Friday, December 28, 2012

"Fortress" - - Don't Dream . . .or Watch While You Have The Flu

The first movie I'm reviewing is coming out of our Wal-Mart 8 Movie Action Pack. It's the 1992 sci-fi thriller "Fortress" starring Christopher Lambert and . . .well that's when it gets hard.

See, when I watch movies like this, or movies in general, I like to go in blind. I'm the guy who rents movies without reading the back because when you do it gives too much away. Imagine if you saw Terminator 2 knowing nothing about it: no ads, no trailers, the only thing you know is from what you saw in Terminator. You would spend the first half hour thinking the T-800 is trying to kill John Connor. The movie is actually set up to make you think he's the bad guy until John Connor runs into the T-800 in the hallway of the mall.

Since apparently no one allows embedding anymore, here's a Lego version of the scene.

Anyways, the point is, going in blind is the best way to see a movie like this because well, because it is. A guy gets thrown into a prison. That's all I'm going to tell you.

This movie is grim. Like Motherless grim. I don't know if it was because I had the flu while watching it, but I felt totally hopeless. Christopher Lambert is an OK actor, but there are enough crazy characters surrounding him to distract you from his odd accent and robotic delivery. This movie has everything to make a viewer uncomfortable: male nudity, male rape, mind rape, female rape, mouth rape (by a robot), unavoidable pain, horrifying psychological torture, the list goes on and on. This movie is dark.

But it's good.

It's not Running Man good, but it's good. If you go in blind you won't know what's coming next. Not much in an M. Night Shyamalan way but in a Hunger Games way. "Oh they set the whole forest on fire, wow I didn't expect that but it makes sense" kinda way. I'm a Stuart Gordon fan, and the opening shot alone of a bleak dystopian future really sets the tone for the movie. It shows some bums in an alleyway, then the camera slowly zooms up to show a futuristic soldier overlooking the street, and then the camera pans up a bit more to show we are at a US border crossing; and the good guys are trying to leave the country. A nice progression of subtle steps, and that's pretty much all the backstory we get and really all that we need. World building doesn't need exposition when it's done this well. So I recommend this movie for anyone who likes bleak sci-fi with a little bit of hammy action thrown in. It's not one that you need to go out of your way to track down, but if you see it on TV or it's cheap, pick it up.

Imagine drinking cold medicine all day and watching this at three in the morning. God I hate having the flu.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Sideshow" - - Dull and Disappointing

"Have you seen enough?"

Yes. Yes I have.

I have to admit: I'm a fan of movies like "Sideshow." Carnivals are creepy, sideshows are terrifying . . .I mean, OK I know they don't have the "freaks" any more, but as a kid there was always that shadow of terror that crept over me when I walked past those dirty multicolored curtains hiding the world’s biggest alligator or other freaks of nature.

 I am also terrified of movies where people mutate or turn into things. Whether it's the Island of Dr. Moreau, or zombie movies, or Something Wicked This Way Comes, whatever. The idea of trapping a human in the mind of a beast is, to me, one of the most disturbing ideas in horror.

 So when I started up "Sideshow" I was like "Hell yeah!"

 The movie starts off with a guy on the run from the freaks. Then he falls down and starts crawling away and the leader of the freaks says: "Crawling on your belly? That's a fitting place for you!"

 Oh shit! This guy is going to turn into a snake and the movie just started!

"I was once a man! Oncsssssssss a man!"

Oh that's hideous! Wait . . .he's not a snake . . .he's . . .he's just holding a snake. That's not a punishment, that's a religion in the Ozarks.

"But he looks like a monster," you say. "Clearly he has been turned into a beast!'

Well, here's what he looked like when we first see him:

"You can turn me into a beast, but please, don't make me change my shirt!"

From the looks of it, in the process of turning him into half man/half man holding a snake, the sideshow freaks took the time to apply some Neosporin to those nasty claw marks because he's fully healed by the time we see him as part of the show.

Almost every other transformation is given away in the trailer: The girl who wants a hot body is given a hot body BUT NO FACE dun dun dun!

Sideshow, starring Kyra Sedgwick

While another girl is turned into a . . .tiny girl in a jar.

"So, you know, you're still DTF, right?"

The guy in the wheelchair, what's his punishment?

Well, that makes sense. I've known a few people in wheelchairs throughout my life, and every single one of them would give up their freedom and humanity to be able to jump and have a bitchin' nose ring.

"I wish the carnival would come to my town . . ."

The bully character turns into what is described as what is inside his soul or some other bullshit. You can tell my patience is wearing thin because for each one of these lame transformations I have to add a photo and then describe it in a way that is more entertaining than the actual film. So the bully, the bad guy of the group of teens who is constantly harassing people, making fun of the freaks, and just acting like General Douchebag, what do you think his "inner being" is?

If you guessed anything other than Squeakie the Human Canary then congratulations, you did not write the script for "Sideshow."

The make up, wow, he looks exactly like a canary!

Finally we are left with the hero, the morally neutral character of the film. So what's his punishment?

Listen, I watched this movie twice: once to review it and a second time finding the clips and pics to post the review and that ending still doesn't make sense. Also in the above clip you'll see all the other sideshow freaks like Digestina, who puts stuff in a green juice to eat them. But does a person fall into the juice and slowly dissolves away? Of course not, that would be stupid.
"Sideshow" was boring. It was slow (most of those transformations don't happen until the last half hour) and painful to watch. In the end, I think people who find themselves watching this film were cosmically doomed to find themselves in a place and time when "Sideshow" was on.

And that, my friends, is the cruelest punishment of all.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Live Animals" - - Disturbing On No Many Levels

A man, our protagonist, is tied down to a chair. Behind him stand a few goons dressed in all black. They cradle their weapons but are ready at any moment to gun down their captive if he tries to escape. The villain stands in front of the helpless hero. He gloats. The villain implies rape. The hero is helpless, facing violation in ways we hope we never have to go through ourselves. The villain leans over and begins rubbing the hero's thighs.

He squirms.

We squirm.

But the scene I'm describing isn't from the movie "Live Animals," it's from the new James Bond film "Skyfall." I saw that movie opening weekend and the theater was fairly packed. But when that scene played out, the theater was dead quiet other than the sound of the male viewers, myself included, shifting uncomfortably in their seats.

So what's my point? It's that "Live Animals" is not nearly as disturbing as it should be,

"Live Animals" is basically an Asylum version of "Hostel." A bunch of young adults are kidnapped and stored in a horse stable where they are humiliated and tortured with the end result being one guys tongue getting ripped out and one woman sold into sex slavery. Then the remaining prisoners break free and make stupid decisions and run around with guns shooting people. Been there, done that.

There's a drawn out sequence where the woman who is going to be sold is propped up like a piece of meat as a potential buyer circles her. In between the lewd comments, I started to think back to that scene in "Skyfall." Basically, when torture porn is out-grossed out by a mainstream PG-13 film, you've got problems. Most of the audience of these types of films are male, so why not give them something to make them feel really uncomfortable i.e. male rape. Sure, the female rape may give the sickos in the audience some illicit thrill, but male rape makes your whole audience uncomfortable. In my review of Fortress I point out that the threat of male rape (and robot rape) made the movie realistically uncomfortable.

As I write this post I may seem like I'm a huge advocate of male rape. I'm not. But I am an advocate of a movie being what it is. A horror movie should be scary, a comedy should be funny, action movies should be compelling, and torture porn should be terrifying. "Live Animals" wasn't. I commend them for making a movie for $6000 (according to a poster on IMDB who claims to have worked on the film, and that budget doesn't seem too far off). The movie was boring, yes, and the acting was below average. But if it had been terrifying, if it had made me look over my shoulder before I shut off the light, then all the cheap cinematography and boring parts would be excusable.

And to me, male rape and being turned into a sex slave is more terrifying than seeing another helpless woman turned into one. One scenario is a porn video. The other one, well that makes you squirm in your seat.

"Real Talk" - - My Abcessed Tooth


So in my first post, a review for the move Fortress I talked about me being sick with the flu.
If you're a fan of this blog that's just something you will have to expect. I get sick. A lot.
I just had an abscessed tooth and that's why I haven't posted lately. I'll spare you the gross details and just say they drained 6 fluid ounces of snail-grey infected pus from my tooth. While I was recovering I didn't feel up to posting but I did watch some good and not so good movies and I'll be posting those reviews soon.