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Saturday, December 31, 2011

DOCTOR WHO: The Television Movie


STATS:
1996
Directed by Geoffrey Sax
Written by Matthew Jacobs
Starring Paul McGann, Eric Roberts(!), Daphne Ashbrook, and Sylvester McCoy

WHA’ HAPPENED?
The previous Doctor comes back for a quick, nearly wordless cameo before he gets gunned down and replaced by this guy...


...who is fancy and British in all sorts of ways. He has to battle his arch nemesis The Master, played by Eric Roberts in a role that basically spells out why he isn't as famous as his sister.  There's also some romantic tension going on, which is a new thing for the Doctor, though it isn't taken to the same degree as in later seasons.

ISN’T THAT SPECIAL?
Well, 'tis the holiday season, so what better time to pay tribute to a show that consistently busts out sappy Christmas specials every year. It must be a British thing. This episode in particular has nothing to do with the holidays aside from a little fireworks show at the end, but it does seem properly wintery throughout.

On a side note, I have become a recent fan of Doctor Who, particularly the latest incarnation, Matt Smith. I've seen a little bit from each of the Doctors, even the awful ones...


...but I never got the chance to check out this lone entry from the Eighth Doctor. It's sort of remembered as a footnote in the Whoniverse. Not late-80s-awful, but also not quite modern enough to relaunch the franchise for the nineties. I was genuinely curious about this one.

RANDOM THOUGHTS:
While having some major flaws in tone and melodrama ("WHO. AM. I?!"), it does seem to pave the way toward the later series. It definitely has some of the campy appeal of the earlier, kid-oriented seasons, particularly when the Master is on screen dressed like Ming the Merciless.


But it does feel darker in a way that the other serials never did. (Except for that time the Sixth Doctor tried to strangle his companion for no reason. But let's ignore that.) The stakes seem genuine, even if the time-heavy climax made no sense to me. And like I noted before, the added romance was a nice touch, and an inevitable change for modern audiences.

I also liked the redesigned TARDIS, which is similar to the later seasons, but slightly cheesier. I assume it looked more realistic before they started filming, and then Eric Roberts got too close and brushed up against it.


OK. IS IT GAY?
Not really. Campy, sure. But not enough to push it over the edge into a definite recommend. Now that I've seen it, I understand why it's a footnote. I also understand why it's not exactly reviled by Who fans. Check it out if you're interested in the character. It's a TV movie through and through.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE


The other night, I caught this early Brian de Palma movie on late-night television. I had forgotten how dark and twisted it was. And it is definitely a product of the 70s. It came out before Rocky Horror, and yet that show gets all the credit for being groundbreaking and subversive.

Quick quiz. Is this from Rocky Horror or Phantom...

However, Phantom of the Paradise has a badder, more twisted protagonist, a man with half a face who flies in the face of the system.

And like Rocky Horror, it has its own queer overtones...
Is it offensive? Maybe. Seriously, you tell me. Is it offensive? I honestly can’t tell.

The actors are, for the most part, better singers. Especially the glorious female lead, who coincidentally replaced Susan Sarandon in Shock Treatment, the Rocky Horror sequel that no one seems to appreciate.

And while this film does not have a moment quite like the Time Warp, all of the extravagant musical numbers are, top-to-bottom, more enjoyable and over-the-top.


Hard core musical fans out there have probably already seen and enjoyed this film. But if not, check it out. For real. And thats the hell of it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ED WOOD

Let us all take a moment to remember the glorious life and legacy of Edward D. Wood, Jr.

This is Mr. Wood himself from Glen or Glenda.

In some ways, it was a simpler time. And in some ways, very little has changed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

POPULAR


Now that the world has discovered the awesomeness of American Horror Story, then it is about time that we rediscover Popular, the Ryan Murphy creation for the WB network. It is the campiest, most over-the-top high school dramedy ever put to film. Watch Mr. Murphy speed through storylines involving Christmas angels, cancer, serial killers, giant trees, seal-clubbing, mental retardation, cheerleading, sabotage, prom, and lesbianism like his brain was farting out ideas faster like a supercomputer. A supercomputer that farts out ideas.

Like AHS, or Glee, or Nip Tuck, this show is sometimes transcendent, and sometimes excruciating. But that is what you get from a Ryan Murphy production. Every episode is a crapshoot. Just watch out for that Mary Cherry. You meet her once, and you will be quoting her for the rest of your life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NIGHT OF THE CREEPS


Reason #39 to watch Night of the Creeps: It has, like, four different beginnings that are completely unrelated to anything that happens in the actual movie. Is it about urban legends? Stumpy little alien beings? No and no.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

TWILIGHT ZONE: Nick of Time


This is William Shatner in the midst of a match of wits with a devil-headed fortune-telling machine. If you have ever seen any non-famous episode of The Twilight Zone, then you should be aware that they often involve hammy actors staring at devil-headed fortune-telling machines. This is not a good half-hour of television. But at least it does not involve a gambler getting chased around by a demon slot machine. (True story.)

The reason I wanted to spotlight this episode is because William Shatner is surprisingly hot. That is, if you ignore how sweaty he gets by the end of the episode. He IS Canadian after all. They get warm easily.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

ORPHAN


Why is this film so awesome? Two words: that girl. 

Here is my holiday recommendation: Cozy up with your loved ones, light the fireplace, heat up some hot cocoa, and watch this film. It is a wintertime treat.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

THE RESURRECTED

The Resurrected is an H. P. Lovecraft movie from Dan O’Bannon, the mad genius who worked on Return of the Living Dead and Dark Star. It isn’t quite a horror-comedy, but it definitely has a healthy sense of humor about itself.


The film involves a Frankenstein-like character, played by Chris Sarandon. At the beginning of the film, he looks like himself, a dashing movie actor with good teeth.


Eventually, Mr. Sarandon is replaced by an ancient wizard who coincidentally looks exactly like him, except with awful teeth and bad skin.


The entire movie is a strange thrill ride with a strong Raymond Chandler vibe. The main character, a PI played by Jack’s dad on Lost, does the kind of voiceover that can either make or break a movie like this. I enjoyed it. 


Perhaps the most welcome surprise is that the film has some awesome creature effects and nasty gore. There are dead bodies involved, of course, but the story takes some weird turns that involve human-like creatures and beasts and other goodies that H. P. Lovecraft invented.

It is a fun film from a time when special effects didn’t involve computers. Things were more natural, more gloopy, and a lot more fun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SOUTH PARK: Woodland Critter Christmas


The greatest Christmas special ever made, bar none. Hail Satan and happy holidays, from the makers of South Park.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

HOUSE


When I mention the movie House, people assume that I am talking about that great 80s horror-comedy with William Katt and a bunch of crazy ghosts. Or maybe House 2, its equally good sequel with the best subtitle ever (House 2: The Second Story). Or maybe House 4, which is like the original, except creepy and stupid. Fun fact: there is no House 3, at least not in America.

But I don’t want to talk about that film series. I would rather talk about the Japanese movie from the 1970s. House was meant to be the Japanese equivalent of Jaws: a horror movie blockbuster that captures the national attitude at the time. The fact that the filmmakers thought that they could capture their country’s zeitgeist with a film about human-eating pianos, floating heads, and witch cats really tells you a lot about Japan. God bless them and their pop culture craziness.

Let us take a moment to savor this film. First, look at this photo of a girl whose fingers were eaten by a piano...


The disturbing part of this picture is not the fact that she is missing all of her fingers, but the fact that she is smiling about it. This film makes no sense!

And behold this scene, in which a girl finds a floating head hidden inside a well. The head flies around for a few seconds, then bites her on the butt. She is screaming, of course, but again, it looks like she might be smiling a little too.

If these pictures intrigue you, please Netflix this movie ASAP. I honestly cannot tell if it is amazing or horrible. There is no possible way that I can judge this film. Just know that it is unlike anything you have ever seen. Unless, of course, you live in Japan.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HOUSE OF FEARS


House of Fears is a 2007 slasher pic that I dug up on Netflix. It does not reinvent the wheel, but it is a fun ride nonetheless. The plot involves a magic African statue that brings your fears to life. And those fears include scarecrows, sand, and a pale bald guy. To each his own.

I enjoyed this film, particularly the middle section when our characters wandered around the abandoned amusement park like Scooby Doo characters. It was almost comedic how often they accidentally got split up. Those meddling kids!


Even better, this movie stars Canadian actor Corey Sevier, a former child star that people might recognize (but probably will not) from the Night in Terror Tower episode of Goosebumps. What what. He has grown up a lot since then. Especially his arms. And eyebrows.


He provides a good amount of wholesome Canadian beefcake during the many boring scenes of exposition. I found it hard to tell whether his character was a douche or a leading man, but it did not really matter. Especially with that grade-A eyebrow acting.


The movie itself follows the slasher formula to a T, a very very cliched T. That, coupled with death scenes that range from bland to oh-my-god-a-one-armed-scarecrow-is-attacking-me, makes this a not very good film. But points for beefcake. Plus, you cannot really go wrong with dumb teens exploring an abandoned amusement park. That is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Monday, December 5, 2011

DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT


First off, let me just say that Cemetery Man with Rupert Everett is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. It has a cult following, but I hated it with a passion and thought that it was pretentious, stupid, and endless. When I found out that the comic that inspired this movie was about to be readapted with Brandon Routh, I was curious. If it was even slightly passable, then the bad taste of Cemetery Man would be washed away completely.


Well, guess what, ladies and gentlemen. I have some great news. IT WAS SLIGHTLY PASSABLE! Yay! Mr. Routh was dreamy and superheroic as ever, but his voiceovers were awful. Sam Huntington (also of Superman Returns fame) was adorable, but a little of him goes a long way, and I think he wore out his welcome by the fifteenth freak-out.


But you cannot go wrong with a werewolf Peter Stormare chewing scenery like a madman. That guy can out-crazy Nicolas Cage. So see the movie for him… for beefcake… and for some nice creature effects. Just don’t expect anything revolutionary.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

GOOSEBUMPS

I have recently rediscovered Goosebumps books (no idea why) and was faintly amused by the number of issues that are based on examples of classic literature. Let us take a look...

Rips off: The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

But adds: group hugs


Rips off: The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe

But adds: a cat tornado. Seriously.

Rips off: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

But adds: werewolves

Rips off: The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Aesop

But adds: evil librarians

Rips off: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

But adds: alien twins and ghosts

Rips off: Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

But adds: Zac Efron and songs about togetherness

Friday, December 2, 2011

THE TERMINATOR


The Terminator has a lot of nudity. It has plenty of violence. It has a strong female character who learns how to grow and kick ass as the story progresses. It has great practical special effects. It has some nudity. It has an epic story involving time travel and saving the world. It has at least four classic lines that have gone down in cinematic history. It has great music. And it has nudity. Why haven’t I talked about this movie before? 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

THE PROPHECY

The Devil is one scary mo-fo. But he is also one charismatic, sexy individual. Just check out THIS recent article at cracked.com. I thought that I might give special acknowledgement to my personal favorite Satan: Viggo from The Prophecy.


I mean, just look at that white trash hair cut. And just oozes sex, evene if he is in the movie for a grand total of about seven minutes. Christopher Walken is actually the bad guy in this story, leaving Satan to prowl around and say vaguely homoerotic threats to our hero (Casey Jones from TMNT 1 and 3).


Nice. Let us take a look at that from a different angle.


Yup. That is the root of all evil, right there. And he has never been more persuasive.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

11-11-11


Did anyone see this movie? Seriously? Anyone at all?

And why would someone be interested in watching it on, say, November 12th? That said, I am SO going to rent this when it comes out on video.

Monday, November 28, 2011

THE GUARDIAN


If you liked the William Friedkin classic The Exorcist, but wished it included more tree-worshipping murder-druids, then you should watch THE GUARDIAN.

If you want your early 90s horror movies to make no sense and be weirdly anti-environment, then you should watch THE GUARDIAN.


If you like the kind of scary movies where the parents are oblivious and ridiculously dense until the last possible moment, then you should watch THE GUARDIAN.

If you enjoy horror movies that put infant children into mortal danger and leave them stranded in forests, then you should watch THE GUARDIAN.


If you want to see Kevin Costner teach Ashton Kutcher how to be a Coast Guard, then shut the %$#* up and watch something else.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

THE LAST EXORCISM

The age-old story of a young girl who dreams of being Spider-Man.

The horror mockumentary genre has some surprising legs. When Paranormal Activity came out, I thought it would be like Blair Witch--a popular, trendy movie that completely fades from pop culture within two years (and after at least one misbegotten sequel). Because let us face it: Blair Witch Project has aged about as well as old ham.


But cut to 2011, when two more Paranormal Activities have graced the screen and a minor flood of copycats have taken up shelf space at Blockbuster. Oh wait, we were talking about 2011. Scratch that Blockbuster part. And while most of the copycats have been awful (like Paranormal Entity, which is a real movie that I did not make up), there have been some gems, particularly Quarantine (the American remake) and The Last Exorcism, which takes the mockumentary format and runs with it.

It takes the mockumentary format up to 11, some might say.

The Last Exorcism follows an exorcist who is kind of a smarmy douche. He is out to disprove the idea of exorcisms. He says he wants to protect the children, but he always comes across as more self-serving than he thinks he is. And that character is really where the movie shines. I have a bad feeling about the recently announced sequel, because this character probably will not be in it (for reasons I would rather not say... Actually, screw it. He dies.) Because this guy is such a flawed, likeable, interested person, all the craziness around him really pops.


That is not to say that the other characters are lacking. The possessed girl and her creepy ginger brother are the kinds of people I have nightmares about when I travel through rural Arizona. And the crazy-religious father bounces back and forth between sympathetic and unsympathetic so many times that you dont know how to feel by the end of it.

I felt kinda like that.

And what an ending. I already spoiled one part of it, but everything about the last five minutes of this movie is totally bad-ass. There is no other way to say that. This isnt some masterpiece or anything, but it is so freaking cool and fun. Very rarely do I see a movie that is absolutely perfectly on my wavelength. It happened with Babe: Pig in the City. It happened with Batman Returns. And it happened with this movie. Check it out.