Halloween Scene: Stranger Things & The Like

stranger-things-posterHey, look, it’s nearly October and I’ve already watched a bunch of great stuff! Like the rest of the world, I fell in love with Stranger Things and even wrote a list for CBR about a dozen other movies and shows you should check out if you liked it as much as me. Regular readers won’t be surprised by how much I responded to the idea of a bunch of kids trying to stop something far beyond their natural abilities. Plus, it gave me a great reason to re-watch the likes of The Gate and Cloak & Dagger. Continue reading Halloween Scene: Stranger Things & The Like

I Watch A Lot Of Movies: Watchers, Flash Gordon & The Next Three Days

I haven’t been watching as many movies lately because we’ve been sitting on Super 8 from Netflix for weeks now and I’ve been watching a lot of TV on Instant lately. But, this week, I got back to it. Most of these flicks I kind of only half watched, but I have good things to say about each of them, so I figured this would be a good post.

Watchers (1988) is kind of ET meets Cujo with some Deadly Friend thrown in. See, Corey Haim stars as a kid whose girlfriend’s dad gets killed by a monster that’s genetically altered to be psychically connected to a super smart dog that stows away in his truck. Michael Ironside also stars as the government guy trying to get the animals back.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what else the movie was about because this one got about a third of my attention, but Haim’s charming nature and Ironside’s insanity-bubbling-below the surface both made an impression on me. Those guys are the best.

I was also struck by the weird balance of this movie. I mean, it’s rated R, but the main characters are a teenage boy and his new dog basically palling around and being heroes. But, with blood and monsters. You definitely couldn’t get away with something like this today.

I know a lot of people for whom Flash Gordon (1980) was a very important movie to them growing up, but that wasn’t the case for me. I’m guessing that’s because it came out three years before I was born and thus placed somewhat outside my purview as a kid, but I also don’t remember it being on TV much like a lot of other movies. My only real exposure to the film came from the Queen soundtrack which I’ve heard bits and pieces of over the years and the action figures that Bif Bang Pow made. So, as I was watching the film for the first time, I kept recognizing characters I otherwise wouldn’t have seen, which was kind of fun.

Anyway, I also didn’t know anything about Flash Gordon as a property or franchise, so this was definitely an interesting experience. From what I gathered (again, my attention was split at best), Flash Gordon is a football player who winds up in space with a woman and a scientist where he winds up in the middle of a conflict between Ming the Merciless and…other people.

I may have missed a lot of the details, but I did catch a lot of the great costumes and special effects used in the film. I continue to believe that practical effects age far better than CGI ones, so it’s great to see people figuring out how to make certain things look, like the winged dudes who fly around like Hawkman. I might not have paid much attention this time around, but I will definitely give this one another look when I have a little more time to devote to it.

I wasn’t sure if I had seen The Next Three Days (2010) because it sounded an awful lot like Law Abiding Citizen which also focuses on a man trying to game the system in order to get to someone in prison. While that one’s about a super genius taking revenge on the man who killed his wife, this one is about a regular guy trying to use what he has to break his wrongly incarcerated wife from the clink. Instead of setting up these wildly complicated and impressive plan, Russell Crowe instead uses his iPhone, YouTube clips and talking to a man who had busted out of prison to figure things out.

It’s an interesting angle to take on this type of movie we’ve all seen a few times. Can a regular man really bust a person out of jail? Maybe, maybe not, but this flick offers at least a possible way (technically, he breaks her out of a hospital instead of jail, which definitely makes it more likely).

There seemed to be a pretty big logic gap towards the end when Crowe was ready to implement his plan and decides to simply throw away all his research material. Now, I think this turned out to be a way to distract the police who searched his house, but still, wouldn’t it just be better to burn everything so they have nothing to work with? I don’t know, I’m not trying to break anyone out of jail. I could be wrong and probably am. Anyway, this was a fun little action flick that gets pretty intense at times, especially as plans get foiled towards the end of the movie, but it’s a fun ride to go on.

Live Blogging: Crank High Voltage (2009)

Continuing the Crank fun from the other day and to show my support for tonight’s Manly Movie Night I’ll be missing, here’s my live blog of Crank’s sequel Crank: High Voltage. I was super jealous of Sean when he got to see this flick in theaters and blogged about it. Sean had this to say earlier this year: “Like an unholy cross between Chuck Norris’s Invasion U.S.A., Troma, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the movie was wildly and needlessly experimental, and was offensive even to me at times, and had no redeeming social value whatsoever except to punch you in the face repeatedly with a fist made of entertainment. I’d be amazed all over again if I see a movie I enjoy more than this one for the rest of the year.” I would honestly count this as one of the best action movies of all time and it’s ability to top its predecessor, which was already an impressively over the top movie is, well, just plain amazing.

The plot of this one is that Chev Chelios fell out of the helicopter, but they grabbed his body right away and kept him alive for 3 months before opening him up to harvest his organs. They get his heart and replace it with a robot one, but it isn’t until he overhears them talking about cutting of his penis that he freaks out and kicks ass. Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam return in their same roles and Efren Ramirez plays his character from the first movie’s brother Venus. Now, instead of needing adrenaline to stay alive, Chev has to shock his robot heart to keep it charged. As you can imagine, it’s amazing.

Again spoilers follow and I highly encourage you to see this movie as soon as possible. It just came out on DVD last week or the week before. It’s simply amazing. Well, here we go.

*Love that 8-bit credits.

*This is like watching Star Wars or Lord of the Rings back to back, but way cooler.

*News guy calls events of the first movie “implausible” – no kidding.

*Oh man, that dude puts ashes in Chev’s open chest cavity. That’s cold.

*He’s awake during the surgery!!!

*”The famous Chelios heart” – subtitle, dude’s so rad his HEART is famous.

*Where did she shove that pencil? Not cool.

*He dips the shotgun in tar and sticks it up the dude’s ass–that’s what you get bad guy!

*I like that he basically figures out the catch to survival on his own in both movies.

*”Jesus H. Chelios” – needs to be on a T-shirt.

*Nice film strip-like fake heart explanation from Yoakam.

*Oh man, his battery is already messed up after skidding.

*I don’t think any movie star runs more than Statham.

*I love seeing the Social Club get emptied from the outside, that’s a great touch. One man goes in (Chev) and everyone else flies out!

*There’s Corey Haim…in a strip club, did he even know this was a movie? He’s wearing a Nice Jugs t-shirt with pictures of milk jugs. Classy.

*Strippers with guns, it’s like Sin City with implant jokes.

*Haha, the cops tazed him, not good for them.

*They finally explained that he’s been gone for three months, love the phone message explanation.

*”Is Doc Miles gonna have to choke a bitch?” – nice one Dwight!

*Nice porn star cameos in the porn strike scene.

*Free style walking ball smash!

*Dog shock collar and the dog bits the cops junk, heh, nice.

*Kaylo’s brother Venus has tourettes, that should be interesting.

*He’s dry humping an old lady and she’s loving it!

*The soundtrack is brilliant, Tarantin-esque.

*People love watching people have sex in various positions on a race track.

*Smart’s way too turned on by seeing horse penis.

*”Well, you ain’t no Ralph Macchio yourself Chev” – Venus.

*Gotta love a good man vs. car chase.

*They just made the heart transplant nonsense make sense. Impressive.

*Best in-car shootout ever.

*Dude just cut off his own nipples, squirm-o-ramma.

*Love seeing Haim get the hammer dropped on him by Smart after sucking.

*The shrink totally wants to bang the orderly from the first one…heh, sucks to be him.

*What the? It’s like Godzilla under the power lines!!!

*Interesting talk show-style flashback to Chev as a kid with his mom complete with “he’s a bad kid” clips. His mom looks an awful lot like Amy Smart.

*That’s a lot of balls, but nicely followed by lots of boobs and butts.

*Floating robot head villain from the first movie AND his brother is The Ferret AND Ferret’s beating Chev with a cat-o-nine-tails.

*Venus FINALLY kicks ass and with nun-chucks no less.

*Crazy awesome multi-group shoot out and fight scene!!!

*Chev’s literally on fire and kicking ass, damn, even his face. GET SOME WATER!

*Watch through the credits as they actually end the story there and then do some fun out takes and whatnot.

13.5 Quick Movie Reviews

2009-01-17
5:32:32 am

Hey gang, sorry again about my complete lack of posts lately, things have been crazy. I have been keeping myself busy with movies though, so here are 13 short reviews about some flicks I’ve seen lately, plus one movie I didn’t watch.

SIX STRING SAMURAI (1998)

I really liked this post apocalyptic-like road trip movie with a samurai Buddy Holly. The howler-monkey kid got annoying fast, but the action and snappy dialogue kept things moving along at quite a clip. Much better than I thought it would be.

OUR MAN FLINT (1966)

Flint’s a swinging secret agent int he 60s more worried about having a good time than stopping an international incident (at first at least). Great, campy 60s spy fun, that both pokes fun at but also sets itself up in the same universe as James Bond. A lot of fun, can’t wait to check out the sequel.

THE MAJORETTES (1986)

I don’t actually remember too much about this movie other than it involved some maniac hunting down and killing high school cheerleaders. It’s a way lower budget movie and apparently very little of the money went to snag actors who can, you know, act. Skip this one unless you’re a horror completist or you’re looking to cross another movie off in your copy of Creature Feature (like me).

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008)

I was actually pretty impressed with this remake-in-name-mostly of Romero’s Day of the Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything, but I wasn’t expecting much out of this flick and was surprised. The story moves along the same speeds as the fast Zack Snyder/28 Days Later-like zombies, but my favorite part is seeing actual people I recognize like Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames killing and becoming zombies. When was the last time you saw a non genre actor semi-famous person in a horror movie after they became famous? Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t release this movie in theaters. Oh well, a pretty good zombie movie all said and done, though not a classic.

THE SHADOW (1994)

In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong when you populate a movie about a pulp hero with actors like Alec Baldwin, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Ian McKellen, James Hong and Jonathan Winters and luckily The Shadow held up my opinions. I’m not all that familiar with pulp heroes, especially the Shadow, but I like the idea of him having a network of people all over the city (usually people he has saved) who help him out. There’s all kinds of cool stuff like secret labs and ancient forces of good and evil. Oh and for 30 Rock fans, I highly encourage you to think of these as the early days of Jack Donaghy.

LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

A pretty cool story about a gangster-era hitman (Willis) holing up in a ghost town populated by two rival gangs, gets slowed down with a little too much back and forth back stabbing. I definitely don’t remember all the details about this one, but I’m a Willis fan. Michael Imperioli plays pretty much the same role he always does and Walken stars as Willis’ main competition and they fight which is cool. Can you imagine Walken fighting now? Aside from a dance fight I mean. Oh, also Walter Hill of Warriors fame directed LMS, so it’s gotta be pretty good, right?

FOXY BROWN (1974)

So far my experience with blaxploitation films as been hit or miss, but luckily Foxy is enough of a hit. In the plus column, Pam Grier cuts quite the figure, plus she kicks ass. I also like the idea of a group of inner city dwellers taking the law into their own hands and creating their own kind of police force. I’m not a big fan of the sexual assault stuff, but I guess that’s all part of the exploitation riff. Too bad Foxy and Shaft never got together. That would have been a great flick.

LEATHERHEADS (2008)

I’m not sure if I’ve professed my heterosexual man love for George Clooney on the blog before, but I’m a big fan. I think we’d get along smashingly. I do know that I’ve talked about how much I like the American Office, so you probably know I’m a John Krasinski fan. So, Leatherheads was a good flick in my book. It doesn’t make my top 10 sports movies of all time (well, maybe, I’d have to come up with that list actually), but it’s fun and it offered up a look at a period in professional football that I am completely unfamiliar with, so that was cool. Of course, it’s a comedy, so I’m not sure how accurate it was, but who cares? Like I said it was fun. Has similar story elements to League of the their Own (which probably would make my top 10 because I’m a huge softy). Not groundbreaking by any means, but worth a watch.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)

I liked Leatherheads more than Journey, but it’s not a terrible movie (even if it is very predictable). The special effects bounce back and forth between boderline okay, pretty good and not so great, but the effort is there. I really wish I would have been able to see this bad boy in 3D. I missed out on the phenomenon in the 80s and have gotten a taste for it by watching Superman Returns (ugh) and Nightmare Before Christmas in lame separate the background from the foreground 3D. I can’t freaking wait to see My Bloody Valentine 3D!!!

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

Holy crap I loved this movie. Rickey got me a subscription to a horror movie mag called Horror Hound that’s not expertly edited, but still offers up tons and tons of horror goodness. One such bit of goodness was a whole feature on Klowns. The movie is just so much freaking over the bigtop fun. I really can’t believe that a studio made this movie. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also of interest on the DVD is the Chiodo brothers’ home movies from when they were making monster movies as kids. Pretty impressive stuff for pre-teens with a 16mm camera.

VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003)

The combination of Hong Kong action and vampires drew me to this flick pretty quickly on Netflix. Heck, it’s even got Jackie Chan in a roll that’s more than him just walking on and being called Jackie (which he is). As with a lot of movies like this that I’ve seen, the special effects and fight scenes are sick, but the story itself is nothing new. I did really like the cool retractable whip/sword weapons they used. I think I designed something very similar what I was younger.

LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988)

If you thought Corey Haim could have been a little bit smoother, though still pretty spazzy in Lost Boys and Corey Fledman from the Burbs could use a little mellowing out, then License to Drive is the perfect 2 Coreys vehicle for you (puns!). Haim fails his driving test, but still tells a young (though still 18 by my math) Heather Graham that he can pick her up. It’s basically like an episode of a sitcom, but stretched to 90 minutes and definitely edgier than your average Saved By The Bell. Good stuff. Next up from the Coreys? Dream a Little Dream (which I have absolutely no knowledge of).

LEGEND (1985)

Legend is one of those movies that I don’t remember at all, but have since come to find that it’s kind of a big deal (to some people). I knew that Tim Curry was in it, but had no idea Tom Cruise was. I thought it might be kind of a funny movie, but when I saw Tom prancing around the forest or whatever I clicked this badboy off and deleted it from my queue. I am no fan of fantasy movies.

JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988)

I’m becoming a pretty big fan of Netflix’s recommendations. I started watching Johnny after digging License and wasn’t disappointed. It’s got an older and more confident Anthony Michael Hall and a completely goofy Robert Downey Jr.. There’s a good deal of goofiness to this movie, which focuses on Hall as a football star getting courted by and visiting different colleges that want him. Downey plays his wacky best friend, but what struck me about the movie is how real it can be at times. Hall and Downey sell their characters like they’re up for an award. Oh, it’s also got Uma Thurman as Hall’s girlfriend and Jennifer Tilly has a quick role. If you’re an 80s movie fan, or just curious to see what Downey might have been like back in the late 80s give Johnny a look.

AUGUST RUSH (2007)

Sometimes you’ve got to add a movie for your lady to the ol’ queue. I was pleasantly surprised with August Rush, not because the story is all the unique (you’ve seen the broad strokes before plenty of times), but because of it’s view of music. The way they show the young boy experiencing music in everyday life, what it means to him and how he’s eventually able to play it in his own unorthodox way really struck me. If you’ve got to watch a chick flick with your girl and you’re a music fan, this is a good choice. Also, Keri Russell is in it and looking good.

KING OF KONG (2007)

If you haven’t seen this documentary about the surprisingly competitive world of classic arcade high score competitions, please stop reading and watch it right now. This one makes it into my top 10 movies of 2007 (should a list ever actually exist). First off, it shows off a world I’ve never seen, which you know I love. Also, that world is full of deceit, greed, cowardice, heroics, villainy, triumph and defeat. The way the story is put together feels like a really well scripted feature film, though the events and the ups and downs are completely real. If you’ve ever liked anything I’ve written about on here, watch this movie.

SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY (2007)

Seeing as how The Death and Return of Superman is the story that got me collecting comics in the first place (and how deeply and utterly I bought into the idea that any of the four subsequent people could be the real Superman), I was very excited when I heard a few years ago that DC/WB was going to make an animated movie about that very event, I was psyched. I figured it probably wouldn’t have EVERYthing that made the comic so cool (Superman turning back to save a family instead of finishing Doomsday off, that very 90s JLA facing off against Doomsday, an eyes-swollen-shut Guy Gardner asking his teammate to aim his fist at Doomsday so he could blast it, not to mention the four other “Supermen”), but that it could offer up a cool new look on the idea. And it’s definitely a different look. I would have preferred them either go straight with the established look and continuity of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini-verse or have a drastically different art direction on the project as little things like Superman’s cheek lines become distracting. I was also distracted by the different voices for these characters that I recognize from a specific other incarnation that looked very similar but sound completely different. Even at 77 minutes it felt kind of slow, but the fight scenes are pretty great (though they don’t hold a candle to JLU). I still hold on to my dream of one day seeing an epic, animated incarnation of the Death and Return of Superman though. A boy can dream, right?

Halloween Scene: Manly Movie Night 10-17-08

2008-10-19
4:26:11 pm

About three years ago my friends and colleagues at Wizard decided to get together and watch three “manly” movies hooting, hollering, drinking and making jokes the entire time. For a more complete history check out Sean T. Collins’ blog post about what we’ve dubbed Manly Movie Mamajama.

About a month ago we started exchanging E-mails about a Halloween-themed MMM and finally decided on a line up consisting of The Lost Boys, Slumber Party Massacre II (which I take full responsibility for adding to the line-up) and Dead Alive. So, Friday night we gathered together in manly fashion eating pizza and chili (some of us simultaneously) and drinking beer and Red Bull. I’d actually seen all three movies before, but it’s always a new experience watching them with these guys.

We started with Lost Boys (1987) directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland. There’s a lot going on in this movie and I’m not sure how much of it was actually intended. As Rickey pointed out, it really seems like brothers Jason Patric and Corey Haim are in a budding romance. There’s also the hilarity of the clothing throughout the flick. Between Haim’s crazy jackets/robes and Sutherland’s gang of mulleted biker vampires. Did this ever look tough? Ah, it was a different, simpler time.

Anyway, for those of you who haven’t seen it Lost Boys is about a pair of brothers and their mom who move in with their grandpa in the town of Santa Carla, CA which looks like Coney Island on crazy pills (but sadly lacking The Warriors). Well, it turns out that Santa Carla has a bit of a vampire problem and may or may not be the murder capital of the world, depending on how much stock you put into billboard graffiti. As Jason Patric gets wrapped up in Sutherland’s vampire gnag (which also includes Bill from the Bill and Ted movies), Haim meets the Frog Brothers, one of which is Feldman with seems to be doing his best Stallone impression throughout the movie. Their parents own a comic book store (probably the most disorganized store of all time). One of my favorite not-funny-on-purpose lines comes when Haim explains why two Superman comics shouldn’t be right next to each other (Lori Lemaris hasn’t even been introduced yet). How about because they’re no less than 100 issues apart from each other. Oh, also their parents look dead. Just saying. Anyway, the Frog Bros. are vampire hunters.

Anyway, you can imagine where things go from there. Sean Collins made the point that, in the 80s kids progressed from Goonies to Monster Squad to Lost Boys. Now, I had never actually heard of Monster Squad as a kid and I didn’t see Lost Boys until Rickey and I lived together, but these three films definitely share a spirit that you can’t find in movies aimed at kids anymore. Heck half the stars of this R-rated movie probably couldn’t legally see it when it premiered. Awesome!

But, really, you should check it out. There’s some pretty good effects and the last battle in the mom’s house is pretty great. Plus it’s good for a lot of laughs, both intentional and unintentional.

So, after Lost Boys we popped the VHS copy of Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) that I bought off of Amazon for just this occasion for about $6. It’s one of, if not THE most ridiculous movies (horror or otherwise) I’ve seen ever. As I explained to the group before we started, the first SPM movie had a random mental patient killing high school kids at a slumber party with a drill. This movie stars Crystal Bernard (the cute, blonde girl from Wings) as the sister of the survivor from the first flick. She’s in a band with three of her friends. One of the girls’ parents’ decided it would be a good idea to allow the girls to head up to their new condo (which are treated with the same sense of “newness” that malls were treated with in Dawn of the Dead) for the weekend.

Crystal keeps having crazy visions about a rockabilly dude with an Elvis haircut dressed in leather and rocking what looks like a BC Rich designed drill-tar. Well, as you can imagine, she keeps getting freaked out by various visions (the zit one is my favorite, worth the $6 I paid for this junk) but her friends just think she’s crazy until the dude comes to real life and starts killing her friends and their visiting boyfriends. What?!

From there it’s your average kids running away from a slasher movie, but with a lot more dancing as the Driller Killer busts some moves at random intervals and sings crazy songs. Seriously, if you love bad slasher movies, check this one out. Though I’m not sure if any of my MMM colleagues would agree with that sentiment. General consensus was that it was in the least liked films in MMM history down there with Steel Dawn and King Kong Lives (which I also found hilarious).

Unfortunately, I started coming down with a pretty bad cold that I’m still dealing with today, so I bounced out before the end of Dead Alive, though I’m not sure how much longer anyone else watched it. I would recommend skipping to the last 30 minutes, but make sure to view the zombie sex scene. It’s hilarious. Anyway, for my full Dead Alive/Braindead review, click here. As always, I had a great time at the MMM (even with getting sick) and I highly recommend starting up your own.