'Tis the season.

-The Geek
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Summer Movie Shake Down

So the summer is almost over, and there's been a lot of high profile movies released. How have these flicks stacked up so far? The Geek answers!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: It wasn't bad. It just wasn't good. Take out Indy and Mutt, add Mulder and Scully, and you have the movie that X-Files: I Want to Believe should have been.

Iron Man: Excellent comic book movie. Robert Downey Jr. is back in a big way, finally hitting his stride in a mainstream role. I'm looking forward to his next role as an African American army sergeant in Tropic Thunder.

The Incredible Hulk: Another good comic book film. I'd rate it slightly behind Iron Man, but not by much. Marvel Studios really knows what it's doing with its beloved properties. Here's hoping they can keep the ball rolling with The Avengers.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe
: A solid, monster of the week standalone episode of the quirky 90's television show. Series fans will be happy to see Mulder and Scully together again. Unfortunately, there's nothing special about this film. It won't make any new fans and is unlikely to inspire enough old fans to warrant a revival.

The Happening: A good effort by M. Night Shyamalan. The movie doesn't have a twist, so get over it. Some of the acting and dialogue feels off tempo, but I attributed much of it as an attempt to emulate science fiction films from the 50's era. As usual of Night's work, I'd recommend it, but check your brains and expectations at the door.

WALL-E: The single best animation AND science fiction film released in years. It's a movie for everyone, young or old, male or female. The design of the protagonist may be a bit too reminiscent of Short Circuit's Johnny Five, but as an old fan I preferred to think of it as an homage. The film deals with some weighty issues for a kids movie, and the fact that there is almost zero dialogue for the first 45 minutes or so was a ballsy move. The scathing commentary of modern American culture hits the bullseye.

HellBoy II: The Golden Army
: A fantastic follow up to the first film, expanding on the characters and the world they live in. Del Toro brings his 'A' game and paints a wonderous fantasy world, especially a scene where the heroes visit the Troll Market, a segment that greatly reminded me of Harry's first stroll down Diagon Alley in the first Potter film. Unfortunately the script is a bit heavy on exposition and some of the clunkier elements from the first film seem to carry over. Also, the opening flashback sequence which recounts the tale of the Golden Army to young Hellboy features some of the worst makeup effects I've seen in the theater in quite some time. Not a good way to start a film, putting potentially new fans on the defensive in the first scene.

The Dark Knight
: Hands down, the film of the summer. This is the Empire Strikes Back of our generation. Take everything about Batman Begins and turn the dial to the max. The movie is so great because it strives to be more than just another comic book movie. This film works as a crime-drama and a James Bond-style action adventure. Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is spot on, giving us the most accurate cinematic version of the Clown Prince of Crime yet realized. Aaron Eckhart really turns heads as the brave district attorney, Harvey Dent.

Remember, the summer isn't over yet! Pineapple Express hits theaters on August 4th and Tropic Thunder opens August 15th. This has definitely been one of the strongest summer film seasons of recent memory. It's a good time to be a geek.
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Mirrors - Movie Spoof

I once had great hopes for Alexandra Aja. And then I saw Haute Tension. I wasn't too thrilled with the Hills Have Eyes remake, and I'm not really feeling this latest effort, starring our good friend Jack Bauer. Sorry to say, but Kiefer Sutherland has outstayed his mainstream welcome. Just my opinion, but I'm tired of reading about Hollywood's drunken antics. It doesn't help that I know more than a handful of hopeless post-college chicks that seem to swoon over the guy. I just don't get the appeal.

"An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil, malevolent force in this remake of a sequel of an imported Korean film based on a novel inspired by true events influenced by Celine Dion! Kiefer Sutherland demonstrates his dynamic range as an actor in the role of Zack Cowar, a former law enforcement official. When Zack has several drinks too many, his wife kicks him out on his ass. Zack irresponsibly gets behind the wheel of his car, and a casual glace into the rearview mirror unleashes an ancient evil. Looking into the mirror, Zack groggily realizes that his reflection is looking back at him! Using the rearview mirror as a gateway, this evil doppelganger possesses Zack, causing him to go out on an all night bender including an eight ball of cocaine, several transgendered prostitutes, and a hamster named Huey. Having been picked up by the police, Zack wakes up the next morning in the drunk tank to find the evil entity has left him. He's brought up on charges of a DUI, but since he's freakin' Kiefer Sutherland the police believe him about the ancient evil and he's released with a slap on the wrist. Come this August, all this excitement and more can be yours at your local theater. Go see Rearview Mirrors- 'You'll Never Look Back!'"

Coming Soon - August 2008
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Evil Dead 4 On The Way! (Sort of)

So the biggest piece of news to come out of Comic Con 2008, in my opinion, is one that didn't get a whole lot of news coverage. I didn't see any reports on this until days after the event had ended. Sam Raimi, director of the Evil Dead and Spider Man trilogies, was at Comic Con doing a panel for his upcoming horror movie, Drag Me to Hell. It was at this panel that Raimi said the following:

“I love working with Bruce Campbell and he’s like Allison [Lohman, star of Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell]. He’s super willing to do anything to make it right. He’s a very funny guy, but mostly he’s got this quality where he will physically do anything to get the shot done right, so I would love to work with Bruce again because I’d love to test those limits. I’d love to make another Evil Dead picture. And actually that’s in the wheelhouse. I’d like to work on it with my brother Ivan [Raimi] when he comes up next week.“

So, that's not exactly a firm statement saying Evil Dead 4 (or Army of Darkness 2, depending I guess) is coming our way in 2011, but it's the best piece of news I've heard from the Raimi camp since saying the Evil Dead remake was put on hold. I needs me some more chainsaw wielding, quip spewing, boomstick shooting Bruce Campbell in my life. I just hope that we see this one before Spider Man 4, that's all I'm asking.
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Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer - Movie Preview & Trailer

I'm stupid excited for Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. It looks like it takes some of the best parts of The Evil Dead, mixes it up with some cool practical make up effects, and then gives us Robert Englund transforming into a big gooey monster. Really, what more can you ask for from a mere piece of celluloid? In a feature new to the Geek website, I present the trailer in embedded format below!

If any one hears of this doing a run in the New York/Boston area, you best let me know. Current showings are all in Canada. Grumble.
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Saw X: Movie Sequel Spoof

I went to go see "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" over the weekend and there was a preview for Saw V. At the rate they keep pumping these flicks out, I just couldn't resist predicting the inevitable "In Space!" installment. Enjoy.

"First he chained Westley up in a dank bathroom. Then he locked a bunch of people in a house. Then he died. Then he had an apprentice. Then she died. Then the movies just wouldn't stop. Now years later, Jigsaw's latest game is beginning to unfold. Dr. James Armstrong aboard the International Space Station finds himself an unwilling participant in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. Losing isn't an option for this headstrong, living large doctor. And he better not lose because the life of his wife also hangs in the balance. And his daughter. And his first cousin, Sam. And his parakeet, Sweety. And that other guy introduced in the third act. The action and chills will come so fast and furious you won't even have time to wonder how a dead killer from ten years ago was able to set up traps on a space station that isn't even done being built yet! Marvel at the intricacy of the latest ridiculous methods of torture and death! Be numb at the sheer amounts of blood and gore! Just be sure to be in theaters this October for Saw X. Remember, in space only HE can hear you scream... FOR MERCY."

Coming Soon - October 2013

Like it? Leave a comment.
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Diary of the Dead: Movie Review

It would not be hyperbole to say that George Romero created the modern zombie movie genre. With his groundbreaking first film, Night of the Living Dead, George Romero created an idea whose light still flickers in our collective imaginations. The movie deals not only with reanimated flesh eating ghouls, but also with gender roles and racism. Not content to simply dream up an idea and turn it loose on the world, Romero refined and polished his vision in the original sequel, Dawn of the Dead, offering up a scathing condemnation of our American consumption society.

And most people think zombie films are about blood and brains.

Diary of the Dead
is a low budget, return to roots project for George Romero. In this film he chronicles the beginning of a zombie apocalypse, similar in timing with the original "Night" film. The events have been brought up to date, taking place in a thoroughly modern world that includes hand held video cameras, blogging, and the internet. In Diary of the Dead Romero sets out to ask the question of how far has our society really come since 1968? For all of our technological advances, how different are we as a species?

Unfortunately, in three short paragraphs, I've managed to ask that question more eloquently than Romero does in the film itself. The biggest problem is that the film wears its low budget on its sleeves. The cinematography is okay, the story is simple but effective, but the script and the acting leave a lot to be desired.

The movie takes place in a first person perspective, similar to the Blair Witch Project or the more recent Cloverfield. Like those movies, the main character is some smarmy twat who, for whatever reason, won't put the camera down regardless of the circumstances. This usually isn't a big problem for me in these types of films, some suspension of disbelief is necessary in all films after all, but the execution of it in Diary left me cold. The characters are constantly reminding us that Jason, the main character, is still filming. They ask why but Jason never responds. In the first 12 minutes the fact that he is filming is directly referenced three times. This is the type of question best left to nitpicky audience members, not characters in the film. When a character blatantly asks this question, everyone watching the movie suddenly thinks "Yeah! Why is he still filming?" So much for suspension of disbelief.

Another example of this occurs in the opening moments of the film. A girl, whom I will now refer to as Exposition Jill, introduces herself, gives us some background about the zombie invasion, and then lets us know she's edited together the footage we're about to watch. Exposition Jill goes on to tell us about the guy filming the rest of the film. His name is Jason Creed. This guy is filming this documentary, "The Death of Death," so that we will know the truth. Hooray. Filmmaker cliché number one and we're less than five minutes in. Then, to top this little sequence off, Jill tells us she's added music to some of the footage. She's added music to scare us. I'm not paraphrasing. She says she deliberately added the music to scare us. To make us care about THE TRUTH (TM).

Come on, George. We're not idiots. No one was going to say, "Hey, if this is supposed to be a documentary, where did the music come from?" Most people would happily explain it away to themselves as someone found the footage and doctored it up. No clunky expositional character required. The type of nitpicky person you're trying to address with this explanation doesn't deserve to be recognized. If someone is nitpicky enough to ask that question, hopefully everyone else in the room would tell them to shut up and just watch the movie. Instead, by addressing this issue head-on, the movie comes off as pompous and self-serving. Sorry George, but recognizing and calling attention to a gaping hole in the way you've chosen to present your story does not excuse said gaping hole.


P.S. 15 Minutes in and someone just mentioned Jason is still filming again. Awesome. I'm going to stop counting now.

Okay, nitpicking aside, this isn't a bad movie. I definitely think the script could have used some tightening up, if only to avoid the issues listed above. The acting is on par for a low budget film, but no one is going to win any awards. The makeup zombie effects are fun and effective and Romero shows a real love for the genre he helped create. There's a few real creative zombie dispatchings that were a welcome addition to the standard issue brain splattering head shots. One zombie gets bashed over the head with hydrochloric acid and we watch him stumble around as his skull dissolves. Another zombie gets lobotomized with an IV stand. A deaf Amish dude impales his own head with a sickle to off both himself and the zombie attacking him from behind.

That's a new one on me.

And then, 26 minutes in, Douchey McTardathon's camera runs out of battery and he separates from the group to plug it in. Yeah.


Moments of brilliance and moments of ridiculousness. A very unbalanced experience.

So from here, more stuff happens. There's a fairly drawn out sequence with some paramilitary types that always seem to grace flicks in this genre. Some of what happens is pretty cool, some of it isn't. The film's message about our dependence on the media and technology is scathing in typical Romero fashion. The heavy handed commentary about our YouTube society, a society that would rather watch itself fall apart for entertainment value rather then lend a hand to help, will bludgeon you over the head like a sledgehammer. This is a stark contrast to the subtlety evident in Romero's earlier works. The points made are perfectly valid and thought provoking, but this is a case of a film suffering for its message.

Oh, and yes. Like always, in the end, we're the real monsters.

The Bottomline: The good outweighs the bad, but you'll want to turn your brain off to get the most out of the film. Not a good sign for a film trying to deliver a social commentary. If you like Romero and have been jonesing for a zombie fix in the post-Land of the Dead world, you're likely to enjoy it. Lord knows you'll never see a big budget, studio produced Romero flick again, so take what you can get I say. Two Bruces.

Seen this movie? Got a question? Disagree with the Geek? Leave a comment below!
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Hellboy: Movie Review

The modern comic movie adaptation fan has clearly been spoiled by the excellent Iron Man from Marvel Studios and the Batman Begins franchise reboot from Warner. Back in 2004 when Hellboy hit the silver screen the best efforts we had seen so far were Spider-Man two years previous, X2: X-Men United, and Spider-Man 2 that very same summer. While there was precedent for good comic adaptions, Hellboy was by no means a sure fire hit.

You'll be glad Revolutionary Studios took a chance on this property. At first glace, a big, bright red demon smoking cigars and cracking wise doesn't look like a recipe for success. There was a real chance that, in the wrong hands, the artistic visual style of the comic books could seriously hamper any serious attempts to adapt the character for a mainstream audience. The studio was right to take on the still budding director Guillmero del Toro to work on the film. As a filmmaker, del Toro has never shied away from the fantastic. Years after Hellboy, he would come into his own with the visually impressive and thought provoking Pan's Labyrinth. At this time, del Toro still had something to prove.

By taking one look at Hellboy, you can really feel del Toro's visual style just beginning to take shape and pop off of the celluloid. His eagerness to embrace special effects, both practical and computer generated, does the realization of Mike Mignolia's Hellboy universe a great justice. Although del Toro is clearly just gaining his footing in this film, and he definitely feels reigned in by studio suits at some points, you never doubt his energy and enthusiasm for the material.

Enough pre-review swooning. Onto the film. Hellboy is a fun-filled, action-oriented experience. The special effects are all well done and the practical makeup effects used to bring the life the titular character are top notch. As good as the makeup is, Hellboy would be nothing without the actor beneath the latex, and Ron Perlman delivers in spades. His ability to act from beneath a full facial appliance is a true testament to this unsung Hollywood hero's abilities. Hellboy himself is a fun character, with a lot of personality. His bright red skin jumps off the screen, but his cigar chomping, wise cracking, bullish attitude is what makes him memorable.

Doug Jones does a wonderful job as the the man inside the Abe Sapien makeup, delivering a performance just this side of Andy Serkis. His voice acting by David Hyde Pierce is top notch. The necessary babe and love interest, provided by Selma Blair as the firestarter Liz Sherman, is suitable hot both literally and figurtively. John Hurt plays Hellboy's adopted father and doesn't miss a single sentimental beat. As far as acting goes, there isn't much here to complain about.

The script, on the other hand, is a bit lacking. The Lovecraftian themes are definitely welcome. More stories involving the elder gods and the chaotic hells they may bring upon the earth are needed in films. It's a story line not yet mined for all it's worth, so some credit for being original is definitely due. However, some of the scripting and dialogue is just clunky and overly expositional. Too much of Hellboy's world is explained to us rather than letting us experience it. The biggest sin the movie makes is the inclusion of the main human or "normal" character, John Myers. Rupert Evans does a commendable job with the material he's given, but it just isn't enough to stop the character from feeling like a studio note. It's almost imaginable that some studio suit somewhere couldn't justify letting del Toro make a movie about a bunch of freaks. The charatcer of John Myers is there to provide the audience with a "normal" character they can identify with, and so that the audience can be introduced to the world with a suitable anchor to reality. Basically, it feels like a big cop-out.

Luckily, despite some clunkiness, the movie is driven by a collection of imaginative, particularly nasty villains. The lead amongst them is Rasputin, as realized by Karel Roden. He and his mistress are suitable masterminds for the proceedings, but it's their company that's far more interesting. The walking, mechanical nightmare that is Karl Ruprecht Kroenen is a sight to behold, particularly with his Vader-like breathing aparatus removed. A cooler henchman hasn't been seen in cinema in many years. Sammael, the hound of resurrection, is a fun creature-creation, although the costume does look a bit rubbery in some scenes.

The plot of the film deals with Rasputin trying to bring about the end of the world by allowing the elder gods entry into our world. Hellboy himself is central to this plot, being the demon son of the ultimate evil. Having been raised by men to know the trials and tribulations of our world, he will be left with a choice. Will Hellboy fulfill his destiny and bring about the end times or will he rise above and fight for the salvation of mankind?

The Bottomline: Hellboy is a good comic movie, made in a time when good comic book movies were still a rarity. If you're willing to accept some cheese and a few pieces of clunky exposition, you are unlikely to be disappointed. Three Bruces.

Seen this movie? Got a question? Disagree with the Geek? Leave a comment below!
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The X-Files: I Want to Believe

I'm scared this movie will be bad.

I will see it anyway.
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The Marvel Movie Universe

Thank you, Marvel Studios. Thank you from the bottom of my geeky heart. Not only did they bring us one mega-blockbuster by way of the impressive Iron Man adaptation, but they managed to pull out the stops a second time with the very good Incredible Hulk reboot. Both movies were well acted, well scripted, and well directed. I thank Marvel Studios because they have the good sense to respect their properties and bring well thought out, faithful renditions to the silver screen.

This last point is one that has always boggled my mind. Movie companies pay good money for the rights to make films based on established intellectual properties. Comic books are some of the most established properties available. Usually the characters are long standing and well developed, the property comes with a built in audience, and there's a million story arcs that have already been written to choose from. And somehow, despite having shelled out the money for the rights to this huge, rich back history, studios choose to ignore the canon, make it their own, and alienate fans.

So going back to the thank you. Marvel Studios has begun piecing together the ultimate in fanboy geekiness. It began with Iron Man and was expanded upon in The Incredible Hulk. It will no doubt be of huge importance in the upcoming Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers movies. I speak, of course, of the Marvel Movie Universe. At long last, we have a series of movies starring our favorite comic book characters existing alongside one another within the same, cohesive world. Tony Stark and Bruce Banner exist together, they may hear of one another's exploits, catch glimpses of each other on the news, maybe even meet up in a future installment.

It warms my heart.

This is such a no-brainer idea that I'm almost outraged that no one has capitalized on this until now. Across the various Marvel Comics titles, it has long been established that the various characters are all part of the same, larger world. Sure, such an undertaking might have involved a little extra scripting and few cameos here and there, but think of the sequel and cross-franchise potential. I can only imagine that some short-sighted Hollywood Big Wig felt that such an undertaking was too large and too costly for some lowly superhero flicks.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that Hollywood hasn't churned out afew good superhero films. Both X-Men 2 and Spiderman 2 were great films. The distinction is we finally have a major player on the scene who is looking to expand and improve upon the conventions of the genre. You know, real progress. To my knowledge, a consistent world across several different movie series has never been realized before. This is a first for cinema. I applaud Marvel Studios for taking the leap and making history.

P.S. I added Waldo of "Where's" fame into that picture above. If you find him, congrats. You have no life.

Agree with the Geek? Comment below!
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Movie Marketing: Yer Doin' It Wrong

Fresh off my first two entries into my Movie Mash series, I thought I'd take a moment to further consider both of the movies covered therein. In particular, I'd like to address unfortunate trends in movie marketing.

The trailers for both The Incredible Hulk and The Happening have been all over TV for the last two to three weeks, heavily pushing the return of two entertainment industry heavy weights. In the green corner, we have the fighter in the purple trunks, Bruce Banner; a.k.a. The Hulk! In the dark and brooding corner we have the apocalypse itself, with a poorly directed Mark Wahlberg offering perspective and encouragement from the apron.

The Incredible Hulk has done a good job of making me anticipate the return voyage of the green giant. The first teasers didn't spark my interest, but the more I saw of the movie, and the more I saw the Hulk in action, the more I wanted to see the movie. Unfortunately, while my own experience shows that this method of marketing may have been necessary to sell the movie to its target audience, I believe it will come at the cost of my enjoyment on opening night.

I guarantee you that the first Hulk transformation will happen off screen. For the first half hour, if the Hulk is present, he will be largely in shadows. The second time Banner transforms, we will only see part of the process, a large amount obscured through creative editing. It won't be until the final act of the film that we see the full blown transformation in all of its bone crushing, muscle tearing glory. The slow build to seeing the visual spectacle that is the Hulk is tarnished by trailers that reveal too much. It's just like a trailer for some second rate comedy that shows every last funny bit in the film (Curse you, Ben Stiller). Disappointing, to say the least.

On the flip side of this issue we have the trailers for The Happening which reveal absolutely nothing about the film except that people are going nuts and the world is apparently ending. This does not bother me. Half the joy of M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong's films is going into them ignorant of what they're *actually* about (See my previous article detailing my Signs' experience) and discovering the film's true message as the story unfolds.

No, my problem with The Happening's trailer is that the film is being marketed as Shama-lama's "very first 'R' rated film." Now as many of you may know if you frequent my site, I usually detest PG-13 horror. There's no reason for it, it waters down the experience, and detracts from the spirit of the genre. While M. Night's work can largely be classified as scifi or horror, I don't traditionally think of him as working within the boundries of the genre. His films have always include intense situations, but never graphic depictions of sex or violence. This is because the stories he told did not require these contrivences. The stories and characters worked based on their own merits. I'm worried that this 'R' rating is the manufactured idea of some big wig Hollywood producer who thought using the rating to try to appeal to a more mature crowd would increase the film's chance of financial success. In reality, what the rating does is restrict the film's potential audience to those 17 and above, thereby lessening the potential of what ought to be a mainstream movie.

So two movies with trailers that take opposite approaches to selling their product. I find the M. Night Shama-Lama approach tends to make for a more intriguing experience, especially once I'm actually in the theater, but I don't deny that watching the Hulk kick the crap out of Abomination makes me wet in ways a male shouldn't be. Now I'm all sticky. Geek out.

Agree/Disagree with the Geek? Comment below!
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The Happening: Movie Mash

Opening this Friday along with the aforementioned Incredible Hulk universe reboot is the latest film from the once-critical darling M. Night Shama-lama-ding-dong (Shyamalan). After scaring us with The Sixth Sense, making us fan boys geek-out with Unbreakable, and- uh- pissing us all off with The Village, what the hell happened to this guy's career? I can remember a time, slightly before Signs hit the theaters, where people were ranting and raving about Shama-lama's films and how he was destined to be the next Hitchcock.

Then Signs hit, and was almost universally panned. The Village, a sure-fire come-back hit, flopped miserably. Lady in the Water, well, no one saw Lady in the Water. Before I go any further, let me assure you this isn't just going to be an article bashing M. Night's work. I've thoroughly enjoyed all of his films. I'll admit that Unbreakable and Lady in the Water were the only ones that I've watched more than once, but that doesn't change my appreciation for all of his individual projects.

So, now that we've established this article as not being another circle-flaming piece of troll bait, let me seriously reiterate the following question: What the hell happened to this guy's career? For my money, I view his work as well worth the price of admission. I may not care for the actors (Osmond), or I may see the twist coming a mile away (looking at you, Village), but I can confess to never looking at my watch during my first sit through of any of Night's films. That's saying something.

So where did he lose the audience? Where did he lose the critics? The guy's become a laughing stock, an apple fallen very far from the proverbial tree. The way folks are talking, The Happening may be the last film Shama-Lama is able to write and direct and secure funding for. Ever.

The biggest complaints I've heard is over-simplified stories; emotionless, unpenetrable lead characters; heavy handed message delivery and storytelling; and a general air of pretentiousness. I don't really get that last one. Sure, in his interviews, the guy sounds like every movie he makes is going to be the next big thing, but isn't that the kind of passion you want from a person creating something? I have never felt as though a character in one of his films was talking down to me or scolding me for holding traditional, contemporary values. Not even in The Village which was all about a society of people shunning modern life. It's a complaint that just doesn't ring true to me.

I think the real problem people have is that M. Night Shymalan's films are intellectual. Well, to a point anyway. They are not filled with standard Hollywood bump-in-the-night-scares or a thousand-explosions-a-minute-action. They require some thinking to get the most out of the story. Case and point: Signs.

When I went to see Signs (starring Mel Gibson, still hiding the crazy) in the theater, a group of teenage males sat behind me. The lights went down and I was treated to the story of a troubled minister, thrown into a world turned upside down, confronting his own self doubts and regaining his faith in God. The lights came up and the teenagers said "Where the hell were all the aliens? This sucked." They hadn't even remotely seen the same movie I had. Sure, they sat and watched the same visuals up on the screen and heard all the same dialogue, but they just weren't watching the same movie.

Anyway, I'm not trying to blow magic happy smoke up Shammy's ass either. I'll admit that he's never hit quite the same stride he did with his first movie out the gate. But really, movies like The Sixth Sense only come around every so often. It's unreasonable to expect the same perfect cumulation of elements out of every successive project. Unbreakable is a far superior film that isn't so overly reliant on what amounts to nothing more than a gimmick. Signs is a great tale of redemption. Lady in the Water is a wonderful children's bedtime story. The Village- well, fuck The Villiage, we all have our off days.

As for The Happening, if the story looks good to you, go see it. Don't get worked up about is this better than The Sixth Sense or what the stupid twist at the ends is going to be. Just go and enjoy the story. This man's career needs the vote of confidence that only our hard-earned movie dollars can provide. Love him or hate him, no one else in Hollywood is making films quite like Shymalan. I for one would like him to be able to continue.
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The Incredible Hulk: Movie Mash

Welcome to the Movie Mash- a new, regular editorial about upcoming films. Think of it as a movie preview of sorts, although the emphasis isn't necessarily on the actual content of the film. For the most part, I'll be assuming you've already heard of these movies and are looking for a more indepth discussion than who's playing what character and who's blowing what up now.


There's been a fair bit of grumbling in the movie community as of late regarding the soon-to-be released Marvel Studios film The Incredible Hulk. Months ago when the first teasers began to appear online, many comic book enthusiasts turned to one another and deemed this film worthy of the dreaded, collective 'meh'. Interest just didn't seem to be there this time around. Since then, some extended trailers have appeared online and, ever so slowly, some of the most jaded geeks have started warming up to the green giant's second contemporary movie outing.

But why is this movie having such a hard time gaining acceptance? Why was this franchise judged a cold turkey post the 2003 film, Hulk? The Hulk himself is a fun character, one that many people can relate to on some primal, emotional level. Out of the many comic book characters, Hulk is one of the few whom has remained relevant in modern times. With levels of repressed anger and stress at an all time high, it ought to be easy for movie going audiences to connect to the on going plight of the unfortunate Bruce Banner.

I'll be the first to admit that the Ang Lee Hulk project wasn't everything it could have been. This geek is not afraid to admit, however, that overall I didn't find Hulk to be an unsatisfactory film. In fact, I think they did a lot of things right. The cinematography, utilizing bright colors and split panels, was a delight to behold, emulating a comic book come to life. The Hulk himself was a fun, if obviously CGI heavy creation. Some of the action sequences were suitably larger than life and Eric Bana gave an appropriate, introverted performance. On the other hand, the plot line concerning Banner's father and the film's climax was ridiculous and ungrounded. And lets not forget the giant, mutant hulk-dogs he had to fight. Seriously. Who thought that was a good idea?

I think a lot of people are put off by just how recently the last Hulk film was released. That film is still fresh in many people's minds. There is a bit of a stigma surrounding the new film as many people are viewing it as a remake of sorts. I'd like to offer a differing opinion. I don't feel as thought this project is a remake in the true sense of the word. Every once in awhile in the comic book world, a story arc comes along that's refered to as a 'One Shot'. Usually these one shots are a particular writer's take on a character or a specific event. They're fun, self-contained stories but are not considered part of canon. The 2003 Hulk film was simply Ang Lee's one shot with the character. Marvel Studios isn't remaking the film, they're simply acknowledging that Ang Lee's version isn't part of the official canon and are offering up their own vision that is.

Look for more opinions on the Marvel Studios film universe next week. Also, Cloverfield: Movie Review - Part 2 is coming soon!
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Cloverfield: Movie Review - Part One

Behold, the long belated Cloverfield full movie review is upon you. Sorta. The review, turns out, is running rather long given the length of my discussion prior to even talking about the movie proper. As such, I'm posting this which is essentially a pre-review article. Or think of it as the Cloverfield Movie Review - Part One.

For those of you living under a rock, Cloverfield was the event movie of 2008. Ever since the trailer premiered in front of Transformers the summer before, the internet was abuzz about this untitled project due out on 1-18-08. Rumors ran rampant that the next American Godzilla movie was coming, while others swore that Voltron was finally getting the modern treatment it deserved. Still others thought that a character in the trailer had exclaimed "It's a lion!" and appropriate giant animal theories were abound. My personal hope was that a Cthulu movie was finally upon us.

Turns out everyone was wrong.

Clover was what we got. And just what is Clover? Outside of the best damn original monster design to come along in fifteen years, damned if I know. It's not a mutated fish or a giant bird. It's not a dinosaur and its certainly not some overgrown iguana (looking at you, GINO). Clover is simply amazing.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. What about Cloverfield, the film? Most of you are probably aware of the film in some way or another, even if you have no interest in the kaiju genre. If nothing else, you're probably aware that the film was recorded on home video cameras and is presented in a first person perspective. This is a technique that can be quite divisive, usually you either love it or you hate it. If you are especially prone to motion sickness, this movie might not be best viewed on a full stomach. I myself have no objections to the use of the perspective, although it does lead to a few logic errors I'll discuss more later on.

For this review I'm going to do my best to separate out Cloverfield the movie from Cloverfield the experience. You have to understand that Cloverfield was no doubt an event picture. The lead up to the movie had astronomical levels of hype attached to it. Amazing in the modern internet age, the monster design was kept a secret all the way up to opening weekend screenings. I myself was sucked into the hype machine, attended opening weekend, and was blown away by the roller coaster ride that followed. Now, four months later, I'm curious to see if my extreme positive reaction was a result of viewing a phenomenal movie or if I was just buying into the hype.

Stay tuned for Cloverfield: Movie Review- Part 2!
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Cloverfield on DVD!

Just a heads up that today is April 22, which is NEW DVD TUESDAY! This isn't any old regular New DVD Tuesday either, because today is the day that Cloverfield hits the shelves. If you didn't get the chance to see this one in the theaters, now is your chance. I imagine the camera work will be a little less nausea inducing on the small screen, so don't let that hold you back!

Cloverfield was definitely an 'experience movie,' so if you missed out on it before you may not see the big deal now. You really needed to see it with an audience to fully appreciate the roller coaster. Regardless of that, I think Cloverfield will hold its own as simply an enjoyable film. Yes, you need to have the ability to suspend disbelief as the characters do some pretty unbelievable things, but you'll be well rewarded. There hasn't been a more enjoyable monster mash in theaters since... well, I'm not sure I can even come up with the last one. Jurassic Park? Maybe? (The Host doesn't count as it didn't play within 100 miles of me.)

Anyway, go out and buy/rent Cloverfield now! Hardcore monster fans will either love it or hate it, but you owe it to yourself to at least watch it once. My full review will be coming within a few days, I suspect.

Credit to IGN.Com for the DVD Box Art
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Worst Case Scenario

Edit: Special thanks to NintendoMan for tracking down the identity of the unknown artist. The artist is Travis Pitts and you can find more of his work at http://zom-bot.com/!

I'm warning you now, this post isn't strictly movie related. It is, however, highly relevant to my interests. Allow me to paint the scene for you. There I was late one night, browsing several dubious alleyways on the world wide webzors. Despite being in a bad part of town, I was minding my own business, trying not to look out of place. And that was when it found me. Helpless and alone, it descended upon me with a fury unknown to those who have not survived it. I speak, of course, of gaining a glimpse of the following picture.

Wait- before I show you, I think you need adequate prep, dear reader. You must be aware of the awesomeness that is about to forcibly penetrate your retinas. Only then may you hope to survive with some small amount of your eye sight left intact. Without further ado, I give to you 'Worst Case Scenario.'

That title is what the file was saved as. The actual title of the work, I do not know. I also humbly do not know the identity of the insanely awesome artist whom has rendered the greatest piece of art post Da Vinci's Last Supper. If anyone out there knows, please drop me a line so I may give the artist proper credit.

Let's dissect this bad boy for a moment. My eyes are naturally drawn to the large, imposing dinosaur in the image's foreground. I suspect this is largely owing to that fact that I was once a 12 year old boy. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a Velociraptor or a Baby T-Rex, but either way he is as menacing as a cracked out Hamburgler at Mayor McCheese's inauguration ceremony. The topper, of course, is that this is not just any sort of dinosaur wrecking havoc freely in a city, no. No, this carnivorous rapscallion is a mount. His rider? DRACULA.

I wish I could say the awesomeness ends here, but it doesn't. We're just beginning. This Dinosaur-General Dracula not only commands the velociraptor upon which he is perched, oh no. He is also commander-in-chief of a massive invading undead zombie horde. If you thought mindless zombies were bad, wait till you see them under the ruthless command of The Count.

The invading armies do not end here. You, of course, have already noticed the UFO's raining chaos and destruction down upon the hapless city by way of their awesome death rays. Providing further air support are the darkened silhouettes of countless pterodactyles, which one must envision swooping down upon the clueless city dwellers, whom are no doubt rushing blindly into the streets as the aliens take down building after building with their advanced weapons technology. If you look carefully you'll see that the pterodactyles have not been merely mindlessly unleashed. They are, in fact, mounts themselves. At first I thought that perhaps Commander Dracula had outfited these flying death machines with members of his zombie horde, but closer inspection reveals the presence of capes, no doubt implying that these flying riders of doom are in fact vampires!

Congratulations, nameless artist. I have no idea if your title for this work was originally intended to be 'Worst Case Scenario' but truly this has been realized. I've seen a lot of really bad movies. I've envisioned countless more bad movies that I wish would be made. None of the scenarios in my wildest dreams have ever even approached this awesome vision of unholy destruction.

God bless Dinosaur-Commander Dracula and his invading hordes.
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The Sad State of Horror

This last weekend brought both joy and horror to the North American Box Office for us horror fans. On the one hand, a berated genre film overcame the odds and triumphed at the box office, coming at number one over some fairly stiff opposition. On the other hand, this mainstream triumph is a piece of shit film that no genre fan would actually want to see. Unfortunately, it's untimely success may have far reaching consequences.

The movie I speak of is Prom Night, the neutered, PG-13 bastard remake of the 1980 Jamie Lee Curtis classic. Its first weekend managed to pull in a fairly impressice $20.8 million dollar haul, opening against the high expectations cop-thriller Street Kings which came in second with a paltry $12 million. This is a wonderful success for the genre, one that I would hate to belittle, but-

Well, I have to.

Seriously, America? This? Prom Night? You choose this steaming piece of shit as the shining example of genre film to place on a pedestal, for all films for the next year and a half to emulate?

Sorry. Let me calm down for a moment.

Nope, still angry.

Okay. I think that's got it.

Seriously? This is the type of horror that you want to see? The problem with the success of this movie is that Hollywood executives across the city saw the numbers and developed instant profit-induced boners. Each and every one of those asshole now thinks that shot on the cheap, shitty remakes is what Joe-public wants to see. Awesome. So next year when I'm watching PG-13 versions of the Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, and Friday the 13th remakes, I'll know who to blame.

All of you*.

I have a deep rooted dislike for PG-13 horror movies, especially when they're remakes of R-rated ones. True, if those classic originals were to be released today, they'd likely have lower ratings, perhaps even PG-13. The rating system has adapted over time, and more things are deemed acceptable by today's standards. I'm okay with that. My problem is that these remakes that opt for the audience friendly PG-13 rating aren't staying true to the spirit of the original.

The original films were rated R because, for their time, they pushed the envelope. The movies are great because they made people uncomfortable. That's the point of horror films. You're supposed to be scared. You're supposed to be on edge. You're supposed to be dreading what comes next. Your dread, your fear, your excitement compels you to continue watching, to see how it ends. These classic films are classics because they challenged the standards of the day, they showed you images that you couldn't believe they would show you. This is the reason why these films are still remembered. You can't water down the experience and expect the same societal and pop cultural reaction.

My problem with these PG-13 remakes is they settle for appeasing the status quo. They don't challenge the audience. If regular horror is incapable of being high art (a view I also disagree with), then these films are simply epic failures of the form.

You fail, Prom Night. You fail.

*And by you, I don't mean *you*, gentle reader. I mean mainstream America. Thanks a lot, guys.
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RIP Charlton Heston Is Legend

One-time god of geek cinema, Charlton Heston, has passed away. Between Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, and Soylent Green, Heston will always be remembered as one of the greats. Rest in peace.
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30 Days of Night - Movie Review

Tonight on the chopping block is the relatively recent big-Hollywood DVD release of 30 Days of Night. The flick is one of the better mainstream offerings to come down the pipeline in awhile and is a flick that any horror fan should probably check out.

The movie covers a fantastic premise: A small group of bestial vampires descend upon a small town in Alaska where the sun sets, not rising again for 30 days. The vampires have the free run of the small town population, able to feed at will without the need to worry or hide from the sun. The movie follows a group of survivors trying to outlast the night.

For a Hollywood movie the level of brutality on display here is simply amazing. These aren't your grandmother's Bela Lugosi vampires. These are bestial, ravenous, guttural beasts of the night. They're not going to just drink your blood, they're going to rip you limb from limb and leave you screaming. Over the course of the film we see several beheading, the slaughtering of dogs, and a brutal ax-delivered death of a little girl turned vampire. The level of gore isn't going to impress hardcore indy gore-hounds, but for a wide release movie, you couldn't possibly expect anymore.

The next thing I noticed watching the film was the cinematography, which at times was simply gorgeous. Some of the scenery looks like a living painting, a look no doubt intentional due to the comic book origins of the material. The use of CGI enhancement gives an otherworldly quality to the material, making it jump off the celluloid. I've included an example of this below, but you really need to see the pictures in motion to get the full effect.

Okay, so enough praising. The movie isn't perfect and I don't want you to read this thinking it is. The acting can be a bit rough at times, especially from lead male Josh Hartnett. I understand they were trying to portray a multidimensional lead character but he just comes across as effeminate. The film definitely would have benefited from an actor capable of injecting a bit of testosterone into the proceedings from time to time, especially during the climatic fight scene. As is, the climatic battle between Josh Hartnett and the leader of the vampire pack comes off as sad and pathetic, a far cry from the epic battle you can tell the filmmakers were going for. Having the worst piece of laugh-inducing special effects in the movie cap off this fight didn't help much either.

There's also a serious problem with time progression in this film. At times, they simply throw a subtitle up on the screen indicating how many days are left before the sun rises. The movie skips from Day 1 to Day 9 to Day 29, or something like that. When this happens the scene breaks feel forced. They don't flow naturally, and they decrease suspense.

The Bottomline: 30 Days of Night is an impressive first offering from Ghost House Productions. This level of horror should be consistently seen in theaters across America. The film isn't perfect, but it's a lot of fun and, hey, it beats watching another J-horror remake (looking at you, Shutter). 2 Bruces.

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Doomsday - Movie Preview

Now I realize this movie is being pretty much universally crapped upon right now, and adding my two cents doesn't really add anything to the proceedings, but here goes anyways. Doomsday, the follow up from "The Descent" director Neil Marshall, doesn't look especially good.

"But, Geek!" you exclaim, "Surely you can find it in your heart to adore a post-apocalyptic movie featuring a deadly virus, a hot assassin chick in form fitting clothes, fast car chases, and futuristic clown-punk warriors?"

Sorry to say, in my heart of hearts, there is no love lost for this premise. Maybe I love Mad Max and Escape from New York too much to let another post-apocalyptic action flick into my heart. Maybe I thought the pinnacle of the hot assassin chicks in tight clothes sub-genre was Underworld or Resident Evil. Maybe I just never cared much for car chases or futuristic clown-punk warriors. And maybe putting all these things in a blender along with a story about a viral epidemic just feels cluttered and uninspired to me.

Another problem I have with Doomsday is that the heroine, played by Rhona Mitra, doesn't convince me as being especially sexy or a deadly fighter. The biggest problem is that the two series I listed as being the peak of this hot fighting chick genre, Underworld and Resident Evil, weren't especially good themselves. To be honest for a moment, I down right hated Underworld and was only mildly entertained by the sequel. Need further proof that Rhona Mitra is only a half-rate replacement for Kate Beckinsale? Underworld III- Beckinsale has (wisely) moved on from the franchise and who did they get to play the main character? The prosecution rests.

Now don't get me wrong, I have previously enjoyed the work of Neil Marshall. I will admit that when I heard the premise for Dog Soldiers I just about shit myself with laughter. The subsequent viewing of the film revealed a story put together with more love and fine-crafting than it probably deserved. The follow up effort, The Descent, also didn't sound like much on paper but proved to be an excellent, if somewhat overly dark (literally), film. Maybe my impressions of Doomsday are off the mark. Maybe this is a great little flick, destined to be a gem hidden in the rough.

I figure I owe it to Marshall to give him the benefit of the doubt and check the flick out. I've been somewhat cautious in approaching all of his films and have ended up pleasantly surprised with each. Who knows, maybe if I quit my bitching for long enough I'll even enjoy this one too. Maybe if we all just calm down we could all just enjoy a silly little movie starring throngs of punk-clown warriors.

Man, did my opinion just pull a '180' or what? I'm starting to feel all gooey inside. I think I'd better check myself for a fever.

P.S. Diary of the Dead moved into a wider release this last weekend. It previously wasn't playing withing 100 miles of my location but is now playing in several larger cities. Check out your local listings, you might just get lucky too!
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Shutter - Movie Spoof

I usually make a poster and do a plot synopsis for a fake sequel when I do these movie spoofs of crappy films. I only went half way on this one, mostly because if the studios are going to half ass these films, I figure I should return the favor.

"Shudder- It's what you'll do the entire time you watch."

See what I did with the title there? Let's hear it for homonyms, baby!
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Automaton Transfusion - Movie Review

Automaton Transfusion is an independent, extremely low-budget massive-scale zombie flick recently released on DVD. The hype over this film has been massive, as Bloody-Disgusting raves that "[Automaton Transfusion is] the holy grail of true independent horror films." On the flip side of the hype is a review from Dread Central that states "My brain can’t manage another moment of this Hot Topic Horror film." So which is it? Is Automaton Transfusion the greatest independent horror flick since Blair Witch or is it a steaming pile?

Unsurprisingly, the answer is somewhere in between. Much like the aforementioned Blair Witch, there is a lot of hard work and love evident in this film. The director has done a commendable job making a Hollywood worthy film on a $30,000 dollar budget. The majority of the acting is well done and the the makeup effects beat anything I saw in the theater in the last twelves months (Rambo excluded). Also much like the aforementioned Blair Witch, the movie has a million-some-odd flaws that critics will pick up on, harp upon, and tear the movie a new one over. And to be honest, the critics won't be wrong.

Automaton Transfusion is likely to suffer most from the hype surrounding it. Hard to please independent fans may judge it harshly for its perceived mainstream acceptance. This aside, Automaton Transfusion is truly one of the better independent horror films of recent memory, but that fact doesn't mean your average, theater-going, six pack Joe is going to appreciate it. The film quality is below digital, there aren't any explosions, and Jessica Alba or Sarah Michelle Gellar aren't in it. Most people are going to look at it and not see what the big deal is about. The movie is fantastic considering it was made for $30,000, but most people aren't going to know that factoid or, let's face it, care.

With all of that out in the open, I'd like to say that I found Automaton Tranfusion wickedly entertaining for the majority of its runtime. The story follows a three high school students, portrayed by actors who actually looks like they could be in high school!!!! They head out to the nearby city to see a rock concert, but when they arrive they find the city is deserted. The proverbial shit quickly hits the proverbial fan and they find themselves on the run from a massive throng of fast, intelligent zombies that have the unique ability to sniff out us living warm-bloods no matter where we hide.

The zombies, if you can call them that, were the biggest disappointment I had with the film. It's not that they aren't well realized. They are, and the majority of them have some pretty decent make up to boot. They're certainly vicious enough, rapidly descending on survivors and quickly tearing them into pieces. Mostly I'm just nostalgic for old fashioned slow-moving, overwhelm you with sheer numbers and inevitability-type zombies. I suppose I can't hold that against the film though. I did, however, have these thoughts as I watched the movie:
  • How the hell are they sniffing out where people are? Humans have a terrible sense of smell
  • Why do zombies travel in packs? Why is there never just one, wandering around by his/her lonesome self. (Side note to self: Lonesome zombies, tales of the forlorn undead. This is gold. Sell script idea immediately.)
  • How are there so many of these zombies? Everyone they kill they tear to pieces- as such, none of the victims should be getting up and joining their ranks.
  • If they're supposed to be 'intelligent zombies' why do they give up so easily? At one point, when a door comes between the zombies and the main characters, the zombies try to get in for about ten seconds before giving up and wandering back into the night. The main characters leave the house through that door no less than ten seconds later.
And so on.

With the exception of one scene of exposition near the end of the film, its pretty much wall to wall action for the 75 minute runtime. The blood runs freely although never in ways that are all that surprising or memorable. When the movie comes to a screeching halt with the words "To Be Continued" splashed up on the screen, you're likely to find yourself wanting to see more. I know I did.

The Bottomline: Automaton Transufsion is not without its plot holes and technical mishaps. It is a compentantly made film that is worth a rental for gore hounds looking for a fix. Writer/Director Steven C. Miller could be one to watch for if he ever gets his hands on a real budget. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. 3 Bruces.

P.S. I'm vaguely disappointed that the torn in half, crawling zombie on the uncensored DVD box cover is nowhere to be found in the film itself. Oh well.
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Return to House on Haunted Hill: Not a Movie Review

I rented Return to House on Haunted Hill with the intent of reviewing it on the site. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to finish the movie yet. This is not only because I'm busy, but also because I can't bring myself to spend the time to finish it. If you saw the original remake and thought the direct to video sequel might be a fun time, let me be the first to tell you it isn't. It's really not worth the rental, although it might be passable if you happen to catch it on cable. Either way, I'm not sure if a full review is coming or not. I may move on to a more deserving movie instead of bitching more about this one. Shrug. We'll have to see how the week finishes up.
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Diary of the Dead: Movie Preview

So, apparently, the next George A. Romero zombie flick, Diary of the Dead, is getting a wide theatrical release this Friday, February 15th, 2008. I'm a bit surprised because I normally have a pretty good idea of upcoming genre films and this one completely flew under the radar. I have no idea how this could have happened, especially because I'd consider myself a big, longtime fan of Romero's Dead series (Yes, including Land of the Dead. Charlie was awesome).

The only reasons I could come up with for this oversight are thus:
  • I've been really busy.
  • I haven't been watching any TV pretty much since the Writer's Strike started (although that's officially over now- yay!)
  • The advertising budget for this film must be about nil.
It's sad that the next film from one of the genre's greats is being set up to pass by relatively unnoticed by the general movie going crowd. Given the amount of buzz I've been hearing (again, about nil), if this movie breaks the Top 5 for Box Office this weekend, I'll be stoked. I certainly hope it does better business than that though, because I'd like Mr. Romero to keep making movies until he dies (and even after, if Zombie Romero can still hold a camera).

I also kind of feel like any casual movie-goer is going to dismiss Diary as a cheap Cloverfield knockoff, given the closeness in release dates and similarities in camera-style. I'd like to think that the first person film format was given a boost in the arm by Cloverfield, but so many detractors have voiced their opinions that I can't help but suspect this negative rub will mean bad things for a smaller film like Diary. I suppose the good news is that the movie was shot on a real small budget so any business at all should guarantee the film churns a profit.

If you're a horror fan, you should go see this film. I haven't seen it yet, so I can't comment on the quality of the film, but horror, real horror, needs a boost right now. Hollywood needs to be shown that old school horror is still profitable. Financial persuasion is the only way we won't be watching bad remakes of J-horror starring no-talent actresses for the next 3 years (I'm looking at you, The Eye).

And, hey, it's George Romero, so even if it sucks you know there's going to be a few good shots of zombie gore.
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The Burning: Movie Review

Today we mark our first foray into the wide wilderness that is old school horror. On the chopping block is the oft whispered about slasher flick, The Burning. There is a lot of history tied to this film, and was one of many films banned by the British Board of Film Classification in the mid-1980's. It was the first film produced by Harvey Weinstein whom would go on to create Miramax and The Weinstein Company. It starred then unknown talent Jason Alexander, Fisher Stevens, and Holly Hunter. The special effects were done by industry great Tom Savini, just following his work on the original Friday the 13th.

The film has garnered a bit of notoriety over the years, thanks to an especially brutal raft massacre scene that takes place in broad daylight. The notoriety has no doubt doubled for the simple reason that the movie has long been out of print, rarely even playing on late night TV horror fests. As such, although I've heard great things about this film, I'd never been able to view it for myself. However, thanks to Anchor Bay and the glorious technological advances afforded us by DVD, The Burning is available for consumption once more.

The film takes place at a common 80's slasher setting, a summer camp in the middle of the woods. We meet a group of young boys that wish to seek revenge against the crusty old camp caretaker, Cropsy. Okay, so the caretaker isn't that old or crusty, but I like the ring of it. At any rate, the revenge prank goes severely south and old Cropsy ends up severely burned, hence the title of the flick.

Cut to 5 years later and the horribly disfigured, shadow dwelling, trench coat wearing Cropsy is released from the hospital. We're not exactly sure why the hospital is releasing this particular patient as there appear to be some unresolved psychotic tendencies. In fact, the doctors can clearly be heard saying via voice-over "We know you still resent those kids for what happened, but try not to think about tracking them down one by one and murdering the little bastards." Okay, so that's not the line word for word, but it might as well be. At any rate, Cropsy gets out of the hospital and kills a hooker. Not exactly sure why, but hey, that's show business for ya.

Next we jump to the summer camp and get acquainted with a new group of kids, one of which is Jason Alexander (with HAIR!). Also, one of the kids responsible for burning the caretaker five years before is now a counselor at the camp. More importantly, the camp is apparently now co-ed because there is a lot of old fashioned 80's T&A on display. Cropsy quickly find his way to the camp and gets with the dispatching of these wicked, sex crazed young folk. The first set of boobs (Not the prostitute's. Go figure) make their entrance around twenty minutes into the film, concurring with the film's first red herring.

From there, we have approximatey forty more red herrings in a row. Seriously. The first death (not counting the prostitute) occurs about 45 minutes in. In this scene, we're treated to several sequences of full frontal nudity as teenage girl wanders the forest looking for her clothes which were stolen while she was skinny dipping. Whew. Do not try such long and convoluted sentences at home, kids. This sequence deserves some recognition as it contains more nudity than most other films from this era. Props.

The next thing of interest that occurs is the aforementioned raft massacre scene. A group of 6 or so kids attempting to escape via raft are cut to ribbons by the shear-wielding maniac. Again, some recognition is deserved as no other 80's slasher with a scene containing this level of unflinching brutality comes to mind. Also, the fact that this attack happens in broad daylight, with a group of character that hasn't done something stupid like split up, shows smart, inventive writing on the part of the screenwriter.

The third defining moment of this film is the climax, which consists of a fairly boring, overly-prolonged chase sequence. The reason this is a defining moment is because the character is peril is not your slasher standard teenage girl. No, there are two characters in peril and they are both male. I'm not sure if the writer was consciously avoiding genre cliches or not, as I'm not sure a strong genre formula had been established at the time this film was made. Either way, again, props.

That's not to say the movie is above criticism. The film takes too long to get to the killing. There's an abundance of day-for-night shots so you can never tell what time of day it's supposed to be in the film. Some of the kills could be call repetitive (not by me though). None of the characters are particularly likable. You only see the horribly burned caretaker for a grand total of 30 seconds. The climactic chase is boring. Etc.

All that said, if you're a gore hound or a slasher junkie, it's worth checking out. There's a lot of history, some real smart scripting, and the raft scene is something no horror fan should go without seeing (although, in retrospect, it's not all that gory). Anchor Bay has done good in resurrecting this film. I can only hope some other wayside fallen gems can get the same treatment in the future.

The Bottomline: If you're a genre fan, consider this film mandatory viewing. For casuals, you might be better served rewatching Friday the 13th. Either way, recommended. 3 Bruces.

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The Tripper: Movie Review

The Tripper is the directorial debut of David Arquette, husband of Courtney Cox, star of several fun horror b-movies movies including the Scream Trilogy and Eight Legged Freaks, and former WCW Heavy Weight Champion (really). Considering his involvement in the independent film scene I figured he'd have a good handle on how to make a fun, low budget slasher flick.

Boy was I wrong.

The movie is pretty much a train wreck from start to finish. The biggest problem turns out to be Arquette himself. I don't have many complaints about his direction. Arquette seems to do a passable job, keeping the camera moving and composing interesting shots and angles. My biggest issue is the writing.

The story surely sounds interesting. A young boy, Gus, growing up in the late 1960's has the Reagan pro-war rhetoric bombarded into his little brain until an incident involving a pack of (literally) tree hugging hippies ends with bloodshed. Cut to 40 years later and a group of drugged up hippies are heading out into the middle of nowhere to attend a Woodstock-like music festival. The young boy has grown into mentally disturbed man and the presence of all these hippies drives him over the egde. Donning a nice, pressed suit and casting a striking resemblance to the late former President, Gus takes to the woods to make those hippy bastards pay, spouting clever Reagan-esque quips along the way.

Like I said, it sounds good. I, for one, love a little socio-politcal commentary in my horror flicks from time to time. George Romero was a genius at this game. David Arquette, not so much. The first problem? None of the characters are likable. The drugged up hippies are one dimensional stereotypes in the worst possible way. They literally have no purpose in the film other than show up, do drugs, and die. All of the non-hippy characters are portrayed as deep south red neck hicks who do nothing but make life miserable for the hippies. Even the sheriff assigned to provide protection at the event doesn't believe the hippies when the shit hits the fan because he dismisses them as drugged up idiots. Simply put, there isn't a single intelligent, likable character in the movie.

The other problem I have is that the killer's motives just don't make any sense. He's clearly supposed to be a caricature of Ronald Reagan. This being the case, you would expect the character to carry some heavy ideological ideals. You know, kill with a purpose. Myself, I expected that the killer would focus on killing hippies and he'd make a point of leaving the conservatives alone. Not so. The killer is surrounded by the liberal hippies and the conservative red necks and kills each indiscriminately. In fact, he kills a rather large number of red necks around the midpoint of the film, without any rhyme or reason. Later in the film, the sheriff is asked "What do you think [the killer] is after?" The reply, delivered with what I suppose was supposed to be stylized action bravado, is, "Hippies." Apparently David Arquette didn't watch the movie he was writing because, for this line to make any sense, the killer would have to of followed a basic rule set up to this point in the movie, which he hasn't.

So as not to sound all negative, the movie does have a pretty massive massacre scene towards the end where old Reagan goes postal on a huge crowd of hippies. The body count throughout the entire movie is pretty high too, although almost all are dispatched via an ax. The massacre would be more impressive if the special effects weren't so plain jane. I've seen better gore in movies shot by a bunch of teenagers on 16mm celluloid.

Tie all of this together and you're left with a real yawner of a film. The kills are repetitive, there's no suspense, and the characters are all annoying. To top it all off, despite the premise, there's not even a cohesive socio-political message delivered by the film other than "Reagan was the bad." Sorry Dave, you're just going to have to try harder next time.

The Bottomline: David Arquette has crafted a pretty average slasher flick. The sheer novelty of watching a Ronald Reagan look-alike dispatch hippies is all it's got going for it. The Tripper isn't unwatchable, it's just not very good. 1 Bruce.

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The Eye 2: Gastrointestinal Fortitude - Sequel Spoof

"Former concert violinist and receiver of a double corneal transplant Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba) has seen death and survived. Now, after a horrible hot dog eating accident, she will feel death. In her bowels. After a partial intestine replacement surgery, Sydney begins to feel dark and mysterious hunger pangs and stomach rumblings unlike any she's ever experienced before. Forced to constantly gorge herself with Twinkies and Double Cheeseburgers to satiate these unholy urges, she gains pound after pound. The weight quickly overcomes the girl's small frame and her mobility becomes restricted to that of a wheelbarrow pushed by small person actor Verne Troyer. Now its become a race against the clock to receive gastric bypass surgery before the additional weight causes her rib cage to collapse! All this exciting action and more can be seen in the terrifying sequel to the 2008 smashhit! The Eye 2: Gastrointestinal Fortitude"

Coming Soon - 2010
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Today's post is not today's post

There is a new post today, but I didn't want to have it at the top of the main page as it contains an image of the Cloverfield Monster, so Spoiler Warning! The post can be found by clicking on the following link,: CAUTION! CLOVERFIELD SPOILER AHEAD

It's a cool piece of imagery, taken directly from the Cloverfield poster. Turns out, after months and months of speculation, the monster is actually on the poster, in plain view. Take a look if you want, but don't say I didn't warn you about the spoilers.

Also, I'm cleaning up the main page a bit by having less old posts display on it. You can still view older posts using the Archive Navigation Links (Under the heading "Previous Musings") on the right side of the page. 'Tis all for now.
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Black Sheep: Movie Review

This is not the Black Sheep from 1996 starring Chris Farley and David Spade. No, this is the Black Sheep from 2006, made in New Zealand, with special effects by Peter Jackson's WETA powerhouse, and starring no one you've ever heard of. Rather than explain to you what kind of movie you're in for, I think I'd be just as well off letting the poster do the talking.

And what a poster it is. I'm especially fond of the tagline, which reads "There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand... And they're PISSED OFF!" If this poster doesn't clue you in to the fact that this film is going to be walking the fine line between comedy and horror, nothing short of a blow to the head will.

The plot of the film is extraneous really, but here it is: Henry, our boring hero who grew up on a cattle farm before moving to the big city, is returning home. It seems Henry has developed a bit of a phobia against our fluffy white mammal friends, ever since a tragic farming accident left his father with a serious case of being dead. Henry has returned home to sell his half of the farm to his evil prick brother, Angus. With a name like Angus was their any chance he'd be anything but the movie's main villian? At any rate, it seems old Angus wants the full ownership rights to the farm because he's running a diabolical genetic engineering laboratory out of one of the barns. Oh yeah, and a couple of hippy tree huggers show up and spend a lot of time complaining about the meat industry and other such things that hippies like to complain about.

So, being as this is a tale of science run amok, it's time for the science to run amok. Those aformentioned hippies steal some highly biohazardous material which turns out to be a mutant, killer sheep fetus. One of the hippies gets bit by the thing before it escapes into the pastures where all the other sheep are doing their lazy, grazing thing. A few bites later and we have acres and acres of woolly, crazed, flesh eating, mutant beasties.

This is the part where the movie picks up. Our unlucky heroes, consisting of Henry, Experience (the waifish hippy chick), and a farm hand named Tucker, have to travel across the open pastures, make it back to town, and raise the alarm. Angus, of course, will do anything he can to stop them. You may recall that I said there were a pair of hippies, not just one. Turns out that the bite of these creatures results in some serious cellular regeneration, creating MUTANT SHEEP MEN!

Yeah, that's right. Weresheep.

I'll let you bask in stunned silence now.

The final part of the film plays out a little like the Dead Alive with a mix of Night of the Living Dead thrown in. I wouldn't want to spoil anything, but the movie ends in a whirl wind of excitement. Black Sheep is one of those rare films that delivers exactly what the poster promises; Lots of fun and lots of sheep.

The movie has its share of scares but is played largely for laughs. The film would no doubt be at home in a late night film festival rotation, surrounded by your slightly inebriated friends. There's a lot to love here and little to dislike. The special effects are cheesy but great, and all the acting is worthy of a Hollywood theatrical release. Fans of early Peter Jackson will be delighted to see a lot of similarities.

That said, the movie still isn't perfect. Americans may be put off by slang-filled New Zealand dialogue. The pacing is a bit off as well, although I never found myself waiting impatiently for the next development to occur. The climax, while indeed climatic, didn't have the build up that lets you know that this is the big final moment in the film. It just sort of happens.

The Bottomline: Black Sheep is a fun-filled film. It's not perfect, but horror-comedy fans will feel right at home. The film would play well at parties or social gatherings as the comedy/cheese quotient is high enough to keep horror casuals entertained. Recommended. 3 Bruces.

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