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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…

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REVIEW: The Passion of the Christ

March 24, 2016 Leave a comment
Passion of the Christ, TheDirected by: Mel Gibson
Produced by: Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Stephen McEveety, Enzo Sisti
Screenplay by: Mel Gibson, Benedict Fitzgerald, William Fulco (translation)
Edited by: John Wright
Cinematography by: Caleb Deschanel
Music by: John Debney
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Monica Bellucci, Hristo Zhivkov, Francesco De Vito, Luca Lionello, Hristo Shopov, Rosalinda Celentano, Claudia Gerini, Fabio Sartor, Luca De Dominicis, Mattia Sbragia, Chokri Ben Zagden, Toni Bertorelli, Jarreth Merz, Sergio Rubini, Sabrina Impacciatore
Year: 2004

 

It’s been 12 years since Mel Gibson’s adaptation of the gospels’ account of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, which would go on to divide audiences over its theology, brutal violence, and even accusations of racism (which were later vindicated when the director’s own demons made their very public appearance soon after the film’s release). Each Easter since I’ve started this blog, I have thought about doing a review of this film, and each time I held back because I simply was not in the mood, nor did I think I had the stamina, to endure this film again. This year, I don’t really know what’s changed – perhaps it’s the political climate and the fact that so many people are willing to marry their faith to their political stances, and I’m feeling particularly opinionated, perhaps it’s the Tyler Perry modern day musical retelling on TV, or perhaps it’s simply to get this annual inner debate in my head over with already – but, yeah, I decided that now was time to review one of the most famous and infamous Christian-targeting films of all time. 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: Zombeavers

April 1, 2015 5 comments
ZombeaversDirected by: Jordan Rubin
Produced by: Evan Astrowsky, Chris Bender, Christopher Lemole
Written by: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan
Edited by: Ed Marx, Seth Flaum
Cinematography by: Jonathan Hall
Music by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan
Starring: Rachel Melvin, Hutch Dano, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Bill Burr, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy, Rex Linn, Brent Briscoe, Phyllis Katz, Robert R. Shafer, Chad Anderson
Year: 2015

 

“We cannot turn against each other right now. That is exactly what the beavers would want!” That’s the line in the trailer that sold my buddy and me on seeing this film. And, as if that weren’t enough, the trailer ended with the tagline, “They’ll dam you to hell!” Ha! This movie knew what it was, and the fact that it was getting decent enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (64% positive!), we figured, you know… why not? So he came driving up 100 miles to visit, with Zombeavers being half the reason for our hanging out. (He also wanted to go to Ikea.)
Read more…

2013 IN REVIEW: The Films I Didn’t See (May – August)

January 18, 2014 2 comments

Monsters University - Mike Wazowski

Blockbuster season. Typically the season where most of the most anticipated films of the year — the ones that were hyped perhaps years in advance — are released. Since 2012 was the year when The Avengers gave us the first superhero team-up film and the year when The Dark Knight Trilogy came to a close, 2013 looked like it was going to be rather underwhelming this time of year. I already mentioned that Iron Man 3 was released in April, starting the season early, but Thor: The Dark World wasn’t coming until October!

So that left us with two major superhero films to look forward to: Man of Steel, which divided audiences and critics alike in its more serious, violent portrayal of Superman, and The Wolverine, which made good on its promise to improve upon its abysmal predecessor and managed to be both coherent and quite entertaining. Pixar and DreamWorks continued their rivalries, however, with the release of Pixar’s first prequel, Monsters University, and DreamWorks’ first sequel to cash-cow Despicable Me. (The less said about Turbo, the better.) World War Z finally came out and, predictably, did very well for itself, what with people being starved for zombie entertainment until the next season of The Walking Dead started. Summer also saw the release of some fairly big “prestige” films, however, the likes of which you’d normally expect to come out during the fall and winter Oscar season: Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now, and Blue Jasmine each received widespread critical acclaim.

Perhaps my most anticipated films of the summer were Star Trek Into Darkness, Pacific Rim, and The World’s End, which were all released during this time, and I personally actually enjoyed each of them immensely, though to also varying degrees. This was the time period where I did get promoted at my job and also got a raise, so I was able to see a few more films that I just wanted to see during this time. Nevertheless, I couldn’t see them all, so, as with the last time, here are the films that, as of this writing, I did not see from May– August 2013, in order of release, as noted on Wikipedia. Please note that, as in the past, I still reserve the right to watch any film that is listed here and then re-remark on the film in one of the upcoming articles on films I did see from 2013. So, yes, again, you might see some of these films again, and soon… Read more…

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

October 13, 2013 2 comments
Dawn of the Dead (2004)Directed by: Zack Snyder
Produced by: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Richard P. Rubinstein; Michael D. Messina (co-producer); Armyan Bernstein, Thomas A. Bliss, Dennis E. Jones (executive producers)
Written by: James Gunn (screenplay); Michael Tolkin, Scott Frank (uncredited rewrites)
Edited by: Niven Howie
Cinematography by: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, R.D. Reid, Kim Poirier, Matt Frewer, Louis Ferreira, Bruce Bohne
Based on the 1978 film directed by George A. Romero
Year: 2004

 

I’m a bit of a Zack Snyder apologist, as I actually mostly enjoy the films of his that I have actually seen – which is pretty much every film he’s directed, save for Sucker Punch and The Owls of Ga’Hoole – coincidentally, his least admired movies, so take of that what you will. I enjoyed 300, really liked Watchmen, and I honestly did not understand the backlash against Man of Steel, which I thought was a fantastic reimagining of Superman for the modern era. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that I so enjoyed his remake of Dawn of the Dead, which I managed to see ahead of the original. I saw it in high school thanks to the extinct Hollywood Video’s MVP rental program that my family subscribed to (and that I took advantage of more than anyone), and it was one of the first horror films that I decided to give a try after years of thinking the entire genre sucked. The original wasn’t available at the store near me, so I settled on the remake, which I had heard was pretty good on its own, and I remember that I thought to myself that doing so in that order would allow for me to appreciate the remake on its own terms. Perhaps nostalgia goggles have tainted my perspective, but I can still confirm that, to this day, I still like this one just a smidge better. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “This Is the End”

June 24, 2013 4 comments
This Is the EndDirected by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Produced by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg (screenplay and story)
Edited by: Zene Baker
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Music by: Henry Jackman
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jamese Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Rihanna
Year: 2013

 

You don’t expect a movie where movie stars, playing (often slightly askew versions of) themselves, fight demons during the apocalypse to get widespread acclaim, and yet, here we are, and This Is the End has managed to delight audiences and critics alike. At least, the ones who can handle a heavy dose of raunch. And, for the religious out there, those who can handle a few liberties being taken with theology. This movie isn’t for the squeamish. There are scary demons in the movie who are well equipped to do their jobs, if you get what I’m saying…. (PROFANITY AND OTHER SUCH STUFF AHEAD, o ye of faint hearts!) Read more…

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