Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chiller Classics presents: Black Christmas (1974)


Greetings, my friends.  It's time once again to educate you readers who may have missed some of the classic horror growing up, and to bring back memories for those who have.  I hope Christmas has been a pleasant one for those of you who celebrate it, I know mine has been fun.  And befitting the time of year, as the title indicates, I am going to talk about Black Christmas, a flick that wasn't really held in high acclaim when first released, but over time grew to be a much loved classic.

The story is as follows: it's the Christmas season, and a sorority house of women are celebrating with a late night party.  The phone rings and a strange voice is on the other end, making various disturbing noises and obscene talking.  One of the girls yell at the voice and, after being threatened by him, hangs up the phone.  From then on, the house continues to get disturbing phone calls.  However, one by one, the girls start getting picked off by the man behind the phone calls.  A couple of the girls go to the police after one of their sorority sisters is missing for some time, but the police think it's just a prank and ignore them.  Later, they finally look into it, but not before more deaths occur.  Can the police find and stop the killer before more women die?

I am a big fan of this flick, and recently I made it a tradition of watching this as well as the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol.  This is considered to be one of the first, if not THE first of the slasher flicks, predating Halloween by four years.  You should be warned though, this is not a fast-paced movie.  There is a lot of emphasis on suspenseful moments, and heavy on character development.  The good thing about that however, is that you get amazing atmosphere, and characters that you care about and want to see survive the duration of the movie, a trait you rarely see nowadays.  I've lost count of flicks with protagonists I can't stand and want to see killed.  That's not how the so-called "good guys" should be portrayed.  You're supposed to like them and want them to live.  And Black Christmas pulls that off properly.

As well, the dialogue is surprisingly light-hearted in many scenes, with some genuinely funny lives delivered.  But when bad things go down, that heavy atmosphere re-emerges fluidly, really toying with your mental state throughout.  And, if some of you recall, this was filmed before shaky-cam came and ruined many movies for me.  Back in those days, the camerawork was something to actually appreciate, and didn't make you want to look away from the screen. 

So, for those of you who haven't seen this classic gem yet, do so as soon as possible.  And for those of you who haven't seen it in a long time, I suggest the same for you.  It is Black Christmas after all, and 'tis the season.

Movie Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Chiller Classic rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

-Ken Bucklesworth, full of Christmas cheer

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shots, shots, Shots, shots ... because Booze saves lives

GRABBERS (2012)

The creature feature. You get a monster, you give it people to hunt/chase/violently attack and away you go. From the early days of stop motion monsters, to men in rubber suits, to well... I guess there really isn't a whole lot of them around these days. A few straight to video flicks about a big foot slaughtering campers. Or the odd jewel in the mess - see The Host if you have not yet - but really not much out there as of late. Booooooo mainstream creation.

Enter Grabbers

Anyone remember a movie called Tremors (if the answer is no, but I think I saw one of the sequels... be ashamed of you for me, thank you). It was fun, and dang if it wasn't a little bit scary too. Giant monsters hunting people under ground... popping up all "Arg! I will kill you now" well, okay, it was all "Argggg" and various other noises but I like to think that is what they said. Any hooooo the enemies were called "Graboids" and that sounds pretty familiar to Grabbers now don't it? So I say homage intended and why not? This film is one fun fun ride.

Ok, alien rock, possibly ship, hits - lands in Irish seas. These alien creatures that look kinda like if you crossed an octopus with well... another two octopuses and then added a giant suck mouth. They start attacking the locals and sucking them dry. Enter the deputy, that is left in charge while the Chief is away - Typical - , and his quite a bit more than sidekick, the female go getter cop from the mainland. The deputy is a drunk, and well the rookie is none to impressed with the stand in boss. So, to recap; aliens land, suck humans, small town police Chief leaves drunk in charge, by the book rookie is all high and mighty... etc, etc, ... doesn't sound like crazy original right? Did I mention the drunk may actually have a heart of gold, and the by the book rookie may have to learn to let loose to save lives...

But... Buuuuuut... this movie takes those somewhat old ideas and presents them in such a damn awesome way, you will lose yourself in the good time. First, the actors, all in fact (even the bit part town drunks) are spot on. The writing is always tops. Funny, cool, and even a lil heart in there. The Deputy and the Rookie (Richard - I have been in a million things you know - Croyle, and Ruth - I think you should be in more films - Bradley) are awesome, and have a way of being charmingly drawn to each by way of sitcom gold. Second, and this, this is the big one... the one alien weakness, the one thing that might help these loveable small town humans to victory over the alien menace... Turns out they don't like alcohol, in fact it hurts them to the point of death. That's right, the only chance they have to survive is to get ridiculously intoxicated...

No, I agree, we should defs lean in and take a closer look...


Can you feel it? Huh, can you?! That is the stuff of horror - comedy - creature feature gold. From that point on its drunk hijinx, some great one liners, late night confessions, and perhaps the greatest creature back hand ever... Just... you kind of have to see it. Sounds like it might get old, or seem awkward in a well made film? Nope. They pull it off. The creature effects are great, it's not one of those - well it was really cool, if only they had a budget. This film must've had a lil bling bling behind it because it's pretty impressive. On par with the effects of most mid range Hollywood budgets.

There are a few complaints here... at some points the predictability does creep in, annoyingly so. The ending was okay, but after all the laughs, and chaos that led to it, the last line was pretty well... uncool. I could've used at least 3-5 more minutes of drunken small town folks... Ya... I am expecting an entire section of drunk people outtakes when this hits Bluray/DVD - Dec 31st. Seriously. Lastly, and this might seem a little bit like back tracking, but the two leads... it just felt rushed. No matter how well scripted and acted the charm was... still rushed.

But hey, that's a few nicks in an otherwise smoothly polished creature feature. I think given a little time this will develop a fair following... like the aforementioned Tremors. I mean, a monster movie that involves getting hammered to live... bring on the drinking games. Seriously, one of you horror movies Uni punks needs to work this shizzie out stat.

Grab a couple mates, and a couple cold ones, and enjoy.

Movie scale 3 out of 5 stars
Creature feature/thriller scale 4 out of 5 stars

This will rate as one of my biggest surprises of 2012. Really came out of nowhere and entertained me for 90 minutes. Laughs, and a few well crafted scares.

- Chuck Boonsweet

for all the latest silly and social hijinx follow as at the still so very new tweetable  @BoonyBuckles.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Trailer Trash #4 (DEC 2012)

It is almost the end of the year...
and so it is time to hype you lil Booniacs, and Buckleheads into a frenzy for the coming year. And boy freaking howdy is 2013 shaping up to be one heck of a film entertainment year... assuming of course the world doesn't end in 3 days...
Unless of course you read up on that whole daylight savings thing in which case the world actually ended in may... or june... whatevs... moral of the story - I ain't afraid of no Mayan.

First I would like to say hands down my most anticipated film next year is MAN OF STEEL, a close second to STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, and third to the blood soaked surprisingly awesome looking - EVIL DEAD... but here at Boonsweet & Bucklesworth we try to find films maybe a little off the beaten path, and well, over the next few months you will probably have the path to those three films beaten into your subconscious... soooooo... here's a couple of my early picks for fun, and celluloid love for next year...

PACIFIC RIM (July 11, 2013)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-ZcqwvQbas

GDT (Guillermo Del Toro), director of Hellboy, and Pan's Labyrinth, directing a movie about giant robots battling giant aliens. Now I know some of you have been following this film. Heck there is a whole lotta cool to warrant your attention. Especially when you hear that the studio has been so blown away by the film that they have pretty much handed the guy a blank check for his next film. Sweet. So ya, giant aliens come through a dimensional rift and we built giant suits (Can I say Mech?) to battle them. Godzilla vs Transformers... Yup. I approve.

THE ABC'S OF DEATH

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFgrFENQ4oQ

First... that folks is a hard R rated trailer. So be warned. A film that consists of 26 shorts, by 26 directors... examining all kinds of messy ways to bite the dust. Everything from clay-mation to death by crazy bride... this movie to me, as a horror fan, has so very many reasons to be stoked beyond reason. Here's hoping it lives up to the last anthology me and Buckles checked out... the awesome VHS.


You're so Loop-pid

LOOPER (2012)



I featured this in a trailer trash segment. So not only was I pumped for this movie. I was pumped enough to give it one of only two slots in the segment. Seriously, we do like one each a month... so ya... I was all kindz of firm nipple excited.

Here's a few reasons why. Bruce Willis, in an R-rated film, with a gun (excitement points = 7). JGL, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hot off his awesome turn in Dark Knight Rises (and well that bike delivery one), that's worth at least... 3 excitement points. It is by the director of one of my all time favourite films Brick.
1,417,689 excited points. Dang, that's like 1,417,699 points...

I lied there is no excitement scale... but if there was... oh if there was...

So time travel was invented many moons from now, but it's super illegal. There's this problem though, in the future it's really hard to get rid of people. The Mob decided to keep a time machine, or two. Then they send a guy back to set up this whole system where people in a less future-future can be chosen to kill people that they send back. They call these people Loopers. So they have a spot. They get a time, show up, guy appears at a specific time from future with a hood on, they shoot him, money is strapped to the body.
So, job's a job and it pays well. All is going well for our fav looper JGL, until his next victim appears without a hood and it turns out to be him from the future (Bruuuuuuuuce Willis) and then Brucey knocks him out, and well... rules are; you always kill the guy that appears or you dead.

This is not the movie I was expecting. Though I suppose I should have expected more think than trigger pulling with Rian Johnson at the helm. I say to you, if you caught the trailer to this film, expect to be surprised. There is all kinds of R-rated nasty in this film. Including one of the most subtly disturbing scenes of the downside to time travel... serious... just plain gross lol. There is also an entirely different movie hidden underneath the promise of a Bruce vs. JGL vs. The future. This is not a movie of heroes. In fact both JGL and Bruce are kind of well... dicks. Selfish in their own way. So sure of the path they are on. This is a film about the power of choice. How far and deep those consequences can extend... and evermore through the currents of time...

Was that deep enough and all major film critic like?

Listen, for the last time, stop thinking and eat ya dam eggs!


Good. Cause I'm done... this film was sweet. Subtly camera awesomeness (the fall scene, and the transition for example). The leads are great. Jeff Daniels as the main bad guy just chews up scenery. His interrogation of JGL reminded me of the intensity of the opening scene in Inglorious Bastards. I was dialled in for every moment of this movie. Even as I was putting the twists together they are presented in such a fantastically cool way that my jaw was still succumbing to gravity...

The ending is a little predictable presuming you have seen a few of this type of film. Also, the whole time travel thing, and the usual questions are kind of awkwardly handled. For instance... if you travel back and then change things, how could you have come back, if that time line no longer exists... blah blah... ya exactly you are better off just accepting time travel and not thinking about it. As, funny enough, Bruce does suggest at one point to JGL, It will hurt your head.

Overall, this is one of the most originally handled creations in the genre in years... a trailer trash success story... which I believe gives as a winning percentage so far.

movie scale 3.5 out of 5 stars
sci-fi scale 4 out of 5 stars

Could've used a little more action... just a little. All I'm saying. Everything about this film is all star. May all you Booniacs enjoy...

Sincerely,
Charles Boonsweet

follow our film thought, and well, A whole buncha random and occasionally entertaining thought tweetness....  @boonybuckles

Friday, December 14, 2012

'Tis the season for cadavers....

A CADAVER CHRISTMAS (2011)

Well, my friends, the Christmas season is upon us once again.  But, don't think for a minute that either Chuck Boonsweet or I are going to shut down for the holidays just yet (not until Christmas Eve at least).  I am happy to be kicking off this month's Christmas-themed flicks, and I figured why not start with a movie from the over-saturated zombie sub-genre of horror.  We'll begin the countdown to Christmas with A Cadaver Christmas.  Have I said Christmas enough yet?  Christmas.

The story is as follows: the Janitor (I capitalize the 'J' because that's all the janitor is referenced as, therefore it's his name as far as I'm concerned.  I read somewhere his name is Chester, but I didn't catch it myself) of a University is doing his rounds late one night, when he is attacked from out of nowhere by a gang of undead.  Fending them off as best he can, he escapes the university and winds up in a bar.  Seeing the Janitor covered in blood, the bartender calls his cop buddy, Sam Sheriff (no I'm not kidding).  After some funny banter between the Janitor and the only customer in the bar, Sheriff shows up.  Outside, they all get attacked by more zombies.  After killing them, Janitor gets his story out as best he can to Sheriff.  So Sheriff, the bartender, the drunk, Janitor, and a perp who happened to be in Sheriff's car at the time, go to the university to investigate what's happening and why. 

Ok, you need to understand something: this movie is not to be taken seriously.  AT ALL.  This is a 100% "shut your brain off and enjoy" kind of fun.  Like for example, what real life situation would you find such a random bunch of people investigating anything like this.  Don't answer, don't even think about it.  You're not supposed to.  Why did I think about it?  Because I have a brain that's incredibly difficult to shut off when logic decided to check out of a flick. 

Anyway, every character is quite enjoyable (except for maybe that perp I mentioned in Sheriff's car, you'll see why later in the flick.  But he still has a few funny lines), especially Hanlon Smith-Dorsey, who played Tom the Drunk.  He has some of the funniest lines I've heard in some time, mainly because of his delivery of said lines.  The thing about this flick is it's really more of a comedy than horror, despite the name.  There is more of a focus on the characters than the zombies and the gore, but don't worry, you'll see plenty of the latter sprinkled throughout.  Daniel Rairdin-Hale was excellent as the Janitor, and a few other reviewers compared him in this to very early Bruce Campbell.  For the most part, I'm having to agree with them, though Rairdin-Hale still adds his own touch to the character which makes it really shine.  But hey, I know it seems like I singled out two characters as the best.  However, as I said earlier, every character is very fun to watch, including Kristen the cute university security/police officer wannabe who joins up with the group around mid-flick.

Negatives?  Not really.  Again, as long as you shut your brain off, there won't be a problem.  If I did have one issue, it was the Janitor's insistence of correcting the others if they call the undead anything other than 'cadavers'.  Not so much the correcting in itself, but it happens so often that it got really old and a little distracting.  However, it definitely wasn't a big enough problem to really detract from the overall performances.  

So, in the end, I find A Cadaver Christmas to be very fun.  The Christmas aspect is there, though not really shown until late in the movie.  It has gore, zombies, comedy.  There's even a couple of references to other movies in there, see if you can find them.  Watch this, preferably around the holidays.  In the meantime, Chuck and myself will have more holiday-themed reviews coming up, including our personal favorite Christmas movies.  Stay tuned.

Movie Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Christmas cheese rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

- ON BOONSWEET, ON BUCKLESWORTH, ON DONNER AND BLITZEN 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

NINJA movie of the month (Dec '12)

MIAMI CONNECTION (1987)



NMOTM returns!
It takes a lot to be considered a Ninja movie of the month...
Actually it just takes Ninjas. Well, I mean lots of ninjas, and ninja related action.
Q: "But Mr. Boonsweet what is Ninja related action?"
A: "Well dear Booniacs, it is anything including, though not limited to, the following items: Ninja Kicks, flying reverse roundhouses especially, ninja stars, ninja punches, regular throat punches, a sword held to the side with both hands gripping handle (sword of course should be a katana), grown men and/or grown women wearing proper ninja attire, grown men and/or grown women wearing pyjama suits with a sash in an effort to look ninja, at least one ninja vanish moment - consisting of a smoke bomb being dropped, and when the cloud dissipates the ninja is gone...

So I would like to get right into the plot of this 1987 gem. Oh ya, I think I just rubbed my hands together in my mind in evil, giddy glee....

Ninjas are attacking drug lords - gasp - oh no! Um, around that time a band made up of five friends has just hit the Miami scene, they are Dragon Sound and they all know Tae-kwon-do. So, um, then it seems they are so awesome that the bar decides to make them the house band. The old house band gets mad, they fight with Dragon Sound, and um with the bar owner in a very weird scene. After their defeat at the hands of DRAGON SOUND the former house band seeks help from a gang, who is working with the Evil Ninja. Oh ya and just to throw some icing on the cake, the girl singer in the band who is also hooking up with a member of the band is the sister of the evil gang leader.

Top 5 greatest moments.

1. A scene where the Asian member of Dragon Sound tells the gang leader he's not afraid of him, only it's not edited, or spoken right, or both, and then the cast just leaves like everything went according to script.
2. Some fantastic violence, often coming out of nowhere.
3. The surprise revelation that they are all orphans, and the one band member has a Father in the military that is turns out may be... alive... and a two minute monologue that follows... in very little clothing, while trying to cry.
4. I'm sorry I killed your brother - It's kool, I love you.
5. I mean this, a solid 15 minutes of ninja violence at the end.

Me so angry, I cut you... I kick you...


Y.K. Kim made this movie, and only this movie. Wrote, directed, choreographed, everything. He was a Tae-Kwon-do instructor and the majority of the actors in this film were his students. I tried for a while to find out how old he was and well gave up. By a while I mean 30 seconds. Needless to say he is waaaaaaay older than his "friends" in the band. He raised the money for this film... um... apparently 1 million dollars... whaaaaaaat?! When the film was released it bombed, and now, 25 years later, it has gained almost unbelievable cult status. Being shown in theatres, and debuting on bluray.

Is it worthy?

I think so. This is one of the worst movies... ever... but in the best possible way. You will laugh all the way through this one. And hey, there are actually a few really well made fight scenes. As I mentioned, the violence is pretty decent, and you know what, Kim wanted to get all kinds of film famous, and well he sure as heck tried. This is one of those films that will be shown on drunk frat house walls for years to come. The reaction to it from modern fans on this continent and others guarantees it. Though having read up on it, it seems, those involved with the film still feel it is gaining this massive following due to its heart... and characters... and story...

Wrong!

People this is popcorn cheese at it's best... anyone remember the American Ninja films? If the answer is yes, and if you currently own one, or all of them lol, this is sooooo for you. To the rest... A BN (B-Ninja) movie is for a very specific group, I hope this message reaching you....

Tae-Kwon, Tae-kwon, Tae-kwon-do...

Did I mention that Dragon Sound rocks! Seriously they play two entire songs. One of them "Against the Ninja" will be in my head... forever... find it on YouTube and bask!

Oh Yeah, and Y.K. Kim is now a grandmaster and makes DVD help tapes. Ya. Ya that's no joke. There is a link from his "New American dream, and US national exercise". Um apparently you can exercise anytime, even while sleeping. And modern stress is killing us because we have no time to exercise... And this is the answer to our health crisis. You... all really need to see this... I mean... this... I really... I just have no words... Gosh this dude wants his 15 minutes.

http://www.ykkim.com

Ahhhhhhh could this story get any awesomer. This may be my favorite review ever. Ever. The joy this has brought me.

So after the movie ends we are left with a quote... A message to all those watching. I figured it was appropriate to end this review with that statement.

"Only through the elimination of violence can we achieve world peace"

Thank and good night.

Movie scale 1.5 out of 5 stars
Ninja/80s ninja scale 3 out of 5 stars

- C.B. Boonsweet




Monday, December 3, 2012

CRAP! (dec '12)

So what we have here is a bonified, fo reels, new category on the old Boony & Buckles resume. You see we have a rule here... finding merit in a film. Perhaps a film doesn't tickle our fancy, but we try to find pieces of awesome, and review on its standing as a film. So that those who might appreciate it need not be turned away by our genre prejudice. Hence our two rating scales. And the fact we respect the right to keep the plot mostly under wraps so that you might check it out if so inspired.
In other words we don't simply bash a film because it will never be on our personal shelf space. However...

However... sometimes there are simply films that are so bad... either in one aspect, or all... that it simply overrules that focus of calm and clever wit, over rant and rage... So here and now, I Charles B. Boonsweet (and on behalf of my equally awesome cohort, Ken K. Bucklesworth), debut for you... the film faithful, a new category meant to highlight the absolute worst that we come across. In short - the very very bad. The horrid. The painful to watch... the must be ranted on... The Crap!

And now, here, the film that brought this lovely new special into being...

TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE (2010)

Long ago in the 80s sword and sorcery was everywhere. Knights, and warriors, and barbarians, and warrior queens, and nude barbarian queens... and one film stood out amongst them... ok.. no, no that is a blatant lie - one film marginally held its head to the same level as the rest "The Sword and the Sorcerer". Over the years it has developed a certain following. And why not it had it all... A smooth talking hero. Boobs. Extreme violence. Demon King. Of course it also had one of the most unbalanced scripts ever, some very, very uneven acting, some horrid sets... but... dammit it a three blade sword didn't just balance all that out. Did I mention the hero "Talon" could shoot the blades? Yes. So very yes. I enjoyed this film, and at the end as many of the old adventure films did... there was a message

Talon will return in Tales of an Ancient Empire.

So, original film 1982... sequel... 2010. Confused, ya me too. But then I saw that it had the original actor that played Talon in it, and Kevin "why isn't Hercules on Bluray" Sorbo himself. So ya, worth checking out I thought. I understood the risk. I knew it was a B movie. I knew Sorbo was in it. So my expectations where for indie cheese, horrible effects, and charmingly awesome dialogue.

I was so wrong so very wrong.

The film opens with a title claiming Tale #1 ... blah blah. Some robbers resurrect a demon/vampire chick. Why is there a demon vampire chick? No idea. It would seem they thought the sorcerer in the first film was actually... a... sorceress, and um... a vampire. Ok. Then a couple minutes, Tale #2 blah blah, and there is a castle under attack, and then a princess must be whisked to safety. Several tales later, Vampire Queen has killed princesses sister and she is off to find a way for revenge. Tale whatever and some former good chick is now a vampire and having a neck suck threesome with her bodyguard/lover/oldmanstalker? Don't know. Then Sorbo shows up and is awesome. Really, and even more so than usual as he dwarfs all around him. Did I mention that the princess is like a super ninja, and the daughter of Talon? I think. And Sorbo is her brother... and then they gather a whole bunch of siblings to battle the demons.

Here is the thing this movie could have been awesome. Well, like B movie awesome. But why are there title chapters? Might I add why are there title chapters that occasionally forget to exist. No freaking idea. The nudity, the little there is is shot I think by a teenage boy, who has never handled a camera before... or seen a real breast. Here is one of those rare occasions where I can say, hands down, the director destroyed this film. The constant pointless cuts. The laughingly intense close ups... that close no laughter only eye rage. Um, here's an idea, buy knives with a retractable blade. They are at most dollar stores. You press them into the gut, and you have red come out. You know, one of the oldest tricks in the filmmakers guide to the galaxy. That way you won't need to zoom in on a square of fabric That is held tight and punctured with a blade, then cut to a character holding their stomach. While we're at it why are so many people stabbed in the abdomen?

What more, wanna know why this film inspired us to create this segment? Oh there's more Booniacs. The color for example. Picture a wet mess of of stone and black and then drop a neon convenience store sign on the scene (while of course keeping your camera one to two inches from the subject). The fights, are not fights, they are images that want to coexist but keep running into each other - repeatedly. Oh and then Talon shows up, or well the actor that played him, and makes out with one of Talons daughters...? Whaaaaaaaaa....

Oh right because Talon shows up at the end, after all the heroes have um, suddenly been incapacitated and our lying at the fight of the Vampires. Then there is Talon, in a cloak, and holding his giant three blade sword... So wait, what the hell was the point of having Lee Horsley even in this thing? None. No reason what so ever. And does the man in the cloak reveal himself? Nooooooo of course not... he fires his sword, in a dazzling display of CGI the likes of which this world has never seen. By dazzling I mean - stupefying. By likes of which this world has never seen I mean - thankfully. And by CGI I mean - give me and my laptop 5 minutes and I can do it better. Yes, 1982 did it better. No joke. Then um, two vamps die, one flies away screaming it isn't over, and um... that's it. And I realize, a moment before it is done... it's not done. Nope. To Be Continued. You see at the beginning it said there were like 47 tales... and we only got through 9, 12, ah who cares....

This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. And folks, I have watched things that late night drive in channels avoid lol... Quite possibly the worst film direction you will ever see. Sorbo you gave it your best, and the lead actress... she was cute, and had a few moments... and it was hard to appreciate her what with the lens inches from her face, and cutting across the room every 3 to 3.7 seconds...

Also, Worst fangs Ever!

CRAAAAAAPPPPPPPP!

Movie scale 0.5 out of 5 stars
Sword and sorcery scale 1 out of 5 stars.

Why even call this film Tales of an ancient empire... why have Talon in it? Why CGI the three blade sword. Why Sorbo... why....

Chuck Boonsweet... concluding CRAP #1.

Hope you guys enjoy the new segment and we got ourselves a twitter... brand new... fresh for all you Booniacs and Buckleheads... so check it out to stay in the loop... @BoonsBuckles


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Damme Gren boot face smash whomp What!?

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012)

Many moons ago action films were king. I speak of years of Nine, before the year of new millennia, when names like Stallone, and Seagal, and many more, were born of cheesy lines of one, and dangerously high levels of machismo, to become something more - action stars. One of the biggest in the mix was Jean Claude Van-Damme. To be known for the rest of this -  a recording of his fourth journey into lands of reanimated soldiers - as JCVD.

So, JCVD made many movies of boot to face action, none more successful than Universal Soldier. The film concerned Vietnam war soldiers that after dying (because the evil sergeant D. Lundgren went nuts and killed everyone) are brought back to existence as nearly invulnerable super soldiers. They of course are mindless slaves to military orders. So, I mean what could go wrong? Oh ya, they remember, good ol' Dolph - yes you may call me Drago - Lundgren goes back to being insane and Van-Damme had to stop him again.

I thought a lot about what to call this review, and then I realized, inspired by this film, it really didn't have to make sense. So there you have it.

How many years are we past the original? Who knows.
Why are Lundgren and Van-Damme now friends? No idea.
How is Lundgren back after having a metal pipe go through his head in the 3rd one? (raised hands in slow motion shrug).
Why does Van-Damme do an homage to Star Trek's Let that be your last battlefield ? Who freaking knows... and was that a slightly geek related reference, yes, yes it was.

Who knows and who cares here's what I do. Some guy played by Scott Adkins (Undisputed III, Ninja, and the evil side kick to Van Damme in Expendables 2) gets pissed at Van-Damme. Van-Damme is apparently running a new Universal Soldier rebellion. Um, Andrei "I was a real UFC champ" Arlovski, is back. After being blown up. Somehow. And he is even more ready to whomp ass. A lot of it. He is a plumber by day, and government killing machine by night. Along the way to revenge Scott will realize that all is not as it seems, oh and that he needs to have a bat fight with Andrei. And at the end Van-Damme goes trek homage, in an underground church thing. And fights, and more fights.

Yes a mano, a mano, brawl with aluminum bats. Does that make your man parts tingle? It should.

This film needs to be appreciated in one way, with your brain turned off. It's a well acted, extremely fast paced, well choreographed film (Notice no mention of the writing) Van-Damme and Lundgren taking a backseat to the emerging talent that is Adkins. I watched this film with my partner in review crime and I believe he said it best "Really, you know, I just have to stop expecting this film to make sense and just enjoy Lundgren and Damme"

Yup. There is your view rule. Think of it like 3D glasses, only when you put them on you just enjoy and think... less. I shall call them action shades.

:)

Did I mention there is a crazy awesome hard R rated brawl in a whore house? Or the very slick showdowns sprinkled throughout?

Wait so there's clones? Ahhhhhh who knows, but that Van-Damme throws down! This is an action film for action fans. For my money part 3 is still the best contained story within the series since the original, but with each film Adkins and director John Hyams (Universal Soldier: Regeneration, Dragon Eyes) are getting better at what they do... bringing back the fun as hell man violence.

Movie scale 2.5 our of 5 stars
Action scale 3.5 out of 5 stars

I almost wanted to rate this on a Damme scale, I resisted. If you are fans of anything he has done, or like a few of us, everything... you are gunna have a blast with this one... and Lundgren is one bad dude!

-Chuck "I kick things" Boonsweet saying... wait... where did all those clones come from? No... no stupid brain... stupid stupid brain.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wrecked-em? Damn near killed 'em!!!

WRECK-IT RALPH (2012)

Sometimes a movie comes along that really catches your eye, even if you aren't a big fan of the genre.  In my case, that genre is animation related to Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks.  That's not to say I hate everything they release, but the ones I like are certainly in the minority.  To be honest, Chuck Boonsweet is more of the fan of this sort of thing.  However, as fate would have it, I will be the one who reviews Wreck-It Ralph.  Let us begin shall we? 

The story is this: in an arcade, all of the arcade games are connected to a secret "central hub", where all of the games characters are able to meet and interact after a days work of performing for the real world customers.  Enter Wreck-It Ralph, the main villain of an old-school 8-bit game called Fix-It Felix, who's purpose is to destroy a building while Felix the hero (controlled by the player) attempts to repair said building.  Ralph is unappreciated and unliked in his game, getting regularly snubbed by the other characters in the game, and not even allowed to be in the building.  He gains an opportunity to sneak into another, more Halo-esque video game (a no-no in the video game world) as a hero in order to win a Hero medal, proving to everyone he can be a good guy.  Through a series of unfortunate events, he falls into an escape pod with a baby alien bug, flies out of the game, through the central hub, and into another game called Sugar Rush, where the story changes rather unexpectedly. 

I'm gonna want to get into the good points of the movie before I get into anything else.  First off, this has very pretty animation, as is expected from the companies involved.  The Sugar Rush game is very bright and colorful, which is one of the only good features about that game.  But I'll get into that in a bit.  The 3D was also pretty decent, with a couple of objects or an arm popping out of the screen here and there.  But clearly, the big point for most is the inclusion of a LOT of real video game characters.  If you've seen the trailer you've already seen Street Fighter's Zangief, Super Mario's Bowser, a Pac Man ghost, etc.  But when you get to the Central Hub scenes, you really have to keep an eye out for the characters in the background.  It was a very nice touch for all the old-school gamers watching. 

Now up until the point where Ralph entered the Sugar Rush game, I had it in my mind that I was watching possibly the greatest Disney Movies I've ever watched.  And then things fell apart.  Ok, maybe fall apart is too rash.  But, the rest of the flick removed my thoughts of "best Disney movie" (which for me is still the classic Alice in Wonderland).  "What was the catalyst", you might ask?  The introduction of Vanellope Von Schweetz, voiced by Sarah Silverman.  From this point on, it seems that Ralph's story takes second place to Vanellope's story.  Which is a shame, because my initial thoughts were that Ralph was going to do more video game hopping, continuing to try and prove himself as a hero.  Instead, the Vanellope/Sugar Rush thing takes up the last half of the movie, maybe a little more. 

Now don't get me wrong, the SR game is beautifully made, with a ton of cuteness that's bound to make you chuckle at points.  And there are a fair share of awesome and funny moments throughout this part of the flick.  But it just lingers here a little too long for my liking.  And then there's Vanellope's voice.  OMG, that was in my opinion one of the most irritating voices I've heard in some time.  I'm sorry Sarah Silverman, I've always thought you were a pretty funny lady, but this performance was for the most part grating on my ears and nerves.  And as I mentioned, Vanellope gets a lot of screen time for the last half or so, so that really threw off my enjoyment. 
    
All that negativity aside, I still totally recommend you watch Wreck-It Ralph.  It's beautiful looking, a ton of jokes (video game and otherwise), and lots of video game nostalgia.  If any of you watch or have watched it, feel free to comment on what characters you've seen in the Central Hub background, just to see if you saw any I might have missed, or on anything related to the movie in general. 

Movie rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Animated/Nostalgia rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

- Ken Bucklesworth, going to play some 8-bit video games until my eyes bleed. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I ain't afraid of no apparition!!!

THE APPARITION (2012)

As many of you are aware, I, your old pal Ken Bucklesworth, am a man.  And like most men, I tend to keep my emotions to myself.  However, I feel I should unburden myself a little to you today.  Call it a self therapy thing if you will.  In this case, my issue revolves around movie trailers.  Most trailers you see have the ability to stir up excitement about the movie advertised, and say things like "the must-see movie of the year", "the scariest movie in years", etc.  And I admit, I'm prone to the fancy wordplay and the epic orchestral piece playing along for dramatic effect (except for comedy trailers, don't get me started on why I dislike those.  Maybe another time I'll get into that whole thing).  But this trailer rant does have a point.  Sometimes trailers are too good at selling people on watching this or that flick.  Which is where we get into The Apparition.

Some of you fine people may recall that The Apparition was the second trailer I included for my Trailer Trash post a little ways back.  And at the time, it looked like it was going to be a pretty creepy flick, which of course I'm always looking forward to.  And you know what?  Just before I typed this sentence, I even went back and watched the trailer again, and it still looks appealing.  But the second watch made me realize something: the trailer showed pretty much EVERYTHING interesting that happened in the movie.  And to be honest, that sorta thing almost makes a tiny part of me die inside every time I get fooled like that.  I know what you might be thinking:  "But Ken, you handsome devil, it's just a movie".  Well yes, it is just a movie.  But at the same time, to people like Chuck Boonsweet and myself, it's a little more than that.  Otherwise, we wouldn't be here reviewing them. 

So the deal is this.  A few college kids get together to recreate an experiment done in the 70's to conjure up a spirit.  Why?  Who cares, it keeps the kids off the streets right?  Unfortunately, it goes too well.  And one of the people responsible gets hers in some logic defying death.  Personally, I don't know why the spirit is trying to off the ones who summoned it.  Personally, I'd at least be grateful enough to spare them and go after more unsuspecting victims.  Anyway, that opening sequence only makes up for about 6 minutes of the movie.  The majority revolves around one of the college students (Ben) some time later, who, with his girlfriend, gets harassed by a spirit again.  Why?  Because the moron who headed the first experiment (Patrick) TRIED IT AGAIN!!! 

I really wanted to like this one, I really did.  I mean, Ben and his girlfriend were easy to like for the most part, most of the creepy parts were just that, creepy.  And it had a lot of potential.  But it was just so bland.  And as I said earlier, all the creepy and interesting parts were crammed into a two and a half minute trailer, which leaves you with a lot of "nothing important happening" filling in the rest.  And yeah, I know Ben was involved with the first experiment, so the spirit possibly remembers who Ben is.  But neither he nor his girlfriend were involved with the second round, and is staying in a house who knows how far away, so I have trouble believing that he would be a primary target.  But it really doesn't matter, because this flick is really not worth the brainpower. 

At any rate, if you haven't seen it, and curiosity is eating away at you to know for yourself, it's coming out on Blu-ray November 27.  So feel free to watch and see for yourself.  And any of you who have/will watch it feel free to let me know what you thought of it. 

Movie rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Horror rating: 2 out of 5 stars

- Ken Bucklesworth, signing off.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I love Bondage.

SKYFALL (2012)

I am a huge fan of Bond.
Now, I know, that there are bond fans, and Bond haters, and then the many in between that have one film in the franchise -here and there- that they dug. I dig them all. From the old school kool of Dr. No, and Goldfinger (and yes From Russia With Love), to Roger Moore's stint in a super gadget, action packed, playboy friendly Bond of the late 70s, and early 80s. To my Fav bond Pierce Brosnan, and my still all time fav - Goldeneye. Of course, that is open for debate. That is the beauty of Bond, everyone has a favorite Bond, a favorite movie, and the true fans well have a full list of awesome points for why there bond is the best.

For example a step father trying to convince his child that Moonraker is the best. Oh, those parents...

When Daniel Craig stepped in as Bond for the newest incarnation of the character for Casino Royale, I was a little worried. He didn't really feel like bond to me. But, hey what do I know, it was a dam good flick... even with the one of the worst lines ever "If all that was left of you was your pinky, you'd still be more man than any man I know" Ya. That line happen. It's no "You're breaking my heart Anakin, you're breaking my heart" but its reeeeeeeally close. So here we are, a few years later, and his third Bond film, and I have to say, this is the closest they have come in a long time to capturing the old school feel.

A cool, calculating Bond. Merciless, and reactive. With - Finally - some killer Characters around him (getting time to properly develop).

So Bond is on a mission, he dies. Then, turns out he actually just decided to peace out to an island to drink shots of whiskey with scorpions on his hand. Which entertains the locals it seems. Then someone blows up MI-6 and it seems they have it out for 'M'. So Bond straps his secret agent boots on, and gets back in it. He meets a hot lady, who takes him to see the master mind, a super cool Javier Bardem as Silva. Then, a lot of fireworks, and some wicked fun chatty moments.

This film works on a lot of levels as a Bond film. First, the opening song by Adele, rocks. Title sequence is very, very, good. Made me feel all kinds of classic. Having a story that focuses a little more on M, and even a few personal tidbits of Bond, was a great idea. Oh, and finally, in this Bond era, we have a charismatic villain. Every inch the evil cool, that bond is good... or less evil... or evil on the side of good. However you wanna look at it. The action is on par with some of the best of the series, but, and I can't believe I'm saying this in a Bond film, the enormous amount of plot actually works very well. We see pieces, of what was intended to be a trilogy early on coming through here... a little roughly considering the middle film, but it still gets it done.

I mean, I do have my problems with this Bond... Daniel's... for one, he is way more James Bourne, than Bond. Dark, and violent, and occasionally abandoning the charm that made the original incarnation so magnetizing. The women, who were always involved as villains, or heroes, are now little more than candy to tempt Bond's would be human side (and have an annoying habit of dying horribly, what the heck is up with that?). And the gadgets have gone the way of the Dodo. That is just kaka.

But, I guess, purist aside, this is the Bond the world wants... as the box office seems to suggest... from coast to coast. The darker, slicker, Bond, is here to stay. Even after Danny C's impending departure. Well, they have set the ground rules here... I just hope they find room for a few subtle additions.

There are a few moments in here... That will seriously make your Bond love smile. Trust me. If you have been watching Bond for years... You will have moments... the kind you have missed. To the rest, its more explosive fun.

Great acting. Writing. Sets. Pretty. And that backlit fight rocks!

Movie scale 4 out of 5 stars
Bond scale 4 out of 5 stars

Boonsweet, Charles Boonsweet... 0068... ha! Thats right. I resisted the urge to go where you all thought I was... Shame on you. :)

- till next.

Who needs mars!

TOTAL RECALL (2012)

Ok.
So a long, long, time ago, in a galaxy of early 90s science fiction, Paul (showgirls was a hit) Verhoeven made a quaint little picture that had Arnold (the man who would be governor) as the lead, and a ton of awesome makeup and practical effects as the co-star. It was awesome. And has quite the following to this day.
So den...
In the year 2012 it is decided there shall be a remake. And the hate started. So i read a bit here, and I read a bit there. And really folks, really... was the original that great? I mean it's an awesome flick but people were acting like it was a science fiction opus. I mean. It's a movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger traveling to mars to turn on a machine. Cool yes. Untouchable science fiction treasure, no.
Just saying.
More I read about the remake seemed pretty interesting and with turns from Colin Farrell in In Burges, Fright Night, and heck now, even London Boulevard, I was willing to give it a chance. Then I heard Kate Beckinsdale, and Jessica Biel were tagging along... and Bryan (Walter White himself) Cranston as the villain... I mean. That is a lineup folks. The director behind Underworld, and Live free or Die hard behind the camera... Come on. It had to be at least decent right?
Story goes...
Man Douglas Quaid lives in a futuristic world that only has two liveable pieces of land left. They happen to be on opposite sides of the planet. The colony: the hard working class types, and the UFB (united federation of Britain) where all the rich people live. There is a little more to it, but that the jest. Oh, and the accepted method of travel between them is a giant tube that travels to and around the core of the planet. Plausible, not sure. Cool idea, yup. He decides the same old routine isn't doing it for him (though I feel being married to Kate Beckinsdale would at least count for a few smiles) so he heads to "Recall" where you pay to have memories implanted in your brain. Whatever you want. He decided on secret agent. All is well, then machine goes haywire because he really was a secret agent (unknown to him do to memory brain scrambling) security shows up, people die... and on the run he goes. Along the way he will discover the truth behind bad guy plans, and perhaps help save what is left of humanity.

Yup. Ok. More or less a standard sci-fi hero arc, with a memory/self lost twist.

But here is where the whole "this movie is mostest worth viewing" comes in. The action. Now there is a lot about this movie that is above par. The acting is pretty good. The direction is pretty good. There is a woman with an extra breast. All good things. However, what really brought this film into my must own in high def glory, the action scenes. They are just fantastic. Whether it is a 5 minute plus full mano a womano with Katy B, a crazy air highway chase, or people getting fist smashed into mouths while just trying to ride the dang elevator, the action in this film is phenomenal.

Is that enough?

I think so. Did I mention this film is beautiful? The budget they threw at this thing, no idea how much, but every cent got used. Endless cities, that admittedly borrow much from the lands of Blade Runner. I remember when this film first came out my fellow, Bucklesworth, turning to me and saying you know, I heard it doesn't even involve mars. You know what, I was worried, but now having watched it, i think it stands up as it's own film. Yes there are a few nods to the original. Overall though... you can not watch this film as a remake. Unlike many a remake, it managed to entertain me as it's own creation, not simply because of a built in love of the original

(impending Evil Dead remake, may you bring similar feelings... I beg of you).

I will say the ending slowed down a little bit, but I was okay with that. Needed to catch my breath (of the film watch variety, not my actual lungs... they are fine)

Oh one more thing...
The chick fight in this movie... rocks!

Movie scale 3 out of 5 stars
Sci-fi scale 4 out of 5 stars

This is one action packed sic-fi romp. Big TV+ systemUP = awesomeness.
Give it a chance folks.

To all the people that shot this film down as not living up to the original... I say this. Do they ever? I mean even once? Sometimes maybe a good movie is just a good movie, it doesn't always have to live up to a title.

-Boonsweet saying, who needs mars? :P



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothing to F.....

MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (2012)

They just don't make them like this anymore.
Yup.
That's my opening line.
They still make horror films on a shoestring budget that wow us with their occasional gore brilliance. They still make the tough guy taking on an army of baddies with varying budgets and leading men... and they still make this, and that... but how many completely blood soaked kung fu (or if you prefer - Chop- Socky) flicks do they really make anymore?
The charm of the old school over the top 70s and 80s gifts of FU from across the pond have been replaced by growing budgets... and well it seems a now endless supply of movies about the life and times of IP MAN.

Editor's Note :Seriously. I get it, the man invented a form of kung fu and trained Bruce Lee. Cool. Then they made a killer movie with Donnie Yen. Then, um, they made like 6 more. Enough. Thank you (though dang it if Grand Master doesn't look very kool)

I'm talking the bone crunching, head ripping, arm tearing... [etc] of the badly filmed, horribly dubbed classics. Anyone remember the - popular for a minute- x-ray bone break? Boo-ya. Well, RZA has seen the lacking, and he and his buddy Eli "I will never forgive you for hostel II" Roth got together and cranked out a fun homage. Now for those of you that don't know, RZA and his friends... The WU-TANG CLAN, didn't pick their stage name by accident. They are huge fans of the old skool Fu. In fact for a time they were "presenting" many of the dvd releases of underground classics... or you know... close to's... RZA has mentioned many times that he wanted to make a film. Just. Like. This.

The RZA plays a blacksmith who gets caught up in a war between a clan, and the government. He makes weapons for both sides trying to allow the love of his life, who happens to be a.. um... "working" lady, to leave her employer. His skills are unmatched and everyone wants his weapons. Wouldn't you know it he gets more involved than intended, remembers the true way of the shaolin (he was taken in as an orphan don't-cha-know) and how to beat people up with chi controlled metal fists.

So, in the first minute of this film a man has his arms ripped off. By Cung Le. Then blood splashes everywhere. Then a few heads go flying, all behind freeze frame, classic letter style credits. Yup. No matter how horrible any part of the movie was after that, I knew I would be enjoying myself. This is more or less non-stop overthetopness. To make it even better the talent sprinkled in is nothing short of fantastic... Now in case you don't know some of the names, I'll include a "know for".

Chai Hui Liu : 36th Chamber of the Shaolin
Rick Yune : Ninja Assassin
Daniel Wu : The Banquet
David Batista : former WWE Champion
Cung Le : UFC fighter, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion

And that's some of the Kung Fu/fighter talent, what about Russel Crowe and Lucy Liu thrown in for good measure. I have never been the biggest RC fan, but he has so much of a good time with his role in this film I couldn't help but enjoy it right along with him. I imagine after all the serious work he has done this was the screen equivalent of a Teenager's first time with the the car keys... possibly without permission... :)

Yes, it could have been better. Some of the fights are not mindblowing choreography. The RZA is really, not that good an actor, at any point. He takes the one expression for everything, including limb loss, to new heights. The secondary "boss" showdown sucks, and David Batista as a man that can turn his body to brass, honestly, needed a little more fight time. BUT....

But. I think the attempt to bring something like this to the big screen and all the sneaky throwbacks, and just gratuitous gore, overrule the bad. If you like your old kung fu, you will dig this flick. If you Just wanna see Crowe unleashing his inner violent demon, you will dig this flick. If the line "If you want, I can have that half of him brought up to your room" makes you giggle, you will most definitely dig this flick.

The RZA does do a solid job directing this film. It would seem the films he's worked on, soundtrack wise, have served him well in picking up a few tricks. Including a couple of Tarantino's.

Movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Kung Fu scale 4 out of 5 stars.

Understand, this "4" is not based on the fights. But there is enough fun, and chaos here to bring a smile to most a foot to face fan.

Chuck the man with the iron fingertips Boonsweet saying...
Ninja Vanish!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In space no one can hear you... Whimper.

PROMETHEUS (2012)

Alien has defined decades of science fiction. In truth you could argue it was inspired by older entries in the sic-fi genre, but none had the lasting effect of Alien. From the design, to the concept, everything came together just right. Including the never to be underestimated talents of one Ridley Scott. The man behind, well, pretty much anything with chainmail and a sword in it these days. But, he has a body of work that should not only impress, it should illicit awe.

After 3 decades + , Mister space terror decides he wants to make another space movie. Cool. Then it starts sounding like he's making a prequel to Alien... ok, unexpected, but still cool. Then he's not sure if it's a prequel, it might just be a space movie... with a monster... and horror elements... ok. That's a little strange, but um... okay. Then it is an alien prequel. And everyone picked a side. Terrified of Scott destroying a world he had created, or played a major role in anyway... and those that thought his return would be awesome, and were stoked to get back into the alien universe.

I was in the latter category.

Admittedly when directors return to their greatest work, things do not always go well... *cough - Star Wars.

The plot is such. Space ship from earth (weyland industries I might add) gets sent by billion/trillion/zillionnaire to find out possible origins beyond our galaxy. This all made possible by a road map two archaeologists have found (the main an always entertaining leading lady Noomi Rapace). When they arrive on the foreign planet low and behold there does appear to be signs of intelligent life. There is however also, strange canisters... leaking black liquid. After there initial visit motives come into question,  including those of the Android on board. Things get very messed up, and it seems that perhaps our planet owes more than a little to a race they call the engineers... and that's as far as I go.

This film is an experience. For me, as a film fan, as a fan of space, this film held me for every minute of it's two hour run time. It's a feast for the eyes, and mind. Now first, I want to explain that I feel this feel stands on it's own. It was a smart, and surely trying, idea to build a plot that allows a casual viewer to enjoy, while appeasing the throngs of Alien fans. There is enough here to melt my brain, and demand repeated viewings.

Now to address some of the problems i have heard. They do tie this to the Alien universe. Is it a constant thread that they bring up throughout the entire movie - NO. However, that is how they set up a scenario that you get involved in to the point that when they explain how and why we are tied to this race, it knocks you back. To the people that apparently did not catch the clear explanations of those threads that I will not explain here... I don't know what to say, perhaps if you give it another chance you will see it clearer. I also want to state that I in no way had any problem with the soundtrack. I have read out there in the wide web-a-verse that some people felt the music overwhelmed some moments. Sci-fi has a history of lengthy, impressive soundtracks... epic... is a word I would use to describe this one.

Is it perfect? No.

Problems -
1. The ending, though not a disappointment is really, pointlessly open-ended.
2. Charlize Theron deserved a better closing moment
3. The self surgery, and the um... lack of problem that any one seems to have with the giant wound... and blood. Maybe that happens often in space?
4. The opening scene???? But perhaps on another view.
5. You will say to yourself... Really did that person just get saved by a rock?            
Oh and 6. No scientist - In a situation like that - would ever talk to a menacing creature like a pet shop puppy.

That is all. Small things.
I super mucho enjoyed this. I am so happy it lived up to the hype, for me anyway. I can understand why some of you die hards might not be fully satisfied, but there are rumours of a sequel coming... so perhaps then. Though I for one, ain't really feeling like i need one. This'll do.

So pretty.

Movie scale 3.5 out of 5 stars
Sci-fi scale 4 out of 5 stars.

Might be time to break out my classic Aliens discs...
Yup.

-Boony saying look both ways before crossing the spaceship hallway.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chiller Classics Presents: Just Before Dawn


Welcome my friends to the debut review for Chiller Classics, where my associate Mr. Boonsweet and I take you on a trip to the olden days of horror.  We hope to introduce some of you to the horror flicks you may not have heard of, either because of how old they are or how obscure, and educate you about horror's history.  And for those of you who are already well versed in the "good old days" of horror, hopefully this will help bring back some nostalgic memories and maybe entice you to see some of these classics again. 



To begin this new series, I take you back to 1981, where the slasher genre has really gained a foothold in the world of cinema thanks to previous releases like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Maniac, and many others.  Today I review Just Before Dawn.  This flick uses the "friends camping in the woods, gets picked off by a insane killer" formula, a formula used many times over the decades and is still an effective means when used properly.  And boy does it not waste any time, as the first kill happens around the five and a half minute mark, when an unfortunate hunter get the business end of a blade in a particularly painful place.  I know, getting stabbed anywhere will hurt a lot, but this one seems like it would be especially painful.  Luckily, his friend manages to escape before he meets a similar fate.

Enter the happy-go-lucky campers, one of whom happens to own a piece of land up in the mountains.  And what better way to enjoy said land than to bring some friends to camp there and make the standard merry.  Along the way they run into a forest ranger (played by George Kennedy) who tries to warn them away from the mountains.  Of course, it wouldn't be much of a movie if the campers actually listened to him, so naturally they ignore his warning and continue on their way.  Before they make it to their destination they run into (not literally) the surviving hunter from the beginning, who begs them to take him along.  Unfortunately, the hunter tells them that demons are after him, so instead of taking him they leave him a sandwich and continue on.  From here on in it's the (nowadays) standard fare; camp is set up, the campers enjoy their time, and one by one they get picked off by the killer.  But this movie is not without it's moments.  For example, despite seeing who is doing the killing pretty much right away, there's a certain aspect of the protagonist you don't see until about two-thirds of the way into it, although there are a couple of hints in the movie.  Also, the last kill in the movie is brutal, and one that I must say I never really saw before, and I've seen a LOT of different kills over the years.

So, the positives: to start, the scenery is just beautiful.  This is a flick that was made for blu-ray.  I too would be hard pressed to listen to a forest ranger's warnings if I was to camp in such a place.  While some of the kills are nothing special, there are a couple of exceptions that I enjoyed, such as the last kill I previously mentioned.  And the effects and stunt work (what little stunts there were) are also pretty decent.  The acting, while not great in some parts, was overall still decent.  George Kennedy did a fine performance, as well as Gregg Henry (although my favorite performance by Henry is still the somewhat over-the-top Mayor Jack MacReady in Slither).

There's not a whole lot to say in terms of negatives.  Most complaints are basically the other side of the coin with some of the acting and a couple of basic kills.  There are a couple of points also where they seem a little confused about whether its daytime or nighttime.  The protagonist is nothing too special, and there's a family living in the woods, who ultimately offer little to the advancement of the story.  If they weren't in it, I'm pretty sure the movie would have been just fine. 

All in all, this flick is one I recommend you check out.  While not the cream of the crop, it's still an entertaining watch.  And in my opinion, it makes a good opening entry to Chiller Classics.

Movie rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Chiller Classic rating: 4 out of 5 stars

- K.K. Bucklesworth, feeling fine. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ice, Ice, baby... and an evil fish

HYPOTHERMIA (2010 - release DVD 2012)

First thought when I finished this film... that was a horrible ending.
Man do I hate a bad ending. You ever been talking to someone about a film and they're all like "Ya you know it was a pretty good movie. I mean the ending was a little weak, but overall not bad"
No.
No. Bad movie going public!
An ending is not just a part of a movie, I mean, it's the most important part of the movie. I mean okay... example...
You go on a date, a super awesome date, great chat, so much in common. The meal is good. You are walking the lovely he/she to their door. You reach the front step and then as the moment of the good evening kiss nears... you lean in... and are suddenly kicked in the knee cap, nipple twisted, and have your eyeball licked...
Now was that an acceptable date? The answer my friends is no. That is a run home, lose number, facebook friend delete situation. So why do we accept non awesome film endings? Well, I'm done, and have been done. But let's fill in the blanks.

So Michael Rooker and his family (wife, son, son's fiancé) are at the family cottage by a frozen lake for some good old ice fishing and social. While out on the lake they meet an annoying, but likeable duo of Father and son city slicker. Then as they all try to get along out on the ice and catch some fish they become aware of a rather large, and possible murderous fish beneath the surface. The city slickers make it their mission to capture it, and the good ol' country folk get pulled along.

I mean anything with Michael Rooker is probably you know, worth a view, hence this review. The locations and settings are iced out full winter style and beautiful. Some of the long range ice shots are just fantastic. Growing up in my kiddy years I spent many a day out on a frozen lake, and it took me back. The writing early on, and for the majority of the movie is pretty good. Very bland, and normal, and even a few genuine chuckles. It just felt real. Real cold, real people, and then a real threat.

So the creature - all honesty- it does look a little silly. But, I am a guy who has been shaking his fist in the air with every over CGI'd monster that has been shoved down my throat, so really, once I reminded myself that, I grew to enjoy the charm of the full practical creature. That's right folks. Man in a suit. Boo and ya. The issues start when the action picks up and the blood starts flowing (full practical blood effects too, I know right, I was stoked at this point). Why, when a son is severely injured, and clearly so, would any Dad refuse to take him to hospital. Especially when he is nothing but a slightly in over his head, over all good natured city slicker? Next issue, really how smart is this thing? They throw around all kinds of ideas for what it might be... none of those ideas however explain some of it's uber attack strategies.

Then, then we get to the sin of a film that has been very for a good portion; well acted, and fun, and different... a weak... a very weak last 15 minutes. Where people that have seemed intelligent for the most part do ridiculous things. Also... wait what... the Rooker gets no showdown? That is nearly unforgivable... and then you are gonna throw some gibberish about understanding the creatures motivations? It killed people. Its a monster. Does it need us to care why?

No.

I get what they were trying to establish with the creature/man, hunter/prey, habitat dominance, but after the rest of the movie it just didn't fit for me. This needed to be a straight creature feature. Man rising against beast to defend his family. Terror, thrills, maybe even you know... self sacrifice for the cause... something... anything more than what we got.

Movie scale 2 out of 5 stars
Horror scale 2.5 out of 5 stars

Mr. Rooker as always held it down. Far exceeding what the script gave him. I have mad respect for his screen game. Just not enough in the mix to bring it all together.

- Charles Boonsweet.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Feline felony

A CAT IN PARIS (2010)

Remember when animation involved rooms full of artists spending insane amounts of energy, time, and skill, to produce works of film that dazzled imagination...?

Okay, yes. I know it has been a while. 

There is a magic about those days and the films they've created that allows them to stand the test of time. Films that still sell out from shelves on re-releases, and special editions. Films that parents will go out and find for their children because they remember the feelings they had as a child, eyes wide with wonder. 

Now, ok, before I go too mushy-mush here... I want to make it very clear, I have a strong love of all things animation. In no way am I bashing the current state that is CGI animation. Anyone who knows me knows I love me some Kung Fu Panda. And the things that Pixar has done with the form in terms of story with Wall-E, and Up, are just amazing. However, there was a warmth, a movement to the film that gave it a different life when it was by pencil stroke alone... Anyone that has seen Fantasia, The Rescuers, An American Tail, and the list goes on, looks back on them with a fondness that doesn't seem to fade. 

There have been a few here and there over the last couple of decades that definitely hold their own... The Iron Giant, Balto, (the phenomenally pretty) Thief and the Cobbler, but the style and form has faded as CGI rules the cinemas. Add the advantages of CGI 3D and well, the pencil may not be mightier than the CGI sword. 

Ok. Yes. That was a rant. But, it served a purpose. 

A Cat in Paris, in a return to that classic feel of animation. It moves, breaths as you watch it on screen. And, as is sometimes the case with the most visually original, at times, perhaps the majority, the art is more the reason to watch than the story. 

So your plot. 
Young girl has a cat, Dino. Dino stays with her during the day and leaves at night to pursue his second life; an assistant to a very talented "Cat" burglar. The young girl is often left alone with her Nanny, as her Mother (a detective) is kept very busy. One night the young girl follows the cat to see where he goes... and a wonderfully brisk, and surprisingly serious adventure takes place. 

If you dig art, and animation as art, this is for you. At a run time of just over an hour this is hardly a plot heavy piece. In fact, you might miss some lines here and there just absorbing the style of the film. From the smooth jazz melting over each vibrant colour, to watching a small yapping dog be smushed by a flying sandal... twice... to a very cool lights out scene in which the characters are drawn in white lines. Colours are fun aren't they? That's the feelings I had on it. Is the story amazing, not so much (follow cat and sprinkle in a fast moving subplot about the killer the mother is hunting). It works though. If the story had been too deep, or lengthy, or focused on humour you would lose time doing what you wanna do... Watch.

The voice acting in the English release is top notch. So no worries about having to track down the original French version to avoid what I call "Toon Air eating" haha (yes, it is oh so very possible to badly dub an animated film)

This is not a film for everyone. In fact, as a film, it is not the best of the genre I have seen. Not even close. But as art, as a reminder that pencil to page can still mind bend your eyeballs... (that um is the best I can currently come up with to describe, so ya... I'm rollin with it) it is something you should see. Maybe with a couple them young folks curled up on the couch with ya... 

Movie scale 2.5 our of 5 stars
Animated movie scale 3.5 out 5 stars. 

Chucky B saying he hopes to see him some more of the old skool. 

Honest Abe and his trusty scythe.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES (2012)

If history has taught me anything, it's that no undead is safe from Abraham Lincoln!!  While he's not the only President to battle the supernatural (JFK helping Elvis defeat a mummy, and Franklin Roosevelt fighting werewolves to name a couple of examples), he is to my knowledge the only President to wage war against two different kinds of monsters.  And that's no easy feat dammit!!

Since my fellow colleague Boonsweet reviewed Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, it seemed logical for me to follow up that review with The Asylum's version, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.  Now for those of you who aren't aware of the company The Asylum by now, they are known for being involved in such original gems as "Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus" and "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid", and mockbusters such as "Transmorphers", "Paranormal Entity", and "The Amityville Haunting", just to name a few.  Knowing this going in, I kept my hopes low in an effort to reduce disappointment.  Let's begin, shall we?

The movie begins with a young Abe Lincoln.  After hearing a gunshot in his home, he runs upstairs to his parents bedroom to find his father with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his undead mother tied to the bed.  With his dying breath, Abe's father apologizes to his son, and tells him that he must kill his mother.  Abe takes a scythe, does the deed, and breaks the scythe in half in a rage.  We then flash forward to his Presidential days where, after learning of a failed attempt at capturing a Confederate fort, Lincoln goes to see the only soldier to come back alive.  Lincoln sees that the soldier is near death, and the soldier's raving about a mob of people attacking and eating people from both sides of the battle convinces the President that the zombie outbreak from his childhood has returned.  Abe then goes to the fort with his 12 Secret Service men to investigate.  They engage the Confederates, but the gunfire attracts the undead, and they are forced to fight two enemies for a brief period.  In spite of the odds, Abe and his party manage to fend off the undead and capture the Confederates and the fort.  However, that's only the beginning of Lincoln's plan, as he is determined to put an end to this zombie outbreak. 

All in all, I have mixed feelings about this one.  Let's do a good point/bad point and vice-versa style this time.  We'll start with the acting.  Overall, the acting wasn't very good.  A few of the actors were pretty wooden at times, and just wasn't believable.  Some others were so-so, at least good enough to not have any major complaints about.  And then there's Bill Oberst Jr., who was above and beyond in his portrayal of President Lincoln.  His line delivery was fluid, and he had good use of facial expressions, especially the eyes.  I found any scene without him in it was just blander than normal.  However, I couldn't help but notice two things: one, his fake mole looked at times like it was barely attached to his face.  And two, his voice is uncannily similar to Lloyd Bridges.

Next, makeup and effects.  The zombie makeup was decent enough, not the best I've ever seen but certainly not the worst.  The effects however are another story.  The Asylum has a habit of using cheesy CGI effects for blood, monsters, etc.  And this flick was no exception.  The blood spatter was baaaad, it would visibly disappear in mid air most of the time, and there was one part where the mid-air blood effect actually hovered in one spot, see if you can spot it.  And there was some unnecessary use of green screening here and there.

Now I think I'll just mish-mash the rest of my opinions here.  The costumes and scenery were good enough, and the story itself?  Well let's just say it's Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, so the story is good for what it is.  There was one interesting thing done with the zombies I need to point out.  Whenever there is nobody around and little to no noise is made, the undead just stop moving and stand wherever they are in some sort of comatose state until something riles them up.  It's an interesting concept, but unfortunately it's not used very well.  It's really nothing more than plot convenience, and even then there are inconsistencies about when they wake up and attack.

Despite my issues with this flick, it did have it's moments.  If you have a love of zombies, or period pieces, or even cheesy effects and one liners, you should still check this one out.  It's on Netflix for those of you who have it.  In fact, I actually recommend watching other Asylum movies.  If anything they're great for a laugh or two.  You just have to go in with your brain shut off and low expectations, and fun will be had.   

Movie Rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars
Cheese Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

- Ken Bucklesworth, future President of Earth

Friday, October 26, 2012

Honest Abe and his trusty Axe

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012)

The B movie. There are many definitions for this term through the decades. Myself, I feel this is the closest.

B Movie: A film with low to non-existent budget that has grand aspirations, and occasionally finds success with a devoted following.

There are many of these films, a few amazing, some good, and many, many, just bad, and cheap and well... More of a C film really... :) But every once and a while you come across one that you can see the possibility. A film that when you are done watching you think "You know if they just had a bigger budget they might have pulled that off" or "With a few better actors in that film you know it might have been pretty awesome" ... and the list goes on. Money, though not always, often holds a film back from reaching its full potential

Boony sidenote: I love low budget film. You know this. So no hate. Just saying there is more bad then good out there. Think about the horrid horrid films you have subjected yourself to in hopes of the next "Evil Dead", "Night of the Living Dead", or "Black Christmas". Thank you.

If you down with the scene yo, then this folks - is the film you have been waiting for. This is a completely over the top, wonderfully beautiful, well acted, and entirely crazy B movie with a huge budget. Really big budget. And boy was it just swell.

So Abraham Lincoln was an awesome president of the United States, he was also it seems a hunter of vampires (after they kill his Mother he swears revenge). Now here is where the fun is, the film is actually historically accurate. Dates, people, events, all here in eye watering glory, they just you know... add vampires... and Abe's awesome Axe skills. And no folks, we ain't talking rock and roll...

Had to.

Okay so there are some issues here. Um. So if I follow this film, if I get angry, and then learn to focus the rage (in a roughly 19 and a half second lesson) I will then be able to move super fast and destroy trees, and hence vampires, in a single blow. Hmmm... what? Ya, ok, so there's that... and the whole son dying thing... well, maybe that was a little too far over real life presidential grounds, but that's pretty much it. My only beefs.

I like crazy, and cheese, and fun, and for years I have been waiting for a film that had all of that and an insane budget. Blood flying everywhere, limbs, heads. Entirely over the top showdowns, and settings. Great acting, played one hundred percent straight throughout. Really, lets face it, that man's beard came to get some...

This will not be a film for everyone. If even a portion of the above review did not tickle you somewhere deep, and squishy, then pass. If you do not know what a B movie is, or have none that you can point out on your shelf, then pass. For the rest though, strap in and enjoy the ride. With the reception this film received I doubt we will be getting anything else along these lines soon... so get while the getting's good.

Say what you will about the director (same guy behind WANTED) but he can helm an action scene. The slow motion/real time/fast time action scene at the mansion one of my favourites of the year... perhaps another category to find in the year end awards blog. Be pumped.

Movie scale 2.5 out of 5 stars
Horror/B movie scale 3.5 out of five stars.

Charles B-movie Boonsweet is out this piece!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Less bump in the night

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 (2012)

It is rare to find a truly scary film these days. I mean really, you usually end up with poor cats being thrown at the camera (with an accompanying noise of some kind) or you just get tons of violence (the saw franchise coming to mind). Still, every once and a while, usually of the beaten path, a no name film maker comes to the fore front of the genre with a fantastic creepy and unsettling adventure.

Enter the Paranormal Activity films.

I remember watching the first and feeling my skin crawl. Those little shivers that leave bumps of the goose variety in their wake. The second I saw in theatre and the absolute dread and fear that rocked through the crowd was a blast, heck I even enjoyed some of the cool ideas and tricks of the 3rd.

So I went to see 4, and well, as I feared... There was no fear. The magic is gone folks. G-O-N-E gone.

Plot is, possessed woman, and child from the second instalment (who is sworn over to a demon as a result of a family oath, or such) move in next door to a plucky teen heroine was of course gets creeped out as creepy things happen. Then it seems the demon woman and the young boy have decided to take her young brother as their own. And here we go...

Okay, first, there were a few good things here. The way the incorporate the Kinect (Xbox for those of you that do not game), using the tracing lights and some night vision for a couple of cool effects. The acting is pretty darn good. The young teen in the lead is pretty talented, as is her so cool boyfriend. They have some very real and fun dialogue. Their are a few laughs, and some tension here and there... but the bad just out weighs the good. The movie is just plain slow. Really nothing happens. Other than a few little things that might get a jump but serve no real "built the dread" function. The deaths when they come are hardly that affecting because we hardly give a kaka about them. I mean ya he had a few funny lines, but do I care he is now dead? No.

There is stupid too. For instance. One main trick in the film is the girl having her boyfriend set up the laptops in the house to always record. So that even if the computer is off, it is still watching. Two major, huge, gigantic, issues with that. No one leaves their laptops open all the time. You close the lid. And, lastly, this trick means that she has to take her laptop with her wherever she goes... outside... investigating... through a window lol, no joke, she brings the computer with her. Even turns it towards the enemy a couple of times so we can get a good look.

Really?

Nope. I think they just ran out of ideas. Here's a concept, use what works, stop trying to come up with some super clever/notsomuch way of filming these things. Cameras, security, a few handhelds, all good.

And I know with the money these movies continue to make we will see more, and I'm fine with that. The scares I got form the first 3 are worth a couple mulligans... but it is time to either explain the damn cult, or move the freak on people. New story, new characters, new possession. There, done.

Bottom line. Maybe a couple jump scares, and a pretty decent last ten minutes do not make up for the hour plus of boredom you will not get back.

Movie scale 2 out of 5 stars
horror scale 2 out of 5 stars

Hope you all find many awesome ways to enjoy your impending Halloweens...

-Chuck B. Boonsweet

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bad Doggie!

WEREWOLF: THE BEAST AMONG US (2012)

Werewolves are kind of like the bastard child of the horror-verse. For a time loved and embraced by all in the mix of the big three (wolfy, Fangs, and a monster back to life) but as the popularity of the others grew the wolves were lost. Oh they have surfaced from time to time, late 80s, a couple of indies here and there, but as whole you just don't see the furry beasts too much anymore. I however have always had a soft spot for them -

Editor's note : Boonsweet refuses to acknowledge the wolf lore aspect to the twilight franchise as well as the change that results in a slightly larger than norm husky look. Thank you.

- I came across this film in a few articles and thought it looked pretty interesting. As with any wolf movie, I approached with caution. Spoke with a soft clear voice... took the snack out of my pocket... wait, no, that's how I got past my neighbors German shepherd for after hours visits in grade ten... ok. Lowered expectations. That was where I was. Excited. But accepting.

This was one FUN movie.

Ok, so, there are werewolves, and they terrorize town circa the 1800s. There are hunters and they help these towns survive. One town in particular is under attack from a very strong beast and hires a group of well known hunters to help. As a side story we meet Daniel (a very likable Guy Wilson) who is in love with a young maiden in town, and hard at work learning the crafts of medicine from genre legend Stephen Rae (insert applause). Here is what immediately sets this film apart from many entries into any genre of low budget filming - Quality. The sets are amazing. The costumes, lighting, camera work, and yes even the acting, are all very good. This movie takes itself seriously and has the talent behind the lens, and the writing to pull it off.

So the young Daniel joins the hunters and the film takes a very interesting twist becoming a rather involving whodunit. The people of the town are all intriguing in their own way, and the twists that come don't feel forced, they slide in smooth and often leave a smile on your face. Well, maybe just my face, but then I appreciate such things in my off the beaten path filmaking.

I won't go into the twists, even though there are a couple I really wanna... But let me just say, if you have ever enjoyed the werewolf genre this is the entry you have been waiting a long time for. If you are horror fan looking for some fantastic practical makeup, and thrills, you will dig.

One thing I did want to mention though, was the use of CGI in this film. It just really, really was not needed. There are all these scenes of various beast-ness that look just fantastic. All makeup. Gore, limbs lost, all that, all makeup, and then for no reason they'll just throw an unneeded CGI shot of the were wolf in. WHY!? It makes no sense, maybe they just wanted to spend a little more money... Or someone was learning how to play with their new Macbook? No idea. Either way, totally messed with a really solid film. And when not CGI's these big screen man-dogs look dang good.

Genuinely surprised and pleased.

Movie scale 3 out of 5 stars
Horror/werewolf scale 3.5 out of 5 stars.

And folks, comments from one and all are welcome... Bring the think!

Chuck double B saying he'll see you punks at the next full moon.

Turn that frown upside down :)

SMILEY (2012)

Man that looks like an awesome mask.
That's what I thought the first time I saw a trailer for this low budget slasher. And sometimes that's enough right? It catches your eye, and you're like well, give it a chance. And a chance it was given.

So the story goes if you are online video chatting with someone, and you type I did it for the lulz 3 times good old masked man with a large knife AKA Smiley will show up and kill the person on the other end, while you watch. Ok, you may be thinking, Pfft that's stupid. Well, I say not so much. Let us not forget many people bought into cell phones that kill, and a video taped girl that comes out of your TV. As such, I say its acceptable. Anyway, cute girl, freshman, gets caught up with a bunch of tech weenies who are obsessed with Smiley. She then begins to get stalked.

Ok so the good. I laughed. Is that good in a horror flick? Sometimes. The only problem is I wasn't sure if I was laughing at it, or with it sometimes. But I was enjoying it very much... At first. The problem is once the cheesy acting, and overthetoptotrytobecool lines start losing there awesomeness you're left wondering "Okay, what is this movie?". At times it seems its a standard slasher straight to video, only, there really isn't that much gore. And all the girls, yes all of them are fully clothed. Okay, so trashy TNA gore fest is out. But the acting is still awful, so maybe comedy horror? But then, and here is perhaps the biggest problem, intelligence. Suddenly, without warning this film will make a statement so absolutely genius that you can't help but look to your fellow audience and nod in approval. For instance the film professor (by FAR the best character in the film) has a Phenomenal speech on the evolution of the human species and the possibility that we are not the final stage, but a gestation stage for the next form of life we will allow to be created.

Ya. Crazy heavy. And okay maybe they are trying to imply that Smiley could be a similar creation as a result of being willed into existence. But then as your still digesting BAM! 18 horribly acted and written lines punch you in the face and you are just shaking the dust off again.

There are moments here folks. A few really cool kills. A killer mask (which any slasher will tell you is uber-Im-por-tante) but it is painfully obvious that a clearer direction was needed. If they had simply embraced the cheese, loaded the violence, and worked the Smiley in the real world angle more, well we would really had something. However, they choose to try to turn a silly B movie into a thoughtful expose on youth and technology, and blah blah blah... leading to what I can only describe as my "WTF" ending of the year. Yes. More so than Killlist.

Ok Maybe a tie for WTF ending of the year.

You know all this has got me thinking maybe me and Bucklesworth should get together and give out some awards. Hmmm... why not. We'll mail the winners tinfoil Oscars, and call them um... Lil' demons... maybe. I don't know... dam... sorry... ok annnnnnnnd back.

Sadly folks I think there is too little hardcore horror for the true believers, and too much for the average teeny scare lover. It will almost certainly get lost behind many of the better entries in the genre this year (including many reviewed on this lovely blog lol)


movie scale 1.5 out of 5 stars
Horror/slasher scale 2.5 out of 5 stars
- Boonsweet gives y'all the adios...

P.S.

I did it for the lulz
I did it for the lulz
I did it for the lu......................

Monday, October 15, 2012

Haunted hospitals should not be entered, ever!!

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (2012)

A little ways back I had the pleasure of watching and reviewing Grave Encounters, which (for those of you who might not remember) was about a reality show shooting one of their episodes inside a haunted hospital, with the expected result of people dying and scares aplenty.  Somehow it had escaped my radar until just recently that GE 2 was out, and of course I jumped on the chance to watch and review it as well.  Of course, it being nearly Halloween and all, horror is almost 100% of what I've been watching movie wise, so this flick fit in well with my current list.

So, on to the review.  I was immediately surprised to learn that Grave Encounters 2 isn't your standard sequel.  It takes place in what you would call the "real world", where the first GE was just a movie.  The sequel opens up showing a number of people doing vlogs reviewing GE, ranging from good reviews to negative.  I gotta say, I did enjoy this movie actually showing people talking about how the movie was terrible.  It's nice to see that the people behind the flick have a sense of humor and can handle a little criticism. 

Enter Alex, one of the vloggers at the start of the movie, and wannabe filmmaker.  After his review of Grave Encounters he receives a video response from a viewer called Deathawaits6, showing the star of GE, Lance Preston, in the hospital wearing a hospital gown.  Later on the same viewer gives Alex coordinates to the hospital where the movie was made.  After doing some research Alex learns that the real hospital has a similar history to the fictional one, and the cast of the movie have been missing for nine years (Even though Grave Encounters was released in 2011, it was the year 2003 in the movie's timeline).  Alex starts to become obsessed with the history of the movie, to the point of neglecting his own movie that he is trying to shoot.  After a revealing meeting with one of the producers of GE, Alex and four of his friends decide to go to the hospital and get proof that the events of  Grave Encounters are true.

Ok, let's start with the good points of the flick.  First, I personally enjoyed the idea of the sequel being in "real life", and the first GE being a movie, and yet having the events of the original be true.  Alex's growing obsession with the movie was believable, and the acting overall was decent enough.  The time in the hospital was pretty decent.  Not as many scares as in the first movie, but then again, Alex and friends didn't go into the hospital until the second half, so not as much time to deliver as GE 1.  But most of the scares were effective enough.  The ending was an unexpected turn in my opinion, but ultimately I did like it.  Boonsweet and I discussed the possibilities of another sequel, and we both concluded that a third part was possible, but options for the story were quite limited.

On to the negatives.  With a couple of exceptions, the first half of the time in the hospital was pretty much the same old routine as in the first movie.  That's a negative only if you didn't enjoy or get scared by the events of GE 1.  And in case you didn't pick up on it, in the positives paragraph I mentioned MOST of the scares were effective.  Earlier in the movie it's amusingly pointed out by a couple of people that the special effects (mainly the ghosts distorted faces) looked ridiculous.  And while I admit the facial effects in GE 1 were hit and miss (mostly hit in my opinion), in the sequel not only were a couple of the ghosts' faces bad looking, it was totally predictable when they went from the normal to distorted look, which was disappointing.

Also, this isn't a positive or a negative point, it's just a question.  Obsessed or not, if you were convinced that the events of Grave Encounters were true, why the hell would you want to go in the hospital, knowing full well you may not be able to leave?  Of course, if Alex and friends followed that logic, there wouldn't have been a Grave Encounters 2 now would there?

So, in the end, I enjoyed this flick.  The direction chosen for the sequel and the unexpected turn at the end met with my approval.  If any of you are going to (or already are) doing a horror fest for Halloween, make a point of looking into Grave Encounters 2.  Bucklesworth has spoken!!!

P.S.  My apologies for my absence with reviews lately.  It's fortunate that my fellow cohort Boonsweet is more than capable of picking up the slack. 

Movie scale: 3 out of 5 stars
Horror scale:  3 out of 5 stars

- Ken K. Bucklesworth, eager for Halloween