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REVIEW – Happy Death Day

October 28, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Produced by: Jason Blum
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Edited by: Gregory Plotkin
Cinematography by: Toby Oliver
Music by: Bear McCreary
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Rob Mello, Phi Vu
Year: 2017

 

I originally planned on reviewing far headier stuff this year for Halloween Movie Month, but due to some personal/family circumstances and a general lack of motivation that’s partly resulted from that, I’m choosing instead to focus what little time I have left before the actual day of Halloween with movies that are a bit more lighthearted and easy to digest. At least for now. Considering the fact that the holiday also happens to be my birthday, however, I figured what better time than now to review the recently released and appropriately titled Happy Death Day?

 


 

Is the concept of repeating a certain day over and over, Groundhog Day-style, an overused plot contrivance already? I’m sure there are plenty of examples of TV episodes doing it, or at least doing something similar to it, but I’d be hard pressed to find more than a handful of movies that used the time loop device as their primary driving force. There’s Edge of Tomorrow, of course, and then there’s Run Lola Run, Source Code (sorta…), ARQ, and earlier this year we received 2017’s first film about a young woman repeating a traumatic day in her life with the decidedly more serious Before I Fall. While Wikipedia points me towards a few examples of the time loop being used in a few other films, however, I’m pretty certain that this concept being used in such a particular way, complete with characters fixing mistakes and wrongs, is still mostly known from Groundhog Day, a fact that horror comedy offspring Happy Death Day openly acknowledges, thanks largely to the obligatory meta-commentary all horror comedies are apparently required to integrate into their structure these days. Read more…

REVIEW – The Addams Family

October 3, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by: Scott Rudin
Written by: Caroline Thompson, Larry Wilson
Edited by: Dede Allen
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Music by: Marc Shaiman
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raúl Juliá, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci, Jimmy Workman, Judith Malina, Carel Struycken, Elizabeth Wilson, Dan Hedaya, Dana Ivey, Paul Benedict, John Franklin, Christopher Hart(’s hand)
Based on The Addams Family comics by Charles Addams
Year: 1991

 

“And you thought your family was weird! Meet… the Addams Family!”

… You can practically imagine what kind of crappy trailer and taglines could be written for this film adaptation of Charles Addams’ comic strip. Released on the same day as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, though the film is undoubtedly going for a different audience, it’s still impressive that the film was as successful as it was, given that fact. Critics generally enjoyed it, audiences loved it (forking over $191.5 million worldwide against a $30 million budget), and the film led to a resurgence in the brand, spawning an acclaimed sequel, an animated series, and – heck – even one of the most successful pinball machines ever made. Heck, it was even Barry Sonnenfeld’s first film as director, leading to such acclaimed hits as Men in Black, Get Shorty, and… Wild Wild WestNine Lives… Well, you can’t win ‘em all, but still. Read more…

REVIEW – The Ref

December 14, 2016 2 comments
The RefDirected by: Ted Demme
Produced by: Ron Bozman, Richard LaGravenese, Jeffrey Weiss
Written by: Richard LaGravenese, Marie Weiss
Edited by: Jeffrey Wolf
Cinematography by: Adam Kimmel
Music by: David A. Stewart
Starring: Denis Leary, Judy Davis, Kevin Spacey, Glynis Johns, Robert J. Steinmiller, Jr., Raymond J. Barry, Adam LeFevre, Christine Baranski, J.K. Simmons, Richard Bright
Year: 1994

 

Bad Santa 2 not doing it for your angry Christmas comedy hankering this year? Yeah, I don’t blame you. That movie looked freaking horrible. And apparently is. I’m not spending money on it. Good riddance. Thank goodness a friend recommended a movie to me that fit the bill for such a bad craving. I mean, I could have seen the first again, too, but I’ve seen that before! And The Ref was right there on Netflix streaming, so… Read more…

REVIEW – The Evil Dead

October 31, 2016 1 comment
The Evil DeadDirected by: Sam Raimi
Produced by: Robert Tapert
Written by: Sam Raimi
Edited by: Edna Ruth Paul
Cinematography by: Tim Philo
Music by: Joseph LoDuca
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich (Richard DeManincor), Betsy Baker, Sarah York (Theresa Tilly)
Based on the short film Within the Woods by Sam Raimi
Year: 1981

 

“Cult classic.” That’s the best way to describe something like The Evil Dead, a low budget horror flick that’s just this side of camp, to the point that you’re not entirely certain whether it’s intentional or not. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, for instance, is obviously trying to be campy. The original version of The Last House on the Left? Not so much, but it’s got quite a bit of camp value, despite (or, more likely, because of) its disturbing subject matter. The Evil Dead has all the hallmarks of camp, and yet, because it’s so earnest, it’s also easy to believe that director Sam Raimi was, in fact, trying to make a genuinely terrifying horror film that just kind of got away from him. If you know anything about the strenuous shoot, for example, you can see where the earnestness comes in. Most of the crew was confined to the remote Tennessee cabin location for several weeks, and Raimi purposely mistreated his actors to get them into the proper mood for a horror film, for example. There’s a very good chance that The Evil Dead was, in fact, meant to be a scary horror film that instead came together in the editing as the ambiguously humorous production that it ended up being – something that its sequels and spin-off series embraced more wholeheartedly. Read more…

Halloween Movie Month 2016

October 1, 2016 Leave a comment

 

 

Paranormal Activity - Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat

Six. This year marks the sixth time I have done a Halloween movie theme month. Not only that, it also signals that I have now been running this blog since I was 25. This year marks my 30th birthday, which also just so happens fall on Halloween. To say that Halloween 2016 is a scary one for me is an understatement. But, the reviews must go on! (Well, not really, but I enjoy writing them, even if I’m fairly certain not many people are actually reading these.) As a result, though, you would think that I might have big plans for this year. Well… I don’t. But one idea did just occur to me, and it’s actually something I intended on reviewing last year, but it completely escaped my mind: How about I review a film starring one of my former high school classmates that also just so happens to be on Netflix?

Darkroom - Kaylee DeFer

The film is called “Darkroom” and stars aforementioned classmate Kaylee DeFer, whom I went to school with until she moved. I’m not going to pretend I knew her well or anything – she was perfectly nice, but we just didn’t have the same social circles – but it’s still kinda surreal to have a former classmate who has now had roles in films shows like Gossip Girl and was even a crucial character in the string of events that led to Ted Mosby meeting his wife on How I Met Your Mother. I think the most interaction I ever had with her was our freshman year during our school’s Shakespeare week, and we were assigned to reenact the gravedigger scene from Romeo & Juliet. I sliced my hand open on the metal pole I was using as a prop and started bleeding, resulting in the scene – and my own burgeoning acting career – being cut considerably short. So… yeah, I’ll get around to doing that one, unless it’s no longer available on Netflix or some other service. (And, really, why wouldn’t it be? I only discovered it because I noticed her on the cover while browsing, and that’s probably the only way anyone has watched it.)

28 Weeks later - Infected

I do intend on reviewing some other horror classics I haven’t gotten around to, though, perhaps the original Amityville Horror, as well as perhaps some newer ones, like a certain computer-based film I actually put on my Favorite Films of 2015 list that I admittedly only saw once. (I’m curious whether it holds up, particularly by just watching it on a laptop this time.) I do think this year will be considerably more horror-heavy than previous years, if only because I’ve actually been really in the mood for them, rather than the more lighthearted stuff like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and Ghostbusters (take your pick which, just don’t troll my site). Perhaps it’s just the bleak impending doom of turning 30, though? [shudder] I guess, if the mood strikes, I could end up doing something more cheerful.

Regardless of what goes on though, just know that I’ve been looking forward to this month and watching some suitable movies for it. Until then, consider reading some of my previous seasonally appropriate reviews, linked below.

Happy Halloween!


The Blair Witch Project10 Cloverfield Lane

28 Days Later

28 Weeks Later

Alien

Aliens

Attack the Block

The Babadook

The Blair Witch Project

The Cabin in the Woods

Contagion

Dawn of the Dead (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2004)

Don’t Breathe (2016)

Don't BreatheThe Exorcist

Frankenweenie

Friday the 13th (1980)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (2016)

Grave Encounters

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

Hocus Pocus

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Juan of the Dead

Krampus

The ExorcistThe Last House on the Left (1972)

The Last House on the Left (2009)

Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

The Mist

The Nightmare Before Christmas

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Paranormal Activity

ParaNorman

Perfect Blue (パーフェクトブル)

Shaun of the DeadPoltergeist (1982)

Predator

Psycho (1960)

The Purge

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Saw

Scream

Shaun of the Dead

The Sixth Sense

Sleepy Hollow

Slither (2006)

ZombeaversSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

The Thing (1982)

This Is the End

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

The Twilight Saga

Under the Skin (2013)

The Visit

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

The World’s End

Zombeavers

Zombieland

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Krampus

December 8, 2015 6 comments
KrampusDirected by: Michael Dougherty
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Jon Jashni, Michael Dougherty, Thomas Tull
Written by: Todd Casey, Michael Dougherty, Zach Shields
Edited by: John Axelrad
Cinematography by: Jules O’Loughlin
Music by: Douglas Pipes
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, Maverick Flack, Luke Hawker, Gideon Emery
Year: 2015

 

Put this on my list of one of the more surprising films of 2015. I wasn’t even aware of the film’s existence until I saw the trailer play before M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit just a couple months ago. That film surprised me in not being as especially terrible as I had expected. However, while the prospect of a found footage horror film starring children and directed by M. Night Shyamalan sounded like the worst possible thing you would ever see, Krampus had a known cast of talented and even funny actors contrasting with the gruesome visuals and suggesting that this film had its pointed tongue was planted firmly in cheek. It actually looked like it had the potential to be an actually great movie. Could it possibly turn into a new alternative holiday classic? Read more…

REVIEW: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

October 22, 2015 2 comments
Tucker & Dale vs. EvilDirected by: Eli Craig
Produced by: Morgan Jurgenson, Albert Klychak, Rosanne Milliken, Deepak Nayar
Screenplay by: Eli Craig, Morgan Jurgenson
Story by: Eli Craig
Edited by: Bridget Durnford
Cinematography by: David Geddes
Music by: Michael Shields, Andrew Kaiser
Starring: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons, Brandon Jay McLaren, Christie Laing, Travis Nelson, Alex Arsenault, Adam Beauchesne, Joseph Allan Sutherland, Karen Reigh, Tye Evans, Philip Granger
Year: 2010

 

You know, hillbillies, rednecks, and hicks don’t get a lot of respect. Jokes about incest, ignorance, ugliness, and prejudices are pretty common fodder when it comes to discussing people we assign these labels, and when they’re not made out to be the butt of jokes, they’re often made out to be psychotics to be feared and villainized. You would think, though, in these days of understanding and tolerance that we’d attempt to be not so quick to return judgment on those we deem to be judgmental. Sure, sometimes the criticism is justified, but obviously not everyone is the same, and sometimes these portrayals aren’t exactly fair. So what if someone were to make a film that told the story about a hillbilly massacre from the hillbillies’ perspective? No, I’m not talking about the Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel movie they’re making, Leatherface. I’m talking about a film where it turns out that the hillbillies were the ones being terrorized by the perceived victims, a group of attractive, entitled young people! That’s pretty much the concept behind Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: The Visit

September 17, 2015 6 comments
The VisitDirected by: M. Night Shyamalan
Produced by: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan
Edited by: Luke Franco Ciarrocchi
Cinematography by: Maryse Alberti
Music by: Paul Cantelon
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie, Kathryn Hahn
Year: 2015

 

M. Night Shyamalan – the guy’s name has basically become synonymous with “crappy movie with a twist ending.” The filmmaker was once purported to be “the next Steven Spielberg” when he released his first film, The Sixth Sense, and people continued to call him a master of suspense with the release of his second, Unbreakable. There was a brief time when Shyamalan’s name in the credits was reason enough to go flock to the theatre and see his latest work, but something quickly changed in the public consciousness, it seemed. It seemed to start at a different time for everyone. For some, it was his alien invasion film Signs, with its improbably prophetic twist reveal. For others, it was The Village, which seemed to promise one movie in the trailers and delivered something completely different and ultimately disappointing with the end product. Some were even willing to go as far as The Lady in the Water, but others even took issue with Unbreakable, while others claim that one’s still superior to his first. Read more…

SPECIAL REVIEW: Wristcutters: A Love Story

July 16, 2015 Leave a comment
Wristcutters - A Love StoryDirected by: Goran Dukić
Produced by: Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev, Adam Sherman
Screenplay by: Goran Dukić
Story by: Etgar Keret
Edited by: Jonathan Alberts
Cinematography by: Vanja Cernjul
Music by: Bobby Johnston, Gogol Bordello
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Mikal P. Lazarev, Mark Boone, Jr., Abraham Benrubi, Mary Pat Gleason, Anthony Azizi, Azura Skye, Nick Offerman, Sarah Roemer, John Hawkes, Tom Waits, Anatol Rezmeritza, Cameron Bowen, Jake Busey
Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret
Year: 2006

 

This review contains some mild spoilers.

 

Lying in bed, placing a needle on a record, and then, to the tune of Tom Waits’ “Dead and Lovely,” we watch Zia, the lead character, at various stages of tidying up his mess of an apartment. Zia picks up every bit of trash and misplaced piece of dirty clothing, then wipes down every surface and piece of furniture from the dust and filth that has built up. He waters his plants, as well, then looks around to ensure he’s finished. He then looks at himself, directly into the camera, fixes his hair, takes a peek outside his window, mindlessly, and then around his room once more to ensure that he’s done everything he possibly could. He then walks into the bathroom. This time, the camera doesn’t follow until several moments pass. Uneasily, it begins to creep in. Zia’s looking into a mirror, working at something just off screen. His expression barely changes as he collapses to the tile floor. There’s a pool of bloody water in the sink, a razor beside it. In his last few moments, he notices a single, large dust bunny in the corner of the room. It’s barely moved by his last few breaths… Read more…

REVIEW: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

December 17, 2014 7 comments
Rare Exports: A Christmas TaleDirected by: Jalmari Helander
Produced by: Petri Jokiranta
Screenplay by: Jalmari Helander
Story by: Jalmari Helander, Juuso Helander
Edited by: Kimmo Taavila
Cinematography by: Mika Orasmaa
Music by: Juri Seppä
Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Tommi Korpela, Rauno Juvonen, Per Christian Ellefsen, Ilmari Järvenpää, Peeter Jakobi, Jonathan Hutchings, Risto Salmi, Jens Sivertsen, Sigmund Bøe, Olav Pedersen, Nils M. Iselvmo
Based on the 2003 short film Rare Exports Inc. by Jalmari Helander and Juuso Helander
Year: 2010

 

Santa Claus has largely been portrayed as being a saintly old man who travels the world delivering gifts to children on Christmas night, but that’s largely been because most productions are based on the image cultivated by American pop culture – you know, the one seen in film and on soda cans. Some films have attempted to stray from this mostly by making a point of it, incorporating some traditions while adapting and adding their own twists – Rise of the Guardians still portrayed him as a large, jolly man, but also a Russian brawler who will gleefully leap into battle with dark forces, while Arthur Christmas had Santa and his crew of elves leading a technologically advanced operation that adapted to each culture they visited, though Santa, by default, was still largely influenced by the traditional Santa. It seems like a hard thing to get away from, and it can largely become pretty stale, no matter what twist they may put on it. Rare Exports, as its name suggests, is as far from tradition as one can get from tradition without losing any semblance of who the central figure is supposed to be, though. Read more…

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