Relevant to My Interests: Swine flu vs. Bird flu vs. Zombie flu

Found this while scouring the internet today. If you know the Geek than you know this is relevant to my interests on more than one level. If you don't know the Geek, well, it's funny. Hahaha. Funny stuff. At any rate, I now present to you a handy comparison chart for all the different flu viruses you might encounter this season.

If anyone out there has the legit source for this image, I'd be happy to link them here. As always, leave your comments below, the Geek is sure to answer.
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Dark Woods (2006) - Movie Review

Dark Woods (2006) is a low budget, independent movie filmed and released back in 2006. The movie was directed by Jake Daniels and is one of only two credits attributed to his name. The general quality of low budget filmmaking does not get much lower than that on display in this film during its relatively short 75 minute runtime. I can't say with any certainty how much money was spent on the production of this film but I would hazard a guess that the number does not exceed $10,000 and is likely much, much less.

Now I know that a leading paragraph like that doesn't do much to paint Dark Woods in a positive light, but let me confess that I don't mean for it to sound negative. I just want to be upfront about the kind of movie we're talking about. This is not a Hollywood picture by any definition of the phrase and your expectations should be adjusted accordingly. As easy as it might be to trash the technical components of this movie and call it a day, I must confess that I still enjoyed watching Dark Woods. The film ignited a strong feelings of nostalgia within me, particularly reminding me of low budget 80's slashers from my childhood.

This brings us to the movie's strongest point; the people in charge of making this film were clearly very passionate about the genre. There are so many tips of the hat towards a variety of popular 1980's horror franchises that the nods almost cease to be subtle. The cook, for instance, is an older blonde woman by the name of Pamela, which I took to be a reference to Friday the 13th's Mrs. Voorhees. Even the physical similarity between the actress and Betsy Palmer is rather striking. Along the same lines, the last girl is a young, fresh-faced brunette by the name of Heather, referring to Heather Lagenkamp, the actress that played Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The homages present in Dark Woods does not end with the names of its characters. The plot of the film revolves around a group of teenage camp counselors whom have come together to finish preparing Camp Vernon for the upcoming season. The teens succumb to the usual stock of horror-cliche, young people vices and are picked off one by one by a machete-wielding, hockey mask-wearing backwoods maniac named Victor. It would be easy to interpret the plot of the film as entering into Friday the 13th rip-off territory; the filmmakers even include a soothsayer character along the lines of Crazy Ralph, here creatively dubbedMad Max, to inform the kids of their impending doom. So there I was, about twenty minutes into the film, just about ready to write the film off entirely when the filmmakers did something that surprised me. Instead of merely copying Friday the 13th, but the filmmakers began to take some of those basic elements and expanded on them in new and interesting ways.

It should come as no surprise given her name and physical similarities that Pamela actually has ties with the masked murderer, Victor. There is a bit of a shift in the relationship however, as Pamela was once Victor's lover and, thankfully, not his mother. Although it never become perfectly clear, it seems that Victor's murderous rampage is somehow motivated by his desire to win back Pamela's good graces. This relationship represents a deviation from the formula, certainly, but in the end is really rather uninspired.

The interesting expansion of ideas that I had previously mentioned can largely be embodied in the soothsayer character, Mad Max. Much like Crazy Ralph, Max  turns up early in the movie and warns the teenagers of their impending doom and serves the function of a red herring. Unlike Crazy Ralph whom promptly disappears from the rest of the proceedings, Max becomes a recurring character. As the movie unfolds it becomes increasingly obvious that Mad Max is not only eccentric, he's actually quite twisted. Before long it is revealed that Mad Max is actually helping Victor by spying on the counselors and reporting back to him on their whereabouts and activities. Turns out, Mad Max is an old Vietnam War buddy of Victor's and goes so far as to carry out some killings himself. Admittedly there's nothing earth-shattering about this scripting but the fact remains that this is not a character relationship that I've seen in a movie of this genre before. The filmmakers deserve credit for creativity.

Based on the picture and sound quality, I'm guessing that Dark Woods was filmed on a VHS camcorder with only a single microphone. I'm not sure that there was any real lighting to speak of on the set. Almost all of the kills happen off-screen with only a quick cut back to the dead body showing the actors sporting what is clearly a cheap make-up shop latex appliance. Tom Savini this is not. On the other side of the quality spectrum, all of the actors performed quite admirably for a group of complete amateurs. With the only exceptions being limited to single scenes, they all manage to avoid fulfilling the overacting, annoying stereotype that commonly graces such low budget fare. Kudos to you all.

The Bottomline: Dark Woods is the definition of low budget filmmaking. Due to the technical limitations, I cannot recommend this film to people who only casually dip into the direct-to-video movie market scene. That does not mean that there isn't anything here to like. If you are a devoted fan of Grade-Z cinema, then this one is definitely worth a look. It is currently available to rent on Netflix. 1 Bruce.

Seen this movie? Got a question? Disagree with the Geek? Leave a comment below!
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District 9 - Spoof & Commentary

Fair warning, this isn't going to be a usual movie spoof article. There is a humorous fake sequel poster, so don't be too alarmed, but I'm not going to provide a short plot summary of said spoof. Instead, I'd like to discuss the events that led up to the filming and release of "District 9", given that it has a somewhat tumultuous history. The original movie project that director Neill Blomkamp was hired to helm was the "Halo" movie. This was to be a large budget, live-action feature film adaptation of the popular Microsoft-owned, Xbox-exclusive shoot franchise of the same name. The film rights were optioned by 20th Century Fox whom hired Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, to produce the film. Jackson quickly made it known that had no intention of directing the film, but only wished to oversee its development. Early discussions regarding the director of the film were center on Guillermo del Toro, who instead went on to helm an adaptation of "The Hobbit," which is still in pre-production.

Finally, the job was awarded to first-time studio movie studio director, Neill Blomkamp. A short science fiction film entitled "Alive in Joburg" was the reason that Jackson decided upon Blomkamp to fill the role. By this time a script had been produced and budget estimates were in the $300 million range, causing 20th Century Fox to understandably become worried about their potential to profit on the film. Rumors also suggest that the choice of Neill Blomkamp, a virtual unknown quantity in professional filmmaking, pressured Fox executives to finally place development of the Halo film on indefinite hiatus. The halting of the project, however, was not the end of the working relationship between Jackson and Blomkamp. Jackson encouraged Blomkamp to expand upon the ideas in his short film and to develop it into a full-length feature film. District 9 is the product of those efforts.

I felt this story deserved mention here because too often film studios seem to want to take the safer path when developing films. It would be too easy to blame the executives, but placement of such blame is unwarranted. They are in the business of making a profit, after all, and they need to do what they feel is best for their business. However, these series of events highlight the success that can occur when a filmmaker is given the freedom and the means to let his imagination run wild. As a result of Jackson's encouragements, we now have what may well be regarded as the best science fiction movie of the past several years. One can only wonder how many other Blomkamps are out there, just waiting for their chance to impress.

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Halloween II - Movie Spoof

Halloween II, the sequel to the pseudo-remake of John Carpenter's perennial classic slasher film, is coming to theaters this Friday, August 28, 2009. What better way to mark the occasion than to send up the much anticipated movie with an all original movie spoof poster! The trailer has been criticized by many long time horror fans because of the disheveled appearance of series' villain Michael Meyers. Long used to the navy blue jump suit, Rob Zombie's use of the torn mask and hobo-style winter jacket left many hardcore fans feeling decidedly cool towards this new film. The general dissatisfaction with the first film in the remake continuity does not help matters. The Geek, however, breaks ranks from the hardcore in this instance. I thoroughly enjoyed the remake as a companion piece to the original and am looking forward to Zombie's continuation this Friday. In the meantime, enjoy Hoboween II. As always feel free to leave comments below.

"See the continuation of Rob Zombie's re-envisioning of ultimate terror in Hoboween II. It has been one full year since Michael Meyers returned to Haddonfield and brought with him his reign of terror. The shaken community of Haddonfield still remembers the events of that Halloween night when Michael came home. Michael's journey begins with a return to his childhood home, hoping to find clues that will lead him to the last surviving family member, his younger sister, Laurie. When he arrives, Michael finds that his childhood home has been razed to the ground and replaced with a strip mall. Without direction, it seems hopeless that Michael will ever be able to reunite with his long lost sister. Now homeless, Michael hangs up his butcher's knife and shelves his murderous aspirations in pursuit of a normal life. Finding work proves impossible for the unkempt, unwashed, 7 foot tall monster of a man. Unable to support himself, Michael begins to lose himself on the harsh streets of downtown Haddonfield. Will Michael find the strength to rebound and turn his life aroundf? Will he eventually reunite with his sister and fulfill his lifelong dream of murdering her silly? Or will Michael Meyers perish, cold and alone, taking his final sips of wine out of a tattered, brown paper bag? Find out when Hoboween II hits theaters this Fall.

Hoboween II - In Theaters - August 28, 2009
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Sorority Row (Remake) - Movie Spoof

Next on the long list of unwanted remakes comes the hot summer thriller Sorority Row! Actually, as far as remakes go, this one doesn't really offend my sensibilities all that much. The original "The House on Sorority Row," was filmed and released way back in 1983 and promptly forgotten. It's a fun little slasher film but with nothing too memorable about it. I suppose it couldn't hurt to give it a second chance with audiences, but I suspect the remake will end up being remembered in largely the same way (i.e. not at all). Oh well, at least there will be boobies. And it's got to be a step up for Jamie Chung since her last theatrical release. Please feel free to leave comments below.

"There's sure to be trouble abound when five totally-sort-of babelicious twenty-eight year olds come together and pretend to be college juniors! Watch with mild interest for 90 minutes as these women run around in their lingerie and assorted skank-wear while defending themselves from a generic, hooded murderer! Be horrified  as they die one by one until only one is left! Gasp with terror as the last girl is trapped in their burning sorority house as is given away in the poster! Cringe at how much of a resemblance the plot from "I Know What You Did Last Summer" has with this film! Be amazed by the sheer amount of merely-adequate nudity on display! Seriously! You'll think you're watching Late Nite on Skinemax! Skinemax!!!!"

Sorority Hoes - In Theaters - September 11, 2009
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Hatchet - Movie Review

For too long the Hollywood machine has churned out crappy horror movie after crappy horror movie, with sequels and remakes being the theme of the day. The last few years have seen more PG-13, pointless, blood and nudity-free, soft horror films than ever before. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and subsequent sequel were terrible. The remake of The Fog was a bore. Hostel and Hostel 2, while R-rated, were plot-less, derivative drivel lacking any remotely likable characters. The Eye, The Grudge, The Ring: all Americanized, spiritless, lesser versions of the original imports.

We need Old-School American Horror.

Enter Hatchet.

In my previous preview leading up the release of Hatchet, I wrongfully assumed that this movie was going to amount to a quick and dirty ripoff of Friday the 13th.  A good deal of the buzz surrounding this film has revolved around the fact that the titular weapon-wielding maniac would be played by longtime fan-favorite Kane Hodder. For those not in the know, Kane played Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th VII and onwards and is considered by many to be the ultimate incarnation of that character. While the lead up to Hatchet played upon this connection and did its best to make its villain look and sound like Jason, Victor Crowley is an entirely different blood-crazed freak.

The plot of Hatchet see a group of three male, college friends seeking to take a temporary break from the constant barrage of booze and boobs of Mardi Gras to take a haunted swamp tour. Additional members of the tour group include the Asian American tour guide, an older husband and wife tourist couple, a seedy softcore porn director and his two "actresses," and finally the girl with a mysterious past. The tour takes a turn for the worse when the boat runs aground and they get stranded out in the middle of the bayou. Things go from bad to even worse when the groups happens upon the ghostly yet physical manifestation of Victor Crowley's childhood home.

The biggest complaint I have with the film is that the real star, Victor Crowley, is essentially a complete non-entity until the final thirty minutes. It's "The Jaws Effect" where the director tries to build suspense with the audience by keeping the monster off screen until the big, dramatic reveal. Unfortunately, I don't feel that this approach works for Hatchet. As the movie progresses through its first two acts the audience receives only a small handful of half glimpses of Victor but fails to build suspense leading up to the reveal. I acknowledge what the director, Adam Green, was trying to do but when the moment of revelation does finally come, it feels like too little too late.

Luckily for the film, from the moment of Victor's arrival to the rolling of the end credits, Hatchet becomes a horror-themed roller coaster ride of epic proportions. Victor Crowley is simply the coolest slasher personification to emerge in the last decade of genre films. The makeup effects that transform Kane Hodder into Victor Crowley are top-notch work that even Tom Savini would be proud of. Hodder does a fantastic job in his portrayal of the monster, producing a horror icon that behaves like none that have come before. Where Jason was slow and deliberate, Victor is quick and spontaneous. He's constantly moving and thrashing his arms, resembling a rapid animal more than a man. The Crowley character is Kane Hodder's raged-out Jason, taken to the next level. Really, it's quite glorious.

Hatchet is one hell of a violent movie. The blood runs free and there's plenty of mean-spirited, nasty deaths. The nice thing about the film is that the violence knows it's over the top. While there's no overtly deliberate audience winking, the movie knows it's supposed to be delivering a good time and never takes itself too seriously. In addition, I challenge anyone to find a kill in any of the Friday movies that can hold a candle to the death of Mrs. Permatteo. The creativity on display from the filmmakers is nothing short of remarkable. Adam Green's finger is directly over the pulse of what old school horror hounds crave.

I mentioned earlier that the movie takes too long setting itself up. While this is true, there is good news to be had. While those early 45 minutes spend too much time focusing on character development, these scenes still manage to be righteously entertaining. The movie has a defined sense of humor and the actors perfectly suited to making sure that the jokes are legitimately funny. The frequent bursts of humor help the action stay lively despite the lack of bloodshed. It also bears to be mentioned that genre veterans Tony Todd and Robert Englund also make cameo appearances. Englund in particular is a geek's dream. This may be the closest that we ever get to seeing the real Freddy and the real Jason duke it out, even if Englund's death does occur off-screen.

Now for my biggest complaint, which isn't about the movie itself: This movie is a blood-soaked, over-the-top thrill ride that DEMANDS to be viewed in a sold out movie theater. The fact that this film did not receive a wide-theatrical release is a downright travesty. Hatchet needs to be seen with a rowdy crowd, one where everyone knows the right time to scream, to yell, and to throw popcorn at the screen. Shame on you for denying me that experience, Hollywood

The Bottomline: If you're a horror fan, check this movie out. preferably with a large group of friends. Pop corn is a must. Writer/Director Adam Green will go places in this genre if he wants to, and I hope he will. I'd love to see a Hatchet 2, especially in the theaters. 4 Bruces.

Seen this movie? Got a question? Disagree with the Geek? Leave a comment below!
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Bioshock - Movie News

Well, well, well. Look at what the cat dragged in. For those that haven't been following the story, video game-world darling IP Bioshock had been scheduled to be made into a live- action, $160 million extravaganza by Gore Verbinski, director of the Pirate of the Caribbean trilogy. The movie was put on hold indefinitely following the sudden development of cold feet by Universal movie studios, citing rising budget concerns as the reason for the delay.

The basic plot of the game sees a single man stranded on a small atoll following a plane crash. A lighthouse on said plot of land is found to house a bathesphere which the man rides down to the underwater city of Rapture, a visually striking 50's retro-deco, once-utopian city. The game details the man's descent and the events that unfold as he pieces together the horrors that have transformed this once-magnificent marvel of man's workmanship into a carnival of madness.

Oh, and he has to fight these guys too:

Today's news, originally from Michael Fleming at Variety, states that the film may now be back on track thanks to the recruitment of a new director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later). Verbinski may still be associated with the project, but now acting as producer for the film. The switch should help offset those rising budget concerns.

So did anyone watch the unneeded sequel to 28 Days Later? I've always meant to, but I've never really felt compelled to see any follow up to Danny Boyle's first film in the series. Any thoughts on the choice of Fresnadillo to helm this decidedly unique and visually striking property? Drop a comment below.
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Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer - Movie Review

I've been looking forward to this film for sometime now. I live in an area where its hard to catch films that only play at festivals and/or have limited theatrical runs, so I almost always have to wait for DVD before checking out the newest indie-darlings. I spend a lot of time getting built up on these films although I do my best to avoid any hype or reviews. About the only exposure I give myself to these types of films are the IMDB plot synopsis, a quick glance at the poster, and watching any sort of trailer made officially available.

With that said, from the moment I saw the Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer trailer (long before I actually posted it on this blog), I've been looking forward to seeing it. The makeup and practical effects previewed in the trailer harken back to an earlier time in horror cinema history. And the fact that the story and the lead character reminds me of Evil Dead 2 and Ash doesn't hurt its first impressions either.

So, was 'Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer' any good?

The film has some faults, so I'll address them right away. Some of the special effects, being practical, look like puppets. This didn't bother me but I can see how other might find fault in it. I like old '50s style monster mashes and these effects feed into that nostalgic side of me. The movie also suffers from questionable pacing in the first two acts. The movie starts with a fun but short monster sequence, then goes into some rather lengthy exposition. To the movie's credit, these scenes are punctuated with some short monster sequences which definitely served to whet my appetite for the mayhem to come.

Although the first 45 minutes are slow, they are not without merit. Trevor Matthews stars in his first feature film as the protagonist, Jack Brooks. His performance is nuanced and fun to watch. He does not fall into any of the traps first time actors always seem to in low budget debuts. He is not overacting and he's definitley doing more than just reading words off the page. He loves the material and is having fun with the character. The audience cannot help but like the flawed Jack and root for him despite the many number of poor choices he seems to continually make.

Speaking of having fun with a role, Robert Englund (of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) co-stars as a night class science professor with an unfortunate case of demonic possession. The professor character is slowly losing control of his mental and physical capacities and Englund gives a thoroughly frenetic performance. This is not the ridiculous, melodramatic, almost unwatchable Englund we've seen in other recent low budget fare. Here, the madness is focused and Englund delivers one of his better performance in years.

The movie quickly ramps up in the third act, providing a most satisfactory climax. The monster mayhem consists of equal parts special effects, cheese and slapstick; just how I like it. Some of the scripting is especially inspired; I was especially fond of how the filmmakers creatively explained Jack's ability to transform into a monster slaying ass-kicker by the channeling of his anger management issues in new found physical prowess. This provides depth to Jack's character that would not be present otherwise.

The Bottomline: Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer is some of the most fun I've had with a monster movie in recent years. Despite a slow build, the action and cheese are available with abundance. The practical-style special effects make for a refreshing experience that too often seems to get lost in the modern day push for cheaper CGI effects. Make no mistake, I loved this film. 4 Bruces.

Seen this movie? Got a question? Disagree with the Geek? Leave a comment below!
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B-Movie Geek 2.0!!!

That's right, we're back! In case you didn't notice the site overhaul, well, the site has been overhauled! Look at all the fancy new technology that took me months to figure out. Due credit goes to the template designer, whom is listed in the site footer, but retrofitting it for use on this site was definitely pushing the limits of The Geek's technical know-how. At any rate, I hope you enjoy the new B-Movie Geek experience and be sure that there will be lots of new content to come!
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