Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Short and Sweet: Hack Job (2015)

Getting a lot of short films sent to me lately, and they have actually all been really good. Personally, I think making a short film is more challenging than a feature length film simply because of the constraints you're under. The story has to be quick, easy to follow, and have room to grow. "Hack Job" by filmmaker Matthew McPhee is a great example of this. Well made and intriguing - I want to see more!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Movie Review: Chopping Mall (1986)

No really, I promise I'm not dead. I guess I just needed another little hiatus, which actually came at a bad time because I'm about to take another little hiatus come this Thursday when I leave for my THIRD Texas Frightmare Weekend! Oh, yes, I will have detailed recaps. And this year is the 10th anniversary for the convention so you definitely won't want to miss all the awesome. In the interim, though, I watched Chopping Mall and it was fucking amazing.

A group of hot young 80s kids become trapped overnight in a mall after sneaking in to do some partying and fornicating at the furniture store. But that same night, the three new security robots go rogue after a bad lightning strike and start killing off the kids one by one. You know, because they gotta protect all that important mall shit AT ALL COSTS.

So the movie has a bit of a false start as they begin with showing a promotional video for how the robot guards work by having one take down a robber. The characters at this presentation never show up in the movie again and only serve as exposition for introducing the robots and all the cool toys and attachments they have, kind of like vacuum cleaners, because you know that all that stuff is going to come up later in the plot later when the killing starts.

Anywho, we move on from there to a pretty funny opening credit sequence followed by the introductions for a few of our main characters. These include the cute-but-not-hot-enough final girl (spoiler alert) Allison and her friend Suzie. The guys that work at the furniture store where the party will be are Greg, Mike, and "I can't find the fuchsia" Ferdy. Rick and Linda are a married couple who own a garage, and Leslie is the ditzy blonde with big tits. Everyone is actually fairly likable despite the occasional bouts of cheesy acting, especially from Leslie and her boobs. Allison and Linda are particularly impressive, and I really wish the latter character had survived longer.

The kills in Chopping Mall are surprisingly awesome given the movie's cheapness. The first couple of deaths are lame, but then out of nowhere things get really amazing when Leslie is chased by a robot after finding Mike's dead body. It goes after her with little laser shots in the ass, until one makes a direct hit to her head and makes it explode in the most glorious way. I fell in love. There's also a burning, a fall from several stories, and another laser kill (a really lame death that Linda didn't deserve). Actually, what is more cool than the robot kills are the elaborate traps that the humans set up for them. They were much more inventive than I was expecting. The thing with the elevator was very cool, and Allison's thing with all the paint and paint thinner went on for a little too long but was still a good idea. You know a girl means business when she sticks a road flare down her shirt "just in case."

Overall, I found Chopping Mall to be just as cheesy as you would think it would be from the title - but also very smart. It still has the fun 80s vibe with the light-hearted tone, and the pacing is good, with only a few lulls here and there. Otherwise, the action is good and the likable characters are very proactive in their situation, which I like a lot. Really fun, cool movie that still has a good head on its shoulders. That it explodes really well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Short and Sweet: Something's Coming to Get Us

I'm not dead, just busy. Will be getting back to reviews soon!

In the meantime, here is a nice little short film for you all to enjoy today! The drawings are pretty cool, I gotta say.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Wait, what? Is this little blog FIVE years old today? Yes, it is!

Seriously, where does the time go? I wish I had had time to create a more detailed post for this anniversary - thanking everybody and whatnot - but really, what more is there to say but THANK YOU?! Thank you to everyone that has ever stopped by and liked or hated what they read. Thank you to everyone that has ever taken the time out of their day to write a comment or send me a nice email (and I have kept all of them!). Thank you to all my blog buddies (you know who you are) for all the support, encouragement, criticisms, and compliments. Also thank you to those blog buddies who have done a great job on your own blogs, because it only inspires me to keep going all the time.
I've met so many great people over the years, made some cool contacts and connections, and had the opportunity to discover a whole slew of movies and books that I probably otherwise would not have found out about. My blog is also how I got my current position as a contributing writer for WickedHorror.com, and I am totally loving that so far!
So basically, this has been one amazing ride! I never thought having this little blog would take me as far as it has, and I am so completely grateful for every good and bad experience I've had. Us horror fiends are the best, and I look forward to five (or ten or twenty) more years of dishing about our favorite genre films! Bloody best to all of you!!!

In related news, I also turned 30 yesterday, so that's two milestones reached back-to-back. What a fantastic year!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Movie Roundup: V/H/S: Viral, Repentance, and The Fifth Element

V/H/S: Viral (2014)
More Nacho Vigalondo in the roundup today, friends. But his appearance here is both good and bad. Overall, V/H/S: Viral made me pretty angry while I was watching it because it so immensely shitty. I didn't totally love either of the first two films, but they each had some really solid stand-out segments that were put together with a semi-decent wraparound story. This third installment, though, basically has no wraparound story - or at least not one that really makes any sense or is explained all that well. The individual segments then just feel sort of there, with no real cohesion. "Dante the Great" was actually pretty cool with its flashy visuals and neat special effects but it didn't match the style of any of the previous V/H/S segments so it feels really out of place; Nacho's "Parallel Monsters" was probably the best one; and then it all goes to shit with the last segment "Bonestorm" and then the conclusion of the wraparound. Really wasn't feeling this movie at all, or maybe it's just that the V/H/S movies have run their course. Let's hope so, because I don't know if there is any coming back from this.

Repentance (2014)
I was curious about this one because Forest Whitaker is obviously THE MAN, and it was sorta recommended to me in a roundabout way. So anyway, the movie is about a life coach who needs money when his deadbeat brother comes back into his life, so he takes on a personal client in Angel Sanchez (Whitaker). But Angel gets all unnerved when the coach stops his therapy, so he kidnaps him and holds him hostage in his home. The torture that Angel inflicts is actually pretty harsh at times, which doesn't really mesh with the movie's tone. It says "psychological thriller" but it could just as easily be a straight-up drama, even if the main character didn't lose any fingers. Or get shot. The ending is ambiguous, so we don't really get to find out either way. Overall Repentance feels like a way more intense Lifetime movie that thinks it's saying something really poignant, but isn't really saying anything at all. Sadly, Whitaker isn't worth this one - it's a miss.

The Fifth Element (1997)
Yeah, I had never seen The Fifth Element until like, two months ago. So how could NO ONE tell me how awesome this movie was for the past EIGHTEEN YEARS?! I mean, oh my goodness, The Fifth Element is just such a joyous feast for the eyes and ears from start to finish. It has Bruce Willis, Chris Tucker, Gary Motherfucking Oldman, Milla Jovovich, and all kinds of futuristic shenanigans that had me so fucking mesmerized and amazed. And I LOVE Luc Besson, too, so I had to kick myself in the ass even harder for not seeing this sooner. Just go ahead and chastise me, I know I deserve it.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Movie Review: Nurse (2013)

Wait, this movie was in 3D? Especially after finally seeing it, I simply must ask the question - "What in the hell for?" I have never heard of such an unnecessary use of 3D before. Truth be told, the movie wasn't all that good for 2D, either. The poster makes it look like it's going to be a lot more sexy, bloody, and interesting than it ends up being, and that is very, very disappointing.

Abby Russell is a dedicated nurse at All Saints Hospital, but she has a weakness for seducing and then murdering men she feels are the worst - cheaters. She is thrown from this personal mission when she becomes involved with Danni Rodgers, a new young nurse at her hospital that she takes under her wing.

Nurse had the perfect setup to be a wonderfully fun camp film with a healthy dose of blood and sex, but it doesn't take advantage of anything that it has going for it. A big problem that contributed to this is that the movie lacks any real focus - it doesn't fully commit to what kind of movie it wants to be, and it doesn't fully focus on a single character. Abby's voiceover throughout suggests that as our narrator, the movie should be told through her eyes. And yet, half of the film seems focused on Abby and the other half seems focused on Danni, the protagonist. The tone is also hard to place. It's a black comedy, but it's not funny at all. It's bloody, but it's not exactly horror all the time. I don't know what it is.

Paz de la Huerta was miscast. Sure, she has a killer hot bod that looks good in that ridiculous nurse's uniform, but everything else about her was so wrong. Abby Russell should have been much more magnetic and charismatic. De la Huerta's diction made it seem like she was going for sultry and pouty, when it really sounded like someone whose first language was not English because of how long it took her to say each line of dialogue (P.S. this is not the case - Paz is American!). Though she gives Abby a lot of confidence in everything that she does, she doesn't make her all that charming, or like she is capable of seducing any man she comes in contact with, which is what the movie suggests. I read somewhere that Dita von Teese was supposed to be in the movie - I think she would have made a much better Abby.

Katrina Bowden, the adorable cutie from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, tries to step up her game in Nurse as Danni Rodgers. There isn't really much to her character though, and she basically ends up being the typical "figure out who this crazy bitch really is" characters so we can get to the bloody showdown at the end. Boris Kodjoe plays a guy who is way too hot to be a policeman, and is also one of the worst policemen ever because he can't figure out for himself that Abby is a nutcase.

Speaking of the bloody showdown - it really is the best part of the movie, but it's not enough. If Abby was this crazy murderer without a conscience, then we should've gotten some better kills earlier in the movie than just her pushing some guy off a roof. They save all the really good, bloody stuff for the end and it's over far too quickly for it to be satisfying. The flow of the action at the end is also really off and everything happens too easily for Abby. How the hell did she get out of the hospital after all that carnage anyway, SERIOUSLY? Danni is pretty much forgotten about at the end, and another character who they try to make all symbolic (the only man Abby likes) is talked into committing a felony also way too easily just so they can get to the winky-wink ending they had picked out.

I don't know about you all, but I was left with a huge "That's it?" reaction for Nurse. If they had really embraced the inherent campiness that the movie had going for it visually, it could have been much more fun and effective.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Movie Roundup: Houdini, Open Windows, and Dark Skies

Houdini  (2014)
Every since I was a child, I have loved magic. There was this TV show that came on once every year called The World's Greatest Magic and I never missed it. Magic shows are just fucking awesome, I don't care who you are. I also learned everything I possibly could about Harry Houdini and still consider him one of my personal idols, so when I finally got the chance to watch this (yet another) miniseries documenting the life of the Great Houdini, I was all over it. And I loved it, too. I was even crying by the end because I am that much of a dweeb and I love this guy that much. Adrien Brody as Houdini was fantastic, and Kristen Connolly as his wife was okay, but mostly I loved the way the story of Houdini's life was presented here. During Brody's voiceovers, he kept referring to the bad things that happened to him as a "punch in the gut" - which was both genius and sad because a punch in the gut is exactly what led to Houdini's death. "Houdini" is a very solid miniseries and a respectful look into the life of one of America's icons.

Open Windows (2014)
What do you call cheese that isn't yours? NACHO CHEESE! Pardon the bad joke, but I needed something to help me stray from getting too angry over Open Windows. Nacho Vigalondo (hence the bad nacho cheese joke) helms this movie with a concept that I admit at first sounded kinda cool - but once I saw it in practice, realized it wasn't at all. Open Windows stars Elijah Wood as a geeky fanboy to Sasha Grey who gets sucked into this crazy online chaos scam by a super-computer-hacker. I know that doesn't make any sense, but neither does the movie. The whole movie is shown to the audience through a series of "open windows" on Wood's computer screen - random cameras and chat screens, that kind of thing. It got very old after a while, and as the movie headed toward the stupidest and most disappointing climax ever, the quality got very lame as well. I finished watching it just to see how it would end, but I just wasn't feeling the last half of the movie at all.

Dark Skies (2013)
Gah! This fucking movie tricked me again! It tricked me into watching it the first time, thinking that it might be good, but it wasn't good so I forgot all about it. Then it popped up in my Netflix suggestions again and, since I had forgotten about it, I was all "Hmm, maybe this could be good." It's not good, damnit! It's not! Why couldn't I remember that?! Dark Skies is an utterly run-of-the-mill, boring piece of PG-13 alien crap. There's nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing that hasn't been done many times before - which was probably why it was so forgettable. The bland, one-dimensional characters don't help the movie at all, and the acting is only good enough to earn a paycheck. Dark Skies is a turkey, you all probably already know that.