Friday, October 30, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

The first time I watched Children of the Corn (the original, not the remake or the umpteen painful sequels) I was staying with my Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Sandy. According to my sister, she was there, too, but that I don't recall. She remembers this because she was so scared at the thought of watching the movie. Ironic considering now she watches more horror movies than I ever have and probably ever will. But at six, she hadn't quite acquired a taste for the macabre.

My aunt had her reservations about showing this to us and told me that she would change the channel if it got too scary or gross. As long as I could watch part of it, I didn't care. She had flipped it back and forth several times, but her plan went terribly wrong towards the end. When Malachai pulled out his blade and lifted it to Vicky's face, I vividly recall my aunt exclaiming, "Ooh, Lord!" and click went the remote. Crisis averted, right? Except the other movie we'd been half-watching was Porky's Revenge. My eyes went from anticipating a blade drawing blood to seeing the naked lug, Meat, being chased around a riverboat by the hefty, and very naked Blossom. Of course, the next thing I heard was my aunt exclaim, as she clamped her hands over my eyes as she fumbled to turn off the cable box completely.

I think I can safely say I'm the only person who was exposed to my first nude scene while watching Children of the Corn. Let's take a look at what the flick's really all about:

Children of the Corn

Release: 03.09.84
DVD Release: 10.16.00
Rated R
1 hour, 32 minutes


Based on the short story by Stephen King, Children of the Corn follows Burt (Peter Horton, TV: thirtysomething) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton, Terminator) as they travel through Nebraska on their way to Seattle. Burt hits a young child with his car, but the situation seems fishy so the couple veer into the nearest town, Gatlin, to seek help. Little do they know the children of the town follow the leadership of a creepy child, Isaac (John Franklin, The Addams Family), who preaches the ways of He Who Walks Behind the Rows.

Isaac was one freaky kid with his creaky, morning-gruff voice. But the really scary character in Children of the Corn was
Malachai (Courtney Gains, Behind Enemy Lines). Playing the fugly, red-headed, redneck was Courtney's big break into showbiz. They couldn't have cast a better teen for the role because you may forget Isaac, but you will never forget Malachai.

Seeing impressionable children as zealous followers of some dark, primal force is a frightening premise. However, Corn seems stretched to reach the ninety minute runtime. Conversations between Burt and Vicky and the two non-wackadoo children, Job (Robby Kiger) and Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy), are deliberately drawn out. Not bad if hints of the conflict were being given, but the much-needed exposition is held until the final ten minutes where Job has to rattle of major details as if he were John Moschitta, Jr.

Children of the Corn also suffers from significant recurring continuity issues. Those aren't quite as bad as the cheesy glowing lights and sky effects that are used to represent He Who Walks Behind the Rows. It's hard to even grant leniency for effects quality at the time; better choices could have been made to craft a more sinister being than a few angry-faced clouds. The budget must have been blown on Isaac's final scene makeup.

Children of the Corn
is still a decent horror movie. It's part of that era when you could consistently count on a film with the Stephen King moniker to be worth watching... for the story if not for anything else.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 4

Welcome to Day 4 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

If you recognize that weirdo mug above, you already know what today's movie selection is. The following is more of a confession of silliness on my part than a real anecdote. Back in middle school, I was on the basketball team. And frankly, I sucked. Come to think of it a lot of us did since most of the points in every game were scored by the same two players. For those unfamiliar with the times, this was back in our country's history when if you sucked, you didn't get participation trophies, you got ridiculed and you felt like shit for stinking up the court.

You can imagine what a neat fantasy it was for me, when I was stepping onto the court, to hope that I'd get into some sort of tussle over the ball only to lose my cool and wolf out, wolf up, wolf-it, like Michael J. Fox did in Teen Wolf. I know; you're thinking, you so crazy! But seriously, think about it: we were the wildcats with dark-green-on-yellow uniforms; the Beavers wore dark-blue-on-yellow. Both teams sucked. And for those who don't know, my last name is Howard, just like Scott and his father Harold. A silly fantasy? Definitely. But what kid (or hell, adult for that matter) doesn't wish they had some cool power to get them through tough times? You may laugh, but I'd love to hear you 'fess up your flights of whimsy. Until you muster the courage, let's take a quick look at:

Teen Wolf

Release: 08.23.85
DVD Release: 09.01.00
Rated PG
1 hour, 31 minutes

Full Price

Scott Howard (Michael J. Fox, Back to the Future) is a below-average high school student. He sucks at basketball, he struggles with classes and wishes the hot girl in school would say two words to him. Like the tagline reads, he always wanted to be special...but he never expected this! One night, Scott discovers he carries the dominant trait for lycanthropy. It's not long before he loses his temper on the b-ball court and wolfs out in front of the student body. His new abilities enhance his athleticism, academics and social life. It's everything Scott ever wanted, so why isn't he happy?

"It didn't pass me by. It landed on my face!"

That simple premise, penned by comic book writer Jeph Loeb (Commando) and Matthew Weisman (Commando), is performed brilliantly by Fox. Though in his mid-twenties at the time, his boyish looks pass for high school age, unlike his rival, Mick McAllister (Mark Arnold), who was twenty-seven going on forty-two. That's what made the 80's, and even current high school films, great, right? Inappropriately aged actors trying to pull off awkward, underdeveloped teenagers.

Speaking of developed, Boof (Susan Ursitti) was a Q-T! She had a kinda Phoebe Cates vibe working for her. Had Scott seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High, he wouldn't have paid ol' what's-her-face any attention.

Though he doesn't get around much now, James Hampton (Sling Blade), who plays Scott's dad Harold, was a wonderful That Guy of the time. At least, I thought of him as such even before that term was around. He provides excellent fatherly wisdom and even gets to paraphrase Stan Lee's famous "with great power comes great responsibility" - no doubt an homage from Loeb. Another nifty homage is the nod to Saturday Night Fever, though I don't recall any of my friends doing the "Big Bad Wolf" at our dances.

While I'm doling out shout-outs, a special nod goes to Tom Adcock and Jeff Glosser who, respectively, were the dance double and basketball double that helped make Wolf-Scott so friggin' cool!

Teen Wolf only hints at the growing distance between Wolf-Scott and his friend Lewis (Matt Adler, Dream a Little Dream) that may have made the story more well-rounded. However, adding in those scenes might have thrown off the pacing and it's hard to beat a movie that effectively hits its marks and rolls credits by the ninetieth minute.

A few things could have been better explained. For example, how could an exceptionally sucky basketball team pull out a win without their supernaturally-enhanced point guard? For me, it doesn't matter because Teen Wolf was during a simpler time, when PG movies could feature underage drinking and scenes of sexuality. Ah, those were the days.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

Yesterday was all about the first horror movie I ever watched alone. But the first scary movie I ever watched? Ghostbusters! In all honesty, I'd probably watched dozens of movies on Saturday's Million Dollar Matinee broadcast. However, Ghostbusters was the first movie I experienced in my parent's living room that wasn't interrupted by commercial breaks. Let's set the scene.

I seem to recall it was Christmas '85 (possibly '86) and waiting under the tree was a shiny VHS player. Oh, the excitement! To introduce our family to the world of at-home entertainment, we had four movies: Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Care Bears Movie (for my little sister, I swear!), Silverado and Ghostbusters! I'm sure we sat down and watched all of them that very day while we unwrapped our presents and played with our toys. The rest of the day was pretty much a blur.

I had to have watched Ghostbusters several more times and my sister practically burned a hole in The Care Bears Movie before we received the crushing news; the movies were not ours to keep, but Santa had rented them for our enjoyment. Cheap-ass fat man. I learned this when my mom stopped me from trying to peel off the barcode stuck to the side of the tape. What a sad day it was when we had to return those five tapes. That's right; turns out there was a fifth movie I knew nothing about, though now I have a pretty good inkling where Santa's mind was at. But I digress. I can't begin to describe you how exciting it was to see all those movies lining the walls of the video store and knowing that for just a few bucks, they were ours...for three days. So what do I think of the movie?


Release: 06.08.84
DVD Release: 06.29.99
Rated PG
1 hour, 45 minutes

See It, Take a Friend, Buy the DVD!

Seriously?! How can you expect me to review a cornerstone of my infatuation with film? I've seen this movie so many times I can't even watch it like a normal person. I can't see how deconstructing, critiquing and analyzing one of my all-time favorite movies would do anything except destroy my cherished childhood memories. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson are awesome and that's that!

You don't know how many times the phrase, "we came, we saw, we kicked its ass!" has been uttered in my house. You guys sure did, Bill, you sure did.

Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week of Reel Whorror!: Pointless Nostalgia Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of the
Week of Reel WHorror!

The toughest part of reminiscing over my childhood horror-movie memories is trying to decide where to start. I've decided to start in the middle with Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. I didn't start watching in the middle of the NOES series. I had seen the original and the sequel Freddy's Revenge with my cousins. See, I grew up in the boondocks and had to go to my cousins' house to watch FOX without the UHF fuzz. Those were the days when you could actually see movies on HBO and Showtime long before they were released on VHS and Beta. That's right, and Beta. But I digress. In short, my cousins introduced me to the glory of Freddy Krueger.

So when my mom took me to the local video store and I saw Dream Warriors, I had to see it despite her reservations. Why do I consider Dream Warriors a milestone? Because it was the first horror movie I got to experience alone. I remember my parents going to bed and me settling into my dad's chair, excitement bubbling as the tape heads whirred to life. I remember nervously laughing off the deaths, but, in all honesty, it scared the hell outta me. I had to switch on every light as I made my way to bed. Though I always slept with the door closed, I had to leave it open to even attempt to sleep. Therein was my fatal mistake. Just as exhaustion set in...WHAM! My bed shook as the impact's noise broke the silence. I literally bounced from fetal position to sitting straight up only to see my father in the doorway, laughing. He had thrown one of my sister's large stuffed animals against the bed. Dipshit. Luckily, I was young, as the strain on my heart was enough to scare an adult man to death.

Though I didn't sleep a wink the rest of the night, the event didn't leave any lasting trauma. I was able to continue enjoying horror movies for years to come. Since it's been over twenty years, here's Dream Warriors through a more discerning eye:

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Release: 02.27.87
DVD Release: 09.21.99
Rated R
1 hour, 36 minutes


In her film debut, Patricia Arquette (Uncle Buck) plays Kristen Parker, a teen who has nightmares of a creepy house and a horribly burned man in a dirty fedora, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, Urban Legend). After slitting her wrists, Kristen is admitted to Westin Hills psychiatric hospital where all the kids are plagued with nightmares of the same fiend with the metal-clawed hand. The lone survivor of Freddy's first REM attacks, Nancy Thompson (Heather Lagenkamp, TV: Just the Ten of Us) is now a psychiatrist who conveniently joins the staff and teaches the kids how to fight Freddy.

Watching this again after so many years, it's amazing how many of the details I recalled. One factoid I didn't recall was that Max the orderly was played by Laurence Fishburne (Event Horizon) back in the days when it was cool to call him Larry. At this point, he still hadn't made Anna Mae eat the cake, so why would I have recognized him? The remaining cast are still largely unknown faces though they all have worked in recent years. It's obvious Patricia has the huge "talents" that make her the focus. Oh, she can also summon people into her nightmares to help her, too.

Freddy systematically attacks each of the kids with his razor sharp claws and equally sharp wit. For example, the last words the aspiring actress ever hears is "Welcome to primetime, bitch!"

Each creative death is crafted with the finest special effects the late eighties had to offer; they spent major budget on some serious claymation. Granted, it looks cheesy as hell now, but you've got to look at these things with the proper perspective.

The story was penned by series creator Wes Craven (Cursed) with director Chuck Russel (The Mask), Bruce Wagner, and Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption). It's obvious that serious thought went into this sequel as a means to mop up the mess left by the previous sequel.

Dirty Undies
All things considered, the deaths are still pretty gruesome. Freddy's just cruel when he turns Joey's (Rodney Eastman, TV: Monk) wet dream with the naked nurse into the worst night of his life. I think the marionette maker, Phillip (Bradley Gregg), was the most disturbing, though not as much as some of Nancy's outfits:

Don Johnson called. He'd like his suit back.

And to think I had a schoolboy crush on her. Anyways, Dream Warriors is fairly violent and Freddy's creative creepiness really shines.

The Money Shot
Of all the NOES movies, I used to believe Dream Warriors was the best. While the original will always be great for establishing the premise, this was the superior of the sequels. Dream Warriors, thanks to great writing and the acting of Patricia Arquette, still feels compelling despite being painfully dated. I wonder if they'll get Patricia to cameo in the 2010 remake?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, October 26, 2009

Huh, Huh, You Said "Poll"

Wow! I can't believe it, but you stargazers are really starting to enjoy the Reel Whore poll! My latest inquiry, "what's your monster fetish?," topped the number of votes cast for last month's Patrick Swayze poll. I couldn't ask for better participation to kick off the Week of Reel Whorror!

Here's how the 28 votes break down:

Golems, a.k.a. Frankenstein's Monster et al., are the most unloved of the classic monsters, garnering 0 votes. I guess those torch-and-pitchfork-wielding villagers were onto something.

Votes didn't really flood in for Witches who were largely swept under the rug, with only 1 vote.

In fourth place, we have a 3 vote tie between Demons and Werewolves.

I've always had an affinity for our ferocious, furry friends so, technically, my uncast vote would put a foot in the ass of demons, sending them back to hell to lap at the footpads of the lycanthropes!

Haunting third place in my poll are Ghosts with 6 votes. Any genre that boasts Bruce Willis among its numbers can't be all bad.

Given the Twilight craze occurring, I'm surprised to see that Vampires only managed to charm their way into second place with 7 votes. Suck on that, Edward Cullen!

And the most adored monster, according to all of you, are ZOMBIES with 8 votes! With movies such as Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, and Night of the Living Dead, it's a no-brainer to see how easily they clawed their way to the top of the heap.

Okay, I think that's enough puns for at least a month. Thanks again to everyone who voted. If you haven't noticed, another poll was started during the last Monday Mood Music. While the debate over Lady Gaga rages on in the Whore house, I want to know what you stargazers think about her. It's a perfect chance to give your two cents about the Pop Costume Queen. Vote soon; this poll ends at the end of the month!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

MMM: Pointless Nostalgia

Hello stargazers. It's been a week since I've posted. I wish I could say I've been hard at work doing great things, but the truth of it is the daily grind had me neck deep in drudgery. That's neither here nor there. All that's important is that today is not only the day for another installment of the Monday Mood Music, but it's the beginning of the

Week of Reel WHorror!!!


ahem...anyway. The theme of this year's Week of Reel Whorror! is a walk down memory lane. Specifically, I will be reliving horror memories of my childhood. I don't know what this says about my parents, but when I was but a wee lad I had my very own album of spooky sounds. Knowing my mother and father, I must have instigated the purchase of this album with threats of a tantrum if it were not done. Not saying I was a brat, but my folks weren't the type to actively seek out scary things for their firstborn. But I digress.

The point is I recall laying in the game room, listening to the console speakers crackle as the needle on the turntable converted the grooves of the record into the eerie monologue of Ghostly Sounds.

I remember thinking how cool it was that the LP's front and back made one big image. Oh, how easily impressed we are as children. The album was released in 1975 much like myself. It was put out on the Peter Pan Records label and is credited to Gershon Kingsley and Peter Waldron. You can find the album for sale online if you're looking for that perfect gift to frighten your child. Lucky for me, my folks still have my copy and the console stereo to play it. To christen the start of the Week of Reel Whorror, here now is the second track:

Ghostly Sounds - Goblins Step, and Laugh

Wow, I forgot how freaky sounding that album was! Sorry that was a bit short, but it was the only clip I could find. Then again, listening to the entire album may be too creepy!

Thinking back to my parents' console stereo, I also remember dancing to one of my mom's first 8-track tapes. Although this song has already been featured as a Monday Mood Music selection, I figure given recent circumstances, no one will mind the opportunity to enjoy this Halloween classic again:

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, October 19, 2009

MMM: Ignoring the Elephant in the Room

There's nothing like waking up with a little morning poll, is there? This Monday Mood Music artist is the reason for that poll. No, not in that way. While I think she has a nice body, I don't find her attractive. The wife and I both agree that her platinum hair isn't doing her any favors when combined with her facial features. Considering the blondness of one's hair has a directly proportional relationship to a female artist's popularity (see also Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Shakira, Beyoncé, etc.), I can't fault her for going for the gold.

At the Whore House, her looks aren't the problem. The contention lies in her music. The wife has never been a fan of dance or electronic music whereas I enjoy it quite a bit. While she enjoyed this young lady's first release, her ire has only increased with each subsequent release. I, on the other hand, enjoy her music, though her latest single is not my favorite from her debut album.

In talks with friends and from the interwebs, time and again I find she is, at best, an acquired taste. That's why I want to know what do my readers think of Lady Gaga? To help you judge her purely on talent, I've found the song most hated by my wife, but with a slight twist. This is a video of an excellent acoustic version of Poker Face which Lady Gaga performed live in Tokyo. If you've never heard her without the synthetic beats, here's your chance:

Lady Gaga - Poker Face (acoustic)

Now, tell me what you think of Ms. Germanotta.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cheesy Times at Slaughter High

This post is part of

brought to you by Stacie Ponder of FINAL GIRL.


Slaughter High

Release: 11.14.86
DVD Release: 04.14.09
Rated R
1 hour, 30 minutes

A Netflix Night

Today is Marty Rantzen's (Simon Scuddamore) lucky day, or so he thinks. Carol Manning (Caroline Munro, The Spy Who Loved Me), the hottest chick in high school, has a waterslide between her thighs and she's looking for Marty to dive in head first... if you get my meaning. She lures him into the showers of the girls' locker room for the water sports to begin. But wait, Marty! Isn't today April Fool's Day? Had he remembered that, he would have realized Carol's clique snuck in with the school's audio-visual equipment to prank him, not to film their own version of Deep Throat. They film his flaccid noodle and give him kegstand swirlies until the coach breaks up the mischief.

As if his birthday couldn't get any worse, the ring leader, Skip (Carmine Inannaccone), tampers with Marty's science project, which explodes. Marty is trapped in a burning room, a bottle of acid explodes in his face, and he melts his hands to a scalding graduated cylinder. I thought having my twelfth birthday party at Putt-Putt rained out was crappy, but this was one seriously fucked birthday!

Ten years later, the eight pranksters are invited to their ten-year high school reunion. It's wild because they've barely aged a day since high school! The event's being hosted at the old school, which has been boarded up for years. They sit around until nightfall trying to figure out where the rest of their graduating class is. With a shrug and a laugh, they head inside to start the real fun.

Slaughter High reminds me why it was a good idea to skip my ten-year reunion. Less than an hour into the party, someone beer bongs some acid, spilling their guts by the snack table. Next thing you know, one of the old buddies finds a functioning bathtub in the abandoned school and guess what; more acid! It seems as if the strangely absent Marty may not be absent and may actually be carrying a grudge, though the group doesn't seem to understand why. After these two gruesome-looking deaths, the rest of the group are picked off like the bitches. The killer, a creep dressed in Marty's nerd duds and Skip's old jester mask, gets bored with symbolic acid mutilations and just starts hacking and electrocuting anyone that moves while the dwindling crew search for a way out of their sealed tomb.

As ridiculous as it sounds, multiply that by two. The logic these folks employ to survive is baffling - they are high school graduates, right? Still, as preposterous as the deaths are, the ending ties everything up in a way that actually justifies most (not all) of the insanity. Skip's death actually makes less sense in the plot's context, but I found it to be the most entertaining.

If you wonder why there was never a Slaughter High 2: Class Disemboweled or Slaughter High 3: School Spirits, there are probably lots of reasons. Simon Scuddamore died shortly after this film was released, making it hard to capture his wild-eyed face on camera. Over half of the remaining actors never worked again. The fact is, this is the type of cheesy horror fare that made scanning the walls of your locally owned video store/tanning salon fun. If you're like me, the playfully morbid VHS cover was enough to excite my teenage mind more so than the content within. Those were the days.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Who Wants to See Cameron Diaz's Box?

Sorry, that was just too easy to pass up.

Of course, I am referring to Richard Kelly's new film, The Box, which stars Cameron Diaz and not her work in the 1992 flick She's No Angel (you won't see any box there either, it's soft-core fare).

While I'm a bit skeptical about the accents being thrown around, this is a Richard Kelly movie! It looks crazy, insane. It looks like a shit-hits-the-fan thriller, and when I say fan, I'm talking one of those industrial sized NASA wind tunnel bad boys. At any rate, the TV spots started this week and if you haven't caught wind of one yet, here's your chance:

Now aren't you excited to see Cameron's Box?!

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, October 12, 2009

MMM: 2010, That Is Her Year

This Monday's Mood Music selection was queued up and ready to play last week, but my excitement over Zombieland and Van Halen pushed her entry back to today. No matter. Things get better with age, right?

Frequently I attend performances at my alma mater, NC State. The Arts program is always bringing in interesting acts and that, coupled with my alumni discount, makes for low-cost, high quality, non-movie entertainment. This year they have started their Off Center series which features young artists who call NC home. Being an NC native myself, I love giving props when a fellow North Carolinian in the entertainment world crosses my radar (North Carolina Represent!).

Last week Off Center presented a young lady who's not only an NC native, but an alum of NC State and, in fact, was in attendance as the same time as me. We were both resident advisers, yet somehow, we never officially met during that time. Now, a decade later I plopped down in my second row seat and watched Kyler England wow this intimate venue with her music.

Kyler now lives in North Hollywood and has recently signed a major record deal. Here's hoping this is the beginning of big things. She's a great songwriter and I expect she'll be putting the competition on notice (she's coming for you Colbie Caillat!). Here's a tune featured on her latest album, Simple Machine, for you to enjoy:

Kyler England - Clean Slate

It's nice when an artist hits it big and you can say, Oh, I've been listening to her for years. Here's your chance to get ahead of the curve.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, October 9, 2009

Movie Menage: Surrogates

Sometimes the Reel Whore likes a little company in the dark of the theater. Though the interwebs bring us closer, us reviewers cannot always bed down together for a post. With the Movie Menage, I surreptitiously pluck a couple of reviews from fellow LAMBs and other film bloggers. These brief blurbs coupled with the Reel Whore take constitute a critique à trois, if you will. Getting three opinions of a film tossed together should be better than one, right?

Release: 09.25.09
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 44 minutes
Second-Run Seats

The year is 2017. Most of humanity has withdrawn into their homes, choosing to live their lives via a surrogate; an interactive robot that has been designed to be whatever the operator wishes. Two such surrogates, Detective Tom Greer (Bruce Willis, The Jackal) and his partner Peters (Radha Mitchell, Phone Booth), are called in to investigate a vandalism case involving two surrogates. Following the clues, Greer and Peters discover the destruction of these two robots simultaneously caused their operators' deaths. This leads Greer to venture out into the world, sans-surrie, not knowing the responsibility to stop an apocalyptic plot rests in his human hands.

The first of our lovers trio:

... There's not an easier way for a film set in the future to bother me than to not pay attention to the cars on the road. Surrogates is set in 2017 (according to Wikipedia, which is odd, because I swear that title cards said "14 years from now"). and yet everyone's driving 2009 Toyota Priuses and 2009 Chevy Cobalts and sh*t. WTF? So, super-advanced robotic technology will have worked its way to photo realism in 8 years (and crime will vanish), but we'll all still be driving our cars from today (which look brand new eight years from now, too)? Really?

See Fletch blow his full load.

Joining in the fun is our second partner:

... Pseudo-Bruce (Bruce Willis’ surrogate) is chasing a real human who committed a crime. Pseudo-Bruce’s helicopter crashes and explodes and his arm gets torn off, but it’s Pseudo-Bruce so it’s no big deal. So he gets up and shakes it off in time for a pick up truck to smash into him. It will take more than that to take down Pseudo-Bruce because his operator Bruce Willis is a super bad ass. The truck barely slowed him down, so a woman shot him in the chest with a shot gun. Then, since apparently they’ve seen Bruce’s previous work, they hung Pseudo-Bruce on a cross that said, “Die Robot Pig!” That finally took care of Pseudo-Bruce, but then the real Bruce came after them. Dum dum dum.

If you like it rough, Action Flick Chick is waiting.

Surrogates is loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the graphic novel of the same name by Robert Venditti. I had the chance to meet Venditti this summer and briefly talk about his success story. He was very excited that his first project had been optioned, but being his first, the decisions were in the hands of the movie wizards. Still, he couldn't ask for a better opportunity to get his name in lights. Having now seen the movie, his comments make so much more sense; the movie is only a shadow of his original concept.

My major complaint is that surrogacy becomes integral to society within the next decade; highly implausible. Most likely this decision was made to spare money on developing a futuristic setting. Venditti set his world in 2054. The world was not a utopia and crime was still a major issue. The key difference between the novel and the film is that the book defines the shift in crime from physical harm to property destruction. That's just the tip of the divergence iceberg.

As for Surrogates the movie, the makeup was awesome. I had forgotten how hot Radha Mitchell is, but they did a great job of uglying her up when needed. Pseudo-Bruce was slightly off-looking, but good ol' Bruised Willis was as ornery as ever. I just wished he'd been surly enough to bash in a few more surrie skulls. The most exciting scenes were Pseudo-Bruce and Pseudo-Radha hopscotch shipping containers and atop cars in two different chase scenes.

Aside from those few thrilling moments, Bruised mainly wanders around lost instead of cracking heads and one-liners. Unless you wish to join Bruised's perplexed perambulation, I suggest you resist pondering the plot logistics too thoroughly. Surrogates is a good way to pass an afternoon, but don't be surprised if you've forgotten most of it by the credits' end.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rule #32: Enjoy the Little Things


Release: 10.02.09
Rated R
1 hour, 20 minutes

Full Price

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland) has managed to survive the zombie apocalypse by following his rigid list of rules, first and foremost being cardio. He's traveling from Texas to Ohio to reunite with his family when he meets Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson, Semi-Pro). The two reluctantly team up to travel to their eastbound destinations. Along the way, the duo encounters sisters Wichita (Emma Stone, Superbad) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin, Signs) who turn the fellas' post-apocalyptic world upside down, causing them all to end up in Los Angeles.

I've been pondering ways to draft a clever review for Zombieland. I thought recapping the highlights via an extensive list of rules a la Columbus would be neat, but that'd require a lot of structure and discipline.

I could have talked about the trinity of obnoxiousness sitting behind me in the screening. You know the three: Detective Clueless, Mr. Obvious, and The Braying Mule. The first is the dumb chick who asks, Why'd they do that? about every scene. The second is the nimrod best friend to the blind moviegoer, explaining events such as She dropped a piano on him. Finally, you'll recognize the Mule as the fella who is apparently discovering the art of comedy this very moment, causing him to unleash a near-deafening guffaw over a scene no other fucker in the theater found funny.

Yeah, I could berate those tools, but let's not and say I did. What kind of review does Zombieland merit? One that gushes over its high points and forgives its minor foibles. Columbus is a wimp, but his carefulness and ever-expanding rules save him time and again. His physical and social limitations provide some hair-raising and hilarious moments. On the other hand, there's Tallahassee, a reckless action junkie who takes breaks from the road trip to blow off steam and zombie heads. He fills the carnage quotient and his insane quest for Twinkies is a great running gag. Watching the two of them riff off one another is just good fun.

When the ladies are introduced, Little Rock is a trip with her uninformed stance on any and every pop culture reference more than two years old. Wichita is the straight woman, a hardline loner who'd rather this happy band disband so she and her little sis can find peace on their own. The film has one cameo, which steals the thunder from the cast, but given who it is would you expect any less?

Dirty Undies
Told from Columbus's perspective, Zombieland relies on voiceover and montage to bring the audience up to speed. The opening montage front loads the film with action as zombies graphically devour human innards because people fail to adhere to Columbus's rules. Tallahassee's killing sprees are sickeningly creative and Harrelson seems to relish every moment. Wichita is one hot chick with a gun; Emma Stone's bedroom eyes and husky voice may have something to do with that. Somehow director Ruben Fleischer manages to slip in a swinging pair of pastie-clad zombie juggs for pervs like me. The language is as foul as a zombie's breath.

The Money Shot
Zombieland feels every bit as short as its eighty minute runtime, making you wish there were more. One might argue that I may be biased because any movie that pays homage to Ghostbusters is a must-see in my book. Zombieland is far from perfect, but neither the minor makeup and special-effects flaws nor the idiots behind me were enough to curb my enjoyment. The last few movies I've seen were so dull I haven't mustered up the energy to review them; this one was as refreshing as a hot shower or a fresh Twinkie.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Monday, October 5, 2009

MMM: How 'Bout You?

Good Monday stargazers! Last Monday evening I went with friends to the Rob Thomas concert featuring Carolina Liar and One Republic. It was a rainy night to stand out on the lawn and listen to music, but had the skies been clear I can't say that I'd have enjoyed it any more. No offense to Rob Thomas or the other fellas, but your sound just isn't my bag.

Given that lackluster experience, I've been struggling to decide who'd be today's selection. I had another female musician lined up, but figured an injection of testosterone would do the Monday Mood Music good. Then, facepalm! I realized my choice had been dangled in front of me all weekend. On Friday night, this group got a shout out on the Dollhouse (btw, Miracle Laurie returned and was looking fine!). Of course, that random nudge didn't take hold of my brain. Even Saturday when I hit the theater to help make Zombieland the #1 movie in America, I was still oblivious.

To digress for a moment, one thing that I enjoyed about Zombieland was how they paid homage to one of my favorite films, Ghostbusters. I won't ruin it by going into the details, but I love seeing great movies appreciated. Back in the 80's another movie, Better Off Dead, paid homage to Frankenstein when John Cusack's character, Lane, went all wack-a-doo at his fast food job.

Which brings me full circle to the Monday Mood Music. That scene in Better Off Dead featured the exact same song which was in Zombieland; a song written and performed by the band referenced in the Dollhouse. A band that the fellas I mentioned earlier only wish they could be.

Recalling Topher's words, "The human mind is like Van Halen. If you just pull out one piece and keep replacing it, it just degenerates." So true. Without any further adieu, here is Van Halen in it's original incarnation in the scene from Better off Dead:

Van Halen - Everybody Want Some

Talk about coincidence. This week's selection had references to ghosts, Frankenstein and zombies; three of the seven choices in my latest poll. You have voted already, haven't you?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, October 2, 2009

Trailer Trash: The October-09 Gang Bang

I didn't think it would be possible stargazers, but October looks to be a month of movies worth watching. I could be wrong. In fact, given that I only saw three releases in September (and only one of those was worth the price of admission), it could be that I'm just so anxious to get back on the cinema saddle that anything looks passable.

I doubt this is the case. As likely as it is I'll be disappointed by one or more of these flicks, there will no doubt be some that surprise me as well. Here are nineteen, count 'em nineteen, October releases according to IMDB. As always, they are ranked from worst to best for your enjoyment.

Exercise the Right To Cinematic Celibacy.

The Stepfather (10.16) How did this Lifetime reject find its way to the big screen? This is a story that should be segmented by Vagisil and Weight Watchers advertisements. Also, why would you pay to see a movie whose trailer spoils EVERY SINGLE plot point?!

Saw VI (10.23) The trailer teases "6 Chances, 6 Lessons, 6 Choices." I'm usually a completist and having seen the previous five films my compulsion should be to pony up for part VI. Luckily, this craptastic Castle Wolfenstein-esque teaser left me with only one choice; to spare my wallet by staying the fuck home.

It's Friday, I Don't Want to be Alone.

Capitalism: A Love Story (10.02) I still haven't seen Sicko from a couple years back. I feel disenchanted by Moore and his glam-doc style though I'm not exactly sure why. Of course, there's also the idea of shilling out my thin dimes to be reminded of how we, the people, got screwed.

Gentlemen Broncos (10.31) I'm torn on this. I loved the peculiar Napoleon Dynamite; the eccentric Nacho Libre not so much. While the third flick from the Swiss Family Hess promises to transport us to whole new levels of uber-quirkiness, I've been left once bitten, twice shy. Weighting my interest slightly in the positive direction is the chance to see Jemaine Clement in an actual role role.

Amelia (10.23) Wow! I sure hope this gamble pays off. I mean, getting Matt Damon to play a woman in such a high profile film is a real risk. Luckily, it looks like he shed a few pounds and really sells his role. What... Oh... Hilary Swank you say? Really? ... Looks like she does an excellent job. Yep...

Astro Boy (10.23) Last month, the kid in me was jumpin' for joy to see Astro Boy. But like a child, my interest in its good, light-hearted fun has waned. Sad to have a film with such potential lost to the cinematic shuffle.

The Invention of Lying (10.02) Around this time last year, Ricky Gervais starred in an odd-man-out comedy that looked more awkward than funny. Luckily, this year's odd-man-out comedy looks funny because it's awkward. Watching this berated man turn the tables on everyone he knows should be a good way to kill a couple hours.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (10.23) I'm absolutely loving the cast, but let's be honest. As much as I adore the talented John C. Reilly, I've yet to see him carry the lead in a comedy. Maybe a role touched by the freakish and strange is all he's been missing. I'm also curious to see how arousing a bearded Salma Hayek can be.

The House of the Devil (10.30) This is a conundrum. Though it releases in theaters at the end of the month, I could pull it up on Video on Demand right now. After watching this creepy throwback trailer, my DVR's going to stay backed up while I queue this up.

Good Hair (10.09 ltd.) Everyone should see this for at least one reason: it's your only chance to black actresses on the big screen as more than Eddie Murphy's wife or Sandra Bullock's best friend. Chris Rock's docu-comedy about African-American hairstyles will at least remind us Nia Long, et. al. once had a promising career.

Whip It (10.02) The Hollywood golden child Drew Barrymore directs her first feature with Hollywood's current golden goose Ellen Page starring. I would've been moist over this fun, yet predictable tale of girl power, but they went and cast Jimmy Fallon in it.

Moist With Antici...Pation!

This Is It (10.28) Losing Michael Jackson earlier this year was shocking. I'm surprised the studios even waited for the graveside service before plucking the coins from his eyes to sate the dollar signs in theirs. The rehearsal footage looks amazing, I just hate we had to see it under these circumstances.

Couples Retreat (10.09) Though I'm still reeling from Jason Bateman's last disappointing film, I'm putting my ticket for this in my hope chest. I'm stoked to see Vince Vaughn do his shtick and even more excited to see they cast a black man OTHER than Martin Lawrence to play the token friend (that's the funny Faizon Love btw). At worst, I can drool over the eye candy.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (10.30) What's better than releasing a 10-year special anniversary edition DVD of The Boondock Saints? How about releasing the long-awaited sequel?! Sure, Willem Dafoe doesn't return, but his replacement the sassy Julie Benz, wears the dress much better.

Law Abiding Citizen (10.16) This may be the first good flick that has landed in Gerard Butler's lap since 300. Watching Jamie Foxx duck and cover while Butler blows up shit all around him promises to be intensely thrilling.

Black Dynamite (10.16 ltd.) "So if you crave satisfaction, then dig this action. Guaranteed to put your AAAAASSSSSSSS in traction!" I love a trailer trash that writes itself. You can be sure if Black Dynamite comes to my town, I won't miss the chance to revisit the blaxploitation experience.

Where the Wild Things Are (10.16) Phenomenal! Spike Jonze has captured the look of the book perfectly. My only possible hesitation...wondering how much screentime could it possibly take to go through ten lines of story?

Zombieland (10.02) I love a good wacky Woody Harrelson character and this loony, zombie killin' leading man more than qualifies. Sure they may have cut some corners on special effects and make-up, but its got zombies in an amusement park getting their heads blown off by Emma Stone! I'm already drooling just thinking about it!

A Serious Man (10.02 ltd.) The latest and greatest Coen Brothers movie. Given their track record and my admiration of their work, why would this not top my list? Granted, I don't know what it's about, but watching that guy get his head repeatedly beat against the wall swayed me.

You may have noticed I snuck a couple of limited release films into the mix. Normally I wouldn't do this, but these were more than worthy of mentioning. Now if you'll excuse me, all this banging has left me tender and my ice packs are melting.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Huh, Huh, You Said "Poll"

Thank you, stargazers! The Patrick Swayze Poll had the best response of any to date! I know Mr. Swayze's popularity had a lot to do with it, but I'd like to think it was a worthy poll.

As you can see there was love for nearly all of the Swayze films listed. Well, except for Uncommon Valor. I guess watching Swayze get his ass handed to him by Tex Cobb wasn't anyone's bag. With only 1 vote, Next of Kin and Red Dawn must have only been faves around my childhood home.

The race for his most beloved film ended in a three-way tie between Dirty Dancing, Point Break and Road House each garnering 7 votes. Since I am the poll administrator, the duty of declaring a winner falls to me. I hereby proclaim Road House to be his most popular film. That's right, I'm putting Baby AND Keanu in that corner! Got a problem with it? Take it up with Dalton and Wade.

Time for a new poll. I know it's only the first of October, but I've been in Halloween mode for a couple of weeks now. I've somehow managed not to decorate the house with cadavers and cobwebs just yet. I have started churning about theme ideas for this year's Week of Reel WHorror!

Considering all the post possibilities got me thinking about my earliest exposure to the creepys and crawlys associated with Halloween.

Long before I knew who Jason, Freddy, Chucky, Jigsaw and the Candyman were, it was the classic creatures that fascinated me. Long before vampires sparkled like diamonds, I was tuning into any show that dealt with monsters; Dark Shadows, The Munsters, Werewolf, Scooby-Doo.

This begs the question: what's your monster fetish? Do vampires make your blood boil with excitement? Do witches cast a spell over you? Do werewolves make your hair stand on end? Of all the major monsters - Demons, Golems (Frankenstein & family), Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves, Witches, or Zombies - which do you dig most?

"Sorry Uncle Gilbert, lagoon creatures were never really that popular."

Large Association of Movie Blogs