Saturday, August 30, 2014

Project Terrible: The Mythical Detective Loki

And now for something completely different. Mr. Robert Mohr gave us all anime episodes for his Project Terrible picks, and specifically for me he chose The Mythical Detective Loki. I would just like to go ahead and give a blanket apology for any die-hard anime or manga fans, because this is seriously not my thing.

This manga adaptation is in five episodes at about 15 minutes each. After 5 minutes, I was really worried about what was coming. Loki is an exiled god who has taken on the form of a child... I think. Is that right? He fancies himself a young detective and he has a pink blob-thing that flies around him. I have no idea what it is. He is joined by Mayura and Yamino, and together they make up the Enjaku Detective Agency.

I am probably the absolute wrong person to review this. I don't necessarily hate Japanese animation - I just don't understand the attraction to it, or to manga. The artwork all looks the same no matter who the artist is, and there is not anything necessarily great or interesting about the look of the drawing either. When the manga is animated like this, it all comes out really annoying and very juvenile, and it is made all the worse by the English voice acting. I don't mean to be insulting, but that's just always been my reaction! It did grow on me a bit after watching five episodes in a row - I just don't think I'll be seeking it out myself in the future.

Despite the overall kookiness of the animation (I'm guessing it's wrong to call it a "cartoon"), I did find myself enjoying some of the stories they did. The third episode, "Fafnir's Treasure," was my favorite because it was one of those classic Sherlock Holmes locked-room murder mysteries, and they handled it exactly the right way. The first episode is a bit crazier than the others as it deals with a murderer who decapitates girls. They really don't take it as seriously as it should be, but that makes the episode strangely funny. The last two episodes make up a not-so-exciting-at-all two-parter about the death of a mean schoolteacher. Again though, it's a good whodunit mystery story and I like those... so at least that part of it was okay.

Would this have been better in Japanese? Probably. Like I said, the voice actors were pretty terrible, and poor Mayura has the worst voice of all. It actually sounds like a dude trying to do a female voice - it's very strangely high-pitched and more than a little annoying. They also give Mayura the dumbest lines of dialogue that make her sound like a complete idiot and I felt a little sorry for her. Not much else is known about the other characters because the story doesn't focus on them at all. Didn't really bother me because I didn't care anyway.

This was indeed an odd choice for Project Terrible, Bob! It was interesting delving into something that I'd always avoided because I knew I'd hate it, but at least now I know that it is maybe not always as bad, or weird, or strange, as I might think. The Mythical Detective Loki was pretty good, I guess. I'm definitely no expert and I don't think I ever will be!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Project Terrible: The Zombinator (2012)

I wasted a perfectly good free rental I had saved up at the video store for this dreck. My second Project Terrible film is The Zombinator, a film that I saw Maynard Morrissey review and thought that from the title, it sounded like it could be a stupid good time. I conveyed as much to him, not even thinking that he might give this to me as a PT film. I am stupid.

As the poster says, the movie starts out as a documentary as a small camera crew follows a fashion blogger in her Youngstown home. When she meets up with some friends at another mutual friend's wake, they are suddenly attacked by zombies - and are saved by a strange man who looks like the Terminator.

After a pretty good, albeit nonsensical, beginning, the movie's true origins soon start to show through as everything goes downhill quality-wise. The Zombinator was shot on a whim over the course of only four and a half days. The real kicker is that there was NO SCRIPT. I read this fact after watching the movie, and suddenly I knew why it sucked so hard. Once the zombies show up, the plot tries to go in a million different directions without any of them working. There are times where the plot comes to a complete standstill while the characters have a stupid-ass, unimportant conversation for five minutes. The whole movie is a shitty, convoluted mess of one random scene after another. And I hate movies like that.

I can't even comprehend some of the stupid stuff that was brought up in this movie. One character has a pet zebra??? Is that even legal? A guy daring another to lick smeared blood off of a concrete pillar? If there was no script, there should have at least been some talk beforehand about what would be the right things to talk about in certain given situations. Nope, didn't happen. The characters just ramble on and on and on without ever saying anything.

There are constant and annoying attempts at irreverent humor that never work. Even one character's line to the Zombinator about how he looks like the Terminator is just too obvious and stupid and wasn't funny at all. The Zombinator also has a stupid reference line to the kids: "If you want to live, listen to me." Ugh. The worst part of the movie is when the group running from the zombies ends up in the basement of an old Catholic school - where there just happens to be a group of paranormal investigators. There is a long, derivative and utterly unfunny scene between the two groups about how the ghost people don't believe in zombies, and there are two smoking priests... just another goddamn random scene that they put in to piss me off.

Even if what they have to say and do is ridiculous, the "actors" aren't really that bad - though it really, really pains me to say anything remotely positive about this movie. I'm not saying that they were great or anything, but they at least had pleasant speaking voices, which is about as nice as I'm going to get. There is no character development - hell, I don't even remember any of their names - and by the end of the movie, the plot forgets about most of them anyway, so why should the audience give a crap about them either? The titular Zombinator is exactly how you would expect him to be: looking and acting like Ahnold, so even he turns out to be pretty blah and cliché. They add in another antagonist in the character of the Colonel, played by Patrick Kilpatrick. Seriously, what did they blackmail this guy with to make him appear in the movie? His acting helps the movie a lot, but not much. I was pretty disappointed in him in the scene where the Colonel and the Zombinator have the weakest fight EVER; definitely not believable considering both of the characters are supposed to be military and ex-military.

If you think I was too nice to this movie, let me be clear - The Zombinator suuuuuuuuuuuuuccccccccckkkkkkkksssssssss. And they really shouldn't have expected any better reaction than that when there was clearly no thought process at all behind the making of the movie. I feel horrible even giving this piece of shit any kind of recognition of its existence so I'm ending the review now. Screw you, Zombinator.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Franchise Review: Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled (2003)

Here we are at the end of the Wishmaster series. It began with a movie that was pretty good but not great, went into a slight decline with the second one, got uber-boring with the third one, and now here we are with the fourth one, which completely and utterly ruins the whole series with its stupidity.

Lisa and her boyfriend Sam are at first a happy couple moving into their first house, until a motorcycle accident leaves Sam in a wheelchair. With their relationship strained, Lisa grows closer to the lawyer in their case, Steven, who ends up giving her a gift that holds the Stone of Secret Fire. Lisa has awakened the Djinn (again - why is it always a woman?) without knowing it, and he takes on the identity of Steven to coax the three wishes out of her.

The biggest reaction I have to Wishmaster 4 is WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING? Once again, they've taken a series with a pretty cool villain and completely squandered all of its potential to be gory good fun. I don't even really know what to say about this bomb that was so lazy with its writing that it couldn't even get the opening text about the Djinn correct. Just watch the first movie - you know, the way, way, way better one? - and copy it! Not that hard. But that doesn't even hold a candle to the overall point of Wishmaster 4, which is the Djinn... discovering human love. Kill me now.

I was worried at the beginning of the movie when there was boobs and a somewhat graphic sex scene only three minutes in, but this is not that kind of movie. You soon realize that you almost want it to be that kind of movie when finally, after three movies, the third wish is made and the Djinn actually doesn't grant it in order to fulfill the prophecy, as the movie's subtitle falsely promises the audience. Lisa wishes that she could love him - that is Steven - for who he really is, and that confuses the Djinn because of some crap about how human love has to be given freely. So then the movie becomes about the Djinn trying to make Lisa fall in love with him. That is one place that I never thought this story would go. I never wanted this story to go there. I never thought the writers would be so stupid as to make a movie about a wish-granting genie demon falling in love with a human. So stupid. So very, very stupid.

The acting is surprisingly good from the three mains of Lisa, Sam, and Steven. The only one I recognized was Michael Trucco as Steven because of a guest role he had on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as a rapist - so I was already in the mind to see his character as a villain. Lisa is a nice, strong female character who is tough but still able to love Sam. She does contribute to her own relationship problems by spending so much time with Steven, but I can't really blame her based on how douchey Sam is to her pretty much every second of the day. Gosh, it sounds so tedious talking about relationship, lovey-dovey stuff in a fucking Wishmaster movie. This is horrible!

An added element to the Wishmaster story is the Hunter, who comes to earth to kill Lisa the waker before the third wish can be granted. So he's sort of a good guy because he has the power to stop the Djinns from taking over the world, but he's also a bad guy because he wants to kill Lisa (and because he kills that poor woman at Lisa's work - how rude). They hired what looks like a Calvin Klein model to play the Hunter because he has pretty hair and looks sexy with a sword. He and the Djinn have a pretty hilariously bad fight scene in the woods where many ludicrous lines of dialogue are thrown at each other in between bitchy throws and punches. The Hunter is killed in this fight, so his whole appearance in the movie was completely useless, except as a time-filler.

The Djinn is again played by John Novak, so again, he sucks. He still has the stupid voice and still has the pigtails, and they made his look even worse this time by giving him a red skirt to wear. The "wishes" he grants? Lame. There is only one semi-good gory scene: when he makes the lawyer mutilate himself by pulling out his tongue and cutting off his nose. The effects of the other Djinns arriving in a fiery background is so cheap looking that it is laughable. A low budget does not help a Wishmaster movie at all.

At the end of Wishmaster 4, I could not turn my TV off fast enough. This is a truly pointless sequel that does nothing to help a series that was already pretty well in the shitter. I gave the series a very fair chance, and all it did was let me down a little bit more with each installment. With this final film, I am beyond disappointed and almost a little angry at how bad they fucked all this up. So long, Wishmaster, I don't think I'll be seeing any of you again any time soon.

Project Terrible: Munchie (1992)

Welcome back to Project Terrible, horror fiends! This is that time wherein some very brave bloggers put their pain tolerance to the test when they let other bloggers decide which movies they must watch and review. Participants this round include what is becoming the core four of us - Alec from Mondo Bizarro, Robert from Gaming Creatively, Maynard from Maynard's Horror Movie Diary, and yours truly. So because I made Alec watch a horrible comedy with a strange creature in it called Mac and Me last time, he served up a dish of revenge by making me watch yet another very odd children's film - Munchie.

Gage Dobson is the new kid in town who just can't seem to get a fair break. His mother is dating a mean idiot, he is picked on by some bullies at school, he's failing math, his principal has it out for him, and he has an unrequited love for the prettiest girl in school. One day Gage finds a strange trunk with an even stranger creature inside named Munchie, who promises to be his friend and make all his problems go away. But Munchie's help ends up causing more chaos than good!

First of all, Munchie is mos' def' NOT a sequel to 1987's Munchies - the only thing they took from that movie was the title. Secondly, this is supposedly a "children and family" movie but at times seems a bit inappropriate for that targeted age group. I found myself laughing at much of the humor, though, because some of it was actually good! One of my favorite lines was "So, did you make the football team yet?" "No, but I decked the star quarterback." Very tongue-in-cheek, smart humor that reminded me a lot of another terribly inappropriate children's film, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Munchie is thankfully not as unintentionally terrifying as that movie is, but instead is just a quick little slapstick story that never goes any deeper than the surface situation. But really, why would you want it to?

The biggest thing this movie can boast is that it is the film debut of one Jennifer Love Hewitt
(credited as just "Love Hewitt"), who plays young Andrea, the object of Gage's affections. She is damn adorable just like I knew she would be. Loni Anderson is Gage's well-endowed mother, and Arte Johnson played my favorite character, Gage's friend and neighbor Professor Cruikshank. He is everybody's favorite quirky old guy, and a handy friend to have because of course he just happens to know something about our mysterious little creature. The kid playing Gage was happily not an annoying little shit, and actually was a good little actor with good comedic timing and facial expressions.

Munchie himself is of course the strangest thing about the movie. Despite a very slim attempt at explanation from the professor, Munchie's origins or the reasons for his magical powers are never explained. You seriously have no idea what Munchie is, and Gage never seems to give a crap because he never asks so I guess we're not supposed to care either. He is brought to life by some of the worst and most unenthusiastic puppeteering I've ever seen - his mouth barely moves and his hands just kind of spin about willy-nilly, not matching what he is saying at all. As aforementioned, he has magical powers but only uses them for stupid stuff like making a pizza fly across town so he and Gage can eat it. Horrible flying-pizza POV shot in here, by the way.

The plot is equally horrendous, if you can call this a plot. Most of it is Munchie causing some not-so-hilarious scenes while helping Gage catch the principal in a love tryst with his secretary (see what I mean? Inappropriate!); humiliate the preppy popular boy; beat up the football player; and ruin his mother's date with Dr. Carlisle, who is a bit of a douche. None of the physical comedy is nearly as entertaining as the written comedy. Dom DeLuise does his best as the voice of Munchie, but everything he says is only mildly funny and mostly annoying. Too bad, he could have been pretty awesome actually.

Though I was around the right age when this movie came out, I'm so glad that I never had the displeasure of seeing it. I will give it this, though, it was good for a laugh on an evening when I needed something to perk up my mood. You were half successful, Alec! Stupid movie, but in a stupidly entertaining way.

Also... added entertainment comes when you notice Angus Scrimm in a small but funny role in Gage's funeral daydream.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Franchise Review: Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001)

I'm inclined to take back every bad thing I said about the previous two Wishmaster films. This third installment, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell, changes things up a lot from what 1 and 2 established of the series and made it about ten times more boring and way less fun.

College student Diana Collins becomes the waker of the Djinn demon (why is the waker always a woman?) when she opens an artifact from Iran that holds the Stone of Secret Fire. The Djinn takes on the identity of Diana's professor and goes about killing and threatening her friends to force her to make her three wishes. Diana enlists the help of the archangel Michael, whose spirit takes over the body of her boyfriend Greg, to defeat the Djinn and save the world.

So they changed the story again for the third sequel, but they sort of revert it back to the simplicity of the first film. Thankfully, there's not as much time wasted on backstory, and actually more time spent on the main character, Diana, played by adorable AJ Cook. The movie becomes less about the Djinn and the horrible chaos he can create, and more about how Diana finds her inner strength to stop him. Or whatever. They give her some backstory about how she thinks she's responsible for the death of her parents in a car accident - but I honestly don't see how that relates to the story by the end. When the angel Michael is invoked, he brings with him the Sword of Justice (is that from a comic book or something?). Diana cannot hold the sword, which will kill the Djinn, until she is ready to sacrifice herself to save the world.

This element of the story didn't really bother me - what bothered me is that it came out of nowhere. One minute Diana and Greg are running from the Djinn, ending up in a church, and the next minute Diana is using her second wish to bring Michael. Whuh? Where did that come from? This story has never had a religious angle at all, and none of the research Diana does has her looking for religious help. So I'm not totally convinced on that plot point. The execution of Michael possessing Greg (although that's probably the wrong word) actually works well and doesn't come off as cheesy - I know, surprising, right?

This is a Wishmaster movie, so I was hoping that at least there would be some cool and gruesome wishes to look forward to. Not so much. Not so much at all. The only wish that is even remotely worth talking about is the girl who wants to lose weight and just sort of pukes up blood and fat and her stomach. Other than that, there's just some fire, an impaling, eaten by rats, and a heart that explodes - but they do that one the easy way by just showing a view of the heart from inside exploding, instead of doing a practical effect on the actress. And that's really all there is to talk about. So sad.

Everything about the Djinn is wrong in this movie. First, the look. The basic creature is still fairly the same as previous films but some subtle changes throw everything off for me. His color is a drab gray. The horn-like tendril things coming out of the top of his head are more prominent, and hang down loosely in a way that resembles a little girl's pigtails. His ears are still pretty big, but they must have made his head smaller in comparison because now they are all you look at when he's on screen. They are so ridiculous and distracting.

Secondly, the Djinn's voice is horrible. This is where I seriously miss Andrew Divoff, replaced as the Djinn by John Novak. Novak may be an actor and a voice actor, but his voice is so unbelievably wrong for the Djinn that I was actually quite taken aback when he first spoke. He doesn't sound remotely scary or as a demon with any kind of authority with a voice that is not even the usual deep, gravelly voice of a villain. Instead, his voice has a weird comical pitch which they try to make sound scarier by adding a reverb effect. It doesn't work. I cringed every time the Djinn opened his mouth and was happy that he used the professor's body and therefore his voice for most of the film.

Final verdict is that Wishmaster 3 blows. The biggest problem is that the tone of the film is way too serious. The overall sense of fun, the macabre joy that the Djinn had in what he did - it's all completely gone. I was bored and disappointed while watching it, not being able to laugh at anything that was happening. Only one more Wishmaster film to go. I don't have a good feeling.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Movie Review: Madhouse (1974)

Well, now. That was odd. Madhouse is an attractive movie on the outside for fans of classic horror because of its two big stars, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing, but I don't know that they would be particularly happy with the end result. What starts off a clever and fun whodunit mystery ends up being something completely different by the end - still not sure if that is a good thing or not.

Paul Toombes is at the height of his horror career from playing the villain Dr. Death when his young fiancée is murdered at one of his parties. Several years later, after a mental breakdown and a stint in an asylum, Paul travels to London to bring Dr. Death back to life in a new television series. But as a string of murders follows Paul wherever he goes, he starts to wonder if he may be responsible and not remember it.

I'm still not that knowledgeable at all about this era of horror films. I do know, however, that I love Vincent Price and what I've seen him in, and I'm slowly becoming familiar with Peter Cushing and all the Hammer films. Maybe because of this much of the symbolism for what the film has come to represent was a bit lost on me and that is of course not the movie's fault at all. What I got out of Madhouse was something very different, very confusing, and yet very well done. The story reminded me very much of the one in Targets, which has another titan of horror - Boris Karloff - basically playing himself as horror actor at the end of his era. There's also a hint of a giallo feel with the unknown, masked killer and the constant shots of the killer putting on black gloves.

Vincent Price can't seem to do anything wrong. He has slight moments of cheese in Madhouse but for the most part he takes on this more serious role with ease. You never know what his character is thinking or what he is capable of, and that is exactly the mystery the story needs to actually keep it a mystery. They do a great job of misdirection by showing Toombes waking up in bed after each murder confused, like maybe he doesn't know what he's been doing. Peter Cushing is Toombes's longtime friend and Dr. Death collaborator Herbert Flay. In my opinion, he definitely did not get enough screen time. He has one wonderful scene at the conclusion but he's not given enough to do for the rest of the film and it's a real shame.

Madhouse boasts a fair bodycount with not a lot of blood. The murders are similar to those that occur in Toombes's movies and are quite varied. Things start off with the beheading of Toombes's fiancée Ellen, and there's a great shot there of her head falling onto the dresser and Price's reaction. Then a random annoying actress gets a pitchfork to the neck; next is a hanging, and then another neck stabbing. Hm, all stuff having to do with necks. Strange.

One thing I loved about Madhouse was that most of the sets were the epitome of the classic "old dark house" that Price, and his character Toombes, are famous for. The elaborate dining room, the bedroom with the four-poster canopy bed, and especially the staircase the leads down to the cobwebby basement are made all the more classic when you add in Price using a candelabra to light the way as he creeps around the sets. The costuming is fantastic, especially on Dr. Death with the Mr. Hyde-like cape and hat and I loved his skeleton face makeup. The killer wears the exact same clothes, but instead of makeup, he also wears a skeleton mask, and it is one of the strangest skeleton heads I have ever seen. Very unsettling.

The turn that the film takes at the end is a little hard to swallow for me. There was no indication up until that point that anything supernatural or otherworldly was going on, so it feels completely out of nowhere. They do a neat little thing with Flay's wife's pit of spiders and there's a hilarious "red herring" joke to try to make up for it, but though I totally get the ending, I still can't help but think it's out of place. Maybe a different ending wouldn't have been better. It would have made more sense, though.

Despite any personal preferences, Madhouse gets the thumbs up! Price is always a joy to see and he rules the film just like he always does. Not to mention the fact that he wears beautiful pink pajamas in the film. My goodness, I love him even more after seeing that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Indie Horror: Pieces of Talent (2014)

Very interested in this, it looks quite original and not of the norm. Waiting for my screener to arrive in the mail!

Indie horror film Pieces of Talent now available on limited edition DVD and VHS
Features special effects by Tony Rosen who created Annabelle doll for The Conjuring
Purchase: Trailer:

Joe Stauffer's Pieces of Talent, an award-winning independent horror film, is now available on DVD exclusively at This special edition release comes autographed and includes a second disc featuring an hour of bonus content. Watch the official trailer on YouTube:

Pieces of Talent features special effects by Tony Rosen, who created the iconic Annabelle doll for The Conjuring and the upcoming Annabelle. Stauffer's unrelenting vision brings to mind the visual finesse of  David Fincher's Se7en with the unflinching intensity of Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In addition to the DVD, Pieces of Talent is also available for instant stream on your computer/mobile device and on limited edition, bloodied VHS tape. Collectors can also take home a unique "death scene" VHS and a hand-crafted bobble head. All of these items are available directly from the filmmakers via the Pieces of Talent webstore. For a limited time, you can enter the coupon code "horror" at check out to save $2.00 on your order.

"After an amazing run in the festival circuit, we are excited to finally have the film available to the public," explains Stauffer, who, in addition to directing, served as co-writer, cinematographer, composer and editor. "We poured our hearts into this project and can't wait for people to see it on the screen."

David Long, who co-wrote the script with Stauffer, stars as a maniacal serial killer posing as a filmmaker, with Kristi Ray as his latest muse. They are joined by Jon Stafford (Full Metal Jacket), Barbara Weetman (Stuck in Love) and Taylor Kowalski (Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever).

Set in the small coastal town of Bright Leaf, North Carolina, Pieces of Talent centers around Charlotte, a disillusioned aspiring actress that can barely get by. Charlotte catches a break when seemingly chance circumstances put her in contact with a local filmmaker, David Long. David and Charlotte form a quick friendship that leads to Charlotte landing the starring role in David’s newest project. David quickly becomes obsessed with Charlotte and begins building his bloody masterpiece. David is a happily obsessed individual willing to do whatever it takes to make “true art.” He utilizes his charm and skills to make something dark and deranged seem utterly beautiful and loving.

For more information and to purchase Pieces of Talent, visit the film's official website at Pieces of Talent can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Franchise Review: Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies (1999)

Well, despite any warnings you fine people tried to give me about the suckiness of the Wishmaster sequels, I have decided to forage ahead nonetheless. Glutton for punishment, that is me. Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies wasn't entirely that painful but I was still pretty disappointed with it. It doesn't even feel like a sequel at all - it's kinda like Return of the Living Dead 2 in that it is basically the same movie and not improved upon in any way.

When thieves break into an art gallery and damage the statue of Ahura Mazda, the evil Djinn is once again released on the world. As he goes about his business granting wishes and collecting souls, the person who awoke him, a young woman named Morgana, tries to learn as much as she can about her foe before he forces her to make her three wishes.

If you've seen the first Wishmaster and you start feeling a sense of deja vu while watching Wishmaster 2, it's because they are basically the same movie. Minor changes, or maybe enhancements, are made to certain elements of the story, but it's still the same story wrapped inside the same story structure. Djinn is released, Djinn grants wishes to random people and gross stuff happens, female protagonist has hallucinations and dreams about the Djinn until their final "battle" where her last wish sends him back. It happened in the first one and it happened in the second one... makes me really hope that they have something different in store for me with the third one.

As the titular Djinn wishmaster, Andrew Divoff returns to give the audience another performance full of odd smiles and speech patterns. I almost doubt that that is even Divoff's real voice because it sounds so strange and detached from his body. Maybe that's just me. Divoff also has a great evil, creepy smile that I loved in the first Wishmaster. However in Wishmaster 2, that freaking smile never, ever leaves his face and it actually got really annoying. Holly Fields is Morgana, our semi-punky rebel girl with a good heart and head. Other than that she's quite a bore with no personality. The same goes for her priest friend Gregory, who probably should be more integral in the defeat of the Djinn but he's really not at all. His character just ends up being kinda there. The two kung-fu fighting prisoners are more interesting than this guy.

The wishes this time around are again partly satisfying on a bloody level, and partly lame. The lamest wishes are a cop that freezes to death (because he said, "Freeze!" to the Djinn - how is that a wish?) and the Russian crime boss who wants the head of his enemy - so he ends up literally having his head instead of his own. Some of the better ones include the guy whose body squishes through the bars of a jail cell and whatever the hell it was that happened to the guy whose insides sort of exploded out of his body. Really not sure what happened there, but it was bloody and gross so I liked it. While the Djinn is collecting souls in a prison, one inmate (Robert LaSardo - great niche actor) wishes that his lawyer would go fuck himself. All I could think was, "OMG PLEASE DO THIS, I HAVE TO SEE WHAT THIS LOOKS LIKE." It's not nearly as bad as what you might be thinking, but it's still hilarious to watch. Also hilarious is the scene at the casino, where a roulette wheel and playing cards are used as rolling and flying dangers in yet another massive chaos sequence like those in the first film.

The part of the story that was changed or added to was the exact number of souls the Djinn needed to gather - 1,001. Whew. He craftily gets this accomplished in what seems like only a number of days, though, so good on him. Morgana is also able to defeat the Djinn not only through a cleverly chosen wish, but also because she is now one "pure of heart." She trades her bare midriff shirts for a modest flowery dress and takes out her nose ring - but can someone explain to me what cutting off part of her pinkie finger did or where this idea even came from? What was most annoying about the story was how long they spent re-explaining who the Djinn was and all the history that was already established in the first film. A little explanation is needed to keep new viewers up to speed, but you really don't need to stretch it out over the course of the whole film almost.

All in all, Wishmaster 2 is just a fair sequel. I thought for sure that this one would be much bloodier and crazier than the first, but alas, I was disappointed. Even though I'm probably still going to watch them out of curiosity, I can't believe they still went ahead and made two more movies from this. Fingers crossed that something good happens in one of them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rest In Peace, Marilyn Burns

The horror community has lost a beloved icon. Marilyn Burns, who we all know and love as the final girl from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Sally Hardesty, passed away in her home on Tuesday, at the young age of 65. Burns also starred in Tobe Hooper's 1977 film Eaten Alive, and did a surprising and awesome cameo in 2013's Texas Chainsaw 3D.
I wish I could say that I had the pleasure of meeting her at a convention, but when I had the chance, I didn't take advantage of the opportunity. She was at Texas Frightmare Weekend in 2013, and I could tell how excited hardcore fans were that she was there. I stopped once to take the picture shown below and watch her interact with a fan, and she was incredibly kind, sweet, and gracious, always with a big smile.
Your impact was great and you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Marilyn.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

I avoided Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters for a long time because of certain preconceived notions that the title alone brought up. I likened it to the Underworld series, which I am not a fan of, and expected moronic action that would only make me mad to watch. Now I admit to being wrong. Hansel and Gretel is for sure no cinematic masterpiece, but, holy crap, is it a good time. I dig it.

As children, Hansel and Gretel became known for killing the witch who tried to cook them. Now the siblings have grown up to become professional witch hunters, using their hatred and some nifty weapons to take out witches all over the place. They face one of their toughest and most personal battles ever when evil witch Muriel plans a dangerous Sabbath ritual that means danger for them all.

The wiki entry for Hansel and Gretel best describes the movie and what I think is the general consensus about it - "unpretentiously entertaining." This is a movie that doesn't care about being anything other than a fun romp that doesn't take itself even the least bit seriously. When done the right way, a movie with this attitude can be a huge success, especially when it is backed up by some fun action gags and decent enough story that at least keeps things moving. Some stuff was obviously filmed specifically for the 3D aspect (hate that), but it's not too much and doesn't distract.

The casting leaves a little to be desired in some roles. Jeremy Renner is actually pretty perfect as the often sour-faced Hansel who doesn't like to dwell on the past. Famke Janssen, one of my favorite actresses, portrays Muriel in a beautifully joyous way, and Peter Stormare as the sheriff is always awesome to see no matter what he does. The only person that brings down the cast a bit is Gemma Arterton as Gretel. She's cute and all, but I just didn't feel anything from her. Her performance is flat - the troll Edward shows more emotion than this girl. I didn't learn until after watching the film that writer/director Tommy Wirkola was also responsible for Dead Snow, one of my favorite films of recent years, and its sequel, which I'm still anxiously waiting to see. He brought the same sense of fun to Hansel and Gretel that he did to Dead Snow, and brought out the right attitude in the actors.

The thing that I usually hate about movies like this was the very thing that made me laugh most of the way through it. Anachronisms abound in Hansel and Gretel; most of them have to do with the look of the film and the weapons the witch hunters use, and some of them are used to get a laugh out of the audience. I loved the deal with the milk bottles with drawings of missing children tied to them and the fanboy Benjamin's book of clippings about Hansel and Gretel's witch hunting exploits. The weapons are beyond unbelievable for the time period - shotguns, a Gatling gun, Gretel's crazy machine gun-like crossbow, etc. - but most of the action sequences would have been nothing without them. The fashions are also completely out there... though I did sort of love Hansel's coat with the cool tiered shoulders.

The CGI effects are obvious, but not unbearably so. The CGI blood makes the kills feel a bit tamer and PG-13, though, so some cool kills are left feeling a little less cool and not as hardcore. At the same time, this is exactly what I was expecting and I wasn't that disappointed with what I got. There's a guy exploding in a bar, the Sabbath massacre, and probably my favorite part - the troll head-smashing sequence. So sad about Stormare, but he went out in an awesome way.

A very surprising thumbs up for a movie I wasn't expecting to like at all! Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is simply a good time all around, a movie with a good sense of humor and unpretentious understanding of what it is. Bring on Part 2!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Omnivores (2013)

Though all types of murderers are disgusting and repulsive, there will probably always be an extra feeling of revulsion toward the cannibal. Filmmakers have of course dealt with this subject many times in the past, and yet not since 1999's Ravenous have I enjoyed the treatment of the subject so much. This Spanish film Omnivores is very subtle in its approach of cannibalism and makes it work for itself very well.

Food critic Marcos Vela is hired to investigate and write about certain "clandestine restaurants" that have begun popping up around Spain - restaurants with very strict rules, serving all types of delicacies out of people's homes. A fellow clandestine restaurant attendee tells Marcos of a place that supposedly serves human flesh, and once he gains exclusive access to the party, he learns the horrible truth of the place and how it is run.

The film opens with probably the most gruesome part of the whole film. A young boy, Dimas, is left alone with his sick mother in a cabin. When they have run out of food and the mother dies - the horrifying inevitability happens. Dimas grows up to be the host of the cannibal clandestine restaurant, with the help of his butcher Matarife. At the first restaurant Marcos goes to, he meets Eva, who offers to help him maneuver through this secret world and with whom he has a bit of a tryst. There is no hint of a backstory for any character other than Dimas, so the movie becomes entirely plot-driven and situational. Which is totally fine with me. But I was so curious about Matarife (though I had to do some research on what his name was because they never said it as far as I could tell) and what his story was and how he hooked up with Dimas, etc. With everyone else you can make inferences about their characters, and you'd probably be right.

For a film about cannibals, Omnivores is surprisingly not overly gory or bloody. This has bothered me before in other cannibal movies (We Are What We Are) and I have to admit that I would have liked to see some more action, but Omnivores seemed to have a different feeling to it that perhaps didn't warrant anything too gory. The tone is not exactly humorous but neither is it fully horrifying. You know that eventually all these cannibals that Marcos meets are going to get their comeuppance, and that is what the movie is about. The scenes where Matarife is preparing the victims for dinner only have two really squirmy moments - he pours some kind of burning liquid on one guy and scrapes his skin off, and then later the same guy gets a really well done jab in the neck with a knife, with some excellent blood spurtage. Those parts still can't beat the makeup work on the mother's body at the beginning, though, because that was pretty righteous.

The most confusing and somewhat frustrating part of the plot to me was the people's acceptance of Marcos into their circle at all. At the first dinner party he attends, people know that he is a writer and he actually tells him that he is going to write about these clandestine restaurants. Dimas also had to have known who he was and yet he actually shows Marcos the butcher room where the next meal is hanging from the ceiling. The flimsy explanation that Eva gives Marcos is that he has to eat the flesh so that he will technically be just as guilty as the rest of them. Ehhhhhh, maybe... but I think the police could overlook that small detail in favor of arresting the person or people who, you know, kidnapped, murdered, and butchered an untold amount of people, don't you think?

The ending is nothing short of delightful. Truth be told, I was expecting a fairly bloody mess as Marcos had to kill his way out of Dimas's home or something, but I was actually quite happy that the filmmakers chose to make the conclusion much more subtle, while still immensely satisfying. It quickly becomes obvious just which direction the conclusion is heading, and it only made me more giddy to find out I was right.

Omnivores is an interesting movie that many people will probably see as boring. To me it had the quirkiness of a Tales from the Crypt episode, where you may not be into it the rest of the episode but the climax makes up for all of it. I thought this movie was a nice, quick, new way to look at and deal with cannibalism and I enjoyed it for the moment.