Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mother! (2017)

Darren Aronofsky's Mother! isn't a film I liked much at all, but one thing you have to give it is that it's worth talking about. At the very least, it's interesting – so I guess I'm saying this is the cinematic equivalent of a guy wearing a clown costume and alternately blowing a trumpet while screaming Bible verses on the street corner. It's annoying and pretentious, but at least it isn't boring.


And yeah – there are gonna be SPOILERS in this one!


To be fair, there are some decent parts to this... the directing is nice and can have a rather uncomfortable claustrophobic feel to it, and the acting is good. The first half or so is a decent enough curiosity, telling an odd story of a couple trying to keep up a perfect house and stalled writing career when a stranger (Ed Harris) comes to the door and ends up staying with them. Everything is creepy and foreboding enough that you want to see where it goes – though later on, when the guy's wife shows up, it turns out the scariest thing in the movie is really just marital insecurity over whether or not Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem are going to have kids.

Mostly, the tension in this comes from how much everyone treats Lawrence like shit – her character is just constantly stepped on in this. It's revealed that Ed Harris is a big fan of Bardem's poetry, I guess – and he's also dying of cancer.

Then things take a bizarre turn when Ed Harris's two psychotic sons come to the house and have no problem at all getting into a violent fist fight over their father's will, or some shit like that, and it ends as one of them kills the other. Bardem and the family go with him to the hospital while Lawrence cleans up the blood. What a good wife she is. I would have just fucking left.

And this is really where the movie starts to lose me and the problems start to become apparent. What happens next is a pretty crazy parade of people who know Ed Harris' character come and stay at the house to mourn the dead son while waiting for the funeral. They partake in all kinds of merry funeral activities like having sex in the bedroom, having sex on the stairs and trying to have sex on an unstable kitchen counter that explodes through the wall and rains sewer water everywhere – just good that these assholes are keeping things proper for the funeral mood. They have no logic or reason to it of course; they're just unrealistically nasty, because they have to be for this to work at all.

Lawrence, after like 20 minutes of screentime trying to get them to calm the fuck down and listen to her, finally melts down and screams for everyone to leave. I guess this was all it took. Why didn't she just lose her shit earlier then? Apparently that's the only thing these people will respond to. Not the dead guy they apparently knew – just a random woman losing her shit.

But seriously – this is one of the movie's problems, honestly. I just can't see the character or logic in what she's doing here. She's way too passive about everything. And I know – it's the metaphor of it all, about how she's supporting her husband even though it's tough. But that just doesn't make a good movie for me. Her actions, and the plot as a whole, only seem to exist to serve the metaphor. Everything is just about that message; there's no actual insight into the character. Lawrence is just moved around like a chess-piece so Aronofsky can say look at this message I have, and while all fiction is sorta like that, it really does come off as too transparent here. It's just too easy of a story when you can handwave away anything by saying it's the message! I just find stories more interesting when they're well-constructed around how people actually act in the modern civilized world around each other.

Then things get even worse and more insane when Bardem completes his work of poetry and then, without apparently sending it to anyone or advertising, people begin coming there on a pilgrimage to worship him for his art, even going so far as to set up churches and start treating him like a God. And before you get any crazy ideas, no, this has nothing to do with how Aronofsky sees his own art...

Things do get slightly out of hand when bombs start falling on the house randomly and people get lined up and executed like some kind of African jungle war prisoner ritual or something. Yes, I'm serious – you didn't click into another movie review. It's all very over the top and, while it's entertaining for how batshit crazy it is, you start to check your watch after a while. How long is this gonna go, anyway? I'm an American – we see this shit on TV all day.

Lawrence has the baby and Bardem insists on taking it from her to show to the raving hordes of religious nutballs who now worship him as a God. Within like, a few minutes, they tear the baby apart and eat it, which I am really curious if they got the anatomy right. We should consult some scientists. It would be a shame if the movie got this part wrong – would totally ruin its credibility.

Lawrence, after she gets the shit beaten out of her in a gruesome scene even I have to admit was effective, burns down the house and finally kills everyone except for herself and Bardem – curiously without a scratch on him. He carries her through the house burnt to a fucking crisp, and then takes her heart, the last thing she has left to give him.

Then it turns out Bardem is actually using her heart to restore his entire home to exactly how it was before - he is some kind of vampire or something, I guess, and while I get what the movie is saying here, about artists feeding on others' generosity, it is kind of funny, you have to admit. I think it's humorous that this is how this movie ended.

And I get it, okay – I get the message here. It's saying a lot about the tenets of marriage, especially to one so drawn to art, and the differences between how the archetypal Man and Woman act. Some of it is at least passably interesting commentary, not coming off as anything too dumb or base-level.

But there's just no real meat to this as a movie – all there is is the message. Everything is totally in service to that message. And that means basically nothing that actually happens in the movie has any significance. It's all just metaphoric, anyway; every bit of what happens. The rude people treating Lawrence like shit, the bombs falling, the execution, the eating of the child – it all just passes over with the airy, transparent feel of a ghost, because it doesn't matter. Nobody talks about the repercussions behind any of it, and the people don't act like real people, because they're all just chess-pieces and mouth-pieces for Aronofsky's message. It all exists only because Aronofsky needed to get a point across, which consequently comes off extremely heavy-handed.

I just find this a dull, almost immature way to write a movie. Personally it didn't gel with me. I know some people really liked it – such is the nature of taste. I like movies that treat the characters as more nuanced and complex beings. This one didn't do that for me.

Image copyright of its original owner; I don't own it.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cinema Freaks Live: A Ghost Story (2017)



Here's our Cinema Freaks Live video for the movie 'A Ghost Story.' I've been preoccupied with other things like the pursuit of money to pay bills and shit lately. So I hope this will tide people over. More reviews soon!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Green Inferno (2015)

Green Inferno is Eli Roth's recent film, a throwback to the old cannibal/gore-splatter flicks of the 70s and also a “social commentary” on how kids act today, which is totally something he should never be entrusted with. It's like letting a kid handle a firearm. Just nothing but bad things can happen.

Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy

Co-written with Michelle.

This is also a sort of homage to old 70s exploitation/gore flicks like Cannibal Holocaust, which I haven't seen. But that movie was famous for the fact that the filmmakers killed live animals on screen. This is sort of comparable. What Roth does here is kill dignity and good taste in filmmaking on screen, so it's sort of the same.

We start off this movie with a bunch of kids at college protesting in, I guess, the one spot on campus they're allowed to do that – right outside the dorm room of main character Justine. She and her roommate talk about how Justine wants to go join this activist group, how she is attracted to the main guy leading the group, Alejandro, and, a few scenes later, how she wants to go raise awareness of female genital mutilation after learning about it in class.


Her roommate, played by pop star Sky Ferreira, being the only smart kid in the movie, rightfully says the activist group is a bunch of phonies looking for attention, the activist guy is a weirdo and it'd be almost impossible to get anything done by just flying to places by herself with this group and trying basically on-the-fly, sensational type shit. But Justine, being an idealistic social-justice-obsessed college kid, ends up joining the group and going on a mission to stop this rainforest jungle area from being bulldozed.

Ferreira: "It's not too late to get out of the movie like me. You won't see me again for most of it!"

This is Roth's attempt at social commentary – college kids are dumb and don't really care about the issues they pretend to care about! They're just like babies going through phases. Which is pretty condescending and awful, really. I bet Roth hasn't talked to a college kid except for trying to sleazily hit on the 21 year old bartender after a movie premiere and she turns him down. I imagine he then gets very self righteous with her and makes HER feel like the bad guy. I mean he's basically right on the edge of being a red-pill MRA fuckwad in this movie anyway with how douchey and arrogant his message is in this.

Honestly, it just goes on like this for a while... this Alejandro guy talks up Justine about going to save that rainforest and all that, saying that the only way to get people to change their behavior is to put cameras on them, humiliating them. Uh, not sure it's that simple, but okay, I get that Roth can't really process more complex ideas.

Amazingly, they actually somehow get a plane out there. There are a bunch of boring, time-wasting scenes of them eating lunch and then using the bathroom in the woods. I don't know why these scenes were included as they really accomplish nothing at all except padding out the runtime! So hooray for that I guess. But if he's under the impression that any of these characters are likable or interesting, well – they're not.

"Hey, I really think this interaction we're having is substantial and totally not just window dressing for the fact that I'll be dead soon."

I guess their plan is to tie themselves to these trees wearing creepy rape masks and refusing to move until the company with the bulldozers totally, for real stops their mission. I'm sure they won't just go back to doing it after these kids leave! Public humiliation trumps EVERYTHING, remember?

Anyway, then for some reason one of the guys puts a gun to Justine's head, because I suppose he really thought he would get away with it... then after everyone else puts their cameras on him, goading him to shoot Justine (what great people!), he stops and lets them all go free.

"Well, this has gone according to plans so far. I feel like I'm definitely helping!"

They then celebrate with drinks and toasts because again, they totally can't just pick up operations again as soon as the kids left. Activism is fun and easy! Why aren't MORE people doing this?!


I guess God really hated what they just did, though, as their plane immediately crashes as they try to leave, and several characters you don't remember the names of die instantly. RIP to whatever the fuck their names were. But unfortunately, most of the main characters survive.

As it happens every time you go into the jungle, they then immediately get kidnapped by a tribe of red-painted Amazonian savages who eat people! Super realistic! I'm just glad Roth has learned from his previous mistakes in movies like Hostel where he offended entire countries by portraying them as cabals for serial killers and evil people. This time, he's turning his bigotry sights on indigenous peoples who will never see the movie. So that's a way to sidestep outrage and be as despicable as he wants! And oh boy does he ever want to be a despicable piece of shit in this movie.

I suppose stereotyping is just faster. Roth is a busy guy.

One of the main selling points of this movie was, apparently, that it made people throw up in the theater while watching it. I guess there are a few gross scenes, but it's hardly anything THAT fucking extreme overall... maybe Roth just poisoned everyone's drinks and food at those showings he said they threw up at.

I mean, this one scene where they hack apart this guy is kind of gross and bloody in an old vintage 70s-gore way. And it sucks for me because I had money that this guy, the fat black guy who is nice to the main character and is actually sympathetic, would survive this horror movie. And now I'm out $20, so THANKS A LOT, ROTH, YOU PIECE OF SHIT.


But then there's no other scene like this in the movie. What happens in the rest of it? Endless scenes of them sitting in a cage bitching at each other? There's one scene where the savages give them some meat to eat and one girl says she's a vegetarian. Oh the hilarity! When will these apt, cutting social satirical scenes from Eli Roth ever lose their timeliness? Aren't college students pieces of shit?


Oh, and also, they find out that the whole 'Amazon save the rainforest' plot they came down for was just a PR stunt so they could film a video, and they didn't actually help the forest at all. Because in Eli Roth land, there's no actual idealism – anything that seems selfless and genuine is really just the opposite, a soulless marketing ploy. Just more of that awesome, pointed social commentary that rings true (if you're a dumb edgy teenager.)

In between all of this, there are several scenes of Justine being groomed, apparently, for genital mutilation – because isn't it ironic that what she was learning about in the beginning is what she's going through for real now?!? Life is just funny like that.

I guess Justine and this one other guy try to escape, which leads to a long ass scene of them running through the woods and what not. But then they get captured again, which made the whole thing pointless I guess. Justine is almost mutilated by these savages, but one random little boy saves her... why? Because the writers wrote themselves into a hole and had no idea how to save their story! Who cares if he has no reason to do it and we never get a real explanation? DEUS EX MACHINA TIME!


But hey, at least Justine gets to cosplay as a sexy version of the Pilsbury Dough Boy...

Which I'm sure is an actual fetish I am not going to look up at all...

Then she leaves Alejandro there to die, as he was a shitty person and deserved it I guess... in a better movie, there may have been some conflict over this, or character development. But in terrible horror movies, it's just hollow meaningless revenge because the audience didn't like the guy either. Even when she gets home, she just lies and says everyone died. I guess she has a dream about him coming back and she's a cannibal now and bites him?

And here we come to the movie's true message - if you're an activist but don't really believe in your cause, you'll end up in a cage in the jungle left to die. So relatable, so timely.

But that doesn't really make sense anyway.

Michelle also pointed out how weird it is that Justine defends the tribe at the end, claiming the cannibals were actually nice to her and protected her. Odd choice, being that it doesn't make a difference – they all get killed in the end, so who is she protecting here? It's like Roth is trying to have this statement about how she wants to stick to the cause even though it's a lie, just so she can feel better about herself or something. Which is just more lameness really.

The movie then has a short end-credits scene where Alejandro's sister calls Justine and says satellite images found Alejandro living out in the jungle himself now, I guess... which is weird that the cameras picked that up and nobody has saved him yet, but who am I to say? It's cute that the movie thinks we give a shit about any of these terrible characters.


There's like one half decent scene of gore in this, and it's early on and there isn't anything else like it again. The characters in this are unlikable and the social commentary attempts are so bad that it's almost satirical – like I really don't know how anyone thought this was clever, the tip of the iceberg being the asinine dialogue that turns every character into a mouthpiece for Roth's message - it's super transparent and shitty writing. The message is a lot of sneering douche-bro condescension at some kind of strawman idea of what college kids and activists are like. Everything is very negative – as if being this cynical is a substitute for actual intelligent discourse. I don't think it is.

Got to love Roth's defense of the movie against those offended by his portrayal of indigenous cultures... you can read the whole thing here, but these are the parts I found funny:

“My film, however, is about bandwagon activism, or "slacktivism," which is people jumping in on social media and retweeting causes they actually know nothing about (something these activists seem ready to do with my film). The whole idea of the kids saving the rainforest only to be eaten by the tribe they saved is a metaphor for how people are shamelessly consumed by their vanity and need for validation on social media. These kids in the movie care, but they care more about getting recognized for caring.

The people who seem to publicly care how these people are portrayed are people who want to be portrayed as caring people.

If everyone stopped their ideas because they were worried about offending people or sparking discussion then there would be no stories to tell. In short, take your cause seriously, but take my film for what it is — a movie.”

I'll translate for you: “My film is a serious thing with a real message and anyone who doesn't like it is part of the problem! But really, it's just a silly movie, why are you taking it so seriously?!”

What a load... this is just a dumb, poorly written film. It's crass and ordinary and doesn't have anything intelligent to say, nor anything of value entertainment-wise. Just awful. Avoid this.

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Comic Con Trailer Reviews

Man, I've been absent for a few weeks. What can I say? I got busy with other shit.

First, a word of praise for Comic Con and MegaCon and other such things... it's amazing how large and viable geek culture has truly become. This is not going away like we thought. The things we grew up with, all the comics and movies and games, are an integral, powerful force for the culture we've crafted as adults. It's part escapism, sure, like anything – but it's also just the way we've let these characters and stories define us. Fiction can resonate long and wide in the human mind. And none more than that which we grew up with, that which we saw in the formative years.

So it's pretty fucking cool.

Here's some thoughts on the various Comic Con trailers, but not all of them, just the ones I cared about. I didn't bother watching the Kingsman 2 or the Thor Ragnarok ones because I've already seen other trailers for those films, and I also don't care about Star Trek or some of the various TV shows displayed. But there was some interesting stuff I saw...

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Who says there's no money in using millions of Hollywood dollars to recreate playing with your action figures as a kid? I guess this could maybe not totally suck. Hopefully? I dunno. If you had told me that “maybe it won't suck” was the highest aspiration I'd have for a fucking Justice League movie 10 years ago, I would have been extremely depressed. This still mostly just looks like a mish mash of too many random new characters to be good. If DC would quit trying to outpace and outmatch Marvel, maybe they'd make better films. It doesn't help that every line spouted in this sounds like an Ad Lib for action movie trailers. You could play this for a blindfolded person and they wouldn't know what movie it's for.

STRANGER THINGS: SEASON 2

Holy shit – now this looks good! I was unsure where they'd go after the first season. Apparently where they were going was even more awesome shit. I am loving the Halloween ambiance and the weird, Lovecraftian monsters and imagery. These characters and this story are some of the best original stuff on TV right now. If you were concerned about how good this Halloween season would be, well... be concerned no more.

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 8

I love The Walking Dead like I love a child that sometimes screws up really badly and has to spend the night in the slammer for a DUI or public disturbance. This trailer for Season 8 looks pretty good, although it appears to be every inspirational Rick Grimes speech ever rolled into three minutes. And yeah, they have a weird shot at the end of Rick with a huge beard waking up in a hospital bed, like it was all a dream... yeah, I'm sure this long-running popular TV show is about to end this season with it all being a dream... sure.

READY PLAYER ONE

If our collective 80s nostalgia became some insane chimera, cobbled together with the forces of alchemy, it would probably look like this Ready Player One trailer. I haven't read the book, though I think I should, as this looks like a lot of fun. If anything, it will be very difficult to make anything else that is MORE nostalgic for old movies and games after this.

THE DEFENDERS

This looked pretty cool – basically exactly what I expected, full of highly well-produced action and lots of witty quips, but at least all of that looks very well done here. At least three of the Defenders, I'm really excited to see again. (Hint: the one I am not that excited about rhymes with Shmiron Shmist.)

And finally... the one everyone was waiting for...

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

What? How am I seeing this one, which was only a secret trailer not released to the general non-attending public? Surely nobody would ever break that cardinal rule and upload it to the internet...

It looks pretty fun. I don't know though. I am worried about the over-saturation of characters in these movies. As well made as it's likely to be, I'm just not sure it's good storytelling to cram so much shit into one movie. I guess if they can do it in a comic book, you can do it in a movie, too. But maybe sometimes less really is more. But that said, I am sure I'll end up seeing this and enjoying it for the batshit insane, colorful, jam packed spectacle it is along with everyone else; who am I kidding?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel has a pretty good reputation for dependable action movies these days – in fact, they're addicted to making them. Hell, I think they'd go into a coma if enough people didn't re-tweet them on Twitter about each new movie that came out. But they did have one movie that was pretty weak, and it should be obvious what I am talking about by now, unless for some reason you didn't pay any attention to the title of this review.

I'll give you a hint though: If you've ever said the words 'my favorite movie is Ant-Man,' then you may not like this one.

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas

Co-written with Tony.

Ant Man is the kind of movie I think they'd produce if they asked the most generic human being alive to produce a movie that is acceptable – not great, not even particularly good, just acceptable. And then you took that and gave it to a robot who had never seen or talked to a human before to recreate it from memory. That's this movie. It's as unfunny, weird and awkward as you'd expect, while simultaneously also being pretty dull and ordinary.

This thing starts with Michael Douglas's scientist character punching another guy in the face for a disagreement at work – you know, one of those heated scientist disagreements that so often results in a physical altercation. Oh those rowdy scientists. Apparently Douglas is mad because they stole his formula to make people tiny. What, how does he know it's HIS formula? I mean, that's pretty self centered of him. What an attention whore.

Don't worry, he can't hurt you. He's all bad CGI to make him look younger.

Then we fast forward about 20 years to the middle of a Fight Club outtake starring Paul Rudd, who is less an actor and more of an alchemic combination of bad comedy tropes cobbled into something resembling a man. He's playing Scott, a Thief With a Heart of Gold™ who got arrested for stealing some stuff from a rich con man and giving it back to the people he conned. Don't worry – there's a scene about 20 minutes in that spoonfeeds you this information with all the nuance of a guy trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by just destroying the whole thing with a jackhammer. Exposition!

This movie represents prison like you would if you talked about a second cousin you don't see that often - vague and noncommittal. I know it's not the point of the movie, but could we have ANY effort at character development? Like at all?

But this only lasts a few minutes, because we have really important shit to focus on like the pretty racist caricatures of everyone else who isn't Paul Rudd. Like, the guy who picks him up from prison is the most stereotypical Hispanic character ever, like you'd think Donald Trump's idea of any Spanish speaking person is. His thing is that he talks in a really stereotypical way and goes on long, unfunny tangents when he's trying to convey information. Wow, what a great character idea. I'm sure glad someone's paying you to write this.

And who else do we get? A black guy whose only purpose in the movie is to steal a cop car? A European guy of vague descent who talks in a ridiculous accent and talks about his reverence for superstition in one scene while also being an expert at computers like a Die Hard villain the next scene? Wow. I guess it's progressive if you consider 'progression' to be having them in the movie at all?

Oh good, the local awful Improv troupe is here...

I just think it takes a lot of balls to write characters that most pornos wouldn't consider writing because they're too stupid and shallow. “Hmm, well, you've got a good start, but how much MORE racist can you get without getting protesters on our asses? Can you implement at least some of the stereotypes from 1950s conservative drug propaganda films before your time is up?” It's asinine exactly how bad this is – like, what, just because the KKK would still be like 'nah, that's weaksauce,' it's okay?

I guess Paul Rudd can't hold down a job at Baskin Robbins, which is a bad joke that the movie milks like hell with even worse jokes on top of it, like the manager at Baskin Robbins chewing scenery and talking in unrealistic dialogue about how cool it is that Scott stole things, but also saying they have to fire him. Yeah, convicts can't get jobs! Hilarious! A gut buster!

Ugh, ANOTHER movie in the pocket of Big Ice Cream, shoving its message down our throats...

Oh, and he tries to see his daughter at a birthday party only to get harassed by his ex-wife's new husband, a cop who seems to be so unrealistically douchey that I am pretty sure he literally has a stick rammed up his ass. Can we get a Kickstarter fund going to remove it and end this man's pain? He really is just such a douche to Scott that it comes off as hacky. Because ya know... a convict not being able to spend time with his kid, just more of that hilarity that is Ant Man.

The rest of the plot focuses around Corey Stoll's character Darren performing experiments on goats to try and turn them tiny, which doesn't work and only turns them into formless goop. I'm sure glad all this money is going toward this noble fucking cause.

We really learned a lot from this...

I guess this is what Michael Douglas's old scientist character perfected years ago, which he didn't release to the world and now Stoll's character wants to make a whole army of tiny soldiers to go and do evil shit like assassinate world leaders. They have a whole video presentation about this, like it's some sort of weird school presentation, which is kinda funny. It should really just say “WE'RE GONNA DO REALLY EVIL SHIT” across every picture in boldface lettering. Like, who the fuck was actually in charge of making a goddamn video presentation about assassinating world leaders and doing military coups?

Douglas, I guess, has the one suit he used locked up in a safe which Scott goes to burgle. He breaks into the safe and tries on the suit for no real reason except shits 'n' giggles – like, he broke in already, so why not, I guess? Then it shrinks him down to the size of an ant and we get a pretty decent action scene of him being tiny and running around and stuff. Though I am not sure why this mansion Michael Douglas lives in is apparently in the same building as a fucking night club...

I guess Douglas just likes a good time.

Also, how does he not die when he gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner? I mean, I guess I've never really TRIED to do that. So maybe I can't criticize the movie on this part.

This is not the movie for you if you're afraid of vacuum cleaners at all.

Then we get a bunch of lame scenes of Scott waking up in Douglas's mansion, where he and his hot daughter live. They also have an army of ants in there that Douglas can apparently control, so he has them guard the bed Scott is in so it's almost like he's a prisoner there – if he steps off the bed, they'll sting him I guess. Except then that turns out to be pointless as he gets out and there is really no threat to him – so, whoop-de-do I guess.

Then there's a bunch of training scenes with him and the daughter, who is the most boring and lame type of female character – the super stoic, badass chick who says everything in a deadpan monotone because THAT shows strength, right? The only type of strong woman is the kind who never experiences emotion because she was probably created in a laboratory as a domesticated robot to deliver quips. I mean, what kind of woman ever has emotions, or a personality, am I right? Oh, she fires back blandly sarcastic quips to literally everything Rudd says? Yes, exactly how real people talk. And in this movie about a guy who shrinks down to the size of an ant, THAT is what I am most worried about for realism, yes.

Her wanting to cause Paul Rudd pain is the only believable part of her character.

Oh, what's that? You didn't think we had enough scenes of forced, dull fucking family drama with the daughter and Douglas shouting about how they didn't really love one another and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes me fall asleep? The movie has you covered.

Then there's a lot more bad jokes, stiff and unrealistic dialogue and lame stereotype characters as the climax clunks along. They stage some plan to break into the lab and I guess Stoll is so far gone by this point that he just ends up dressing up in the suit and going full on supervillain like, immediately. Wow. I dunno why THAT was his first choice, but one thing is clear, and that's that this lab really should do better background checks and mental health analyses on these people before hiring them.

Who, aside from gun sellers in the US, could look at this and go 'yes, this is a mentally OK man'?

Because this is still so cliché that it borders on parody, Stoll goes straight to the house of Scott's kid and threatens his family. How would we have any conflict if we didn't make it super personal right away? I mean, there's NO other sources of things a villain can do that are evil.

But to be fair, this is actually a good scene, and one of the only ones in the whole movie that actually works – I like the silly stuff they can do with the shrinking fight scene, like when they knock stuff over, it falls over with the weight of a mountain in their eyes. But then they show it just looked like some little thing falling over in the regular world:


It's really just one of the only scenes that actually works for the movie's sense of humor – why couldn't they have put this kind of effort into the characters and dialogue? Visually, it's good. Though I think the world could have done without this giant Thomas the Tank Engine and the mutant giant ant... I mean, is this like what the 1950s-era horror films predicted would happen? Jesus.

I guess there really is no price too high to give kids nightmares in this movie's universe.

That is pretty much the end really – we get a few more scenes of things winding down in a happy way, and I don't really care. That's Ant Man!

I guess a lot of people like this, and that's fine – sometimes that many people ARE just wrong. I dunno. I just find it really dull and bland – the writing is bad and the characters are weak when they're not outwardly idiotic stereotypes that come off as vaguely racist. The plot is dime-a-dozen origin story stuff and there's really nothing of interest about any of this except for the wacky scenes where he shrinks down to ant-size. So I guess I'm saying, if the movie was just a 10 minute short film with only those scenes, it'd be okayish, so long as they cut out literally everything else in the movie.

Oh well, at least it's better than Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad; because those are good standards to have!

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Silver Bullet (1985)

Any movie based on a Stephen King book is usually bound to be, uh, interesting at least. This one, called Silver Bullet, is about a werewolf and a kid in a magic motorcycle wheelchair invented by Gary Busey. Do I even have to say anything else to get you to read more? I mean, really?

Director: Daniel Attias
Starring: Gary Busey, Corey Haim

Co-written with Nathan.

This thing starts with a truck driver guy hangin' out by the train tracks, digging with a shovel to find something I don't even want to know about, I'm sure. Then he gets decapitated by a werewolf, which is always really a bummer way to end the night. But people in town just assume he got decapitated by the oncoming train in a preventable accident. Because, you know, it's one of those trains that extends a mechanical arm holding a Japanese Katana to decapitate everyone standing in its vicinity. It's just how trains work and is pristine, prime technology!


So we've established that everyone in this town is truly stupid and/or doesn't care at all about their fellow townspeople. Great... now we establish that our main characters are a little boy and girl living in town. The little girl is especially suited to be the lead in a horror movie, we see, as she gets scared by an obviously fake snake hanging from a tree in the middle of the fucking day. I'm not sure why that scares her – maybe cardboard and paper fake animals and bad attempts at pranks are just terrifying for her.

"Do you have any Halloween props from the costume store? BECAUSE THAT WOULD TRULY SCARE ME TO DEATH!"

Then she and her wheelchair-bound brother, played by Corey Haim of many 80s movies fame, are going home and she blames him for the prank, being that his friend was the one who did it. She says it isn't HER fault that he's in a wheelchair – so why does she have to take care of him, right? Yeah, if it's not your fault directly that someone is wheelchair-bound, you can just say fuck it and toss them to the curb. That's how it works.

I guess their drunk loser uncle comes into the picture, played by Gary Busey, whose acting direction in this seemed to be “just do whatever you want.” He mugs for the camera a shitload, screams a lot, and then accuses the mother of not really knowing her son and thinking his only personality is to be stuck in a wheelchair forever. Yeah, I love it when loser relatives stay at my house because they have nowhere else to go and then criticize me, too.

"I'm the kind of jackass who just says whatever he wants."

While that's going on, we get introduced to this idiot redneck guy who is about every cartoon stereotype of that you can imagine - he talks to himself about kicking peoples' asses, he drinks beer and he screams at everyone. What a rich, compelling character. Apparently he's interrupted watching pro wrestling (the injustice!) by the sound of someone messing around in his greenhouse. So wait a second, how does this guy have a greenhouse again? He really just doesn't seem like the kind of guy to have one. What is he growing in there? Weeds he can trample all over when he's drunk tomorrow?

Hey now. I'm sure this man has a Shakespearean background that would totally vindicate him for us.

I love how seemingly every setting in one of these movies looks like the architect went, “Okay, just make it look like it belongs in a horror movie.” They're already fucking creepy places to begin with. Did this guy just ask for the Jurassic Park set to be built on his property? For that matter, it takes a while for the werewolf to kill him... this werewolf seems to have an unusual amount of patience and discerning for a bloodthirsty monster.

The werewolf is not content to just slash peoples' heads off anymore... he's got a taste for plotting now. He has blueprints and carefully constructed plans and shit.

The deaths of luminary town members like this guy prompts outcry around town as they plan to go on a manhunt for the thing. They do try that, and they even bring along their one black guy in town so he can die instantly, because this movie and others like it are the reason that trope exists in the first place!

Then one other guy attacks the wolf with a baseball bat, only for the wolf to, apparently, take it from him and start beating HIM up with it!

You have to admit, it would be worth it to die for a cause such as the badassery of this scene.

I fucking love that. A werewolf wielding a baseball bat. How is that not the new coolest thing ever?

After that, I guess, the whole town is in mourning and they have a funeral service where everyone else also turns into werewolves, which is probably not how their dead loved ones would've wanted them to react. But it's all just a dream by the priest... I guess his active imagination is getting way out of hand. Maybe he should quit reading so many Stephen King books before bed.

Not good organ playing. Try again.

I guess everyone has different ways of coping, though. The priest may have dreams about werewolves, but Gary Busey makes his nephew a wheelchair that is more like a goddamn motorcycle, for the kid to ride. My favorite part of this scene is that Busey tells him to be safe and acts like it's just a normal bike. Dude, you made a fucking war tank for this kid. Seriously – he can drive at like 60 miles per hour on that thing. You can see him outspeeding cars on the road later!

"Remember to be safe on the horrific death machine I made you, kid."
A cop driving by scratches his head: "Is there even a law regulating what that thing is?"

Then the kid proceeds to race around also setting off fireworks while doing so! Because fuck safety, I guess. Hey, I'll give the movie this – at least it's versatile. I wouldn't want the only deaths in a horror movie to be from a werewolf, after all. Some of them can be from wheelchair/fireworks-related accidents.

But he doesn't die, further teaching him that he can do whatever he wants and be completely invincible. He can ride off into the sunset like this is some completely different, feel-good movie, because hey, why not?


Oh, should we maybe get back to the werewolf plot now? I mean, I had almost forgotten it was part of the movie. I thought this was just a movie about magic wheelchair daredevil stunts now. The kid DOES get into some trouble when the werewolf finds him while he's out at night shooting off fireworks – why are his parents letting him do that anyway? Do they just have no curfew and WANT the wolf to kill him? I mean, I know he's disabled, but... oh, God, are they trying to have him killed like some old Biblical shit where disabled children are deemed unworthy? Jesus. I mean, that's the ONLY explanation for something this stupid.

Or... maybe not. I dunno. Either way, the kid shoots the wolf in the eye with a firework, and is then able to escape.


The next day, he and his sister go hunting all over town for a guy with only one eye, thinking for sure that that means they'll find the werewolf. Personally, in a podunk small town like this, I dunno if "werewolf" is the only reason someone would have one eye – walk a block over and you could just find a guy who poked his eye out with a drill or something while making a new chair for his living room. But I like their optimism.

They find him pretty easily – it's the priest, who now wears an eyepatch and also has a garage full of a whole pile of shit unceremoniously thrown there with no order at all. Wow! You'd think he'd hide this better! I guess not! Gotta love the sister's reaction to seeing a small field mouse in the garage - she's more afraid of this and that dumb fake snake from earlier than she is of the real werewolf. I guess everyone is different!

Oh, and the way she figures out he's the werewolf is because she sees that baseball bat from earlier. Whoops. You'd have thought he would try to hide that better. I guess you would have too high expectations.

Pictured: the scariest thing in the movie.
It doesn't exactly take a master fucking detective...

Speaking of which, what did that priest tell everyone in town about why he suddenly has an eyepatch? “I was drafted in the Vietnam War for a day”? Not sure that would be convincing. But maybe it is, and maybe everyone in town is a fucking idiot.


Then we see how he acts when he's not a werewolf – he drives around spying on little boys playing baseball. Huh, that's odd – most monster movies usually don't have the monster's human form as the scarier part of him.

The two kids convince Gary Busey to believe them just enough to talk to the sheriff about it. The sheriff then goes out to the house alone with no backup – you know, like cops are supposed to do when investigating a possible suspect in multiple murders.

Surprisingly (did you read that with sarcasm?) the wolf easily kills him – so easily that it's like he wasn't a sheriff but a newborn baby, completely helpless and dumb. I love how, after this, nobody in town says a word about the sheriff at all. I guess you could say it's because the movie is nearing its climax and didn't have time to spend on him, but I prefer to think it's really just like “Oh, the sheriff vanished? Who cares!” This is how it is in my imagination.

What is the obsession with using bats in this movie? Does the writer know werewolves don't usually use baseball bats to carry out their kills? For a movie with a fucking werewolf in it, this has a surprisingly light amount of actual wolf-related carnage going on.

The climax is Busey and the kids holed up in their house and waiting around for the werewolf to show up, like the world's worst date who is late for everything. Apparently the wolf waits for Busey to get annoyed and shout at the kids for making the whole thing up to cut the power and attack them. He really has a theatrical flourish for timing. This wolf should be a magician or something else that needs good timing.

The ensuing fight scene is OK I guess. They kill him by shooting him with a... wait for it... SILVER BULLET! And then he turns back into the priest, in what I have to admit, is a pretty cool use of effects.

Well this doesn't look healthy at all. I wonder how they'll explain the dead priest in their house anyway. I'm sure that will be a fun conversation.

The film ends with some narration about how the sister loves her brother and what not... and then the movie ends without showing us the inevitable future where the brother rides that crazy wheelchair thing until he collides with a car and it kills him. So it's a happy ending, as is!

That's Silver Bullet, the silly movie about werewolves and wheelchairs and priests that become less scary when they turn into werewolves. The story is pretty over the top and Gary Busey only adds fuel to that fire. In the end, it's not too bad of a flick. Certainly one of the more entertaining King adaptations I've seen. If you want something fun and a bit goofy, Silver Bullet is a decent pick.

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Unrest (2006)

Unrest is a movie about medical students doing the kind of stuff they do, which is awesome. I'm glad we finally have a movie that doesn't marginalize them, and fully shows their true identities as detectives who figure out why ghosts are haunting the place. That's just what I wanted.

Director: Jason Todd Ipson
Starring: Corri English, Scot Davis

Co-written with Michelle.

This was one of the Eight Films to Die For series that mostly polluted Blockbuster shelves a lot back in the 2000s. I don't know why they were 'to die for.' Honestly, a lot of them were pretty middling in quality and I doubt anyone would throw themselves on a sword for these movies or run back into a burning house to grab them. The only way someone might DIE for a movie like Unrest is if you dropped it in the street in front of your house while going to throw it in the garbage, and then the garbage truck hit and killed you.

Also, I'm pretty sure these movies were the reason Blockbuster shut down. That's a bit of a conspiracy theory, but trust me on this.

The film starts out with a couple of doofus coroners checking out the tits on this body that just came in. In these kinds of movies, there's never a point where they DON'T make dumb jokes about how hot a woman corpse is – it's like some kind of fucking rite of passage to be a bad horror movie coroner.

"Alright, Jim. Are you ready to spew this uninspired dialogue?"

Then we get our main character, a blonde med student who apparently lives in the janitor closet in the hospital. We find out later this is because her grant money hasn't come in, but honestly I think it's because she's a millennial and this seems like luxury to her compared to the actual apartments she's lived in. Woohoo, housing market!

"This is the nicest place I've ever slept in!"

The first day of class, we find out med school is really just a wacky, fun place where students do things like push down on a corpse to squirt corpse juice into the mouths of their fellow students! I'm sure that won't cause any random disease outbreaks or horrific Resident Evil or Walking Dead style disease. Seriously, how did nobody get expelled from school for shit like this?


Amidst that is the one guy in their group constantly flirting with her and trying to get her to fuck him. I guess this is to be expected – I mean, that IS what women go to these schools for, right? I like how they tell her not to get too personal when she starts wondering about what happened to cause the strange wounds on the corpse's body. Because the GUYS weren't being weird at all when they said she was into kinky bondage sex, but an honest wondering about what happened to her is “too personal.” Sure.

One of the other guys has a fiance who comes by and wants to see one of the bodies. I guess this is why she was with him – she was just biding her time for when he was actually in a place where he'd let her touch a body with her bare hands. Because yeah, that's what she does, just touches this dead body with her bare hands. Is every character in this thing just willingly going to spread the virus that kills all of humanity and turns the world into some dystopia hellhole? 'Cause touching magic enchanted corpses is kind of how you do that.

Then, like clockwork, she runs out in the hallway feeling ill, and when her fiance finds her, she's dead and there's blood all over the floor somehow.

Oh no, she died from... some unexplained thing we'll never go back to, but it has to do with that corpse I guess!

On Monday, everyone just comes back to class like normal... somehow the fact that a woman died for vague reasons after touching a corpse never caused any alarm, because no one knows about it until the professor comes up to their group in class and privately tells them about it. Like what, is people dying in this hospital from inappropriate contact with corpses so prevalent that it barely even registers anymore? I think this scene raises more questions than answers, but then again, people have always accused me of thinking too hard!

The main girl, apparently cursed to be in possession of actual brain cells, thinks there's something weird about the corpse that people die after touching. She tells her professor about it, and he just dismisses her as crazy – just one of those kuh-razy women, with their weirdo theories and estrogen and what not. I'm sure he's right and it's all fine, and the rest of the movie is here for no reason except to show her happily becoming a doctor.

"I'm just the stereotypical stick in the mud character here to step on your dreams."

I guess she takes a break from wondering about that to go out with that other guy and have sex with him. Which is, you know, fine, but why are we watching a movie about it? Is this movie under the impression that these characters are rich and interesting enough that we want to see what they do in the bedroom? Because I dunno about you, but I am thinking no.


There are some more scenes of the girl trying to figure out what happened to this corpse – because I guess med students are just doing the jobs of detectives now. That's what budget cuts do to you, I suppose. I wonder what the scene was like where the real cops found this body and apparently did no investigating on it at all...

DETECTIVE 1: We found a body out in the field! It's naked and all cut up with scars and cuts!

DETECTIVE 2: Really? Well, that is just super fucking boring.

DETECTIVE 1: Yeah, you're right. Just dump it in the coroner van and forget it. Now let's go down to the bar and pick up chicks and not investigate this at all!

DETECTIVE 2: Woohoo, it's fucking awesome being a detective!

The rest of the movie is mostly taken up by the same old clich̩ crap you expect from these movies Рmain girl talks to this older woman at the school who believes her about the corpse being supernatural, and plenty of more scenes of researching why everything is happening, combined with random sex and flirting scenes of main girl and whatever-his-name-is. It's like they just put together an Ad Libs version of a horror movie. I guess none of it is TOO bad, but is that really an accomplishment? Just not being AS bad as other bullshit movies?

I do like this one part where they figure out that the corpse is actually from an Aztec temple or something down in Brazil. They ask the one Spanish guy they know to help them translate their Portugese research documents, and he says Brazilians don't speak Spanish, so he can't help. They tell him his Spanish is still better than their not knowing of any other language – what a bunch of racists. But it turns out they're right and he's able to tell them exactly what they need to know. Because stupidity is all encompassing.

Then we find out that the woman used to be an archaeologist until she went to this ancient burial site in South America, at which point she became a prostitute and started killing her johns after giving them blowjobs. Wow. Had to find some way to fit a prostitute in there, huh? I love that it doesn't even really matter – she could've been anything and still had the main plot of killing people in this hospital. But they went nope, prostitute is the job most women have, so we gotta go with that!

"Bad lighting, no character, no plot. 1/10. This movie sucks."

The Spanish guy dies next, and the ghost is at least courteous enough to give him a warning:

I hope the ghost paid for that textbook she defaced...

Oh, and the next day, NOW everyone notices the dead body on campus... I guess this one was just more noticeable and stood out more.

Throughout all of this, the British doctor guy teaching the class staunchly refuses to do anything or consider that something supernatural might be going on. There have been like five deaths in this movie and he still is just like “how dare you think there's some connection between this and that corpse we brought in JUST before they started?” I guess life is easier when you're just a fucking moron. They finally make him get rid of it, and he says he does...

BUT... it turns out he didn't, and instead just tossed it in the tank full of body parts in the lab, like nobody would ever fucking notice. Then people keep dying and it's like, whoops. But at least our heroes are here to try and get the body out – by taking their shirts off.


Why are they doing that? Like, you're already dipping into nasty corpse water anyway. Who cares if your scrubs get dirty? Are those the only ones you were allowed to have, so you have to make sure they don't get dirty? That's what budget cuts do to you, I guess. Or it could just be because of boobs. I dunno.

They finally burn the body and take its ashes all the way to fucking Brazil to bury – how they got there, I don't know. I mean the girl was sleeping in the hospital because she didn't have any money. Did they sleep in the luggage bay of the plane for really cheap?


But they scatter the ashes, only to realize a second later that the spirit is actually, maybe, still back in the lab! DUN DUN DUN... oh, wait, they have no basis to think that and it's actually just sort of random. I love that they're not even 100 percent sure - they just kinda THINK the spirit could still be there. What a half-assed cliffhanger. It's like the agnosticism of movies - you're not really sure and it's all very wishy-washy and noncommittal.

That was Unrest, the frankly kinda dull movie about corpse superpowers and people dying in a hospital! What did we think of it? Eh. That's really about it – just, “eh.” It wasn't the worst thing ever, but there wasn't much of interest. I mean, a few mildly silly things happened, and there were some odd plot decisions, but it was hardly like the new The Room or Troll 2 or anything, so it couldn't even succeed on that front. It was just sort of a middle of the road, bland adventure. So unless you really want to see, uh, people dying in a hospital but from ghosts instead of medical causes... you probably won't love this movie.

Images copyright of their original owners, we own none of them.