Friday, July 31, 2015

Extraterrestrial Movie Review – Don't Go in the Woods, Seriously, Just Don't

Runtime: 101 minutes
Release Date: October 17, 2014
Rating: NR
Director: Colin Minihan

Extraterrestrial opens with an unnamed woman sobbing and running through the streets to reach a phone booth. Just as she gets inside, she disappears without a trace.

Cut to April, your stereotypical girl who is about to leave the small town and her small town boyfriend behind for life in the big city. The boyfriend, Kyle, decided to surprise her in a terrible way by turning their weekend cabin getaway into a miniature party with their friends Seth, Lex, and Melanie. Before they even get there, a local cop pulls them over because Seth tried to launch fireworks out of the car.

Things get even worse when they get to the cabin. Kyle takes the opportunity to propose to her and seems heartbroken when she turns him down, though honestly, it kind of seems like she isn't even sure why she turned him down. After seeing something in the woods, they realize it's a UFO and rush back to barricade themselves inside the cabin.

The small town cop, who is actually the sheriff, then arrives. Though his deputy doesn't believe their story and points out all the alcohol and drugs littering the cabin, the sheriff believes them because he thinks aliens abducted his wife, who is still missing. Before they can do anything, one of the aliens appears and makes the sheriff shoot both his deputy and himself. Even as they try to save themselves, it quickly becomes clear that no one escapes from these aliens.

What do you say about a movie that features Michael Ironside as a pothead? He plays Travis, a local man who grows and sells his own weed. April and her friend uncover his stash and almost wind up with bullets in their brains until Travis recognizes her from when she was a kid. He's also the only person who believes them. It's a little confusing though. Given everything that likely happened out there in the woods, why did the aliens never attack or take him before?

There were a few things I really liked about Extraterrestrial. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to see it, just stop reading now.

One thing I liked is when they actually got on the ship. Seth's death scene made my roommate wince so much that I thought he might actually get up and leave the room. The director and set designers also did a good job of decorating and designing a space that actually felt like a spaceship. However, I'm not a big fan of April and Kyle finding each other, the aliens letting them go for no explained reason, and them just dying, nor did I like how they had to have her put the ring on before she died. Yup, because their love meet nothing until she agreed to marry him. On the other hand, how can you not like a science fiction film that includes a blatant reference to the Cigarette Smoking Man at the end?

Extraterrestrial got some extremely poor reviews when it came out, but I definitely liked it. It's currently on Netflix for those interested.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Jack Frost Movie Review - “It ain't Fucking Frosty!”

Runtime: 89 minutes
Release Date: November 18, 1997
Rating: R
Director: Michael Cooney

Once upon a time in a not so far away land, I lived in my parents' house with my older brother. As we both loved horror movies, we would often head to Blockbuster to surprise each other with bad horror movies and watch them together. Jack Frost is one of the movies that I remember watching with him, but watching it now, I'm not entirely sure how we ever got through it!

I could give you a whole big plot synopsis, but do you really need one? Jack Frost, who had the poor misfortune of actually growing up with that name, killed multiple people before a small town sheriff captured him. Cut to police later transporting him to another prison for his execution because I guess they somehow let a serial killer roam free at a minimum security prison or something. While on the way, a truck filled with toxic acid hits them. Jack winds up getting hit full on with the toxic waste, which leads to him melting away into the snow. He then comes back as a living snowman to murder anyone who gets in his way.

With a plot like that, how could this movie ever be bad? Toss in Shannon Elizabeth in one of her first movie roles as a stereotypical dumb hot girl, and this movie should be gold. Did I mention that the sheriff who captured Jack is now living in the same town and has a daughter? Seriously, this should be cheesy gold. Note how I kept using the word should?

There are a few moments in the movie worth mentioning. At one point, Jack somehow manages to wed his massive snowman body into a police car, which results in him running through the streets of town in the car. Sadly, he only gets to mow down one person. I'd love to see him chasing people Twisted Metal style through the streets.

We also get a great scene with Shannon Elizabeth. While lounging her slutty self in the tub, she feels something in the water with her and naturally assumes that it's her boyfriend, so she encourages him to keep going. Just as she's really getting into it, she finally opens her eyes and sees Jack Frost. Before he kills her, he finishes what he started. Hey! The guy was in minimum security prison for like two whole hours, what did you expect him to do?

There are also a few funny moments with the sheriff and his crew trying to hunt Jack down and kill him. You would think killing a snowman would be easy but apparently not. They try shooting him, which is probably how they take down other serial killers, but it just goes right through him. The best is when they decide to just melt him with a bunch of hairdryers. I guess they couldn't find heaters in a town filled with snow.

Sigh. I think this is a case of seeing a movie years ago and thinking it was all in good cheesy fun only to later find that it's just awful. Watching Jack Frost now makes we wonder how that horrible movie Uncle Sam will hold up...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Evidence Movie Review – Never Trust Hot Girls

Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Date: July 19, 2013
Rating: NR?
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Detective Reese (Stephen Moyer, True Blood) and Detective Burquez (Radha Mitchell, Silent Hill) are two detectives tasked with going over the brutal footage left behind after a murderous slaying in New Mexico. Through video footage we meet Rachel, an aspiring filmmaker who can't seem to put down her camera long enough to see what's happening in front of her. She films her best friend Leann as Leann's boyfriend proposing to her and as she turns him down.

Later footage reveals that while Tyler was heartbroken at her rejection, he reluctantly agreed to go with the two girls to Las Vegas on a trip they planned beforehand. They make friends with the others on the bus, including a teenage runaway, a stripper (excuse me, dancer), and a woman who seems way too worried about the bag she brought with her.

The driver takes them off the main roads and onto dirt roads, claiming that it's the way he always goes. After driving over something left in the road, the bus flips over and crashes. Everyone manages to escape relatively unharmed and finds their way back to a seemingly abandoned little town they passed earlier. As the sun sets, the group finds themselves stalked and killed by a menacing figure with a blow torch, leaving the two detectives to discover exactly what happened that night.

My main problem with found footage movies is that the found footage element gets to be too much at times. That it why I'm glad the director set this movie up the way he did. It jumps back and forth between the detectives in the present day with the footage filmed by the people on the bus. I thought it might be a little jarring, but it actually plays well.

I've always had a fear of drowning, but after watching this movie, I turned to my roommate and told him that I had a new worst way to die. There is a scene where the figure in the mask with the blow torch attacks a woman and literally cuts her arm off with the torch before setting her on fire. The way he kind of just stands back and watches her burn for a few second before walking away was actually chilling.

It seems like a lot of movies have to showcase stereotypes, but Evidence did a smart job of not falling back too much on those stereotypes. We naturally have the slightly dorky teenager who somehow knows magic tricks and the guy pining over the girl he loves, but the movie jumps between the characters enough that no one person takes center stage and no one stereotype takes over the movie.

While the scenes set in the abandoned town were pretty intense, the same can't be said of the scenes set in the present day. There are literally scenes where Moyer will say one line to Mitchell, she'll nod her head, and then they both go back to watching the footage they have. It felt like too much exposition or as if the director wasn't sure we would pick up on something that happened, so he had to take that moment to let us in on what they found. Thanks, but I watched that scene and I get it.

Other than that, I'd recommend Evidence. It's currently playing on Netflix.