May 31, 2014

Movie Review: Vengeance of the Zombies

Jacinto Molina Alvarez. There is a name that trashy horror films needs to be familiar with. Rather, it may be a bit more appropriate to know him by his theatrical name, Paul Naschy. He has appeared in over 100 films, written over 40, and directed 15. Granted, I have only seen but a handful of them and have a long way to go, but there is something about seeing this guy on screen that just feels right. The man exudes confidence, even in the face of ridiculous material. Case in point, Vengeance of the Zombies is a ridiculous excursion into the world of Naschy.

Movie Review: Contamination (1980)

An abandoned ship floats into New York harbor. A few intrepid souls board the ship and begin to search it, looking for clues to what happened. Then they find it. Reading that, it sounds an awful lot like 1979's Zombi 2, but it is actually the start of Contamination from 1980. Instead of Lucio Fulci it is Luigi Cozzi (or Lewis Coates as he is often credited). It has also been known as Alien Contamination (in a cut version) and Toxic Spawn when it was on VHS way back in the day (also cut). The movie begins as an Alien rip off, but manages to have a life of its own, holding your attention through to the ending credits.

May 30, 2014

Critical Capsule: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Well, I saw A Million Ways to Die in the West. I am pretty sure I did not laugh at all. I suspect I will be in the minority, but the movie just did not work for me. It felt like a Family Guy cutaway that keeps going and going for nearly two hours. It is like observational stand-up, only difference is the guy is actually in the setting and pointing things out. The humor is similar to that one guy who thinks he is hilarious for pointing things out and if you don't laugh, he repeats it until you do.

Movie Review: Chef

Chef is a movie we have all seen before in one form or another. It is not original in the least, but for some reason it still works. It is the story of an inattentive father, ex-husband, and chef who has lost his way. After a particularly ill conceived blow up, he finds himself unemployed, with no prospects, and a son whom he barely knows. The film chronicles the build up to the blow up and the subsequent attempt he makes to reconstruct his life, his career, and ultimately rediscover himself and those who care about him.

Movie Review: Maleficent

Coming on the heels of Alice in Wonderland (the Burton one), Oz: The Great and Powerful, and Snow White and the Huntsman (never bothered with Mirror, Mirror), I found it difficult to muster all that much enthusiasm for Maleficent. Now, I am sure there are ways to have made those other movies, you know, good, and I am sure there is a way to tell a fascinating story about Maleficent. The problem is that none of this has actually been done. Maleficent is just the latest debacle in this revisionist fairy tale cycle. While there may not have been that many movies, yet, let's hope that it either comes to an end or someone with a solid idea steps up and gets the job done.

May 29, 2014

Movie Review: Neon Maniacs

The 1980's saw all manner of up and coming and wannabe film makers throw their hat into the horror ring. The results ranged from awesome to the completely unwatchable. Then there is that group of films that are completely inept and make absolutely no sense, yet remain insanely watchable. One of those movies is Neon Maniacs, a movie made way back n 1985 that I was just introduced to on the big screen in a rare 35mm projection. I have to say, for as silly and ridiculous as the movie is, it is hypnotizing in its watchability. Seriously, the movie makes no attempt to explain itself, and as quickly as it begins, it ends.

May 26, 2014

Movie Review: The Ghost Galleon

The Ghost Galleon, also known as Horror of the Zombies, was released way back in 1974 and was the third film in the blind dead series, following 1972's Tombs of the Blind Dead and Return of the Evil Dead in 1973. They all seem to be connected by style but not by narrative, more or less exercises on a theme. All of the films were written and directed by Amando de Ossorio and were successful to wildly varying degrees. In this case, we are given some nice atmosphere and great looking dead, but everything else is half baked.

Movie Review: Leprechaun

Way back in 1993, writer/director Mark Jones introduced us to his version of the Leprechaun myth. The rules may state that if you catch one, he must take you to his pot of good, but there is nothing that says he cannot hang around and do whatever it takes to get his gold back. That is what the tale here is all about. It opens up in the past, a fellow has caught he wee guy, taken his gold and imprisoned him in a box using a four leaf clover. I don't recall that bit before, but it makes sense, I guess. Doesn't matter, that is what it means in this movie.

May 25, 2014

Movie Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past

It is rare, at least in my experience, to see a franchise really begin to catch its stride this far in to its run. It is especially rare when you consider that said franchise did not start out all that bad, in my estimation. In fact, I thought they did a really good job with the first couple of films. 2000's X-Men and 2003's X2 were both pretty strong adaptations. Definitely not exactly like the books, but they did a good job of keeping true to the source while adjusting to the movie format. Then there was a steep stumble with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

May 24, 2014

Movie Review: Blended

Despite my initial reservations, I broke down and saw Blended. I went in hoping the tandem of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore would be able to recapture what they had in 50 First Dates. Well, the answer is, they can't. Simply put, while there is a certain sweetness underneath the surface, it is just an utter mess of a movie with a central conceit that just doesn't make any sense. I guess I really shouldn't be surprised, but I have to admit to always having some level of hope that I will walk away satisfied. This one did not leave me with any sort of satisfaction.

May 23, 2014

Music Review: Jeffrey Nothing - The New Psychodalia

I have no idea when it was that I first started listening to Mushroomhead. The best I can figure is that it had to have been around the release of their major label debut, XX, back in 2001. Whenever it was, it did not take me long to become a big fan of their sound, which struck me as a cross esteem Slipknot and Faith No More, an intriguing alternative take on nu-metal. Since those early days, I have seen them live a few times, and always loved their stage show. That brings us to now, the band has just released their fifth album and I am just not feeling it.

May 21, 2014

Music Review: Michale Graves - Supernatural

I cannot say exactly when it was that my love affair with Michale Graves began, but I can say that it is not showing any signs of slowing down or ending anywhere in the foreseeable future. This guy has become amazingly prolific over the past few years, and while each album seems to contain a mixture of new tunes and rearranged versions of prior cuts, he remains so damn intriguing. He has a voice that is just full of raw emotion. There is something about it that just captures my mind and just holds on for dear life.

Music Review: Bloody Hammers - Spiritual Relics

Slowly, ever so slowly, movies have overtaken all as my entertainment of choice. I am not complaining about that. However, I am discovering hat I am missing music. My music listening has become more and more a passive experience and sometimes I feel like too much is passing me by. To that end, I want to try and write a little more about music. Just a little, I don't want to hurt your eyes too much. That brings me to a recent discovery, Bloody Hammers and their sophomore album, Spiritual Relics. It is not exactly mind blowing, but it is attention holding.

May 20, 2014

Movie Review: Necropolis (1987)

Love him or hate him, Charles Band has carved out a fascinating little niche in low budget filmmaking. You could probably look at him as a lower rent Roger Corman, maybe. While most people today are probably mostly familiar with his killer puppet output, be it Puppet Master, Demonic Toys, or even The Gingerdead Man, his history goes back way before that and his founding of Full Moon Pictures. He was also the head of companies like Empire Pictures and Wizard Video, where he was at the forefront of he burgeoning home video market through the late 70's and 80's. He helped guide such shlock as Necropolis to video stores all over.

May 19, 2014

Movie Review: Death Carries a Cane

After a weekend filled with Godzilla films, it was nice to switch gears and take a trip back to the 1970's. The movie of the moment is a 1973 Italian giallo called Tormentor. Well, the copy I watched had that title, when I went looking for more information I found nothing. So, I looked up the director, Maurizio Pradeaux, and started going through his thankfully short filmography. There, everything was in Italian, it took a few clicks, but I found it! The movie was originally titled Passi di danza su una lama di rasoio and seems to be more commonly known in English as Death Carries a Cane. I must say, I like that title.

May 18, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

I guess it is about time to add my voice to the echo chamber. I am sure you have likely read your fill regarding this new Godzilla film, but I still feel there is a requirement for me to jump in the fray. As you may have already guessed, I loved the film. It is not perfect, but it does so much right and kept me involved the whole time that it is possible to overlook many of the flaws it may have. If you want to nitpick it, go right ahead, I'm not going to stop you, it just isn't the way I work. It seems that today an opinion is not valid if it doesn't complain about something. Whatever. It is all right to enjoy a movie that is this entertaining.

May 12, 2014

Movie Review: Death Wish 3

In 1974 director Michael Winner and author Brian Garfield introduced us to the gritty world of architect Paul Kersey in Death Wish. His wife is raped and murdered and because the police are unable to do anything, he takes it upon himself to take to the streets for some old fashioned vengeance. It is a great example of the revenge film that holds up to this day. In 1982, Kersey took to the left coast where his daughter is raped and murdered forcing Kersey to the streets once again to have his is revenge. Then 1985 happened and a movie that is so gloriously over the top was unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

May 11, 2014

Critical Capsule: Neighbors

Neighbors opened this weekend and is likely to make a killing at the box office, unfortunately, it will not be because it is a good movie. Any money that it makes will be a testament to the marketing group at Universal Pictures. I will admit, the campaign had me hooked. Yes, I like Rogen and Byrne, Efron, well, I have no opinion of him, and Dave Franco can be funny. Well, the trailer offered some chuckles, but the movie does not. It is not really a movie worth your time unless you see as much as I do or have been likewise duped by the advertising campaign.

Movie Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

So, the other night I ventured out to a local arthouse theater for the first time in ages. It is not that I don't like the theater, but most of the films I have wanted to see there have come to other more convenient theaters. Now, while I was there I realized something else, I don't fit in there. The audience was filled with hipsters and what I call arthouse condescenders. I am much more at home with grimy horror and exploitation aficionados, but that is neither here nor there. What is important, above whoever shows up to a screening is the movie itself. In this case we have Only Lovers Left Alive.

May 6, 2014

Movie Review: Godzilla Raids Again (1959)

Following the success of Gojira, Toho immediately put the production of a sequel into motion. Six months later, Godzilla Raids Again arrived on the big screen proving that Hollywood isn't the only place where sequels get rushed to theaters. The first misstep was when they did not wait for Ishiro Honda's schedule to free up for it, instead they turned to Motoyoshi Oda to take the reigns. The end result is sort of entertaining, but falls short of the horror of the original and only hints at the camp that would come through the 1960s.

Movie Review: Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956)

It has been a long time since I have watched the original Godzilla. It is, after all, the granddaddy of all giant monster movies. There have been countless other monsters, but none of them have come close to unseating the King of the Monsters. Sure, some of them have put up a good fight, but in the end it is Godzilla who stands triumphant. He dos have an impressive track record and a fan base the encircles the globe. Now, for a movie monster with such a grand history, he certainly had an odd beginning that spanned two movies and three years.

May 4, 2014

The Quiet Ones and a Bygone Era of Exploitation

So, the other day I was watching The Quiet Ones and was being quite underwhelmed that my mind began to wander a little bit, partially because of the movie and partially because of the trailer for Eli Roth's The Green Inferno that preceded the feature. Now, it was not a terrible film, but it is one that seemed a little confused about what it wanted to be. I will say that I liked the period setting and Jared Harris was excellent as the doctor conducting the experiment.

Blu-ray Review: Devil's Due

Devil's Due is one the latest found footage horror films to hit theaters (now, home video). Now, I must admit to enjoying it, somewhat. I am not one to write off found footage tales, although I do think they are getting a tad long in the tooth and we could probably do with seeing them a little less often. Still, as shown here, the gimmicky style can still be effectively used and is a valid format that seems perfectly suited to the horror genre, which is why I think it seems to be overused. Could this work in a comedy or a drama? Probably not. It worked for superhero stories with Chronicle, but still it seems the only place where repeated effective use is going to be in horror.

Outcast Mini: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I do not feel all that inspired to review The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I will say that I enjoyed the film. It is probably the first to really get Spidey's banter. I liked the various plots and how they were fitting together. I liked the Green Goblin. However, the movie was not edited all that well, it felt rather choppy as it jumped to the various threads. Still, I walked out entertained and happy for what I saw. I think Andrew Garfield is a good Parker/Spidey and I like how his parents fit into everything. This entry may not be the best, but it certainly entertains. 3/5

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Movie Review: Brick Mansions

It was maybe a month ago, maybe two, that I was sitting in a theater getting ready to watch some mover or other when I first saw the trailer for Brick Mansions. The first thing I noticed was Paul Walker, this is the last film he completed before his untimely death. The second thing that I noticed was just how familiar the whole thing seemed... Walled off ghetto, a ruthless crime boss, a pairing of cop and criminal, and a bomb. Oh yes, there was the whole parkour thing as well. Then the credit block came up at the end and everything clicked.