Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

16: Don’t Kill Me Please

January 16, 2013

1. I Didn’t Come Here To Die

Check out the trailer [YouTube link] for this Horror flick that recently made its way onto digital avenues. I hear good things and intend to check it out this weekend. You can rent I Didn’t Come Here To Die on iTunes by tapping/clicking here, and on Amazon if you have a Prime membership.

via a friend on Facebook

2. Txt-Alternative For Kids

My search-fu is failing me at the moment, but based on personal interactions I’d wager that a significant amount of young kids send txt messages fairly regularly.

It’s no secret that txt messaging kind of sucks and is a pure cash grab by our mobile carriers, and that we’re all better off using alternatives like Facebook Messenger, iMessage, etc. Unfortunately services like Facebook Messenger aren’t incredibly youth-oriented, and now a youth-oriented alternative called Jongla is launching on iOS and Android.

Honestly I don’t particularly care what alternative service that kids use, but if we want to end the txting hegemony, all age groups need to contribute. If there are services targeting youth, I’m all for them.

3. Ashton Kutcher Really Really Looks Like Steve Jobs

The resemblance is striking. I’m still not convinced that he’ll do a fantastic job acting as Steve Jobs in the upcoming flick jOBS, however we’ll have to wait and see.

via FlipBoard for iOS

4. Self-Published Authors Kicking Butt On Kindle

At least in the UK, 15 of the top 100 best-selling Kindle books were self-published. That’s fascinating, and the situation is probably similar in many countries where Amazon sells Kindle books.

The world is changing.

via Thirst for iOS

5. The 6 Best Dresses At The Golden Globes

There are some days where you can’t not love The Onion.

via @acarboni on Twitter

6. 7 Men Gang Rape Bus Passenger In India

Faith Karimi and Shah Singh, CNN:

In an incident eerily similar to a sexual assault that sent shock waves worldwide, Indian police say a woman was gang-raped over the weekend by seven men after she boarded a bus at night.

So sad. It’s surreal to think of how much evil there is in the world. One of the things I hope to see in my lifetime is world peace, although I realize that it’s probably a few generations away. Maybe 100% hate-free is impossible, but I think that 99% can happen with time.

You can say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. [YouTube link]

via With Fetus

7. Wearable Computing Is The Next Big Thing

These days you can’t find a tech publication raving about watches and glasses that can do more than tell time and help you see, but do tech writers represent the general population?

I can see the value in reading my Twitter notifications without having to take my iPhone out of my pocket, but I’m not sure that everyone wants to make fashion accessories out of their mini-computers. I could be wrong though.

8. Easter Eggs In January

Arrested Development is one of the few TV shows that I’ve ever watched, and the fact that Netflix is bringing it back is fantastic. If you’re in the US (presumably — I can’t test anything in Canada or the UK) Netflix has a bit of a promotion going on. If you’re an Arrested Development fan, follow these instructions and enjoy!

via FlipBoard for iOS

9. Reason To Recover #709

100 Reasons To Recover:

Because one day my story will change someone’s life.

I’ve linked to 100 Reasons To Recover before, and if you haven’t checked out that blog yet, you really should. It’s kind of inspirational and it can satisfy as a life guide for most everyone feeling down.

10. The Death Glare

A common look that I receive from people who see me using both my iPad and iPad mini at the same time is the Death Glare. For whatever reason a solid amount of people have a problem with me carrying around two iPads; these people often tote around Macs which are more expensive than my two iPads combined, but that’s beside the point.

The iPad mini kills the larger iPad at “consumption” — it’s smaller size and weight makes it easier to use kicking back leisurely-like — so I use my iPad mini to find articles to share here. When it comes time to write bits about those articles, I keep the articles open on the iPad mini and type up my thoughts on the big iPad, which saves time as opposed to switching between writing and reading on a single iPad which I did before picking up an iPad mini. Not having to leave the app that I write in saves a whole lot of time, I can probably finish blogposts twice as fast now.

In addition, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m learning a nifty coding language called Processing. Prior to getting an iPad mini I switched between both the book and the Processing app on my iPad, which was slow. Now that I have an iPad mini I code on the larger iPad and read on the iPad mini. Again, having the iPad mini probably makes me go twice as fast.

There are genuine reasons that I have and use both an iPad and iPad mini. So what’s the deal with people?

I’m reminded of when I picked up my first iPad in 2010; I had an iPhone 3G at the time, and friends derided me for having an iPhone and a big iPhone that couldn’t make phone calls. The problem was that the differences between iPhones and iPads hadn’t yet been established, so to a lot of people I was seen as A) wasting my money and/or B) an upper class jerk showing off my wealth (which was a laughable idea if you knew my financial situation).

The iPad and iPad mini have loads of crossover, I won’t pretend that they don’t. But I have each for their differences; the iPad’s larger screen makes it good for typing, coding, drawing, and the type of content creation that I do, whereas the iPad mini’s smaller screen makes it good for leisurely gathering and consuming information, gaming, and consumption in general.

The hate that I’ve received is weird and, in my mind, unfounded.

Movie Review: Stripperland (2011)

September 20, 2012

The onslaught of bad movies continues! Although I admit, I brought this one on myself; my line of thinking was: Strippers, zombies, blood, awesome! Zombieland is one of only five movies* which I’ve outright purchased (i.e. not rented) from iTunes. Despite the sexism, I find Doghouse hilarious — and yes, I did get a kick out of Zombie Strippers. So I’d be foolish to assume that Stripperland wouldn’t be a whole lot of B-movie fun, right?

Right?

Guys?

There’s no reason to not be blunt here. Stripperland has no reason to exist. Written by Brad McCray, Tyler Benjamin, Shawn Justice, and Sean Skelding (whom also directed), Stripperland follows four survivors of the zombie apocalypse and their journey to the Oregon coast. The interesting thing about this zombie apocalypse is that the virus which caused it only affects women — and instead of turning into standard-issue zombies, the infected women become flesh eating strippers!

The uninteresting thing about Stripperland, however, is that you’ve already seen this movie scene-by-scene if you’ve watched Zombieland and Doghouse. This just might be the most unoriginal movie since The Hangover Part II or even the remake of The Omen. Between you and I, that isn’t an easy feat.

Honestly, Stripperland is wholesale theft. The aforementioned cast of four survivors is made up of Idaho (Ben Sheppard), Frisco (Jamison Challeen), Virginia (Maren McGuire), and West (Ileana Herrin), and they match the Zombieland characters down to the cowboy’s pastry love and the geek having a rule book. The theft from Doghouse is the whole idea of only women being infected by the virus, and even some character lines. I almost feel that the studio behind Stripperland should face a copyright lawsuit.

Okay, this is fucked up! You group all strippers together, and then you group all women together. You’re treating both groups like objects. And since strippers are women too, you’re double-objecting them!

Virginia

Are there arguably entertaining moments? Sure. That quote above is probably one of the better ones. Daniel Baldwin and Linnea Quigley are given cameos — which are great — but their five minutes can’t save this movie by any measure, and their appearance screams of them being low on cash. Otherwise Stripperland is an unfunny, unoriginal, and shockingly misogynistic movie.

I honestly feel horrible for the women who participated in this movie. The basic idea is that women are only good for sex and that the world would be better if they were all strippers. It’s so absurd that I want to believe this movie is satirical, but I didn’t get that sense at all. If satire was indeed the filmmakers’ intents, they are horrible filmmakers. They are indeed horrible filmmakers, however I’d wager that they also aren’t very bright people and that they believe in their message. I hope I’m wrong though, because people like that are toxic to progress and the less there are, the better.

So, is Stripperland worth your time? Do you even have to ask? NO! Zombieland and Doghouse (although also somewhat sexist, which also happens to be on Netflix USA as of this writing [hint hint]) are much funnier, much gorier, much more original, and much more worth your time.

While Stripperland is available on Netflix USA as of this writing, your watching it is highly not advisable. Take my word for it. Heck, even Zombie Strippers, as genuinely bad as it is, is a whole lot of fun, so of you want to see zombies pole dance, you should pick that one up.

*The other four iTunes movie purchases (again, different from rentals) are 10 Things I Hate About You, Jennifer’s Body, Heartless, and Pieces of April.

Movie Review: Mom (1991)

September 18, 2012

If your mother turned into a hobo-eating ghoul, how far would you go to protect her? I’ll freely admit that it’s not a question I’ve ever asked myself until tonight. I love my mom, she’s great, but I think that my opinion of her might dwindle were she to become a “flesh eater” (Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry). So is the movie Mom good for more than provoking a family assessment?

Written and directed by Patrick Rand, Mom is the story of the unconditional love between a man and his mother. Emily (Jeanne Bates) is a sweet old lady who only wants the best for everybody. She’s even nice enough to rent a room in her house to a complete stranger (Brion James) — even after he bites Emily and turns her into a werewolf-like monster! Clay (Mark Thomas Miller), Emily’s son and well known TV news reporter has to come to terms with his mother’s new lifestyle, or else…

In my Skew review I noted that movie cover art can lie. That indeed holds true with Mom, only in the reverse way — going off of the movie artwork it looked very boring and I was ready for a dull affair. Fortunately, as wacky as it is, I bought a lot of this movie. I can’t say exactly what I’d do if I witnessed my mom devouring a live hobo, but the fear, anger, and confusion Clay experienced towards his mom seems very believable. After all he had just told her a few days prior that she was soon to become a grandmother.

I’m not condoning murder and cannibalism, but I think that if you love someone for somewhere around 40 years, it’s hard to terminate those feelings.

Above I noted that Emily is turned into something werewolf-like. It’s really hard to classify her because indeed she isn’t a monster all the time, the green eyes, snout, and sharp teeth are something which spontaneously appear and disappear. However, the transformation can happen anytime — day or night — and her face is the only thing that transforms. In a sense she is almost vampire-like in that eating anything except flesh makes her sick, has heightened senses all the time, and is provoked by blood.

The funny thing is that Rand knows that the monster in his monster movie is unidentifiable — early on it’s addressed as making no difference. Little anecdotes like that add credibility to movies, I think, as it shows self-awareness by the filmmaker. That said, even aside from its mystery monster, Mom is a whole lot of fun. It’s wacky, it’s dark, and it’s even a little bit creepy, and its characters are likeable — even the monster mom!

And again, it’s little things that matter. In the first ten minutes I bore witness to a very creepy opening, knew the name of every major character, believed every relationship, and liked them all as people. When chaos started ensuing I felt sympathy for the characters and was sad because I liked them that much. Infact I still feel sad thinking about it!

Honestly, I dig this movie, but I do recognize it isn’t perfect. There is an instance a little bit in where Clay stalks his mom and her house guest through dark alleys, which doesn’t work because it’s something that he wouldn’t have done. It’s a lingering problem because it sets up most of the movie — it’s the dinner which Clay witnesses that changes the relationship between him and his mom. If Clay had assumed that she was just going to the grocery store and not followed her into a dark alley, it would be a completely different movie. Hmm.

As of this writing Mom is on Netflix USA, and I’d recommend checking it out if you get the chance. It’s fun, a bit of a thought-provoker, and only 95 minutes of your time.

Movie Review: Skew (2011)

September 13, 2012

The movie cover art for Skew lists six different film festival achievements, alongside a series of great, endorsing quotes. So I thought, okay, I’m in the mood to write a good review tonight for a genuinely good Horror film, and Skew looks like it can be that film. Unfortunately my hopes and dreams were shot down without mercy and I feel lied to by the movie cover art. I’m guessing that those quotes were published on Opposite Day or were cherry picked. Or maybe I just noticed different things.

Skew follows three friends on a road trip to a wedding, and one of them, Simon (Rob Scattergood) decides to film the entire trip on a handicam. It seems innocent enough until every person Simon captures on his camera — except his friends Rich (Richard Olak) and Eva (Amber Lewis) — dies in a gruesome accident. Tensions flare, friendships are tested, and never before has the “found footage” style of filmmaking been more appropriate while not working at all.

Written and directed by Sevé Schelenz, Skew was very mismanaged. Very early on (think 2 minutes in) it’s evident that this film is very sloppily cut and pieced together. The very first scene appears to be made up of multiple takes, as Rich teleports across the set. I really wish we could chalk those up as time jumps which you can often find in found footage films, but that isn’t the case here — Rich’s sentences don’t jump in time. That scene is in real time, so there shouldn’t have been any jumps.

Further, the dreaded question “why are you filming?” was spoken less than five minutes into Skew, and it returns roughly every five minutes after. That’s the killer of a lot of found footage films — it makes me also ask “yeah, why are you filming?” Being fair, in this film it’s used to create tension between the characters, as Simon’s filming his friends’ every move is creepy and inappropriate and it ticks them off. But with this, it only serves to make Simon — the main character — extremely unlikable and irritating.

Speaking of Simon being irritating, his friends are saints for putting up with him. Make no mistake, Rich is the driver, and were I him, Simon would be hitch hiking to the wedding after five minutes on the road. Honestly, that dislikability makes this film painful to watch. In a cast of effectively three, the lead who’s perspective we have to experience for 80 minutes needs to be likable. That’s non-negotiable in my mind.

The worst of it all though, is a major plothole which derails the entire film. The mediocre dialogue aside, this writing is so sloppy that I’m appalled. There isn’t much I can say without entering spoiler territory, but as we the viewers are allegedly watching taped footage, there are moments where the characters themselves rewind and rewatch the tapes. The problem is the rewinding wouldn’t realistically be recorded. Further, upon a replay, the content which we’ve already seen wouldn’t change for that replay.

Clarity in a sentence: Skew accidentally rotates between us viewers watching the found footage, to watching footage as it’s being taken — as in before it becomes lost.

There are two potential arguments around this which I can think of, as Skew leaves a lot of stuff open to interpretation. The first would be that we’re not actually watching found footage, and that we ourselves are the character Simon in the moment. For that to be the case, the ending would have to change along with a few scenes where Simon isn’t carrying the camera. The other potential-but-failing argument could be that we are the camera, however for that to work the relationship between Simon and the camera would have to change.

I don’t care who you are, or if your film had next to no budget, you can’t get away with this stuff. Skew is rife with flaws, a very irritating lead, poor dialogue, and a plothole which makes it impossible to realistically exist even in fiction.

So what did I like about this movie? :-)

The idea behind Skew is really cool, and it could have been a really good found footage film. If Schelenz had decided to simplify it into just a road trip where the people that were caught on Simon’s camera die, while retaining some of the twists currently present and have it be straightforward found footage — no rewinds and playbacks, just the footage on the camera — Skew might have rocked. I appreciate that, but you can’t get around the fact that the execution is horrible.

Otherwise, there are a few creepy scenes, and I dig the relationship between the characters Rich and Eva, and I can’t think of many good things to say beyond that. I was in a mood to depart from all of the junk I’ve been watching for something good which I haven’t seen, and then review it. I’m honestly just disappointed and next time I’ll remember that the cover art can be a lie. As of this writing, Skew can be found on Netflix in the USA and I’m guessing other services/retailers if you want to catch it. However I advise against doing that.

Movie Review: The Final (2010)

September 6, 2012

High school is delightful, isn’t it? You all just read that and chuckled, “hah, yeah, riiiight. Try selling me an aluminum brick while you’re at it.” Obviously some kids at some high school in some Horror movie called The Final feel the same way. This movie might be a little bit harder to sell than a brick, however.

Written by Jason Kabolati and directed by Joey Stewart, The Final is about a group of “outcasts” in high school who are bullied often and relentlessly, and their thirst for revenge against the bullies. Conveniently the kids are Horror film nerds and are theoretical experts at torturing people… Gotta dig the stereotype.

Before I continue, one of the problems I have there is that you don’t need to be a Horror geek to know that one can cut off fingers with pliers. Here’s an actual quote from the movie, from the character Ravi (Vincent Silochan):

Alll the years of watching horror films… What could be better than to put it alllll to use?

Perhaps that’s what bugs me more than anything else. I mean, I didn’t go to high school, but I certainly have been called my share of names for being a Horror fan. Freak, weird, degenerate, simply because I dig the genre. I think that it’s dangerous to portray the Horror kids as the kids who snap and then drug, torture, and kill their bullies. There is also one or two scenes where the kids invoke God only to make them seem crazier.

I hate going after this further, but another thing which I noticed is that the character Kurtis (Jascha Washington), the all around cool guy who is friends with everybody — also the only black main character — is singled out by the Horror kids as “not one of them” (“them” referencing the school bullies). Sure, I get it, Kurtis is a nice popular kid. I just find the wording curious considering he’s the single black main character.

But maybe I’m just nitpicking and any subtle hints of stereotypes and discrimination are purely coincidental.

So as I was saying.

As the story goes, a group of about ten high school students are relentlessly bullied by their peers, and they take the “drastic times require drastic measures” approach to solving problems. The plan is to host a costume party where only the bullies are invited, and torture them until they wish they were dead. That’s about the extent of the plan, not gonna lie.

Marc Donato and Lindsay Seidel play the lead bullied kids-turned-torturers Dane and Emily, respectfully. I won’t lay any fault on the actors at all, or even their characters. I genuinely bought them as bullied kids in high school, everything from how they moved, to how they spoke, to their overkill reactions. Donato and Seidel did their jobs well, and I guess we can credit Kabolati for thinking like a child when writing the movie.

Speaking of that writing, aside from the stereotyping which we’re chalking up as “coincidental”, it isn’t all that horrible. The concept is very third rate, definitely, but playing Devil’s advocate, if — if a group of kids in high school wanted to torture their bullies, they would go all out, and be over-dramatic, and disguise themselves in freaky Halloween costumes. The pure unprofessionalism of the kids works well. They aren’t cold blooded super smart calculated killers, and that’s how The Final can work.

So again, kudos to Kabolati, for being able to write from a child’s perspective.

We get back to the fact though that the basic idea of kids seeking revenge against bullies isn’t anything special. It’s just very poorly conceived, and the added unnecessary ignorance of Horror fans — like me and probably like some of you — expressed in The Final isn’t cool. I’d skip this one if I were you. It’s on Netflix as of this writing though, in case you’re a masochist and don’t like taking my advice.

Dare I end with the obvious and obligatory pun?

Yes, I dare.

The Final doesn’t make the grade.

BY THE WAY: Sorry I didn’t get an entry up yesterday. I wasn’t feeling well, and I had already put time into writing an article called It’s Okay to Suck for Unity Bond, the other blog I write for. And on top of that my fingers were still vaguely exhausted from my 3k word article here on Monday and Tuesday’s review of Clue, AND the satire blog + article I created for some friends. That’s all this week… Give me credit, I have been busy. I’ll try to not miss a day for a while, though.

Movie Review: Grizzly Park (2008)

August 30, 2012

You like a fascist or somethin’?

the pedophile prep asks the racist stoner.

Somethin’ like that.

the racist stoner acknowledges.

That is indeed dialogue between two characters in Grizzly Park, a mess of a movie which loses itself in the woods shortly after that scene. In short, the best thing one can say about this movie is that it’s better than Grizzly Rage, the abomination which preceded it by a year. Okay, that’s not the best thing one can say, but it’s close enough!

Written and directed by Tom Skull, Grizzly Park is the story of eight delinquents performing community service in “Grizzly Park” and the forest ranger (Glenn Morshower) overseeing them. Throw in a serial murderer/rapist, a skunk, and a killer bear or two, and you have this movie. It’s not ill-conceived at all — there has to at least be one person who finds eight kids picking up trash on a forest trail exciting.

Joking aside, honestly, half of this movie is dedicated to the kids picking up trash and Morshower’s character talking about picking up trash.

Watching Grizzly Park should count as community service itself!

There are some things which save Grizzly Park, however. As bad as it is, the ineptitude of two characters add a sort of innocence to the film which makes it easy to laugh at. The first is the aforementioned racist stoner, “Scab” (Randy Wayne). The character is so lost, he’s almost likeable despite his “White Power” and swastika tattoos. Eventually he develops a crush on a Latino girl in the group (Zulay Henao), and the other guys have to remind him that he’s racist. It was delightful to watch.

The other inept character which made Grizzly Park bearable is a pea-brained girl, Bebe (Emily Foxler), who thinks that skunks are “forest cats”. There’s just something so cute about cluelessness that can make even the most boring films entertaining. Unfortunately, while the other six kids are idiots of the earth, they’re more irritating punks than anything.

The final pro of Grizzly Park is the gore. Most of the deaths were a lot of fun, and this film has earned its R rating. The kills coupled with the inept duo almost make up for how outright boring this movie and its 95 minute runtime is. Unfortunately it’s just not enough.

None of the characters are interesting enough to warrant watching them talk amongst themselves while picking up trash. As I already alluded to, these characters are more irritating than anything — the worst is that it’s by design! These are supposed to be kids skipping out on prison by doing community service. They’re unlikeable at conception. So it would be one thing if they were picked off one-by-one from start to finish, but half of Grizzly Park is character buildup, for reasons unknown.

Grizzly Park also has plot lines that go next to nowhere. There’s an arguably interesting plot line about a serial murderer/rapist who’s on the run and masks himself as a police officer he killed… but it was put on the back burner in favor of kids picking up trash. Other characters which are played up in the beginning either disappear or die suddenly, again, to direct attention to the kids picking up trash.

The acting is sub-par all around, and even Morshower, as good as he is, is very one-note in Grizzly Park. None of the acting is bad, per se, but it’s just bland. That has to do with how the characters are written and this isn’t necessarily a knock to the actors, but the bland-ness doesn’t help make this film any less boring or irritating.

The last movie I reviewed was Area 407, right? This direct-to-video cautionary tale of how deadly community service can be is so much better than that. I don’t recommend you watch this —there are certainly better things to watch than Grizzly Park — but this movie won’t kill you and the gore is kinda cool, and you can currently catch it on Netflix. Just an FYI.

Edit: This song is the best part of the movie

Movie Review: Snow Beast (2011)

August 27, 2012

Getting it out of the way: You know that you’ll hate this film if you’re one of the people that will hate this film. You know who you are, vying for quality and good acting — maybe even a hint of production value — hating B-grade creature features as the unimaginative works of trash that they are. If you aren’t one of those people, maybe you’ll find this review useful.

As the story goes, a team of researchers head up near a ski resort in Canada to study lynx, an endangered species which they track every Winter. Unbeknownst to the researchers, someone something beat them to the lynx and it’s still hungry. As always, chaos ensues. Written by Brittany Wiscombe and directed by Brian Brough, Snow Beast is just another in a long line of bad “direct-to-video” Yeti movies, but who cares?

Along the lines of “but who cares?”, the lead researcher, Jim, is played by John Schneider, the man who in recent years embraced the creature feature subgenre, all the while being Superman’s dad. The guy is hardcore, and always is a great presence on screen. Accompanying Schneider is Danielle Chuchran as his daughter, with Paul D. Hunt and Kari Hawker as his research partners. Jason London plays the local sheriff, and in true B-movie fashion, no-one is indispensable.

The Yeti is abominable… perhaps the ugliest Yeti I’ve ever seen. Credit where credit is due, however, as there is very little CGI. While ugly, this Yeti is Gregg Christensen in a costume, which is respectable for 2011. Again though, Snow Beast‘s Yeti isn’t scary at all — it’s just ugly. It doesn’t even have a face which a mother could love. Boo Sonja A. Nelson for such bad makeup/costume design, boo! I really hope that it wasn’t intentional.

(I’m sorry Ms. Nelson if the Yeti design wasn’t your fault. Someone has to take the fall though, and you’re listed as the most likely culprit on IMDb.)

The acting in Snow Beast isn’t great, but it’s not what you shouldn’t expect. In the context of everything, the actors are fine, and honestly the flick would be worse if the actors outshone it. And as I alluded to earlier, Schneider is entertaining in his role, and Chuchran works as his one-note, angry daughter.

If you choose to catch Snow Beast, be aware, that no character — main or secondary — is safe. Characters unexpectedly, and completely not-climatically, get killed. One moment they’re alive, and the next moment, not really. This flick feels like something right from the Syfy channel, and I was stunned to find out that it’s just another straight-to-video PG-13 production.

Speaking of, if you choose to pretend that Snow Beast is a Syfy production, it can be seen as pretty okay. And honestly, it’s fair to assume that it is. Schneider himself has worked on some Syfy/RHI flicks in the past and will probably work on more, and this flick seems very inspired by schlock which debuts on that channel. So go ahead, assume Snow Beast a Syfy Channel Original Movie — I won’t hold it against you.

All in all I dig Snow Beast. I understand that it isn’t a good film, and I understand that one doesn’t need to be a movie snob to hate it. But I’m a B-movie creature feature fan, and have been since I was a little kid. If you are as well, I’d recommend you catch Snow Beast if you have a Netflix account, as it was recently added there. If you don’t have a Netflix account and have change to waste, you can find it elsewhere.

See you tomorrow!

Movie Review: Parents (1989)

August 22, 2012

Every so often you stumble onto a gem because of pure boredom, anticipating nothing more than a vaguely amusing disaster as you pick a movie to watch from a wide array of trash. Knowing nothing about Parents except the cover art and brief Netflix synopsis, I fully expected the film to be just another 1980s cheap snoozefest. Fortunately, Parents didn’t meet my expectations.

Written by Christopher Hawthorne and directed by Bob Balaban, Parents follows Michael Laemle (Bryan Madorsky), a young boy so off that his teacher (Kathryn Grody) a “manic depressive” she wants to “put in a box”. There might be something causing Michael’s moodiness, however, and his parent’s (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt as Nick and Lily Laemle) inability to explain what the “leftovers” they eat are, could be the problem! Parents is set in the 1950s which only serves to (successfully) up this film’s creep factor.

I can’t think of many bad things to say about Parents… Maybe if you don’t like weird films, that could be a knock — but I tend to like weird flicks, and this takes the cake as far as weird flicks go. I haven’t asked myself “What in the world did I just watch?” in a very long time, and in the case of this film, it’s a very good thing.

Maybe — and this is a very maybe maybe — Madorsky would be listed as Parents‘ biggest fault to film snobs. He’s the lead character and seemingly can’t act at all. Usually that would be a problem. There’s a reason Madorsky’s acting career consists of one single film in 1989. However, his inability to look others in the eyes, shyness, and general spaciness fits his character, Michael… Madorsky’s inability to act might be an asset for this flick as far as I can tell.

As an aside, Michael’s crush Sheila (London Juno) is very cute in an “F.U. Mom and Dad!” kinda way, and I dug the relationship between the two. Sadly Juno isn’t in the flick as much as I’d like, but I digress…

As mentioned earlier, Parents takes place in the 1950s, and as far as I’m aware the setting was recreated well. Quaid and Hurt did a fantastic job being a fake-smiling couple which you typically see in real photos taken in the 1950s. It’s very strange and it’s even stranger when bloody — almost psychedelic dream sequences are mixed in, stitched together with clips of Quaid’s character cooking “meat” on a grill.

One character which deserves special mention is the school psychiatrist, Millie Dew (Sandy Dennis) who takes a personal interest in Michael. Dennis plays the role very well, and comes across as a very stereotypical school psychiatrist, only in the 1950s and allowed to smoke in her office. At first Millie Dew isn’t that diggable, but the character grew on me and I really like that name — “Millie Dew”. It’s just fun to say!

The trick behind Parents is that it’s told from Michael’s point of view — recall that Michael is a very weird kid, and we, the viewers, have to choose what to believe. Did he dream about finding his parents having bloody sex? Was he imagining his father cutting up a dead guy to take home? Or did he really see that severed arm in the basement? In the end these questions are left up to you to answer, but no matter what direction you choose, Parents is a very weird, scary, thrilling, and weird roller coaster which I recommend riding.

Honestly, I can’t drive the point home enough, Parents is weird. I take notes when watching films, and “Weird ass movie” is one of my biggest notes for the film behind “WTF Links” (“sausage”). You will wonder what you watched after the credits finish rolling. Just an FYI. Don’t watch this when you’re in the wrong mood.

Parents can currently be found on Netflix for streaming, and I’m sure you can find it elsewhere if you don’t subscribe to Netflix.

Short Review: Dolls

July 22, 2011

One thing sorely lacking in the 21st century is films about killer toys. A few turn up here and there, but most are extensions of the Puppet Master franchise. So we must turn to the 80s for our killer toys fix, and 1987’s Dolls doesn’t disappoint. It’s also one more film which validates my theory that Charles Band (Puppet Master) is a much better producer than a director.*

As the story goes, two groups of people find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere during a heavy storm, and take shelter in a mansion occupied by an elderly couple… and a massive amount of puppets. In typical fashion much of the group takes advantage of the situation rather than be grateful. Unfortunately for the guests, the puppets are alive and don’t appreciate how their owners’ hospitality is disregarded by thieves, punks, and all around rude people. As always, chaos ensues, and Dolls is not a kids’ film.

Sure it has its flaws, but Dolls is one of the most unsettling films I’ve seen in a while, and it has an ending which would make the Grimm brothers proud (Matter-of-fact, they’re given special thanks in the credits). I recommend giving it a watch, and as of this writing Dolls is available for streaming on Netflix. So if you have an account, it certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a chance.

Dolls is written by Ed Naha (Troll) and directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator), with Charles Band as executive producer. Its runtime is a short and sweet 77 minutes, and again, I advise against letting your children watch it.

*No disrespect to Band, he wrote and produced some really good films in his early days. But the only saving grace behind The Gingerdead Man is Gary Busey, who can’t not be awesome.

Short Review: Brain Dead (2007)

July 5, 2011

I don’t even know where to begin. Films are often so bad that they’re amusing, but rarely so bad as to be good. For much of Brain Dead, I strongly considered switching films for its entire duration, because it is that terrible. But this film is so terrible that it shoots the moon, and I was in awe at how entertaining it is. Brain Dead is the textbook example of “so bad it’s good”, and here are my thoughts.

This is no accident. No sir. There is every type of human deprevity and degredation in this room tonight. Atheists, fornicators, murderers–

–Lesbians.

As the story goes, two convicts (Joshua Benton & David Crane) take refuge in an abandoned cabin after escaping police custody. Out of pure coincidence, two hikers (Sarah Grant Brendecke & Michelle Tomlinson) join them… Followed by a reverand (Andy Forrest) & the girl God sent to relieve him of his throbbing (Cristina Tiberia). But that’s not all. As luck would have it, a sludge-like parasite from outer space that zombifies its victims, also manages to find its way to the (now not so) abandoned cabin. And into a girl’s vagina. Hoo boy.

Brain Dead is written terribly, is directed terribly, is acted terribly, and the special effects are done terribly. But with class, almost every woman in this film drops their top at some point, and at the most random of times. This is honestly so terrible that it’s worth a go. And as of this writing, it is available for streaming on Netflix, so if you have an account, give Brain Dead a shot.

Hat tip to writer Dale Gelineau & director Kevin Tenney for creating this glorious trainwreck.

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