is likely that he did not know this was a Silent Night, Deadly Night sequel, it likely had a different working title, considering its tenuous connection to the rest of the series.

December 22, 2013

Critical Capsule: American Hustle

So, David O. Russell's latest has arrived in theaters around the country, a little Christmas gift for his fans all over the country. There is no doubt the guy has been on a bit of a roll, his last two films have each won Oscars (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook), was it too much to ask for the luck to continue? Probably not, but then again... His new movie is called American Hustle and it features an all star cast and arrives with plenty of hype to get the public excited for it. So how did it do? Well, sadly, my reaction was rather meh.

Movie Review: Dhoom 3

I am hardly one to be a critic of Bollywood cinema, but I do enjoy some of the films and often feel compelled to share some thoughts. I enjoy movies from all over the world, although it seems that in some cases an understanding of the culture is needed to be able to “get” the movies. I find that to be the case with Bollywood films. I do not know a lot about Indian culture, but I do know that the approach to cinema is vastly different than that of Hollywood or many other countries. Still, I do not let that stop me from watching and enjoying the films. The latest one to cross my eyes is Dhoom: 3.

Movie Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night 4 - Initiation

With three Silent Night, Deadly Night movies in the can, the series made the shift to video and they started churning them out, one a year for three years. The first was 1990's Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation. This slice of DTV badness was directed by Brian Yuzna, settling into the director's chair after producing such classics as Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Dolls. Now, this is not a good movie, features some rather sloppy storytelling and acting that is pretty poor. On the plus side, it does feature Clint Howard and a small role for Reggie Bannister.

December 21, 2013

Critical Capsule: Anchorman 2 - The Legend Continues

I think there has to be a time limit on when sequels can be made. Times change, people change, and it can be near impossible to recapture the magic that is trapped in the past. Case in point, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. The original 2004 film was a blast of manic, non sequitur comedy, this sequel feels like warmed over leftovers, even more so than the Wake Up, Ron Burgundy DVD movie that was made of all the clipped bits from the movie proper. This is not to say I didn't laugh, I did, but the movie probably could have been better and shorter, if it was really needed in the first place.

December 19, 2013

Movie Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night III - Better Watch Out (1989)

Way back in 1984 a little movie arrived in theaters that caused such an uproar that it got itself yanked out of theaters. It was condemned by Siskel and Ebert, denounced by Leonard Maltin, and picketed at theaters by concerned parents. Despite all odds, it has survived and garnered itself not only a cult following, but a handful of sequels (including one that features Mickey Rooney!). The movie in question is Silent Night, Deadly Night, a movie about a little boy scared by his grandfather and warped by holiday happenstance into a killer out to punish the naughty. I am not here to discuss the original, although it is an absolute blast, but Part III, subtitled Better Watch Out. And I haven't even seen part 2!

December 17, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Ninja II - Shadow of a Tear

A few years ago I reviewed a copy of Undisputed III. Now, I had never seen the first two, although I did know that the first one starred Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames. The sequel brought in a new director (Isaac Florentine) and stars (Michael Jai White and Scott Adkins). The third one (the only one I have seen) retained the second's director and one of its stars (Adkins). What I saw in that movie blew me away, Scott Adkins is a beast and Florentine knows how to make low budget action! Knowing this, I eagerly checked out Ninja (2010), another teaming of the two. While it did not excite me as much, it cemented their place as people to watch in my mind. Now we have Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear.

December 15, 2013

Movie Review: Jingle All the Way (1996)

It is that wonderful time of year, Christmas is nearly upon us. You know, the rushing around, the gift buying for people you see once a year, the snubs, the fights, the difficulty in finding the right thing. It is enough to make someone..... well, want to curl into the fetal position until spring. Anyway, I always feel the need to squeeze in a couple of holiday themed films. There are the annual ones like A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and Elf, but I also try to take in a few others and it isn't close enough to the big day for Black Christmas (original, of course). So, I have decided to revisit Jingle All the Way.

December 14, 2013

Movie Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

I don't really want to spend that much time on it, but I feel I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to reflect on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. As you may recall, I was not exactly a fan of An Unexpected Journey. While this middle chapter is definitely a step up from the first, it is not enough to win me over. In a way, that is a bit of a shame as it seems likely this will not do as well box office-wise, as it seems I wasn't the only one unenthusiastic over the first. While this did not win me over, it probably deserves a little better fate than that. On the other hand, perhaps this is a sign not to try and make further Middle Earth tales. One can hope.

Music Video: ILSA - "120 Days"

Never heard if Ilsa before and while this is not my preferred style, there is something certainly alluring about it. The video for the song “120 Days” is a mixture of old and new, the song originates from the bands origins in the late 1980's and is now getting reissued. From the press release: Aurally merging filthy, downtuned hardcore with mid-paced deathcrust, and visually meshing their deep-rooted fascination with the occult, violence and all forms of debauchery with brutal recent live footage in the new video, "120 Days" is far from a new song. The virulent hymn is culled from the band's sophomore LP, Tutti il Colori del Buio, which was followed by multiple other recordings since. The video was created not in homage to the album but in support of its impending reissue in early 2014 including ILSA's contribution to the long lost split with Hooded Menace as a bonus track.

Music: Indian - "Rhetoric of No"

Ready for a little punishment? Indian have set up shop at Relapse Records and are preparing to release their second album on the label, From All Purity. To help whet your appetite, they have released a tune from the release, “Rhetoric of No.” It is a pretty crushing slab of kicking, screaming delight. Snipped from the press release: Hoping to lurch you into a full-blown, noise-strewn, holiday sound orgy, today Chicago blackened doom deviants, INDIAN, offer up a taste of their soon-to-be detonated From All Purity full-length.Recorded at Electrical Audio and Soma Studios in Chicago with engineer/co-producer Sanford Parker (Minsk, Nachtmystium, Yob, Samothrace), From All Purity places the band's notorious audio belligerence in an entirely new dimension with six ear-spearing tracks of harsh, psychologically acerbic hymns of hatred, disease and despair. From All Purity is the true antithesis of easy listening.

Music Video: Saxon - "Frozen Rainbow" (acoustic)

Saxon is still out there doing what they do best. Recently they released an album of rearranged live acoustic takes on some of their classics. The little I've heard sounds pretty darn good. All these years later and they still sound awesome. If you don't believe me:

Movie Trailer: Bad Words - Red Band

Well, doesn't this look like a slice of inappropriate fun? Jason Bateman takes to the director's chair and directs himself in this comedy about a grown man in kids spelling bees and a new friend that he makes. I'd be lying if the trailer didn't make me laugh. This red-band trailer for Bad Words is NSFW:

Movie Trailer: Knights of Badassdom

You know, I had completely forgotten about this movie. I remember seeing the trailer a long time ago and being pretty excited for it. It is a story of LARPers who get sucked into the real thing. It is hard not to like a movie that features Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage, and Summer Glau. Happy to see it is finally going to see the light of day and sad it is not getting a big theatrical release.

Music Video: Red Fang - "Blood Like Cream"

I do not know much about Red Fang, but their music rocks. On top of that, they clearly have a sense of humor. Not a terrible combination. They have released a video for their new single, “Blood Like Cream.” It is a fun take on a zombie apocalypse and features Portlandia's Fred Armisen. Check it out:

Blu-ray Review: Man of Tai Chi

In the years in between Keanu Reeves last big screen appearance in The Day the Earth Stood Still, he has taken the time to try his hand behind the camera. The result is a Hong Kong/American co-production called Man of Tai Chi. It is a traditional martial arts tale set in a modern world and shows that Reeves was paying attention when he was on all those movie sets. It is a competently directed and very entertaining martial arts yarn. Reeves also shows respect for the martial arts by allowing the fights to be seen and not just chopped into music video style bites. It also helps that he reunites with his Matrix choreographer, the legendary Yuen Woo Ping.

Movie Review: Bad Ass (2012)

There is an interesting subset of the “based on a true story” movies. Rather than a person, or time period, or some other broad event, there are a few that take a small incident and build around that. This would include movies like Compliance and Stuck, both interesting films that you should look into. The latest entry to this subset of movies is called Bad Ass. These are movies that take headlines and events and build a movie around them. They do not purport to be entirely true, instead they use the real elements as a launching point for their story.

December 13, 2013

Movie Review: Crystal Lake Memories - The Complete History of Friday the 13th (2013)

A few years ago the team of Daniel Farrands, Thommy Hutson, and Andrew Kasch made a Friday the 13th-centric documentary called His Name was Jason. It was an entertaining film, but it was not terribly in depth. It seems to have been made for the casual fan. It does feature Tom Savini acting as host, and he is always entertaining on camera. It was not exactly what they wanted, to my understanding there was some conflict with the studio over the content, as Paramount wanted to use it to push the impending release of the remake. Fortunately, this was not their only chance at documenting the storied history of the Friday the 13th franchise.

December 12, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

What began as merely a means to keep a company going, beyond all expectations Friday the 13th became a thing of legend. Who would have guessed this low budget rip off movie (targeting Halloween's success, and the less admitted to death stylings of Bay of Blood) would become such an unmitigated success. It has spawned 9 sequels, plus a crossover with another horror icon, before arriving here. You knew it was going to happen sooner or later, with Hollywood's ever expanding penchant for remakes and “product” with a built in fan base, it was inevitable. The big question was whether or not it was going to be any good.

December 11, 2013

Movie Review: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

So, with 2002's entertaining bomb of Jason X, one had to wonder when we would next see the hockey masked momma's boy and if it would a worthy addition to the franchise. Since Paramount ended their run with Jason Takes Manhattan we had to wait years between Jason appearances. One would think the character was dead. The same thing could be said for Freddy Krueger, who hadn't been seen on the big screen since 1994's Wes Craven's New Nightmare. While both characters had their fan bases and dreams of a showdown, it did not seem likely to happen. Then 2003 rolled around and Freddy vs. Jason was unleashed on the world. It was like a dream come true, although it was not all that I had hoped it would be.

December 10, 2013

Trailer Park: Godzilla (2014)

I am no Godzilla expert, but I do know that I live the big guy and have been entertained by hid films ever since I was a little kid. I even remember seeing Godzilla 1985 in theaters. I remember watching them on Saturday afternoon matinee television shows. I even got to see the original, remastered, in its proper Japanese form in a theater from a 35mm print, it was spectacular. Then there was the Hollywood debacle, that thing, I'll admit, had a few moments, but was NOT a Godzilla movie. I was glad when I got to see Godzilla 2000 in theaters. It helped erase the bad taste. Now we have a new attempt at a Hollywood Godzilla. Let me say, it is pretty high up on my list for next year. Read on..

Movie Review: Jason X (2002)

After the 1993 failure of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the Friday the 13th got kind of put back on the back burner. The movie did not do all that well and was not exactly well received by the fan base. It is right up (down?) there with Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. It seems that if you stray too far from the established path you will be rejected. Well, that is neither here nor there. In the years following Jason's journey south, attentions were turned to creating a Freddy vs. Jason movie, following a failed attempt in 1988. Sadly, creative wheels continued to spin with many stabs at a script and numerous director interviews. So, while that was going on, New Line was approached about doing another Jason film. Jason X was born.

December 9, 2013

Movie Review: The Five Deadly Venoms

I am far from an authority on old school kung fu movies (well, add in new school kung fu and movies in general), but I know when I see something I like. So, I felt like watching some martial arts and I wanted to be something a little to the old/classic side. This led me to my Blu-ray copy of The Five Deadly Venoms. Now, if you like martial arts, your face probably lit up at that title. If you didn't, you just don't know and you owe it to yourself to get yourself a copy, maybe some beer and pizza, and make a might of it. It is one of those movies that is just truly worth spending a couple of hours with.

Movie Review: Jason Goes to Hell - The Final Friday (1993)

1989 saw Jason leave Crystal Lake for the first time (well, second if you count the opening moments of Friday the 13th Part 2). The machete wielding killer got reanimated (again), hopped a boat and had a killer cruise to Manhattan, where he ultimately met an end at the hands of a daily flush of NYC toxic waste. The film did not do all that well at the box office and Paramount ultimately sold the rights to New Line Cinema. It sat there for a few years until the character was resurrected in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It was not well received and its box office take backed that up, it started off a distant second to The Fugitive and fell from there. It ultimately took in a bit more than Jason Takes Manhattan, but that does not mean much.

December 8, 2013

Movie Review: Out of the Furnace

I saw the trailer for Out of the Furnace a few times in theaters. Each time I saw it, I marveled at the quality cast that had been assembled. Also, each time I saw it, I had forgotten I had already seen it before. It is a movie that, while looking somewhat interesting, did not leave much of an impact on my mind. It is a movie that did not strike that my mind as a must see. There was, of course, a certain level of curiosity, so I was sure to head off and see it.

Movie Review: Friday the 13th Part VIII - Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

As the tradition has gone, they did not waste any time getting another Friday in front of the cameras. For the eighth time in ten years, a Friday the 13th film graced theaters across the country. This time around, rather than take it back to the cabins, rather than go back to the lake, the decision was made, for the first time in the series history, to take Jason away from the woods, out of Crystal Lake, and put him somewhere with recognizable landmarks, never mind how it happens, that is the stuff of movie magic. Jason was sent on a mission, a mission into the big city. That's right, 1989 saw the arrival of the eighth film in the series, Jason Takes Manhattan.

December 7, 2013

Movie Review: Oldboy (2013)

Way back n 2003 a film was released in South Korea that left a mark worldwide. Not everyone liked the movie, but there were (and are) a good number who consider it a classic. The movie was called Oldboy and it was directed by Park Chan-Wook. It was the middle chapter of his vengeance trilogy, book-ended by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance, a trio of films connected not by character, but by theme. All three were excellent films. So, as is the custom of modern Hollywood, a remake of Oldboy (the most famous of the three) was announced. This announcement, as is customary of fandom, was received with a resounding grumble of angrily clicking keyboards. It did not improve when Spike Lee was announced as the director.

Music Video: Behemoth - "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel"

Behemoth is a pretty awesome band, there really is no denying it (well maybe, but whatever). They are getting ready to release their new album, The Satanist, this coming February. To help whet your appetite, they have released a video for the album's first single: “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.” It is a solid tune and and the video is definitely the things of which weird, nightmarish dreams are made of. On a side note, it seems that Behemoth mastermind, Nergal, is doing well with this treatment for leukemia (diagnosed in 2010). A word of warning, this video is NSFW.

Movie Review: Friday the 13th Part VII - The New Blood (1988)

In 1986, Paramount brought to us the conclusion of the Tommy Jarvis arc, which began in 1984 with The Final Chapter (funny, “Final”). That movie was made not just to close the sequence, but as a reaction to the displeasure with which A New Beginning had been received. The studio heard and responded with a return of the real Jason Voorhees, thus kicking off the next era of one of our favorite mass killers. Jason Lives introduced us to the zombie Jason! A relentless, reanimated killer corpse. What's not to love? Anyway, after taking 1987 off, the franchise returned with a new actor behind the mask and a set of victims for the machete wielding slasher in Friday the 13th: The New Blood.

December 6, 2013

Movie Review: Jason Lives - Friday the 13th Part VI (1986)

Despite the number one opening weekend, A New Beginning failed to get anywhere near the box office success of its two immediate predecessors. The poor reaction to the different direction the series took led the studio to rethink its plans for the franchise. Rather let the cash cow fade away (the modest budgets and solid rental market seemed to always ensure decent profit), Paramount went back to the drawing board and a little over a year later delivered Jason Lives to the theaters. Apparently the fan base had already started to slip over th apparent bad taste left by A New Beginning. This was the first of the series not to open at number 1 (it was second behind the third weekend of Aliens).

December 5, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th - A New Beginning (1985)

The idea that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was going to be the last appearance of Jason Voorhees, or even the last Friday the 13th movie did not last very long. Less than a year after the release of The Final Chapter, theaters across the country were playing host to the next entry in the series, which would go on to win the opening weekend Box Office. Dubbed A New Beginning, this fifth entry would mark the beginning of the decline in box office receipts. It peaked with the success of Part 3 and The Final Chapter. Fortunately, the slipping box office did not preclude them from making a few more films after this (low budgets helped make them remain profitable).

December 4, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter (1984)

I guess its true that all good things must come to an end. Following the success of Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3D!) it seemed only natural that a fourth film would be put into production. After all, they did make sure the ending did not leave our killer definitively dead, there was a little wiggle room to come back again. They took 1983 off and did not release the fourth film until April of 1984. This one was billed The Final Chapter, and it was truly believed this would be the final turn for Jason and the Friday franchise, but we know better.

December 3, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982)

In 1980 a small movie called Friday the 13th hit theaters and proved to be a huge hit, scaring audiences across the nation. While there were slashers before it that set the stage, this was the one that exploited the violently horrific nature of horror and captured everyone's imagination. One year later, the terror returned, expanding on the franchise and introducing us to Mrs. Voorhees baby boy. This, too, proved to be a hit and a juggernaut was created. A third film was fast tracked and arrived in theaters in August of 1982, where it promptly became a box office hit. It also was the first, and so far only, Friday film to be shot in 3D.

December 2, 2013

Webisode Review: Tales of Light and Dark - Open Call

Tales of Light and Dark is a new web series created by writer/director Glen Baisley. The series is about to premiere part one of episode two. Yes, they have already jumped into multi-part episodes. Don't worry, they are quick watches, coming in at about 10-minutes apiece. Last month I happened to run into Mr. Baisley at the Hudson Horror Show in Poughkeepsie, NY, and he asked if I was interested in getting a sneak peak at the two-parter. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

Movie Review: Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

In 1980, Paramount Pictures bought the distribution rights to a little horror movie called Friday the 13th. It was shot on the cheap but benefited from creative minds like director Sean S. Cunningham, writer Victor Miller, composer Harry Manfredini, and special effects wizard Tom Savini. Paramount's marketing campaign paired with strong word of mouth, and the fact it was actually a good horror, saw it do very well at the box office. It did so well, in fact, that a sequel got put on the fast track. No mind was paid to the fact nearly everybody, killer included, was dead at the conclusion of the movie.

December 1, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th (1980)

By the time Friday the 13th saw the light of day in 1980, the groundwork for the slasher film had already been established. Whether you go back to proto-slashers like Hitchcock's Psycho, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, or Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (some of whose kills were, uh, borrowed for the early Friday films), or if you stick to more traditional horror outings like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, and Halloween (which may be the purest form of slasher), Friday the 13th is hardly an original or groundbreaking entry in the about to explode sub-genre. It is curious that this one, of all films, became the franchise-spawning, MPAA lightning rod, and virtual poster child for the slasher genre.