Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween, Bloggers!

Tonight's the night of nights, people!

Me, I'm going to watch Frankenstein and then go to bed early because I have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow. Bleh. But you guys party it up if you can, or do whatever working adults do on Halloween these days!

Anyway, I'm going to keep working on my little Classic Monster Movie Marathon (hence the Frankenstein) in the meantime. I meant to have it done before Halloween, but it was too much fun and too important to rush. Yea for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Classic Monster Movie Marathon: The Wolf Man (1941)

None of these classic monster movies are turning out like I thought they would. Shamefully, I was actually looking forward to a lot more camp with less story, but again, The Wolf Man surprised me as being a movie where the story itself was a lot more interesting than any of the werewolf activity. Although not the first werewolf movie to be made, The Wolf Man is the one that plunged the classic monster into popularity. The lore and mythology has changed from movie to movie over the years, but here we have one of the originals, as only Universal could present it.

Lon Chaney, Jr. plays Larry Talbot, a man who returns home to his estranged father after the death of his brother. He meets up with a local girl named Gwen who works in an antique store, and they and her friend Jenny go to get their fortunes told by a traveling gypsy camp one night. Jenny is attacked in the woods by a wolf and Larry manages to kill it, but he is bitten on the chest. An old gypsy woman tells him that the wolf was actually Bela, the fortune teller, and that he was a werewolf. Larry starts to transform at night and roam the woods as a wolf, terrified of what he's become and what he's going to do, especially now that the police are out hunting him.

I loves me some Lon Chaney Jr. here. I first saw him in the incredible cult classic Spider Baby but he wasn't as much of a standout in that movie. In The Wolf Man, Chaney really gets to shine as a charming, if not emotionally distant, sort-of playboy who suddenly has to deal with the horrible situation of his transformation into a monster. Chaney shows the character's true agony over the fact that he murdered Bela and later the gravedigger Richardson, and by the end he even wants the hunting party to catch him because he is afraid that he will hurt Gwen. Chaney's physical presence is also quite striking, as he towers over most of the actors, plus I just love his face. When he goes all wild in the woods in one scene, he gives the most incredible facial expressions. His physicality as the Wolf Man is obvious yet it works for the movie, and he gives the audience yet another Universal monster who is sympathetic and endearing. 

But Chaney's not the only star in this flick. If you count Chaney himself as the Wolf Man, we've got three, count 'em, three classic monsters in one little movie. Claude Rains, whom I fell in love with as the Invisible Man, plays Larry's father Sir John Talbot. The great Bela Lugosi, a.k.a. Dracula, plays the gypsy fortune teller Bela (coincidence or homage? I can't decide) who is the werewolf that bites Larry. Lugosi's time on screen is short-lived, but Rains give a wonderful supporting performance. He loves his son and wants to protect and help him, yet his book-smart personality refuses to allow him to believe that Larry has become a werewolf. Of course this turns out to be a fatal mistake, revealed in a very heart-breaking and surprising ending.

Now for the not-so-awesome parts of the movie. I know that the werewolf makeup must have taken hours and was probably pretty damn uncomfortable for Chaney, but come on. He doesn't look anything like a wolf. He just looks like one of those really hairy dudes that I saw on Ripley's Believe It or Not that one time. And while we're on this, I got a question. Why did they show the werewolf Bela as actually looking like a wolf when Larry killed him and then have Larry's transformation be so much different? What, was this just he first stage of werewolf-ism or something? It doesn't make sense. Okay, so I didn't like the overall look of the werewolf. Sue me.

I also didn't like the set in the woods. It's the same patch of fake-looking woods and trees used over and over again throughout the movie and it's just campy. That forced, perpetual fog? There are other ways to make the woods look "spooky," I'm pretty sure. They do a great job on lighting Larry as the wolf while he's in these woods, though. Several good shots of him in full makeup looking through the trees and stuff.  I have this weird hatred of wood or forest settings that are obviously done on stages. In some movies, I'm shocked to find out that certain scenes like this were actually not on location, but with others I can usually tell right away that those woods are not real, and it takes me out of it for a second. 

Another thing I can't let go about this movie is the strange and creepy hookup of Larry and Gwen. I mean, seriously. He charms her into going out with him by admitting that he spied on her in her room through his daddy's high-powered telescope? And she never really acts like that's just a little bit weird? Anyway, all is forgiven pretty quickly and Gwen and Larry actually turn out to be quite cute together so I guess they do have some chemistry. I love how she messes with him by bringing her friend along to what he thinks is going to be their first date. She's also a playa, because she's engaged to this other dude while she's running off with Larry. I like that about her.

I guess it sounds like I didn't really like The Wolf Man all that much but I really did. It's not my particular favorite of this classic monster bunch so far (I think The Invisible Man might just win that title), but there's definitely something special about it. The werewolf has always been a metaphor for the monster or the animal that is within all of us, or the idea of man's dual capabilities for good or evil, and I love how that is represented in this movie. Chaney's performance in the title role, as well as all the supporting performances, make this one a truly surprising classic that had much more to it than I expected. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Classic Monster Movie Marathon: The Invisible Man (1933)

This was by far the best movie of the bunch that I have watched so far. Quite simply, I freaking loved The Invisible Man. Based on the 1897 novella of the same name by H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man is an excellent morality tale about the draw and corruption of power, and possibly good ideas with bad intentions. The movie was directed by James Whale, who is known for directing other such classics as Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein.

A mysterious man covered in bandages requests a room at a small village inn. He asks to be left alone while he works secretly on a science experiment. As it turns out, this man is Jack Griffin, a pupil of a Dr. Cranley, who has discovered a way to make himself completely invisible using an unusual drug called monocane. Unbeknownst to Griffin, the drug, mixed with the pleasure he gets from being invisible, makes him crazy with power. Griffin wreaks havoc in the village and even murders people. As Cranley and another friend, Kemp, try to make him come quietly so they can try to restore his visibility, the police and the rest of the people in the village work around the clock to capture and stop him for good.

The movie technically "stars" Claude Rains as Griffin, although he is usually just a voice or otherwise completely covered up in bandages and clothes. However, Rains's voice acting more than makes up for his inability to use facial expressions. There is true madness and glee in his voice as talks to his partner Kemp about wanting to go on a "reign of terror" to show the world his power, and as he tells Flora that even the moon is frightened of him. Costuming also helps makes Griffin look quite eerie and creeptastic, as well. The bandages on his head make him look less human, plus those old sunglasses are a bit strange and disconcerting. And that robe... oh, how I love that robe. Such sophistication and class disguising a madman.

Now, a lot of Universal's monsters can be seen as sympathetic in some ways, but Griffin/The Invisible Man doesn't really fall under that category to me. Sure, you can argue in Griffin's favor that it was the drug monocane that is to blame for his bad behavior. But is it really just the drug that is infecting his mind, or is it the rush that comes from what he can do with his invisibility? Griffin goes to his friend Kemp not in desperation to cure him of his condition, but to force Kemp into becoming his partner that will help him cause more devastation and mayhem. By the end, Griffin has murdered some 20 people in the village, and caused a train accident that killed 100 people. I could never have sympathy for someone with such a blatant disregard for human life, madman or no. Then we learn that Griffin and Flora are in love and Griffin tells her that he only pursued the experiment so that he could become famous and rich to make a life for the two of them. I have a hard time believing, though, that love was his true motivation. It was power, and power is a well-known corruptor.

You simply cannot talk about this movie without mentioning the insanely well-done special effects. I was pretty well floored about how awesome the effects looked when Rains first removed his bandages. That shot was incredibly creepy and looked so realistic, and things only got better as the movie went on. I cannot believe the ingenuity of the effects from a movie made in 1933 and how amazing they turned out from using a simple matte process. I've seen horror movies from the past few years that only wished their effects looked as good as this. Honestly, seeing The Invisible Man has made me a little pissed off at all the horrible, half-assed effects work that I've seen in modern movies. Take the time to do it right, and you'll wind up with much better results. It's that simple.

The Invisible Man is a really, really excellent film. Almost all reviews of this movie mention a comedy element to it, and while there is a little bit of that having to do with the people in the village of Iping, I mostly just felt the fear and suspense of what Griffin might do. This is a fantastic cautionary morality tale with a wonderful story and a hell of an actor to pull off the very limited main role. Definitely see this one soon if you haven't.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Classic Monster Movie Marathon: The Mummy (1932)

Ah, the mummy. One monster in this little marathon of mine that has not translated that well to the modern day. The first Mummy film made in 1932 spawned just as many installments through Universal (and the British Hammer Films) as their other famous monsters, Dracula and Frankenstein, but this is one monster that has not inspired as many other versions or adaptations as the previous, as far as I know. The remake of The Mummy from 1999 was indeed a fun adventure ride back to ancient Egypt, but there was no horror in the situation there, same as there is no real horror in this original film. And yet, I still find myself really liking this classic monster and his story.

It's Boris Karloff, for pity's sake. He's irresistible.

Anyway, so the plot goes something like this: on an archaeological dig in Egypt, a team discovers the sarcophagus of Imhotep, which is accompanied by a mysterious box. They inevitably open the box even though they are warned not to, reading from a scroll that brings Imhotep back to life. The mummy escapes with the scroll. Ten years later, the son of the one of the original discoverers of the mummy is back in Egypt, and now has to deal with the mummy who has found the person with the reincarnated soul of his long lost love, whom he is determined to bring back to life as well.

Given that, unlike Dracula or Frankenstein, The Mummy did not have a literary antecedent, the story that the filmmakers came up with is a pretty damn good one. The inspiration for the entire film came from the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, which received an obscene amount of press coverage. I guess they thought it would be cool if old Tut got up and started walking around. Anyway, I like that they gave Imhotep an actual purpose rather than just being a monster who walks around killing people. You can even feel sorry for this character, seeing as how in his first life he was mummified alive because of his love and devotion to Ankh-es-en-amon.

I guess the one thing that really disappointed me about The Mummy was, well... the mummy. This was not the bandage-wrapped, moaning monster I had always envisioned for this, the original Mummy film. We see Karloff in full mummy gear at the beginning when the young assistant wakes him up, but we don't get to see him move like I thought he was going to. Like this:

Isn't that what you always thought of when you thought "mummy"?! I'm guessing now that this cartoon-y interpretation of a mummy stalking people was done in some of the later installments of the franchise, perhaps the Abbott and Costello movie. Anywho, I tried not to let that bother me while watching the film (although it did disappoint me a lot), and instead I tried to focus on the great Boris Karloff and what he did with the role.

Karloff doesn't really have that much to do in The Mummy... then again, Karloff never really has to do much of anything in any of his roles to be powerful or scene-stealing. The over-hanging brow thing makes for quite an intense stare, which is a shot that this movie likes to utilize more than a few times. The makeup on Karloff as the renewed mummy, now named Ardath Bey, consists of just making his face look all dried out and cracked. It's effective, even though it's not what I was looking forward to seeing. Like his most well-known character, Frankenstein's monster, Karloff is able to surprising human qualities to what most would see as a monster. Imhotep is driven by love, and though he plans on murdering another woman to get his true love back, the audience almost wants him to succeed. He manages to be a menacing figure and a victim at the same time, continually being pursued by people who want to stop him.

I really didn't think that I would like The Mummy as much as I did, especially because I got something way less cartoony and silly than I was expecting. The Mummy almost falls completely out of the realm of horror despite its outlandish story simply because of the seriousness of the characters and their motives. This movie has a good story with good characters (except for that guy who supposedly falls deeply in love with Helen after only having just met her) and is kept interesting throughout with all the flashbacks and the surprisingly realistic setting that actually feels like Egypt. The costuming is great, and the sets are believable but not too over-the-top. The climax is a little too anti-climactic for my taste (they much improved on this part with the remake) but overall, The Mummy is an intriguing little movie that can't be missed simply because Boris Karloff is in it. Seriously, that dude is awesome.

Oh, and whaddaya know... I have a picture of myself with The Mummy himself, as well. Gotta love those wax museums (this one being Madame Tussaud's in New York City). I added the sepia tone for a less realistic effect.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Classic Monster Movie Marathon: Dracula (1931)

The vampire subgenre of horror films has taken some good turns and some bad turns over its lengthy time on the big screen. Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic novel Dracula was first adapted for film - albeit, unofficially and unauthorized - with the 1922 movie Nosferatu. Since then, the famous Count has appeared a number of times in different adaptations and versions...

... just to name a few. However, there is no movie or no performance of Count Dracula more well-known or as recognizable as the 1931 film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi in the titular role. This movie has an indelible place in the history of horror, and for good reason. To say that it is dated would probably be an understatement, but though the movie is over 80 years old, it still works. And why shouldn't it? The classic story and characters have been the inspiration for countless films, television shows, stage plays, novels, short stories, and comic books over the years.

One of the most obvious reasons for the film's longevity is the portrayal of Dracula by Lugosi. Watching the movie now in 2012, I still love almost everything that he does with the role. Lugosi's slow movement, mannerisms, and speech created a character that was charming and mysterious. With one eyebrow almost constantly raised and a crooked, cruel smile, Lugosi commands his presence whenever he is on screen, with every facial movement and hand gesture having a purpose. In this way, Lugosi was quite revolutionary in portraying the vampire, a monster that for all purposes looks and acts human, but is really not. They are still, simply, monsters who feed on the lifeblood of humans. They don't know how to act truly human themselves. Lugosi's speech pattern is often imitated or made fun of these days, with his accent, careful pronunciation, and pauses ("I never drink... wine," "We will leave... tomorrrrrrow eve...ning...") and I have to admit that I found myself smiling as well almost every time he opened his mouth, but I think it was a brilliant choice for this role. 

For me, though, the real scene stealer of the movie is Dwight Frye as Renfield. I had completely forgotten about this wonderfully creepy performance from the first time I saw Dracula many years ago. Renfield is the character who leads the audience to Castle Dracula in the beginning of the movie where he is then put under the Count's spell. Dracula uses him to help him travel to England by ship, and when Renfield is discovered as the last "surviving" person aboard, he is mad. That shot of Renfield looking up and laughing that insanely weird laugh is still very chilling and effective, as is the shot of him crawling on the floor toward the maid after she's fainted. Like Lugosi, Frye also created an iconic character that is sadly not as recognized as it should be. His plastered-on crazy face and the conviction that he puts into each one of his lines completely sells the character and is a great juxtaposition to the Renfield in earlier scenes.

Most of the story centers around Dr. Seward, who runs the sanitarium where Renfield is placed after being found on the ship; his daughter Mina and her fiance John Harker; and Professor Van Helsing, who has knowledge of vampires and is able to see Dracula for what he is. Dracula focuses on Mina for his vampire-making seduction game, coming to visit her several times in the night. This is probably where the romanticism of vampires originated - not just biting a person and making them a vampire, but slowing getting them under their thrall and attacking them in their beds, which has obvious sexual undertones. The one scene where the character of Mina really shines is when it is revealed that she has been made into a vampire. It's a slow reveal, and you almost don't really notice what is happening until Mina starts to look very lustfully at John, or at least at his neck. 

You almost can't compete with the sets on this film. Dracula's castle is just as it should be, huge and gothic and perched precariously on a cliff with only one road leading up to it. The castle is deliciously old and decrepit, with crumbling and broken concrete, and cobwebs everywhere (love that huge spider web on the staircase). The monstrous staircase at Carfax Abbey is also iconic, as is the basement that holds the coffins for Dracula and his wives. Director Tod Browning makes perfect use of wide shots in these locations to really show them off and add to the gothic nature of the film. I only wished that there more scenes in other parts of the castle, as we only get a limited view of what is surely a grandiose beauty of architecture. 

Certain camera and editing tricks are used effectively in some scenes that I really loved. Love the part at the beginning where Dracula somehow walks through the large spider web covering his staircase without disturbing it. The well-known trick of identifying a vampire by the fact that he casts no reflection in mirrors is stumbled upon by Van Helsing, when John opens a little chest with a mirror in it and Van Helsing sees that Dracula is not there. The camera also teases the viewer by cutting away or dissolving at the moments right before Dracula bites a victim. Being 1931, I'm sure that actually showing the act would have been a huge no-no. But here, it works. It adds to the mystery of the vampire that all his dark deeds are done in secret, and all his charm would be taken away if he was shown feeding like an animal on a victim. Plus, it would have been a very sexual scene indeed, a part of the vampire lore that would be explored in later movies.

What more is there to say really? Dracula is a classic and will probably remain so forever. Even in our MTV generation, one can still admire and respect the subtle brilliance of this tale of the famous Count, his brides, his Renfield, and those that try to thwart him. Seriously, who doesn't love Dracula? I know I do.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coming Soon! The Classic Monster Movie Marathon!

I totally thought of something special to do for the Halloween season on this here oft-neglected blog. A marathon of reviews of the classics of the classics (that's not a typo), all those Universal-type monster movies from the 1930s to 1950s that have helped shape some of the horror movies we have today. I've always wanted to see them but never made the effort to go and seek them out. The very reliable Netflix has solved that problem for me, however, so now I have no excuse to not see them, do I?

Anyways, here's a look-ahead at some of the movies that I'm planning to do for the Classic Monster Movie Marathon:

Dracula (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Mummy (1932)

Freaks (1932)

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Wolf Man (1941)

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

The Fly (1958)

I might be adding some more movies... or taking some away, in the likely event that I get lazy. I've actually already seen Dracula and Frankenstein, but that was years ago, and I really liked them - hopefully I'll feel the same about the others.

Any movies I might've missed that you guys think should be here? Should I include Phantom of the Opera? Is he considered a classic "monster" or no? 

Okay, this should be fun! I'm gonna go get started right now!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mid-Weekly Movie Roundup: 10-6-12 to 10-11-12

Yes, I know Thursday is not technically "mid-week." Let it go for now.

Amityville 2: The Possession (1982)
Wow, not what I was expecting... and not really what I wanted, either. I was never a big fan of the original Amityville Horror movie - only saw it one time and wasn't all that impressed. If it's not too against the horror-lover code to say, I actually prefer the remake much more. This sequel is something totally different, though, and while I was definitely into it at first, it just kept getting weirder and weirder until it went somewhere totally crazy. The family dynamic, for lack of a better term, was not what is usually portrayed in movies like this - the nice, normal family being attacked and corrupted by the evil spirits in the house. The Montellis are comprised of an emotionally and physically abusive father, a mother determined to act like everything is okay, and a brother and sister who are a little too close for comfort. But I still liked them, which was weird. The haunting occurrences are more obvious and exaggerated and the first two-thirds of the movie, while very strange, is fun to watch. However, the excitement level severely falls off in the last third, when the story goes in a direction that doesn't match the first part at all. Meh, didn't care for this one. On to the next.

The Tall Man (2012)
Much like his previous film, Martyrs, Pascal Laugier's The Tall Man is a movie that is not what it seems on the outside. It also seems like a movie that is only as powerful the first time around (also like Martyrs) but that is not really a bad thing. The joy of discovery is what I love about movies and this one will keep you guessing and wondering until the reveal. A movie that is thought-provoking, confusing, muddled, and slightly brilliant at the same time, The Tall Man almost put me off at first, but the intrigue was too strong and I just had to finish this movie and find out what happened. The horror fan in me was a little disappointed that the titular "Tall Man" was not some kind of crazy spiritual entity or whatever, but I'll get over it. The idea behind what the Tall Man is and does is not one that I agreed with initially, but it has most certainly made me stop and think about it several times after seeing the movie. Really interesting little flick here, but I don't think it will be to everyone's liking. Jessica Biel is actually pretty good here, so that's a bonus for everyone. Good job, sport!
SPOILER: Check this out, too: After watching the movie, you realize that the big reveal was actually right in front of your face the whole time - on the freaking poster!

The Loved Ones (2009)
Now, here's another movie that gave me a huge slap in the face. The story and characters in the Australian movie The Loved Ones are not particularly original or anything, it was really the overall execution that made this one a standout for me. And even more than that, I was immensely impressed with little Robin McLeavy who gives a pretty stellar performance as Lola - the girl who makes the boy pay for turning her down for a date. Her face is beautiful, and mixed with the pink makeup that matches her pink dress, she's one of the most beautiful villains I've ever seen. She's definitely got daddy issues, which ups the creep factor, even though there was plenty of that going around with the other weird stuff that happens in the movie. The chicken, the drill, the people in the basement, the knives in the feet - this movie went to a lot of places that I didn't think it had the balls to go to. The Loved Ones is not really as shocking as some reviews have made it out to be, but I still think that it is beautifully shot and executed. The sidestory with Jamie, Brent's friend, and the goth girl he takes to prom, Mia, seems unnecessary at first but hopefully viewers catch on to its meaning (and it's relationship to the title of the film). Good movie, see this one!
And dear goodness, do I love that shot in the final scene of Lola all busted up crawling down the street. This one, this one here!:

That is fucking creepy and gorgeous at the same time and I fucking love it.

House of Wax (1953)
Now, having Vincent Price in your movie immediately gives you major cool points but you have to have the goods to back up the star. I understand the nostalgia and classic-ness or whatever of House of Wax but it doesn't live up to the reputation. It's a lot of the talky-talky and not enough action, and not nearly enough horror. I mean, hello?! The guy is making wax figures out of actual human corpses, and the characters and the movie itself treat it as something that is not nearly as horrible as it really is. Again, Vincent Price is the man and he's perfect in the role of Henry Jarrod, a wax sculptor who takes his work very seriously, but everybody else pales in comparison and nothing about them is likable or interesting. Paddleboard Man is a close second to Price only because he's awesome. Anyway, I kept waiting for this movie to finally "go there" and do something shocking and interesting, but it never did. It's too comedic at times and doesn't have the real excitement that it needed to make me happy enough. Maybe to audiences back then it was shocking, but it doesn't work today. And, to again risk losing my horror cred, I actually really like the remake - Paris Hilton and all.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Soapbox Topic #2: DVD Special Features (Or the Lack Thereof)

So last week I picked up The Cabin in the Woods on DVD, all excited not only to see the movie again but also to check out the special features on the disc. With a movie like this, and with the creators involved, I figured the extras would be tons of fun and super-informative. Feature-length commentaries are probably my favorite kind of DVD special feature, so I was stoked that both director/writer Drew Goddard and producer/writer Joss Whedon did a commentary for The Cabin in the Woods.

Problem was, their commentary sucked. It was god-awful terrible. They didn't talk about a goshdarn important thing and I was insanely pissed off the whole time I was listening to it. It was basically Goddard and Whedon (sorry to be crude) jerking each other off the whole time and then occasionally talking about what was on screen. No explanation or discussion about how they even came up with the concept for such an inventive movie, no talking about all the monsters in the cubes (which is still kinda hard to see on my smallish TV), no nothing that I wanted to hear about. Such a huge freaking disappointment - I really thought Joss would give me something better.

Is it really so much to ask for to have some features that actually, you know, add to the experience of the movie and stuff? If you're like me, you not only love movies, but you're also interested in the whole movie-making process. I want to know how the effects were achieved, I want to know about any fun incidents on set, the casting process, the production process, the editing process... I love that shit. When DVDs first came out (gosh, how old am I going to feel when I tell younger people that I was around when DVDs were invented?), the promise of getting to see all that behind-the-scenes stuff along with the movie was the thing that I was most excited about.

And while many DVDs have sometimes exceeded my expectations in terms of the extras (heck, my Gone with the Wind collection has four discs), I have been disappointed many a time by others. Who thinks that they can just slap on a 5 minute featurette, a ridiculous poster gallery, and a trailer and think I'll be satisfied with the DVD? Because I won't be satisfied, and in fact, I will feel very, very cheated. I don't know what goes into the whole DVD-feature-selecting-and-making process and I don't care. I don't care if you have to release the DVD a few months later to actually make it worthwhile. Have somebody film behind-the-scenes stuff during pre-production, production, and post-production and make something interesting out of all of it later. Check out what people are saying in reviews and stuff after the movie is released, and use that in commentaries and whatnot to answer any of their questions. It's a DVD! You have the disc space to fill it with tons of interesting tidbits, so goshdarnit, MAKE IT SO!

Anyway, this topic got me thinking about all the features on some of my DVDs that I have loved, and not just the usual stuff like commentaries and making-of featurettes, but those things that filmmakers put on the discs that are a little "extra" special. Here's just a handful of them:

Sin City (2005)
The All Green Screen Version

Robert Rodriguez is known to have lots of awesome features on almost all of his DVDs (though he seems to have really neglected The Faculty... hint hint, Robert) - the 15-minute film schools, the cooking segments - and to me this is by far the best one. This feature is the entire movie's raw footage in front of the green screen, and shows the viewer just how much work still had to be done after everything was shot. The footage is sped up so it takes less than 10 minutes to get through the whole movie, and it is very interesting to watch and see just how minimal all the sets are and stuff. Awesome!

Halloween (2007)
Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween Documentary

Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects also has a great making-of documentary that goes through almost day by day what was going on on the set, but this documentary goes way beyond that. Get this: it is freaking 4 and a half hours long. Yes, I have watched it more than once, and I love it. For those who have a fascination with filmmaking and how things are done... this won't really teach you much of anything, but behind-the-scenes stuff are always interesting to me and this feature certainly has plenty of that.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Edgar and Simon's Flip Chart

Okay, this picture is obviously of a different flip chart for a different movie (a possible third film from the duo). The flip chart they did for Shaun of the Dead was a pre-script version of the movie, and in the feature they go through most of the pages, sometimes making non-related jokes, but mostly they do a good job of showing all their initial ideas for the movie and how much thought actually went into the final draft. I think this is a good inspiration for anybody out there making a movie and shows a great way to get it done and put all your thoughts on (really big) paper.
Another great feature on this disc is the animated "Plot Hole Explanations."

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
Feature-Length Commentary by Joe Bob Briggs

To any horror fan that doesn't really know how to feel about the 1978 rape-revenge movie I Spit on Your Grave, I will always recommend that they watch the movie with the commentary recorded by drive-in guru Joe Bob Briggs, found on the Millennium Edition DVD. I can't watch the movie without his commentary on. He uses his trademark wit to make the commentary interesting, but he also has some really insightful things to say about the movie, things that made me look at the movie in a different way.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Reservoir Dolls

Found on the 15th Anniversary Edition DVD, this short but amusing feature always makes me smile. I don't know who created it and I wish I did. Using the Reservoir Dogs action figures for Mr. Blonde and the cop Marvin Nash, they act out the ear-cutting torture scene frame by frame, with a little inset of the actual scene playing at the top of the screen. They even made a little set to look like the warehouse. Very cute feature and a nice bonus for fans of the movie.

What say you?! Been disappointed by some of your DVDs? Have any favorite special features that you'd like to share? Tell me!