Posts Tagged ‘1313’

Movie Review: 1313: Night of the Widow (2012)

October 8, 2012

So this is it. The end. The review which I’ve been waiting to write since 1313 Week began. Spoiler: I’m happy to report that we get to end it on a high note; This is the movie from the 1313 franchise that I’ve wished for as I put myself through Hell for four days. I hope you enjoy this review and I promise that this blog won’t return to the 1313 franchise for a very long time.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David Deoteau, Night of the Widow surrounds an unorthodox funeral for Michael (Jake Lockett) — a now former millionaire who married a psycho, and his five friends who attend the service in Michael’s mansion. One thing leads to another, and as chaos ensues Michael’s friends learn that it might be their funeral too.

The acting isn’t all that terrible — the actors aren’t good actors, but in context their performance is okay for this movie. They come across as real enough where I’m comfortable not saying that these actors are doing a disservice to cinema. Maybe Louis Ferrigno Jr. comes across as weird and maybe Andrea Stine is irritating despite being cute. Otherwise, no complaints, take that as you will.

The writing is surprisingly okay; I think that of what I’ve seen, Night of the Widow has the best writing of the 1313 franchise. That isn’t saying a lot, but this is the first movie of the franchise which I buy from start to finish. I buy the characters’ relationships with each other. I buy how they act, I buy the drama. On top of all that I buy that people don’t take their shirts off to socialize!

It’s genuinely hard to believe that Rutegar, Night of the Widow‘s writer, also wrote Wicked Stepbrother and Billy the Kid, the quality is night and day! Rutegar must have had a revelation somewhere, because it’s hard to imagine that the person who wrote this movie is the same person who wrote Wicked Stepbrother. It seems vaguely impossible!

Honestly I’m torn on this. On one hand, Night of the Widow is a little fun and DeCoteau and Rutegar did a good job making me like a few of the characters. On the other hand it isn’t really that great. Of the seven 1313 movies which I’ve seen so far, this is the best in terms of character development, story, and even originality. Taking all of that into consideration, with the fact that this is the end of 1313 Week, I’m going to give it a pass.

It probably isn’t worth your time, but Night of the Widow is on Netflix USA as of this writing if you do want to check it out. It’s honestly bad, but think of it as the lesser of seven evils.

As a sidenote, I’m all for cutting costs, but I feel that I’ve seen the same mansion used as a set for DeCoteau’s 1313 movies way too many times. This isn’t a valid point against Night of the Widow, but it is against the 1313 franchise as a whole. DeCoteau has proven that the 1313 franchise has the budget for other sets, with Hercules Unbound! and Billy the Kid being that proof. Using this tired mansion set is lazy. At least switch up mansions.

That said, most people probably won’t watch more than one of these movies, and as such won’t have the chance to experience déjà vu — lucky them! However, I do expect at least a micron of originality in production, and if you’re a filmmaker and you use the exact same set over and over and over, it’s disheartening to people like me… we’re suffering enough!

Movie Review: 1313: Billy the Kid (2012)

October 4, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Sepia tone: Oft used image filter that people think improves photos, for whatever reason, as in reality it usually ruins the photos (Examples). The filter has never been applied to a movie for the entire duration — until now. Enter 1313: Billy the Kid.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David DeCoteau, Billy the Kid is the head-scratcher of the 1313 franchise. For one there are only around five scenes with topless men (so, kudos). Second, it’s a Western-Horror, which is an interesting change of course from the others. And third the entire film is put through a Sepia filter, which is an utter disaster of international proportions (more on this later).

As the story goes, Billy the Kid (Brandon Thornton) is wounded and on the run from the law after escaping prison. Eventually Billy stumbles into a near-ghost town called Hell’s Heart, where Athena Lottie (Chelsea Rae Bernier) mends him to health. Once four days pass and Billy is healthy, strong, and badass as ever, Deputy Whitecastle (Jason Zahodnik) becomes suspicious of Billy, shenanigans happen, and Hell’s Heart lives up to its name.

Getting it out of the way: The Sepia filter being applied for the entire 75 minute duration is the single worst editing decision that I’ve ever seen. The reason I’m guessing that the filmmakers applied the Sepia filter is because it’s a cheap way to make an image look antiquated. Obviously if you’re making a Western, you might want an antiquated feel, but it has to be genuine. It can’t be something that a pre-teen with an iPod touch and iMovie can do.

The acting is horrible, and honestly a lot of that has to do with the casting. Billy the Kid is the sixth movie from the 1313 franchise that I’ve seen, and as DeCoteau recycles his cast I’ve seen a lot of these actors. The thing that I can say with confidence is that of DeCoteau’s regulars, the cast might have been correctly selected but their roles were not. If the actors were given roles that suited them, this honestly might be a vaguely entertaining movie.

(That said, the fact that these actors aren’t good to begin with doesn’t help.)

Interestingly enough, there isn’t verbal dialogue until roughly ten minutes into the movie; coincidentally those were my ten favorite minutes! It’s just the score which isn’t bad, and Billy the Kid wandering around in a Sepia toned desert. If the entire dialogue was stripped and Billy the Kid was just the characters going through the motions to music, it’d be 10x better. The dialogue problem might have to do with the actors speaking the dialogue, but it’s really kind of bad.

I hate talking about clothes, but I get the sense that DeCoteau wanted his actors to be topless as in the rest of the 1313 franchise. I think that he understands that the desert in Western-times isn’t a mansion in Southern California, but I say what I am because he has his actors here wear vests with no clothing underneath. It’s a compromise, we don’t see nipples, but we do get a bit of the chest, six pack, and muscular arms. That’s a compromise I can accept.

So should you watch this movie? No you should not. If for any reason, just to protest the use of the Sepia filter. But otherwise it has problems up and down with the acting/casting and dialogue, and even with the vest compromise the actors do go topless occasionally. As of this writing 1313: Billy the Kid is on Netflix USA, but again you’ll want to skip it. Unless you’re a masochist, at which point I can’t help you.

Movie Review: 1313: Wicked Stepbrother (2011)

October 3, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Remember: DOI.
Don’t overthink it.

Frank (Kayde McMullen) and Kelly (Jarrid Balis)

That’s sound advice coming from two otherwise bland characters. Fortunately it’s almost impossible to overthink 1313: Wicked Stepbrother unless the intent is to rationalize it, which I don’t intend to do. Spoiler: This movie is horrible.

Written by Moses Rutegar and directed by David DeCoteau, Wicked Stepbrother doesn’t have the greatest of plots. Jarrod (Jordan Nichols), the son of a deceased millionaire, has just turned 18 and earned the right to his late father’s estate. Unfortunately for his stepmother and stepbrother, Minerva (Michelle Bauer) and Sebastian (Jake Madden) respectively, Jarrod doesn’t like them and has no intention of letting them keep any of his inheritance. Drama ensues, and what should be a happy birthday for Jarrod and his party guests turns into a bloodbath.

And I just made Wicked Stepbrother sound immeasurably better than it actually is. Sorry.

This movie starts out with a guy wearing his shirt, which had me excited at the idea that it might not be 75 minutes of skin. Of course less than a minute later my hopes and dreams were shattered, and then the movie proceeded to kill my expectations over and over again. You know the phrase “just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do”? That certainly applies here. Every single time that I thought “Wicked Stepbrother can’t get any worse”, it outright proved me wrong, without fail, no prisoners taken. This movie (if you want to call it a movie) sucks.

My disbelief is even established in my notes. The following is what I jotted down in a roughly two minute span:

Oh comeoncomeoncomeon.

This can’t get any worse.

I lied. It just got way worse.

CANNOT UNSEE

This movie is closer to pornography than any of the other 1313 films that I’ve seen. There’s one point in Wicked Stepbrother where Jarrod and his stepmother start making out, and her son joins in turning the movie into a twisted incest threesome. It would be one thing if this was full-on porn and there was intercourse, because it would then at least appeal to people with freaky incest fetishes. As is, it’s more of a “WHY GOD WHY” type thing. It’s disaster on top of disaster, as the non-freaky stuff is somehow less exciting than the incest!

Honestly, if you’re entertained by random, topless men wandering around a mansion shouting “Hello?” until their unclimactic demise (which is what most of Wicked Stepbrother is), I have a bridge to sell you.

Actor Slash Model has a teleportation problem, Wicked Stepbrother has a dimension problem. Almost every time one of Jarrod’s party guests arrive at his mansion, they’re greeted with silence as the place is empty. But in scenes prior and following Jarrod and his step family are clearly in the mansion, so where do they go? The only logical explanation is that the main characters and party guests are on two different planes, until somebody has to die. That actually isn’t a bad idea, the problem is that Wicked Stepbrother isn’t supposed to be multi-dimensional.

(Speaking of Actor Slash Model, it shares sets, props, and even some actors with this movie. While cutting costs is great, it’s very noticeable.)

It isn’t all bad, though. What I did like about Wicked Stepbrother is its score, which I can definitely write to. It’s not exciting, it doesn’t even fit the movie at all, but I found myself not dreading it. Infact, this movie would be immeasurably better if it was the score and nothing else. Only then would I not be missing my 75 minutes. I wish I could say more good things, but I really can’t. There isn’t any valid reason to recommend Wicked Stepbrother to anyone in the world, but it’s on Netflix USA as of this writing for any curious masochistic parties. Really, though, skip this one.

Really.

Movie Review: 1313: Actor Slash Model (2011)

October 2, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, I hope you enjoy this week.

Being jealous of others who steal the jobs which you’ve earned the right to is something that we’ve all experienced. Fortunately most of us have the common sense to not kill the undeserved, and for that we should give ourselves a pat on the back. Unfortunately there are people who don’t have the good sense that we do, and they’re the ones whom movie studios consult for ideas. And that brings us to 1313: Actor Slash Model

Written by Barbara Kymlicka and directed by David DeCoteau, Actor Slash Model follows Jerry (Chase Bennett), an aspiring actor who can’t land a gig. The problem is that Jerry looks like an average guy, and loses every role he auditions for to models. Eventually enough becomes enough and push comes to shove. Jerry snaps and wields his knife at a TV producer’s (Michelle Bauer) party, where a body count of body builders builds up fast.

Say that last sentence ten times fast.

I’m going to say something very controversial: I got a kick out of this movie. Actor Slash Model isn’t anything good by any measure, but it’s a revolution in the 1313 franchise for two reasons: Shirts and shorts. Yes, the male characters sometimes wear clothes, which should surprise you if you know anything about this franchise. I’ve been so conditioned to not expect anything more than underwear when watching these movies that its distracting.

Otherwise, the cast did well and couldn’t have been cast better. Actor Slash Model is next to nothing but a jealous maniac snob stabbing models who he feels stole his acting career. Chase Bennett plays a good jealous maniac snob, and the models are played by men who look like models. “Acting” isn’t really a requirement, and because of that, this is one of the most genuinely performed movies ever!

The dialogue is believable, and Jerry’s actions and motives are believable too. Again, we have the good sense to not go mental and murderous when frustrated, but not everybody does. I’m sure we’ve all at least grumbled something unpleasant when we didn’t get a call back for a job that we were excited for. Despite its flaws which I’m about to detail, this movie is maybe more realistic than Hercules Unbound!

Most of the problems in Actor Slash Model are cosmetic. As an example, despite the many knife stabbings, there is never a drip of blood on screen or stains on the knife. This isn’t a budget issue, I have filmmaking friends that can put together a gore show for cheap. Normally the rule is that a movie doesn’t need to be gory to be good, but that isn’t true here, where I get the impression that someone is allergic to corn syrup.

Another really irritating thing is how Jerry seems to teleport. This movie takes place in a mansion, and there are times I swear that Jerry is on the first and second floor at the same time. Honestly this was cut together very poorly. On top of that, throughout the entire movie there’s a voiceover of Jerry’s rants against models which we’ve already seen him make. Boo to the editing room.

But the biggest, worst, most unforgivable problem is that some generic HTC smartphone gets a cameo with no iPhones in sight. That’s sacrilege!

Being perfectly clear, Actor Slash Model isn’t good. When there are thousands upon thousands of movies you can waste your time on, it’s hard to justify this one. On the other hand, if you’re ever dared into watching a movie from the 1313 franchise, this is the one you should pick; Unless you happen to like the prospect of watching hot guys in their underwear for 70 minutes. In that case, this is the one to skip.

Actor Slash Model is available on Netflix USA as of this writing, so take this information as you will.

Movie Review: 1313: Hercules Unbound! (2012)

October 1, 2012

1313 Week is a week dedicated to reviewing David DeCoteau’s homoerotic franchise. Partly an experiment to see if I can survive an entire week of the films, and partly because I’m fascinated by the fact that these movies are made, I hope that you enjoy this week.

@MGLeet Please don’t kill yourself this week. #1313craziness

@nategarvison

In the words of Hercules: This is the beginning, let me tell you.

All knowledge I have of Hercules comes from the Disney movie, so I’m not sure I’m allowed to question 1313: Hercules Unbound!‘s historical accuracy. However I’m guessing that jet stream hot tubs didn’t exist in Ancient Greece.

So what is there to say about Hercules Unbound!?

Directed by David DeCoteau and written by Charlie Meadows, Hercules Unbound! follows Hercules (Geoff Ward) and his friends as they exercise in a near-naked fashion. Athena (Chelsea Rae Bernier) makes a very cute few appearances, while Zeus (Louis Ferrigno Jr.) and Hera (Laurene Landon) turn up as clouds. A genuine plot about love, revenge, and shenanigans wants to exist — but in the end this is a movie about Ancient Greek men and their thong rags.

Hercules Unbound! is effectively gay porn without intercourse. There are scenes where the male characters — whom are 95% naked — wrestle, giggling the entire time. The battles are supposed to be epic and the characters are supposed to hate each other, but the actors are seemingly overjoyed by hugging it out, foreplay style.

If we were to ignore the fact that this movie is 70 minutes of muscular guys and their sexual tension, Hercules Unbound! becomes a movie which takes place during a training session with Hercules and other warriors. Campaneous (Brendan Lamb), feeling overshadowed by Hercules asks Hera to help kill him. This movie is supposed to work as build up to Hercules’ and Campaneous’ epic battle to the death.

I appreciate that DeCoteau and Meadows try to work a genuine story into Hercules Unbound!, which would be interesting if not overshadowed by the near-gay pornness of it all. Otherwise there’s no reason to beat around the bush, so to speak: Hercules Unbound! has a deficit of positive qualities to any reasonable straight male.

Being a straight male myself, I was wishing for this movie to turn into Athena Unbound!, but I digress, as obviously this movie isn’t for me. I’m guessing it’s not for many of you either. But ignoring sexual preference for a minute, Hercules Unbound! is rife with problems and surprisingly they aren’t ignorable.

This movie features some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen. Every horribly written line is gagged out of every actor’s mouth, and it’s cringe-worthy — actually, not every actor. As previously mentioned, Louis Ferrigno Jr. and Laurene Landon voice over God-clouds. While I’m sure that those two had as much trouble reciting their lines, it isn’t verifiable.

The score for Hercules Unbound! is okay until minute five. Epic battle music is played from start to finish, even when there are no epic battles on screen. I swear to every Greek deity, this movie came close to making me deaf. Every bit of audio, be it dialogue or musical score, is horrible. I don’t want to check to see if my ears are bleeding.

And don’t get me started with the jet stream hot tubs which Hercules and co. relaxed in. I’m no expert on Ancient Greece, but I would bet every cent to my name that that invention came to pass in recent centuries. I get that historical accuracy wouldn’t prop this movie up much, but honestly, the hot tub oversight is just dumb.

In other words, Hercules Unbound! is disaster on top of disaster!

So do I need to say it? I guess, if hot, almost naked guys wrestling each other is your thing, Hercules Unbound! can be found on Netflix USA as of this writing. If you aren’t into that stuff, avoid at all costs.

Edit 10/2/2012: Moved around a paragraph that I felt was wrongly placed

Movie Review: 1313: Frankenqueen (2012)

September 11, 2012

Ah the 1313 franchise, the underwear ads of full length cinema. I caught 1313: Cougar Cult earlier this year which I found mildly amusing, largely because I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It’s a low budget Horror film set in a mansion where three cougar women pursue three topless college-aged pool boys whom they hired, and the movie lasts 70 minutes. The idea to mix underwear ads and Horror films alone is so ridiculous that it deserves praise.

Funnily enough, 1313: Frankenqueen doesn’t stray far from Cougar Cult‘s formula. Infact it almost seems like the producers of the franchise got together and said:

Okay, we need to remake this with twice as many guys, we need them to be twice as athletic, and we need them to not have shirts on — not even for one second.

I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Frankenqueen even appears to take place in the same mansion as Cougar Cult. Frankenqueen is a tiny bit different, however, so I don’t get off too easy.

As the story goes, five very athletic college-aged guys are hired for “research” by Victoria (Helene Udy), a plastic surgeon and cougar-widow of a highly respected scientist. The rules are simple: Live in her mansion for a weekend, swim in her pool, eat her food, and take a series of physical tests. Oh, and clothing above the waist is expressly forbidden. On Monday the five test subjects will be paid and it all sounds too good to be true — because it is!

Frankenqueen is co-written by David DeCoteau and Charlie Meadows, with DeCoteau also directing. Honestly, everything about this film is horrible from conception to execution, but I don’t think it even matters! The target audience is obviously middle aged women who dig topless people half their age. I’d venture to guess that this and the other 1313 movies are meant to be a fantasy; a group of young, topless athletic men working for a middle aged woman in her mansion for a weekend.

These movies fill a very specific niche and it’s hard to fault them for that. And even for me, I had a very fun time taking notes, and the discussions my watching Frankenqueen led to on Twitter were fun. Even this review is kinda fun to write… For example, the following sentence:

Oh, and clothing above the waist is expressly forbidden.

I don’t get to write stuff like that every day. Fair is fair though, and Frankenqueen has a host of problems.

The most glaring problem to me is how the iPad is used. Yes, indeed, a white WiFi-only iPad was in the film enough to be a cast member, however the display is off the entire time it’s on screen — even when Victoria is taking notes on it. Maybe DeCoteau understands that Apple geeks probably don’t even know that Frankenqueen exists, but I can name many good note taking iPad apps — free and paid — without thinking too hard. Having Victoria take notes on an iPad in standby mode is the epitome of lazy, which isn’t acceptable on any merit.

Further, iPhones also had roles, and I didn’t notice their screens turn on in use either, although it isn’t as blatant as the standby iPad.

Going down my list, the next most irritating thing is how drawn out every single scene is. Some scenes lasted upwards of five minutes, and were literally nothing except Victoria running a tiny blacklight over a guy’s hypnotized body in bed. Again, this movie is fan service, and five minutes of an attractive guy’s black-underwear covered crotch is the entire point. I get that. However I’m not a middle aged woman, and a little effort to make something good doesn’t often hurt.

Honestly, Frankenqueen is probably best viewed as a test for guys to determine if they’re gay or not. If you think that you’re straight but want to make sure, I’d watch this movie. I can’t speak from experience, but what amounts to basically a 72 minute underwear ad will surely surface any hidden feelings for the same sex. And if you’re a middle aged woman who dreams about this stuff, you’ll get a kick out of it.

For all interested parties, 1313: Frankenqueen is currently on Netflix with many other films from the 1313 franchise.

I haven’t ever done this before, but all of the notes I took while watching this movie can be found after the break.

Warning: There are spoilers.

Read the rest of this entry »

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