Thursday, December 31, 2009

Freddy’s New Years Eve Dance Party: Strong Desire for Bearded Men Edition!

Here it is people, the end of yet another decade, the end of an era, an era that seems to lack in comparison to more recent decades, but a decade that will slowly become looked at nostalgically as more and more time passes. It is a New Year and I think there is only one-way to move forward into the next decade – if you feel like you had a less than stellar decade, you need to take that shit and use it to propel yourself into the next decade with positive reinforcement. Start off with a beard. Nothing says “you’re gonna have a great year” than with a great beard.

Next, get yourself a nice brown coat with that weird nappy looking fur pillow stuffing shit and put it on…but not before you put on the tightest black leotard you can find to match your black tank filled with hot sweaty man boobs. Now, find a snowy spot that would seem to challenge your strength and stamina and heart – in Russia, of course. Run, set your heart on fire and put that strong desire to the test…show those that put you down that you have power and class, but your beard and work out routine are what drive you forward!

Doesn’t that just get you pumped up and ready to take on all challenges that lie ahead of you in the next ten?! If I wasn’t so busy sitting down, I would grab a jump rope and rip that shit up!

I hope you all had a great decade and here’s looking forward to the next one…unless the Apocalypse is planning on showing up that is.

Happy New Year!

CNAMB Presents: Best Films of 2009

The reason why I say Best films is, I just couldn't do it top ten made things so much more difficult and by the time I even post this thing, the lower half of this list is going to change a ton of times I'm sure. Soooo, I went ahead and made a list of my top thirteen favorites films of the year, which basically is a top ten, with the honorable mentions tacked on to keep them from feeling left out. They are very sensitive around the holidays, ya know. Thirteen just seems cooler too, it's all evil and scurry and shit. Also, notice I said my top thirteen favorites, not the actual best films of 2009. They are the best films of 2009, to me and in all honesty, number one is very hard to argue with.

13. Orphan

Orphan was one that almost got away from me in theaters, but I made it and I'm glad I did, because I love killer kid movies and I thought this one was a blast. There was a certain sense of meanness to this film, a meanness that you do not often find in current theatrical horror, let alone ones with kids playing a big part. Isabelle Fuhrman brought to life a very worthy child monster to add to the killer kid klub with the character of Esther and even outside of her solid performance, fellow youngster Aryana Engineer was amazing as the little deaf girl, Max. Two great performances from two kids is no easy feat and only a portion of what puts Orphan at the 13 spot.

12. Zombieland

Zombieland was funnier than most comedies made these days and I cannot remember the last time I laughed so damned hard in the theater. The Zombie action was light, but when it was there, it was nothing short of fun, but this film really excelled in the character department with some nicely thought out arcs for some very stubborn characters. Best thing about this film though, Woody Harrelson, with the second best being the super dope cameo know who. I wrote a review, read more there if you'd like.

Zombieland review

11. Paranormal Activity

While not everyone was frightened by Paranormal Activity, its simplistic handheld style of filmmaking worked for me and I would personally say that it's one of the scariest films of the year. The decade? No, but maybe the year. Very well written and honest characters was the strength of Paranormal Activity for me and Peli was able to tap into a very realistic typical characterization of men and women, which is something that is not seen too often in horror films. And of course the little handheld that could aspect captured my heart in many ways as I had wanted to see the film for two years, only to almost have it slip away into remake oblivion - so to have it sweep the nation as it did, really fluffs my pecker.

Review for Paranormal Activity

10. The Children

What's this? Another killer kid's film on a best of the year list? WHAAAT?! It's true. The Children is one I had just very recently watched as a couple of fellow bloggers had some great things to say about this British killer kid's film. There is a lot less story with The Children then there was with Orphan, but there is also no real need for an in depth story with this one either. The character development is very natural and not at all forced and the movie is perfectly paced and executed by solid acting from everyone involved. The Children is well made and some of the more tension based scenes are just that, tense and done with some amazing editing that really creates a true feeling of chaos for the viewer. If you're going to see only one killer kid's film this year, don't, see two and make The Children one of them.

9. Drag Me to Hell

Seeing horror god Sam Raimi come back to his roots, back to what made him who he is today, back to his brand of wacky horror, is one of the most unexpected and most welcome things this year for me as a horror fan. Showing he can still do what we all love him for, Raimi's Drag Me to Hell was an exercise in outrageous humor filled horror, complete with more laughs and what the fuck moments than I would ever expect from a studio released horror movie. Not the most original of stories, Drag Me to Hell excelled in excellent filmmaking and gorgeous visuals, along with perfectly placed comedy and physical abuse to the very likable main character.

Review of Drag Me to Hell

8. Bronson

Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson is the wild card in this bunch. A film that I wasn't sure how I felt about as I watched it, but by the end, I knew I had seen something pretty special. Still, it sits in the back of my mind and the more I think about it, the more I love it, in all its pretentious glory. Tom Hardy puts on an Oscar worthy performance as Britain's most dangerous criminal, Charles Bronson and as Hardy almost dances though each and every amazingly created scene, you cannot help but laugh, cringe or be totally intimidated by whatever mood seems to fit him at any given moment.

Review of Bronson

7. District 9

As with The Children, District 9 is one I got too late as I have been trying to cram in as many movies as I possibly can in the little time left in the year. What District 9 is and what it looked like via advertisements, are two very different things and the best way to describe it is Cronnenberg's The Fly, meets Starship Troopers. Two films I love and while I loved D9, I haven't fully wrapped my head around this one yet and I anticipate multiple viewings of the film where I will find even greater enjoyment from it. District 9 has possibly the most anti of anti-heroes put to screen, to go along with one of the most unassuming leads to be in a very successful Sci Fi action film.

6. Watchmen

Not perfect and not nearly as good as the source material, but damn it, Watchmen was just so tremendous at so many times that it is impossible for me not to be completely smitten by it. While I have yet to see the longer directors cut, the film is a little messy, but messy can bring about brilliance and Watchmen was a film that dared to get in unsuspecting, normal peoples faces with heavy sex scenes, male nudity (and not in a comedic way either), violence, and flat out bleakness...much like what was done with the original comic series. Watchmen also sports one of the best opening credit sequences I have ever seen. It gives me fucking goose bumps.

5. The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Hurm...This one has not seen an official release in the U.S. as of this time (but it should have) and I do not count festival dates as release dates for films, but this is my list and I will put this phenomenal homage to the Spaghetti Western on my list if I want! The Good, The Bad, The Weird is directed by Ji-woon Kim, one of the best filmmakers working out of Korea (or period if you ask me) and has an all star cast of some of the finest Korean actors around. GBW is the highest budgeted Korean film of all time, but at a measly $17 million dollars, it isn't much when compared to the average Hollywood film. Isn't much in terms of budget, but in terms of amazingly executed action set pieces you would think this thing costs $200 million. Humor, fabulous action, and one of the best Westerns made in years, GBW did what few can, made an homage that can totally stand on its own two feet with the best of the genre of influence. Hollywood should take note.

4. Ink

Speaking of small budgets, no other film, not even Paranormal Activity, did more with so little than Ink. A film with more original ideas than most films forty times its budget, Ink was nothing short of incredible, but what made it fantastic for myself, was its ability to draw something out of me emotionally. This will be a film that when I revisit, I will definitely get a small lump in my throat every time and I am not one who can easily be touched in that way. It is not a film that pulled at my heartstrings in a sad or loving way, but it did had purpose, meaning, and heart. Again, Hollywood should take note.

Review of Ink

3. Pontypool

What can I say, Pontypool was one of the best horror films of the year, and one that showed what can be done with simplicity and well constructed characters, played superbly by great actors. One of the best uses of one secluded location since The Thing and the first 45 minutes just sucks you right in and makes you want to know what is happening outside of the radio station setting, just like what the characters are going through. Less is more is the theory and that is one I subscribe to if it is fitting for a film and is well executed, in the case of Pontypool, less is more than I can ask for.

Review of Pontypool

2. Martyrs

Pascal Laugier created one of the most challenging and controversial films of the year and possibly even the decade. Martyrs is a film that split horror fans right down the middle, with some saying they loved the opening, but were turned off by the depravity of the films final 30 minutes. Others, including myself, found a film that was able to take scenes of brutal violence and outright torture of the senses and make it all mean something more than pain just for the sake of showing it. Amazingly crafted, Martyrs is a film that makes you think, a film that makes you wince, a film that shows you just how desperate some people are to find a meaning in their lives. Morjana Alaoui puts forth a performance as good, if not better than any other actor this year in a film and it's a shame that she will go completely unnoticed.

And finally, my favorite film of 2009 is...

1. Ingluorious Basterds!

Speaking of amazing performances, Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds is without a doubt the best movie of the year. One of the most tension-filled films I have seen in quite some time and Nazi's have never been so frightening and their aesthetic never so beautifully captured on screen. And the performances, oh the performances! Christoph Waltz brought one of the most oddly charming and polite, yet very intimidating villains to life with his character of Hans Landa. To be fair, almost the entire cast, outside of that dick face Mike Myers, is excellent and too many to name. Each set piece is gorgeously filmed with some of the nicest use of color to portray the character segments and the ending is one of the most satisfying endings to a film ever. I don't even know what else to say about this one, except it is by far my favorite of the year and one of Tarantino's finest achievements.

Review of Inglourious Basterds

Whoomp! There it list of the 13 best films of the year according to me. I already plan on doing a follow up list in a few months since there are a handful of films I have yet to see and ones that have the promise to make such a list. So there may be some shuffling and spot drops, but that just depends on the quality of movies I watch I guess. It's really difficult to put a list like this together and decide what is better than what and my opinion can change at the drop of a hat. I would love to hear everyone's thoughts on my list, what makes the cut for you and what doesn't? If you have a blog and list of your own, please feel free to share it, so I can mock you for excluding Obsessed. Here's looking forward to 2010 and the cinema it brings! Yip-pah!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Silence is Golden

Set in Utah during the Great Blizzard of 1899, the small town of Snow Hill has gone through some tough financial times, forcing some of the less than privileged citizens to rob and steal just so they can eat and stay alive. With no other choice for survival, these unfortunate citizens have become considered outlaws by the town and with prices on their heads, they are targets for bounty hunters (or bounty killers as they're called) who now infest the area. The leader of these bounty hunters, a madman named Loco (Klaus Kinski), kills a man in cold blood that has a bounty on his head, resulting in the victims wife, Pauline (Vonetta McGee) hiring a gunslinger named Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) to seek revenge and kill Loco.

Silence is not the biggest fan of these powerful money hungry bounty hunters and he makes it his hobby to shorten their life span when he can. When Silence was a young boy, he watched as his mother and father were killed by bounty hunters, who thought it a good idea to slit the young boys throat to keep him from saying anything, ever again, thus the name, Silence. To keep within the law, Silence doesn't just go up and buck shots into dudes, he goats them into shooting first, so it is considered self defense and completely legal when this quick on the draw, outlaw kills his victims.

1968's The Great Silence (Il grande silenzio, or The Big Silence) is a Spaghetti Western with all the right moves in so many ways. It has a grand and gorgeous setting, an amazing Ennio Morricone score, and stars some of the best actors of the genre. While this film and the performances are slightly hindered by bad dubbing, there is a nice and to be expected, squirmy, Luigi Pistilli as Pollicutt, who is Show Hill's Justice of the Peace and the one paying for the bounties on the outlaws heads. I also really enjoyed Frank Wolff, who plays the Sheriff of Snow Hill. He starts off almost bumbling, but he quickly makes the transformation into a very self assured and honorable man of the law, who only wants things to be fair for everyone. However, he isn't liberal when it come to holding the bounty hunters accountable to the laws of the town, no matter if they are a threat to him or not.
While there are two stars of The Great Silence and despite the title of the film, Jean-Louis Trintignant and his character, Silence is not one of them. I liked the character of Silence and J.L.T. does a competent enough job in this role, but he is nothing spectacular either (Nero would've been much better). He has the right look for the emotionless gunslinger, but he just seems to lack that certain charisma needed to be great. I don't claim he is not one of the stars because he doesn't have the magnetism of other Spaghetti Western leads, it is because he is not really meant to be the main focus of this film.

The real focus and star of The Great Silence is without a doubt, Klaus fucking Kinski and the character of Loco. This film is a true showcase for the talents and lunacy that is Klaus Kinski and he is as good as ever in this film. He steals every scene playing a character that is as mean as it gets, but is also kind of a wise guy that can easily keep his cool in most any situation. I have seen a decent amount of Kinski films and his portrayal of Loco may be the best I have ever seen of him on screen. Except for Crawlspace of course!

Director Sergio Corbucci treads territory that is not the norm of the genre. As with his best known film, 1966's Django, which was set in a town completely engulfed by mud, The Great Silence is entirely set in the snow. There are very few Westerns, Italian or American that have been set in these conditions and the only ones that come to mind are Pale Rider and Unforgiven, both of which are not entirely snow bound. Though, both are pretty damned fantastic and directed by Clint Eastwood, who apparently was rumored to direct a remake of The Great Silence, so the inspiration is fitting.

So when I said there were two stars of The Great Silence, if Kinski is one, then the other is the snowy backdrop of this truly frigid film. I've said before how much I love winter/snow set movies and this may be one of the best uses of the purdy powder. Mixed with the amazing Silvano Ippoliti cinematography, the presence of epic winter is engulfing to the senses and as I watched, I couldn't help but feel like I too, was as cold as these outlaws. It also gives the characters a reason to wear very nontraditional western garb, where these dudes really need to gear up for the blistering elements. How often do you see a gunslinger wear a fur coat? I'd like to see someone splash fake blood on Loco in protest.

I have seen more than my fair share of Westerns and I am a pretty big fan of Django and consider it an upper echelon film of the Italian Western genre, but it is not quite up there with the Leone films. The Great Silence, on the other hand, is certainly on par with the master filmmakers movies and may be one of the best Westerns, Italian, or whatever, that I have ever seen. It has some flaws with an muddled plot and while Corbucci can be an amazing director, he doesn't seem to mind having little flubs of imperfection in his movies. Even then, The Great Silence is a masterpiece of the genre and of cinema period. I didn't even go near talking about the crazy ending of this film, but that is a major spoiler that needs to be seen by you when you watch this movie. It is a must see.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The 2009 Horror Box Office

There was an incredibly strong presence of horror in theaters this year, in fact, there was almost too many at one point. Late in July, Orphan and The Collector came out, followed by The Perfect Getaway in the beginning of August, then, on the same exact day, The Final Destination and Halloween 2 (or H2 if you're hip to be square) went head-to-head in a battle to end all battles (okay, maybe not end all)! By time we got to September, with even more films like Sorority Row, Pandorum, Whiteout, and Jennifer's Body, the horror market was flooded and nobody gave a shit anymore. I try and see as many horror films as I can theatrically, as long as their horror films that are appealing and promising, but there's no way you can be successful in a genre with such an overkill. We can't afford it! At least I can't and if you can, then good on ya...and give me some loot sucka!

Still, even with that said, horror also had a decent presence at the box office this year too and while we're not talking top of the box office numbers, we are looking at how much money some of these films brought in. A movie can pull in $40 million and look like a near flop, but if the budget is only $15 to $20 million, well, you can call that a minor success. This is that case with most of the horror genre as is the case with many of the releases I am going over here today. These are the movies that made some bank, whether it be a whole lot, or just enough to keep some dignity and presence. *Note all these figures are time sensitive and as updated as I freaking feel like, okay?! Oh, and they're domestic. Oh-oh, and fahkin Avatar makes all this just that much more difficult*

I'd be iniquitous if I didn't start at one of the highest grossing films of the year...and since I have never seen any of these films, I won't waste anytime taking unfair shots at them, but they are a part of the horror genre (maybe not yours or mine), whether some would like to admit it or not. The 4th highest grossing horror film of '09 was The Twilight Saga: New Moon with $$280,924,000 and still going. No real surprise and with figures like that, no need to even bother comparing them to the budget - these films make bank and bubblegum that you can buy at FYE.

Now while New Moon was the highest grossing horror release of the year, the most successful film of the year, period, was Paranormal Activity, which came in at number 27 with a whopping $107,735,000. Compare that number to a budget of $15 thousand and you have the second coming of Blair Witch. This would be the best thing for horror in many ways and the worst thing too. These numbers really show what can be done with some drive and passion, but the imitations are sure to come, with plenty of Hollywood bullery (is that a word?) putting in their two unnecessary cents. However, Paranormal Activity being more than a few years old is from the Blair Witch influence if you ask me, as well as Cloverfield, [REC], and all the other handy cam films of late, so I think Blair Witch's shadow is long looming and maybe imitation isn't such a bad thing after all.

In what was a bit of a surprise, Zombieland landed at the number 38 spot with $75,590,286. Compared to a $23.6 million dollar budget, the film was very successful, in a time when most people are so tired of Zombie films - especially ones going the comedic route. I liked the film and am very happy that it did well - in fact, it did well enough that a sequel is already in the works. Zombieland barely nudged out the 39th most highest grossing film of the year, which was Coraline and its gross of $75,286,229. Not really a horror movie you say? Well, it isn't, but it comes pretty darned close and Coraline was one of the darkest children's animation films I have seen in quite some time. Unfortunately, the numbers for the film aren't so good when compared to its $60 million dollar budget, but it did okay at least.

The Final Destination flew in and landed at number 46 with $66,477,700 and with a budget of $40 million; this is a franchise that has really showed up with every release. What's more impressive, is this came out directly against Zombie's H2 and completely slaughtered it at the box office, which if you've seen H2, it shouldn't be a surprise. At 49, every ones favorite remake, Friday the 13th slashed it's way in with $65,002,019 against a $19 million dollar budget. More than enough to reignite the franchise, which received very mixed reviews from horror fans. I personally liked it...enough.

All right, I'm gonna speed this up - things are getting repetitive and you probably aren't even reading anymore...and if you aren't, then I'm taking you off my booty call list. Maybe. Alrighty, The Haunting in Connecticut with $55,389,516 came in at 55 overall, but no clue what the budget was since it's not available anywhere. Strange?! A nice surprise was My Bloody Valentine 3-D doing $51,545,952 to its budget of $15 million and taking the 59 spot. Even with a hottie swap, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans took the 63rd place with an okay $45,802,315 compared to $35 mil budget. While The Unborn only did decent numbers wise with $42,670,410, in comparison to its $16 million budget, it actually did pretty darned good and took the 66th spot.

And finally, capping things off at the lower end of success, the 67 and 69 (Dude!) spots were filled by fan favorites Drag Me to Hell with $42,100,625 against a $30 million budget and Orphan with $41,596,251. No budget available for Orphan either, but I cannot imagine it costing more than $30 million. Considering that Drag Me to Hell was out of theaters faster than you can say, "This isn't Spider Man" it actually did quite well. Imagine if it had just a few more weeks... Orphan, on the other hand, was near death its entire run, but had a bit of staying power with positive word of mouth and steady numbers, which were just enough to keep it afloat.

So, there you have it, the year in horror from a theatrical standpoint. By the numbers there are seven original films, three sequels, and only two remakes in this batch, so that shows some progress towards seeing some original genre releases in theaters. I personally saw six of these films and liked all six, so I am batting a 1000 in that department and that is a testament that all hope will never be lost, no matter how powerful the fad. Hopefully 2010 will bring even better horror films for us to go and spend way too much money on and right off the bat we are getting Case 39 on January 1st, followed by Daybreakers on the 8th and Legion on the 22nd (though I doubt that will go wide, unlike your mom). Not a bad way to start the New Year at all. Of course, I would love to hear your take on the 2009 year in horror and whether or not you were satisfied by what was to be seen in theaters. That is if you read this far - if you did, then thank you for being a freind!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Paracinema and Argento Book Update!

Another shitty weekend for movies on TV, so I am forced to skip yet another Horror Hangover...I really hope this doesn't have to happen again for a while. However, now would be a great time to share with you some updates and if you don't wanna hear about them, I will have to force them upon you and in that case, would it be considered update rape?

Our good friend James Gracey's book, Dario Argento has been given what would seem to be a definitive release date of March 25th 2010. James is a great friend of CNAMB and an even greater writer who's knowledge of the Italian maestro's work is more than vast. Here is a link to the previous post I did that will give you links to all the places you can pre-order the book. Also, there is now a facebook fan page for Dario Argento that you can become a fan of, so head over there and show some love and support for one of our own!

In related reading news, the December issue of Paracinema Magazine is available for magical Internet order and purchase at select retailers. Issue 8 has some great articles as always, with a few done by some familiar friends of CNAMB! Here is a list of some of the features to be found in the newest issue:

* War May Be Hell, But a Sequel Is Purgatory: Thematic Combat With Battle Royale II: Requiem by one of my favorite people, Emily Intravia!

* Love, Loss, and Astounding Growth in The Incredible Shrinking Man and Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman by Jessie Robie

* "Oh Hi, Movie!" The Unironic Aesthetics of "So Bad It’s Good" In Tommy Wiseau's The Room by John Semley

* The Story Behind Jim Wynorski's Munchie Strikes Back OR Paracinema's Parents' Manual for Little Billy's Question: "Why is the TV puppet telling me to vote Democrat?" by Jonathan Plombon

* The Serial Killer's Mind: Comparing and Contrasting the Male Psyches in Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer by Brantley Palmer

* Loss and Hope – The Past and the Future in The Road Warrior by Todd Garbarini

* A Room of One's Own: An Account of A Failed Interview (With Tommy Wiseau) by Miles Lemaire

And there's plenty more great movie analysis waiting for you in this amazing new issue!

So there you go, some great shit for your cinema loving mind to ingest and I hope as many of you as possible can show some support for these great projects and companies. In the end, you are showing support for people like you and I, passionate fans of Cult and Horror cinema that have something to say about it. Support them as you would support any independent film project that is driven by love and passion for the things we all have shown passion and love for...movies and two ply toilet paper of course.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

CNAMB Presents: Presents!

What a witty title, eh? Christmas is now officially past us and I wanted to share some of the awesome presents I received this holiday season with all of you. Because I know you are just clamoring to find out what I got, aren't you?! Lady Suzaka and myself kept it tight this year, cause money is not exactly in abundance, but I think I still made out quite well with some cool gifts this Christmas. First off, I got some awesome shit from a secret Santa, but I am not sure if there is secret Santa etiquette or not, so I think I'll keep that to myself just in case...but I will say, Viva Indonesia!

Okay, starting from least to most movie related, the best gift I got this year was a subscription to Game Fly. There was a time when I played a good amount of games, but at that time I could afford them, now they are too damned expensive and I cannot see myself paying $60 for a game. So Game Fly is perfect because now I can play Barbie's Horse Adventure: Wild Horse Rescue for as long as I want, then when I tire of it, I can send it right back for something else! Dope!

If there is one thing I love, it is Superman and with that comes love for Smallville, in which I got season seven on DVD. I had fallen slightly behind on the show and I cannot wait to catch back up again! For my next present, not too long ago I did a review for Pontypool the film and I LOVED it! I also expressed how much I wanted to check out the book and now I can, because I got that too! Whoo-ooot! Wake up bitches, it's Christmas!

Getting to the actual movies that I got this year, there were two and the two I got were two I really wanted. One is a film titled The Great Silence, which I actually watched at the beginning of Death-cember and I even wrote a review for it and everything, but I pushed it back so I could review all the Christmas horror films before the holiday was over look for that soon enough. It is a Spaghetti Western directed by Sergio Corbucci and you can probably guess I liked it if I got it for Christmas.

The last gift I received ties in with CNAMB in a kinda cool way as the very first post I ever did at this horrendous blog was for the infamous "We'll keep an eye out for ya, Stingray - Yeah, see ya!" clip from the Godfrey Ho (or Godfrey Hall) directed Undefeatable staring the uber sick Cynthia Rothrock. I have been dying to see this film since I posted that first blog and I'm pumped to sit down and finally check it out. I also got a $30 gift card to Amazon, which I can very easily turn into at least 4 or 5 movies with my tight shopping skillz.

There you have it, what I got for Christmas...captivating read, right?! Now it's your turn - what did you get for Christmas this year (and if you don't celebrate, you can make something up)? Any good movies or possibly something even better perhaps? I would love to hear!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Freddy's Christmas Dance Party!: I'll Shoot YOUR Eye Out, Bitch. Edition!

There is just something about Christmas morning and the feeling of satisfaction that rolls through your body and out your smiling mouth as you see all the presents under the colorful tree. You know the food is gonna be so good, there is mad candy in your stocking, you got that Genesis you really wanted, and you ain't got no school. It gives you a little extra pep in your step, a certain swagger, and makes you feel all high and mighty. That shit is straight gangsta.

I hope all you chuckle heads have a gangsta Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Don't Open 'Till Christmas

Any film starting with a shake-tastic mid 80's disco dance party, complete with jerky, spastic dance moves straight out of crackville will usually capture my attention - and my heart. Toss in a harpooned through the face Santa and you're looking at straight love 4 life. 1984's Don't Open 'Till Christmas (Till, 'Til, or Til?) has both of these things within the first 5-10 minutes, but my heart I cannot completely give to this Holiday themed Slasher, still it's worth a yearly holiday booty call at least.

With an intricate and complicated plot, Don't Open 'Till Christmas is about a serial killer running amok in the streets of London. His target...Santa Claus! No, not the real Santa Claus, he lives in the North Pole not London, I'm talking about dudes rocking the red and white, complete with white beard and bottle of booze Santa. Scotland Yard is on the hunt to capture this Santa Slasher, but how many faux Santa's will be taken out before the authorities can figure out whom is behind these Claus killings?

With an insanely low IMDB score of 2.4, Don't Open 'Till Christmas is a second, maybe even third rate Slasher, but third rate is more than capable of delivering SOME goods. Some being the key word, thus the capitalization. This is one of those movies that is almost so bad that it's good, but it's not quite good enough to make it a must see, unless you are an avid Slasher fan or someone that enjoys B-Movies. I fall into both of those categories, so whatever that says...

Don't Open 'Till Christmas is technically inept at times with some terrible editing and complete lack of continuity between shots. There is no sense of direction in this film at all and often you have no idea where a scare might come from, because you have no clue where the characters are with the lack of flow from shot to shot. The lighting is weak too, but this is a low end 80's Holiday Slasher, so I won't harp on that too much - I will say that the music is so obtrusive at times, it could give Marlee Matlin a migraine.

The one thing about this film that hurts it the most is when it gets slow. That can hurt any film, but the slower parts of this movie are not just slow, they are completely boring...boring to the point that I ended up dusting my DVDs and some of my books during the downtime. Seriously. Anytime there wasn't the threat of a kill, or a naked lady, I was completely checked out. Then there's the killer, who is almost scary, wearing one of those clear masks without any expression on them. However, the way this Kringle killer "smiles with his eyes," just makes him look sort of like Jim J. Bullock in a see through mask.

Boring and clumsy or not, the film is not an entire loss. There are so many entertainingly bad things that happen in Don't Open 'Till Christmas, that I will have a soft spot for it no matter what. There is a street performed flute solo from one of the main characters. There is a chase scene between a couple of punks and a Santa on a bike, who cannot seem to generate enough peddle power to get away from the on-foot rebels. Then there is the best dialogue ever, when a chick dressed up in a Santa outfit tries to hook up with one of the main males characters, he yells "They'll think we're a couple of gays!" Is that like a couple of dollars, or a couple of cheeseburgers?

Oh, the fun doesn't end there...when trying to find the key to the door between you and freedom, the last person you should be asking is the murderer that captured you and is holding you captive. He probably isn't going to tell you...just a thought. And nothing says perfect Christmas present for a 12-year-old kid than a Swiss Army knife. You just never know when little Bobby might need a tiny pair of nose hair scissors or a wine opener. Unless he has aspiration to be a mall Santa that is, then the opener may be a great gift idea.

Now, the real good stuff comes in the form of the kills. I'm serious too. While there are a fair amount of straight stabs, there are also a ton of very satisfying Santa Slashings. The poor Santa's in this movie - they are just getting blasted, plastered, and splattered left and right with a variety of weapons. Axes to the face, knives in the gut, spiked glove to the dome piece, an eye gouging, the before mentioned harpoon through the grill, there's even a Claus cock cut. So at least there are a lot of fun kills to be had and that is a big saving grace for this movie.

You know what, besides being slayed, flayed, and uhh, be dead, Santa is given one heck of a bad rap in this film. Each one of these dude could give Billy Bob a run for his money as they are portrayed as despicable, pathetic losers and all but one of them is bombed. The one that isn't wasted though, is the one that is looking to fulfill his fantasies and dreams, at a peepshow - cause he's a dirty-bird perv! Shit, there is even some child witnessed Santa sex as one of these poor excuses for magic is caught plowing more than his driveway.

So while it didn't completely steal my heart, Don't Open 'Till Christmas made it flutter a bit with its acceptable amount of nudity, entertaining death scenes, and all around awful badness. Still, there is a lot going against it with there being so many dragged out slow moments and lack of movie making skill. For a fan of the genre and anyone looking for a fun party movie, I can recommend this Santasploitation to keep you warm this season. There are worse, but there certainly are better too. Ya know, like Jack Frost, or any of the Silent Night films. Those are high-class art!

Is There Really Any Other Kind?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CNAMB Presents: Holiday Monster of the Week!

Christmas is just a few days away now and with that joyous occasion comes our final Holiday Monster of the Week. If there is one thing that can ruin your holiday festivities, it's knowing that there is always a threat lurking the snowy streets just outside your door. What's worse is the fact that you may never know exactly when you may run into this menace - it could be at anytime, at anywhere and the end result will never be very good for you.

This week's Holiday Monster of the Week is...

Scut Farkus!

Scut Farkus graced our lives in Bob Clark's 1983 holiday classic, A Christmas Story, which was based off the short stories and anecdotes of author Jean Shepherd. However, the character of Scut Farkus (Played by Zack Ward) was actually written specifically for the film, so the credit for this Monster could go to either Clark himself, or Leigh Brown who also partook in the films writing.

First off, when you spell the name Scott, Scut, you know you are dealing with a serious monster of grotesque proportions. The name Scut alone just sounds awful and seems like it would be a great description for a phlegmy open wound, or a skanky slut perhaps. Everything about him drips bad and just by looking at him, you know his path is not one that you should ever cross. He tucks his super blue jeans into his boots, wears fingerless gloves, he rocks a Davy Crockett cap and out from under that hideous dome piece he'll stare you down with his yellow eyes. He has yellow eyes! So, help me, God! Yellow eyes! I would liken "Scut" to road construction, something that while on your way to and from work or school, can cause quite the inconvenience, except this inconvenience can and probably will result in a bloody nose, or the repeated use of the word uncle.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Evil

Little Harry was just soooo excited as he sat with his mother and younger brother, Phil, while from in between the railing of their staircase they secretly watched Santa Claus as he slid down the chimney and proceeded with his Santa duties. Harry looked on, eyes as wide as can be, as Santa enjoyed the delicious cookies and milk they had left out for him and then witnessed the jolly one as he unloaded a mass of amazing gifts for Harry and his brother to tear open in the morning. Harry was in heaven. That is...until after Harry was supposed to be in bed, he snuck back down the stairs and much to his amazement, Santa was still there! This time, instead of bringing joy to Harry with gifts of magic, Santa is bringing joy to Harry's mother as he sexually caresses her leg while kneeling down in front of her. Santa?! Harry thought, as he could not believe what he was seeing before him. It's as if all his dreams and hopes had been crushed because mom and dad wanted to fuck while playing a little dress up.

While being considered a Slasher as far as genre goes, 1980 Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out or Terror in Toyland) is one of the few holiday horror films with intense Santa Claus and Christmas imagery that is not really a Slasher at all outside of a few choice moments towards the end. That's a bit of a nice change with the amount of holiday Slashers I've been watching lately - though I do truly enjoy them, I am starting to get a little burnt out by Christmas Slasher films. Christmas Evil works much differently than some off the wall Slasher; instead, it is more along the lines of a physiological horror film with a man who slowly succumbs to madness due to the traumatic childhood discovery of his mom as she's about to get munched on by someone whom he thought was Santa Claus.

Harry (Brandon Maggart) spends the rest of his life, right up until adulthood, being completely obsessed with Santa and the Christmas holiday - to the point, that he even works passionately in a toy factory and surrounds himself with creepy Santa paraphernalia. It all seems innocent, and Harry appears to be a nice, well-meaning guy, but he harbors many issues that stem from his past trauma. Harry has no sense of nerve when it comes to dealing with others, who can smell the wimp on Harry, and they use it to take advantage of him. To his peers, he is a nobody and they know they can push him around as if he just doesn't matter. Harry is not without the smarts to notice how he is perceived by others. In fact, he doesn't like it at all, but he lacks the proper jingle bells to do anything about it. Couple this with a piss poor relationship with his brother, Phil (Jeffrey DeMunn), and a life less than mediocre, and you have a recipe for a psychotic breakdown.

Taking his Santa obsession to creepy levels, Harry sees fit to spy on all of the neighborhood children so he can see for himself who is naughty and who is nice. He even has a book for both categories, and he puts each child's name in their respective categorie along with what deeds makes them good or bad. Besides being incredibly odd, this aspect of Harry can almost be perceived as the actions of a pedophile in a way, but I think Harry only has one thing on his mind though, and that is the joy that Christmas and Santa can bring to the hearts of good children. As Harry's sanity begins to slip further, he starts to think it may be up to him to take on the role of Santa Claus. He fashions a dope Santa suit, complete with a realistic looking beard and a sleigh, which is actually painted on the side of his van which is filled with toys.

Harry takes his list of who is naughty and who is nice and sets about to do what he thinks will make him important to people. It is at this point that Harry transforms from the loser that he was, to THE GREAT SANTA CLAUS! Being Santa makes Harry beloved by all, respected by everyone and it gives him a purpose - it gives him everything he does not have as just himself, a schlepy toy factory worker with no backbone. Now he is the almighty giver of joy! And this demented Santa does bring happiness to many, as he dances around a room full of clapping children and adults, who make toasts to this great man and celebrate him the way he has always hoped. Not everyone is down with Claus, though and when "Harry" is given a hard time while under the guise of Santa Claus, he does not appreciate it. Now, as Santa, Harry has the balls to stand up to his oppressors and he does so, by killing them.

Written and directed by Lewis Jackson, Christmas Evil is an exercise in one man's will to be greater than he actually can be on his own. When Harry is Santa, he is something special, he becomes someone that matters. Or so he thinks. To him, he is doing what he is meant to have done his entire life, but his decision-making is clouded and how he deals with the bad boys and girls is where Harry goes all wrong. Even with his good intentions, he cannot fight off his demons and these demons are what drive him to judge people, and when he judges people, they learn a life-ending lesson.

Christmas Evil is a bit slow paced, but to watch Harry go through his different stages of sanity is quite interesting, if not extremely sad. Part of me wants to feel for Harry, but another part of me wants to say, "Quite being such a pussy, Harry!" because he's the one who is too afraid to step up and be a man...too afraid to step up and take control of his own life and how people perceive him. If you are looking for something a little different this holiday season, Christmas Evil is a very solid mind fuck of a film with a very well acted thought out character contrast from when Harry is Harry and when he dons the red suit and magnificent beard to become Santa Claus.

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