Tuesday, March 29, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Doghouse'

Zombies, zombies, zombies.... I love zombies. It's so nice to find a new twist on an old theme, especially one involving the undead. I've been lucky enough to have several zombie movies that have found their way to my TiVo or DVD player in the past few weeks that are new and different. It has re-ignited my love affair with the flesh eating corpses. (not that it ever went away really.) I remember seeing the trailer for 'Doghouse' quite a while ago and thinking that I wanted to add it to my Netlfix queue, but it wasn't available at the time. This little gem came out in 2009 and hit Netflix just recently. Most of you will probably recognize the star, Stephen Graham. He was Jason Statham's partner in 'Snatch'.... the one looking for the caravan. He's spot on in this movie and is equal parts funnyman and the hesitant hero. His friends are all likeable characters and you can find at least one that you'll relate too. They're a nice cross section of the male gender. The special effects are well done and each zombie is unique and a character all by themself. It seems in the zombie films of the past, zombies were all kind of interchangeable and a lot of them just blended together. Nowdays, zombies are as much of a main character as the main characters. They're all done as though they'll be the main focus of the movie. You can quickly identify each one. Granted, they may not have a specific name.... but like the 'Baseball Girl' in 'Land of the Dead', you remember who they are.

The plot here involves six guys who all leave their significant others to go to a little town called Moodley for the weekend. They take a little bus and leave one guy behind, who just couldn't get away. When they arrive in the quaint little town, the guys are let down that it looks like a little mountain town from the old days. Afraid that they will die of boredom, they begin to rethink coming. One of the blokes notices a woman walking down the street, when he approaches her.... she turns on him and he discovers she's a zombie. But she's not the only one, every woman in town has been affected by a government made virus that only turns females into the walking dead. There is not a single man in sight. The boys make a run for the bus, but their female bus driver has turned now and they make a 180 turn back towards the town. While seeking shelter, they have to dodge hordes of zombies. Soon they get seperated and it's almost every man for himself. Things get cranked up at this point and build to the finale. See what I mean about a new twist on an old theme? It's not quite re-inventing the wheel, but if it ain't broke.... don't fix it, right? Regardless, it's still nice to see something different. The zombies are, as always, disgusting looking. Each one has an obvious look to them that leads you to draw a conclusion about who they were before they turned. Like the butcher that one guy runs into. Even if she hadn't still been in the butcher shop chopping up a victim, you'd still be able to tell who she was. That's kind of a nice little touch that they've added here. There are a few fun little 'inventions' that they create to fight the undead. Like a remote control car with model plane fuel or the old fuel in a water gun trick. Some of these things are more effective than others, thus lending itself to some funny moments. All in all, a solid story with solid characters and solid zombies.

I couldn't say this was nearly as good as 'Shaun of the Dead', but it has a similar feel to it. Maybe it's because it was made across the pond? It's not nearly as clever or as strong as that movie was the whole way through. I wouldn't be surprise, however, if it was a strong influence on the writers of 'Doghouse' and I wouldn't say that's a bad thing. I narrowed it down to a 3 out of 5 star attempt. One that probably won't make it into my DVD collection, but one that I might watch again in the future. It's available to rent from Netflix, but not OnDemand sadly. It's worth the rental and worth your time to watch it. I don't know how readily available it is from any other source, but I'm sure you can find it if you dig around. So before you head out for a boy's weekend out, think about 'Doghouse' and make sure you're prepared to defend yourself if they female gender takes a turn for the worse.

If you like this, you'll dig: 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Dead Alive aka Braindead' and 'Cemetary Man'

Monday, March 28, 2011

another GIANT blog update....!

I just posted this update on Facebook, but I also wanted to include it here for those who aren't on my Facebook. I've spent another 3 days updating my blog. This time, I decided to post trailers for every movie I review from now on. However, I couldn't just leave it at that.... I had to go back to all the old reviews and add them there too. So from now on you can expect on each review: 1 poster or DVD cover for the movie being reviewed, 1 screencap from the movie, the trailer for the movie, tags so the movies are easier to find, suggestions for other movies and of course my review. I know I'm probably going off the deep end by doing this, but I haven't been 100% inspired to write reviews.... so this allowed me to be creative and made the blog more coprhensive for you all and any new readers. I want to make this the best blog I can. So, that's it.... this should be the last changes I make. (i think.) Pretty soon I'll post a new review, but until then.... I leave you with this: 'Titanic II' a movie I don't think I ever need to see. It just seems wrong all on kinds of levels. Why make a "sequel" to the worst oceanic tragedy that ever occured and make it basically the same thing in modern times? I guess some more out of work actors needed something to do. Also, the direct to DVD market isn't saturated enough.... they had to add one more piece of crap that will eventually land in the $1.00 cutout DVD bin. Look for that coming to a DVD store soon. Enjoy!

(why wouldn't you even get on this boat?!?!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Trouble Every Day'

Ah, yes.... the French horror cinema. Yet again another movie from across the pond. It stars Beatrice Dalle and Vincent Gallo in a story of erotica and canniblism. Sounded like an interesting mix and I am a fan of Vincent Gallo, so it seemed like a no brainer. Well, what I didn't count on was the fact that this was from the first half of the 2000's. At that time, the French still felt like a movie had to be pretentious to be good and by my count there hasn't been one good horror movie that was pretentious. I'm not saying that they don't exist, I'm just saying that they're like oil and water.... they don't mix. Now this movie isn't in French, not the whole thing anyway. It's a mix of French and American.... I suppose so Vincent Gallo wouldn't need to learn the language. The cover for the DVD, the stills from the movie and some certain scenes in it were just beautiful. Very well done images of a bloody woman doing different things. All things pointed to a good movie going experience. Well, things didn't work out that way. If this movie had been made last year and was like this, then I might have lost faith in the French horror cinema. Luckily it was from long enough ago that I can forgive the error in judgement.

The plot is simple. A man, who becomes cannibalistic when he's aroused heads to France with his girl. He's taken a job over there and is moving to start a life there. Meanwhile, a woman with the same afflection is basically a prisoner in her own home. The doors and windows are all sealed up and she is almost an animal. A couple of guys come by there very often and try to get in. She keeps enticing them to break in, but her intentions aren't pure. The man is doing everything he can to contain his urges, however it eventually overwhelms him. Soon he meets up with the woman in the house and things kind of get messy. This movie was not good. Maybe I missed the point, I hope that was the case. It was just so slow and there was hardly any dialouge and when people did speak, it didn't seem to move the plot along much. A lot of things are implied and a lot of that leads to confusion. The scenes mentioned earlier of blood and the woman are the only parts of this movie that were worthwhile. They're shot in a way that's very flattering even with the subject matter involved. I really wanted to like this movie. It had the recipe for something that could have been great. It's not because it was slow, I like movies that build to a climax no matter how slow. It's not because it was a bit pretentious, movies can be pretentious and still be good. It's not because of the actors, they're good actors.... it was just that they were in a bad movie.

This is something that I never need to see again. A 1 out of 5 star movie will, generally, always be a 1 out of 5 star movie. This just had nothing worth talking about. I wish I could pinpoint the reason it was so terrible. There are a lot of reviewers out there that thought this was a great movie. Maybe I'll never understand why that is and to be honest, I don't know that I care to understand. I don't want my money back, nor do I regret spending the time on it. This movie has been on my radar as something to see for a long time. I just finally felt it was the right time to watch it. Now I can move on with my life and it's one more free space in my Netflix queue. I'm not a fan of cannibals and this just adds another nail in their coffin.

Good French horror films: 'Haute Tension aka High Tension', 'À l'intérieur aka Inside' and 'La Horde aka The Horde'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Megamind'

I love a good cartoon getaway. To lose yourself in a fantasy world for an hour and a half is a refreshing change from the everyday crap. It seems lately that most of the CGI cartoons that have been coming out are really good. I haven't seen too many in the past few years that were terrible. And the fact that 'Megamind' has Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, David Cross, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill made it sound like a winner right off the bat. Sadly, I didn't have a chance to see it in the theater.... and my kids school have a movie night once a month, so we got to see it there. I liked it right as soon as it started. The storyline was original, the characters were a lot of fun and the writing and animation were crisp and well done. I can tell you right now, before the review really gets going that I recommend this movie to kids and adults alike. There is a bunch of good stuff for everyone.

The basic plot as detailed by IMDB.com: After super-villain Megamind (Ferrell) kills his good-guy nemesis, Metro Man (Pitt), he becomes bored since there is no one left to fight. He creates a new foe, Titan (Hill), who, instead of using his powers for good, sets out to destroy the world, positioning Megamind to save the day for the first time in his life. A bit more of the plot is that Megamind was sent to earth to be safe. His parents stayed behind on his home planet and he was forced to grow up as an outcast and always in Metro Man's shadow. Megamind is constantly trying to create one evil scheme after another, but is perpetually stopped by Metro Man. That's where the IMDB.com plot synopsis picks up. After you've read that synopsis, you can see how this takes the superhero concept and turns it on its ear. It's a fun change of pace after seeing so many of these stories be so similar, to find one that's fresh and unique. It also doesn't hurt that you have quite a few actors who are committed to the comedy of the movie. It doesn't always come through in the CGI format, but it's pulled off well in this case. The only real drawback of having actors that are so well known, is that their voices come through loud and clear as voices we all know. Because of that, it does take a little bit to get into the characters. After a while, that no longer becomes an issue. If you don't mind that one flaw, then I bet that you'll enjoy this movie.

I would like putting this one into my DVD collection, for both the kids and myself. It has re-watchability written all over it. I dropped a full 4 out of 5 stars on this bad boy. It proves that sometimes it's a good day to be a bad guy. I'm kind of wondering if they're planning on making a sequel to this. They leave that door pretty wide open. The only thing with that is that they'd have to get all the original actors back, otherwise it just wouldn't be the same. I would really like to see more of Megamind and to see how he continues to fight crime with only his giant brain and his complete lack of common sense. It would lend itself to a solid follow-up movie. Only time will tell on that one. As of writing this review, IMDB.com has no information on another one. So for now, I think that you should reconsider good vs. bad.... because it's not always that simple.

Other recent CGI animated movies that were good: 'How To Train Your Dragon', 'Toy Story 3' and 'Despicable Me'

i'm a happy guy this afternoon....

as of today, i'm up to 25 followers on this blog....!
that's a quarter of a hundred....
there are more people than that reading it (by the statistics)....
but it's always nice when people make themselves known....

after seeing that today, it just makes me want to continue doing this....
it might not be an everyday thing, but i'll do my best to keep it somewhat regular....
thank you everybody....!
and make sure to tell your friends....

Friday, March 25, 2011

hey kids....! some contact information for me and my friends....

I think i've shared my info here before, but to anyone who's new.... here you go. If you want to find me on Facebook, you can locate me here: (and be my friend?)
I also have a dedicated page for this blog.... where I put updates when new posts go up and where, hopefully, people can talk with each other about movies and other things. You can find that, here:
if you need to e-mail me to talk more about movies or have general questions.... you can use my email address from my former podcast The Awful Show.... you can send the e-mail to:
Now, in a different kind of medium.... you can find me podcasting on 'The Undercover Unitards'. So if you've ever wanted to hear my lovely voice on a weekly basis talking about my week, movies, TV, video games, stupid stuff on the internet and porn (including she-males).... then maybe you should check us out. You can find us on iTunes or directly at our site:
I am very thankful for all of my friends, listeners and readers that check out my blog on a regular basis and that take their time to write their own. As a thank you to them, I'm going to put together a list below of some of the other blogs to check out. Here we go:

This is my cousin's blog and where I recently guested with a blog post of my own.

This is my friend, Jeff's blog. He's a fellow movie reviewer and he also has a podcast with another friend, Jason. It's called 'Creepercast' and i'm sure you can guess what it's about. You can find them on iTunes, Facebook and at the main site here:

This is a good friend of mine, Kamaile's, website for her art. It's great stuff and I always want to share:

My friend Mike also has a blog. He really likes coffee, so be aware. You can check his writings out here:

A fellow reader of this blog, a regular to add comments and a good person, King Uke has a blog. Reviews written from across the pond. Good stuff! Head over there, here:

Being a big fan of horror, here is The Horror Blogger Alliance. A comprehensive site for all things horror blog releated. This link is:

If you're getting the writing bug, it all starts with a site and a desire to write. My host is Blogger.com. I've been happy with how easy it is and it seems to be pretty popular with other bloggers. They're here:

If there is anyone that I've missed or forgotten, I'm sorry. I will be happy to add more folks to the list! Just drop me a line with the link and I'll get it up right away. The best way to get your voice heard is with cross-promotion with other like minded folks. And there are a lot folks out there with stuff to say.

Thank you, again, for all of the support. I will continue with this blog as long as I have something to write about and hopefully some people to read it.

my thoughts on.... 'AAAH! ZOMBIES!!'

As I've said in earlier posts, it's really hard to find anything new in the zombie genre. It seems like everything has been done and re-done. However, I was pointed in the direction of 'AAAH! ZOMBIES!!' and what I saw was something new. It proved that there may still be some life in the undead. Before I get into why it was fresh and new, I have to confess that I HATE talking zombies. By "talking", I mean ones that speak in complete sentences. Zombies are basically a shark. One track mind to kill and eat, nothing else. They grunt, goan and moan but they do not talk. 'AAAH! ZOMBIES!!' had talking zombies, but they presented them in a way that I didn't hate! It was a unique twist on how zombies might communicate with each other. It shows how zombies might think and what it might be like to turn into the walking dead. Haven't you ever wondered what it's like on the flip side of the undead coin? I know I have.

So what's the plot and the big secret to success? The plot is that of some friends who are just hanging out, when the military messes up and toxic chemicals are released. Eventually, people start turning into zombies. The four friends become zombies too. The thing is, they don't realize they're zombies right away. And as far as the audience is concerned, we see them as still human in black and white, but as zombies in color. So one minute they're having an intelligent conversation and trying to figure out what's going on and then we flip to color and they're just standing there (as zombies) moaning and groaning at each other. After the four realize what they've become, they start fighting for the rights of the living challenged. They also take on the military to try and get to a 'safe zone' where they might be able to start a new life with a colony of zombies all living together. Do they make it? Do they eat people? Do they get shot in the head? You'll have to watch it to find out. 'AAAH! ZOMBIES!!', rated 'R'.

With the set up of the undead being able to still communicate and understand each other, but sound unintelligent to everyone else, that's what sets up a lot of the comedy in this movie. Because they shift back and forth between the zombie world and the real world and seeing them hiding out, talking to the military, etc. it's very entertaining. One of the other things that's humorous, is one of the main characters realizing that he now has a taste for human flesh. For example, a living person gets their head blown off and while everyone else is talking about it and in shock, he starts eating their brains. He asks, "Is anyone going to finish that?" At which point, everyone else gets kind of grossed out. This movie is very clever and pretty well written. It's not without its flaws, but I very rarely ever see a movie that's 'perfect'. Have you? This movie is low budget and it's pretty obvious, but that doesn't take away from its charm. It just shows how much heart this movie has. Somebody was really proud of this concept and gave it the best they could to make it the best movie they could.

Between the good, the bad and the flaws, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. I think it has 're-watchability' and that's saying something. It may even deserve a higher rating. I mean, any movie that can have talking zombies and still have me enjoying it, has accomplished something. The actors are good, the direction is good and even the special effects and look of the movie are good. It's on Netflix OnDemand right now, so I would take advantage of that fact.... if you can. You could even watch it tonight, if you wanted too! So all that being said, are you still one of those jaded horror fans who's said that they've seen it all in the zombie genre? Perhaps you haven't and perhaps you should watch this movie and prove to yourself that an old dog can learn new tricks.... even a dead one.

Movies similar to this? 'Shaun of the Dead, 'Doghouse' and 'Stacy'

complete overhaul of my blog posts....

i just updated every single blog entry on my blog....! i've added 1 screencap to every post to go with the movie posters.... and i also tagged the posts so you can search based on title, actor, keywords, genre, etc.... i also made sure that all pictures were active and that all posts were well laid out.... go check it out, i'm really happy with it....!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Vertige aka High Lane'

I praise the French on a regular basis for their expertise in horror filmmaking. I have yet to see one of their films that I didn't like. I recently watched the French survival horror film called 'Vertige aka High Lane'. One part 'The Descent' (in regards to going 'off the beaten path' for adventure storyline) and one part 'Wrong Turn'. However, the comparison to these two other films only goes so far, as 'High Lane' never really got off the ground. It started out strong enough and showed some promise, but the further into into the story I went the less and less I cared what happened. It really pains me to say that because I love the French horror cinema so much. However, I am not going to lie to you about what I saw.... it was only mediocre at best. I mean, any film that starts out heading in one direction and then makes a bit of a left turn suddenly, it better have a good reason for it. I just never saw it here.

The plot from http://www.Netflix.com: "In this French thriller, a mountain climbing trail closed to the rest of civilization becomes a path to adventure and horror for a group of friends who dare to go beyond its barriers. It's not just because they trespassed into forbidden territory or because they're testing the laws of gravity. It's because they're not the only ones willing to push the envelope out there, and their visitor isn't very welcoming at all." That basically sums it up, however the "visitor" is more of an inbred mutant type thing. (see the photo below.)
I really wish this would have been better. The biggest problem is that this territory has been rehashed a lot in the past decade and finding a new story to tell is nearly impossible. And this film only had one inbred mutant guy and he was uninteresting and uninspired. I could've cared less if he was even in the film. As far as I'm concerned, this would have been just as interesting if it was strictly about the friends trying to get back to civilization. Not too mention that the Netflix OnDemand version of the film was dubbed, not subtitled. That always makes foreign films really hard to watch because you focus more on the dubbing than the acting. 'High Lane' did however leave a little bit of a positive impression. I actually gave it a 3 out of 5 rating, even with all the flaws it was still better than a lot of garbage that's out there. I just wish the filmmakers had realized the changes they needed to make before they made this. It could've been a whole lot better.

If you're bored this upcoming Friday and you've seen every other French horror that's out there, give this one a chance. Maybe I'm just jaded about this genre. Perhaps this film is a whole lot better than I'm giving it credit for. It could've been that I was just expecting too much, the French can't always make a winner. Everyone deserves a less than stellar outing every once in a while. Hell, we're all guilty of it once in a while. This review may be my 'less than stellar outing'.... who knows?

if you want something similar, but maybe better: 'Wrong Turn 2', 'The Hills Have Eyes' (2006) and 'The Hills Have Eyes 2' (2007)

in defense of Rebecca Black and 'Friday'.... an editorial....

A LOT has been written, said and joked about regarding the up and coming singer, Rebecca Black. She's a 13 year old 8th grader and the girl with the hottest internet music breakout in a long time. The sad thing is that it's not a positive breakout, she's the butt of just about every joke online and has spawned a meme all her own. You can't get online, visit a website or turn on the TV without hearing her mentioned in one way or another. As of the last check on http://www.youtube.com/, she was at 35 million hits for her video for 'Friday'. That's nothing to sneeze at for a 13 year old who was virtually unknown a couple of weeks ago. I admit that I have been a part of the majority of people who joked and teased about the horrible lyrics and tacky music that she had produced, but after some thought and a viewing of her 'Good Morning America' appearance I started to re-think things a little bit. I know that this editorial may not make me popular and might get me some backlash, however.... I think that there's more to this than meets the eye.

Let's start with the fact that Rebecca is the one receiving all of the intense backlash and ridicule, but is she really the one to be burning at the stake? Is she the one that wrote the song or made the music? The answer is no. A duo by the name of Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson are to blame for that. They put pen to paper and wrote the most infamous lyrics of 2011. Another question, did Rebecca Black put the record out on her own? No. She is a proud member of Ark Records, a record label that has a nasty habit of putting their name in every song that their artists perform. That's just kind of lame don't you think? So far, Rebecca Black hasn't been shown as someone that should be so hated and despised by the general public. She's merely an 8th grader with a desire to make music and share her voice with anyone who'll listen.... is that wrong to have a dream like that? Especially at her age? I mean, how many of us would've done the same thing if we were put in that position when we were young? I know I would've done the same thing.

Embedded below is the official video for the song, if you haven't seen it yet watch it now:

Okay, so now you've seen the song. Is it better or worse than you expected it to be? It's catchy if nothing else. Let's take a look at the horrible lyrics from another angle. Rebecca Black is a young girl, one who doesn't have a huge amount of real world experience. She's 13 years old and in 8th grade. When we were in the 8th grade, what would our songs have sounded like if we wrote our own lyrics? Unless you're a child prodigy or a young Bob Dylan, the lyrics would have probably sounded like this:

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

[Rebecca Black - Verse 1]

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

[Rebecca Black - Verse 2]

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun
You know what it is
I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?


It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Rebecca Black Friday lyrics found on http://www.directlyrics.com/rebecca-black-friday-lyrics.html

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend


Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after...wards
I don’t want this weekend to end

[Rap Verse]

R-B, Rebecca Black
So chillin’ in the front seat (In the front seat)
In the back seat (In the back seat)
I’m drivin’, cruisin’ (Yeah, yeah)
Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes
Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!)
(C’mon) Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream
Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all


It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

They're not good lyrics, but in 8th grade that's about the right mindset. Your life is going to school, hanging out with friends, having a good time and not always making sense. Singing about having cereal.... doesn't surprise me that she would include that, it's part of her day. The lyrics about the days of the week is a bit silly, I don't think anyone needs a lesson on how the week works do they? I suppose that one you can joke about. It's basically filler in the middle to take up a little more time or at least I hope that's why it was included. Also, the video depicts a young girl chilling out with her friends. I mean, the two in the backseat of the car in the second verse have braces for god's sake! They're just kids. And about the "Which seat can I take?" lyric, I have no defense or reasoning behind that one.... it's basically nonsense and I'm guessing that she just sang it because that's what they paid her to do.

below is her appearance on 'Good Morning America'. Watch it and see what you think of her after it's over:

For a girl her age, she's got a pretty good head on her shoulders. To take all of the shit she has and to still hold her head up high and not let it get to her is pretty impressive. I know that at 36 years old, I wouldn't be able to put up with that much loathing and hatred. I would probably lose it on a daily basis and regret my decision everyday of my life. It's like being the next Vanilla Ice or Milli Vanilli and look what happened to Rob Pilatus of Milli Vanilli, he killed himself. I think that everyone should re-evaluate why they're making fun of her and the song. What if she was your younger sister or daughter? Just look at the bit of the 'Good Morning America' piece where she talks about having "Bieber fever", she shows her age loud and clear. At that point, I really felt like a heel for ever making fun of her in the first place and that brought me to where we are now. I'm not asking you to change your ways, you can do what you want. I just want you to think about it from a different perspective. I want you to remember back to when you were a kid and what was important to you and to wonder if you wouldn't have done the same thing she did. I want you to consider pointing your hatred at the writers of the music and lyrics or at Ark Records for allowing this to be produced. Although, I do find that the lyrics really sum up the thoughts of an 8th grader, no matter how silly and mundane.

That's all I have to say about the topic. I'm not 100% sure that I got my point across the way I wanted too, but I hope that it at least got you to think a little bit. And if Rebecca Black reads this (which I doubt) I'd like to tell her to keep her head up and weather the storm, this too shall pass and maybe it'll bring you good things in the future. You're young and have your whole life ahead of you.... but it seems like you already are aware of that.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Monday, March 21, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Hunger' (2009)

i tend to be a stickler about DVD covers being accurate depections of what the movie is about.... this one is only half-right.... the actress, Lori Heuring, is never in her underwear during the film.... there is no need to mark the days off on the wall as there is a clock in the room they're kept in that counts down the days.... and finally, there is no hacksaw in the film.... that being said, i really enjoyed this film regardless....

i'm always looking for a new horror film to watch.... and it's getting harder and harder these days since i've seen so damn many.... this one seemed to come along at just the right time and i'm sure glad that it did.... as a rule, the Fangoria Frightfest selections are not always of the best quality.... so i was hesitant about this film in the beginning.... but sometimes there's exceptions to the rule and this film is one of those exceptions.... this was a simple story about survival that was elevated to something else because of the deeper storyline and the commitment of the actors.... it had a bit of a problem regarding the villans history and i was also thrown off by the look of the villan.... i think they were trying to make him look as normal as possible so that it created more of a realistic feel to the film.... and by the end, i was buying into it myself.... but be prepared to be put off by it in the early parts of the film....

the story is about a man who was trapped in a car with his mom after an accident when he was a child.... he was in there so long that he was forced to begin eating her after she died.... when the rescue team finally found him, he was catatonic but alive.... many, many years later, the man kidnaps 5 strangers and puts them in a dugout underground with nothing but barrels of water to live off of.... no food whatsoever.... each of them is initially skeptical of each other, but over time they realize that they have to trust each other if they want to survive.... the lead actress plays a doctor and she advises that they can survive about 30 days without food, as long as they have water.... but it is not something that will end pleasantly and they have no idea what their captor has in store or if he'll ever give them any food.... what happens over the course of the rest of the film is basically the breakdown of a mini-society.... lines are drawn, sides are taken and things get out of hand.... it's an examination of the human condition in its rawest form.... this film, i guess, falls into the cannibalism genre.... but i don't want to sell it short by sticking it into a corner.... it's more of a survival horror.... it asks the question, "How far would you go to survive?".... and this also gives you an idea how a lack of food will affect you over a long period of time.... the desire for food goes way beyond your desire to have some, it goes deep into the hard-wiring of humanity.... we all have a breaking point where we'll do anything to get what our body craves.... from eating bugs, moss off the walls, dirt, anything that's edible.... but would you give up your humanity to eat another human being....? that's where this gets really interesting.... because you can actually see the psychological side-effects of going down the road to ruin.... it's like once you make that choice, you can never go back to who you were before.... and for some people, they don't want to go back.... it twists you into something dark and souless.... and i can imagine that the people who've actually had to experience this are probably scarred beyond saving.... i wouldn't think that a lifetime of therapy would fix the deep seated destruction of the mind.... as you can see, this film raises some interesting questions.... or at least it did for me.

i found this film to be a 4 out of 5 star journey.... something that i was surprised by and happy that i took the time to watch.... it's available to watch on DVD from Netflix, but not OnDemand.... it is worth the rental, trust me.... i've never seen or heard of any of the people involved in this film.... but i think that there is some great potential here for bigger things for all of them.... i've also changed my opinion on the Fangoria Frightfest selections.... i'll be a little less hesitant to avoid them from now on.... i will judge them based on the storyline and the reviews given.... i'm a big enough guy to admit my mistakes.... or maybe it's not me, maybe it's that Fangoria has set higher standards for what they put their name on.... either way, check it out.... and make sure you have a good meal before you watch this one.

if you like this, check out the Food Network afterwards.... it's the exact opposite of what you've seen in the film.

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Jack Ketchum's Offspring'

The first Jack Ketchum adaptation I saw was 'The Girl Next Door', it was horrifying. It wasn't a 'horror' movie, but the subject matter was extremely hard to watch. The next one I watched was 'The Lost'. I still haven't made it the whole way through. For some reason I just couldn't get into it. Recently I've been reading alot about a movie called 'The Woman'. From what I understand, it's the sequel to 'Offspring'.... therefore I thought I should watch this one first. 'The Woman' has gotten a lot of positive notice's and was directed by Lucky McKee with Angels Bettis starring in it. Perhaps I should start re-thinking my habit of being a "completionist". I could have lived my entire life without sitting through the movie 'Offspring'. 1) I'm not a fan of the zombie sub-genre of cannibalism. 2) I've not seen too many Ghost House Underground productions that I've enjoyed.... in fact, I can't even think of one right now. 3) With my Jack Ketchum track record, why would I put myself out on a limb to undertake another one? But I did it anyway and now I kind of regret it.

This movie is about a group of cannibal's that live in hiding near a very populated area. Somehow they've gone without being noticed for a long time. There is a police officer that has been tracking them, but with no luck. The cannibal's are in the middle of trying to kidnap a baby to steal its power. They end up at a home of a family and proceed to kill the family and only a visiting friend, her son and the families baby escape. They hide out in the forest behind the house and try and wait out the cannibalistic killers. The cops find out about the murder scene and soon everyone is trying to find the missing members of the family and the friends. The cannibal's proceed to kill a lot of people, the surviving family member's and the friends get kidnapped by the cannibal's and the rest is lame, so I won't bore you.
This movie tries to do something, I just don't know what it is? Is it a horror? Is it a crime drama? Is it a thriller? Is it a gore-fest? I just don't know. This was dull and uninspired filmmaking and I wonder why Jack Ketchum keeps putting his name on these things? I also wonder how in the hell this thing has a sequel coming out? One with a well known director and star and a recurring character from the first movie. It just shows that things get made regardless of quality or the public's taste. Perhaps I'm missing the point of this? Or perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for a cannibal movie? I mean, I was never a fan in the first place.... maybe that's it. I gave it 1 out of 5 stars as soon as it ended. I barely turned it off and I was already rating it. The problem is, once 'The Woman' comes out, I'm afraid that I'm going to want to see it. I really enjoy Lucky McKee's movies and I enjoy Angela Bettis's work, so what's a movie lover to do? I suppose we'll find out when that day comes. Until then, I'm going to stay away from the cannibal's and let the zombie's do the flesh chewing.

If you want a decent cannibalistic film, watch: 'Hunger' (2009), 'Ravenous' and 'Dumplings aka Gaau ji' (2004)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

my thoughts on my recent trip to the cadaver lab....

When I made my decision to go back to school, it was a big deal. When I made my decision to enter the Medical Assistant program, I had my concerns about the math involved and giving injections. When I started school and realized that I would also have to be dissecting a cow eyeball and performing EKG's to people with their shirts off, I got really nervous. Having completed all of these tasks and having little to no problem with any of them, I felt pretty good. I was able to do them all because of a decision I made to overcome any obstacle thrown at me because I wanted to do my absolute best while I was in school. However, once I heard we were going to a cadaver lab and taking apart a human being, I started to second guess my career choice. Here I am now, done with the lab and how do I feel? I am so thankful that I made the decision early on to face all of my fears. I have learned more than I ever could have hoped for by not letting anything hold me back. Granted, it was not the easiest thing to see a body cut wide open and having to take all of the parts out to examine them. But.... I did it and I would do it again. It was an excellent use of $30 and 3 hours of my time.

For those of you who haven't experienced this before, let me expain how my trip went.

Upon arrival to the college where the bodies were being stored, we were ushered into a lab complete with sinks, microscopes and gas nozzles. We were given all of the instructions and rules on how cadaver lab would work. It was advised to us that the smell would be unlike anything we'd ever smelled before. (They must have never smelled me fart.) I found out that bodies are preserved by a mix of chemicals that's basically anti-freeze. This compound can keep the bodies fresh and avoid decomposition for up to two years! As a matter of fact, one of the bodies we would be working on, had been in the lab for a year and a half already. The other body had only been there for about 3 months. Back to our instructions, we were provided with protective lab jackets and goggles and were told that we could wipe Vick's under our noses to tone down the stench. (I chose not to do it and I didn't ever regret it.... the smell wasn't that bad.) The room we went into was tiny. The two bodies barely fit in there together with the large metal containers they were stored in. Therefore, we had to put one to the side and only focus on one at a time. All of the students there gathered around the box and our lab guide opened it up. At first glance, there was nothing to see. The body inside the box was zipped up in a body bag. I got my first sense of nervousness when I could make out the outline of the person inside, but I had committed myself to being there so I dug my heels in and soldiered on. Next, she unzipped the bag and inside was the body, but it was covered in a wet sheet. The outline was even more defined, but not quite as disturbing. At this point the smell began to overtake the tiny room. I don't think I could describe it even if I wanted to. It was honestly unlike anything I had ever smelled, but it was not NEARLY as annoying as formaldahyde. Before I could allow my brain to compute the complex smell, she took the sheet off. What I saw underneath was not quite what I was expecting. The face, hands and feet were all wrapped in a type of gauze and completely hidden from view. (We were told that studies had proven that the face, hands and feet are all things that trigger an emotional response. Because of that, they keep the covered to avoid any adverse reaction.) In the bottom of the bag was a yellowish colored liquid with little things floating in it. I asked our guide exactly what it was made of, she stated that it was a mix of the spray that was used to keep the body moist and the fat that was melting away from the body. After hearing that, it took me awhile to stop staring at it. What about the body itself, you ask? Read on my friends.... I assume most of you have seen a dead body by now. The way it looks like it's made of plastic and fairly pale. Well, this body looked like it was made of plastic, but it also looked like some kind of jerky. I think part of it was the fact that it was a year and a half gone, but the man had also been fairly large.... so when they removed all of the fat, he had a lot of loose skin. His chest was completely removed and just resting on top of his organs. His shoulders and thighs were cut open so you could flip up the skin to view what was underneath. His throat was wide open so you could see everything from his chin on down. His penis was exposed and uncircumcised. We were told that he was in his 80's when he passed. I found out that the myth about hair and nails continuing to grow after death was wrong. Rather that the skin retracts from the nails and hair, so it gives the appearance of growth. Weird. Our guide instructed a couple of people to remove the chest and flip it over to put it on his knees. As it was removed, you could see all of his organs gray and lifeless. There were stringy bits all over the place and it had the look of overcooked pork. At first it was difficult to discern the different parts, but upon closer inspection, things started to take shape. From that point on it was taking one body part out after another. Talking about each one and trying to determine a cause of death. We saw stiches left from open heart surgery. We saw that he had an enlarged heart. We saw where they'd sown up his chest. We saw where an extra artery was attached. It was amazing. Funny thing is that I found it unusual how much his ribs looked like any full slab of ribs I've ever seen. If they'd have had bar-b-q sauce on them, they would have looked appetizing. Soon, his chest cavity was spread out all over his body. We then took a look at the inner workings of his legs and shoulders. We could take out the femur and see how large it is. Then something happened that made me cringe.... our guide took his penis and bent it in the middle and that's when I saw that it was cut in half. You could see all of the veins inside and how the urethra was underneath them. It made the functionality of it all so amazingly clear. Sadly, my penis felt sad or his, but the knowledge I gained made it worth it. Finally, the body was propped up on a neck brace and the skull cap was removed. There was no brain inside and there were little pins stuck into the pituitary, the optic nerves and the eye sockets. It was kind of bizarre that you could look inside someone else's head, literally.

Our guide moved the first gentleman aside and took out the other. With him being 'fresher', his organs looked much newer, were softer and had more color. Sadly, he was not fully dissected yet so we couldn't take him apart. He was about the same age as the other man, but had been a dementia patient and had been under the knife for stomach surgery at some point. He was also circumcised. After we had some time with him, we went to the other room to see the first man's brain. It was left whole as it is very rare to get it out of the skull in one piece. Because of that, we could pick it up and feel the full weight of it. The bad thing was that it was kept fresh with a formaldahyde type of chemical. It burned the nostrils. I found it kind of sad to think that this man's entire life, all his hopes and dreams, had been inside this single organ and that they were all gone now. I was holding 80 years of experiences in two hands. It was not physically heavy, but it was emotionally gigantic. I felt thankful that he had given himself to us so that we could learn. I think it will make me a better healthcare professional because of it.

That was pretty much it. We had some time afterwards to examine the bodies on our own, but after 3 hours, most of us were pretty exhausted. I know that I felt like I'd run a marathon. On our way out of the lab, we couldn't stop talking about everyhing we'd seen and done. We talked about if we found it helpful or not. We were all like little kids in a toy store. All of us could agree, however, that it was something we would never forget. When I got out to the car, the first thing I did was take a drink of my Dr. Pepper and off we went.. (Note to self: If you ever do this again, don't be surprised if the first thing you drink after leaving WILL taste funny!) If any of you ever have the chance to experience this and have the desire to learn more about the human body, don't pass it up. It taught me more than any textbook ever could. Nothing beats first hand experience. The only thing I would change is being a bit more active with the removal of the different organs. It took me quite a while to warm up to the idea. I eventually got my hands dirty, but not right away. And that's it. I hope this shined a little light on something that not everyone gets the chance to do in their life. I'll be back with the usual movie reviews soon.... until then, stay classy San Diego!

(the photo above is my class at the cadaver lab.... i'm the bald guy with the beard in the back....)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Pontypool'

it's hard to find an original twist on an old theme anymore.... and the old zombie/virus/outbreak movie is one of the hardest to find something fresh.... but 'Pontypool' succeeds at the task.... it doesn't carry it far enough to make this movie hold up until the end, but it caught my attention from the get-go and held it for quite a while.... Stephen McHattie does a wonderful job as the lead character of Mazzy, the radio shock jock who's reporting the violent outbreaks occuring in the town.... he had the perfect voice of a radio personality and he's always interesting to watch as an actor, i can't seem to take my eyes off of him while he's working.... the script was fairly well thought out and paced.... i think my biggest problems with this movie was the explanation of the outbreak and the way it all ended.... i'm all for an attempt at something new, but this concept was pretty far fetched and unusual.... the way the virus works is that it's tramsmitted through speech.... ie: the person hears certain things and that sets the virus in action and makes the person violent and they begin attacking others.... therefore, Mazzy, who's reporting the story is also the one causing it.... that presents a difficult scenario for the people at the radio station, report the news or let it happen and avoid spreading it further.... here's the full synopsis from http://imdb.com/ :

"The film is set in a radio station in Pontypool, a small village in Ontario, Canada, where one day the morning team starts taking reports of extreme, bloody incidents of violence occurring in town. As the story unfolds, the radio staff soon realizes the violence that is ripping society apart is due to a virus being spread through the English language. That in turn poses a problem for a yappy radio jock and his staff holed up in the broadcast booth housed in the basement of the town's abandoned church as a slaughter rages beyond its walls."
the "slaughter" they're referring too is only seen, roughly, once.... there is an extended scene where some of the infected attack the station and get inside.... that's it, nothing else really happens with the "zombies".... i think that was something else that kind of bummed me out.... when i watch a movie like this, i usually expect more "zombie" action.... so if you're going to go the "zombie" route, either include lots of outbreak victims or none.... don't tease.... i went with a 3 out of 5 star rating for this one.... it's not great, but it's not terrible.... it has its good points, but it also has its bad points.... it's not OnDemand right now, so you'll have to rent it or track it down somewhere.... there are many other movies of this type out there that are better, but this is a decent little time waster.... i just wish it had a stronger ending and would have maintained a healthier pace.... and that's all i have to say about that.... now you know, the rest of the story.

if you want a great outbreak movie, check out: '28 Weeks Later', 'The Signal' and 'The Last Man on Earth' (1964)

my brief thoughts on.... 'Birdemic: Shock and Terror'

don't see this movie. i can't make it any clearer than that....

but if you want a reason why not to see it, read on.... overall, i gave it 1 out of 5 stars, only because Netflix won't let me put 0 out of 5 stars.... i haven't felt like i've wasted my movie watching time this much in a long time.... i think the only reason this movie is being viewed by anyone is because of the horrific reputation it's getting as being one of the worst movies ever made.... but regardless of that, the directer is being interviewed left and right and probably making a bit of cash off this giant piece of steaming crap.... there is not ONE good thing that i can say about this, not ONE.... there are such things as 'good/bad' movies.... movies that are so bad that they suddenly become good.... this one somehow managed to side step that problem in a big way.... the acting is beyond sub-par.... it's like cardboard cut-outs with overdubbing from some insane foreign film.... the special effects were made on a Commodore 64 that was trasported from 1987.... nothing matches up or makes sense with the "birds" of this movie.... the fight scenes seemed to be staged by a blind man with no opposable thumbs.... the pacing of the movie is set on s-l-o-w, i could have justified shutting it off just because of that.... and the ending....???? i suppose it was conceived out of the necessitiy to end the movie whether it made sense or not.... the only redeeming quality in this hunk of junk is the leading lady.... and it's not her acting talents.... she's pretty, that's it.... so if you want something nice to stare at for an hour and a half, you can watch this tradgedy of a movie or you can just hop on the internet and look at all the pretty girls you want without the torture....
i'm sorry if anyone that was involved in this movie reads this blog and is offended.... but did you ever think that this was honestly going to be a good movie....? really....?!?! and after all is said and done, it's too late to go back now and get my wasted time back.... take it as a lesson learned, "If the movie poster looks like it was made on MS Paint, it's probably a strong indicator that the movie itself will be made with the same level of craftmanship."

please save yourself the pain and agony of this movie and watch a vasectomy operation instead.

Friday, March 18, 2011

hey....! guess who's got a guest blog up....?

hey kids....! i wanted to drop a quick line here to let you know about my recent guest blog.... ("recent" meaning today.).... my cousin, Doc Stout, asked me to do a guest blog on his site: http://gettingmyheadonstraight.blogspot.com/ ....i was more than happy to oblige.... this isn't my normal movie review or introspective post, like on here.... it's more about being unemployed and what's next.... check it out, leave a comment and start following Doc's blog as well.... it's good stuff and i always want to support family....
on the flipside of things, he's agreed to do a guest spot here.... i won't give away what he's thinking about writing about, but it'll be good.... and if things go well, maybe we'll do it again sometime....? (if he wants....?).... so look for that coming up soon....!

more movie reviews to come.... hopefully even today.... have a good one, it's "Friday! Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!"

my very brief thoughts on.... 'Shadow' (2010)

i had somewhat high hopes for this movie.... the reviews were generally positive, the plot sounded somewhat interesting and i had nothing better to do.... i really should have found something better to do.... i really should have.... this movie was terrible.... i don't even have enough words to describe how awful this was.... it started out okay, but it's like a piece of chicken sitting out in the hot sun for three days.... it went from okay to putrid and rotted.... it's been awhile since i've seen a movie with such a lame ending.... and just when i thought it was done, it got worse.... it was almost as if they wanted to prove how bad they could make it if they tried.... i'm sure it made their mothers proud.... sadly, it just made me sad....
i suggest you avoid this one.... no matter how curious you are about it, trust me, it's just not worth it.... i can't wash out my eyes or my brain.... 1 out of 5 stars and the only star that i gave this was for the short running time.... how do these things continually get made....?

if you want to avoid this for something better, watch The Black-Eyed Peas performance at the Super Bowl.... i know you still have it TiVo'd.... right....? (sick-o.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

my brief thoughts on.... 'Mutants' (2009)

i've been a cheerleader of French horror films for quite some time now and for good reason.... they've proven that we're not necessarily on the top of the food chain here in America.... i never thought that i would look elsewhere for high quality scares, but i can't ignore what the French have produced and in many circles it could even be called art.... therefore, anytime i hear of a new film being made in France my mouth starts to water.... somehow 'Mutants' slipped under my radar though.... and i stumbled upon it totally by accident.... it kinds of ticks me off that i took so long to find this.... it's the perfect set up for a flim for me.... mutant/zombie type creatures running around in a semi-post-apocylapic world and people fighting to survive.... it's the perfect combination for me.... my bread and butter of horror films.... that's why it bothered me to have missed out on this one for so long.... i can't say that i recognized anyone in this film.... from the director all the way down.... everyone was unfamiliar.... i think that kind of lends itself to a better moviegoing experience.... so the question is: was this worth all buildup and waiting....? well, let's find out.

as mentioned just sentences ago, this film is set in a semi-post-apocalyptic world where a zombie/mutant/virus has broken out and much of the population has turned into monsters.... the few who've survived are scavengers and are fighting for their lives.... 'Mutants' focuses on a couple, one who is pregnant and a survivor of a bite from a creature and is trying to get her blood out to provide a cure.... the father of her child is with her, but has been bitten and is slowly starting to turn into one of the creatures.... they take refuge in an abandoned hospital and try and hold out for help from the army.... most of the film is a waiting game, but soon strangers show up and upset the balance.... and as the man is losing his fight, the woman must decide whether to put him out of his misery or hope for help and a cure....?
honestly, i had to watch this twice.... i was so exhausted the first go around, that i had to stop it because i didn't want to fall asleep.... in hindsight, i'm glad i made that decision.... the second time around i was able to fully focus on the storyline and enjoy it.... this is not the best French horror film i've seen this year, but it's still quite a bit better than most of the other horror movies i've watched, American or otherwise.... it is shot beautifullyand the creature effects are superb.... the sets and locations are amazing and it has a strong beginning, middle and end.... if anything i could say that's bad about this....? it's that it does slow down a bit too much in the 2nd act.... if you're not 100% committed to the viewing experience than you may lose interest.... but if you can hold on, you will be satisfied by the end.... this is a one off film in my opinion.... it would lessen it to make a sequel.... i can't say that i'll own this one, unless i find a really good deal on it someday.... however, i am glad that it finally found it's way into my DVD player so i could enjoy a short trip from reality.... i gave it a 3 out of 5 star reception and wonder if it might get better with repeated viewings....? it is only available to rent at this time.... i think that it's worth it.... just be well rested before you settle in for this dark little gem.

if you like this, also see: 'La Horde aka The Horde', '28 Days Later' and '[REC]'

my thoughts on.... '[REC]2'

so not too long ago, i wrote a glowing review of the Spanish horror film '[REC]'.... i was so excited about the film that i wanted to see the sequel as soon as possible.... last night i had the chance to check it out and i have to say that i was pleasently surprised.... as a rule, you all know that sequels tend to be overshadowed by the original films.... and the second one in the series is usually the weakest.... suffering from the 'sophmore jinx'.... granted, '[REC]2' is not as good as '[REC]', but it's pretty damn close and a great example of building on the original film and pushing it to another level.... taking an already familiar storyline and picking up right where it left off to help the viewer get a bigger sense of what happened after the first film ended.... where this film succeeded was in the clever way it carried on the use of first person filmmaking and to tie it all together with the first film.... it felt a tad bit contrived, but overall it was well done and left me still wanting another film.... (there are two more in the works, FYI).... a stamp of quality on a film is when i want to add it to the Joel DVD library and i want to add both of these films.... i think they'll hold up to repeated viewing.... it is a welcome inclusion into the zombie/virus/mutant/rabies/possesed lexicon.... more in line with the recent trend of the killers running full speed rather than shambling around.... that increases the tension and 'edge of your seatiness' in these films.... not too mention the x-factor that you don't exactly what's wrong with these people until the end of the first flim and it's not clarified until midway into this film.... i'm not sure that i bought into the explaination, but it's original and kept things feeling fresh....

okay, i've strayed a bit from where i was going in the beginning.... so let's stop and go over the storyline.... *SPOILERS!*.... this film picks up right where the first one left off.... we're still not sure what's happened with Angela from the first film, but there's a SWAT team about to enter the building to find out what's happened.... they're all outfitted with cameras to document the entire situation.... after they breach the building's entrance, they find the large pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs and begin to investigate where all the tennants have gone.... the leader of the squad makes them head to the penthouse where he feels the cause of the outbreak occured.... the SWAT team soon realizes that the head of their team is a priest who believes the virus is actually a form of possession.... they begin to gather evidence and look for the thing/person who started it so they can destroy her.... the situation goes from bad to worse as the team slowly begins to get picked off one by one.... as their camera no longer works, we pick up on three teens who've snuck into the building and are being chased by the virus stricken killers.... it just so happens they're videotaping everything.... that's about where i'll stop.... i think the rest is something that just needs to be seen....
this film is above average for this oversturated genre.... it is a well put together film with plenty of tension, scares, excellent special effects and beaufitul cinematography.... you'd think with first person perspective filmmaking that they'd rely on S-VHS cameras or something.... but with these two films, it's high quality 32 mm that is being used.... so you get the hand held feeling, but the big budget picture quality.... a nice combination.... the few actors from the first film that are still alive as either virus victims or actually alive, re-appear in this film.... no re-casting here.... they use the same building and it's one of the additional characters in the film.... it's such an amazing building that it lives and breathes on its own.... i do kind of have to wonder about the ending of this, i'm curious to see if they can pick up where this left off and continue on with a plausable conclusion.... i'm fairly sure that the sequels (at least one of them) is a prequel.... either way, i'm betting they'll be worthwhile....

now, the first film i gave a solid 5 out of 5 stars.... this film gets a good 4 out of 4 stars.... it has its flaws, but i can easily look past them because of the strength of the original film and the quality of this one.... i'm still not 100% sold on the possession/virus outbreak scenario.... it just all seems like they're trying too hard to be original in this sub-genre of the zombie film.... but perhaps in this oversaturated genre you have to do whatever you can to keep things fresh.... and they made such a strong impression with everything in these films that you can look past any shortcomings.... or at least i can.... i am very impressed and enjoyed this and the original film quite a bit.... now, if the rest of the world could get the memo about what makes a good film, we might just have something worthwhile....

if you enjoy this film, i hope you've already seen: '[REC]'

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the official Facebook page for this blog....!

i was requested to have another way to be notified of updates on here.... so i've created a Facebook page for this blog.... it's a way for you to get updates, connect with other readers and to share this blog with anyone who'll listen.... the link is: http://www.facebook.com/joelunitardshow/posts/10150101146578422?ref=notif&notif_t=feed_comment#!/pages/A-momentary-lapse-with-joel/198969670132513
check it out, 'Like' it and spread the love.

more reviews coming soon.... i just need to decide if i want to watch a bunch of new movies to review or keep working on my back log of movies i've seen, but not reviewed....? the never ending question....

Friday, March 4, 2011

my very brief thoughts on.... 'DIE-ner (Get it?)'

sometimes Netflix OnDemand causes me to watch things that i would never have seen before if it wasn't for them.... usually, it's a good thing.... in this case, it wasn't.... as you can probably already tell by the title 'DIE-ner (Get it?)' that this movie is not going to be a piece of top notch filmmaking.... but i figured, what the hell....? it's billed as a horror comedy.... it has zombies and a serial killer.... it sounds pretty sweet.... but the problem is: it's not funny, the zombies are extremely apathetic, the characters have no charisma, and the story is about as interesting as drinking a glass of luke warm water on a warm day.... and for some reason, i'm still watching it.... i don't know why i can't turn it off, i suppose that deep down i'm hoping it'll get better.... i always want to give an indie movie a shot as i know that someone put a lot of time and effort into making their movie outside of the Hollywood mainstream.... and i still hold that philosophy.... my only request to the filmmakers is that they need to make sure they have a worthwhile product that will leave an impression regardless of budget.... because i've seen other filmmakers be successful with almost no money, but an amazing idea....
alright.... so now what....? i'm in the middle of a movie that i'm not really enjoying but for some reason, i can't turn it off.... i don't know that i can even feel good about rating it, until it's over.... but i'm pretty sure we're looking at a 1 out of 5 star effort and a movie that i won't ever need to see again, unless i run out of Advil PM.... are we on the same page....?

if you like this, perhaps you were watching something else at the time and just got confused.... because i'm pretty sure that you were watching something other than this.... god, i hope so anyway.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

my thoughts on.... '[REC]'

the DVD cover above states that this film "The movie that inspired 'Quarantine'".... that's not exactly right.... 'Quarantine' was a direct re-make of '[REC]'.... so much so that it's practically shot for shot.... it even has a very similar building, fire station, etc.... now, i saw 'Quarantine' first.... and i like Jennifer Carpenter, being a fan of 'Dexter' and all.... i actually enjoyed it.... i gave it 4 out of 5 stars and you can find my review on this blog (you can also find the DVD in my library).... it's not a popular opinion that i have, nor the most popular DVD library.... i find that i'm in the minority most of the time with 'Quarantine'.... perhaps if i'd see this film first, i might have felt differently.... but the re-make didn't taint my opinion at all.... it was kind of a 'Let the Right One On'/'Let Me In' scenario.... both were very good, both we're worthwhile films.... however, one still ended up being superior to the other.... and that's what happened here.

if you've read my blog long enough, you'll notice that i use certain phrases and words on a regular basis.... you may see that if i see something and call it a 'movie', that means that it was not something that i feel is art or worthy of high praise (generally).... but if i use the word 'film', it's like the ultimate compliment.... that means that i loved it.... that being said, what i'd like to go over again is my phrase "pitch perfect filmmaking".... my definition is a film that is as close to perfect as you can come.... everything about it is solid.... cinematography, script, direction, acting, etc.... that it's art.... that it will stand the test of time.... like someone with 'perfect pitch', the film hits all of the notes correctly for the entire length of the film.... i feel that '[REC]' is an example of pitch perfect filmmaking.... and that's not always the easiest thing to accomplish in the horror genre, it just doesn't lend itself to being art.... now, i would argue that it has a whole lot more art to it than people give it credit for.... however, i once again am in the minority....

for nearly the past decade, the French have been continully putting out high quality horror films.... however, i'd not seen anything from Spain that reached out of my home entertainment center and grabbed me by the ears and said, "SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!".... i was seriously wondering if they would.... everything i'd seen up to that point just hadn't come close to impressing me.... '[REC]' changed all of that.... in a really big way.... this film made me jump at some of the scares and the last 15 minutes were terrifying.... leaps and bounds beyond the re-make in those accomplishments.... some of you may stray away from this because of the hand held shaky cam style filmmaking.... but in this situation it just adds to the terror.... because you're experiencing it first hand, as if you're Pablo the cameraman.... also, the actors in this film put themselves into the action with 100% commitment.... even though the overall scenario has been seen before and the reason behind the killings are a bit silly, it doesn't matter.... they sell it.... i wish i hadn't avoided this film for so long, but i didn't want to come into it with 'Quarantine' still fresh in my mind.... i'd heard so many good things about this that i wanted my brain to be open to viewing it as if i'd known nothing about it.... in hindsight, i'm glad i waited.
'[REC]' takes place in a single evening when a reporter is doing a 'fluff' piece on the local firemen.... she's staying the night at their firehouse and showing what their lives are like.... the daily grind, the in's and out's, and the occasional call to an emergency.... things start out quiet enough, but soon a call comes in that a woman needs help in an apartment complex.... so they load up and head down to the location, with the reporter and her cameraman in tow.... at the apartment, they find the tennants all in the lobby trying to figure out what's going on.... they direct the firemen and police to the woman's apartment and of course, the reporter and cameraman follow.... they find the woman dazed and motionless in her apartment.... as they try and question her to find out what's wrong, she suddenly attacks one of the firemen.... everyone flees the woman's apartment and head downstairs to re-group and tend to his wounds.... when they try to get outside to get him further medical attention, they find that they've been sealed in by the emergency teams outside.... soon they're informed that there is a possible biohazardous situation in the building and no one can leave until they figure out exactly what's going on.... being in an enclosed space and having murderous tennants on the loose, things go from bad to worse as things begin to fall apart.... meanwhile, the camera never stops rolling.

if you've seen 'Quarantine', my plot summary in the previous paragraph is probably a bit of deja vu.... but the two films are actually quite different in tone and feel.... i feel like the pace and tension are a lot higher in '[REC]'.... it never seems to have a dull moment... things just come at you one right after the other until you're exhausted and unsure if you want to go on.... but curiousity and solid filmmaking carry you the rest of the way.... and the payoff is well worth the trip.... i don't want to give away the ending, however i will say that it's not quite the same as the re-make.... i think it's more effective.... the only problem i had with it was that they kind of inject a twist on the storyline that is confusing.... i felt like once they entered the penthouse apartment for protection, that we were suddenly watching a different film.... not a bad film, but one that isn't quite the same as the previous one.... perhaps the sequel will delve deeper into the ending of this one and explain things to me.... maybe i just missed it....? it really doesn't matter, i crapped my pants regardless.... and i still gave it a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars.... i truly loved this film.... it as amazing.... it has spawned 3 sequels, 1 that's already been released and 2 more that are in production.... i don't honestly know if you can milk this long enough to make a franchise out of it.... i also don't know if you'd want to make a franchise out of it.... part of the horror of this is NOT knowing what happens and NOT knowning exactly what the cause is of the outbreak.... this is a bleak film and bleak films generally don't result in sequels.... not the smart ones.... the good news is that '[REC]2' has gotten pretty positive reviews, so i have hope still....

so all in all, i highly recommend this film.... it's, as i said at the beginning, pitch perfect filmmaking.... everything about this movie is spot on.... you couldn't ask for a stronger start to my love affair with Spanish horror.... i just hope that you give this a chance and that you don't mind subtitles.... dubbing would ruin this.... just watch 'Quarantine' instead, if you don't want it subtitled.... this is only available to rent on Netflix right now.... unless you have another method, that's the way to get it....

'[REC]2' is already lined up for my viewing this weekend.... i'll be sure to let you know what i think.... if i survive.

if you like this, check out: 'Quarantine', '28 Days Later' and '28 Weeks Later'

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

my thoughts on.... 'Frankenstein' (1931)

sometimes as a horror movie fanatic, you have to go back to re-visit your roots and remind yourself where it all began.... granted, i've seen most of these classic films before but that doesn't make them still as fresh as they were when they came out.... and if you're going to go back in time, you must start with the Universal Studios classic monster films.... (ie: Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Wolfman, etc....).... i figured i'd start with Frankenstein, the largest of the monsters, literally.... or at least larger than life.... this is a film that is revered by horror directors everywhere and was a spark of life to their imaginations.... Frankenstein is an iconic creation brought to life by Boris Karloff and brought to the screen by director James Whale.... it's not the last horror film Boris Karloff made.... the man is a legend in his own right.... a name that is synonymous with horror.... but in this film he is merely credited as '?', i suppose it was a way to increase the terror.... not knowing who was behind the make-up.... as far as the story goes, i've never read the original book so i don't know how close to the source material this is.... but it's a fairly simple story that James Whale brought to the screen.... one that can be seen by just about anyone and easily understood....

Dr. Frankenstein is determined to create life out of nothing.... everyone doubts him and he's a bit mad, but he follows his passion regardless.... he patchworks a man out of spare parts and an abnormal brain.... he then proceeds to bring the creature to life and the creature soon wreaks havoc on the town.... and ultimately is chased by an angry mob with torches.... where he faces them in a final showdown....
this film set the standard for many films to follow.... it's use of German expressionist background sets.... the state of the art make-up effects.... the great backdrops that create the feeling of something larger than just a soundstage.... the over the top dramatic acting.... and of course, the monster.... what's not to like about this film....? it is a bit dated and some of the effects are laughable by todays standards, but when i think of some of the horrific CGI i see in movies today i would prefer what they made work back in the 30's.... this film is expertly shot.... almost every frame of the film looks like a photograph that you could hang on the wall.... the story is universal.... and you can't help but feel a bit sad for the monster.... he's just a mere victim of circumstance.... he was given when life should not have been given.... and he is merely acting on his most animal instincts.... he doesn't seem to know any other way to act then by doing what a trapped animal would do.... i should also point out the scene with the little girl by the lake.... it is frightening still today.... what starts out as a harmless back and forth between the monster and the little girl, soon goes horribly wrong and results in tragedy.... once again proving that the monster is merely acting on instinct or rather re-acting....

regardless of all of the praise this film has acheieved, i still couldn't see to give it more than 3 out of 5 stars.... not that it is a bad film, on the contrary, this film is a piece of history.... and i am glad that it's stood the test of time and can live on as a reminder of where we came from.... what brought us to where we are today.... it also proves that sometimes simple is still better.... it should be noted that this film was followed by the 'Bride of Frankenstein', which has been called a better film than the original.... i have it in my queue as well and look forward to comparing the two.... it also spawned multiple sequels and re-makes.... some better than others, but all a part of the Frankenstein legacy.... one that spans decades and genres.... sitcoms and cartoons.... TV shows and plays.... it should also be known that in the birth of cinema, 'Frankenstein' was one of the first monsters portrayed on the big screen.... in 1910, J. Searle Dawley made a film just shy of 15 minutes that scared the hell out of audiences back in the day.... once again proving the lasting power of monsters and the cinema of horror....

to watch the 1910 version: http://www.archive.org/details/Frankenstein_628

if you would like to watch some other horror classics, watch: 'Dracula' (1931), 'The Wolf Man' (1941), and 'The Mummy' (1932)