Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best of the West: Ride The High Country

19. Ride the High Country (1962, Peckinpah)

This is the only Randolph Scott movie I've ever seen, and it actually makes me want to see more of his movies. He has a remarkable and notable screen presence, one that calls attention to himself but is also a tad dignified. I can't completely explain it-just watch this movie and witness him and Joel McCrea expertly play off of each other. Its wonderful, and their performances drive this grand western, which exists as a bridge between the old school Ford/Hawks westerns and the Leone/later Peckinpah/Eastwood westerns that would come to redefine the genre.

Despite the fact that it drags a tad in the middle, its that section that causes much of the tension in the rest of the film, and leads the heroes to a seemingly impossible situation. Torn between loyalty and duty to his partner and a desire to improve his standing, one of the main characters (I won't say which one) changes drastically from being "One of the good guys" to being a heavy, and then back again. Out of the few Peckinpah westerns (read: three) that I have viewed, this one probably features his most straight forward, less complex characters, however. This isn't a knock on the movie, because what transpires still makes for great drama.

When one discusses classic gunfights, the one in this movie strangely gets overlooked. Not only is it a climatic scene, but it also is tense, not flashy at all, and displays violence as being quick and merciless towards everyone. The gravity of what happens comes into focus, and the movie achieves a sad sense of grander. No wonder Scott quit after this movie wrapped; its cliche to note this, but I cannot blame him for doing so.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The Journey Ends

We have reached the end of the alley, and luckily for everyone involved there is a way out. At least I think so, heh...yikes....anyways, Horrorfest 2012 is starting up in August. Cheers.

Too bad about this one, as the remake was actually surprisingly solid, and quite effective for what it was. The problem with this movie is not only the fact that it lacks some of the purpose of the remake, and gets bogged down in extreme un-necessary violence and psychobabble. Although the psychological elements were actually one of the few really good, interesting things about this movie.

Furthermore, the current storyline results in Dr. Loomis becoming an asshole, which is outrageous. Sure this is a re imaging of the original series, and of course changes will be made. But here's the problem: Loomis wasn't different in the remake. He was the same dogged, righteous hunter of evil, never resting until Michael was dead. Suddenly having him become a jerk who's out to make money off of human tragedy simply angered me, as it was a complete raping of one of the best protagonists in horror movie history.

Ultimately, Zombie does have talent. The psychological scenes are eerie and well done, if somewhat confusing, and there is a fanastic use of "Nights in White Satin" (too bad it only happens in a dream sequence). Brad Dourif adds his usual level of good acting to the proceedings, and thankfully Loomis redeems himself and takes a complete U-Turn at the end (I did laugh when he calls himself an asshole while looking in the mirror).

Some well done things can be found here, but this movie also illustrates the problem of violence and gore being so overdone in too many modern horror movies these days that it becomes trival and just droll. And that's not a good thing. I can accept that in slashers I suppose, but the original Halloween and the original TCM used violence as a means to scare and disturb effectively. 60

Scare Level=4.5

PS: I do want to view the Director's Cut at some point, as I hear its better than the theatrical version, which is the only one I have seen.

"You just gotta enjoy the little things." So says Woody Harrelson's cowboy hat wearing, crazed zombie killing badass in what is the most entertaining movie I've seen all year. That quote could be applied to this movie, as the small moments are just as fun to watch as the major ones, and even though this movie is largely a comedy there are a couple of creepy/freaky moments. But then of course that's par for the course when the setting is a America completely drowning in the undead, who have taken over everything and anything. Which also makes this is an apocalyptic movie too, I guess.

Even though the film makers clearly had plenty more material for a longer movie, they wisely keep the audience wanting more and keep the whole picture short and simple. Columbus meets up with Tallahassee, even though the former is a complete wuss in sharp contrast to the latter who has no fears period, then they run into two way con artist sisters. Zombies attack. Not much to it, eh? Well the movie would fail if the jokes weren't so hilarious, and if we weren't given any reason to give a damn about the characters. I give this Fleischer guy credit for going with the decision to keep the cast rather small, which is what Romero did in his classic Dawn of the Dead.

Anyone who's seen the previews can tell where the film's climax takes place, and on top of that there is a cameo that is so perfect you have to see it to-I refuse to spoil it here. Does anything of importance really happen here? No, but I didn't really care-I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Sometimes that's all that truly matters. Oh and that opening sequence is pure brilliance. First it gives you the "Real life happening as recorded on camera" vibe followed by a zombie attack, followed by the best use of "For Whom The Bell Tolls," ever. 91

Scare Level=3.5

#Halloween 2 #Rob Zombie #Zombieland #Woody Harrelson #Horror Films

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ch-Ch-Check It Out

Basically since its the summer and the lies and bullshit of campaign season are being spewed by both sides, I figured I'd seek out an unbiased and reliable source:, which has credibility and is beholden to neither side. What they discovered is that most of, if not all of, Obama's attacks on Mitt Romney in regards to Bain Capital and his time as governor are lies and damn lies. Anyone who knows me can attest to how little I like Romney-I've even referred to him as the first potential robot president, and lately I've cracked jokes about how Romney is a lot like Patrick Batman from American Psycho. Yet I'm all about finding out the truth, and its really pathetic of the Obama administration to be spoon feeding the American people half truths and misrepresentations. Its also not too surprising: all they left to bash Romney on is how the guy is a wealthy millionaire who lacks the ability to care about the Average Joe (as if the Common Man hasn't elected terrible leaders before) and that the guy abused his dog. Plus the fact that Romney keeps trying to remind everyone that RomneyCare=ObamaCare, something which no one seems to be forgetting. Anyways, here's the link exposing the Obama campaign:
Not to mention the Obama Campaign also completely twisting Romney's economic record as governor, which is exposed here:

Since no one actually reads this blog, my comments probably won't stir up anything, even though I can rest assured that some Obama supporters will accuse me of shilling for the GOP. Trust me people, I hate the GOP right now. If they truly stood by what they actually support (lower taxes for everyone, not just rich people, or cutting spending, opposing silly foreign wars) I'd be willing to ignore their fundie driven social policies, which I no longer support. No I'm just someone who is tired of campaigns lying repeatedly, and honestly the Romney campaign has already sent out some attack adds that have already given me a headache. is actually an equal opportunity provider of attacks on both sides, as I just finished reading this article: which actively notes how most of the Romney camp's ads about Obama's economic record are spinning the truth.

What this entire mess really reveals is that using the Internet (as long as you check out the appropriate and well researched sites) is a better use of your time than watching cable news. After all, we live in a world where the formally named Clinton News Network (CNN) is supposed to be the middle ground between Fox News and MSNBC. God help us its going to be a long five months, and well I've already figured who I'm voting for: Gary Johnson. Wahoo throwing my vote away.

#Romney 2012 #Obama 2012 #2012 Election #Dogs #FactCheck

Down A Dark Alley: The 2000s Deuce

Here's some more modern horror movie write ups. Enjoy.

As I've noted in previous reviews of horror films, comedy and horror often mix well and have a surprising number of things in common. This film, seemingly a byproduct of The Office's style of comedy and the common slasher film (with some "People go into the woods, die horribly" mixed in), falls into that category of the horror/comedy hybrid. In this case combining the two works to a degree, as while you have a really good film you also have one that I feels should have been great. There's a lot here to digest, and eventually I will give this film the proper review needed to flesh out more of my thoughts. Although I guess this one will probably do for the time being.

For one thing, although this film has many funny moments and some really cool gore, the office politics driven humor doesn't feel sharp enough at all. Thus, perhaps either the film would have been better off not including it altogether, or they should have made it sharper than the average fare. It'd be like Office Space decided not to be mean enough, and stuck with a blunt blade that doesn't get the job done (although granted that movie could have gone farther as well). Still, the characters are very likable and when the shit really hits the fan, the movie goes into creepy, suspenseful horror movie overdrive. Which is one of its strong saving graces.

Oh and the movie really doesn't adequately address some rather stark political elements that could have been further fleshed out and gave the movie some true meaning. I don't want to spoil anything, but it does have something to do with the term "Blowback," and in some ways this movie could have been further linked to thoughts on our post Sept. 11 world and how the West has been forced to deal with reaping what it has sowed. Despite some of its failings, I still recommend this movie as being one of the better horror films to come out in recent years. 84

Scare Level: 6.5

Even though I can't agree with those who call this "The Best Vampire Movie Ever Made," I do concur that this is one of the best vampire flicks in recent memory. Disregarding cheap jump scares, this film creates a rather creepy yet realistic atmosphere, as Alfredson is content to let the events simply unfold. He doesn't really pull any punches, and the effective finished product shines as a result-it is a movie geared solely for an adult audience, despite the fact that the main characters are children. When the attacks do finally happen and the violence occurs, it is depicted in a serious and eeire manner. This is not your average vampire movie, but then again these days vampire films are way different than the old gothic style ones that Hammer Pictures pumped out on a regular basis from the late 50s into the 70s.

The young protagonist has a curious reaction to the young girl who lives next door to him. He senses that she is even more different than he is, and yet that does not detract or deter him from hanging out with her or trying to be friends. The delicate balance the two strike works well at first, but it becomes complex as Oskar is forced to face his fears, while Eli must deal with her lifestyle and how it both negatively and positively impacts the pair's relationship. I must admit that there were times when I felt the film's pace was too slow, but in regards to building up and expanding upon the bound the two characters ending up forging, it does a fantastic job and therefore we care more about these people as a result.

Oh and I admire how, in the grand tradition of unexpected violence that follows moments of quiet piece, the movie utilizes its shocking moments. A particularly tragic and haunting moment is rather unexpected because the movie does not let us be prepared for it to happen, and the film's violent climax only lays out the sad consequences that follow. I was also rather surprised by how the ending is mellow, yet also a mixture of bleak and poetic. Even though I don't find this movie to be great, it is still a remarkable piece of work, and I wonder if multiple viewings will lead to me even further appreciating it down the road. 91

Scare Level=5.5

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s

With some feature commentary, too.

1.) Antichrist (2009)

Von Trier stated that he failed to make a horror movie, yet perhaps he was being sly or understating this movie somehow. Graphic, disturbing, violent, and dealing with a battle of the sexes that takes place in a hostile nature environment, this film doesn't pull any punches. Its also another reminder that staying in a cabin in the woods is a terrible idea.

2.) 28 Days Later (2002)

Never mind the debate about whether or not they are zombies, for it takes away from the fact that this is a great, depressing film that manages to be rather claustrophobic, too. The characters never really ever feel safe, and the last act not only borrows from Romero but even presents its own spin on certain topics that the master of zombie horror addressed in his classic Day of the Dead (1985).

3.) Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Hilarious, witty, sharp, and both a funny send up of the genre and a loving homage to zombie movies, this is an awesome zombie-rom-com that is smartly written and paced. The two leads are really likable, and this film observes one of the main rules of zombie movies: feature characters that the audience can relate to and root for.

4.) Ginger Snaps (2000)

So much blood, and a decent amount of gore are part of this feminist take on werewolves. Two sisters end up in a huge mess, and it quickly spirals out of control, as body mutilation and the onslaught of womanhood take hold. Probably one of the best werewolf movies ever made.

5.) Slither (2006)

Both a really funny and slick horror film in addition to being disgusting and gross, James Gunn puts his own unique stamp on the "Alien slugs" subgenre. Features an excellent (as usual) performance from Nathan Fillion, but its Henry Gregg that steals the movie as the endless quote machine mayor. "That bitch is hardcore."

6.) Saw (2004)

Truly disturbing, violent, gruesome and rather tense, the first entry in the long running series is almost underrated, oddly enough. Jigsaw is a truly creepy villain, and the film sports a handful of moments that are shocking and well executed. 

7.) Zombieland (2009)

Different from Shaun of the Dead in that it is only a straight up comedy with zombies involved. The cast is fantastic, the jokes are well written, and the movie is endlessly entertaining. Clearly a new modern favorite, and I'm still hoping for a sequel.

8.) Dog Soldiers (2002)

Another fine example of a good werewolf movie, even as it admittedly borrows from other horror and sci-fi movies. Spoon is one of the coolest horror characters ever, and the film never really lets up after a good solid and more quiet beginning. Seems most of the good werewolf movies have been made in the last 20-25 years (the original The Wolfman still a classic, though).

9.) Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007)

Insanely unique, twisted, and clever, there's something fascinating about this movie even though it uses "This is being filmed live" brand of film making that has become really popular thanks to The Blair Witch Project. Leslie is actually a really entertaining and lively character despite being the villain-its really interesting how in slasher movies the killer is typically not only front and center, but a tad disturbingly easy to root for. Stick around for the end credits.

10.) The Call of Cthullu (2005)

Despite being way too short, this is still a really cool black and white silent film adaptation of one of Lovecraft's most famous works. Mostly on this list also for not featuring any CGI, as the practical effects look good. It would be great if the creators of this movie went on to make others like it, using the same techniques.

The Rest of the List:

11. Cloverfield (2008)-90, monsters
12. The Host (2006)-90, monsters
13. Let The Right One In (2008)-90, vampires
14. Pulse aka Kairo (2001)-90, ghosts
15. Dawn of the Dead (2004)-90, zombies
16. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)-90, undead
17. Paranormal Activity (2009)-90, demons
18. The Crazies (2010)-88, monsters
19. Pontypool (2008)-88, zombies
20. Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)-87, slasher

#Horror Films #2000s #Chaos Reigns

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Down A Dark Alley: The 2000s Continued

Even though this movie barely gets a passing grade, one of the biggest reasons why it pales in comparison to the original lies in that picture. Look at that kid. He's not creepy. He looks angry, but that doesn't scare or creep me out. The kid in the original was freaky. I could buy that he was the anti-Christ, that he was evil, and he had a grin that chilled me to the bone. Whoever the hell this John Moore dude is, well he failed to realize what Richard Donner knew from the get go: the kid has to be convincing in the role. This is why Donner has made some great films and is still known for having some talent, while Moore is someone I've never heard of.

The one thing this movie has going for it besides the good cast is the visuals. Visually this movie is so utterly stunning, I just wanted to mute the actors and look at the colors. I believe that the visuals in some ways save the movie, along with the fact that the movie actually amplifies in some ways many of the awesome key scenes from the original. In some ways this film is a re-imagining of the original, in other ways a homage, but for the most part its can be considered a copy of the 1976 movie. A poorly made copy that should have been left in the fax machine, although hey it looks pretty and a lot of effort went into it. Yey!

Writing the review for this movie was easier, because there really wasn't much here. And because it was a weak remake that was largely made to capitalize on the fact that hey in 2006, there was June 6th, which is the 6th month, on the 6th day, of a year ending in 6, and maybe it was released at 6:06 pm, I really don't know. And I really don't care. Too bad, considering the cast's level of talent (even Julia Stiles deserved better, and she's not really a bad actress). Liv Schreiber is a good actor in his own right, and I'm glad that he's been in much better movies. People wonder why the horror genre dies a lot, goes underground for a while. Relying too much on crappy remakes and sequels is manly the reason why, but then Hollywood's never prized originality anyways. 60

Scare Level: 3.0

Despite the fact that this Masters of Horror segment is not really scary, its eerie and creepy due to the fact that its primarily about the end of the world. The end doesn't come though through conventional or typical means, but because the males go crazy and decide to kill the females. Which of course means that since last time I checked you need both to have a kid, this is not good news. Although I guess there is artificial insemination or what have you.

On top of that, this episode is pretty well done, a rock solid entry into the series crafted by horror legend Joe Dante. The guy's made some really famous and well regarded horror films, and here he wisely works within the limited boundaries of the hour long format. I think its rather good that this story is only an hour long, as there really isn't much more material for a full length feature film.

Sure there's some weak acting, and near the end we see some rather poor FX that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and just muddies the waters even more. What I do like besides the awesome presence of Elliot Gould is that we never get a concrete, sure fire explanation as to why this happened. Was it aliens? An angry God? Furious Mother Nature? Something else unknown? I like that the finale is pretty open ended, and leaves us with questions. Sometimes there are no easy answers. 83

Scar Level=3.0