Monday, October 27, 2014

Escape from Tomorrow – Honey, did that seem normal to you?

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Randy Moore

Jim, his wife Emily, their son Elliott, and their daughter Sara, are on their last day in Orlando. While taking a phone call on the balcony of their hotel room, Jim discovers that he just lost his job. Rather than tell his wife what happened, he decides to keep it a secret to avoid ruining their last day. The family heads off to have some fun together.

While on the monorail, Jim sees two young girls get on with them. The girls pretty much make out without actually kiss, give him enticing glances, and generally act like huge sluts. Emily notices, rolls her eyes, and gives him a gentle smack before realizing that her son keeps staring at them too. Though the family plans to spend most of the day in the parks, Elliott gets sick after Jim takes him on a roller coaster. Emily agrees to let him take Sara to the Magic Kingdom while she takes Elliott back to the room and they can meet up later.

While on one of the rides, Jim gets distracted and loses sight of Sara. He later finds her outside the ride, sitting on the ground, and crying over a scraped knee. A man in a motorized wheelchair accidentally hit her and knocked her down. Jim snaps at the man before taking her to the medical center. This gives him the chance to stare down the nurse's shirt and halfheartedly listen as she talks to him about the cat flu sweeping through the parks.

It's kind of hard to explain this movie, so let's just say that a lot of weird crap happens. Jim keeps seeing the same two girls from the beginning making out around the park, acting like they might make out, or run off with two guys. At one point, the two girls ask him to run away with them but they turn him down. He also has far too much to drink and throws up, which embarrasses his wife, and he sees rich businessmen fondling the Disney princesses.

Escape from Tomorrow caught my eye when I saw the cover. How can you resist a cover like that? Unfortunately, the movie really failed to deliver. This turned out to be one of the most confusing movies I've watched in recent months. As I watched the film, I kept thinking that there would be some wild and crazy twist at the end. I thought maybe it was all a figment of his imagination, that it would turn out that it was all a dream, and I had about a dozen other theories. Turns out that the ending makes about as much sense as the rest of the movie.

I can point out that Emily is easily one of the most annoying characters I've seen in awhile. The director wants to show that the two aren't happy but he goes a little too far. At one point, Jim attempts to kiss her while riding a ride with their kids in front of them. She acts like he tried to rape her and she had to fight him off. She then yells at him for not putting sunscreen on their daughter, for daring to take their son on a (gasp) roller coaster, and snaps because he bought her a souvenir from the park. It got to the point where we all rolled our eyes as soon as she opened her mouth.

Setting a horror movie in a park like Disney World and the way the director and actors did it, i.e. filming late at night, keeping things low key, and doing it without the permission of Disney, took some balls. It had a great premise, but this movie just lost me.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Movie Review - Sharknado 2 : Yes, They Come Back

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: July 30, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Fin and April are back from the first movie and ready to tackle New York. Actually, April wrote a book called How to Survive a Sharknado, which shockingly my Spellchecker say is not a word, and she gets to shill it on Live with Kelly & Michael. Fin is clearly unhappy about things, pointing out that he did in fact lose several friends and apparently no longer cares about the other survivors from the first movie. Fin also isn't happy because he has to see his sister Ellen and her husband Martin. The two were once best friends, but I guess he didn't want his friend marrying his sister.

When Fin looks out the window, he sees a sharknado forming in the sky. In a nice twist to The Twilight Zone, we have to wonder if it's really there or all in his mind. Of course it's really there! The sharks attack, April gets attacked, a bunch of people die, and the plane makes an emergency landing. Emergency workers carry April off as she lost a hand in the battle, and Fin goes off on his own to save his family from the sharknado invading NYC.

I didn't necessarily like the first Sharknado movie, but I definitely didn't love it either. I think the roommates (of which I now have two) were probably a little surprised that I picked it out. I have to say though that I kind of loved it and I thought it was a lot better than the first. A bunch of reviews claimed it was a far cry from the first one, not as good, and something that even fans of the first wouldn't care for, so I must be in the minority.

Ian Ziering gave an interview where he talked about how they went overboard and just threw in as much as possible, and that's pretty clear within the first few minutes. The number of cameos in the movie is just insane! Here's a quick sample:

-Kelly Osbourne
-Andy Dick
-Tiffany Shepis
-Perez Hilton
-Billy Ray Cyrus
-Biz Markie
-Richard Kind
-Al Roker

There were a lot of times when those cameos pulled you out of things and made you remember that you were watching a bad horror movie. How can I possibly pay attention when I'm constantly looking to see who will be next and what I know him/her from? I'll also point out that I had a hard time believing that Vivica A. Fox and Ian Ziering could have been former crushes of each other until I found out that they are literally the same age. Eh, the roommate didn't even realize Vivica Fox was the same woman from Independence Day when he saw this one.

Can we also point out that the director could have replaced Tara Reid with a cardboard cutout or a wooden box and got the same results? I know that it's one of the things fans laughed about with the first one, but she was even more annoying her. She had so little emotion on her face that I was just praying for a shark to eat her head off. Sigh.

At least we did get Kari Wuhrer! As a long-time Sliders fan, and yes I even watched the "bad" seasons, I did a little happy dance when she popped up. Unfortunately, she doesn't get nearly as much screen time as the other characters. I also had to give it up for seeing Judah Friedlander. It was so weird seeing him without his glasses that it took me a few minutes to figure out who he was, but it did make me want to go back and watch Feast for the first time in years.

Sharknado 2 did have some fun moments, and it kept me and my roommates laughing and singing the theme song. What more could you ask for?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Willow Creek – Jim, are you fucking kidding me?

Runtime: 77 minutes
Release Date: May 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Bobcat Goldthwait

Jim is obsessed with Bigfoot, so much so that he convinces his girlfriend Kelly to take a trip to the site of the infamous Bigfoot video captured in the 1970s. Kelley seems more comfortable shopping or at least in a hotel or spa, but Jim is completely in his element. The two travel to the town associated with the original Bigfoot sighting to film a video that Jim can hopefully use to prove that the creature exists.

The early part of the trip goes off without a hitch. They check out the local statues and museum devoted to the creature, and they even dine on a Bigfoot burger. They also meet some locals who don't really believe in Bigfoot, but even that doesn't deter Jim. Things do get a little serious when Kelly points out that she really needs to move to Los Angeles to get more acting jobs and Jim points out that he'll never live in the city.

After documenting the area, they decide to head to the woods and the actual scene of the original footage. They come across a local who makes it clear that he wants them out. The man snaps at them and eventually yells at them until Kelly convinces him to turn the car around and leave. This leads to them taking a back route and finding their way to the original site. When they find that things really do go bump in the night, they might not make it out alive.

I was so excited to see Willow Creek that I went right to the local video store and grabbed a copy on the day it came out. Now that I've seen it, I'm not sure why I wanted to see it so bad. An online review called this the best Bigfoot movie ever made, and after watching it I had to laugh. There is nothing, absolutely nothing about the actual creature in this movie except for the background and the premise.

Reading the synopsis, you might expect something completely different. I read that it was about a couple in the woods trying to find Bigfoot, and I assumed it was The Blair Witch Project mixed with a Bigfoot story. Instead, I got a movie about a couple on a weekend trip together. Seriously, go back and read the first few paragraphs I gave as a plot description. Would you believe that this is almost the first hour of the film?

I know that directors want to set up a story, but Bobcat took things a little too far with this one. We see Jim and Kelly driving around, talking with locals, eating doing their research, and doing other crap. By the time they actually get to the woods, over half the film is gone. Then we get a few scenes of the two making out in the tent and hearing noises in the woods. I will admit that when something starts attacking the tent and the noises start, the movie gets a little unsettling. Unfortunately, that doesn't last long.

After maybe 5 to 10 minutes of that, it's morning. They then go in the woods and try to find their way back to their car, get lost, and end up back in the exact same spot. We then get another few scary minutes, and boom, the movie's over. It was incredibly disappointing and not at all what I expected. I hope someone takes this same idea and does something better than Willow Creek.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ghostquake Movie Review – Haunted High

Runtime: 84 minutes
Release Date: August 25, 2012
Rating: NR
Director: Jeffery Scott Lando

Ghostquake, better known as Haunted High when it originally aired on television, is one of those films that seems like someone put it together after a night of drinking. Does that mean the movie is so god awful that you should avoid it? Eh, not really. Does it mean that you should immediately run out and add a copy to your collection? Eh, probably not.

Set at the fictional Holloman High School in New England, Ghostquake tells the story of a bunch of random high school kids trapped inside the school. One of those kids, Quentin, finds himself brought into the basement by a teacher who seemingly has pedophilia in his eyes. Instead of raping him or trying to get him to pull his pants down, the teacher goes off on a tangent about how he knows that Quentin has a connection to Danforth, the former headmaster of the school. Danforth apparently operated some crazy cult out of the school in the 1950s. Quentin drops some old gold coins on the ground, and when he grabs them and runs, the teacher reveals that he hid one under his shoe. That coin combined with him knocking over a time capsule somehow lets the ghosts of Danforth and his assistant come back to this world.

While all of this is going on, we get a brief introduction to your stereotypical high school kids. There's the bad boy with a lecherous dad who smokes, the goodie-goodie perfect singer with a crush on her teacher, the nonthreatening lesbian goth girl with a crush on the singer, the straight A student, her jock boyfriend, and let's not forget the overweight nerdy guy obsessed with the paranormal who somehow is so good with computers that the court ordered him to never touch one again.

Once Danforth escapes, he sends his assistant to dispatch some of the teachers and students left trapped in the building. In the middle of all this, we meet Danny Trejo. He has a name, but I don't really care what they call him because he's clearly just playing Danny Trejo. The old cult members killed his younger sister, and he's remained behind as some type of guardian ever since. He pretty much just hangs around for years working as a janitor in case something bad happens. Danforth randomly kills a bunch of kids as they look for a way to escape and Danny Trejo tries to bring him down.

The copy of Ghostquake that I rented had Charisma Carpenter's name listed on the front above the title next to Danny Trejo and her picture on the back. After watching it, I want to know she owed money to that necessitated doing this movie. She's in it for maybe three minutes and has lines that pretty much amount to "who are you?" and "ahhhhh!". Being a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, it was a little unsettling to see her in such a minor role in a bad TV movie.

This is the type of movie where you see very little. The perfect singer girl has the assistant ghost (ha!) come after her and make her sing as high as she can, which causes her head to explode. We get to see her face and head getting bigger and bigger, but then the camera moves to the wall, and we see the explosion from her shadow. Another girl gets dragged down inside a toilet, and someone else gets suffocated/has her neck broken by a musical instrument. See? The movie showed so little that I'm still not even sure how she died!

I know that Ghostquake is just a television movie and that I shouldn't judge it too harshly, but damned if it wasn't bad for a TV movie.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Quiet Ones Movie Review – Kind of Based on a True Story

Runtime: 98 minutes
Release Date: April 25, 2014
Rating: PG-13
Director: John Pogue

Joseph Coupland is a college professor who believes that there is no such thing as the paranormal and that science can explain everything. He shows a film that seems to indicate a child who is the victim of possession. After showing his class what he captured, he claims that he can identify a medical condition/mental illness that would fully explain every symptom of a so-called possession.

Coupland brings Brian, one of his students, out to an old manor home. He plans to work with a young woman named Jane and identify which disease led others to think she was possessed. He introduces Brian to his two assistants and the patient. Jane claims that everything odd that happens to her or around her is the result of a doll named Evey. Coupland thinks that by doing a series of experiments on the young girl that he can definitively prove that possession doesn't exist.

Concerned about some of the things he saw Jane do, Brian decides to do some research on his own. He learns that a young girl named Evey has telekentic powers and the ability to set fires with her mind. She was part of a cult that died when a fire broke out in a house. All of the members and Evey herself all died. Brian then decides that she must really be possessed. Both sides must then fight to prove whether she really is possessed or if she's just crazy Evey kills them all.

The Quiet Ones had a good premise, but it wasn't really a me kind of film. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with films set in past decades, and I even have a soft spot for the 70s. I couldn't stop pointing out all the furniture, decorations, and clothing that I loved. There was just something about this movie that I couldn't get into while watching. The movie was plodding at times, and it felt a lot longer than it actually is.

The real standout of the movie is Olivia Cooke. Cooke is probably best known for her role on Bates Motel, but it took me about halfway through the movie before I realized who she was. She really does a good job of channeling a completely different character. She also had some good chemistry with Sam Claflin, who played Brian. I've only ever seen him in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so I wasn't sure what to expect. He's clearly in good shape given that he occasionally looked like he might burst out of his button up shirts, which made it hard to buy him as a geeky/nerdy guy. I did, however, have an easy time buying that he would care about what happened to a girl he just met.

The Quiet Ones also did a good job of tying up the beginning of the film with the later part of the film and showing the connection that the professor had with the original case. It's just hard to believe that someone would deny something so much. I also enjoyed some of the experimentation scenes. It reminded me a lot of the history I read as a psychology undergraduate.

This all makes it sound like I liked the movie but I really didn't care for it. The Quiet Ones was just a little too slow and lacked the excitement that you would expect from a possession flick.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dead Weight Movie Review – Love in the Time of Infections...

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: March 30, 2012
Rating: ?
Director: Adam Bartlett and John Pata

Charlie and Sam have the perfect relationship, or so it might seem on the surface. When Dead Weight starts, Sam calls Charlie at home and asks if he saw the news. She then guesses that he's actually sitting around reading comic books instead of doing something productive, since it seems like that's all he does. Charlie flips on the news and hears of a deadly infection spreading throughout the country. It hasn't yet hit his hometown of Toledo, but it has hit Sam's current town of Milwaukee.

The film then jumps an unspecified period of time into the future. Sam now finds himself traveling across the Midwest with three other men and one woman. He frequently thinks back to his time with Sam, which gives us a better glimpse of their relationship. We learn that she originally moved to Milwaukee for a three month internship that turned into a job she took without talking to Charlie first. Despite the two having some serious issues, he only cares about finding his way back to her.

Along the way, Charlie and his group encounter a number of problems. They have a hard time finding food anywhere, aren't sure about shelter, and frequently wonder what will happen next. Three men approach them and attempt to kidnap the only female in their group, which ends badly. They also meet a nice couple with no ulterior motives, but when that couple reveals to Charlie what happened to the town where Sam went, all bets are off.

Dead Weight does a really smart job of bouncing back and forth between scenes of Charlie and Sam in the past and his current location. In a Momento-like twist, the film tells the story of their relationship backwards. We start out seeing him visit her in Milwaukee the last time, and we then get to see his first visit, how he learned about her job, and at the very end, we even see how they first met.

This should make us care a lot about the two characters as a couple but things hit a little too close to home at times. Sam occasionally comes across as if she doesn't care about Charlie as much as he cares about her. She shows clear signs of disliking his lifestyle, as in the way he slacks off at times, and she doesn't seem happy that he's perfectly content to spend the day reading comic books and watching television while visiting her instead of going out and exploring the town on his own. I don't know about you, but if I was in a new city where I knew no one except for one person, I'd probably want us to do things together instead of spending hours wandering through the city on my own.

Maybe if I cared more about that relationship, I would care more about Charlie's journey. As it stands though, Charlie is one of those characters that you really can't care about. The choices he makes and the things he does are completely unforgivable. He even seems to change the way he thinks and acts. He goes from doing whatever it takes to save a girl from being raped, but he then completely deserts that woman in the middle of nowhere and does something pretty bad before leaving her. He justifies his actions by claiming that he does it to get back to Sam, but it really just seems like he's searching for something to hold onto and that makes him go a little crazy.

It's not your typical zombie/infection movie either, namely because we pretty much never seen any zombies. There's lots of talk about infected people, but we never see a single one until the last few scenes of the movie. Most of the film follows the same four people traveling around and looking for food and flashbacks of Charlie and Sam.

While there were some scenes and moments that I truly liked, Dead Weight didn't really feel like a horror movie. It felt more like a sad love story between two characters who really didn't belong together. Though I did feel tempted to shed a few tears at the very end, it just left me wishing that the two shared some better chemistry and had more of a connection that would have left me caring more about their future.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Invoking – Same old, same old

Runtime: 82 minutes
Release Date: March 16, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Jeremy Berg

The Invoking, also released under the name Sader Ridge, relies on a fairly typical horror movie premise. A girl inherits a house from a family member she doesn't know and takes her friends to check out the house before she decides what to do with it. While a lot of horror movies take this idea and stick with it, The Invoking has a slight twist.

Sam is a college student who has few memories of her early life. She was only five when she was adopted by another family and spent the rest of her life raised by those people. A lawyer called her out of the blue to tell her that her aunt passed away and left Sam her former home. Her ex-boyfriend Mark, best friend Caitlin and friend Roman, who has a crush on Caitlin, all agree to go with her to check out the house.

Once they get there, they find the caretaker Eric waiting for them. He's a reasonably attractive man and a former military vet coming home after fighting overseas in Afghanistan. Eric is initially only there to unlock the gate and let them into the home, but he then gets a little weird. Caitlin, who seems completely oblivious to Roman's feelings, does some hard core flirting with him, but he makes it clear that he has no interest in her.

The first few days go fine, but then Sam starts seeing weird things. Caitlin and Mark do some minor flirting in the barn and do some more major flirting. Sam thinks she sees him attacking her friend and hits him in the back with a block of wood. She then reveals that he once did a bad, bad thing to a guy who once did a bad, bad thing to her. Mark claims that he would never hurt her and that he would never lay a finger on either of the girls.

Sam tries to get over what happened, but she keeps seeing strange things. She keeps thinking that she sees a man shouting at her and beating another woman. Oddly enough, the man she keeps seeing looks suspiciously like Mark. Eric then reveals that the two of them knew each other as kids. Though she has no memories of him at all, he claims that they were once inseparable. When Eric starts encouraging her to tell him about what she sees and that those things are real, Sam doesn't know what to think.

There came a point while watching The Invoking that my roommate looked at me and another friend sitting on the couch and said, "I have no idea what is going on in this movie." As he did a little homework for a college class, he had an excuse. I have no excuse. I watched the entire movie from start to finish without taking my eyes off the screen, except when opening a pack of gummy bears, and I still have no clue what happened.

This movie had the type of ending where you want to pause and rewind the movie just to go back a few scenes and see if you can figure out what happened. Was Eric some crazy serial killer with an unhealthy and unexplained connection to Sam? Were they really friends as kids? What the heck did Mark do to some random guy that ended with him making up for it? What did he do that was so bad that the two of them stopped talking? Why would her best friend keep making eyes at her ex-boyfriend? These were just a few of the unanswered questions that I had at the end of this one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Exorcism Files Haunted Boy Review

Runtime: 88 minutes
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Christopher Saint Booth, Philip Adrian Booth

This documentary is the perfect example of why you should never read the description on Redbox without finding out more about a film. Described as a documentary about the true story of The Exorcist, Redbox described it more as a found footage movie that deals with that story. I didn't really get either thing.

The Exorcism Files: Haunted Boy is a documentary from The Booth Brothers that should have been more interesting than it was. The author of the book drew inspiration from a case he read about in the local paper. Hoping to keep the identity of "Robbie Doe," as he was known at the time, William Peter Blatty agreed to change the character in his book into that of a little girl.

While researching an idea for a book, I wrote about a local college that is supposedly haunted because some of the artifacts used in the actual exorcism were stored there. Writing that article led to more research into the true story and some info on both the book and film. All that information was fresh in my head when I sat down to watch this movie, which might have tainted my experience a little.

The original boy is still alive, but he naturally doesn't want to talk about his experiences. The filmmakers then went to one of his relatives to get an idea about what he went through. They also tracked down archival footage from priests involved in the case and some who knew the original priests. That gave the documentary a "he said, she said" sense that left me wondering what was true. I can tell you what so and so said to me on camera, but does that mean I'm telling the truth?

They also try way too hard to make a connection between the actual case and the hauntings in the area. The former hospital where Doe once stayed was torn down. They talk to men who saw or moved some of the furniture that he used, and they all claim that they felt weird things and saw strange shit. They also talk to some of the people involved with the demolition of the hospital, who also say his former room was haunted. Plus, we get to see a big crack in the parking lot, which is supposedly the same spot where his former room was.

Even more ridiculous is the in-depth exploration of the house where Doe once lived. The owner of the house bought it because it was "the exorcist house," so you know anything he experienced there is tainted. It doesn't help that he basically cleaned out Doe's former room and doesn't use it for anything. A completely empty room in the middle of a big house? Yup, that wouldn't seem creepy at all.

At one point, my roommate checked, saw there was still 40+ minutes left, and threatened to live the room if I made him watch anymore. Sadly, we stuck it out. I would recommend it for those interested in learning more about the true story, but that explains my roommate and he barely made it through.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Antisocial Movie Review

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Rating: NR?
Director: Cody Calahan

Sam is just like any other college student except that she's in love with a total tool. After talking with her boyfriend, who seems anything but a good boyfriend, via video chat, she tells him that they need to talk about something. Sensing that she wants to break up, he decides to pull the plug on their relationship and end things completely. Upset, she turns to RedRoom, the Facebookesque site everyone on campus uses to keep in touch, where she learns that he spent the night with another chick the night before.

Luckily, she has her best friend and the much cuter Mark by her side. As it's New Year's Eve, he suggests that she come over to his house for a party. Though she isn't really in the mood to party, she agrees to stop by, which was probably a huge mistake.

See, there's a virus sweeping the country that seemingly uses RedRoom to spread. Kaitlin wants nothing more than to party and have fun with her boyfriend Steve, while Jed seems more interested in video chatting with one of his friends online. While Kaitlin does a strip tease for Steve upstairs, Jed's friend warns them of the upcoming danger.

A knock on the door reveals that one of their friends from earlier in the night came back. Jed warns them that he's infected and showing some of the more common symptoms, and they agree to send him away. Sam throws up in the kitchen sink, but no worries, she's not infected. She's actually pregnant, which is what she wanted to tell her boyfriend about earlier.

After checking out RedRoom on his phone, Steve becomes infected. It doesn't take long before he starts showing symptoms, so you know Kaitlin is infected too. Sadly, the whole group is stuck inside a house that they locked down and barricaded from the world, so who knows who will make it out alive? Well, I know, but if you want to know, you need to just watch the movie.

I first heard about Antisocial a few months ago while checking out trailers on XBOX Live. It looked really interesting and made me tell my roommate about it, but I promptly forgot about it. Picked it up at Redbox the other night, and I'm glad I did. Antisocial was a refreshing change of pace from the Hollywood hack films that came out lately.

It's hard to explain what the movie is because it tends to jump around. It's definitely a plague/virus film, but it later turns into something of a zombie flick. We've all seen too many bad zombie films lately, so it's nice that this one offers something a little different. We all use Facebook or some form of social networking nearly every day, and this one might make you think twice before you log on the next time.

Antisocial does a good job of setting up the plot early in the film. Sam, while still chatting with her boyfriend, sees a man seizing on campus, who later turns out to be one of the first victims. We also see some video clips from two young girls on their blog as they succumb to the virus. When the movie jumps into an explanation of what happened and how the virus spread, I started to lose focus. When it jumped to a cure for the virus, I was all in.

I know I’ve said this a few times lately, but Antisocial is one of my top horror picks for the year. It had characters I cared about, some nice acting, and a strong story that hooked me in and made me keep watching.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Birth of the Living Dead – The Start of Romero

Runtime: 76 minutes
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Rob Kuhns

You know how you sometimes watch the "making of" and special features on DVDs and just kind of roll your eyes because all the information documented is something you've seen before. That's pretty much how I felt about Birth of the Living Dead.

I've watched a number of documentary films on Netflix, and I have a tendency to love the ones that cover B movies, cheesy films, and horror movies. When this one popped up as a recommendation for me, I added it to my queue and sat down to watch it when I had a few minutes. I assumed it would be something like The Elm Street Legacy, but it came across as a been there, done there kind of film.

When I discovered that this has a fairly high rating, I was shocked. Do people really enjoy it that much, or is just a case of giving it a high rating because it involves George Romero. I kept waiting for it to touch on something new or at least give me some inside stories that I never heard before, but it just felt like a rehash of information I can find dozens of other places.

Maybe it's because I’ve owned and watched DVDs on everything from Night of the Living Dead to Survival of the Dead, but it felt more like an ode to Romero than a documentary that would actually cover the making of the film. Oh, Romero lost the rights to the film and now every one and his brother can sell copies? Gee, that must explain why it turns up on EVER horror movie compilation of all time. Oh, he didn't mean to make a statement when he cast a black man in the lead role? Where have I heard that before? Oh that's right, on every single interview he ever gave in his life.

If you're looking for something basic that gives you a brief introduction on the original Night of the Living Dead, head on over to Netflix. If you want an in-depth documentary on the actual making of that film, keep looking.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Frogs Movie Review: If you're squeamish, don't worry

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: March 10, 1972
Rating: PG
Director: George McCowan

Pickett Smith, who I absolutely did not realize was Sam Elliott, is a photographer working on taking pictures of animals and nature. While working in a canoe in the swamp, siblings Clint and Karen speed by in their boat, which causes his canoe to tip over. After snapping at them about losing his work, Clint offers to replace all his damaged equipment. They take Pickett back to their family home, which is the Crockett Estate on an island nearby.

There, he meets the head of the family. Jason is stuck in a wheelchair and doesn't seem too happy. Though he wants to celebrate the Fourth of July and encourages Pickett to remain for the festivities, he can't stop complaining about the snakes and frogs living near the house. He sends one of his workers out to use some pesticides to kill the animals. Pickett finds the man's dead body and notices that he's covered in snake bites, but despite learning of the problem, Jason decides to push forward.

You know exactly where this is going. As they start planning for the holiday, amphibians keep flocking to the island and killing everyone in new and not so interesting ways.

Frogs is a film that I added to my Netflix queue when I went through a "killer animals" phase last year. There's a good chance that the movie's been in there since I had an account 6-7 years ago too. When I noticed some of those older movies expiring, I decided to take some time to watch some of the older horror movies before they disappeared too. Frogs was the first one on my list, and if it's any indication of what might come, it's probably time to weed out my queue.

Frogs is easily one of the worst movies I've seen. It wasn't one of those "so bad it's funny movies" either. My roommate and I giggled once or twice, but for the most part, we just kept checking how much time was left. At one point, he even begged me to just shut off the movie or move on to something else. I persevered and got through the movie but it's probably not something I should brag about.

This came out at a time when directors mixed existing footage with new footage to make a film. While that sometimes works in the right way or the funny way, it didn't work here. You get multiple scenes of frogs, snakes, and crocodiles moving through the wild before seeing someone thrashing around on the ground and screaming in pain or mock horror.

The one funny moment came when a man was attacked by a crocodile. The way he was rolling around in the water made us laugh and contemplate whether he was fighting or playing with it. This was one of the smaller crocodiles, and the way he kept looping his arm around it and dragging it around make it look like the poor thing just wanted to escape the bad movie.

If there's one reason to see the movie, it's for Joan Van Ark. Given the frightening way she looks today, it was kind of fun to see her back when she looked normal and even pretty.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Runtime: 240 minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Rating: NR
Director: Daniel Farrands, Andrew Kasch

Confession time: I actually own two copies of the original series and three copies of the first A Nightmare on Elm Street. I bought the original boxed set when it first came out and watched it multiple times. When I was in the mood to watch the films last summer and couldn't find my set, I bought the newer releases that stuck 4-5 movies in each set. I later found the original set in my garage, boxed up with some other movies from our move...three years ago. And I own the remastered version of the original that came with a bunch of special features. Um, and I may, may (may) still have the set on video too. Needless to say, I love me some Freddy. BTW, if you haven't read Englund's book yet, go buy a copy today. It's way better that Bruce Campbell's book, which I also love.

According to IMDB, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy came out in 2010. I don't know how I missed it, but when I saw it on Netflix, it took me 0.5 seconds to add it to my queue. When I saw its runtime, I figured the odds of me actually sitting down and watching it were slim to none. I decided to take my time and watch an hour or so at a time and later found myself watching the entire thing one Friday night. Hey, give me a break! I'm a single gal still nursing wounds after a bad break up. What do you expect me to do? LOL!

Never Sleep Again is probably the most in-depth documentary that we will ever get about the Nightmare franchise. It starts with the first film in the series and goes straight through until Freddy vs. Jason. While it doesn't mention the remake of the first film, it would be interesting for the filmmakers to go back and update the film with some info about that one. That said, this is incredibly interesting and far better than I expected.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a classic horror movie, but far too many people say that their fans and haven't seen the movie in years. This documentary starts with Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, Bob Shaye, and everyone else from that film talking. It delves into the arguments that went on behind the scenes between Craven and Shaye that led to Craven leaving the series, and it gives Langenkamp the chance to talk about how the film changed her life.

Each film gets a good portion of the documentary, and the stars of most of those films do come back. Patricia Arquette and Johnny Depp are probably the two most notable stars that didn't participate, but did you really expect them to come back? It's entertaining to hear Tuesday Knight talk about taking over the role from Arquette and hearing what others thought about coming back for the later films even though they knew they would die in the story.

The biggest surprise was listening to Lin Shaye talk about her role in the first one and how she only got the role because of her brother. She's such a funny woman and such a great actress, but she doesn't shy away from putting some of the blame on Bob for Wes leaving the series. It's also nice to see Wes on camera talking about why he later came back and how happy he was with the first film.

I also loved the section of the documentary dedicated to the second film and whether the director tried to make a gay movie. It was hilarious to hear them talk about how they just wanted to make a horror movie and never considered the gay implications while some of the more talked about scenes play.

My only complaint is that the documentary focuses way too much on Langenkamp. While she was in three of the films, she also spent a large portion of her career trying to get out from underneath the series and get her fans to focus on her other work. I think it's funny that after she had problems finding work, she finally decided to go back to the franchise and accept that most people will know her as Nancy.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy bills itself as "The Ultimate Nightmare Documentary." After watching it, I have to agree. I don't think we'll ever see a documentary that delves so deeply into a horror franchise.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lucky Movie Review: If I Had a Million Dollars...

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Rating: R
Director: Gil Cates Jr.

Lucky opens with a pretty blonde woman buying a lottery ticket at a convenience store. After the clerk attempts to flirt with her badly, she grabs her ticket and leaves. Noticing that she left behind her license, the clerk runs after her and finds her gone.

We then get to meet Lucy and Ben. Old friends, the two now work at the same office but rarely talk. Ben is your typically nebbish guy who lives with his mom and doesn't really have any friends. Lucy is a super happy and peppy woman who is in love with her coworker Steve. Steve ends their affair at lunch, which leads to Lucy telling his clients during an important meeting that they were lovers and basically quitting her job.

Ben's mom calls and asks him to come home because of an emergency. When he rushes home, he finds the local news waiting to congratulate him for winning $36 million in the lottery. Ben heads downstairs, watches the news, and hears about a new missing girl. He then goes to his closet and sees the dead body of the girl from the store and lets her know that her ticket was a winner.

When Lucy finds out about his win, she decides to finally give him a chance. This leads to her frequently turning up wherever he is and kind of throwing herself at him. They start dating and eventually marry. Lucy seems to bring out the bad side of Ben, convincing him that as a millionaire, he can now do whatever he wants. On their honeymoon in Hawaii, Ben kills a hotel maid after imaging that she's Lucy. She oversees the murder and thinks about calling the police before finally deciding to stick with him. When they get back home, Lucy realizes that this wasn't a first time thing and that her new husband is a serial killer with an interest in women who look just like her.

I heard a lot about Lucky before I sat down to watch it, but as much as I like both Colin Hanks and Ari Graynor, this film didn't do either of them justice. Lucy is such an annoying character that you can't possibly root for her. She goes from loving a random man at work to deciding that she needs to win Ben, even though she never cared for him before. All she cares about now is his money, which she makes clear when he runs out on their honeymoon.

Everything that she does in the film is because she just wants his money. There was one point in the film where I thought she might actually care about him. After finding three bodies buried on their property, she digs them up and moves them. Turns out that she's just worried that if someone finds them, she might lose out on her gravy train.

I loved Hanks in Band of Brothers, Orange County and on Roswell, but there is nothing to love about him here. Not only is his character incredibly boring, but he isn't even a very good serial killer. The movie tries to make his scenes funny or light but it fails completely. After murdering the maid, he sets up the room to make it look like she slipped on a banana peel and hit her head. Instead of making me laugh, it made me groan.

Lucky was in my Netflix queue forever, but now I think I understand why I waited so long to watch it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy – Exactly What We Wanted from the First One

Runtime: 103 minutes
Release Date: July 18, 2014
Rating: R
Director: James DeMonaco

The main problem that myself and a large number of other people had with The Purge is that it was too much of a condensed story. Once a year, everything you can imagine is legal. People roam the streets, attacking, raping, pillaging, and murdering anyone who gets in their way. Instead of showing us that violence, we got a story about one family stuck in a house for the night. The Purge: Anarchy finally gives us what we wanted to see.

Eva is a single mom working as a waitress to support her daughter Cali and her father. On the night of the Purge, she stops by the pharmacy to get her dad his medication. He lectures her about spending money on things they don't need and mentions that the medication doesn't do anything and that he doesn't have much time left. After he tells them he wants to take a nap, he leaves a note on his pillow and sneaks away.

Shane and Liz (Kiele Sanchez, "30 Days of Night: Dark Days") are a married couple on the way to Shane's sister's house. The two are in the middle of separating, and she wants to tell his sister, while he wants to keep it a secret until after the Purge. When they leave a grocery store, a man jumps on the the car (and literally made me jump in my seat) just as a reminder of what's to come. On the way into the city, their car breaks down, and just minutes before the Purge starts, they find themselves stranded and alone.

Sergeant (Frank Grillo, "Mother's Day") is a man mourning the loss of his son one year ago. His ex-wife stops by to check on him and sees pictures of the man who killed his son on the wall. Realizing that he plans to go out, she tries to change his mind, but he tells her to go back to her new husband and leave him alone. He then reveals a souped up car that he made bulletproof just for the night.

Eva and Cali find the note from Papa, which says that he sold himself to a wealthy family for the night. She explains to her daughter that the rich by people to purge for themselves and that they mainly choose those who are sick or desperately in need of money. When a man breaks into their apartment with plans to rape them both, they try to fight back. A large semi pulls up outside and a group of military-looking people climb out.

As the man comes at them, a series of shots ring out and come straight through the walls and windows. Though they try hiding in the closet, two of the military men find them and drag them outside, claiming that they picked them especially for an unknown figure. Sergeant comes down the street at the same time, and though he promises himself not to get involved, he winds up saving the two women. Shane and Cali manage to hide in the backseat of his car, and despite his best wishes, the five decide to work together to get through the night.

I went to the drive-in this weekend to see Lucy and The Purge: Anarchy. While Lucy was fairly blah in my mind, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the screen for this one. Frank Grillo has leading man written all over him, and while I fondly recall him from his days on the soap Guiding Light, it's nice to see him on the big screen. The role of Sergeant almost seems written for him. Though he doesn't talk much, he conveys everything he needs to say with his eyes and facial features.

The movie does a smart job of introducing just enough characters to keep the film moving without bringing in so many stories that we struggle to keep up. Papa, the father of Eva and grandfather of Cali, is probably the only throwaway in the film. He's really only there for us to understand what the rich do during the annual Purge, but after a few lines, he's gone and never mentioned again.

The film delves deeply into the dichotomy between the rich and the poor. The poor find themselves stuck in the city slums with barely any hopes for living through the night, while the rich throw elaborate parties and spend money to kill people, while turning it into a fun event. I won't get into the political side of the film, but trust me, it's there. All I will say is that there's a group on the fringes who believe that the Purge is wrong and they create a viral campaign around bringing an end to the annual event.

My only minor issue with the film is that The Stranger from the first movie makes an appearance in this one. He turns up as one of the fringe fighters and helps our unlucky heroes, and while he makes it clear that he doesn't agree with the Purge because of what he went through before, he's really just a throwaway character. If they wanted to bring him back, they should have given him more than two scenes and a few lines.

The Purge: Anarchy was exactly what most of wanted from the first film. It takes the action outside of one setting and lets us see what happens to people living deep in the city. We see people hiding in the subways, the rich spending their money to kill and maim people just for kicks, the middle class kicking back with wine and music, and how people go to great lengths to make money during the Purge. If you wanted to see more action in The Purge, you'll want to see this one.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Airplane vs. Volcano

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: March 28, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: The Kondelik Brothers

I never know where to put this bad movies: here or on my television movie blog. Since I have a tag for disaster flicks, I'll just go ahead and put it here.

Airplane vs. Volcano opens with some poor dude checking out an inactive volcano and later watching as it goes off and kills him. We then see an airplane flying through the sky, unaware that there are a chain of volcanoes going off in front of them. The military somehow gets involved and decides to evacuate people living on the closest islands without giving a damn about the people in the sky.

This makes Robin Givens extremely unhappy. I know she has a character name, but since she'll always be Robin Givens to me, I didn't bother to learn her name. Robin is some kind of volcano expert and her second in command is on the flight. He somehow manages to get a phone call to the military base to let them know that the people on the flight are still alive, but it really doesn't seem like anyone in the military gives a damn about them.

The whole point of the movie is that there's an airplane stuck in the air with volcanoes erupting all around them. Dean Cain pops up looking a little less sexy than he has in the past...Oh, who am I kidding? Dean Cain could pop up with a massive bald spot, wearing a University of Michigan shirt (not a fan), and singed off eyebrows, and I'd still rip off my clothes and attack him. He's a pilot who picked the wrong flight. When the pilot and co-pilot die, he has to take over the plane. Unfortunately, the plane is on some kind of auto pilot. He can make the plane move to the left or right slightly but can't really do anything else. It's up to Robin Givens and Dean Cain to save the day while up against both bad military personnel and erupting volcanoes.

The best parts of the movie take place on the plane. For some reason, everyone on board decides that they hate Dean Cain. Look guys, Futuresport was bad but it wasn't that bad. The air marshal has to kind of keep everyone under control and keep them from attacking. It would probably be super bad if they did, given that he's the only one who can actually fly the plane. There are a bunch of other characters in the movie but most of them are pretty forgettable. I think there's a mom flying with her kid and some guy with tattoos who we're supposed to find threatening. He was far less scary than the guy I saw at Kroger earlier tonight with tattoos completely covering his arms, face, neck, and bald head who incidentally bought a large amount of food with a food stamp card before paying cash for beer, a carton of cigarettes, and some fireworks. Definitely scared the crap out of me.

Airplane vs. Volcano is from the great minds at The Asylum, so you know it has the worst special effects. When the volcanoes went off, it actually reminded me of some of the bad video games I've played over the years. On the plus side, we actually get erupting and flowing lava, fireballs, and sparks that basically shoot out of the sky and at the plane. Those effects kept me laughing for far too long.

This one is just another bad movie from the folks at The Asylum, but if you're like me and love watching "serious" movies that will make you giggle, you have to give it up for Airplane vs. Volcano.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Shrooms – Another Reason Not to go in the Woods

Runtime: 84 minutes
Release Date: November 23, 2007
Rating: NR
Director: Paddy Breathnach

The first time I saw Shrooms was when I had Netflix the first time, which was probably around 2008 or maybe 2009. I liked it so much that I gave it a four star rating and maybe even a five star rating. Every time I came across it somewhere else, I would stop and point out that I liked the film. While I still liked it after watching it recently, I didn't like it as fondly as I did in my mind.

Tara and some of her friends arrive in Ireland to hang out with their friend Jake. Jake previously studied at their college and had some kind of relationship with Tara. Though we never find out exactly what happened between them, it's clear that she still has a crush on him. They plan on camping in the woods by a former children's home and spending the weekends tripping on shrooms.

Jake gives them a quick primer on what to look for and what to avoid, warning them about the black deathcap mushrooms found in the woods. When the group splits off, Tara finds one of the deathcap shrooms and eats it. Though they find her and get her back to the camp, she has a major seizure and sees what will happen to them over the course of the weekend.

Later that night, Jake tells the group about the ghost stories that locals tell about the old children's home. Though everyone laughs it off, they also seem a little worried about spending the whole weekend away from civilization. It doesn't help that Jake takes all their phones and locks them in his glovebox to prevent them from freaking out on the shrooms and calling the cops. After one of the friends has a fight with his girlfriend, he drinks some of the tea made from the mushrooms, has a trip, imagines himself running into a man in a robe, and dies at the other man's hands. The remaining group members later find themselves running from a mysterious killer, but as they all drank the tea, there's no way of knowing what really happened and what is part of their trip.

Shrooms is never going to win a ton of awards or probably even acclaim from horror movie fans, but damn if it still isn't entertaining. One of the best moments occurs when Bluto, one of the jocks from the groups, hallucinates a talking cow in the middle of the woods. Not only does the cow warn him about going off on his own, but it gets the best line in the movie. When Bluto points out that the cow can talk, the cow responds in a deadpan voice, "that's cause you're outta your mind." How can you not love a horror movie that includes a talking cow?

On the second viewing, it took me about halfway through the movie before I remembered what happened in the end, which I consider a success. Far too many horror movies today are so one dimensional and predictable that you can almost guess the ending in the first few minutes. Shrooms just kind of pulled me into the movie and let me focus on the story and characters before I thought about the ending. That led to me making some weird, "oooh" sound and my roommate yelling at me not to ruin it for him.

Shrooms is a fun little movie that offers some nice distractions and a fun story. If you haven't seen it yet, jump on Netflix.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blood Widow Movie Review – The Dangers of Owning Your Own Home

Runtime: 84 minutes
Release Date: June 3, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Jeremiah Buckhalt

Laurie and her boyfriend Hugh recently bought a new home in the country, which they hope will help them grow closer together. Hugh is still something of a party animal and a little immature, while Laurie hopes that buying a house together will make him think about the future and settle down. Her hopes disappear when Hugh informs her that he invited some of their friends out to the house to help them celebrate.

Not long after moving in, they discover an old boarding school located right next door. Though hidden in the woods, their group of friends quickly find the old crumbling building and decide to check it out for themselves. They manage to make it back all in one piece just in time for hundreds of other people to arrive for the big party.

When one of their friends has the urge to partake in a little recreational party, she makes the mistake of heading back to the boarding house. A figure dressed in black with a white mask covering its face pops up and makes the girl wish she just said no. The following morning, Laurie realizes that her friend is missing and no one knows what happened to her. Her car is still there, but the others convince her that she probably just got a ride back to the city with someone else.

Cut to the former owners of the house giving them a call to warn them about hanging out in the boarding school. Apparently, the school closed down after one girl went a little psycho and murdered all of the students in the school. She later disappeared into the night, and no one seems to know what happened to her. Well, except for just, because we can see her running loose through the old school and stalking the people in the house. I don't know about you, but that seems like something that should come up during closing. Naturally, the Blood Widow comes after the people in the house and starts killing them off one by one.

I'm always willing to give new horror writers and directors a chance, but the only good thing about Blood Widow is the ending. It's the type of ending that you both love and hate at the same time. While you want the killer to get his or her comeuppance, you also want the hero of the film to survive. This has one of those endings that leaves you feeling satisfied but also leaves you feeling bad for the characters in the film.

Danielle Lilley, who plays Laurie, is the standout of the movie. She previously appeared in Five Across the Eyes, which I know that I've seen and know that I have a copy of somewhere, so I need to track it down and give it another watch. Laurie is the hero/heroine of the film, and Lilley does a pretty good job of making you feel for her. If you've ever been in a relationship with someone you loved but worried about what would happen in the future or thought the person didn't really give a crap about you, you'll understand where Laurie comes from. That's what makes the ending of the movie so much harder. I'm trying not to spoil it for you, but let's just say that if you aren't a fan of her character, you'll love the ending.

Blood Widow, while not a great film, does have a few elements that show what both the writers and director can do. Hopefully they get some more money and time for their next films.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Wolf Creek 2 Movie Review: A Pale Imitator

Runtime: 106 minutes
Release Date: April 17, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Greg Mclean

Two police officers working in the wilds of Australia want to catch a speeder and get some action. After noticing a truck driving a little too fast, they decide to pull him over. The driver, Mick Taylor, acts like he's surprised they stopped him and attempts to leave before they reveal that they're serious. Mick gleefully kills them both, shooting one and decapitating him before tying up the other officer and setting him and the car on fire.

Cut to two German tourists backpacking through the wilds. After heading to Wolfe Creek, they try to get a ride back to civilization but find themselves stuck. They decide to camp overnight and try to find a ride the following morning. While fooling around in their tent, they see a bright light outside. Mick steps out, warns them that it's illegal to camp in a national park, and offers to drive them to the nearest town. The man feels a little uncomfortable and denies his request, which leads to Mick stabbing him in the back.

Instead of running, the female tourist goes into shock and literally cannot function. Mick grabs her, forces her to the ground, and attempts to rape her, but her boyfriend pops up and smacks him over the head. This is the point where my nurse roommate went off about how the guy should be dead. As they fight, the girl continues to basically lay on the ground and cry. Katarina, the girl, later wakes and sees Mick chopping her boyfriend into small pieces.

This is the point where she realizes that she should probably get her ass in drive. While he's distracted, she runs off into the wilderness and manages to hide from him. Katarina gets to the road, flags down a car, and jumps inside. The driver, Paul, is a surfer visiting from Britain, and while he can't necessarily understand her, he does offer to help. Mick chases them down the road and manages to fire off a shot, which kills Katarina on the spot. It then becomes a cat and mouse game between Mick and Paul, and once Mick catches him, all bets are off.

Wolf Creek was a great movie. When Blockbuster went out of business, every store around here somehow had dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of copies in stock, and I ended up buying a replacement for my missing copy. Most of the horror movie fans I know were undecided on the film, but I liked it. As soon as I heard there was a sequel that featured the same guy and the same director, I couldn't wait to see it. That said, I wasn't crazy about Wolf Creek 2.

This is the classic example of a sequel showing way too much of a villain. I was a big fan of Vacancy 2 just because that movie set up the characters from the original and showed why they did what they did. This one seemed like it wanted us to learn even more about Mick, but I don't really need to know that much about him. Do I care that he hates the British? Not really. It would make sense if the film revealed some big reason why he would hate tourists and go after them, but it seems more like he just doesn't like people.

Wolf Creek 2 occasionally felt more like a remake than a sequel. While the opening moments were amazing, we then get stuck following two annoying tourists. The scenes of them backpacking together, talking with other tourists, getting rides, and basically sightseeing left me checking my watch and wondering where this was all going. Then, as soon as we finally get invested and want to see Katarina survive, she's dead. We then need to invest in an entirely new character, and in the end, the movie pretty much ends in the same way the first one did.

Though Wolf Creek 2 got some good reviews, I'll stick with the original.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Afflicted Movie Review – Beware of Strange Women in Bars

Runtime: 85 minutes
Release Date: April 4, 2014 (US)
Rating: R
Director: Clif Prowse, Derek Lee

Clif and Derek are long time best friends. Clif always dreamed of being a filmmaker and often cast his friend in his short films. Derek eventually found a stable IT job and decided to settle down. When Derek learns that he's dying and only has a short period of time left, the two decide to take a year off and travel the world together. They start out in Paris, where they hang out with two of their friends who are in a band and make plans to meet back up one year later when the band returns.

While out at a bar, Derek meets a gorgeous woman named Audrey and brings her back to the hotel. The other guys decide to play a prank on him, but instead find Derek in bed by himself covered in scratches and bruises. He has no memory of what happened when they got back to the room or what happened to Audrey, but they do find her clothing, purse, and phone left behind.

After Derek and Clif leave for Italy, Derek begins exhibiting some weird behavior. He passes out in bed and has problems being in the light, and when they go out to lunch, he vomits all over the restaurant after trying to eat normal food. He also breaks out in intense hives and blisters when exposed to sunlight. When the two friends get into a fight, Derek punches straight through a solid rock wall.

While all this happens, Clif documents the drama and experiences on a website the two started about their trip. Friends and family warn Derek to come home and for Clif to get him to the hospital, but Derek eventually embraces his new found powers and strengths. When the two attempt to rob a blood bank and get Derek the only thing that makes him feel better, they find Interpool on their tails.

There is a lot about Afflicted that I'd like to write about but those moments feel like spoilers. The synopsis above really only covers the first half of the film if that. We then focus on Derek and his quest to find Audrey in the hopes of uncovering why she turned him and what he can do to cure himself. Through it all, we get an inside look at the action through the cameras the duo brought to document their trip.

Afflicted looked like an interesting movie and had a great trailer, but I don't know how I felt about it. It's kind of a vampire movie with a twist, but the twist has nothing to do with the vampires themselves; it just so happens to be a found footage film that focuses on vampires. There are some great scenes in the movie. One involves Derek trying to take his life with a shotgun blast to the head, while another involves him attempting to see how the sunlight will affect his skin.

One of the biggest debates online is about the Audrey and Derek relationship. She mentions that she never turned anyone before, and when he asks why she chose him, she tells him that he was already dying and that she felt pity for him. I'm on the side that believes she deliberately turned him because she felt sorry for him, but there's a large group of people who think she accidentally turned him.

Speaking of death, the film lets us know that Derek doesn't have long in the first few minutes, but it's completely easy to forget about that later on. I kept waiting for a scene where Derek would wonder if living life as some crazy vampire was better than dying, but that scene never came. You would think that he would bring it up at least once, but it never happens. He goes from barely having the ability to walk and act like a human to being a crazed madman trying to track down the person who infected him so fast that I kept wondering what flipped that switch in his mind.

The found footage genre, which is admittedly pretty bad at this point, actually works in this film. Clif spends most of his time behind the camera, but you get used to the sound of his voice and actually believe that he has a close relationship with Derek. The YouTube type site where they post their videos gets responses that seem pretty realistic. I'm not sure I would keep watching after my friend vomited bright orange sludge all across a restaurant, and it's a little funny to read posts from people that basically say, "get him to the hospital" or "that's not right."

Afflicted wasn't a terrible movie, but I wasn't as crazy about it as I thought. There was something about the film that just didn't do it for me, and I had problems paying attention. I'm sure many people will love it, but it wasn't one of my favorites.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Joy Ride 3 Movie Review: This is Not Rusty Nail

Runtime:96 minutes
Release Date:June 17, 2004
Director:Declan O'Brien

I almost didn't even want to write this review because the movie is so bad but I'll do my best.

Joy Ride 3 opens with a girl clearly strung out on either meth or crack fooling around with a guy in bed. Literally three minutes after the movie stars, they're having some rough and tumble sex, but she stops him when she realizes they're out of drugs. He comes up with an idea to talk to a truck driver, lure him into the room, and rob him because all drivers carry large amounts of drugs. She makes the mistake of hitting on good old Rusty and inviting him to their room.

When Rusty learns of their scheme, which he apparently does before he gets there, he attacks them both. He then straps them to the front of his truck and gives them a chance. If they can hold on for a certain amount of time, he'll let them live. If they let go, the chains holding them down will drag them under the truck. The girl lets go, and they both die. It's a great way to open the movie but it just goes downhill from there.

There are a bunch of highly annoying twenty somethings planning to enter some random race. As a NASCAR fan, I have my questions about what level they're racing at and what's going on. I also didn't bother to learn any names because most of the characters seem fairly interchangeable. There's the douchy guy, the slightly less douchy guy, the annoying female girlfriend, the other annoying gal, etc..

After stopping along the way for some food, they decide to take the race car, which is very expensive buy the way, out of the trailer and drive it the rest of the way to the race, which is a very stupid thing to do because those cars aren't decide for regular roads. They naturally come across Rusty, piss him off, and he decides to kill them all.

Joy Ride is one of those hidden gem movies that I found by accident. Featuring the too cute for his own good and gone too soon Paul Walker and the adorable and hilarious Steve Zahn, a bought a copy back in the days when I would buy new movies that looked interesting without knowing anything about the plot. I love it so much that I recommended it to all of my friends. Sadly, Joy Ride 3 makes me wish they had stopped with the first film.

One of the things, okay the thing, that made that movie so great was Ted Levine. His voice has that deep and throaty quality that makes you want to look under your bed and check your closets before going to sleep at night. Instead of letting us actually see the psychopathic Rusty, we only saw him in profile and heard his voice. Our imaginations let us figure out what he looked like.

Joy Ride 3 apparently decided that we need to see the killer. Just as I finished telling my roommate that we never saw Rusty's face, the film cut to a scene of his face as he stared down at a victim, and trust me, he's nothing to make you check under the bed. He looks like some random guy off the street, and seeing his face really takes away from the horror. They show Rusty full on so many times that it seems like just another generic slasher movie. I'd skip this one and reach for the original instead.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Neverlake Movie Review – Beware of Weird Fathers

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Riccardo Paoletti

On the same night that we rented Afflicated (look for that review soon!), we also snagged Neverlake from Redbox. The roommate decided to head up to bed and leave me alone to watch this one, and I have to say that he missed out. As excited as I was to finally see Afflicted, this was the movie that made me go, "now that's fucked up!"

Jenny is a young woman born in Italy but sent to her grandmother at an early age after her mother died. Her father is some type of doctor, but he also spends a lot of time holed up in his "studio" and working on a project. After introducing her to his maid/housekeeper/cook Olga, he promises to take her to the lake the next morning but then disappears before she gets up.

Though Olga asks her to stop and eat breakfast or stick close to home, she decides to take a walk by herself instead. While down by the lake, she meets a younger girl with bandages covering her eyes. The little girl asks for help getting home and later introduces Jenny to the other kids living in the same run down hospital type place with her. One of them cryptically warns her to watch out for adults because they're bad before she goes home.

Dr. Brook, AKA Jenny's dad, suggests they take a trip into the city the following day. Though he promises to take her to a great cafe, he leaves her on the street and makes a trip to a local store. There, he hands over a drawing to a man and asks him to make him "another one." The man confirms that he wants one just like the others before sending him on his way. Meanwhile, Jenny wanders into an antique toy store, sees a doll that looks familiar to her, and picks it up. That causes her to have a flashback, and she watches in horror as the doll's limbs all fall off.

The more Jenny spends at her father's house, the more weird things start happening. Paul, the oldest of the children she met before, reveals that he has a special connection to the people of the lake when he touches the water and brings up the silhouettes of people on the opposite side. The kids tell her that they want their statues back, which her father stole. When the kids reveal an odd knowledge of her father's home, Jenny realizes that there's something darker and sinister going on.

Neverlake might be one of those films that I watch once and completely forget, but I highly doubt it because this movie was really good and much better than I thought it would be. I complain a lot about movies that have multiple stories going on, but this one actually manages to tie everything together.

It starts out with a young girl moving to a huge country estate right on the water in Italy. You see those scenes and immediately think that it's just another classic ghost story. Then it throws in some historic mythology with the statues and people in the water, which makes you wonder where it's going next. You then hear several stories about Jenny's mother and see scenes of a woman dying next to the water and think it's a ghost story again. Throw in some scenes of Olga lurking in the background, her father outright lying to her, and what might just be someone locked in a hidden room, and you might feel like your head is spinning.

This is one of the few times when I actually want to reveal how the movie ends because I thought it was pretty surprising. I'm sure that people will say that they figured out the ending ahead of time, but Neverlake had one of those endings that literally made me say, "that's fucked up." Granted there was no one else in the room or around at the time, but I'm sure that I'll make my roommate watch this later.

Neverlake is available at most Redbox machines. Watch it without reading a lot about the movie and see what you think. Hopefully you'll like it as much as I did!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Are You in the House Alone – Dennis, You've Come So Far

Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Date: September 20, 1978
Rating: NR
Director: Walter Grauman

Are You in the House Alone opens with a teenage girl laying on the floor in her living room. After being rushed to the hospital, she bursts into tears and claims that she was raped. The doctors and her mother ask her who did that to her, but she cries again and says that no one will ever believe her.

We then go back in time to when Gail was still a fairly new girl in town. Her best friend Alison introduces her to a guy named Steve, and the two go on a double date with Alison and her boyfriend Phil (played by the ever hunky Dennis Quaid). Not long after that double date, Gail and Steve decide to go steady, but she then receives a series of notes warning her that someone is watching her. Though her mother and best friend think she's overreacting, Gail can't help but think that someone is stalking her.

Oh my god, this movie was bad even for a television movie from the 1970s. Every scene that involves her "stalker" comes from someone following behind her with a camera. We also get a number of shots of someone sneaking through the halls and staring at her every time she moves. Despite the fact that she knows someone is following her, she doesn't seem to notice someone standing just over her shoulder.

The said thing is that my roommate watched half the movie, went upstairs to take a shower, and made a phone call. When he came back downstairs, he couldn't believe that the movie was still on. While Netflix classifies Are You in the House Alone? as a horror movie, don't believe the hype. If you want to skip the film and still know how it ends, check out my TV movie blog recaphere.