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Decided it was about time that I finish a couple games I had been meaning to for so long.

Goldeneye (360)

I have something I have to admit: I was never really into the Nintendo 64 version of Goldeneye.  I thought the controls were stiff and just wasn't my type of game.  So I wasn't very excited about when this remake came out.  Fortunately though, after playing a rented copy and being impressed, I was gifted this for Christmas last year.  This game is pretty damn cinematic.  It really makes me wish they could put Daniel Craig in Brosnan's spot in everything Pierce has done in the franchise.  Might improve it.

The single player is well done and way more fun than I ever thought it would be.  Exploding environments and interactive, in-game cutscenes make for a more entertaining experience, which when it comes to an FPS, is a sorely needed quality.  It's relatively short, certainly less than ten hours, but that time is rather satisfying.  Anything longer would have just bogged it down.  I played the game more stealthy than I'm sure most do, but that just added to the enjoyment.  I'd often restart a mission if I gave myself away because it was just so satisfying stealthing my way around.  Not to say I didn't love slaying people with the Terry Crews shotgun.

The multiplayer is a blast, and while I miss the bots that were so much fun in Nightfire, it's nice to just do splitscreen.  Too bad no one is ever playing this online so it's impossible to play with anymore than who you can get locally.  I guess that's just the problem with online multiplayer in general, if the game doesn't catch on, it's multiplayer servers turn into a barren wasteland.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

That's right.  I finally completed it.  It took me fucking forever but I've finally beaten the main quest of this godforsaken game.  Seriously, how long is this damn thing?  Sure, I didn't do the main quest straight on (in fact I avoided it for over 50 hours) but eventually I found myself beginning the questline.  And yet I still finally finished the last of them at the 106 hour mark.  Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is how you do a game.  If I can complete a majority of your game in any less than 30 hours then your game is not a game.  It is a demo.

Bethesda thankfully knows this rule and has carried it over throughout their games.  Oblivion was a fantastic video game whose main quest was beaten in about 30 hours, if that was all that was done.  That's a lot.  Compare it to so many other games now, it blows them out of the water.  Hopefully that'll change once next-gen arrives and that precious storage space can be shared evenly amongst content and graphics.

The game itself deserves to be on every game of the year list imaginable.  It destroyed the competition and brought forth something that revolutionized the industry.  Sure, the graphics for the 360 may not be stunning but look at this on a suped up PC.  It's impressive.  Damn impressive.  And given the games massive scale, the level of detail seen throughout the land is pretty astonishing.

Looking back at the game (which I started the day it came out last November), it's hard to even remember all I did.  I killed things.  A lot of things.  I'm talking a small nation.  Decimated with my blade.  I feel like my character will probably spend most of the epilogue on the couch of some shrink.  It's gotta pay some sort of toll on him right?  I know after so much bloodshed, most normal humans retreat into the fetal position, never wanting to move.  This guy though, this sick bastard, he just wants to quest on.  And you know what?

I shall quest on...


spoilers for Expendables 2

Here we go, another two reviews of previously unseen films.  The theme today is...I don't know what the theme is.  Umm...wait...how about...no, that wont do...Hmm.  Well, I really don't have any reason these two are grouped together other than the pure fact that I watched them both in the same span of time because outside of that, these two films have nothing in common.

Frankenweenie is Tim Burton at his absolute best.  He has absolute control over everything shown on screen, and due to the fact that it follows a preplanned out story (the classic tale of Frankenstein), it doesn't get bogged down by a senseless Burton-esque script.  No, this is him paying homage to both his past self, the original film that this was based on, and the story of Frankenstein as a whole.

I regret not being able to see this in theaters for the pure fact that, in a year filled with blockbusters, it would have been nice to see a film with some heart on the big screen.  It could just be that animated movies have a way certain way with me (you shut up, Lion King is a heart-wrenching tragedy) but there are so many moments in this film that hit an emotional peak, it proves the point that it can still be done in a Pixar world.

The Expendables 2 on the other hand is loads better than the first and that's all I'm really willing to say in terms of positive thoughts.  Seriously, this movie was terrible.  They added some random characters with no real rhyme or reason.  Hell, the inclusion of Liam Hemsworth character was literally to establish and give time to this one person, and then kill him off.  That's right, rather than just killing off one of the old characters, they take the time to establish someone then kill him off halfway through. Don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciate them killing off Liam.  I agree with that choice in all movies.  But here it just comes off as cheap and a way to get the girls to go (judging by the box-office receipts,  they didn't).

Of course, the Arnold bit role is great but it's shot so oddly.  Both he, Willis and Norris are treated the same way in any scene they are in: "hey look who it is, watch them do something badass then seemingly leave the picture."  Only no, they don't leave.  They pop up again and again.  Thus making the whole stylistic choice surrounding their scenes pointless.  Quit treating it like this is the first time we've seen Arnold, this is the third.  The audience isn't stupid, quit treating them that way.  Hell, with Norris' character the story even revolved around the fact that it was a one-off appearance then he's back in the end!  It makes no sense.

The best part is when they scream "I'M OUT!" referring to their ammo.  You know, screaming that way anyone within shouting distance can hear that they are out of things to shoot.  Kind of like those guys that are shooting AT them.  I think you may have just set yourself up for failure there, Mr. Statham.

Statham: "Dammit, they have some kind of telepath. Somehow they keep figuring out when I no longer have bullets!"
Stallone: "..."

Sure, there are some enjoyable set pieces and Van Damme makes for one awesome bad guy, but the good never can quite outshine the bad no matter what.  The dialogue is stale, with attempts at further developing these characters coming off as awful banter that a senile Stallone came up with in between workouts.

What I'm trying to say is avoid Expendables 2 no matter what.  You thought the original was fun albeit stupid?  So did I.  This movies just sucks.  Just go to youtube, look up all the extended cameos and save yourself some time.  Frankenweenie, on the other hand: seek it out.  It will be well worth your time, even if you're not a Burton fan.  He goes back to the basics and does so with splendid results.

The Essential X-Mas


Ah the standard Christmas movie.  A unique type of film where it's only appropriate for you to watch them in a designated month and a half period.  I usually jump at the chance once Thanksgiving is over to start on with the Christmas mayhem.  Some start in November in general.  Those sick bastards.  Either way, once late November comes around, I start getting antsy for a couple of the ole holiday classics.  Some are odd, others are pretty standard, but all have become yearly traditions for me.  And yeah, I have a lot on my list, but that's because I watch a lot of movies.  A lot.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

This past year, my general outlook on this film changed a lot.  I just wasn't into it this time.  I think I just wasn't in the right headspace but I just couldn't get into this one as much as years past.  Jim Carrey's overacting was obnoxious, not endearing.  And the mess that Taylor Momsen has become makes me view little miss Cindy Loo Who a little more harshly.  She's not as adorable as she once was.  The film overall just lost some of it's appeal.  I'll give it another shot before the season is over though, my nostalgia won't allow me do anything less.

The Santa Clause

Who would have thought that Tim Allen would be starring in a Christmas classic?  Sure, the sequels suck (I like the second but it still sucks) but there's no way that this film actually holds up to this day!?  Actually, it really holds up.  It has a lot of jokes (especially towards the beginning) that border on just plain adult in nature.  After the disappoint known as The Grinch, I was expecting this to fall into the same category.  Just didn't happen.  This is an enjoyable romp which I'm sure will continue with my yearly tradition.

A Christmas Story

If this isn't on your list then fuck you.  No, but seriously, what's the matter with you?  Classic in every sense of the word.  Unless you're English, there's no excuse (apparently it's not known in England is the point).  There's not a bad moment and being from the midwest, I've had many Christmas' that look just like this film.  Of course, that hasn't been the case in a couple years (what's the matter with you global warming?  It's the 18th.  Get your shit together.)  So go watch this movie.  Now.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

This is another no-brainer.  Chevy Chase in one of the very few roles that I can actually stand him in (people actually used to like this guy?)  It's pretty funny to see.  And with the current Old Navy commercial running (with everyone involved outside of Galecki who is too busy reinforcing the nerd stereotype) it's rather funny to go back and revisit this.  As much as the cast has changed, they still fit into the roles perfectly.  If only they recreated that pool scene...

Black X-Mas

That's right, not the original 1974 classic.  I'm talking about the craptacular 2007 remake.  Don't ask me why but I love this movie.  The color palette is visual porn, utilizing an aspect of Christmas movies that is taken for granted of in the horror genre: the lighting.  Even the girls aren't all that bad.  Sure, some aren't the most dimensional, but the same could be said for the original.  The kills are brutally awesome though and not once is there a feeling of safety.  That's essential for a horror film and this nails it.  It's not a perfect movie but it's a lot of fun.  If you're looking for an atmospheric 70's classic, stick with the original but if you want a colorful, ridiculous thrill ride, I can't recommend the remake enough.

Damn.  That was a lot of parentheses.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

No Spoilers

Let me start this off by saying this in no way needs to be separated into three different movies.  There's not enough story.  As someone who loves the book, I could see it being FAITHFULLY ADAPTED (aka, follow it pretty closely) and still end in two movies.  Yet they decided to add a shitload of extra stuff and we're left spending three different ticket fees.  Peter Jackson, you brilliant bastard.

I don't know why I expected anything less but the film is overlong.  And not in the Lord of the Rings kind of way either where stuff is so epic and so much is going on that it's all vital to the story.  No, I'm talking about several times in the theater going "Dear god, is this 'unexpected journey' gonna ever start or are they just going to talk about it and prepare for it?"  Several times my patience was tried with the very slow and uneven pacing.  Not to mention a lot of cameo's done in the vein of "Hey look, I was in the Lord of the Rings, remember me?"  It's called editing, this could have used it.

Don't get me wrong though, the film is fun on a bun.  Absolutely loved all the visuals throughout and the film is a top contender for the visual effects Oscar.  Hell, based on Gollum alone, the category should be a no-brainer.  Gollum is a real being.  I'm convinced.  They just hide him away and only bring him out for these movies.  He looks that good.

And Andy Serkis.  Dear god, that man brings new meaning to motion-capture acting.  One of these days he's finally gonna get recognized for his work (unfortunately it probably won't be here given the small screen time).  As for the other actors, they do great jobs, fitting into the roles perfectly.  Freeman has always been a great choice for Bilbo so I feel like he's being overlooked for the likes of Armitage but both are standouts amongst an impressive cast.

Yes, I had some problems with the film, but few films get away from me unscathed; I'm just a harsh critic.  The main criteria that this movie filled is the pure and simple fact that I had so much fun with it.  Too much CGI was clouded by what they did with it.  Could some of it had been done practically?  Sure but that's not what the film was going for.  It was going for fantastical and unbelievable, both of which were accomplished wholly.  I anxiously await The Desolation of Smaug for reasons very obvious: Smaug.  The character is one of my favorites and with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing, it's sure to be an instant classic.

SchwarzeNovember #5 (/end)

SchwarzeNovember #5

Welp, that was a failure.  While I did end up watching a lot of Arnold movies during the month of November, unforeseen events seemed to halt keeping the series up to date.  Both a mixture of school and mere difficulty in writing caused me to just end up scrapping it altogether.  At first I was going to just play catchup and mass-post a bunch of them but then I realized that, that's not really solving the problem at hand: it's fucking hard to write about a bunch of Arnold movies.

As much as I love them, Arnold movies are pretty much all the same.  He is Arnold Schwarzenegger and he's in an extreme situation whether it's killing aliens, attacking henchman, or stealing other people's presents from under their trees.  There isn't much in terms of range.  So the problem I ran into is really one of variety.  It was hard to write a review without it sounding the exact same every time. That's just the nature of Awwnold's movies and I can't really complain because I enjoy them so much but it was an obstacle which entirely derailed the project.

However, since I did still watch a lot of his movies this month, I figured I'd highlight a select few in short form rather than having an individual post for each.  Twins and Junior were two first time viewings for me and, while I'm grouping them together due to director Ivan Reitman and co-star Devito, they couldn't be at further ends of the spectrum.  Twins is hilarious, heartwarming and genuinely good.  Junior on the other hand is a tonal mess that never quite knows what it wants to be.  And worse, a movie about Arnold being pregnant, doesn't even live up to the joke of the concept alone.  I laughed once.  And that was just because Mr. S is the man.

Kindergarten Cop was a big surprise because even though I had seen it when I was younger I never was a huge fan.  But goddamn is this movie hilarious.  "It's not a TUMAH!"  The film owes a lot to it's young cast because without them, a lot of the jokes just aren't there.  These kids are funnier than kids in pretty much any other comedy.  They're natural and genuinely funny.  Nothing ever seems forced.  "Boys have a penis, girls have a va-gina."  Still, credit where credit is due:  without Arnold, you lose the backbone of the film as well as so many of the great classroom situations.

The biggest surprise of the month for me was the film Stay Hungry.  It's Arnold's first real film (I don't count Hercules in New York because it wasn't released till much later) and while he's hard to understand at times, his charisma is very evident.  Also, why didn't anyone tell me that Sally Field used to be a hottie?  She was always Forrest's mom to me so now it's like discovering a whole new person.  I don't want to get into specifics but there's a fight that felt more real than any action movie I've seen in recent years (outside of Bond and Bourne).  Seems as though most people haven't even heard of it but I URGE you to check it out.

Another problem I encountered with something I wanted to do with this series was a dissection of certain sections of his autobiography Total Recall.  However, that was back when I was still early on in the book and was relishing in the detail he was going into.  Unfortunately once his Hollywood years come up, the book becomes light and fluffy and little focus is on the films.  As someone who picked up the book mostly for his film career, this was disheartening especially given the level of detail he went into with bodybuilding, then later politics.  And while I like politics, it certainly put a halt to my reading as I quickly lost interest in the book once he starts his campaign for Governor.  This is at no fault to the author and more personal distaste for politics.

So there you have it, finally an explanation onto why I didn't continue the (now realized) overly ambitious blog series.  Lesson learned.  As for the future of this blog, I plan on updating it with whatever I want really.  Whether it's a movie, music, or even book review, I just plan on keeping the content up. Don't expect many month-long series' though.  Pidgeon-holing myself into just one category stifles a lot of creative thinking and general interest on my part.  So instead, expect randomness and all that jazz in order to keep with my goal of featuring plenty of content in the future.

SchwarzeNovember #4

4. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story (part one)

I was originally just going to review the entire book at the end of the month but I feel this is a much better idea for the sole fact that I can focus on one area at a time.  Since the book is very segmented in how it's presented, with certain topics being the main focus while others are merely mentioned, I figured why not?  With that in mind, this first part will concern his early life and bodybuilding days.

Man is this guy inspirational.  Barely had anything growing up and through hard work and discipline he was able to become world renowned in bodybuilding.  His pursuit towards the major titles in the sport came as no surprise after he mechanically goes through his routine and how he improved himself. It was fool proof so of course he was going to win everything.  And he did.  His impressive win streak is one you'd expect from a movie, not someone's actual life.  But that's just Arnold and it's almost expected; it certainly is from him.

And boy does this guy love America.  I mean, just look at this picture:

His desire to become a US citizen while also retaining his Austrian citizenship, a feat few are granted by the government, is impressive.  The main wants to pay respect to his family and his roots but also become part of the country he's always felt he's belonged in.  Not exactly a story I was expecting to be told in the book of an action star but one appreciated nonetheless.

The most impressive part of this section of the book, and trait that carries on throughout, is his dedication to becoming the best bodybuilder in the world.  He didn't make any excuses and did everything he needed to in order to be the best.  He was confident in his abilities and, much to my own surprise, very intelligent.  The man who I once always just saw as "The Terminator" has lived one of the more fascinating lives I've ever read about and that's all before his movie career.

SchwarzeNovember #3

3. The Comeback

This is more of a special feature than an actual full-length film but it doesn't make it any less enjoyable. Looking at the Mr. Olympia competition, 5 years after Arnold had retired at the conclusion of the film Pumping Iron, he makes a surprise entrance into the contest.  

This is a different Arnold than the one seen in Pumping Iron.  Who was once a young, cocky man who showed no fear, has turned into a matured, antsy man, who no longer carries the confidence he once held.  If anything though, it just makes Arnold more dimensional.  Unfortunately I already knew how it ended so the moments of "tension" were anything but.  However, I did enjoy seeing the world again because it's certainly one I've never seen before.

SchwarzeNovember #2

2. Pumping Iron

Okay, that was far more interesting than it ever should have been.  I added Arnold's bodybuilding work as some way to pad the numbers for this series since his standard filmography wouldn't expand the month of November.  So I figured, why not start with the biggest of them all, the documentary that really put Arnold on the map: Pumping Iron.  Having read this part in his autobiography already, none of the events really shocked me but it was fun to see them actually played out rather than just reading about it.

Here Arnold comes across as an overconfident prick but it's hard to view him that way.  His actions are questionable but from a competitive standpoint, he's just trying to get any advantage his can, and because of his smarts, his big advantage is a mental one.  His interactions with Ferrigno are classic.  You can just see him trying to psych him out and doing so in the biggest of ways.  Makes me more impressed with Arnold on a mental level.

The entire movie is filled with impressive individuals though.  Anyone who can train that much, every day for years and years gets my respect.  I know I could never do that.  But yeah, I can't say the film is for everyone.  I found it more interesting due to it's look at the human condition but the subject matter itself may turn some people off.  I'd highly recommend it though because it certainly gives the sport of bodybuilding more dimension than it lets on, on the surface.

SchwarzeNovember #1

That's right.  Goodbye Horror movies, hello Awwnold films.  I'll be looking at all sorts of movies throughout his career, a book or two, a television appearance, whatever else I can come up with.  The whole point is that it'll be Schwarzenneger related.

1. Predator

What better a way to start off my Arnold series than by transitioning from Horror movies to the mother of all killer monsters.  I love this movie far more than I should.  I didn't grow up with it, and had even seen the second one more times (it was played on TV more often, shut up), yet as soon as I finally gave this the time, I loved it.  The larger than life characters that show off their badassery in the opening scene but then get picked off by the Predator one-by-one.  Arnold being at his absolute most Arnoldiness (yes, that's a word).

One thing I never realized is how much happens offscreen.  Several characters are given most of, if not the entirety of their death not on camera.  I don't have a problem with it as it's done for story purposes and not editing purposes (or at least doesn't appear that way).  It's still an interesting thing to think of though when it comes to this movie since it's often viewed as uberviolent.  Don't get me wrong though, this film is extremely violent.  The skinned bodies still go down as one of the coolest things I've seen in a movie (this was pre-Hellraiser lacking of skin).

And seeing as how this is SchwarzeNovember, I have to talk about Arnold.  That man's biceps are bigger than my head.  Combine his Greek-like body with the fantastic one-liners, you have the greatest action star of the 80's and this movie showcases everything that makes him a legend.  His final showdown with the predator is classic.  And really, without Arnold, this movie just wouldn't be the same.

31 Days of Horror (Day 31)

31 Days of Horror
31. Halloween

This should be a surprise to anyone.  Halloween has been a film I've watched every single Halloween since the sixth grade.  It has become tradition to the point that even if I don't watch many horror movies throughout October, I still make time to sit down and watch this at the end of the month.  It's funny how it's evolved too.  The first time I started the tradition was with a copy that I had taped off of FX because I wasn't old enough to watch the film uncut.  I watched that tape several times till I finally was able to upgrade.  I'll be upgrading to the Blu-Ray soon enough, so maybe next year I'll get to see this movie in the best quality possible.

As for the movie, it amazes me every time I watch it.  It is easily one of my favorites of all time and it never gets old.  I notice new things every time I watch it.  And the more and more I'm exposed to things behind the camera, the more I appreciate this movie.  The tracking shots, the perfectly lit night shots, it all adds up to a film that goes above and beyond the standard of modern horror movies.

And this concludes my series 31 Days of Horror.  Thank you muchly for reading and check out the site tomorrow because I'll be announcing another series that I think you'll rather enjoy.  So I guess I'm just trying to say...I'll be back.

31 Days of Horror (Day 30)

31 Days of Horror
30. An American Werewolf in London

This movie.  If I could pick one horror movie to watch for the rest of my life, this would be it.  Sure, I like others more but as far as re-watchability, this movie is unparalleled.  The characters are some of the best in a horror movie, and the struggles of being a werewolf have never been done this good.  They never take the corny route and play it straight when needed, and go with dark humor when a break is needed.  These moments are intertwined to make for a perfectly balanced film.

That transformation scene though...wow.  That scene is clearly the epitome of practical special effects in the 80's.  Hell the Academy Awards made an entirely new category just because of the transformation scene.  When you're creating new categories for the Oscars, you know you're doing something right.  It's too bad that Landis' career has been so tainted by the events of Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Also, how gorgeous is the Nurse?  Hubba-hubba.

31 Days of Horror (Day 29)

31 Days of Horror
29. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

I started out this series with a Nightmare film so I figured having one near the end would be a good bookends.  And after witnessing the amazing Hi-Def transfer of the first film, I was anxious to see what other films in the series looked liked.  I can safely say that Nightmare 4 doesn't quite live up to the first one's video standards (and is even behind 3 in that department).  The image is just muddy at some points and not very appealing in a higher resolution format.

The film itself is as good as ever.  I really used to have a hard time deciding between this film and Dream Child but this one is the clear winner.  The characters are better, the transition of heroines is both new and interesting.  And even though the Alice character is much stronger in 5, this one is still likable and not nearly as grating as the new chick that plays Kristen.  What an awful choice.  I can't decide what is worse, her acting or her haircut.  Did I just do a haircut joke?  Moving on...

I'm still annoyed that they just killed off Kincaid and Joey.  Those characters were awesome in Dream Warriors and deserved so much better.  I may have cared about Kristen's death had it been Patricia Arquette in the role, but without her, I just kept waiting anxiously for Freddy to off her.  Not a good sign when it's one of the female leads but somehow the film still pulls through.

31 Days of Horror (Day 28)

31 Days of Horror
28. Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers

Dammit AMC.  This is what you do to me.  You make me resort to watching the entirety of this crappy movie without any of the good stuff because it was all chopped up on TV.  It's like they were just wanting me to watch this film.  Throughout the month, whenever I had freetime, I'd flip to AMC and this would be on.  I'm not kidding you, this happened at least a half a dozen different times.  And finally I gave in and watched it, when I shouldn't have.

The only reason to ever watch this movie is to see some of the kills and the nudity, and even those aren't very good.  So why on earth would I watch this, especially when the DVD was sitting five feet away?  Pure laziness.  I just didn't care to pop this movie in, then it felt like I was devoting less time to the crapfest known as Halloween 5.  That's giving the film too much credit and my main reason for owning it is simply for the pairing with H4.  Sometimes it's nice to watch them as a two-parter, though I'd consider this entry of the series to be a "skip it."

And what is the deal with that mask?  It's just terrible.  The elongated face and...is that...is that longer hair?  It's a mask, how does it grow!?  This just doesn't make sense to a ridiculous degree.  It's like the filmmakers didn't even try.  With an iconic mask like Michael Myers, you'd think it wouldn't be difficult for the filmmakers to actually make the mask similar to the original.  

31 Days of Horror (Day 27)

31 Days of Horror
27. Night of the Creeps

Fred Dekker is a god in the horror community.  This and Monster Squad are two cult classics that are all the brainchild of Dekker.  It's really sad that his films never seemed to catch on so that he could have continued making such classics but alas, that's not the case.  At least there's a few of his classics for us to enjoy.

This movie is far more clever than it has any right to be.  I mean, it's about these weird slug things that makes people into zombielike creatures.  As far as making much sense, it really doesn't but the characters and dialogue is so good that any of it's faults story-wise are entirely forgivable.  I just wish that Tom Atkins were in every 80's horror movie.  That man makes everything he's in even better.  He just feels like he belongs.  His delivery.  His look.  Everything about him is pure 80's horror.

Thrill Me.

31 Days of Horror (Day 26)

31 Days of Horror
26. The Wolfman

Other than Dracula, I still hadn't seen all the classic Universal Monster movies.  I've watched a little of The Mummy and Creature From The Black Lagoon, but nothing ever stuck with me.  Finally I decided to give The Wolf Man a shot and while it's a different style than I'm used to, being from the 1940's, but I still really enjoyed it.  It had the classic vibe that makes the experience good no matter what the content on the screen is.

That said, it's a classic story that I'm glad I was finally able to see fully formed.  I just kept comparing it to the remake because sadly I saw that one first.  The only problem I really had with this is how the Wolf Man acts.  He just kind of looks like a guy in theater, over-exaggerating every gesture and making the performance more comical than scary.  But again, that's just a product of the times, so I can't really fault the film for that.

31 Days of Horror (Day 25)

31 Days of Horror
25. Hellraiser V: Inferno

Wow.  I definitely wasn't expecting that.  Outside of Hellbound, I'm not a huge fan of the Hellraiser series.  They have some good gore effects but that's about it.  The stories leave much to be desired and they rarely differ from pointless S&M and weird visuals.  Sure, the first is another exception but it's so dated that it's hard to even watch nowadays.  That's a remake I'd more than welcome.

I wasn't expecting the crazy path that this film takes.  At first I couldn't believe they'd have such an unlikeable asshole as the lead.  It's a risky move since then it almost immediately leaves the audience wanting him to die.  Yet by the end of his journey, you actually feel bad when the big twist comes along.  The twist, by the way, is brilliant.  And seeing as how this is a rare gem in the Hellraiser series, I'm not going to spoil it since chances are you haven't seen it.  It's impressive though.  Damn impressive.  

The way the story unfolds it feels like it was original screenplay that was then turned into a Hellraiser movie.  Sprinkle a cenobite here, a cenobite there, top it off with some Pinhead and you have a total runtime of five minutes that just barely makes this a "Hellraiser" movie.  Which is why I think it's so good.  It's mainly a psychological thrill ride and doesn't try to delve too deep into Pinhead as a character, which is where the series tends to get weak.  

31 Days of Horror (Day 24)

31 Days of Horror
24. Insidious

I'd watched the first half hour of this movie twice since it's release but I never finished it.  There's really no reason I never continued, just got distracted and never went back to it.  But boy am I glad I did now.   Something about James Wan's horror movies just sync up with my tastes really well.  Even Dead Silence, which many people didn't like, I thought was a terrifying experience.  Seeing it in the theater was almost scarring.  Seriously, Mary Shaw.  What the hell?  Oh yeah, Insidious.

I'll admit that I actually thought some parts were genuinely scary.  Sure, some moments fall flat, but for the most part, it's creepy and works.  Great casting too.  Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson can be in every movie and I'd be pleased.  Those two are extremely underrated and elevate this movie.  I'm not sure what the budget was for this but it looked damn good.  Wan never overuses a gimmick and never fails to bring the suspense.  I was also pretty genuinely shocked by the twist.  I didn't really even think about there being a twist so I wasn't looking out for it.  I should have known better. Oh well.

31 Days of Horror (Day 23)

31 Days of Horror
23. Re-Animator

I hadn't seen this film in way too long.  My copy of the DVD has been busted since after my first viewing so this is the first time I've been able to rewatch this movie in nearly five years.  Thank god for Amazon Instant Video.  I really forgot how crazy this movie is.  Combs plays the role of West so perfect that it's hard to see anyone else pull off both the lunacy and straight love of science.

In all honesty the only part of this movie that I really remembered clearly was the Corporate Bad Guy from The Guyver was just a head, and he was going to go down on a girl.  That's the extent of my recollection.  And wow is that scene just uncomfortable to watch.  Maybe it's just the fact that I was watching headless rape with my roommate, but something was a tad off.  I mean, the scene is unique and actually pretty funny, but I just kept thinking how awkward it would be to film it.  That old man's head is getting frisky with a semi-attractive and more importantly much YOUNGER girl.  It adds a layer of creepiness unmatched by anything typical of horror tropes.

*note to self: Try to avoid writing any screenplays that involve conalingus via decapitated head

31 Days of Horror (Day 22)

31 Days of Horror
22. Candyman

This is one of the few franchises I never really ventured into.  Sure, I knew of the story and was aware of the antagonist's existence as portrayed by Tony Todd but that was the extent.  It just never really interested me.  Finally I figured the time was up and it was time to buckle up and say Candyman however many times you need to (37?)

They should really sell this movie as "Virginia Madsen in a horror movie" and that would probably gain more interest than black man with a hook.  I mean, look at the poster above.  That's all it says to me.  It doesn't exactly scream 'strong female lead' and cool supernatural sequences ensue.  Either way, Madsen is a legitimate actress and pretty much kills it here.  Her decent in madness is pretty believable and there were plenty of opportunities to think that she is in fact the killer.  Of course, they take the standard slasher route versus the clever route, but I'm glad they at least allude to the other side.

What a disappointing ending though.  Which is all due to lazy screenwriting.  They never gave Candyman a weakness so there was nothing that could be strived for.  When he's already teleported all over and proven he's made of bees, what's to say he dies via standard mutilation.  So the ending just comes off as rushed and thrown together.  It's not satisfying and doesn't leave you wanting more, so I really can't see the purpose.  The last scene is interesting though, with the tables being turned and justice being served.  Still felt tacked on and pointless, although I haven't seen the sequels so I can't judge.

31 Days of Horror (Day 21)

31 Days of Horror
21. Birdemic (w/ Rifftrax)

This is a bad movie.  This is a very, very bad movie.  This is also a movie that I had never had any plans of watching.  In steps Jason Wineinger.

Jason: "Oh hey guys I have this great movie.  We'll watch it and have a great time because it's so great."

God dammit, Wineinger.  Seriously this movie is an abomination which is why we had to watch it with Rifftrax because otherwise the film itself would have been unbearable.  Visual Effects jump off the screen awkwardly before the shot is even over, the same shots of digital birds are looped over and over.  Hell, the only real birds in this film are there by accident.  There are some scenes that you can barely hear because the audio is so bad.  The list just goes on and on and actually makes me appreciate The Room for at least having the courtesy of being aesthetically competent.

One of the first thoughts I had (other than 'Damn you, Jason') was that there is no way this film had post-production.  There are so many aspects that are easily fixed by just being behind the computer in Final Cut Pro for the weekend.  Yet they didn't even bother to do that!  Instead there's just a movie that feels half finished.  Actually, no, even that gives this film too much credit; this movie feels like it's .001% complete and this is just a collection of dailies, never meant to be shown to the public.

What baffles me even further is that this movie is getting a sequel.  Not only that but it's going to be in 3D!  I've seen what this masterful filmmaker (*vomit*) can do with the most basic technology so the logical next step in giving him even more complex tech to deal with?  This smells like a recipe for perfection.  I can almost guarantee I'll watch the sequel but dammit I'm not going to like it.

Oh yeah.

Fuck you, Jason.

31 Days of Horror (Day 20)

31 Days of Horror
20. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2

I watched this movie as any person should: on VHS.  After obtaining a copy at the local Goodwill, I knew this would be included in this series and with good reason:  This is exactly the type of movie MADE for VHS.  It's cheap, it's schlocky, and it's not pretty.  You don't need to see this on Blu-Ray in the most high definition image available; that's not the point.  See this with crummy sound, picture that looks like it's behind a layer of vaseline, and more fuzz than a 70's porn star.  You'll thank me later.

The movie itself is okay.  It's nothing fantastic and absolutely not the staple of the genre that the first film is, but it's a good time regardless.  The characters are batshit and you can see that Rob Zombie took a lot from the Sawyer's when he created the Firefly Family.  But the problem is with these character's inconsistencies.  One minute Leatherface is cutting people in half, the next he's refusing to cut up the lead girl.  He's never a real threat which, given that this is TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE for christs sake, he should be the MAIN threat.  Instead he's an idiot hick who takes orders from anyone with a voice box.

And what is with Dennis Hopper?  Is he incapable of playing a normal character just once?  This guy is almost as nuts as the Sawyer Family.  He goes around with his extra long chainsaw just cutting down supporting beams in a mine for a good ten minutes of the film's conclusion.  That's all he does.  I understand he's trying to take the Sawyer's down but my god, do you have no regard for the fact that you're underground destroying every part that doesn't make it just ground?  I mean, I'm sure in the process you'd potentially kill a Sawyer but more than likely, you'll just be killing yourself, Mr. Hopper, thus making your character entirely pointless.  Oh well, that's too much thinking on my part.

31 Days of Horror (Day 19)

31 Days of Horror
19. Man's Best Friend

Look at that cover art.  Seriously, just look at it, bask in it, make love to it.  It's just so fantastic that you can't help but go "Fuck yeah." I remember seeing this movie on the video shelves many times when I was younger.  See, a major part of my video store rental routine (Video Store: They're those big abandoned buildings in your town that used to rent movies before Netflix ripped it's head off) when I was little would be to venture into the horror section.  Seeing as how I was way too young to watch any of them at the time, I would look at all the covers and read the synopsis' on the back of the box.  That was my routine.  Made me feel like I had practically seen the entire horror section before ever seeing a moving frame.

My point is: this film was the Alpha.  I had seen this cover art so many times, I thought it looked awesome.  A half-cyborg, half-dog killing machine?  Starring Jean Jacket with Gun?!  How could this not be the greatest film of all time?!

Well, for one, a good first step would be to actually feature a cyborg-dog like the cover promises.  Yet no, not once during the runtime does this dog have any robot-esque qualities.  Turns out, this is just a dog that's been made into the ultimate killing machine by combining the DNA of Tigers, Lions, Cheetahs, Sharks, whatever else is considered a badass.  And apparently that combination leads to the ultimate dog raping machine....wait, what?  Oh yeah, that's right, this dog features dog rape.  Dog on dog involuntary sex.  I don't know what these filmmakers were thinking when filming this, and I REALLY don't know what they were thinking when they decided to play "Puppy Love" as the scene progressed.  But that's what happened.  And now I'm stuck with a perplexed expression and a new tune to croon out at inappropriate times.

And they called it Puppy Love...

31 Days of Horror (Day 18)

31 Days of Horror
18. Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

God dammit.  Seriously, god dammit.  I told myself I'd never watch this movie again yet here I am, day eighteen of my series and it happened.  And I hate myself for it too.  This movie sucks.  Hell, just look at the picture I used for it, it's the comic adaptation.  I can't even put up that godawful poster that has been on every promotional piece you've ever seen for this movie.  I just can't do it.  I feel like that gives the filmmakers more credit than they even deserve.  It's that bad.

This is not a Friday the 13th movie.  This is someone's version of a possession film with no idea what a F13 movie is.  They try to make up for this fact with a cobbled together scene at the beginning at Camp Crystal Lake yet even that doesn't work.  I really can't figure out what this movie is trying to pull off.  Maybe by tricking people into watching it based on franchise familiarity they can show them a whole new take on the franchise?  Yes, because that worked so well with Halloween 3.  But even that is hard to compare to because Halloween 3 is actually good; this movie blows.

The problem I have with the film isn't that Jason is barely in it.  It's not that the characters are stupid beyond any reasonable explanation.  It's not that this film jumps around more than should ever be deemed possible.  And it's not that this film gives a whole new meaning to the term 'plot hole.' Oh wait, it is all those things.  This movie is garbage and I implore you to pretend it doesn't even exist.  You'll be better off for it.

31 Days of Horror (Day 17)

31 Days of Horror
17. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan

Thank you AMC for your lovely FearFest.  If there's one thing I needed it was repeated viewings of the various Friday the 13th movies.  Oh except for the fact that all the best parts are cut out since it's cable AKA no blood, no boobs and no cursing.  Wait, so then why would we even think to watch them given their castrated state?  I, for one, am just happy to see horror movies on TV.  Before this October the only horror films I ever saw came straight from SyFy (ugh) or MTV's World Broadcast Premiere of the Scariest Sorority Movie Ever: Sorority Row.  Yeah, times have sucked for a horror fan with a television set.  So I see this as a good opportunity for those young'n's who maybe can't quite watch Rated R films yet.

Oh right, the movie.

Like the 80's?  Well so does this movie and judging by all the elements, it was made by someone like me: Someone who likes everything about the 80's and yet hasn't even lived in that decade.  It's just plastered all over the place and done so in such a ridiculously sloppy matter that it's hard to take seriously.  Which is good though because the last thing you want to do is take this movie seriously.  I used to consider it the "worst" in the series yet now I can't help but love it for that very ridiculousness that made me once hate it.  To any of you who disagree and call this film garbage, I just have two words for you: Teleporting Jason.  

31 Days of Horror (Day 16)

31 Days of Horror
16. The Fly

I've only watched this movie twice since I received it as a gift almost 5 years ago.  The sad part about that is that it's not that I dislike it.  I quite like it in fact but it is a David Cronenberg movie therefore it's a very difficult watch.  Something about his movies have an uneasy feel to them, often making rewatches pretty difficult.  And as much as I like the film, I can't say that it's subject matter is one that warrants a lot of revisiting.

But dammit if Jeff Goldblum isn't the man in this.  I'm a self-professed Goldblum fan.  Whether it's his cynical rationalist in Jurassic Park (aka who I'm modeling myself after apparently), or his flamboyant, self-centered dreamer in Life Aquatic, the man just knows how to make a character interesting.  And given this character, it works to this films advantage.  Seth Brundle is not a nice man.  He's an asshole who clearly only cares about his experiment versus the lives of those around him.  Yet you feel for the guy when he starts turning.  Yes, he's despicable and an abomination but there's still a part of you that roots for the guy/fly.  That, ladies and gentleman, is the genius of Mr. Jeff Goldbum.

31 Days of Horror (Day 15)

31 Days of Horror
15. Rosemary's Baby

For years I was convinced I had seen this movie.  So I finally gave it a "rewatch" and realized: I don't know what movie I had seen before, but it wasn't Rosemary's Baby.  Looking back, I always had the opinion that the film was slow and not a lot happened.  I also didn't think that the film was very "horrific."  Boy, was I wrong.  This movie is intense in all the best ways.  I love the dynamic going on between all the characters.  Nothing every feel quite right and that's all due to Polanski, a director who I haven't been exposed to much.

The best part is that this film always seems to leave you guessing.  It engrains you with this deep sense of paranoia, the groundwork of which is laid out perfectly throughout the screen time.  And Mia Farrow.  Wow.  That woman deserved an Oscar nom.  What a wonderful performance and one rarely ever seen in a horror movie.  She's plays oblivious in a way that doesn't leave you wanting to strangle her.  And that was something I didn't realize until the movie was over; with any other person, that role could have very easily been obnoxious and grating.  But Farrow handles it perfectly and gains sympathy from the viewer.

So yeah, go watch this movie if you haven't.  Don't be turned off by the age, it's one of the greatest horror films of all time.

31 Days of Horror (Day 14)

31 Days of Horror
14. Trick R' Treat
Ah a horror movie that's actually set at Halloween.  Sure, plenty may take place in October and even be on the last day of the month but it's just a background.  Here Halloween is front and center, not hidden away in some dark corner somewhere.  And mostly it works.  While I do think that this movie loses it's charm the more and more you see it, the film still carries a nice atmosphere and stays true to the Halloween Spirit.

I just wish it didn't get so boring in parts.  The first time there's some suspense which keeps you around for the duration but on repeated viewings, the suspense is gone so you're just left with what's right in front of you and unfortunately there's not much to enjoy.  The characters are just unlikeable human beings with no redeeming qualities.  In fact, I have trouble thinking of a single character that I didn't want to meet their maker.  Actually, scratch that. The dog.  The dog was awesome.

31 Days of Horror (Day 13)

31 Days of Horror
13. Battle Royale

Few films have had the profound effect on me that this movie has accomplished.  The visceral nature and emotional punch the film packs is satiating for a horror fan.  Hell, the first time I saw this was some crappy digital copy with custom subtitles because no such English subs existed.  This is because the film was banned in many countries, including America where distribution was refused.  Over a decade after it's release and not only am I watching the film legally in the US, but I'm able to watch it on the big screen.

Watching this in a theater is an experience I never thought I would have the pleasure of doing.  And while I did really love it, the big screen also brought out some errors that bothered the filmmaker in me. The lack of color correction distracted me at times.  This was the Special Edition so that very well could explain for the shift in quality but I'm not sure since I believe that was the version I had always seen previous.  Oh well.  Regardless, I still loved the movie and it was a real joy to see it on the big screen.

31 Days of Horror (Day 12)

31 Days of Horror
12. Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Look at that poster.  Seriously, just look at it.  "In space no one can eat ice cream..." Does that sound like a movie that takes itself seriously?  I mean, just look at the name!  When you watch this, you're not going into it expecting anything but the most ridiculous movie possible.  I hold this movie in high regard because it's a favorite amongst my friends from high school.  It's a little sad but I'm pretty sure this would fall into our "instant classic" category.

The one thing that always comes to my mind when I think of this movie is how terrified I was of it before even seeing it.  I would catch random scenes on Sci-Fi (no it wasn't SyFy then so I refuse to call it that) and the clown makeup alone would be frightening.  Later in life when I discovered most of the budget was spent on said makeup, the rest of the movie made complete sense.  Go into it with that in mind, and you'll find yourself laughing at how low budget and cheap everything but the clowns effects are.

31 Days of Horror (Day 11)

31 Days of Horror
11. The Mist

You know a film adaptation is good when Stephen King actually admits to it.  Seriously, it seems like he hates everything of his that gets adapted.  Look at The Shining, he hates it.  What kind of a man can openly hate such a fantastic movie?  Clearly the man lost his mind long ago.  Probably still busy writing character descriptions in It, never returning to reality.  Wow, that was a tirade on King.  And I like the guy.  The point is, this movie is great.  With Darabont's third adaptation of a King short story, this one may be the ballsiest (though, of course, nothing beats Shawshank in terms of quality.)

Am I the only one that wants to strangle the religious lady?  She is everything that's wrong with the world.  When Toby Jones' character shoots her, I may be the happiest little boy on the planet.  And that ending; if you haven't seen it, it's worth it for the final five minutes alone.  Sure, Tom Jane's acting isn't the strongest but it's passable and doesn't detract from the scene.  Here's a fun game to play: watch this movie without 1. thinking once about murdering that religious lady and 2. not dropping your jaw once that ending hits.  Both feats are impossible.

31 Days of Horror (Day 10)

31 Days of Horror
10. Making The Shining

Directed by Kubrick's talented daughter Vivian, this making of documentary is a little bit of a change of pace from the movies I have been including on here.  It's certainly worthy though as it chronicles the making of one of the greatest films of all time.  This has a great look at Stanley's vision of the film and how he planned on getting it just right.  His scenes with Danny are very uncharacteristic of the director, who is often cold, calculating, and will do what he needs to for his film (see: Shelley Duvall).  It's great to see him interact with the child because he always knows just what to say.

Also, bravo to that damn kid.  Danny really is on the ball.  They show him in action (of course with SK barking orders off-camera) and it's a sight to behold.  It's amazing the performance that can come from such a young person.  It's also fascinating to see the dynamic between Jack and Stanley vs. Shelley and Stanley.  Nicholson seemed to have a fairly friendly relationship with the director, while Duvall's was very hostile given that Kubrick wanted her performance to be as real as possible, so he took the route of verbal abuse.  I wonder how sued Kubrick would be in this day and age?

31 Days of Horror (Day 9)

31 Days of Horror
9. Fright Night

That's right, I watched the remake, now I'm watching the original.  This is another I'd consider to be one of my favorites of all time.  It just oozes great 80's atmosphere and has some of the best characters in a horror movie.  Roddy McDowall is the man.  Plain and simple.  His Peter Vincent is an instant classic as I said in my other entry.  So enough on him.

One part of this movie I always find funny is that the female lead Amanda Bearse is a lesbian and yet we're supposed to see her as a credible love interest.  To say it really comes through is an understatement.  She shares no chemistry with Charlie whatsoever and sometimes it plays off more like brother and sister than significant others.  I still enjoy seeing them awkwardly try to make out and have sexy time.  

So yeah, if you haven't seen this movie then what the hell is the matter with you?  Maybe you've seen the remake, but that doesn't count.  Go Netflix, Redbox, or just steal this because you're missing out on a horror classic. 

31 Days of Horror (Day 8)

31 Days of Horror
8. Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

Not sure how I hadn't seen this movie.  It's so ridiculous that it's exactly what I look for in a horror movie.  Sure, I'm not the biggest fan of Jada Pinkett Smith so I can't say I was too enthused to find out she's the lead but that didn't really detract from the viewing experience.  I liked the basic rules set up concerning the demons and the barriers.  It's done so in a way that makes sense and doesn't just feel like a useless plot device.

Billy Zane as the villain is a stroke of genius.  The man can overact with the best of them and brings this smarmy douchebaginess to the role that makes it just perfect.  It just kept making me go "How the hell have I not seen this film?"  The gore is great with plenty of nasty moments.  The acting can sometimes be spotty but with the number of character actors involved in the ensemble, it's easily ignored.  While admittedly I've never really watched the series, this movie may cause me to finally seek it out.

31 Days of Horror (Day 7)

31 Days of Horror

7. The Shining

I was originally going to save this until later on in the month since it's my favorite horror movie of all time but a discussion of this film in my Video Seminar prompted this viewing.  One aspect of the movie that I really appreciated this time was Nicholson's performance.  He does such a good job and his gradual insanity is a sight to behold.  I know that it can come across as a bit much depending on the viewing, but I think he did exactly what he needed to: ooze insanity.

And my god, those tracking shots.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time for a reason and a large part of that is due to being at the hand of Stanley Kubrick.  The tracking shot following Danny as he goes through the hotel on in his tricycle: pure magic.  The sound design of that scene, coupled with the intense conclusion, makes for one of the greatest scenes in any movie, ever.  Yes, it's that good.

31 Days of Horror (Day 6)

31 Days of Horror

6. The Omen

You know, I just realized that for my sixth movie in this series, it's about a movie that heavily features the number 6.  That was not on purpose but I suppose it worked out quite nicely.  Hell, even look at the above poster.  So many 6's.

Anyway, I haven't seen this movie in 10+ years and even then I believe I saw it on TV, so this was really my first legitimate experience with the film.  Let me just say: Wow.  What an awesome movie.  I just love how the story unfolds.  It does so in a way that is extremely appealing to me.  I love when the woman hangs herself, there's no set-up.  You don't see her climb to the roof.  You don't see her put the noose around her neck.  A lesser director would have included this to add tension but not here.  Instead you just hear her voice yell out for Damien, trying to get his attention before proclaiming "It's all for you..." Perfect.

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