Archive for October, 2011

The Thing (2011)

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Movie Review
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The Thing (2011)

Directed By: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Eric Christian Olsen

Subgenre: Science Fiction

thing 2011

Synopsis: A depiction of the events to leading up to John Carpenter’s version where a Norwegian scientific team discovers a spaceship and what appears to be the corpse of an alien frozen in the ice.  The creature is soon revived and wreaking havoc on their camp.

Thoughts: It was pretty damn ambitious for a studio to look at revisiting John Carpenter’s vision from 1982, but seeing as how they did, I am glad they went the route of the prequel, as opposed to a straight remake.  The groundwork was already in place, and all they had to do was flesh out the story and insert some tense moments coupled with kick ass FX.  The big question is, how successful were they in do that?

Well, the story was good enough.  There was only so much they could do and I thought the flow of the script and the characters were all pretty well rounded.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who played Kate, was portrayed a little too much to be like Ripley from Alien, but she did do a good job in her role.  I was happy to see that they skipped a romance angle, as that would have been easy to insert. 

The mixed cast of Norwegians and Americans was a good idea as well.  The language barrier was a great tension builder among the members of the outpost.  I really thought that Matthiis should have done a little more to build the tension.  There were moments, but the movie tended to focus on the action and the alien a little too much.  Part of what made the original so great was the unbearable tension that would break with frightening images of what the alien had become.

Speaking of the alien, it had a lot more screen time in the prequel.  I think this hurt the movie more than anything.  It was pretty fantastic looking, and at times reminded me of something from the Hellraiser series, but it was not what I was looking for here.  Like I said, I think the tension would have been a better gimmick to build on. 

The FX were a mix of practical and CGI and there was one particular use of CGI that was pretty dismal.  I think anyone that has watched the movie will know what I am talking about, and if you have yet to see it, I will say that it is fairly early on in the movie.  It is by far the worst of the movie, and there are some pretty stunning scenes to come, so don’t get discouraged.

I am pretty middle of the road on The Thing prequel.  It wasn’t a success, but it’s not close to a failure either.  I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more had I not been comparing it to the original.  It was a good effort and is worth checking out.

The Thing (1982)

Directed By: John Carpenter

Starring: Kurt Russell, Willford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Massur, Donald Moffat, David Clennon

Subgenre: Science Fiction

The Thing 82

Synopsis: An American research outpost in the Antarctic is infiltrated by an alien being that can replicate its human prey.

Thoughts: Although initially panned by critics, this is a shining example of what can be accomplished when blending horror and science fiction.  John Carpenter creates a tense and terrifying experience that also stands as a great example of a remake gone right.

There are many reasons that The Thing is so great.  The cast is brilliant, with even the smallest players nailing their roles.  Kurt Russel plays his usual awesome self.  For whatever reason, Carpenter brings out the best in Russell.  His role as pilot R.J. Macready is a major part of the success of The Thing.  Russell is surrounded by a great cast, notably Wilford Brimley and Keith David.  Even though David has been in a ton of movies, my two favorite roles come from Carpenter flicks, those being The Thing and They Live.

Not to be forgotten when discussing the cast is the location the movie takes place in.  Like so many terrifying experiences, the cast is isolated, this time in the middle of the Antarctic, with no contact to the outside and really little chance of escape.  This isn’t unique to The Thing and has been used in other great genre flicks like Alien and The Shining, but Carpenter uses it masterfully.

Right alongside the cast and the location are the amazing special FX.  Rob Bottin lends his legendary talents to Carpenter’s vision and does so with great success.  It just goes to show what can be accomplished without the use of CGI.  If the Oscars would pay more attention to horror movies, this guy would have racked up more than the one award he has (Total Recall).

The hits keep on coming, this time with the score.  Italian Maestro Ennio Morricone doesn’t give us his best work, but it is pretty damn good.  It adds to the suspense and finishes off the atmosphere.

Last, but certainly not least is Carpenter’s direction.  This is one of his very best movies, probably second only to Halloween in my book.  I don’t know what he had early on in his career, but I would love to see him rediscover it.  While he has made some entertaining movies, nothing has approached the quality of his earlier work.

In case you couldn’t tell, I love this movie.  It’s one of my favorites in the genre and a must see by everyone.  If for some reason you have yet to see this masterpiece, check it out, NOW.

The Madness: Hack and Slash Week 3

Posted: October 23, 2011 in List

The beat goes on! I subjected myself to the first six Puppet Master movies before checking out a new addition to my collection with the Mardi Gras Massacre, some  horror-comedies, and wrapping up with The Thing.

26. Madman (1982) – 88m – DVD
Repeat Viewing. Lesser known camper slasher. Not at the top of the list, but a decent slasher overall.  I rate this a 6.5/10
Bonus Points: The “Final Girl” is actually a guy {Auto triple bonus}; Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!; If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist;

27. Puppet Master (1989) – 90m – DVD
Repeat Viewing. Fun movie from Full Moon that brings us a whole new crew of slashers in the form of killer dolls. I rate this a 7/10
Bonus Points: Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!; If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist

28. Puppet Master II (1991) – 88m – DVD
First Viewing.  Decent sequel that is similiar to the original.  The puppets are the stars.  I rate this a 6.5/10.
Bonus Points: Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!;

29. Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991) – DVD
First Viewing. A prequel that shows the origin of Toulon and the puppets. I rate this a 6/10
Bonus Points: Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!; If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist

30. Puppet Master 4 (1993) – DVD
First Viewing. This one gets a little crazy as we are introduced to a demon that the secret of the puppets was stolen from.  He sends forth some small demons to retrieve the secret.  Not very good, but about what I was expecting.  I rate this a 5/10.
Bonus Points: If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist; The “Final Girl” is actually a guy; If you are watching a sequel 4 or higher.

31. Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (1994) – DVD
First Viewing. The Demon is back and so is the new Puppet Master! Wait, this is pretty much the same movie as Part 4…I rate this 4.5/10
Bonus Points: If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist; The “Final Girl” is actually a guy; If you are watching a sequel 4 or higher.

32. Curse of the Puppet Master (1998) – DVD
First Viewing. We have a new Puppet Master and what looks to be his new protege.  The gore is amped up quite a bit in this installment. I rate this a 5/10.
Bonus Points: If you are watching a sequel 4 or higher,

33. Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) – DVD
First Viewing. Wanted to check this out after seeing it on the Video Nasty list.  It’s like 1970s porn meets Herschell Gordon Lewis, complete with horrid music and questionable acting all around.  If you like 70s sleeze, this is probably right up your alley.  I rate this a 6.5/10.
Bonus Points: Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!; If the film is titled or takes place on a specific date or holiday (Mardi Gras)

34. Zombieland (2009) – Blu Ray
Repeat Viewing. Great comedic look at a zombie epidemic.  I rate this an 8/10

35. Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996) – DVD
Repeat Viewing. I love the TftC movies and wish they would have made more.  I rate this a 7/10
Bonus Points: Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!; If a celebrity plays themselves OR a (future) A-Lister is killed

36. The Thing (2011) – Theatrical
First Viewing.  Not a bad prequel, but when you are going to be compared to something as amazing as Carpenter’s first, you have big shoes to fill.  I rate this a 7.5/10.
If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist;

37. The Walking Dead (10.16.2011) – Streaming
First Viewing.  Love this show.  Solid season opener.  Cliffhanger wasn’t too shocking as I have read the beginning of the Graphic Novels. I rate this a 9/10.

38. The Thing from Another World – Blog Post (10.21.2011)

The Thing from Another World (1951)

Directed By: Howard Hawks, Christian Nyby

Starring: Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Douglas Spencer, James Arness, Robert Cornwaite

Subgenre: Science Fiction

Thing from Another World

Synopsis: A group of military researchers uncover a “flying saucer” imbedded in the ice in the North Pole.  Alongside the UFO, the researchers find a tall alien body.  The body eventually thaws out and it is up to the group to thwart the alien menace.

Thoughts: Fans are probably more aware of the 1982 John Carpenter remake than they are of this original version, and probably more so than the original written story as well (Who Goes There?).  This one is more of a science fiction movie, but still has some pretty solid suspense.

There are unanswered questions about who did the majority of the directing. Christian Nyby receives the credit, but it was either directed by Howard Hawks or he had considerable input into the filming.  Either way, this is one of the better science fiction movies from the 50s and the direction and cinematography are a big part of that.

I remember seeing this when I was much younger on one of those Saturday afternoon monster movie showings that ran all the time in the 80s, and the monster seemed a whole lot more frightening than it does today.  Still, the lumbering alien is pretty imposing and more than a little reminiscent of Frankenstein’s Monster.

While this isn’t for all you horror fans, if you enjoy the older Universal films and want to see the genre segue into the science fiction filled 50s, this is a great example.  Not only that, but also would inspire John Carpenter to remake it as The Thing in 1982.

ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

Directed By: Robert Hall

Starring: Danielle Harris, Brian Austin Green, Mimi Michaels, Thomas Dekker, Nick Principe

Subgenre: Slasher

Laid to Rest 2

Synopsis: ChromeSkull makes an improbable return to stalk and slash more lovely ladies.

Thoughts: While I had no idea how Robert Hall was going to bring ChromeSkull back, this is one release that I was really looking forward to.  I am a fan of the original and thought it was a good addition to the slasher genre. 

The highlights to LtR2 are the same as the first; a cool looking killer and amazing FX.  This time around, Hall added another Sarah Connor Chronicles alumnus with Brian Austin Green, as well as Danielle Harris.  I was skeptical about Green, but I think he gave one of the better performances of the movie.  I am usually a fan of Harris, but for some reason, I didn’t enjoy her here as much.  It seemed forced at times. 

As I said, the FX are crazy.  Hall is a genius when it comes to this stuff and he really cranked the dial for the sequel.  Personally, I thought it was a little too much.  It took away from the awesomeness of ChromeSkull at times, and you could tell that Hall was really looking to showcase it.

I thought the script could have been better as well.  I liked the idea of multiple killers better, but Hall decided on bringing back the original.  The support network behind ChromeSkull was a good idea, and one that I liked, but once the movie hit the warehouse, it felt an awful lot like a Saw flick.

So, overall, I was disappointed, but I also had very high expectations.  I will need to revisit this in the future, but I think it is a decent watch, and really, sequels rarely live up to the original anyways.  I do hope that Hall does the prequel that he has mentioned, and I hope that Brian Austin Green is in that one as well.

Week 2 list.  Volume is a little low, but took a couple days off for my wife’s birthday where we went to a resort on the Gulf to celebrate.

14. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (1987) 97m – DVD
Repeat viewing.  Departs from your typical slasher by throwing in a supernatural twist.  Decent, but not great, I rate this a 6/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points:2  (If the film is titled or takes place on a specific date or holiday; Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!;

15. Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990) 97m – DVD
First Viewing. Mary Lou is back, but with a sense of humor, or at least that is the angle they took here.  More of a spoof than anything else. Pretty terrible. Rated 4.5/10
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points:Triple! ( The “Final Girl” is actually a guy)

16. Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (1992) 92m – DVD
First Viewing. The franchise takes another turn and this time an evil Priest is the killer.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points:Triple! (If the film is titled or takes place on a specific date or holiday; If you are watching a sequel 4 or higher, Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!)

17. Prom Night (2008) 88m – DVD
First Viewing.  This fuels the fire against shitty remakes.  Felt like a bad WB episode.  I rate this a 4/10
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist

18. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) 92m – DVD
Repeat Viewing. Great homage to the slasher genre, and a great movie on its own. I rate this a 8.5/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist; If a character has a chance to kill the villain but hesitates OR “Kills them” and Walks away without doing a “Double Tap”; Gratuitous BOOB, BUSH, WIENER or ASS shot!!

19. Scream (1996) 111m – DVD
Repeat Viewing.  Craven brings back the slasher with a toungue-in-cheek tour de force. The self-awereness works great here.  I rate this a 8/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: The Killer’s face is obscured for at least 85% of the film; If a character slips and falls while being pursued by an antagonist; If a celebrity plays themselves OR a (future) A-Lister is killed (Take your pick on the future A-listers)

20. Scream 2 (1997) 120m – Blu Ray
Repeat Viewing. Decent sequel, but basically rehashed the premise of the first movie. I rate this a 7/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: The Killer’s face is obscured for at least 85% of the film; If a character has a chance to kill the villain but hesitates OR “Kills them” and Walks away without doing a “Double Tap”; If a celebrity plays themselves OR a (future) A-Lister is killed (again, take your pick).

21. Scream 3 (2000) 116m – Blu Ray
Repeat Viewing. Probably went a step too far, but still pretty decent.  I rate this a 6.5/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: The Killer’s face is obscured for at least 85% of the film; If a celebrity plays themselves OR a (future) A-Lister is killed; Someone says “I’ll Be Right Back” and well you know…(Roman the Director)

22. Scream 4 (2011) 111m – Blu Ray
First Viewing. Same formula, some new faces.  Not terrible, but should have given us something new.  Still better than 3 though, I rate this a 7/10.
Base Points: 2
Bonus Points: If you are watching a sequel 4 or higher; The Killer’s face is obscured for at least 85% of the film; Someone says “I’ll Be Right Back” and well you know…

23. Ugly Americans episodes 1-5 (2010) 21m (x5) – Streaming
First Viewing. Very inventive, and often offensive show, much in the same vein as South Park. I like it, but will hold off on rating it until I finish the season.
Base Points: 2.5 (5 episodes x .5 points per episode)

24. Blog Post – Tuck and Dale vs Evil (2010)

Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

Directed By: Eli Craig

Starring: Alan Tudyk, Tyler Labine, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss

Subgenre: Horror-Comedy

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Synopsis: Tucker and Dale, two hillbillies fixing up their cabin, find themselves entangled with a group of college kids looking to party in the woods.  Hilarity ensues as the bodies pile up.

Thoughts: I had been hearing about Tucker and Dale for quite a while and finally decided to check it out via pay per view on the Playstation Network.  The only thing I regret about renting it was not renting it sooner. 

The best part of the movie, by far, is the acting by Labine and Tudyk.  They bring Tucker and Dale to life and do a great job.  I dare say they are the best comedic duo in a horror movie since Shaun of the Dead. I’ll even go a step farther and say this is the best horror-comedy since Shaun of the Dead. Katrina Bowden does a good job as well, and she makes for great eye candy.  She has a role in the upcoming Piranha 3DD, which I am looking forward to as well.

Director Eli Craig is an unknown, as this was his feature debut.  While I loved this movie, it remains to be seen if Craig will become a genre staple or if he struck gold with the story and actors.  I am looking forward to what he brings us next.

While the comedy aspect is what really makes this work, the gore is actually really well done.  The scene with the wood chipper had me in tears with laughter, yet it was probably the goriest scene in the movie.  It’s this great mixture, combined with the actors, that make this movie really fun.  I’ve been trying to come up with something negative about Tucker & Dale, but I can’t.  It is one of my favorite movies of the year, genre or otherwise.  I highly recommend it.