Category: Movies and TV


Go see this movie – The Cabin in the Woods. Do it NOOOW!

“The Cabin in the Woods” has, quite literally, something for everyone.  Regardless of whether you fancy monsters, supernatural in general, psycho killers, government conspiracies and plot twists, or if humor or torture are more your cup of tea, you will find something you like about “The Cabin in the Woods”.  I know this may be going out on a limb, but I really really loved this movie.  I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can begin forcing absolutely everyone I know to watch “Cabin in the Woods”.

First off, it’s absolutely hilarious.  Joss Whedon pulls out all the stops when it comes to paying homage to the genre.  We start with the usual crew of college kids (all of which possess morals, to varying degrees) who set out to spend some vacation time in the woods at a cabin.  What starts off as “Evil Dead” quickly morphs into a full-blown ride through everything the horror/slasher genre has to offer – but with a twist.  Aaand that’s the killer, literally.  While I really want to tell you what the twist is, it will completely destroy the movie for you.  It’s something that I’ve never seen done in any movie ever, period.  And it’s worth every minute leading up.

As for the cast, the faces may seem familiar, but not to the point that you can’t enjoy the movie.  Joss Whedon (writer) is of “Firefly”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, “Dollhouse”, “Avengers”, and “Angel” fame.  Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the indomitable “Thor”.  Other familiar faces include Fran Kranz (“The Village”, “Donnie Darko“, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodric Rules”), Richard Jenkins (“Burn After Reading“, “Step Brothers“, “Friends With Benefits”), and Bradley Whitford (“Billy Madison“, “Scent of a Woman“, and various TV appearances).  I’m sure there are other faces you’ll know, but those are just a taste.  (There’s even a special cameo by a woman who has made her mark on the genre).

“The Cabin in the Woods” kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire film.  There wasn’t one boring spot – I couldn’t help but continue to guess what was going to happen next.  I delighted each time I was wrong – what actually occurred was far more interesting than what I was expecting.  I walked out of the theater babbling inanely about how awesome the movie was – and ran straight into a woman who was complaining that it was “Two hours of my life I’ll never get back!”  Much to TKOut’s embarassment, I had to stop and chat with the woman and her daughter for almost fifteen minutes about why they didn’t like the movie.  The mother said that it was too predictable, and borrowed too heavily from other movies within the genre.  Honestly, I think that was the greatest strength the movie had.  As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I strongly encourage you to go out and rent this movie as soon as it comes out.  It’s an absolute thrillride – including laughs, screams, and gore-a-plenty.  It’s not your mother’s slasher cabin flick!

 

Feast (film)

Feast (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Silly pun aside, the movie “FEAST” was pretty interesting.  Again, this Easter was a time for crazy movies.  I was at my boyfriend TkOut’s house, and I had a choice of “Seven Days in Utopia” (a golfing movie – ick), or whatever TkOut could find.  I chose the latter – and wound up watching a movie from 2005 that I haven’t seen in years.  Watching it again, I was surprised to see some familiar faces.  Navi Rawat (“The O.C.“, “House of Sand and Fog“), Henry Rollins, Krista Allen (“The Final Destination“, “Liar Liar“, and “Anger Management”) and Josh Zuckerman (“Sex Drive” and “Surviving Christmas“) are just a few.  I can almost guarantee that you’ll recognize other faces as well.

This particular creature feature starts out in some bar in the middle of nowhere, crowded with a cliche cast.  The movie even mocks the cliches by introducing them with a short run-down of who they are, a fun fact or two, and their life expectancy.  You might even chuckle aloud.  After a quick sex scene between the drunken bar owner and a woman (possibly a waitress?) the movie gets going in earnest.  Random strangers burst in covered in blood, yelling about some coming terror.  Then the blood bath begins!

The movie successfully markets itself as a cheesy, B-grade film, but quickly wins over the viewer with some seriously gory special effects.  Even the creature animation is pretty good – from the animal-skull head down to the claw-laden feet.  Thankfully, the movie never loses sight of what it is, and doesn’t spend time allowing the characters to sermonize or ponder the creatures.  Once they arrive, it’s a knock-down-drag-out war between human and beast.  The movie delivers unapologetic gore at every opportunity – even going so far as to coat one of the more annoying characters in a spray of acid-vomit that causes him to rot while still alive (insert copious maggots).

At turns funny and terrifying, “FEAST” is not to be missed!  If you’re looking for something campy and cool, I highly recommend this movie.  (Warning:  NOT FOR CHILDREN!  Short scenes of human sex, and a smidgeon of monster sex.)  Apparently, there is also a second movie, “FEAST 2: Sloppy Seconds“, which I will be reviewing when I can get my hands on a copy.

Super 8 (film)

Super 8 (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter day, I sat down and watched “Super 8” for the first time.  (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m from an atypical family, and we don’t always watch sappy movies on the appropriate holiday…)  In any event, the enigmatic trailer combined with a rave review from a class of 5th graders at my previous school caused me to accept the invitation to watch “Super 8”.

At first, the movie seemed to go pretty slowly.  I sat there crocheting for most of the first half hour, positive that I wasn’t missing anything.  From what I could tell, it was a slightly updated version of “Stand By Me” – a bunch of boys running around doing their thing while the parents don’t watch them.  So far, so good.  The fact that the children were using a camera to make a zombie movie added a very nice touch.  Then there was the train crash scene.  I don’t think I have ever seen a more terrifying train crash scene in any movie.  I immediately dropped my crochet and watched as tons of metal went flying across the screen, all to the tune of various (glorious) explosions.  Absolute and unabashed awesome.  Arguably one of the best wreck scenes in any horror film I’ve seen in awhile.  It seemed to last forever, but never get boring.

From the train crash onward, it was hard to look away from the screen.  Each scene got progressively more interesting, and the plot thickened.  The usual suspects were in abundance: freaky military personnel, absentee father, crazed alien.  What was unusual about the movie, was the unexpected twist in the storyline.  “Super 8” gleefully transcends every alien movie you’ve ever seen, while retaining shades of “E.T.” and “Aliens“.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This movie really is THAT good.

While you’re watching, you might recognize some familiar names in show biz.  (Fortunately, recognizing them doesn’t mean that they’ll stick out to you as a particular character to the point of it ruining their current role!)  The project was spearheaded by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  You  may remember J.J. Abrams from “Armageddon” and “Lost”, and if I have to tell you who Steven Spielberg is, well then you’re not fit to be reading this article.  Other familiar faces include Ron Eldard (who played Dodge in “Ghost Ship“), Joel McKinnon Miller (“Men in Black”, “Just Like Heaven”, and others), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights“, “King Kong” and “Early Edition”), Amanda Michalka (AJ of “Ally and AJ”), and Elle Fanning (little sister to Dakota Fanning).  Whew!

If you’re looking for a movie that is out of the ordinary and very entertaining, I highly recommend watching “Super 8”.  The movie is well-acted, the plot is interesting, and the train crash is not to be missed.  If you do choose to view “Super 8”, make sure you stick around for the credits.  The kid’s zombie movie is included as part of the credits – and it’s actually pretty good!

Walking Dead panel

Image by gluetree via Flickr - From left to right Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Jon Bernthal from Comic-con's The Walking Dead panel. The season 2 trailer debuted this year at Comic-con.

AMC debuted it’s highly anticipated zombie series last year on Halloween.  My family and I huddled together in the darkness of our living room, staring in rapt attention at the TV as zombie after zombie shuffled across the screen.  It was sheer brilliance.  The zombies were so real you could almost smell their foul putrescence, each one more gruesome than the last.

I had high hopes for the season, but it didn’t pan out.  In retrospect, I think it was my fault.  I had hoped that the show would follow the books.  They were such a wealth of ideas it would be crazy not to use the material.  Instead, the show saw survivor Rick Grimes dragging his wife, son, and other survivors to the Center for Disease Control.  There they found some interesting facts about the zombie virus, and we got to see an x-ray movie of a zombie.  Cool, but not as awesome as some of the scenes in the book.

On the other hand, my gripes aside, the casting was beyond perfect!  Hero Rick Grimes is played to perfection by Andrew Lincoln, who seems to not only portray Rick’s strength but simultaneously bring an air of unspoken uncertainty and insecurity.  After all – he’s not Superman.  He’s a man who is lucky to have his wife and son still alive, and he’s fully aware of it every moment that they survive.  His guilt-stricken and confused best friend Shane is played by Jon Bernthal, who leaves nothing to be desired in the role of friend-turned-foe.  Unfaithful wife Lori is given life by Sarah Wayne Callies.  The other characters are perfect to the point of being creepy.  They look almost identical to their characters, right down to their facial expressions.

Thankfully, AMC chose not to inundate the series with cheesy celebrity cameos.  I can’t speak for other viewers, but I know I’d rather have people starting their careers.  I don’t want to watch and say, “Oh wait, I know that person”.  To me, that ruins the apocalypse because you know that actor or actress as someone else.  The one exception is Norman Reedus, of “Boondock Saints” fame.  It had been so many years since he was in that iconic movie that he was not immediately recognizable to me.

As the debut of “The Walking Dead” Season 2 gets closer I find myself excited.  The trailer for the new season can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OZ0mu8Ey6A and you NEED to watch it right now.  It’s going to be amazing.  I’m back on board fully and counting down the days.  When the season debut is televised, I will be right there, glued to my chair and devouring every frame.

Abounding Disappointment

Anthony Hopkins

Image via Wikipedia

I have been looking forward to “The Rite” since I saw the first commercial.  Anthony Hopkins doesn’t make bad movies…nor does Alice Braga (loved her in “Predators” and “I Am Legend“).  This will be the first time I completely give away everything about a movie.

Based on the previews I thought it was going to be amazing.  Terror, possession, deep soul rending spirituality…the actual movie?  Not so much.  It took absolutely forever for the movie to get rolling.  I never thought it would end.  At first, I thought it was the kind of movie that you put on while cooking or doing homework, then I decided there wasn’t enough plot to actually do that.

Here’s the plot – kid with baggage grows up in his father’s house which is attached to a funeral home (the family business).  His mother died when he was young, and he decided he didn’t believe in God anymore.  He doesn’t want to be a mortician – so he becomes a priest.  His lack of faith and an accident cause him to go to Rome to study to be an exorcist.  He is introduced to Alice Braga (a journalist in his exorcism class) and Anthony Hopkins (the best and most prolific exorcist in all of Italy.)  There, he apprentices with Hopkins and sees a variety of phenomenon (strange bites, horses with red eyes, demon infested individuals telling the unknown).  In short order, Hopkins becomes possessed and it’s up to the unbelieving rookie to exorcise him.  The unbeliever finds faith in what is probably the best ten minutes of the whole film, and then…wait for it…wait for it…he becomes a regular priest post-exorcism.  Seriously?!  You regain your faith, become an awesome exorcist – and that’s what you do with yourself?!  (Oh – and Hopkins recovers, and Braga writes an article on exorcism.)

Oh, it should be mentioned that Rutger Hauer had a hand in the movie (he starred in it).

Overall, it wasn’t that great of a movie.  The ending was good, but not enough that I want to buy the movie.  The special effects were ok, but the crew overlooked many opportunities for a cheesy jump from the audience.  To be fair, Colin O’Donoghue was pretty good as the unbelieving priest-in-training.  “The Rite” certainly wasn’t the worst movie I have ever seen, but it was by no means the thriller I was expecting.  Better luck next time!

 

Braindead (film)

Image via Wikipedia

The movie I’m about to review is gorier and funnier than a Sam Raimi movie.  I kid you not.  And it was directed by the man who headed the unbelievably involved “Lord of the Rings Trilogy“.  That’s right people – Peter Jackson directed a horror movie!  1992 saw the release of “Dead Alive” (also known as “Braindead”), a movie which I should have seen years ago.  I have no idea how I’ve survived for so long without seeing this film.

The movie opens with an anthropologist and his helper carrying a wooden box through a jungle.  The man helping the anthropologist keeps advising against the transport of the thing inside.  When the natives of the region catch up to the two men, we find out the the box contains a dangerous species of monkey.  While trying to flee, the anthropologist is bitten by the “Sumatran rat-monkey” and it is suspected that he is infected.  Toute de suite he is dismembered.  After little discussion between the anthropologist’s helpers, it is decided to send the monkey to America anyway, and they reap the monetary benefits.

The rat-monkey finds itself in a zoo, where mamma’s boy and perpetual nebbish Lionel is on a date with his girl Paquita.  True to form, Lionel’s mother is spying on them, and she accidentally falls backwards onto the cage with the Sumatran rat-monkey (I really love that phrase!)  It tears into her sleeve, and she becomes infected.  Lionel spends the rest of the movie first trying to take care of his soon-to-be-zombie-mother, and then trying to fight off the horde of zombies after he looses control.

There was only one part of the movie that I took issue with: a sex scene between two zombies.  Sorry people – I’m just not a fan of necrophilia in any form.  Even if it does produce a fugly zombie baby that advances the plot.

Now on to the good bits!  The gore was super inventive and realistic.  It ranged from dismemberment and arterial spray to pus and removed teeth.  The gore became excessive, but not really boring.  It seems Jackson can always find a new use for some extra blood and gristle.  Which brings me to my reaction to the movie – while I’m usually a wuss about certain kinds of gore (think all the “Saw” movies), there are some things which are surprisingly hard to handle.  There is a scene where a certain amount of puss lands into a certain food and is consumed.  I paused the movie and ran out gagging.  It took a good solid five minutes before I could go back to the movie.  And then a few other things happened with that food.  Apparently I won’t be eating anything of that persuasion for awhile now.

The music was cheesy and carnival-esque, and the acting wasn’t the best either.  However, I think those elements combined to create a rare kind of movie.  “Dead Alive” seemed to joyfully mock  the zombie culture, while at the same time creating something of value and interest.  I strongly encourage everyone who likes zombies to watch this twisted classic (don’t plan on eating before, during, or after the movie…you will retch.  I’m not being a drama queen!)  “Dead Alive” is definitely not your grandparent’s zombie flick!

 

insidious-movie-title (2)

Image by LaryCrews via Flickr

If I were to choose the scariest movie that I have ever seen, then I would choose “INSIDIOUS”.

INSIDIOUS” successfully avoided so many common pitfalls in the horror movie industry.  The haunting started almost immediately, and very quickly grew in horrifying intensity.  At first, objects were moved around the house (sheet music box in the attic, books moved off a shelf onto a floor, etc.) and quickly became  more frightening and threatening (bloody footprints, loud voices, visions, etc.)  All of this was done without the use of excessive blood and gore.

The next pitfall that “INSIDIOUS” avoided is more my own personal pet peeve than anything.  I don’t like to mix sex scenes and horror movies.  I have found more often than not that when a horror movie is lacking in scare power, it makes up for it with a skin show.  If the sex adds to the story, fine, whatever – but I don’t like when it’s thrown into the story for no apparent reason.  Both writer and director did a great job of showing Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson‘s love for each other without having them bare it all on the screen.  Horror should be the focus of a horror movie, not the actor and actresses’ spare bits.

The story centers around a couple and their three children.  They move into a new house and immediately strange things begin.  At first, books are moved from the shelf onto the floor, and a box of sheet music goes missing.  Then, as things start getting worse, Renai (played by Rose Byrne) hears a horrifying voice on the baby monitor.  She runs upstairs to find that her baby is alone in its room, and she can’t find the source of the voice.  A few days later, her son falls into a coma which the doctor’s can’t seem to explain.  Her mother-in-law (Barbara Hershey) decides to call in the help of psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) in order to help with the haunting.  Josh (Patrick Wilson) doesn’t believe his wife or mother about the nature of the haunting until he finds evidence in his comatose son’s room.

I’m not going to spoil the movie by giving your further details, but I promise you – you’ve never seen a movie like this!  I have not come across the basic idea of this movie in any book I’ve read or movie I’ve watched until now.  “INSIDIOUS” is a welcome change from the horror reboots that Hollywood seems to enjoy inundating the theaters with – it relies on a very strong story and an equally strong cast.  If you see one movie that is in theaters now – go see “INSIDIOUS”.

Some interesting “INSIDIOUS” trivia:

* writer Leigh Whannell starred in the film as part of Elise’s team of paranormal investigators (he is the guy with the thick glasses)

* actress Lin Shaye appeared in “Snakes on a Plane

* actress Rose Byrne was in “Knowing” and “Sunshine”

Cover of "My Name Is Bruce"

Cover of My Name Is Bruce

The always versatile Bruce Campbell shows his ability to actually laugh at himself and the kinds of movies that he makes.  I’m not sure that the same could be said about every other actor and actress that has made a similar mark on pop culture.  Recently, I saw “My Name is Bruce“, which is sure to delight any Bruce Campbell fan.

The basis of the movie is this: Bruce’s acting career is tanking, and he’s kidnapped by a rabid fan who has accidentally unleashed the ancient Chinese god of War (and bean curd).  This fan thinks that Bruce will be able to save the town, based on his acting ability in such films as The Evil Dead.  Bruce thinks its a joke at first, but soon realizes that the sinister Chinese god is real, and coming after the people of the town.

This movie works on so many levels.  The first is that if you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell, well, then I don’t really need to say any more.  For fans of cheesy horror movies, you’ll find some fun in the laughable foe Guan-di (god of bean curd and war), whose red eyes are little more than glorified flashlights.  I found myself laughing almost every minute during the movie, due in no small part to Campbell’s ability to constantly lampoon himself.  (Perhaps that comes from knowing how much he means to the majority of the nerd-population, myself thoroughly included.)   There are some cameos of director Sam Raimi favorites, including his brother Ted, and a few guys who were in the original Evil Dead movies.  They make a few jokes about their previous roles, and they wear mostly the same clothing, so they’re pretty easy to spot.  If you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell and his movies, then you MUST see “My Name is Bruce”.

AMC is hosting a “Most Dangerous Zombie Hunter Poll” right now.  The cool / unconventional part of this poll is that from the outset you can vote all the way to the win in one go.  Then everyone’s votes get tallied.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes, The Walking Dead) VS   Ken Foree (Peter, Dawn of the Dead – original)

Will Smith (Robert Neville, I Am Legend)  VS  Cillian Murphy (Jim, 28 Days Later)

Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee, Zombieland)  VS  Simon Pegg (Shaun, Shaun of the Dead)

Bruce Campbell (Ash “Ashley” Williams, The Evil Dead series)  VS  Milla Jovovich (Alice, Resident Evil series)

Now, first off, I’m not telling you who I’m voting for.  (If I were honest, I would admit its because I have no clue who I’m voting for just yet.  If I were dishonest, I’d say its because I want you to make up your own mind.)  This is only the first round in AMC’s poll, there are still a few other elimination rounds.  Keep track and vote at http://polls.amctv.com//chart/data/2623-lead-1.html.

For me, who I will ultimately vote for depends on a few factors.  The worst part is that they’re all really amazing characters with their own unique zombies to face.  So what exactly, defines the “most dangerous” (read: most unabashedly bad-ass) zombie fighter ?  Is it weapons prowess (Alice), or is it pure luck (Shaun) ?  Or perhaps crazy good catch phrases (Tallahassee and Ash might tie on this one…)  Perhaps its the ability to survive sprinting, drooling, rage-infested zombies (Jim) ?  Each of these characters represents a path in my downward spiral into full immersion of zombie culture…so I’m not sure how I’d even begin to choose.

{Update:  I just did the poll – no, I’m still not telling you who I voted for, and I got to the end.  Wasn’t terribly impressed.  It seems worth the conversation and the giggles, and its worth seeing what other people gave as reasons for who they picked.  Other than that, I highly disagree with the outcome.}

 

Drive Angry 3D Panel. Actors Nicolas Cage, Amb...

Image via Wikipedia - Cage, Heard, and Fichtner in a panel for "Drive Angry".

The other day my boyfriend and I went to see the new Nicholas Cage movie, “Drive Angry 3D”.  I had purposely not seen the trailer for it prior to going, because I have found that lately the trailers show the entire movie.  What a disappointment it is to then go and see the movie, realizing you’ve seen the whole thing before – just not in the correct sequence.

There’s not a really deep plot to “Drive Angry”.  Nicholas Cage is going after the man who killed his daughter (masterfully played by Billy Burke – who has now officially broken out of the stigma of being “the dad from Twilight“. Not that I have anything against the “Twilight Saga“, lord knows I’ve seen the movies and read the books, but still – he’s a great actor and needs to be in more movies.)  In any event, the cool part about the movie is that Nicholas Cage is a very special kind of escapee, and his nemesis (possibly frenemy?) is a man with supernatural powers called The Accountant (played masterfully by William Fichtner).  He is helped along the way by the too-pretty-to-be-human Amber Heard, and his enemy is a cult fanatic (Billy Burke).

The movie was pretty good overall.  It reminded me almost of a “Constantine” remake.  Most likely that stems from the common subject matter of escaping Hell and having only a certain amount of time before having to go back.  The movie was lightened several times by Fichtner, whose character The Accountant was given a few moments of genuine humor.  The movie also boasts the funniest sex scene that I’ve ever seen.  (I’m not going into detail – go see the movie.  But it really is funny.)    Fun fact – Amber Heard plays the blond neighbor who first teaches wimpy Columbus the lifesaving “double-tap” technique in “Zombieland“.  (I come from a family of movie buffs – we like trivia like that.)  Billy Burke is very refreshing as a cult leader.  At first, he’s unrecognizable, and I think that attests to his acting ability.  I usually don’t like going to see movies where the actor is the same, no matter what part they are playing.  Burke can do bad very very well.  If for no other reason, this movie should be on your list to see, though I’m not sure if its worth purchasing.  It’s more of a rental or Netflix movie.  The movie is also rather gory, and I had to hide my eyes for the first few moments.  While the movie didn’t overdo the 3D aspect, it was still rough seeing a hand blown off someone’s wrist and watching the hand appear to fly out over the crowd at my face.

“Drive Angry” wasn’t anything over-the-top special, but it definitely wasn’t a terrible movie.  It was gory, funny, and stressful at times.  The actors and actresses all carried their parts well and the story was interesting.  Go see it before it leaves theaters – and make sure you see it in 3D !