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About

Hometown:
flooded cave in New Orleans, LA
 
Favorite Movies:
Casablanca, The Seventh Seal, Breakfast on Pluto, Tideland, Shaun of the Dead, Lost Highway, Alphaville, Visitor Q (BijitÔ Q), Naked Lunch, Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)), Wonder Boys, The City of Lost Children (La CitÚ des Enfants Perdus), Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Short Films of David Lynch, American Movie, Zombi 2, Wizards, Day Watch, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Lawrence of Arabia, American Beauty, Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor), Spirited Away, Dawn of the Dead, A Scanner Darkly, UNDEAD, Clerks, X-Men: The Last Stand, Jason and the Argonauts, Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), Lost In Translation, Severed: Forest of the Dead, Day of the Dead, The Last House on the Left, Enemy Mine, Suicide Club, Rope, The Omega Man, Nightbreed, Schizopolis, The Royal Tenenbaums, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, The Last Man on Earth, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Amadeus, The Elephant Man, Arsenic and Old Lace, From Dusk Till Dawn, Night of the Living Dead, Vampire Hunter D - Bloodlust, Nadja, The Monster Squad, The Lion in Winter, My Life in Pink (Ma Vie en Rose), Cecil B. Demented, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Beauty and the Beast, Ran, The Man Who Would Be King, Napoleon Dynamite, Breathless (└ bout de souffle) (By a Tether), Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, Delicatessen, Being John Malkovich, Edward Scissorhands, Gendernauts: A Journey Through Shifting Identities, Slasher, This Is Spinal Tap, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Lost in La Mancha, Being There, Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), Sling Blade, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika), I Heart Huckabees, Kill Bill: Volume 2, Batman, Hot Fuzz, The Remains of the Day, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Boondock Saints, A Mighty Wind, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Kill Bill: Volume 1, The Return of the Living Dead, Empire Records, Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Slither, Rushmore, Pi, Crumb, Waiting for Guffman, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Swordfish, Heat, Metropolis (Metoroporisu), The Thing, Battle Royale 3D, Wristcutters - A Love Story, What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole, Cannibal Holocaust, Rampo Noir (Rampo jigoku), High Tension (Switchblade Romance), Dogma, T˘ky˘ Zankoku Keisatsu (Tokyo Gore Police), Inside (└ l'intÚrieur), The Big Lebowski, The Short Films of David Lynch, Surveillance, Lo, Inferno, Bent, Piranha 3-D, Code 46, Best in Show, Cannibal, The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, Videodrome, The Straight Story
 
Favorite Actors:
Ian McKellen, Kevin Spacey, Cary Grant, Eddie Izzard, Ricky Gervais, Simon Pegg, Patrick Stewart, Sydney Pollack, Vincent Price, Udo Kier, David Lynch, John Cleese, Stephen Merchant, David Walliams, Amy Sedaris, Jason Mewes, Robert Englund, Parker Posey, Jennifer Tilly, Uma Thurman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ray Harryhausen, Terry Gilliam, Ingmar Bergman, Tom Wilkinson, Peter Lorre, Edward G. Robinson, Cillian Murphy, John Malkovich, Gary Oldman, Steve Buscemi, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Sean Penn, Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Guest, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Bill Pullman, Jeff Bridges, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Anthony Hopkins, William H. Macy, Tim Robbins
 
Bio:
<b>!!!!!!!!! WARNING TO SPAMMERS & THEIR BOTS !!!!!!!!!! If you spam me, you will not simply be blocked, you will be REPORTED. I have a solid record of aiding in the ACCOUNT DELETION of those who use Flixster for INAPPROPRIATE PURPOSES, and that even includes the 'hi how are you' bots and widget-crazy creations. Sorry to be ?-ist, but "Only REAL people and movie fans need apply". It's one thing when people on my friends list send me trailers, links to their blogs, polls, or announce a new list because <i>that is awesome, and what Flixster is for!</i>It's another thing to send me fifteen sparkling gaudy "I Love You" widgets per day when you're not even on my friends' list or have 2112 ratings but they're all 5 stars and say "pretty cool" for the review and you want me to add you as a friend; that is pointless web garbage nonsense and NOT what Flixster is for.</b> -------------------------------------------------------------------- PROFILE BEGIN. -------------------------------------------------------------------- _addicted to the horror genre, particularly zombies and exploitation; tend to watch foreign, documentary, dark comedy, classics, dystopian sci-fi/fantasy, independent, experimental, animation, extreme, queer, arthouse -_my birthday, May 24, was also the release date of Dawn of the Dead but I was born 7 years (fashionably) late for the premiere. -_ I got Steve Merchant added to Flixster, so that'll probably help his career. So Smerch, once you've got your Brando billions, remember the little Karl Pilkingtons, like myself, who made you what you are.</a> -_always want suggestions or recommendations, especially for my lists -_prefer friends who are fairly active on flixster and write quality reviews often. But I have no qualms adding a new member who is interested in growing their content and fully utilizing the site (I've seen many a profile blossom from a handful of thoughtful reviews to a full-on film blog) <p align=center><b>My Top Favorite Films</b></p> <widget id="341778" type="Rock You - SlideShow"/> <p align=center><b>Share Film Knowledge \\\ <img src=http://img213.imageshack.us/img213/5624/wolverineanimatednt2.gif height=83 width=83> /// Add this Ravenous Cinephile</b></p> Have had less time to write reviews as I'm working (in film) more, but whenever I get spare time, I obsessively update my ratings and reviews. I occasionally use the "recommend a movie" option about once or twice a month when I can be active on flixster, and it's usually an "overlooked" piece. I welcome any of your recommendations or requests to expound on my reviews (as I often type quick vague blurbs). I like the occasional academic-analytical correspondence about a specific film/flick/movie/genre, and may ask your expanded opinion of a particular movie you've seen if you're on my friend list. I am primarily a writer of all genres, and work in film production as a gaffer-grip (cinematography is my primary interest, but "of course what I really want to do is direct"). I am always searching for my creative soulmate - the Jay to my Silent Bob, the Aja to my Levasseur, the Smerch to my Gervais. <p align=center>Later On, Check Out:..... <a href=http://www.helium.com/user/show_articles/379234><b>Hyperfocal:</a></b>A Series of Serious Analyses Just as the title implies, that's a link to my formal articles. I tend to concentrate on theory, be it the image, story, or sound.; I've got an article on <a href=http://www.helium.com/tm/863305/understand-realist-movement-examine><b>freedom in 70s neorealistic films</b></a> and in-depth analysis of story in <a href=http://www.helium.com/tm/874102/robert-weines-cabinet-caligari><b>The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari</b></a>. --------------------------------------------------------------------LIST BLAST & FLIXSTER USAGE STATEMENT---- <embed src="http://widget.flixster.com/static/widget/widget.swf?getRev=http://widget.flixster.com/servlet/publishrate/userId:813931712;listId:25529&bkgd=660000&fgd=ff0000" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" bgcolor="#dddddd" width="200" height="165" align="left" /> <embed src="http://widget.flixster.com/static/widget/widget.swf?getRev=http://widget.flixster.com/servlet/publishrate/userId:813931712;listId:72578&bkgd=336600&fgd=33ff00" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" bgcolor="#dddddd" width="200" height="165" align="center" /> <embed src="http://widget.flixster.com/static/widget/widget.swf?getRev=http://widget.flixster.com/servlet/publishrate/userId:813931712;listId:184430&bkgd=111111&fgd=ff6699" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" bgcolor="#000000" width="200" height="165" align="right" /> <b>My movie lists are (my darling favorite) ongoing projects, and most are intended for public audience to promote the selections; I try not to list outright awful movies, and I love getting suggestions for the lists. They are non-traditionally organized and seek to gather similar films and explain why they fit with the spirit of the list, not to "rank" films like a scoreboard!</b> I only add a featured video to my scrapbook if it's one of my favorite scenes/shots of all time (or is outright hilarious satire). Most of my pic scrapbook is stuff I've uploaded. I try to revise my ratings often to reflect any changed perspective on the movie. My above favorite directors and actors are people whom I feel compelled to digest their entire filmography as something about their artwork truly engages me. My reviews are organic, and I use flixster to help develop a few thoughts into a formal article, make notes to self, and reflect on my viewing process. After using Flixster for so long, I've realized that the most useful feature is the extensive network of film analysis experts one can build here if you put in the proper time and effort in friend selection. -------------------------------------------------------------------- <p align=center><b>Hyperfocal:The Current Watch Project - Summer 2011</b></p> Have finally gotten around to updating my profile (does not update in my default Chrome dev browser so I'm capitulating and using Firefox atm). Have been neglecting reviews because I've actually been getting film work this past year. Since it's now summer in Louisiana, I am not working as much and back to focusing on my writing. As a fully obsessed hobby, I like to keep current with my ratings and write as many reviews as I can here on flixster (and I have a much bigger backlog than I've ever had right now). As always check my<b><a href="http://www.flixster.com/movie-list/thats-fucked-up-movies/">"That's Fucked Up" Cinema</b></a> list to see if I've added any new stuff or to suggest some.</p> <embed src="http://widget.flixster.com/static/widget/widget.swf?getRev=http://widget.flixster.com/servlet/publishrate/userId:813931712&bkgd=336699&fgd=99FF00" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" bgcolor="#dddddd" width="200" height="165" align="center">Currently shambling through <a href="http://www.flixster.com/movie-list/zed"><b>UNDEAD ALLEY</b></a>: Resident Evil: Afterlife </b><br><p align=center><a href="http://impraving.com"><img src="http://content8.flixster.com/photo/12/10/25/12102570_ori.jpg" border="1"/></a> This <a href=http://impraving.com><b>Raving Imp</b></a> wrestles paradoxical drivel</p> <br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br> _kelly.King
 

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Cannibal
Cannibal (2008)
½

Another version of the Armin Meiwes story, except this one IS the ground-breaking film I expected from this story.

The mix of sound and image is positively hypnotizing, and the little dialogue there is has been expertly placed. Once we do get dialogue, this is the high caliber of it:
"I'm your flesh."

This is the film Grimm Love aka Rohtenburg wanted to be (see my review of it for more info). Where Grimm Love failed with minimalistic dialogue and scenes that attempt to convey unspoken layers of emotion, this film exceeds expectations. The connection between the two actors is nearly tangible, and I'm glad that there is a version of this story wherein the director is not afraid of male nudity and gore, especially for the crucial biting scene. The castration and cooking scene are even more explicit, enough to satisfy my sick curiosity about this story. And my question of "did he cut off just the dick or the balls as well?" is answered. I was disappointed that there was no dialogue about the penis being overcooked, but both characters suggest it by their dislike of the taste and inability to chew the meat. The bathtub scene is strikingly simultaneously tender and disturbing and a brilliant cinematic achievement. The butchering scene is the pinnacle of disturbing cinema.

The settings are unbelievably realistic and the room where the main event occurs is a perfect amplification of the anxiety, despair, and desire between the two characters.

This is the definitive extreme film with male homosexuality. This is on par with "Trouble Every Day" when it comes to the sublimely troubling mixture of sensuality and cannibalism. Never before has a film been so grotesquely beautiful.

"Hot Gay Sex" commentary: yet another selection where the steamy sex happens alongside a MUCH more severe taboo, this time of cannibalism

"So Fucked Up" highlight (this film has quite a few): vivid penile bleeding after the unsuccessful biting, the fluids flowing into the jar immediately following the castration by knife, carrying the leaking and defecating nearly-dead body through the house, the butchering scene with the cannibal sensually worshiping the internal organs, the "morning after" breakfast

Descent
Descent (2007)

Plot Spoilers Necessarily Throughout This Review I saw this movie by accident, thinking I had downloaded "The Descent", the horror movie about creatures attacking a group of cave climbers/campers who are all college age girls. So even through, the first rape scene, I thought, this is just another crappy B horror movie trying to start off by being "edgy", so I kept watching through Dawson's character waking up in the dilapidated drug house, thinking to myself "yeah this is probably just a drama and if it is not, it's a tacky convention to parallel *this* parabolic descent story with some creature-killin-in-caves and her redeeming herself by killing creatures, so she better torture that lil football poofter". Problem is, I don't think this is that great of a performance from Dawson, just because you do a rape movie doesn't make your career. And the movie fails on its point, because call me fucked up, but I enjoyed the revenge rape scene. Yup I don't mind some stuck up jock getting his ass split and kind of liking it, so for me that totally washes out the scene of Dawson's character getting raped. Compare this film to "O Fantasma", a real art-house movie that also includes plotted homosexual rape, and you will see that "Descent" cannot compare when it comes to depicting a character sliding into an amoral and degraded existence, which is ultimately the point of this movie, not all the graphic rape bookending the fall, but those are really the only compelling moments, which is never good for a director to say, "well at least it's got good rape scenes". So sadly that means the whole middle of the movie could have been gutted, so next time this director wants to do an effective feature, they may want to consider a rewrite to make sure there is sufficient material to cover it, instead of duping me into watching a piece that is seventy minutes too long.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: using a bedpost to get the anal rape started; that I was aroused by the muscley latin guy revenge raping the frat twat

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

compelling story but non-practical VFX were uneven

Otto; or Up with Dead People
½

This film does a terrific job at eliminating audience members - weeding out the weak. Do not watch this film if you can't handle: gratuitous gore of the intestine eating sort, explicit gay sex (between zombies using fresh improvised gashes as sexual orifices), frequent cross-cutting of "reality" and "film", and dedicating major segments of the film to an art house indie director criticizing art house and non-mainstream film.

But if you're a weirdo like me and think all of that sounds like a hella good time, you will or will not be disappointed ;)

Some things that are truly outstanding here: the director character's lover is constantly encapsulated in a bubble of silent film; the lengths to which this director goes to be "avant garde" and the heights to which those attempts accidentally succeed and the hilarious depths to which they intentionally fail. Otto, the main zombie character, is constantly battling for a sense of identity, and his story juxtaposed and interweaving with this director's vision (Up With Dead People is the title of her film) makes the titling very apt (which the title itself is a wink-wink nudge-nudge satirical jab at fringe cinema).

Ultimately, this is not so much a film about zombies as it is a film about film; the zombie aspect is merely used as fuel for probing the subject of identity in both the personal and social arena.

Hot Gay Sex notes: for those looking to avoid poorly done zombie sex and see hardcore human/human (in appearance) gay male sex in the context of narrative feature, around 1:20:00 is the best example; beyond that you're on your own and in for some zombie/zombie, zombie/human combos

An Englishman in New York
½

What's so eerie (and you can see this is Resident Alien when they chat with each other) is that by this film, John Hurt has gotten better at playing Quentin Crisp that Quentin Crisp, as Crisp himself predicted at the very beginning of The Naked Civil Servant film. This entry does feel more like a made--for-tv-movie whereas I didn't know the first film was anything other than a typical low budget, British-shot, limited release film until they told me so in THIS flick! This one is less literary and more borrowed speeches and autobiographical tidbits, which is okay if you like simmering in exaggerated Crispness.

Even though much trauma still happens, this is still the "warm and fuzzy" entry, whereas the first one was very cold and hard.

And sadly did not qualify for the "Hot Gay Sex' list.

Doghouse
Doghouse (2009)
½

The strength is in the makeup and special effects.
The weakness is in the story subtext (and often blatant dialogue) about sexgender and how the zombie apocalypse could possibly serve as a solid ground for dealing with issues of gender performance inadequacy (on part of all of the men characters).
Overall, entertaining, but like most zombie flicks, don't go looking for depth.

Resident Evil: Afterlife
½

I was expecting to be disappointed, and in that respect, this movie did not disappoint. Marginally better than the last film, but still not as good as just playing the damn games or watching a Z-budget with a better script and more focus on the zombies instead of bullet-time, explosions, and genetic clones.

Kick-Ass
Kick-Ass (2010)

It's very well shot. I just didn't really care about the story; it's trying to be at Watchmen level but it isn't (though the Watchmen adaptation isn't even at the Watchmen level as that is a very high bar to meet). Nicholas Cage finally gets to play Batman (a satire of him), so if you share that batty dream with Cage, that alone could make this flick worth it.

Follow My Voice

Very odd premise for a mashup doc (one half the making of a benefit album, the other half DV cam footage shot by the people it will benefit).
It's slightly better than Hedwig (the benefit album is based on that music) and considering my low opinion of Hedwig, that is not saying very much positive at all.
I'm glad they made this album, but the time, money, and effort of making this doc seemed wasted and would've been better spent by the Hetrick-Martin Institute to directly impact the quality of student life. It's not like more people are going to buy the album or give a private donation to HMI because of this film.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Most overrated binary-biased queer film since....well it's still at the top. And good thing Mitchell moved on to work like Shortbus. It's a mirror image of how Neil Jordan did the (second) most (to Boys Don't Cry) binary-affirming ignorant view of trans people with Crying Game, and then struck brilliance years later with "Breakfast on Pluto". I guess you have to make mistakes in understanding your themes as well as implementing your film techniques (at least cinematography in this can't be slagged). Hedwig gave Mitchell a career, but should it have done? Based on story and acting, absolutely not. Based on his eye - maybe okay for the mainstream festivals, but not a trophy film that is touted to be.

Howl
Howl (2010)

Franco's readings were great and they were shot very well; I also liked the alternative computer animations though I do need to see those again to completely evaluate them. Overall, was extremely pleased and I expected to be extremely disappointed because HOWL is sacred territory (I read it in high school, first exposure to Ginsberg).

Word is Out - Stories of Some of Our Lives
½

This is a beautiful little time capsule shot in 1975 of interviews with 26 queer people, selected from 200 pre-interviews and edited from 50 hours of footage. More than anything, it taught me that I underestimated how advanced queer studies was in '75 and how commonplace that knowledge was among queer people of that era. Of course, it has the effect of showing the eternal struggles of queer life, and the struggles that have remained static because of our political climate.

Also, the restoration looks beautiful.

Be Like Others

This is certainly a film that needed to be made, but I felt at times that it wasn't as well made as it could have been.

My primary problem was that some of the people's stories were never followed; the film gave a great starting glimpse, and usually a stunner check-in, but did not conclude with all of the people. Most notably, the FtM person was never followed, and I was not aware that the Iranian system even allowed for FtMs (which when you consider their culture, the upshift in civil rights one would obtain from having a male social status, surely following this tiny slice of the population would be most intriguing subject matter for a documentary) .

Another failure is that the film never details what treatments the government provides and how/if the government does provide them. At one point, money is discussed with one patient, but it is still unclear to me if it is all state-funded or if firstly the state expects the patient to pay, and only if the patient can not does the state kick in money. It's also important to clarify what procedures the government allows be performed, considers necessary to finance, and has the surgeons to perform. Yes, I could research this, but that doesn't negate the fact that the film should include it. As it is, the film was not compelling enough to provoke me to do that additional research. If I do that additional research (and I probably will), it will be at a later date because I've read about some recent trans* activity in Iran and I'll want clarification to feel like a well-informed transsexual who could be a well-informed transactivist. As the film is willing to make other factual statements about transsexual life in Iran, it needs to make these important facts clear also.

I was very interested to see that in Iran, more than in the West, (as I somewhat suspected) there are transsexuals who serve as the strictest gatekeepers to other transpeople's identities. I am of course speaking of the infamous Vida, a most critical transwoman, who attacks prospective surgery patients for the smallest infractions whilst also trying to negotiate to keep them in good standing with their families. She is the one, more than any doctor or religious/government official, who believes she can dictate the gender identity AND performance of others and decide if their sexgender is acceptable. Because of the way Iran arranges its system, she does indeed have the most influence over the minds of the people seeking trans* treatment.

The lack of followup, adequate context for non-trans* and non-Iranians, and overall disconnected feel of the edit makes for a much weaker piece than this should be. Still, let me echo again, I am SO GLAD SOMEONE MADE THIS FILM. Even if it is through eyes that are squinting, it is still a sight that needs seeing.

Until the Light Takes Us

I haven't been writing much about other films because nothing has been stirring me. But I've watched this, and another film which I will surely tackle later, repeatedly, a zombie drawn to flesh, and I think it's because I'm hoping there is more material there than there is. As a metalhead, I know the rough story, and I have seen Sam Dunn's treatment of these incidents and probably some tv segments on it, but the only thing yet that has compelled me to do the research, or more importantly, listen to the music was this doc. Apparently, doing the research, reading interviews and journals, I listen to some of these guys' influences, but I even noticed when watching Sam Dunn's Headbanger's Journey that death metal is a big gap in my metal listening education where I haven't ticked off the canon.
The third time I watched this film - in the background because I find it so generic that I've never watched exclusively the film in entirety, only in pieces, plus I've listened and watched with the entirety in the periphery about eight or nine times as of now - I was also reading Varg Vikernes' burzum.org writings, and I realized I must get some of this stuff. As Varg intends with Burzum, each album is like a spell; Mayhem is raw and back to the real roots of metal; DarkThrone performs some ingenious feats of metal composition; and I thank the film-makers for impelling me to these aural introductions.
Now onto the bashing. Considering WHO these film-makers were given access to and how open most of the interviewees seemed, I think there needed to be more pressing questions for clarification in the many instances of homicide and arson being discussed. The film-makers I suppose will claim objectivity and I'm sure playing cool makes people reveal more, but there comes a point where you have to wield your power as the documentarian and uncover truths, use that whole "we're cool" relationship you've been building to find out the critical life and death information - the pieces of a documentary that make it soar in revelation, moments that this crew didn't get that were just ONE poking question beneath the surface. And this extends into their greater documentation of the feature players: They display the Dawn of the Black Hearts cover as a shocking endcap to the Dead "story" but never explain the story of that album's printing (which there are several stories but the only persistent link is that Euronymous wanted it made). The film alludes that Bard "Faust" Eithun may have killed a gay man in a hate crime but they never say that he was actually convicted of murder and served over a decade in prison; when they interview him, he appears in silhouette, without title, and voice distorted as he cryptically discusses church burnings (which on the Emperor site, his band, it declares that he went with Varg and Euronymous to burn the Holmenkollen Church the day after he committed the murder, and the film-makers let Varg talk casually about how Faust "sold him out" in jail).
But to bring it around to the subject which has me coming back to this film and that film-makers too are clearly a bit too enamored with him, Varg Vikernes is totally allowed to be just Varg, unchecked, which is sad considering his paradoxical existence, one that I think is more common than rare. As Burzum, Varg has composed some sublime songs (and this I recognized in one listening, which is rare) and he clearly has a rich intellectual life. However, Varg has political views that many other people would disagree with, views that he feels his government actively oppresses and jailed him for, but added to that is the intrigue that he killed a one-time bandmate and often business partner Euronymous (he claims self-defense and has a persistent story across interviews, police interrogation, his own site posts, but part of his story is this persistent reinforcement that Euronymous had become "useless" to the scene, inferences that Varg saw him as an inferior lifeform, "a braindead metalhead", and there is the added story, backed up by Hellhammer, that Euronymous was plotting to kill Varg, but Hellhammer also mentions that Varg was plotting to kill Euronymous). Everyone acts like the Euronymous issue is settled, but having served his time, Varg nearly boasts on his site that he did the world a favor by killing Euronymous, but regardless of how scummy he was, maybe someone - these interviewers - should take that opportunity when presenting when Varg is harping away telling his tale of killing Euronymous to interject, "Did you realize that when you pursed Euronymous with the intent of killing him, after he had fled the scene, and you were no longer in any danger, that you could no longer say you were defending yourself, that at that moment your actions shifted to voluntary manslaughter? Furthermore have you never considered that statements you've made yourself since Euronymous's death suggest a self-satisfaction enough to indicate motive for premeditated murder, not to mention the fact that you fled the scene, and were actively conspiring with Snorre (Mayhem's then guitarist) to conceal evidence of your trip and the murder?" They also never poked him about the burnings; no one really has, they just accept the story of "I joked about it to a press guy trying to sell records and he took me seriously and called the police, and then all these metalheads went with that story trying to sell more records". They just added those arson charges to Varg's sentence based on testimony of people who cut deals to reduce sentences and/or thought it enhanced the black metal scene to own up to church burnings. Like all of their subjects, with perhaps the exception of Gylve who feels like he is being prodded and examined by the crew, Varg is given an open podium (and the most screen time, which actually I'm fine with because even when he's not talking about the controversies he was involved in, his views on music are enlightening and his views on his society are just saddening/maddening). Maybe these guys have never had the chance to speak unchallenged on camera before (Varg certainly had no problem speaking on his site), but it just seems irresponsible and for me it is personally irritating to let Varg talk without any restraint from the interviewer, if not challenges on his views, at least there should be some prodding for expansion (though Varg is often a thorough guy; Hellhammer is probably the most guilty of needing provocation to expound). Varg's plight, and I think it sparks many black metal musicians in Norway, is that he sees his homeland becoming increasingly assaulted and permeated by foreign cultures, his native culture nearly destroyed by the bombardment, and he wants to protect his heritage. Being an American, this is hard for me to empathize with. Being a New Orleanian, this is much easier for me to understand, though the forces that threaten my culture are typically natural (and then political), and everyone assimilates into our local culture well without ruining the roux. The tragedy here is that people like Varg all over the world can rage against assimilation however they like, and I have no right to criticize how they counter-assault what is perhaps the most important losing battle for their nation/culture/race until their methods include physical violence and murder.

Eyes Without a Face
½

Horror Not to Miss List Commentary:
Great cinematography and a Gothic plot quite controversial for a feature film on its time. Compared to Hitchcock's Psycho in terms of visual language, it does deliver but didn't strike me as the "perfect piece" it was hyped to me as. Still, most viewers will be able to bite into this a bit more firmly, as my big gripe was predictability of this film within the whole of Gothic horror tales.

Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte

"So Fucked Up" highlight: the plot twist

Surrogates
Surrogates (2009)

This is one of the better scifi thrillers of the past decade.

Grizzly Rage (Off Road)

So bad it's still bad. There are some nicely lit shots of a large bear (but no humans appear in frame). and SPOILER
++++++++++++++++++++++++
At least the bear lives to kill everyone.

The Straight Story

I think it's more than just a stunning film; it's a breath-taking dissertation on the most traditional plot form in drama.

Evilenko
Evilenko (2004)
½

Want to watch again before I give a full review. Simply put, the first half of the movie is shocking, tense, and engaging. The second half, however, is terribly slow and suffers from a groan-inducing plot setup (that gets run three times!) where: Cikatilo almost kills, an officer gets close and almost catches him but doesn't, but Cikatilo aborts the kill to dodge or attend to the detective. Once Cikatilo (in this film he is called Evilenko, which is probably wise considering the decision to give him "special power" to hypnotize his victims) is finally caught, the film resumes its brilliant bleak creepiness.

Malcom McDowell is also completely genius in the whole film.

"Most Fucked Up" Highlight: might not be my final pick after I screen again but for now, the interrogation scene

Monster Camp
Monster Camp (2008)

An interesting fly on the wall glimpse into the many facets of the lives and social dynamics of a moderately large group of LARPers. It removes the nerd and gee k stigmas, and revealing the game as a tribal beacon and a place for people to develop and play on deeper levels than orcs and mages.

Fall From Grace
½

Decent mostly fly-on-the-wall style doc about the Phelps clan and their radical home taught hatred and protest tactics0.

Rolling
Rolling (2003)

A nice attempt at a bold docudrama, but quickly devolves into poorly written and cliched melodrama.

Homegrown
Homegrown (1998)
½

A great cast does nothing for this scattered, cliched, and goofy script. Still - and this may just be the great cast - there is an undeniable cheeky charm to this film that makes it memorable. But if you want a REAL film that blends drama and comedy into an absorbing believable world of fully fleshed out chracters, skip this amateurish attempt at capturing the plight of the American cannabis farmer and instead enjoy Humboldt County.

The Yes Men Fix the World

These guys always deliver cutting edge political advocacy. Their little bits of imaginary "down time" distract from the overall film (and not in the requisite relief way I'm sure they were aiming for. Still there are plenty of gut-busting and giddying pranks, hard-hitting explications of their actions and exposes of those whom they are targeting, which are all solid and mildly to wildly brilliant.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
½

Brilliant expose of the most influential censorship organization in American film. But what else does one expect besides brilliance from the ingenious mind of Kirby Dick?

Feed
Feed (2005)
½

A top notch gory thriller.

Could have done with a bit less flashbacks to childhood for both the cop and the killer. Alex O'Lachlan, doesn't do as well as I expect of him all the time, but he pulls it off sufficiently enough. Some may find the ending cheeky but I found it suitable for a film with a derailed protagonist and that characteristically quirky-absurd spin so many thrillers go for.

Off the top of my head, this is the only horror or thriller that has done the "death/serial killing over the net" concept, hell just the "multimedia, digital killer" concept, well. The pacing is steady and the gore and makeup are incredible.

Really liked and was moved by (as in I felt sympathy for them) the Meiwes/Brandes tribute characters in the opening sequence (also serves up a solid second-long shot of charred penis in a frying pan). And pan-seared dicklet segues perfectly into the final touch:

the "Most Fucked Up" highlight: There are PLENTY to choose from, but for me, it's the emotional control that the killer is proudly displaying over his victim to the cop in the climax.

Whatever Works
½

I have to see it again, but I say that for Woody Allen and Larry David, this is B+ because it's solid but exactly what you'd expect, no avant garde surprises. Definitely funny and well worth watching. Imagine Allen directs David in a post post-modern spin of Manhattan. It's 92 minutes well spent.

Platoon of the Dead

Z movie to the max! bad acting, stupid plot, shitty zombies, and a waste of time. It was SO bad that I had ERASED the memory of seeing it the first time, so I had to watch it twice. Now I am doubly traumatized by this crap trying to pass a movie!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

This film is overall well done, but it's nothing ground-breaking or spell-binding. The lead female protagonist Lisbeth is a compelling, well-portrayed character that provides all the highlights of the film. The film's main weakness is its intolerably slow pacing for a thriller. The male lead is also acted poorly when compared to the skill level executed in the Lisbeth role, and he is carrying more screentime than she is. I like Lisbeth's distorted sense of justice, her need to punish men who hurt women, a distortion that is perhaps justified considering the patriarchal history of our species. Because of her, I will continue with the series and hope that the pacing picks up, focus shifts to her, and less of the story's burden is placed upon Nyqvist's sparse acting skills.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: Lisbeth's guardian (the Swedish equivalent of a probation officer) brutally rapes her

The Men Who Stare at Goats
½

Pure unabashed fun with stellar actors performing exactly to task. I just can't put my finger on what is keeping this film from greatness, but I suspect many of ,my fellow flixsterers have already detected it.

Spread
Spread (2009)
½

Ashton Kutcher plays himself in a story about what Ashton Kutcher most likely did for a living before he got famous (and what he does all day for a living now that he's Demi Moore's professional kept boy). The main character is not empathetic (and you don't need to be a pretty boy to empathize with one, just write the pretty boy better) and his "journey" never feels significant. Cinematography and acting is decent (besides Ashton who I've already established is just playing himself) but there's nothing of substance here. Waste of time and just a fun "take a risk" project for Ashton. I suppose his fans will like it as he has many partially nude scenes.

Aftermath
Aftermath (1994)

This is an extremely disturbing short about a mortician who likes to photograph his after hours necrophiliac adventures. The sound, blood coloring, cinematography, and interior organ design pick up where the quality of the outer bodies (very rubber-like) lacks reality. There isn't much depth to this; it is its synopsis and in executing that task, it is disturbing. Currently available on Netflix Instant Watch.

Zombie Night
Zombie Night (2003)

This is the bottom of awful. Barely tolerable, tough not to turn off. Worst acting, script, framing, effects, zombies, etc. I have seen, and I have seen some shit. This is about six feet below shit.

The Stink of Flesh
½

"So Fucked Up" highlight: main pretty boy character "rapes" a big breasted playboy bunnyish zombie that he keeps in a shed as a pet/sex object (can zombie sex be consensual?)

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

A pretty damn cool film about a future world, mostly set in Paris, that was devastated by something (war or disaster of some sort that has permanently altered the environment) but is now being rebuilt by a fascist matriarchal meritocracy that disallows men and women from touching, discourages most physical pleasures and memories of how things were, and encourages people to forget old political philosophies and promotes many OCD characteristics upon its citizens concerning cleanliness and acceptable social behavior.

SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW - no biggies that ruin the experience, but definitely an expanded synopsis so not for those who like to go into a film blank slate

Our main character Nono is one of the few men trusted to work for the matriarchal government, and he records sounds of nature as a hobby, which is unlawful for him to do. Nono engages in another illegal activity, regularly accessing an outlawed network to watch artsy subliminal videos that often show men and women touching (they use a really cheesy video look and are quite annoying just o look at). Two men come to visit him, calling themselves part of "The Cause", claiming to be interested in his audio work and in collaborating with him to complete the archives, with their dream audio clip being of "The breath, the palpitation of the human body, of the female". Nono is keen to tackle this task and quickly sets his sights on co-worker Angeline to record.

Angeline, who has recently entered officially entered the Sisterhood, and Nono set upon a scientific retreat to one of the few still forested areas in France to search for and record all signs of life there. Nono, in his way, develops leaps as a human and Angeline's fascination with him only grows as does her desire to deviate from The Doctrine. Too bad these scenes are pretty slow and not the best lighting conditions; they bog down the movie a good deal.

Following a mishap on the return home from the wilderness retreat, Nono finds the two men from earlier on a shoot and discovers that they are the "film-makers" whose work he watches on the network. Nono, the two men, and their male actor are arrested and we get to watch their, along with several other men's unrelated, whole trial and sentencing process, which is the OVERALL BEST SCENE in the film and most revealing about the government's exact policies and their inhumane harshness. Nono ALL of his crimes read to him, and Big Sister is just as if perhaps more astute than Big Brother, is released for "having led security forces to the subversives and will be put at the disposition of the Sisterhood of Metacontrol". Nono gets to witness the demolition of the EIffel Tower, an oppressive phallic symbol that cannot stand for the new government to flourish, on his way to visit Number Three in the Sisterhood, who missed the Eiffel Tower social to receive him at her home. She has a loyal rottweiler-fierce butler lay down the basic laws of behavior, and a razor sharp female assistant cuts to the point that they too want him for his gifts but then she is quick to cut him deep about his "sins" and remind him that he can never "taste a woman's sex, the most forbidden fruit in the world". Number Three thinks he's useless, commands to have him discarded, and the butler tries to strangle Nono, but he's been slipping into another reality for some time now and he's finally ready to cross over when he sees a laptop in the nearby room, evades his strangler, and goes again to watch on the network.

If it weren't for the frustrating ending (which I won't overtly give away but I will say that it is the filmic equivalent of "it was all a dream"), I would rate this half, maybe even a whole star (depending on the alternative ending) higher. The ending chosen cheapens everything that has gone before it and DOES NOT convey some grand message about the fragility of reality or the power of motion pictures as transformative art. No, it shows that this director is not one who properly understands how to use the transformative art of film to convey the fragility of reality, so he must instead insert a cheap plot point cop out to do so (or quote Shakespeare as he does earlier in the film when approaching this formidable precipice of the termination of reality).

"That's Fucked Up" highlights: check out the sentences that were carried out and note that between them the Sisterhood elite eat the live organs of our la protagoniste; here's un example, following the previous defendant being lobotomized for trial (with a visible hole in his head), "The punishment offered is insufficient. This court will decide on one. Defendant 001 should confess his crimes. public. His teeth shall be extracted with pliers. Channels shall be opened in his back in 4 places at the height of the kidneys. The openings shall be filled with salt. His testicles will be introduced into a nest of red ants. And he shall be decapitated by blows before the year ends. Begin the defendant's punishment now." mind you at least they don't show any of these...

ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction

Somewhat entertaining if you, like me, are addicted to zombie films. The makeup is often sub-par, but the acting level is much higher than most Z-movies. There are also some really impressive (non-action) gore installations. Available on Netflix Instant Watch, so check it there if you're a zombie addict.

The Road
The Road (2009)

If you want realistic and depressing post-apocalyptic drama, this is a paradigm film to view.

Code 46
Code 46 (2004)

Beautiful, atmospheric, pitch-perfect, absorbing, astounding, and every other adjective to assign to greatness that one can fathom. It's what would happen if Lost in Translation had been written as a loose adaptation of 1984 and Brave New World. A must see for all students of film. One of the greatest films about dystopia/aspiring utopia as well as a classic romance.

The Book of Eli

Beautiful cinematography that is far beyond the threadbare and Christian-centric story it supports. Not worth a watch when the post-apocalyptic genre has so many equally well filmed stories with much greater meaning, characters, and composition.

Machete
Machete (2010)
½

Some fun dialogue and a few interesting gore action sequences. The plotline is actually somewhat elevated above that of your typical exploitation flick. My biggest complaint is that sometimes I don't feel Rodriguez was trying hard enough to either bust out some new and inventive gore or to do allusive-tribute shots to his faves but instead opted for whatever was easiest to shoot and wrote it off as "it's sub-par because this is exploitation tribute and lots of exploitation action/gore is sub-par". There is too much opting for CG when practical would have been looked better, been better suited to the genre, and been more effective in the context of the scene. I'm guessing that the casting budget was the main reason there wasn't more practical gore and effects, and that's just fucking sad. I'm also really annoyed with Seagal character's death scene. Seagal has always infamously refused to die on screen, throwing a big temper tantrum and then a few hissy fits to try and get out of one in Executive Decision, and he even more hates playing bad guys but I reckon he did this role because it;s the only Hollywood-backed production to want to touch him for the past fifteen years. So if he is going to be in mainstream films, I'm glad he's okay playing bad guys and getting killed, but I would have made that death scene a hell of a lot bloodier and would not have allowed him to go for a "warrior's suicide" option like he does. It's just lame and tears down any emotional power the victory symbolizes for hero Machete.

This isn't as great as Planet Terror but all bad said, it's a fun and witty action flick/exploitation tribute and well worth watching.

Frozen
Frozen (2010)
½

Hatchet director Adam Green takes a big departure from the gory slasher genre and tries his hand at a straightforward thriller. He succeeds greatly, creating high suspense with only three, then two characters, in a static location. Many people with have a problem with the plausibility of the situation, claiming that their many experiences with ski resorts would negate such a situation as would happen in this film. I'd like to remind those people of something all audience members do for every film they see: suspend disbelief. If you can pretend that there is a mutated maniac hunting people in the swamps, then it's no great leap to imagine that there's a ski resort somewhere so scantily staffed and monitored that it may leave three skiers stranded on a lift. If you too can make that tiny leap, then you're in for an immensely tense and pulse-freezing delight of a film.

Resident Evil: Degeneration
½

RE-EVAL 09-17-2010
Lost half a star for the fact that it does play like a string of cut scenes from a game and is too brief with no real emotional meat to it other than nostalgia for RE fans. I was being too generous when I gave this sucker four stars; I imagine I was just so relieved to finally get a full length animated horror/scifi that didn't suck, especially one from my favorite game series. Now I just remember how much the movie left me wanting more, mostly because it's a two act flick and needs a third not to satiate my insatiable lust for more RE, but because the story requires it to have real depth of meaning and emotional investment in the characters.
_______
Far better than the live action Resident Evil movies. Puts forth a solid case for the end of live action for horror and scifi films, despite the obvious presence of the uncanny valley appearance and speech-to-lip synch problems. The action sequences look great. The movie is basically in two parts: the first is a zombie outbreak in an airport and the second is a massive battle with a G-Virus boss-type character set in a sprawling lab.

Fans of the series will love this, and general zombie fans should also check this out. The script plays out like it's just a collection of cutaway sequences from the video game, but that's fine because the game storylines are still superior to the live action scripts that were filmed.

Character design for the "boss" character is top notch, as is the layout for the WilPharma lab where the battle takes place (it would be an AWESOME setting to play in a game). The first half with the zombie outbreak leaves one wanting more, and RE fans will rejoice at Claire brandishing an umbrella to take out zombies and may squeak when we get to see Hunnigan's office from a perspective other than a com-screen for the first time.
Great to see what Leon's been up to since RE4 and explanation of the rollover of Umbrella into other corporations is a must-know for RE/Biohazard players and fans. My love for the game series and the excellent CG rendering tip my score up to four stars, and if the visual quality were lesser, this would be getting three and a half.

The Crazies
The Crazies (2010)

This is by-the-numbers oversimplified dreck. I counted 21 major sound-cued jump scares, the cheapest of all tactics in horror film. Remove the primary element that made the original great (who is really going crazy?) by making all the infected have telltale empty expressions and a light brushing of makeup to identify them The suspense is in whether or not our happy couple will escape the doomed town, and we really already know the end considering we've been getting crucial clips from the military satellite since the start of the movie. The final "thrill" is a small nuclear explosion that looks like it cost WAY too much to CG, money that could have been better spent on doing practical gore installations that look better than CG and could have handled more than the quick shots the installations in it did get (or no direct shot at all in case of most of the action gore). The sound mastering is atrocious, with the loud effects too loud and the whispered dialogue inaudible.

One star for the interesting makeup on those who have been infected longer and the corpse-truck installation. One more star for Maxime Alexandre's superb cinematography (but that guy is pretty much incapable of bad cinematography).

This is the filmic equivalent of a haunted house rollercoaster - disappointingly cheap scares and no binding narrative substance. You can certainly do worse, but still I must warn you: SKIP SKIP SKIP

Nightwatching (Nocna straz)
½

Let's get the praise (much deserved) out of the way before I tackle the problems I had with this fine film.

The production design is awesome, in the biblical sense of that word. Combined with the cinematography, an utterly unique and undeniably ethereal world is created. It feels like the frame is set, and like the grandest of theatre, all the settings come to the frame instead of the camera having to chase down different settings. In this sense, it is one of the most artistically accomplished films I have ever seen. Everything has its exact and fated place in the frame and no visual detail feels rushed or unplanned. The costuming is quite grand as well, and one feels utterly drawn into the world made by this film.

Now to the downsides. As the film itself says, it is reaching for a tragedy with English sensibilities, read Shakespearian. It does not wholly achieve that, mainly because the cast of characters is too large to care about every background character's plight, and in the end because we cannot fully experience their tragedy, we cannot feel the tragedy of the central character Rembrandt. The dialogue is often great, but sometimes it tries too hard to fit with Shakespearian conventions of theatrical composition and delivery. When tragedies do strike, they don't feel that tragic because there is this subdued mood that lingers over the whole film; it dampens all emotions and destroys the film's attempts to connect emotionally with the audience. Most people will tune out (or walk out or stop the film) and feel bored, even those accustomed to avant-garde films.

Now here's the hardest thing for me to confess: I was very underwhelmed by Martin Freeman's performance and he has to carry this film as Rembrandt. He does do more than I thought him capable of, previously only knowing him from his work as Tim on The Office, but when it comes to breakdown scenes, he can't pull off high decibel emotions without me feeling like I am watching an actor act and not a person feeling. He is great with his few rage scenes and decent at playing the casually witty artiste, but I cannot connect to any of his attempts to display sorrow or see his inner struggles to deal with ethical dilemmas reflected in his face and gestures. Now if you are interested in seeing Martin Freeman nude, full frontal and all, don't miss this film.

Piranha 3-D
Piranha 3-D (2010)

I like it cuz it's Aja and doesn't suck (if it weren't Aja I might be more critical than the following review). If you see it in 3D, a detached penis floats in your face and then a piranha gobbles it up then spits it back in your face, which means a movie is Certified Fucking Awesome. There is also an over-glorified and thus sublimely shot scene of two naked women swimming a playful and sensual underwater ballet; this scene is wedged between a first act of generally inconsequential character development with bouncing bare titties in the background and a third act of inconsequential plot development with millions of gallons of blood and some of the greatest gore in modern film on display in the foreground. Because of those two scenes alone, this is a four star flick. It also helps that Eli Roth got decapitated....now if only that could happen in real life so he'd stop making shitty horror movies and hanging out on sets with real directors to do bit parts.

csworky: "I shamelessly give this movie a high-rating. It's the most fun I've had at the movies all year".

There were as many bouncing titties as missing limbs, and those were both VERY high numbers.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight is a TIE: girl's body falls apart at the mid-torso, guts spilling everywhere, and her eyes turn to certainly dead as two men attempt to valiantly carry her to shore AND some douchebag who is trying to save his own skin by running people over in a mini-boat purposely starts a boat motor while a girl's hair is caught in the propeller, and when he succeeds in starting the engine her scalp and face are ripped off

-OLD NOTEZ
From Jan 18-20 2010: Good news - thanks to Bloody Valentine box office success, Dimension has announced that it's going through with this. Aja is working on storyboards and script revisions at the moment with shooting as yet unscheduled. New tentative release date is March 2010.

Bad Biology
Bad Biology (2008)
½

Laughably bad production and acting but the concept is delightfully absurd and campy. Fun to watch, with some memorable moments. Some of my Flixster friends may be surprised that I don't have this on my "That's Fucked Up" list, but when it's more comedy than darkness like this one, it's no longer fucked up and just pure cartoonish parody of such situations.

Modify
Modify (2007)

Brilliant examination of how we modify our bodies by interviewing many and varied people who engage in the more extreme modification practices.

The Education of Shelby Knox
½

It's sad to know that most of our country is comprised of people with this level of awareness and I feel bad that Shelby has to live in such an environment, but glad to see she's doing her damndest to rise above it. It's people like her who have the potential to shift the world around them, though this film would have been 4 stars had she had an utter breakdown, lost her wits, and decided to give in to the rank and file she knows to be a lie. But I suppose such a cynical outcome, though revealing in drama and more common in America than perseverance like that of Shelby's, would appeal to my sense of what makes a documentary truly compelling (I want the main character to shift as in fiction, but good for the real world, Shelby ain't no fictional primary protagonist).

Below
Below (2002)
½

One of the rare flicks that delivers what it promises on the box - this is a truly great marriage of light-gore ghost story and tense submarine thriller. Zach Galifianakis plays such a great supporting role in this flick that I mistook him for Richard Dreyfuss the WHOLE film (not knowing the year of this film when watching). The expected twist (which actually packed more of a punch than your typical twist) is what lowers this to the 3.5 level instead of 4 stars, but removing that element would have utterly undone the whole structure of the film so if you have more tolerance for twist endings than me, you may enjoy more, and if you have less then you may utterly hate this whole film as a result.

I applaud this film for not relying on typical sound-cued jump scares and instead built believable tension and mounting madness. You feel like you are in this cursed sub with these guys and lady, listening to the unidentifiable noises outside, sensing the unseen forces lurking in the next compartment, and fearing a Nazi torpedo and a drowned death at unfathomable depth.

Pandorum
Pandorum (2009)
½

This is similar to MANY movies: Eden Log, Event Horizon, the Alien series, the Pitch Black/Riddick series. Ghosts of Mars, but it retains its originality to a decent degree. The set design is AMAZING and the makeup is pretty damn impressive. The gore is quite awesome; whoever did the blood coloring really knows what's up. The CG is also beautifully done and impressive. The dialogue is solid but the main plotline is far from original or unpredictable (especially if you read scifi lit), with the only suspense being in moments of fight or flight. The ending throws several twists at the audience, twists that could easily delight or anger those unitiated into scifi lore. I really don't know why this flick got so much flack, being branded as a huge flop when it is actually enjoyable and well done.

Breathing Room
½

Not the most sophisticated or high production value SAW ripoff but still better than SAW 2, 4, and 5. Some plot holes , unattended details, and spotty acting, but still very fun to watch and play detective (even though it was always somewhat obvious from the beginning who was the killer on the inside).

Streets of Blood

Utter crap except for a few shocker moments set in gang/whore hangouts.

The Haunting in Connecticut

Really great installation of dead bodies in the walls at the end. Some decent makeup, set design, and acting here and there. Story is just too bland and the flick is peppered with annoying jumpscares and standard horror sound effects.

The Burrowers
½

If you want a western creature feature with great cinematography, this is your flick. Decent but not memorable.

Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

A good muscled look at the taboo of steroid use and the biggorexic pressures on modern American men. Film-maker is in an ideal situation for doing this project, with two brothers who have used steroids and the film-maker himself having only dabbled with them once and his whole life struggled with the decision of whether or not to plunge in. I think this is just as revealing about widespread cultural hypocrisy as Grass, The Union, Bowling for Columbine, and the works of The Yes Men.

The Rage
The Rage (2007)

Another Z-budget that I just couldn't sit through unless I was in the torture chair of A Clockwork Orange. When movies are this bad, you just lose hope.
_
Full viewing on Aug 21 2010
The acting and set design aren't what's bad here; Andrew Divoff is actually wasted on a movie this trivial and poorly scripted. The gore and special effects are for the most part decent. The problem is that this movie has not a shred of horror and is far into silly territory. It's admirable to see film-makers with no money trying to pull off big effects using CG help, but it will read as lame to your average viewer. To me, it reads as "nice try, but you should have focused more on writing a better script". This movie quickly becomes the "shitty horror movie" that one its characters predicts it will be. And I will count some of these creatures as zombies albeit not the Romero type, especially since they have a controller, infect others, and have a natural affinity for violence. This movie is also loaded with too many allusions to horror fan favorites, so many that it drowns out any originality that was ever intended, and it is not used ironically but in that boring amateur fanboy way of "we saw this when we were kids, so now we want to do it too!".

Blackout
Blackout (2008)
½

Not too hard to figure out who the killer is. Spent too much time (and money) on elaborate shots of the elevator shaft and surrounding building. Built the characters using flashbacks that felt randomly placed. Not very tense for a "trapped in a small space" movie then for the final act, it kicks into a gory creep-out overdrive. For horror fans, you might want to just skip the first 2/3 of the film and skip to the bloody meat of it, because that's where it gets "fucked up" serial killer style.

"Most Fucked Up" Highlight: flashback of the killer torturing and raping a beaten, stabbed, and sliced victim who is paralyzed but can feel everything

Protagonist
Protagonist (2007)

I'm a sucker for a piece like this: the film-maker takes a set of subjects, usually a small amount in the range of 3 to 6 and interviews them all seperately, never has them meet or needs to see them meet, but uses some central theme, some shared condition to unify true stories that one would usually consider to be in totally different worlds from each other. Basically, these films show us the constants of being human and reveal our universal qualities. They place a spotlight at a millimeter distance from the human condition and show it to us.

Does this film ever get to that lofty, poetic, and transcendent place? Not for me, but I see that it has the elements to do it for other people. One thing that is not universal after all, are our emotional reactions to art.

I think this is a must watch. I really love the tie-in element of the Greek puppetry theatre, and the film-maker picked some incredibly interesting subjects.

The Outsider
The Outsider (2006)

Fun doc for fans of and those employed in the film biz. Some very interesting and candid interviews with various highly quotable artists. Starts off as a too-glamorized portrait of Toback, but then evolves into interesting as we watch how the man works and witness that distributing an indie personal flick is always hell, especially, and even, for this man. It was enjoyable but not a breakthrough composition in terms of the film, sort of just standard fare biopic montage of interviews and old photos with the main thread of the piece being the documentarian's footage of Toback's then newest adventure in film-making.

The Butch Factor
½

This is a refreshing examination of masculinity in gay culture, should definitely work as a great FAQ for the heteronormative crowd out there. For those already aware and somehow invested in the study of all things queer, there are many cool people interviewed who have done some noteworthy projects you'll find yourself googling during or after the movie. I would say I consider myself a 7 of 10 in terms of queer history and culture knowledge, and I learned something new - the term "castro clone" which was used to describe a group of gay men, mostly in San Fran at the rise of gay rights movement, who went to great pains to adopt the hypermasculine images of the works of Tom of Finland, who in turn was inspired by the genuinely hypermasculine, mostly WWII veteran, gay men of the late 40s, early 50s who used their masculine looks to avoid discrimination and encourage easy assimilation into a fearful straight culture. Castro clones used this same look in the late 60s early 70s as a cruising tool, and that enlightened me a lot in terms of where the waxed gym rat standard of today came from.

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog)

I can very clearly see how this short film inspired David Lynch throughout his career, and I appreciate the influence it has had on scores of other brilliant film-makers. HOWEVER, I was not moved or jarred in the slightest. Perhaps I am defective in some essential way, or perhaps my mind is too saturated with the bold surrealist works that have come since, but I did not emote one iota when I viewed this film last night. For this, I am sorely depressed. I will say that it was mesmerizing, almost hypnotic, at moments and maybe this is a sign that I am on the correct path to being compelled by this film. I will see it again at some point down the line in hopes I will have a more profound experience.

Hardware
Hardware (1990)
½

This begins with a tight dystopic aesthetic but it loses its way when it confines itself to the one set - a main character's apartment - for the majority of the film. I wanted there to be more to this film because more was promised in the first act. Once it gets rolling, there are a few very cool gore installations but the film didn't keep me engaged in the suspense once it confines itself to the one location because then it becomes just a series of "we killed it! oh no, we didn't kill it!" and then rinses and repeats too many times to remain interesting.

Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist

An extremely interesting artist who provides a deep glimpse into the nature of pain. He demonstrates, mostly with his body, the clear, yet often confounding, large gap between unwanted pain and consensual pain. If you've ever been intrigued, excited, or outright confused by masochism, let Bob give you a colorful education on the matter.

Also worth noting is how impeccable director Kirby Dick is when it comes to picking subjects for his documentaries. This was his first international hit, and it is quite clear why it was so hailed, especially in the era before the internet where self-documented extreme masochistic acts were not a google search away or conveniently categorized on BMEzine..

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Mandatory viewing for all living artists, especially writers and authors. A candid, fun, and thorough immersion into the world of Harlan Ellison with interviews and cameos by several living legends of the creative world. I'm just disappointed that they didn't go into the whole Harlan Ellison vs the Internet thing (and how it drained him of money and energy), or just his sue-happy exploits throughout the years. I take it that this is meant to glamorize Ellison, while also humanizing him, and will do well as a video intro to the man and his viewpoint for new readers and students.

Confessions of a Porn Addict
½

Starts out decent and mildly amusing but derails about halfway through and never recovers. Don't waste your time. It's simply not that funny.

Dead Tone
Dead Tone (2010)

Completely bland and by-the-numbers teen slasher. Edited to seem watchable, but it really is utter garbage unworthy of your eyes.

Confessions of a Superhero
½

It's just astounding. I really have no more to say. I live for documentaries that select intriguing people in situations so absurd that they could only be real. This is one such film.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

It's quite simple really: I love it when a play is adapted to screen and maintains its stage-intended qualities. I usually loathe a multiplot; they are just too simple a trick. But in this this instance, it's not just a gimmick to garner awards, it's a conscious decision that creates the disjointed nature of the overall piece. In other words, the multiplot approach serves this film and its themes very well. I can see many loathing it and viewing it as a waste of time, but I was reeled into these confessions and these candid stories these men tell. Really, there is no central story, and the "main character" is utterly flat and ultimately unlikable, but I really did not care because I was too entranced by the language and its delivery.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee
½

This is quite simply queer and enjoyable. If you have any interest in queer politics and want some sugar to make the medicine go down, this is a great watch. It's not a story of truly oppressed queers; this motley crew is just doing it because they know it's what they believe in. Perhaps they are young, and some are motivated by booty and fame than legitimate social change, but it is damn amusing to watch them try. The basic storyline is very vanilla, but the concepts discussed and political actions taken by the group are very radical and refreshing. I wish there was a C(i)A in my town.

Tekon Kinkurţto

This is the sort of movie that I would normally love, but the story is not there. The animation, is of course, fantastic, beautiful, and original. I may be unfair to this movie though, as I couldn't get past 70 minutes in. The plot was just plain blah and I didn't have that instant interest in Black and White, whereas the best scifi animes of this sort are only good if you care about the characters, otherwise it's just a pretty pictures romp, and that's all I saw here. Granted, many people think I overpraise Metropolis (2001) and underpraise the first Ghost in the Shell, so I'm not a good barometer, as when it gets to my fave genres, that's where I'm the most picky, and I couldn't pick out anything about this movie that made me *love* it or even want to watch it again.

The House of the Devil

I applaud the effort that went into recreating the vibe and setting of 80s slashers, but hell those movies were never scary and rarely decent. This is near to decent, but still has a very WTF? ending that gives no answers, real or feigned. The primary problem with this movie is that it takes forever to introduce any element of horror and build suspense. Until then, it's just a girl wandering about a strange house acting irrationally afraid (she didn't see and doesn't know about the one earlier incident of violence). When "scary time" kicks in, there's enough fake blood to fill a pool and it's a nonstop barrage of false suspense to compensate for the utter lack of it in the rest of the film. This was toted as one of the best films of the year by some horror buffs, and I feel like if the best that can be done is a (completely non-terrifying) tribute to a genre that never had any real purpose (even entertainment!) to begin with, then the horror film industry is a far dire condition than I previously thought. To say it again: I applaud the effort that went into production design and the cinematography which early in the film is able to achieve an aura of creepiness and the decent acting work, but that is where any shred of praise ends.

It Waits
It Waits (2006)
½

The acting is beyond terrible, but the creature is pretty downright awesome. Attempts to have a plot, but said attempt is utterly thwarted by the cast's inability to act. Great modern B movie for when you want some SciFi-channel quality fare of creature feature action.

Blood River
Blood River (2009)
½

This is a fantastic mind-fucker thriller. While not genius or groundbreaking, it is certainly engaging. The film focuses in on three characters, stranded in a desert. Considering how easy that setup is to do in a boring way, it's quite impressive how writer/director Adam Mason keeps building the tension. The conclusion may anger some, but will baffle all (as it intended to be an ambiguous one). This is certainly not a jump-scare movie but a psychological spiritual horror. I highly recommend.

The Ruling Class
½

Top performance from O'Toole, with exceptional supporting work, especially from renowned character actor Alastair Sim. Fantastic dialogue, but that is because the script is adapted from a stage play (and the adaptation done by the same writer); at moments it is easy to tell that this is a stage adaptation even if you didn't know because of the short asides into the camera and general elevated form of dialogue.

The selected filming locations are exquisite and film beautifully. Next to O'Toole's performance, my favorite element of the film is that it chooses to overtly blur the line between an objective reality and the subjective reality Jack is experiencing by seamlessly sewing the two together when the situation warrants it.

First two thirds of the film is a romping satire and mostly all-out fun, which contrasts with the quickly darkening melodrama of the final act. Some viewers will be jarred by this transition, just as some other viewers won't recognize that the supporting characters are being genuine when they suddenly align themselves with Jack (when the prior scheme had been to remove him from his inherited lordship and return him to permanent mental illness institution). Even if the relationship chemistries feel weak at times, the main character's struggle never feels false but indeed takes on a mythical quality.

This is a movie where I WANT so badly to rate it four stars, but I just feel that the scene progression jumps over some long periods of time too easily and that perhaps the scenes picked to be in the film aren't always the most significant to Jack's life (but perhaps that is because many of the scenes are of his most critical moments so anything else will feel pointless in comparison). Some of the editing is a bit rough, but I reckon that's because this was this director's first big outing. Bottom line is that the writer Peter Barnes delivers an excellent satire of English society, perceptions of mental illness, the "eccentric wealthy" character-type, family quarrels, and of the abuse of power and privilege.

Jefftowne
Jefftowne (1998)

I really liked this film. I thought it was a decent low budget portrait of one man's life and not at all like the sensational description of it. My biggest problem is that Jeff is not subtitled. It is clear that the people around him can understand him, including the film-maker, so why not help us the audience out. I want to know what Jeff is saying, but because I'm not in the room to question his interpreters every time there is a bit I can't understand, I miss too much.

Also quite important is that I entered this film without any knowledge of what Down's syndrome is, and ended it with that same ignorance. I did gleam that Jeff still mostly enjoys the same things any man his age without Down's would also enjoy and that his surrounding friends and family believe him to be cleverer and more capable than his affliction would state he is. A decent little film and quite short, but again my biggest regret is the lack of integrated subtitles which could have enhanced this film so much.

Daybreakers
Daybreakers (2010)
½

Before I knew this was the Spierig brothers, I had very low expectations, but upon discovering they were directing, I was overenthused to see what these guys could do with a budget. Their first film UNDEAD, produced with literally nothing and with homemade CG rendered on a 700mhz rig, is not only one of my favorite zombie films, but is a paragon indie film in terms of what can be done by clever and dedicated, though broke, film-makers.

On most levels, Daybreakers doesn't disappoint. A whole world of detailed sets and inferred cultural customs is laid out before us with expert form.

Legion
Legion (2010)
½

This could have been a brilliant and bloody assault on Judeo-Christian mythology, angering Revelations extremists and typical Christian devotees everywhere. Instead, it's just an action movie bloated with poor attempts at character development, sub-par makeup, huge plot holes, and overall blah tone. This director, Scott Stewart, is apparently a visual effects wiz (working full time in that industry with an impressive imdb filmography) and so the CG in this is great as is some of the action choreography, but the few instances of practical effects are as pathetic as the CG is good (if you like this guy's style, which he seems to have developed one of the more ubiquitous CG styles out there). Basically the only highlights are the old lady who turns angel-demon after cursing everyone out, and a a fight between the archangels Michael and Gabriel. SKIP unless you are utterly obliterated and just want to watch a bunch of nonsensical and relatively (for the horror genre) non-gory violence.

Antichrist
Antichrist (2009)

It's a crime to put this much effort and talent into crafting something so beautiful and filmically superior and yet be so devoid of lasting meaning to the audience. This is one of those films that only makes sense, and ultimately matters, to its director. To everyone else, it is just watching an exercise in visual beauty and to pretend that it has any deeper significance is to indulge the director's masturbatory act and step in for the delights of being bukkaked by him. Assigned one half of a star for achieving high standards of shock with gore (proven to shock by its critical reception), and given another star and a half for its cinematography and overall visual flair.

There is only the simple explanation for this plot, no real hidden significance in the abundance of symbolic images. She and He are having sex when their child falls from a window and dies. She blames herself (and rightly so as is revealed late in the film) for her son's death, and He, being a psychotherapist, tries to adopt her as his patient and help her mend her complex grief. She sees him as unemotional towards their child's death, and during her descent into madness, attempts to rectify her mistake, punishing her desire for sex by removing Her and His tools of sexual congress, and attempting to reveal to Him how He and their intercourse are the things weighing her down by bolting a rock through his leg. Moral of the story: If you see your kid about to jump out a window, stop banging and save him or you will go batshit crazy grieving him and your marriage will end in brutal suicidal murder.

As far as this film's label for infamous misogyny, I think the director was addressing prior accusations against him of being a misogynist by showing an example where a woman believes, very erroneously, the myth of misogyny and allows it to kill her. In that sense, I think this is an extremely feminist film; it shows the absurdity of misogyny via the extreme, and gets labelled by the confused crowd as a misogynistic film because the confused crowd can only see the most superficial elements of the story. For those who dig deeper, you conclude as Karina Longworth does (http://www.doublex.com/blog/xxfactor/why-antichrist-feminist-horror-film), that if the director did indeed have any real significant message to say, it was to demonstrate the subversion of character roles/plot flow in the typical horror form addressing gender issues. That said, this isn't a horror film because of its art house pacing (notoriously slow), and it is only an art house film because it pretends to mean something deeper but I feel like LvT had some serious imagery diarrhea when he concocted this mess of a personal religious allegory.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: blood cum, but many of you will be more shocked when "She" cuts off her clitoris

The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
½

Let me quote m'man Roger Ebert to kick this thing off:
"I have long attempted to take a generic approach. In other words, is a film true to its genre and does it deliver what its audiences presumably expect? ?The Human Centipede? scores high on this scale. It is depraved and disgusting enough to satisfy the most demanding midnight movie fan. And it's not simply an exploitation film."
" And there is a scene toward the end, as the Human Centipede attempts escape, that's so piteous, it transcends horror and approaches tragedy."
"I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."

Echoing Ebert, I think this will satisfy genre fans. I also think it will utterly shock any non-horror buffs. I watched it with my lifemate and he was completely freaked by it to the extent that he was still creeped the morning following our watching it. Going into this film, my biggest expectation was to receive an adequate explanation of how the hell the doctor was going to go about doing this. The scene where he explains somewhat satiated me but I still had questions, primarily whether or not the B and C segments still have tongues (and thusly taste buds).

As for the production quality, the set looks amazing with the whole house in a sterile white. The shown effects are top notch, with great surgery scenes and fantastic blood coloring and consistency. I was a bit annoyed that the "centipede" kept "its" clothed sections on, and just looked like a cop out in terms of keeping the actors convincingly joined and showing the mouth-to-anus connection. Like, we can see the skin grafts on the upper checks of the segments, but anything remotely close to the lip area is obscured by the dressings and outfit worn. I expect the second film to show us a fully unclothed centipede, but I really think they could have done it in this one. It would have been mostly simple to do an overhead view of the centipede to show off the connecting points, and it would not anger censors by displaying genital nudity.

The acting from the lead, Dr. Heiter played by Dieter Laser, is great. He really captures the insanity and obsession to the extent that any audience member knows why he is doing this. Some genre fans may be frustrated that his character doesn't seem to have much of a game plan in terms of avoiding law enforcement or keeping his actions low profile, but I think that is easily explained by his obsession with the medical details. He is so blinded by his drive to create his centipede that he even attempts to drug visiting detectives, and that detail alone indicates that this guy doesn't think about the practical details of getting caught because that simply does not matter to him with his obvious God complex.

Some may also be annoyed at the victims' attempts to escape, but I think that is a universal quality of horror films for many audience members to say "aww you shoulda done this or you shouldn't do that". These characters act appropriately within a panicked state. The ending is wholly satisfying insofar as it is incredibly bleak and hopeless in tone, as it should be.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: this one has plenty of opportunities for you to pick your "fucked up" highlight, mine are the two scenes when he has his centipede outside for "training": firstly when the "A segment" has to take his first shit into the mouth of "Segment B" and Dr. Hieter is chiding her "SWALLOW IT!", and secondly when he has donned leather boots to correct "Segment A" for biting him "BITE MY BOOT! BITE MY BOOT!" as he runs a riding crop across it

Rise: Blood Hunter

I watched this movie, but I don't remember ANYTHING from it other than I was thinking "well this isn't nearly as bad as most people claim it is". Available for free viewing at http://www.crackle.com/c/Rise_Blood_Hunter

Slaughter High
½

A fun slasher that carries watchability from kill to kill, but has a script that is frustratingly formulaic. Better used for posting random screencaps on one's tumblog than for actual viewing.

Dead Set (MINI-SERIES)
½

I have no idea why the hell this is on Flixster when they've explicitly told me in the past that they will not include any television with the exception of feature lengths made for TV. Anyways, I loved it and have watched it several times. Brilliant critique of modern media culture in the dialogue and setting, with a generic zombie plot as the backdrop. Annoying attempts to rip off Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" visual style. Denied four stars because of the visual incompetence. Part by part review and highlights with several screencaps on my blog: http://impraving.blogspot.com/2008/12/dead-set-hits-us-torrent-sites-review-n.html

Day X
Day X (2006)

It's watchable, and when you're trudging through the zombie genre, that's a helluva accomplishment. I originally saw this on the Crackle.com ZombieFest to promote Zombieland, and as of April 21 2010 it is still available for free viewing there ( http://www.crackle.com/c/Zombiefest# ). I picked it because it was the only full length piece I had never heard of.

This is really only territory for initiated zombie genre addicts. It's an outbreak movie with one central setting. Acting varies from mediocre to tolerable. Don't remember much about the zombie makeup (which means it wasn't stellar) and won't be bothered checking. I give this three stars instead of 2 or 2.5 because I distinctly remember a few scenes where characters sneak out and back into their hiding area. The filmmakers did a great job at capturing the tension of such a situation (trying to get past or outrun zombies to your tiny entry point to safety) by confusing cross-cutting that makes you feel panicked and suddenly disjointed within the space defined. I would watch it again on a night when I want mid-level zombie thrills and can't stand to watch "Days of Darkness" again.

The Butcher
The Butcher (2008)

Available on Netflix Instant Watch

Well it's certainly bloody! It kicks the shit out of any American torture porn and it does the handheld thing right.Sadly, there's not enough character development to carry the movie, but that isn't really what this genre is about and to my recollection, only the French new wave of horror has gotten character development in torture porn correct anyways. Not any awesome displays of gore effects besides that the blood is nicely colored. I don't hate it, but I can't celebrate it. Fair game for all you torture porn freaks!

Most Fucked Up highlight: seeing things from the victim's angle as he is raped by the giant pig-headed butcher

Dummy
Dummy (2003)
½

Milla Jovovich steals the spotlight in the primary supporting role as a wannabe punk rocker learning how to play Klezmer for her first gig (a wedding). Adrien Brody is stellar as reserved and odd central character. Jessica Walter does a great job as the overbearing mother (lol when doesn't she do this role well?!?) obsessed with making people sandwiches.Of course, Illeana Douglas is also awesome, playing Brody's sister, a struggling thirty something wedding planner who is temporarily living at home again after an unhealthy romance with a deranged stalker accountant-turned-actor.

A fun little romcom that isn't a waste of time. Decent script, with its only flaw being that it ends a little too conveniently packaged. Worth it for Jovovich's performance alone.

Dreams on Spec
½

Damnit I SWORE I wrote up a thingy on this already. Whatevs. Here's another one.

Available for free streaming on Hulu. Of special interest to fans of Behind the Mask:The Rise of Leslie Vernon as its screenwriter is a subject.

Follows the stories of three first time screenwriters trying to sell their scripts. Should be viewed by all aspiring film-makers as a reality check on the biz. Decent structure, but I felt the makers did not prod the subjects enough. Cool to see the development of "Leslie Vernon", was surprised the writer only got 20g for it. Was more surprised that the L.A. based former development exec with all her biz friends wasn't able to get her movie made; it seems she had a breakdown and I was annoyed that the film-makers did not follow her more closely. The guy who claims he could be "making millions" day trading but has spent three years on the same unsellable script is pretty laughable; he should obviously go back to trading, pay off his mortgage, then take his profits and fund his movie himself (which it's shown he did before, but he never got distribution - maybe he should also invest in self-distributing digitally).

I was very annoyed that this film never showed us any important negotiation deals.

Macheads
Macheads (2009)
½

This was filmed in 2007 during the launch of the iPhone so many of its points are irrelevant today."Cult of Mac" author Leander Kahney makes a not so bold prediction, "It's in danger of becoming a big Microsoft-like company with a monopoly on a lot of people's technology. It could actually turn out to be quite the opposite of... the early promise". Well, obviously Apple got there, mostly due to the iPhone and this film serves as a time capsule of what the user base was like before the populist iGadgets launched and gobbled up big portions of tech markets, exploring the range of emotions the groups of dedicated "been there since the 80s" Apple fanatics were feeling as Apple transitioned to the mainstream.

It does to do well to reveal the cultist layout of the Apple corporation by interviewing - and this is really what they are called - leading Evangelists of Apple products. Large corporations like Apple are the religions of the now and the nations of the future and the blind fanaticism on display here does well to prove that. It is quite hilarious, and in some ways uplifting (as you get to see the genuine emotion felt when a person feels they are meeting a deity or finding profound connection to a movement or community), to see thousands of people praise their messiah Steve Jobs at their annual revival.

Unfortunately, it's a pretty shoddy documentary that relies heavily on stock footage to fill in gaps and only surveys a small number of people. It doesn't present itself any differently than any other documentary about a fan group, and it should, especially to reflect on the unique economic position of Apple fanatics in the increasingly essential industry of consumer technology.

The Zombie Diaries

A completely handheld zombie movie that I like. How often does someone who so much hates the handheld horror style and is so critical of anything zombie movie remotely like a movie done this way? Not since "Diary of the Dead". [REC] did NOT meet my standards by any means. I might get accused of bias towards slow zombies and non-linear storytelling, but both of those things, done right, makes for a better film than a decent linear verite with fast zombies. Leave full real-time verite for serial killer movies, and fast zombies for cheap-o apocalyptic scifi thrillers or horror genre parodies.There are cooler zombie shots in this than in "Diary of the Dead". Obviously the closeups of Diary were better, but the hordes in this scare and shock like the original "Night". This movie has one of the best nightshot scenes in horror film (when the farm-camp becomes unraveled), definitely the best indie work I've seen (yeah, I like the angle and orchestration **way** better than the ending of "Blair Witch"). For zombie lovers, a must see that captures the strangeness and insanity of surviving in a zombie world. Don't know why they're re-making [REC] into Quarantine instead of just putting this movie, as is, out in American theatres ('tis a British film).

Play for Today: Nuts in May (TV SHOW)
½

I'm American but I have a very strong interest in UK pop culture and British comedy to the exclusion of most American work. Because I have some increased familiarity with Britishry, I still got much of this movie that would be lost on non-Englanders. Specifically, this is character-based comedy wherein the primary moments of humor are awkward everyday situations.Keith and Candice Marie are utterly unique film characters but startlingly real characterizations of a group of British tourists. The film focuses on rubbish camping holidays, which are common vacations for the British. If one grew up with rubbish camping holidays on tiny UK islands (like Russell Brand did), I'm sure the humor is doubled, but just based on listening to the holiday misadventures of a few British citizens (especially Karl Pilkington's), I found loads to laugh about. Those not interested in subtle humor or character pieces will find this dull. I do think the film requires some real-life based reference points to get the full comedy from it.

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)

I CANNOT believe I've forgotten/delayed this review for this long. I four star it because it is just such a fun movie. I was tempted to slice half a star off because the central character's story is uncompelling and executed to produce no emotional effect on the viewer. Instead all of the supporting characters' stories are far more intriguing and actually garner our interest for the short spots each character gets. Obviously a fantastic soundtrack, a beyond amazing cast that any lover of Brit-com will find beyond delightful, and great use of montage makes for a truly positive viewing experience. Expect many repeat views as this has enough drama worth retreading many times over for its emotional effects.

Survival of the Dead

Few people are greater Romero devotees than me, which is why it's a worse fate than a zombie bite for me to have to first watch and then review this movie. Had a extremely young first time film-maker, an only time film-maker, or a fan group made this, it might have been considered marginally good and might have even earned them a shot at legitimate directing. From a master such as Romero, this is a sign that the man no longer has any interest in film, and he is begging us for a mercy kill like so many of his characters. This is little more than an exercise in emulating the cheesiest of bad film-making and a game of "what marginally amusing and creative zombie kill can I do next with shitty CG and bottom tier squibs?"

I am beyond shocked how terrible this attempt at a movie is. At this point, I think it is depressing that this film earned distribution, and I realize now that any of us ever cared about this film only because it was Romero. Well, it's not Romero anymore, kids. It's just a zombie wandering about doing what he vaguely recalls doing in life.

La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome)
½

For Argento, this a 3/5, for any other director it could easily be a 4/5. I'll keep the better moments in mind and rate this 3.5 then.

Some moments of hypnotizing cinematography that do START to communicate this sense of the "Stendhal Syndrome" but which never quite arrive there. An interesting plot which is about the same level of detail as any Argento - some have argued that this is less plotted, but those fools have obviously never noticed that the one thing Argento can never do well, perhaps because he has no interest in it, is plot, and that this film is pretty standard for barebones "just-get-me-to-the-next-overly-atmospheric-scene" Argento storytelling. This film does breakaway from standard Argento which lighting and sound to portray an overwhelming yet somehow still subtle sense of foreboding. In this film, we get that typical Argento style creepiness in the scenes involving paintings but he also experiments with a new style. Usually, we see through the killer's eyes, roughly following his perspective through many murders. Here the killer is out in open, speaking and interacting, while fully lit, to his victim and our protagonist. This is not a mysterious figure that the camera implies to be present; he is in full closeup and gets more than his share of screen time. One thing this character does for me is make me a bit glad Argento doesn't reveal his killers in this way in his other films simply because if they're anything like this guy, then it would be too realistically frightening and nearly no one could endure these films. For someone that avoids the realist approach to horror, the very realistic and frightening character unleashed on the screen here is an unexpected and refreshing take on horror from master Argento.

Most Argento is about the central female character - usually played by Asia as here - and this film especially so. If this film is anything, it's a great vehicle for her to showcase her abilities and she plainly demonstrates that she's not just a director's daughter but a genuine talent.

Most Fucked Up highlight: the second rape scene (in the manmade cave area beneath the waterfall)

The Death Factory: Bloodletting
½

The scariest thing about this movie is that it is a sequel - another, even less expensive one of these exists. I didn't know it was a sequel til I searched for it here though, so I suppose if you put yourself to the torture of watching it, you don't have to be worried you're missing anything (though I suppose it may explain some of the awkward expositional dialogue with accompanying flashback montage from the main madman about his sister's condition).

I give one half a star because this was made and I've seen much worse. I give another half a star to the sister character with the Freddy claws because she wore such thick contact lenses and did have creepy body movements and decent makeup. The final half star is earned because the blood coloring is good and the gore included, though low tech, looks decent. Too bad the cinematography wasn't better but I suppose it was a budget restriction. And I know poor acting isn't always a budget restriction, but it obv was here.

Mutants
Mutants (2009)
½

Was very disappointed by this, the first zombie film of the New wave of French horror released to the US. Setting and cinematography were stunning but the primary problem is that this is not only heavily trampled premise ground for this genre, this movie does not deliver on it. The central theme here is about the struggle to kill an infected loved one, and the movie attempts to set that theme against a nihilistic backdrop. Unfortunately the nihilistic "we're all going to die. everyone is going to die." tension overwhelms the shaky attempt at giving us two central characters to care about. As a result, this is a misguided delay from the necessary killing of an infected love one which leaves the audience screaming "oh get on with it already!" for forty minutes, as opposed to evoking the desired sobs of empathy from the audience at the climatic "Of Mice and Men" moment we hoped would never come.

I couldn't really appreciate the final makeup look of the "mutants" because I think more traditional zombies would have done better for this story. I've come to accept that the rage zombie is trendy; and it seems this is the latest attempt to assign this subset of infected ghouls a name, in this case "mutants". But let's face it - if the world's gone to shit because people have become uncontrollable cannibals and the few left alive are small groups in isolated areas, struggling with their own personal conflicts, trivial when compared to the sweeping apocalyptic world surround them, which will ironically be their ultimate undoing - then you're in the "zombie genre" that Romero made.

Drag Me to Hell
½

This is the kind of movie Sam Raimi should be forced to make until he can no longer stand film anymore. This simple story is carried by a masterful dose of comedic horror, and it seems like shitty CG was made for Raimi's style. I would be okay with this being the new standard for mainstream American horror - it's unpretentious, it's cheesy in a glam outfit, it shows fucked up creepy in cartoon style. The script is far from fancy, but its form is good and the simplistic nature of the characters suits the style of emphasizing scene over arcing theme. This is fun watch it a few times with friends sort of horror, and that is what Raimi is born to do.

My only genuine beef here is that I can't get over the medium's requirement of 10g to do the seance. I don't know if it's a commentary on money and how it is pervasive even to the point of being currency to motivate people into beyond-earthly situations, or if it is a general dig at the practice of spiritualists to demand earthbound money for unearthly purposes or a dig at prior horror movies that maintain such assertions.

Triangle
Triangle (2009)
½

MANY SPOILERS
Here's a better than average timeloop movie. If you dig trying to sort out a movie, piecing it together to seek any plotholes, then go at this one! Me, I am not piqued enough to insure that this film is properly consistent, but it *feels* like it is and that's enough for me. I'm content with the simple observation that "Triangle" implies three iterations of our main character, or that the Sisyphus allusion is the obvious key to the whole puzzle.

I was a bit annoyed that they talked about Sisyphus as much and as early as they did. From there, I knew what was happening and was just watching a cinematic version of connect the numbered dots. Upon realizing the looped nature and seeing that this film allowed for "residuals", that is tangible items from the last time loop, I wanted to see a proper bloody scene indicating many loops in. And I was delighted to get that with a pile of corpses of iterations of the same characters. But for me, the biggest plot hole was that there wasn't massive amounts of residual blood, which there should have been by the time we join the loop to watch it.

This really is a solid thriller and time piece from the director of Severance, would be useful to give to first time film students to introduce them to alternative time forms to traditional linear in film (and give Memento a break from that spotlight). Held up to extreme scrutiny, I cannot say that this would be a film utterly without plot holes, and my mind is not such that I *must* sort through all those many details to prove that it is sound; I leave that task to the imdb message boards. It feels sound, and that is a big factor for whether or not time-fiddling movies work. Far superior to Donny Darko but several pegs below Primer.

Death Bell (Gosa)

This fun flick has been astutely described by many as a mix between Battle Royal and Saw, but it's also got a touch of Art of the Devil II because of its supernatural content and plot style. It's certainly closer to BR with the timestamps of characters' deaths and the plot centering on a "chosen class" of teens forced into a world of brutality.

The blood is beautiful! The effects, especially the cuts on the bodies, and the corpses, are amazing. Typical to Korean fare, the featured ghost is truly creepy. The film keeps a tight pace going from one fairly inventive gory scare to the next. Unfortunately that's where all the goodness ends.

I've praised Eastern horror, particularly South Korean, of this sort before (see review on Art of the Devil 2) for being one big string of plot holes that relentlessly piles on cliches, twists, and other generally irrelevant details in attempt to create thrills. I liked this saturation of awful form because because it (consciously or unconsciously) satirizes the tired American practice of including one or two choice twists or cliches amidst a flutter of plot holes in a feeble attempt to elevate a horror's punch. Well now I'm just sick of the novelty. I still prefer the hyperbad style of the East to the "even a baby knows this is shit" style of Hollywood horror mills, but I erroneously expected that there would be SOMETHING deeper and more chilling here beyond imagery. Other hyperbad horrors from East have delivered on this promise, but Death Bell does not. Perhaps its biggest flaw is that, unlike BR, it does not go straight into the captive action part, but instead hovers to reveal the normal lives of some of the central students. That time could have been used to give us clues to unraveling the mystery, but instead it wastes time try to build emotional investment in the central-ish character.

This is a very fun flick if you're looking for gore and a shot at reveling in this death game scenario (which is becoming a budding subgenre), but do not expect any satisfaction from the story. This gets a three for its stellar effects; without them it would be a half star.

From Beyond
From Beyond (1986)

In this far too liberal adaptation of Lovecraft's "From Beyond", the only highlight is the creature effects and the machine props/set, which will only be of interest to fans of the bygone era of using only practical effects and may seem silly and crude to modern viewers. The pink-blue lighting of the parallel realm is pretty nice, but that ends the good to be found here. Most of the makeup and creature highlights can be seen in the trailer too, so there is really no reason to waste time on this utterly lame story which disgraces its literary roots.

The People Under The Stairs
½

There are some huge flaws in the story and I have to address these before I dig into what's good here. The motivation for entering the house is WEAK - you need rent money so you're going to steal it from your landlords? Poetic justice is nice, but there were too many sensible adult characters who could have stepped in and said "hey let's just move". I understand the idea is that this a poor neighborhood ruled by a greedy few, but there are surely other affordable areas in the city. There is still the compelling drive for the main character to save his mother from cancer (they are too poor to afford medical care), but the rent thing is just an excuse to set up the ending where the whole neighborhood gathers to confront the sinister landlords. The oddest non sequitur is Daddy's full leather bondage outfit; why for a people so obsessed with shunning "evil" do they embrace such an obvious symbol of "sexual debauchery"? I don't think it's a comment on the couple's hypocrisy; I think Wes wanted a cool full outfit for the Daddy character and the cheapest option wardrobe could offer was a standard store bought bondage outfit.

Anyways, once we get into the house, there is much fun to be had. The setting is very strong and you truly feel trapped inside this house with Fool, our main character. "The People Under the Stairs", it turns out, may also be in the walls, and the evil duo's "good child" Alice understands them and the house in ways her keepers dare not dream of.

One thing Wes does really well is set up action moment after action moment by propping a domino set of sequences. For the most part, it is logic propelling the story from one stressful bit to the next, but there are almost as many too convenient moments moving the story along as well. If you want a horror that keeps up the action pacing, this is your movie, but I found it to be tiring in the sense that some scenes felt re-trodden. Fool falls down the trick-staircase that turns into a ramp too many times, Daddy spends more than one sequence tromping about the house in his leather outfit shooting holes in the wall, both Mommy and Daddy walk away from many "should be seriously injured and immobile, if not dead" to keep the hunt going far too many times, but at least the dog running through the crawl spaces and walls bit is ended pretty early.

The premise and "secret" of what occupies the basement is wholly intriguing and once revealed, still visually compelling enough for us to still be invested in seeing how things resolve (though I think the reveal comes too early and removes tons of suspense that could have been used to create a creepier film instead of an"ut-oh! watch out!" romp). The "final act" is dragged out into two central climaxes and about 10 mini-climaxes; I think the film could have done with just the one big climax and scrap the whole "going back in" bit. The labyrinthine house is definitely the star here and is used to its full potential.

Lo
Lo (2008)

This is one of those films that, watching it, I have this creeping feeling that I am the exact audience for this film, that there is not much I would have changed had this been my project.

This is very much a theatre piece, with the single blackened set, the exits and entrances, and even Tragedy and Comedy presiding over the main character's memories. The film begins with our awkward and meek main character Justin sat in a summoning circle and performing what is obviously his first summoning ritual. He calls forth the demon Lo because his girlfriend has been recently nabbed by a demon and she conveniently left Justin with a demonic grimoire so he summons the demon which is bookmarked, hoping he can somehow get his girl back. With the exception of the initial and closing minute, the whole film is set in a private limbo of the summoning realm.

With so many strong points in this film, the cinematography was first to impress but the makeup absolutely floored me. Anyone who has read any of my prior reviews may have noticed that I favor practical makeup/fx to CG in horror, and this is a film that plainly proves the merit of using solely makeup to create its monsters. Besides our titular character, there are two other featured demons, a squealing green and mangy rat-thing hovering in the "corner" and a sly satirical singing demon Jeez who sports a Nazi-themed outfit and really reaches to the limits of this film's capacity for absurdity with his song and dance number for Justin about his girlfriend's fate. Lo, when it first appears on screen, is astoundingly creepy-beautiful and is wonderfully filmed, which brings me to the next strong point of this film, its cinematography. The lighting is like a live theatre stage setup, with Justin trapped in his summoning circle and other characters and flashback tableau entering and leaving the surrounding space through careful and masterful spotlighting of the otherwise utterly dark summoning space. The colors are crisp and all of the light shades hit showcase the incredible makeup.

Acting is pretty much point on here, especially since these actors are working from a superb script with very natural dialogue. The comedy bits work and the struggle of Justin vs. self is very nicely done. The one bit I sort of disliked but that I'm sure other people will love is the "monologues" where Justin speaks to the now talkative gash in his palm. It's not that this has been used before so much as this is the only spot where the makeup is flawed. It's not BAD makeuping for the budget, but it's simply not acceptable in comparison to the mastery of the three demon pieces.

This film is currently available on Netflix instant watch, and I strongly recommend you take time out of your schedule, however busy, to indulge in this bit of demonic dark comedy. A truly standout and original independent film, this is a lovely and rare gem from the American indie horror market.

How to Be a Serial Killer

This movie starts decently enough by building a very interesting relationship between active multiple murderer and aspiring killer. The dialogue between them tends to stay very tight and believable, but the plot runs screaming in the opposite direction towards cliche and sloppy pacing.

One thing about this movie is that I do not believe its writers/producers have an adequate understanding of what the term "serial killer" entails. This main character is not a "classic" or "textbook" serial killer like Dahmer, Gacy, or Bundy but a simple mass murderer (minus the large amount of underlings) like Hitler or any Soviet Union leaders. The distinction is that the "serial killer" has a relationship with his killing that is akin to relationship a normal person has with their sexuality; it is a sometimes all-consuming force that is fueled by fantasy and marked by sexual satisfaction. Mass murderers, of which many modern domestic examples are erroneously labeled "serial killers", do not have the fantasy-fulfillment relationship with their killing but do it for less personal and more ideological reasons. With both groups there is the sociopathic issue of control over life and death, which is why these groups blur a lot and this movie's main character could be seen by some laymen - or just those who disagree with the psychological theories I've read - as a genuine classifiable "serial killer".

Anyways, that whole "I don't see this guy as a true serial killer" did work on some level because it made the killing less creepy and more open to the black comedy genre. At the same time, I think this really worked against it, because I was looking for something that really tread the paper thin line between fucked-up and funny (like House of 1000 Corpses, Severance, anything Troma). A This film doesn't have any gore I think you can definitely do edgy and dark but still funny without much gore, but this film doesn't.

This is an instant watch on a netflix and I suggest you PASS ON IT.

Paranormal Activity
½

I expected to HATE this movie, but indeed I actually liked it and it DID SCARE ME, which is rare to begin with.
Okay so let's go into all the reasons I was predisposed to hating this thing:
1) found footage is usually just an excuse for sloppy camerawork and these films have unfortunately become trendy in the last few years
2) picking haunting/need for exorcism for your no-budget horror is also tired-trendy
3) misleading marketing about the "campaign to get this film distributed"
4) trailer than flaunted the bullshit marketing campaign
5) did I mention the atrociously annoying and absolutely fabricated marketing/PR campaign that Paramount did for this thing?

I will always be pissed about how this film was marketed, mostly because YOU IDIOTS BOUGHT IT, which means that it will certainly be done again. But my other pre-discriminatory thoughts were removed by the film itself.

It looks like someone finally has broken down and bought a steadicam attachment, so the found footage is not as nauseating and utterly lame as it usually is. In fact, it is used pretty realistically. The editing sends ripples through the fourth wall because there are quick cuts during dialogue that let us in on the fabrication of this, but none of the scare-related props and effects read as cheesy or false. We know that most of these things are easily done tricks, but they still work in context of this film. I watch these scenes, and think "okay that's an easy trick; it was done this way" but my heart is still racing and telling me "still that was fucking freaky", which means that these filmmakers made the most out of literally nothing. The absence of a visible antagonist is what drives the fear level. It isn't there but your mind inserts it, unlike in the highly comparable Blair Witch Project where all I do see is other crew members hitting a tent.

Now to compare this to some other no-budget demonic possession flicks, this one is actually successful at creating the sense that there is something unseen living and moving and plotting in the house with these people. My brain is running frantic and frightened circles trying to imagine what this demon looks like. For me, the biggest "holy shit!" moment is when the girl says she feels it breathing over shoulder and her hairs moves. I really felt at that moment, that my imagination had manifest a grotesque demonoid creature right behind her.

Though this worked for me, I can say that there are tons for whom this won't work.

To note, I have seen two of the three alternate endings. There are 1) theatrical ending with CG demon in last half-second 2) throat-slicing one 3) cops show up. I have seen 1 and 2 and was about even on them.

Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me
½

"So Fucked Up" highlight: Bob

Carriers
Carriers (2009)
½

I've taken this stance that infection-based zombies should be allowed in the zombie genre, but this film has no zombies, just an infection. This is a straight post-apocalyptic drama that aims for the profound though it was marketed as an infected zombie horror.

Too bad this movie is not profound and none of its characters are worth caring about for. The only exception to this terribly slow and uneventful movie is one standout scene where the older brother finally lays out how much shit he has done to spare the younger brother the torment of morally ambiguous actions. It's a clear message about moral relativism and how a post-apocalyptic climate reveals the selfish survivalist instinct that dominates human actions. Too bad this has been done better hundreds of times before and will continue to be done better with far smaller budgets and even less talented actors (and that says a lot when you judge the poor caliber of the acting here).

If you MUST see every apocalypse film made, then I suppose you are obligated to watch this, but that is the only condition under which anyone should be forced to sit through this uneventful disaster.

Trouble Every Day

My review for this is posted under the proper page for this film at http://www.flixster.com/movie/trouble-every-day-gargoyle

Naked Lunch
Naked Lunch (1991)

"So Fucked Up" highlight: shooting the wife on accident

Surveillance
Surveillance (2009)
½

I thought this was a brilliant film. I first saw this two weeks ago and have since watched it five times, but am still unsure what all I have or need to say in a general review of it without giving anything away.

There are some minor plot holes, but the acting is perfect with some unforgettable performances by Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman. This is the second film by Jennifer Lynch, the first since she has reached true adulthood, and I can tell that she has certainly matured as a storyteller and not at all lost her penchant for darkness. Reacting to the film's arc, her father David Lynch described his daughter as "one sick bitch" for making this film. I don't think there's any better endorsement.

I don't want to give ANY spoilers so I won't write much more than "SEE THIS!", but would LOVE TO DISCUSS this flick's particulars with anyone.


BELOW IS A SPOILER
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SPOILER
"That's Fucked Up" Highlight:
strangling the junkie girl and then sucking out her last breath as she asphyxiates

The Short Films of David Lynch

I was pretty sure I had already reviewed this and placed it on my favorite films list. Apparently not.

Anyways, this is required watching for all Lynchites and I love all the films in this collection. Lynch provides some necessary commentary on how each of these films came about, which I found to be quite inspirational to young film-makers and revelatory about how Lynch perceives his ascent into a productive film career.

The Big Shave
½

This is a very cool Scorsese short that you can easily watch on Flixster's page for this film. For '67 this is some nice blood fx, very dark and consistently colored blood. Great little soundtrack, but some sound fx would improve this greatly. Many say that this short is about Vietnam, but as FilmAddykt observes, this can also be a metaphor for vanity. Expanding on that thought, I think this is about self-destruction brought about by vanity, ego, being over the top, or any similar destructive excess which one perpetrates in pursuit of perfection.

Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans
½

I've finally seen it and I genuinely like it. I didn't think I would dig it because usually medieval sbackdrops bore me, but this flick was a rare exception. I expected basically nonstop swordfights and it pretty much was just that, but the bits of plot wedged here and there were actually more compelling then how this story was told in prior entries.

When this film was announced, I was disappointed that the franchise was touching on prequel territory, the synopsis of which had already been divulged in the first two films. But seeing it, the writers did far better than I expected and actually added some worthwhile details to the Underworld story. And it's fantastic to see Bill Nighy playing VIctor is his glorious prime.

Definitely recommended to action AND horror fans, and for those who like bloody battles and darker fantasy settings, this is a must see.

The Jacket
The Jacket (2005)
½

This film has some nice moments - nice individual scenes with great character exchanges or fantastic cinematography - but it does not stand as a whole piece. it is too divided and conflicted abotu what kind of movie it wants to be; genre debates aside, this movie is still too scrambled. It's part Primer minus the mind-boggling dialogue, part Eternal Sunshine minus the believable romance, part Memento minus the suspense, part Catch 22 minus the tight script, with a heavy dose of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest minus profundit\y and 12 Monkeys minus absurdity.

A must skip for anyone who cannot stand to see films that so boldly flirt with being decent and fall so embarassingly short.

The Skeleton Key

This is a fun movie that pays tribute to the Voodoo horror subgenre. A slightly cheesy and racially exploitative little thriller with some very nice cinematography.

WALL-E
WALL-E (2008)

So I've finally seen it - so I could break my bad movies week - and was floored. This stunning animation brings the image to the forefront as the storyteller.

Most intriguing to me is the idea that robots and droids are all designed to emote - obviously the movie needs to do this for it to work as a story - but to imagine a world where robotics designers even take care to make bots show emotive states like humans is one I'd rather live in than a mech-heavy never ending uncanny valley of a world. This is a refreshingly optimistic film while still including sobering subtle commentary. The most amazing thing about this film is how universally comprehensible in message it is - and to do that with animated robots is just mind-bogglingly brilliant.

H2: Halloween II

This must be disappointing movies week for me.

Here's the thing: I think Rob Zombie is one of the best film-makers working today and he gets so much shit even though he makes great movies - except for this one.

So here's a list of what I don't like about this one:
-opens with a dream sequence that probably should have stayed real, especially after the impressive hospital scene over title credits
-nevers answers questions as to what happened to Michael in the two years between killing the coroners and re-emerging in a swampy bit of town
-defines the "white horse" metaphor at start and then beats us over the head with it every ten minutes
-casting and acting of the Laurie part, I think she was far better in Halloween '07
-doing the ""you're safe now", then BOOM and your would be hero is slayed by the killer" several times without any shred of irony or acknowledgement of the device as overused - it's like Zombie is making all the mistakes in his bigtime horror film that he was making fun of in "House of 100 Corpses" and has nothing to say for it except "well it works and it gets me paid. I don't give a fuck if it's lame cuz I made the kill brutal."
-overuse of blood to compensate for lack of real tension and horror
-underlighting effects scenes (probably cuz all the money was used on the soundtrack licenses)
-that Laurie stil didn't know she was Boo, I mean that's kinda BAD police protocol to have not told her with his body not recovered
-that you have to buy both DVD versions, director's and theatrical, to get both version of the ending, neither of which totally satisfy and still remain vague - in a bad way - without director's commentary
-overlap of Michael and Laurie's visions


Things I liked:
-overlap of Michael and Laurie's visions
-continuation of storyline
-art direction
-costuming
-Michael's look
-brutality of the kills
-sound effects
-consistent blood shades
-Loomis as a douchebag
-the "I'm done wit dis shit" ending of the director's cut

This is a mixed bag movie that could have been 80% better with a little more thought-out and clever script. Lead actress in Laurie's role needed to be recast; I don't think she is directable and every featured extra with a line outdid her. Confusing and ambiguous but not in a good way - in a way that screams half-assery. Gore hounds may see some decent kills but nothing that raises any bars or even stands out as anything other than "I wish they woulda invested the dough to shoot that kill totally lit with top of the line effects instead of blood and bashing indiscernable objects in underlit mostly dark blue tableau".

BOTH endings, director's cut and theatrical cut, are disappointing and very bleh. If you are going to watch this flick, check out both endings as they are radically different in terms of who dies and how, but don't expect to find the theatrical ending on the Director's Cut release or vice versa; you will have to go to a streaming or torrent to find the alternate from the version you have. In the theatrical, there are two great effects displays on the kills, but one likes the finality and higher degree of realism of the director's version. Still, like any horror ending, everyone will watch both feeling that it could have been done better. Actually I wouldn't mind this film having "pick an ending" feature where they'd be like five endings. That's almost how you have to play horror because it's a slim margin of horror film that have endings that don't feel hokey, fake, or forced, and Halloween II is definitely not in that elite category.

Postal
Postal (2007)

Not bad and actually funny at some points. Plenty of hot chicks barely dressed, plus a full frontal from Dave Foley. Has next to nothing to do with the game other than dictating props and settings used and some one-liners, but then again what the hell is the game about other than outrageous setting and props? Shows that Boll can make fun of himself. Worth a watch if you're looking for faux-edgy that is marginally better than mainstream comedy releases.

Extract
Extract (2009)

I'm too tired of mediocre movies to really write anything about this one. I guess I am like most people - I don't give a fuck about "Extract".

Mike Judge you fucked it up. They gave you big distribution and promos on this one, and it's a shit movie. Back to being an indie for you then. You do better there.

The Lost
The Lost (2008)
½

THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY HORROR. Best described as "Blue Velvet"-like, this is a character-study drama bookended by brutally violent murders. The main character is the killer - the bookends are what is his supposed first time killing people and the end is the massacre that ended him. In between, the violence, the audience spends their time waiting for mc Ray to explode, analyzing his reactions to see who it is and why it is he will finally kill again.

This would be a brilliant film if the acting was more on point. The lead plays the dual ends well of the smiling charmer and then the shouting psycho, but he can't do anything in between those two extremes and struggles in "normal" moments of relationship building that most actors would do breezily. He is just awkward with the commonplace; the melodramatic is where this guy shines.

For the rest of the cast, the acting is mixed and most of them are more capable than the lead. No one's ruining the movie, but no one is stealing the show with a killer performance, either.

This film is marketed wrong because it has the Jack Ketchum attachment (this is a direct adaptation of his novel of the same title), it is branded as a horror title. It has a serial killer at the center, but this is very much a crime drama/mystery and the makers are clearly attempting at some time to give it an art-house stamp.

It's not bad, it's just very slow and unsucessfully executed. For gore fans, I do recommend that you watch the beginning and then skip to the final 15 minutes. An dplease just trust me, you are NOT missing any meaningful or believable character development.

Netherbeast Incorporated
½

I was BEYOND DISAPPOINTED with this flick. Considering the talent and idea, this should be a killer satire with juicy horror bits, but it's just lukewarm type B cinema.

The script is too prententious in terms of its details to the vampire/netherbeast history and then too skimpy on character development and meaty dialogue. This script tries to do some much, that done right would make this a classic, but it misses the mark for basically the length of the film and utterly wastes the talents of living comedy gods.

Just watch the "trailer" here on flixster. It has everything you want to see and also conveys how annoying and lame this movie is. I get what the film-makers were going for here, but truth is that so many have done it better and with far less talented actors. I basically blame the writer(s) on the terribleness in this one.

Trouble Every Day (Gargoyle)

Minimal dialogue, a film that tells its story with images instead. At first the pacing and cinematography were hypnotizing, but an hour in, the slowness was effecting my viewing experience. It's clearly a very visually calculated movie, and obviously wants to be considered art house.

Due to the minimal dialogue and articulate angles, this movie causes some plot ambiguity that I hoped would not be frustrating, that it would all sort of come together in the end and that acute observation could carry the bulk of the film. It does to an extent, but still too many relationships are left unexplained and there are some disposable characters that simply muddle the story. The main thing I longed for was some more revelation about the dynamic between Dr. Leo and Dr. Brown. The CorÚ character is chilling, and she certainly makes this fit in a "horror" mode, though it is primarily an art house mystery that emphasizes sex and sensuality with its many flesh-on-flesh closeups.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: CorÚ at work on the "boy next door", Gallo's character (Dr.Brown) literally eats pussy

"New Wave French Horror": this is more an extreme cinema/art house film than horror, but the gory scenes and cannibalistic subject qualify it

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Jeder fŘr sich und Gott gegen alle)(Every Man for Himself and God Against All)

This is an astounding film that truly brings you into the world of this unique character, who was indeed a real person. You can easily wiki Kaspar Hauser to read the different articles for yourself, but the story goes that a teenage boy was abandoned to a soldier with a note stating that he had been kept inside since infancy and taught some basic things, but now could no longer be cared for and that he should be made a soldier or hanged.

Werner Herzog takes some great liberties with the story, as most films do, to acheive a higher resonance of theme. In reality, Hauser was believed by many who took on his case to be a fraud, liar, manipulative, and general hustler. In this Herzog version, he is the innocent, he is the man-babe that has never seen fire, and it is fascinating.

The cinematography is consistent and beautiful; it could be watched for its images alone. This is a fantastic outsider film that examines some greater philosophical queries along the lines of "blank slate".

Why are so many people marking "Not Interested" for this film? Is it Herzog bias? Is it Cannes scorn? (this did win Palm D'Or in three categories)

Satan's Little Helper

This is suprisingly creepy and entertaining despite the budget that is below SyFy Channel standards. There's no premo gore here, just a bunch of suspense and some really fucked up character dynamics. Check out this little bastard kid who befriends a serial killer cuz he thinks he is "satan" or a demon of sorts and he wants to help satan kill people, including some people he doesn't like. In terms of story this is definitely worth it compared to mindless slasher fare. I mean at least I was engaged with what characters were doing so as to appreciate all the implied themes, and not waiting for the next "gotcha" kill to serve as a cheap thrill. On Netflix instant watch and considering the low level of decent horror on Netflix IW, this should work in a snap for a weekend night's intoxicated horror marathon.

We are Wizards
½

It shows me a world I didn't know existed - a whole music scene dedicated to Harry Potter emo rock - but doesn't compare with any prior documentaries on fandoms, and is actually quite boring. I really haven't more to say than that; this isn't Trekkies and don't expect to learn much for those sociology/communications/media students out there who need to do a fandom paper and want some references.

Zombiemania
Zombiemania (2008)
½

Since this is my primary specialty topic, I'm glad to see that there is finally a nice intro doc to the whole zombie film scene. This is by no means a complete history or an indepth examination of the genre, but it proivdes a good intro for undead virgins and has reviews with several legends for dedicated z-fans. It's streaming on Netflix so if you have Netflix, you have no reason not to watch this nice bit of film-gut filler.

Avatar
Avatar (2009)

James Cameron has, once again, changed the world market of film and the premier methods of film-making. I recommend that everyone read the two-article coverage on it in WIRED 404 Dec 2009, really great breakdown of the technology created, intellectual consideratioon invested, and time spent making this thing happen.

Cameron has changed 3d for the better. I think parts of this film have conquered the uncanny valley. Cameron will indeed out-Lucas da big George yet if he can pull off two sequels equally as compelling.

Iron Man
Iron Man (2008)
½

Alright so everyone already agrees that RDJ is tha bomb in this, and I wholeheartedly concur. I could take or leave Gwyneth and Terrence Howard, bur unlike most other reviewers, I liked Jeff Bridges' performance. The story is annoyingly laced with patriotism and an attempt at modernity, but what else does one expect from America's largest "propaganda for the youths" machine?

The movie whips by with a good action pacing, though it is devoid of any significant plot development. The suit is awesome and corresponding action scenes SEEM to fit in this movie's imagined world of physics. The end was a genuine fanboy heart-pumper: the (best) bumper (eva) left me fully excited (AVENGERS!!!!), especially after that awesome ending with Black Sabbath's anthem capping it.

I can't compare this to the comic book, as I always found Iron Man to be boring (and the movie fits that). I do hope Terrence Howard gets dropped from the War Machine role, and that RDJ meets the studio's physical standards for the next installment, as he is a great Tony Stark and funny to see someone so talented and revered as an actor slipped into a cookie cutter superhero role because he makes something otherwise dull, interesting.

Zombieland
Zombieland (2009)
½

Damn awesome, especially visually, but I didn't connect with the characters and humor on any level comparable to how I do with zombedy classics Shaun of the Dead or Return of the Living Dead. I hope they hire me to pen the followup.

Deadgirl
Deadgirl (2008)
½

This is a well executed serious take on the outrageous b horror-exploitation flicks this writer usually makes.

This is effective as a "make you think about fucked up shit" movie, not a jumpscare thriller or a gore showcase. As such, it has to make some characters that matter, and it does. These characters have dimension and their actions correspond to what we can expect of them.

I watched it twice. Would serve as a nice boys' version companion piece to Teeth in the category of modern (super fucking weird) sexual development horror.

Trick 'r Treat
½

Working as a multiplot that ebbs and flows back into itself, balancing scares and giggles all the way, Trick r Treat is one of the best American horror films of the decade and is a new classic.

I really have to watch it again to see if there is anything really wrong with this film (I just hesitate to give 5 stars after only one screening). Probably the only wrong thing is that this didn't receive the gigantic release that it deserved, but got caught in (to the horror blogosphere) a ridiculous distribution shuffle that landed it a mere DVD release with minimal press support. THIS SHOULD BE AT THE BOX OFFICE FOR HALLOWEEN NOT ANOTHER SHITTY INSTALLMENT OF A SHITTY GORE PORN THAT HAS AN AD NEXT TO THIS VERY BOX WHERE I TYPE THIS REVIEW.

Anyways, enough about Saw VI sucking and American horror being mostly devoid of talent and then very stupid about using it when they find it.

Trick r Treat is amazing and a must see.

The Vanguard
The Vanguard (2008)
½

I am not sure if these Biosyn infected people qualify as zombies, but that broaches the whole "Do infected rage people who break some traditional zombie rules still count as zombies?" And I say yes, because they are addressing the same issues of apocalypse, human vs. altered human, survival, etc. And let us not forget that the "modern zombie" (the Romero zombie) is quite a departure from the pre-existing Voudon zombie, so it is only fair that the infection zombie make some big departures from the undead cannibal or modern zombie. Still, these things are not strictly zombies and sorry to cut into a brief genre analysis, but that is what the person I was watching this with posed to me so I carry over this awareness into this review.

In terms of visuals, the cinematography is much better than expected for a low budget; in fact, it has some very beautiful highlights that definitely registers above average. Some little CGI bullets and bullet flash are annoying,but the CGI "throbbing/pulsating infection spots" look incredibly cool.

The story is cool but not totally innovative (synopsized) for the apocalyptic genre, offering more of a mashing of many elements we have seen and read before. It is executed nicely with rapid plot turns to keep one engaged. The acting is a bit on the poor side, which is the only big problem with this film. The Biosyn-zombie creatures also walk very funny (they run hunch-backed) so it is tough to take them seriously. The rest of the plot focuses on corporation soldiers and "resistance" soldiers and other fringe survivors, which is more interesting and is obviously all about revealing what the whole Biosyn thing is and why it is.

The Aggressives
½

This is a good modern companion piece to the classic Paris is Burning, only this time around the subjects are on the lesbian wavelength.

The director did an excellent job at selecting truly compelling people and edits it all (6 years of footage) to make a beautiful and comprehensible timeline of events in these people's lives. This is a "microscope" doc, like Paris is Burning and Gendernauts, and focuses on people within one small community. Still the things they deal with are universal and the issues of gender and sexuality addressed can benefit anyone in terms of broadening your perspective.

The director is very minimally invasive, almost invisible, and the subjects are utterly open and comfortable with the camera. Can't recommend it enough.

Mister Frost
Mister Frost (1990)
½

Jeff Goldblum plays the devil. Quite awesome when I was still actively watching it; got a little too bombed to finish it. But I'll probably watch this again because this is a movie that for me is fun enough to watch a few times.

Where the Wild Things Are
½

Visually beautiful (ground breaking from my perspective), but pushes the post-modern story styling too far. Part of the problem is that some characterizations (especially Carol) are not made full enough to believe and understand the flow of the story. Even posing Carol as a simple looking glass character for Max, it is still tough to genuinely feel that things happening even make sense to the characters (because it doesn't make sense to me). Perhaps I just need to watch it again. Highly recommend though I think this is better for angsty teenagers and middle schoolers than young kids in terms of potential minor audiences; as a film for adults, this is quite suited to be viewed as a serious film.

Chemical Wedding (Crowley - Back from Hell)
½

This is SO terrible that it is invaluable to film students and admirers of the cinema of mediocre melodramatic over-reaching. Not to be missed if you appreciate how a film shouldn't be. This movie is like being raped and enjoying it, so fine the line it treads between aspiring greatness that laughably comes within reach and utter failure in film language of the "this must be intentional" sort. I may eventually add more ways of describing how this film tries to be a good work and the ensuing hilarity when it fails.

In the Mouth of Madness
½

As a huge Lovecraft reader, I think the best film versions of his work are movies like these where the script is essentially fantastic fanfic.

This film is hypnotically creepy and I loved every second of it. Mind you, in addition to my Lovecraft love, I am also fascinated with films about novel authors and love the possibilities of a sanitarium setting done to delightful melodrama proportions like this one.

Those goodies said, this is not an accessible film because it is essentially set inside the mind of a madman. If you hate dream sequences come alive and living scenes descending into nightmare, with all the odd and inexplicable dream logic intact, you will find yourself swamped by WTF? moments and not be able to enjoy the creepiness on display here.

The ending for me is one of the few "twist" endings I find satisfying. The effects are top notch as one would expect from Carpenter. THE BIG FX EXCPETION: On principle, I disagree with showing full "Old Ones" or any such Lovecraft "deities" or "indescribable" creatures because they are MEANT to be indescribable and thusly impossible for us to even comprehend were one ever to be real and appear to a human, much less be possible for any human to replicate the experience - and to IMAGINE what these creatures could look like is an insult to Lovecraft's central driving theme of fear of the unknowable. In this film, the Old Ones on display are not an exception to this rule of "Don't show the top tier Lovecraft nasties" - they aren't indescribable horror finally and unbelievably realized, but instead just the exact sort of effects installation style you would expect from John Carpenter. I LIKE his style so I'm not as offended by what was done here to Lovecraft creatures so much as the horrendously awful CGI Dagon in Stuart Gordon's Dagon.

To me, this is undeniably a horror classic and every horror fan should have this on their to-see list or objective "Best of Horror" lists. The real test of genuine greatness is that my dreams the night after screening this film were looping bits from the film with tiny touches of my own subconscious added details.

Candyman
Candyman (1992)
½

It's refreshing to finally watch some decent horror. Not a masterpiece by any means, but it still delivers on the goods of an effective villain and some nice bits of gore.

The acting of the heroine is quite convincing, even when her character's motives don't fit with any standard strain of logic. The art and set design here is quite brilliant, very atmospheric and gritty.

Walled In
Walled In (2009)
½

I really like the concept of this film. The art direction is stunning and the cinematogrphy is great. Its biggest flaw is that it isn't scary. Its dialogue is pretty terrible and the plot uses many cheap twist tricks that any audience member will see coming. Overall, not bad but just not good enough to warrant a whole-hearted recommendation.

9
9 (2009)

The first caveat: If i liked the steampunk style, this would definitely be a 3.5 star and potentially 4.

Now some training for cinen00bs:
Repeat to yourself in mantra style until you have properly remembered it: "Shane Acker wrote and directed this, not Tim Burton. Tim Burton produced." OR shortened, "Shane Acker's 9". Got it? Okay now say aloud Timur Bekmambetov's name until you got it down (Tee-mur Beck-mum-beh-toff) because if you didn't know about him already, he's one of the top directors in the world, specializing in flawless action and monumental visual flair; for this film, he also produced. Okay we go that out the way, and you know this isn't a "Tim Burton's _____" film and that Bekmambetov is quite entrenched in Hollywood now.

Onto actual review:
The story of 9 is a simple and interesting take on the post-human landscape where robots rose to destroy society. The focus of the film is on a handful of sentient puppets who seem to be among the few creatures left alive in a desolate landscape. The detailed design of these puppet characters is amazing and beautiful. They have simple character traits and are one-dimensional cutout characters (and the story tries to justify this with its ultimate revelation about these creatures' sentience). The animation is amazing and presents equally over-the-top action with gargantuan mechanical creations and emotional exchange between the tiny characters.

It's great if you like action, but I found the action segments to be numbing to my senses. Some of the interpersonal exchanges are quite convincing, but sometimes the cutout nature of these characters intervenes and makes a give-and-take too predictable. Still, the simple animations of the numbers' eyes and mouths was enough to keep my mind engaged.

The end was not satisfying for me, but the moments of questing for that truth were quite cool. The thought that went into these designs (and the fictional origin of these designs) is immense and unbelievably executed. When I couldn't care about the simple plot or immense action scenes, there were always novel design details to absorb.

I don't understand the PG-13 rating, except that I know that rating has grown immensely in the past few years as PG becomes far more tame. To me, this is a very PG movie, and actually the people (age-wise) who will gain the most from this are in the 6-12 range. There are too many scary images for small children, but any child who has acquired any sophistication re:"real vs. fake" and the magic of cinema will be utterly enthralled by this story. For me, it didn't have enough emotional resonance because I have been exposed to far too many stories in my short lifespan. To a green mind, this is an intriguing and possibly standout parable with a sharp message of 'The human spirit can and will overcome the "inevitable" robot apocalypse.'

Ultimately, visuals over storytelling (who didn't expect that), but a veritable heaven for lovers of the steampunk aesthetic.

Infection (Kansen)
½

For J-horror this is quite disappointing. It may pack the undicipherable plot, but it does not deliver on enough (and powerful) indescribabbly creepy imagery. This crew also doesn't really know how to handle special effects. They don't show much (probably because of the budget) and though I am often a proponent of "less is more", in this case the little that is delivered is at the just-above-mediocre level of special effects.

This is currently (second week of September 2009) streaming free on fearnet.com but I wouldn't waste my time again. A sad reminder that Japanese doesn't always equal an unequivacably frightening flick; they make shitty B-horror dime-a-dozen flicks too.

The Times of Harvey Milk
½

http://content9.flixster.com/movie/10/87/44/10874435_tmb.jpg

Brother to Brother
½

A friend's recommendation reminded me that I saw this stunning documentary-style-film on PBS's Independent Lens.

The literary world of the Harlem Renaissance is more central to this than homosexuality amongst African American men (see Paris is Burning for the best film on that topic). It's admirable unabashed reality and as result, quite depressing at moments with an overall tone of bittersweetness.

I think this is a very important film for young artists, especially writers, to see.

Red Without Blue
½

Very interesting piece about identity and how a family deals with situations that most of society deems "odd" or "too complicated". Biggest plus here is that Claire's transsexualism is not the sensationalized focus of the film as many of its loglines and synopsis report, but rather one more bit in a large patchwork of the subjects' past and current happenings, emotions, and the impact on their closest relationships. This film is centrally about personal identity and the twin dynamic than sexgender and sexuality, which is very refreshing for one like myself who has seen too many films play heavily on the trans component to gain notoriety.

A very fair and frank examination of this family's life, including some very moving and astounding interviews with the parents.

The only reason I didn't give this a 4 star rating is because it didn't have as much emotional bang (for me) as did many of the other documentaries I recommend and list on Top Docs. But it may be profound enough to warrant a four from you, so I must strongly recommend it if you seek a doc that films a modern American family.

Small Town Ecstasy

An HBO special from a few years back. One of the most insightful "fly on the wall" documentaries about modern drug culture. Highly recommend.

ZA: Zombies Anonymous
½

The first half of this film is great, then the remainder is unjustifiably terrible. Detailed review to come.

District 9
District 9 (2009)
½

Loved it. Quite simply loved it.

Snuff 102
Snuff 102 (2007)
½

"That's Fucked Up" commentary: This film shoots straight to the heights of fucked up cinema. This is the film Hostel wishes it could be. I defy you to watch the whole thing. The camera technique and effects are so well done that I kept feeling I was watching real snuff.

"Fucked Up" highlight: Though the camera cuts from it at the impact moments, the snuff killer stomping on a pregnant victim's abdomen is the most unsettling moment for me. I'm sure you may have your own; this film is quite packed with contenders for "most fucked up" moment.

Autopsy
Autopsy (2009)

A by-the-numbers horror flick that hopefully warns college twenty-something that if you come to New Orleans and drunk drive home, you will get seriously fucked by the less controlled people of the surrounding parishes.

The fantastic thing here though that I must recommend EVERY horror enthusiast see is an effects installation towards the very end where one of the main character's body has been completely dismembered, all of his organs suspended, and he is still alive. It's a truly impressive piece of art and this film doesn't deserve its high caliber of artistry.

Stupidity
Stupidity (2003)
½

I learned the origins of the words "idiot", "moron", and "imbecile" but I could have unearthed that in an article. I learned who some of the leading authors are in this understudied field of "stupid" but I could have unearthed that in an Amazon book search. I didn't leanr anything about the nature of "stupidity" other than it is hard to find a consensus on the definition of the word, but that lack of consensus hold true for any loaded and complicated subject that tries to pick one all-encompassing word to define it.

I was, at least, impressed by the lineup of intelligent individuals the film-makers were able to interview. My biggest sense of being cheated by this film is that it doesn't do something so utterly obvious - interview and explore the lives of the "stupid". The film also never addresses the idea that stupidity, idiocy, etc can all be defined by their antithesis to a system to which most of modern societies subscribe, the fields of "logic" and "ration". This film just does not provoke enough thought on non-thought, and often ignores the elephant in the room of stating that the film-makers, like the researchers they are interviewing and referencing, define stupidity by a lack of awareness. But I guess that is all okay because the opening disclaimer is that the film was made by idiots.

Just not a revealing documentary and not worth your time. If you wish to further investigate the realm of stupidity and its brethren, watch a few episodes of Jackass and make your own observations on why and what could be considered "stupid".

Latter Days
Latter Days (2004)
½

It's just a lukewarm film, a by-the-numbers romantic drama about people from utterly different worlds that happen to fall in love. I give props for the included "twist" and depictions of "homosexual reformation" facilities that we all KNOW exist and are utilized by the Mormon church. Some very nice bits of secondary character acting by Erik Palladino as the AIDS patient and Joseph Gordon Levitt as an overly everything-that-isn't-Mormon-phobic missionary.

"Hot Gay Sex" commentary: this reluctantly makes the list. makes the list because there is certainly gay sex happening here. Reluctant because, as my gay boyfriend said, "we don't know who topped/bottomed". Plenty of shapely buttocks, though.

Time of the Wolf
½

Of course it is bleak, slow, and ambiguous - it's Michael Haneke!

I did indeed like this one, though only having seen Funny Games, Funny Games, and this, I do believe Haneke to be obsessed with the themes of home invasion and "bourgeois" people forced into humility.

I CAN tolerate what some will describe as unbearable "slowness" and over-calculation of shot composition that many accuse Haneke guilty of, but mostly because I am sick of seeing shoddily edited, overcut, and underthought movies that will always flood the market. It's tough to be a legitimate film maker, because then you actually have to meet standards, which is why I imagine so many people to be very callous in regards to assessments of Haneke's work. I am always pleased to see apocalyptic/end of society films done in this realistic tone, especially in today's flooded market of action apocalyptica and sensationalized armageddon. This film most closely reminds me of Threads with its bleak presentation and closeness to reality.

A wonderful film, but you must be a patient fim viewer (read: not an ADD crazed artificial adrenaline junkie plucked from the teeming masses). I must confess that I dislike the ending, not because it is ambiguous; indeed I like to think I know what awaits the characters after the reel ceases to roll, and I delight in imagining the specifics of how they will deal with yet another difficult and wholly new situation. I dislike the ending not for the final shot, but for the scene right before it, and the haste with which all of the dangling storylines are abandoned for this overhanded symbolic moment which will contribute to many viewers feeling similarly abandoned and befuddled by the director's choice, but as is often the way with Haneke, that mau be indeed precisely what he wants the audience to feel. Viewed from that perspective, I can accept that scene, but I cannot accept the countless storylines which were just moments ago being adequately nourished and developed, but are now suddenly left desperately open to interpretation.

Murder-Set-Pieces
½

This "movie" promotes itself for being shocking, banned in the UK, and refused for processing by three film developing studios. It's not shocking, but I for one would ban or not process this film because of how absolutely poorly made it is.

I don't even know where to being with my laundry list of complaints.

It's edited like someone with severe memory loss and acute ADHD did it. It's written without any regard for form, story, originality, or genuine talent for horror. I only believe there was a person on set, one Nick Palumbo, who called himself a director, but didn't actually bother directing anything other than stock body parts and corn syrup. It's all intentional shock and no genuine scare. On top of that, it's not even thoughtful gore. The blood coloring is off and different in every scene; the splatters are utterly without the logic of physics and more than gratuitous. The majority of props are very weak in terms of appearing real or showing originality; the one exception is a Jack-in-the-Box of a skull which contains a miniature of the killer in it.

And this script, more holes than swiss cheese! This killer would have been caught several times over by the end of the film; he is a sloppy killer AND he shots someone in an occupied and no doubt video-monitored adult bookstore (which by the way happens because of an utterly badly placed sudden armed robbery). The film layers on bad horror cliches like an overstuffed sub sandwhich; within two seconds of each other, the killer brandishes a chainsaw and the protagonist gets a butcher knife for defense. I'm not even going to go into how lame it is to throw around Nazi familial connections and serial killer flashbacks to a childhood of mother hatred.

This is worth seeing to remind one to treasure the great films that are out there by showing the utter crap in comparison. Shock lovers and gore hounds, prepare for disappointment, as this garbage is not in the same league as most of the video nasty "banned" faux-snuff favorites. I cannot say too many times how much of a waste of time and red dye this film is. AVOID AVOID AVOID Only see it if you MUST fulfill a list of shock films, but then only to note how poor is in comparison to the rest of the field.

Blindness
Blindness (2008)

For a dystopian "end of society" flick, there are far better entries. The movie quickly isolates itself to a small quarantine area (probably for budget reasons) of those afflicted with the "blindness". Within the quarantine, the social order quickly breaks down when it becomes overcrowded and chaos ensues with one faction of men controlling food and threatening the other residents.

The film does okay at communicating the blind affliction, but there are many flaws in what the people can and can't do (for example, one would still be able to wipe their own ass but a main character says that he can't).

Just a very lukewarm film, and if it weren't for the great scenes that take place after the quarantine camp, I would give it 2 and 1/2.

Otaku Unite!
Otaku Unite! (2004)
½

I don't know much of this culture, and I found this doc to be tremendously insightful. On the short side and very broad in scope, but good for those wishing to merely glimpse into this modern cultural phenomenon.

Leprechaun in the Hood

This is hilarious; more of a spoof than an actual horror movie. The film is one half "Friday" and one half Leprechaun. The "getting out of the hood" story could actually stand on its own and be a decent little flick, but throw in the Leprechaun and you instantly have a cheesy B-style romp. The effects disappoint, so there are no cool kills, but there is plenty of rhyming and intriguing minor characters to satisfy the viewer. And it does even better than I expected - I expected a rap song about the leprechaun - instead at the end, the Lep does hid own rap including his own music video hos and bling references. I'm not surprised a second Lep in the hood was done, but I am unsure if I will watch it (both currently available on FEARnet web viewing).

Darkon
Darkon (2006)

I did not know this culture existed and this film provides a very interesting glimpse into the world of outcasts shunned by other outcasts. Check out the HULU page discussions on this for a thorough exploration of the piece.

Methadonia
Methadonia (2005)
½

This could be considered a companion piece/sequel of sorts to Black Tar Heroin: Dark End of the Street. That film dealt with young people fresh into the world of heavy addiction, and this film follows lifelong addicts who are still battling to recover after 20-40 years of addiction. In this film, most of the subjects are no longer addicted to street drugs but are now on the chemical leash of methadone and frequently combine it with other prescription drugs to replicate their old highs.

Dagon
Dagon (2001)

The most appealing and stunningly well done achievement of the film is creating a consistent and terrifying depiction of a village dedicated to the extreme and orthodox religious worship of the dark Elder Gods; this is a place you could only want to visit in nightmares. Because the village and in its inhabitants are so effective, I am ratcheting my score to four stars. The language sounds great, which is pretty key to portraying occultists and creatures of Lovecraftian realms; this is for horror what Tolkien is for fantasy in terms of film adaptation.

And weird I should think of LotR, because Stuart Gordon has in effect done a Lovecraft library of adaptations to screen; it's not just three movies, but it is well more than LotR extended cuts. Gordon varies in how people rate his adherence to Lovecraft ideals, I too fluctuate on my like for his renderings of these stories. I love this one. But that isn't to say there aren't some problems.

Shuttle
Shuttle (2009)
½

It's rare to come across a modern thriller/horror that actually thrills and scares; this film manages to do that.

Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street

It's not hard for this film to be brilliant. The camera just has to be running on these people, and then it is up to the makers to dig through the three years of footage to compile a coherent story.

All of them are young, introspective, resourceful, friendly, and full of potential. But they are also all very filled with sadness, in great despair, in ill health, in dangerous situations, and rarely happy because they are all addicted to heroin. It would not be surprising if a followup done today would reveal all the participants, or at least a majority, to now be dead of a drug-related cause. At the conclusion, two main subjects have AIDS and are not receiving treatment, and one of them is still prostituting despite a looming charge of attempted murder if charged again with prostitution.

Of course when dealing with this topic, the content will be saddening, but the factor that determines whether or not the film is good is if it is revealing. And this film does reveal in horrific detail the reality of junkie living. We see their battered bodies, bruises and burst blood vessels spotting their skin from frequent injection and dramatic weight losses from neglecting eating for fixing. We see them in the throes of withdrawal and, more rarely, doped to the point of complete loss of awareness with their only spoken sentiments being about their specific despairs and missing loved ones. We see them lurking on street corners to advertise for dates, visiting public restrooms to shoot up, using pay phones to contact dealers, and running small dealing operations out of temporary and deteriorating living spaces. We see them attempting relationships with other addicts, but it seems that what draws these people together is their addiction and mutual need for supporting their addiction. We see them attempting to regain their lives when jail or death looms, but we also witness them inevitably falling back into the deadly grip of addiction.

Great documentaries reveal stark reality, and this film certainly accomplishes that.

Friday the 13th

The best thing I can say is that it's watcheable if it's on in the background or you're getting hammered/stoned while watching it and kind of paying more attention to conversations you're having than the screen. So it's a good Friday night "let's play MST3K!".

Things this entry taught me about Jason/Camp Crystal Lake:
-there is a sizeable marijuana crop of awesome quality on the property and apparently tons of college aged kids know about it
-there is a cavern system that terminates in a turned over bus
-Jason was still alive when his mom killed the kids and watched her get killed
-Jason keeps prisoners for over a month, chained but fed, as long as they vaguely remind him of his mother or the girl who killed his mother
-Sam (the long haired one) from the WB's Supernatural can totally kick Jason's ass and survive machete chops
-Jason is an excellent archer
-Jason will kill you if you plan to steal and/or smoke his weed
-Jason likes to use bear traps

Moral of the story: just don't fuck with Jason's weed.

The work on Jason himself is quite nice, and some of the body part FX (torn leg especially) are okay. Nothing new gorewise though and many boring blade-through-ya kills.

Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man 3 (2007)

THIS RATING IS NOT OF THE MOVIE SPIDER-MAN 3. THE RATING IS OF THE RIFFTRAX COMMENTARY OF SPIDER-MAN 3. I CANNOT PROPERLY RATE SPIDER-MAN 3 BECAUSE FLIXSTER DOES NOT ALLOW NEGATIVE STAR RATINGS.

I swore I would never see this; I didn't need to see it to know how godawful it is. I was right that I didn't need to see it to know how bad it was, but I wanted to test out the RiffTrax guys to see if they could really stick it to a crap movie. They didn't, keeping their comedy very broad and PG. I laughed 6 times total, and yes I was counting, at their comments. Not impressive considering that I laughed at the actual dialogue more times than I could keep count of. This is one of the worst movies ever made, so the RiffTrax guys should have produced an epic pwn of this craptacular, but instead they went pretty damn soft on it and I was disappointed.

So there really is no reason to see this movie until some other professional peanut gallery puts together a decent commentary track.

Parents
Parents (2000)
½

This is available for free viewing on Hulu.com.

The acting is the clear winner of this flick, with set decoration coming in close second. And unlike most modern horror, this film has a plot that includes characters we the audience have a stake in. I viewed this with my best friend who said this during the screening, "Why don't they make movies like this anymore? Movies where you actually care about the characters and want to know what happens?" And it's quite true - this movie is not the most complicated of stories, but we DO care about what happens to this kid and to know what his parents are really up to.

This is a fun family horror-comedy, with a really cool final act.

Laid to Rest
Laid to Rest (2009)
½

A truly fun slasher. Though it breaks no new ground in terms of story, it does innovate to introduce a technophile murderer and uses this to help explain away some of his superhumanish aspects. The script does retain just enough thrill and twisting along with some human and relatable characters to be far superior than standard horror fare.

There are some really cool gore scenes and blood coloring is dead on.

Kill Theory
Kill Theory (2009)
½

I was going to be nice and give this a two, but when I didn't remember a damn thing about this movie and I just saw it the night before, well that's under-2-worthy.

Actually now that I recall more, some of the gore is not so bad and is a bit fun. Still nothing here you haven't seen 50 times before 50 better ways in 500 other movies.

Not mediocre enough to enter the cheese realm, and yeah, there is nothing else to say about this forgettable waste receipt.

Plague Town
Plague Town (2009)
½

This is pretty incredible for a low budget feature. At the conclusion of this film, I definitely decided that this is one fictional horror town I NEVER want to end up in; I'd rather face Leatherface to be honest.

Now the downers. The acting is at best lukewarm. The makeup varies in effectiveness from "you need to reapply that" to "okay that's acceptable for an amateur"; in a few wide shots, it is clear that the production couldn't afford/bother to makeup the antagonistic children. The effects crew seems to do much better with the blood, keeping coloring and flow pretty consistently good. The characters often make questionable decisions, but what is this genre without such idiocy on part of the characters?

You can feel that these people are truly stranded and surrounded. The town, once revealed, is just as eerie and backwards as you would expect. The girls' ritual performed on the surviving Brit is quite satisfyingly sick.

This is one of the better indie efforts I've seen in a long time and I wouldn't be surprised to see a large budget American remake in the pipeline.

Dead Snow (D°d sn°)
½

A wholly average movie until the zombie Nazis show up. Granted it takes them 53 minutes to appear, but it is worth the wait.

The makeup jobs are awesome, and blood on snow is always beautiful. In the very bloody and action packed conclusion, the film clearly gives tribute to Dead Alive (one of the characters was even wearing a t-shirt earlier on). The wide shots of the zombie army are utterly eerie.

Meat Market 2

Super Z movie so of course WTF abounds here: a vampire with a bowcaster, public domain Halloween music, loops of generic zombie/horror moans, pointless shower scenes featuring unsexy nudity, acting beyond amateurishly atrocious, a necrophiliac character, sound worse than thought possible, names of famous zombie directors/genre contributors being dropped randomly, unnecessary cannibalism (by the still human population), inexplicable sex scenes, thirty different blood colors and none of them close to realistic, and a zombie/human massacre for the ending.Some of the makeup is pretty damn cool, but for every decent zed head, there are ten more that even a kid would be embarrassed to be on their first Halloween doing their own makeup.The coolest part of the movie is the settings used in the first part of the movie. It's almost sad how easy it is to find apocalyptic settings in the every day real world, and this production manages a few that are beyond awesome.The story concept is not so bad: in the undead future, renegade fundamentalist militia groups seek to start a new world of exclusively white straight people. They also experiment on zombies and humans and eat flesh. Most funny is a feast scene where someone picks a penis entree and dips it in wine for added flavour.If you like z movies and you HAVE to like z movies to find anything worthwhile here, this may have entertaining parts if you're beyond intoxicated and out of decent z movies to watch. Laughably bad.

X-Men Origins - Wolverine

As a lifelong Wolverine devotee, I must say I am pleased. Also I will say that this is more of a 'Logan" movie than it is a "Wolverine' movie. High hopes for a sequel. Liev Schreiber is fantastic as Sabretooth, can't believe how buff he got. Also, this film should have been tited Wolverine: Origins. I was sick to my fanboy stomach when I saw my local had printed X-Men 4 on my ticket stub. Though hopefully that X-Men Origins preface means there will be other characters' movies *AHEM* *cough* *hack* Magneto. Deadpool and Gambit are fucking awesome. The fight scenes rock my cock. I don't care how scrambled the storyline is, it's just as comprehensible and annoying as the published comic dreck. Cinematography looked great. Fanboy wad all over this seksy flick!

Also, I believe THIS: http://www.flixster.com/movie/wolverine/reviews/her69eyes?lsrc=MD-LOG-FR-REV-MORE is the review you should read before viewing or reviewing this movie. It best expresses my sentiments, except better and without any effort on my part.

Star Trek
Star Trek (2009)
½

Gets that extra star because I have post-movie high from it, which Wolverine did not deliver unto me.

A reason to keep movie theatres open well into the next generation.

Let me preface and say that I'm not a Trekkie, but a Star Wars geek who has much love for Star Trek TNG and has seen the original series. I've seen the other Star Trek movies, but I only understand and remember their details long enough to get through the movie. It seems that Star Trek writers always delight in concocting wildly confusing scripts and then writing it off by saying "well, the drama's there and any possible continuity issues will likely be sorted out to satisfaction by some Trekkie somewhere since half their fun IS decoding all this indecipherable quantum scifi shit anyway". That sentiment holds true for this movie too. I understood it enough to sit there, enjoy it, and have a good idea what was going on, but I certainly could not produce a storyboard or even a sensible synopsis.

It looks beautiful, and the actors all look, with the exception of Chekhov's replacement, and some even sound the same as the actors who came before them. I think every real fanboy is delighted to see Simon Pegg in a Trek film and thus vicariously feel the power of epic win for what studios regard as a mere fanboy.

I hope they make shitloads more of these, and now I actually have respect for J.J. Abrams as a creator (but I have no interest in Lost and haven't seen MI:III yet); previously I only respected that he has amassed a vast fortune and industry power and got to do a TED talk.

It was great to have Leonard Nimoy bestow his blessing on this, and I teared up when he got to read the "space, the final frontier" bit.

Thoroughly enjoyable, and more like a ride than a movie. Makes me have hope for the potential of the action genre (I haven't had faith in action since I was a preteen and still mentally deficient enough to be into the genre).

Right at Your Door
½

"Right at Your Door" is American dirty bomb version of the British atom bomb film "Threads", except it is not nearly as frighteningly powerful.

I often wondered what happened to the kid in "Empire Records" who blew the register money in Atlantic City, well turns out he's in low budget flicks and doing a damn good job at it. He manages to eek out that careful balance of caring for his wife while simultaneously secretly caring about his own life slightly more.

The beginning is tense and fast paced, but is quite misleading as the middle begins to get slow until it almost stops and so slow indeed that you expect a death scene to come soon. Instead, another bit of thrill is injected, which steadily rises to the twist conclusion.

The photography could have been a hell of a lot better, and the handheld technique didn't have to be so obvious. If the production could afford all that plastic and masking tape, it could have afforded some steadicam attachments. The deadly toxic ash and the quarantined neighborhood are nicely done though. The one weakness is that in the beginning when the main character is trying to reach his wife, the streets are quite bare and not littered with panic, which is the main tell that this is a low budget venture. Some may criticize the art direction on the primary set, but I think it is done incredibly well because it uses the same materials that a real person forced to improvise would use.

The film tries to tug at many emotional heartstrings, and it succeeds in the first reel in conveying the panic and then the dilemma, but it never drives home the worry of contamination and death. Despite the lack of overall terror (especially when compared to a film like Threads), I like the ending and thus give this an additional half star.

Zombi: La creazione, (Zombies: The Beginning)

Here's another Z budget zombie crapfest I've gotten added to the Flixster database (and the Zombie Movie Database as well (zmdb.com)This is Bruno Mattei's last film, and everything you'd expect from the master of low budget zombie action. The plot is absurd, though heavily recycled. The dubs are intolerable. The makeup is half-assed but somehow charming. The end veers off into some unrelated scifi territory, and offer some truly odd bits of costuming and set design. If you like Z movies, this is a good intoxicated weekend watch, but put against any other film standard, this is beyond intolerably bad.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
½

One of those movies where I feel the best bit of praise I can give is, "Well congrats, you made a movie that isn't altogether terrible."

SPOILERS (for dumb people) AHEAD
Another flick in the long line of recent releases looking to add their own commentary to the larger pantheon of slasher films. This one's very obvious and predictable contribution is "the survivor girl is in on the killing scheme".

Too often using the overexposed technique, obviously a DP who has never done a water shoot before, and film-makers who think slow-time is not an annoying cinematic device that gives away jumpscares. Unfortunately, though so flawed, this is one of the better filmed slashers out at the moment.

I have no empathy for any of the characters and therefore do not care when they are killed. They are all self-absorbed privileged douchebags who epitomize all that can be wrong with the teenage populace, and it seems that the black character's douchebaggery is toned down a good deal so as to be PC. Only Mandy Lane and her odd former best friend are empathetic, which perhaps may be the true point of the film - realistic and developed teen characters hacking away at the cardboard cliche scream teens.

Some nice kills, especially the eye slashing and the rifle end through the throat. Not any real suspense or tension however.

I'd say skip, but if you are hellbent on a teen slasher, this might do you good to see something with more of an attempt at a Natural Born Killers/Bonnie and Clyde/Mysterious Skin spin than say a dull franchise addon like later installments of Friday the 13th or Halloween.

Legend of the Overfiend (Ch˘jin densetsu Urotsukid˘ji)
½

So this lil flick, according to what fellow flixsterer Johnlindsey289 says, is the origin of the modern tentacled demon rape hentai that swells the modern market.

A very typical anime plot of worlds colliding with the rise of an ancient power and two opposed super-powered creatures fighting to either help or destroy it, except all the demons and people in this are sexually explicit. No explicit homo action, but is definitely implied by what some of the characters do.

Character design on the demons and beast people is just stunning. Plenty of realistic poon shots, so I wish there were more realistic peen shots to contrast. Most of the peen is demon dick and can literally wrap around a neck several times.

Totally absurd and offensive to the general populace; basically, the best time you can waste on anime.

The Children
The Children (2008)
½

This is formulaic horror, but classy formulaic horror. It doesn't rely on jumpscares or poorly done tributes to classic kills, but instead relies on the score and frequent "fill in the blank" cuts and shots.

I don't know how the pedestrian viewer will react to the gory violence against children, if it will truly disgust them and work on that level as it is intended to. Being a seasoned gorehound, I'm not too shocked by any simulated violence even if it is against children. For me, the film succeeds because the kids are creepy and devilish little bastards that I don't mind seeing killed. Even before the kids start being affected by the "killing germ", they are thoroughly torturous to the ears and would raise anxiety and annoyance levels in anyone who has experienced long bouts of shrilly kids cavorting about in a small space.

There are of course some minor plotholes in the form of questionable character actions leading to injury (but few horror can get by without doing this), but it doesn't overall ruin the sense of panic created during this secluded family gathering.

Some highlights: there is a beautiful crane tracking shot over the blood trails where the children have dragged their father's body from the site of the accident to their play tent. Once inside the tent, we discover that his daughter has been up to some impressive displays of effects as a doll has been lodged in his freshly opened abdomen. The kid forcibly impaled on the splintered door is surprisingly gory and effective considering the film's earlier tendency to cut away from the gory bits. All of the shots of blood on snow are amazing. The sound effects design is great and totally outdoes the score.

The lead women are good at conveying a sense of panic, of demonstrating motherly instinct to protect their kids, even when those kids are trying to kill them. The end was predictable, but quite eerie.

In the end, a recommend for people looking for a better than usual horror flick to pass the night during a family gathering on a snowy holiday after you've put your little bastards to bed.

Return to House on Haunted Hill

Not only is it a quite convoluted yet simple plot, it isn't scary or even gory (what I mean to say is that the gore is not well done, be it crap CG or badly colored and wrong consistency blood). The acting is fair considering I have never seen any of these people before.

The highlight here is the set decoration and overall art direction though vast chunks of it smack of rented permanent studio installations. Makeup is a nice attempt but is basically laughable and wholly ineffective. BIG SKIP

Leprechaun 2
Leprechaun 2 (1994)
½

Was quite delighted to realize that Warwick Davis plays the Leprechaun. These movies scared the bejesus out of me as a kid, and today, though the gore was certainly not satisfying (though I saw this on SciFi so it may have been edited), the humor and plot were plenty entertaining.

I like the story and it covers up for the bits of overacting and kitsch lines. Makeup on the titular character is supreme and adds most of the fright factor. Sets are superior as well, capturing the essence of mid-budget 90s.

Pretty big recommend for horror fans who want an evenly paced story and some laughs but can do without blood.

Religulous
Religulous (2008)

I liked it but I am one of the choir here. And that is this movie's biggest problem - I don't think this is movie for those other than the already converted. The "devout" will react as many of the interviewed subjects do - by getting angry and storming out or clamming up or simply ejecting Maher from the premises. How well will this work on the converted? I'm not sure as Maher can be quite an abrasive character even for those who agree with him. I personally like Maher's style of humor, so I found this movie enjoyable. The problem here is that the movie is very focused on his personal journey, which for once makes him less biased, but doesn't drive home his points like say "An Inconvenient Truth" propaganda did.

I would also add that the movie's biggest problem for me was that it wasn't longer. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least five other people I wish Maher would have tried to interview who would not have been too hard to get (mostly philosophers and scientists I've seen in other movies like What The Bleep do We Know).

Overall entertaining and frightening to be introduced to such characters as the mock-Jesus at the Holy Land Disneyland place and the guy who professes that he is the second coming of Christ and has an established and very large ministry. The grand highlight for me was the brilliant and witty Catholic priest who is a senior attache at the Vatican; he epitomized what religion needs to admit to and how to discuss these things.

Boogeyman 2
Boogeyman 2 (2007)

Didn't see the whole thing, just the last half hour when things begin to get bloody.

Super gore highlight when the murderer opens a victim's chest and removes his still beating heart. That scene alone is worth a rental.

The costuming and mask are excellent, and the CG is quite bearable for the budget. Saw comparisons abound as the doctor character is the actor who plays Jigsaw, the murderer uses tape recorders to stage the heart scene, and the end includes a series of twists.

Great gore, the crew does what they can with the so-so set, but they apparently could not invest in tripods, dollys, or even some steadicam attachments.

Wolf
Wolf (1994)

Saw this on AMC this week.

Was a childhood favorite and still a favorite now, especially since the main characters are in the publishing industry.

A great thriller with some of my favorite actors. Minimalistic wolf stylings are effective and probably planted the idea in my head that a younger Nicholson would have made a great Logan/Wolverine.

Gacy
Gacy (2003)
½

Watched this after watching the A&E Biography on Gacy. Felt like the screenwriters should have also watched that as they missed out on what could have been stunningly horrifying scenes in the film. In real life, one of Gacy's intended victims and then boarder escaped; he arrived home to find Gacy drunk and sporting his clown attire, he cuffed the young man and began taunting him in the clown voice, until Gacy suddenly snapped into a rage and began chasing and attacking the man, screaming "I'm gonna rape you!". This story was told by the man who lived it in the A&E special, which is available on Youtube if you like to see. In real life, Gacy also invited the police investigating him to dinner at his place where he served fish; the stench of rotting bodies from the crawlspace was overwhelming and enabled them to secure the search warrant ending in his arrest. Instead of recreating these precious eerie and REAL moments, the script distorts things greatly and I'm not even sure what the hell they're going for.

Acting is unanimously terrible, with the lead being the only one to occasionally not suck.

Very minimal on killing and violence; very scarce blood, no rape scenes, and few creepy moments from the actor playing Gacy. Some shitty shots of a few bugs crawling around attempt to add some grotesquery and movie plays with the idea that Gacy is psychologically tormented through audio montage but weakly and only for one scene towards the end.

This is a big SKIP. Go for fiction or the Dahmer movie, or the penultimate real-life based serial killer flick Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

Martyrs
Martyrs (2008)
½

Tentative rating of 4 on first screening. This is a movie that has to sink in and I need to watch again before I can give an accurate rating.

Two things can definitely be said: this film scores huge points for originality, and the second sequence is just the coolest "fuck off!" to Michael Haneke's Funny Games.
_
March 17, 2009: Rating revised 4 to 4.5.

Now my full breakdown, including many SPOILERS will commence. If you have yet to see this movie, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

Laugier gives us not one, but two astonishing and amazing films. The film has a definite divide, with the first segment being a revenge tale wherein former victim becomes murderer plagued by psychological demons and assisted by a best friend who has been by her side throughout both her victimization and realization of revenge. The second segment is a "torture porn", except it's not so much of the "porn" variety but of the Salo school of torture film as it does have a driving philosophical point.

The makeup and gore are beyond astonishing. This sets new levels of achievement for the genre and proves that the studio chose wisely when they signed Laugier to do the Hellraiser remake. This film is certainly this year's A L'Interieur. Both the imagined demon girl and the actual tortured girl are incredibly frightening and left me shivering.

The high tech basement room instantly reminded me of the setting for the climax in Laugier's previous horror outing Saint Ange.

An interesting thing I noted in the version I saw: once the controlling financiers of the Martyrs project are revealed, the head woman often refers to what the subtitles translate as Anna's "transformation". Using my rough ear for French, I am sure that what she is really saying is transfiguration, which ole wikipedia tells you is "a momentary transformation of a man or woman into someone having the aspect of the divine". This better fits the context and explanation of what the financiers are trying to achieve, and hopefully it's corrected in the DVD english release and I just downloaded a crap subtitle.

Towelhead
Towelhead (2007)

Alan Ball writes (adapts) and directs.

Powerful in capturing the awkward and tumultuous moments of sexual awakening and identity affirmation. Summer Bishil shines in the lead role of Jasira, and Aaron Eckhart is to be commended for taking on this controversial role.

The cinematography of suburbia is great and the absurdity of its layout and American flags are exactly how these things exist in reality.

I watch a lot of exploitation, so I'm not really shocked by any of the content here. I'm more surprised that it never elevates itself to say "Happiness" or Ball's own "Six Feet Under" levels but hovers in the realm of too serious about itself to be resounding.

Overall, the movie is good but never elevates to greatness due to the flat nature of the supporting characters.

Milk
Milk (2008)
½

It's hard to imagine a point in history where the Castro was a dangerous and generally unwelcome place for gays (and queer was a dirty word), but the film brings us back to that pivotal moment within the first ten minutes. Within the first half hour, we are reminded what artificial changes and camouflage one must don to compete in the political arena. In the first hour, we are perfectly reminded of divisions within the queer movement by staff hesitance over the campaign manager.

I like that the film begins and ends with Harvey recording his assassination tape and that the beginning includes actual footage from the event (particularly the official announcement).

James Franco has an amazing ass (hope that wasn't a body double).

The marches/riots scenes are just great showcases of directing and really capture the angry hungry spirit of the people.

Sean Penn has gayed up Milk, but I think that's for the better and in tune with Milk's own philosophy of being out.

It's good to see that Gus van Sant has finally made a queer film that can be treasured.

"If you want real political power, if that's what you want, try telling the truth for a change." Best line I've heard in a film in years. It seems like the American public, by the films they're watching (this one and Frost/Nixon), haven't had truth in their politics for a while and are trying to decipher how to extract/create it in the real world by observing its dramatic nature. We are looking back to times before when we were lied to by an executive who committed crimes against the nation and human rights were legislated against across the nation so that we may understand its nature now. I hope these films come at a time when they can inform us how to properly pursue justice.

I've been quite cynical of film lately, and the structure of this piece reassures me that there does exist quality filmmaking today.

As much as I decry the Oscar system, I will be truly pissed if we don't get our queer year with THIS amazing piece.
-
Fuck the Oscars. After second screen, still AMAZING but not a perfect 5.

Watchmen
Watchmen (2009)

I'm not gonna blabber too much about it as someone has undoubtedly already captured everything I could want to say on this film already. To summarize: love that it is scene for scene direct adaptation of Moore's work, so much unexpected awesome gore scenes (horror industry take note), fantastic costuming, amazing non-CG art direction, CG runs the gamut from groundbreaking to "that's so circa 2000", worst awkwardly funny love scenes in years (including comedies that include intentionally awkwardly funny love scenes), acting is pretty crap for the most part, Rorschach gets TONS of fight scenes which are great but I wish the other characters would have been given equal fight-time, Comedian is highlight of the acting with Rorschach second best, love that it includes "fuck" and generally bucks super-hero movie traditions as the book did for its medium, the Manhattanhood in triplicate is not as awesome as the rimming ready ass-shot. And speaking of them sparkly blue genitals, a HUGE inaccuracy between book and film here: in book, the quantum dangler is uncircumcised and proportional so that you can actually see his balls, in film he rocks the current idealized cut donkey dick; also some movements not totally accurate (yeah I want to see some more flopping if they're gonna make him hang that low).

Dario Argento - An Eye for Horror

Damnit, why can't I have a top producer as a parent?

Was intending to use this as a guide to his filmography so I could decide which to view next. Didn't work out for that purpose, but gave me a very nice profile of how this master works. Good for film students and horror fans.

Highlights: Romero talks the making of "Dawn of the Dead" and also describes Argento as a "impressionist" film-maker. Savini talks about his work with Argento. Asia Argento discusses (or refuses to discuss) the perplexing psychological implications of her father having filmed many scenes across his filmography in which characters played by his wife and daughters are subjected to the horrors of murder and rape.

Zombies Zombies Zombies

You may know this crapfest better as Zombies vs Strippers (or Strippers vs. Zombies).

Intolerable acting, continuity problems abound, terrible CG, "zombies" without any makeup, blood the color of syrup, intolerable acting. And none of this falls under the "so bad it's good" file. Hell, there's not even that many titties, and that's usually the only damn thing these crap movies are about. The thing that irks me most is the movie begins by showing a scene of a poorly done zombie movie on TV, and a chracter remarks summat to the effect "WHo makes this garbage?" I thought the movie would then proceed to do all the right things after demonstrating all the wrong things. NOPE. Just even more wrongness. And I am convinced this is not hidden satire-parody a la Re-Animator. No this is just shit on shit. AVOID AVOID AVOID

Inferno
Inferno (1980)
½

I like this WAAAAY better than Suspiria and I dun care whats peoples gots to say bout dat!

I'm not saying it's a better film (I'd have to rescreen both multiple times to determine that) but I prefer it, and is under-rated for not being as popular as Suspiria.

As usual for Argento productions, the sets and lighting are astonishing and beautiful. Unusual for Argento, this movie is quite plotted while also maintaining Argento's signature impressionist style. I found this story to be the most revealing of the "Three Mothers" trilogy. There is too much good to be said about this film. Favorite scenes: the submerged room in the cellar, following sounds through the elaborate pipe system, the library closing scene, the end sequence (which gives the film its name).

Motel Hell
Motel Hell (1980)
½

Re-watched this again a few days ago. Has gotten cheesier with age and I can, for once, see why a remake might be justified as every plot point that isn't gore or grotesque related is flimsy and paperthin. For example, keeping that girl as their sort of "pet", who is supposed to be the protagonist, is really odd and feels misplaced. The relationship between her and the farmer is not believable because neither actor is trying to sell it.

Onto the goodness: the "farmer's" whole process is great. Any scenes with the grounded people are fascinating and funny yet scary. The part which I remembered from childhood, which I still really love today, is when the ground people have escaped and begin their zombie-like descent upon the farmhouse; the lighting is great and it's one of the better examples of making victims frightening to the audience. The chainsaw showdown is great because although illogical to don a pig head mask, it's damn weird and creepy.

La Terza Madre (Mother of Tears: The Third Mother)
½

NOTE: please read my Suspiria review if what I say here inflames you. On second screening, I GOT the genius of Suspiria, but out of respect to my former self (and other viewers) who was able to view the film as "pretentious" and to also make my point about what modern horror should be, I leave those defaming comments on Suspiria intact.

The murder ataboutaround 10minutes in is AMAZING. Goretastic like one craves and with a great use of guts. And they just keep getting gorier and more creative. From Udo Kier's priest character to the medium's girlfriend, this is full of crazy kills.

And the antagonists - the demonic forces, followers, and possessed people are just damn scary with a cool edge. From the ancient language speaking ravers to a fully fleshed pointy eared demon, the design is well done and the result is some very unique characters. The monkey is probably the coolest though.

The acting is over the top melodramatic to say the least, but that didn't matter much to me when the version I'm watching has French audio and English subtitles. People complain that the story moves around too much, thus lack of atmosphere (am I the only one that equates "atmosphere" to a more static setting and slower pace with fewer plot details), but I think that a fast film overloaded with details fits this horror subgenre of end of the world sorcery battle much better. I'm a sucker for Catholic mythology, and unless you're going to do it perfectly as in The Exorcist, the "atmospheric" approach should be avoided.

This is an action thriller horror movie, and not an atmospheric psychological-subjective horror like Susperia. I haven't seen Inferno yet, and I didn't really see what was so damn great about Suspiria on my first two views, so now I'm going to go back and see that again and Inferno the first time because I really like the story. As a horror movie, this has no "atmosphere" because it has a fast pace instead. But fuck atmosphere; that's not what modern horror needs. This is what modern horror needs - absurd kills and insane amounts of violence and a heavily loaded plot. Not some minimalistic over-lit underwritten character piece with not nearly enough blood like Suspiria. This movie piles it on, and I like it like that. Suspiria is slow and overimportant, read too pretentious for its own good; this is fast and rude, read made for the blood-addicted ADD generation. I prefer the latter style for this millennium and leave the former style to actual masters of it like David Lynch.

My only complaint is that the ending isn't so much a showdown as it is a letdown. I expected a full on witch fight or at least a more hyped scene, and instead the main character just gets lucky without having to struggle for it.

Storm Warning

A huge flaw in the premise: taking a small boat through unknown areas WITHOUT any form of navigation, nevermind Global GPS which even experienced fishermen in my local Louisiana waterways have had since the 90s. Another small flaw: who grows indoors when you have so much unmonitored land? (actually, unlike the former point, this one can be explained away) Still, these dumbasses give a bad name for marijuana farmers everywhere, but unfortunate for my entertainment, the yuppies are none too brighter when it comes to negotiating their circumstances with a bit more common sense.

On the positive, I feel like the characters of the two brothers and father are very well developed. The boys do a good enough job dropping hints at their father's disposition that by the time he is ready for screentime, we already know his character just as well as if he'd been around all that time. Perhaps one of the scariest elements is how much implied incest and bestiality has taken place on the farm.

For the final third of this film, the woman takes on the traditional empowered asskicker role as her man has been temporarily disabled. One striking bit of originality is the dick-deadly diaphragm she devises for use as her anti-rape kit. Also, the trap the couple sets in the barn will no doubt be referenced for the new Hellraiser's chains-n-hooks sequence.

The set design is killer - detailed, grimy, and wholly believable and suited to the characters it represents.

This is pretty decent for its genre, but treads no new territory in the story format of "rural male vs urban male = the contended female was the only one who ever had a chance at winning".

But what of the gore?, you other blood fiends ask. Well the version I saw was the "Extreme Edition" (and unrated) one. The final kill scores for originality, but too little wind in the sails too late. The blood is colored beautifully and used effectively (sparingly for the genre). But what isn't used sparingly and nearly gave me a seizure? The crew's strobe light throughout the entire climax. Hungry gorehounds will wonder: who copied who in for the dog eats dicklet scene (between this and Teeth - same breed of dog, same idea of vagina dentata)?

The War Zone
The War Zone (1999)

Review addendum March 6, 2009:
I realized just now what would/could have made this film perfect: more scenes with dialogue between the brother and sister. Just more verbal communication between those two would have altogether changed the dynamic of the film from nihilistic and bleh to ambiguous and arresting.
--
For the most part, I will just bitch because I'd get quickly tired of making a list of all the things that this film does well. I will say the setting is my favorite component.

This is quite emotionally loaded for being so slow, uneventful, and unevenly paced; that's because when something does happen, it is gigantically dramatic like (SPOLIERS) a graphic car wreck with the entire family racing an in-labor Mum to the hospital or Dad anally raping Jess while Tom watches .

A family has moved from London to a remote seaside area where they are isolated with their immediate familial problems: Mum has just had a baby, Tom is coming of age sexually, and Dad is fucking Tom's older sister who is close in age to Tom. The story is meant by cinematic suggestion to be told from Tom's point of view, but that is a major deficit as I feel his character is so underdeveloped to the extent that he has no uniqueness besides his detached demeanor.

Everyone besides the actor for Tom delivers intriguing and multi-layered performances or real people. Perhaps Tom is meant to be stilted and removed, like the camera that simply records. It would mean that we have to do a lot of filling in the blanks for Tom's internal monologue, so in a way, our thoughts could become projected as Tom's. So whether or not the director intended this, it works.

There are some detrimental sound mix issues, as some of the dialogue is inaudible even at quiet moments, and then the ocean roars or engine drones over the already near-muted speaking.

This is a very bleak film, both in color tones and story theme. I doubt there is much of a traditional market for a work this serious about itself, but those who do see it certainly will not feel any closure about this film.

Ultimate in conveying the ambiguity of reality to a point that you will be left in an ambiguity haze after seeing this film. That's what makes this so good and ALMOST earned it an extra half star; it is an art house melodrama that does what it's meant to. Watch to find out.

Kataude mashin gÔru (The Machine Girl)
½

Looks like I'm the only person on my friends' list this underwhelmed by this movie. Following Tokyo Gore Police may have effected my downgrading of Machine Girl's rating.

This is a boring revenge flick that plays off comedic/cartoonish stylings as seen in Evil Dead. None of the gore is inventive - and gore action is the only thing this movie is about. Some of the fight scenes look like practice choreography instead of the filmed version.

This movie wasn't terrible, and if you want action gore it may satisfy, but I didn't find anything unique or memorable in this one. Well, except the drill boobs.

Slipstream
Slipstream (2007)
½

As I write this segment at 59mins in, I can't decide if this film is brilliant or pretentious. Certainly the first third (and pretty much all) of the camera work that isn't a jump cut is pretentious (esp the color changes are not earned). And this second third I've just finished is plain brilliant, a new sendup of movie production on par with The Player, Swimming with Sharks, and Day of the Locust. I do know that however I turn out feeling about this movie in the end, I will probably rent the DVD and do tons of research on how/why Hopkins put this project together. Okay, resuming screening.

1:hr10mins: this movie is tripping me out, but also annoying me too(again with the unearned color and cutting "style").

Okay, the SAVE creen is awesome! I'm totally geeking out on the writer aspects too, cuz it's like very much in the vein of a William S. Burroughs or Philip K. Dick confrontation b/w the self and reality. Perhaps other writers oft wonder if their lives will turn into that blur of story and objectivity; the multiple layers of reality that stack themselves before us cannot be ignored and must be grandly experienced, like a fever dream spanning a few decades. This film captures that very well. It is all really hinging on the last 10-15mins though.

Alright, I thought it was awesome with the horror detour to the framed beginning/ending tragic device. Awesome as
Schizopolis or Adaptation or Naked Lunch? Hellz NO. But I enjoyed; others will rate 3 to 3.5. I give it that extra bump just because the stylistic blend confused and angered me in a kinda fun way.

Avalon
Avalon (2001)

Was not at all disappointed. The key here is that in scenes set in the game, it feels set in a game and scenes set in "real realities" look real (though both the game and real worlds utilize the same effects palette, just producing starkly different results).

The story is also tops, but the intrigue of falling deeper into the game ultimately overshadows what the script props up as the character's real motivation.

I'm really suprised this film doesn't have more of a cult following. I highly recommend it to scifi fans, dystopia fans, gaming fans, technophreaks, VFX freeks, philosophy phreeks, animator/animation junkies, film-makers and just film fans.

Suspiria
Suspiria (1977)
½

I expected more from Argento; the only bits of this movie I remember are the ones that were highlighted in a documentary on horror films.
-
I need to give this one another chance after reading what other respected horror fans have written about it.
-
Revised Viewing Feb 26, 2009: 3 to 4.5

Can't believe I was underwhelmed with this before and I think that's because it is very minimalistic on story. Minimalism in story is frustrating for me and makes it tough for me to sit through a first view. Next time around, once I already know the story and have my thirst for details quenched, I can better absorb the image and see its affect on the story and how that creates the film. In case of Suspiria, the image creates incredible tension and SUSPENSE.

Argento really knows how to use his camera in this flick. I take back all the negative things I said about in in my Mother of Tears review (but am leaving those complaints up to frame my opinion on MoT). He uses his lighting incredibly well and every shot is framed so nicely. The colors are dazzling, powerful and can be, as a result, overwhelming.

The other key killer here is the score. I have not been so creeped out by a score in such a long time, and this is also a shining moment for infamous Goblin.

Pretty minimal on gore for an Argento, but the "creature/ghoul" pulled out at the end totally creeped me. The feeling of being within the witches' den is so perfectly captured here that countless films since have aimed for this very high goal.

Cannot recommend this enough, though I do caution that if you are not floored the first time around, let it sit a few months and return to it.

T˘ky˘ Zankoku Keisatsu (Tokyo Gore Police)

If you like absurdity in your gore horror, this is beyond must watch and into new classic territory.

Just be aware that the gore here is in the Asian fountain style where it's all about quantity, not reality in any sense. To this effect, those who seek authentic blood colors and consistency will be disappointed, but if you like the blood fountain aesthetic and that's what you're looking for, you probably don't give a damn about coloring or any realism, and you're gonna see some of the coolest gore fountains in cinema history.

The story here is that in future Tokyo, police have been privatized and primarily spend their time fighting things called engineers. Engineers are crazed killers that can only be killed by destroying the hidden key-shaped organ within them; any other damage done to an engineer turns the wound site into a weapon. This rule makes for some of the most awesome human-monster hybrids ever on screen. It starts with the Evil Dead tribute of guy with chainsaw hand, and then moves on to all original territory with guy with turret gun eyes, lady with giant jaw lower half, guy with giant dick gun, lady with acid-spewing titties. Even those who fight engineers have some awesomely odd weapons; this movie brings new meaning to the term "handgun".

The dubs are not annoying but actually well done. The props/special effects are great for the most part. The commercials throughout are hilarious, as is the majority of this movie. Instant new fave and I can't wait for the next one!

"Most Fucked up" highlight: Take your pick. For me, it's the chair person.

The Midnight Meat Train
½

First screening: this is a plain thrilling goregasm.

Vinnie Jones - or as I know him from Gervais' and Merchant's "Extras", that footballer bloke who just acts hard though Ross Kemp reckons he could definitely beat him up - does a great butcher. He's a naturally mean looking man and a large solid physique that dwarfs his victims and equals one buff and tough wrestler-like guy who ends up as another meal. Jones has the dead stare nailed down!

I want to read Clive Barker's original story before I comment on plot elements and the script (as I watched crapfest 'Insanitarium' to get a taste of Jeff Buhler's screenwriting skills, and because this is an adaptation, I can't fairly appraise or praise until I've read the source material. UPDATE 2-11-09: Read the story a while back and just now commenting because I have adjusted the score to 1/2 star less while reviewing my Best Horror 2008 list. The short story is very minimalistic and quite open to adding storylines. I like the dramatic changes done to Mr. Brown (the killer) as I think a badass dude like Vinnie Jones is more effective than a pudgy middle-aged geek type (though really either could work with the right direction). The best thing is that screenwriter Buhler adds a great backstory for the protagonist as a fledgling photographer looking to capture gritty reality and land his first break. And the worst bit, which I've mentioned a bit before, is the ending, not just all the added unnecessary action but how the history of the city (and its elders) is not so clear in the film as compared to the story where it is explained and not just nodded at.

I now see what Barker was talking about when it came to fighting to keep this film uncensored, and it's generally fucked that the production and distribution systems clash so much.

There's not much holding back on the blood, and gore fans will be in heaven throughout the final reel. I think there were some anticipatory censorship issues with nudity of the corpses on hooks as I saw a few too many unrealistic bodies: obvious simplistic crash dummies next to a more detailed model that had a penis that defied gravity.

Still any wide shots of the corpses displayed in rows on the train cars, drawn and hung like cattle, are sickening sublime.

The (primary) murder weapon is just plain cool, from finish to design, it's an iconic horror movie weapon.

I did dislike how the beginning of the movie has some bits realistic-striving avant-garde stuff but then splats that against action-geared fights; basically, sometimes the film is playing out like a noir with lingering atmospheric shots, then it kicks into action movie mode of quick cutting and I found that conflict of moods was the biggest detriment. The action geared final act just ruins this movie's potential for greatness.

I know now that I will watch this movie a few more times, one or two for serious screening, and loads for the sheer fun of it.

Opera
Opera (1987)

As is usual with Argento, if you don't expect much in the story/character department, you will find a great film.

Argento creates some of his best visuals with this film. From the beginning in the raven's eye to the bullet in the eye, this film is made for eyes. The pins taped beneath the eyes is a cruel and incredible plot detail (the murderer forces the opera singer to watch the murders using them).

I really like how the score switches between opera and power metal because IMO metal is the modern equivalent of opera in terms of theatrics, emphasis on power in musicality, and social groups that surround the genre to praise and celebrate it.

As I said, there's nothing special about the story and anyone will be able to guess the killer. Like any Argento I've seen, this is all about visuals and that's why this gets a 4 star rating.

Inside (└ l'intÚrieur)

Must-see horror. Best to go into this knowing nothing. A new classic, with some of the most gripping gore to splatter the screen in decades. This is one of those movies where I feel the only substantial thing I have to say is, "Why haven't you seen this yet?"
After a second screening, I've noticed some cool details: the address of the house is 666, the film uses fade wipes not to indicate passage of much time but to indicate a shift in perspective (except for once towards the very end), the first time the killer is in the house her shadow appears pregnant. As I recall from the first screening, the house feels incredibly womb-like and I still can't exactly decipher how the director does this other than pure pacing, tension, some of the soundtrack, and the story itself. The sound is brilliant and is responsible for making the kills seem so immediate and vicious. The whole final scene, but especially that final creepy shot is excruciatingly horrifying to the extent that it almost makes me want to quit the horror genre. Few films have delivered such genuine and unforgettable scares. I was left genuinely frightened and creeped out at the conclusion, feeling that same residual horror that The Exorcist leaves stained upon your brain. I'm ratcheting this up to five stars. "So Fucked Up" highlight: supposedly dead and eyeless policeman rises and fights back

Deep Red (Profondo rosso)
½

Flixster ate my review, which was lengthy. I can't be bothered retyping the whole thing though.

Very slow in the middle. Last two kills are great. Goblin soundtrack is at times unusual for them but ultimately very effective. Didn't see the first half of that ending coming even though I always operate on the conservation of characters principle.

The Sadist
The Sadist (1963)
½

Second time watching this. First time was on Rob Zombie hosted TCM Underground but I was too stoned to remember the whole thing. Second time is right now on RealPlayer SuperPass (and I'm sure a few other streaming services offer it too).

And for my "Went Down the Wrong Road" Backwoods horror list, I HAVE found a flick predating Lewis' Two Thousand Maniacs.

The title credits creep me out but maybe because I have a thing about eyes and their ability to scare.

"We don't like school teachers. Do we, Judy?" from this line on you know there will be some sadistic shit going down besides a simple carjacking.

I do think the "Big Man" was being a coward, as both the Sadist and hostage girl accuse. And then he keeps being "yellow" during the gun "game".

The ending sequence is a bit long and stretched out which affects its tension.

Arch Hall Jr.'s performance and the shooting style are the highlights of this film. The shot setup is really thoughtful and the best is early in the movie, where the perspective makes it feel like we the audience are holding the gun and seeing from Sadist Johnny's viewpoint.

Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane (Plane Dead)

Nevermind that absolutely nothing in the movie is correct in the real world of physics or plane design, and you'll have fun.

I do think you have to be predisposed to z-horror and suspend more than disbelief - common sense as well - to enjoy this flick. That's true for most of the z-movie genre, but especially applicable here. You can also expect not to give a damn about any of the characters. My biggest problem with the movie - and this is one that z-films really shouldn't attempt - is that it breaks its own rules about the zombies. First they can run superfast, then they are pausing and retreating all the time. They tend to attack (in the neck because they haven't the budget to do that many bites) and they take their food back to a safe place, which seems all too convenient as when the zombie breakout does begin, it allows for huge lapses between attacks, or at least larger than would be if these were truly bloodthirsty zombies. Also it seems that a concord flight would not be this empty and I chalk that up to a budget that can't handle all those extras and added extra zombie violence.

All the characters suck except Frank who's got some decent one-liners. It's also very annoying how the characters can instantly produce extra weapons (note the extra handgun) after a sequence where one character just risked himself and the whole plane to retrieve a gun from the infested cargo hold.

Still, this is fun for zombie fans. The makeup is cool and I like the contact lenses. The job done on the Bennett zombie is the most exceptional. Some of the CG is damn annoying, but when they haven't the budget for more than five squibs, I expect that. The bathroom scene actually jumpscared the crap out of me. Zombies flying out of the plane is really damn cool too.

Still, I say avoid this unless you love ultimate cheese and zombie flicks as it won't be even worth the review if you don't dig this subgenre.

The Salton Sea

Suggested for "Fucked Up" list

The Ruins
The Ruins (2008)

I don't understand the positive reviews for this flick. Perhaps it will be a cult fave in a few years due to its intolerable B factors.

I DO think the killer plant idea is pretty neat, but when the characters start offing each other, a should-be creature horror is too desperate to stand as truly tense.

There is some cool gore, and the cutting off of legs is pretty damn cool. Between gore, you have to suffer thoughtless actions from should-be capable people (or maybe they aren't capable - the med school kid says aloud "We're four Americans lost in Mexico - someone has to help us!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I had to chortle at that one. At least now his real-life dim peers will know better than to go adventuring in foreign lands and think "omg it's okay coz I'm an American tourist duh police will help...or the Greeks" LMAO (works on just enough levels to provide laughs - I guess that's how I got through it).

Saw V
Saw V (2008)
½

Kind of can't believe I actually watched this after posting this "Not Interested" description: DO NOT SEND ME YOUR REVIEWS FOR THIS. The director's name says it all: HACKl

Well, as many people have said: it's not as bad as I expected. Still pretty shitty. The film tries to add another layer of twist and another accomplice. It just gets dizzying with bore-age.

The gore is minimal too for a Saw series. All of the kills are downhill after the first one (and the first is pretty lame for a Saw flick). Though not a kill, the conclusionary saw setup is pretty damn cool but they should have used practical effects instead of CG, and the same goes for most of the other gore scenes.

A big mash of flashback scenes. The two lead actors look identical (I was telling them apart by clothing). I don't believe this "new" accomplice's motives but I was never sold on Jigsaw's motive either, so if you could bite that invisible bullet, you can accept this new character.

I will see the sixth because this one was so bloodless and empty of clever setups that the producers MUST be saving all the good shit for the (purported) final entry.

Untraceable
Untraceable (2008)
½

It has a bit of pro-internet censorship theme. Seriously, I haven't seen a more elaborate yet unconvincing argument for net censorship.

The only scary part of this movie is the glimpse into the life of Feds who track net crime. Good thing they're too busy with pedos and scammers to mess with downloaders AKA the common pirate such as myself. I actually watched the movie on a site where pirates can upload rips to stream (stagevu.com) and some of the scenes were so scary that I did occasionally consider closing the browser (lol jj I know they ain't interested in me).

The trailer gives away the film's final act, not like it isn't totally predictable anyway. Something the film does well is that it captures how much net tech has entered our lives. It also provides a decent backstory for the killer's motive.

Truth is, the world is just as sick and shitty as it has always been, but this film sort of pens it on the (uncontrolled) internet. All the net is is humanity evolved. We would crave to watch death no matter what; the net just does what it does for anything - makes it easier and more accessible. Frankly, that's a damn good thing. What people use technology for reflects the reality of human nature. And we really like violence - ALL people, not just Americans as the film points directly at the American net user (all non-US IPs can't access the killing site directly). I am going off topic here because this movie has just pissed me off with its "message". I WANT to see violence. I crave it as essential part of my being. Violence happens whether or not there is a camera fixed on it. It is better for us to see what happens than not. I truly believe, because I know it's true for me, that if people couldn't watch violence, they'd be more likely to go out and be violent. Yes, that's right - I'm saying that watching violence keeps us from committing it. Our natural appetite for violence is easily satiated by viewing simulated or the rare captured real violence. Those who have insatiable appetites for violence may be made "more creative" by watching violent films and other media, as the infamous saying goes (from Scream), but it doesn't make killers out of the greater general bulk of viewers. For example, if this were a real life story, I would not visit the site while the killings were taking place because I would not want to contribute to the demise of a random person. I would, however, watch the clip after on another site whose host had captured the film and was offering it free of guilt/charge. lmao

Oh and speaking of this film's violence, to put it in context of what I just said - it has NOT sated my primal human need for violence BY ANY STRETCH. Pedestrian surfers, read that last statement like this: THIS MOVIE HAS CRAPPY KILL SCENES AND NO GORE. IT's LIKE TAME SAW.

Stuck
Stuck (2008)

After a brilliant montage of nursing home living set to thudding rap music, this film's story begins outrageously bleak and desperate, and certainly doesn't improve with each passing sequence.

Stephen Rea plays Tom, a man who in one day has lost his apartment, been lost in the paper shuffle at unemployment, and now faces his first night as a homeless person.

Mena Suvari plays Brandi, nursing attendant to the elderly by day and party girl by night. She too has a great day cleaning an incontinent Alzheimer's patient (and it is ALL the way graphic) just before she finds out that she's gonna have to pull another Saturday to help secure a promotion.

Brandi just wants to party and Tom just wants to find somewhere to stay. After the club, Brandi is headed home and Tom, recently ejected from a nearby park and pushing his squeaky new - and fleeting- badge of homelessness, is seeking shelter for the night when Brandi provides her windshield for Tom to lodge in.

I can remember when this happened - and actually, watching this film - where Brandi is driving around and there are no other cars to be seen - the events seem incredulous and beyond believability for fiction. But all the while the panging reality is that this actually happened and probably looked just as surreal and improbable as it is depicted.

Upon arriving home, Brandi indulges in a night of explicit one on one partying with her boyfriend. In the morning, homegirl calls a cab to pick her up for work the next morning and !!!HOLY SHIT!!! John Dunsworth of Trailer Park Boys Mr. Lahey infamy is the cabbie!!! (If you don't know the TPB, well... get all the episodes now! I literally yelled with delight when I saw 'Mr. Lahey' in this serious flick, but back to the story) Meanwhile, Tom is still STUCK in the windshield of Brandi's car, in her garage, and he is conscious but obviously injured beyond capability of major movement.

The film stays pretty firm to the real timeline at the outset (visit http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,90498,00.html for the real life case timeline) and Gordon even timestamps events. After the big incident, the movie strays far from reality for dramatic effect especially in terms of how long the victim remains conscious and what he is able to do to cry for help.

[[That concludes the minibits of spoilage]] and there is plenty more astounding developments as the story takes a turn towards (extreme) dark comedy.

It is fantastic to see Stuart Gordon, who has such a schlocky history beginning with Re-Animator, doing some realistic and truly intelligent work in the first half of the film. I saw much development in his Masters of Horror episodes (Dreams in the Witch House and The Black Cat) that I started to really respect him as a director, but I never expected this astounding level of skill. I'll certainly have to check out his other recent not-totally-horror forays King of the Ants and Edmond (written by David Mamet). Of course because this is Gordon all the red stuff is done just right and the sound mix fits the amount of pain and will cause as much (or for me more) flinching than the gory visuals.

Most fucked up highlight: Brandi and ALL her actions

Eden Lake
Eden Lake (2008)
½

The introductory car scene is cinematically identical to Funny Games.

On deciding to confront the kids, "If everyone said that, where would we be?" Leave it to a fuckin Englishman to be so damn... English about it, almost deserves it. Still, with this kind of proactive approach, I'm expecting a fighting couple for a chance.

I've gotta do a hit by hit analysis as I've the browser open; expect many SPOILERS. First mistake was to be sorry about the dog; if he had acted all hard and used it as an opportunity to pound the lead little bastard, they might have stopped out of respect for equally reckless ego-driven violence. And then once they get the car, "I can't see!", right so how about slowing it down a bit; they couldn't catch a slow car on foot right away.

The knifing scene: and my case for keeping guns legal stands strong; I'd rather a few quick trigger happy caps than this kiddie medieval torture shite. And are we just NOW checking our mobile service bars to concoct a clever Blackberry trick? The youngest kid Cooper is the same actor who plays the central character in This is England and he is clearly retreading dramatic territory with this scene which I'm sure the producer was thrilled to have happen.

It's always best to give up your hiding spot the moment your boyfriend yells out to you to run and the mean little kiddies all pause from their torture sesh to peer about.

Okay that is WAY too convenient for the plot to have our fleeing heroine step on a massive spike in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and cry out uncontrollably.

"Can you please just show me the way?" How about can you please just whip out your mobile and call the police?

What happens next...damn that leader kid is FUCKED.

I guess tit for tit... random screwed-overs leads to one decent break in a grotty bin. Of course Cooper gets the "oops"...sympathy scene. Am a bit annoyed at the stereotypical "battle paint" look had from the roll in the bin.

Isn't this the fence scene from Ils? (just before the heroine is "saved" by a passing car)

Wow I don't think ever before in film history has killing a kid been so restorative for the audience.

Though predictable and too clearly contrived in plot, this film is sufficiently fucked up and realistic about it to earn an extra half star.

"Most fucked up" highlight: "Is it warm?" through "I'll burn him instead", and also the ending

Teeth
Teeth (2007)

This is why parents need to speak to their kids about sex: to insure that your kid doesn't have monster genitals and think it's normal because they have not been exposed to any proper sexual education. This is also why a hottie twink teenage boy shouldn't try raping his virgin and celibate girlfriend - he'll get his dick bitten off and the only sexual option possible after that will be to present his hot cornhole to me for proper deflowering (Yes kids, attempting hetero sex before marriage leads to penile loss and gay butt sex!).

So this movie is obviously the story of "what if vagina dentata were a living problem for someone", and I hoped such a film might at least flirt with an NC-17 rating (it does in terms of showing penises). I do appreciate that the film explains the ancient anthropological myth, but my problem is with lack of graphic depiction. So we get to see a bit of chewed off cock early on, a spurting half-eaten meal at 1hr10min, and a dick fillet doggie treat at the end but what about the titular pussy teeth? Well, we get to see A tooth but not ever in its home environment, which is the primary flaw of the film. The script and acting are decent, but I was looking for something a little more daring. I do like that the character realizes her unique potential in the final act, and I wish the film had a little more time to explore this path (though that would have certainly led things down a B path).

Most Fucked up highlight (SPOILER): hungry dog + fresh piece of meat

Chronicles of an Exorcism

Saw this on Netflix instant watch, just after I watched similar film "The Exorcist Chronicles".

This is decent for a found footage horror film, though the best scare (the cornfields one) becomes the worst scare when the cut uses it fives times instead of just once. I can't rate this film too highly because I hate found footage horror and I'm not into the exorcism subgenre. If you are into both of those horror subgenres, this may be a guilty pleasure gem for you.

Our priests start out and stay pretty damn believable, but the possessed girl totally ruins the movie with poor acting, though she looks the part in medium shots, and the cameramen aren't performing to acting task either. I do like that the film references actual demons but I've no idea if the specifics are correct (I can recognize names and know some basic facts but I'm far from a demonologist). One big (maybe) error is that the possessed's local priest is Methodist and the consulted exorcists are obviously Catholic; I'm not sure this sort of cross-organizational cooperation occurs as I'd think the Catholic church wouldn't send representatives to care for a non-Catholic.

Besides the possessed girl being acted weakly, the possessed afflictions are stereotypical in terms of film language (stigmata, flashing lights, warped voice, creepy contact lenses, urination, Tourette's style cursing, "tempting" a priest). I admit that the creepy contact lens is indeed creepy when at the end one character has one eye creepy and the other normal. But with both in, it quickly becomes too normal to scare with.

This film is marginally better than incredibly similar film The Exorcist Chronicles.

The Exorcist Chronicles

The structure of a mockumentary within a mockumentary is odd and makes things indecipherable, in the beginning primarily, but throughout the film, it suffers from confusing crosscutting.

The score is atrociously overdone and does not sync with events onscreen for the most part. The acting is even worse, and sometimes makes the film unwatchable but certainly wholly unbelievable insofar as the characters' emotions. I don't mind the documentary method of filming and honestly most of the shots are better coordinated than handheld crap in large budget mainstream pieces.

I do mind that the acting is so bad that it betrays an otherwise decent script structure. Sadly, there's no scares here and no one ever addresses why all possessed people are bed-ridden. When the "exorcisms" themselves are performed, it is little more than cheap rips from the classic bar-setter "The Exorcist".

If exorcism is your thing like how zombies are my thing, then you may find something worthwhile here, but with this low level of acting, I seriously doubt it.

Hell House
Hell House (2002)
½

I don't feel like this documentary reveals anything we didn't know was already there. People so ignorant of reality and into their own viewpoint so intensely that they think the Star of David is a pentagram, that Harry Potter and Magic the Gathering lead to Satanism, that AIDs can claim a victim in only a few days and that the disease exclusively targets gay men, that RU486 regularly kills people who take it and is as dangerous as late term abortions, that "date rape drug" or "mickey" is as technical of a name to give, that "speaking in tongues" is spiritual enlightenment and not a coverup for deep emotional trauma and possible mental illness. Just look at this country's voting records and one already knows how many and how deeply ignorant this section of the population really is.

This film is good for a laugh and seeing how fundamentalists operate (by a hive mindset that brainwashes children and emotionally susceptible people). I do wish there had been more sequences depicting people who went through being openly outraged at those who put this show on; as it is, there is one sequence but I know that there were hundreds more of those confrontations. Also, some say that this is a non-judgmental film, and that's absolute shit; this film is clearly sympathetic to this ignorant and hateful lifestyle, allowing the people featured to engage in their contrary actions without questioning them (like the guy who acts at the Hell House and then does incredibly mock-violent underground wrestling matches). The film does clearly give these people ample opportunities to spout the doctrines they've been taught to repeat, and lets them do it proudly without any consequence of a followup question.

Frost/Nixon
Frost/Nixon (2008)

Frank Langella is a powerhouse actor, and should get the biggie Oscar nod for his stunner of a performance. The moment that Rockwell's character discusses - the look of defeat on Nixon - is one of the greatest and truest expressions I've seen from an actor.

The tete-a-tete story is well framed within a polite guise. An interesting glimpse into the assemblage of this interview, both the funding and physical set arrangement. This film is less about politics and really about the fight to regain the limelight, as the characters themselves acknowledge. This film is also about the nature of media, of things on and off the record, of intellectual battles raged in the moment via oral discussion. And it's an inspirational piece for anyone who is contemplating taking a large risk which is absurdly lofty and surreal in order to gain success in their career.

I also highly like how the film is framed by documentary-esque interviews and stamped with dates; that should make it easier for the history buff watcher to decipher fact from fiction and for everyone, it nicely sections and paces the film's sequences.

Seed
Seed (2007)

I feel that I must address the director before his film due to the incredible amount of shit he receives from the internet by people who haven't even seen his movies (or just House of the Dead). Yes, it's Uwe Boll time. Considering the amount of pure crap that emanates from the horror genre, Boll is making better than average flicks. For the horror genre, Boll nowhere near deserves the level of hatred and criticism he gets. All that aside, let me move on to this actual film.

There's alot not to like about this film. I wish steadicam or a tripod/dolly were occasionally used. The only steady shot is the "hammer scene" (I think it's more a mallet or the back edge of a small hatchet though), but halfway through the scene, the victim becomes CGI and the camera does some instazoom shot when the killer's weapon strikes the victims head; this zoom technique is not used when it is clearly the actor and too opaquely reveals even to an ignorant audience member that we have shifted from practical to digital effects. The scene starts out great, and ends great, but the middle is compromised due to poor CG. I cannot exactly tell in which time period the film is set as some of the set components appear as possible anachronisms. The plot is filled with holes, the first one being: I understand Boll is trying to echo the cliche use of 6's by sending only six cops to take down the killer, but in no time period is that a reasonable amount of force to send to apprehend someone who has murdered 666 people; it's unrealistic and a cheap reason to give the main protagonist stake in the killer's fate. I also don't think ANY institution executes and then buries immediately past the 1960s; the body would have been cremated by the state on an offsite area and not buried on the penitentiary property. The score is atrociously melodramatic and ineffective.

There is still much to like here. This is the horror genre, so I can forgive some small leaps of continuity and logic as I just described as long as the extreme content can stand on its own. This stuff can. The movie begins with the killer watching real footage of people killing dogs (and it will sicken any sane human). You could accuse the director of using this as a cheap grossout trick, but I like to think of it this way: by showing real violence that disturbs, the director challenges himself to show you simulated violence that will disturb as much. In the final scene of the film, this is achieved and it bookends the movie well, elevating it a bit above its faults. It is a generally accepted rule of screenwriting that no matter how terrible your antagonist, you do not kill a child or family pet in a film; this film breaks both of those rules in the first five minutes. It does what every screenwriting guru says it will - makes the killer wholly unempathetic and will eliminate half of the audience due to immediate walkout (r in this case immediately stopping the DVD and tossing it back in the rental case). I've yet to encounter very many segments which can cause me to stop watching a film, so nothing stops me, especially not here. The killer's obsession with filming time-lapse decomposition is interesting and very cinematic but underutilized in terms of possible thematic resonance. It does serve to make for a fantastically bleak ending though.

I'd encourage horror viewers to get over your preconceived notions of Uwe Boll and give this flick a try, as it has some great moments and it certainly not as shit as most low budget (or wide release) serial killer movies hurled at genre viewers. Fuck, it's hella better than Hostel and the bulk of the Saw series.

"Most fucked up" highlight: the first scene and the final scene

Vacancy 2: The First Cut
½

I kind of can't believe I watched the whole thing, but that's a testament to the editor I suppose. Even though the script, acting, score, shots, and kills are terrible the piece is well paced and watchable. So much less thrilling than the first, and reused plenty of tricks.

I didn't believe that's how this idea got started (with the captured killer proposing it to the motel attendants) and the ending doesn't tie to the first movie (this is a prequel). This is meant to depict the first "Vacancy" victims, and the first mistake is to pick a younger and less interesting bunch. These victim characters are flat, and all the attempts at fleshing out the killers fail as well. I would have rathered the honeymoon couple in the opening segment be used as the first victims; as it could be used to contrast the victims of the first movie (married for some time and considering divorce). I would have rathered an story with echoing character components than a clumsy directionless story with echoing scare devices.

Vacancy
Vacancy (2007)
½

This was an uber effective and fun treatment with a special twist on the "went down the wrong road and got stuck with serial killers" movie. In this one, the backwards serial killers make marketed snuff from all their victims, and this film's two protagonist victims discover this fact while waiting for their death on the same "set".

The tension built up great and stayed strong. I like that the layout of the set is easily communicated that I can visualize and make real the dimensions of the setting. The simplicity of the scares (the masks, the banging on the door, being watched by the killers) is effective. I like the physique of these killers, how they are so quick and flexible. The voyeur aspect of this film adds great dimension to it. I think the best thing about it is that the protagonists act (for the most part) pretty damn rationally; they do what we as the removed viewer can suggest they do and stay within the script (see Devil's Chair or Scream 2 for films that jump out of the script to guide the characters through horror). All of the acting is solid, and that's often a back-breaker for a survival horror. Just a solid flick.

"Most fucked up" highlight: seeing the first snuff scenes on the room's TV set and watching the characters realize that they're in that room

Return of the Fly
½

Originally made for television, cheesier and less resounding than its predecessor. Still a great B movie for a Friday night.

Pineapple Express
½

The movie is a successful and very funny stoner buddy comedy, at least until the big shootout at the end. The shootout sequence is obviously trying to satirize Hollywood violence with its own Hollywood violence, but it isn't funny; however the scene following it (last scene of the film) which returns to the stoner buddy comedy format does the job of making that sequence funny. Cut that sequence down and put in more stoner buddy moments, and this would have been a 4 star. Still, the best production I've seen from Apatow yet.

One more complaint: where in the FUCK can you get a quarter of premo shit for only $75?!?!? Like the featured gun violence, wholly unrealistic and NOT FUNNY.

War, Inc.
War, Inc. (2008)
½

This is our generation's Dr. Strangelove, and like Dr. Strangelove, it isn't as funny now as it could possibly be in a few decades due to the fact that it is too close to painful reality. A must see for all citizens of the world.

Withnail and I
½

Brilliant dialogue.

Ghost Town
Ghost Town (2008)

Gervais does great in the lead role in this light romantic comedy version of "Ghost Whisperer". It works for what it is, but I don't like light comedy, and I didn't really laugh at this too vanilla movie. Gervais constructs an interesting character (wonder if he referenced Karl for any of the "annoyt with everthang" behaviors of this character). Good to watch if you like watching a typical Gervais character, but beware that this definitely isn't deeply insightful and ground-breaking comedy like The Office or Extras.

Voices of a Distant Star
½

Most prior reviews have said what needs to be said: this is a brilliant short animated film, with a plot and theme that are at once sincere and beautiful simple human emotion yet also high concept and metaphysically reflective.

The most striking thing about this project's creation is that is entirely auteured. It begs the question that if one man with a bit of his wife's help can achieve this splendor, then why do teams of fifty plus struggle to crank out the slightly better than mediocre?

Kakurenbo: Hide and Seek
½

Fantastic visuals and visual execution, loved the story concept but didn't like the story execution.

A must see for animation students and admirers.

The Wrestler
The Wrestler (2008)
½

Color me underwhelmed.

It's undeniable that this film is realistic and will cause hundreds of ram-sized real-life wrestlers to weep with its precise capture of this world. It's clear that Aronofsky is deciding to show that he can do a slower film with a much smaller plot - he's doing his character piece. That's all fine and good for his conscience when he has to settle in for the night - but damnit, Color me underwhelmed.

Congrats on getting Rourke back in the ring and nailing the language and lifestyle of wrestling, but damnit Aronofsky, just Color me underwhelmed.

I knew this was going to be a depressing film, from its director's reputation to early reviews to the trailer to the way the film sets itself up - at every step we are reminded that this is a failing character with a bleak life. Thing is, it hasn't the power over me that I've previously experienced in downhill-slide character pieces; perhaps it is a touch of unfamiliarity with sports drama as I do feel some cliche cards are played (esp in the final sequence).

The makeup from the no-holds-barred match is great. I don't like this mode of Aronofsky; while I think he can handle the edit for this pace, I don't think he is considerate enough in individual shots (especially compared with his filmography).

It's just when I see Aronofsky, I expect something that challenges, perhaps even changes, cinema language, and all I see here is a great director proving to detractors that he can do this sort of film. Personally, I'd like to see Aronofsky return to his vacuum of mind-phuckery and return to melodrama, because he's just boring in this traditional slice of personal drama configuration.

Lost Highway
Lost Highway (1997)

New favorite movie. Will figure out exactly why soon enough (besides all the obvious that many others have probably already mentioned). After a few more absorbs and reading the reviews already up, I'll add my highlights and "oops we missed this" commentary.

Perfect Blue
Perfect Blue (1999)

This movie was WAAAY over-hyped to me, probably because most of the people recommending it were big anime fans who had not seen many psychological thrillers, much less one in anime format (without added scifi elements). This is the sort of film I watch in live action all the time, but not what I expect from an anime.

The story is dizzying in presentation of alternate realities to the point that I don't think any version is more valid than another and at the end, I still don't know which to believe is dominant, which is a good thing for a story of this genre. However, because this is anime, the story presentation could have been opened to include far more surrealism of image.

I can acknowledge that this is unique for the anime format, but stacked against its live action peers of the same genre, this is just underwhelming. Animation should NEVER underwhelm in degree of ambiguity and surrealism as compared to live action of the same genre, as I've said previously, the format is open to whatever odd imagery you wish to include. Others may get a real kick from this, but I was just numb to it. I can see why others appreciate it so, but I'm still not impressed.

TED: The Future We Will Create

TED (Technology Entertainment Design) is the most intriguing conference for serious thinkers that I know of. TED only invites brilliant speakers with world-altering ideas, and the audience is just as exclusive. While TED itself is a fantastic organization, this movie plays like an infomercial for TED. If you're really interested in the conference, just visit ted.com for full speeches/performances/demonstrations/etc.

This movie is a sampler of the 2006 conference, and its most valuable potential was that it could have highlighted what happens on the convention floor between talks (especially since TED posts all their speakers' full length presentations online now); among a small handful of these scenes, the most memorable sequence that does this involves Al Gore and an impromptu add-on Q&A that happened the morning after his first talk on global warming, which starts in motion his decision to offer Majora Carter the position on the board of directors for his environmental non-profit.

TED, by its very nature, can make even the most cynical depressed bastard like myself hopeful for humanitarian concerns in a capitalist world. The movie is a great springboard for discovering the world's top minds, and my personal favorite innovation of this conference was from Jeff Han (and you can see why at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jeff_han_demos_his_breakthrough_touchscreen.html).

If you aren't familiar with TED, this movie is a good way to introduce you to the overall flair and attitude of the project, but if you want real intellectual satisfaction, you will have to visit the website to see full presentations or do some additional research on your own to see how TED Prize winners' wishes come to fruition. Though I knew about TED and have seen many clips before, I was unaware of the "wish" that each prize winner gets to make, in front of an exclusively powerful, moneyed (but not strictly greedy) audience, perhaps the most public gathering of so many influential people. When someone speaks to a TED conference room, they are not setting up arguing points for later back-and-forth papers with their colleagues, they're not out for shameless attention, they're not courting just one potential investor; TED speakers get to pitch their idea to a room full of people who could easily and effortlessly realize these globally innovative ideas. Not only is the capital in the room astounding, but so are the pluckable humanistic strings of people a cynic such as I see as heartless machines programmed exclusively for financial gain and customer/end result/consumer fuckoffery. I learned that Bono's one.org happened as a result of the 2005 TED conference.

I teared up a bunch of times; I always do when I see someone really ACHIEVING to the point that the reconstruct the word completely, and to see this achievement really gain immediately applicable strength from very rich or very intelligent, but very human, supporters. Basically, I wanted to see more interaction like what happens between Jeff Han and Hans Rossling in the hallway discussing how Han's design invention could work in Rossling's classroom.

This is a genuine feel-good clump of media that I hope will inspire you to think more and to explore the content TED makes available to the public. I will say again though that as a documentary, this does not reveal enough of the conference's inner workings and unplanned meetings of giant minds, but instead opts for the easy tactic of an "Entertainment Tonight" cluster of clips and voiceover with a bubbly attractive hostess to boot.

Theater of Blood (Theatre of Blood) (Much Ado About Murder)
½

This is how middle schoolers should be taught Shakespeare, and what every aspiring critic should consider before definitively choosing criticism as their profession.

For those of us who haven't yet digested the Bard's full portfolio, the film makes clear which murder comes from which play. Vincent Price plays an exclusively Shakespearean actor, Edward Lionheart, who seeks revenge on the circle of critics who lambasted his life's work. Lionheart enlists the aid of a group of tramps and employs them as both his theatre troupe and conspirators in serial murder.

This movie is so camp and hilarious that I don't care that none of the special effects were jazzy enough to be properly filmed (cuts and obstructions are utilized in every murder scene). My favorite critic is the fat one with the two white poodles (and he gets his in a recreation of my favorite scene from Titus). I love the Merchant of Venice revision which allows Shylock to get his pound of flesh. I LOVE Price's Richard III, and the fun there was guessing which murder from the play would be chosen for the critic's death (we're put out of guessing really quickly).
SO much campy fun to be had here.

Bloody Mama
Bloody Mama (1970)

Had this pre-dated Bonnie and Clyde, it would be hailed as a classic and taught in film schools everywhere. As it is, it is a very entertaining exploitation flick from Roger Corman, featuring Shelley Winters in the lead role. I personally prefer it to Bonnie and Clyde, as this odd family is far more complicated and just as socially radical.

The dialogue feels very authentic, and the characters suffer just the right amount of sexual and developmental confusion to make them empathetic if perturbed killers. The Herman character is perhaps the most compelling and developed of the sons. The ending is directly alluded to in the beginning of Rob Zombie's "The Devil's Rejects".

Don't skip this if you want to see Depression era criminals, Corman exploitation, or Winters playing psychologically deranged.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: Mama keeps a boy in her bed every night

Bonnie and Clyde

"So Fucked Up" highlight: murder at the conclusion

Dead End
Dead End (2003)
½

Nobody yells, "Laura!" like Ray Wise, but unfortunately that's the most powerful thing in this movie. It's also cool to watch a character play with their own exposed brain, and I want whatever kind of weed that makes you so high you don't notice when a ghost bites your lower lip off. The actors give their best, but this is just a mostly crap script with no special effects to make it tolerable. A very mild horror, suitable for family viewing during the holidays, but genuine horror fans should avoid unless you're looking for crappy horror to share with loved ones instead of reruns of "It's a Wonderful Life". Very predictable ending. One other positive point: the credits include a thank-you at the ending for sticking through the credits (more films should do this).

Moral of the story: don't take shortcuts on road trips because whichever family members don't die will start confessing things better left as secrets.

Talk Radio
Talk Radio (1988)

Fantastic script pulled off on the tiniest set. Oliver Stone before he got too overtly political. A great thriller, and a huge recommend.

Querelle
Querelle (1982)

I don't know if this film is as great as I think it is or if the director is being just the right amount of pretentious to come off as profound.

After a few more views, I will write more on this film (and the rating will certainly change).

O Fantasma
O Fantasma (2001)

My Logline: A Dirty Little Slut with a Forbidden Big Crush. A great art house portrait of loneliness, squalor, and sexual desire. Great anonymous sex scenes and some truly great erotic cinematography very partial to the callipygian lead. (I'd recommend a jerk before you watch this if you're ten percent the horndog that this main character is). There is very little dialogue but swimming pools of unspoken communication, tense as a hard-on and spread like petroleum jelly. The grungy filth is there though; this character is a garbage worker living in the streets, garbage warehouse, and rented rooms who steals from garbage bins for masturbatory articles of clothing and sneaks about his obsession's property. Don't read past the spoiler if you want to watch this. The problem with this film is the ambiguity of the pivotal point which causes the ending of the final act. It's not the (chronologically) non-linear editing of the scenes that bothers me, but the story; BIG SPOILER - I dislike the options of scenarios that are offered regarding the outcome of the capture and rape. Problem: in one scenario (the first scene actually) the guy is lovin Sergio pounding him in the kinky gear (when I first saw it, I didn't know it was non-consensual; I thought it was just some fetish stuff as both parties looked to be having intense pleasure.). In the other, Sergio just drags the guy out to street and leaves him somewhere, the only bit of action being Sergio dry humping him (without the zipper on the latex suit open) whilst securing his bonds. I want to know if Sergio degrades into the animalistic swine he is at the conclusion of the film because he has totally fulfilled his fantasy or he's completely pitifully failed at his attempt. Maybe the point is that both would lead to the ending's savage lack of humanity and loss of identity; that's pretty common of art house, but had I wrote it, I would have definitively picked one and explored THAT subsequent theory instead. Me myself, would be better that he got the more glorified version and fell into such utter despair that he no longer needs to function as a human so reverts to a primordial state, no longer able to exist in the human context, as opposed to failing at such a thing, stooping so low and doing something so primal, causes a human to lose their humanity (this answer is just flatter and more common sense as opposed to revealing like my choice).ADDED NOTE NON-SPOILERmovie is loaded with sexually explicit scenes, plenty of nudity - lots of cok and arse, with some hot sucking and unusual masturbation.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: digging through trash for masturbatory material and then using it in combo with some auto-erotic asphyxiation

Jungle Holocaust (Ultimo mondo cannibale) (Cannibal) (Carnivorous) (Last Cannibal World)
½

Far tamer than Cannibal Holocaust, Last Cannibal World is better pegged as a jungle adventure thriller (with cannibalism, primitive people's rituals, and an overall harsher and realistic bite than a typical jungle adventure) than exploitation, and it's certainly not a horror.

The main character's descent into madness is quite believable, as the plot is very focused on him. This film has none of the overt societal commentary of Cannibal Holocaust. It's a very simple man vs. nature plot, and the other characters in Robert's party are quickly dispatched so that the film can focus on him and his observation of the native cannibals' culture.

Certainly inferior to Cannibal Holocaust, with very little shock value except the crocodile killing. The "home" or "village" of the natives is a lot more interesting setup than the ones from CH, especially the cavern bit. Overall, these cannibals feel more dangerous and less human than the ones in CH, which makes them just blend with other elements of the jungle as opposed to highlighting the potential for violence and relative "evil" in the human condition.

This film raises loads of questions: If it predates Cannibal Holocaust, why did animal rights activists wait til CH to press the issue when this features just as much animal killing? Why are the male natives playing/tugging at/with the main character's penis when they take his clothes off; are they surprised that an adult is uncircumcised (the natives appear to be circumcised)? Why didn't the survivalist dolt bother taking a compass along both times they ventured off into the jungle? Is it just for sex appeal that they cast a female lead with breast implants even though she breaks the realism of the film? What's the point of the flesh eating ant ritual?

"Most fucked up" highlight: For me, the crocodile killing because I adore reptiles. For you, take your pick; I'm mostly immune to simulated gore and cannibalism, but your average viewer will find plenty to disturb.

Let the Right One In
½

A new classic of vampire film and also a great coming of age drama with stunning cinematography. So many people are recommending this film with good reason. It's tender and genuine, very relationship focused, but the horror shots that are here are super memorable, inventive, and look just as beautiful as other shots in the film. There's nothing that smacks of horror cliche or of a forced plot, and besides one of the main characters being a vampire. this film doesn't really sit right with the bulk of what is presently acceptable as "horror" but feels better in a serious drama or art house genre because it is such a well done and subtle film.

Trailer Park of Terror

As the characters say in the titular scene of the movie, this is a clear tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis. Instead of an entire town as in 2000 Maniacs, this is a small trailer park of six (or seven) murdering ghouls.

The original music is the highlight of the film, and so is the character that plays the songs on his guitar. Most of the teenage victims get a killing suited to their in-life vices, and the girl we all know is gonna live does. It is unclear what happened to the gay fella, but I'm not gonna rewatch this to clarify. The fat lady that "smells meat" is pretty damn scary, and the backstory gives Rob Zombie a run for his money in terms of hillbilly hell.

There are some creative kills including deep frying one of the kids. The effects appear as if they stay practical, and they're mostly pretty cool. The one definitely CG effect that I loved was Norma Jean re-applying faces to herself.

This will scare the bejesus out of pre-teens to mid-teens, but your experienced horror enthusiast will just find a somewhat satisfying intoxicated weekend night flick. Better than most of the dreck in this genre, but you do have to be predisposed to the genre.

A Very British Gangster
½

This is one of the best filmed documentaries I've seen since Winged Migration. The shots here make the film appear as a narrative piece, and the film-maker interjects himself just enough to remind us that this is the "cameras allowed" side of these people's lives.

Thoroughly intriguing portrayal of this crime family and of the social and political functioning of Manchester.

A film that proves reality is more compelling and creative than fiction. A must see for anyone.

The Ungodly (The Perfect Witness)

The first twenty minutes suggest a brilliant re-imagining of C'est arrive pres ches vous as a straightforward objective linear, but around the halfway through mark, it degrades into predictable thriller. The killer kills outside of his profile, the same shock scene of trying to force the filmmaker to film a kill is used twice. The "source" of the killer's psychological distress is not unique, though the setting for it is very well done.

There are loads of interesting dialogue. The most interesting scene is revealing an AA group for serial killers. The ending is a blinder, just as the first shot is terribly tense and suggestive of a great film. Too bad the plot gets in the way. Had this film taken the more natural approach that Man Bites Dog does in terms of plot, this would have been a great film, but as I said it degrades into thriller standard fare.

I hope Wes Bentley hasn't been pigeon-holed as the stone-faced guy with a camera, as that's his job in this film.

Hope this director gets a good career launch from this, but that he will insist on better plotted scripts in the future.

Timber Falls
Timber Falls (2007)
½

It's not bad considering its genre (check my "Went Down the Wrong Road" Backwoods Horror List), but the last shot gives an auto deduction of half a star (the killer is still alive! and traveled to the victims' home town - it's not even laughable satire, just PATHETIC).

Anyways, the rest of the movie is decent. There are a mix of crap and good special effects, and most of it appears to be practical (well done there). The actors give their all, and I like the idea that these captors want their victims to have a baby for them. The set design of the torture basement is tops, and the pacing is decent. Action segments are well filmed. The primary weapon is really cool, but I don't really like Deacon's (main baddie) makeup job; it could have been tweaked a little better.

The plot structure is fine, but some of the dialogue is really weak in conveying the perversion of religion to violent means and portraying the stereotypical secular response to this violent fervor. Okay if you like this niche genre of horror.

The Mighty Boosh Live
½

If you don't know the Boosh....well, you sad little person. It's easy to see Boosh episodes on YouTube - so goest thou now to view them if thou be unawares of the Mighty Booshness.

Anyways, this is a great live performance with some really fun improvised moments and audience interaction. I think you should already have seen the show, though, to get all the jokes and the guys' overall sense of humor. Also Rich Fulcher delivers crazy great performance (he's my fave member of the troupe).

IrrÚversible

This is a hypnotic film utterly self-contained and deserving of the proclamation as genius.

I was skeptical of this film, as I am skeptical of any movie that uses rape to sensationalize itself and gain publicity. Most films like that, the rape scene is the only decent part and the rest of the film is dreck. Well, this whole film is just astonishing, blinding, and mind-warping.

The camerawork had me in a trance state, and it is some of the most amazing cinematography I've seen in ANY recent film. For people who clearly do not know anything about film technique and openly admit that with their negative reviews of the cinematography: this isn't the handheld crap you gobble up at the box office, you just think that because you think "oh camera's moving and that means they mustn't have bothered setting up the shot", when actually these are some of the most cleverly coordinated sequences in film history.

I love the reverse linear implemented here, as it really drives home the film's spoken point: "Time ruins everything".

There is NO excuse for anyone serious about film not to view this entire work.

Hot Gay Sex commentary: another one on the list wherein the hot gay sex is a minor detail in a large shock/exploitation plot centered on rape. Still, the third scene of the film is entirely set in an uber butch leather/BDSM sex den, and features some quite memorable snippets, especially the guy begging to get fisted. There's also loads of male frontal nudity here - something Americans know next to nothing about.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: Bashing in the guy's face - it's one of the greater special effects achievements in history; it's HOW ONE DOES practical and CG together.

Audition (ďdishon)

When people say that the film is predictable in their reviews, they MUST mean that they know the torture sequence is EVENTUALLY coming and that Asami is psycho, right? (SPOILERS) Yall don't mean that you knew Asami had to quit ballet because her uncle abused her, that Aoyama would meet this uncle character, that Miike would pull an "inside the dream" sequence, that he had cut crucial revelations Asami makes about her past out of the first versions of the dates to insert them in the replays in the dream, that the hotel scene really didn't end where it did? Because I'm DAMN good at predicting even small plot details, and I HIGHLY doubt that you dolts saw the majority of that stuff coming. One or two things, I grant you. I knew that the man in the bag would be either the record industry man or the man from the bar, and that his limbs would be severed, so I'll give you one or two odd details you could predict, but all to the point that it made the crucial details predictable? Wanna say the movie's predictable - okay, as long as you mean that everyone knows the synopsis of "a man meets a girl and she tortures him". You may know physical torture from Asami is coming, but you couldn't have anticipated the layers of psychological torture the main character puts himself through in addition to the physical torture.

Because we know the synopsis, the first 48 minutes (which are devoid of scares or distortion and devoted to character and sedating the audience) can drag. It could easily be reduced to under ten minutes. Hell, you could just skip to the last thirty minutes of the film and still understand the whole story without missing the gore.

Maybe it's because I just saw Irreversible, but I thought it was a little dull to save the torture until the end. Seeing as Miike already plays with non-linear telling here, there's no reason why the torture scene couldn't have been earlier, and then the film reverts to showing how they met. I just think it's typical to build to a blood end, and it would be great to subvert that and Miike is the sort of director who would.

This is nearly describable as "weak for a Miike piece", but another flisxterer put it better by saying it is primitive, as in primitive early work. I wholeheartedly agree. Compared to other Miike fare, this is a TAME movie. But compared to the majority of American horror, this is in another league of accomplishment. I can tell that Miike was limited in terms of budget, which is why there is less gore than what he probably wanted, but he still films it SO beautifully. His flair for the eerie is uncanny, as proven by how he lights and shoots his main actress, who is a brilliant casting decision.

Miike fans may be underwhelmed, but many other audience members may vomit or turn the film off, uninitiated and susceptible fools they are.

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: meeting the guy in the bag and watching him eat his supper

Koroshiya 1 (Ichi the Killer)
½

This is a landmark gorefest, with some of the most inventive torture scenes in cinematic history. The plot is a little convoluted but I believe that's because when this transfered from manga to script, alot of characters and unnecessary segments were kept which could have been condensed. Also I've been mislead by the box art for years now. Having just watched it, I now know that the character on the posters is not the infamous Ichi, but his masochistic equivalent Kakihara, who is a far more interesting, if less complex, character than Ichi. Some of the CG doesn't fit right, especially the halved body or the first time Kakihara unhinges his whole jaw, and that's not acceptable when the semen used in the title sequence is real (and looks it). Miike could have re-shot the halving scene in a more traditional "Cube" way and it would have been just as good.Kakihara should (if you are a stable human being) blow you away with his insane acts of self mutilation; they're truly impeccable and Kakihara is a villain of the highest order. MSG TO YOU PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE: DO NOT WATCH A FUCKING DUB. These dubs redo everything INCLUDING screams and gasps and it just RUINS the movie (obviously the creators wanted viewers to not favor the dubs as they are done so shittily). Dubbed, you won't get the full experience; it's a complete star rating worse with the dubs."So Fucked Up" highlight: the jaw unhinged properly, Kakihara having himself tortured

Broken Flowers
½

Memorable for its remarkable ability to bore. Slow even for Jarmusch, this plays like what it is: an attempt to cash in on Bill Murray's newly found ability (in Lost in Translation) to play middle age malaise to perfection. There isn't much of a story, and I can't care about Murray's character because he plays it TOO somber.

The Serpent and the Rainbow

See this if you want a Voodoo horror drama about an American who goes to Haiti in search of uncovering the truth and feasibility of zombification.

This film has an interesting, and in horror, not always effective, structure where the first two thirds are spent on genuine plot and character development, with only hints at the lurking malice to come in all its gory. Craven pulls off this tough format with utter grace and natural pacing. The horror stuff kicks in at an hour into this 90 minute feature, and it's a regular Craven wallop of effective and inventive horrific distortions of reality. So it's a divided film (but the parts compliment and tie together). The first segment is legitimate drama and if done through to feature length by a non-horror director, would be praised as such. That's what makes the horror part work - that Craven's whole film balances and feels real in its plot and characters. So much horror films cannot achieve this.

Bill Pullman does a really stellar job as the scientific Westerner scouting for the next pharmaceutical breakthrough in a dangerous politically upset poorer nation. His character falls into the Haitian world so well, that the second half, wherein Voodoo takes center stage, the magical and spiritual elements his character once doubted now seem wholly real, and for him, beyond lethally dangerous. We can believe that souls are really at stake; this is what any good drama with Voudon or or Christianity or paganism or any faith-based practices aims toward.

The production design is stellar. The Voudon temple setup reminds me of old Hammer Voodoo films.

Reflecting on many of the earlier non-supernatural action sequences in the movie, I really like Craven's action style in the 80s, and think he doesn't always get acknowledged for his extreme flair for orchestrating action because his primary peer their is John Carpenter. (They are each complete masters of the action horror, but Carpenter is utterly and incomparably genius with his action directing, and Craven is utterly and incomparably genius in his talent for horror.)

The three primary zombie (or zombified) examples here are just plain great. The makeup is subtle and the sell is in the acting and scene framing and lighting. The harsher and gorier bits (which are non-zombie but still atypical and advanced in concept) are very 80s; they're NOT BAD but they have that distinctly 80s makeup aesthetic going on and the big tell is in a poorly done decapitated head.

Like how the finale reconnects the spiritual and physical worlds - while a small group combats for their souls, a nation-forming revolution ensues in the streets above.

Hellsing I
Hellsing I (2002)
½

Tied with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust as my favorite horror animation. Great clean and concise rendering of the manga with a visual wallop that whacks anyone, no matter how picky they are about animation.

Hellsing II and Helsing III Ultimate are not quite as good, though they are also brilliant, this is the best entry in the Ultimate series so far. Tight script, not a single wasted shot, superbly detailed, and masterfully voiced.

Also, just an interesting vision of modern vampires and related ghouls as well as a great rendering from still to moving pictures of manga art form.

The Doom Generation

This movie has a consistent and unique tone, which is why I wasn't surprised this was an Araki film. Araki is fantastic with tone, and in this film, he creates an alternate electro junkie 90s fever-dream where the world is always on the edge of ending and everything is distorted into symbols and pop art to convey the indescribable desperation and fear the characters think rests naturally within their souls. The soundtrack is near constant, and is as much an important character as the three people this film focuses on. The story is an odd love triangle set in post modern crazy land, with the repeated incidents of sudden deadly violence and cases of unforgivable mistaken identity pushing the plot from one sex scene to another.

This film pulls into the world of these three characters so fully. Rose McGowan creates the paradigm of the annoying junkie girl from the 90s and it plays well off the sensitive stoner and daring bad boy cutouts of characters. Definitely a film for people who feel like thinking about what they are watching, as much of the detail is in symbolic 90s art creations and the main plot points reference not reality, but B movies. Watching this movie is like falling into an abyss of the 1990s and its complacent pessimism. The film just leaves one feeling unsettled and in this way perfectly captures its era and what its characters are feeling and conveys that to the audience.

Fantastic ending, a real blinder that works so well.

Cool cameos: Parker Posey and Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction

"Most Fucked Up" highlight: head still talking, the conclusion

My Kid Could Paint That
½

This is an interesting documentary which raises some larger issues about the art world (second doc in a row I've watched about "art world" following Who the $##% is Jackson Pollock?). The director can be accused of not being direct enough in his final confrontation of the parents.

I find an interesting conclusion made from this film: if a kid is having fun painting while interacting with a parent, what bearing does or should any input have that the parent may give the kid? If you suggest what the kid should do without taking the brush out of their hand, does that mean it's no longer the child's work? What about the adult artist who takes in criticism from other artists while still working on a piece? Are all these people also entitled to authorship or a signature? I just think this film does not make specific what PART of the parents and Marla'a behavior makes the art "not hers". I *think* it's the fact that the director suspects that the Dad Mark may do physical touch-ups to the paintings with his own brush after hsi daughter finishes, but this point isn't made clear.

This film also proves that art sales are all about marketing and media attention, especially for modern art, just as the gallery owner and seller for Marla's art will attest/protest.

This is a nice "debunking of the prodigy" film, and it works that angle on many levels, none of which I think the child herself will find to be insulting in future reflection.

Regardless of the movie's ambiguities, in five to ten years, any questions left in the air about Marla's talent will be solved by what she will do in her future art career.

Donkey Punch
Donkey Punch (2008)
½

Just so people know: this isn't a horror though some sites have promoted it as such; it's by far a thriller about what people will do when they think they're in the shit. All set on a boat, starts out with some interesting cinematography. Nice graphic sex scene and good short backstory lead to to the first mishap of many in this movie. A lot of lying and crazy desperation ensues as some characters battle for truth, some for revenge, some for their lives, and some for a successful coverup to save their own asses. It's hard to care for these characters because they feel transient and without real unique traits, except for the druggie Blue who has a clear lovable asshole personality and the girl Lisa who dies first. The end is not justified from any perspective, and the two most mismatched characters are stuck together,forcing an obvious kill or be killed. Well filmed with great sound mix, but as prior stated, don't care enough about the characters to feel for them when they die.

Heckler
Heckler (2008)

This movie has three distinct segments. The first is about actual hecklers of stand up comedians. The second is an over-reaching view on criticism in society, its effect on the criticized and what it reflects on the critic. The third is about how blogging and the internet have exaggerated the nastiness of criticism.

It made me reflect on my criticism. I realize that it's just easier to bitch. I can't be fawning over giving praise because I haven't the words or the nergy. As to how bad something is, I haven't usually the words for that either, but I've the energy to find shorter words to express my immediate anger at mediocrity, which is why most of my reviews are intentionally negative. However I find the amount of energy even for negativty to reflect on the overall effective nature of the film, whether it's effectively bad or incredibly great. Sometimes a film, by its greatness or its awfulness, leaves me without a long-winded reaction. Some things only need a sentence to promote it because that's how great it is conversely some things are so bad that I can't waste the investment of my time thinking and typing about it. I admit that I can't give 100%l all the time (which is why I put my reviews on Flixster or another similar site as opposed to in a draft bin for a book on actual film criticism), but I can always find the finger energy to get my negativity out.

I'll give this film some of my genuine energy: I appreciate the wide range of people interviewed and I think it's a great modern sampling of entertainers, artists, and critics. Keep in mind that this film goes WAY beyond just hecklers into all criticism, but the heckler figure is used as a perfect example of the type of critic this film is standing up against.

Hilarious yet human highlights: Jamie shows people REALLY slamming him to his face, and his reactions strike the side of us that has been criticized before. Uwe Boll punches the crap out of some detractors in a highly publicized boxing event. Footage of Bill Hicks going ballistic on a heckler. Letting the critic get their predictably negative say on the end of the film.

Some people I'm really glad this film was able to interview: Richard Roeper, Andrew Dice Clay, Pauly Shore, Rob Zombie, Leonard Maltin, Joel Schumacher, all the geeky net reviewers

I think if you're a creator of any sort and are or want to be involved in today's entertainment and arts world, you should see this doc, as it may help you sort through some stuff and put it in an objective perspective. It's also a good reminder to the bloggers to stay (well, in most cases, become) humble if they want to attain genuine and respected critical status.

Dazed and Confused

I can't properly appraise this (rate it) right now because it's been too long since I've seen it.

But dude....it's Linklater and it's about pot and high school. I know I loved it.

"Good Stoner Movies" Commentary:
This was a suggestion! Hooray that the fog doesn't surround us all. I like my lists dynamic. You - reading this right now - got a suggestion for this list? Clicky clicky typey typey

Who the $#%@ Is Jackson Pollock

A transparent look at the art world. Fascinating trucker and treasure hunter Teri Horton stumbles across what she thinks may be a Jackson Pollock, and she has to battle the tastes of art collectors and agents to prove its authenticity. After a long battle with the reigning gods, she enlists the help of an outcast looking to get back in the game and an art authenticator who uses science instead of gut feeling to determine authenticity.

Various art world figures are asked about the painting by the filmmakers, including an expert imitator or forger, several art brokers, a painter of Pollock's generation, art investors, and gallery owners.

Besides the evidence which links a fingerprint on Teri's painting to four authentic Pollock's and matches paint samples to Pollock's workshop, I instinctively feel that this IS a Pollock. For the art connoisseurs who look at it and appraise that it hasn't got the energy and feel of "a Pollock" without doing detailed analysis of paint patterns, I wonder if they have ever seen "an authentic Pollock" that they felt "didn't have the energy of a Pollock". Too much of their appraisal is subjective and in a vacuum of their own aesthetic sensibilities. These people are particularly stunned when the forensic investigator discovers that Pollock used acrylic, a paint which was believed by art historians to not be available at that time to Pollock's workshop.

This is a great film demonstrating the modern evolution of the herd mentality and subsequent clash of different cultures to determine "what is art?".

This Is England

A fantastic film that deftly juggles several themes, and delivers stunning well developed characters. The acting is great especially for the young ages of some talent, the scenes have an undeniable realism to them, and the human drama is portrayed at the perfect level of ambiguity which exactly mirrors emotions and conflict in real life.

The film also captures the era well. From production design to the characters as commentary on their generations, few dramas deliver such solid and real situations. This film is an interesting immersion into a wholly unique culture, and the favor the director does for us is that one needs only observe to understand.

Quarantine
Quarantine (2008)
½

A waste of time, talent, and funding. Only watch this if you are researching/interested in cultural ports and direct remakes. There isn't even substantial scenes here to make this worthwhile for genre viewers.

I've already had my say of hating towards the faux neo-realistic/found footage approach to film; it's simply terrible and rarely done right, and even then still marginally valuable. Believe it or not, this version is directed WORSE than the original [REC].

NOTED DIFFERENCES: (contains SPOILERS) The only added scene I noticed is that one of the residents breaks down the barrier and gets sniped followed by some shots of the CDC forces outside; the [REC] original may have had this but I can't remember. The sudden breakout in the stairwell is a good 200% less effective than the segment in [REC], and the same applies for the conclusion.

Pirate it or watch at stagevu, but be aware that you are squandering the invaluable resource of time.

The Strangers
½

I gave up 55 minutes in. Gazillionth treatment of this story concept, after Haneke just did it perfect TWICE. Nothing but audio cued jumpscares and zero tension unlike other direct competitor Ils. What an annoying waste.

Alive
Alive (2004)

A massive disappointment considering this director did 'Versus', the zombie/martial arts hybrid.

The characters are given a stay of execution so that they may participate in an odd experiment of selected isolation. The first two reels are interesting, but after 'The Witch' chapter, the movie quickly declines into boring territory. All of the investment in attempted character development is false and only adds to the bore. By the time the final fight comes around, which the segment is called 'Versus', I was just ready for the film to end.

The settings and art direction are great, and the camerawork is mostly brilliant but too often reverts to lazy easy cut angles.

It's tough for me to tell with foreign films, but the acting here does not seem always on point, with a few too many weak link B actors chiming in. Combine that with the B plot, and this movie starts out at a great cheesy deficit that it does not overcome OR celebrate.

I've seen few films that so fully exemplify the phrase "untapped potential".

You can watch at stagevu.com.

Splinter
Splinter (2008)

"It's ok. We're cutting your arm off." with an xacto knife to be precise. The story is a bit of a dull one: crime couple kidnaps camping couple and all four end up stranded at a gas station, fighting with an unknown lifeform that contaminates and possesses its hosts.

The budget is low, but thankfully that doesn't mean the team resorts to bad CGI. All of the "creature" work is pretty damn cool, and the best scene of the splinter creature, taking over an arm, is made effective by the actor. The only attribute of the creature that isn't captured well is its speed; the splinter is meant to be blazing fast but we only know this because the characters remark on its speed.

The camping couple is annoying, asking for death through the final reel. In contrast, the criminal guy becomes likable especially after he survives an arm severance. The final plan to escape is damn absurd and marks this movie as true B. The creature effects compensate though, which is why this gets 3 instead of 2 and a half.

Strange Days
Strange Days (1995)
½

An interesting scifi noir set in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 1999 . Fiennes play a great hustler of full cerebral cortex experience discs. This main technology in the film will remind many of eXistenZ, though Strange Days released first. Interesting dystopic view of Los Angeles which reflects on the Rodney King riots. The pacing is addictive. The twists are typical, but still fun. Must watch for fans of scifi dystopia or those interested in virtual reality. I'm surprised this movie doesn't have a cult following.

Eden Log
Eden Log (2007)

first screening: half awake, but still loved it

Not Angels But Angels
½

The director uses some cheap tactics to evoke the sympathy he wants: classical music, dark settings, leaving the camera run during awkward silences, zooming in on the subjects' faces when he notices his subject is disturbed, popping the AIDS question on every subject. And it doesn't work on me; I don't feel bad for these kids. All I can think is - wow Prague has got some hot dumb cheap young ass!

The subjects run the gamut from a 15 year old runaway with a gambling addiction to a 19 year old who has made prostitution a successful, comfortable, and safe career for himself. Too bad that when the director gets all these guys together for a party that he doesn't arrange for some intracommunity counseling between the smarter tricks and the reckless ones.

There's a couple explicit photos that attempt to be censored, but you can see everything. And compared to other documentaries on prostitution, the "bad stories" are not that bad. The worst is a masochist who whipped and beat a boy and then refused to pay. Most of the other tricks just moan about not liking anal, but that's like a fireman bitching about not wanting to go in burning buildings. One weather-worn trick talks about an era in which he was working at a cheap brothel and having nine clients a day slamming his ass - now THAT'S a legitimate complaint.

Like I said I don't feel bad for these guys; they all admit to doing it for the money and none who dislike the job discuss specifically why they cannot work or live elsewhere. It is alluded to when one of the subjects says that most of the guys spend the money they make at clubs on the same night they make it, and the 15 year old asks the film-maker on camera for a loan so he can gamble.

The Seventh Seal

unrivaled in film history

Dawn of the Dead

Belated review, but I must post it. Greatest zombie film of all time, and my favorite horror film. I have viewed both official cuts too many times - about 50 for the Romero cut and over 300 times for the Argento Zombi cut. Not only is this a stunning horror, it is also a blindingly great film which tackles several sociopolitical problems that were relevant at the time and still are today. No other film captures the essence of the zombie creature better than this masterpiece.