Monday, March 31, 2008

Number 1 fan!

I've done the rounds, movie wise anyway. I've seen quite a few of them. Recently I've discovered how much I really enjoy horror flicks of most kinds. It still feels very strange to me when I look at all of the horror movies and slashers and thrillers that I had so heavily avoided for so long. I blame it on the timing of my birth. When I was just but little, during the formative years of the awakening of my brain my brothers were in their prime scary movie watching years. They also were coincidentally just starting out into their jerk years. What does this mean? Torture the young one! Oh and they did, they had me freaked out about everything from Jaws (one of my now favorite movies) to Freddy (I'm ambivalent about the first two but love the 3rd movie in his series so far) to Jason (awesome!) to Michael Myers (Also quite awesome himself) and so on. There was even a time that they had me so freaked out that I couldn't stay in the room when they played that really shitty "Jaws" NES game.

Don't get me wrong there was nothing really wrong with my brothers, just the normal sibling torture. I knew that if anything happened they had my back. Unless of course a vampire showed up, then it was every man for themselves, and they reminded me constantly that they were quicker than me...

So though I've always loved movies I really never looked into the scary ones for the longest time. Well past the point of being afraid, at a certain point it wasn't the fear anymore that kept me away, just habit and conditioning. The first real horror type movie that I actually made an effort to see was "Scream" in '96. Late '96 as a matter of fact since was a VHS affair. As I understand it that was a pretty good jumping on point for the genre, which I agree with.

I really enjoyed "Scream" even without getting the inside jokes and references that I now find easier and easier to spot. In fact back in the day the only one I remember really catching was Wes Craven's cameo as Fred the janitor (clad in Freddy's sweater and hat). I won't lie, the slight campyness of if all helped me stay into it (my love of the B flicks was alive and well back then as well) the humor was really well done as well. Not forced or unbearably hokey as can be the case easily. Back on track though "Scream" contains a few really memorable gruesome scenes (at least for me). The first one that comes to mind is the entire sequence with Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) being chased,stabbed, gutted, and strung up. Now it could be because that was my initiation scene, I'm not sure but I do know that the scene really sticks with me. Especially the last bit where her parents discover her...just creepy. The other standout scene and this one I'm fairly sure is just one of my quirks is Principal Himbry (Henry Winkler) hanging from the goal post. Though that scene is more memorable because, well lets face it seeing Henry Winkler murdered like that is just about the most heartbreaking thing ever. How could anyone even think of harming him??

So yeah I dug Scream, I even caught the next two sequels in the theater, I didn't love them as much as the first. But I hold a soft spot for them since they are in the family of that what brung me. Sadly during those times I still didn't discover my "love" for the genre simply because I was staying with the new movies. That means I was stuck with the "I Know What You Did Last Summer"s of the world and the like. In other words cash in crap. Luckily thanks to the net and some awesome blogs some of which I've even mentioned I've corrected my past bad movie habits.

So where was I? Oh yeah, gristly terrible images that I've exposed myself to in the name of entertainment. I won't go into why I (or any of us) are drawn to this stuff, if I tried I'd probably depress myself and worry myself into therapy and I don't want that. But yeah honestly I have seen some horrible things, sometimes I do get to wondering if I've totally desensitized myself and distorted what I would find horrible in reality. Have you seen "Lovers Lane? Talk about ouch! That isn't even mentioning the hell that the classics (Jason, Jason's mom and Myers, etc...) have unleashed on poor unsuspecting (usually) teens.

Luckily for me there are occasional scenes that really do touch me and make me realize that yes I'm still human and not psychotic (hopefully). As I previously mentioned, two scenes in "Scream" bring me back to reality, a handful of others exist as well. And then there is this one, which I've seen quite a few times in many places but it wasn't until earlier tonight that I actually sat down and watched the entire movie.

Ladies and gentlemen I give to you a scene from "Misery" that no matter how many times I see it I still jump and cringe.



....Go ahead, call me a wimp if you like but dammit that is just messed up. Just when you are starting to recover she goes to the other foot!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

FGFC: Scarecrows

Here we go again! This time 'round Stacie has chosen "Scarecrows" as the FGFC pick. "Scarecrows" is a flick from '88 and as we know I'm all about trying to reclaim the 80's. Other than the year I wasn't actually sure how excited I was about the flick though, I've never seen an actual scarecrow flick before. Though as I understand it there is at least a bit of a sub genre dedicated to them so I was hopeful going in. Plus ya know it does have an awesome tag line "They Only Want A Brain ... Yours.


The Basics: Extended Edition

A small but greedy paramilitary group has robbed a military base and walked away with 3.5 million dollars, a hefty sum! Actually they didn't walk away they flew away with the help of a pilot and his daughter whom they have kidnapped. Things were going pretty smoothly until one of the group, Bert (B.J. Turner), decides that $3.5 split amongst the group was good, but $3.5 split one way was better (math!). So he set a little smoke bomb, tossed a grenade (which blew up awesome by the way), and parachuted out with the cash. A logical if not well thought out plan if you ask me.

So Bert makes his landing, in a tree first then onto the ground. He stands up, gets his orientation about him and goes off to find where the money landed, but not before getting a bit of a jump when he turns to see up on a cross a big ugly scarecrow! As Bert walks off we hear that the Scarecrow can mimic peoples voices. Meanwhile back on the plane the group is trying to find out where Bert is headed with their ill gotten booty when they notice and start heading towards a house in the area. A couple of them parachute out to follow Bert while the plane makes a few rounds to keep track of him and then finds a field to make a landing.

Bert makes it to the house, gets the key to the truck outside, confederate front plate and all, and heads out to snag the cash and make an escape. He also runs over a scarecrow. Soon enough the truck stops working and Bert heads out on his own dragging the money with him. All the while he has his headset on so the rest of the team can sass him while he escapes...or is it the team? Starting freak out Bert takes off leaving most of the money behind he runs into a grouping of scarecrows up on their crosses and really gets scared he even goes so far as to try and give the money back (he thinks that Curry (Michael David Simms) and Jack (Richard Vidan) from the group have him surrounded). And then it happens, a real live (or at least animated) scarecrow jumps out and thrusts it's hand into berts stomach killing him.

Not knowing that Bert is dead the rest of the team from the plane heads out towards the house to meet up with the members currently there, leaving behind only the pilot, the apparent leader, Roxanne (Kristina Sanborn), even takes Kellie (Victoria Christian) the pilots daughter with them (so he won't bolt on them). By searching the house they realize that the people who lived there previously were weird, "into devil worship or somethin'!"

Of course as soon as everybody is out of sight the pilot takes off on his own only to be fooled and taken out by the scarecrows fairly quickly.

Back to our group out looking for Bert, they find his parachute up in a tree looking as if it is holding something. Jack reluctantly climbs the tree to cut it open but when he does poor Curry standing below is covered in the blood that was inside. While they are on their way back Bert suddenly appears at the house startling Roxanne.

So they are administering a good old fashioned beating to Bert. All they want to know is where the money is but he ain't talkin! Curry gets a little angry, rips open Bert's shirt revealing the wound that his insides were removed from which is now stuffed with straw and cash. Bert isn't happy about the reveal and starts fighting back, strongly not even gunshots at point blank range stop him. Luckily Corbin figures out that decapitation and dismemberment will slow him down a bit!

While everyone is busy realizing that the money stuffed inside of Bert wasn't the entire amount Kellie is busy attempting to escape. She may have gotten away if she hadn't of been distracted by the sight of her father dead and strung up like a scarecrow, this gives Corbin time to catch her and bring her back.

They notice out the window that it looks like the wind has blown some money out that they can claim. Well to them it looks like the wind blew it out, to me it looks an awful lot like a trail was left. A trail to death!

While picking up this trail wind blown miracle Jack finds his missing harmonica (he'd been missing it ever so) unfortunately the reunion wasn't long lived as the money does in fact lead to death as another scarecrow knocks Jack out and chops his hand off placing it upon it's own wrist. The Jack wristed scarecrow then chases after a very unhappy Curry who makes a run for it and eventually makes his way back to the group to warn them.

Back in the house Curry loses his mind and refuses to leave, Roxanne is still concerned about collecting the cash, Corbin is worried, and Kellie doesn't think the things are after her. Eventually they agree to make a break for the plane all except for Curry who is going to stay behind because he believes Jack is fine and is headed back to them.

On the way back Roxanne is distracted by another line of money while Kellie is distracted by what she believes is the sound of her dog barking off in the distance somewhere. Roxanne is then further distracted by grisly death. Corbin convinces Kellie that there is no dog out here only the scarecrows messing with her head so off to the plane they run.

Corbin and Kellie are almost free when Corbin gets a knife to the leg. In a quite noble move for a killer/thief he tells Kellie to make a run for it and save her self which she almost does. But at the last minute she decides to try and be helpful for once, comes back, finds Corbin's very large gun and takes care of biddness.

While all of that is going on Curry, still at the house, hears the phone ringing. He answers to a heavy breather with a few uncomfortable words. A door swings open behind him revealing a burlap sack, inside is the still alive head of Bert! That was bad enough, but not nearly as bad as the surprise entering the house. It's Jack! Jack has definitely seen better days, but then again so has Curry seeing as how Jack knifes him (oops sorry about the pun). Then the old scarecrows all seem to go back to resting.

Kellie and Corbin are about to make their big escape, Kellie fires up the plane engines and starts takeoff while Corbin enjoys himself a cigar. Well he was enjoying it until the pilot, Kellie's dad, now a scarecrow himself shows up, attacks Corbin and starts making his way towards Kellie. A brief scuffle ensues, Kellie uses some tricky flying to keep her dad off balance long enough for Corbin to regain consciousness and fight back. He does so with a holy hand grenade* which requires that he also sacrifice himself. While Kellie looks on in horror. In the aftermath Kellie, in shock flies the plane on while her dog disturbingly goes into the back and snacks on the remains...


Thought

I mentioned in the past that my intention was to actually watch this one during my marathon on the 18th but I had to push it back. When I was going to watch it I realized being awake for nearly 48 hours really wasn't the optimal time to watch something I was going to have to write about, so I put it off. Plus I would have been putting it in directly after "The Haunting" (which fucking rocked!!) and I knew that there way no way it could hold up to that at all.

So like I said earlier I really wasn't sure what to expect going in, what I didn't expect was to very honestly not knowing exactly what to think as soon as the movie was over. There was a lot of campy coolness in there to be sure. At the same time there was some really confusing stuff.

I may be in the minority here but I was totally fine with the minimalist explanation of why the scarecrows existed. Just enough to understand and not enough to be convoluted

I really liked the idea during the first half of the movie where everyone was connected through the headsets so even when Bert was running around on his own there was commentary and interaction. I thought it worked really well especially as it mixed into the confusion with the messages from the scarecrows. That really made Bert's last moments much more intense.

One of the things that took me out of things a bit was the inconsistency of peoples moods. I suppose it could have been planned that way to show the severity of the situations but a lot of it just didn't make sense. A perfect example is when Kellie is brought back to the house after seeing her father she immediately attacks Roxanne and calls her a murderer and says that they all killed her father. Then in the next scene all of a sudden she is hugging Roxanne (her kidnapper) for comfort.

There were a few other small inconsistencies as well but most of them a lot smaller and less distracting so they are more nit picky than anything so they were easier to ignore. Except for another kind of annoying one that happened in the ending. First off I'll say that the ending to me was much better before the final radio narration. We didn't need as much closure as they gave us. Cutting away from Kellie and her feasting dog would have been a fantastically disturbing note to end on. Instead they told us exactly what happened, the plane landed and the first rescue party was mauled by the dog. Then they discovered Kellie strapped into her seat in shock. So...why didn't the dog attack Kellie? If the implication was that eating the dead scarecrow had somehow infected or maddened the dog why would he leave her be?


Verdict

I enjoyed my time with "Scarecrows." I really did, but not so much that I plan on going out of my way to spend more time with it. Though I really liked a lot of the concept behind it though so the sub-genre does intrigue me. And like I said there were things that I thought were really top notch, that headset idea really floored me.

We had our time and now we move on to bigger and better. It's not you Scarecrows, it's me.

Crap, now that I've mentioned it I really want to watch "The Haunting" again, I wish I hadn't returned it....



Oh well, until next time this is me saying Mahalo

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hey, Internet, Stop being Such Cynical Effing Douchebags Blog-a-Thon: Askewed Style

So once again Fearless Leader a.k.a Stacie from Final Girl has sent out a call to arms. The mission to catch Moose and Squirrel To stop the Internet douchebaggery, at least for a day. A quite fortuitous day as a matter of fact for I happen to know that on this very day (March 18) in the year of 1981 something incredibly magical and awesome happened, the original pilot for “The Greatest American Hero” debuted! Ok I'm off track again...So basically the call was put out for us to dump the cynicism for a day and speak up about something, anything, film related that was good. The first really good thing about the whole thing was of course the title HEY, INTERNET, STOP BEING SUCH CYNICAL EFFING DOUCHEBAGS BLOG-A-THON!

So I'm taking a break again from my marathon to put down a few thoughts. Actually the timing is pretty good as I was about to move on to the horror section, so my brain is really doing a twist. But I digress

So, what makes me happy about the world of film which I have chosen to throw myself to totally in to? Such a difficult question honestly. I have been known to be a bit cynical myself from time to time, ok most of the time. But one thing I hope people have been able to grasp from my writings (as insane as they can be) is that in the core I really do love film and I really do want to like every one I see.

But I have come up with something to focus on. Something relatively new (to me anyway). The thing these days that absolutely blows me out of my fucking mind with joy these days surrounding film is the community of people that you can now find to connect with, especially online.

Now I totally understand that this could just an “it is just me and the sad pathetic sheltered life I've lead “ type thing but the truth is in the off line world I don't have a lot of friends who are into films and movies the way that I am. Sure they like them, they watch them and enjoy them as most people do. But they have no desire to actually discuss them, or review them, or even really think about them all that much 10 minutes or so after the things are over. But thanks to the marvel that is the Internet there is a bevy if insightful, intelligent, fun, interesting, and on occasion crazy (in the best of ways!) people discussing, reviewing, and hell even complaining about films of all kinds old and new. That is awesome!

Warning, name droppery is about to commence

So here is where this all fits in with me and why I'm so grateful to have found my way to these parts. In the past I've been honest about my bad film habits, I thought I knew what was good but looking back I realize what I had was a very serious case of film immaturity. That changed quite quickly once I found my way to the incredible Kim Morgan's Sunset Gun. I don't want to say that Kim's writing inspired me, that is a bit cliché but it certainly made me think. In my brain things just seemed to start clicking a little differently when I thought back to things I thought I didn't enjoy the first time around or movies that I didn't get I was able to understand from a different point of view and enjoy. A great example of a mind changer for me was Kim's thoughts on Gus Van Sant's 1998 remake of Psycho. A flick that I immediately discarded out of loyalty to the original but turned a complete 180 on after a repeated viewing keeping Kim's feelings in mind.

So that was a good start but the amazing stuff really happened when I started branching out. Kim made references to the great Headquarters 10 and to Dennis over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule (a blog name that I can only describe as “owning” or as the kids say these days “pwning” whatever that is) among others.

As a matter of fact it was through Kim's that I found Final Girl and this will deserve it's own new section that we shall call!

Ass kissery at it's finest. Also the definition of finding new things

So why was Final Girl such a big deal? Aside from the obvious I mean. Well for me two things. I'll start off going back to what I originally was speaking about, community. Stacy doesn't just write her stuff but she invites others to do their own writing, the FGFC and these blog-a-thons are perfect examples. I find that not only awesome, but admirable. Yes I called you admirable Stacie deal with it! So really what that did was it took a one sided object (blog reading) and added a form of real discussion and thought into it, multiple sides all coming together discussing something for better or worse.

Oh yeah and also thanks to the Internet and in particular again Stacie not only was I able to overcome my past bad film habits in all other genres but through her writing, and the discussions and the film club I was also able to establish a relationship with a genre that I had previously thought that I didn't enjoy at all; horror.

Again this may lead you to draw conclusions about the fucked-upness of my childhood but the reality is that the first horror/thriller type movie that I actually ever really gave the time and energy to watch was “Scream” if you are doing the math that means I was about 15 probably closer to 16 as it was on video when I saw it before I even approached the genre. I enjoyed it at the time but really just kind of avoided them or if I did watch I didn't really give them that close a mind. Honestly at this point I have no idea why. I just had no context about them I suppose. But like enjoyed Stacie's writing and she seemed to really enjoy and have passion for these films and others around her involved in the comments and the club all seemed to be having a blast as well and that got my interest going. It pushed me to push myself and my limits as a viewer and As it turns out Horror very quickly skyrocketed in my esteem and is now very possibly my favorite genre.

I guess what it really breaks down to here is passion. I LOVE the passion that people can exert towards films they love, or even films they hate. I love when the passion brings them to share their feelings. So in essence, and this may sound a little bit strange but, what I love about film is actually just how much that other people also seem to love it.

So to the film blogger community I send out a big HELL YEAH and a cheers!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Vote "The Guild". You'll be glad you did

Just taking a short break from my ridiculous movie marathon to ask, nay demand...no ask,asking is more polite. Wait where was I?

Oh yeah, I'm stopping in real quick to ask you to go here and vote for The Guild. Really I could sit here and tell you how original, funny, and all out great the show is. But why would you want me to sit here and make with the yap yap when you could be checking it out for yourself (and then voting of course)

Episode 1


As a matter of fact now that it is post midnight you can go ahead and consider voting for The Guild your present to me. C'mon you can't beat that deal, a few button clicks is certainly cheaper than that creepy sweater you were thinking about picking up for me right? Plus we'll both enjoy this much more.

Of course if you feel you are getting off a little light in the gift department you can always head over to vote for The Guild at The Youtube Awards. All the insentive you really need to vote there can be found in this video




Until next time, that's the news, and I'm outta here!

Friday, March 14, 2008

3.14


Happy Pi Day!

Another little peek at my personal brand of neurosis

So its almost time again. Another private little movie marathon. If you haven’t noticed I tend to do those on holidays and the such. Really I blame the entire tradition on Thanksgiving, it started out in the old days with the MST3K marathon that they ran and then moved on to the Bondathons and somewhere in between I realized that I could put my own day of flicks together and not be bound by the constraints of a single series. These days it really does pretty much encompass most "party" or get together days, I really am not a partier in any sense of the word so putting these together gives me something to do on those occasions. If anyone else is around and wishes to attend a viewing I’m not opposed but if they want to do their thing I’m fine with that too. Just let me have my movies!

So this is the big one coming up. My B-Day-athon (I really should name it). In recent years it has run for not just the one day but two. That makes it not only an entertainment extravaganza but also a test of endurance! I try to one up myself from year to year, I don’t know if I’ll do it this year but I’m going to give it a shot.

The short list of what I watched last year was, "The Departed," "The Evil Dead," "The Proposition," "Borat," "Magnum Force," "Battle Royale," "The Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn," and "Baby Doll." In reality there were more plus some TV shows but those were the core that I stopped everything and watched.

Talk about rangy by the way, that is quite a motley group of flicks. I really wish that "Borat" hadn’t of been in there to drag the average down. But "The Departed," "Baby Doll" and "Battle Royale" really helped bring the average back up for sure! The "Evil Dead" flicks I’d seen already of course, "Magnum Force" was exactly what I expected which was good, it really helped wake me up after sitting through "Borat." As for "The Proposition, honestly I remember sitting through it, I have bits of memories but that was like the last movie I watched before bed on the second day and I think I was fried at that point. I may have to put it in rotation this year just so I can form an opinion!

So here is the problem. I don’t have a solid lineup yet. Thats really no good since the thing is supposed to start on Monday and run through Tuesday.

So far for sure I have; "Once" and "Scarecrows." Netflix pending I should possibly have "The Haunting," and "Music and Lyrics." So that means so far I have the horror, romance, and sap areas covered. I still need at least one foreign and one classic, a sci-fi wouldn’t hurt either. If the net is cooperative I’m also hoping to use Netflix’s stream now to catch "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls."

But that still leaves me fairly light, especially with all the ifs I’m smelling off of this plan (IF Netflix comes through, IF the net is speedy enough).

Some that I’m on the fence about for the ‘thon that I’ve been meaning to watch eventually that are available on Netflix’s stream now; "La Vie en Rose," "Descent" (not "The Descent" I’ve seen that), "Network," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Bridge on the River Kwai," "The Shining," "Dial M for Murder" (which I can’t believe I’ve never seen from beginning to end).

So, any suggestions? Am I missing something I MUST see, I should look for? Obviously I’m fairly flexible on what I watch, I’ll give almost anything a shot sometimes I even give them two shots (Except for "The Wizard of Oz" and "A Christmas Story". They’ve used up all of their shots! ...You too "Titanic.")

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Abridged Review: Cinematic Titanic: The Oozing Skull

So a little explanation on this one first. What is "Cinematic Titanic?" It is a DVD series in the vein of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with a cast that is comprised of MST3k alums including original host Joel Hodgson. It isn't exactly like MST3k though, CT puts more focus on the actual movie, they don't break into it with skits etc..(though they do pause the movie on occasion for some silhouetted shenanigans).

Ok then so what about "The Oozing Skull." what is that? It's a horror flick from the 70's that was originally titled "Brain of Blood." Part of the deal that CT made when acquiring the rights was that they should re title the movie so as not to confuse merchandising. "Brain of Blood" is the type of movie that on it's own I could definitely see myself sitting down and watching (MST3K had a few of them as well, most notably "This Island Earth" from MST3K: The Movie).

Extremely brief overview of "The Oozing Skull/Brain of Blood"
The leader of Kalid, Amir, is dying. This is bad. But there is a chance for him by way of an experimental, and scoffed at by the medical community, brain transplant. As per usual that doesn't go exactly as planned. Instead of a normal healthy body Dr. Trenton must place Amir's brain into that of the Doctor's large deformed assistant. Amir's new body has unplanned and violent side effects on Amir's mind. On top of that Dr. Trenton has his own nefarious plans. Throw in an angry violent dwarf assistant, and a chained up woman in the basement and that about covers what you should expect!

So yeah the film on it's own is pretty awesome.


Now the "Cinematic Titanic" elements.
This is where I may upset some people. Before I start I'll say that I Love the concept and I really really want the franchise to succeed.

That being said I didn't love the experience as much as I had hoped. I did enjoy it.


The Good
Funny people getting together and talking funny about questionable movies, just a fun concept. The crew is great and clearly comfortable with this style of comedy.

As per usual with this kind of fare not every joke told will be a winner. But those that work do so extremely well. I'll admit that the Minnesotan accent killed me every time (which to be fair is the norm for me. Even when it is just family speaking with it.).


The Not So Good
Some of the jokes just came off a bit too contrived and practiced. Also the pace of them was at times just a little much. Take a breather guys!

The silhouetted look was reminiscent of MST3K though slightly tweaked. I didn't mind that, and the movement was nice. I wasn't so much a fan of the crane jokes that really slowed things down.

The biggest thing I think was that it just seemed like a stream of one liners in rapid succession as opposed to a running commentary.


Final Thoughts
What we have here in essence, nitpicking aside, is a few things. It's an interesting concept, a nostalgia inducing good time, an entertaining movie, and above all else a great start!

If you were to ask me my opinion on if you should pick this up or not I'd have no trouble telling you to run to the site and order yourself a copy. Small bumps aside it is a fun time. Also remember supporting this movie helps ensure the future of the series and the future potential here as I see it is huge!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Fun with comic strips!

I'm no artist in any sense. I can't draw, my handwriting is appalling sometimes I wonder if I'd even be capable of coloring inside of the lines. So imagine how stoked I was when I received an invite to bitstrips.com a site that makes creating a comic strip quite easy (yet still quite flexible).

So here is my first attempt...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Nerd alert!


The NerdTests' Space Test says I'm an Uber Space Nerd's Mentor.  What kind of space geek are you?  Click here!


What I won't tell you is exactly how long the test took me to finish. Let's just say that a large portion of the movie I was watching came and went while my attention was elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008