Eclipse (2010)

JUNE 30, 2010


Hey, I was (sort of) wrong! If you read my review for Bitten, you’d know that I figured that film would be the only decent vampire romance I saw this week, but Eclipse ain’t half bad. It’s not a good movie by any stretch, but it easily improves on the last film and in some ways even manages to top the first. As with that film, there were times I was genuinely enjoying the film during the action scenes and even a few of the soap-opera-y ones, and (while its fans would most certainly argue) the increased ridiculousness to the plotting kept me unintentionally entertained throughout (most of) the rest of it.

See, despite some hope after the initial installment, I am no longer under any illusion that the Twilight series will become a full blown vampire vs. werewolf series with a girl caught in the middle. I guess I could have just asked someone, but instead I went in blind to the 2nd film, and was rewarded with what seemed like even LESS action and story that got no more interesting, focusing on people who seemed fairly generic (i.e. the three the goddamn thing is about). So with expectations pretty low, I went into Eclipse (once again, the whole “The Twilight Saga” part of the title seemingly only exists on trailers and posters, apparently for the folks who may not be aware that it’s a sequel) figuring it was more of the same, and that it would only offer me a better grasp on the “story” for when I went into the 4th film, which thanks to Devin I know to be an epically stupid/hilarious conclusion to the series.

So how am I not tearing this one apart, as he and several others (who felt pretty much the same I did about the first two) did? It’s the shortest of the three, for starters, and there’s more action to boot. So it’s like, 25% action, as opposed to maybe 10 or so in the other two films. And the action’s actually pretty good - we finally see the vampires use their strength for something besides baseball, and we also see what happens when they are killed by brute force - they smash into little marble/glass type fragments, which never gets un-hilarious (my note says “Beat the sparkles out of them”). The wolves also look better, and we get to see them tussle with vamps instead of keeping their fighting off-screen like in the last film. It’s still bloodless, obviously, but there’s something sort of rewarding about seeing Jasper, who has mainly just stood around silently in the other films, pulling a dude’s arms off. My lady Alice (Ashley Greene) also gets to join in the fracas, which makes up for having less screen time this time around than in the previous film. There’s also a pretty nifty chase scene where the Cullens chase Victoria, who jumps over into wolf territory and starts getting chased by them as well. None of this stuff would make me forget about even the weakest action sequence in one of the Underworld films, but this is Twilight - I’m happy for ANYTHING that’s not magazine covers coming to (some) life over the latest track from Muse or Snow Patrol or whatever the fuck.

Plus, I always like the “two enemies team up to take on a mutual enemy” scenario, and the little moments where one of the Cullens saves a werewolf or the patriarchs of each family shake hands are quite nice. It would have been nicer if we had actually gotten to see the extent of their dislike of one another in the previous films, since only Edward and Jacob ever interact with one another (I think this is the first time we’ve even seen the “wolf pack” with ANYONE besides Bella), but it still works as intended, and I hope their bond strengthens with the next film, which seems to be a battle against the Volturi (who are represented only by Dakota Fanning and a few lackeys this time around; Michael Sheen apparently had too many political docudramas to shoot).

Sadly, the focus is still on the “love triangle” between Bella, Jacob, and Edward, which to me is the least interesting thing about the series. Not that I’m against romance or anything (I like Notting Hill!), but love triangles work best when the one in the middle doesn’t really have a clear better choice, as Bella does here (well, the REAL best choice is Mike, but that ship has clearly sailed). Because really, I don’t really see why she’d ever consider Jacob over Edward (I can’t believe I’m writing this), or even consider him at all. Maybe it’s Taylor Lautner’s performance, or maybe it’s just the way he’s written, but the guy is a fucking asshole, period. Edward may pull some shady shit every now and then, but in the end he’s a pretty good guy, and seems genuine when he tells Bella that she is free to decide between the two of them and things of that nature. Jacob, on the other hand, comes off as an abusive would-be rapist, who shouts things like “You love me, you just won’t admit it to yourself!” and constantly tries to steal her away from the guy she’s already with. Fuck you, dude! I get that he can offer her a warm body (this actually pays off in a delightfully stupid but kind of enjoyably uncomfortable scene where he has to keep her warm during a snowstorm, as Edward looks on) and won’t have to ‘turn’ her to be with her, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the most aggressive and borderline psychotic “romantic lead” I’ve ever seen in a film. Christ, even movies where the handsome guy is SUPPOSED to be a psychotic killer (like Valentine or whatever) present them in a more flattering light than Jacob comes across as here. At least in the last movie the two of them bonded over fixing a bike and stuff like that, but I don’t think there’s a single moment in this movie where he does anything besides practically yell at her for being with someone besides him.

Plus, once again, neither Stephenie Meyer nor screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg could be bothered to provide us with even the slightest understanding of why anyone wants Bella in the first place, let alone would go to such lengths for her. She’s hot, yes, but that seems to be about it, which means folks that don’t find Kristen Stewart attractive won’t even have that much of a reason. In over six hours of film I have yet to see her display a single emotion other than mopey, and she has no discernible talents or even interests. All I know about her is that she has a red truck and a hat. Yet not one but TWO dudes will put themselves and their entire families/clans in danger just to keep her in their company? Christ, at least Jess (Anna Kendrick, whose role is even further diminished - you folks at Summit DO know she’s the only one in this entire series that has or ever WILL have an Oscar nomination, right? Maybe use her a bit?) is the valedictorian, which tells us SOMETHING about her (she’s smart). Bella doesn’t even seem to go to school anymore.

Again, it’s the supporting characters that keep my slight interest from completely evaporating. I’m happy to report that Charlie (Billy Burke) has more to do this time, including a hilarious little bit where he “breaks up” a would-be fight between Edward and Jacob, and a scene where he tries to explain the birds and bees with Bella is probably the only moment where Kristen Stewart seems to be actively trying to be engaging. The Cullens also get a little more of a personality this time (except for the mom, who I think has one line in the entire movie despite always being around with the rest of them), including some all-too-brief flashbacks for Rosalie and Jasper (come on, where’s Alice’s backstory?). I could probably watch an entire movie showing how each of them got turned, as again, they seem to have more interesting lives than our trio of main characters, none of whom seem to have existed at all prior to meeting one another. Even when Edward talks about his past, he does so in a generic way, saying that “in his day men courted women and asked for their father’s permission”, not that HE specifically did those things. Likewise, Bella’s mom provides her with a quilt made out of T-shirts that they got on trips together, and I spent the rest of the scene trying to imagine Bella actually going out and doing something fun, or hell, doing ANYTHING besides look forlornly at someone in a forest. They don’t even bother to make her a klutz anymore.

If you read the books (or the aforelinked article), you know that the next film should feature Jacob falling in love with Bella’s baby (!) after Edward tears it out of her with his teeth (!!!), so its pretty likely that it will be the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE. And thus I look at this film as just sort of whetting the appetite for people like me, who don’t buy into any of this romance crap and look at the movies as a borderline comedy (I laughed my ass off several times in this one, particularly when two giant CGI wolves join two vampires “guarding” Bella outside her home, barely 10 feet from the street). And Pattinson seems to agree that this shit is goofy as hell, as he more or less laughs his way through a “serious” scene where he and Jacob discuss their forced partnership (and again, Jacob comes off as a complete asshole; Edward’s like “You’re not so bad” - TO A HALF-NAKED GUY SPOONING HIS GIRLFRIEND - and Jacob basically replies “I’m so much better than you”), and joins the rest of the world when he inquires whether or not the guy even owns a shirt. So if you go in with a similar state of mind, AND you’ve suffered through the lack of action in the other two films, then you will probably more or less enjoy this one as an improved form of time-waster, especially compared to the bulk of garbage this summer has offered us (I defy anyone to try to convince me that Killers or Jonah Hex is better than this). However, if you hate the series with a passion, nothing here will change your mind - like I said, it’s the same as the others, just shorter and more exciting per minute. And it’s the only summer movie in IMAX that hasn’t been shot in (or worse, converted to) 3D, so I applaud Summit and the film’s producers on their restraint.

Now, bring on Edward fucking Bella into paralysis! You can do that one in 3D, actually.

What say you?

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Bitten (2008)

JUNE 29, 2010


Knowing that I was about to subject myself to another faux vampire movie in the form of Eclipse, I was happy to find Bitten in my pile of screeners, as I figured if nothing else it would deliver on the title and show some fangs doing their thing, whereas Pattinson and co. would just sparkle and mope their way through another non-violent adventure. Oddly enough, in addition to the hoped-for bloodsucking (and lots of it!), it ironically offered a sort of romance as well, giving us a look at what an actual human/vampire couple would have to deal with, as opposed to, you know, fighting werewolves and playing baseball when it rains.

The setup is sort of genius, and I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before: a vampire falls in love with a night worker (in this case a paramedic), which presents a strain on their relationship - he’s at work during the only time she can go outside. But on the flipside, he already keeps his apartment dark during the day so he can sleep, making it an easy fit for her. I actually wish this was the focus of the movie, instead of a more generic “Guy is at first intrigued by his new vampire girlfriend but ultimately realizes how wrong it is and tries to end it” 2nd and 3rd act, but maybe someone can still make that “wants vs. needs” romantic vampire drama someday.

But even though it doesn’t really go into under-explored territory, it’s still pretty amusing, thanks to an always entertaining Jason Mewes (as the least likely paramedic ever, but that’s OK) and his frequent exchanges with his older partner, played by Richard Fitzpatrick. Again I sort of wish they had been a little more clever and simply let the guy know right from the start that she was a vampire, instead of hiding it from him (he finds out near the end in yet another largely standard moment), but it’s still sort of charming to hear them talk about women in a “can’t live with em, can’t live without em” way when the woman in question is a vampire.

In fact, anything to the script that could limit the number of F-bombs would be a good thing. I’m sure the always colorful Mewes threw a few in himself, but all three characters drop it in just about every line they have. Sometimes it pays off with a great line (“It’s like I want to fuck you and eat you at the same time!” she says to him after trying to bite him during sex), but for the most part it just sounds childish, as if written by someone who just discovered the word. And this is coming from me, a man who has been scolded by everyone from his mother to a waitress at Denny’s to Tom Atkins about his foul language.

There are also a few too many attempts at sitcom-y humor, most of which never pays off. Early on, Mewes is admonished by a convenience store clerk for messing up his just-mopped floor, and they have a big goofy argument, shot in zooms and close-ups. And over not one but TWO scenes of him trying to hide evidence, we hear a Sesame Street-level song about “cleaning up your mess” (once was way more than enough). I also never quite got why the days of the week were written in Spanish, accompanied by Mariachi incidental music. All of the characters are Caucasian, and the film was shot in Canada. So: huh?

But it’s a fun flick all the same, with a decent body count and even some genuine pathos near the end when Mewes realizes that he has to break up with her. You feel for the guy - he’s a paramedic who has to keep reviving junkies and other lowlifes; giving up his life for people that don’t appreciate theirs. And along comes a girl who has her own backwards lifestyle, so it should be an oddly perfect match, but it can’t work out. And again, with Twilight on my mind, I can’t help but feel like this is the only decent vampire movie I’m going to see this week, so that it actually had what felt like a genuine doomed relationship (as opposed to the hopelessly inert and forced one of the Twi-films) made it seem all the more enjoyable; I almost wish I had saved it for after Eclipse so I could sort of “rinse” myself with it. But hey, maybe Eclipse won’t be so bad after all, and I’ll have a nice back to back vampire double feature.

(Yeah, right.)

What say you?

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Blu-Ray Review: The Crazies (2010)

JUNE 29, 2010


I dug it in theaters, and I dug it again at home. While not perfect, Breck Eisner’s update of George Romero’s (equally flawed) The Crazies is, like the Dawn of the Dead remake, an action movie version of the original horror tale, with much of the social commentary stripped to the bone in favor of scares (many of which are effective) and big action sequences. Two approaches to the same story, both with merit. You can read my original review HERE, or keep reading for a sum up and a look at the DVD's bonus features.

That story is fairly simple: a plane carrying a powerful bio-weapon crashes into a river that fuels the town’s water supply, turning everyone who drinks it into a zombie-esque rageaholic. There is no other way of being infected (therein lies the “it’s not a zombie movie” argument), it all depends on whether or not you drank the water. Thus, after the initial signs of panic (and a quarantine), it becomes a bit of a Thing type scenario where you’re not sure if someone is infected or not. On a 2nd viewing, I found I would have probably liked a little more of that, but on the flipside, such scenarios can also lead to inconsistent plotting, with people turning “bad” much quicker than others just for the sake of a cheap scare.

It’s also the rare modern horror film (a remake at that) that favors adults over teens. Even the largely great 2004 Dawn had two teens that somehow managed to outlive grown adults (including trained officers). But here, our primary characters are three adults and one young lady (Friday the 13th’s Danielle Panabaker), and she’s given the least amount of screen time. They also hired capable actors giving good performances, instead of say, Idris Elba literally mumbling and sighing his way through Prom Night. I’ve been a fan of Tim Olyphant for years, and I like that he has finally managed to take on lead roles (thanks, Deadwood!) after countless supporting roles in big budget stuff like Gone in 60 Seconds. He’s got a slight Nic Cage-y quality to him, where he manages to take generic lines and situations and turn them into memorably quirky moments, such as in the car wash scene when his wife (Radha Mitchell, another welcome presence) reiterates their need to find a road out of town.

Backing him up is a star-making turn by Joe Anderson as his deputy and best friend, Russell. The focus of the film is more or less about Olyphant and Mitchell’s attempts to escape the town, with the other characters being there mainly to die, but that doesn’t mean that the script (by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright) doesn’t bother to characterize Russell beyond what is absolutely necessary, and Anderson’s game performance elevates the role even higher. In fact, I think the movie could have worked just as well without Mitchell’s character, as the bond between the two guys is strong enough to engage an audience. And I think that’s even more impressive when you consider that the film doesn’t really have a long stretch of time before the shit hits the fan; in fact, Anderson’s first scene is pointing out the first infected townsperson.

And it goes without saying that the action/scare scenes make for a top notch Blu-ray experience. Anchor Bay always delivers A+ transfers, and this is no exception. The car wash sequence is a particular highlight, as the strong video transfer handles the watery visuals with ease (water is famously one of the hardest things to compress for disc), making those POV shots of infected folks making their way toward the car (which is gradually being covered with soap, preventing them from seeing what is happening) all the more terrifying. Of course, with a great transfer comes poorer looking FX shots - the truck “race” at the end of the film looked cartoonish in theaters, and it looks even worse now, as you can see parts of Olyphant’s face disappearing into the green-screened backgrounds, and the explosions that come later give the thing all the realism of a PS2 cutscene. On the audio side, Mark Isham’s Carpenter-esque score sounds terrific throughout, as does the sound mix on the quieter, suspense driven scene, such as when they first enter the truck stop during the film’s climax.

The disc comes loaded with about 90 minutes of extras as well, most of which are worth a look. There’s a pretty standard making of that covers everything in quick “detail” (and where I learned that Anderson was English - dude's got a great American accent!) , but everything else is a cut above the usual marketing-driven fluff. There’s a nice piece about George Romero’s contributions to the genre, featuring new interviews with Don Coscarelli, Uncle Creepy, and Ryan Rotten, as well as some cast and crew from the Crazies remake obviously taken on set. It covers the original Crazies as well as his Dead films, discussing his tendency to make his horror films socially aware. It’s oddly lacking clips from Dawn and Day though, opting for stills instead of footage (both films are Anchor Bay titles), though of course the perennial public domain favorite Night is well represented. Then there are not one but TWO looks at the creation of the infected makeup; the first mostly covers the inspiration for the look (mainly rabies and tetanus victims), the second goes deep into the process of making someone up, from matching the skin color of the actor to adding appliances that can be manipulated just as easily as skin so that the actor can move normally. FX geeks will love this stuff, because it’s all practical, instead of watching a guy make a monster on his laptop. CGI is also represented, however, in a wordless “before and after” look at the progression of some of the FX shots, such as the great reveal of the plane in the water. Some trailers and two (of the four) motion comics round things out. The motion comics flesh out some of the back-story and experiences of minor characters, but they aren’t particularly necessary (nor are they as well produced as the Watchmen motion comics that came out in advance of the feature film - those set the standard for such things, in my opinion), and you can watch all four online for free, so I’m a bit puzzled by their inclusion. And as always, there’s a digital disc so you can enjoy the film on the tiniest screens you own.

And then of course there’s an audio commentary by Eisner, sadly joined by no one. To me, the best commentary tracks are the ones with a few people chatting their recollections and making fun of each other, but as far as solo tracks go it’s not too bad. He repeats a lot of the same information that’s on the other bonus features, but there’s a lot of other information to learn, such as the difficulty in finding a location for the finale, as truck stops by law are open 24 hours and they didn’t have the money/time to build a fully functioning one as required for the story, as well as pointing out some of the subtle homages to the original. He also hints at an alternate ending that “will be on the DVD” (it isn’t) and points out the credit for a ‘producer’ whom he had never met, so that’s kind of amusing. All in all, a pretty standard track; if you hated the film it won’t change your mind about it, and if you really dug it you’ll enjoy spending more time with it.

As I’ve said countless times, the best remakes are the ones that borrow the basic concept and little (or nothing) else. It’s not really fair to compare the two films, as both work as intended by their respective filmmakers who set out to make completely different versions of the story (as opposed to say, Nightmare on Elm St, which copied as much from the original as they possibly could without giving a thought to whether or not it still made sense within the context of what little they DID change). If you’re a kneejerker who hates any and all remakes, then have fun with your moronic approach to movies. For everyone else, they should find much to enjoy in this flick, and the generous supplements make the package all the more enticing.

Film score 8/10
AV Score: 9/10
Extras: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

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Ghosts Of Goldfield (2007)

JUNE 28, 2010


It’s getting to the point where I have very few options left at Blockbuster, as the chain is buying less and less copies of DTV stuff in favor of more copies of high profile stuff that they can rent a few times and sell “previewed” for a profit. After scanning the new release shelves (nothing eligible at ALL), I headed to the horror section, where I actually counted the number of movies I hadn’t seen. There were four, and Ghosts Of Goldfield was the only one that didn’t have any bonus material, which I am trying to avoid this week so I can finish up some other stuff (and play Lego Harry Potter!).

Hopefully it’s also the worst of the lot, because if not it’s going to be hard to gather up the enthusiasm to return for the others. It’s a typical DTV horror movie, in that it has one known actor (Roddy Piper) in a small but prominently featured on the trailer/DVD box role and a bunch of kids who can’t really act. This one’s a bit different in that one of them went on to score a role in Twilight, Mr. Kellan Lutz. And I usually think the guy’s pretty good (he’s my favorite character in Prom Night!), but he’s pretty awful here*, and his top billed role is seemingly a late-in-the-game decision to cash in on his Twi-fame, as he’s not the main character. In fact, there are several occasions in the first act of the film where he seems to be absent from the set entirely, as a master shot will reveal the other four kids without him, with his presence made up from badly inserted cutaways. It’s really odd. Once some of the others are dead he takes more of a central role, but the main character throughout is really Marnette Patterson, who apparently appeared in Nightmare on Elm St 5 (must have been one of the little jump roping girls).

That last act is also where the movie finally becomes tolerable, as instead of just wandering around a “creepy” (their description) abandoned hotel, they start dying (in surprisingly graphic manner) and running away from ghosts and such. It also has a downer ending that sees all of them killed and joining the other ghosts trapped in the hotel. Sweet!

But until then, yikes. Piper is awful in his 5 minutes of screentime, and the backstory is shockingly dull (some nonsense about a woman whose child was taken away from her). And the kids are as annoying as they get, especially the obligatory “stoner” friend who asks things like “What the hell is a portal?” and inadvertently fucks his friend’s girlfriend (he thinks it’s a ghost, if I am following the movie properly). This is supposed to be a really crushing moment, because he’s also the boyfriend of Patterson’s character, but since none of them have any chemistry together (or even any scenes to themselves), I actually didn’t even realize they were together until she said it out loud a few scenes later (to Lutz), before they make out. Stop screwing around, people!

Even the “action packed” 3rd act has problems, like when the stoner guy has a nightmare about how he dies and then instantly dies in that manner, which is the very definition of anticlimactic. And since it’s yet another angry ghost who just wants an object returned to her, I spend half of it wondering why the ghost couldn’t just ask for it instead of scaring and killing everyone.

It’s also pretty poorly edited and shot, as if no one involved had ever done these things before. Nearly every scene unfolds in a master shot, often with the camera just sort of plunked down far enough away to get everyone in the frame. And the editing is worse; characters will walk out of the frame and then it will hold on the dead space for 3-5 seconds before cutting to the next poorly shot scene.

I was also bugged by the fact that the director named the ghosts after himself (Winfield). Granted he’s not a household name or anything (in fact this is his only credited film in any capacity), but what the hell kind of weird ego trip is that? Trust me, if I ever write my dream slasher movie (it involves NASA!), I’m not going to name anyone BC or even “William” (middle name). Maybe a “Robert” after my dad or something, but come on man, just grab a phone book and pick any name in the world besides your own. Then again, this is "based on a true story", as with most crappy horror movies, but it seems to have more weight than usual: there IS a Goldfield Hotel in Nevada that is supposedly haunted, and the legend (which is filled with holes) does match the one in the film (nothing about 5 jackasses getting killed while trying to investigate it though). I also learned that the guy involved with the legend is named WinGfield, not Winfield, so maybe I just heard it wrong in the movie. Or the director is a pseudonym (again, he has no other credits) and wanted to try to pretend to be a relative.

Sadly, there are no extra features to explain - hey wait a minute, I rented this movie specifically because it didn’t have any supplements! Oh, not-cruel irony!

What say you?

*A quote praising his performance is the only blurb the movie got, apparently - they actually use it on both the front and back covers, which has to be a first.

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The Hunt (2006)

JUNE 27, 2010


Part of what makes a “found footage” movie work is the complete lack of typical camerawork. No tripods, no “master” shots (someone’s always off camera, unless they set it down or shoot in a mirror or something), no reverse angles during a conversation (unless they’re fucking up - see The Last Exorcism. But really, SEE IT, it’s good, they just goof on that aspect a bit), etc. Thus, you can totally buy into the reality. But no one told The Hunt director Fritz Kiersch that, because he constantly switches between a 1st person view and that of a typical movie camera, which not only kills the “reality” he is trying to present, but also makes the film confusing.

See, they seem to be using the same consumer grade camera for the POV shots as they are for the movie proper, so sometimes I wasn’t sure if I was looking at what the cameraman character was seeing, or what the cameraman for the film The Hunt was seeing. Not helping is the fact that either Netflix or the film’s creators did a piss poor job compressing the film, so half of the shots are blurry and pixelated. Add that to the natural darkness (it takes place in the woods, with anything of note happening at night) and you have a movie that’s actually kind of difficult to watch, as if the filmmakers (or again, Netflix) were testing your ability to process images and sound under extreme conditions.

Kiersch also has an unfortunate dual timeline approach to the film, where we’re constantly switching back and forth between the three folks that are lost in the woods (two guys and a little kid), and Cliff De Young’s own video documents of his attempts to find them. So right off the bat we know all 3 disappeared, which just makes the bulk of their scenes feel pretty boring, because nothing is fucking happening to them. At least in Blair Witch (which also tipped its hat about their disappearance) they were constantly being harassed, and Josh got taken away like 2/3s of the way through. But these guys just wander around, bickering about the drinking habits of one of the men (it would be awesome if it was the kid who was a drunk - not to mention more interesting; why can’t a grown man enjoy a sip of whiskey? He’s not even the one hunting!). It’s literally not until the final 10 minutes when something finally occurs that would explain the disappearance we’ve known about for well over an hour.

It’s also got a lot of go nowhere subplots, like De Young’s house being bugged, and a lengthy scene where the two guys work with him to get financing for their video. I understand the need to tie him into the story, but do we need 3-4 minutes going into minutiae about the percentage each man will take from the video’s profit? AGAIN - we know they’re dead! Is this supposed to make us feel the tragedy even harder? “It’s so sad, they will never split that 50% against the profits from the sales of each subsequent video...”. Get to the goddamn alien!

Oh, yeah, spoiler I guess (for a 4 year old movie that no one has posted about on its IMDb page for over a year). The thing that gets them is an alien. If I am following the movie’s vague explanations correctly, the government has these closed off sections of the woods where they keep aliens, and let them kill prisoners (I assume to study their hunting capabilities). Pretty awesome, right? Yeah, bury THAT, Mr. Kiersch, and spend 3 minutes on whether or not De Young’s maid has been dusting his bookshelves. Nice structure. This allows for a hilarious epilogue, however, where De Young goes to talk to the NSA’s UFO division (the guy has a placard on his door and everything! “National Security Agency - UFO Division”) about what he’s uncovered, the evidence of which is instantly shredded (and we learn in post movie text crawl, De Young was killed “accidentally” sometime later). Ordinarily I like these sort of things, but this one annoyed me because nothing that interesting actually happened in the movie itself, so you have a movie where the most exciting thing is shot with Times New Roman.

The actors make it passable. The kid’s not too bad, and Robert Rusler (Grady from Nightmare 2) is actually quite good as the cameraman slash “alcoholic”, and I wish he acted more often. He’s got a bit of an Adrian Pasdar quality to him, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. And I always like De Young, even if he’s given an ill-conceived role that meant every time we see him, you know nothing exciting (or god forbid, SCARY) will happen until they go back to the other guys.

Ultimately, it’s just the type of movie that is sort of pointless to use for HMAD, as no one has ever mentioned it to me, and no one seems to want to talk about it, given its ghost town IMDb board (come on, even Cathy’s Curse gets a post every now and then) even though it’s pretty easy to come across given its position on Netflix Instant. The original point of HMAD was to engage in conversation about films with people, but this is the type of thing that I won’t remember in a week. So get those questions in quick, people!

What say you?

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The Final (2010)

JUNE 26, 2010


I’m sure I’ve seen films with less confused morality than The Final, but none are coming to mind right now. In 95 minutes, writer/producer Jason Kabolati never manages to make any sort of point, which I think should be a priority for any horror film that would remind someone of Columbine or similar tragedies. By never really identifying with either the bullies or the outcasts who take revenge on them, the movie just becomes a pointless “torture porn” exercise, and a boring one at that.

Some SPOILERS are ahead.

See, there are only about 10 minutes’ worth of seeing the bullies ridicule our protagonists, and that’s pretty much all they do - ridicule them. One gets his camera broken, but otherwise they just make fun of the goth girl for being ugly (and she’s not, if anything she’s the most attractive female cast member, but that’s the least of this movie’s problems), make stereotypical 7-11 jokes at the expense of the Indian guy, and... well, we don’t even see them doing anything to the 5 or 6 other outcasts (including the “leader” of the group), so who knows what their problem is. Maybe they suck in gym class or something. And yet, before we know how they were wronged or even what all of their names are, they’re setting their plan in motion - they will host a fake party, invite only the bullies, drug them, and make them torture each other. Not even the worst idea, but the lack of characterization for the outcasts, the ones we’re supposed to feel SORRY for, keeps it from having any of the moral ambiguity that would make such a scenario compelling.

On the other hand, the bullies are so generic (and largely played by not-very-good actors), it almost seems like a farce of some sort, with the hot girls actually talking about how hot they are in their own privacy, and the jock dudes smoking weed and yelling about how excited they are to “PARTY!!! WHOOO!!!!” while they drive erratically. So we have two types of characters in this movie: generic bullies, and “oppressed” introverts whose names aren’t even easily identifiable. It's one thing to paint your characters in broad strokes, it's another to make all of them so bland and interchangeable (one of the "bullies" looks nerdier than any of the "nerds", in fact) that you're not even sure which ones we're supposed to root for. I began rooting for the "character" of Unseen Military Error, in the form of a mis-targeted nuke that would kill the whole lot of them.

But that doesn't happen. In fact, nothing really does. A good 50% of the movie is just the main outcast guy standing above all of the bullies, rambling on and on while they rock back and forth or whimper. Apart from the occasional torture scene (nothing too disturbing beyond an Audition-inspired acupuncture session), it’s just talk; uninteresting, generic talk. The only other action surrounds the only decent character in the movie, a would-be rapper who gets free and tries to get help. For some reason they almost instantly have him get tied up by a neighbor (who thinks he’s a robber), so now he’s just tied up in a different room listening to someone drone on and on, same as he was in the other house. But eventually he gets free (again) and goes back to rescue his friends, which paves the way for the anticlimactic ending, where none of the bullies are killed and the outcasts more or less kill each other or themselves. So again, what the fuck is the point? The moral of the story seems to be “If you are picked on, you should try to get revenge, but ultimately become even more of a coward.” There’s a touch of irony in the epilogue, in which the bullies return to their lives, now the outcasts themselves due to the injuries they endured over the course of the movie (acid in the face, a chopped off finger, etc), but it’s too little too late, and it’s pretty obvious to boot.

It’s also not much to write home about on a technical level. There’s a scene early on which has to set the record for most shifts in the color timing in a single scene (something the director at least acknowledges on the commentary), and the editing decisions are largely insane. Apparently there was a scene cut that would explain who the other 3 outcasts were keeping watch outside, and why they had on the same outfits as the ones inside, so as a result things just seem confusing, as there’s only a single throwaway line explaining that they have employed three others to watch outside (nothing about the outfits), so it looks like certain characters are in two places at once. Yet they have TWO montages of our five main outcasts putting on their masks.

Director Joey Stewart also botches one of his few interesting directorial choices, which is to take a page from Spielberg and “never” show any adults without obscuring their face in some way. It’s something I noticed right off the bat (my first note says “ET”), as they are always turned around, or behind a newspaper, or whatever. The only exception (at first) is the neighbor guy, so it just tips off that he’ll be important. But then later a cop is shown in full, and he’s never important. So whatever. I actually thought maybe it was just something I imagined, or a coincidence, but it was pointed out on the commentary as well.

The track is just as pointless as the movie, with Stewart and Kabolati congratulating themselves on pretty much everything, and explaining simple “no shit” things as if we’re as dumb as the characters in the film. Like early on, when a teacher is talking about how one of the generals in the Han Dynasty would disfigure his enemy rather than kill them, and Stewart helpfully points out that its foreshadowing what happens later. But should I expect anything more insightful from the 2nd unit director of Midgets Vs. Mascots? An annoying “making of” (mostly just an outtake reel and various cast/crew trying to be funny), a pointless deleted scene (not the one that would help explain the aforementioned plot hole), and two trailers for the film round things out, continuing the trend of this year’s After Dark Fest having feature-heavy DVDs after last year’s largely bare-bones lineup.

Hilariously, the director himself offers the most useful thought on the entire disc. When defending his poor sense of continuity, he sums it up by offering this to independent filmmakers: “Don’t spend countless hours on things that don’t matter.” Too bad he didn’t follow his own advice. The best thing I can say about this movie is that it’s not as bad as (fellow ADF4 entry) The Graves.

What say you?

Full disclosure - I was picked on in 1st and 2nd grade by a kid named Rob who was 3 years older, due to my big ears and thick glasses. Never considered throwing acid on the dude's face though. Mainly I just hoped he'd leave me alone, which he eventually did. And I had already been into horror movies at that point!

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All About Evil (2010)

JUNE 25, 2010


Why is it I never really like any movie that takes place in an independent movie theater? I keep watching every one I hear about, but they always disappoint me (Midnight Movie, Dead At The Box Office, Nightmare In Blood). You'd think that any movie that would remind me of the New Beverly would give me the warm and fuzzies and thus smooth over any issues I may have with the film, but instead I always end up thinking "I wish I was at the Bev. Watching something else." Such is the case with All About Evil, which takes a promising idea and then does nothing with it; every trick the movie has up its sleeve is revealed in the first half, resulting in a second half that's as repetitive (and obnoxious) as they come.

Part of the problem is Natasha Lyonne's not-even-one-note performance. She's not likable as a introverted movie geek, and she's not likable when she turns into a killer. See, what happens is, she kills her mother in an act of rage in the theater lobby (the mother wants to sell the place because it's losing money), and it's accidentally shown to the movie theater crowd. They love it, thinking it's a new form of verite slasher film, and thus she is inspired to make more. Suddenly, the short films are the main draw at the theater (which doesn't actually seem to show movies at all), and the success goes to her head.

Now, maybe this could have worked if she was killing other folks that had been cruel to her in some way, but they're all total strangers (she eventually starts going after the homeless). Plus, she hires a crew to help her, including Noah Segan. With this type of black comedy, we should be sort of siding with them, like 2000 Maniacs or whatever (there's definitely an HGL influence here, along with John Waters). But I couldn't stand any of them for a moment, which in turn meant I didn't find any of it particularly amusing (the film's focus is definitely more on laughs than scares). And again, Lyonne is awful in the role, which is sort of a problem when she's in pretty much every scene. And all of the actors seem to be playing in different movies - Segan is basically playing a cartoon, Lyonne seems to be taking cues from Jessica Harper's performance in Shock Treatment, and everyone else either can't act or simply didn't want to.

Luckily, writer/director Joshua Grannell (who is better known as Peaches Christ) created one character worth giving a shit about, a theater regular who is the first (only?) one to catch on that the films aren't staged. He's played by Thomas Dekker, and usually I don't think much of him as an actor, but he's basically playing himself in the movie (a horror fan who prefers the old stuff - any interview with the kid should back that up), and he alone is the only thing keeping the movie from being a total disaster.

Back to the repetition - the films all sort of look alike, and they all play out the same way - someone walks into the "set", gets chased around a bit, and then gets killed. Then the crowd shows up and watches it and no one (save Dekker, eventually) bothers to notice that the victims in these poorly shot films starring the people who work at the theater are never seen again. Lather, rinse, repeat. The climax finally mixes things up a bit, with the theater being thrown into chaos, Lyonne makes out with a 90 year old man for some reason, and two of her crew (twin sisters) stab each other to death instead of allowing themselves to get arrested. But it's too little too late - the energy of the finale was not enough to make up for the boredom of the first hour or so.

(I wasn't shocked to learn later that the film was a feature length version of a short Grannell had done in 2003 called Grindhouse. Not every short can be expanded, people!)

Luckily, the evening wasn't a total loss, as the film was preceded by an amazing short film called The S From Hell, which detailed the history of the 'terrifying' Screen Gems logo. It was just so random, I had to love it (using some footage from Halloween III didn't hurt), and I spent the entire thing laughing my ass off (which makes All About Evil's failings as a comedy all the more troubling - I was in a good, silly mood after the short!). The entire thing is available on Youtube HERE; I have also embedded it below for your ease. I hope writer/director Rodney Ascher goes on to have a nice career, if this is any indication of his talent.

I should point out that a lot of the crowd seemed to dig All About Evil, and of the 5 positive reviews on IMDb as of this writing, only 3 of them are fake. And it wasn't bad on a technical level; it was well shot and edited (thank CHRIST the editor kept this thing under 90 minutes), and the opening titles were fantastic, placing all of the actors' and crew names into old horror/sci-fi posters from AIP and Hammer and such. But it's a comedy more than anything, and I just wasn't feeling the humor, so noting its technical merits is sort of like saying that an unfunny comedian was well dressed during his set.

What say you?

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The Last Exorcism (2010)

JUNE 24, 2010


Don't read this review. Don't read anyone else's either. Don't watch a trailer, don't read whatever articles have been written on the film... just go in blind.

That is the advice I wish I could give to everyone before they see The Last Exorcism, but I know it would be a fruitless plea. I happened to luck out - as a rule I almost never watch trailers online, and the complete lack of horror films in theaters as of late meant I didn't see one in theaters either. Nor have I followed much about the film's production; I only recently discovered it was a "documentary" type film, and the original title (Cotton) was deemed too vague, which I have to agree with because I didn't even know it was about exorcism until the new title was announced.

But you're probably ignoring me, and still reading, so let me say that I really f-ing dug the flick, and I'll try to be as spoiler-free as possible.

Apart from a blank slate (which I think is always the best way to watch a movie, it's just almost impossible to do most of the time), what I really liked about the film is that it kept the mystery of whether she was possessed or just mentally disturbed for an impressively long time. It's the same thing I liked about Emily Rose, but the in your face approach of the "documentary" allows for more scares than that film had. There's a bit about halfway through the film (seen partially in the trailer) where they find the girl on top of her bureau, and it's precisely the type of scene that made me glad that I never saw the trailer (I just watched it now, as I started writing the review), because I had no idea where she was going to pop up, and since the camera had such a narrow field of vision, there was never as much of a frame of the scene that I wasn't tensed, prepared for the inevitable reveal. Because not only is it a scare when they do finally find her with the camera, but it continues to be scary because you're still not sure what she's going to do. When Michael Myers pops into the frame, you know he's going to stab someone. But with Nell - we have no idea if she's going to Regan out and start crawling on the ceiling, or just shriek and lash out like a crazy person. Or just smile creepily at the camera.

I also enjoyed the humorous introduction to the main character, Cotton. He's a preacher, and doesn't really believe in ghosts and such. When he does exorcisms, he freely admits (to the documentary team) that it's all staged, and yet Patrick Fabian is so engaging and likable in the role, you will almost cheer him on as he swindles these folks. If he were a less capable actor, Cotton would come off as a total scumbag. And even when things start to go south, the filmmakers find moments of levity, particularly when the doc team finds a drawing depicting their deaths ("I'm not comfortable staying somewhere where someone wants to chop off my head").

Back to the acting, I thought it was pretty great across the board. The biggest problem some of these verité films suffer from is a few unnatural actors (in fact, one of the documentarians is played by actress Iris Bahr, who appeared in Poughkeepsie Tapes, one of the biggest offenders of this issue), but I bought everyone in their roles, even actors I recognized (the brother, for example, was on Friday Night Lights during Season 3).

Which brings me to one of the two quibbles I had with the film. For a "documentary", it really doesn't feel like one a lot of the time. Director Daniel Stramm sometimes cuts to angles that couldn't possibly be achieved in real time with a single camera, and other times cuts to reactions that the character of the cameraman wouldn't logically film. For example, during one of the "freak out" scenes, the girl (or the demon) twists her body in an unnatural way, and then we see Cotton's reaction. Who the hell would film him (or ANYTHING else) when a girl is pretzel-ing right in front of their eyes? It's the first time I can think of where instead of wondering why the characters were still filming these things, I was wondering why they WEREN'T.

My other concern was the ending. I'm not going to spoil it, but it's very abrupt, leaving at least one major character's final moments completely obscured. A large number of characters seem to disappear into thin air as well, and it's never quite clear what certain characters were trying to achieve. It works as a "holy shit this has all gone to hell" sequence, not unlike Micah's off-screen fate in Paranormal Activity, but it still feels very rushed and incomplete. I think some of the usual on-screen text (like, "So and so's body was never found" or whatever) would have helped, instead of just going right from the final scare (which is AWESOME) to the end credits.

The PG-13 rating is something I want to address. In short - if I didn't hear about it beforehand (producer Eli Roth was tweeting about it today, rightfully pointing out several PG-13 horror films that were scary, including The Ring and "Actually PG But Would Be PG-13 Today" Jaws), I would have assumed it was R. Not that it's particularly gory (though animal lovers might argue) or even violent, but there are at least two scenes that are just plain INTENSE, and there have been instances in the past where a film got an R just for that. It also deals with some heavy subject matter that's not exactly teen-friendly. Rest assured, I've seen R rated films that are far less "R"-y (there's a word) than this one, and I honestly believe them when they say that nothing was cut, and that the MPAA simply "got it" for once and delivered a rating that made sense. As Eli said before the film, if a film is R, it should be full blown R, and I think die-hard horror fans would be more disappointed if they went into the film expecting something hardcore. Besides, it's not too hard to guess that Lionsgate is looking to draw in the Paranormal crowd, and that film was R, so there would be no reason for them to cut it for a PG-13.

I don't expect the film to be universally loved (you know, like every horror movie ever made). In fact I suspect I may be in the minority for liking it; a few of the other horror site folks I talked to afterward didn't like it much. And I even agreed with some of their criticisms, but didn't feel they hurt the movie for me. I think it works as a unique take on the possession/exorcism type film, and delivers a number of good scares, and surprisingly strong performances from characters you will come to care about (I could have used a bit more character development for the two documentary folks though; I can't even remember the camera guy's name). Plus it's never boring, and it keeps you guessing right to its final moments. And unlike just about every other horror movie I've watched in the past week or so, I never felt like my intelligence was being insulted, yet it was also refreshingly simple, something anyone who has suffered through the often incoherent Exorcist sequels should appreciate.

I just hope you're reading this after you've seen it for yourself. The movie doesn't come out for another two months - I really dread hearing "Man, you overhyped this movie!" No, a couple of hours ago I saw a movie that I knew almost nothing about and I really liked it. Hopefully you will too.

What say you?

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Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

JUNE 23, 2010


Apart from “Who’s On First?”, I’ve never seen a single Abbott and Costello film or routine. So I figured Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (spoiler: no they don’t) would be a good place to start, being that it’s considered one of the best horror-comedies of all time. Plus it has the bonus allure of being the only time Bela Lugosi played Dracula in a film after the original Dracula (hilarious trivia: he almost didn’t get the chance because the studio thought he was dead), and it’s also the last time Universal used any of the big three Monsters until that 2004 film that shall not be named.

As another mash-up a la House of Frankenstein or whatever, it’s a pretty good one. I liked the idea of replacing the Monster’s brain with someone else’s in order to make him a better servant for Dracula, and that Lawrence Talbot was putting aside his usual suicide attempts or “rid me of this curse!” shenanigans in order to be a genuine hero, seeking to destroy Dracula and the Monster before they harmed anyone. Sort of like Angel becoming a detective once he realized Buffy was never gonna let him in her pants again. I’m not sure how it fits into the other films’ continuity, since I tend to forget how these things end beyond “They all ‘die’ and the hero kisses the girl”, but it probably doesn’t really fit into them anyway. I mean Christ, Frankenstein is pretty much the only person they DON’T meet in the movie (a 4th monster pops up at the end), and even if you go with the usual “they mean the Monster” excuse, they spend more time with Dracula and Wolfman/Talbot than him anyway.

As a comedy though, I’m sort of on fence. I don’t argue that Abbott and Costello are a great comedy team, but I personally don’t find them incredibly funny. The one-liners and wordplay are fine (“I turn into a wolf at night.” “You and 20,000 other guys!”), and I never tire of failed “let’s barricade the door” gags (the door swings away from their barricade), but even as a kid I never had much interest in a guy falling down, which is something that Costello does every 10 minutes or so. Like early on, when he pulls a suitcase from a wagon, causing all of the others (and himself) to crash to the ground - I don’t find that funny at all. If anything, I’m just wondering how much of a pain in the ass it was to reset all of the cases after each rehearsal or take, or whether or not they were real cases with nothing in them, or Styrofoam replicas. And a guy stammering or making “uh oh” faces (another thing Costello does often) isn’t amusing to me either. I actually prefer Abbott, because he’s sort of like Moe - always pissed off for some reason, and yet, admirably loyal to a guy who seemingly just annoys him all day. Plus I felt sort of bad for Costello, because he thought two beautiful dames were into him, but they were both using the poor sod, so he ends up with no one except a guy who's always yelling at him. After a while, I sort of gave up looking at the film as a comedy and just watched it like it was a regular sequel, albeit with two silly guys running around, occasionally making me laugh (love the “OK, you can have Mary” bit).

And that I think is the movie’s biggest strength, the fact that it works as a regular movie even if you’re not finding it particularly funny. You take a horror comedy like Transylmania, and you can see the difference - there’s no way to enjoy that movie unless you’re actually amused by the jokes and sight gags, because that’s all there was to it. There was a plot, sure, but it was a fucking stupid one, and it was just there to service the “comedy”. A&CMF would work just as well as (possibly better than) the other Uni sequels even if Bud and Lou never even attempted to be funny. It’s like they wandered into an actual horror movie, instead of horror characters wandering into theirs.

And this makes Karloff’s refusal to appear in the film even stranger, as he was upset at the idea of “making fun” of his character. On the contrary, I think the movie is very respectful of the characters, and nothing they do would seem out of place in any of the “House/Son/Ghost of” movies. It’s not like they had the guy slipping on banana peels or whatever. Hell he even dies in a fire at the end, like always! I was afraid that the end would have some cheery ending where all of the monsters turned out to be good guys and they all had a good laugh with Bud and Lou, but no. Wolfman and Dracula go over a cliff, and the Monster gets immolated for the 5th or 6th time. Enjoy the cartoon after the movie, kids! But at least they had Chaney and Lugosi as the other two, and Glenn Strange was a more than acceptable replacement for Karloff all along, so that’s OK.

Another thing odd about the movie being called Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is that they don’t play Abbott and Costello. Abbott’s name is Chick Young and Costello plays a guy named Wilbur Grey. Is this always the case with them? I figured they would play “Bud” and “Lou” and just have different (or unmentioned) last names. If they always did that, then I think modern movies need to be named after their actors as well. Screw this “Resident Evil” stuff; that tells us nothing! Those movies should be called Milla Jovovich Meets Some Monsters (And Then Shoots Them)”. Clash Of The Titans? How about Sam Worthington VS CGI Part 3?

OR, the movie should be called Chick and Wilbur Meet Several Monsters. Consistency and honesty, people, that’s all I ask for.

What say you?

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Wolf Moon (2009)

JUNE 22, 2010


Over the past few years, we’ve seen a lot more werewolf and vampire movies, thanks to the success of the "Twilight" books (and subsequent movies), so stuff like Transylmania gets a theatrical release, or long-shelved nonsense like Neowolf gets a nice DVD cover. In other words, for the most part, they don’t seem to be specifically ripping off Meyer’s series, just sort of jumping on the bandwagon. But Wolf Moon (formerly Dark Moon Rising - guess they were determined to use a generic title*), on the other hand, is largely stolen directly from the "Twilight" novels (the film was shot in early 2008), something even I, a man who has only seen the first two movies (and fine, read the 1st book to see what the big deal was) was aware of almost instantly. A die hard twi-fan will either be insulted, or ecstatic that they have another sort of sequel.

See if this sounds familiar - a shy girl meets a bad boy type who at first doesn’t want anything to do with her, but then decides to give her a chance. He also saves her from a would-be rape (being nearby due to the fact that he’s basically stalking her), and they begin a deep romance, which is not approved of by her father, who is trying his best to raise her without her mom being around. He makes fun of her driving, and it’s all cute, but then folks start getting killed. Is it him, or something LIKE him?

The main difference, of course, is that he’s a werewolf instead of a vampire, so writer/director/producer/casting director/music supervisor/co-star Dana Mennie either only read the first book and replaced “Vampire” with “Werewolf”, or he is combining elements of the others, where the wolves show up. Either way, it was the most blatant knockoff of another property that I’ve seen in years; I think I’d have to go back to the slasher era to find something so obviously copying another story (Halloween and Final Exam, maybe?).

Otherwise, it’s not THAT bad. The film’s rather punishing length (124 minutes) at least pays off with the fact that the characters are well rounded and the name actors actually have real roles, as opposed to the glorified cameos that they usually have in these sort of things (that being DTV movies from Lionsgate). Billy Drago (again!) is actually somewhat of a normal person for once, playing a guy who is hunting the wolves after one killed his wife. He still Dragos out every now and then, but at least I could understand what the fuck he was talking about more often than not. And Sid Haig plays the local hothead who is angry about the wolf killing his dog and horses. See, they actually have character motivations and stuff! You don’t see that in Reborn. Some of the casting is a bit wonky though - the Edward Cullen standin looks about 10 years older than Bella (called Amy here), which makes the father’s concerns actually sound logical. I wouldn’t want my teenager dating a 28 year old either, regardless of whether or not he was a damned werewolf. Plus he’s not a very good actor, making his casting all the more puzzling. The dad, by the way, is Chris Mulkey, in the largest role I’ve seen him play in years, so I had to like that.

Mulkey and his daughter engage in one of the stupider scenes I can recall in recent memory. After she is attacked by some punks in a scene I can’t quite figure out the point of, her dad asks how she got the big bruise/cut on her face. “Did HE do this to you?” he yells, as its already been established he doesn’t like the dude. But rather than say “No, it was this other guy” or whatever, she just protests that she loves the guy, which sounds like an admittance more than anything else (“he only hits me because he loves me!”). After more “could have easily been avoided” arguing, Mulkey smacks her on the other side of the face! What the hell?

I have to give Mennie and crew props for not using a CGI wolf, opting for a guy in a costume. It’s not the best costume, but it still looks better than CGI, and it was nice to see some 90s style morphing again. But since they had the suit I’m not sure why they used it so sparingly - the movie’s over 2 hrs long (and has an R rating) but there is precious little action. Yes, yes, developing character is more important, fine, but come on, throw us a bone here. The climactic fight is only about 8 minutes long and it pretty much triples the amount of action in the movie. Even New Moon had that one wolf on wolf fight and the vampire mob guys throwing Pattinson around.

I had to laugh at the top of the film though, as it opens with a dedication: “this one’s for Bobbie Shannon, Joanie and Diana, Stephanie, Annie and Sarah” and then the first thing we see is a woman being brutally killed. Got some lady issues, Mennie? He also lists himself as both the screenwriter and the creator, which is another puzzler. I remember Carpenter saying that he gave himself a pseudonym on some film credits because he didn’t want his name over everything (and this is a guy who puts his name in the goddamn title), Mennie seems to be the opposite, offering redundant uses of his name. At least we have no one else to blame. Another curious credit is that pretty much every name actor in the film is listed as a co-producer. Glad to see Sid Haig branching into behind the scenes roles though.

The soundtrack is pretty decent too. One song sounded like Leonard Cohen, and some others were worth paying attention to over the dialogue. According to the credits, they are largely written (and often performed) by someone named Geoff Gibbons, so good on you, sir. Under them, there is a “In memory of” for Benjamin Orr and Brad Delp (from The Cars and Boston, respectively), so I guess someone is a big fan of Boston-based music.

The only extra on the disc (save LG’s usual parade of trailers) is a commentary by Mennie and top-billed (for some reason) Alex Ryan, who is neither the film’s biggest star nor its most prominent character. It doesn’t matter, since he doesn’t really contribute much to the track anyway, as Mennie barely ever shuts up, even if that means simply narrating the movie instead of pointing out his mistakes, such as when Haig fires about a dozen rounds from a six-shooter. Nor does he ever acknowledge "Twilight", which would have been at least admirable. Instead, his insights are 100% positive, like when he praises a particular look on an actress’ face when she’s about to be attacked, which we just have to take his word on since she’s inside a car and her face is largely blocked by the car door and the other character. If you simply must listen to him, you can probably just watch the movie for the first time with his track turned on; he narrates everything anyway, so you won’t miss any plot points or anything.

Really not sure who the hell this movie is targeted at. The R rating keeps the teens away (in theory), but I can’t imagine adults would find any of this doomed romance/over-protective dad vs. boyfriend stuff interesting, and there’s certainly not enough action to attract the die hard horror crowd, who would be better off watching Dog Soldiers or something. The only reason I didn’t hate it is because it’s the rare DTV release that actually feels like a real movie, with known actors giving 3 dimensional performances and FX that look like the artists were putting effort into it. Also you get to see Billy Drago’s head torn off, which I feel I am owed after enduring Demon Hunter and Seven Mummies.

Actually, there’s my quote: “Best Billy Drago Movie Of The Month!”

What say you?

*It’s even more hilarious when you consider that in the film, they can change into werewolves whenever they please, full moon or not.

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