Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Icetastrophe TV Movie Review – The Cold is A Coming

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: December 20, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Jonathon Winfrey

Anyone who ever visited or read my blog in the past knows that I have a soft spot in my heart for bad disaster movies. That is exactly why I grabbed Icetastrophe, also known as Christmas Icetastrophe, the first time I saw it in Family Video.

Charlie (Victor Webster) is a man living in a small town when disaster strikes. The sky suddenly opens up and releases a torrent of ice and snow on the town. What actually happens, according to the film anyway, is that a meteor somehow causes a major atmospheric change on earth. A piece of the meteor breaks away and hits just outside of town. This causes the temperature to drop and wreaks havoc on Charlie's town.

There are tons of other stories going on in the same film. Charlie's son goes crazy after finding out that his rich girlfriend is lost in the cold with her brother, so he goes off to chase her down. Charlie's wife is stuck in the community center with the girl's mother and trying to find out what happened to both their kids. Oh, and the girl's father is more concerned with saving himself than dealing with anything else. There's also a grad student from a nearby university who shows up in town and asks Charlie to help her find the meteor.

Icetastrophe is really pretty bad and not necessarily bad in a good way. Having just finished Continuum on Netflix, I kept seeing people in this movie, wondering what I knew them from, and looking them up to see that there were on Continuum. I really think that the producers of that show had some extra cash leftover and decided to just use some of the cast to make a bad TV movie.

Of all the cheesy scenes in the movie, the cheesiest involves Charlie and the grad student. The two are in the midst of running away from the freeze, which is apparently taking over the entire town, when they get to a lake. They hop on a boat, speed across the lake, and look back to see the lake freezing behind them. It definitely gives new meaning to the term cold front.

Webster is probably better in this movie than he is in other stuff. I still remember him from his time on the soap opera Days of Our Lives, which I think every girl in my college dormitory watched, but he has a tendency to either be good or be really wooden. He's actually a little stronger in this movie than he is in other roles, though still not as good as he is on Continuum. The rest of the actors in the movie are just kind of there. I can't really highlight any one specific person because most are generally forgettable.

Icetastrophe, also known as Christmas Icetastrophe when it first aired, isn't nearly as much fun as I imagined it might be. It's just another one of those television movies that I watch once and promptly forget about.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Echoes Movie Review – Sleep Paralysis is a Bitch

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: July 17, 2015
Rating: ?
Director: Nils Timm

Anna is a young woman and a writer who deals with serious bouts of sleep paralysis. The nightmares are so vivid and realistic that she has a hard time telling the difference between what happens in her dreams and what happens in real life. Her boyfriend, Paul, convinces her that she needs some time away from it all and takes her to a gorgeous home in the dessert.

After experiencing a few peaceful nights there, she decides to stay when he goes back to the city. Anna realizes that this was a mistake after her nightmares come back. After meeting Jeremy, a guy who lives in a trailer on the property, she begins feeling uncomfortable in her new home. To make matters worse, she begins having visions of a woman named Vera and sees the woman in her dreams.

She takes a trip into town and learns that Vera was the original architect of the house. She later became blind and went for a walk away from the house, only to completely disappear without a trace. One morning, she wakes to find strange writing all over the windows of the house on the outside, including a specific date, which she discovers was the date Vera went missing. Anna must find out what connection she has to the house, why Vera keeps coming to her, and what is real and what is part of her dreams.

When we finished watching Echoes, my boyfriend looked at me and said, “that was better than a lot of the stuff you make me watch,” which is high praise from him! Echoes is actually one of the better films that I watched over the last few months. While it had a twist towards the end that most people did or should see coming, the rest of the film makes up for it.

Kate French does a really good job as Anna. Given that I've never seen her in anything before, I thought she added something special to the role and to the film. Anna walks the line between being simple and complex. You never know what she's thinking or what she might do. She does a great job of showing the fear Anna has after another night of nightmares and the worry she has as she slowly wonders if she's losing her mind.

Steven Brand was also pretty good as her boyfriend Paul. Though Paul is initially just a throwaway character, he later becomes a bigger part of the story. While you can figure out the connection he had to Vera, I still liked him in the movie.

The only fault I had with Echoes was the ending, which throws away the whole sleep paralysis story in favor of a classic ghost tale. I can overlook that though because the rest of the movie was so damn good. Most of the movie takes place in a gorgeous mid-century modern style home with large windows on every wall. You never know what you might see happening outside those windows or even what you might see on the windows when Anna wakes up in the morning.

Echoes was a dark movie with an average ending and enough chills to make me call it one of the best I've seen lately.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Arachnoquake TV Movie Review – Now That's How You Make Jambalaya

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: June 23, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Griff Furst

Arachnoquake is a completely ridiculous movie that is an absolute blast.

Paul is a hot guy living in New Orleans who wakes up in the morning at a stranger's apartment. Though he attempts to sneak out without her waking, she catches him just before he leaves, throws him his boxers, and makes it clear that she would like to see him again. He then heads to work, where he's a tour guide for his father's company with his sister. Since his sister and dad need to rescue the boat he practically wrecked the night before, they send him out to lead the latest tour around the city.

Tracey Gold of Growing Pains fame then enters the picture of Katelynn, the mother of two kids and the wife of Charlie, played by Edward Furlong. The two brought their kids to New Orleans because Charlie is a coach/bus driver and had to bring some students to town. The two separate, with Charlie taking his students and Katelynn taking their kids on the tour led by Paul.

Also on board is an older man, a hot woman, and her boyfriend. While driving through town, they almost crash when they come across a large crack in the middle of the road. After doing some investigating, they find themselves attacked by a bunch of white spiders. Since Tracey Gold is secretly a high school science teacher, she determines that the spiders live below ground and have no eyes. They then find themselves dealing with the spiders at the same time that they try to track down Paul's missing family. As an added bonus. Edward Furlong winds up trapped on the side of the road with a bunch of bitchy teen girls when the spiders attack.

Arachnoquake is probably one of the worst movies that I have ever seen, but it was so damn fun! We literally spent most of the movie laughing our asses off and wondering where we could find a copy for sale. The whole movie is cheesy and hilarious. Tracey Gold as a science teacher who somehow knows everything there is to know about a new species of spider? Edward Furlong as a responsible teacher/coach? Seriously, who would ever trust their kids with Furlong for an entire weekend?

The spiders are pretty funny too. There are multiple scenes where the spiders work together to kill people. A few will lure the victim close to the crack in the ground, the rest will crawl all over him/her, and the rest will actually push the victim into the crack, presumably to feed all the other spiders living below ground. It was just so funny that we had to crack up.

Arachnoquake clearly won't win any big awards, but it was a laugh riot. We actually found ourselves quoting the movie after watching it, including, “Now that's how you make jambalaya,” which Furlong says after smacking a spider with a baseball bat. This is one of the best of the bad movies!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Gallows Movie Review – A Little Disappointing

Runtime: 81 minutes
Release Date: July 10, 2015
Rating: R
Director: Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing

In 1993, the students of Beatrice High School presented a play called The Gallows. When the film of the same name opens, we see a crucial moment in the play where one young man gets hanged. Something goes wrong, and he actually hangs and dies for real.

Twenty years after the events of that night, the same high school decides to stage the production once again. Only this time, popular guy Reese is one of the main actors. Reese is a pretty boy and a jock, which leads to his friends picking on him and teasing him for hanging out with the unpopular kids. One of those boys, Ryan, convinces him that they should sneak into the school and vandalize the set.

When they visit the school later that night, they bring along Ryan's equally popular girlfriend Cassie. They then run into Pfeifer, one of the actresses in the play and a girl who Reese actually likes. Though they initially have fun together. Pfeifer gets upset when she finds out why they actually came to the school. After calming down, the group discovers that they are trapped inside the school, that their phones don't work, and that there is someone with them who is unhappy with their presence.

The first time I saw a trailer for The Gallows, I though it looked like a great movie. I can't say the same thing after actually watching the movie. It has a lack of scary moments and comes across as just another horror film meant to capitalize on teens who will watch anything. It's probably the most disappointing movie that I watched this Halloween season, mainly because I really wanted to see it and thought it looked so great.

Probably the best scene in the movie is the same one that was in the trailer. It involves Cassidy sitting alone in a dark hallway crying and freaking out. As she keeps looking down and staring at the floor, she doesn't see the man approaching her from the back with a noose in his hand. Even though I saw it a few dozen times when it appeared in the trailer, it actually did have a creepy feel that I liked.

The rest of the movie was just kind of meh. What else can you say about a movie that features all the same teen stereotype characters? We have the jock who likes a girl from the less popular side of the school, a jock rich kid, his cheerleader girlfriend, and of course the drama girl who has a secret. The best thing about those characters is that we can at least look forward to seeing a few of them die.

The end of The Gallows was something I found confusing. Stop reading for spoilers. It turns out that Pfeifer is actually the daughter of Charlie and his high school girlfriend. The cops go to her house and find her with her mom before Charlie attacks. Was Charlie really did or did he fake his death? While it seems like he did, the guy in the later years is clearly larger and taller than the high school boy. I'm not sure what we're supposed to believe. All I know is that The Gallows was extremely disappointing.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Saw 4 Movie Review – Where the Tide Turns

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: October 26, 2007
Rating: R
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Following the events of the last film, the police send John Kramer's body for an autopsy after they find him dead in the room with all those other bodies. The coroner finds a tape in his body and passes it along to Detective Hoffman. Lieutenant Rigg later finds Detective Kerry and begins his own investigation into the Jigsaw killings. This becomes more complicated when a new body appears and he learns that a man actually escaped the trap.

The problem with the later Saw movies is that there is usually too much going on. Most of the early films featured a few traps and gave us more information about Jigsaw, which kept us interested and entertained in the movies. This one had so much going on that I found myself drifting off into la la land and trying to keep up when I came back.

One of the best scenes in the film is the end of Donnie Wahlburg, aka Detective Eric Matthews. Though most of us assumed that he did in one of the previous films, it turns out that he's still alive, for the time being anyway. The new killer leaves him tied up on a block of ice with a noose around his neck and Hoffman strapped to a series of electrodes next to him. As the ice melts, he keeps slipping and sliding, but if he falls off the ice, the trap will kill them both. When he finally does slip and gets his head smashed in, it was probably the best moment of the movie. Unlike poor Amanda's death, this one really does fit the character.

Rigg, who we barely saw in any of the other movies, suddenly becomes the main focus of interest. The new Jigsaw killer sends him on a mission across town, and he must complete a series of different tasks in the hopes of saving Matthews. Given what I said in the last paragraph, you can guess how well he does.

The problem isn't Rigg the character, it's the fast that we don't really know him. I wish they left Kerry alive long enough for her to get her own movie. Since she really did have a connection to each film, it would have been nice to see her stick around a little longer. Rigg suddenly becomes our lead character, but I care as little about him as I do about Hoffman. Speaking of which, Hoffman is no substitution for the original Jigsaw.

I do like Agent Strahm played by Scott Patterson. It's probably the Gilmore Girls fan inside me, but I think he actually brought something new/good to the series. Though watching Saw 4 now and knowing what happens to his character later made me a little sad, it was nice to see him in this one.

The same can't be said about Jill Tuck. As the former wife of Kramer, she should have a lot of insight into him, but she really doesn't add anything to the film. She's really only there to talk about things we already know and set things up for her role in the next movie. Her character is completely bland and a little boring.

As much as I love the first three films in the series, Saw 4 makes me wish they had just made a trilogy.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Falling Movie Review – Weird and Just Plain Strange

Runtime: 102 minutes
Release Date: April 24, 2014
Rating: ?
Director: Carol Morley

The Falling is one of those movies that the roommate and I picked up at Family Video because of the box art and the synopsis on the back. While we got through the whole movie, I can safely say that it's not one I would ever watch again.

Set in the turbulent 1960s, the film tells the story of a young teenage girl named Lydia. She lives alone with her mother, who has a fear of going outside and spends most of her time holed up in her own bedroom. Lydia becomes friends with Abbie. While Lydia is quiet and meek, Abbie is boisterous and out of control. She loves telling her friend about her sexual exploits.

When Abbie dies, Lydia finds herself taking on her former friend's role in school. Though she abstains from sexual intercourse, she does form a strange relationship with her own brother. That leads to her suffering from a fainting spell, but when she faints multiple times, the doctors cannot determine the cause. To make things even worse, the other girls in her new group of friends suddenly begin passing out as well, creating an epidemic in their small town.

The Falling is a strange movie that got some great reviews, but after watching it, I feel like I must have missed something. It literally has an average rating of 7+ out of 10 on some sites, but I have absolutely no clue why. It's an incredibly confusing movie that goes from nothing happening to major information thrown at you in short chunks. I had a hard time following it, and my roommate even fell asleep halfway through and went to bed without finishing it.

We are both fans of a Japanese movie called Stacey about teenage girls who become zombies after having sex, and the plot of this movie made it seem like it might be somewhat similar. It is absolutely nothing like that movie. The Falling is really confusing.

Lydia goes from being this meek and quiet girl to someone who bats her eyelashes at her brother and wonders out loud why he doesn't look at her the same way he did her friend. Then she can't understand why her mother flips out when she finds them going at it in their bed. It also features an incredibly weird and confusing ending that left me wondering what the hell just happened.

If you're looking for an answer as to what happened to the girls and why they suddenly started fainting all over the place, don't look at me. The Falling never bothers to explain that crucial piece of information. It's apparently just something like hysteria, where all the girls want to pass out because the other girls do. I really didn't like the movie, and I really don't want to watch it again.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Saw 3 – Jigsaw is Back Yet Again

Runtime: 108 minutes
Release Date: October 27, 2006
Rating: R
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Remember when Detective Matthews went missing at the end of the last film? Well, he's still missing. Though Detective Kerry feels guilty and blames herself for his disappearance, she promises to work with Detective Hoffman and Lieutenant Rigg to find Jigsaw and hopefully bring Matthews back home again.

During an investigation of the latest victim, Kerry is the only one who realizes there is something different. Unlike all the previous traps, this one was set up in such a way that the victim could not escape. Kerry herself then becomes the next victim of the so-called Jigsaw Killer.

We then find ourselves introduced to Lynn, a doctor who is seemingly unhappy with her life. While working in a hospital, she finds herself abducted and later wakes to see Amanda watching over her. Amanda fits her with a collar designed to blow up if she attempts to escape before introducing her to Jigsaw. It turns out that our favorite crazy killer is dying and Lynn is his last chance for survival.

At the same time, a father named Jeff wakes in a strange house. Still dealing with the loss of his child who was killed by a drunk driver, he can't move on with his life. Jigsaw and Amanda created a series of rooms designed to test his ability to forgive and forget. Each room features someone connected to the case, and Jeff only has a limited amount of time to either help each person or walk away.

Like I said before, the later Saw movies get a lot of flack for being too confusing or just plain bad, but Saw 3 was actually a lot better than I remembered. One of the worst deaths is easily what happens to Kerry. She finds herself stuck inside a butterfly trap with the key stuck in the bottom of a glass of acid. Since the trap was designed to fail, she naturally loses. Seeing a beloved character die by having her insides literally ripped out of her was almost a little sad.

Then we have some of the deaths that occur when Jeff is moving through the building. There is one with a woman who actually freezes to death slowly with cold water sprayed over her body in a freezing cold room. Plus, we get the scene of the man getting literally twisted to death one body part at a time. I give you props if you can get through that scene without wincing or screaming.

Since a Saw movie isn't complete without at least one twist, the twist in this one comes near the end. Though I'm sure many people saw it coming, I definitely did not. We learn that Lynn is actually the wife of Jeff. As we first see her in bed with another man, most of us naturally assumed that the two had no connection.

This is also the movie where Amanda finally dies. Though she's an evil bitch character, her death didn't exactly seem fitting. To have her die via a brand new character shooting her in the neck was somewhat of a sad end to her. We also get to learn a little more of the backstory of Jigsaw/John Kramer, including his life before he became one of the most infamous killers in fictional history. Say what you want, but Saw 3 had a lot going for it and was probably the last great film in the franchise.