Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Ten To Look Forward To in 2011

Before I get into the Top Ten horror releases that I'm looking forward to in the next year... err, well, eleven months, I'd like to issue an apology to all of my imaginary readers out there who have been clamoring for me to update this bitch at a far more frequent pace.

10.  The Last Lovecraft:  The Relic of Cthulu - February 15

Coming in at number ten is a film that will be coming out on DVD in just under two weeks.  To be completely honest, I was never really one for HP Lovecraft or any of the Cthulhu mythology, up until a couple of years ago when I saw The Mist.  After reading up on The Mist online, and reading some of what Stephen King had to say about the original short story, it appeared that it was heavily influenced by Lovecraft.  Since then I've been all about the Cthulhu.  Now The Last Lovecraft is a movie that, judging by the highly entertaining trailer, is going to put a light hearted spin on Cthulhu.  My only concern is that I'm not sure if the low production values and shoestring budget will be an endearing quality, or a turnoff by the end of the flick.

9.  Paranormal Activity 3 - October 21, 2011

The Paranormal Activity series is really an anomaly.  Nobody expected the first one to do well.  In fact, it was originally bought from Oren Peli to be remade as a "hollywood" movie instead of two unemployed actors dicking around in the director's house.  But enough people demanded it that it got a wide release and did all kinds of ridiculous numbers at the box office.  Then Paranormal Activity 2 came out and was supposed to suck.  It had a bigger budget.  It had an actress that we've actually seen before.  And what could they do with a first person ghost story that they didn't do in the first movie?  And then I saw it and I think my reaction was SHIIIIIIIIIIITTTT.  It built on the first movie perfectly and packed quite a few scares. 

But now allow me to be a big hypocrite.  If I thought Paranormal Activity 3 had any shot at being as good of a movie as either of the first two, it would be much higher up on the list.  But I just don't see it happening.  The way PA2 ended, leaves very few paths to tread storyline wise, and will most likely have to leave behind the claustrophobic confines of being trapped in a home.  I just don't see them pulling it off.  But, on that note, I'll be there on opening night to check it out.

8.  Rise of the Apes - November 23, 2011

The next film in the Planet of the Apes saga has me cautiously optimistic.  The original Planet of the Apes movies were a big part of my childhood.  I have a lot fond memories of watching the first three movies with my father at a pretty young age, and getting hooked on them.  Hell, I even got him a Dr. Zaius doll for Christmas one year.  This movie, thankfully, will be completely ignoring the Tim Burton abortion that starred Markie Mark.  Instead, it will tell the story of how the apes took control back from the humans.  I think it's in pretty good hands as it's starring James Franco, John Lithgow and Freida Pinto.  They've all done some pretty spectacular work, so hopefully they'll be able to put Tim Burton's vision to bed once and for all.

7.  Shark Night 3D - September 02, 2011

I wasn't sure about putting this movie on the list because the premise is absolutely absurd.  A tidal wave hits and a town is flooded, forcing people to band together to try and survive against a ton of man eating sharks until the water recedes.  It's no Citizen Kane but it's got a few things going for it.  For one, it's being directed by David R. Ellis, who knows how to make a fun ass movie.  He's brought us Final Destination 2, Cellular and Snakes on a Plane.  Are any of them great movies?  Absolutely not.  But they're all fun to watch, and feature some nifty ass kills.  This movie looks like it has potential to be what I hoped and prayed that Pirahna 3D was last year.  Piranha let me down.  Hopefully this one doesn't. 

Tied for 5.  Apollo 18 - April 22, 2011 and Super 8 - June 10, 2011

We've got a tie for fifth place, because I have similar expectations for these two movies.  They are both alien movies that plan on utilizing the "found footage" gimmick in the vein of a Blair Witch Project, or a Cloverfield.  I tried to decide which one I was more eagerly anticipating, but I just couldn't do it.  The fact that Apollo 18 is actually being made because of a real life video that was allegedly shot while on a mission to space (that was "officially" cancelled by NASA) gives it some serious points with me.  But then, there's Super 8, the concept of which is also based on events from the late 70's/early 80's.  Legend has it that a bunch of kids were playing around with an old Super 8 camera, and when they rewatched the tape they noticed something of extraterrestrial origin on the tape watching them play around.  That will supposedly serve as the jumping off point for this film.  As far as whether it really happened or not?  There's no way to prove it, but it's available on the internet.  Look for it and see for yourself.

4.  Rubber - February 25, 2011

I love when I watch a movie for the first time and I can honestly say afterwards that I had never seen a movie like that before.  I'm confident that when I get my hands on Rubber that will be my exact reaction.  It's gotten rave review as it's made the festival rounds, so you're probably asking what the hell is it about?  Well, it's about a tire.  That kills people.  A homicidal rubber tire.  You might be asking yourself, why the hell would this be the #4 movie that I'm looking forward to (actually, I'm sure you're not because I'm sure nobody is reading this)?  Here's the thing.  People always complain about the lack of originality in the movies today.  It's either torture porn (a fad thats thankfully dying), a slasher flick, a remake or a combination of all three.  So when there's something as truly original as Rubber I have to see it, and you guys should to.  Who knows, maybe it will do really well and the studios will start giving us some more original R-Rated horror.

3.  Drive Angry 3D - February 25, 2011

Another February release, and this is one that I'm really friggin pumped for.  Say what?  I'm excited for Nick Cage film?  Absolutely.  This is where Nick Cage is at his best.  An adrenaline feuled shoot 'em up full of car wrecks, escapes from hell, gratuitous sex, blood and guts.  This won't be his epic meltdown scene in The Wicker Man, or his terrible acting in Knowing.  I don't see exposition being a big priority for this movie.  It was shot in 3d, as opposed to the post converted bullshit that they just release in 3d to make a few more bucks off us.  This is going to kick all sorts of ass.  And it never hurts to have super hot Amber Heard in a starring role.

2.  Mother's Day - April 1, 2011

Here's the rare occurence where I have absolutely no problem with the movie being a remake.  Who gives a shit about the original Mother's Day?  Not me.  So go ahead, remake it and make me care about it.  Here's what I'm looking forward to most about it.  From early reviews I've read, it appears that it is going to feature hyper realistic violence.  I love Jason Voorhees splitting heads with a machete as much as the next guy, but it's very rare that you get a movie that is just ugly, for lack of a better term.  Everything is scarier when it's something that's possible in reality.  Zombies crowding around you and picking you apart bone by bone...  scary visual, but it doesn't really sink in on any real level.  A group of hardened escaped criminals that just invade your home, hold you against your will and use ultraviolence to force their will upon you?  Yeah, that's scary because it could actually happen.

1.  Scream 4 - April 15, 2011

And coming in at number one, is Scream 4.  The Scream trilogy was one of my first real forays into the horror genre, but it was a series that had definitely run it course and ended at the right time.  But now, it's ten years later and it's fresh again.  The Scream trilogy managed to be effective horror films, while also parodying all of the horror cliches and classic pitfalls of the slasher genre.  Now we're ten years removed, and we've gotten a steady diet of torture porn and remakes.  I for one, hope that Kevin Williamson can recapture the magic and usher in a new Scream trilogy that manages to be just as self-referential as the originals, but also just as scary.

So, there you go.  Agree with me?  Wondering what the hell I'm smoking?  Let me know. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Piranha 3D - Even The Most Minimal Of Expectations Couldn't Be Reached

(as always, the following review WILL contain spoilers... turn back now or don't complain)

My interest in Piranha 3D was piqued by a few different things. When I heard that Alexandre Aja was on board to direct, I was pretty stoked. I loved High Tension, and was actually a pretty big supporter of his remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Then I started seeing the pictures of the Spring Breakers getting massacred, which got me really amped up. Then, the icing on the cake, the announcement of Richard Dreyfuss's cameo as Matt Hooper. So when I saw the movie last week, I went in to it expecting a few things. Tits. Some pretty cool kills. And a whole lot of fun.

And what did I get? A spectacular let down. Sure, it had the tits. Kelly Brook is a fox. No buts about that. So seeing her in all her glory for a good portion of the movie was definitely a treat. But the kills? The kills were one great big batch of weak sauce. In the opening act of the movie, everyone in the packed theater was having fun. People were laughing and having a good time. It was funny, it was shaping up to a be a pretty good popcorn flick. But every time the actual Piranha appeared it just sucked the energy out of the theater. It went for the same type of underwater, stalking, menacing shots that Jaws went for way back when, but there's a difference. The shark in Jaws was an animal, but it was also a character. The T-Rex in Jurassic Park was a character. Shit even the whale in Orca was a legitimate character and that was nothing but an exploitative knockoff.

When you make a point of telling the audience that there are thousands and thousands of interchangeable Piranha traveling in packs and feasting on anything that moves, it's kind of hard to make them seem like they're more than one dimensional (even if it's a 3d movie). The scenes that are shot from underwater, from the perspective of the piranha don't pack the same punch because it's not like it's a creature stalking it's prey. It's just a purely chaotic feeding frenzy. But back to my original point, every time the piranha showed up, the fun stopped and the pace just died.

Also, all but three kills were all pretty much the same. After a while you get a little tired of seeing bodies swirling around with a fountain of blood shooting skyward. But Eli Roth's cameo thankfully changes the pace a little bit.

Speaking of underwhelming deaths. And this is a major spoiler here, so stop reading now if that's not your bag. WHAT in the hell is the point in paying Ving Rhames to be in your movie if you're going to just straight up pussify him? He referred to himself as being too old and too out of shape early on in the movie. Then Elisabeth Shue called him chickenshit, which he didn't even contest. Even his defining moment in the movie, when he starts using the boat motor to kill the fish (as seen in the trailer), ends up making him look like a bitch. Sure he takes out some fish, but that's got to be one of the least satisfying movie deaths I've ever seen. Watch Dawn of the Dead 2004 and tell me that Ving Rhames should be portrayed as a brittle, fragile old man. When he walks into the lake, he looks like he's waddling and wearing a pair of cement shoes. It became abundantly clear to me that Samuel L. Jackson didn't want to take the part just to say the line "Chew on this motherfuckers", so they gave the part to Ving Rhames instead. Just, ugh, he deserved better than that.

And my other complaint about the movie is that it was another horror movie that gives away the ending in the trailer. (Quarantine or Paranormal Activity for example) What don't these studios understand about this? When you see a movie trailer over and over again for months, they register with you while you're watching the movie. And when you see Adam Scott getting knocked out of a boat by a giant fish in the trailer, you're going to expect to see it in the damn movie. So as the movies coming to an end, and you haven't seen Adam Scott get Piranha'd, you put two and two together and it ruins what would have been a pretty nifty little shock ending.

But now that the negativity is out of the way, there were some things that I did like about the movie. For one, Jerry O'Connell was picture perfect to play basically what amounted to an even sleazier Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame. Everything surrounding him was great. That couldn't have been done any better, and I usually hate everything that Jerry O'Connell touches. I hated Tomcats. I hated his show Carpoolers. But he was absolutely spot on perfect for his part in Piranha. Plus, if there's anybody that wonders what penis meat looks like on the inside, Jerry O'Connell will help you find out.

The acting was actually pretty good given that this was a movie about prehistoric piranha being unleashed by an old marine biologist that killed a great white shark thirty years ago, when he drops a bottle of Amity beer and causes an earthquake. Elisabeth Shue looked hot, and definitely deserved the top billing she got. Steven McQueen definitely made his grandfather proud, and is a capable action hero in the making. Even the child actors were pretty amusing and weren't a detriment to the movie as they tend to be in some other films.

The scene that made this movie worth seeing came directly after the spring break massacre when you saw the real damage that the fish did. The police officers are helping everyone out of the water and you see flesh ripped off people. Limbs are missing. You see just chunks of skin missing. That was the only time in the movie where I just sat there with my eyes widened and said Holy Shit. It had a similar affect on my date, except she had to look at the screen through her hands.

So it wasn't a total loss. I had more complaints than I would have liked, but I will say that there was never a dull moment. But when you're going to a horror flick, even one that's a little more lighthearted like Piranha 3D and you're having more fun with the few scenes of plot development than you are with the bloodshed and carnage, something definitely went wrong.

D-Bone's Rating: 4/10

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: House of The Dead

As a fan of not only horror movies, but movies in general, I've realized that you must look past good or bad.  It's not a matter of thumbs up or thumbs down, or for your cyber critics, being rotten or fresh.  There's a lot more to it than just that.  Some of the worst movies ever made are still entertaining and enjoyable under the right circumstances.  And for me, The House of the Dead is just that.  A downright bad movie that does not fail to entertain if you're in the right mindset.

Obviously you can't go into it expecting to see a masterpiece.  It's not Hitchcockian horror.  Uwe Boll isn't Scorcese.  If you go into it looking to be scared, you'll shut it off ten minutes in.  If you go into it expecting to see well versed thespians on the run from zombies, again, you'll shut it off.  But if you get a couple friends together and pop this in, you'll laugh your ass off and have a blast watching and making fun of it.

You can tell that you're in for some cheezy goodness right from the first time you see Clint Howard playing a deckhand on the shitty beaten up boat that the college kids take to the island that is supposedly hosting a rave.  When Captain Kirk (yes, they have a character named Captain Kirk) is around, Howard's poor schlub act really takes off as he gets emasculated on many occasions.

The dialogue in this film is absolutely terrible, save a bunch of one liners that'll have you both cracking up and rolling your eyes at the same time.  When you think about the plot, you have to realize that this film is based off of a video game.  The video game had a barely there, paper thin plot...  but that was still considered too much.  So the version we got in this film is a dumbed down version of a stupid video game that was essentially created just so there was a reason to kill zombies.  Because we all know killing zombies for no reason isn't fun. 

This movie realizes that it is what it is.  If you have a one dimensional story being acted out by shitty actors, why emphasize the story?  Instead we get a cornucopia of tits (how did the main chick keep her damn tank top from breaking), violence, bad acting and quick cuts to clips from the video game.  The "zombies", and I use that term loosely, act and look so damn strange that they resemble the Putty Patrol from Power Rangers more than they resemble the traditional zombie. They aren't exactly the fiercest zombies either, as Captain Kirk was able to take out a whole shitload of them with a Yosemite Sam style six shooter.

It also has my pick for the most unintentionally hilarious scenes out of any movie I've ever seen.  In the climax you get to see a headless torso strangle one of the leads.  It's absolutely hysterical watching the head roll around on the ground, as the torso tries to choke someone to death.  The effects made things even better (or worse, I guess) because you can see how obviously green screened it is.

So if you've got some time to kill, or you're having some people over and want to put something fun on in the background, this is the movie for you.  If you're expecting something Shakespearean, it's not for you.  This is definitely one of my guilty pleasures, and I think if you check it out, you'll find it to be one of yours too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Hope He's Got A Bigger Boat This Time Around

As I made my way around the horror sites today, I found a report on Bloody-Disgusting (click Here to read it) about Alex Aja's Piranha 3D. At first the report starts out negatively, as we find out that his movie is being pushed back to an August release. But then we get the scoop that Richard Dreyfuss will be playing basically the same character that he played in Jaws! I was already looking forward to Piranha 3D because it just looks like it is going to be a fun flick. The pictures that have been released show us that it's going to be blood, guts, booze and tits. It might not be Oscar bait, but it should definitely be worth the price of admission.

But now, to find out that Matt Hooper will be back on our screens 35 years after Jaws was made has me even more excited for this flick. It's been confirmed by BD that he'll be drinking Amity brand beer as a further nod to Jaws. Hopefully Hooper will be just as knowledgeable about man eating piranha as he was about man eating sharks. Either way, for the fun factor, this movie is at the top of my must see list.

You guys excited for it?

And just a quick note. If you haven't joined Night of the Living Blog's Facebook page (why haven't you? there's a link on the sidebar), I posted a link to a guest column I wrote over at Kickout!! Wrestling. That's right, I'm into blood, guts and wrestling. If I wasn't so studly I wouldn't know how I ever got laid. Anyway, check it out guys, and leave me a damn comment every once in a while.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Carriers --- Viral Pandemic? Who Cares, Let's Hit The Beach

Carriers is a film that focuses on the journey of four people that are trying to find safety in a world that has been victimized and ravaged by an avian flu like virus that has wiped out most of humanity. Two brothers, Brian (Chris Pine) and Danny (Lou Taylor Pucci) and their female companions Bobby (Piper Perabo) and Kate (Emily Van Camp) set out to go on a cross country road trip to Turtle Beach, because hell, if you gotta die, you might as well die somewhere that you've had some good times. That's their line of thought anyway.

We all know that if the trip went according to plan, we wouldn't have a movie, so get ready for 84 minutes of a cliched character study that's chock full of identity issues. This is a movie that just doesn't know what it wants to be. Issues are raised right from the very beginning of the movie. When people go to the movie theater, there's a good chance they've seen the trailer before they see the movie. When people rent movies there's a good chance they've either seen the trailer, or at the very least looked at the box art before popping the DVD into their DVD player. The cover of the DVD Box to Carriers showed the four main characters decked out in their rubber gloves and facemasks to prevent themselves from being infected by the pathogen. Clearly coming into this movie, we had some idea of what were going to see. So why start us out with a five minute scene that's trying to get us to think they're on their way to some Spring Break beach party? It was a scene that was completely useless, unless you were to randomly stumble across it on HBO without knowing what you were watching.

From there we really, really lose any sense of direction as the cliches really start to roll in. If you go into your friendly neighborhood Blockbuster and go to the Horror/Thriller section, how many movies do you think you can pick up that have a line similar to "But as they embark on their journey, they realize that the only thing to fear more than the virus is themselves". If every movie tries to provide us with the commentary that humans are quick to turn evil when put in a situation where their survival is threatened, what are they really telling us? Nothing. It went from being a valid, intelligent and horrifying commentary in movies like Night of the Living Dead to a cliched staple of every zombie/infection movie that gets churned out anymore.

But for now, back to the identity crisis this movie clearly has. It's not cerebral enough to make you think. It's not thrilling enough to be a thriller. And it's certainly not scary enough in anyway to be a bonafide horror movie. I will say that there is a lot of dramatic tension in this movie, but whenever it starts to get really tense, they cut to a montage that tries to break the tension. Brian almost falls into a pool with a rotting infected corpse floating in it, which would mean certain death, but he gets rescued and... then they decide to go whack some golf balls at the hotel that they've set up temporary residence in. A little earlier in the film, another tense scene is followed up with Brian riding around a golf course in a golf cart before flipping it into a ditch, which is fitting, because whenever this movie really seems to get rolling in the right direction, it drives off the road and into a ditch.

Another big issue that I had with this movie was that it really didn't have an apocalyptic atmosphere to it. Everything looked far too neat, clean and sterilized. There weren't abandoned cars strewn every which way, and absolutely no evidence of looting or rioting anywhere. Their pandemic stricken society looked like what you or I might see if we were to drive through a quaint, sleepy town on an early Sunday morning. In fact, even when they get to the town where a supposed serum is being worked on, the streets are ENTIRELY empty. There's not a car parked anywhere, nevermind driving by. There aren't withering corpses in the streets, or infected people lying around. There's just nothing. This didn't look like what you would see in the case of a global pandemic. It looked like something you might see in something like Stephen King's The Langoliers. It looked like the world was devoid of everything.

The film did have some merits though. The performances were good. Actually, the performances were waaaaaaay too good. As the film goes on, Chris Pine plays his loose cannon role to perfection. Piper Perabo is eternally likable, especially in the early parts of the movie when she bonds with an infected girl. But bar none, the best performance of the movie belongs to Christopher Meloni of Law & Order fame. This dude can act. His performance as a father trying to get his infected daughter a serum that will cure her is absolutely brilliant. His final scene of the movie is absolutely heartwrenching (and that's from someone who's been accused of having a heart of stone).

So in the end, the acting saved this movie from being a complete clunker. They say you should never judge a book (or movie in this case) by it's cover. But the judgment I made when I saw the cover to this movie was that it couldn't be any good if it was putting quotes from the Phoenix Examiner on the front. I'm sorry Phoenix Examiner, but this movie did not provide "Extreme Excitement". I guess every once in a while it's okay to judge a movie by it's cover.

Rating: 3 out of 10 Flu Spreading Birds

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Jurassic Park Trilogy? I'll Pass

New Jurassic Park Trilogy? I'll Pass

It's been rumored for years that a Jurassic Park IV was in development, but until now there had been no substantial movement towards actually making the movie. The project had been ridiculed ever since the first draft of the script came out and it featured - get this - dinosaurs armed with guns, being used by our government to fight our wars. After the reaction to that script wasn't quite what the studio was hoping for, it appeared that the project wasn't going to see the light of day. Until today.

Apparently, in an interview with Box Office (Click here to read it yourself), Joe Johnston has said that there will be a new Jurassic Park trilogy that will be taking place off the islands of Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna. What could this possibly mean? It could mean a few different things. We could be getting the aforementioned machine gun dinosaurs. Or who knows, maybe we could be getting zombies over running New York, because that worked so well with Godzilla 2000.... or not. All I know is that I do not have high hopes for the new trilogy. And the reason? Joe stupid Johnston.

Who is Joe Johnston? He's the director of the craptastic third entry in the Jurassic Park series. He managed to make dinosaurs boring. How does one manage to do such a thing? Take the first movie for example. It's an epic movie. From the moment they land their helicopter on the island and see the gigantic dinosaur rise up from out of the ocean you have chills running down your spine. And they didn't even just rely on the dinosaurs. There was a real plot to the movie, lots of tension and some really terrifying moments. It was and still is a masterpiece.

Then take the second movie. Not a perfect movie and certainly not as epic as the first one, but still a very fun movie to watch. It had a lot of crazy moments that were visually stunning. The scene where they're running through the fields and getting picked off one by one by velociraptors is great. The bloody waterfall scene is one of my favorite scenes out of any movie. And as surly and cynical as I may be, not even I can say that there wasn't a certain fun factor to seeing the little boy look out his window at a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

But then you get to the third movie. The Joe Johnston movie. He takes us back to the island, where we belong, but he does it in the dullest, least entertaining way possible. We're back on the island because a little boy parasailed onto the island? Give me a break. As the movie went on, the stupidity grew greater and greater. People don't want to see a dinosaur movie about dinosaurs showing humanity. They want to see a dinosaur movie about dinosaurs being dinosaurs. If you're surrounded by a pack of angry dinosaurs because you stole their eggs out of the nes, you're done for. DEAD. DUNZO. You can't ceremoniously offer the eggs back to the dinosaurs and say "my bad", hoping that the head dinosaur will call everyone off... unless you're in Jurassic Park III. The movie was flawed from beginning to end, even going as far as to make a T-Rex look like a little bitch compared to a Spinosaurus. What the hell is a Spinosaurus anyway?

When a movie is as bad as Jurassic Park III was, some of the shit that hits the fan has to come back and splatter up against the director. And the shit just keeps flying in his direction, because he's also at the helm of The WolfMan, which has been plagued with production issues from the very beginning. I have to question why the suits would want to keep Joe Johnston on board the franchise. JP3 was panned by not only critics, but by fans of the first two movies. So why would you possibly want this guy to make not only the next movie, but the next three?

Johnston is a hack. If they want to erase the bad taste that was in everybody's mouth after the third movie there are two words that would go a long way in doing so. Steven. Spielberg.

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