Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Once in a while a film comes along where the one-line description just makes you want to declare it a work of genius. Snakes on a Plane pretty much wrapped that up in the title. Bubba Ho-Tep is in the same realm. Here's the one liner for Bubba Ho-Tep:

"Elvis and JFK battle an undead Egyptian mummy in a Texas rest home."

That's all you need to know. Either that movie sounds like genius to you or it doesn't. I happen to be one of the people who thinks that sounds like genius.

The end result is a mostly great movie. It's definitely a cult classic, and of course casting Bruce Campbell as Elvis didn't hurt its chances for that. I think the middle drags a little bit. I might have enjoyed the JFK aspect more if the actor playing JFK had had a Kennedyesque accent (think Mayor Quimby). All around though, the movie is a good entry into the Horror-Comedy genre (Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Lost Boys, etc). The first 20 minutes are especially funny.

Rating: Great/Bad movie. I saw it on Comcast's channel, but I'll be buying the DVD shortly.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I've never taken Julian Sands seriously after "Warlock"

Even when he was in the TV show 24, it was hard to take him seriously because I kept thinking of the 1989 classic "Warlock".

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Redeye (2005)

This is an 85 minute movie, which should tell you a lot in a day and age where every filmaker thinks that every movie they make is an epic and should be 3 hours long. And at 85 minutes, it's still too long.

I'm just going to give some of this movie away because it's basically given away in the trailer anyway. A guy kidnaps a girl on a flight with the threat that there's a man outside her father's house that will kill him if she doesn't cooperate.

About 30 seconds after this plot is revealed, it occurs to everyone in the theater that she should just tell the stewardess anyway. The bad guy is incommunicato and detained (since he's 35,000 feet up). And since we're in an age where "every threat is taken seriously", you'd think that they could just call the local police in Miami and have them go pick up the guy outside of her father's house. End of story.

Instead, the screenwriter tries to put in some lame excuse that the bad guy uses to make it sound like no one will listen to the girl -- because she's had a few drinks. Like I said, aren't we supposed to live in a paranoid age where every threat is supposed to be taken seriously?

In actuality, this movie is just an excuse to ogle Rachel McAdams. She's very attractive, so seeing this movie in high def on HBO was perfect for the purpose of eye candy. Nearby is a picture of her courtesy of IMDB and I think you'll agree she's attractive. Just another pretty Canadian girl in crappy movies who needs a new agent badly (see my prior posts about Elisa Cuthbert)

So if you're in the mood to see a pretty face for 85 minutes with no viable plot, I suggest you check out Wes Craven's lastest crapfest on HBO HD.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ghost in the Machine Twofer: The Ring Two (2005) and The Mangler (1995)

Moviemakers have an obsession with evil machines. According to them, a see-saw is dangerous. Let's look at some examples. You've got Skynet, which nukes the world in the Terminator series. There's the Matrix. Or robots, which are in about a million movies. And who can forget HAL?

But let's take these two movies: The Ring Two and The Mangler. One is that your VCR can kill you. The other is a bedsheet speed folding machine at a laundry plant.

I don't know about you, but the latter is certainly a more likely killer than the former. That's the kind of thing that can suck your hand in and smash it to bits. If the thing is fast enough and big enough, I guess it could suck your head in and crush your skull, which -- i don't think I'm giving much away here -- is exactly what happens in the movie The Mangler.

The Mangler is based on a short story by Stephen King. The story was really stupid, but the movie at least appoaches the material with a sense of humor. In the deft hands of Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist), The Mangler was actually pretty entertaining. I think everyone in the movie was drunk when the made it. The lead guy in the movie is supposed to be a drunk cop, acting not unlike Joe Don Baker's excellent drunk cop portrayal in Mitchell (1975), where Baker always had a pack of Schlitz on him. In The Mangler, the drunk cop guy (Johnny) actually is never witnessed drinking alcohol, but he slurs his lines so much you have to wonder if they were trying to keep alcohol away from the actor. Yes, this guy might have been an actual fall-down drunk. If not, the guy's just a hell of an actor.

Of course, both VHS tapes and speed folding machines are possessed by demons in these two movies. The Mangler was entertaining in that the machine weighs about 5 tons. So how is it that someone can be so stupid to stand close enough to the machine to get their hand/clothing/shoelace stuck in the machine. It's like when Tanya Roberts gets kidnapped by that blimp in A View To a Kill. Seriously, people can't just stay away from the fucking possessed machine? Are they that stupid? That's one of the more entertaining things about the movie -- guessing how will they get caught in the machine next?

Now, onto The Ring Two. This movie sucks compared to The Mangler. It's directed by the Japanese guy who originally directed Ringu, the Japanese flick which The Ring was based on. Just on that fact alone you can probably guess he takes himself too seriously for the good of the movie.

What's really scary is that it took me 15 minutes into The Ring Two to realize that I had actually seen it before. It was so boring that I turned it off again.

Let's face it: The Ring is really stupid. People watch a videotape and then they die in 7 days -- unless they make a copy and make someone else watch it. You'd think by the timeframe of the sequel (a year or so after the original), advertisers would have totally gotten into this videotape. Can you imagine how marketers around the country would clambor to get their product advertised on this tape, since it has to be copied and shown to someone else or else you die? It's like the ultimate chain letter advertising gimmick. The Ring Tape -- Drink Pepsi... NOW!

The problem with machine movies is that they're easy to beat. Here's how you defeat these machines: The Ring Tape... either someone decides to be a martyr so no one else has to watch it, or just everyone keeps copying it forever and ever so no one dies. It becomes a government program of tape copying and required viewing. The Mangler... just stay the hell away from it. It weighs like 5 tons.

This works for like every machines take over movie. Skynet... don't arm it with nuclear missles. The Matrix... clue machines into nuclear power as a source of energy, rather than the spectacularly inefficent human Duracell concept. HAL... well we saw how Dave defeated HAL.

Basically the bottom line is just don't give the machines too much responsibility and we'll all be ok. The machines don't run much right now, right?! Riiiight?!!!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

I'm not sure which I should be more scared of ...

a) I've now lived through a bad movie remake (the original Hills Have Eyes movie was 1977)
b) Hollywood is so devoid of original material that they remade this movie
c) I actually paid to see this movie on PPV.

What I was definitely not scared of was the movie itself. Horrible piece of crap.

I tuned in because they promised atomic mutants. They delivered on at least that. Boring, repetitive atomic mutants. It did have some surprises, like who gets killed first, etc.. Not everything was your boilerplate zombie movie predictability.

I came away from the movie with one main question: why are atomic mutants and zombies always superhuman? 99% of the time, mutants you see in the movies are super strong. Like C.H.U.D.s. They were super strong and cannabalistic (hence the C in C.H.U.D.). Godzilla... he was an atomic mutant. Super strong, almost indestructable except to opponents like Mothra. Spiderman... atomic spider mutant. The Hulk. That's a good one.

In the real world, mutants are weak. I've come across a few, at bars in San Francisco, and I've kicked all their asses. The reality of the atomic mutant situation would be much more dire than the movies make out. A world of atomic mutants would be one that required a lot of meals on wheels and such.

The bottom line is, I'm tired of the atomic mutant in film. The ol' "nukes are bad, here's the nuclear badness represented in terms of atomic mutants" meme just doesn't carry the same weight that it might have in 1962 or 1947.

As a moviegoer, I say, screw atomic mutants. Attention Hollywood: you won't get me to watch a movie again just by claiming you have them in there. They always end up having the same stupid bad makeup with a bubble face or bad teeth, a large head, whatever. Atomic mutants suck! I'd rather watch the Atomic Bomb Movie if I wanted to see something atomic.

Rating: Bad/Bad. I'd be surprised if it ever made it to HBO.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Shaggy Dog (2006)

I couldn't help but watch this on a plane to Chicago this weekend. I was that bored.

I mostly watched this movie without sound, but here's what I've always wondered: why is it that when a person gets turned into a dog, they can only bark? You'd think that if a person's brain was represented in a dog's body, they'd be able to figure out how to use the dog's vocal chords to enunciate something other than "Woof!"

Even dogs with dog brains can be taught to enunciate. Here's a dog saying "I love you" on Letterman

Here're more examples of talking dogs:

So why, WHY does every movie where someone turns into an animal have that person just able to make animal sounds?

Maybe I'm reading too much into stupid Tim Allen movies. Besides Galaxy Quest, does this guy have any good movies? He might be the biggest sell-out actor in all of Hollywood. After doing Toy Story he'll do anything Disney throws a bag of money at him to do. Most of them involve him changing into something like a dog or santa claus.

And yet people still pay for these movies. When will you people learn??

Rating: Bad/Bad

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Fog (2005)

To new readers: you can always count on this blog to see every John Carpenter remake and comment on it. The Fog is no exception.

I'm a longtime fan of the original, 1980 version of "The Fog". I'd go as far to say it's probably my third or fourth favorite Carpenter movie. Like Hooper, it was another o ne of those movies that played on the ABC Movie of the Week on Sunday nights. Unlike Hooper, it scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.

Maybe it's the nostalgia, but of course I ended up liking the original more than the remake.

The original started with John Houseman telling a campfire story about the ship that crashed 100 years ago, the Elizabeth Dane. The remake instantly turns to using the lame-ass teeniebopper horror movie cliche that I know what you did last summer and Scream made all the rage. As soon as the opening credits are done, a horrible Fall Out Boy song kicks in full volume and the show Selma Blair taking over the role of DJ Stevie Wayne, which Adrianne Barbeau once played so well. Again, this is Hollywood thinking that the horror movies that get people into the theater all have to be like "The O.C."

That said, there was one significant improvement on the movie: they get a lot deeper in terms of telling the story of the ship (the Elizabeth Dane). In the original, that story was almost an afterthought. In this one, it's the centerpiece. Although, they tried to add a twist to the end. That's fine, I didn't mind that... except it made absolutely no sense. I won't give it away, but I'm sure you'll watch the last two minutes of this movie and say "What the hell?"

The effects are a huge improvement over the original. They've used digital techniques to make a much more ominous looking fog than the glowing DXed (double exposured) fog from the original. However, there's something a lot less scary about the whole thing. I think it was scarier in the original to see the silouhetted ghosts. In this one, they've made them into digital creations that look scary, but just aren't scary.

My recommendation is to see the original, then see this movie. Actually, see these Carpenter classics before you see The Fog:

  • The Thing (1982)
  • Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
  • Escape from New York (1981)

Note I did not include Halloween in that list. Undoubtedly you've seen it.

Rating: Good/Bad, Worth renting if you like the genre, othewise wait for it on HBO.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Ok, now this is a horror-genre movie I've been looking for.

First of all, it has to do with religious mysticism. I'm not sure why, but I love the movies that have anything to do with that. Raiders of the Lost Ark is of course my favorite movie of all time, which could have something to do with it. I equally like possession movies in the genre, like Rosemary's Baby, The Omen and the original Exorcist. Of course, I'm not religious in any way, but still I think the power of these movies is that so many people are religious. Makes it a bit more believable than a horror movie like The Blob.

This movie is supposed to be a true story. The Exorcism of Emily Rose starts with the investigation and pending trial around her death. The rest of the story is told by way of flashback. I found the format to be very effective and interesting, it kept me riveted until the end. I have no idea of the original story, and I'm sure a lot of creative license was taken to make the possession seem scary. Yet, this was still an effective movie.

Bonus: it has Laura Linney in it. Laura Linney is at the top of my list of Hollywood hotties. Plus, she's also a great actress. If you haven't seen You Can Count On Me (2000), you should. It's an excellent and truly underrecognized movie and completely not a horror movie. It's about a couple of adults who, as kids, lost their parents in a car crash. The movie is a character piece, there's very little plot except that the brother comes home to visit the sister. Mark Ruffalo was also great in that one as the brother.

Anyway, back to my favorite subject of this post: Laura Linney. One thing I wonder about her is if she is a firm believer in the supernatural, or if she just keeps getting typecast for these movies. What was up with her being in The Mothman Prophecies? That movie was complete shit. Why would someone with such a good acting resume be in that? Did she want to get with Richard Gere (if so, she's off my hottie list). Anyway, she does a good job here, given the nutty supernatural material, except for one scene with her lawyer boss that falls really flat. It must be hard to deliver lines that are pretty ridiculous.

The style of the movie is done well. I really like the first five minutes. There's very little dialogue, but it's a pretty powerful scene. I kind of wish they had stuck with that tone instead of going crazy with the special effects and makeup. But, I'm sure the dummies at the studio thought that the only way to market the movie was as a typical teenage horror flick, so they inserted all of the FX.

BTW, have I ever mentioned how Hollywood marketing works? Basically, the marketing people at the studio don't know anything about the movie. They barely care what it's about. Their motto is "You make it, we'll sell it in the genre where we think it will be most successful." That's what happened to this movie. They probably equated it with I know what you did last summer, rather than trying to formulate a remarkable horror movie like Rosemary's Baby.

That's probably the only major thing I can criticize about the movie. Overall, very well done.

RATING: Good/Bad. Go ahead and rent it or PPV it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hooper (1978)

Last night I was perusing upcoming movies on HBO and saw, at 4am, Hooper!

This is one of those movies from my childhood that I really loved. When ABC used to show Sunday night movies, Hooper was probably on once or twice a year. Created by same the Smokey and the Bandit crew, it was another PG-rated Burt Reynolds vehicle.

Usually when I watch movies that I loved as a child, I find them to be a let down. Surprisingly, Hooper is still extremely enjoyable 25 years later (or whenever it was that I last saw it).

This is a movie about stuntmen. It really has pretty simple storylines in it: crazy stunts, a young stunt kid challenging the old guard, stuntmen partying and going crazy, stuntmen not being able to keep relationships going, hollywood directors act like jerks, etc..

Fortunately, the jokes are pretty funny and the movie is just the perfect length. I'm the king of thinking that all movies are too long, but this movie leaves you slightly wanting more! What a rarity!

In any case, check it out if you see it on cable. It's on DVD as well, I think I saw it for $5 at Fry's... should have bought it then!

Rating: Good/Bad movie. The best entry in the great tradition of flicks like Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit.