Tue, May 28, 2013
Despite being convinced by the trailer that this was a horror movie, we should have known better when Netflix described it as “mystery, thriller.” Yes, this falls into the category of Pretend Horror Movie, a la the horrible Bug or First Born: a movie that at first appears to be scary, but in fact turns out to be about weird psychological disorders or, in this case, a comment on child protection issues in the United States.
Jessica Biel begins the movie as a seemingly normal mom who desperately tries to protect her child from your typical monster urban legend, the Tall Man. This premise is pretty standard, and the viewer is subjected to all the cliches of this sort of horror flick: scary man, home invasion, suspenseful car chase, etc.
All of this would have been fine, though unsurprising, had there at least been a few good scares. But no, after several trying plot twists (Is Biel the Tall Man? Is she just crazy?), all is revealed: Biel is actually working for the Tall Man, her presumed-dead husband, a rich humanitarian who travels rural America saving kids from their skeety parents. The whole scheme is part of an underground movement of vigilante social workers to save poor kids and give them better lives with rich parents in the city.
So yeah, this is a classist piece of shit fake horror movie; not only is it vaguely offensive, but it’s also downright boring.
Mon, May 13, 2013
In this 2012 Lee Daniels (Precious) film narrated by Macy Gray, Nicole Kidman stars as a woman who falls in love with prisoner Hillary van Wetter (John Cusak) over a series of letters. In an attempt to clear Wetter’s name so she can marry him, she contacts journalist Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) and his writing partner, Yardley, to write an investigative report on Wetter’s case. All three head down to Jansen’s hometown, where Wetter is waiting on death row, and Jansen’s little brother Jack quickly becomes involved with the case and infatuated with Kidman’s Charlotte Bless.
Kidman is great as a southern cat in heat burning with desire for Cusak’s violent and greasy van Wetter. Many pairs of pantyhose get ripped, Zac Efron gets peed on, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. While not necessarily a great movie, it is well acted, with Efron holding his own against his more respected co-stars. Worth watching at least once for general weirdness, and then once again for the jellyfish scene. WTF.
He’s come a long way, baby.
Mon, Apr 29, 2013
In this adorable 90’s flick, three drag queens named Vida (Patrick Swayze), Noxeema (Wesley Snipes), and Chi-Chi (John Leguizamo) take a cross-country road trip to Hollywood. On the way, their car breaks down in an isolated southern town — a place so isolated that the townsfolk believe that these lovely ladies are actually ladies. While the queens await the arrival of a car part, they make friends with the locals and stir up major drama. Vida comes between a battered wife (Stockard Channing) and her abusive husband, Noxeema helps a grief-stricken senior, and Chi-Chi becomes part of a local love triangle. Even though the film deals with some heavy themes, it’s really hilarious, and definitely worth a watch. The number one reason to watch the film: THERE’S A RUPAUL CAMEO! Oh, and Julie Newmar appears too. See also: Sean Connery in a wedding gown! We can’t hide our love of the typical male archetype in drag, can we?
Fri, Apr 12, 2013
As a kid, I was terrified of Monkey Shines (1988). I never saw it, but the VHS sleeve, with that clockwork monkey with the clashing cymbals freaked me the eff out. Now, with the maturity and steely will of a movie blogger, and having tackled the nightmare fuel that was Dr. Giggles and found it eye-rollingly terrible, I was ready for Monkey Shines.
Monkey Shines isn’t about evil wind-up chimps or bloodthirsty gorillas, but the story of a quadriplegic man and his helper monkey. Throughout the script, you could replace “helper monkey” with “obsessed ex-wife” or “tempting ingenue”, and the movie plays out the exact same way. Well, maybe they’d nix the scene where she poops in a slipper, but you get the idea.
The movie is full of angsty adult situations (infidelity, divorce, parental meddling), a strangely sweet romance, and lively paraplegic sex (not played for laughs, thank god). It’s sort of a thriller, but sometimes a straight-up horror. The tonal confusion may have something to do with the fact this was zombie guru George Romero’s first commercial film, and studio notes famously sunk most of his ambitions.
Still, the movie holds together. Filling out the margins of the movie are Stanley Tucci as a romantic rival and John Pankow (Cousin Ira from Mad About You) as the lead’s best pal and the local rebel geneticist. You’ve also got a greedy, hand-wringing businessman that wants to weaponize monkeys, just in case you forgot it was filmed in 1988.
Monkey Shines also carries a geek pedigree: the screeches of the monkey are provided by Frank Welker (Scooby-Doo, Megatron, Dr. Claw, and about a thousand other cartoon voices). Welker also provided the voice of Suchi, the adorable monkey companion of Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Creepy.
Tue, Apr 2, 2013
Starring real-life rollerskating champ Jim Bray and an all grown-up Linda Blair (The Exorcist), Roller Boogie is a glitter coated glimpse into the roller disco fad of the late 70s and early 80s. Genius flautist and wanna-be roller girl Terry Barkley (Blair) meets up with the best skater on the boardwalk, Bobby James (Bray). Bobby James is instantly smitten with Terry but she, being from Beverly Hills, brushes him off. Later, Bobby James makes a bet with his friend that he can get Terry to dance with him at the local roller disco, Jammers. While she at first plays hard to get, after watching his moves, she decides to ask him to teach her how to dance on wheels.
Kind of like a way less serious version of Dirty Dancing with roller skates, Roller Boogie is really entertaining with an amazing soundtrack and roller disco dance moves and fashions that will kind of blow your mind.
Also really good is this Cher video from the soundtrack:
Tue, Mar 19, 2013
Let it be known: We love RuPaul. Well, we love RuPaul’s Drag Race and its glorious send-up of outrageous reality television tropes. When we heard of Starrbooty, touted as a riff on blaxpoitation and sexploitation films of the 60s and 70s, we just assumed RuPaul wouldn’t disappoint.
We did not, however, have any idea exactly what we were getting into.
RuPaul stars as the titular superspy/supermodel of the world in this fourth in a series of low-budget productions. (The first three were produced in the 80s with a budget of $100 and sold out of shopping carts outside of gay bars.) While this sounds exactly like the kind of b-movie gold we gravitate towards, what surprised us was how pornographic the whole thing was. Starrbooty’s sister/daughter/whatever is kidnapped by a cabal of black market drag queens and held hostage. Starrbooty infiltrates the circle by becoming a prostitute, and literally sleeps her way into the inner circle.
Actually, “sleep” puts it way too mildly. One scene in particular, in which Starrbooty tortures a man’s erect genitalia (upon his request) with her high heel, left us reeling. We’ll never be able to look at RuPaul’s shoe line (available at Heels.com) the same way again.
If you can look past the penises (seriously, there are a lot), this is a silly gay romp of the highest order. Mike Ruiz, celebrity photographer and frequent reality television judge, directed the whole thing. RuPaul (as R.A. Charles) wrote it. So pour yourself an Absolut cocktail and settle in for something completely #Rudiculous.
Mon, Mar 4, 2013
Beautiful Creatures owes a lot to Twilight. The book on which the film is based was published in 2009, a year after Twilight became a best-seller among tweens and your aunt. Easy-reading supernatural smut is nothing new, but their authors didn’t get handed multi-picture movie deals five years ago, so it’s hard to talk about BC without talking about how it stacks up against its sparkly predecessor. Luckily for audiences, Beautiful Creatures chooses to explore outside of the “star-crossed teens with supernatural superpowers” blueprint as often as it decides to colour inside the lines.
Consideration #1 – THE CAST
First off, the actors that make up BC’s teen cast are capable of acting like believable teens. It helps that many of the actors are actual teens, not “90210″ teens. The adult cast is full of happy surprises like Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, mostly because nobody looks embarrassed to be there.
Consideration #2 – THE LEADS
Thankfully, the plot of BC follows the male lead (Alden Ehrenreich), who manages to remain compelling and motivated, while allowing the the female lead (Alice Englert) to retain Bella Swan’s age-appropriate sullen sookiness. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, though I retain the right to revisit this if the female lead attempts suicide in the sequel when her boyfriend skips town.
Consideration #3 – THE FANTASY ELEMENT
The supernatural aspect of BC brings in a needlessly complicated system of witchcraft and prophecies to replace Twilight‘s narratively convenient sparkly vampires. Way less fun. Advantage: Twilight.
Consideration #4 – THE SMUT FACTOR
Speaking of way less fun: superpowered immortals that wait ’til they’re married before they get down? Please. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures. On the hood of a car, no less!
Consideration #5 – THE VISUALS
A big win for BC is the styling, which brings big Southern Gothic flair to replace Twilight‘s Washington state gloom. Advantage: Beautiful Creatures, though both director’s clearly haven’t met a scene they didn’t want to tint blue.
Though BC manages to occasionally outmanoeuvre Twilight, it’s still an adaptation of a middling YA novel, and even when there are flashes of innovation, it’s still a Twilight clone. And being that it’s not as deeply flawed as Twilight, it’s just not as much fun to watch with snark in your heart.
Mon, Feb 25, 2013
In this 1990 film, brought to you by the director of photography of Society, a group of college students who are enrolled in some sort of program where they are hooked up to weird dream tanks with things coming out of their heads and then their dreams get analyzed. I THINK? It’s pretty weird. Their professor decides that they need to go to this haunted house in the country to take some readings and do a study, and of course then all end up handcuffed around a pentagram while a weird green thing is flying around.
‘Cause, you know, SCIENCE.
Before you know it, our heroine, Donna, is running around the countryside being chased by a dog and possibly being possessed by aliens. I know, right? ALIENS.
Slightly infuriating and always entertaning, Nightwish will have you saying “IT WAS ALL A DREAM? WAS IT? WAS IT ALL A DREAM?” for hours afterwards.
Sun, Feb 10, 2013
Picking up exactly where Waxwork left off, Waxwork II follows our heroes — and that frigging hand — back to Sarah’s house, where she (now played by Canada’s own Monika Schnarre instead of Deborah Foreman) has a run in with her alcoholic stepfather, runs upstairs, and comes down to find his corpse. She finds the evil hand and shoves it down the trash compactor, which leads to even more trouble as now she is on trial for the murder of her stepfather and no one belives her story that he was killed by a dismemebered hand from the waxwork that burned down the same night.
Mark (Zach Galligan) has a plan to set her free, and the two of them go rummaging in an attic and find a locket, which opens a portal, so the two of them dive through and ricidulousness ensues. They find themselves at the Frankenstein manor, in a weird haunted house/possession/The Haunting type situation, and finally land in some sort of medieval land, captured by knights, and trying to escape from the clutches of an evil wizard or prince or something. It’s a bit confusing. Either way, there are weird cat vampire monsters and virgin sacrifices and black magic all over the place. This leads to the strangest battle of all time, with robots and Godzilla and Jack the Ripper all playing a part. Apparently, as they are told by a crow inhabited by the reincarnated spirit of his Mark’s grandfather’s friend, all the worlds they are warping through are like “God’s Nintendo game” and the outcomes have an effect in the real world. Oooh.
With appearances by Bruce Campbell, Michael Des Barres, David C and Drew Barrymore, an A+ Dawn of the Dead scene, and so much insanity it will make your head spin, a Waxwork/Waxwork II double-feature is higly recommended.
Tue, Feb 5, 2013
This campy 1988 remake of Roger Corman’s 1957 film of the same name was apparently made as a bet. The director, Jim Wynorski, bet that he could make the film with the same budget that Corman did in 1957. The result is a hilarious, poorly-acted science fiction mess, starring our girl Traci Lords in her first mainstream role. Nurse Nadine (Lords) along with her boyfriend cop and doctor-boss try and take down Mr. Johnson, a strange patient of Nadine’s who is also an alien that requires human blood for his home planet, to ensure their survival.
Besides the glorious acting, this is worth watching for the ridiculous 80s fashions (Johnson looks like Karl Lagerfeld. So good.) It’s also worth watching just to see the portal leading to Johnson’s home planet of Davanna, and the mind control.
For a movie made on a bet, it’s a pretty entertaining way to spend an hour and a half.
Sun, Jan 27, 2013
Alicia Silverstone and Krystin Ritter reunite with Clueless director Amy Heckerling in this campy throwback to romantic comedies of yore, and it’s like an amazing smorgasbord of classic dark comedies from the 80s and 90s, equal parts Death Becomes Her, She-Devil, and The Witches of Eastwick, with a healthy dash of Beetlejuice for good measure.
Silverstone and Ritter are vampire best friends in present day New York City, struggling with love and adjusting to advances in modern technology and fashion. Basically, our heroines from Clueless grew up, moved to the East Coast, and became vampires, complete with swoon-worthy love interests (Dan Stevens, or Matthew from Downton Abbey, who spends a good portion of the movie frolicking in his underwear — just FYI) and witty one-liners.
Actually, witty may be pushing it. The gags are so over the top that they fly right past groan-worthy, on to hammy, and settle somewhere near charming. (Tooth-whitening strips for fangs, “coffin hair”, and a stop-motion walk of shame down the side of a building are among the best.)
Sigourney Weaver appears as a vampire cougar on the hunt for fresh young blood, and that’s not even close to the most ridiculous aspect of her performance. Aside from Weaver, there are ample “Oh my god, that guy!” moments, with cameos by Malcolm McDowell, Richard Lewis, Justin Kirk, and Taylor Negron. The plot is so fluffy that IMDBing your way through is part of the fun — and the movie makes fun of the viewer in turn, with inappropriate cellphone usage ingrained in the film (a woman singing on stage at a lounge is distracted by her phone, as is an unhealthy man on a gurney at the hospital).
Truth be told, we were tearing up a little bit at the end. The characters and their motivations are just so damned adorable. But then there was an unnecessarily drawn out montage, ending only with a wisp of vamp dust and a collective sigh of satisfied relief.
Sat, Jan 26, 2013
So, wax museums? Pretty creepy right? In this 1988 masterpiece Zach Galligan (Gremlins), Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) and their friends go to a waxworks for an after-hours party (TERRIBLE IDEA) and one by one they start to disappear. Turns out that Galligan’s grandfather, the “HORROR LORD,” used to collect satanic artifacts and these artifacts are located inside the waxworks displays. This makes the displays kind of like ghosts that contain a portal, and when someone goes into the portal and dies THEN they become part of the waxwork. Once the entire set of 18 is complete, all of the waxworks will come to life and destroy the world.
COOL HUH? MAKES TOTAL SENSE!
In all seriousness, this was a totally great movie. There were vampires, zombies, werewolves, the Marquis de Sade (if that’s what you’re into) and just about every other bad guy you can imagine. Add 1980s ridiculousness and an enjoyable cast and you’ve got yourself an awesome, light horror film. Collect all the figures, bring ‘em to life and spawn a sequel!
Fri, Jan 18, 2013
The Last Woman on Earth (1960) is one of those films you can tell it was probably just an excuse for the cast and crew to shoot at a sunny location and dick around. In this case, B-movie director/producer Roger Corman brought his crew to Puerto Rico for some sun, surf, and cockfighting, all on the cheap. In fact, to save on the budget, Corman hired on Hollywood screenwriter Robert Towne (Chinatown, Mission: Impossible, and the filmed-in-Newfoundland Orca) to double as writer and male lead.
The titular woman is played by Betsy Jones-Moreland, who has a delightfully old-timey résumé: she started out doing office work, took an acting class, became a showgirl, got a role in a travelling Broadway company, then ended up in California to star in movies like The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957).
As Evelyn, our omega woman brings a “Betty Draper” messiness to the proceedings. She spends most of the movie calling out for a drink or brushing her hair or wearing outfits that were 1959 scandalous (read: pants).
The first half of the movie, for a post-apocalypse scenario, is pretty cheery. A well-timed scuba dive spares Evelyn, her husband Harold, and his lawyer Martin from the unexplained spontaneous asphyxiation of all life on the planet. They don’t waste any time figuring out the “why” of the apocalypse. They move into a swingin’ pad, light their cigarettes, and fix a round of martinis. As Martin says, “The lush island of Puerto Rico, a lush villa, and a whole life with nothing but to be a lush in.”
However, the movie then goes surprisingly dark. Evelyn has a sexy death wish. Easy-going Martin takes the apocalypse as an opportunity to throw off the shackles of society: no money, no bonds of marriage, no God. He starts casually bringing up how Harold is soon going to try to kill him. From there, it’s all fistfights and brain hemorrhages, and the uncertain fate of the human race.
Moral of the story: Never, ever move in with a couple.
Thu, Jan 10, 2013
Metallic objects have begun to rattle ominously, and then fly towards an unsuspecting American public! Chainsaws, pointy farm tools, a dirt bike, tinned vegetables, those handheld paint scrapers with the edge… No one is safe from the magnetic mayhem of Metal Tornado!
Here to save us is Lou Diamond Phillips, our man of science, the world’s leading specialist in the development of analogies. We watch as LDP’s clearly evil boss (Greg Evigan, the non-Paul Reiser dad in My Two Dads) waves off his words of warning:
LDP: *describes the metal tornado as a spinning top, a leaf in the breeze, gas on a fire, and an exploding oil rig, with a heart*
Evil Boss: You don’t know that.
LDP: What I’m talking about is a rogue magnetic vortex, created in a fraction of a second.
Evil Boss: The odds of something like that happening are impossible.
LDP: I think it did happen, Jonathan!
Yeah, Jonathan! The rest of the movie is LDP calling in favours, via his trusty generic office telephone. When he’s done ending calls in a frustrated manner, he turns to his teen son who happens to be a secret computer hacker. Sadly, he does not hack the tornado.
Sat, Jan 5, 2013
Ok, I know Christmas is over and we should have moved on by now, but we’ve been really busy, so this week we bring you the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger family classic Jingle All the Way.
Arnie stars as Howard Langston, a man who has become so obsessed with his job as a mattress salesman he neglects his family and everyone is super mad at him about it. Everything will be forgiven if he remembers to pick up a Turbo Man action figure, but of course he doesn’t, and this leads to him beating up Christmas and Sinbad all over town.
This is a completely ridiculous movie, and has randomly become one of my favourite holiday films to watch with a bunch of friends. It’s so hilarious I bet it’s still worth watching long after Christmas is over when you’re flopped out on your couch, staring at the dusty tree that you should have taken down weeks ago. Enjoy!