Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meandering piece of rubbish

Now I know that Gus Van Sant is an acclaimed director and all that, and I suppose I am missing something here - maybe this was a good little independent art-house kind of movie and I just missed the 'good' parts (snoozing no doubt) -but to be honest, I hated Paranoid Park!

I'm thinking that people who think they are deep, thoughtful, discerning film critics will rave about the "astuteness and intensity" of this "profoundly moving and thought-provoking" piece of rubbish. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, and to that I say... WTF?

Anyhow, in layman's terms, the story goes like this:

16 year old Alex (played by Gabe Nevins, to whom I say 'get a freakin' haircut!') lives in Portland, Oregon and is somewhat moody and depressed (aren't all teens?) because his parents (hot mom and tattoo-heavy dad) are getting divorced. He starts spending alot of time at a local skateboarding park frequented by all types of wayward and rebellious characters. (To me, it looked like a great place to score some drugs.) And he never actually skates there, he just sits and watches the others.

One evening, he goes off with a somewhat older stranger (despite what parents always tell kids - they really are not listening) to try jumping a nearby freight train. Why? Because it's fun, apparently.
So they do, in fact, jump a train and are riding along when a lone security guard spots them and attempts to apprehend them. In the scuffle, Alex smacks the guard on the head with his skateboard, causing him to tumble backward onto adjacent tracks and into the path of another oncoming train. Uh-oh!
Naturally, Alex's buddy quickly runs off.

Now, right here is the only horrific and worthwhile part of the film. The security guard doesn't die outright. He is literally cut in half and begins crawling on his arms towards Alex, intestines trailing behind him in orderly fashion, all the while pleading with his eyes for Alex to help him. Of course Alex is completely dumbstruck, and does the least responsible thing possible. He beats feet out of there, leaving the man alone to die. In a subsequent moment of bewilderment, Alex chucks the skateboard off the bridge over the skate-park and into the water below.

The whole of the film is based on this morality dilemma. It shifts back and forth in time, and reveals the effect that something so horrific can have on a person. It shows the detectives questioning all the skater-boys in the high school - prodding for answers because they know the death was caused by foul play, as they have recovered a skateboard with the guard's DNA on it (though how the DNA wasn't compromised after being in the water I don't know).

The curious detective also questions the boys individually, and I doubt Alex could have looked more guilty than at that moment. He had the whole 'shifting eyes and avoiding the questions' thing going on.

There are a few other aspects of teenage life thrown in to kill time- Alex's girlfriend wants to have sex, and when they do, she calls all her friends and brags about it, then Alex breaks up with her - ? (Sounds like role-reversal there). Also there are some scenes of Alex going about his daily life, which are EXCEEDINGLY boring! Alex on the sofa, thinking or writing in a journal. Alex in his room, thinking or writing in his journal. Alex on a bench down by the ocean, thinking or writing in his journal! Alex walking down the street (nearly always shot in slow motion), thinking. Alex walking down the halls of the school, thinking. Just pointless filler.
The movie's running time wasn't all that long anyway (something like 85 minutes), and if you took out all the walking and thinking, it would be 15 minutes long, if that.
It is my assumption that we, as viewers, are to be amazed at the filmmakers uncanny ability to capture the essence of teenage life and the guilt that has taken over Alex's every thought. Yeah, I got that, ok? First 10 minutes and I understood he was pretty fucked up over his enormous life error, ok? I GET IT!!

To add insult to misery, the music that plays during this movie is some of the worst hogwash I have ever heard. It is not a score. They used random, genre-jumping, irritating songs (?) which quite honestly made me want to jab a pencil in my eye - or should I say ear?

This film is based on a book by Blake Nelson, and while I think the source material has almost certainly got to be more interesting, the film lacked any cohesiveness for me. I absolutely couldn't wait for it to be over, and was flipping through a magazine to pass the time by the last half hour. The ending.... well, let's just say there really wasn't an ending. One of those "go either way" kind of finishes. That was just the final punch in the gut for me.

I like all genres of film. Meaning this: if it has a decent or at least tolerable plot, I'm generally gonna like it. I really don't diss much - I can count on one hand the amount of movies I could not find any redeeming qualities in. Well, I might have to start on the other hand as of today.
I have such a hard time believing the same director that fronted 'Good Will Hunting' and 'To Die For' filmed this shit-fest. But then again, he was the same man who thought a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho was a good idea! Ugh!

Maybe I'm wrong, but this movie was just meaningless and insignificant, and may have been a better story if it was on an episode of Law and Order!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Morbid Anniversary

Today in 1978 was the day that the Jonestown Mass Suicides took place.

I debated on which of my blogs to put this entry, but decided it was, in fact, more grim and disturbing than pretty much any horror movie I have ever seen.

November 18, 1978

*Jonestown is the notorious "community" of followers of the charismatic yet mentally deranged Jim Jones.
In other words, a cult. And the worst one in history. They called themselves "The Peoples Temple"...
These people wrote the book on cults. Jones established his own town in the country of Guyana, in South America, and "led" his people from California to his self-proclaimed paradise.
He really was demented and unhinged to think it was morally acceptable to have 900 people commit suicide together. Under any circumstances.

Jim Jones

On this date 30 years ago, 909 people died - only two of which were not poisoned by Potassium Cyanide in grape Flavor-Aid (no, it was NOT Kool-Aid) - most of which drank the concoction willingly. Jones called it "revolutionary suicice", and had his followers believing it when he commanded: "Stop this hysterics. This is not the way for people who are Socialists or Communists to die. No way for us to die. We must die with some dignity."

To attempt to explain his bizarre beliefs would be something I am not knowledgable enough to handle. I cannot understand socialism, communism, and all of the other aspects of his wacky ideas and axis of evil. You can go online and google it - there is no shortage of info available on the subject.

On that gruesome day, syringes with the poison in it were squirted down infants and children's throats. Jones thought that if the children died first, the parents and grandparents would have no reason to live. Everyone else followed suit.

It took about 5 minutes to die. That's actually a long time when it's your last moments.
Jones was found with a gunshot wound to the neck, apparently self-inflicted. To which I ask the question: was he too much of a coward to die by cyanide? What the hell?

The events at Jonestown constituted the greatest single losses of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the incidents of September 11, 2001.

What else can I say?
Except that it is equally as important to remember these anniversaries as those ones that bring us cheer and happiness. I was only 10 when this tragedy happened, but I remember it well.
Still do.

Info gathered from Wikipedia, as usual.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Love Bond...

Went to see Quantum of Solace this weekend.
Loved it.
Some of my thoughts: click here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oddity of the week

Occassionally, I like to surf the web for stories of the strange and bizarre.

I think this fits the bill:

In October, Travis Fessler of Florence, Ohio, broke the Guinness Book record by holding 11 Madagascar hissing cockroaches in his mouth for the mandatory 10 seconds.
[Cincinnati Enquirer, 10-13-08]

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

Seriously! People will do anything for attention.
Where was he when Fear Factor was looking for these kind of numbskulls??

(found at: )

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Even in death he had the final word

Headline: "Husband's coffin kills wife on way to cemetery"

Check it out here.

I can't make this shit up, folks.

I want to be cremated immediately.

Pathology (2008) stars Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) as Dr. Ted Grey, a man with a promising future as a forensic pathologist. He's a new resident (doctor) at a prestigious pathology program at a renowned hospital, has a beautiful, wealthy fiance (Alyssa Milano) and seems to be on the right track to a blessed life.

Then he meets (and pisses off then impresses) his fellow young brilliant doctors in the department. They convince him he should be part of their funky after hours morgue game - namely, killing off unknown patients and the random street person for the sake of disguising the cause of death... then they can all rack their brains trying to figure out what happened and one-up each other.

Naturally, in a Flatliners-reminiscent kind of way, things get messed up. Someone goes too far (as if they hadn't already)...

Being set in a morgue, you have dead bodies and autopsies galore to stare at while watching Ted struggle with his conscience and try to keep the truth from his girlfriend, which includes multiple promiscuous interludes (read: all-out sex) with a fellow fiery resident.

There is alot of gore, guts and cutting and not much else.
Ok, some gratuitous drug use and sex in the autopsy suite as well. Let's not forget that. I mean, who doesn't want to have sex beside a dead body, right?

By the time Dr. Grey snaps out of it and realizes how completely wrong his actions are (!), he cannot get out of the game. He's in way too deep.

Pathology seems like a decent premise, but homicide for the fun of it has been done many times before.
Pretty much everyone else (doctors outside the game, police, family) is completely clueless to all this mayhem and that seems so very unlikely.
Basically this is just criminal mischief and murder by a bunch of smart asses with a God complex...with some gruesome effects thrown in for good measure.

I can't say I hated it, I just think it had a bit more potential than it ended up with.
Did this even make it to the theater?
Nope, I didn't think so.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

No thanks, I'll take the bus.

Creep is a British horror movie from 2005 that I just watched recently and found somewhat interesting.
The premise:
In London, Kate (Franka Potente, below) is headed to a late-night party and ends up taking the subway (or tubes or rails I think they call them overseas).

She is tired after a long day (and evening of partying!) and while waiting for the last train (to take her to a party where she apparently thinks she is going to seduce George Clooney- I shit you not), she accidentally falls asleep.

When she wakes up, she is alone at the station. Apparently she has been locked in.
Now if I'm being honest here, I had no idea, for one thing, that the subway ever closed in London. Does it? And if it does, what are the chances that the subway employees would neglect to wake you up and shoo you out?
It makes for a very spooky setting.

Anyhoo- Kate is locked in and soon becomes rather paranoid. She thinks she is not alone.
She's not. There is something lurking in the bowels of the underground and it has discovered she is there.

Here is our "creep".

He is some kind of mutant, not completely unlike the cave dwellers from 'The Descent', with a little bit of Darkman thrown in.
He's got some kind of doctor-complex and has an oogey collection of fetuses in his makeshift laboratory. I didn't completely get the whole reason that he was down there - maybe they said and I missed it, I don't know. In any event, Dr. Creep is determined to pick up a few chicks - what he will do with them... you don't really want to know.

While obviously not a big budget film, it does have some atmosphere - after all, wouldn't the subway one of the most un-nerving places to become stranded and alone?
It really put me in mind of that dude in 'An American Werewolf In London' - the one that gets attacked by the werewolf in the subway. The walls are all so starkly white and the blood just shows up sooo well. Same case here.

Kate is not completely alone, she finds out. Besides the Creep, there are some homeless people, a subway/sewer maintenence guy, and a few other random folks. There have to be others there so as to increase the body count, right?
I wouldn't have been too disappointed if they did away with Kate right away, a 'la Psycho - she was actually a fairly vain, annoying and vapid character.

But for a low-budget scarefest, this isn't the worst thing you could watch. The acting was decent enough, and like I said it had its scary moments. Not anything to lose sleep over though. It was basically a cat and mouse chase in subterranean tunnels.

One of those WTF? times in life...

Oh crap, I think I was supposed to like this.

striking a '300'-type pose...
As if.

'Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer' (2007) is really something... different.
I think, by reading many reviews on various sites (amazon, netflix, rotten tomatoes, etc.), that I am supposed to be enamoured with this satirical movie.
Well, sue me - I didn't care for it.

The only thing for me that remotely saved this film is the comedic and sometimes downright hysterical performance of horror veteran Robert Englund. I think he must have owed someone or been a relative of a producer or something - otherwise I cannot imagine why he chose to do this.

Robert Englund as Professor Crowley

Jack (Trevor Matthews) is a plumber in small town USA. He has serious anger management issues because when he was young, he saw his parents and little sister savagely murdered by some kind of bigfoot-el chupacabra-Jersey Devil-type of monster. Ever since then he has just been pissed. He sees a counselor but it just doesn't seem to be working.

"Jack" - our hero

His annoying girlfriend (so lousy in this role I can't remember her name) suggests he take a night class to calm his nerves. Why this would help I don't know. If I was always angry, sitting through a boring science class would only serve to make my head explode in even more anger.
But he goes.

His professor (Englund) catches him after class to ask for some help with a plumbing problem at his recently aquired home which he is renovating.
Of course this turns out to be the old house on the hill with the shady past and troubling secrets.

When the Professor Crowley unearths (literally, in his back yard) an ancient evil, all hell breaks loose. He slowly turns into a freakshow of a monster - culminating in him basically turning into Jabba the Hut with JAWS teeth right there in the classroom. Yes. Seriously.
I know this was all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I just couldn't take an interest in it no matter how hard I tried. It just fell flat for me. There was like, no action for a good hour into the thing.

While I can appreciate schlock movies as much as the next person, I just couldn't get into this snoozefest. It took way too long to get going, the acting was beyond bad (even if they were trying for camp they were failing), and the monsters were just plain silly and out of place.
This is even worse than a saturday in front of the tv watching a sci-fi monster movie marathon.
To me, funny is "Shaun of the Dead", ok?
I just kept thinking "man, this has got to get better"... but alas, it did not.

However...I acknowledge and and thankful for the lack of CGI in this movie. It is my understanding that the effects were practical and not dubbed in with computers. I am respectful of the hard work that was put into this motion picture. But for me, it was like a Disney movie gone wrong. Very wrong.
It was just sluggish, simple-minded and moronic.

save me from this bad movie!

Dawn of a new era

Can't really say much more than this:

Guess we'll see what happens from here...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Make your voice heard!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

They Wait...

They Wait (2008) is a ghost story, first and foremost.
It relies on a creepy story as opposed to lots of gore and empty plot.
While nowhere near as scary as say 'The Ring' or 'The Grudge' (which is what they were going for here I think), it still is a slow burning, atmospheric film.
Though I have to say - I think the title is pretty half-baked.

The opening sequences (one of a present day Chinese man apparently hunting in the woods who gets attacked by what looks like a spirit bear, the other of a time 50 years in the past - in which a group of factory owners seem to be packing boxes and getting them prepared to send overseas) all figure into the plot significantly - you just don't know it yet.

Fast forward to the present yet again:

Sarah (Jaime King) has been living in Shanghai with her (chinese) husband Jason (Terry Chen)and their young son Sam (well acted by tyke Regan Oey).
Seems Jason is a big wig in his family business and that has kept the family overseas setting up an office for longer than anticipated.
When Jason's uncle Raymond dies unexpectedly (you find out that this is the man killed by the bear-spirit in the beginning), the family heads back home to the Pacific Northwest for the funeral and to stay awhile with the ill-natured and somewhat cranky widowed aunt, who apparently raised Jason.

Of importance to the plot is the information that Raymond and two associates were involved in some sort of benefactory practice of shipping the bones of deceased Chinese immigrants back to China for burial, as it is believed that if they are not laid to rest with their ancestors, they will be unable to rest. In other words - they will be unsettled ghosts.

So, soon after arriving back in Vancouver (in Chinatown of course), things start to get funky for little Sam.
He's creeped out by his favorite teddy bear, is afraid of the dark, and he starts seeing 'ghosts' taking the offerings from out on the street that people leave for the dead.
He finds out it is 'Ghost Month' - an old Chinese tradition that during this month in the year, the veil between the living and dead is broken. He develops more than a passing interest in the folklore and beliefs of this symbolism.
In fact, he becomes quite frightened by it.
Furthermore, he starts seeing a ghost of a young woman at his aunt's home, and being curious, follows it to the mysterious factory in the lower level of the warehouse/home.
Soon, Sarah herself also begins to experience some strange visions, but when Jason is called back to Shanghai for a business emergency, she stays on to help the aunt out for awhile.

Little Sam suddenly becomes ill and is hospitalized and near death.
Western medicine is unsuccessful in treating the boy, so Sarah does her own research into the strange goings-on in the factory, as well as the history of these cryptic Chinese cultures and traditions of death and ghosts.
She has some help with her apprehensions and concerns from an old-school "pharmacist" - more like a chinese herbal guru of sorts that knows all these philiosophies and legends and what will befall the little boy if the mother doesn't uncover the truth about what really happened in that factory, why the malevolent spirits have chosen Sammy to torment, and he also knows a bit about how Jason's family is involved.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this film. I like a good ghost story, and while it is not The Changeling, it is a refreshing change to see a movie that does not depend on gore and special effects to tell its tale.
There is alot of plot here, and while at first confusing, the tale is woven well and the ending is satisfying.

Truth be told, I found this to be more of a mystery than a horror film. There aren't alot of outright scares - I can only think of one thing that made me shudder. It tries to be similar in theme to most J-Horror movies, but doesn't quite produce the same scares most of those films are known for.
Still, I have trouble finding fault in most horror movies, because I enjoy them so much - and I have definately seen much much worse than this in my lifetime. (like, say- 'Feast 2' or 'Borderline Cult'!- aaarrrrgghhhh! save me from the seventh circle of hell that those films are in!)

So- give 'They Wait' a chance - the acting (in particular the little boy) is good, the story is original, and the ending tied up all the loose strings.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When Holidays Converge

Merry Christmas for Halloween!!

My generous in-laws decided to get the hubby and I a new tv for Christmas.
With all this talk of HD this and that, and tvs shutting down in February (which wouldn't have happened to us because we have a satellite and not an antenna), we'd been talking about that day in the future when we would get a new (nicer and larger) tv...

Well Merry Christmas in October.

Just in time for Halloween, the in-laws got us this lovely 40 inch flatscreen HDtv - it's a Sony Bravia, and I suppose that means something... to me it just means bigger and better.

They didn't want to wait to give it to us.. and so I say: thanks!!!!!

Of course we had some re-arranging to do, as we had a big oak entertainment center in our living room, and this tv would never have fit in the specific 'tv opening'... so it was out with the old (and now what do we do with this big honkin' entertainment center??) and in with the new.

And what did we watch to christen the tv?
Why 'Sweeney Todd' of course!

It was awesome seeing Johnny on that big screen!

We've still got some re-arranging and cord-tucking to do, but I am pleased as punch and look forward to seeing my other evil heroes bigger and badder than ever.

To be fair, I did watch Evil Dead II also - and those laughing deer heads were bigger and funnier than ever!

Setting the holiday mood...
(note the jack-o-lantern!)

Jigsaw's back!

So, in the great tradition of Halloween, I went to see Saw V.

My favorite uncle, Shawn, and I always go see a horror movie near Halloween, and the last several years it has been a no-brainer what to see. (Regardless of the fact that this year there wasn't much to actually choose from, seeing as how studios ripped 'Trick 'r Treat' from release yet again, 'The Haunting of Mary Hartley' sounds like a Lifetime movie of the week, and 'Quarantine' seemed to make a hasty exit into oblivion...)

But hey, we've been watching Jigsaw make his magic happen since way back.

This year is no different. Lots of traps, loads of blood, and enough confusion to make a Logic professor have sleepless nights.
Now, I don't want to give the impression that we are seeing something new here, or even that this is one of the better horror movies of the year (I'd give those kudos to 'The Strangers') but hey, it was Halloween, people!)...
Saw V is completely unoriginal and the concept is absolutely redundant and convoluted - purely there to throw some torture porn your way. So check your brain at the door (no pun intended) and just deal with it.

But Jigsaw died at the end of part 3! - you say.
Ahhh... but there is always a creative way to keep a killer in a scary movie, ask any horror buff.
If you 'saw' part 4, you know they did an autopsy on the creepy dude - so how do you bring someone back from that?

This ain't how.... (but it's a great photo and it does have a hidden meaning)

And try to remember Jigsaw has a habit of not working alone. Remember Amanda?
And by bringing in new characters, there always seems to be a method to his madness.
Besides, if Tobin Bell doesn't have the eeriest, if not one of the most recognizable voices in film, I'll eat my hat (though I'm actually not wearing one...)

You just have to have that "hello Amanda... I want to play a game" thing going on!

I can't really go into the plot without giving key points away, so I'll just say that though the traps are pretty decent - they may be running out of ideas at this stage of the game.

it sucks to be you, dude!

But I like the one best where there is a giant pendulum type blade swinging over this poor guy -suffice it to say it doesn't end well...

you can't see the overhead blade, but he sure can.

And in true Saw fashion, there are time constraints.
Never enough time before the door 'locks and shuts for all eternity'.
Never enough time before the guy next to you stabs you in the back, on purpose!
Never enough time to figure out the trap before it slams shut and somebody's body is never the same.
Never enough time to find the secret warehouse where all these traps and gizmos are set up.
Never enough time to secretly wish you hadn't killed, cheated, stole, or lied in your lifetime.
Never enough time to wish that freaking puppet would wreck his damn tricycle!

just. never. enough. time.

time is just about up...

End game.