Monday, September 28, 2015

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda – Can't Keep a Good Croc Down

Runtime: 92 minutes
Release Date: April 23, 2015
Rating: NR
Director: A.B. Stone

Jim (Robert Englund) takes a group of scientists into the wilds of New York to capture one of those infamous crocodiles. They want to breed the crocodile with an anaconda. While this usually takes lot of time and work, they take the easy way out and just inject blood from the crocodile into the pregnant snack, and blamo! It's all good. Except it's not all good at all. The crocodile wakes up from its sedative snack and goes ape shit, which ends with most running away and the RV they used exploding.

Reba (Yancy Butler from the last two Lake Placid movies) is now in charge of the police department in the same small town from one of the earlier films. The mayor or some guy like the mayor, hears word that the giant crocodiles might be back and orders her to take care of the problem without ever letting anyone know that there's giant man eating crocodiles nearby. She and her deputy Ferguson find evidence of crocodiles, which leads her to call on Fish & Wildlife for help.

Meanwhile, Bethany is a college student pledging a sorority and winds up near the lake with the other pledges and Tiffani, the president of the sorority. Tiffani is a mega bitch who makes them jump in and out of the lake on her command. Bethany also meets Margo, the stereotypical Converse wearing, black eyeliner, roll her eyes every 30 seconds college feminist. Turns out she's really only there to write a paper for her psychology class. Because freshmen go undercover and write detailed psychology papers? As a psychology BS holder, I say not.

Bethany winds up calling her dad to check in, who is conveniently Tull (Corin Nemec, who looks like he hasn't aged in 15 years), the head of Fish & Wildlife. Tull eventually meets up with Reba and starts investigating for signs of the crocodiles. When he learns that his daughter was on the water that day and finds signs that crocodiles really did attack the sorority girls, he tries to find a way to save his daughter while helping Reba too.

I still remember seeing the original Lake Placid in theaters and being shocked at little old Betty White. I also remember seeing the original Anacondas in theaters and being shocked at how awful Jennifer Lopez was. While I stuck with the Lake Placid series, I haven't seen a single of the Anacondas films until this one.

Is it wrong of me to say that this is the best one? In a week where I watched Lavalantulas, Sharknado 2, and Sharknado 3, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda actually came out on top. There's the joy of watching and waiting to see what happens to Englund, Reba constantly yelling at Ferguson who is great for comedic relief, and the creepy incestuous vibe between Tull and his daughter. Seriously, who calls their dad just to say I love you and tease him about what he does when you aren't there, and who calls his daughter baby when she's in college? It doesn't help that with Nemec never aging that they kind of do look like a couple.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is just fun. You have to laugh every time Ferguson does something stupid, and you have to root for Englund, who clearly had fun making the movie. While it might not be Oscar worthy, it's definitely fun!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Into the Grizzly Maze – James Marsden and Tom Jane vs. Bears

Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Date: August 13, 2015
Rating: R
Director: David Hackl

Rowan returns to his home town after a stint in jail. He's the black sheep of the family, see? After meeting a girl at the bar and taking her back to his hotel room, she reveals she's a stripper and demands payment. Like any woman would turn down James Marsden! Her pimp later shows up and starts beating her up in the parking lot, so he runs down to save her. The cops show up, and one of the cops, Beckett (Thomas Jane), takes him to the side. It turns out that they're brothers, but Beckett is the good son.

Into the Grizzly Maze throws a bunch of characters at us all at once. Douglass (Billy Bob Thornton) is an unscrupulous grizzly hunter who often breaks the law when hunting. Kaley is Rowan's ex-girlfriend and a cop on the local force. Johnny Cadillac, and yes that is seriously his name, is a former friend of Rowan's who now hunts grizzlies. There's also Scott Glenn as the head of the police force and Piper Perabo as Michelle, Beckett's wife.

After hearing some reports of wild bears spotted in the area, the police force mans up. Unfortunately, Michelle went into the woods to take some pictures on the same day. I say unfortunately because she's deaf and apparently uses the ground movements to tell if there is a bear in the area. That doesn't work out too well for her as she gets trapped by a grizzly. Rowan just so happens to be in the area, saves her, and they run off together. Beckett and Kaley head off into the woods to find Michelle, while Scott Glenn sticks around to mobilize the troops and potentially let Billy Bob loose.

I rented Into the Grizzly Maze on the assumption that it would play like an Asylum movie, and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. While it does play like an Asylum movie you might come across in the middle of the night on Sy-Fy, it's actually like a better version of one of those movies. Even though everyone in the movie took themselves so seriously, I lost count of how many times the BF and I ended up laughing while watching it.

Rowan is the black sheep of the family, and I can say that because they mention it once every 10 minutes or so. They bring it up when he comes back, when he goes to his father's old house, when his brother learns he's with his wife, when he finds the wife, when they all catch up together. We get the point, James Marsden is the bad guy!

Adam Beach also turns up for a short period of time as Johnny Cadillac. I think he's a great actor, so I have no idea why he ended up in what was basically a cameo. Actually, I'm not sure how anyone other than Jane and maybe Perabo ended up in this movie. It seems like there was a chance it might get a theatrical run, but come on! Who thought a movie like this would play in theaters anymore? Even sadder is that it took over three years between the movie was announced and when it finally came out.

Based on my review, some might think I hated the movie, but I actually kind of dug it. It's like someone came up for an idea for an Asylum movie, got a little extra funding, and grabbed some big name stars without changing the budget or script. Who wouldn't like that?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Maggie Movie Review – Schwarzenegger Like You Never Saw Him Before

Runtime: 95 minutes
Release Date: May 8, 2015
Rating: PG-13
Director: Henry Hobson

Wade lives in a not too distant future where an infection started and began spreading to other people. He lives with his daughter Maggie, second wife Caroline, and a little boy and girl who are either their kids or her kids, no one really explains that. Wade takes Maggie to the doctor, and we learn that while she has the infection, it's still in the early stages. The doctor sends them home with a warning to keep an eye on her.

It doesn't take long before Maggie starts acting a little weird. While swinging outside and remembering her mother, she goes a little crazy and breaks/bites her finger. Caroline worries that this is a sign she's changing, but Wade brushes it off like it's nothing. He later encounters two of the turned outside and has to kill them to protect his family. The police come by later to announce that one of his neighbors kept her family members locked up instead of notifying the authorities. They remind Wade that he must turn in Maggie when things get too bad.

It turns out that in this version of the zombie apocalypse, people are generally cool about it. Maggie even gets the chance to hang out with her friends one night. One of the other boys is infected, and when the other guys tease him about it, Maggie goes to support him and spend some time with him. Unfortunately, Maggie later finds the same boy at home with the police ready to pick him up and take him to quarantine. As the film progresses, Wade must find a way to keep his wife happy and protect his daughter at the same time.

Maggie is a very...strange movie? There's something about it that I just can't put my finger on. It's not that I didn't like it, but it's not like I did like it either. It's essentially a zombie movie or an infected apocalypse movie that doesn't play like one of those movies. Everyone seems to know exactly what to do to take care of the problem without actually taking care of the problem. They leave infected people out to roam the streets until they finally turn and then put them in a quarantined area.

The other issue is that the movie is just really slow. Things go at such a slow pace that I occasionally just wanted to shake the characters and tell them to do something. Even Maggie's transformation is completely gradual. There are a few things that show you something is off, including a black scab on her arm, black veins, and her eyes clouding over, but she acts totally normal. She still has a crush on a guy and still wants to do all the normal teenage things. Her friends don't even seem to have a problem with her, despite the fact that she could literally rip their faces off at any moment.

The one thing I can recommend is Schwarzenegger himself. Man, I never expected to see him in a movie like this, especially after watching his most recent films. He does an admirable job of playing a man torn between the two women in his life. When he takes his daughter to show her the garden growing over her mom's grave, I seriously almost teared up.

Though Maggie is kind of a zombie movie, it's not like any zombie movie I ever saw before. Given it's slow pace and dark tone, I'm still on the fence about how I feel.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Ouija Experiment 2: Theatre of Death aka Ouija Resurrection

Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: August 15, 2015
Rating: NR
Director: Israel Luna

For the last six months or so, I had The Ouija Experiment in my Netflix queue and never got around to watching it. On my last fateful trip to Redbox, I grabbed a movie called Ouija Resurrection because I liked the box. Little did I know that it was actually a sequel to a movie I never watched before. Redbox made no mention of the fact that it was a sequel, and I honestly think they deliberately changed the name so people like me wouldn't rent it without seeing the first. I'll try not to taint my review with my extreme displeasure.

Ouija Resurrection doesn't pick up where the first movie left off, which is probably a good thing. Instead, it makes it out like the original movie was just a movie. All the characters from that movie, including some I'm sure died in it, come back to play themselves. They head to a showing off the film at a theater with some of their fans on hand.

When the director opens things up for questions, they learn that the theater where they're screening at is supposedly haunted. There's something about how a woman died in labor and her baby ended up being crazy or something like that. The point is that the family supposedly fed the baby humans to fulfill its cravings for flesh. No one really believes the stories, so you can guess what happens next. People start dying.

Ouija Resurrection is such a confusing movie because there is so much going on. There are a few scenes with actual ghosts running around and attacking people, but there there are scenes that indicate the stories told about the theater are true and that there really is some flesh eating chick hanging out in the basement. Ah, fuck it. There really is a demented crazy lady living in the basement who eats people and her family really does keep her chained up down there and feed her people.

The characters are kind of iffy too. Eric Window, who apparently played Calvin in the first movie, keeps popping up to give his catchphrase from that movie, which is something like, “C to the A to the L to the VIN,” which continues being annoying long after the first time you hear it. I did get a kick out of Swisyzinna, who plays herself. She comes across as the stereotypical African American chick from a horror movie, but she plays it like she knows she's exactly that character. There's one point where she even references it and mentions how it's always the black girl who goes first.

It's also funny the way they set up the Q&A for the movie. Though there's quite a few people on hand, there are literally only two or three people who bother to ask questions. Then there's a subplot about how some favorite fans get the chance to go backstage and meet the actors. This is really just a setup for them to show one of our actors dead with them all thinking it's part of the show they created for them. Oh, and did I mention that there's the stereotypical goth girl with long black hair who keeps feeling things? Yeah, it winds up being way too many things crammed into one movie.

Once I watch The Ouija Experiment, more of this movie might make sense to me, but right now I have to give a thumbs down to everything about The Ouija Experiment except for Swisyzinna, who I totally want to hang out with in real life!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Area 51 – Aliens and Found Footage, All in One Package!

Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: May 15, 2015
Rating: R
Director: Oren Peli

Given that I grew up near and still live close to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, one of the bases at the center of the alien stories in America, I have a fascination with all things extraterrestrial. It only took one watching of the Area 51 trailer to know that I had to add it to my watch list.

As Area 51 is a found footage style movie, it picks up with someone interviewing a group of people regarding the disappearances of three people. Reid, Darren, and Ben were three best friends who always spent a lot of time together before they up and disappeared. Those interviewed mention that something happened in the recent past that made Reid begin acting weird.

The film then jumps to the three friends on their way to a party. After having some fun, Reid loses consciousness and disappears. They later find him standing in the middle of the road. Though he says he's fine, he can't remember what happened to him and really doesn't seem fine. Reid then becomes obsessed with the idea of extraterrestrial life and that there are aliens out there.

He eventually reveals that he believes aliens abducted him that night and that there are others who experienced similar things. Reid convinces his friends that they should go to the base and investigate things for themselves. They first meet up with a friend he met online. Jelena tells them that her dad once worked there and was fired for being too curious, but her father gave her all his secret files and just enough information that they think they can break into the base. Once they finally make it to Area 51, it becomes clear why the military and government moved the base underground.

Did you guess by my synopsis that this was an action packed movie with lots of aliens? You would guess wrong. While there are some strange things that happen and some aliens, it takes a long time to really get going. I understand the importance of setting up the backstory and explaining what happened to Reid, but it really did feel like half the movie or more was just backstory with nothing really happening. Even after they got to Nevada, it was more exposition. They had to meet Jelena, find someone who worked at the base, gather up everything they needed, check out the base, come back to the base, and so on.

The trailer for Area 51 made it seem like it was a movie about people breaking into the base and finding proof of alien beings. While that eventually happened, it took a long time to get there. More of the movie dealt with why Reid started acting weird and what they needed to do to get in the base. I would have preferred if the film started with them actually in the base and flashed back to all the other stuff later on. By the time Area 51 finally hit me with the scenes from the trailer, I had pretty much given up on it already.

The Lake on Clinton Road – Based on an Urban Legend, Kind Of

Runtime: 80 minutes
Release Date: July 17, 2015
Rating: NR?
Director: DeShon Hardy

What happens when you take one of the most famous urban legends/haunted tales in the country and base a horror movie kind of/sort of around that legend? You get The Lake on Clinton Road.

Rather than basing the film on any of the stories told about Clinton Road, the screenwriter decided to do a story about six “friends” who take a trip together to a house somewhere on that road that is next to a possibly haunted lake. The one name I managed to remember from the movie was Stacey, but only because Stacey was a major bitch. She gave up the chance to go to the beach with her friends to go on a trip with her boyfriend and his friends. Stacey makes it clear from the very beginning that she doesn't want to be there and that a lake doesn't count as a body of water or some crap.

We also learn that a woman was arrested early on for drowning her son in the lake. That story eventually catches up to the rest of the movie.

After having a little too much to drink, our crew of six head to the lake. One of the group decides that she wants to actually get in the water, and I can't blame her. Her oh so macho and oh so strong-going to be a professional football player boyfriend immediately flips out and demands she get out of the water. After practically dragging her out by her hair, he screams at her about how they're all drunk and it's dangerous. She then starts acting weird and eventually people start dying.

You can blame my renting of The House on Clinton Road of wanting to watch a few horror movies and waiting until Saturday night to hit Redbox. Though it actually started out fairly interesting, it didn't take long before things fell apart. I have no idea why they set up the movie the way they did, but there were so many continuity errors that it started ticking me off.

When they first arrive, no one can find the lake. They later go walking around and find the lake but no beach. Even later, they go out to stand on the deck and have a clear view of the lake, which is literally right behind the house. There are also a few scenes that show them walking around the house to the lake. They then see someone on the opposite side of the lake and somehow get there in seconds, even though shots of the lake show that it wraps around the entire house and that there's no way to get across it. It got to the point where my and the BF just started laughing every time someone mentioned how far away the lake was or how they would get there.

Does The House on Clinton Road have any real scares? Eh. Honestly, I did jump out of my seat when the little dead boy would pop up, especially when he made an appearance in a closet followed by his mother jumping out and grabbing him. It also had a decent jump scene at the end, though you expect it's coming. And, if you love hearing teens be whiny and bitchy, make sure you watch through the credits for a “true encounter” on Clinton Road.