October Horrorshow: Entity

Entity, the 2012 horror film from writer/director/producer Steve Stone, threatens to be a found footage flick early on. Thankfully, it’s not. Back when it was made, found footage horror films seemed to come out once or twice a week. But, even though Stone only flirts with the technique, he chose to use its tropes heavily.

The film opens with security footage shot in the green tint of night vision, so familiar from its overuse in found footage horror. The shot is of a spartan room in what looks like an insane asylum. There is an iron bed with thin mattress, a sink, a bucket, and a huddled figure who won’t look at the camera. Over the course of this sequence experienced horror fans will witness trick after trick that was used to better effect in earlier films. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Entity”

Empty Balcony: Alien Uprising, aka U.F.O.

One of the worst things that a filmmaker can do is fill their movie with vapid people. If there is any moment after these characters are introduced that requires audience empathy, the filmmaker might find that they have, instead, exhausted the patience of viewers. Such is the case with Alien Uprising, a film that showed a lot of promise, but ended up being just out of reach of its writer/director, Dominic Burns. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Alien Uprising, aka U.F.O.”

Stallone Month: Bullet to the Head

If there is one positive from Hurricane Katrina, one not worth the cost yet still a positive, it has been the emergence of a Louisiana style of crime filmmaking — a bayou noir. Filmmakers have been drawn to the state in a show of solidarity with the residents of Louisiana and to take advantage of tax credits. It’s a win-win for the film industry and for local economies. Whether or not it’s a win for audiences rests on whether or not these films are worth watching. Continue readingStallone Month: Bullet to the Head”

Stallone Month: The Expendables 2

I’m not sure that Sylvester Stallone, or anyone else involved with The Expendables, thought that film would spawn a franchise. In many ways, The Expendables felt like a lark — a one-time moment that tapped into a well of nostalgia for 1980s-style action in the moviegoing public. It sold itself on its cast and its cameos, then followed that up with an uneven, but very exciting, film. It made a pile of cash, so of course there were going to be another one made. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 2″

Shitty Movie Sundays: Bad Ass

A viewer can tell what writer/director Craig Moss was trying to accomplish with Bad Ass, but the execution just wasn’t there. Inspired by the Epic Beard Man viral video, so much so that one of the production companies for this flick is listed as Amber Lamps, LLC, Bad Ass follows Danny Trejo as Frank Vega, a down on his luck Vietnam vet who kicks the shit out of a couple of skinheads on a Los Angeles bus. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Bad Ass”

October Horrorshow: Barricade

Never judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, never judge a movie by its production company, unless it’s a movie by The Asylum. Barricade, written by Michaelbrent Collings, and directed by Andrew Currie, is a case in point. Right there in the opening credits, there it is: the logo for the WWE, Vince McMahon’s wrestling entertainment behemoth. Barricade is one of the growing stable of films released by WWE Studios, the Hollywood offshoot of the parent company. This company is responsible for such films as The Marine and See No Evil, both featuring WWE wrestlers in starring roles. Looking at their IMDb page, one of their upcoming, straight to video releases, will be Jingle All the Way 2. Oh, horror. On paper, Barricade doesn’t look all that promising. But, as any sports fan can tell a viewer, how a team looks on paper can differ substantially from what happens when the games are played. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Barricade”

October Horrorshow: House at the End of the Street

House at the End of the StreetThe older I get, the less patience I have for teen movies. I’m turning crotchety. Know what? I prefer the curmudgeonly proprietor of Missile Test to the angsty teen who, once upon a time, would have liked this movie. I welcome the growing gulf between teenagers and myself. But what a conflict this presents. I love horror flicks, and the horror and teen genres exist in a symbiotic relationship that has paid dividends throughout the length and breadth of cinematic history. What to do when I cross paths with a movie like House at the End of the Street, a psychological horror flick that is decidedly youth-oriented. I put on my objective cap and judge the film on its merits, that’s what.

In this film, Jennifer Lawrence and her mom (Elisabeth Shue) move into a house in the swanky part of some town, somewhere (it’s Canada). A few years before, the house next door was the scene of a grisly murder, where a psychotic girl butchered her parents. Welcome to the neighborhood, Jennifer and Jennifer’s mom. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: House at the End of the Street”

October Horrorshow: Grabbers

Oftentimes, this reviewer laments the overuse of CGI. For example, it was the CGI that kept me from enjoying any of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies (that, and I could feel myself aging as I watched). All the flying camera angles and busy shots with too many monsters to count bored me. I’m not joking. I found it tedious. I fell asleep during the first film, and gave only cursory glances to the sequels; just long enough for me to confirm that, yes, there was still too much CGI in those films, as well. The biggest problem I have with CGI is that, to this point in cinematic history, it still does not look real. Many filmmakers are also tempted to defy physics when it comes to CGI, but we humans have an instinctual sense, informed by billions of years of evolution, of how objects should move. Defy that with CGI, and it only serves to take me further out of the experience, not closer. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Grabbers”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Act of Valor, or, Yvan Eht Nioj, or, Stop Shooting! My Neighbors Are Trying to Sleep!

The Oxford English Dictionary defines propaganda as “chiefly derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view [emphasis theirs].”

Act of Valor, a United States Navy-sanctioned and aided Hollywood film, that the military has also used for recruitment purposes, meets every part of that definition. It is definitely biased, most assuredly misleading, is used in jingoistic fashion to promote the cause of a particular country, and is, despite this government’s greatest public ambitions towards being otherwise, very derogatory. This movie sucks, too, but as much as I try to raise my liberal hackles at this awful mess, I can’t really give too much of a shit. It’s a recruiting film trying to disguise itself as an action flick, and I do not care. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Act of Valor, or, Yvan Eht Nioj, or, Stop Shooting! My Neighbors Are Trying to Sleep!”

October Horrorshow: Cockneys vs Zombies

This one was oh, so close. A tribute to London’s East End, that also acts as a quasi homage to both Shaun of the Dead and the works of Guy Ritchie, Cockneys vs Zombies is a film that just fell short of living up to its premise. That premise is: a bunch of East Enders with a unique grip on the English language suddenly find themselves in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Cockneys vs Zombies”