Thursday, April 22, 2010


Platinum Dunes is not making a sequel to Shit Coffin. I suppose this is good news.

To be perfectly honest with you, readers, I've lost the heart to do this. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and there are better things I should be doing with my time than spending a week writing about bad movies. I have no income, no prospects, and I'll be out of school - probably permanently - in two weeks.

In order to get through the summer, I'm going to sell of most, if not all, of my movies. It's time to stop chasing the dream of being "the movie guy" and to grow up. It was fun while it lasted, but I've already decided there won't be any more Summer Fests or Horror Fests. I need to buckle down and shore up the impending debt that I accrued when I went back to school, and I don't feel there's room to be the Cap'n anymore.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. In the future I'll try to get older stuff up so there's a better back catalog, but I just don't see the point in pushing forward with blogging right now.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Video Daily Double: The Phantom Menace Edition

VDD Preamble:

I have a long and sordid history with Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. As a college student during the semester of 1998-99, I too was caught up in the internet hype about George Lucas' new Star Wars movies. I'd seen all of the Special Edition versions of the Original Trilogy and no doubt had them on VHS. Even if some parts were stupid (like the re-inserted Jabba the Hutt sequence in A New Hope), my enthusiasm was unbridled for The Phantom Menace.

Having an ethernet connection on a college campus meant unfettered access to every drop of information available about Star Wars, and I'm sure I had spy photos and leaked ADR .wav files and all of that junk. All of the rumors and script reviews... etc.

Then the movie came out in May of 1999, and I saw it four times. Yes, FOUR times. I also worked at a movie theatre that summer, so on breaks I'd sneak in and watch parts of the movie (usually the lightsaber duel) without having to pay to see it again.

But here's the thing. Even after the midnight show, where I had the buzz from seeing a NEW Star Wars movie for the first time since I was four (when I saw Return of the Jedi), something seemed... off. The movie was okay, but not great. Then it went from okay to not that great, and finally to "why am I watching this again?" When The Phantom Menace came out on VHS, there'd been enough time away from the film to forget the disappointing parts (which were numerous), and to pretend something awesome happened that I was just forgetting about.

Of course, there wasn't. There was an extended Pod Race scene and an extended "landing on Coruscant" sequence that were, well, not good. In fact, the more I thought about The Phantom Menace, the less I could understand what was good about it at all. Was it just that the concept of a Star Wars movie I hadn't grown up with was powerful enough to keep me coming back?

Now I find the movie an unendurable bore. My disdain for The Phantom Menace carried over to Attack of the Clones, which is several different ways just as bad (or worse), and were alleviated slightly by the less-awful Revenge of the Sith. Now Star Wars isn't as much fun as it used to be. Not even the Original Trilogy, which was retconned in 2004 to link up to the Prequels.

That being said, I'm not going to go into hyperbole. George Lucas didn't touch me in the wrong place or whatever you characterize his actions as; he just made two shitty movies and one marginally watchable film from 1999 to 2005.

What this has to do with Bad Movie exploration week: Well, some time last winter(?), a series of seven YouTube videos appeared from someone calling himself Mr. Plinkett that broke down The Phantom Menace on a plot-point-by-plot-point basis, and what he (rather hilariously) conveys in a logical manner is just how much worse the film is than you thought. It's simple, little, things that he demonstrates just don't make any sense that really move The Phantom Menace from disappointing to "my god, this is a terrible movie!"

Because Mr. Plinkett did such a great job with The Phantom Menace (and also Attack of the Clones and the forthcoming Revenge of the Sith), I'm devoting today's Video Daily Double exclusively to his work, in the hope you'll spend 70 minutes of your time being more entertained than you'd ever expect The Phantom Menace was capable of.


For today's Video Daily Double, I've decided to include two of my favorite segments from Mr. Plinkett's dissection of the first Star Wars Prequel. Feel free to click on either one of these to see the rest (along with Attack of the Clones or any of the Star Trek: TNG movies). Both clips deal with the Trade Federation and Naboo parts of the film. Enjoy:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Five Movies: The Best "Worst" Movies I've Ever Seen

While considering Bad Movies (the theme of this week), the Cap'n took some time out to consider my own history with the "lesser" side of cinema. It occurs to me that while I talk about "Bad" films all the time, to the point where I created a "So You Won't Have To" category, I've never collected the Best of the Worst, a "Cream of the Crap" so to speak.

It's a fine line working out what distinguishes movies that are just bad from the kind of bad that keeps your eyes glued to the screen, jaw agape. Lots of movies are fascinating in their crapitude (see The Happening), but it's the rare stinker that merits - nay, demands - repeat viewings. The kind of movie that's so bad it becomes imminently watchable, the stuff of cinemaphile legend.

That being said, I'm going to try to avoid the "big" films. Look, as much as I love Plan 9 from Outer Space, it's not go blow anybody's mind to see it on a list. You all know what Ed Wood has to offer. The Cap'n is about pointing you in new directions, so no Howard the Duck's; no Rocky Horror Picture Show's; no Spice World's. Too easy. Not even The Room, which isn't even something I'd watch again. I'm going to dig a little deeper here for this Five Movies*.

For the sake of keeping it fresh, I'm even going to include the "Best Worst Movie": Troll 2. Just go back to Friday's post if you want to know about that slice of cinematic infamy.

Links to all the original reviews (when possible).

Side note: The reason this took me so long to put up involves finally uploading (and back-dating) every Horror and Summer Fest, which you can find by clicking the Tags.

1. Night of the Lepus - Giant. Killer. Bunnies. It's a HORRIBLE idea, and the movie honestly has no idea whether it wants to be a horror movie or an environmental "warning" movie, so instead it's just goofy. If there was ever a movie begging to be on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it's Night of the Lepus. And that's exactly how you should (and will) watch it. This movie is a staple of Summer and Horror Fests.

2. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats - I really can't stress how weird this movie is. Yes, it's true that the film doesn't make any sense, suffers from massive logic gaffes, and the ending just kinda happens. That being said, the way the Death Bed eats people is hilarious, and the film has a twisted sense of humor (particularly in the flashback montage of all the people the Death Bed ate), and I cannot stress how funny it is to watch the Death Bed eat a bucket of fried chicken and then put the bones back to fool its victim!

3. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon - Better than Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus in almost every conceivable way. It's bad, but quite watchable, and the Megalodon effects are so awful that your jaw will drop. The only thing funnier is the way the film demonstrates Megalodon eating people in the ocean. Oh, and it has the best pick-up line ever.

4. Terrorvision - Terrorvision is by no means a "good" movie. It's cheap, the acting is... uh... well, it has some acting in there somewhere. There's a lot of strange padding, but it's always hilarious (I'm thining of Medusa in particular), and there's something about the low budget that's endearing. The film is never unwatchable; in fact, I can't get enough of the damn thing (ask anyone who comes over here), but I doubt you'd see Terrorvision on any other "Best of" List, so it belongs here.

5. The Giant Claw - I'm sorry. I know Adam feels bad for that stupid googly-eyed turkey puppet, but The Giant Claw is only watchable for two reasons: that bird and the TERRIBLE science. Those two elements, however, get you through the first twenty minutes and keep you guffawing at how cheap the film is for the next fifty five minutes. Trust me, there's a reason I refuse to show pictures of the monster from The Giant Claw, and it's because the surprise is half of the fun in watching this movie.

Dishonorable Mention: Hillbillys in a Haunted House, C.H.U.D., Mac and Me, Terminal Invasion, Chopping Mall, Teenage Mother, Doom, and Shocker.

* Unless, of course, you read this so regularly that you've seen these movies with me. In which case, I can only say "sorry." On the other hand, I also know you'll vouch for these five crap-classics.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blogorium Review (kinda) - Bionic Ninja

Folks, this is the danger of imprecisely titled movies, particularly ones about ninjas.

This is what I thought I was going to see:

But there is no such movie available on Netflix, or Amazon. In fact, they rerouted me to Bionic Ninja, which has an IMDB page that sure looks like the trailer above. But it turns out what I was looking for is this movie. That movie (Rage of Ninja) is only available on VHS, so the Bionic Ninja I picked up for $4 (with three other Ninja movies) is pretty much a bust.

See, Bionic Ninja, while from the same director (Godfrey Ho, using one of his many aliases) is nowhere as interesting as the trailer above. Since there's no trailer for Bionic Ninja, I can't show it to you, but it wouldn't matter. The plot is incomprehensible:

Bionic Ninja has something to do with the KGB using ninjas in Hong Kong to steal a secret formula for... something, except that they fail to steal the formula before some other guys do. A CIA agent then arrives, but is really British, or something, and he becomes fascinated by the "magic" ninjas. I say "magic" in part because he calls them magicians but also because the ninjas are able to appear and disappear at whim. Not "sneak off into the night" disappear, but literally just pop in and out of a scene as though editing trickery were at play (hint: it is).

There are at least ten other characters I counted that have something to do with the plot, but they're so poorly identified and are piled on top of each other so quickly that it's impossible to figure out exactly what's happening, who is doing what to whom, or what any of it has to do with the formula, the KGB, or the ninjas.

After a while, I got bored and hit the "fast forward" button until I saw instances with ninjas, which it turned out were few and far between. There was a kind-of training montage with the hero, and then a pretty lousy fight in a storage yard with two guys in ninja costumes shooting Uzis for no good reason. There is no Bionic Ninja that I could find, nor do the ninjas even really do anything except jump around. There are some other fight scenes, but when you don't really know who is fighting or what they're fighting about, it's pretty easy to lose interest, so I tuned out about halfway in.

More than anything, I was bummed that this wasn't Rage of Ninja, which was what I was hoping for. When I watch a ninja movie, I'm not looking for sleek assassins hiding in the dark and being badasses; I want truly nonsensical fight scenes coupled with bad dubbing and a white dude who has no business mixing it up with martial artists. Something like this:

Huh. Funny, I think that's the other half of the double feature with Bionic Ninja. Maybe all is not lost...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bad Trailer Sunday, No Donut!


The Room

Critters 4

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Mega Piranha

Wrong Side of Town

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blogorium Review - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Over the next few days, I'm going to focus on a handful of REALLY bad movies. In lieu of a "Bad Movie Night", I'm going to take a look at some real winners. Yesterday's Troll 2 compendium was the first salvo, and believe me, it only goes downhill from there.

For example, tonight I watched Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. This film, shot in 1972, finished in 1977, and never officially released until 2002, is by no means a "good" film. What it is, however, is a film that manages to combine woeful ineptitude with a handful of inventive - albeit stupid - tricks to create a film that, while awful, is imminently watchable.

To set the stage, listen to this portion of Patton Oswalt's cd "Werewolves and Lollipops" and join the Cap'n on the other side:

Are we all back? Cool.

The first thing I need to mention is that despite what Oswalt says, the movie is actually not titled "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats People", because the Death Bed eats a lot more than people. In fact, because the Death Bed enjoys toying with its victims so much, it will often eat anything on the bed before it eats a person.

For example, in the opening scene, the Death Bed eats an apple, drinks a bottle of wine, and then empties a bucket of fried chicken in order to confuse the couple making out next to their food. No, really. Then the death bed closes its curtains and kills the couple off screen, just so we don't quite know what happens to people.

What we do know is that the Death Bed eats in a way I was not expecting. Yes, it's true, when I saw the name "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats," I just kind of assumed that it created a mouth out of the mattress and baseboard or something like that. Oh no, not this Death Bed. Writer / Director George Barry had a much better idea: digestive fluids.

That's right; when the Death Bed starts eating something, the person / food object / luggage is covered with yellow bubbles, and then falls into the bed, where the camera cuts to one of two tubs behind yellow glass. This is the clever part: sometimes what we're seeing is food dropped into acid, so that you can clearly see it eating away.

Other times, we just see skeletons, people, blood, or other objects in regular water. Either way, we're meant to assume this is the inside of the Death Bed. The other clever thing Barry does is to design a bed that has a mattress clearly two or three feet above the floor, so that audiences would theoretically be confused as to how the Death Bed worked.

Believe me, that's not what's confusing about Death Bed: The Bed That Eats. Everything else is confusing: almost every character narrates part of the film, and there are flashbacks within flashbacks that span.... maybe hundreds of years? It's hard to say. Basically, this demon has sex with a girl on some bed in the middle of a field, but she lives and the demon bleeds on the bed. The demon goes to sleep inside of a tree and the girl dies but doesn't really die, so she's just lying half dead / half alive in a grave that's waaaaayyy to close to a lake.

Meanwhile, the Death Bed moves into a mansion, then out of a mansion, then back in the mansion, and then to the cellar. Then at some point the mansion is destroyed and only the cellar remains. According to a newspaper - and the narration of a dead artist who lives behind his painting and talks to the Death Bed (don't ask) - thousands (THOUSANDS) of people are killed by the Death Bed between when the girl dies in 1897 and 1977 when I guess the movie takes place.

But mostly we're asked to follow these three girls who apparently have the property for the weekend (or something). One of them is kinda loopy and is quickly eaten by the Death Bed; the other scares the Death Bed so it holds her prisoner; the last girl uh... well, let's just say she's there to explain how the Death Bed grabs a suitcase earlier in the film.

Actually, the first girl isn't really "quickly" eaten by the Death Bed, because first it decides to play some dumb "choking game" involving her crucifix necklace, then her skull magically appears outside of the cellar underground and sprouts a rose bush. No, really.

I'd say more than half of the film's 77 minute running time is devoted to the history of the Death Bed, the demon, the dead girl who isn't dead, or the stupid artist that hates the Death Bed but benefits from it murdering people. I don't really know why; maybe because he painted the Death Bed before letting it eat him...

When that isn't going on, the brother of one of the girls (you kinda assume it's the loopy one who dies first, but then it turns out to be the one the Death Bed is scared of) shows up in time to be trapped in the cellar.

Oh, and this happens:

I know it sounds like the Cap'n spoiled practically everything in the movie, but I can't begin to tell you how weird Death Bed: The Bed That Eats gets. This synopsis doesn't come close to capturing how bizarre and arbitrary this movie is, and I didn't even get to the why the Death Bed eats the suitcase (hint: there's Pepto Bismol in the suitcase. Seriously.).

George Barry recorded a comparably arbitrary and inane introduction to Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, which ends with him essentially saying "go ahead and watch it because it's too late to return the movie," but he doesn't need to do that. Patton Oswalt might sell you on checking it out, but Death Bed will keep you watching well beyond the opening credits. Oh crap, I didn't even mention how it's broken up (by screen titles) into meals of the day.

See Death Bed: The Bed That Eats as soon as you can, and with as many people as you can find. I assure you it's worth your time.

Coming next week: Bionic Ninja, The Wrong Side of Town, The Phantom Menace, and some other surprises...

Friday, April 16, 2010

From the Vaults (and by demand): The Cap'n Re-visits Troll 2!!!

The Cap'n knows what you're thinking: Why?

To which I must reply: What do you mean, "Why?"

It's been almost a year since the Cap'n directly addressed Troll 2, when it made its HD debut during The Greensboro Summer Fest Massacre Part 2, and nearly one year to the day it figured prominently into Bad Movie Night.

Appropriately, Troll 2 is back in the zeitgeist, and given my relationship to that particular slice of "bad movie" lore, it's only fair to look back as we look forward. You see, Best Worst Movie, the documentary mentioned below, is playing in Winston Salem this weekend for the River Run Film Festival. Since Best Worst Movie is about, well, Troll 2, they're also apparently showing the subject of BWM to give the uninitiated proper context.

Since I'm probably not going to catch Best Worst Movie until next weekend (it plays one last time on April 23rd), the Cap'n will instead give you my initial reaction to said doc's existence, followed by both write ups from last year. You're welcome.


Will Wonders Never Cease?

Well I'll be damned. It turns out that "cult" films can happen all by themselves and you can totally miss out on it.

Case in point: I had no idea that Troll 2 had a cult following, one based purely on how horrible it is. That at least is the purpose of this new documentary, Best Worst Movie, made by one of the stars of the film and featuring the director and most of the cast. It turns out they didn't know that piece of crap was a cult film either.

Sure enough, it runs at midnight in the same places that show The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that amazes me. Never in a million years did I think that of all "in name only sequels to already midgrade-mediocre horror movies", Troll 2 would be the one with a rabid following.

For those who don't know, Troll 2 has nothing to do with Troll. In fact, there aren't even trolls in Troll 2. There are goblins. If you read that "How to Survive a Horror Movie" excerpt I posted last fall, you might have noticed one rule about staying away from a town named "Nilbog", with a note from the contributor sharing amazement you caught the reference. That would be the town that Troll 2 takes place in.

If by some chance you aren't dyslexic or tend to gloss over words like Nilbog, that would be Goblin backwards*. That's about as clever as Troll 2 ever gets. I'll give it this: the movie is woefully inept, poorly acted, and full of non sequiturs that will cause you to laugh uncontrollably.

To give you some idea of the kind of quality Troll 2 represents, here's one of those ubitquitous YouTube compilations:


Wow.... it's worse than I remembered. It's reasonable to see why this movie has a cult following, albeit one I wouldn't have expected. Like, why Troll 2 and not Ghoulies 2? Why not Megalodon: Shark Attack 3**? Since I put it on last night for the first time in years, why not Batman & Robin?

No, really. Batman & Robin is even worse than you remember it was. It's embarrasing how hard that movie fails in just about every way, or why anyone thought it was a good idea. The hockey fights with Mr. Freeze's henchmen? The gratuitous butt shots of Batman and Robin at the beginning? Letting every other line out of Arnold's mouth be a pun? We're not even getting to the nipples on their suits... Yeesh.

But here we are, a documentary celebrating a movie I'd almost forgotten existed which is inexplicably a cult phenomenon. Good for you, Troll 2, maybe this will help drum up interest for the Troll remake coming later this year***. Cult films work in mysterious ways, I suppose.

Here's the trailer for Best Worst Movie, now showing at South by Southwest.


* Technically I suppose it would be gobliN.
** Seriously, why not? Do I need to repost the most awkward hook up line ever?
*** No joke.


Bad Movie Night, Day Two

Now that I've seen Troll 2 as an adult, I bow down to its reputation. That movie makes the cast of The Giant Claw look like polished professionals and the story makes even less sense than it did 20 years ago. Holy cow is this movie funny for all the wrong reasons.

My favorite subplot has to do with the guys who follow the Waits family to Nilbog and stay in an RV outside of town. They seem to think there's plenty of girls to score with if they just hang out in the RV. Somehow they just end up naked in bed together or in similarly compromising positions. Finally one of them gets lucky with the Goblin Queen (?) and has the greatest scene involving popcorn ever**.

It is totally fair to call Troll 2 the "Best Worst Movie" and show it at midnight. I only wish a nearby theatre offered such an experience.

Things we learned: Italians hate vegetarians, Part of Stonehenge is in Nilbog, Kicking a guy in the nuts will in fact turn him "into a homo", the Biscuitville in Nilbog is open past 2:30 pm.


Summer Fest Day Three

I think everything I said about Troll 2 here is still accurate. The only additional thoughts I have are about how good it looked in HD, which is just weird. The popcorn scene is funnier the second time, along with the strange homoerotic overtones in the camper van those guys share. Realizing that movies are shot out of sequence, I understand that maybe there was no "continuity" crew member, but its kind of silly to have characters clearly realize something is totally wrong in one scene and forget in the scene that immediately follows it, even if the same characters are involved.

I speak, of course, of the "Church" scene where Josh's father saves him from eating that nasty Goblin ice cream and freak out about their handling of his son only to welcome them with open arms into his house not three minutes later and accept their evil green food.

Troll 2 is some kind of awful, which in this case translates to some kind of special, but you need to be prepared for a movie that struggles to advance a simple plot forward and subplots that don't make sense, period. If you can do that, this "Best Worst Movie" is right up your alley.


Finally, that fan made picture for something we'll never see.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sequence Analysis: No Country for Old Men

Originally, I thought I might review No Country for Old Men, but I've come across a pretty serious point on contention about one sequence in the film based on class discussion today. So, in order to help share this with you, I took photos of the scene in question and will present them to you (in case you were wondering, the pictures were taken with my camera phone of the Blu Ray edition).

(necessary spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the film)

But first, the scene itself: near the end of the film, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) returns to the motel room where Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) was killed. It's at night, and he has a sneaking suspicion that Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) visited in Bell's absence.

To this point in the film, Bell has never met or seen Chigurh, partially because he's afraid of what may happen if they meet face to face. The point of contention in this scene occurs because of a cut away to the inside of the motel room, where Chigurh appears to be hiding, anticipating Sheriff Bell's entrance. I'm going to present you with as close as "shot by shot" as I could, so my question to you readers is:

Based on the way this sequence is constructed, where is Anton Chigurh in the motel room?

Okay, so Bell pulls up to the Motel and has immediately noticed something about the door that we cannot see yet.

You can't quite see it here, but the next shot (from Bell's POV) indicates that:

Chigurh used his pressurized air prod to knock the lock out (as he's done on previous occasions). Now, Llewelyn was killed by the Mexican drug dealers, who Bell saw fleeing the scene. I checked that scene, and you can't actually tell if the lock was blown out or not based on the positioning of the door, so this is our indicator that Chigurh was (or is) here.

Bell reacts to what he knows is Chigurh's trademark entrance.

A close up of the lock, to make it clear that who (has been or is) in the room.

Another shot of Bell, contemplating what might be behind the door.

We now come to the hotly contested shot:

A shot of Chigurh, pressed up against the wall of the interior of the room (somewhere), waiting to see if Bell opens the door. Forgive me for the washed out nature of the pic, but the only light source in the scene other than a beam of light on Javier Bardem's face is from the light shining through the lock hole (visible on the right side of the image). Note what appears to be a door hinge behind Chigurh, just behind the silencer on the shotgun.

To make it clear where the spot of light is coming from in the previous picture, there's a shot of Bell's headlights shining through the lock hole. The positioning of Chigurh would indicate that he's pressed against the wall near the closet based on where the beam hits.

Bell cocks his gun and decides to open the door. Missing is a shot of him nudging the door open in profile.

The door is open, and light floods into the motel room, illuminating the left of the frame and giving us some idea of the geography of the room, which is coupled with:

A reverse shot of Bell's silhoutte (mirroring an earlier shot where Chigurh does the same in a motel room similar to where Llewelyn has hidden the case full of money). Again, note that there is no room for Anton amidst the furniture, so he must then be to the left side of the screen.

The camera pans over, showing the bed and lamp, but still no Chigurh. The closet and bathroom are still shrouded in darkness (although it is less impenetrable onscreen than in the picture).
Llewelyn's blood, indicating that this is, in fact, the room he was murdered in and not the room next door (which is also taped off).

Forgive me for the difficulty to see the left side of the frame. On the DVD and Blu Ray, you can see all of Bell as he heads into the small hallway between the closet and bathroom.

A slightly brightened image to give you some idea that there's nothing in the closet, where Chigurh logically would have been if not in the room itself.

Bell turns on the bathroom light, facing away from the closet. Even in the dark, if Chigurh were in the closet, this would be where they would have likely exchanged gunfire. Instead, he proceeds into the well lit bathroom.

Bell looks at the window, which is closed. It seems unlikely that between when he opened the door and when he arrived in the bathroom that Chigurh had time to escape that way, but to make the point further, the Coen brothers move to the next shot:

A POV of the window, which is locked from the inside.

Bell walks out of the bathroom, facing the closet, and into the bedroom. Notice that IF Chigurh were in the closet, it would have been almost impossible to slip out without Bell seeing him in such close proximity.

Bell sits down on the bed, and looks to his left. He sees the following:

The air conditioning vent is open (this is the same M.O. that Llewelyn demonstrated in the first hotel room we saw him in) and the money - which Moss hid - is gone. He also sees:
The cover to the air conditioning sitting on the floor next to the screws and a dime (which is exactly what Chigurh used to open the A/C vent in the first hotel room). Chigurh was here, and Bell missed him again.

So I ask again: based on the images presented, where is Anton Chigurh in this motel room? Where does that shot come from? We've seen enough of the room to be sure where he's NOT, so what's left for him to be hiding in? There's not enough time to sneak out; while it has been demonstrated that he operates silently and is quick, Chigurh is nevertheless still portrayed as flesh and blood in the film (while he survives, he still bleeds and is clearly feeling the effects of being shot in the leg and breaking his arm).

My own theory is that shot of Chigurh - which is the only interior shot of the hotel room before Bell opens the door - isn't real. It's all in Bell's head, and the fact that he's imagining Javier Bardem is a movie conceit based on the fact that the audience knows who Chigurh is even if Bell doesn't. Not only is the image of Chigurh hiding inconsistent with the way he's portrayed anywhere else in the film, but the idea that Bell is fantasizing a shoot out to be (which never occurs, hence his sense of relief when he sits on the bed) is only there to reinforce the idea that the old Sheriff does not actually want to meet the psychopath.

This was rejected flatly by other members of the class, under the argument that at no point prior in the film is there precedent for a "fantasy" sequence, and therefore the Coens were intending to demonstrate that Chigurh is ethereal, metaphorical, and even spectral. If this is the case, why does a very tangible Anton wipe his boots off after killing Carla Jean and then flee the scene of a car accident. Just because his code is "not to be seen" does not negate the fact that Chigurh is still a real person, albeit Jason-like in his indestructability.

I'm open to other suggestions, but I hope I presented my case clearly. I will concede that, because it is difficult to see the lock on door 112 (the room next door), one could argue that Chigurh is hiding next door. It was a thought I had the first time I saw the film, but the editing indicates some continuity of images between the exterior headlights, the vacant lock hole, and the shaft of light to Chigurh's right. I sense that if we are meant to believe Chigurh is there at all, he's in the room Bell is walking into.

And yet, where is he?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Video Daily Double

Greetings all. As I'm heading out to go discuss No Country for Old Men, I figured that I'd give you something to watch (and something to read) to keep you busy in the interim.

Even thought it's about a week or so old, I really found this article on Blu Rays interesting. Oh sure, it leans heavy on the "mastering" side of things, which is tech heavy for most people, but what I think you'll find worthwhile is that in one place you can finally get an idea of what distinguishes Blu Ray from DVD, how the discs are put together, and what studios are doing to transition audiences from one to the other. It also addresses some long standing questions I had about why some discs look so... well, waxy. Anyway, I'll let you check it out for yourself. It's well worth the read.

On to the videos...


In honor of A Nightmare on Elm Street hitting Blu Ray today, the Cap'n thought it would only be fair to honor Freddy Krueger by including a video... by The Fat Boys.

okay, that was mean. Here are the highlights of MTV's "Freddy Krueger Hour," promoting A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master.

Our second video, in honor of its 100th anniversary, is the long-thought lost Thomas Edison version of Frankenstein. Thankfully, it isn't lost, and with the purchase of this book, you can actually have your own copy of a restored version.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

(in)Frequently Asked Questions (part 2)

Greetings, readers! If you missed out on yesterday's post, I (the Cap'n) am answering ten of the most frequently asked questions about the Blogorium. Questions 1-5 were answered yesterday, and Questions 6-10 are today. Enjoy!

6. Okay, so I saw these tags that say "Horror Fest", and you seem to mention that all the time. What is it, and do how can I get in?

Horror Fest began in 2005 when I lived in The Apartment of Solitude, although it had unofficial versions going all the way back to 1999. It's typically a three to four day event - usually taking place the weekend immediately before, during or after Halloween - where we watch horror films from around 7 pm until we can no longer stay awake. The record for a Horror Fest was during Horror Fest 2, where we went from 6 pm until 7:30 am of non-stop film action.

I tend to break my "once a day" rule for Horror Fests and will post after every single movie (if I can), although lately because the events tend to draw more people every year and for longer periods of time, I may condense several movies into recaps.

While Horror Fest is heading into its fifth year, there are also two other "event" or "marathon" nights:

Bad Movie Night, which I try to celebrate around my birthday. It's exactly what it sounds like, a night (or two) of some of the most awful - yet watchable - films I can find (last year's installment included Troll 2, Mac & Me, The Giant Claw, and Crank: High Voltage). There will, alas, not be a Bad Movie Night this year (I just don't have time), but hopefully in 2011 it'll come back, as I have some really special titles saved up...

Summer Fest, which is the July equivalent of Horror Fest. Typically devoted to "horror comedies," Summer Fest is considered to be a lighter atmosphere than Horror Fest and is a break from typical 4th of July festivities. If I can have one this year, Summer Fest III will probably be the last in current Blogorium Headquarters. (sorry I don't have a specific tag for Summer Fest, but you can find almost all of them under "Horror Fest").

While I can't say for certain how to "get in" other than paying attention to see if they're happening, readers of the blog who are willing to travel and don't mind sleeping on couches can come as long as they respect others, if not always the films.

7. Can I be a guest blogger?

As I said yesterday, I typically like to generate most of the writing here on the Blogorium, but I'm certainly happy to take a look if you've got something you'd really like to share here. Every now and then I'll put up a contest that is asking for someone to write their own review, so keep an eye out for that.

If you'd like to pick up the So You Won't Have To portion of the Blogorium and make it a more frequent part of the site (perhaps because you have a penchant for watching more awful movies than the Cap'n does), I'd certainly welcome that. Just leave a comment or drop me a line.

8. Come on, seriously; you're Grampa J, aren't you?

I get it, really I do. It does seem like some kind of Andy Kaufman-esque gag where I'm posting to both blogs in order to mess with your heads or to make some comment on identity, but I assure you that I am NOT Grampa J.

9. If I recommended something to you, would you watch it?

Sure. I will tell you right now that I'm not going to watch Avatar or any of the Twilight movies, but I'll consider pretty much anything else you think I'd enjoy or would like to see the Cap'n review.

10. How much does this pay?

Nothing. I write these every day for free, both meaning free to you and free to me, which means nobody is paying me to do this. It would be nice if somebody would pay me to do this, since I hope I'm demonstrating that I can consistently write quality reviews, essays, and content, but right now that's not happening. The good news means that no one is asking me not to write something.

The bad news is that once school is over with and I have to work two (or more) jobs to make end's meat, it's going to be much harder to keep writing every day. Believe me, I treat this like it is a job, but I don't make any money from it. Studios don't even send me movies, which I guess most DVD sites do have as some kind of arrangement. Of course, I can't prove that thousands of people come to the Blogorium, so why would they pay me?

However, what matters to me is that you're reading it, and that you're enjoying it. If it ever turned into a paying gig, that'd be awesome, but in the meantime I'll keep going as long as I can.

and finally, a special "bonus" question:

11. I finally realized that when you say "Dinosaur Island", you mean Lost, so why do you keep calling it that? There are no, and never will be, dinosaurs on the island. What's wrong with you?

It's called Dinosaur Island because there are dinosaurs on the island. I don't really understand what it is I have to explain here. There's nothing wrong with me because I happen to know that there are dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island which is precisely why the show is called Dinosaur Island. Yeesh.

Monday, April 12, 2010

(in)Frequently Asked Questions (part 1)

A good Monday to all Blogorium readers. I thought I'd take some time out today to address ten of the most frequent questions that come up. The Cap'n isn't above doing more Q&A's, so if I leave something out, feel free to ask for future posts of this kind.

In the interest of keeping this from going on forever, I'm going to break up the questions over two days. For today, enjoy questions 1-5.

1. I have to ask, what the hell is that picture on the top of the Blogorium?

The picture that greets you every time you come to Cap'n Howdy's Blogorium is Doctor Re-Animator. It's a screen grab from "Move Your Dead Bones," which is this strange techno-dance video that's an extra on Beyond Re-Animator, which is the second sequel to Re-Animator and was (as best I can tell) never released theatrically in the U.S. It is not directly tied to the film, but I find it to be both hilarious and dangerously catchy.

See for yourself:

Two hours from now, that chorus will still be in your head. I promise.

2. Do you really post every day?

Whenever possible. There have been a few circumstances, usually tied to moving or unforeseeable circumstances, where I've missed the "chronological" or calendar version of "day" and had to post a little late, but I do try to have something new up every single day. Periodically you'll see a "From the Vaults" or I'll hand things over to a Guest Blogger if I know I won't be able to make good on this self-imposed productivity.

3. Are you Grampa J?

No, I am not Grampa J. For those of you new to the site, Grampa J is a blogger who runs @Josh@Themovies, a site that really seems hell bent on parodying the Cap'n by using my real name and pilfered photo. I don't know exactly where he came from, but I do have some idea who "he" is. Since Grampa won't go away, I will periodically point you in his direction for a particularly insipid review, and I've decided to hound him until he gives up this embarrassing ruse of identity theft.

4. Why do you do "theme" posts, and why are some of them so infrequent?

I do the theme posts to keep things interesting, both for me and for you. It's true that I watch enough that I could easily do reviews every day, and there's enough news going on that I could also constantly link and react to the goings on in Hollywood, but after the first year or two, that got a little dull. So I decided to spice it up.

For new readers, I'll break them down for you:

There are two "theme" posts that will appear every week - Video Daily Doubles on Wednesday and Trailer Sundays on, well, Sunday. Video Daily Doubles are devoted to short films, random clips, or movie related ephemera I find during the week, and Trailer Sundays are devoted to introducing you to movies you may have never heard of and might not otherwise. The VDD's are a little newer, but I find it breaks the week up in an entertaining way.

As for the rest, they're broken down thusly:

Five Movies - It's exactly what it sounds like. Five movies that fit into some theme, designed to give you new titles to look into or to remind you of films that you saw and maybe forgot about.

Four Reasons - Here I'll try to take one movie or series and reconsider or revisit aspects that may not have occurred to me (or you) before. It's a much more specific post than Five Movies, and I use it to distinguish from longer Reviews.

So You Won't Have To - When the Cap'n is feeling particularly masochistic, I'll sometimes sit down and watch a movie that no one in their right mind would endure otherwise. I do so typically because I have some lingering interest in one aspect of the film or another, and the subsequent review (almost always a pan) is done so that you won't have to watch what I just finished. I'll always try to address the morbid fascination I had coming to the movie, in the hopes that it will satisfy any questions you had. Consider it an occupational hazard and a courtesy rolled into one.

From the Vault - I haven't always been here at Blogspot. For years I wrote on Livejournal and Myspace, and while both of those accounts have been abandoned, I did like some of the writing I did there, and will periodically re-post it for people who haven't been aware of the Cap'n. There's around 10 years worth of writing out there, and some of it is even good, so you can expect more every now and then.

Guest Blogger - There actually aren't that many of these. Typically I like to generate all of the content here at the Blogorium (it is, after all, my moniker attached to the top of the page), but every now and then I'll have a contest or ask somebody to be my DH for a day. It could even be you (more details tomorrow).

As to why some appear more frequently than others, I can say that Five Movies and Four Reasons take more time to put together than a review, so I do them less often. I enjoy them, but the preparation time is a little more involved. The So You Won't Have To's have been a little lax lately because, well, I haven't seen too many bad movies. If there's something particularly heinous you're interested in that's not Twilight, let me know.

5. How do you pick the movies you watch?

I have a pretty extensive collection of films here at Blogorium Central, many of which I haven't seen or have not seen in years. I also have a Netflix account and shop frequently at Edward McKay's Used Books and More, where I can find all kinds of movies I've never heard of. It's generally a combination of those three elements, interspersed with recommendations from you (the readers), films I watch in class, or screenings around town.

Questions 6-10 will appear tomorrow afternoon. Stay frosty, everybody!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

One of these Trailer Sundays is not like the other...

The Hudsucker Proxy

Bad Lieutenant

One Fine Day

Fist of Steel

For a Few Dollars More

West Side Story


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Five Movies I Haven't Seen (but know I should...)

Remember earlier this week when I said that I hated writing negative reviews of movies I wanted to like? Well, there's something the Cap'n hates to do even more than that, which is admit that there are movies - well known, highly respected movies - that I have not seen.

Actually, every self-identifying cinephile feels the same way; we love to hang our hat on the assumption that we've seen all there is to see, save for the truly obscure, rare, or hard to find films we trade as currency to raise our stature among other film geeks. Oh sure, there are the movies that cinephiles are "too good for", or other excuses to deflect the "wait, you didn't see this or that", but what many of them will never tell you is that there are movies they should have seen but have not.

I could qualify this and say "yet", but let's not mince words here: I know that I should have seen the following five movies, but I just haven't. Hopefully I will, but right now I won't continue to hide behind the "film scholar" shield.

Think less of me if you will; certainly, you'd have every right. I have have no excuses.

1. The Shawshank Redemption - I know. Everybody loves it. I've seen The Green Mile, or most of it. I've seen The Mist, but for some reason I never got around to watching Frank Darabont's first Stephen King adaptation. It's on all kinds of "top" lists and critics and audiences love it, but the Cap'n has yet to make time for Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. I honestly don't know what happens in the movie, which may be as amazing to you as the fact I never saw it.

2. West Side Story - I can honestly say that I've never seen West Side Story. I've seen clips from it; I may have even watched entire sequences, but I know for a fact that I've never seen the movie from beginning to end. The Cap'n is a BIG Robert Wise fan (The Haunting may be one of the creepiest horror films I've ever seen) from The Day the Earth Stood Still to The Sound of Music*, and I have seen productions of West Side Story. Just not the film.

3. Mean Streets - I talk a lot about Martin Scorsese here, so it's a crying shame that despite the fact I have seen Boxcar Bertha, Cape Fear, and The Color of Money, I have yet to make the time to watch Mean Streets. I have no good reason whatsoever. I have a copy of Mean Streets in my apartment, and must have seen the same clip of Robert DeNiro losing it in the bar over and over again, and yet it has not entered my dvd player.

4. The Dirty Dozen - I'm not sure why I'm including this, because I have started watching The Dirty Dozen. I've just never finished watching it. There are a lot of movies I can say that about, some of which I'm simply too embarrassed to put out in public. Someday I hope to finish the "men on a mission" World War II movie, so I can put it alongside The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare, and the original Inglorious Bastards in my "seen it" pile.

5. Rebel Without a Cause - Okay, this is kind of a cheap shot, because I have no intention of watching Rebel Without a Cause either. I don't care how influential it was with "teen" culture in the 1950s; I don't like James Dean. I just don't. I think people mistake his inability to act for "raw emotion" and it annoys me. The only movie I ever kind of liked Dean in was East of Eden, and that's pushing it.

Since I'm an unabashed member of "Team Brando" in this situation, allow me to qualify (and admit) that I've also never seen The Wild One. There's a slight chance I will someday see that, but Rebel Without a Cause is probably S.O.L. as far as the Cap'n is concerned.

I don't quite know why, but I too realize that this list is almost entirely about angsty guys dealing with their drama. Take from that what you will. To be fair, there are a number of other movies I simply couldn't bring myself to admit to you good readers that I a) have not finished watching or b) simply haven't seen. Considering some of the ones I have, it's just better if you don't know right now. If - or when - I decide to give up writing about film, I'll share the rest of the list with you (honestly, it grows both longer and shorter every day), but for now you have five to chide me about while I attempt to rectify the situation.

* But not Star Trek: The Boring Picture.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blogorium Review: The Hudsucker Proxy

Since I closed out last week talking about the concept of "lesser" Scorsese, let's do the same with Joel and Ethan Coen's The Hudsucker Proxy, which, prior to Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers*, was considered their "lesser" film. Even in class this week I saw a fairly pronounced disdain for the film. Most of the other students were uncertain exactly what the Coens were trying to do with The Hudsucker Proxy, and considered their ode to Frank Capra to be "artificial" and "heartless." While The Hudsucker Proxy is certainly not my favorite of their films, I nevertheless disagree with their assessment, and will endeavor to make my case for the film.

First, the plot: Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), a fresh faced college graduate from Muncie, Indiana, arrives in New York City in 1958, looking for work. Responding to an ad for Hudsucker Industries, Barnes ends up in the mailroom the same day that Waring Hudsucker (Charles Durning), President of the company, decides to dive out of the 44th floor window, leaving the company without a leader.

The Second-in-Command, Sidney J. Mussburger (Paul Newman) points out to the board that in the event of the death of Hudsucker, all of the stock will go public on January 1st, meaning they will lose control of the company. In order to buy up a controlling interest in the company, they need to make the stock prices plummet, so they decide to appoint some idiot to be the new company President. Norville, charged with bringing a "Blue Letter" from Hudsucker to Mussburger, arrives in Sidney's office just in time to make all the wrong impressions, and viola! New President. Unfortunately for Mussburger and the board, Barnes is less of an idiot than they hoped, and his one invention turns out to be the Hula Hoop.

Meanwhile, the Manhattan Argus, a struggling newspaper, is looking for a story. The Chief (John Mahoney) wants somebody to cover the Barnes story, but fast talking Pulitzer Prize winning Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has other ideas. She wants to expose him as a fraud, a theory she shares with her "heel" co-worker Smitty (Bruce Campbell). So, in true screwball fashion, she goes undercover and insinuates herself into Norville's world. From there, the story goes about how you'd expect it to, save for a clock-keeper that has some magical abilities and a ghostly visit from one Waring Hudsucker involving that "Blue Letter" that Norville never delivered...

The Hudsucker Proxy is very much in the spirit of a screwball comedy, although it takes place nearly a decade after Hollywood stopped making them. It is a strange film, in that it often alternates between the fast talking, Katharine Hepburn by way of Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday world of Amy Archer to the slowly paced hayseed world of Norville Barnes. The result can feel a little disjointed, and admittedly it is hard to get into the film is you don't know exactly what you get into.

There are two things you should know heading into The Hudsucker Proxy:

1. Joel and Ethan Coen wrote The Hudsucker Proxy with Sam Raimi in 1981, and completed the script while Raimi directed 1985's Crimewave (also written by Joel and Ethan). This is not to imply that the scripts for either are somehow "less than" later works like Millers Crossing or Barton Fink, but rather to point out that while Sam Raimi made Crimewave (which flopped), the Coens were unable to find financing for Hudsucker for 9 years. When they did, Warner Brothers put uber-producer Joel Silver behind the picture and conceived of the film as a high-budget mass-appeal picture starring Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Newman.

2. While the film is directly influenced by Frank Capra (particularly Mr. Deeds goes to Town), the films of Preston Sturges, and His Girl Friday - as well as visual references to Citizen Kane and Metropolis - it is important to note that The Hudsucker Proxy comes after movies like Executive Suite and the film version of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, which have already lampooned the Capra and Sturges films. Accordingly, what the Coen brothers are doing is necessarily less a direct parody and more of an amalgam of the original films and the subsequent dissections of the genre. In this way, plot elements like the clock (a literal deus ex machina) make slightly more sense.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's move on to my qualified defense of the film. The Cap'n is willing to admit that I don't regard The Hudsucker Proxy as highly as I do Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Millers Crossing, O Brother Where Art Thou, A Serious Man, or No Country for Old Men. But I do enjoy it. You have to be in a particular frame of mind in order to enjoy it, and I agree it's the hardest Coen brothers movie to watch without being steeped in film history. The Hudsucker Proxy is loaded with intertextual references that make enjoying the film on a surface level difficult.

That being said, I contend that there is a certain charm to the film. Leatherheads, a film very much like The Hudsucker Proxy in tone, is a film I enjoy for similar reasons, although I realize it's also universally derided. I was not bothered at all by Jennifer Jason Leigh's choice to mimic the rapid fire Howard Hawks-esque delivery of lines, or the corny earnestness of Tim Robbins as Norville Barnes. I really enjoy that the hokey ending is commented upon in the film (to the point of breaking the fourth wall, something the Coens would visit again in The Big Lebowski), and it has a certain charm if you enjoy How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (where I'd argue as much of the tone comes from over Mr. Deeds Goes to Town).

So yes, I suppose in this instance, you could argue that The Hudsucker Proxy is a "lesser" film of the Coen brothers, something I certainly contested in last week's Shutter Island review. That being said, the film has its merits and I'd say that cinephiles with a deep familiarity with screwball comedies and big business parody films can find something to enjoy. Otherwise, you might want to stick with the "better" Coen brothers films.

Until next time...

* I am actually all for calling The Ladykillers a "lesser" Coen brothers movie; upon recent inspection, the film simply does not work. However, I've detailed this elsewhere and will not spend more time and space dissecting their one and only official remake. As for Intolerable Cruelty, I honestly can't say I've watched it more than once but will, for the purposes of analysis, watch it again this summer in an effort to completely review the films of Joel and Ethan Coen.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Four Reasons Iron Man is Not for Children

To preface this edition of Four Reasons, allow me to explain what seems like a fairly obvious argument. I made the mistake of telling someone - based on having seen Iron Man once a year and a half ago - that it might be the kind of movie they could show an eight year old. The way I remembered Iron Man, which is admittedly a PG-13 movie, hinged upon the scenes where Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) put together the Mark II and was flying around like a goofball (i.e., Tony hovering in the garage, flying too high and freezing, and the airplane chase).

What I'd forgotten about was the rest of the movie, which is not at all kid-friendly. In fact, I'd say that Iron Man is on the "hard" end of a PG-13. Of course, I had to find this out while watching the movie with said parent, who seemed alarmed I would even suggest this film was appropriate for a kid who liked Iron Man as a character.

But let's make with the specificity, shall we? Then you - like I - can remember exact points of reference and never made the mistake the Cap'n did.

1. Depiction of Women - You could argue that there are, essentially, two women in the story: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Christine Everhart (Leslie Bibb). Pepper is Stark's loyal assistant, who willingly puts her life aside to serve Tony at whatever whim he indulges in. In exchange, she occasionally gets to make a snarky quip at his expense, which is what passes for comeuppance considering that he twice puts her life at risk and sees her as a "love interest" in the most passing and incidental of ways.

I'd forgive you if you forgot who Christine Everhart was, since she only appears once during the beginning (outside the casino), the middle (at the charity ball), and at the end (the press conference). She's the reporter who sleeps with Stark immediately after some verbal sparring, is suggested by Potts to be part of "occasionally taking out the trash", and then reappears to create the schism between Tony and Obadiah (Jeff Bridges) so the conflict can begin properly, and then gets one parting shot in before Stark announces "I am Iron Man." That's it. That's her character.

While you could make the argument that they're doing this job because they enjoy it, I do feel the need to mention the flight attendants on Stark's private plane who strip down and work out on a stripper pole in mid-flight. One could also argue that this entire sequence exists only so that they could incorporate a Ghostface Killah video into the film (as one of Ghostface's alter egos is named Tony Stark and his first album was called Ironman), which I'd buy, but it doesn't necessarily explain away the "women as objects" argument in Iron Man.

2. Violence - I lost count of how many people Iron Man cripples, maims, or kills during the film (either by burning them, blasting them, or in explosions), but it's a pretty high body count, even for a comic book movie. To put it in perspective, let's look at X2 and Spider-Man 2, which both have higher body counts than the first film, but still nowhere nearly as high as Iron Man*.

Okay, in X2, Wolverine goes on a berserker rage and kills ten to fifteen soldiers in the Xavier Institute. Let's safely assume he wipes out some more in Stryker's lab, plus the presumed killing of Lady Deathstrike (always possibly alive for sequels). All of the other murders are committed by villains; Magneto kills the guard, Mystique kills a bunch of schmoes, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something else. Nightcrawler doesn't kill anyone, per se, in his White House siege, although I'm sure he knocks out several people.

In Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man kills... nobody. He doesn't even accidentally kill someone, like the Green Goblin in the first film. Doctor Octopus kills all of the medical staff, and I'm sure there was some serious collateral damage during the "car thrown into the coffee shop" scene, but he also willingly sacrifices himself to the deep to save Spider-Man and Mary Jane (and the world). I'm reasonably certain less people die in Spider-Man 2 than did in Spider-Man.

Iron Man is not quite The Dark Knight in terms of violence, but there's a lot of carnage in the film. Even when Iron Man and Iron Monger are fighting, Jeff Bridges is talking the entire time, so it's hard to pretend that two cgi robots are kicking the crap out of each other. Speaking of which, that brings us to the second reason...

3. Generally Disturbing Content - See, it's not just that Obadiah has people killed, including two attempts on Tony's life. The way he does is is way too creepy for children. Bear in mind that the "paralyzing" sonic device that he uses is not explained in full until he uses it on Stark, so the first time it comes out on Raza, we don't know what the hell is happening. All the audience knows is that the veins on his head are becoming very pronounced (and blackened) and he's having trouble breathing. Then Obadiah says "that's the least of your worries right now" and leaves. We have no idea what's going to happen. Is there some kind of horrible virus in him?

To make things worse, when Stane uses it on Tony, Stark is at a 45 degree angle on his couch while Obadiah leans over him and explains a) how the device works, and b) his evil plan. Then he uses a device to burn through Tony's shirt and pull out Stark's "heart", leaving him there to die. As someone who watches quite a few horror movies, this would fit nicely in one of the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels as a Freddy torture dream. Definitely not for kids.

For more examples, let's move along to number four...

4. Again, This Movie is Rated PG-13??? - While I think I've laid out a pretty good case so far, let's push a little further, shall we? I haven't even mentioned the fact that the film opens with Tony Stark under siege and the troops protecting him being wiped out one by one, or the fact that he's captured by the Ten Rings, which is presented as a terrorist organization and makes a video eerily reminiscent of al Qaeda hostage tapes. Or we could talk about the fact that Tony Stark's Mark One is constantly being attacked by his own machine guns. Or Stane trying to crush Iron Man to death, and then opening his suit and falling to his death, or any number of wonderful things that happen earlier in the film before Stark has his eyes - and chest- opened and begins a not-so non-violent reaction to the Ten Rings.

Don't get me wrong; The Dark Knight is a MUCH harder PG-13 (I'm surprised, at times, it's not an R), but Iron Man is not at all a movie you should show to kids. I'd debate showing it to a 12 year-old, as some of the thematic material at the beginning of the film really surprised me. I honestly didn't remember the movie being so "adults-only" when I saw it the first time. Maybe it was that the development of the Mark II really brought out the "kid" in me, but I instantly regretted ever recommending this movie for an 8 year old.

So hopefully I've made my case, which many of you can simply reply to with, "well, duh." And that's fair, but the Cap'n makes mistakes too, y'know. I watched the remake of Friday the 13th, for crying out loud. Anyway, the moral of the story is that geek parents might want to think twice about bringing their kids to Iron Man 2 this summer, which looks to be darker than the first one by sheer virtue of Mickey Rourke. I mean, just look at him.

* I'm willing to concede that the Cap'n is probably forgetting a LOT of other acts of violence in Spider-Man 2 and X2, but for the purposes of this argument I think I covered the bases pretty well. Yes, I left out the scene where Logan sustains a head shot - which later becomes a joke about spitting the bullet out - but at that point you are aware of his healing abilities.