The Empty Balcony: The Final Countdown

When I decided to watch The Final Countdown, I was expecting to get a Shitty Movie Sundays review out of it, but the movie failed to live up to expectations. It is not a shitty movie. It’s not great, but it was good enough to keep me interested. I remember seeing the film as a kid, a long time ago, and I remembered that the premise was incredibly wild. Add in the fact the film has faded into obscurity, and I thought I had a winning combination of shitty. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Final Countdown”

The Empty Balcony: The Arrival

Once upon a time, there was a decade called the ’90s. In that decade, Hollywood fell in love with CGI. Not because it looked good, or that it served to immerse a viewer further into a film. It certainly did not matter that CGI was still in its infancy — that there were better methods for applying visual effects to film. Nor was there a sense of charity on the part of the studios — a nurturing instinct meant to develop a process that was clearly important to the future of film. Goodness, no. CGI was cheaper than traditional F/X, that’s all. And boy, did it look cheap. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Arrival”

The Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention

Christopher Nolan has wrapped up his epic interpretation of the Batman saga, and the viewing public has benefited greatly. After two of the most epic and well-made superhero films of all time, and fine films in their own right, the tale comes to an end this summer. Nolan, and his screenwriter brother Jonathan, should be credited with legitimizing and dragging into believability an aged franchise that at times wears its history and legacy as a seventy-year-old burden. Continue reading “The Foam Rubber Wholesalers Convention”

The Empty Balcony: The Grey

The GreyMan vs. nature, and by extension, man vs. his own nature. It’s not an uncommon theme in film. Usually it involves the breakdown of a group in an isolated environment, becoming feral, members desperately trying to maintain their humanity. Director and screenwriter Joe Carnahan’s The Grey dispenses with much of the metaphor and instead keeps things simple. Mere survival is the theme here, pitting a group of humans against a pack of wolves.

Set in the Alaskan wilderness, The Grey tells the story of a group of oil industry roughnecks who survive a plane crash on a mountain far away from civilization. Not long after the seven survivors organize themselves enough to get a life-saving fire burning, they discover they are being stalked by wolves. The wolves don’t seem to be interested in hunting the men for food. Rather, they seem intent on just killing them for being in the wrong place.

Led by the grim Ottway (Liam Neeson), a sniper employed by the oil company to protect the roughnecks from wolf attacks back at the camp the men originated from, the film follows the men as they try to escape from the wolves’ territory, their numbers whittled down throughout the course of the film. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: The Grey”

The Empty Balcony: Predator

Predator is everything a 1980s action movie ought to be. It’s loud, overwrought, over-roided, and filled with cliché and blinding amounts of muzzle flash. All the characters are macho, carved out of wood, and traverse their fictional universe with names like Dutch! Dillion! Mac! Pancho! Blain! Hawkins! and...Billy. I’m surprised there wasn’t a character named ‘Duke’ in there somewhere. Oh, wait. Actor Bill Duke plays ‘Mac.’ Close enough. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Predator”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.

From IMDb’s trivia page on Escape from L.A.: Escape from LA [sic] was caught in development hell for over ten years. A script for the film was first commissioned in 1985 but John Carpenter thought it “too light, too campy.”

Too campy? Why? Were The Riddler and Two-Face in the original draft? I find it hard to believe that Carpenter rejected a script for this film because it was campy. This movie lives on camp. It’s not light, though. I’ll give Carpenter that. Escape from L.A. is a violent flick. A bit cartoonish, maybe, but that many bullets can’t be fired in a movie and still be considered light. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Escape from L.A.”

October Horrorshow: The Thing (2011)

Last week, The Thing was released to theaters. Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., this new Thing is a bit weird. Originally conceived as a remake of the 1982 John Carpenter film, during pre-production the film morphed into being a prequel. This was not a bad idea, as the Carpenter Thing is not only a strong film, it also had a ready-made introductory story that could be made into a full-length feature...possibly. The new Thing, however, while being clearly a prequel to anyone familiar with Carpenter’s work, contains so many visual cues from Carpenter Thing that it also becomes clear the remake idea was not completely scrapped. Or maybe it’s just a case of lazy filmmaking. Maybe there was a script for a remake, the concept changed, but that draft remained, was altered, and became what was finally put to film. Either way, it’s the remake/prequel aspects of new Thing that make it weird. Maybe it’s an homage, but if that’s the case, there was a bit too much homaging going on. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Thing (2011)”

October Horrorshow: Pumpkinhead

Stan Winston was legendary in the film industry. Before he died, he won three Oscars for visual effects (Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park), one for makeup (Terminator 2 again), and racked up a total of six other nominations. He either led or was part of the effects and makeup teams that worked on The Thing, The Terminator, Ghoulies, Predator, Leviathan, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Interview with the Vampire, Avatar, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. In short, the man had a hell of a career turning the unreal into the real. In horror, he was a master monster maker. But, a man has to branch out, explore new opportunities. Enter Pumpkinhead. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pumpkinhead”