Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Little Eye Movie Review – "Do You Think They're Punishing Us?"

Runtime: 95 minutes
Release Date: October 4, 2002
Rating: R
Director: Marc Evans

Like The Real World, five strangers agree to live in a house in the middle of nowhere and let someone film everything that happens. The deal is simple. If they all survive until the end of the six months, they walk away with $1 million. If even one person drops out before the end, no one gets a dime.

The first few weeks go off without a hitch. Though they struggle with boredom and some personal issues, they manage to get through their days. Their unknown benefactor then decides to up the ante by limiting their food and making them find their own supplies. They then begin learning of things that might make them run from the house. The loveable Danny receives a message that his beloved grandfather died, but he decides to stay there instead of leaving for the funeral. The quiet and sometimes meek Emma discovers blood drops on her pillow that no one can explain, but even that won't make her leave.

One day, a man named Travis stumbles across their home. Claiming that he got lost in the woods, they agree to let him stay for the night. After Travis tells them that he works around computers every day and never once heard anything about the reality television that they're on, they begin wondering if they're really part of a new show or if there's something darker happening.

Years ago, I stumbled across a little movie called My Little Eye when searching for horror films on Netflix. I told multiple people of the movie and recommended it to several friends. Recently, a friend and I sat down to watch the movie, and I wondered how my memories and the actually movie could differ so much. My Little Eye definitely isn't as good as I remembered it in my head.

The movie takes place during the early days of the Internet. The idea of seeing a group of people trapped in a house for months seemed new, fresh, and different, but now, we can look online and see hundreds of similar shows every day. I think that's the main problem with the movie: it no longer seems fresh and it actually seems pretty dated. Today, we could just grab a cell phone and surf the web for any mention of a show, but these people are completely stranded in a house in the middle of nowhere.

The main reason we watched the movie is because my friend is a big fan of Bradley Cooper, and this was one of his early films. He plays Travis, the strange man who turns up on their doorstep, and the character is easily one of the oddest in the film. While having sex, he takes the time to look up at the camera and make it clear that he knows exactly what is going on. What makes it odd is that Travis disappears in the middle of the night. The other characters should find this odd, but they barely even note his disappearance.

My Little Eye was a good film during its time, but today, it plays like just another movie that many people will watch and forget.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Among Friends Movie Review – A Killer Party?

Runtime: 87 minutes
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris finally steps behind the camera, and her first outing is...okay.

Among Friends opens with shots of various men and woman getting dressed up for a party at their friend Bernadette's house. Three men and three women eventually reach the party thanks to the help of a limousine driver played by Kane Hodder. They share a few drinks, but when they sit down, they realize that they can't move. By the time they realize that they're paralyzed, they also realize that Bernadette is whacked in the head.

It turns out that Bernadette brought them all there for a little vengeance. From the hidden cameras she installed in her home, she knows all their dirty little secrets, and she enjoys rubbing salt in their wounds. They each receive a special present from her that somehow relates to their secret. She knows that one of the men raped one of his friends, that three of them engaged in a threesome, and that one masturbated while watching two of his friends have sex.

Bernadette also reveals that their missing friend Lily came to her with a secret. After her "friend" raped her, she learned she was pregnant and asked Bernadette to take her to the abortion clinic. Bernadette decides that each of the people should be punished for what they did wrong, and she is the one who should dole out the punishments.

Among Friends had an interesting concept, and I think it could have been a much better movie than it was. Jennifer Blanc and Brianne Davi were two of the standouts in the movie. Blanc portrays one third of the three some group, and she does a great job sitting at a table as her friend throws her past in the face. When Bernadette gives her the option to be punished or let a friend take her place, you can actually believe the dilemma she faces. Davis is just as good, playing an actress who trips during the entire dinner party. She believes that she's on the set of a film and confuses the people at the table with other actors.

If you read the box, you'll see Harris listed as a "scream queen" on the front of the box. While she does appear in the film, it's in a brief blink and you'll miss it scene. Those who remember her from the Halloween series will get a kick out of seeing a grown up Harris dressed in a red-and-white clown costume.

Among Friends doesn't really have any major issues, but it seemed slow at times. Bernadette is the perfect crazy chick, but we don't get any real motivation for why she does what she does. Raping a friend is a horrible thing, but is that what really caused her to snap? She already had cameras scattered around her house, and it's clear that she tracked her friends for years. We never learn why she went crazy, why she picked this night to enact her vengeance, or even why she didn't just convince Lily to go to the cops. While entertaining at times, Among Friends just left a number of unanswered questions behind.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 15, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Israel Luna

Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives plays out like three different movies in one. The first third of the film takes place in a club where the self-professed trannies talk about the ins and outs of relationships and men. The second third of the film takes place when the women find themselves attacked by a group of men that are less than happy to learn that the chicks they sought out have a little more under the hood. Then the film spirals into a third film that is a straight up exploitation film.

After suffering extreme violence at the hands of a group of men, one of the characters calls back to the club to explain what happened. Though they expect to get the help they need, they actually find themselves beaten again and left for dead. By the time Bubbles (the main character) gets out of the hospital, she just wants to move on with her life again, but she instead finds the men coming back to her for another round. That finally causes something inside her to snap, which lets her focus on making those men regret messing with her and her friends.

When I restored my Netflix membership after an absence of a few years, this was one of the few films that was still in my queue. I hazily remembered that a guy I dated recommended the movie when trying to get me interested in the exploitation films that he loved, but I didn't know anyone else who watched the movie, and I didn't know much about it. It turns out that Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives is one of the funniest revenge thrillers I've seen in awhile.

This movie has it all for exploitation lovers: a cool story, brutal scenes of violence, and actors with little experience in front of a camera. The only thing that really detracted from the movie was the lack of acting experience in the cast. I've found that some of the actors do have some experience, which is a little odd because many of the actors are really bad in this film. They seem more like people who randomly decided to make a movie without much money, and it sometimes plays like something they made for their friends than a real movie.

That doesn't mean that I hated the movie. I actually found it pretty entertaining and recommended it to a few friends. It had a number of moments that made me laugh, and some of the violence in the film is pretty dark. Netflix removed the flick from its streaming services, but if you can find a copy, give it a try. Ticked-off Trannies with Knives isn't a classic horror flick, but it's an entertaining movie.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Final Destination Movie Review

Runtime: 98 minutes
Release Date: March 17, 2000
Rating: R
Director: James Wong

Alex (Devon Sawa) is about to take a school trip with his buddies. After reaching the airport and climbing on Flight 180, they take off for Paris. An engine problem causes an explosion on the plane, and Alex sees everyone killed in gruesome ways. Alex comes to and realizes that it was a horrific premonition of what will happen. He flips out, and he throws such a big fit that the airline makes him get off the plane. One of his teachers agrees to stay behind and sort things out and some of the other students get off too. While working things out, they see the original plane exploded just like it did in his premonition.

Everyone suddenly looks at Alex a little differently and some even blame him for the explosion. The only person seemingly on his side is Clear (Ali Larter), an artist classmate who he previously never even noticed. His friend Tod dies in a way that the police deem as suicide, but he and Clear meet William Bludworth (Tony Todd), who tells them that death is coming for all of them. After Alex changed death's plan, death wants to come for them. Though Alex doesn't believe him, he has to change his mind when each person he saved begins dying in the same order they would have died on the flight.

Let me clear something up right away: I love the Final Destination movies, and it's probably my favorite horror franchise or at least in the top two or three. I saw this movie six times in the theaters, and I probably watch it once a year. There is almost nothing about the movie that I don't love.

There's the bully Carter, who somehow thinks that Alex was responsible for everyone dying but learns that Alex actually saved his life. Terry, Carter's girlfriend, who thinks that he should put aside his issues and be grateful for what he has. We even get a teacher that can't let go of what happened and a dorky sidekick type character.

Granted, it does get a little grating when they constantly blame Alex for what happened, and Miss Letwon is the worst of the group. She is so afraid to be around him that she basically tells him to just go. She feels guilty for letting another teacher stay on the plane, and she doesn't know how to cope with her own survival. It's also a little odd that the police get involved when multiple people die. They somehow decide that Alex must have something to do with the unexpected deaths even though they have no proof.

Eh, I can totally overlook those problems. Final Destination has a number of great deaths. The scene where a girl tells them to "drop dead" before getting hit by a bus ranks as one of m favorite shocking/surprising deaths in a horror movie. We also get a scene of a killer wire, a man getting decapitated by a piece of flaming train debris, and multiple people dying in an explosion. Not to mention that I still take a moment to look around when I hear John Denver. Despite seeing a number of recent horror films that I enjoyed, Final Destination still ranks as one of my faves.

Monday, October 21, 2013

4closed Movie Review – Jamie Kennedy Be Creepy

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: August 9, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Nick Lyon

4closed opens with a realtor preparing a walk through of a newly foreclosed home. Somehow, all the doors in the house lock at the same time, and she can't escape. A dark figure comes out of the shadows and brutally murders her before she can get out.

It then jumps to a family out shopping for a new home. Since I can't remember the names, I'll just use their real names. James Denton and his wife Marlee Matlin need to find a new house for them and their daughter Christina DeRosa. After looking at multiple homes that are too expensive or too small (for three people, WTF?), they finally find the house of their dreams. The realtor tells them that it was a foreclosure that the bank foreclosed on after the owner died. They fall in love and decide to move in right away.

When moving day arrives, they find Jamie Kennedy waiting inside. He tells them that it's his house and shows paperwork that backs up his claims. The police can't do anything until they straighten things out, so the family move into a hotel. Marlee's dad, Paul Sorvino, makes it clear that he isn't happy and has them move into his large house.

Jamie's lawyer drops the case when he learns that his mother left everything to a bunch of charities. I don't think the writer really understands how foreclosures work. If she owned the house, the bank wouldn't foreclose on it, but the movie wants us to believe that she owned it and just left it to a charity. He moves out, but as soon as the family moves in, things go wrong. James, who is a recovering alcoholic, suddenly discovers rumors swirling that he started using again, and poor Christina discovers that her new online friend really isn't who she thought it was.

4closed sounds like some awful and cheesy movie, but damn if I didn't like it! There's something nice about seeing Kennedy go back to his roots. The one thing I kept thinking when I saw Scream 4 was that I wish he somehow could have appeared or that they would at least mention him. With his scruffy beard and crazy eyes, he really does seem like someone who could hardwire a house to obey his commands and live underneath a home with no one knowing.

This movie plays like one of those cheesy horror films that landed straight on video during the 1990s or even the 1980s, but there's something almost refreshing about that. The movie doesn't go all out with the blood and guts, and most killings take place off screen. It asks you to think about how those killings happened in your own mind. It also has a number of things that you know will happen, like Christina making a new friend online. You know that it isn't really that cute guy from her new school, but you also can't wait to see what happens or how she learns the truth.

4closed could easily be just another forgettable little film from The Asylum, but there was something about the movie that I really liked. It's easily one of the better movies from the company that I've watched recently.

The Purge Movie Review – "Now Get the Hell Out of My House."

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Rating: R
Director: James DeMonaco

James (Ethan Hawke, "Gattica") is a salesman responsible for selling a large number of alarm systems around town. On his way home from work, he stops to talk to some of his neighbors, warning them to lock their doors and stay inside for the night. James lives in a time where unemployment rates are low and crime drops because of a night known as The Purge. For twelve hours every year, American citizens can go anything they want for those hours with no worries of what it might mean. Theft, rape, and even murder are all allowed.

James arrives home to his wife Mary, son Charlie, and teenage daughter Zoey. Mary lets him know that Zoey isn't happy with him making her end her relationship with a slightly older boy named Henry, and his son seems content to just play with a creepy radio controlleve vehicle he made from an old doll with a camera attached. While the family prepares to lock down their house for the night, Mary has an encounter with a neighbor who makes it clear they aren't happy with the family flaunting their new wealth. Zoey takes the time to make out with her boyfriend for a few minutes before sending him home for the night.

As they lock down the house, Charlie expresses some doubt and concern with what The Purge means. When he hears a man screaming for help outside and a pack of people following the man, he makes the decision to unlock the doors and let him inside. The pack then demands that they either release the man or they'll come inside and get him. James wants to send him on his way, but his family disagrees. It doesn't help that Zoey's boyfriend attempts to kill James, which leads to James killing him. While all this goes on, the people outside wait for help to arrive so they can break into the house.

The Purge is one of those movies that I wanted to see from the moment I watched the trailer, but now that I watched it, I'm glad I waited. It's one of those movies that you just want to watch as you scream at every character to stop being so fucking stupid. First, there's Charlie. He's clearly old enough that he's lived through multiple Purges, and he even mentions that they studied it in school. He knows how everything operates, but that doesn't stop him from opening the door to save a random stranger. Even when the people outside make it clear that they will kill him and his family, he thinks he needs to save that man.

Then, there's Zoey. Not only does she continue seeing a man her parents don't approve of and lets him sneak into her house, she doesn't notice the cryptic comments that make it clear he won't just walk away. Once the shootout with her father occurs, she spends most of the movie hiding upstairs and running around like a crazy person instead of taking the time to check on her family or even respond when her mother calls for her.

It doesn't help that Hawke is incredibly unlikeable in this movie. He is so smug that I wanted to punch him in the throat multiple times. He is always right, everyone else is wrong, and there's no middle ground. While I agree with his wishes to protect his family, he doesn't see anything wrong with bragging about how money he made that year and how their house is better than all the other houses in the neighborhood. He also doesn't take the time to let his family know that their alarm system isn't 100% safe until a threat arrives.

The Purge didn't have nearly as much action as I expected. The trailers made it seem like the plot involved a game of cat and mouse between a family and the people stalking them, but most of the good moments appeared in the trailer. There is also a "twist" that you must be blind not to notice. There is so much foreshadowing and mentions of the neighbors that most people will find themselves just waiting until the twist finally happens. Though interesting at times, The Purge didn't really make much of an impression on me.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters – "We learned a couple of things while we were trapped in that house."

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: January 25, 2013
Rating: R
Director: Tommy Wirkola

"We learned a couple of things while we were trapped in that house. One, never walk in to a house made of candy. And two, if you're gonna kill a witch, set her ass on fire."

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters opens with two young children finding themselves alone in the woods after their father abandons them. After they find the home of a witch, the witch tries to fatten them up and prepare them for her next meal, but they trick and kill her. Where the fairy tale ends, this story picks up.

The two now devote themselves to slaying witches and stopping the spread of witchcraft across the country. They head to a new town, where they see the sheriff planning to execute a witch. The two immediately go through the motions of showing him that this woman isn't a witch, and after saving her life, they decide to stick around and kill a group of witches who recently kidnapped several children from around town. This leads to the two to partner with a young local boy, meet a troll, and discover that they have a connection to witchcraft they never knew of before.

Confession time: I actually saw this movie back in May at the drive-in, watched it, and rolled my eyes. When it came out on DVD, I gave it another try and realized that I really liked the movie. I even bought a copy when the video rental place near me clearanced it out for $5. The movie has the perfect combination of cheeziness, horror, and action to keep me entertained.

Jeremy Renner is the perfect Hansel, while Gemma Arterton is the perfect Gretel. The two actually look similar and do a good job of playing brother and sister. Famke Janssen does an equally good job as the beautiful yet sometimes scary witch Muriel. Horror fans will also get a kick out of seeing Peter Stormare as the sheriff who cares more about the money he makes killing "witches" than he does learning if those people are truly innocent.

The major misstep in the film is the character of Mina. While she does have a connection to the plot, it sometimes feels like she was shoehorned into the movie. After sharing a naked moment with Hansel, he learns that she's a good witch and that not all witches are bad. She goes from being a small background character to one of the major characters in the movie, and I sometimes wished they would focus a little more on the witches than on her.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters also does a smart job of adding to the story. These two weren't dropped in the woods because of the same reasons found in the story. These two found themselves stuck in the woods because their father realized it was the only way to save them after the townspeople learned that their mother was a good witch. It even adds some humor to the film in the form of Ben, a young boy who adores Hansel and Gretel from afar and wishes that he could do the same work they do.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters came out awhile ago, but if you haven't watched it yet, give it a try before its proposed sequel lands in theaters.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Movie Review: Bad Kids Go to Hell – "What a Bitch"

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: December 7, 2012
Rating: R
Director: Matthew Spradlin

The Breakfast Club takes the horror movie route in Bad Kids Go to Hell. The film opens on a scene of SWAT team members running through a school and and finding a single student standing in the middle of a library with an ax in his hand and a series of dead bodies on the floor. It then jumps back six hours in time to show us what happened that led to that moment.

Crestview Academy is a typical private school filled with a bunch of rich and snotty kids. Six of those kids find themselves stuck in the library for the day for Saturday detention. Their teacher assigns them a new project to keep them out of trouble for the day, which is when the issues unfold. One of those students discovers that the school was built on top of land once owned by Native Americans and that several bloody battles occurred in the area. When they attempt to leave, they learn that something doesn't want them to escape, which in turn leads to the students being killed.

Bad Kids Go to Hell had the chance to be a solid horror film, but it somehow missed the mark. Despite Judd Nelson, who I secretly still crush on from the 80s, it was one of those movies that started off good and then somehow went downhill. Even my boyfriend, who finds redeeming factors in every horror movie I make him watch, left the room at several points and then later admitted that he couldn't get into the movie.

The problem is that most of the characters have no redeeming factors. When you watch a movie about a group of teens stuck in one place for 90 minutes, you want to root for someone. I just wanted to see them all die. Every character in the film is one note without any dimensions. The girls are bitchy, gossip about each other, and are just generally rude, while the guys are just as bad. I wish I could say something interesting about the movie, but Bad Kids Go to Hell just missed the mark with me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Alyce Kills Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Jay Lee

Alyce (Jade Dornfeld) is something of a party animal. Despite her calm demeanor, innocent looks, and job working in an office, she loves partying with her best friend. The early parts of the movie show the two drinking too much and having a little too much fun. After having a little too much fun with some drugs, they find themselves on the roof of Alyce's building, and she accidentally shoves her friend over the side.

This releases the inner Alyce, a woman who wants nothing more than to kill those around her. Though she behaves normally with the police officer who comes to her house with news of her friend, she later heads to a drug dealer and scores some more drugs after stripping naked for him. Alyce launches a new adventure on her own that leaves viewers wondering if everything that unfolds is real or just a figment of her imagination.

What can you say about a movie that involves a normal looking woman trying to chop a man apart in her living room floor with a kitchen knife? Oddly enough that scene is one of the funniest in the movie. After the man arrives in her home, she stabs him and tries to dismember his body with a knife, the garbage disposal, and even a blender before borrowing some tools. She then lets his girlfriend come over, where she proceeds to smack that woman in the head with a baseball bat, but only after letting her see her dead boyfriend's head on the floor.

Alyce is clearly a disturbing person, and the director doesn't shy away from showing that. When she realizes her friend survived the fall and can remember what happened, she smothers her to death with a pillow. At the woman's funeral, she lays down on the coffin and attempts to molest her in front of the woman's family and friends. Alyce feels like the relationship she had with her friend was her last chance, and without her, she doesn't know how to go on with her life.

Alyce Kills is definitely a strange movie, and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. Dornfeld is a great Alyce. Her Alyce is the type of woman who has no problem killing most people but can't handle the idea of killing someone just like her. After losing her job, she heads back to the office to kill the woman who fired her because she didn't show up to work one day. When the woman reveals that she just wants people to notice her, Alyce drops her bat and slips away without her former coworker even noticing.

Alyce Kills does have a really great ending, and it's one of those endings that just makes you laugh. If you're looking for a movie that gives you answers and wraps everything up with a nice neat bow, this isn't the movie for you. It does, however, have an interesting story and some great kill scenes. I'm still a little undecided on whether I liked the film, but it was entertaining.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

V/H/S 2 Movie Review

Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Rating: R

"VHS 2" opens with a private investigator blackmailing a married man into giving him more money for footage of him and his mistress before he turns it over to the man's wife. He then explains to his partner that a mother called him about her missing college-aged son. The two sneak into the son's house, where they find a series of tapes. Ayesha begins watching the tapes, while Larry searches the house for any sign of the missing man.

Phase 1 Clinical Trials

The first video involves a man getting a new implant in his eye after a car accident left him partially blind. On his way out of the office, he sees a woman looking at him funny, but he doesn't think twice about it. Later that night, he sees someone in his bed, and when he pulls off the sheet, no one is there. He turns to find a dead man standing just behind him. He begins seeing dead people everywhere he goes, and the woman from the doctor shows up to explain what happened.

A Ride in the Park

My favorite segment of "VHS 2" is this one. Out for a morning ride, a man receives a phone call from his girlfriend as he hooks his camera up to his helmet. After talking to her, he runs into a woman screaming for help and covered in blood. When he tries to help her, she bits him, and he discovers a group of zombies in the woods. He tries to get away, only to find himself infected and biting those who try to help him. I'm not sure the director intended to make it quite as funny as we found it, but I still liked it, especially when the zombies invade a child's birthday party.

Safe Haven

My least favorite segment of "VHS 2" is this one. A group of filmmakers meet with the leader of a cult who moved his "family" to a compound on the outskirts of town. Though he initially denies their request to meet with his family, he later changes his mind and agrees to the meeting. It doesn't take long until they realize that something odd is going on. He passes out drinks to his people, and some of the men begin killing themselves. All I will say about this one is that my boyfriend fell asleep during this one but stayed awake for the rest of the movie.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction

Left alone for the night without their parents, a younger boy invites his friends over, and they pull a bunch of pranks on his older sister and her boyfriend, including jumping out with strobe lights while they're having sex to film them. Later that night, they see a weird light on the lake and the power goes out in their house. They see some strange men standing outside their door, and they wind up running outside. After plenty of shaky cam work and what seemed like a really long time, we learn that it's aliens randomly chasing them, and we see it all from the point of view of the dog.

I almost rented "VHS 2" on Demand for $9.99 last month, but I'm glad that I waited to rent it for $1 from Redbox. It had some good points, and I really liked the second segment, but it didn't hold my attention like the first one did.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Getting Ready for Halloween

I write for a living, which means that by the time I finish writing for other people, I don't always have the time or energy to sit down and work on any of my blogs. That explains why I didn't update this blog for around a month. But, Halloween is my favorite time of the year, and I hope to make regular posts in the next month.

I originally wanted to write a new review every day, but I don't see that happening. I'm aiming for at least 2-3 reviews each week, and with so many new horror movies coming out this month, I'll hopefully have a nice mixture of newer and older movies up in the next few weeks. Look for reviews on films like:

*Twixt: Val Kilmer does another bad horror flick.

*Rites of Passage: Christian Slater talks to a sock monkey!

*The Tortured: What would you do if someone stole your child?

*Ticked Off Trannies with Knives: The title says it all!