Monday, August 31, 2009

New Digs

Since the Cap'n is settled into my new apartment, I thought now would be a good time to share the new set up with you. The living room should be all you folks care about, so let me break it down for you.

(as per the norm, click on the picture to significantly embiggen it)

Here's the new layout. The fancy schmancy TV is in the center of the living room with shelves that extend on either side all the way to the walls. Underneath the TV you can find the DVR, the PS3, the 5.1 Channel receiver, the X-Box 360, and HD-DVD drive.

Moving to the right:
Just to be abundantly clear how supportive of the format I am, the four shelves to the right of the TV are Blu Rays, with a smattering of HD-DVDs mixed in. I know that it's some kind of crime for I Am Legend to be obscuring the Blade Runner and Planet of the Apes boxes, but I can't find another place to put it right now. I'm sure I'll figure out something.

Moving to the left:

Yarrr, here be the Spine Numbers. While my collection is nowhere near as impressive as Major Tom or Veal's, it's coming together nicely. This time around I'm focusing more on getting ones I really want, rather than filling out number gaps. The missing one on the second shelf to the left is Derek Jarman's Jubilee, which I'm watching currently. Also, Science is Fiction: 23 Films by Jean Panleve has not made it onto the shelf. Soon enough.

Oh, in case you were wondering, the Criterion Blu Rays have their own shelf in the picture above this one.
Ah yes, the Horror Shelf. You didn't think the Cap'n would hide his Horror Shelf all the way against the back wall, did you? Zoom in for hints at this year's Horror Fest selections...

Moving off to the side wall:

Here's a cross section of non-specific and genre separated shelves. To the right are my MST3K tapes. I'd show you where the dvds are but the stupid camera didn't upload them. Perhaps next time. They're on the mantle.

Finally, in the back corner:

TV shows are split right down the middle by Cult films, because the Cult section just fit so well there in the old apartment. Admittedly, there's a lot of TV I have yet to watch, but I'll get around to it. I promise.

So that's the entertainment layout for my new place, just waiting for you to come over and watch movies. I'm hoping to add another couch for "stadium" seating and maybe a love seat off to the side for the alcove/office I have. Unless of course Barrett sneaks over here and takes everything first. Which he's not allowed to. Ever. Even if I die, he can't have any of it. You hear me, Barrett? Nothing!

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The new poll is up. You have until Sunday to vote, so make sure everyone else gets on the ball and votes too!

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For the record, The Final Destination won. Even Inglorious Basterds topped Halloween 2. You nutjobs don't know a crazy dream sequence when you see one, so says I.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fear of a Trailer Sunday Planet


The Night Porter


Dinosaurus!


They Made Me a Criminal


Avalon


To Kill a Priest


Knives of the Avenger


The Men Who Stare at Goats

Saturday, August 29, 2009

To Be Continued... If I can only remember why.

Don't you hate it when you tease something like this:

"1. I am always looking for something new to show in between movies at Horror Fest (more on that subject later this week)."

but by the time you come back to it three days later, you can't remember exactly what you meant by "more on that subject later this week"? I knew I made a mental note to come back to that for today's entry, but I'll be damned if there's that much to talk about. Oh well, let's give it a whirl...

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One of the things I'd like to do with Horror Fest is expand the viewing pleasure beyond simply movies. There have always been episodes of TV shows playing between films and in the last two years or so Dr. Re-Animator became a fixture of breaks (to the chagrin of many of you) but that's really been the extent of it. I've tried finding good "horror only" trailer reels and it's not as easy as it sounds.

The one good dvd I did find was All Monsters Attack!, a disc devoted to Sci-Fi Monster movies that sorta fits the bill. The 42nd Street Forever discs each have horror movies, but they're split up in between other exploitation films so it can be tricky using those.

In my quest to find horror-related ephemera, I found a dvd from Something Weird Video called Monsters Crash the Pajama Party that may be exactly what I've been looking for. The dvd itself is three-and-a-half hours of short films, trailers, drive-in shorts, horror musicals, educational shorts, photo montages, and something called Hypnoscope that comes with 3-D glasses. Plus there's Tormented, a Bert I. Gordon joint from 1960.

Monsters Crash the Pajama Party may be exactly what I've been hunting for, as it's the sort of disc you can press "play" on and switch back to between the films proper. I'm not certain if there are more discs like this, but if so I'd like to check them out for future use, as it really can augment the experience.

The one other thing I've been trying to find with relatively little success is the Silly Symphonies cartoon about the musical skeletons. The Diz pulled that particular volume of Symphonies years ago and, the dummy that I am, I sold it.

Also, if you happen to see any good "Horror Host" material on Youtube, send it my way. I'm quite certain I can incorporate it into the Fest.

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So... that's about it. More than I expected, but still this feels like a lot less than what I teased. Hrm.

Oh! Voting ends on Sunday, so get any final plugs in. I'm going to cut the next bracket down to one week as to get more of you to jump on the business of choosing your Fest, so keep your eyes peeled!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recycling or Remaking?

Sigh. That's really all I can say to this whole "Rob Zombie remaking The Blob, but without a blob" chatter. It's not a sigh that another movie is being remade, or even about the removal of said blob from said film. I won't even bemoan the fact that Zombie is remaking something else instead of making Tyrannosaurus Rex or something new-ish.

What I will say is that if someone wants to "remake" a movie and then take away the most identifiable component of it, do yourself a favor and don't call it a remake. At this point in time, where cinema is shamelessly cannibalizing itself, it would be nice to go back to the day of making a movie and pretending it was something other than just a retread.

Okay, perfect example: Evolution. I don't know how many of you remember Evolution, but it was an Ivan Reitman film starring David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Sean William Scott, Orlando Jones, and Dan Aykroyd. It's about aliens landing and invading a small desert town, and then becoming a giant monster that the heroes have to spray with shampoo to kill.

I bring Evolution up because the film is, for all intents and purposes, Ghostbusters. Same director, same ensemble cast structure, same beats and plot points. Substitute aliens for ghosts, and now it's a different movie. (Evolution, by the way, may end up being the better Ghostbusters 3 than the actual Ghostbusters 3 we'll get next year-ish.)

Perhaps it seems disingenuous to pretend you're making another movie that is essentially the same film, but I find that the practice is more like the ways that stories repeat themselves through history. They have roughly the same archetypes, similar storylines, and easily identifiable genre "types". The variation on a theme is fun, and a really clever filmmaker or writer can take those familiar tropes and make something new-ish out of old stories.

On the other hand, if you're going to admit that "yes, I'm lifting directly from this source. This one source that all of you know and can go to directly for reference", where's the fun in that? You're immediately inviting comparisons where there don't need to be any before people have seen it. Moon is clearly borrowing from the 2001 / Silent Running / Dark Star / Alien model, but it's not a remake of any of them, nor does it profess to be. Moon is its own film, one that draws comparisons, but not in such a direct manner.

The Blob, with or without a blob, does.

I don't mean to just pick on Rob Zombie. Truthfully, there's the potential for a really sick, really twisted movie there, but you don't need to call it The Blob. Shit, The Stuff is in many ways The Blob, but it's not trying to BE The Blob, as the other Blob remake did and mostly failed at. It's okay to pretend your slasher movie isn't a Friday the 13th film and still have some dude killing people in the woods. One of the reasons I think it's so silly to remake Outland is because Outland is High Noon in space. Just make your own High Noon in space; you don't even need to call it Outland.

My final point, and then I'll put it to rest:

Yojimbo. A Fist Full of Dollars. Last Man Standing. All three the same movie and yet all unique in their own ways. Three expressions of one story, all of which are recognizable as related but don't have to be linked as "remakes", or to share a name.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blogorium Review: Moon

So tonight we saw Moon, the first of hopefully many joints from Duncan Jones. While we saw it at the Carmike, Moon opens at The Carousel tomorrow and I highly recommend you go see it. I may need to see it again at The Carousel because the experience of watching the movie was a bit tainted, even if Moon more than made up for the technical deficiencies.

Normally I try not to talk about the nitty gritty theatrical experience. In theory, the review should almost always be about the movie, but the Carmike had seriously damaged this print, to the point that vertical scratches ran the entire length of the movie and the sound cut out, became muddy, or was distorted throughout the running time. For a movie like Moon, the sound is very important, which is why I feel like seeing this again might be necessary beyond simply enjoying the movie.

After the movie, Andy commented that he was happy to be able to see Moon without any preconceived notions or too much knowledge of what the plot was about. "I was able to let the experience take me along for the ride", which is exactly what a movie like this does. I could tell you some of the plot sketches involving Sam Rockwell (playing a character named Sam Bell) but the truth is that you're better off not knowing. If all you know about Moon comes from the trailers or the frequent comparisons to 2001 and Silent Running, good. That's all you need.

I'll add one more note, which is to say that Moon fulfills the promise abandoned two thirds of the way into Sunshine: a science fiction film for adults that takes the premise seriously and is actually thought provoking. Aside from a few chuckles at the "face" GERTY, the base's computer (voiced by Kevin Spacey) makes, Moon never winks at the audience and says "we know, it's just science fiction."

The film takes a few left turns when you'd expect more conventional story twists, and finally breaks with the "Evil Robot" motif so prevalent in the genre. I won't say how or why, but GERTY is much more important to the film than merely an obstacle for Sam when things get weird. I also found the references to Jesus' disciples interesting; Sam works alone on a Moon base for 3 year jobs, running harvesters named Mark, Matthew, John (although John is crossed out and replaced by a handwritten "Judas"). The recurring motif of 3's is also worth revisiting next time I sit down and watch it.

Sam Rockwell does some of the best work I've seen from him in years, although he frequently reminded me of Edward Norton for some reason. *MILD SPOILER ALERT* It may have had something to do with the persistent bruising and bloodying after the accident being vaguely Fight Club-esque, but even the "other" Sam was vaguely reminiscent of Norton.

The "twist", if you want to call it that, is handled quickly and in a rational manner. Almost as soon as you realize what's actually going on, one of the characters identifies the development and instead of trying to dupe viewers, Jones is smart enough to let the film play out. I admire both the story and Jones' direction, which lingers frequently, allowing you to soak in the details of the moon base and the minutiae of Sam Bell's world. There's some very impressive camera trickery to boot, which I won't risk spoiling.

I realize this review is probably quite useless, but I feel it fair to both recommend you see Moon but also not to tell you too much going in. Moon is the sort of film that works best when it happens to you, not one you should be trying to work out right away.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Quick Review, or Snap Judgment?: Freddy's Nightmares

Maybe DVR'ing eight hours of Freddy's Nightmares wasn't such a great idea.

Oh, who am I kidding? It was the best idea I had since buying Walking Tall and The Marine!

Before you jump all over me with you "like, duh!"'s for taping multiple episodes of a tv series so forgotten that Cranpire didn't know it existed, let me plead my case:

1. I am always looking for something new to show in between movies at Horror Fest (more on that subject later this week).

2. As many of you know, remake aside, I will make time to watch anything Freddy-related I haven't seen, even if it is as bad as Freddy's Nightmares.

3. It may be the last time Chiller airs the show this month, or even this year. I had to get what I could when I could.

Now, on the other hand, when I got back today and watched the first episode, I knew immediately that a) this show sucks big time, and b) I love it.

The first episode starts with a faux-newscast featuring Bob Goen of Entertainment Tonight and just about every Kennel Club Dog Show on Animal Planet, before Freddy interrupts and takes over the tv. Then Freddy has some trouble cutting through a piece of paper and announces "don't worry, this isn't your nightmare. it's one of mine", and we launch into the friggin' prequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street!

You see Fred Krueger on trial, the botched police work, them letting him out, and the vigilante justice that ensues. And I figured by the time they set him on fire that we had set up the series with the Freddy origin story for no reason. See, Freddy's Nightmares is an anthology show that the gloved one very rarely has anything to do with. However, the show had some surprises for me, not the least of which was the fact it's an hour-long show. Uh oh.

Actually, the fun comes from the fact that this way-to-long first episode is soaked in 80s cheese. The budget clearly didn't go into hiring actors or quality sets, but the fire gag was pretty impressive and the two nightmares you see Freddy orchestrate are pretty cool.

Okay, cheap, but cool. The dentist one at least has some implied gore and a nifty "drill" variation on the glove. I don't know what time this aired or on what network, but there's some reasonably violent content, a nurse stripping down to her underwear, and generally speaking a sleazy vibe to the show. I checked four or five different websites and not one of them has the station this show aired on other than Chiller. Weird.

By the way, the first episode was directed by Tobe "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" Hooper and does feature Robert Englund in most of the episode, sans makeup, although they only show him from behind until he's char-grilled Freddy.

Still, I'm amazed this show went two whole seasons. Wait, Two-and-a-Half Men is still on the air, right? Never mind. Freddy's Nightmares is at least entertaining while not being good.

The Moral of the story is that just because the show probably isn't any good or that Warner Brothers is never planning to release it on dvd doesn't mean that it won't be playing during Horror Fest. Then again, if you hadn't figured that out by now, I can only assume you've never been to a Horror Fest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm just a mark for this crap.

editors note: Okay, lesson learned. Apparently when I thought I've posted something from the iPod, it doesn't always mean it has posted. Oops. Well, here's last night's post, a dispatch from out-of-townsville.

Many of you have commented to the Cap'n about his curious habit of purchasing cheesy action movies on Blu Ray. It started as a half-joke, brought about by the availability of movies like Commando and Predator in HD, but has slowly escalated to include the early films of Steven Seagal, Tango & Cash, and yes, Universal Soldier. I've also augmented this with other, more recent, cheese-tacular movies like Death Race and Punisher: War Zone. But then I had to take it just a step further.

Now I seem to own multiple films with wrestlers, and not like Roddy Piper in They Live (which I will totally buy on Blu Ray), but current or very recent WWE Superstars. Earlier tonight I left Cranpire trick me into thinking that by spending ten more dollars for Walking Tall and The Marine was somehow a better deal than just buying Walking Tall.

(To be fair, he was distracting me with a much more worthwhile one-two punch of cheesy action movies: Point Break and Road House, but guess who bought the wrong two-set?)

I should have seen this coming. Maybe it was the fact that I have every movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson I want (sorry, Southland Tales and The Game Plan*), or that I didn't hesitate to pick up See No Evil (starring Kane) or The Condemned (starring "Stone Cold" Steve Austin). But really, The Marine? Look, I already have 12 Rounds as a sort-of torture device for Barrett.

Admittedly, I was more interested in 12 Rounds because of the presence of auteur Renny Harlin, he who directed Deep Blue Sea, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Driven, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Cliffhanger, The Covenant, Exorcist: The Beginning, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and yes, Cutthroat Island**. That madman can make good ideas and bad bend to his own special brand of retarded, even if they star the charismatic-less John Cena.

On the other hand, now I have a copy of The Marine, a movie I have no intention of ever watching again. Ugh. I'd rather own Under Siege: Dark Territory and Navy Seals than watch The Marine once more.

So what am I missing, niche market? There are enough of you out there who know of something I must not have to fill in the gap. What other gems am I missing starring WWE superstars that you wouldn't watch but it makes sense for me to own? Or am I better off just counting down the days until The Postman hits Blu Ray.

That's right. The Postman. With Kevin Costner. And Tom Petty.

Or would you rather I wait for Over the Top? Oh wait, they come out the same day. Snap!




* Yes, that does mean I do have The Scorpion King, The Rundown, Walking Tall, Doom, and Race to Witch Mountain.
** Which I will NOT own on Blu Ray, no matter how much Barrett tells me I will.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Is there usually a "no compete" clause or something?

The Cap'n may have an incredibly short memory (it is possible), but I've been spending the last hour or so trying to remember the last time two "big" movies went head to head. Most of this summer I've noticed that an "event" movie, like Transformers or G.I. Joe will come out one week and nothing of its kind will oppose it until the following week. Take, for example, the last two weeks, where hotly anticipated District 9 and Inglorious Basterds went head to head... oh wait, there was that whole week between the two. This translates into big weekend for one movie, then it can be toppled the next week by the next "big" movie (District 9 / Basterds: case in point).

Since that seems to be the trend lately, I find myself impressed that New Line Cinema and Dimension are going head to head this weekend with their big guns: The Final Destination and Halloween 2.

Now, on paper, it may seem like the sequel to a remake of a film from thirty years ago going up against the fourth movie in a series where most people forgot there was a third is no big whoop, but allow me to make the case for each.

Despite not liking Rob Zombie's Halloween at all, the slow doling out of information about this movie incrementally increased my interest to the point where, against my better judgment, I sorta/kinda want to see it. In addition to the bizarre dream imagery that's pervasive throughout the advertising and so-dumb-it-might work Sheri Moon Zombie as ghost mother, there's another precedent with Rob Zombie movies: the sequel has invariably been much better than the first film.

House of 1000 Corpses? Hated it. The Devil's Rejects? Loved it. Halloween? Hated it.

Halloween 2
?

Well, it remains to be seen, but I'm cautiously optimistic.

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On the other hand, there's not much cautious optimism about The Final Destination. The movie has two things going for it: Rube Goldberg-like death scenes and this film's gimmick... 3-D. For those who genuinely didn't realize there was a Final Destination 3, from filing it innumerable times, I promise you there is. The gimmick with part 3 was a "choose your own adventure"-style dvd option, allowing you to determine where and when certain characters did or didn't die.

To be perfectly honest with you, I only watched half of Final Destination 2 and never watched the third one, but these aren't really movies. The plot is incidental to a ludicrous degree, especially if this entry is all about 3-D. The first movie had an iota of story, but from there on the producers realized that people came for the elaborate death sequences and programmed accordingly. By the fourth film in this franchise, I'd be surprised if people leaving The Final Destination will be able to remember one character's name.

But then again, that's the point. While I'm looking to see where Rob Zombie takes Halloween now that he doesn't need to "honor" the source material, I'm not going to The Final Destination expecting anything except tricky, suspenseful death set ups and carnage, which it will no doubt deliver.

The other thing I find very interesting about these two movies going head to head is that you have two horror movies duking it out at the tail end of August, not even in October. No, in October, you'll have Zombieland and Saw VI, once again staggered by a few weeks. Two franchises which have inexplicably pulled themselves up from expectations otherwise and proven to be strong enough to go mano y mano.

So the question is, which one wins? Do the die-hard Rob Zombie fans show up in full force to give Halloween 2 another strong showing, or does the gaggle of non-horror fans who like crazy gimmick movies pile in to see The Final Destination. It's been virtually impossible to avoid the advertising for both films, and while I'd be impressed to see Tarantino hold on to that number one spot next Monday, I have my doubts. What takes Inglorious Basterds place though is really a toss up.

Hell, I might see both. After I watch Moon, Inglorious Basterds, and District 9.

Quintuple feature, anyone?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

From My Queue to Your Trailer Sunday!


Wonderland


Quatermass and the Pit


Au Revior les Enfants


Tobor the Great


Winter Soldier


Stalker


American Movie


Harper


Personal Velocity


The She Beast


The Salton Sea

Saturday, August 22, 2009

So.... did you ever wonder how it is the Cap'n finds such random movies when he's reviewing? How on earth I make the jump from Phantasm II to Surveillance, or even Tyson (review coming soon-ish)?

Well, I usually do one of two things when I hear about a movie that sounds interesting: I bookmark it and file it under the "Stuff to Buy/Rent" subfolder, or I add it to my Netflix queue in order to find it much later when I've forgotten such a film existed.

To demonstrate:

the "Stuff to Buy/Rent" page, which is normally reserved for things I'd like to have with little reservations.

Most other films end up in the Netflix queue, and to give you some idea how random it can get because of that, I'm including some screencaps. As with any picture in the blogorium, click on it for a larger, more legible version.

Okay, I'll admit it's a bit random. I've got Del Tenney's Curse of the Living Corpse (and some other movie) alongside Jacque Tati's Playtime, Slaughter High, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle occupies the same space as Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. But come on now, I have Outlander (the Vikings vs Aliens movie) Alien Tresspass (a Lost Skeleton of Cadavra-like film from last year), and Doctor Who at home right now. It's just how the Cap'n operates.

I really like this segment, because it really jumps haphazardly between high and low art. I challenge you to find me someone else who has Preston Sturges between Return of the Living Dead 3 and April Fool's Day. Or American Movie and The Bad and the Beautiful side by side.
And here I exercise my indie / art house tendencies, only to switch it up at the very end with I Drink Your Blood. Classy.

I have no particular comment here. Just thought it was a pretty odd mix of movies.

Schlock, followed by some class. It's a cinematic blender when you leave the queue-ing to me.

Kagemusha. Kickboxer. Hot Rod. Need I say more?

So yeah... maybe that helps you understand my scatterbrained approach to what I watch and when. Throw in the considerable amount of disc and tape-age here art the ATDB, and it's hard to say where I'm going next. Hopefully you now understand that it's not only horror I dig into; that's just the easiest to write about quickly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quick Review: Surveillance

Tonight, the Cap'n decided to watch Surveillance, the new / second film from Jennifer Lynch of Boxing Helena fame. It's been sixteen years between her first and second movie (even if Surveillance has a 2007 copyright), but I'd say there's a marked improvement between the two.

It's not that Boxing Helena wasn't interesting, but at the time I dismissed it a bit as "Lynch-lite." That is an unfortunate side effect of being related to another director; in this case, the daughter of David Lynch, who casts a pretty big shadow. The good news is that Surveillance is a Jennifer Lynch movie, and even though the old man is credited with executive producing the film and recorded a song for the end, the shadow isn't looming large this time.

With a mind to keep this short, I'm going to skimp on the details of the film. I'll say that Surveillance is about two murderers, two FBI agents, three witnesses, and a series of intersecting flashbacks. The film is based on a combination of withheld information and contradictions between what is said and what is seen. Astute viewers will accordingly be able to guess there's some kind of "twist" in the film, and if Surveillance has a downside it's that said "twist" won't be too shocking, even if you aren't paying careful attention.

On the other hand, Lynch sets the pieces of the puzzle up in an interesting way, and holds back just enough to keep the audience unable to put all of the pieces together. I was happy to see the alternate ending wasn't used, because the one in the finished film is more... appropriate, shall we say.

Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond are both doing great work as the agents called in to sort out the chain of murders, and there are surprisingly serious turns from Cheri Oteri and French Stewart. Michael Ironside doesn't get much to do, but he's pretty good and Pell James and Ryan Simpkins are impressive as another critical pair of characters.

Overall, I'm going to recommend this to fans of both Lynches, with the caveat that you shouldn't expect anything wild or out of left field. This is a reasonably straight forward murder mystery with a decent twist that has some great cinematography and very good acting. If you were curious about seeing Surveillance, I'd say go ahead and watch it, but if you're just coming out of watching INLAND EMPIRE for the seventh time straight, you might want to look elsewhere for now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

LeGros Misunderstanding

Just a quick reminder from the Cap'n:

VOTE! I'm giving you the power to watch the movies you want to see at Horror Fest. Anybody can vote. Just click your two favorites (or more) of what's presented and click the "vote" button. Encourage others to do it. The poll is on the right ----->

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I wanted to apologize a bit for being so hard on James LeGros in my Phantasm II review. When I went back and looked at his filmography, I realized he's appeared in a number of movies I like quite a bit, like: Drugstore Cowboy, Living in Oblivion, Near Dark, Born on the Fourth of July, Point Break, Singles, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Enemy of the State, Zodiac, and Visioneers, a movie I've heard good things about.

While I'm not such a huge fan of the following, I thought it would be fair to mention he's done quite a bit of other work, too: Catch that Kid, November, Gus Van Zant's Psycho, The Myth of Fingerprints, Solarbabies, and Destiny Turns on the Radio.

He's done a lot of different kinds of movies, including several I left out, and it's probably unfair to characterize him as "generic leading male", as I did. Perhaps the problem is that having watched Phantasm, Phantasm III, and Phantasm IV, the obvious break in Phantasm II is that Michael Baldwin is missing, and LeGros might work in a number of other movies, but he just didn't click for me in this one.

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Hey, speaking of Destiny Turns on the Radio, does anybody remember that movie? It's horrible, and not just because Quentin Tarantino is a rotten actor in the movie. Granted, Tarantino is not usually my favorite part of any of his movies, but I'm not convinced he had anything to do with Destiny Turns on the Radio aside from acting in it. It's actually been so long since I saw the beat-up VHS copy that disappeared that I can't remember what happens. For some strange reason, that doesn't bother me. Hrm.

While thinking of Destiny Turns on the Radio, I had some curious notion that Jim Belushi was in the film. Then I realized that I was conflating Destiny Turns on the Radio with Mr. Destiny, a comparably shitty movie that had something to do with baseball. That's even sillier, especially since I have no idea why I would ever fuse one film into the other...

All of this is my way of saying that Inglorious Basterds comes out tomorrow, and I've heard it's not at all what advertisements are saying it is. So consider yourself warned. I don't want to hear anyone pissing and moaning that nobody told them it wasn't just about Nazi killing and Brad Pitt.

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And on that note, I'm out like shag carpets. Or are those back in? I can't keep up with the times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Get Your Calendars Ready and Head to the Polls!

I've decided to bring the weekly polls back from certain death. This time, when you vote, it'll count for something.

For the last Horror Fest in Greensboro, I'm going to have two "theme" nights. One is dedicated to films of my choosing that we've never seen during a horror fest, like The Stuff, Ginger Snaps, Cemetery Man, Bad Taste, and Phantasm. The other night, "fan favorites", is for you folks. Attendees (and anyone else) is encouraged to narrow down the field of past Horror (and Summer) Fest faves into one concentrated night of sweetness.

Polls will run for a week and a half, and between now and October, I'll include five movies from each fest. You can vote more than once, and the two most popular will move on to the next round and face off against the top two of another week, until we have one kick-ass lineup.

Here, for those keeping score at home, is the field I'm asking you to narrow down:

Ghoulies 2

The Alligator People

The Lost Boys

Feast

The Wicker Man

From Dusk Til Dawn

Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter

Saw

Slither

Jeepers Creepers 2

Re-Animator

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Hostel Part II

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Dead & Buried

Night of the Lepus

Black Sheep

Hellraiser

1408

From Beyond

Return to Horror High

The Descent

Planet Terror

The Call of Cthulu

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers

Night of the Living Dead 3-D

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation

___ _________*

Plan 9 from Outer Space

Blood Car

Teeth

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon

Dead Heat

C.H.U.D.

Fido

Friday the 13th Part 2

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

The Giant Claw

In the Mouth of Madness

Dead Alive

Halloween

Faces of Death

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

The Ruins

The Mist

Blade Trinity

Blood Feast

Child’s Play 2

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Horror of the Blood Monsters

The Wicker Man (2006)

The Orphanage

Drag Me to Hell

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

Army of Darkness

Alien Apocalypse

Chopping Mall

Terrorvision

Friday the 13th Part 3

The Prowler

Student Bodies

Uncle Sam

Hillbillys in a Haunted House

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

Troll 2

Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

Creepshow

Shaun of the Dead

vote early, vote often, and entice anyone you know to vote. We WILL watch the winners on Saturday night**.


If I had my druthers, the following films would certainly play:

Terrorvision
Blood Car
Slither
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Hillbillys in a Haunted House
Night of the Lepus
Black Sheep

but it's not up to me this time. I give you the power, so abuse away starting tomorrow!

---

I'm also giving strong consideration to an "After Hours" version of Horror Fest, for after 1:30-2 am. We'd be watching much harder-edged-borderline-disturbing stuff, like Martyrs and Italian splatter gorefests. The kind of movies that I know some of you want to see but not everyone would stick around for. Let me know what you think.



* I promised I wouldn't identify it by name for a whole year, but you all know what it is. None of you are voting for it, so don't worry.
**Thursday is Cap'n Howdy's picks, and Friday is reserved for Let the Right One In, Trick R Treat, and any other surprises I find between now and October.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quick Review: Phantasm II (and part of III)

While the Cap'n was out of town last weekend, Mr. Veal was kind enough to give me a region free dvd player, which has been all kinds of fun. I watched the first episode of Life on Mars (the UK version, which looks to be much better), tried to suss out the German commentary of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, and will eventually look at the extras on a French copy of Lost Highway.

The most exciting viewing experience, however, had to be Phantasm II. It's never been available on dvd in the United States because of conflicting rights (Anchor Bay owns I, III, and IV while Universal owns II), and I've never actually seen it. For those of you who didn't know, I'm a big fan of the series, and for a long time I've had to do without the second chapter and sort of work around its absence. Since every Phantasm film picks up where the last one left off, you can kinda piece together how I gets to III from the dvds, but it was nice to finally bridge the gap.

Phantasm II is an improvement on the first film in every way but one (I'll get to that in a moment). Don Coscarelli is working with a major studio, so he has a bigger budget, more time to set up shots, and can set up more elaborate camera work. This is going to sound snarky, but the easiest way you can tell the budget is bigger is there are two explosions in the first fifteen minutes, and another one an hour in.

Unfortunately for Reg (Reggie Bannister), the first two are houses he owns and the third one is his car. The guy just can't get a break when you couple this with the beginning of his "coitus interruptus" that become a running joke through III and IV. Phantasm II does explain how Reg gets his 4-barreled shotgun, even if there's a puzzling plot hole between the second and third movie.

The gore is also pretty gnarly in Phantasm II: not only do the balls do more, but there's some pretty nasty prosthetics work, including a Freddy Krueger-esque Tall Man puppet that comes out of someone's back. The dwarves look cooler and the Tall Man's death scene (by hydrochloric acid) is also impressive.

In fact, most of the film is more impressive. Phantasm suffered from some logic gaps because of footage that was never shot or couldn't be used, but Coscarelli rectifies this by keeping Phantasm II concise and coherent throughout, even during the dream sequences. Where it lacks the dreamlike imagery of its predecessor and sequels, Phantasm II makes up for it by moving forward the story of Michael, Reg, and the Tall Man in interesting and expanding ways.

The sense of scope expands in the Tall Man's plot to steal the dead, paving a way for the next two movies, even if they can't quite convey the post-apocalyptic nature. I love the crane shot of Reg and Michael walking through a graveyard with nothing but empty plots, and there are some nice editing tricks to tie Elizabeth (Paula Irvine)'s story into Michael's.

The only problem I have with Phantasm II is a critical one: Michael isn't Michael. Instead of casting Michael Baldwin to reprise his role from the original, Universal forced Coscarelli to cast James LeGros in the lead, along with insisting that Paula Irvine and Samantha Phillips were added as "love interests." While Elizabeth and Alchemy don't really detract from the movie, James LeGros sticks out like a sore thumb. He looks like any generic "male lead" shoehorned into a genre film, and while LeGros doesn't do anything wrong per se, his presence is distracting in the scope of all four films.

Because I had remembered seeing the four barreled shotgun in Phantasm III (and Reg's car), I was a little surprised to see the car explode and the gun be tossed aside before part II ended. There's absolutely no explanation at the beginning of III why Michael has the shotgun or how Reg gets the exact same car back, but then again maybe I'm asking too much of the Phantasm series. They are both iconic parts of the series, after all...

All things considered, I still enjoyed Phantasm II quite a bit. While there's at least one nice reference to Sam Raimi, I wonder how many people caught the "chainsaw battle" reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2. I laughed anyway. I've heard that Universal is finally releasing Phantasm II stateside (the one I watched was from the UK) so everyone else can watch the movie soon. I have no idea if the disc will have the same extras my copy has (they resemble the other Anchor Bay releases with a commentary track, making of, a trailer, and photo gallery) but it would be nice to have a copy that played anywhere. Keep an eye out.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Composition book.... of Doom!

Other than a jaunt out of town and back, the one thing I've been doing more than anything else is unpacking. By my estimation, the Cap'n has two more boxes to open and then the Apartment that Dripped Blood will start looking like somebody lives there. Of course, once somebody lives there, the demons will make sure that somebody dies there, probably the former "living tenant", but I digress.

A curious byproduct of unpacking boxes is finding things I'd forgotten about or just haven't looked at in years. For example, I just found the Movie Quiz, an oft mentioned relic of my college geekery that never made it online. I'm reasonably certain that if you slog your way through the "From the Vault" entries, you'll find a general explanation that amounts to this: fandom is not a pissing contest so there's no point in putting the Movie Quiz online, not to mention that you could use that Google toolbar to the right to immediately answer the tougher questions.

I had considered sticking to that declaration and not putting any of the questions online, but re-reading it, I found that there were a few interesting entries into the quiz that merited sharing. I'm beginning to wonder if the quiz was difficult not because of the trivia you needed but because of how I worded some of them. At any rate, here's a sample of the quiz that plagued many a friend ten years ago:

2. What American director did Akira Kurosawa credit as a prime influence?

13. What is Mel Brooks' cameo in Young Frankenstein?

23. Other than Nosferatu, name a literary adaptation by F.W. Murnau

48. Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)" is exactly that. Name the film.

63. Name one sequence planned but never completed for Fantasia.

64. What character does Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh play in the film version?

66. Don't fuck with him, but what is the Jesus man's last name?

86. What was the first film to utilize "Cinemascope"?

100. How many times did George C. Scott play Patton?

138. What was the sister production to King Kong, shot on the same sets and using many of the same cast members?

140. What is the only film directed by Igmar Bergman to star Ingrid Bergman?

148. Roald Dahl wrote which James Bond film?

153. Katherine Beaumont voiced two Disney heroines back to back in the 1950s. Name them.

158. Which have there been more of: John Ford films featuring John Wayne or Martin Scorsese films featuring Robert DeNiro?

166. Of the Twilight Zone movie's four main vignettes, which one was not based on an episode of the original series, and who directed it?

There are many more, and what appears to be an aborted "guess the aspect ratio" page, which is even more ridiculous. Looking back, there are a few questions even I don't think I could answer anymore, so if you struggled over getting all of the quiz correct, take comfort in knowing even the Cap'n can't do it now.

Oh, and if you really want to answer them, feel free. You won't win anything other than respect amongst your fellow nerds, but sometimes that's enough. Right?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brutally Morbid Axe of Trailer Sunday!


Ambush


Shivers


Empire of Passion


The Greatest


Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li


Thunderstruck


Spirits of the Dead

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Much Ado About Martyrs...

With no less than four people telling me I needed to see Martyrs, it was inevitable that the Cap'n would get on top of that. I've had a reasonably good run with horror from the other side of the pond lately (Let the Right One In, Them, Frontier(s), even High Tension), and many of you were talking Martyrs up big time. I understand why, although I'm not positive I can really go whole hog with you.

In the interest of not spoiling a movie I think other people will really enjoy, I'm going to tread verrrrry carefully with Martyrs. What you've been told the film is about (or, at least, what I'd heard) is not exactly the case. It's not a "twist", per se, but rather a limited amount of information about the plot. Martyrs is technically a film about revenge, but that's only part of what's going on.

My problem with the movie, chiefly, is that the "torture" aspect of the movie, something which is regrettably a spoiler, was a little "been there, done that" for me. I've seen both Hostel movies. I've seen Saw. I've seen Funny Games, and therefore my problem with the movie was a case of desensetizing. A crucial section of the film which needs to be disturbing and needs to be shocking was, to me, boring. I wanted the movie to get on with wherever it was going.

What I will agree with those of you who championed Martyrs is that I would have never guessed where the ending was headed. Honestly. Two things happened that I did not expect at all, and combined they elevated Martyrs into lofty territory. The ending sticks with you, and in the three days since I watched it, the last fifteen minutes or so will periodically reappear in my mind and I have to play it out again.

That, in and of itself, is worth seeing the film for. Figuring out exactly what the title means, beyond the point where you think they've spelled it out, and the way its meaning unfolds in those final moments, or even in the last shot, make Martyrs worth seeing.

For me, it wasn't that the film was trying too hard to push boundaries or going for "shock", but more that by the time it actually gets where its going, I had mentally checked out. I thought I knew what kind of movie I was watching, and to be honest with you, I've been there and done that. The stories either go the Funny Games direction (the hero dies) or the Hostel direction (the hero exacts bloody retribution).

Martyrs doesn't play by those rules, but if you're really attuned to story archetypes, the third act is going to bore you a little bit. Or it did me. The end makes up for it, and balances out the first, more transparent act. So yes, I can see why so many folks are recommending Martyrs, and why director Pascal Laugier implores you to come into the film "knowing as little as possible". Alas, my enthusiam was a bit tempered, but I still say check Martyrs out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Until I get a chance to review Martyrs...



Here's the back cover to Cat's Eye, a Stephen King joint. I only bring this up because there are at least two things you should never write in the paragraph summarizing the film. Choose wisely: there will be a test when I return.




Thursday, August 13, 2009

So You Won't Have To: Street Fighter - The Legend of Chun-Li

As I promised several weeks back, the Cap'n would bring SYWHT back with a bang, and believe me when I say Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li delivers. For once, even though I watched it so you wouldn't have to, you might want to consider queue-ing this stinker up. Just put on some nose plugs beforehand.

The Blu-Ray starts with the following trailers, to set the mood: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Dragonball, and 12 Rounds (starring WWE Superstar John Cena and directed by Renny "Deep Blue Sea" Harlin). That should give you a pretty good idea of the quality you're in for. The top-billed "stars" are Kristen Kreuk, Chris Klein, Neil McDonough, Taboo (from the Black Eyed Peas) with an "And Michael Clarke Duncan" credit at the end. I'm not saying; I'm just saying is all...

(if it helps: Kristen Kreuk is on Smallville, Chris Klein was in.. uh, American Pie, Neil McDonough was the bad guy in Walking Tall, and Michael Clarke Duncan was in The Scorpion King.)

To answer the questions I asked (and many of you were probably wondering): yes, The Legend of Chun-Li is as bad as you'd think it was, and maybe worse. Plot points disappear and reappear for no apparent reason, characters die (or appear to die) only to show up again in the most lackluster ways, characters make decisions based on no logical criteria, and the film consistently feels like a B-Movie with an A-Movie budget. How they imagined this would kick off a Street Fighter franchise* is beyond me.

On the other hand, it is very entertaining for all of the same reasons. While not the worst movie I've seen this year, or even the most baffling-ly awful, Street Fighter manages to be dumb enough to keep you interested but not smart enough to disappoint. It's exactly the kind of arbitrary movie you'd put on with friends and kick back a few drinks to.

I'm not really sure how much we're supposed to cheer for heroes who kill the lead bad guy in front of his totally uninvolved-in-the-story daughter, or if I'm really supposed to understand why Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) is even in the movie, since he spends most of the running time kind of hanging around the plot. Actually, even when he is directly involved in the "Chun-Li getting even with M. Bison" story, it's only so he can shoot people and yell "Nash out!" into radios.

Truthfully, I'm not sure that I'm as onboard with the whole "give Charlie Nash his own movie" sentiment in most Street Fighter reviews. I do think that Chris Klein is pretty hilarious chewing scenery and delivering every line like he was preparing for the Golden Raspberry highlight reel, but much more of Charlie Nash would spoil a movie. It's almost better that he steals the film by having virtually nothing to do with the plot. If you stuck Klein's Charlie Nash into other movies he had no business being in, I might get behind that, but not his own movie.

For the most part, the actual plot doesn't make any kind of sense. Things happen either because a) they're convenient, or b) because a fight/shootout is necessary. Rather than walk you through the whole film, I'm going to bring up two specific point that demonstrate why this film is both a loser and a winner at the same time:

1) Chun-Li is a rich kid who may or may not be a concert pianist (the movie wants you to think so, but I'm 99% positive she's performing in front of a green screen with the worst "audience" painting ever). Her father is kidnapped/killed/something when she's young, leading to a ridiculous "Veangeance!!!!" stare and some kind of mysterious scroll when she's older. Her mother doesn't appear to age but instead dies of a mystery disease.

A wise woman tells Chun-Li she needs to "go to Bangkok." That's exactly what she says, but Chun-Li takes it to mean "give up everything you know and become homeless, wandering the streets until you get into a fight," which is exactly what happens. She then trains with a dude named Gen who teaches her how to throw fireballs. Until the fireballs, Street Fighter apparently was trying to be "realistic."

2) I mentioned Taboo earlier, because he plays Vega. At least he kind of looks like Vega, since he has a mask and claws, unlike Michael Clarke Duncan, who plays Balrog as Michael Clarke Duncan. Vega kills several people off-camera early in the movie and then disappears until he's summoned to kill Chun-Li.

The set-up for their "epic" battle is virtually nonexistent. Chun-Li is upset that Master Gen lost his necklace in an explosion (meaning that he must be dead), and is running around Bangkok. Then she decides to jump across rooftops, and bumps into Vega. At least, that's how the lousy editing makes it look. I guess maybe she sensed he was following, but there's nothing in the direction of this sequence to suggest A leads to B leads to C. It just happens.

Chun-Li and Vega fight (kind of), and she knocks his mask off. Instead of being disfigured or vain or something, he just looks like Taboo from the Black Eyed Peas, but Chun-Li says "No wonder you wear a mask. If I were as ugly as you I'd wear one too!", which is just odd. Then she jumps on him and knocks him out off-camera. We see her drop the knocked out Vega from a roof, where he's tied up by his feet but still has his claws!

Maybe we'll see Vega again? Nope. Not in this movie. At least Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li remembered to pay off the fireball, even if the CGI resembled Syfy Channel original quality.

I know it sounds like I'm bagging on this movie, but the truth is that you spend most of the time laughing at how inept this movie is. Whether it's the totally unexplained hookup between Chris Klein and Moon Bloodgood, the faux-lesbian club sequence that transitions into a strip club shootout, unwarranted c-sections, the really unnecessary reminders of the most obvious visual clue in the entire movie, or just Chris Klein staring past the camera and muttering one-liners that don't make sense, it's hard not to enjoy this kind of crap. It's bad, but far from unwatchable.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li may not be Death Race, but just because you Won't Have To doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try, provided you're in like-minded company with lots of alcohol.

Cap'n out.


* the end of the film sets up a "tournament" where Master Gen will find "Ryu something-or-other" that Chun-Li decides to sit out of. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess Fox will also sit out on this Street Fighter tournament too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blogorium Review: Coraline

I was looking forward to watching Coraline, having missed it in theatres (and in 3-D), so when the box I'd packed it in finally surfaced, that seemed like the best movie to break in the new apartment with. While it had been six years or so since I read Neil Gaiman's book, I still remembered the beats pretty well, and was looking forward to seeing Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) adapt an atmospheric and at times creepy kids novella into his stop-motion magic. I was, with one or two reservations, not disappointed.

For those who haven't read the book, the story is pretty simple: Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) and her mother and father (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) move into a large apartment in and old house. The other apartments contain eccentric neighbors: two vaudeville actresses aging ungracefully, a man named Bobinski who trains mice for his circus, the nosy grandson of their landlord. Coraline is easily bored and her parents easily distracted, so she goes off exploring and finds a rather small door in the living room. At first the door appears to go nowhere, until one night she finds it leads to another house, just like hers, with "other" parents, just like hers. Everything seems perfect, except for the buttons people have instead of eyes...

What follows is a bit of Alice in Wonderland crossed with "The Monkey's Paw"-style "be careful what you wish for", in Gaiman-esque fashion. I was quite fond of the book and the film doesn't deviate much, if at all, which can be a plus and a minus.

The one drawback to the film I have is that it's never as creepy or unnerving as the book is. When things go bad in this seemingly perfect world (and they always do, so it's hardly a spoiler), I didn't feel concerned for Coraline, nor did her sense of mounting danger translate as it did in the book. Now it's possible that, knowing how the story ended, I simply knew things were going to work out and that softened much of the alienation she feels in the third act.

On the other hand, Coraline is not so different from other children's books with similar stories, and accordingly it's always clear that things are going to "work out" in the end. If reading the novel didn't sully my enjoyment of the wonder that Coraline meets when she first passes through the tunnel, then perhaps the film is simply missing - by PG rating or not - that essential component of "uh oh". I think of films like Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal, or even Alice in Wonderland, where things get very bad very quickly for the hero, and you're not entirely certain they can get out of it. If Coraline has a fault, it's that the film lacks that urgency when its needed most.

On the other hand, the voice work is excellent. In addition to Fanning, Hatcher, and Hodgman, you also have Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Ian McShane, and Keith David as the cat who walks between worlds. The design of the "other" mother is pretty disturbing, especially as it reaches the final stages, and I thought Wybie (Robert Bailey, Jr.) was a more interesting character in the film than in the book, particularly "other" Wybie.

sidenote: I did not watch the 3-D version, but rather the 2-D take, so as to get impressions of the movie and not necessarily be influenced by the "gimmick", so to speak. Even in 2-D, the promise of seeing Coraline Jones's world in 3 dimensions is worth revisiting the film.

The design work of Coraline is quite intricate, to the point that - if you so desired - you could stop following the story and pay attention to the marvelous sculpture, knitting, and animatronic work on display. There really isn't a set in the film where you couldn't hit the "pause" button and enjoy the craftsmanship. The expressiveness of the facial work is also impressive, and the level of individuality in the human characters was something I was glad to see. Rather than looking roughly the same with small variations, each puppet had its own distinct look, personality, and movement. As fantastic as the film gets, the animation is always naturalistic and quite distinct from the expressionistic Nightmare Before Christmas.

Speaking of which, one thing that springs to mind is how not like Tim Burton's Corpse Bride this film is. The comparison draws itself because Burton made Corpse Bride in the shadow of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even though Selick directed Nightmare, Tim Burton is almost wholly associated with the film. My impression of Corpse Bride was that it tried so hard not to be Nightmare that the film doubled back onto itself and lacked any magic.

Coraline, on the other hand, is nothing like The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's not even like James and the Giant Peach. The film is, very loosely, reminiscent of Dave McKean's sketches in the book Coraline but in most respects is its own entity. While it doesn't hold together as well as it could story wise, I'd still say the Coraline is worth watching, and when I've seen the 3-D version I'll update you about that too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Final Films and Devil Worship!



You know, the Cap'n was worried there for a second. I was beginning to think that this movie didn't actually exist, and that Terry Gilliam had been showing us production art and setting up an elaborate ruse about the actual "final" Heath Ledger film. To be fair, I was basing this on the fact that - like Solomon Kane - in the year or so I'd been hearing about Parnassus online, there wasn't so much as a frame of actual footage featuring Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, or Jude Law to be seen.

Actually, I quite like the look of Tom Waits as the Devil, even if my earlier concerns that only die-hard Gilliam fans will see this aren't rattled after the trailer. Yes, I'll see the movie, and most of you reading this will (or very likely will), but I contend that much of the moviegoing public is "over" Heath Ledger after the Oscars, and accordingly won't see this since they're "said goodbye."

Of course, most of the moviegoing public helped give GI Joe fifty four million of their recession-dollars this past weekend, so the Cap'n clearly speaks for an irrelevant market.

---

While it may not be one of his best movies, I certainly didn't hesitate to pick up a copy of Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate on Blu-Ray for BD Cheap*. I've actually revisited the movie a few times on dvd and find that the problem is entirely in the ending, which essentially unravels the narrative and feels like it skipped over something important.

On the other hand, if you watch the movie knowing that the last "twist" about false pages is going to fall down, you can at least enjoy the detective story that Polanski sends Johnny Depp's Dean Corso down before things get silly. The ending tends to overshadow how good the rest of the movie is, and while of the two I'm more likely to revisit Repulsion in the near future, The Ninth Gate is welcome in the collection.

Cutthroat Island, on the other hand, can stay at Target forever as far as I'm concerned.

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One box away from being dvd/BD unpacked. It's the horror box, of course, so that the demons can kill me during an appropriate shelving. These things just happen, you know...



* BD Cheap = DVD cheap last year, which is to say $15 or less for a new release.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A brief follow-up on Watchmen

Because the Cap'n hadn't actually seen the first five minutes (or so) of Watchmen, and because of a combination of Borders Bucks and coupon action, I supposed it might not hurt to at least watch the beginning of the movie - if not the whole thing - since I could bring the damn thing home for free.

I'm on the record as saying that it wasn't some horrible disaster like I assumed it would be. On the other hand, not only did the film not live up to the considerable hype that comic fans and the internet raised it to, but the movie had a lot of other problems. The changes in story were dumb and kind of arbitrary, the music cues were mixed in a little too loudly, and the speed ramp-ing was a taaaad overused.

There was something else that bothered me about the movie, something that I couldn't quite put my finger on until I saw the beginning and skimmed through the beginning of the film again. When I realized it, I understood immediately why I had such a hard time getting into the world of Watchmen: the makeup appliances look horrible.

It's not just Nixon, who does look like a bad impersonation of an impersonation of Nixon; it's everyone. I think I mentioned in the other review that Sally Jupiter and the original Nite Owl looked bad, but it's not limited to the "old age" makeup. Castro looks terrible, Pat Buchanan is all but unrecognizable until Jim Lehrer (or a guy who barely looks like him) says his name. Kennedy looks awful and fake. The only person with a rubber (or latex) appliance that is even remotely convincing is Moloch (Matt Frewer), and I'm convinced it's because you don't notice the ears right away.

I spent 90% of the well-crafted opening credits alternating between settling into the world of the comic and being instantly pulled out by really shoddy makeup. I don't know why it's so bad but I had a very hard time buying into the story when such simple effects work looked so fake. The "old age" Comedian looked like he had piles of appliances dolloped on his face just before shooting, and it can really kill the mood. More than anything, this may be the reason I'm reticent to finish watching the Watchmen, even for free. That's a shame, because I might give the movie a fighting chance if I could get over such a simple mistake.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

From the Earth to Trailer Sunday!


Funny Face


The Ten


Repulsion


The Host


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers


Hobo with a Shotgun


Moon