January 27, 2014

Movie Review: The Bride of Frankenstein

So, the other day I discovered that Netflix had a bunch of movies expiring in the near future, so I decided to take a day and marathon a bunch of them. This includes a few that I know I own on DVD. Interesting that even when I own something on my beloved physical media, I still check Netflix first. I am lazy. Anyway, I was also looking to wash out the bad taste left behind by I, Frankenstein, so I found a soon to expire movie that seemed like just the right one to do the job. It was none other than 1935's Bride of Frankenstein.

January 25, 2014

Sci Fi Invasion: The Brother from Another Planet

Oh, you sneaky box set, you. It is a set that has so much filler in it that you wonder if having fifty movies was worth the ten bucks I spent. Movie after movie of wasted time. Bad directing, effects, stories, acting, so much boredom created, and so many sleepless nights instantly cured. It is no wonder that I begin to think it is nothing but filler. Fortunately there is the occasional ray of light. I have finally stumbled across one of those special moments that makes all the junk worth wading through. Now, it could just be that it is good only in comparison to what immediately preceded, but I suspect not.

Critical Capsule: I, Frankenstein

I, Frankenstein has finally found its way to the big screen amidst stories of tampering, cutting, and altering (at least that is what I have come to believe). It probably would have been better had it not made that jump, perhaps it should have gone the direct to DVD route. Still, if that Hercules movie can hit theaters, I guess there really isn't any reason why this one shouldn't too. Unfortunately, there really is not much in the way of any redeeming factors here. I think there could have been a good story somewhere, but it is lost amidst a sea of CG fight scenes and a seeming desire to rush headlong through everything.

January 23, 2014

Movie Review: The Last Starfighter

The other night I was scouring my shelves for a comfort movie. Something fun, enjoyable, light, and not depressing. As I searched and searched, and searched some more I came across a Blu-ray that I had not yet watched of a movie I have not seen in a long time. It was also a movie that fit the bill. The movie was none other than 1984's The Last Starfighter. Here is a movie that once filled a kid with joy and a little fright. It was a movie that thrilled a budding movie lover. It was time to see if it held up after all these years.

January 22, 2014

Sci Fi Invasion: The Gypsy Moon

Sometimes I have to wonder what they were thinking with some of the choices for the Sci Fi Invasion box set. I mean, yes, I am expecting a lot of bad movies, but this is getting ridiculous. Of course, I realize they are padding out the movie total with whatever public domain titles they come across that could possibly be watchable. I am also beginning to see why I took such a long break from watching movies in this set. So many bad movies. So many movies that leave me with little to really say about them. This is a good example of a title that leaves me with few thoughts.

January 20, 2014

Sci Fi Invasion: Mission Stardust

Sometimes I have to wonder what they were thinking with some of the choices for the Sci Fi Invasion box set. I mean, yes, I am expecting a lot of bad movies, but this is getting ridiculous. Of course, I realize they are padding out the movie total with whatever public domain titles they come across that could possibly be watchable. I am also beginning to see why I took such a long break from watching movies in this set. So many bad movies. So many movies that leave me with little to really say about them.

January 19, 2014

Sci Fi Invasion: Hundra

Sometimes I have to wonder what they were thinking with some of the choices for the Sci Fi Invasion box set. I mean, yes, I am expecting a lot of bad movies, but some of them barely qualify as science fiction. Of course, I realize they are padding put the movie total with whatever public domain titles they come across that could possibly be considered as part of the genre. For example, the last film, Hundra, is not a science fiction movie, but a sword and sandal Conan the Barbarian rip off.

Music Review: Michale Graves - Illusions Live/Viretta Park

Every once in awhile I come across an album that keeps me enamored with it in such a way that I can listen to it over and over all day and not get bored. It doesn't happen often. It happened with Warren Zevon's Genius greatest hits collection and with Mike Patton's Mondo Cane, there was also the soundtrack album for Once. Now it has happened with Michale Graves' Illusions Live/Viretta Park. A live album, no less! That's a first. There is something about this album that is just completely entrancing. It sucks me in and refuses to let go.

January 18, 2014

Movie Review: Devil's Due

This afternoon I headed out to the theater to brave the latest found footage horror movie to arrive in theaters, Devil's Due. I have to admit, I did not have the highest of expectations, but there was still a little bit of hope, I did like Zach Gilford from his time on the television series Friday Night Lights (definitely recommend this series). As the movie ended and the credits rolled, I sat there for a couple of minutes contemplating what I had just seen. People around me were muttering and shaking their heads as they collected their belongings and scurried for the exits. The reaction to the ending amused me, much like the end of the recent Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

Critical Capsule: Ride Along

So, Ride Along arrived, pushed back from its original Fall release to a January slot. To me, that signifies a lack of confidence on the part of the studio. Based on the crowds and reaction I saw opening night, I think they needn't have been worried. Ride Along will do just fine and will likely do well enough to allow for a sequel. Still, that doesn't mean the movie is good, just that it plays well to the masses. Sure, I laughed a little, but it really isn't all that good. I found it likable enough, but underdeveloped and completely forgettable. It has barely been a day since I have seen it and the details are already slipping away.

Blu-ray Review:Carrie (2013)

I remember seeing the first teaser and being intrigued. It was a simple crane shot past the burning school and ending on the blood soaked Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz). It was something I was not sure was necessary considering how well regarded original film is, but I was still interested. Then the full trailer came out and while movie's quality still appeared to be good; however, it was one of those trailers that shows the whole movie condensed into a few minutes. Sure, we already know the story, but still it would have been nice to at least make it look like it had some surprises, right?

January 17, 2014

Critical Capsule: Timecrimes

So, last night I watched a little movie called Timecrimes (Los cronocrimenes). Wow. It is the sort of movie I think I will need to watch a few (if not more) more times to get close to figuring out what happened, but I felt the need to share with you that I saw it and implore you to check it out. I know I have some friends who balk at the idea of subtitles and to you I say “Get over it!” While I like having the option, the best way to experience a foreign film is in its own language. Well, back to the movie at hand. While I do not think Timecrimes is necessarily a great film, it is one that is exceeding spectacular in its construction.

January 16, 2014

Movie Review: Phantasm - OblIVion

Following the release of Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead in 1994, plans were made for a fourth film. A screenplay was penned by none other than Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction, Silent Hill) with an eye towards a release in 1999. Well, it took a little while to try and pull it together so Don Coscarelli made his own fourth film, OblIVion. The intention was to use this as a bridge to the Avary penned film. Unfortunately, it appears that the ship has sailed and this supposed bridge has more of an air of finality to it. This is not really a bad thing, as the movie really is not all that bad and definitely has a few things going for it.

January 15, 2014

Movie Review: Phantasm III - Lord of the Dead

Phantasm arrived in 1979 and proved to be a unique voice with a wicked bad guy at its core, a movie that stood out in the early days of the slasher cycle. It was not a slasher, but the bad guy easily stands with the most evil of that bunch. It took nine years for its sequel to arrive. Phantasm II gave the franchise a new, more straightforward focus, as well as cementing the series' reality, its bad guy, and the hero's desire to stop him, as well as bringing some more action and even some road movie elements. Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead arrived in 1994, fifteen years after the original, with another slice of eerie road movie horror.

January 14, 2014

Movie Review: Phantasm II

In 1979 the world was taken by storm when Don Coscarelli unleashed his unique vision of horror upon us. Phantasm introduced us to the evil of the Tall Man as well as the heroes, Mike, Reggie, and Jody. The film delivered a nightmarish world upon the screen where an evil creature, disguised as a mortician would take the dead and change them into dwarf slaves, which he would send through a gate to another dimension. It was a scary film that tackled themes of loss, death, and abandonment. It is a movie that has grown on me, gotten under my skin, and proven itself worthy of my love. Now, it only took nine years but a sequel was finally made, the aptly titled Phantasm II.

January 13, 2014

Movie Review: Phantasm

In the late 1970's the slasher film was getting ready to explode, riding on the shoulders of movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Black Christmas, and the genre defining Halloween. There was also the growing zombie world with Dawn of the Dead, the man versus nature of Jaws, and sci-fi monsters of Alien. Then there was Phantasm, released in 1979 and not really being like anything that had come before it. While it may not be a personal favorite, it is, indeed an original horror film made on a tight budget that has withstood the test of time, has grown on me, and is still straight up creepy.

January 12, 2014

Movie Review: Nebraska

There is definitely something special about Nebraska, the latest feature from Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election). The nearest I can call it is a slice of life dramedy. There are distinct dramatic and comedic elements to it, but it does not have any traditional plot elements. It is a movie that you watch and experience but cannot expect to have any big plot to follow or climactic closure. Basically, it is no Lone Survivor, which has a distinct plot to follow. Not that anyone would ever mistake Nebraska for Lone Survivor, but I think you see where I am coming from.

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

So, I went and saw Lone Survivor. That happened. It certainly was a finely crafted movie, filled with solid performances, some nice cinematography, a surprisingly well balanced treatment of characters, some thrilling shootouts, and to top it off It has a reality to back up its tale. Granted, it is twisted a little for cinematic purposes, but that's all right, it is expected when anything true is adapted to the big screen. It is also a movie that has not exactly inspired me to write some big review about it. Still, I felt a little desire to go over a couple of reactions to it, so this is likely going to be even more random and stream of consciousness than I usually am.

January 11, 2014

Movie Review: Her

Spike Jonze is an interesting film maker. He may not be the most prolific of creators, but when he does grace the screen with something, it is generally going to be worth seeing. He takes different angles into the material, so even if the tale is familiar or at least has familiar elements it is still going to be something you will want to spend time with. I am not saying you are going to like the movie, necessarily, but you will certainly have a reaction to it. Her is one of those movies. It is not the most original of ideas, but it is terribly engrossing. I can say it held my attention.

January 9, 2014

Movie Review: Mindwarp (1992)

Mindwarp was released way back in 1992 and was the first film released by the short lived Fangoria Films label. Yes, that name has been used a few times since, but this was back when the intention was to actively finance one film a year (it lasted through three films before folding). In the years since it has been used as a distribution company and as a marketing label. Anyway, this movie debuted on home video and does not seem to have gone much of anywhere. It is not a movie that comes up in everyday conversation, even among genre fans. I guess the question could be asked about whether you should care or not? The answer is a resounding maybe.

Webisode Review: Tales of Light and Dark - "Truth, Justice, and the American Way"

Tales of Light and Dark is a new web series created by writer/director Glen Baisley. The series is chugging along with the release of episode 3, the first of a three part arc. The series is growing by leaps and bounds, getting more and more ambitious as it has quickly moved from it's initial 10 minute length and moving onto stories that are 20 and 30-minutes in length. This is a good thing as they are quick watches and with multiple parts, you can have bigger stories. If you happen to run into Mr. Baisley out somewhere shooting or at an event like the Hudson Horror Show, be sure to say hi and have a chat about low-budget film making! Just make sure you have the time!

January 4, 2014

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones

Long gone are the days of slasher franchises like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street churning out near annual doses of populist horror. These days we have been relegated to the now defunct (maybe) torture franchise Saw and the Where's Waldo of the horror world, Paranormal Activity. Something doesn't seem to match up. But whatever, times change. Fortunately, I do enjoy the Paranormal Activity films. While they do not offer me much in the replay factor, I think they are perfectly enjoyable creepers, if you allow them to be. This latest outing is not exactly a direct sequel, but it does fit the franchise nicely. Enter Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

Movie Review: Revenge in the House of Usher

I am not sure I will ever understand or be able to explain the attraction of Jess Franco. I have only seen a handful of his films and they can be frustrating, obtuse, stylish, and atmospheric. His films can also be boring, dull, dry, silly, and amateurish. Stuff is there just to be there and sometimes it feels like he doesn't know what he is making and the plot is a by product of whatever scenes he happens to have shot. The latest creation of his to penetrate my eye sockets is Revenge in the House of Usher, a title that has been glaring at me whenever I pass it in my Netflix queue.

January 3, 2014

Outcast Mini: Grudge Match (2013)

Well, Grudge Match happened and I am glad it is over. The overlong comedy looks to pit Rocky against Raging Bull but ends up being a couple of old guys giving each other love taps. I can see how this movie would seem to be a good idea on paper, but in execution it just wasn't funny. Grudge Match is more sad and boring than anything else, a couple of stars looking to relive the success of the past. Funny, kind of like the two stars. It is nice to see Deniro doing so much work, but he hasn't done much of note lately, while Stallone's bad films get pushed while the underrated Bullet to the Head is ignored. Whatever, Grudge Match just isn't funny and I was glad when it was over.

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January 2, 2014

Movie Review: Black Rat

Sometimes when flipping through choices on Netflix a snazzy poster can go a long way. It reminds me of the days when I would by an album (well, CD) based on how cool the cover art was, one of my favorite discoveries was Sepultura (that Arise art was pretty awesome). Anyway, I came across a little movie sitting oh so very lonely in my queue, its poster seemed quite inviting with a schoolgirl wearing a big rat head and holding a bat with the title, Black Rat, scrawled next to her. Hey, it's only 75 minutes long, so if it was bad it would not be a large investment of time.

January 1, 2014

Critical Capsule: Terror Train (1980)

When Terror Train was released in 1980 the slasher cycle was still ramping up. Halloween had solidified the formula two years earlier and other filmmakers were looking for ways to mine the formula for all it was worth. Needless to say, while this movie seems rather formulaic, when it came out it wasn't. Still, that doesn't help it from feeling somewhat dated and very middle of the road. Now I know that a lot of people hold a lot of affection for this movie, but I am not one of them. It's not that I hate it, I just don't love it.

Critical Capsule: New Year's Evil

All the major holidays seem to have a themed horror film, even Thanksgiving has the recent turkey Thankskilling, so how about New Year's Day? It's horror movie of note dates all the way back to 1980 with a movie appropriately called New Year's Evil and this is the one time a year it is acceptable to watch this movie. It really is not a good one. I guess you could say it packs a little nostalgic charm, but it seems to go out of its way to be mediocre. It leaves very little behind, not bad enough to really rip on, not good or even cheesy enough to rally behind. It just seems to be, begging to be left alone and only dug up around the holiday. It is not like Halloween or Black Christmas that beg to be watched more often.

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

A new Martin Scorsese film is always something to anticipate. While I have not seen all and have not loved all, there is always going to be a level of attention and quality that you just don't find anywhere else. Add in the presence of Leonardo Dicaprio and you add another level to the production. So, when I learned of The Wolf of Wall Street, it jumped up my want to see list. The trailer looked pretty crazy and it depicted a movie that dives into the excess of late 80's greed mentality, taking Gordon Gecko's Wall Street to the next level, and all being based on a real person.

2013: The Top Ten Films!

Here it is, the list you have all been waiting for! (or not) My favorite films, seen in a theater, for 2013. It was tough to get some of the placing done, on a different day this could have had a few swaps with the 20-11 list. For my money, this is the cream of the crop of 2013 releases that I saw unfold on the big screen. You will notice it (and my top 20) as a whole missing some of the big titles that appear elsewhere and are likely to be major Oscar contenders. Good. While some are good films, they are far from perfect, not that the ones on my list are, but they spoke to me more.

Outcast Mini: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

So, the long in development remake of the Danny Kaye starring 1947 film and also adapted from the James Thurber story has finally hit theaters. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, proves to be an overlong bore. Sure some of the effects are well executed and the core idea of courage and self discovery is a good one, but it never feels real and does not grab a hold of my imagination. It doesn't help that the McGuffin of the missing negative is obvious right from the start. This is a movie that is pretty to look at but is ultimately empty.

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