Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Last Trailer Sunday on Earth

House of Long Shadows

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Army of Darkness

Collateral Damage

The Secret of Nimh

Blood Monkey


as promised:

Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent

Saturday, May 30, 2009

An Instant Forget-er!

Continuing from last night, one of the other things filing hundreds of dvds in a night can do is remind you of movies you forgot ever having seen. For example, the other night I filed The Sentinel (the one with Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas) and Stay with Ewan MacGregor, both of which I'd completely forgotten about.

They weren't bad movies, as I recall, but they obviously didn't leave much of a lasting impact on the Cap'n. It got me thinking of other movies that I know I saw but for the life of me can't keep in the "watched" category in the brainorium. A little digging around (mostly on Netflix) brought some other movies that most of you probably heard of and may have even seen but left no long term impression*.

The Day After Tomorrow - I know I saw it because I can remember small pieces, but I'll be damned if I could tell you what happens after everything freezes...

The Forgotten - how appropriate is that for this list? All I really remember is not liking it and that (I think) the aliens did kidnap Julianne Moore's... uh... daughter? son? Somebody help me out here.

Duck! The Carbine High Massacre - Wow. Did not remember this at all until I saw the title. It's a really bad shot-on-camcorder movie from the guys who would later make Misty Mundae softcore movies. I think it was supposed to be a comedy but I don't recall it being that funny. Or that good.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith - I can remember liking it at the time it came out on dvd and that it ended really quickly. Every now and then I see it at work and say "oh yeah... I watched that"

November - This movie has an almost identical premise to the aforementioned Stay: character is living their life and something weird happens which sets off a collapse of reality. In the end you find out the lead is dying and the whole movie was flashes of memory or some crap. The difference is that MacGregor was in one and Courtney Cox is in the other. Come to think of it, The Machinist has another variation on this idea but I like that movie a whole lot more.

The Baxter - Cranpire is going to hate me for this, but Michael Showalter's The Baxter just never sticks with me. There's nothing really wrong with the movie (which is about the guy in romantic comedies that always gets left when the girl meets her "true love", or as I like to call it, the "Bill Pullman" character) and I like Showalter and Michelle Williams just fine. It's just... well I don't know. I'm almost always going to choose Wet Hot American Summer over The Baxter.

Godzilla: Final Wars - It's not really a Godzilla movie. That's all I can really remember.

Four Brothers - Nothing wrong with the cast that I can see, but I'd fail any test made for this film.

The Final Cut - a thoroughly underwhelming movie starring Robin Williams set in the future. Yet I gave it 3 stars on Netflix, which means there was something I enjoyed. Hurm.

Find Me Guilty - Anybody remember this movie? The one where Vin Diesel plays a low-level mob guy who has to testify for his friends, but he's kind of dumb? It's based on a true story and was directed by the man who made Network? Yeah, me neither.

16 Blocks - Yep.

Edison Force - I'm not convinced I really watched this movie. Something is telling me that I did but I just don't believe it. It has something to do with Justin Timberlake and Morgan Freeman as reporters and LL Cool J being a crooked cop or something. And Kevin Spacey is in it.

Lonesome Jim - I try very hard to remember Lonesome Jim and Interview when I get excited about Steve Buscemi directing another movie. It usually doesn't work until after I watch with disappointment. This guy made Trees Lounge, for crying out loud! What happened?

Stardust - If you put Matthew Vaughn (the director of Layer Cake) together with a book by Neil Gaiman, I would expect something better than this. As Corpse Bride is to The Nightmare Before Christmas, so is Stardust to The Princess Bride. Both try very hard to capture what their predecessors do effortlessly, and in both instances it's painful. Well, with Corpse Bride anyway. I totally forgot about Stardust.

If I hadn't seen Righteous Kill (and believe me, I won't be forgetting that one), I'd be tempted to say that Stardust was the worst thing I'd seen Robert DeNiro in. There were a number of other "oh? what' that? ohhhhh" moments during my trip down memory lane, but I think you get the idea. It's quite likely you have similar "did I watch that?" moments.

* I'm leaving out stuff like The In Crowd, Loser, The Replacements, and other things watched during high school and early college. I think I covered all of that pretty well in an earlier post.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Cap'n: Trash Savant hard at work...

One of the joys of filing dvds at work is that you come across titles you've never heard of. Most of them are deservedly "lost in the shuffle" but every now and then you find one that makes you chuckle for the next hour or so. Like Ablaze.

Ladies and Germs, this may be the best/worst blurb in dvd history:

In case you can't read that, let's get closer...

Indeed, Earl Dittman, it is a firestorm of fiery action and scorching suspense! It's a wonder I'd never heard of this movie before last night. If only I could bother to bring it home and watch... nah.


I wish I could say that Carnivorous was a movie I found at work, but the Cap'n has to thank Netflix for making me aware of a movie that pits a "supernatural" snake against DMX. At least, that's what I'm pretending it does. Somehow I'm guessing DMX is in this movie about as much as Steven Seagal is in Against the Dark, but a Cap'n can dream can't he?

If you're wondering why I didn't link to Carnivorous, it's because I couldn't find it on IMDB. At least, until I found it's real title: Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent. Now tell me which one you'd rather see, Carnivorous or Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent. (hint: it's the second one)

Don't worry, I have a sneaking suspicion it'll show up just in time for Trailer Sunday...


Speaking of Steven Seagal, it was only natural that I pair up my "why is that on..." Blu Ray of Out for Justice with Above the Law, another find at work. I believe someone asked aloud where my sudden interest in Steven Seagal came from, and I will tell you again that once you read Seagalogy, all will become clear. I can't say I'm as knowledgeable or as deeply interested in Seagal as Vern is but I've come to appreciate the man I once knew only from Exit Wounds.

Don't even look at me like that. Exit Wounds is a great movie. And (wait for it...) it costars DMX, of Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent fame. And Michael Jai White, who I'm just going to assume you all know from Spawn and the deleted scene from Kill Bill volume 2 where he has an Australian accent.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Minor Life Lessons with Cap'n Howdy

The, uh, vote is in. Major Tom* successfully campaigned for La Haine and won because, well, nobody else bothered voting. This tells the Cap'n two things:

1. I'll be watching La Haine sometime soon.

2. That whole "vote for what the Cap'n watches next" will not be back next week.

That's cool. It's better to know early when an experiment isn't working and course correct than take forever only to suffer months of crushing futility**, so I'll scale back the "reader interaction" for now. Nevertheless, look for a write up of La Haine next week, hopefully better than the Star Trek one from Monday.


Onto other business: Mr. Cranpire, I checked up and Ghost House Underground is, in fact, part of the craptacular Ghost House productions Sam Raimi is responsible for. This does not help his case, I'm afraid.

Also, every time I think about After Dark Bore-or Fest, I grow slightly frustrated. The After Dark Horrorfest started the same Halloween I launched Horror Fest here, and while I selfishly think my fest is better, more people know about 8 Films to Yawn For.

For that reason (and many others), I won't show any of their films; not even Frontier(s) which never technically played at an After Dark. They also put out The Butterfly Effect 3, Crazy Eights, Dark Ride, Penny Dreadful, Wicked Little Things, and (theatrically anyway) Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror. If you count Frontier(s), they're still doing better than Ghost House and Ghost House Underground.


I haven't finished watching anything in the past few days. Honestly, I spend most of my day doing homework and most of the evening at work. When I get home I do more homework (never take summer classes, gang), and write the blogorium. I did manage to watch pieces of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Star Trek: The Boring Picture all on fancy schmancy discs. They all looked pretty nice, even if the T2 disc is so overcomplicated that it won't actually start the movie when you press "Play _____ Version"***.

Actually, the T2 disc is kind of creepy. It pretends to be linking your "disc" with Skynet, including an on-screen readout of where you live, what kind of internet connection you have, the provider, and a map showing where you're watching the Blu Ray from. Any time you ask it to do things, "Skynet" spends a little time downloading crap to help it "function" better. Sure, most of its just Java-related stuff for the picture-in-picture modes, but dammit that's creepy. Because, you know, I WANT Skynet (and we all know it really exists) to know I'm watching a movie about how it fails to kill John Connor. That's going to earn me brownie points during the inevitable robot invasion.

To be fair, I'd rather be wasted in the Robot Holocaust called Judgment Day than to wake up in The Matrix after it happens. You guys did know that's what happens, right? John Connor fails and the Terminators hook humans up to The Matrix to grow their Skynet Empire. Surely you've heard this already.


Oh, Star Trek? Well, Wrath of Khan looks very good and The Boring Picture is, as ever, pretty boring. Unless you have a huge boner for long, uninterrupted model shots of Klingon ships and the Enterprise or V'Ger (SPOILER: it's the Voyager 6 space probe. What a twist!). For some reason, HD makes the Klingon makeup look really bad, like something from the BBC Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'm glad they improved it in time for Christopher Lloyd (SPOILER: He's a Klingon in The Search for Spock! Baron Von Trapp and Evil from Time Bandits are also Klingons but in a later movie. So was Shakespeare. What a twist!).


Finally, while I could always be very wrong when it comes to Werner Herzog (the trailer for Rescue Dawn looked like the most generic "inspirational prisoner of war" movie, after all), the trailer of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans - and that's actually the title - looked baaaaaaad. Like, Wicker Man crossed with Bangkok Dangerous BAD. I was going to share it with you, but the user who posted it on Youtube wisely removed the clip.

If it helps give you some idea what you missed, here are some things Nicolas Cage uttered in the trailer:

"You don't have a lucky crack pipe?"

"What are these fucking iguanas doing on my coffee table?"

"Shoot him again. His soul is still dancing."

I can't remember whether it's supposed to be a remake or a sequel to Abel Ferrara (The Driller Killer)'s Bad Lieutenant, but I'm suddenly regretting that mandate that (like Harvey Keitel), Nicolas Cage unleash the schlong for his version.

Oh, who am I kidding? The only thing I think when I see this trailer is "well, they made a Basic Instinct 2 and look how well that worked out."

*EDIT* Just kidding. Look what I found

Trailers speak louder than blogs, and this trailer sounds like it's saying "Crap Sandwich."


Class dismissed.

* Major Tom is, I believe, left his vote the same day during his comment about locating Terrorvision.
** Yes, I'm sorta kinda talking about the Blogorium in general...
*** You have the choice of the theatrical cut (which I prefer), the Director's Cut that James Cameron prefers, or the super-mega-everything back in cut with all of the deleted stuff including the T-1000 killing John Connor's dog and "glitching" after freezing and re-constituting.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lug Me to Heck.

I really wish I could get excited about Drag Me to Hell. Secretly, I'd love for Sam Raimi to return to form with a crazy horror movie, but it's been a 22 years, people. Yes, I'm going back to Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, gang. Army of Darkness is many fine things but a horror movie is not one of them
*. But it's not just that; I'm going to have to cite precedent here.

Spider-Man 3 was bad, yes, but my lack of enthusiasm for Drag Me to Hell comes with its association to Ghost House, Raimi's horror production company. Sadly, the movies Ghost House makes (and which Raimi is a producer for every single one) are horror movies. They're just bad horror movies. Let's take a look, shall we?

The Grudge. Boogeyman. The Messengers. Rise. Boogeyman 2. The Grudge 2. The Messengers 2. 13: The Fear is Real (that horrible Saw-esque reality show you've probably never heard of)

The best thing horror-related with Sam Raimi's "producer" credit on it I could find was 30 Days of Night, which was not produced by Ghost House but I suppose was watchable.

Right now Ghost House has a worse track record than Platinum Dunes (the Friday the 13thTh13teen Ghosts), if only because each of them released on vaguely watchable movie (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and House on Haunted Hill, respectively.) The only one I actually paid for was The Grudge and it was awful. Pardon me for not bothering with The Grudge 2 or, well, any of those other sequels you see there. Boogeyman and The Messengers, like The Grudge, were filled with cheap "jump" scares and tame PG13 gore. The tweens love it, but you can count me out.

Watching the ads for Drag Me to Hell, I see the same kinds of cheap "jump scares": the "fly up the nose" dream sequence sure looks like vintage Ghost House. PG13 rating? Check. Crappy looking CGI? Check. (*SPOILER ALERT*) Trailer that gives away the ending of the movie? Check. (MORE SPOILERS TO COME)

Oh, let's digress about that quickly. As someone who accidentally had the ending spoiled and who doesn't really care whether you want to be surprised by how a movie called Drag Me to Hell might end, those shots of Justin Long looking down and Alison Lohman being, well, dragged to hell? Yeah, the ending of the movie. Here, see for yourself. Unless this is part of some elaborate "fake out," the tv ads don't even bother keeping the ending a surprise.

Thanks, Ghost House and Sony marketing department! Now I really don't need to see it.

So forgive me if I'm not gnawing at the bit to see Drag Me to Hell; I've been burned by the combination of "Sam Raimi" and "horror" for the last five years or so and there's been nothing to convince me otherwise yet. I even have trepidation about an Evil Dead 4 to the point that I hope Bruce Campbell is telling the truth when he says it's never going to happen.

I'm not giving up on Sam Raimi, so to speak, but forgive me if getting exicted about another PG13 Ghost House production is too much to ask for.
remake) and Dark Castle (

* I keep Army of Darkness with the Evil Dead movies for continuity's sake, but it's more like a Ray Harryhausen-esque fantasy film than a horror movie and you all know it. Name anything in that movie that's scary, I dare you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Four Reasons Day of the Dead gets a bum rap.

Between watching movies for "review" purposes* and working on essays, I tend to throw movies on before bed, parsing their running time out over a few days. The last such movie was George Romero's Day of the Dead, which has the reputation of being the "lesser" entry into his living dead series. Rather than give a full-on review, I thought I'd dust off "Four Reasons" and give you my take on why that reputation is undeserved, even if Day of the Dead may not live up to the lofty expectations from Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

1. Tom Savini at the top of his game + Greg Nicotero = Best Zombie Effects Yet: Tom Savini gets a lot of credit for his effects work in Dawn of the Dead but I've always found the "blue" zombies to be a bit distracting. They're also unintentionally silly, which lends itself well to the "comedy" parts of Dawn of the Dead but leave the menace of a world overrun by the living dead greatly diminished.

Thankfully, Day of the Dead (mostly) drops the blue-skinned dead in favor of more appliance work. Operating on the notion that these zombies have had some time to decay, Savini and Nicotero (later of KNB Effects) swing for the fences and craft some really elaborate and unique makeup jobs. One of the first zombies you see doesn't have a mouth at all, and they get crazier from there. Guts spill out, limbs are hacked off, and brains are exposed for research before the film ends. Oh, and then there's the death of Captain Rhodes, a kill echoed in Shaun of the Dead with Dylan Moran. The effects team bring their A-Game to Day of the Dead and for my money the movie has the best zombie makeup "gags" of the series.

2. Bub - Whether you love Land of the Dead or hate it, the central plot point (sentient zombies) doesn't exist without Bub. For the first time in any of the Romero series, the living dead have a face. Howard Sherman manages to keep Bub, the zombie that learns and "remembers" from feeling like a bad story direction without ever making him too human. Bub is still a zombie; he still eats flesh and is a threat to everyone in the facility (especially Rhodes). And yet, there's a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation that the living dead are more than a mass of oncoming death.

Land of the Dead addresses this more directly (and some, including the Cap'n, would say more ham-handedly) by pushing the evolution of the dead in isolation further. The precedent Bub set in Day of the Dead allows Romero to pursue this idea, even if he bungles it a bit in the twenty year gap.

3. Desperation - This is where I disagree most with critics of Day of the Dead; many say that the film is nothing but people arguing for 90 minutes and then a zombie invasion to clean up, but I take another position. If you follow the progression from Night to Dawn to Day of confusion / survival / desperation (and take it further to "adaptation" in Land of the Dead), then Day is the necessary "dark" chapter in the series. It lacks almost all of Dawn of the Dead's cautious optimism and even the last second escape for Sarah, Johnny, and McDermott is more "now what" than Dawn's triumphant chopper ending.

Day of the Dead represents a pocket of humanity that sees an increasingly hopeless situation that they can't see a way out of. For the scientists, research is slow and equipment is diminishing. For the soldiers stationed to protect the scientists, they see men dying for what appears to be no reason. There's no outside world to contact and no Fiddler's Green to escape to, so they're stuck with each other, frustrated and underground. So yeah, I can understand tension bubbling over into Rhodes' profanity-laced tirades. His men are there to babysit people who seem to be doing nothing.

Day of the Dead might get a little too dark and the fights a bit too repititious (there is, after all, only so many things Romero can show us in the underground facility) but I find that the film returns us to the looming threat of a mass of undead largely missing in Dawn of the Dead. The film is a more extreme take on Night of the Living Dead's basement scenario and I think that it sobers the "fun" of Dawn of the Dead in a way people weren't expecting.

4. It's the last really good Romero "dead" film - Say what you will about Land of the Dead but I'd hardly put it up there with the "original trilogy." (The less said about Diary of the Dead, the better.) Day of the Dead takes great pains to expand the collapse of society that Night of the Living Dead sets up and Dawn of the Dead spreads, and even if the scope of the film was drastically cut, I think that Romero conveys the fall of man better here than in his subsequent films. If Land of the Dead was more about the world outside of Fiddler's Green, I might be more kind to the movie. That opening sequence was about as interesting as Land ever got, and it had more to do with what Day sets up than anything to do with the crew of Dead Reckoning.

I'm not saying that Day of the Dead is at the top of my "dead" list; in fact, it still ranks behind Night of the Living Dead and possibly Dawn of the Dead. That doesn't mean, however, that I consider the film to be Romero's red-headed stepchild of the zombie series. The film is nowhere near as bad as people like to say it is, and the effects are easily better than anything in Dawn, Land, or Diary of the Dead. The acting is a little rough, the movie is a bit repetitive, but I dig the dream sequences and thematically I find it to be quite consistent with what came before (and after). Day of the Dead gets a bum rap, but not one the Cap'n thinks it deserves.

* I want to apologize, by the way, for that Star Trek review. I'm really not happy with it, so there's no reason I should subject you to sloppy pieces.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Blogorium Review: Star Trek

As promised: you voted for it, I watched it. Here's the Cap'n's review of the reboot of Star Trek.

JJ Abrams’
Star Trek shouldn’t work. It’s a minor miracle that it does, because the film relies so much on the goodwill of the audience to overlook things that shouldn’t make sense. He earns the goodwill by giving you a tightly paced movie that’s a lot of fun, has some great acting chemistry, and somehow manages to still be a Star Trek movie without feeling hokey or stilted. I know I shouldn’t have liked the movie this much, but this the most fun I’ve had since “Trials and Tribble-ations.”

It wasn’t until well after finishing the movie that it occurred to me just how much Star Trek never addresses about its plot. I knew that reading Countdown would be helpful but I had no idea just HOW helpful it would be considering that it answers a number of questions the movie never even tries to answer:

- Why does a Romulan mining ship need to be as gigantic or imposing as the Narada? (answer: it was originally much smaller but fitted with Romulan appropriated Borg technology, which is why it looks the way it does inside and out)

- Why is Nero so angry at Spock? (answer: Spock approached Nero to help him mine the Red Matter in order to prevent the sun from going supernova and then inadvertently prevented Nero from saving his wife and, in a broader sense, Romulus)

- Why is the first thing Nero does attack a Federation starship after coming out of the “singularity”? (answer: before being sucked into the singularity, Nero had attacked the Enterprise and other Federation ships for helping Spock)

- How the hell does Nero know who James Kirk is? (answer: he had access to the Enterprise’s database while Spock dilly-dally-ed around with the Vulcan High Council)

There are a handful of other things that Countdown does, particularly in fleshing out the character of Nero, who doesn’t register much in the movie but is actually something of a tragic figure. He’s just a miner who was recruited to do something simple to help save his planet and he ends up losing everything because of galactic red tape. Star Trek doesn’t really give you much time to understand why he’s so angry or what’s behind all of this revenge, so I can totally understand why people think Nero’s a “weak” villain.

Nevertheless, this whole business of plot holes and lacking motivations didn’t register while I was watching Star Trek, so I have to wonder: why not? I came up with the following reasons:

The cast is uniformly great, even when I wasn’t expecting them to be. I suppose I owe the biggest apology to Chris Pine, who just rubbed me the wrong way in the trailers and in photographs. It wasn’t that he didn’t seem like Kirk, I just got this “d-bag” impression from him, and not in the way I would associate with Shatner. It turns out I was very mistaken. From the first scene he appears in (the bar), Pine owns the character of James T. Kirk in a way I was totally not suspecting. Yes he’s cocky, he speaks his mind a little too much but Pine plays Kirk in such a way that you believe he can back it up that gravitas, even against four Red Shirts.

The rest of the cast is no small potatoes, either: I give big ups to Simon Pegg who manages to make Scotty feel new without changing the character too radically. Anton Yelchin’s Chekov feels more like the Walter Koenig of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ("nuclear wessels!") but there’s a “boy genius” element that finally gives him more depth. John Cho doesn’t have a lot to do with Sulu but he still finds a way to register, and none of the characters feel like they’re forced to do something to involve the Enterprise crew.

I want to draw special attention to Karl Urban, who evokes DeForrest Kelley in such a way that I simply accepted him as McCoy without question. I love the explanation for his nickname, by the way. Urban also gets major points for effortlessly using all of McCoy’s signature lines without making big moments out of them. I actually didn’t realize he’d said “dammit Jim!” until a few minutes after it happened. Normally things like that stick out like a sore thumb, but the “geek moments” are integrated pretty seamlessly into the film (more on that in a moment.)

The casting wasn’t all aces, I’m afraid. It’s not just the Heroes effect, but Zachary Quinto just was a little “off” as Spock. Part of that may have been the Leonard Nimoy effect: Nimoy’s version of Spock and Quinto’s version don’t really jibe, and it isn’t merely that Nimoy has been Spock for longer and was able to soften the character up over a series of films. I don’t have any problem with Quinto’s hyper-logical version of Spock, even if it resembles what Jolene Blalock did in the first season of Enterprise. Part of it is that we’ve never been exposed to that side of Spock, one so uncomfortable in his skin; the other problem is how the script shoehorns contrivances in order to drive Kirk and Spock against each other that just ring hollow.

But back to things I enjoyed, because the Spock problem doesn’t really stand out while you’re watching the movie. I wanted to get back to the “geek” moments because Abrams weaves them throughout the film in such a way that casual viewers won’t feel like they’re missing out on the reference but Trekkies can have a chuckle or point them out to each other later. It’s perfectly easy not to catch the Cardassian Ale reference or the Tribble behind Scotty in the outpost.

You don’t need to have seen Enterprise or know who Captain Archer or his beagle were for Scotty’s “accident” to be amusing, but I would kind of like to see Scott Bakula in future movies as Admiral Archer, since they mentioned it. The way Pike ends up in a wheelchair is organic enough to the story that it doesn’t feel like the movie shoehorns that echo to “The Menagerie”, or the outfit he’s wearing that looks suspiciously like the Star Trek: The Motion Picture wardrobe. I liked hearing Majel Barret’s voice as the Enterprise computer, and Kirk’s green-skinned Orion girlfriend, or the quick reference to Nurse Chapel while Kirk’s in sickbay. They’re all little things that don’t draw attention to themselves but throw a bone to the long time fans. It may not be your father’s Star Trek but that doesn’t mean he won’t enjoy it.

Oh, and Star Trek might have the best Red Shirt death in the history of the series. I won’t spoil it for you because it’s impossible to miss.

This is not to say that I loved everything. JJ Abrams had some kind of obsession with lens flares on Star Trek, because they’re all over this movie, to the point that it becomes distracting. The following YouTube clip is somewhat of a joke but it’s really not fair off from how many unnecessary lens flares are in the movie.

Still, Star Trek breezes by and incorporates action into the series in a way that Trek never really has (remember that all of the action in Wrath of Khan takes place between two ships. Kirk and Khan are never actually in the same room together), and if you’d told me that Abrams would find a way to put a Beastie Boys song in a Trek film and not make it stupid, I don’t think I would’ve believed you. And yet, there it is. Despite the fact that is just barely holds together under serious scrutiny, Star Trek was a film that made me excited about (arguably) the dorkiest Sci-Fi series that ever was. That’s quite a feat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Trailer Sunday by Any Other Name Woud Smell as Sweet

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

Ghoulies IV

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford

The Hit

I Married a Woman

Bronco Billy

This isn't technically a trailer, but now I have some idea of what Robot Holocaust is. And it was on MST3k.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Quick Bits and Taken reconsidered.

First things first: I saw Star Trek today. Prepare for a full write up some time early next week. The quick review is that I liked it and think the super nerdy comic book lead-in was helpful in filling in the gaps.


Last night the Doctor Who party ended up being a little too hastily planned, so those in attendance ended up joining me in scrapping the Who action in favor of some good old-fashioned "Guy Movie" fun. We watched the most ridiculous scenes from Commando and Rambo, including the "Schwarzenegger kills an entire compound of drug lord soldiers and Rambo destroys pretty much everything with that huge gun" before watching Taken. For two of us, it was a repeat viewing; for the others, it was a first time experience.

Upon re-watching Taken, I noticed a few things not apparent on the first viewing. For one thing, the whole "setting things up" trope takes much longer the second time around, mostly because you know the movie can and will be more effective once Liam Neeson gets to France. That renders the first fifteen to twenty minutes pretty much unnecessary and they accordingly feel much longer.

The second tidbit we fixated on is that Taken pretty much takes the position that "Mass Murder is preferable to Selling People" in moral equivalency. In Commando, Arnold is killing everyone guarding the person who kinapped his daughter and because they're shooting at him. In Rambo, John Rambo gets all medieval on the bad guys because they want to kill missionaries for pretty much no reason and someone hires him to find them.

In Taken, Bryan Mills not only kills the Albanians who kidnapped his daughter, but he pretty much kills anyone he meets before and after that. If you're involved in any way in the human trading business, you're dead meat because Liam Neeson is going to murder you and continue killing. Even if you're just kind of hanging out on a boat, you'll be lucky if he doesn't just throw you overboard. In fact, that's the nicest thing he does to anybody in the second half of the film.

After the Albanian shootout, Taken introduces us to a number of characters simply so Liam Neeson can kill them, and at the end (SPOILER) he gets to go back to America, no questions asked. It was also pointed out that he took advantage of France's health care system beforehand to recoup from being stabbed by an Arab stereotype. Now that's some lesson in morality.


Finally, whilst surfing the Playstation Store, I noticed that two movies are inexplicably available in HD. I've never heard of Robot Holocaust before, but I suddenly need to see it and $4.50 doesn't seem so unreasonable.

The other movie available in HD for no apparent reason: Troll 2.

Guess what just made its way onto the Summer Fest lineup. No seriously, take a guess.

If you guessed "Not Troll 2", you are wrong.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What if You Threw a Doctor Who Party and No One Showed Up?

The Votes are in, and it looks like I'll be watching...

Star Trek!

This means I'll have to go see it tomorrow, since I'm working on Sunday. It's still strange to me that having NOT seen a Star Trek movie makes you lame all of a sudden. What bizarro planet did I wake up in?

Kudos to all who voted for Who Are You, Polly Magoo? and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and also to Cranpire who is the only person I could imagine would vote for Ghoulies IV. Don't worry, I'll get to all of them soon enough.

I'll put up a new poll tomorrow for you to vote one, but be warned that I'm going to be using a very loose definition of what makes up a "day" now that the Cap'n works until midnight.


In honor of Star Trek's win, I submit the following:


Just so I could say I watched something Terminator related (sorry, I'm not watching Salvation), I popped in the original film last night and watched part of it before bed. In light of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the other sequels
*, I'd forgotten just how low budget the first film was. I mean that in a good way, however; it limits how much of the future James Cameron could show, and he still gets a lot of mileage out of the big "set piece" involving Kyle Reese and the Hunter-Killers.

It's really hard to say if the increased budget in successive films helped the Terminator series. To be fair, Arnold's makeup can look a little dodgy late into the first film, but there's something endearing about a movie co-produced by Orion Studios (now out of business) and Hemdale (the same company that co-produced Return of the Living Dead.) Cameron works like crazy with what he has, and I'm not sure that the leap upward to Judgment Day carries the same independent spirit that The Terminator does.


There should, theoretically, be a Doctor Who Party going on right now but no one has yet decided to arrive. I think Neil said he'd be here around 9, so that leaves everybody else the option of being fashionably late I guess. In the meantime it's a good excuse to get some homework done, since I think it needs to be turned in by midnight. I think.

* that's really all they merit when discussing Terminator-related business.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I think I teased the lineup for The Greensboro Summer Fest Massacre Part 2 last night and then forgot to follow up on it. There are two reasons stemming from last night's piece as to why:

1. I like to keep things in flux until I really lock down some movies.

2. Partially, I'm really hoping somebody knocks my socks off with a VHS surprise.

Since I haven't actually finalized anything that would last the whole weekend, I thought I'd share some ideas I've been tossing around with others. I'll address the pros and cons of the films below.

Chopping Mall - partying teens break into a mall overnight and run afoul of the Killbots patrolling the premises.

The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman - I can't tell you any more than this trailer can.

Dog Soldiers - Neil Marshall's (The Descent) debut film balances a fine line between horror and laughs when a military exercise turns up werewolves.

The Prowler - The slasher movie Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, Friday the 13th, Creepshow) is most proud of. It involves a killer with a pitchfork.

Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3-D) - Featuring a whole host of bad 3-D effects, including laundry pole, joint passing, and spear-gun attack. Also the film where Jason gets his hockey mask.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D - I haven't watched it yet but the word is the film is a hoot for large groups and must be seen in 3-D.

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus - Cranpire says it's fest worthy, so it has a spot in the lineup.

Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires - Hammer Horror meets Shaw Brothers Chop Sockey when Dracula heads East and Van Helsing enlists the help of kung fu warriors to stop him.

Dracula A.D. 1972 - exactly what it sounds like. May play as a double feature with Blacula.

Alien Apocalypse - Bruce Campbell vs Giant Termites in the future. This Sci-Fi Channel original is even cheesier than it sounds.

Night of the Comet - Space Zombies vs Valley Girls. Need I say more?

Zombie Lake - Cranpire recommended this. I think it's about dead Nazis but is not Dead Snow.

Uncle Sam - Evil Uncle Sam. Nuff said.

The first and major problem that I have is that a lot of these movies aren't horror comedies, which is what Summer Fest is all about. I don't mind scaring the good attendees too, but the July marathon is all about bringing in folks who might not normally sit in for two nights of horror movies. I like to open things up a bit and soften scaredy cats so they might come back for the really creepy stuff in October.

The other problem is that three movies I really want to show - Night of the Creeps, Terrorvision, and House of Long Shadows - aren't readily available. I'm also tempted to bring out old favorites like Slither and Night of the Lepus for repeat performances but want to leave open the possibility of discoveries. After all, that's how we found Teeth and Blood Car during fests past. Or Cranpire could bring something like Dead Heat and surprise us all again!

The final problem is how to figure in certain tv programs that became staples of Summer and Horror Fest: The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, Invader Zim, a certain Paul Lynde Halloween Special, and newbie Tales from the Darkside. And, of course, Dr. Re-Animator!

Also, dare I add Redneck Zombies? Can our stomachs handle it???


Voting ends tomorrow at 3 something or other pm, and what I'm seeing so far is a four way tie. I'm back working nights now, folks, so somebody break that tie! I'd love to watch four movies between tonight and Sunday, but it's not going to happen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Return of the Video Nasties

As I've been considering the Summer Fest lineup (I start early), Major Tom's recommendation of the not-so-easy-to-find-as-it-turns-out Terrorvision got me thinking about other movies that never quite made the jump from VHS to DVD. While there has been a concerted effort to get as many of these onto the digital versatility disc in the last few years (including titles like Night of the Comet and The Monster Squad), just as many of them languish in videotape form.

The Cap'n has decided that these movies have every right to join their disc-based brethren at the horror fests to come, and so I'm asking you to keep your eyes out for tapes anywhere you happen to see them. I know there are video stores still out there that stock the old and obscure horror films, and there's a whole host for 1980s horror comedies you just can't get anywhere else.

Gore Met: Zombie Chef from Hell, The Stepfather, Night of the Creeps*, Saturday the 14th, Rawhead Rex, Phantasm II, and New Year's Evil are among the ones I can think of immediately. What would be more fun are ones you remember from long ago in the video store or back when horror movies were ubiquitous on late night cable tv. That's how Terrorvision was brought to my attention, and I'm sure many of you have similar experiences.

One I'd really love if someone could find is House of Long Shadows from 1983. I don't know if Cranford's seen this movie, but it's kind of a take-off of The Old Dark House. What is has going for it - despite the presence of Desi Arnaz Jr - is the presence of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Carradine, and Vincent Price all together in the film. It's more comedy than horror if I remember correctly and I haven't seen it in years. There will have to be some rather good prize for the person who can find and deliver House of Long Shadows to Summer Fest.

The good news for all of us is that since VHS has been officially declared dead by its final manufacturer, there's a small window in which to locate these mass produced video nasties before they become a curious inversion of "collectibles" and prices escalate. While Terrorvision
cannot be located cheaply on Amazon (and I'm guessing House of Long Shadows is similar) there are enough places that still have VHS bins you might strike gold if you dig enough. I'm willing to dig into it if someone can point me in the direction of a decent video store or places stuck in a time warp (ala Roses.)

Help the Cap'n out, and we'll all reap the benefits come July.

* Actually I hear Night of the Creeps is finally coming to dvd and Blu Ray but not soon enough.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Blogorium Review: Taken

I really wish there was a lot to say about Taken, because I did enjoy the film, but other than "it's a lean, efficient action movie," there's not much to add. For you guys, I'll try though.

When I first saw the ads for Taken, what surprised me was how many people I knew seemed surprised to see Liam Neeson playing the "bad ass" character. I guess I never thought of him as the sensitive dude who doesn't fight, so that reaction was a little weird.Admittedly, I don't have much justification for this: yes, Neeson was a Jedi in one of the worst Star Wars prequels, and he was Rob Roy which involves some degree of swashbuckling. Then again, he does do all kinds of "period" films like Les Miserables and Schindler's List where he broods and steals bread.

I think what many of you forget is that when he's not Love Actually-ing it up, he's brutally murdering people in small roles like Kingdom of Heaven and Gangs of New York*. While technically a voice, it's hard to call Aslan a total wuss, no matter how anemic The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is. More importantly, Liam Neeson was Darkman. Maybe I am totally justified after all**.

Anyway, Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a retired "preventer" ex-military whatever. At the expense of his family (ex-wife Famke Janssen and way too old to be 17 year old daughter Maggie Grace), he spent the better part of his life wandering around in countries doing things that he can't tell people about. Since we all know the movie is about his daughter being, well, taken, we the audience will at some point see Bryan go "bad ass" on the kidnappers. Taken realizes that we don't have all day to wait around for this, so they dispense with the family strain quickly and then move on to the "how tough is this guy" trope.

This means, in action movie terms, we need two scenes: 1) a get together with his "team" to demonstrate their bad ass stories, and 2) a sequence to demonstrate that his "particular set of skills" alluded to in the trailer are still intact. We get both in rapid succession as his pals (including personal favorites John "Real Genius" Gries and Leland "Se7en" Orser***) come over for a cookout and then talk him into "one more mission."

This mission, however, is the closest thing to a subplot Taken ever has. Mills ends up saving some pop star from a would be murderer and she gives him her phone number. See, Mills knows that his daughter wants to be a singer and rather than take advantage of his single status, he decides to give his daughter the phone number so she can take lessons from the pop star. See? Bet you didn't hear about that part of the movie.

But we all know that's not what happens. Instead Maggie Grace goes to Paris (against Bryan's better judgment) and gets herself kidnapped. Just so that we like Liam Neeson's negligent dad more than Famke Janssen's remarried mother, there are two scenes of her giving him hell for not wanting their daughter wandering around Europe following U2. Bryan is such a class act that even when she's kidnapped, he doesn't say "see, I told you so", he just starts gathering information.

And that's pretty much it. I keep wanting to compare this movie to Commando but then I have to weed out all of the unnecessary turns. His team doesn't get picked off by a traitor. There is no Rae Dawn Chong character. There aren't any puns or plot twists. Taken has not twists to speak of, unless you count the French secret police being crooked as a twist. Mills goes to France and in short order tracks down everyone involved in his daughter's kidnapping. He maims, cripples, or kills all of them, including people who are only involved in ancillary ways, like the wife of the crooked cop or a bouncer for the "sex slave" underground bidding club.

When I say that Taken is lean and efficient, I mean it. Luc Besson and Rober Mark Kamen wrote a script that doesn't waste time on anything else. Once we've established the necessary information in the US to know Mills is a bad ass, we move to France where he demonstrates it with as little necessary dialogue as possible. I do like that Mills goes the extra mile to make sure he really gets the right bad guys.

For example, if you've seen the trailer, then you know that Neeson gives his "I'm going to kill you" spiel on the phone and the Albanian kidnapper replies "Good luck." In order to find the correct guy, Neeson buys an Albanian to English dictionary, writes down "Good Luck" in Albanian, and then tricks the bad guy into translating it for him. So what does Mr. "Good Luck" get for his translating skills? Sewing needles through his thighs.

That alone would have been mean enough, but Mills uses those as a way to electrocute the guy into getting information. And since Mr. "Good Luck" thinks he's tough, Neeson promises to "keep it going until they shut off the power for non-payment", and then does just that. He leaves the guy there, screaming, and moves on.

In a way, Taken is kind of like if you took Commando and then stripped it down to Punisher: War Zone simplicity. Only it's not as silly as the former or as violent as the latter. Taken does exactly what the trailer promises it will do and nothing more. And sometimes that's enough.


Remember, you have a few days left to vote on what I watch next week. Right now there's a three way tie, so be that tie breaker!

* Another problem may be that most of you haven't seen Kingdom of Heaven and forgot that Liam Neeson was in the beginning of Gangs of New York. I can't really explain the Darkman thing though.
** He also plays "Father" in Fallout 3 which many regular readers pester me about playing.
*** The name might not register, but check the face. I had to include Se7en rather than Alien Resurrection only because he's credited as "Crazed Man in Massage Parlor", rather than "guy that Kevin Spacey puts the spiked codpiece on."

Monday, May 18, 2009

More USA Up All Night (the great conundrum)

I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess the reason USA's Up All Night is the numero uno way that people find this blogorium has something to do with the hopes it will someday be on dvd. Alas, unlike The State, there doesn't appear to be any plans of bringing this basic cable cult classic to the digital versatility disc world.

This is a shame, because it's not as though having something like an "Up All Night" collection would detract from the film experience. Similar dvds exist for Elvira: usually a double feature that with "breaks" that you can toggle on and off. There isn't exactly a "Monstervision" series but Joe Bob Briggs did put out a few discs (like Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter) where he filmed and introduction and an optional commentary.

What we really want - and I admit, I'm guessing on your behalf, one time visitors - is something with the host segments. The one thing that keeps me from having a USA Up All Night marathon isn't the creeping terror of watching Silk Stalkings again, but not being able to have the appropriate Rhonda Shear / Gilbert Gottfreid clips to punctuate the movies. For me, the ingredients are pretty basic:

- one awful comedy from the 1980s or early 90s
- one reasonably bad horror / sci-fi film from the 1980s
- the host segments
- one episode of Silk Stalkings
- one episode of Tales from the Darkside
- one episode of Monsters

This replicates the experience of sleeping downstairs in front of the tv and watching USA's late night programming. I have (sadly) many of the movies shown on UP All Night, including ones I wouldn't know existed otherwise (I'm looking at you, Killer Klowns from Outer Space), and Tales from the Darkside is making its way to dvd. Silk Stalkings is, um, available now but I can't say I'm in any hurry. It's more of a formality to bridge the movies with the anthology shows.

As you've already noticed if you read my other Up All Night piece, clips are available on Youtube, but in a catch-as-catch-can way that doesn't allow for placing them strategically throughout a film. Like many of you, I've also looked around the internet and not found much regarding Up All Night, something I consider to be a link in the chain between "Horror Hosts" and that show on FX that plays dvd extras during commercial breaks*.

What would be fun, since dvd versions of Up All Night seem very unlikely, is if USA put together an On Demand service for their older shows**, as they do right now for more recent programming. I sincerely doubt that movies like Neon Maniacs and Rock n Roll High School Forever are getting more expensive to upload in their Up All Night format, so maybe we should give USA a gentle nudge in that direction.

Unless you folks dropping in know something that I don't, like a "keep circulating the tapes" version of Up All Night... is there one? Is there???

Alas, until that day my only hope of an Up All Night Marathon in the meantime is to cobble on together with what's availble and edit it onto a VHS. Or travel back in time and tape them all! Yeah, that's the ticket! Let me nuke up the Delorean and get right on that! I'll see you all in the past with hours and hours of Up All Night.

* Which is nowhere near as entertaining.
** They might actually do this, I don't have digital cable or satellite.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It Came from Trailer Sunday!


I Love You, Alice B. Toklas

Five Easy Pieces

It Came from Outer Space


Rawhead Rex

The Big Blue

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Summer Plans

Things were very quiet for the Cap'n today. With all school business officially over with until next Wednesday* and no running around for graduation related stuff**, I hit a "now what?" wall today. Usually I'll pop in a movie or something but instead the AOS was without much noise and/or funk today. If I really get on it, I might watch Taken before I go to sleep but it can just as easily wait for tomorrow.

Because this is hardly the kind of interesting content that you all expect from the Blogorium, I turn from today and look forward to the summer. There are a few ideas I'd like to kick around and perhaps this summer is the time to expand marathons, film festivals, and other ways to entertain you good people.

Let's toss some suggestions out, shall we?

- The Greensboro Summer Fest Massacre Part 2 is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of July 3rd (the 4th of July is that Saturday) so mark you calendars. If many of you have scheduling conflicts, I can move it one week in either direction but would prefer to keep it close to the beginning of July.
Summer Fest will include 3-D Night, a potential "Sequel Night" and if there's something really worth leaving the house for, another field trip. At the current time I'm entertaining the following movies: The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman, Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3-D), My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Prowler, Chopping Mall, Dog Soldiers, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, and Uncle Sam.
I'm looking for horror/comedies or horror films which are fun to watch in groups (ala Army of Darkness of Killer Klowns from Outer Space), so if you have suggestions I welcome them. Right now it's leaning a little "slasher" heavy so I'd like to throw in some comic relief. I might even dust off Night of the Lepus if there's sufficient interest.

- In addition to the usual horror festival, I've been getting requests for other "film" nights or marathons, so if folks would like me to set up something regular - like a weekly "movie" night or double feature - the Cap'n would certainly be willing to do that. I'm all about introducing people to new movies and they certainly don't have to be horror or cult films.

- Since I'm seriously considering working on this "adaptation as replacement" idea for a thesis in graduate school, I would like to see more "successful" and "unsuccessful" adaptations / remakes in order to get a better statement of purpose. What is the significance of Hollywood's current trend of cannibalizing itself? Is it simply the transferring from one medium to another (books to film, film to tv show, etc) that causes the need for disavowal?
If anyone would like to go see Star Trek, I should be able to by next weekend, and I am curious about what (if anything) its success is having on the way new fans relate to previous iterations that the film draws from.

- More Doctor Who nights. I swear. I'm also throwing down the gauntlet for other Who fans out there to organize their own nights! Get me out of the house!

- MST3K Night. I've been promising one forever, and now that I have almost everything available (and a lot of tapes of shows that aren't), there's no time like the present!

- If they're really worth going to, drag me out to these "Mixtape" film screenings. I'm sorry I missed Blue Velvet and I'm not really interested in Transformers: The Movie but the Cap'n is truthfully not as involved in the local film "scene" as I should be.

- Finding out about more movies. Heard of a good one? Let me know.

- We need to find a drive-in nearby and see something there. This is a GROUP activity, gang!

Those are currently my very loose summer plans. While I am taking summer classes, they should not be a horrible burden on time and I am keen on your feedback. There are any number of other things we can do, and I know you're full of good ideas, so make with the commenting.

Finally, I'm going to put a poll up every week asking what movie I should watch next. I'll throw a lot of available options up there, including movies I might not normally watch. Anyone can vote, and whatever movie wins will get a review the following week, so VOTE!

Right now I believe The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Who Are You, Polly Magoo? are tied. You have three more days to vote, I believe, so choose my next movie!

* Summer classes, one of which is online.
** Not mine.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blame the Book!

In order to cleanse my palate of the vile s. Darko, let's switch to more pleasant subjects.

One of the questions I get more often than anything else is "where the hell do you find these movies?"

The answer is in this book:

I may do a boatload of internet surfing in order to locate the new, obscure, or bizarre, but without Mick Martin and Marsha Porter's Video Movie Guide, I would never have begun the journey into cinphelia. I'm pretty sure I just made that word up, and it still sounds kind of pervy. Oh well, back to business.

The Cap'n decided it would be okay to share his trade secret with you, as having one of these bad boys in your house is guaranteed to help a young movie fan expand their knowledge of all kinds of movies. What I loved about these books (and at one time my family had every one of them from 1984-1993) was the way you could flip to any page and find at least one movie you'd never heard of. For example:

Within the guide was everything you needed to know about the title, from length, why it merited its rating, and that handy reviewing fashion: Five Stars to Turkey. And it didn't just say "Turkey", you got this:

Here are some more actual reviews, including one I excerpted a few weeks ago, but in order to prove the movie really existed in a published book:

I scanned a few of the titles so that you could get an idea of how the book operates, and while I would have loved to include more (like Quest for Fire, Polyester, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, Munchies, The Hills Have Eyes) that caught my attention as a youngster, the size of the book makes it difficult. Click on the photo below for two pages worth of quality obscura, including The Driller Killer, Equinox, Eaten Alive, Drive-In Massacre, Eegah, Duel, and Eraserhead.

Also handy is that for much of the run of these books (and they're about as thick as paperbacks of The Stand at 1580 pages) included cross listings of Every movie a particular star was in or a director's filmography so you could go looking for more titles. They also have an index of every single movie in the back with the corresponding page.

I'd forgotten about this but even though the book is a steal at 7.95, the particular copy I have came free with a membership to Carbonated Video, a long gone and much missed local video store from my youth. Without the guide, I might have overlooked movies based on lackluster VHS covers or simply not knowing where to find them in the store. It continues to be useful, even 19 years out of date.

Shilling isn't often my forte, but this book is essential for any cinephile's library. I can't imagine these books are hard to find, and while Martin and Porter continue to publish them (as Video and DVD Guide I believe), I highly recommend scouring used book stores for the tomes from the 1980s. In the early days of VHS, they had less titles to include, so the reviews were longer. After 1990, they began editing down some of the "Turkey" reviews, including many of the Friday the 13th sequels. It's not to say they aren't still good, but you can get more quality and more obscurity the earlier you go.

Blogorium readers, if you want to get an inside track on how the Cap'n explores the dark, dusty corners of cinema, this is a good start.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So That You Won't Have To: s. Darko

Middlesex, Virginia. 1988.
Donnie Darko was killed when a jet
engine fell from the sky and crushed him while
he was sleeping. The government never located
the plane from which the engine fell, nor did
they even admit the incident ever occurred.
But that was just the beginning of
the tragedy... and the mystery.

Now, 7 years later, Donnie's
youngest sister, Samantha, seemingly alone
and lost in the world, has run away from a
home shattered by the death of her brother.
Drowning in sadness and unable to dream,
she has drifted deeper and deeper into the
darkness of her sleep. And when darkness
consumes the starlight, nightmares
rule the night...

That's how s. Darko begins, and it doesn't get any better.

No one should ever have to subject themselves to this pale imitation of Donnie Darko, so I hope that anyone reading this now or those of you who find this in the future understand that when I say the Cap'n saw this So You Won't Have To, he means it.

I'm going to say *Spoilers ahead*, only as a formality. Since I hope none of you see this, consider this my doing you a favor.

Allow me to alleviate possible curiosities about this wholly unnecessary sequel. Just as I could barely bring myself to watch the whole thing, I can't honestly write a full review. I will try to give you some bullet points of the reasons why seeing this is a waste of anyone's time:

- As the scroll suggests, the movie takes place in 1995. To make sure we understand this, the OJ Simpson trial is playing on a tv early in the film and a George Foreman Grill ad is the backdrop for a stupid "dream" sequence involving one of the film's many non sequiturs, and we get a lot of bad 90's music, including "Hobo Humping Slobo Babe" (which if you remember it at all is because of Beavis and Butthead)

- Speaking of "dream" imagery, since the scroll indicates that Samantha Darko can't dream, why does she see a unicorn dancing in the clouds near the beginning of the movie, and how can she pluck a feather from the tv screen?

- The movie is loaded with terrible sequences designed to remind of of Donnie Darko, not limited to but including the speed ramp party sequence, the movie theatre scene, the countdown, dreams, and the time arrows, all of which are appropriated poorly or are completely misused (especially the time arrows). There's not one but two montages designed to make you think of the "Mad World" sequence in Donnie Darko, and neither of them are successful.

- Speaking of the movie theatre, the "clever" double feature this time is Twelve Monkeys and Strange Days. Get it? One involves time travel and the other one... well, it came out in 1995.

- All of the actors remind you of other actors, often not in a good way. There's a Jake Gyllenhall look-alike (playing a character named Iraq Jack), a Joaquim Phoenix circa 1995 look-alike, a Brandon Routh look-alike, a Cary Elwes look-alike, and an Elizabeth Berkley look-oh. No, sorry, that IS Elizabeth Berkley. Yikes.

- Most of the characters are superfluous to the story (at best). Many of them simply exist because the chain of events would be even less tenable if there wasn't someone to stand there and stare blankly. Even Iraq Jack, who should theoretically be the "Donnie" role (more on that in a second), is ancillary because the film is obsessed with the pointless arc of Samantha Darko. Darko's friend Corey is even pointless in the movie for a reason I'll get to very shortly.

- Oh, Iraq Jack is Roberta Sparrow's grandson, and yes that means if you ignore that his real name is Justin, his name is Iraq Jack Sparrow. (I wonder what his rank was...) He builds a Frank the Bunny mask that stretches the usefulness of causality in the film.

- I really need to address how poorly conceived the time travel element is in s. Darko. The way that the film sets up incidents which lead from Iraq Jack not dying in the tangent universe to Samantha's death during the meteor storm stretch logic to the breaking point. There's no reason for "zombie" Samantha (the manipulated dead, ala Frank in Donnie Darko) to force Iraq Jack to make the Frank mask just so living Samantha can fall on it and die.

In fact, if I understand the movie correctly, Jack dies in order to prevent an alien from taking over the body of one character (yes, that's what happens) but in the final montage it's clear the alien takes over another character's body instead, so all of this was pointless anyway. But it gets better!

Before any of the "manipulated dead" causality really kicks in during the story, Samantha is KILLED by the Joaquim Phoenix look-alike "bad boy" character when her car comes out of another universe and hits both Samantha and his car. In order to keep this from happening, another "manipulated dead" character that ultimately serves no purpose to the story talks Samantha's friend Corey into traded places with her in the past and dying instead.

That's right. There's a ten minute section of the film that serves no purpose except to change which character dies halfway into the movie, and it doesn't matter because both of them come back when Jack dies. Time travel within a time travel structure and it has no bearing on the story whatsoever. Nice job, s. Darko.

- Because Samantha is co-existing as herself in the present and as the "manipulated dead" showing Jack why he needs to die, the "Frank" voice is still in effect, even though it's just Daveigh Chase in "zombie" makeup. Not only does it look silly when you can see her lips moving, but all of the dream sequences involving Samantha utilize the same herky-jerky motion that films like Th13teen Ghosts do. That just makes them look foolish. Instead of being mysterious, the dreams are now leaden and embarassing, especially when the "time arrows" (those Abyss-like water phalluses) are pointing people in the same direction that Samantha tells them to go.

- I don't even know how to start on the really awful parallels drawn between the Church and Patrick Swayze's character from Donnie Darko. It's handled so badly (including the "burn it down" sequence) that it's hard to believe anyone thought this would work, and the vague suggestion that Trudy (the Elizabeth Berkley character) and uh, the Cary Elwes looking dude were kidnapping children just to keep them from "spoiling" and yet the Elwes preacher guy is also a rapist...

You know what? I give up. This is not an issue of "not understanding" the movie because believe me, there's nothing to "get." s. Darko unnecessarily convolutes itself in order to convince you the arbitrary plot points are "deeper" than they actually are. The end result is a movie that never needed to exist and was a waste not only of the time it took to watch it, but also of the time I spent explaining why you never need to see it.

Thankfully, many of you will stay away from this movie on principle, but for any of you that thought "well how the hell did they make that sequel?"; now you know, and hopefully I made it abundantly clear what a waste of space it occupies in the pantheon of cinema. Thanks for nothing, s. Darko. Now go back in the past and kindly undo yourself.