Saturday, April 30, 2011

La Horde

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IMDB
My Rating: 6/10

When four corrupt policemen invade a gangster's hideout near Paris to avenge the death of their colleague, they quickly find themselves outmanned, outgunned and trapped. That is, until a legion of vicious zombies swarms through the building. Now, the cops, the crooks and the undead are swept up in a bloody three-way rampage.
"La Horde" is a French zombie film from 2009. It's best described as "Assault on Precinct 13" meets [REC] (BTW, I do think [REC] may possibly be my personal all-time favorite zombie film ever. I realize that "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead" are the classics, and I'm really fond of both "Shaun of the Dead" and "Return of the Living Dead", but [REC] is just distilled perfection for me, and is the only zombie movie that's ever managed to genuinely frighten me). "Horde" was dark and intense, and not a jokey zombie film at all. It's the story of a group of police officers who decide to wipe out a local criminal gang, vigilante-style.  Unfortunately for them, the tables are turned almost immediately and things look grim, but instead of being murdered, they are forced to team up with the criminals when a zombie apocalypse hits and both groups are trapped in an unfinished, condemned city tower block. 


This was a lot of fun - Very much a brawling, fast-paced, grungy drive-in popcorn movie.  It has its downsides.  The zombie chow in this flick are not characters you'll be tempted to root for. They didn't really have much in the way of personalities at all, other than being amusingly obvious French renditions of popular Hollywood stereotypes. We had the serious, bald, bearded Jeff Bridges guy playing his role as Stane in Iron Man; we had a Samuel Motherfuckin' Jackson black bald guy as the badass head of the criminal gang; we had a Harvey Keitel "Reservoir Dogs" guy as the borderline untrustworthy psycho; we had a Megan Fox-ish "I'm a bitch and I don't care what anyone thinks because I've got the booty" lady cop, and so on. This is perfectly illustrated in the poster pic of the three main characters:
*  70's macho Sly Stallone guy
*  Bitchy Megan Fox chick with prominently featured nipples
*  Samuel Motherfuckin' Jackson going psycho



It was pretty funny, really, because while nearly all the main characters were Xeroxes of American movie stars, the only character in this who was genuinely likable was the one authentic French character, the crazy old guy that used to be in the army. While the world is disintegrating into zombie hell outside, he's happy to bar the doors and sit around the kitchen table drinking pastis.  And maybe it's good that we don't get too sympathetic of anyone, because, well...






While the characters are so-so, the zombie outbreak is handled excellently, almost Cloverfield in style, in that it's the classic, "No one knows what's happening, suddenly the city is going up in flames, why are they bombing parts of the city, where did these screaming hordes of undead come from?" These were the best scenes of the movie, IMO - The realization that while everyone has been consumed with the action and fighting going on inside the building, really, REALLY epic-level awful things are happening outside, unnoticed until it's too late. VERY bleak, but worth seeing if you're in the mood for some serious zombie carnage.


I'm going to make some French cultural guesstimations here.  I'm very, very wary of reviewers who read all sorts of subtexts into foreign films that they claim represent the culture depicted, when really what we're saying is that these are our observations of the most basic stereotypes and cliches of that other culture, as seen from outside.  I watched this happen often while living in France and reading French reviews and comments on US movies and books, many of which tried to offer some piercing insight into "American culture" while simultaneously getting it completely wrong, so I'm sensitive about the sort of land mines one can step on when reviewing foreign film. That said, based on my time living there, I suspect that "Horde" manages to say a lot of political stuff that non-French folks will miss, like the marginalization of the Nigerian bad guys who are loyal to each other but simply cannot function in a legal way in the French system. Also, the classic state housing, low income tower block is a character in itself, for anyone who has seen the typical government housing buildings on the outskirts of French cities. There were some in St. Nazaire and many in Nantes that looked just like this - 75% finished, out of money, not livable, but not torn down because , well... "the state". Alors, the simple fact that all of the "good people" (i.e., "native French") of the inner city are coming out to the low rent suburbs to actually devour the unwanted immigrant inhabitants may be, I suspect, a bit of very underhanded French satire  (French cities seemed an odd inversion of the American rule, to me.  Here we have "white flight" - All the middle class white Americans move out to the suburbs, leaving the inner cities to the poor and the criminal.  There, it seemed the opposite, with the native French downtown and each city ringed by violent suburb tracts full of gangs).  Or not.  It's also entirely possible that I'm reading too much into it - See my comments on the perils of reviewing les produits des autres cultures above.  

Overall, it was a blast - Just the sort of thing that would have been perfect drive-in fare back in the days when there were drive-ins.  Rough, brutal, and straight to the point, it's the sort of movie that Tarantino keeps self-consciously trying to homage.  It is not a great movie, but it certainly isn't dull.


Suggested Accompaniment:  Not quite innocent or light enough to be a popcorn movie, you're probably better off finding a fairly ragged tobacco to smoke in whichever French-brand pipe you own.  Really, though, this is a film for a pack of Gauloise and a glass of Armorik (An affordable Breton whiskey).



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dead and Breakfast

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IMDB
My Rating: 4/10

Six friends (including Bianca Lawson, Ever Carradine, Erik Palladino and Portia de Rossi) get more than they bargained for when they spend the night at a nondescript bed-and-breakfast in the backwater town of Lovelock. When the B&B's owner and the chef don't survive the night, the travelers are the prime suspects. But the tables (and suspicions) turn when the townspeople become possessed by an evil spirit and besiege the young people in the B&B.
This is not a great movie. In many ways, it's not even a good movie, but if you're bored and have Netflix and feel like watching some crazy zombie-comedy action, it's an enjoyable way to pass an evening and has some very clever bits. Unfortunately, you have to get through the first half hour of utter tedium, where you'll want to kill every one of these young ZombieChow actors. The Netflix print is terrible, in standard def and dark and muddy, even though this is a 2004 movie (Perhaps they were going for the "Made for TV, 1975" look? If so, it was a success...).

The cast is a heap of 20-somethings that you will halfway recognize as "the asshole guy from Suicide Kings" or "the obnoxious bitch from Ally McBeal". You will hate them all instantly. This is OK, because nearly all of them die horribly, so there is payoff. You also get David Carradine and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, "Watchmen"s Comedian, as a redneck sheriff.

The plot is simple. A bunch of lost people on their way to a wedding end up at a bed & breakfast which is run by a weirdo with a magic box. Magic box is opened, evil spirits get out, and soon there are zombie hordes invading the local hick bar and surrounding the B&B.

This movie really, REALLY wants to be Evil Dead/Shaun of the Dead. And it sort of halfway works. It has some great country music vignettes tying the story together (Cowboy Guy introduces each chapter via Beverly Hillbillies-style intro songs), a lot of humor, and some funny lines. The humor is broad (A scene of a guy running in place in a blood slick could have come straight out of a Warner cartoon). The zombies dance and sing. It's actually funny enough and goofy enough that it's frustrating, because it comes this close to being a genuinely good movie but just doesn't quite manage it. The problems seem to be direction and budget.   We know some of the actors can act because we've seen them in better stuff, but here they all come off flat and unlikable and there really isn't anyone you'll be rooting for - It's more, "Oh, look, they've killed the guy in the boots.  I wonder if they'll get Girl With Attitude next?".  The final girl is a complete nonentity - I couldn't even remember who she was in the group, which is composed of "People who are really obnoxious" and "People you barely notice are there".

Bottom line- If you watch it, you won't be bored (except in the beginning), and you will get some laughs and fun out of it, and probably come away like I did, thinking it was an enjoyable 80 minutes but could have been so much more, with only a bit more money to play with and some livelier characters for our actors to inhabit.


Suggested Accompaniment:  Very much a beer and pretzels sort of film.  Keep beer, pretzels, and any associated smokes cheap and unpolished.  Finishing up a couple of beers prior to the zombie dance routine will enhance your enjoyment of said ensemble greatly.



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Announcing the Kentucky Fried Popcorn forum!

A few days ago, I posted about the introduction of a new page, "Popcorn Bites", for mini-reviews of movies that I didn't have the time nor drive to write a full review for.  After barely two days of thinking about it, I've already yanked that page and replaced it with the official Kentucky Fried Popcorn forum.  The KFP forum has a board for mini-reviews, where I'll post all the short reviews I'd otherwise have posted to Popcorn Bites, and also a page for chat about beer, tobacco, popcorn, and other wicked vices that go well with movies.  I realized pretty quickly that the Popcorn Bites page would get overloaded and impossible to scan through really quickly, and a searchable forum offers easier finding of specific movies plus visitor interactivity, for those who might be inclined to share their own reviews, opinions, etc.  SO, stop in and have a chat, we promise we won't bite!  Much.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

KISS meets the Phantom of the Park

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IMDB
Amazon
My Rating: 3/10 or 8/10 (See review)

 An amusement park mad scientist develops a plan to get his old job back  using robot duplicates, and KISS must defeat him and his singing KISSbots with their special magic powers.  None of that is a joke.

Finally out on DVD, this is the legendary 1978 TV movie that KISS hated.  Apparently what they wanted for their big KISS movie was a mythical Star Wars-style epic with lasers and swords, directed by Stanley Kubrick.  What they got was a TV Movie-of-the-Week modeled on the sillier episodes of Six Million Dollar Man.   It was, in fact, totally AWESOME.... assuming you are not a KISS fan. I never cared much about KISS and I found this freaking hilarious, but I can definitely see why the loyal KISS followers (and the band themselves) absolutely loathed it. On the one hand, it would be an ideal MST3K movie, but OTOH, it doesn't need it.  That might almost be too much, because I was laughing all the way through this freaking thing. To get a feel for the "epicness" of this movie, watch the this clip as the band members first appear... from space!


I can't even begin to write a proper review of this because it's impossible to put into words how truly god-awful and how fantastically entertaining it is, all at once. The plot is simple - KISS are some sort of superhero rock stars with magical talisman powers, and they fight a crazy theme park inventor and his army of robots. The bad guy is played by Anthony Zerbe, better known as Mathias from the Omega Man. ( Really, I think the only 70's cultural archetype missing from this was a jumping bionic Bigfoot)   His mad plan is to build robot copies of KISS who will then sing bad songs, which will make the fanatically loyal KISS fans riot and cause chaos and negative press which KISS will take the blame for.  [image] I see two flaws with this world domination plan:
A)  How would anyone notice that the robot KISS was playing bad songs? 
B)  When I set out on my path to global domination, step one is not going to be a elaborate scheme to mess up the reputation of a rock band I don't like.  I'll secure my control over the rest of the planet and then turn my twisted attention to Justin Beiber.


I've got two lists from this movie.

First, this movie managed to encapsulate everything about the 1970's into one package. 90 minutes of concentrated 70's. You get:

Bionic jumps with sound effects
Star Trek door and FX noises
Kung fu fighting
Samurais with lightsabers
Universal classic monsters
A crazy Phantom guy
Fembots (Well, actually manbots, but close enough)
Lots of KISS music
Discosploitation music for the fight scenes (It's really weird going from KISS tunes to what sounds like the Shaft theme music for walking around, then BeeGees instrumentals for fights)
Bell bottom pants
A Triumph TR7 half-glimpsed ("The Shape of Things to Come" - Remember that?)
Tube tops
No bras (heh heh)
Rollercoaster fixation
Chariots of the Gods mystical gumbo
Crazy robot monkeys
Sumos in diapers
King Kong
Laser FX - A concert stage with spinning sparkler wheels and a drum set that rises up
Someone breaking through a concrete block wall made of those Hulk/Steve Austin blocks that bounce

Secondly, odd observations about KISS:


* They have a pool but don't swim. Instead, they perch on silly 8' tall chairs in a cluster at one end, wearing sparkly glitter robes with their hoods up, making lion noises and squeaks at each other.
* They have magical talismans that give them superpowers. Supposedly we all do. Huh?
* One KISS member was doubled by a black stuntman for his fight scenes.
* One KISS member was so drunk and drugged on set that all his lines were redubbed by a voice that sounds like a Scooby character.
* KISS' acting makes early Arnold look like Laurence Olivier.
* Watching "Demon" Gene Simmons try to walk and do fight scenes in foot-high boots never gets any less funny.
* Gene Simmons breathes fire that is so badly matted that you can see straight-edged mask cutout lines often.


In this movie you get to see KISS perform several concert songs, fight fembots, fight ninjas and lightsaber guys, fight white robot monkeys that climb like Spiderman, fight the classic Universal monsters (Dracula, mummy, wolfman, etc), and finally fight robot duplicates of themselves. I was much amused by the fact that I was unable to tell any difference between the supposedly "bad" song that the robot KISS band sings, and the real KISS songs... I mean, the real songs were recognizable, but the evil KISS song sounded like any B track to me, despite somehow being so offensive to the fans that they began to destroy the concert stadium.  Maybe they just wanted out of the movie really badly.

The first 20 minutes of this movie are as dull as any TV movie of the period, but once you finally hear KISS trying to speak and act, it redeems itself and it's a wild ride to the finish. It was unbelievably, eye-poppingly awful, and I loved every minute of it.  Ergo, my dual rating above - As a film, it's a disaster on training wheels, wobbling from one ridiculous scene to the next, all the while barely on the edge of falling over.  As an entertainment spectacle, it's hard to beat, especially if you have alcohol handy.  Spend 3 minutes watching the clip below and experience the wonder that the entire movie is - Then you'll know if you have the right stuff to sit through 90 minutes of this.







Sadly, the late 70's were the end of the KISS glory days, though they did make a brief resurgence in the early 80's, sans makeup, to create possibly the most amazingly homoerotic music video ever recorded.  Seriously, Liberace singing with the Village People would think this was too much, dahling...




Suggested Accompaniment: Well, there are different ways to go with this.  If you're age 40+, you can go Full Nostalgia and break out the cola, Jujubees, Junior Mints, and Crackerjack popcorn and be ten years old all over again.  Alternatively, you probably want something alcoholic to help ease your passage through this saga - Something sweet, like Frangelica, or even (Heaven forbid) some sort of alco-pops because this is the kind of movie that would perfectly fit a strawberry/banana wine cooler. As for smokes, something candy-flavored in an ecig is the only way to go, because you weren't old enough to smoke tobacco in 1978 and if you were, you were probably too old to enjoy the trash classic charm of this movie.  Like "Scott Pilgrim versus the World", it's a generation-seeking missile whose wonders will likely be lost on anyone outside the target age range, who are now all 38-48.  Rock on, dudes.




Friday, April 22, 2011

Madhouse (1974)



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IMDB
My Rating: 6/10


Down on his luck and trying to keep a grip on his precarious mental health, has-been horror-film icon Paul Toombes (Vincent Price) takes a stab at revitalizing his career by starring in a television series based on his famous silver screen persona, Dr. Death. But when people start dying in gruesome ways that resemble Dr. Death's handiwork, Toombes suspects the evil character has completely taken over his mind. Jim Clark directs this thriller.
 These days, "Scream" gets all the credit for being the first post-modern, self-aware horror film (Even though that award should really go to "There's nothing out there").  Roll back the timeline a few decades, though, and you find this forgotten gem, starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry (of "Count Yorga:  Vampire", a movie I have sadly not yet seen).  Put Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in the same movie and it's worth showing up just to watch them read a telephone directory.  Alas, Cushing isn't in this much - He wanders in and out of the story, probably from other movie contracts during the same time period.  But back to "Scream" -  "Madhouse" kept reminding me of "Scream" as it played through...  It's a weird fusion, sort of a mashup of 50's/60's gothic horror classics and emerging 70's London disco culture, self-referencing all the way and, like "Scream", resembling a slasher/horror on the surface and actually being a twisted mystery underneath.

Price plays himself, a famous horror actor who's not coping well with the changing times.  His iconic screen character Dr. Death was forcibly retired years past, when his bride-to-be was beheaded under mysterious circumstances and Price was committed to an asylum due to mental breakdown.  Now he's out, healthy, and being wooed by old friend Cushing to make a comeback as Dr. Death in an ongoing TV series.  Unfortunately, the reappearance of Dr. Death in his life brings, well... the reappearance of Dr. Death in his life, and before you can say Wes Craven, a mysterious figure in a death mask starts appearing and murdering everyone close to him.  The murders keep occurring during blackout periods for Price, leaving him and the police wondering if he's gone batty once more and is rowing without all his cards in the deck.


I have to give special kudos to Price's very simple-yet-enjoyable Doctor Death makeup...




... but the real visual winner here is the "killer" version of Dr. Death, who ends up out-Screaming the "Scream" phantom and being one of the more unnerving slasher killers ever:


It's an effectively creepy and simple look that I hope to steal for a Halloween costume one of these years, if I can ever convince any Trick or Treaters to come back to our house again.  The killer Dr. Death mows his way through the cast in various creative ways, some of which make no sense whatsoever but presage the "Death by garden implement" wave of 80's slashers.  The whole thing builds to a dramatic conclusion that literally brings the house down in an obvious homage to Price's old Poe films.

Oh, and did I mention that there's also a crazy disfigured spider lady living in Cushing's basement, for no apparent reason?

So, all of this sounds like good stuff so far, and it is, but why the middling rating?  The problem is that it's all a bit of a mess.  It has a lot of good pieces, but the director doesn't seem to know how to fit them together, and the tone is so uneven that people on the IMDB board are mistakenly complaining that the film has been edited down over the years.  Sadly, this isn't the case - The jarring transitions and mood breakers are all original, and it often seems that just when you're getting into a nice suspenseful scene, it cuts to a 70's pantsuit party or other silliness.  It tries hard to bridge the older world of crumbling castle horrors with the mid-70's "Deep Red" mod murder vibe, but doesn't quite manage it, leaving the whole thing feeling like two disparate movies stuck together with packing tape.  One minute Price is making his way by candlelight through a cobwebbed basement in the dead of night, the next minute Dr. Death is killing someone to a pop song and disco ball lights.  If it had any other actors in the title roles it would have lost another couple of points on the rating scale, but Price and Cushing do a mighty job of keeping the whole thing watchable and interesting, even though you'll guess who the killer is well before the end.

A forgotten curiosity worth visiting if you're a fan of these legendary horror actors, but not so great for anyone else.


Suggested Accompaniment:  I've said before that Danish freehands are the pipes for 70's films, and here again they're a nice fit.  Something big, swanky, and as outrageously over the top as bell bottom pants would be the ideal pipe for this flick.  But in honor of the movie's split personality, go with a traditional English tobacco...  Maybe Dunhill London Mix, something like that, which should balance out the experience nicely. 




Thursday, April 21, 2011

Franklyn

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IMDB
My Rating: 6/10  

In the futuristic Meanwhile City, a masked vigilante (Ryan Phillippe) seeks out his nemesis while in contemporary London, an art student (Eva Green) attempts to kill herself, a heartbroken lover (Sam Riley) looks for someone new and a father (Bernard Hill) searches for his son. Writer-director Gerald McMorrow's sci-fi drama follows these desperate individuals as their lives become intertwined by fate.

A very odd movie, but one which I think most everyone here would enjoy with a few caveats. For starters, it's NOT a superhero/SF/action flick, despite what posters and categories and trailers might suggest - It's a contemporary psychological drama set mostly in modern day London. The posters and ads seem to focus on the action aspects of a masked mystery man in Meanwhile City, and while he is the crux of the movie, don't go into this expecting Batman or Watchmen. It's more like a surreal fusion of Brazil, Dark City, and a BBC character drama. The SF/superhero aspect of it is only one slice of story out of multiple concurrent tales.

In modern London, a troubled young artist plans suicide, a young man is jilted at the altar and develops an obsession for a childhood sweetheart, and a father searches frantically for his lost son. In Meanwhile City, something straight out of a Gilliam-verse, a Rorschach-esque masked vigilante roams the streets, ostracized because he is an atheist in a city where everyone has to have a religion by law. He stalks his enemy, a child murderer, while being pursued by the agents of the church/government.

It's a weird mix for a movie. The modern day stories are intriguing and good in their own right, but can't help but be overshadowed by the weirdness of Meanwhile City, where everyone has a religion and change them regularly (I was particularly fond of the Seventh Day Manicurists). 
It isn't on the level of Brazil by a long shot but it does have some wicked dark humor in it, in the Meanwhile City sections. In fact, I was wishing they'd spent more time there and fleshed out the city more, because the little bits of it that we get are wonderfully weird.

Here is another film that you'll watch for one hour wondering WTF is going on and if these stories will ever connect, but they do, eventually. In fact, I thought the ending was just a little bit TOO twee compared to the preceding, but the threads do tie together in interesting fashion. I can't say, "This is awesome, you MUST run out and watch it", but I can say, "It is worth seeing and won't disappoint if you don't go in expecting a superhero action film."
There are no superhero antics. Well, there is one slow-mo fight scene that sticks out in a pretty dumb "300" way but it's mercifully brief. I almost wonder if it was included just for the trailer, since the rest of the violence is quite realistic and of the "Gonna break this bar stool over your head" variety. Mostly it seemed to be a dark psychological drama that the promoters looked at and said, "Hey, if we focus on this masked guy we'll bring in all the Watchmen audience and the teens", so the promotional material for it makes it look VERY different than it is. 

Worth seeing. 





Suggested Accompaniment:   Black sandblasted churchwarden.  Or even a clay - I don't say this often about any movies made after 1949 but this would work well as a clay pipe movie, especially if you're lucky enough to have one of the artistic creations of French artisan Gerard Prungnaud.  Let me load up my Prungnaud calabash with some Gawith Bracken Flake, pour a mug of Black Chocolate Stout, and I'm a happy hobbit.

Babylon 5: Lost Tales

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IMDB
My Rating: 3/10  

I loved Babylon 5.  Absolutely loved it.  It remains probably my favorite TV science fiction series - The revamped Battlestar Galactica was pushing it off the throne for a while there, but fell apart in the end, where B5's final episode is one of my favorites ever broadcast.  So it really, really pains me to write this review...


JMS made this in 2007 as an attempt to re-ignite interest in B5 towards the goal of making a series of direct-to-DVD movies, but alas, it was not a successful experiment. The idea was to tell small, character-centric stories set within the B5-verse, and it succeeded at that, but the execution was pretty middling.

The plot: It's 3 short stories wrapped into an hour+ video. The first features Lockley and a priest on B5 dealing with what appears to be a demonic possession, the second is a conversation between Sheridan and an Earth reporter, and the third and longest is a story about Sheridan and Ghaelen dealing with a "future Hitler" in the Centauri empire.

The good: It's really cool to see and hear B5 again, complete with Christopher Franke score. Sheridan has aged into his role excellently and has some terrific lines. He's as likable as ever. It has a lot of that "Visit with old friends" aspect to it. Also, the plots are cerebral, philosophical, dialog-heavy, and loaded with classic B5 monologues about the nature of spirit and hope. For me this was good, though today's 19 year old would be whining about being bored within 2 minutes.

The bad: Oog. Well, for starters, they had no remaining sets or props from the series to work with, and a minimalistic budget, so nearly everything except for a couple of nondescript rooms is set against a CGI background...and not a very big budgetey CGI background, either. Sadly, a lot of the shots reminded me way too much of the Full Motion Video composites from PC games of the mid 90's, where actors would perform Wing Commander cutscenes in front of Playstation backgrounds. 




Also, the choice of characters is bizarre. We went in hoping to be reunited with some of the series regulars, but the only one present is Sheridan... Even Delenn is "Away on a peace mission", and only contacted by phone calls during the show. Opening the show with Commander Lockley (otherwise known as Diet-Ivanova) was weird - She wasn't exactly a beloved character so wasting a third of the running time on a Lockley-centered story was off-putting.

Also, the guy who did the camerawork in the first story NEEDS to find another job, seriously. I have no idea WHAT they thought they were doing, but it became totally laughable and Em and I kept pausing the thing to gag in disbelief. Basically, the guy can't hold the damn camera still. We may have been extra-sensitive to this having just come off watching a run of 40's films over the holidays - Thus being used to the concept of static cameras and actors who could play an entire 15 minute scene without a cut. In Lost Tales, though, aggggg... There's a prolonged conversation between a priest and a supposedly possessed man in a cell. Typical B5 conversation, very long winded and philosophical and dialog-heavy. I can't say what they talked about, though, because I was too distracted by the cameraman rolling the camera, zooming in on random things, filming the actors' hands, ceiling lights, rolling the camera up an actor's nose, and on and on. It seemed he was totally convinced that no one would accept a long dialog scene without some dumbass shakeycam going on, so we're bombarded by this constantly moving camera crawling all over the room and dramatically cutting back and forth between actors and just generally totally fucking the scene up. When my wife and myself are both yelling at the screen, "Hold the goddamned camera still!!!", it's bad. Imagine the handicam from Cloverfield applied to two guys sitting motionless in a cell. [image]

Lack of extras and sets make the whole thing look much more like a webisode of a homemade series than the B5 we know and love. If you are a B5 completist like myself, it is worth watching just to see familiar characters and storytelling styles again, but I can't imagine anyone unfamiliar with B5 enjoying this, and the whole thing came off very half-baked IMO. After the poor sales of this, the idea of ongoing mini-movies was scrapped, so this is likely the last gasp of B5 we're ever going to see - A sad fate for what was my personal favorite SF series ever on TV.



Suggested Accompaniment: A nice snifter of banana-creme-waffle eliquid from Tasty Vapor, delivered in a high tech Janty ecig, will make the whole thing go down a little sweeter.  A little.

Night of the Demons

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IMDB
My Rating: 4/10  


A remake of some obscure 80's movie that I vaguely remember watching, which has now apparently been raised to the level of cult classic just because it was made in the 80's  (A new rule that has been brought to us by current generations of yoofs, who mysteriously revere even the stupidest 80's films like "Goonies" and "Neverending Story".  Yes, I said it, "Goonies" was a really dumb film...). I don't remember anything about the original, and one day later, I barely remember anything about the remake.

Oh yeah, it has tentacle boobies. There was that.

The first 15 minutes were good. Everyone's going to a huge Halloween party at a haunted New Orleans house. This is a fantastic setting with great atmosphere and a house full of partying people in costumes suggests all sorts of potential fun.  BUT, while the costumes and the decorations and all were great, and for a short time you think this could turn out to be a cool new October movie, alas, no... Soon the police break the party up and leave just our small, contained, affordable cast trapped in the house and the demons get loose and then tentacle boobies.

Pros:
The demon makeup was cool.
Final Girl was fun.
Nice sets.
Lots of cleavage.

Cons:
Huh, wha? Did we just watch this?
Something happened. There were zombies or something.
A pack of 30 year old 20 year olds who can't climb over a freaking gate.
Final Girl and her ex are as likely a couple as Linda Carter and Pauly Shore.
Most amazing Basil Exposition ever.

Oh, and there is one other plus - Edward Furlong, the bratty John Connor kid from Terminator 2, is much abused and dies horribly. So there is that.

Hey, wasn't there like a Russian gangster or something too? WTF was that subplot doing in there, and where did it go? Also, rusty iron crowbars hurt demon zombies because, and I quote, "Iron is an ancient element like demons are ancient, and rust signifies corrosion of that ancient element, which is why rusty iron hurts them."


This would have made a great high school date/makeout movie.  For watching as an adult?  No thanks.  You won't be bored, but you're unlikely to recall much an hour later.





Suggested Accompaniment: "Blast of Butter" popcorn.  You need all the distraction you can get. 

Unthinkable

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IMDB
My Rating: 7/10  

A good thriller for challenging your brain and morals. That unreadable tagline up there says, "Right and wrong no longer exist" This is a star-filled big budget movie that got yanked from distribution and exiled to direct-to-DVD, probably because its content would absolutely wig the average American out of his freaking mind, given the challenges it asserts to typical "tough guy" talk about terrorism.

In brief - Homegrown US Muslim extremist & family man was formerly a trained Delta Force ranger overseas. He has managed to smuggle in and plant three crude nuclear bombs in three unknown US cities, to be detonated in a few days. Carrie-Anne Moss plays the FBI team leader called in to run the investigation trying to find the bombs, until she is roped into serving as "good cop" to professional CIA interrogator Sam Jackson, a guy so frightening in his methods that the US government won't admit he exists, at least until he's needed. With the threat of nuclear devastation hanging over everyone, Jackson is assigned to torture the bomb locations out of the bad guy.

The entire movie is tense and morally challenging. Someone on IMDB described it as torture porn but it really isn't, not in the Saw/Hostel sense. You see some occasional nasty & shocking bits but mostly it's done in cut-aways, ie, you don't SEE fingers being chopped off with an axe, you cut up to onlookers' horrified eyes. It's a constant seesaw of limits - At the start, Jackson is willing to do anything required to get the info from the prisoner, but is continually reigned in by the other agents. As time runs out, the others become increasingly desperate and find their morals dropping like a drunk cougar's panties, while Jackson becomes gradually more appalled at the actions he's forced to resort to. The focus is on the characters outside the interrogation room and how they adapt their morals to the changing crisis, instead of being all about watching some guy get chopped up.

Good movie, and a good example of how flexible morality can be given the circumstances. 




Suggested Accompaniment: If you even try smoking during this one, you're likely to burn your pipe out.  Probably would go well with a cigar, though, given that it's all about the secret cabals of power brokers determining our fate, and we all know they love cigars.  A glass of Drambuie wouldn't go down ill, either.

Gargoyles

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IMDB
My Rating: 7/10  

 An anthropologist/paleontologist and his daughter, while traveling through the southwestern US, stumble upon a colony of living, breathing gargoyles.
 Man, that was one concentrated flash of childhood trauma all in one package, here. I watched this when it first aired, at age 6. Talk about traumatized for life. [image] What surprises me now, watching it again after almost 40 years, was how many individual images and scenes from it were locked away in my memory. I didn't remember much about the story, but I did vividly recall various impressions - The lead gargoyle, the slow-mo way they were filmed, the gargoyle at the foot of the bed, the skeleton in the barn, the claws ripping through the barn roof, and on and on. The simple act of filming the gargoyles in that weird, jumpy, slow motion frame rate gave them an unearthly aspect that helped overcome the budget limits. 

At age 6, I wasn't equipped to catch the movie's reflections on genocide, though, and it's less morally clear cut than I recalled. I ended up feeling a bit sorry for the gargoyles, since even though they were evil and dedicated to wiping out the human race, it was clear that their slow reproduction cycle had left them totally outstripped by human numbers and human technology.  It's not your typical horror movie when you're looking at Dracula and thinking, "Boy, you really are a bit pitiful, aren't you?"  Still, they're menacing enough, and it's pretty clear that no pretty human ladies are safe around the alpha gargoyle.




Some great lines in this one, too.
"Lady, you're telling me you have a giant lizard...with a beak.. in your hotel room?"
"Better go with her, man! One of them gar-things is gonna get her!"



I was also pleased that the appeal of the movie wasn't all nostalgia. While I doubt any young moviewatchers of today could sit still through this, or watch it without constant snarking on the FX**(See rant below), it still holds up quite well. As with so many of the 70's TV horror movies, the focus is on mood and creep factor more than outright horror. I'd love to someday assemble a full collection of the 70's made-for-TV flicks like Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror, Norliss Tapes, Salem's Lot, etc. (I still think the TV movie version of Salem's Lot is one of the best vampire movies ever made)

Keep watching the skies.




Suggested Accompaniment: It was the 70's, man.  You need a biiiiig Danish freehand pipe for this one, preferably with some kind of Tinderbox aromatic that will throw you back 30 years in time.  Might be worth breaking out that cellared bottle of RC cola, too.  


** Regarding the FX - On the Gargoyles IMDB board, there are threads from yoofs snarking on about the "bad FX" and I'm thinking, hell, are they so freaking stupid that they don't understand that..

A) This was made on a budget that wouldn't cover Shia LaBoof's catering bill in a modern movie, 
B) There was no such thing as digital processing and covering up or this or that little bit in 1972, and 
C) They may be guys in suits, but at least they are *real*, and therefore more convincing than the CGI werewolves running across ceilings in Underworld.

I dunno, maybe I just don't play enough videogames. It's possible that if you stick your head in a videogame all day, every day, you might start to be more accepting of the look of videogame CGI as "real". Maybe this is why the kids can crack on the rubber suits in Godzilla while accepting the "I rendered this on my iMac" CGI of Mega-Shark. It just doesn't work for me, though. Even at this stage of technology, I can count on one hand the number of CGI monsters that have been convincing to me. Most of the time, something in my brain just instantly calculates, "This doesn't move like a real animal, the shadows aren't right, it's not touching the surface, nope, that just isn't real", and from there on, I'm impossible to scare or even be moved to care much.  Rubber suits and stop motion models have a physical presence and charisma that CGI has yet to equal, IMO.  


Big Bad Wolf

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IMDB
My Rating: 4/10

A rowdy group of college students eager to get wild and crazy persuades their classmate Derek Cowley to invite them to his stepfather's incredible secluded cabin. The coeds party it up with great delight -- until they're attacked by a vicious werewolf that rapes, murders … and cracks bad jokes.
 A bunch of annoying teens go to a mountain cabin for drinking and sex, and get eaten by a werewolf. While this would be the whole plot of other movies, it's just the first third of this one. Once the generic horror story is out of the way, it becomes a weird family abuse story about a dorky teen realizing his stepfather is the werewolf in question, and figuring out how to stop him.

Gets much better halfway through. The beginning is agonizingly bad - Think "Made for Syfy"-level badness. The lead teen nerd is actually pretty good in the role and acts better than the rest of the cast of wolf-chow. All the annoying people get eaten, and slaughtered frat rats make every horror movie better. However, it suffers from the WORST werewolf costume I've seen since MST3K's "Waarwulf". "Is it a bat? Is it a bug? WHAT IS THAT?" The werewolf talks, which is sometimes fun, sometimes annoying, and sometimes genuinely creepy. Overall, a decent story let down by a horrible start and tepid FX. Some folks will be put off by the fact that this werewolf likes to do the nasty with his female victims, prior to killing them - Stripping many tops off for maximum boobage.  
What is worse than a werewolf? A horny, talking werewolf.  However, the "sex" scenes, such as they are, are so ridiculously shot that it's hard to be offended by them.  It was all a bit like an R rated Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

This movie contains:


Crusty old local warning against going to "that cabin".
Werewolf sex
Lots of boobs
Drunken frat guys being killed
Bad werewolf costume
Tough girl mechanic
Archery
Some more boobs
Stepwolf






Suggested Accompaniment:   I only recommend watching this if you're really bored and looking for something that you know your wife won't get pissed at you for watching without her.  That said, this is a beer and cigars flick, guys- The cheaper the better. 

Outsourced

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IMDB
My Rating: 6/10  

 When his department is outsourced to India, customer call center manager Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton) heads to Mumbai to train his successor (Asif Basra), and amusing culture clashes ensue as Anderson tries to explain American business practices to the befuddled new employees. In the process, he learns important lessons about globalization -- and life. Ayesha Dharker and Matt Smith also star in director John Jeffcoat's cross-cultural comedy.
File under "Movies to watch when your wife absolutely refuses to watch another monster movie".   It's a good little indie comedy that isn't as fluffy as the description makes it sound, to its credit. It's also amusingly outdated now - It was made back in 2005 when moving your call centers to India and China was all the rage to save money, whereas now a lot of companies have started bringing their tech help lines back home due to customer backlash and lingual difficulties. Our hero's call center is shut down and he's shipped to India to train their Indian replacements. Along the way he has a lot of typical expat experiences with local food and local customs, and there's plenty of scenes that will make any traveler wince in familiarity as he trounces over some cherished local manners or customs in ignorance.

It has a lot of laughs, too, more so than my still-reigning favorite expat movie "Lost in Translation". But there's also a fair bit of insight into the cultures as it goes from him explaining why anyone would want a Wisconsin cheese hat to them demonstrating exactly why a $300/month salary is a HUGE step up for them. And a lot of it feels real, which is more than I can say for most romanticized expat movies. If this had been a Hollywood flick I suspect it would have been sentimentalized to death, but as it is, it's an enjoyably low key effort that was more similar in tone to an Indian "Local Hero" than something that would star Robin Williams. 



Suggested Accompaniment: There is a great dearth of Indian artisan pipemakers and artisan tobacco blenders in the world.  But Orville's Tender White popcorn will do as a sufficient stand-in till better conditions are reached. 

The Haunting in Connecticut

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IMDB
My Rating: 4/10  

Almost any time a movie opens with, "Based on a true story", you know you're in for something shit, especially when the movie goes obviously beyond what any true story would include, like this film's house full of hidden corpses. When it was over, I looked up Lloyd Auerbach's commentary on this (He's one of the few reliably skeptical parapsychology researchers out there) and found it was pretty much as I figured. Just reading that Ed and Loraine Warren (Famed carnie fakers of the so-called "real" Amityville Horror) were involved, that was enough.

So - Our family has a teen son with cancer. To be near his hospital, they rent a house close by, an ancient mansion-looking thing with about 35 rooms. Son is on meds which include the possibility of hallucinations, and soon enough he is seeing ghosts. Turns out the house was originally a mortuary run by a crazed doctor who used a psychic boy to contact the afterlife for seances, and bound the spirits of his dead customers to the house by mummifying their bodies and hiding them on the grounds. Why? This is never explained. But it's the kind of thing I'd do for fun on a weekend, so I'll let it pass. 90 minutes go by in which you get to see every haunted house cliche in the book, from bleeding floors to ghosts in the mirror to a kindly priest called in to do an exorcism. 





This is a 4/10 movie. Plus side - Nice FX, creepy zombies, and a great basement operating room. Minus side - Acting all over the map, no character personalities to speak of, and no real surprises. The family has a formerly alcoholic husband who predictably gets drunk again in a plot thread that goes nowhere, a teen niece who gets menaced when naked, and two precocious young kids who scream a lot. If there's ominous music building up as a character approaches a mirror in a dusty room, looks into it, looks away at a noise, then looks at the mirror again... You KNOW there will be a zombie face in the mirror. It's that sort of movie.

It was competently shot and budgeted, at least, so it doesn't have that videocam feel of so many indie horrors these days, but it still has plenty of WTF moments. WTF, like...


If a teen girl finds that all the food in the house has suddenly rotted in an instant into maggoty black goo, her natural reaction would be to shrug, go, "Oh well", and take a shower?


If your kids are so terrified of the dark that they're leaving their lights on all night, your response is to smash all the lightbulbs in the house to force them to be brave?


Your sick son is obviously hallucinating badly and having drug reactions, so you let him keep his bedroom in the damp cellar next to the decaying mortuary embalming room?


After repeated possessions, ghost attacks, dish hurling, furniture piling, and a mass undersea sponge migration, you stay in the house? This was probably the silliest bit - After some pretty insane shit happens and keeps happening, nobody even once voices the idea of moving. It's a bit out there to see someone running shrieking in terror from a shuffling zombie in the night, and then fixing breakfast the next morning like June Cleaver. 





So, the best I can say for it is, it is 1:43 of non-boring movie. Not good, not awful, just kind of... there. This would probably be blisteringly terrifying to the sort of teen pack who would be whispering to each other, "OMG OMG did you hear this is a TRUE STORY?? OMG!!" Errrr, yeah.  


 

Suggested Accompaniment: Pepsi.  Popcorn.  Extra butter, because you'll need it.  I stress Pepsi instead of Coke because Coke is the black swill of Satan.

The Gamers: Dorkness Rising

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IMDB  
My Rating: 9/10  

All Lodge wants is for his gaming group to finish their adventure. Unfortunately, they're more interested in seducing barmaids, mooning their enemies, and setting random villagers on fire. Desperate to rein in his players, Lodge injects two newbies into the scene: a non-player character controlled by Lodge, who the power gamers immediately distrust, and the rarest gamer of all -- a girl. Can the group overcome their bickering to save the kingdom, or will the evil necromancer Mort Kemnon triumph unopposed? A parody of fantasy films and the adventure gaming community, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising is a hilarious romp through the world of sword and sorcery -- in this case, a world of exploding peasants, giant house cats, and undead roast turkeys. Game on!  
 

Funniest comedy I've seen in roughly forever. Funnier by far than all the Hollywood comedies I've seen lately, even topping Black Dynamite. You have to have played a lot of tabletop D&D to appreciate it. It's an ultra low budget flick filmed on a student income with SPFX done on PCs, about a group of D&D players struggling with their DM who (like all DMs) wants to write an epic fantasy story to rival Tolkien, but instead struggles constantly to keep his players from destroying the plot and looting his world. EVERY D&D player will laugh at this movie. We were cracking up constantly. My friend Paul will recognize all of our group, especially including the pincushion (and Hellion. And the DM-provided nanny NPC). Truly demonstrates why bards are the silliest class ever.

"Quick, everyone! Take shelter behind the mound of dead bards!"

Hilariously quotable:
Brother Silence: As if killing the bard impresses us.

Flynn the Fine: [singing] Shut up, dear peasant, rest your head. Or I'll have the sorceress kill your ass dead.

Flynn the Fine: What is that heavenly music?
Priestess: The Hymn to Therin. It calls to our goddess.
Leo: [voice-over] I seduce the priestess!
Lodge: [voice-over] She's taken a vow of celibacy!
Leo: [voice-over] Dude, 20 ranks in seduction!
Flynn the Fine: [to priestess] Hey, baby. Wanna tune my mandolin?
[rolls and the priestess and Flynn leave the room]
Daphne: [to Hierophant] Please understand the horny Bard does not represent us.
  
I have to stress very heavily that you will suffer through the first ten minutes of this. It begins awfully, with an SCA-type microbudget scene of a D&D party fighting monsters and painted walls, then segues directly into a typical D&D table argument over rule minutia which is downright painful to sit through. I was wondering whether I was going to be able to stand to watch it. Stick with it!

As it progresses, you get to see every funny thing you ever experienced in D&D played out on screen. The enjoyment improves massively with the introduction of the girl player, the newbie who has a fighter with low strength and high charisma (So she can talk her way out of situations without having to fight everything they meet), who is the only one actually roleplaying her character in a party of power gamers. The interaction between her and the DM and the band of players who just want to pillage the landscape, frying peasants and asking how much XP they get for killing cows, is hilarious. 



The movie transitions back and forth from the real world to the game world, where all the scenes are shot in cheap SCA costumes and phony sets. This is because it's a micro-budget movie, but it works wonderfully to convey the sort of tacked-together feel of typical D&D fantasy adventures. It is loaded with classic touches, such as the male player playing a female character, who does the typical thing of playing her exactly like a male character with boobs, and whose in-game persona fluctuates back and forth between a female actress and himself in a dress, depending on whether he has remembered he's supposed to be playing a female or not.





If you see screen shots or clips from this, you'll be put off by the videorecorder look. It looks terrible from the start and you'll be wondering how the hell this can be any good. Once you start getting into the characters and the story, though, that all goes away, and you start LOLing all the way to the end at the visual representation of every silly aspect of RPGing that you've ever experienced, from the insanity of bards singing in battle to boost party morale, to the one with the hit bonuses so high that every strike is a critical hit (I hit him in the throat. I hit him in the throat again. I hit him in the throat again.) to those wonderful moments when someone rolls a 1.

(Also, I should add that if you enjoy Knights of the Dinner Table, you'll enjoy this, because a lot of the humor is the same)

I have no idea how this would play to anyone who hasn't at some point been a tabletop gamer, or at least played multiplayer RPGs.  But really, if you weren't a tabletop D&D player at some point in your school years, what are you doing reading this blog?  Go back to your sports bar.





Suggested Accompaniment:  My favorite D&D snack experience in high school was a concoction my friend Mark dubbed the Blasphemous Batch.  Get yourself a bucket.  Pour in whole milk and about half a bottle of chocolate milk syrup and stir like mad.  Add many scoops of fudge-ripple ice cream, squirt on creamy topping, and slather the entire floating bucket of glop with chocolate sauce.  Add a long bendy straw, then slurp for the next two hours.  Perfect for revving up the hyper-inflated sugar buzz needed to cope with a table full of gamers all talking at once.  Energy drinks are for wussies.


Ondine

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 6.5 /10  

An Irish fisherman (Colin Farrell) hauls in an unexpected catch when a mysterious girl (Alicja Bachleda) gets tangled in his nets and soon affects the lives of everyone around her in this fantastical seaside tale from director Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire). Is it possible this beautiful stranger is a mythical sea nymph who's been summoned from the ocean's depths ... or is she something far more common?

If you're looking for something to watch with the missus, you could do much worse than this.  Take a pinch of "Local Hero" and a dab of "Secret of Roan Innish" and stir them into a mystery/romance and you get this. The wives will love it and the husbands won't be bored, because it's about a million times better than the typical chick flick. Colin Farrell even plays a sympathetic part, instead of his usual dickish persona. The coastal scenery of Ireland is terrific, too.

Basically, our hero is a lonely fisherman separated from an alcoholic wife with a crippled daughter, and one day he hauls up his net and there's a girl in it. She doesn't want to be seen by anyone and seems to have magical fishie powers. There's some amusing stuff as his wheelchair-bound daughter starts an investigation on the mystery woman living in dad's shack, and some very understated humor. It's all quite relaxing and non-shrill, with excellent music. Things take a dark turn when the selkie husband appears and starts pursuing the girl, leading to a final revelation about her nature.

The only downside is the language, since there are several heavy Irish accents involved and even with five years of exposure to various regional accents thanks to BBC, we both found some of the dialog difficult to follow. There was a lot of, "Can you turn this up a little more?"

If your wife is after you to watch something other than monster movies, I recommend this as a choice that will not fry your sanity.




Suggested Accompaniment: If you need me to tell you Guinness and a Peterson pipe filled with Peterson Irish Oak, you'll not be getting any Lucky Charms, ever.

Dial M for Murder

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 9/10  

Em and I are getting very much into old film noir and Hitchcock movies thanks to Netflix streaming. They've got a great library of such films, even including the little known Vincent Price noir "Shock". Many of these are movies I have heard of over the years, but never seen, since my focus was always on monster movies instead. So, we recently watched "Shock" (Fun), "The Lady Vanishes" (Excellent after a slow start), and last night, "Dial M for Murder".

DMfM was absolutely terrific.  It's an amazing lesson in suspense, because it keeps you on the edge of your seat for the full runtime without ever having a single fistfight or car chase or explosion. It takes place nearly entirely in one room. If you're not familiar with it, a greedy husband plans to kill his unfaithful wife for her fortune. He is extremely intelligent and comes up with a seemingly perfect murder plan, laid out over the course of a year, but things start to go haywire when reality intervenes with his scheme and his wife's mystery-writing novelist lover gets involved. The whole thing was a classic illustration of the immortal line from "Body Heat" - "Counselor, in any crime there are a hundred ways to fuck up, and if you can think of 25 of those ways, you're a genius...and you ain't no genius."

The complexity of the mystery will give your brain a serious workout - It's akin to watching episodes of Ellery Queen in that you have to be constantly tracking different clues and how they fit together, on the fly, to keep pace with the plot. There are a few complaints on IMDB from people who totally lost it in the third act and I can see how this could happen if you're not accustomed to really having to use your brain during a film.

Awesome movie. Also, Ray Milland makes a fantastically evil villain, he of the X-Ray eyes. 



Suggested Accompaniment: A very good quality red wine and a very tangy Virginia tobacco blend, preferably in a classical pipe of post war vintage - Think 1950's Dunhill billiard and you've reached movie watching Nirvana.

Lo

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 6/10  

Microbudget indie horror/romance/comedy on Netflix streaming. Really, really strange, and sometimes very amateurish, yet I found it oddly compelling, and not just because all the demons were done with prosthetic makeup instead of computer FX. Em wasn't crazy about it but I thought it was strangely fascinating, like some extended cross between a Doctor Strange comic book and Mighty Boosh.

Our hero's girlfriend is snatched away by a demon, so he uses her ancient magic spellbook to summon the devil Lo to get her back from Hell. Lo is quite a character and holds the movie together with his wisecracks and dialog. Thus begins the bulk of the movie, which is an extended conversation between our hero and Lo that covers life, relationships, secrets, and maybe just why his girlfriend was snatched up by a hellhound in the first place.

That's pretty much it - It looks like it was made for about $2000 as the whole movie takes place via the one-room conversation, making it sort of a demonic "My Dinner with Andre". It's cheap, it's cheesy, it's often bizarre, but I found it oddly enjoyable, and I really liked Lo himself. If you're in the mood for something very offbeat and microbudget, it's worth a look.

Justin: You have to do what I say.
Lo: Look at you, pretending to be *brave*. What's your name?
Justin: Justin.
Lo: Ugh. That's a terrible name. Doesn't fit your future. Allow me to baptize you
[proud gasp]
Lo: Dinner!
Justin: It's Justin.
Lo: Dinner! You have to let go of the past. 


Suggested Accompaniment: Something very black and wicked.  Gawith's Black XX Rope in a Talbert Halloween pipe should be about ideal. 

Die, Monster, Die!

NetFlix
IMDB
My Rating: 5/10





A 1960's Boris Karloff movie that one would think would be a shoe-in to love, given that it also stars Nick Adams of Godzilla movie fame, but alas, it's a fairly tepid affair. It is worth watching just to see Karloff, but it says something that 20-30 minutes could have been cut without notice from its already short 1:23 running time.

This may be the first Lovecraft movie adaptation, I'm not sure, but it does predate the 70's Dunwich Horror with a nice retelling of "The Colour out of Space". Nick Adams arrives at Little English Village to see the Witley family only to find all the locals crossing themselves and bolting their windows at mention of the name. (I so wish this would happen to me someday, but so far no luck.  I long for the day I come to a new town and ask about a local family name, only to have everyone at the diner pull out crosses and start muttering and clear out)  Turns out Papa Witley (Karloff) has something going on with a crashed meteorite, and weird afflictions are plaguing everyone at Witley manor. Adams' investigation leads to a horrifying climax as the effects of the meteor are unveiled.

This was an enjoyable flick for any "old horror movie" fan, but it could have been a lot better. The build-up is nice, but the pacing starts to drag badly and by the time you're halfway through it feels like you've spent two hours already watching Nick Adams creep quietly downstairs to check on a strange noise. I am all for slow-building tension, but the lack of action does cause some attention drift. Some moments are excellent, however, like Karloff's performance and some mutated *things* found halfway through. Overall, a disappointing case of having all the right ingredients (Karloff, Adams, spooky manor house, devil worship, mutants, crazy women roaming the grounds, radioactive monsters) but never quite managing to get them all to gel properly into a delicious whole. Fun if you're patient, but could have been much better. 


Suggested Accompaniment:  60's British horrors always call out for a classical British pipe.  Load up with something like Dunhill Nightcap, add a pint of Guinness and you're set to go.