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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter's Grit: These Boots Are Made For Walking

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As I sat in the theater watching the latest Coen brother's film, True Grit, I quickly noticed a certain familiarity with the character of Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld). The film's main focus, Mattie is an intelligent and determined 14-year-old girl who will stop at nothing when it comes to finding the man that murdered her father in cold blood. This young female character immediately brought me to thoughts of Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), the lead protagonist in Debra Granik's incredible film, Winter's Bone. Much like Mattie, Ree is a smart and unwavering female character that also has a difficult task that she is faced with. But as opposed to finding her father's killer, Ree is trying to find her father - who may or may not even be alive – so she can save her family from an uncertain fate.

truegrit1Two very different women that both share a single goal, armed with a drive that would dwarf even the largest of obstacles. Mattie and Ree are inspiringly strong female characters who share many qualities despite their cultural differences. They are what you could call survivors in a way, but one is forced to do so out of necessity, while the other does so to see that justice is served for the one that she has lost. Both have what I would like to call true courage, though, in Mattie's case, she may be too young and naïve to see the danger in which she is putting herself. Then again, maybe she does in fact see it and simply doesn't let it topple her strong spirit. Ree, on the other hand, has to have courage. She has to because if she doesn't, not only will it affect her, but her defenseless family, too.

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Even at the age of 17, Ree is already a world-weary woman due to living a very difficult and hardening life. She is not well educated, but her smarts come from the survival instincts formed by living in the very difficult world that she was born into. She has grown up in a place where it is a necessity to endure, and she is using that strength to fight tooth and nail to keep from losing her home. A home that would be lost if her bail-jumping meth-cooking father isn't found. This isn't a story about a girl trying to find her father to save him. Instead, it is about a girl that will risk her life in a dangerous world (that many of us are not at all familiar with), not to keep a roof over her head, but the head of Ree's two younger siblings and ill mother. In this situation, Ree has become the mother, the one that has the ability to take charge and keep her family from situations that no one should ever have to be confronted with. Including herself.

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Mattie has a lot more going for her as far as a future goes. An incredibly quick witted and sharp young lady, she has the ability to make things happen with her tenacity for verbal deliberation. She is so young, which makes it easy to underestimate her but it's also something that works to her advantage when she is able to get the best of unsuspecting adults. She understands laws, she understands her rights, and has no problem with letting people know that she will not be easily pushed around. She rides down a road that is never made any less difficult for her due to her age or sexuality, but it is just those qualities that seem to feed her aggressive posture, making her a stronger force because of it. She is driven by despair for a father that was wrongfully taken from her and will stop at nothing to see that his killer pays for his crime.

winter'sbone2What Mattie and Ree share as characters is simply how resilient they are to the oppression that faces them. There is no wall that either of these "girls" cannot scale because their drive is too intense, too important. These are fantastically written characters and are brought to life by equally amazing performances. In a movie where Jeff Bridges shows just why he won an Oscar, Hailee Steinfeld is able to stand out in what is a wonderful performance for such a young girl. In fact, it may even be good enough for an Oscar nod, in my opinion. As far as Jennifer Lawrence goes, well, lets just say that in a world where someone like Sandra Bullock can win a sympathy Oscar for playing a hallow character, then it would be a travesty if Lawrence wasn't granted the shot to win for a character and performance that truly should be applauded.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowbeast: Fur is so 1980

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Deep in the frigid mountains of Colorado, the proprietors of the Rill Lodge Ski Resort have come under attack by a creature so vicious, even John Denver's succulent voice cannot stop it. A monster that feels not the pain of the winter's biter cold as it is driven by a thirst for blood that can only be quenched by that of yuppie skiers decked out in Fluoro ski suits. Many have heard of Bigfoot, Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, but they all fail in comparison and can do nothing more than bow down before the ultimate elemental survivor, the Snowbeast! What's the difference between all of these creatures? Actually, outside of coat color, I don't think there really is, but the name Snowbeast does have a badass ring to it, now doesn't it?  One thing I am sure of is, things are about to get rocky up in these here mountains. 

vlcsnap-2010-11-23-01h13m11s109This 1977 made for television horror film uses the often imitated Jaws formula but does add a whole lot of skiing to the mix. Not water skiing, mind you…that was in Jaws. I mean real skiing. Not that water skiing isn't real skiing or anything, I just mean the kind of skiing that is done on slopes that are made of compacted snow and ice. I would hate to insult my waterskiing readership in any way. Anyways, it's the 50th Annual Winter Carnival at the Rill Lodge and Ski Resort and a record turnout is expected for this festival of fun in the clouded sun. Things are going just peachy, that is, until two girls are attacked by a SNOWBEATS (sorry, I'm so pumped I can't even seem to spell it right!)! One of the girls gets away, which is hysterical because without even a hint of hesitation, she takes the fuck off at the first sound of this mythic creature, leaving her so called friend behind to get her ass eaten up.

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Now, this poses a serious problem. You see, generally when people are killed by Snowbeasts, winter carnivals are cancelled, right? Wrong. Don't forget, this is the 50th winter carnival and there is no way in hell some Snowbeast is going to stop such a joyous event. It's the 50th, man! That shit only comes around every few years, so there is no chance that it can just be cancelled due to some human hungry creature - with an incredible fur coat - ripping skiers to shreds. The resort's owner, Carrie Rill (Sylvia Sidney), convinces her grandson and resort manager, Tony (Robert Logan), that if they just tape off the area where the Snowbeast attacked and possibly may have KILLED the girl, all would be just fine. Tony begrudgingly goes along with it because it is his grandmother's place, and who knows…maybe the MURDER is just a fluke. Nothing to worry about at all.

garWhile all of this nasty Snowbeast nonsense is happening, one of Tony's old friends, Gar (Bo Svenson) and his wife Ellen (Yvette Mimieux), show up in the hopes that Gar can find work at the resort. Gar - an Olympic ski champion, not the guy from Mask - has fallen on hard times, but thankfully for him, Tony's got a spot for him and apparently, Ellen has a spot for Tony. A hot spot, if you will. You see, at one time Tony and Ellen were a thing, but life happens, they separated ways and Ellen went off and married Gar. Now it seems very clear that Ellen is ready for a little ride down Tony's ski pole, but Tony avoids the advances, and I think I know why…

See, Tony and Gar share a whole lot of one-on-one time together in Snowbeast. Enjoying meals together, swimming in hot springs together (in their underwear, naturally), lounging around in bathrobes together and had it not been a made for TV affair, I'm sure they would have tried to make cute little snow resort babies together too. It was the track in which they were on, there is no denying the signs.   

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The only thing that can keep these two man thirsty bears focused on something outside of each other is hunting down a massive, hairy, powerful monster with big feet that would love nothing more than to eat them right up. Oh, my. These mountains are vastly rockier than I would have expected. Yeah, that's three Rocky Mountain High joke attempts. What of it?

vlcsnap-2010-11-23-00h56m27s52Snowbeast came out in 1977, and with that comes a nice retro aesthetic filled with stylish ski clothing, some great hair and a ski lodge that is to die for. And I am a sucker for 70s fashion and décor, so Snowbeast gets a few easy points right there. However, much like many films from the time, Snowbeast moves pretty slowly overall, with multiple scenes where you simply just watch assorted characters skiing for what seems like days on end. Granted, the skiing is actually nicely shot, but a solo-search scene via skis that lasts for a good five minutes is a bit much to ask of from an audience. Skiing is great to watch and all, but I'd prefer a little more Snowbeast in my Snowbeast.

vlcsnap-2010-11-23-01h47m04s213As I mentioned beforehand, Snowbeast is essentially a Jaws rip-off, so with that comes the less you see, the scarier it is approach. I'm not too sure that director Herb Wallerstein was able to obtain that less is more quite like the classic killer shark film. What worked in Jaws was how perfect the tension was built, but also the characters and their interactions with one another were all more than enough to keep most people on that hook during the non-shark moments. Nevertheless, when on screen, the Snowbeast looks cool enough, and I love me a good old cheap claw attack here and there if not for how silly it is. There are a few decent pay off scenes, one in particular being when the titular creature attacks the snow queen ceremony, as well as a decent little cabin attack. 

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It's a made for TV movie from the 70s, so it's pretty much what you would expect, I suppose. It's not too violent, not too scary and not all too good but it isn't terrible either. It works as a nice little winter horror film that makes for a perfect background watch while you're doing something else. Like skiing.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

CNAMB Presents: Presents! Part two

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Christmas has finally ended and now would be a good time to reflect on the important things about this most wonderful time of year. Quality time spent with family and friends, being thankful for all you have, helping the less fortunate and spreading joy to those who need it the most. Well, that's nice and all, and sure, giving over receiving is a novel concept, but I don't care about that crap as much as I care about getting PRESENTS! Call me selfish. I don't mind. So long as you give me a gift first. In fact, give me two!

What I assume would be the case with most cinephiles (does that term apply to someone that loves Brain Scan?), I generally ask for movie related stuff for Christmas. And because I'm sure none of you care about the awesome Keurig or the badass Omaha steaks that we got this year from family, I'll play show and tell you what movie crap made its way to that warm spot underneath the Christmas tree thanks to my better half.

The only relevant none DVD swag I was gifted this year is The Walking Dead Compendium One. I was a comic book kid, which is something that was a big part of my life for many many years. I haven't collected comics since my mid-twenties, let alone read them, but on occasion I'll make an exception and catch up with a random graphic novel or compilation book here and there. I have always wanted to check out the zombie series, and now with this massive collection that covers the first 48 issues, I will have more than enough of The Walking Dead to hold me over till the next season of the TV series.

Okay, enough with that reading crap, let's move on to the DVDs!

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For A Few Previews More – As the title alludes to, For A Few Previews More is a collection of Spaghetti Western trailers. A whooping 36 of them to be exact. There are a handful of films on this compilation that I have seen, and a whole lot more I haven't, so I look forward to finding out about some new films from this collection. Plus, trailers are always a lot of fun to watch and that DVD cover art is pretty sick (sick? Really, Matt?!).

The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter – A Shaw Brothers classic martial arts film that I had been dying to see since Cinema Diabolica covered it way back when. Directed by Lau Kar-leung and starring Gordon Liu and Alexander Fu Sheng, I already had a chance to check the film out (we open our presents much like Jewish people do on Hanukkah…one a day until Christmas eve), and it was not a let down in the least bit. I know this will make its way back into my DVD player a few more times in the future, that's for sure.

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Memories of Murder – Bong Joon-ho is best known to horror fans for his solid character driven monster flick, The Host, but the one film of his I had been itching to check out was Memories of Murder, staring Kim Roe-Ha and the great Song Kang-ho. I totally missed out on this one when it was on Netflix watch instantly for a short time and had been kicking myself ever since, so I'm thrilled to have finally caught up with this wonderfully crafted little crime drama.

Undisputed III: Redemption – Completely skipping over Undisputed 2, I watched and absolutely loved Isaac Florentine's Undisputed III. In fact, I loved it enough to where my girl thought it would be a great DVD for me to own, and she was right. I will certainly be talking about this one again in the near future, as well as seeking out the second film in the series!

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Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy – I have been wanting to see this crazy four hour long documentary for sooo long, and thanks to the power of Christmas, I now own it. I am a Freddy guy up and down and have seen all of the films more than most horror fans of my generation pretend to have seen them (why do I act proud of that?). The Nightmare series is my favorite horror series and with a true love for film docs, this was like being in heaven. I blasted through the doc in a two night span during the hours when I should have been sleeping (how fitting), and I can't believe how fast it flies by. Fantastic!

Now that I've shared with you the great movie related gifts I received this holiday, I would love to hear what wonderful gifts you may have been given.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Freddy's Christmas Eve Dance Party: Christmas Shoes Edition!

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It's Christmas eve and despite it being such a wonderful time, I get the suspicious feeling that you could use a little pick me up. Some inspiration to do good for your fellow man which will only help you feel whole and give you the sense of poignancy you deserve. I think I know just the right band to do it, and that's NewSong (one word?). When I hear of a band with a name like NewSong, I figure they are one of two things (and maybe even a little bit of both), either a contemporary Christian group sent to the Earth to spread the word of the lord, or a boy band. I'm not sure of the difference, but I am aware that NewSong's song, Christmas Shoes (which is a prequel to their 1999 breakout hit, Easter Dress), makes me stop and realize how important it is to have a hot new pair of kicks.

You see, this video, the lyrics, the clear merchandising message to buy shoes and help the economy, thus ending terrorism, as well as just how pretty it's sung, only makes my heart grow fonder this holiday season. However, it is all slightly soured when I have to look at the disrespectful dude singing this beautiful Christmas song. I mean, spread the good word, brother, but I would appreciate it if you could take what '20 seconds' to put some gel in your hair? It's Christmas, dog, and you're wearing a hat like it's fucking Thanksgiving and shit. Show some respect. I know your standing around uncomfortably with a bunch of your boys and don't wanna look like a chump with a nicely done up hairdo, but that shit went out the door with that 32 foot long red scarf you wore. This isn't This Old House, so get it together if you want to sell me the good word.

You know what, come to think of it, that dude actually looks really familiar…

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Sorry man, you get a pass this time. The hat's all yours.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa With Muscles: It's like Robocop 3….With Muscles

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Well before Bill Goldberg stepped foot in a sleigh with 2005's Santa's Slay, it was 1996 that gave us the original buff Santa with the 1996 Hulk Hogan family/action/comedy/drama/tentacle porn vehicle, Santa With Muscles. Directed by John Murlowski (who has directed at least four Christmas films, a movie called Cop Dog and an Amityville sequel), Santa With Muscles has the distinct honor of being in the bottom 100 on IMDB, which calls to me as much as the top 100 films do. And what doesn't speak to me more than a Christmas film from the 90s staring Terry "Hulk" Hogan as a jacked up Santa that's trying to help save an orphanage? How about you add in Clint Howard as a bumbling cop, Garrett Morris as, well, as no one that was really worth the time, sadly, and Ed Begley Jr. as the film's villain, and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a merry good time.

In the first five minutes of Santa With Muscles, things start out with a serious bang as the viewer is introduced to Blake, while engaged in a hand-to-hand battle with a gardener whom he tells "never stop to smell the roses" after kicking his ass. Next, Blake goes on to fight a chef, a chauffeur and then the gardener again, who attacks Blake with a weed whacker that does very little against Blake's serving platter shield. Seriously, I was pumped harder than a Jersey Shore fist as this was going down. As it turns out, this was all just the daily workout regimen of fitness guru, Blake Thorne, a rich kid that became even richer (and greedier) as he grew older and more successful. The only things that matter to Blake are his physique, money, himself and having fun, despite the rules.

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It's Blake's reckless/careless attitude that creates a run in with the law, namely Clint Howard, who's character Hinkley proves that competency is not an attribute found in B-Movie police officers. Blake takes refuge in a mall, disguising himself as a mall Santa, but his costume doesn't fool Hinkley and before you can say HO-HO-H…Blake takes a shitter down a trash chute, getting knocked the fuck out in the process. Can you guess what happens next? That's right, Blake has amnesia and it just so happens that there is a down on his luck mall elf named Lenny (Don Stark) that was offered a fifty spot to find Santa before all the kids waiting to see him go into anarchy mode. You see, Lenny is in deep with a bookie, and when he finds an unconscious Blake he sees an opportunity to get to his money by fooling him into believing that he is indeed, Santa Clause. With Muscles. And blond hair. And a golden tan. And  daughter named Brooke.

This newborn Santa discovers his path as he is attempting to play mall Santa, when a group of punks try to steal donation money from a local charity. They are noticed by a young bystander who yells for help, and the golden look of "someone's getting their ass kicked in!" that comes across Blake's face is quite priceless. Needless to say, there is an ass whopping of deserving proportions that pumps up all the bystanders and the children. Santa is a hero. But his heroic efforts are not yet finished as he realizes that the orphanage that the charity was for needed his help. He wasn't sure why he knew this but he did (it was in the script) and with a reluctant Lenny in tow, off he went to save the orphans!  As it surprisingly turns out, the orphanage did need Santa's help as the threat of being shut down by a germaphobic mad scientist named Ebner Frost (Ed Begley, Jr.) was lurking ever so closely.   

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Now, mad or not, why would anyone want to shut down an orphanage? I mean, I guess if you really hate Annie you might want to, but otherwise I see no point. Well, that is unless there's a secret cavern underneath said orphanage. A secret cavern containing some incredibly rare and priceless rocks, the kind that sparkle and illuminate but also have the tendency to explode. Thankfully one of the orphans (played by a pre-hot Mila Kunis) learned about them in school and has the perfect memory to be able to tell the adults exactly what they were and what exactly causes them to blow-up. This was actually a place where the kids hung around from time-to-time, and the fact that there was a cavern under the orphanage where the kids would hang out, but the people who took care of those kids never once thought about checking it out, is kind of odd. I mean, those kids are orphans and all, meaning, they could be doing all sorts of bad shit down there - like making meth and babies - and no one would be the wiser. Great job, adults.

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So for much of the film it's Blake in a modded Santa suite vs Ebner Frost and his baddies, filled with heart warming interactions with a bunch of kids that are only a little lame. And of course, there is plenty of over-the-top action to be found. I mean, I never thought I would see a cop try and use a bazooka to take down a criminal that would be facing no more than a reckless endangerment charge. In fact, isn't using a bazooka in public considered reckless endangerment? I also never thought I would see Blake Thorne's low-fat brand of salad dressing used as an oil slick to send a police car off its course. The action isn't the only aspect where Santa With Muscles shows up with a sack full of joy. I actually heard one of the orphans use the line: "see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!" And of course, everyone laughs and cheers about it. It's amazing. But not as amazing as the moment where the little girl sings actual magic in the church. If I could describe it, I would, but I dare not embarrass myself by trying. Just trust me on this one.

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I don't think I've even come close to giving this film its due justice with this review. I only feel as if I barely touched the surface of what makes Santa With Muscles a romp worthy of at least one night of laughter every holiday season, but trust me, this is some cherishable crap. Any film where a bad guy uses an oversized candy cane as a bo staff has a piece of my heart. It's gold. Fucking silver and gold.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CNAMB Presents: Presents! Part one

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I know it's not quite Christmas yet, but I did participate in a sort of Secret Santa (that's not so secret and is officially dubbed, Kringle – it's a Canadian thing) as a part of the wonderful The Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema community. I did it last year and got some serious goodies, and this time around was no different. The person who had me in this cinematic filled gift exchange was none other than Zach, who many of you may know as T.L. Bugg, the man behind The Lightning Bug's Lair!

Now, because of the whirlwind that went on with some lame-O contest recently, I never had the opportunity to write about the awesome experiences I had at Horrorhound Weekend in Cincinnati back in November. Well, now's not the time, but it was very awesome and I spent not nearly enough time with a whole lot of amazing people that I had physically met for the first time, one of whom was Zach. So, what did Zach get me in this gift exchange? Well, the question should probably be what didn't he get me, because this was some serious shit he sent my way. Allow me to show you…

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From left across the top starts with a little Hip-Hop and food related reading material - a clamshell VHS copy of Kill the Golden Goose (staring Ed Parker!) – a VHS copy of Hurricane Smith – a VHS copy of American Ninja (which will look nice next to my copy of American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt!) – and the final VHS belongs to, The Glove (!)!

Down on the bottom from left to right (all DVD) starts with Abel Ferrara's 'R Xmas – an Exploitation Cinema Double Feature featuring the films Mausoleum and Blood SongTeenage Catgirls in Heat – Alex Cox's Straight Hell – and last but certainly not least, Star Knight, a film I had not heard of until I read a review over at the Bug's place. I'm in for a good time from what I remember. 

So while this is a whole ton of awesome, the coolest of the cool for me is that copy of The Glove (!) on VHS. You may or may not know (or care, for that matter) that the first blog review I ever wrote was for The Glove. Heck, I was even lucky enough to be able to talk a bit about the film with the great John Saxon himself. So yeah, that shit is cool.

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So this post is a bit bloated, but I was simply too excited about this great package I received and I simply had to share it with you all. Thanks so much to Zach for these incredible gifts, and I hope to one day repay him by letting him open up my package! Wait?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where My Monster Video Watch-Dogs At?!

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The latest issue of BThroughZ is upon us, and with that comes yet another mediocre review from yours truly. This month I take a look at 1984's Monster Dog, a werewolf film directed by the great Claudio Fragasso. As if having the maestro behind Troll 2 wasn't enough poop in this bowl, Monster Dog also stars one Alice Cooper, which creates the perfect opportunity for a few incredible musical set pieces (as you'll see in the video below). Check out my review (by clicking HERE!), and while you're at it, check out the slew of other great articles found inside this wonderful online zine.  

Since we're sort of on the subject of magazines, I wanted to mention that the upcoming issue of Video Watchdog (issue 160 to be exact) contains a contribution from good friend of CNAMB, Jeff Allard. You may know Jeff from his blog, Dinner With Max Jenke, and if you do, then you know what a fantastic writer Jeff is as well as being an extremely knowledgeable horror fan. Jeff's featured piece is an in-depth look back at one of my favorite genre TV shows growing up, Friday the 13th: The Series! Video Watchdog is without a doubt one of the finest genre magazines in publication and it's made all the finer with Jeff involved, so I encourage you all to show some support and pick up the issue. I just got mine in the mail and am ecstatic to read Jeff's article, and I certainly want to congratulate him on this greatly deserved achievement!

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Black Christmas 2006: Just Like the One I Used to Know?

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I won't bother going into the boring details of my personal thoughts on remakes as that always seems to be so much of the focus when actually sitting down to review one. It's almost as if you need to explain your stance beforehand. It's as simple as I enjoy them so long as they are good, which is the case with any film I watch, essentially. Last Death-cember brought about a review of Bob Clark's Black Christmas, a film that I simply adore for a number of reasons, many of which you can learn about by reading that review. Go ahead, I'll wait for you to read it…back already? Okay, so It's a year later now, and I figured it would be kind of fun (heavy focus on kind of) to watch and review the 2006 remake of, Black Christmas. So that's what I did, obviously. I mean, I am writing a review for it, aren't I?

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Moving on, the film has a basic set-up with a group of sorority sisters getting knocked off one-by-one on Christmas Eve. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much as things take a complicated turn when it is revealed as to why someone is killing them. As opposed to the original film, there is no actual mystery as to who is behind the murders. *SPOLIERS!* In fact, it's all simply laid out on the table in what is a number of lengthy and obnoxiously overbearing flashbacks, detailing a story about some creep ball named Billy, whom was locked in the attic for many years after he witnessed his abusive mother and her new boy toy murder his father.

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Now, Billy's ma dukes is, well, to put it simply, cock hungry and one night when her man is too drunk to fuck, she decides that it's time make up for all the years of abuse she put him through by going up in the attic and banging him. Naturally, this one time encounter results in Billy's mom becoming pregnant with her own son's child. I know, gross. Oh, and if that wasn't strange enough, I should probably mention that Billy is yellow? Like, for whatever reason, dude has yellow skin and that is partially why his mother hated him, even though she would eventually bone him. Yellow. Multivitamin colored urine, yellow. All of this whacky nonsense results in a murder spree thanks to a recently escaped from a mental asylum Billy and his inbred daughter, who looks a lot like Nicole Bass, come to think of it. *END SPOILERS!*

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Black Christmas - or, Black X-Mas as it was sometimes marketed as when trying to capture the attention of those kids and their skateboards – is a remake of a film that is considered to be very influential on the Slasher and horror genre. It's looked at as a classic of sorts. This time around, you have a film that is influenced by the success of remakes and in return is lumped in with an era of unoriginality. It would seem to have the exact opposite reputation of its influence, and essentially does little to discern itself from the pack, despite its incredibly odd backstory. 

Even though I somewhat appreciate the bold (and bonkers) story choices that were made in a Hollywood driven remake, it all feels so cheap. Like, if you really need to spend more than 25 minutes explaining backstory, you are doing no service to the characters at hand. You know, the ones we are supposed to care about in the present day. Not that they're the types of horror characters that one can actually feel for as they are about as interesting as a mouth full of yellow starburst and all that blame can be placed solely on the writing. This is a group of female characters that are as uninspired and uninteresting as it gets, which is very unfortunate with a cast that is actually very solid.

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The mostly all female cast consist of a slew of familiar faces, many of which I actually really enjoy watching on screen. Of course, I may be biased as I find most of the actresses to be more than easy on the eyes, and this is certainly a great looking cast for sure, but I do appreciate them for their acting as much as their physical appeal. I mean, casting Lacey Chabert and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is certainly a positive mark for me, but to give them no meat to chew on (yowza!) with their bland characters, then they are nothing more than good actresses that are being used simply as objects of visual stimulation. The actresses aren't challenged with characters that have depth nor are they interesting in any way, shape or form. Pretty girls in a film that seems to be a little too much about veneer, which doesn't end with the cast.

I'm sure many would be quick to piss on it, but in my opinion, Black Christmas is actually a pretty solid film on a technical level. It's not comparable to the original, at all, but there are a fair share of standout shots to be found in the film. In addition, what is possibly the only thing that writer/director Glen Morgan semi-successfully carried over from the '74 film is a nice looking Christmas aesthetic. To be fair, there is no way someone could recreate the awesome holiday look of the original without making a movie set in the 70s (and I would LOVE to see Ti West take a shot), but I would say that this is close to as good as can be done for a modern day set holiday tale. I simply love Christmas decorations, and right from the first shot of the film, with a great looking house covered in fat Christmas light bulbs, I actually became incredibly pumped for the movie. What can I say, I'm easily memorized by pretty lights and colors. And women.

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In the end, there are just barely enough positives that keep Black Christmas from being a complete lump of coal. There are a good amount of kills, most of which are decent but they are also very repetitive. It seems the only way someone can die in this movie is to be stabbed in the eye(s) with a bag over their head. As far as modern day Slasher films go, Black Christmas is sub par, but not a complete loss. The wild Billy backstory, the pretty Christmas lights, the attractive cast and a scene where Billy eats flesh made Christmas cookies makes Black Christmas worth at least a viewing. It's the type of holiday Slasher film that will be nice to pop in every few years when something different is needed outside of the usual suspects.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Great Gift Ideas For: Brundlefly

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What exactly does one get when Christmas shopping for someone like a post transformation Seth Brundle? It's not as easy as you'd think. Brundlefly's physical form is quite odd in its shape, so a nice holiday sweater is out of the question. He's not so much into his looks, either, so you can forget about picking him up a 6 month gym membership with unlimited tanning. And without actual ears, what would be the point of getting him an iPod?

If you're shopping for a picky person, or fly, such as Brundlefly, you have to think outside the box and maybe take a look at his interests and likes. What is his passion? Well, family unity is clearly first thing on his mind, so why not try and go for a gift certificate to the Olive Garden? It's the perfect present for a family that is in need of a little bonding, and boy do those breadsticks taste so great, especially 'cause they're endless! Just make sure you go when it's not too busy, you know, because Brundlefly has not the greatest of table manners.

One thing I notice is, when Brundlefly is off working those late nights breaking into abortion clinics, he needs to take a break but just doesn't have the time to stop somewhere to pick up a quick sip to eat. It's a clinic-to-clinic lifestyle he lives. So, I'm thinking a nice 24oz thermos would make for the perfect solution for a fly on the go. Hey, you could even fill it with some meat and vegetables before wrapping it, then the entire family will laugh and clap as they watch as he pukes on it so it dissolves and becomes a form in which is edible for him. Hey look, he's making fresh Olive Garden alfredo sauce! YUM!

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Lastly, I know I sometimes like to buy my mother an adorable Christmas ornament as a present. It's a great way to remind her about how disappointed she is in me when she goes to decorate her tree year after year. The problem is, what kind of ornaments are out there that a fly/human hybrid would enjoy hanging every holiday season? Well, here's where you can get creative. What do flies love? C'mon…think about it. That's right, they love shit! Now, how about a nice home made ornament made out of some form of feces? It's cheap and you can decorate it with glitter, put your picture on it, heck, you can even stick a candy cane through it if it's soft enough. Now, imagine Brundlefly's face when he hangs up an ornament that he can actually call his own. This Christmas is turning out, AWESOME!!   

So there you have it. When shopping for someone like Brundlefly, sometimes you just have to think outside the pod. Happy shopping, kiddies!

P.S. I am fully aware that this entire post is probably null and void due to the fact that there is a 99% chance that Brundlefly is Jewish. I do believe, however, that the fly was Irish catholic, so it works.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

All I Want For Christmas…

…Is to learn how to break dance! I mean, I already have the sick moves, ya know, but I need to get to that next level if I want to even come close to competing in the 10th annual Saint Mary's church group dance-off. I think that our friend, Alfonso Ribeiro, is just the man to get me there.     

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jan Terri's Christmas Dance Party!

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While so many enjoy their holiday celebration with classic songs such as, White Christmas, Little Drummer Boy, O Holy Night and so on and so forth, I prefer to spend my chilly evenings snuggled up to the first lady of funk, Jan Terri.  Thankfully for me (and frankly, for all of us), Jan has a Christmas classic of her own and, much like her personality, it has a touch of sass that's not often found in your average holiday jam. 

See, the thing about Jan is she actually tells a story with her music. With Rock and Roll Santa, Jan has a tale to tell, a tale involving a walk near, well, something I actually couldn't make out, when suddenly Jan sees something she cannot believe!?! Santa Claus jammin' and wockin' on a GUITAR inside of some store that clearly sells nothing. Nothing but sex for Santa, apparently. I mean, it's obvious that when you're a guitar playing Santa, you have no problem commanding bitches to sit on your lap. If you can snag Jan Terri for a seat on your north pole, on top of all those other girls (and even a dude!), then you truly are rock and roll, Santa. 

As with all Jan Terri videos, there is an incredible focus on production value. From Jan's incredible puffy winter coat and red shoes ensemble, to the concert hall where Santa spends his time rocking out, this is grade A art direction we're dealing with here. Most importantly is the way in which this music video was shot. Rock and Roll Santa's DP pulls out all the stops to convey the spirit of Christmas, with amazing shots of mall decorations, store front displays that aren't even Christmas related and of course, Jan making hard moves next to some river. Hot. Hot in a nice Christmas way, of course. After watching this, it is clear that the only thing I want or need for Christmas is, Jan Terri to strum my guitar string, wock and woll style.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Death Hunt: Hunting For Catfish

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I had surprisingly heard very little about 1981's Death Hunt, and the reason I say surprisingly is because Death Hunt contains a cast that testosterone dreams are made of. The top billed actors are Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin, two actors that are top tier cinema tough guys with enough rugged presence to chap your lips. Loosely based on a true story, Bronson plays Albert Johnson, a lone wolf trapper in the Canadian mountains that runs into a group of dirtballs at the tail end of a vicious dog fight. Johnson quickly makes enemies with the crew of jackals when he forcibly saves the losing dog moments from it's deathbed. This pisses off the dogs owner as well as his easily influential and simple minded pals, so they try to seek vengeance by attacking Johnson at his remote cabin, where things do not go their way when one of them ends up dead.

deathhunt8This is where Lee Marvin's character is introduced, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant named Edgar Millen. After the incident at Johnson's place, the leader of the crew and deathhunt1the dogs owner, Hazel (Ed Lauter), lies and says that Johnson attacked them, instead of vice versa. Knowing that Hazel and his crew are probably not being truthful, Millen still has to take Johnson in for questioning. Unfortunately, after a botched attempt at a friendly confrontation, Johnson is forced to protect his freedom, going on a defensive run from the law and taking out whomever makes the mistake of getting in his way.

Outside of Bronson and Marvin, Death Hunt has a vast role of characters that played by some great character actors of the past, many that most should recognize. I already brought up Ed Lauter as the sort of main antagonist, but there are also small roles as backup baddies played by people from Maury Chaykin to William Sanderson. Andrew Stevens also stars as the youthful and straight laced Constable Alvin Adams, who joins up with the very contrasting Millen character and his partner Sundog, who is played by Carl Weathers. Oh, did I forget to mention Carl Weathers is in this film? Yeah, can you smell the Stetson yet? Or should I say, Mandom?

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With two fantastic tough guy leads, a cast of great character actors, a snowy mountain setting and you have yourself what is a perfect recipe for brooding action success. Well, maybe not perfect, but luckily, Death Hunt doesn't let down and while there is not a lot of wild action on screen, the action that is produced is exciting and worth a jump kick of joy. Death Hunt is much more of a character driven film and has the heart and soul of a western in almost everyway outside of the year in which it's set.

deathhunt2What really works best is how much depth the characters have and how they interact with one another. There are these little moments of honest interaction that are deathhunt5handled in a very subdued but telling fashion. Small things like Weather's character – while drinking heavily with Millen, Adams and an Eskimo woman of great size – reveals that his birth name is George Washington Lincoln Brown. Millen clearly has ribbed him for this presidential heavy name in the past and how it is shared with the new kid on the block is just a nice and real moment, showing that there is true history between the characters - a dynamic. These are moments that may bore some but for a film fan like myself, I find them to be fascinating.

deathhunt9There are many unsaid elements to Death Hunt, one of them being a strange but unsurprising bound that Millen and Johnson share with one another. They contrast each othdeathhunt10er heavily in how they live their lives, but the kind of men they are, is what makes them very similar to one another. Millen is leading the posse to find and capture Johnson, and he is the only man around with the capabilities and smarts to do it. Before these events, Millen is a grumpy, bitter and uncaring man on the surface. There are small glimpses of the real him (in front of a girlfriend of sorts, played by Angie Dickinson), but he keeps much of it bottled up (especially in front of other men), until he finds a purpose worthy of his time and skill...chasing a very dangerous wanted man through unsafe conditions.      

Millen also has a strong respect for Johnson and knows he is a man that is very dangerous, but it is his job to stop him, and he is the only man with the ability to do so. There is even a moment when he says the reason he should be the one to stop Johnson is, Johnson deserves to be stopped by him, meaning, not by some shmuck with no clue or sense of respect, much like the guys that started all of this. While Johnson and Millen only meet face to face for no more than a minute, both of these men have a bound that grows out of this understanding of one another. These are two men that believe in honor and respect and while they are in opposite positions, they show consideration for those positions. That is where the film is strongest is the ungraspable bond that these 'real' men share.

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Death Hunt was directed by Peter (don't call me Death) Hunt, and the film has a wonderful aesthetic with the frigid setting. I simply love the winter gear worn by the characters, with the big ass furry snow boots and hats made from some sort of dead animal. However, I watched it on instant view and the transfer they had looked a little tight and unflattering to what might otherwise look like a gorgeous film. I would love to see a proper version of the movie, that's for sure. Either way, Death Hunt is well made and thought out character study with a top notch cast and so much testosterone that I had to shave nine times during the film's runtime.

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