Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Skill of Gymnastics. the Kill of Paracinema!


With October being just around the corner, I've been keeping myself quite busy gearing up for the Fourth Annual Chucktober Festival of Lights, but I've also been keeping my pretty little behind busy doing up a handful of guest posts for other blogs, one of which I'm going to talk about right now! As you can see from the banner above, Back Online. Back On Duty is celebrating one of my favorite genres of cinema with Yeah! Guns 'n Shit! 80s Action Week, and the always chiseled and flexing Eric was sweet enough to ask me to participate. Naturally, I was ecstatic, so I grabbed my button fly jeans, a handful of baby oil and a pair of black snake skin boots and got to writing up a Gymnasty review of the greatest Karate meets Gymnastics movie ever made, EVER!, 1985's Gymkata! So, now I ask you to please, after you're done with this post, head on over to Back Online. Back On Duty to read my review of Gymkata. And while you're there, check out all the other sweat drippin' action goodies that Eric has in store!

paracinema 17

While I have your adorable yet slightly melon shaped eyes adorned with the beauty of my words, I'd like to take a moment and step away from the pummel horse to pimp out the latest issue of the greatest genre cinema magazine ever put to magazine, Paracinema! Issue 17 of Paracinema Magazine is STACKED with some seriously awesome articles from people who are equally as awesome as the articles they have written. And, like Gallery Furniture, that's no bull.   

Check out some of what's in store!

“Endemic Madness”: Subversive 1930s Horror Cinema
by Jon Towlson

Of Bonsai and Balance: The Hero’s Journey in The Karate Kid
by Patrick Cooper

You Can Clean Up the Mess, But Don’t Touch My Coffin: The Legacy of Sergio Corbucci’s Django
by Ed Kurtz

Be Kind, No Need to Rewind: The Preservation, Demand and Ubiquity of Shot on VHS Cinema in an Increasingly Digital Landscape
by Justin LaLiberty

I Don’t Want to See What I Hear: Paranoia and Personality Eradication in The Conversation
by Todd Garbarini

Black Cats and Black Gloves: The Influence of the Gothic on Sergio Martino’s Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key
by James Gracey

What did I tell you? STACKED! The Conversation? The Karate Kid? Django? 30's Horror? VHS? Your Vice is a Locked Room?!

If you haven't been reading Paracinema Magazine, then issue 17 is about as good any to start with, and it's only $7!! Head over to Paracinema and pre-order issue 17 right now, unless you want to know how it feels to be sad, because without Paracinema, you are indeed a sad, sad person.


Monday, September 17, 2012

In Defense of Hostel: Part II (2007)

Hostel Part 2 Poster

I think it's fair to say that Eli Roth is easily one of the most divisive names among horror fans. Whether it be his films, his “Teddy fucking ballpark” acting, or even the man himself, Roth has found a way to leave an impression on horror fans that ranges from unmitigated adoration to complete repulsion. While his filmography is still in an infantile state with the amount of directorial output he has produced, Roth has made quite the impact on the genre since his 2002 debut, Cabin Fever.

Regardless of the fact that both Cabin Fever and his sophomore effort, 2005's Hostel, have split a small rift in how they are received by horror fans, Cabin Fever has a decent cult following while Hostel is the template of -- and will likely be looked back upon as a major piece of -- the genre that would come to be branded "Torture Porn." To label either Hostel or Cabin Fever as being unfairly underappreciated would be a tad unfitting, as each film has garnered a decent amount of fandom in some fashion. Nevertheless, Eli Roth has directed one other notable horror movie, and it's actually one that I truly enjoy; however, it's also a film that seems to chap the average horror fan's ass in the harshest of way, and that would be his follow up to Hostel: 2007's Hostel: Part II.

Now, I should be clear that when I say that "I truly enjoy" Hostel: Part II, I may be underplaying it a bit because, quite frankly, I very much LOVE Hostel: Part II. In fact, I find it to be one of the rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor in almost every way. Now, there's no denying the fact that Hostel: Part II is, at its core, the same story as what was found in the original. It's certainly a valid observation, but not so much a valid complaint when it's something we've seen more than once before, most notably with The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, for example.

Hostel Part 2 (1)

Swapping out the boys for a group of young women, Hostel: Part II does somewhat follow the same premise as Hostel, but what the sequel does differently is expand upon what was done in the first movie. Most notably, it gives the audience an inside look into how Elite Hunting functions as an entity, even giving a second story arc to two men who are to poised to partake in the murders of two of the film's main protagonists. Giving a background or a backstory to characters, or what have you, in a horror sequel or a reboot often proves to be tedious and unnecessary. In the case of Hostel: Part II, it works as a fairly brilliant way to break up the monotony of that familiar plot line the girls follow, while also, and more importantly, serving an actual purpose to the story. Giving a face (and the time to go with it) to the protagonists doesn't take away from the value of the female characters, as they are clearly the focus of Hostel: Part II. Sharing the spotlight with "the killers" doesn't pull away from the focal point of this sequel; it simply works as a parallel to it. It's very much like watching a game of cat and mouse but from both points of view.

One of the things that works best in Hostel: Part II is the always lingering and uncertain threat that seems to follow the female protagonists, no matter where they are or who they're with. It's never clear exactly who can be trusted, and the fact that they're in a foreign land only compounds the danger of it all. And for me, Roth really comes through with bringing these moments to life in ways that are quite tense, keeping Hostel: Part II's horror qualities from being solely focused on the torturous aspects, which is something that was an issue (for some) with the first film.

Hostel Part 2 (2)

One of the strongest moments in particular is when the film's main focus, Beth, awakens from a short nap at a geothermal spa only to find that everyone has disappeared, her belongings included. The frigid, steam-filled setting is absolutely striking and grandiose in a way where the surroundings begin to dwarf Beth, making her sudden seclusion all the more imposing. However, that seclusion is eradicated when Beth is approached by a group of men who clearly mean her harm. Suddenly, and without warning, the massive and comforting environment begins to squeeze in on her, leaving Beth with no choice but to try to escape the cage that is fastly forming around her. It's a fantastic moment, and one that shows Roth's maturity as a director.         

Something else that stands out greatly for me with Hostel: Part II are the female characters, specifically Beth, who is played fantastically by Lauren German. I think most people chalk the women of Hostel: Part II up to being no more than boobied versions of the guys from the first film. This is something I cannot completely disagree with, specifically when it comes to Bijou Phillips' character Whitney, but Beth steps out from the pack for being what I consider a fantastic example of a truly strong female character.

Hostel Part 2

In many ways, Beth could be considered a final girl, except for the typical Slasher final girl is somewhat shy and non confrontational, that is, until it's their time to shine comes in the final act. Beth, on the other hand, is shown to be a headstrong and self assured woman a number of times throughout the film, and where her character ends up in the finale is mirrored by her actions throughout the movie. I think this becomes apparent during an early altercation where a scummy European guy calls Beth a "cunt." Instead of cowering away from the confrontation, she launches right back at him, flat out telling the guy to "fuck off." Beth doesn’t show even the slightest sign of being intimidated, and this plays out greatly in the final moments of the film where she takes complete control of the situation she is in, therefore allowing herself a chance to escape. And when Beth is once again referred to as a cunt, well, the results are about as bloody satisfying as it gets.  

I won't sit here and claim that Hostel: Part II is without its flaws, but all around it's a very well crafted film, and one that I consider to be quite an enjoyable watch. With the specific sub-genre that it falls into, I can accept the fact that this isn't the type of film that everyone will enjoy, but personal taste, as well as negative feelings about the director as a person, shouldn't dictate whether or not a movie is good (well, most of the time). It's not a perfect film, but it works perfectly for me, which, in the end, is all that matters. 

This look at Hostel: Part II is my contribution to Full Moon Reviews "Sequel September." Make sure you stop by Full Moon reviews for all the other sequel goodies that Fred the Wolf and others have cooked up for the month! 

FMR - Sequel September 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Baby Babble: Chopping the LAMB and Other Random Nonsense

Chopping Mall Movie Poster 

*Burp* I seriously cannot believe it's been an entire month since I've posted anything. It's not like I don't have anything I could post, it's just that I'm weird, so stop looking at me like that, okay! I will be posting some shit soon, I promise, but for this moment in time I have a few things to go over with you, so sit back, relax and allow me to take you on a journey to the other side… of your mind!

First up, Jason of Invasion of the B-Movies and Nolahn of Barging Bin Review were kind enough to once again allow me to join them for an episode of The Lair of the Unwanted. In this awesome episode, we talk about the '80s killer robot masterpiece, Chopping Mall, and I also play The Game of the Unwanted, in which I had to put up my trivia dukes and show my knowledge of Mall stores as well as Wes Craven's Scream. We also did an off-the-cuff version of Ask the LAMB (which I will go over in a little more detail in just a sec.), so make sure you tune in, drop out and turn it up! Or however that saying goes.  


Alright, as I mentioned in the last paragraph, there is this thing called Ask the LAMB, a somewhat new feature over at The Large Association of Movie Blogs that gives readers the opportunity to ask a handpicked ragtag group of LAMB members (myself included) a question. Generally the questions are movie related, and so far we've been hit up with some pretty interesting (and sometimes strange) inquiries, and the result is some even more interesting and often hysterical answers.

Here's the question I was lucky enough to tackle this time around: 

Yahoo! User #9 Asks:
I'm an aspiring director. I'm looking to shoot my own short film. I
have actors & a hotel room. Any ideas?

If you'd like to read my answer or submit a question of your own, head over to The LAMB for more!


Last things last, though this is a case where last is certainly not least, I went an entire month without even mentioning Halloween on this blog, and I sort of did that on propose. You see, I kind of killed Halloween last year with getting way into it way too soon, and by the time the actual day had arrived, I was a little worn out. This is something that I thought could never happen. Now, there were other factors that played into this fatigue, but I didn't want to take the risk of letting something like that happen again, so I figured I'd take it nice and smooth, just the way you like it. 

Anyway, I cannot go on any longer without mentioning that Halloween is indeed on it's way, and with it comes the fourth annual celebration known as Chucktober! And while I have been keeping my Halloween and Chucktober excitement bottled up for the most part, don't think that it hasn't been on my mind for the past month, because it certainly has, and I am extremely excited! I've already begun putting some stuff together for what I hope will be the finest Chucktober yet, with some returning features, a handful of movie reviews and whatever other random shit pops up between now and "the big day." I know I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you do, too!  

Alrighty, I've already taken enough of your time up, so for now I shall leave you with this…

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