Thursday, June 22, 2017

Get Out (2017)

An American horror directed by Jordan Peele, starring Bradley Whitford, Stephen Root and Catherine Keener.
A young black man goes with his white girlfriend to visit her family. The family has black slaves who act very strangely. As the main character is discovering the situation, his friend in the city figures it out as well, based upon a picture that was sent.
This was alright. The plot was interesting and held my attention. The main character reminded me of a classmate from school. I think the acting was done pretty well, though. The video was very typical of new films in general and especially of new horror films. The audio was mixed quite well. I could hear all of the dialogue and the music was at correct levels in relation to it. What we have here is a prime example of my adequate rating. It's a fine film and there's nothing wrong with it. There were even some good elements. It just didn't go that extra little bit to make it really good. You might want to check it out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When a Stranger Calls (1979)

An American horror thriller directed by Fred Walton, starring Charles Durning and Carol Kane.
A mysterious man calls a babysitter. Turns out, the kids are dead. He is locked up, but escapes. The police look for him and he calls the same babysitter when she has a babysitter watching her kids.
Lackluster doesn't even begin to describe this. The plot was extremely predictable and there were only a few moments when I didn't know exactly what would happen next. The characters were drab and dull. The killer attempted to show depth by looking in the mirror and crying naked, saying he didn't exist. Whatever. The video was very much of the time and very straight forward. It just showed what was happening, but not in a bad way. The audio was a little off in the beginning because I couldn't hear what the man was saying through the phone. The opening scene was iconic, but it went downhill from there. Overall, a mediocre movie. I rate it tolerable. If you're trapped in a room and there's nothing but a player and this...

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Annoying (2015)

A Canadian music documentary directed by Zoran Maslic.
Music videos of a gutter punk duo and interviews with one of the members detail the trials and tribulations of life on the streets in Canada.
AMAZING! Thank you, Nate!!! As the plot develops, it reveals deeper depths of addiction, homelessness, childhood abuse and neglect. The characters are as unique as they can be. As I watched it, I wanted more and more to play bass for their band because they are outcasts, misfits and red-headed stepchildren like myself. The video featured mainly interview and musical performance footage. This was inter-cut with appropriate B-roll of the city, mostly at night. There was also some skateboarding involved. The audio featured some of the best music of the genre, but I suspect that the performers know a very limited number of chords and progressions. Overall, exactly the musical hobo documentary that I wanted and it gets as gritty as possible. I rate this best. WATCH IT!!!!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lords of Salem (2012)

An American horror written and directed by Rob Zombie, starring Bruce Davison, Ken Foree, Dee Wallace and Meg Foster.
A disc jockey is Salem, Massachusetts is abducted by a coven of witches to bear the son of Satan. Her co-workers and a history researcher try to save her.
This was pretty cool. I liked the lighting and camera-work most, but that's later. The plot was a Rosemary's Baby knock-off. The characters varied from alright to good. Lighting was amazing. There were dark scenes, but I could still see everything quite well. Framing of shots seemed a little center-oriented, but was still amazing and the camera movements happened at the right times, right places and in the correct directions. Audio was pretty good. There were some grating sounds, but those were obviously intentional. I could hear all of the dialogue too. Overall, a good film for horror fans and those who enjoy Rob Zombie's work. Apparently, I have reviewed none of it, so it will be on the way. I rate this awesome. Watch it!

Friday, June 9, 2017

God Told Me To A.K.A. Demon (1976)

An American crime thriller directed by Larry Cohen.
A police detective is investigating a series of multiple murders in which the killers' last words were always "God told me to."
"Jesus! Did you see what GOD just did to us, man?" - Gonzo, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
This was so '70s. The plot ran like any other detective flick until the last few minutes. The characters were stereotypical of the time and genre. Video was just as grainy and gritty as expected. Audio was typical of the time. My main problem with this is that it was so predictable. If you've seen one '70s detective flick, you've seen them all. Guy gets into the case and is told he is overworking, needs to go on vacation. neutral color suits as far as the eye can see. Overall, I was definitely unimpressed. I rate this tolerable. You should not watch it if there are other options available.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cabin Fever (2002)

An American horror comedy directed by Eli Roth.
A group of college students are vacationing at a cabin in the woods. They encounter a sick man whom they set on fire. He falls into the water supply and they get sick.
This is pretty standard for the horror genre. I thought it was unoriginal and banal. The plot had a few unexpected twists, but was uninspired in general. The characters were so stereotypical and shallow that some of them could have been animatronic and nobody would have known. Of all the humor in this, the only funny joke was a guy swallowing a harmonica. The video was over-done in a cheesy way that was almost entertaining. The audio was decent and I could hear everything at the proper levels. Overall, the modern equivalent of cheesy '80s horror, but with less style and originality. I rate it o.k.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Shallow Grave (1994)

A British crime horror directed by Danny Boyle, starring Kerry Fox and Ewan McGregor.
A trio of roommates have their new fourth renter die. In his room, they find a suitcase full of money. They bury him and sink his car, but criminals are after his money. The roommates also begin to quarrel over the money.
This was an odd film. It started off like a comedy, but got dark and dangerous as it went. The plot definitely held my attention. The characters were written and acted well, except for Kerry Fox. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry and George are having trouble writing for Elaine in their TV pilot. The audio and video were expertly done. The re-occurring spin shot of David was strange until the end, when we find out why his head is on a white background. The opening narration by Ewan McGregor reminded me of Trainspotting for a very good reason. Overall, weird British cinema that Americans can understand. I rate this good. You should probably watch it.

Monday, June 5, 2017

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

A British American thriller drama directed by Lynne Ramsay, starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly.
A woman is hated by everyone. She remembers her son growing up, which reveals the reason why she is hated.
Kevin was such an awesome asshole. I couldn't have written him better myself. The plot was VERY British. It was out of sequence and slowly revealed what was going on and why. The characters were written and acted very well. The audio and video were both top-shelf and professionally done. The only problem that I have with this is that the real turning point is never shown or told. We get everything leading up to it and the aftermath, but it's missing that little segment to make it perfect. What exactly happened, how did Eva come to this house and how did it get red stuff all over it? This is a very well-written and produced film, but I think they stopped just short of a complete story. I rate this good. You should probably watch it, but don't go hoping for that "aha!" moment when everything makes sense.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dead Man's Shoes (2004)

A British thriller directed by Shane Meadows, starring Paddy Considine and Toby Kebbell.
A man returns from the army to find that his mentally handicapped brother has been tortured in his absence by a group of men he knows. A tale of revenge begins.
Not too bad. The plot was interesting and had a good twist at the right point: Just when you think it's over. The characters were acted convincingly. Technically, it was made quite well. The flashback scenes are difficult to watch and I was rooting for the brother through the whole thing. Stylistically, it shows that it is a newer film with how dramatically the scenes are created. Overall, a pretty decent flick. I rate it adequate.

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

An American documentary directed by Penelope Spheeris.
The first film in this series, this includes interviews with bands and live performances from the Los Angeles punk scene.
Although this is not as good as the sequels, it did serve to set up the style and format of the series. As a base to start from, it served as something to build the other two films from. This entry goes band by band, with interviews and performances intertwined to show a sequential story. The second film was better because it was mostly organized by subject matter. The third film was organized even better to reveal it's story from what seems like nothing. Some cool scenes from this entry include Black Flag's home in the church. One member was a former brain surgeon and they talk about their relations with the hippies. The germs tell a story of a photo session with a corpse and play with their pet tarantula. Catholic Discipline's vocalist is very well-spoken and the section includes information about the magazine, Slash. The interview with X takes place during a tattoo session and Exene shows her collection of crazy flyers and pamphlets. There needed to be more identification of who is speaking and whether they are part of the band through the whole thing. Overall, I think the series got better as it went. I rate the starting point good because I know what came after it. I would recommend watching them all.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fish Tank (2009)

A British drama directed by Andrea Arnold, starring Michael Fassbender and Kierston Wareing.
A rebellious teenager wants to become a dancer. She drinks and dances in an empty flat after trying to free a horse. Her mother is dating a married man who becomes mutually attracted to the daughter. The young man who owns the horse begins a relationship with the main character as well.
Oh, man. Brits are crazy. The plot seemed like it was going nowhere most of the time, but had some hidden meaning that could probably only be understood fully by people in England. The characters all treated each other so badly, but were also very close. The exchange between the sisters at the end demonstrated this best: they hug and say "I hate you" to one another. I saw the sex scene coming a mile away, but won't ruin it. There was also a classic scene when the main character is in her mom's (and her) boyfriend's house. Lots of the video was shot handheld, but I think it kind of worked. The audio featured terrible music and close-mic breathing. I'm not calling the Brits wankers or anything, but their ideas are nearly incoherent to my Americanism. I was reminded of the works of Mike Leigh. Overall, a strange flick. I rate this adequate. You might want to watch it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Decline of Western Civilization III (1998)

An American documentary directed by Penelope Spheeris.
The ever-inquisitive Penelope interviews punks in Los Angeles.
Amazing! The plot seemed to start out as desultory interviews, but turned out to be a cohesive group of people who told a tragic story. I was almost crying toward the end, but since I have no tears left, could not. The characters were definitive of the gutter punk lifestyle and offered revealing information in their interviews. Also, they were similar to me in many ways. The only thing that bothered me slightly was jerky camera movements in some of the B-roll. As funny as the Chris Holmes pool interview and Ozzy cooking breakfast were in #2 is how tragic and emotionally challenging this film was. Overall, an incredible and deep look into the community these people live in. I rate it best. WATCH IT!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dracula vs. Frankenstein A.K.A. Blood of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Dracula (1971)

An American horror directed by Al Adamson, starring J. Carrol Naish and Lon Chaney Jr.
A mad scientist is abducting young women to make a syrum for his werewolf or Dracula or Frankenstein. A woman's relative is missing and she teams up with hippies. It's a mess.
I got the wrong movie. I was looking for Jess Franco's Dracula Contra Frankenstein from the same year. This seemed just like a Franco flick until I started doing research for my review. The camera-work sucked, psychedelic soundtrack, amazing tits, you could have fooled me. It did not hold my attention at all. The video was so bad that I did not want to look at the screen. The audio was bad, but not horrid. Worst of all, Dracula was sleazy! He's not supposed to have facial hair. As usual, I could type trash about it longer than necessary. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chakushin Ari Final A.K.A. One Missed Call Final (2006)

A Japanese horror thriller directed by Manabu Asou.
A group of college students on a class trip receive messages on their phones from a girl who they used to pick on. The messages indicate that the receiver will die soon. One student reveals a secret about her past that changes the message sending girl.
This was not so hot. The plot went almost nowhere. It was coherent, but one of the more static plots I've seen. The characters were pitifully shallow. It may have been a "lost in translation" issue there. The video was alright, but nothing stood out as being good. I won't comment on the audio because it was in Japanese, but the subtitles that came with the version I watched were horrible. Overall, a lackluster and mediocre film. I rate it tolerable.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973)

A Spanish French thriller directed by Jesus Franco, starring Howard Vernon and Paul Muller.
A young woman goes to visit her crazy family for the reading of her father's will.
I have a feeling that Jesus Franco either did not want to make good movies or had a vastly different definition of "good" from mine. The little plot there was in this mostly didn't make sense. I could positively identify two characters. Maybe more if I really tried. The pacing dragged sluggishly through even the shortest scenes. Video was artsy, but not in a good way. It seemed very much a product of the time, a '70s film to only be viewed in the '70s. The audio was in English. Soundtrack music fit Jesus Franco's style, being similar to some Russ Meyer flicks and Cannibal Holocaust. The scene depicted above was a tease. That means no, she did not use this item for it's intended purpose. Overall, just like every other Jesus Franco film I've seen. I rate this poor.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995)

A Danish American science fiction action directed by Albert Pyun, starring Sue Price.
A genetic mutant's mother flees the future with her baby and travels back in time to 1980s Africa. The mother is killed, but the daughter is raised by an African tribe to be a warrior. A monster/cyborg from the future finds the mutant woman. Conflict ensues.
This was pretty crappy. The plot made almost no sense at all and was not communicated very clearly. Only the main character had a name. I think this illustrates how little character development there was. Sue Price had not reached the level of bodybuilding in which we see her in Nemesis 4, so she still looked female and not like He-Man. The video looked so bad that it was almost TROMA-esque and the audio was no better. The special effects were poorly done, but they included a ripple effect around the antagonist and a magic knife. The subtitles that I got were crap and this made a working knowledge of African language necessary to understand the first third of the film. Overall, you would really be better off watching something else. I rate this poor.

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Music of Chance (1993)

An American drama directed by Philip Haas, starring James Spader, Mandy Patinkin, M. Emmet Walsh and Charles Durning.
A pair of strangers meet. One of them is a gambler and the other has money to bet. They go in together on a card game against millionaires who seem easy prey. When they lose, the gamblers agree to build a wall for the millionaires, but things don't seem quite right.
This was pretty cool. The plot definitely held my interest and the characters were developed amazingly well in a relatively short amount of time. I think the steady pace is what made all the difference. Events take place at regular intervals and the rise and fall of action and pacing is minimal. The video was expertly done to the point that, even with my editing experience and critical eye, it looked seamless. The audio was mostly good. There were a few sections of quieter dialogue and louder music, but not enough to cause a problem. The classical music soundtrack was definitely appreciated. Overall, quite a nice flick that I enjoyed watching. I rate it adequate.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005)

An American made for TV horror directed by William Butler and Aaron Strongoni, starring Cory Hardrict and Peter Coyote.
A group of high school students follow rumors of an injured friend being abducted by a chemical company. When they get to the factory, a zombie outbreak occurs.
This is where they lost the magic of the original. I didn't care about any of the stereotypical characters who barely had any back-story. The poorly constructed and underdeveloped plot did not hold my interest. The video looked made for TV and syfy channel all the way. Same with the audio that featured popular hard rock music of the time. Technically speaking, the audio and video were fine, but they were handled badly. The camera-work focused on fast editing cuts that are all too cliche of modern action films. Now that I've seen the whole series, I wish I hadn't. Only the first three films are worth watching. I rate this poor.

Troll 3 A.K.A. The Crawlers, Creepers, Contamination Point 7 (1993)

An Italian Canadian American horror directed by Joe D'Amato and Fabrizio Laurenti.
Because a nuclear power plant dumped toxic waste in a forest, the roots and vines have mutated and attack people.
I could accept Troll 2 having goblins. They may not have been trolls, but at least they were mythological humanoid characters. The acting and lighting were it's worst aspects. Camera-work followed closely behind. The only good thing in the whole film was Paula, the hooker. This movie was worse than Troll 2 because you can mock that easily, but this is more difficult to poke fun at because it's just bad. Overall, it's not worth watching at all for any reason. I rate this bad. DO NOT WATCH!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Room 237 (2012)

An American documentary directed by Rodney Ascher.
A group of enthusiasts explain their beliefs about the deeper meanings of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.
This was pretty cool. I liked the depth and detail of analysis performed on the film, complete with maps, diagrams and side-by-side scene comparisons. The idea that there is no deep meaning to the film is negated by Kubrick's eye for detail. He would not have accidentally made things the way they were. Some people would say that the narrators of this are crazy. Be that as it may, they looked into this subject matter and proposed theories. Their detractors would just dismiss any of this with no research. Overall, a good film for fans of Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, conspiracy theories and film in general. I rate this good.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Empire of the Dark A.K.A. Evil Night (1990)

An American fantasy adventure by Steve Barkett.
A man saves his child from an evil cult, but his wife is left behind. Years later, the evil cult returns with ninjas, magicians and a demon. He must fight them with the help of his son.
They really tried to make a good movie, but it was just beyond their price range and abilities. What we get is something less than good that is easy to mock by non-filmmakers. The plot is simplistic and the characters are poorly acted. I think that some bad writing went into this. The man not recognizing his son who looks just like him was not very convincing. There were definitely video problems. I saw a continuity issue/prop malfunction with a broken bridge repairing itself. The special effects were cheesy and the action scenes just did not stack up as I think they were intended to. The audio was not bad, with the soundtrack music actually being good. Overall, a budget flick trying to be more than it was capable of. I give them 100% for effort, but the end product is definitely lacking in a few categories. I rate this tolerable.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Monster Dog A.K.A. Leviatan, Los Perros de la Muerte (1984)

An Italian horror directed by Claudio Fragasso, starring Alice Cooper.
Alice cooper returns to his hometown with some friends to make a video for his rock band. There are rumors of dangerous dogs and werewolves in the area. When some criminals try to attack the group, dogs and a werewolf also appear.
I found this while doing research on Troll 2. The songs/music videos were cool, but as a movie it was crappy. The script was horribly written. This seems to be a re-occurring problem with Claudio Fragasso's films. This means that like Troll 2, the plot did not make sense and the dialogue was nearly incoherent. I could hear every word, but putting them together in this manner was nonsensical. Character depth is not even to be discussed in this case. You need to be able to stand before you can walk. The video was not bad, but was definitely not good in most parts. Shot composition seemed accidental to the point that some of it looked good and other parts looked like a totally different camera operator. Amazingly, it was actually good on the music videos (picture). It makes me wonder what happened there. The audio was mediocre. I could hear everything and it was better than Troll 2 where layering obscured some sounds. However, that did not sound like Alice Cooper's voice. In fact, it seemed like everyone was dubbed. Why? Overall, I would rather have just seen the music videos than the whole film. I rate this poor.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Superior Firepower: The Making of "Aliens" (2003)

An American documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika.
Interviews about making the movie, Aliens.
Do you remember The Beast Within? this is basically the same film. Some of the interviews were even shot for both films at the same time. When the interviewee is in the same location, wearing the same clothes, with the same camera placement, it kind of gives that away. This version included lots more about special effects, puppeteering and making miniatures. They used in-camera physical effects because digital effects were so costly and time consuming at that time. We get to see lots of alien models and costumes because there were more aliens in this film. There were 2 interviews that rubbed me the wrong way. One was the brothers who worked on models. Only one of them spoke and the other just sat there uselessly. The other was the composer who complained about tight deadlines for over half an hour. Overall, better than The Beast Within and yes, it made me want to watch Aliens. I rate this good.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Beast Within: The Making of "Alien" (2003)

An American documentary directed by Charles de Lauzirika.
Exactly as the title states: how the movie Alien was made.
Continuing the theme of movies about movies, this was interesting to watch, but much of it was obvious and needed little explanation. The interviews were on-topic and people said some good stuff. There was information included that fans of the series will find interesting. People from the cast and crew go into great detail about who had worked with whom before and selecting who would be working on this film. Technically speaking, the audio and video were great. I guess the real question of it's quality would be making the viewer want to watch Alien. I do, so it seems successful to me. Overall, great for those who like Alien lots and know little about how films are made. I rate this adequate.

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship & Videotape A.K.A. Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010)

A British documentary directed by Jake West.
The story of Margater Thatcher's censorship attack on horror and exploitation films in the early 1980s is discussed. This is followed by in depth discussion of each film on the list as well as a trailer for them.
The initial documentary was very good. Once they started discussing every film on the list and playing trailers, I lost interest quickly. The interviews were full of good information and interesting to watch. The filmmakers used relevant B-roll to illustrate the points being made by the speakers. I think that they covered the subject matter quite well. The problem with the bonus footage was that it became far too repetitive to talk about the films and play original trailers. The speakers in this section did have interesting insights on how the films were made and their immediate reception, but too much of it was just the same thing over and over. The audio and video were technically good, even for the older films that circulated on tape trading networks. Overall, watch the documentary and skip the Final 39 and Dropped 33. I rate this good.

Swept Away A.K.A. Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (1974)

An Italian romance adventure directed by Lina Wertmuller, starring Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato.
A rich woman on a yacht cruise is stranded on an island with a sailor from the boat. They fall in love, but are separated when they are rescued.
This was different from the 2002 version. It seemed far more serious and emotional. It lacked the comedy element that the remake used so prominently. I still liked the plot and characters. The video seemed more thought out and carefully planned than the remake. There was a scene in which the characters are sitting on the beach and we can see that the sand around them has no footprints in it. The ending was also different. In this original, the sailor's emotions and consequences are more fully demonstrated, whereas the remake just left him on a pier when the rich woman left. The audio on this was very low, but the subtitles were very good. Overall, I thought it was interesting to see both versions of this. I rate it adequate.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Troll 2 (1990)

An Italian American horror directed by Claudio Fragasso, starring Michael Stephenson.
A family goes on a vacation to a rural community. The son finds out that the locals are all vegetarian goblins and must prevent his family from eating anything, lest they become plants and food for the goblins.
This is obviously not the worst movie ever made. Ben Hur, Some Kind of Monster, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie and Blues Brothers 2000 were all far worse than this. Sure, it was total crap, but it didn't cause me physical pain to watch. This was poorly written, acted even worse, the editing was atrocious and they screwed up the sound in many sections. In all honesty, it looked like a first year film student made it. Trust me, I've seen much worse. What makes me so sure of this position? The audio was neither treble-bias screechy, mid-bias honky or bass-bias muffled. I could hear and understand most of the dialogue. The image quality was actually pretty good (just speaking of technical specifications). It was cast amazingly well. The poorly acted characters do indeed fit their roles and I found the female antagonist to be quite attractive (picture). The content did not make me cringe like my childhood idols and supposed metal gods behaving like crybabies (Some Kind of Monster). It was not overly long, with vast expanses of underutilized screen time (Ben Hur). It was not a musical with bad music (The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Blues Brothers 2000). Overall, the "best worst movie" is more cheesy, hokey and amateurish than anything else. I rate it poor.

Best Worst Movie (2009)

An American documentary directed by Michael Stephenson.
Years after the original release of Troll 2, the film has found a cult following who poke fun at it. The original cast and crew reunite and travel to some film conventions together.
This made me want to watch Troll 2. I don't remember it being all that funny, but I watched it before I even started this blog, so quite a few years ago. George Hardy, the husband/father from Troll 2 should be considered the star of this documentary. This may be because he was the most outgoing extrovert involved and lacked the prerequisite shame that others felt over the original film. He was shown in his dental office, telling patients to go to screenings. Other interviewees commented that they would hate to be in the dental chair at that point because it was so obvious that dentistry was not his top priority. The director, Claudio Fragasso was initially surprised by the amount of people in the audience at screenings. He later learned that they were making fun of his film and his attitude changed accordingly. Margo Prey, the wife/mother of the original exhibited the most shame concerning Troll 2. I won't spoil the priceless scene though. Overall, a documentary for folks who like bad movies. Hard-core flophouse flick fans will recognize Plan 9 from Outer Space and Santa Clause Conquers the Martians when they are stated to be better films. I rate this good.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012)

A British documentary directed by Sophie Fiennes, starring Slavoj Zizek.
Slavoj explains his thoughts on political and religious belief systems, using films as examples.
This was very similar to The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006) to the point that I think they should be considered a single work. West Side Story was used to compare classical ideology's "they don't know what they are doing, but they are nonetheless doing it" with cynical ideology's "I know very well what I am doing, but I am still nonetheless doing it". He compared M.A.S.H. (1970) with Full Metal Jacket (1987) to discuss obscenity in military institutions and brought in If.... (1968) to back it up. The initiated involve grotesque and crude references to get the attention of new members, but sometimes this can backfire, as in the case of Gomer Pyle. If... was used to demonstrate that this is an institutional operational system that includes not only the military, but academic systems as well, with older students tormenting the younger ones. Jaws (1975) allowed many problems to be personified in a single, easily dealt with package. The concept of "big other" was dealt with in The Fireman's Ball (1967), Brief Encounter (1945) and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Big other (not, but maybe is Brother?) is an idea of society as a whole, with leaders and a mass known as "the people" that does not include any individuals. I think that this goes very well with the discussion of Superego from the previous film. Overall, if you can make it through and understand one of these films, the other (not big) is required viewing. I rate this awesome as well.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006)

A British Austrian Netherlands documentary directed by Sophie Fiennes, starring Slavoj Zizek.
Slavoj Zizek explains his views on how psychology relates to film with examples from famous movies.
This is part of my research into movies about movies. I realized that I had seen so many films and was getting to the end of my university education that I needed to learn about film from a perspective outside the classroom and the screen itself. Slavoj may not be the best teacher in this field, but I think that his wild style and "outside the box" ideas make him a good teacher for me. I grasped his ideas on Freudian psychology immediately. I could see how the Marx brothers and the levels of the house in Psycho relate directly to the Id, the Ego and the Super-Ego. I also think that I understood his discussion of a "gaze" being returned by inanimate objects. His flower comment questions a long-standing universal opinion by pointing out the blatantly obvious. He went into discussions on fantasy vs. reality and borders between spaces. I had to watch this twice because of his frenetic pace and the depth of material that he covers. I wish my professors would discuss ideas and theories at this level. Overall, this is something that folks will understand or not. Those that get it will find a wealth of knowledge and probing questions. Those that don't get it will call it crazy and stupid trash, projecting their own stupidity upon the thing that pointed out their lack of intelligence. I rate this awesome and am about to begin watching the sequel on ideology.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)

An American horror documentary directed by Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch.
Details of the Nightmare on Elm Street film franchise are discussed in interviews with behind the scenes footage and stills. For 4 hours.
This is a piece for die-hard Freddy fans. It begins with conception of the titular character and general plot characteristics. It then goes through each film of the series, showing interviews with the cast, how special effects were done and how successful the films were. There are also original stop-motion animations to booked the pieces. Some of my favorite sections included things that didn't work right, production problems and dealing with a child actor in New Nightmare. I liked the sections on production problems because it shows the great lengths that the cast and crew went to obtain some of their best footage, not because I wanted to see things fail. The depth of the interviews as a whole was great. It seemed like the cast and crew were being asked good questions and speak their mind about working on these films. Overall, only for true Freddy fanatics. I am one and rate this good.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Vampyros Lesbos A.K.A. Las Vampiras (1971)

A West German Spanish sexploitation directed by Jesus Franco, starring Soledad Miranda, Dennis Price and Paul Muller.
A woman dreams of being seduced by a female vampire.
This would have been great as a short porn flick, but it doesn't have the plot necessary for a feature film. The characters were cast well and there were artsy camera shots, but otherwise, it was worthless. Naked lesbian vampires was a cool idea, but it didn't end up working out. There were these shots of a moth in a net, a scorpion on pavement, a kite in the sky and a boat at sunset that seemed to have been randomly thrown in. Other reviewers have called this "effortlessly dream-like" and praised the soundtrack. it could have been saved by adding a plot or making it into a more graphic lesbian porn. I rate this bad. Don't bother watching it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

An American musical remake directed by Kenny Ortega, starring Tim Curry.
You remember the 1970s original, right? Brad and Janet meet a mad scientist with Russian hands and Roman fingers. All of his friends dance the time warp.
This was one of the worst things to ever cross my screen. Now... I hate musicals and I hate remakes. Just take that into account. That being said, there are lips made for singing and lips made for sucking dicks. None of the former were in this film. It started out overdone enough in the '70s version. Just over the top enough to be kind of cool and kind of cheesy to attract a cult following. Then Fox TV got hold of it and smashed it into the ground like a cigarette butt. Every fucking scene got screwed up horribly. Most of the camera-work, staging, sets, casting, etc that made the original so unique were thrown out. I got to the point where Frank (who is female now) gets lowered on a crane (instead of in a creepy old elevator) with no boot stomping closeup. That tore it. I rate this shit and am stopping now because no amount of derision will ever be enough. DO NOT WATCH!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

A New Zealand adventure written and directed by Taika Waititi, starring Sam Neill.
A misbehaving boy is adopted by a man and woman living in the mountains. Just as he is becoming comfortable with them, the woman dies. Child services states that they will be picking up the boy and the man is going to live in the forest. The boy tries to fake his own death by burning down a barn and gets lost in the forest. The man finds him and they try to live together. They then find that they are being hunted by child services.
Plot and characters with a sense of humor. The plot held my attention and was very clearly communicated. The characters were likeable and deep. The humor was mostly dry, with deadpan delivery, but with an absurdist flavor that suited me quite nicely. The video was done very well. There were some special effects, but they were part of the story, showing what the characters were thinking or doing clearer than it could without effects. The audio suffered from too large a dynamic range. I turned it up to hear the dialogue, but the music was far too loud. Overall, this is the type of thing that I look forward to watching. Unfortunately, that happens very rarely. It had a very similar style to the other Taika Waititi film that I reviwed, What We Do in the Shadows. I rate this awesome. WATCH IT!!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

99 Women A.K.A. Der heiße Tod (1969)

A Liechtenstein West German Spanish Italian British erotic adventure directed by Jesus Franco, starring Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge, Luciana Paluzzi and Herbert Lom.
Women are kept in a prison where the warden and governor abuse them. A man from a male prison on the same island contacts one of the women and organizes an escape attempt.
Sex on sex. Prison sex, jungle sex, etc... The plot was interesting and held my attention around the sex scenes. The characters were a little shallow, but easily identifiable. The sex was graphic, showing closeups of penetration. It involved heterosexual intercourse as well as lesbian scenes. The video was done quite well. There was a good mix of straight forward storytelling and artsy shots, even if some of these were prurient. The audio of the version that I watched was French, but the English subtitles were correct and on time. There was a variety of soundtrack music from classical to psychedelic rock. Overall, a decent flick if you like closeups of copulation. I rate it o.k.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

A New Zealand American mockumentary directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi.
A group of vampires who live together have a documentary crew follow them. Their interactions with humans, werewolves and other vampires are shown.
This was really funny. The plot was like a reality TV show, but with vampires. There were arguments and dramatic situations revolving around interactions between groups and within the main group. The characters were comical and very likeable. The video looked like a documentary or reality TV show with special effects. These effects were done quite well. We had vampires flying and turning into bats, werewolves transforming and some amazing shots with mirror tricks. Because the vampires do not reflect in mirrors, they actually ended up playing with this for comic effect. The audio had audible dialogue and appropriate soundtrack music. The music was along the lines of Gogol Bordello. Overall, a good mockumentary comedy for fans of horror films. I rate this awesome. WATCH IT!!!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

A West German adventure written, directed and produced by Werner Herzog, starring Klaus Kinski.
A business man who loves opera has a plan to transport a steam ship over a mountain between two rivers in order to access rubber trees that were previously blocked.
This was weirder than it needed to be. The plot was eventful and held my attention very well. The characters were somewhat deep and very likeable. Video is where the oddity begins. Among the straight forward storytelling, we have long, artsy shots at strange times. Views of the mountainside, skies and closeups of ropes on the ship demonstrated what was going on, but were held for longer than necessary. That could be said for almost any shot in the film. The drunken cook lets his glass slide down the tilted table more times than are necessary to get the point across. They did actually drag a ship up a hill. I was wondering while watching if it was miniatures or a trick, but it was real. The audio featured only diegetic music. This lead to some eerily silent scenes that increased tension. Some of these when the native tribe is gathering around the ship worked out very well. Overall, another triumph for Herzog and Kinski. I rate this good.

Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

An American horror directed by Ellroy Elkayem, starring Peter Coyote.
Interpol agents are looking for barrels of trioxin and the man who has some is killed when they test to see if it is real. His nephew is a college student who finds the other barrels that belonged to his uncle and brings them to a friend to find out what they are. The friend makes pills out of the substance and sells them to the local drug dealer. College students begin taking the pills and are on their way to a big Halloween party.
This was indeed not as good as the first few films. The plot was far more stereotypical and predictable. The characters were shallow, but this was a direct sequel to #4, which I could not get, so they may have been developed in that film. The video was generically stereotypical of crappy, new horror films as well. There was a strobe light scene at the end which typified this. The audio was also of inferior quality. I could hear the dialogue, but the soundtrack included terrible nu metal like Powerman 5000 and worse. Overall, you might as well skip watching this. I rate it poor.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993)

An American horror romance directed by Brian Yuzna.
A young man's father works at a secret army base that is testing zombie gas (trioxin). He steals his father's key card and brings his girlfriend to spy on the father's work. When they get into a motorcycle accident, he brings her to the army base and resurrects her with the gas.
This was so different from the first two films! The plot was actually substantial. The characters had back-stories and were more than just survivors of a zombie apocalypse. They were also acted quite well. The video was pretty standard of the time. Although much of it was dark, it didn't look underexposed because of proper lighting to balance the darkness. The special effects were pretty cool. The girlfriend pierces her skin with many objects and the Latino gang all get horribly mutilated. The zombies from the barrels were over the top in this installment as well. The audio was good. I could hear all of the dialogue. Although this did not feature the punk/metal soundtrack of the two previous films, the background music fit the scenes. Humor was completely left out of this as well. Overall, those watching through the series in order will get a surprise here. I rate this adequate.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Woyzeck (1979)

A West German drama written, directed and produced by Werner Herzog, starring Klaus Kinski.
A manual labor worker in a small German town has had an illegitimate child with a woman and is participating as an experimental subject for a scientist. He eats nothing but peas for a month and has mental issues while his girlfriend has an affair with another man.
This was all WTF? moment, all the way through. The plot barely made any sense, but the craziness of it sort of held my attention. The characters were not likeable. In fact, most of them disgusted me. However, this seemed intentional. The video was pro-level, but definitely uninspired. Turns out, this is because it was filmed immediately after Nosferatu the Vampyre. The audio was an abomination, a sin against all that is holy. The dialogue was in German, but I'm not berating that aspect because I had accurate subtitles. The soundtrack sounded to me as if it were performed by a group of novice musicians with just enough skill to remember the parts, but not enough to play in tune or on time. This also seemed intentional. Overall, if I were trying to make a bad movie, it would be a lot like this. I rate this poor because it seems like it was supposed to be bad, and it is, but in an almost entertaining manner.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988)

An American horror comedy directed by Ken Wiederhorn, starring James Karen.
A child bully opens a barrel of zombie gas. The boy who is being bullied teams up with his older sister, the cable guy, a doctor and a pair of grave robbers to survive the zombie attack.
This was very much like the first film of the series. There was a little more plot in this one and the characters were more developed. Although stereotypical, the characters are no longer just some punk kid, but identifiable people with relationships to other characters.  This also means that they have back-story. The video was not quite as good as the first film. Nothing can beat the Tarman in the doorway scene. This one had more zombie jokes like falling apart and the zombies speaking. My favorite conversation happened on a walkie talkie: "Doc Mandell here, who's this?" "Brains!". The audio featured similar music to the first film, with Anthrax taking top spot with two songs. Overall, if you liked the first one, this is more of that. It's funnier, but not as surprising. I rate it adequate.

The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

An American horror directed by Dan O'Bannon, starring Clu Gulager, james Karen and Don Calfa.
A warehouse worker accidentally releases a zombie gas. The mortician across the street and a group of punks are caught in the aftermath.
This was actually cool. I watched it with and without director's commentary. The plot was relatively simple, but that tends to work for horror films of the zombie sub-genre. The characters were varying degrees of shallow, but were acted decently. Female anatomy points for the naked punk girl. The main thing is video. How do we make half a dog? The Tarman (picture), the torso and head corpse that speaks, etc... Special effects were done quite well. I was amazed to find that the Tarman was a person in a costume. The limbs looked so thin and skeletal! The audio featured audible dialogue and a soundtrack of rock, punk and metal tracks from the time. Overall, a fun horror flick that only gets better when you hear the director tell how everything was done. I rate this good.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Nemesis 4: Death Angel A.K.A. Cry of Angels (1996)

A Danish American science fiction drama directed by Albert Pyun, starring Sue Price.
A female body-builder has conversations with guys that have stuff stuck to their faces.
This was horrid! Plotless rambling with talking heads the whole time. The plot was so sparse as to be non-existent. The conversations were drawn out so long and then there was a little bit of action before the next conversation. The characters are accurately described in my plot summary. Imagine He-Man with boobs. That's the main character and she is not shy about naked scenes. Then add a regular, average looking guy who has paint, sequins and "cyborg parts" (A.K.A. bits of plastic) on his face. The video could have been done better by a child with an iPhone. At least they would have gotten better shot variety by mistake. The audio had clear dialogue... Overall, I think I've torn this a new one just about enough. I turned it off somewhere around the 50 minute mark. I rate this shit. NEVER EVER WATCH IT!!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Nemesis (1992)

An American science fiction action film directed by Albert Pyun, starring Olivier Gruner, Tim Thomerson and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.
A cyborg cop is damaged on a dangerous mission and rebuilt. He is told that a bomb has been implanted in him and he must find a man named Jared who has important information that the cop bosses want.
This was lack-luster at best. The plot was a little desultory and not very clear. The basic problem was that it did not hold my attention. The characters were not developed and the viewer does not even get to know the main character. The video was pretty standard for 1992. The robot and cyborg special effects were actually not too bad. There was a convincing scene in which the main character has his cyborg eye pulled out of his head. There were some really good shots and scenes mixed in, but most of it was jumbled garbage. The main character running with and burying his wolf/dog were some amazing shots. The audio was also standard. The dialogue and music seemed to be mixed correctly. Overall, too much shooting and a confusing amount of who is on whose side, why are we here, what is going on plot murkiness. I rate this tolerable.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)

A British American fantasy adventure directed by Val Guest, starring Patrick Allen and Patrick Holt.
A blonde cave woman is victimized by a tribe with dark hair. One of the men of the dark haired tribe falls in love with her. Dinosaurs attack throughout.
Akita! This was the most frequently used word in the fictional language of this prehistoric culture. It may have even surpassed "Grandma!" in The Witches (1990) and "Fuck" in Casino (1995). The plot was nearly incoherent and did not present a very cohesive story line. I took it as an examination of the normative function of primitive society. The dark haired tribes felt threatened by the main character's blonde hair because of lack of understanding. Even the ever-present threat of dinosaur attacks could not overpower their thoughts that a slight difference of appearance creates a foe. The characters were extremely shallow, mostly because there was no actual dialogue. The video was grain and blur all the way. Through this primitive haze, special effects become easier to make convincing. The stop-motion dinosaurs were done very well. These were combined into the scenes through forced perspective and compositing. The audio was of inferior quality. The treble-biased symphonic soundtrack was most prominent, with uneven vocal levels being of minimal concern. Overall, a film for those who like to watch cavemen and dinosaurs, but do not require a compelling story. I rate this adequate because I like to watch stop-motion dinosaurs.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

When Harry Met Sally... (1988)

An American romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan.
A man meets a woman who gives him a ride and they argue the whole way. He keeps meeting this same woman in other situations, later in life.
Guh. Standard Hollywood bullshit. The plot was so predictable that it was like watching The Story of Us (1999) in reverse. The characters were not developed at all. Even the two main characters remained a mystery throughout the duration. Compared to The Story of Us, we actually see the important memories being made instead of just remembered. The video was straight forward storytelling with no frills or artsy-fartsy in any way. The audio featured dialogue mixed at the correct level and overplayed pop songs. This is standard of romantic comedy soundtracks. Overall, a Hollywood bullshit chick flick for the dumbed down masses. I rate this bad because it sucks.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Venus in Furs A.K.A. Paroxismus - Può una morta rivivere per amore?, Schwarzer Engel (1969)

An Italian West German erotic thriller directed by Jesus Franco, starring Klaus Kinski and Dennis Price.
A jazz trumpet player meets a woman who is supposed to be dead. Although he is already in a relationship with the female vocalist of his band, he pursues the new woman and finds that she is involved in fetishistic S&M activities.
This was about what I was expecting as a Jesus Franco film. The plot was unclear, seemingly on purpose. It is only at the very end that the truth of what has been happening is revealed. The characters were on the shallow side, but acted pretty decently. Their dialogue reflected the era and culture with correct use of slang terms. The video featured lots of odd and experimental shots and scenes. This started right from the beginning with the motionless actress smoking and some type of tower in a handheld shot. It continued into the ending climax with heavy color manipulation during a chase scene. There was a scene of the main character running on the beach in slow motion that was very jarring, jerky and looked poor quality. As with most of Franco's films, there was some partial female nudity. The actresses were clearly selected for these scenes. The audio was actually not to shabby. The soundtrack was accurate to time and culture and the dialogue was mostly clear and at a good level in the mix. Overall, be prepared to not know what's going on until the end. I rate this o.k. because it tried some groovy techniques, but could have been produced better.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Track 29 (1988)

A British American psychological thriller directed by Nicolas Roeg, starring Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman, Christopher Lloyd, Colleen Camp and Seymour Cassel.
A woman whose husband neglects her meets a stranger in a restaurant and begins a complex relationship with him. The husband spends all of his time with model trains or cheating on his wife with a nurse at the hospital he works at.
This was that type of strange that only Nicolas Roeg can create. The plot was a little on the confusing side. Is this young man real or does the woman have an imaginary friend? Add the inconclusive ending and it's nearly incoherent. The characters were definitely acted very well. Being famous movie stars and all, they lived up to their reputations. The video was mostly straight forward storytelling. There were some odd shots and scenes as well. My favorite was the young man playing with the husband's train set. The audio was shoddy and uneven. This was the standard inaudible dialogue problem. Overall, a weird film by a weird director. I'm giving it the weird pink rating because I think it's his strangest work.

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (1988)

A Canadian children's fantasy adventure directed by Michael Rubbo.
A child criminal stamp collector steals his friend's father's rare stamp. When the neighbor girl goes to the store where it was sold, she is given a book of seemingly worthless stamps. The boy whose father's stamp was stolen rips up the book, revealing a hidden message. The message tells how to use magic to travel on a stamp and find his priceless book of stamps. This boy travels on a stamp to China and Australia in search of the stamp book.
I watched this many times with my sister when we were growing up. Unfortunately, I didn't even like it as a child, but decided to re-watch and review it because of how strong my memories of it are. The plot was actually put together quite well. The children have many adventures and face multiple conflicts regarding stamps, postage and the stamp thief. The characters were a little on the shallow side, but not unlikable. The video featured an effect during the stamp magic scenes in which the character turned into a drawing done in colored pencil. This was accomplished very well. There were other scenes of things happening to the stamp that were not done so well. When the dog is licking it, you can see the dish of water that has been placed in front of the camera. The audio was not bad. I could hear all of the dialogue and there was a variety of music. Most of the music was annoying because of child vocalists, but the stamp magic theme was instrumental. Overall, a part of my history that I will always remember. I rate it o.k.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Sure Thing (1985)

An American romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, starring John Cusack and Daphne Zuniga.
After a failed attempt at romance with a female classmate, a male college student finds himself sharing a ride with the girl who turned him down. They are both on their way south to where his friend has arranged a hot date and where her boyfriend is. Not everything works out as planned and they struggle most of the way there.
This was made back when Reiner was earning the reputation that got him hired for his more recent disasters. The plot made sense and held my attention. Never mind that it took me about four tries to get through the whole hour and a half duration. My schedule just turned into a nightmare. We see the characters engaged in multiple types of conflict such as vs. nature, other characters and seemingly, the rest of the world. The characters were developed well. Right from the beginning they are in-character, well acted and demonstrating their personality traits. By the end, the viewer will feel like they actually know these characters personally. I feel that this film was preparatory work for Daphne Zuniga to develop her Princess Vespa personality for a future roll in Spaceballs. The video style was straight forward storytelling, without much b-roll or artsy shots. That ended up working out well and showing the story very clearly. The audio did have some issues. There were some sections of dialogue that were noticeably quieter than the rest. Of course, these contained the most important plot points. Overall, a pretty decent '80s flick that was kind of fun to watch. I rate it adequate.