Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Stalled" - - I Can't Go When Someone's Watching . . .Or Eating

I'm a sucker for independent movies. Not like those tryhard "art" films that explore the human condition, or as much of the human condition a 21 year old film student knows about. No, I'm a fan of the independent film that is somehow able to pack in the most punch for the smallest amount of time and money and still be as entertaining as the big boys.

In the same vein, I'm a huge fan of the "single set" film. Give me a house, a cabin; give me a cast and crew stuffed into their grandma's home over the course of 6 weekends. To me, that is the heart of filmmaking. Almost every director worth their salt started in this position. It's the passion, not the budget, that drives the picture.

Also, I'm sure being able to take shots like this and not end up in prison
drive the picture as well.

"Stalled" takes the "single set" film to a whole new level by placing 90% of the film inside a woman's restroom, and most of that action in a stall. One of the main characters, another stall-goer with a badly timed case of the dumps is never seen, only heard. Minimalism is the name of the game here and "Stalled" plays that game like a master.

W.C. is maintence man working late during a employee Christmas part. He walks into the women's restroom with his huge tool box, sets it down on the sink, and begins to plot his next move before he is interrupted two chirpish and overly friendly (with each other) girls. Hiding in the first stall he can sneak into W.C. gets a voyeuristic view of some light lesbian action before Girl One devours Girl Two.

Yes, this is a zombie film.

There is nothing sexy about this picture but since it's now on the Internet
someone, somewhere is getting a boner to it.

I recently made the case against horror/comedy films: The movie is so relentless in proving it's funny that the threat becomes too light. "Stalled" is one of the movies that gets it right. The zombies are a definite force of evil. The humor comes not from how dumb the zombies are or some weird self-referential nonsense but  W.C.'s reactions to his own predicament. After calling for help, a man wearing a suit of protective motorcycle gear bursts into the bathroom. He takes a proper hero's pose, then raises the visor on his helmet to show that he too is a zombie.

"No! Go away! No, I want LIVE people!" W.C.protests.

A large part of the entertainment value of this movie is how inventive W.C., and by extension the filmmakers, are. He's a maintenance man armed with just a screwdriver in his pocket but with that he is able to make modifications to the stall to buy him some time. To get out though, he's going to need to reach the tool box of heavy weapons on the bathroom sink.

This bathroom is still cleaner than mine.

But "Stalled" isn't a one man show. Well, it is, but he does have a co-star

She has a cute face but she's a little flat chested.

Evie is a young woman trapped a stall away. Never seen but always heard, Evie cheers him on and beats him down. She is both the cheerleader and the devil on his shoulder. While he can't see her he does sketch a picture of her. This works for him by giving him another human presence in his own stall and it works for us by letting us getting to know Evie without ever seeing her.

As the movie progresses, the idea that Evie is just all in his head is possible but the end result of her storyline is far more poignant. I think a lesser movie would have made her a simple ghost voice but "Stalled" is not a lesser movie. And hats off to actress Antonia Bernath who spends the entire movie unseen. To sign up for a film where you are never seen is a ballsy approach for any actor.

"Stalled" is not only a great zombie movie but a great independent film as well. It is inventive and extremely well made and deserves to be viewed by horror and film fans alike.

So . . .how about a little head?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"Horny House Of Horror" - - I Don't Pay For Women Or Water, Because I Get Them Both Free

So, originally I was going to review "Starry Eyes," a horror/thriller about what it takes to be famous. I was also considering "Sinister," or the mind-bogglingly good "Coherence." But as I sat down to eat Thanksgiving leftovers (thanks Mom!), I popped in a movie in this movie. Because what goes better with turkey and mashed potatoes than this image shown at the start of the film.

I have no idea what is going on in this picture, and I'm okay with that.

After pausing the movie, washing my brain, and watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation while I regained my appetite and finished my meal, I sat back to discover the wonderful, horrifying film that is free on Youtube known as "Horny House Of Horror."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"The Babadook" - - The Hipster Boogeyman

Wow, that trailer looks creepy!

And all movies are good as their trailer, right?

"The Babadook" is the Kickstarter-funded horror movie that supposedly wowed critics at Sundance but once again makes me think either all other critics are idiots or I am. The jury is eternally out on that one.

Style over substance is the name of the game here. While "The Babadook" does it's best to show it's a legitimate horror movie with the right lighting, cinematography, and sound, in the end it slams the breaks and says "Nope! I'm not a horror movie, I'm a REAL SERIOUS FILM!"

Either a scene from "Schindler's List" or "The Babadook," I don't remember.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Hazard Jack" - - Dishonorable Discharge

It's always a bad sign when a trailer for a movie is only 42 seconds long, Well, technically it's 32 seconds long; the last ten seconds is a blank screen and the sound of heavy breathing.

Oh, if only the whole movie was as entertaining as those last ten seconds.

"Hazard Jack" is the story of a crazed serial killer who suffers from  . . .wait, I'll let the movie explain it:

OK, but there's an incomplete sentence down there. "Or" what?


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"The Signal" - - Call Waiting

You can't have it both ways. You can't have a "deep" movie and then ask the audience to turn their brains off when something stupid happens.

Case in point: about an hour or so into the terribly paced and unimaginative sci-fi thriller "The Signal," one of our characters has robot forearms and he punches the ground. We then see a slo-mo explosion as guards start getting tossed by the shockwave and instead of being wowed by a cool moment I was wondering how his shoulder wasn't instantly dislocated.

Why robot forearms? Why not replace the whole arm? What about the upper body?

What is the signal? Who sent it and why?

Is this Kristen Stewart?

No, not the plank of wood, the girl in front of it.

None of these questions and more are left unanswered during this dull flick. (Maybe the Kristen Stewart one would have been answered during the credits but I couldn't watch any more.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Reviews Coming . . .But First!

My brother, my mom, and I were watching a slew of movies recently, and one of them was "Alien Showdown." The disc we had, however, was continuously skipping from scene to scene at random.

When this part suddenly got skipped to halfway through the scene I realized we had no sense of context to what the two scientists were talking about. I restarted the scene and whispered to my little brother: "Dude, imagine in this whole scene they're talking about my dick."

As the scene plays out, my brother and I are laughing hysterically. My mom asks "What are you guys laughing about."

My brother and I exchange a look. He says "Nothing." I stop the movie and rewind it and say, "Mom, so watch this scene and imagine their talking about my gentials."


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Transformers: Age Of Extinction" - - Really, dude? Transformium?

It probably won't surprise any of my regular readers that I'm a fan of Michael Bay's "Transformers" series. Now, before you hipsters choke on your $100 scarfs, first let me say this: Why is it that people who hate "Transformers" seemed to love "Pacific Rim?" They're the same movie, except in "Transformers" I can actually see what is going on instead of watching two . . .somethings wrestle 10 miles beneath the ocean surface. They both have the same flaws (awful humor, boring "character" development). So why does "Pacific Rim" get a pass.

*I think you should know how bad this movie is if I'm comparing it to Pacific Rim, but let's continue on anyways.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"The Human Race" - - More Like Human Waste

Oh man, I seriously don't know where to start with this one, so I'll just take this moment to let you know "The Human Race" has an actor named Creep Creepersin as The Blob. That's all the info we are given. AND THERE ARE NO BLOBS IN THE MOVIE! There's several fat people, but which one is Creep Creepersin? And does Creep really exist or is it an inside joke? Well, according to IMDB he does. Creep Creepersin has directed a mind-bogglingly 35 films since 2006 and even has a kid named Cyle Creepersin. And Creep Creepersin was in a band called, you guessed it, Blind Melon. No, just joking, the band was named Creepersin.

Dude, I'm sure you're a cool guy and all, but despite what IMDB says, I don't think you exist.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"The Entity" - - A Ghost Movie For Athiests

So it's been a crazy couple of weeks. Some health problems, working a crazy shift at work . . .

Here, let's get a close up:

49 Hours . . .

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"The Conjuring" - - How I Spent My Dumber Vacation

If horror movies were high school students, "The Conjuring" would be the overachieving preppy girl intent on going to Harvard. What I mean by that is this movie seems scientifically designed to have all the elements that make a horror movie great, but at the cost of it's own soul.

Everything in this movie works, from the opening musical notes during the production logo to the acting, directing, cinematography . . .it is all above board. But let's go back to the preppy girl analogy. As long as everything is going according to the rules she sets up, everything is fine. But deviate from that prescribed course and it all goes to pot. Something that is so tightly wound up, so technically perfect, falls apart when it is no longer in control.

This is what I'm driving at: "The Conjuring" is a perfect horror movie . . .to see in a movie theater. But remove it from that context (i.e. watch it at home) and it turns out to be really, really boring and generic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"13/13/13" - - Cheap Yet Chilling

The Asylum, the notorious studio behind such "mockbusters" as "Titanic 2," "Snakes On A Train," and "Transmorphers" seems to be morphing itself lately. When they first hit the scene back in the late 90's they were just another low budget production company that specialized in genre films, like Maverick and Full Moon Video. One of Asylum's earlier release, "King Of The Ants" is terrifying on a soul crushing level. I watched that movie when it came out, 11 years ago, and still can't get it out of my head. But then they realized the real money was in making fast movies with similar titles to current hits and rushing them to the shelves of Blockbuster so people could be "Grandma'ed" (A term my sister came up with, meaning you got the wrong movie because the title was so similar.)

And although in the past year alone they released "Atlantic Rim," "Android Cop," and "AE: Apocalypse Earth"; all riffs are recent films, there seems to be a departure from this business model. They tried coming out on a movie called "Age Of The Hobbits" claiming it was based on real life. This as when a major film studio finally did step in and shut them down. The movie was eventually released as the generic "Clash Of The Empires."

So what does any of this have to do with 13/13/13? The Asylum seems to be splitting in two: On the one hand they made millions off of their recent hit "Sharknado." The whole point of that movie, and it's marketing, is that it was terrible. But recent films like "13/13/13" show a self-aware need for Asylum to grow their brand past garbage filmmaking.

The problem is: "13/13/13" has a garbage budget and if you start off with steak and run it through a meat grinder, you never end up with steak again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures: Mission Impacable!" - - Devourer Of Souls

So, yes, I know. What did I expect when I rented something called "Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures: Mission Impacable!", right? Well, I guess I kind of expected a movie. After I rented it (Redbox Exclusive!), I took a look at the running time. 66 minutes. OK, it's a short movie but that's whatever. I figured it would be 60 minutes of Pac-Man eating stuff. I used to watch the cartoon as a kid so let's pop this in and see what's in store.

"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Watch Past Here."

An experienced movie viewer can tell you that you can judge a movie by the trailers accompanying it. So when I say trailers for a trilogy of cheap "Jungle Book" movie, one for another trilogy of "Donkey Kong Country" movies that look like they were rendered on a Nintendo 64, and *ugh* "Primates Of The Caribbean," I knew I was in too deep.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Robocop" - - This Tin Man Has A Heart, But No Brain

Oh Robocop. How you influenced so many childhoods with your reckless violence. Back in the 80's and 90's, it was normal for an R-rated film to be made into toys and cartoons for kids. Rambo had his own cartoon, Aliens had it's own toy line, and Robocop had not one but two cartoon series along with a slew of action figures.

 "Robocop. Robocop. Roboooooooocop. Robocop. Robocop, Robooooocop. Oh Yeah. Robocop. Robocop. Robooooooooooocop. ROBOCOP!" Just in case you missed the lyrics.

So it's a little odd that an ultra-violent movie about the overreaching arm of corporate greed can become an animated series were Robocop has enough gadgets to have him promoted to Inspector, and then in turn become a PG-13 movie that spends half of it's time using animation in lieu of practical effects. But again, we're talking about an industry that turned a dark horror movie about a man eating plant into a Broadway musical, then back into a movie, then eventually into this:

My favorite episode is when the dentist
showed up high on laughing gas and pimp slapped Seymour.

But we're not here to discuss Hollywood's need to regurgitate it's product into every available medium. That's obvious and it's been said a hundred times over. The question is: "Is Robocop (2014), on it's own, a good movie?"

The answer, sadly, is no.

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Baby Geniuses 3" - - Where's Casey Anthony When You Need Her?

A long while back, a good friend of mine named Santiago had confessed something horrible that was happening to him that he was powerless to stop.

"My daughter, all she ever wants to watch is Godzilla (The Matthew Broderick version). Three, four times a day, it's just on repeat."

I worked at a movie theater when "Godzilla" came out. One of the privileges of working there was the free movies. Well, one day I had some time to kill so I went to the theater. Two "good" movies were playing at the time: "Godzilla" and "Deep Impact." The problem was "Deep Impact" was in theater 9, and there was a dead rat in there. It had been in there for a few days and despite several attempts we couldn't find it's corpse. Theater 9 stank so bad people would ask for their money back. Now, when you smell, what you are actually doing is inhaling the microscopic particles of whatever is causing the smell. So I knew I had a choice between watching "Godzilla" or inhaling decaying rat guts for two and half hours.

"Deep Impact" was a pretty good movie.

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Cat Shit One" - - Watershit Down

Oh "Cat Shit One," you know if any movie would bring me out of kidney stone induced retirement it would be something nonsensical like you.

"Cat Shit One" is the story of two rabbits shooting a bunch of camels in the Middle East. Iraq, presumably, maybe Afghanistan. It doesn't seem to matter. And that's the problem.

"Cat Shit One" is based on a comic book (or manga for you nerds out there) about an anthropomorphised Vietnam war. The rabbits were the US, the Viet Cong were cats, the British were rats, etc. No ninja turtles, so I never read it, but according to Wikipeida it's been an ongoing series since 1998. The Animated Series, of which there is only one episode released since 2010, updated the conflict an unnamed Middle Eastern country.

But you see, when I think of cats I don't think of Vietnamese people. The analogy doesn't quite work so it just is there. But when you portray Arabs as camels i.e. camel jockeys being a racist term, it's a little less fun and a lot more bigoted.

Site Update

Let's start with a little backstory:

Last November, I had started working on a project with a friend of mine. Dude's name is Jacob, talented actor, and we were hanging out at Taco Del Mar and talking about a surfing cyborg.

Out of that conversation came the idea for a kick ass movie that I'm writing and he's going to make. So after my last review I took a few days off to work on that script.

That's when the kidney stone came back.

I had a kidney stone earlier in 2013 and it was the worst pain. Yeah, OK, it wasn't cancer eating my bones bad, but it was pretty awful. They compare it to giving birth, but unless babies are wrapped in barbwire, I don't think they compare.

Baby = Soft

Kidney Stones = Not Soft. And not as buff either.

Anyways, that damned kidney stone is still banging around in there almost a month later. I'm ready to just up and donate my kidneys and get it over with. Sure, I'd have to be on dialysis, but that's kinda like being a cyborg.

But anyways, the point is, stone or no stone, awful pain or mind numbing pain, I have to keep this site going. I also have to finish that script. So starting today you'll see reviews start to pop up again.

Starting with . . .whatever this was.

The second big piece of news is we now have a new award we'll be giving out: The Joshie!

A good friend of mine recently bought me a pack of "creature feature" movies and said "Ha! I want to see reviews of all of these!" The movies include "Snakeman," "Skeleton Man," "Mosquito Man," and "Shark Man" amoung others. The joke's on him, because I love these movies so in his honor from here on out the best AND worst (non-superhero) movie with the word "Man" in the title will receive a Joshie.

The only thing he loves more than men is female space kangaroos.

So there we go. Sorry I've been out of commission for so long. Oh, and before I go, Mr. Youtube Kidney Stone, I feel your pain but it's writhing in pain, not ryething in pain.

Once a critic, always a critic.