Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Your Damage?

Collectives never used to be my thing. They came down to being a big fat headache riddled with whiners and excuse makers.

I don't want to know why you couldn't make a deadline. How life inexplicably fell apart for you. Or that your muse packed up and left you the day before you started your story.

None of that's for me.

But apparently, with the right crew and captain, the boat called Collective can actually win.

I am winning at collectives now.

As some of you may know, I wrote a long short story, almost a novella, for a little know book called Cars & Girls for a writerly group called Pankhearst.

Well, now the second installment by this fantastic mob is out.

It's called Heathers.

And it is authentically young adulty. Meaning, it is rough, gritty, and true. The emotions behind it. The subject matter.

It comes with a warning, but don't let that sway you.

Square your shoulders, take a deep breath and click this link.

Then buy the book.

You won't be disappointed. My story is last because . . . well, it's good to finish with a bang, right?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Idea

It feels as though I haven't been here in forever. 

And when I say forever, I think of that part in Sandlot. You know, this part: 

Now that I am here, I want to talk to you about an idea I am entertaining. Not for a new book or a diabolical scheme to take over the world. I try not to share those sorts of things here, just in case I hit on something good and someone stumbles across this here page and snakes it right out from under me. So, I do have some secrets, including a well-crafted diabolical scheme to take over the world. 

Anyhow, the idea I have is for the New Year. (Does anyone else feel a little ill over the fact it is 2014? Where the hell is my hover board?) 

I digress. 

My idea is to post one thing I am grateful for each day. Where? Right here on my blog. Because, well, this is basically like my diary anyhow. Can I do this? Will I want to do this once January rolls around? Is it a good idea? These are things I am thinking. Except, it's kind of intriguing me. You see, it won't have to be major things. I can post a sentence or a massive post to explain. (This will be dependent on my mood, of course.) Basically, I will be posting things I appreciate and that make my life a little better - for example, running water. Or just little things I am grateful for like oatmeal raisin cookies and gingerbread tea. 

Yes, I am having a cookie and tea as I write this. What kind you ask? See above. 

That being said, I think the idea has some validity. Not necessarily for the adoring public who tune in here every single day just to see what I am up to. (Those poor saps have been waiting patiently for nearly a month for me to post again. Good thing there are exactly zero of them in existence). 

Sometimes, I get on kicks like this. Tasks to stick to in order to see how much self control I have. If I can actually do it or not. Kind of like my own personal test. Like posting every day in October or doing the 30 Day Shred, or going a month without sugar. Really, this would be the biggest thing I've committed myself to. 365 posts. That's a lot of posts. Every single day. 

Unless we take into consideration the whole vegan thing. Then that's the longest, going strong at thirteen years. Or not drinking and smoking and doing drugs. That's been going strong since birth, I think. Unless I was a toddler with a bad habit, which would explain the lack of pictures from my childhood. 

There is an upside to personal goals, long term and short - the repercussion factor if one doesn't succeed. Nothing too strict, of course, just a little self flagellation - the same kind Agent Von Alden from Boardwalk Empire participates in. Nothing like a whip across the back. Errr, maybe not. 

Still, I'm mulling over this. It's good to be grateful. And why not share with the masses? Who knows, maybe this might turn into something grand.  

Or maybe I will forget all about it after sleepy-time tonight. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Just be quiet.

And listen.

It sounds like this:

Just a little something I've been playing and dancing around my humble abode to.

Did you know there are people out there who don't like music?

So weird.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

This Is Our Last Dance

You don't exist any more. At least that's what the internet wants me to believe. Funny how you can delete and remove and erase, but nothing is ever truly gone. The intersnacks is a fickle creature. As is the heart. Even after we delete ourselves, we still exist. In each other. In the world. In cache.

You exist in me. As long as I exist, so do you. Take that! There's a smug reality to that, isn't there? In my past life, I would have been sad when someone disappeared, or tried to disappear, but there simply is no room for goodbyes in my life. They don't exist. It's funny how the heart knows, but the brain still tries.

Motherboard meltdown. Cerebral silliness. Malfunction in the mainframe.

Before I was a sarcastic teenager, before I was a bitter twenty-something-year old, before the mess of over thinking and under feeling began, before I was a mass of raw nerves and doubt, before I was a lost kid wanting nothing but the approval of my parents, I was a music nerd.

When you disappeared, a song came to mind. Perhaps the song isn't important. Maybe it is. But the lyrics reminded me of you. Past you. Present you. Future you. Past me. Present me. Future me.

Ghosts that we knew. That's the song.

The thing about music, we can all find something different in it. We can find ourselves and other people. And we can love or hate it for different reasons.

My obsession started long before I got Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle album. Long before I fell in love with the Lady & the Tramp song that Peggy Lee sung. In truth, it started with my mother's voice. She used to sing a lot. Maybe she still does, I must ask her.

My father sang too.

And I remember the soundtrack to Good Morning Vietnam. Sitting in the back of his Toyota Tercel, I remember reciting that soundtrack word for word. My father couldn't believe I memorized it all, dialogue from the movie as well. I have always been very good at remembering things.

Even now. I remember well.

That's a funny thing to say.

My ex once told me that I have revisionist history. He said while other people remember the good things from the past and paint over the bad, I work in reverse. That was then, though. I highly doubt he'd say that about me now. In fact, I sometimes wonder if he recognizes me as the person he dated at all. Or my ex-ex, for that matter, the ex before this last ex. What the hell does he think about me?

Only good things, I'm sure. (Can you hear my wry smirk? I am wearing one, you know.)

They both have songs. Different songs. Unusual songs. Songs they might be surprised that are theirs. But exs deserve songs because they got to experience so many of your moments and emotions. Sometimes they stay your friends, so they have more than one song. Sometimes they have a hundred songs.

For being this young, my history is quite long. Not as messy as some may assume, yet far messier than most think. And the truth is, I have always felt older than I am. Like when I was fourteen and listening to golden oldies in my basement and wishing with all my heart that I existed with poodle skirts and drive-ins. I wanted to be a teenager in the fifties or sixties. My love for the cars, music and clothes drove me to want to go back in time, a la Marty McFly, because I thought I belonged there.

Of course, I didn't belong there. Just as I don't belong here. I was far too mouthy to exist happily in a word where I would always be second. Granted, I am far too mouth for this place as well.

There have been so many stages in my life and it isn't even half over. (Actually, I can't possibly know that, but if we go based off the average life span of a woman, then I have more than half to go.)

Through all these stages, I remember the music.

These moments of my life have always been so clearly defined by song. Each and every person in and out of my life, the ones who have come and gone or come and stayed have a song. They might not understand their song. They might not like their song. They might not even care to know they have a song. It doesn't change the fact that they do in fact have one. Hand selected. By moi.

You have a song. Yes, you - the person reading this. Well, at least you do if we have exchanged a fleeting moment in history. Hell, even if we haven't, you have a song. Just one to be determined, which it will be when our paths cross. You will know your song when you ask. Until then, assume it is something by Matt & Kim and dance around your living room in your underwear for a change. Have some fun. We all need fun as we walk our path. Without fun, what's the point?

Dourness no more!

I find it incredibly interesting how paths cross. The other day, I was thinking about exactly this, about how and why paths cross. Sometimes it takes years to figure it out. Months. Days. If you're lucky - hours. And some paths uncross, only to cross again down the line. Maybe in another lifetime. Maybe on a different plane of existence. I always try to learn from the people I encounter. Even if we are only crossing into each others lives for a second or two. I try to be observant.

But when I look around, people look so distracted. Preoccupied. They certainly don't notice me. Not most of them. Because they are in their lives. Participating in their own worlds. The starring role in a movie I have never seen and might possibly never seen.

Examples are always a must.

The other day, I watched a woman at a red light smoking. She was sitting in her blue Passat with a cigarette between her fingers and a furrow between her brow. Technically our paths crossed. Because I noticed her. Isn't that all it takes for two paths to come together for a moment, acknowledgement? She didn't notice me, though. Not that I know of. She simply stared straight ahead. Her eyes fixated on the set of lights, waiting for it to change to green, waiting to go, to get her day under way. Mine was already in full swing. But we both sat there at that light, her looking so sad and preoccupied, and me watching like a creep. I like to imagine I wore a mask of concern with a gentle smile and a subtle non-bragging peace in my eyes. Of course, it was a Wednesday, so I was actually looking a little bedraggled because it was early in the morning and I'm sure I looked a mess. For some reason, I was tempted to honk my horn and wave at her, but then she flicked her cigarette onto the ground and sped away.

She didn't look left or right to make sure the way was clear, which probably seems so insignificant. But it isn't. Not really.

She kept looking straight forward. Concentrating on herself. And probably her discontentment. We like to look straight ahead. Pretend there isn't people all around us. Because we are what is important. Our little lives. Our little insignificant lives. Our little, fleeting, insignificant lives that we are so preoccupied with. So fixated on ourselves.

It's funny how your path can cross with someone you don't even know it crossed with. It happens all the time. And I think about that, you know. I think about that a lot. Not about how I have affected the people who I love and who have loved me, or who love me, but also the ones who don't know me. The ones who take a glimpse at my silly vlogs, who stumble across a random picture, or blog, or story, or comment. I think about all the paths that I have crossed unknowingly, and I wonder what sort of impression I left behind.

This random woman in her car smoking left an impression on me. She taught me to always look left and right. And not just when driving. But when walking. When in line at the grocery store. Stepping out of the house. Walking the dog.

There is something beautiful about being aware.

Making eye contact. Smiling. Acknowledging that there are people around you every minute of every day, even if you are agoraphobic and can't leave your house. Someone is close by. Unless you're that man who lived on his own personal island with his gigantic turtles. In that case, something was close by. Turtles. And it is important to recognize that as well. Not just turtles, but other creatures. And trees too.

And that woman smoking in her car has a song. The turtles have a song. You have a song. I have a song.

The world has a song.

There are so many songs for the world, though. But this one kind of has always been the main theme song, hasn't it? And with the music stripped out of it and the bare bones vocals left behind, it becomes haunting. It reminded me of you. Of me. Of us. Collectively.

The world.

But what I'm simply trying to say is, I'm just a music nerd. No more. No less.

Friday, November 1, 2013

In The End - Day 31

At the end of this whole endeavor, I have learned a few things. But this is just a bit of a recap for those who may not have followed along on my 31 day Horrorfest.

Original horror movies are better than remakes 97% of the time.

Modern horror thrives on the 'big twist'. They love to have an unexpected ending these days.

The Purge wasn't really worth my time, except I love Ethan Hawke, and I am still suffering residual disappointment over this.

The Awakening, Stoker, and The Conjuring were three new movies that I will put in the 'need to watch again' folder.

Doing double features was probably a bit much. Next year I will stick to one movie a night, except on weekends maybe, and, if I am feeling adventurous, I will add more in.

In total, I watched 51 movies off the schedule and thirteen other horror movies that weren't on the list.
The two movies I didn't watch were The Omen (original) and Poltergeist (because the two files I had just wouldn't work for me.)

Of the sixty four movies I watched, I enjoyed well over eighty percent.

Most horror movies are approximately ninety minutes, give or take a minute or two. With that in mind, I wasted 5760 minutes of my life. That works out to be about ninety-six hours. Which is about four days of movie watching. I am not sure if this fact makes me sad or super impressed with myself.

The previous fact confirms I don't actually have a life at all.

Themed weekends were the best idea I've ever had. Most notably, the nineties weekend.

Stephen King books don't translate well into movies unless they don't have supernatural elements.

Not many other people have the same dedication I do when it comes to horror movies.

Halloween is still my most favourite.

And I can't wait until next year's Horrorfest.

Thanks for tuning in! Regular scheduled programming will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Based On A True Story - Day 30

No matter what, when I see the words 'based on a true story' at the beginning of a horror movie, my skin crawls a bit. As was the case with last night's Horrorfest pick.

Title: The Conjuring
Year: 2013
Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

Tagline: Look what you made me do.

If the names Lorraine and Ed Warren ring bells to you, it's probably because you know the tale of the Amityville Horror. Another spooky movie based on actual events, how loosely, I can't be sure. These experienced paranormal demonologists have apparently investigated over ten thousand cases, that's a lot of scares. Furthermore, these people keep objects from their cases in a museum, in their house. This is not something I would encourage, then again, I'm saner than I first appear.

Unlike a lot of other people, I am not a huge fan of director James Wan. I thought Saw was okay, but relied on shock value to entertain, and Insidious was boring and cliched. Thankfully, I don't boycott movies based on director alone. Actually, I was quite looking forward to The Conjuring because out of the four main characters, I disliked none of the actors portraying them. Okay, you might roll your eyes at that, thinking it isn't a good enough reason to get excited over a film, but do you know how hard it is to find an awesome  ensemble cast where you don't hate any of the leads? Virtually impossible.

If you are a seasoned horror watcher, you've seen the tricks within before. Doors move on their own. People are animated without their control. Objects appear out of nowhere. Pictures fall off walls. And when you are looking over here at this cute little family, something is going to appear on the other side of the room. Or jump off a wardrobe. Oh, and anyone who has seen any exorcism in any form, either on YouTube or in a movie, then you have seen at least a piece of the Conjuring pie. That said, it is because these things work to scare that they are used over-and-over again. I will openly admit that I actually screamed out loud during one part. For serious. I was knee deep in the movie, riveted to the screen, unable to look away, and then the door moved and I let loose a scream any thirteen year old girl would be mortified by.

What I liked about this, is that it took two Warren cases and made them come together. I also enjoyed the gaggle of girls who are part of the Perron family brood. A lot of these horror movies are reliant on the acting skills of young children. A lot of the time, it misses, but all of the girls in this movie were good actresses, and I blame the girl who got pulled across her bed for roping me into the movie so far that I got vocal.

Here's the thing. If I bought a house and there is a boarded up cellar, which happens to be where the furnace is, you can bet your ass I would be asking, "Why is this cellar boarded up?" Sure, this family asks it, but they don't delve in and try to figure out why someone would cover it up. Granted, they didn't have a lot of time, their visitors come out to play pretty quickly. Which is just another thing to like. The lack of time wasting. I find in so many new horror movies they meander all over the place before getting to the good stuff, or they unload too much too soon. The Conjuring is right smack dab in the middle of that. It brings on the scares quickly, but it doesn't reveal too much.

By the time I was halfway through I'd already made up my mind. I liked it. And that lasted straight through to the end.
I would never keep this creepy doll anywhere near my home.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

No Such Luck - Day 29

Last night, I was supposed to watch Poltergeist. I've never seen it before, you see, and I was looking forward to finally crossing it off my short list of classics I've yet to indulge in.

First, the MKV version I had wouldn't play on my xbox, then the MP4 file was corrupted. Well, a girl can take a hint. So, I didn't end up watching Poltergeist at all. Instead, I watched a truly terrifying flick called Sleepless In Seattle. I still have chills.

Okay, okay, comedy hour is over. This is what I really watched.

Title: Cabin In The Woods
Year: 2012
Synopsis: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Tagline: You think you know the story.
Thar be spoilers in this here review! Because I can't write a rave review about this without telling you just what I thought was amazing.

When I went to go see this movie in the theatre, I thought it was going to be another slasher teen flick. You know, the movie where the ridiculously good-looking main characters do a bunch of stupid shit and they all get killed in clichéd ways and you roll your eyes because it's all soooooo predictable.

I was wrong.

Granted, on the surface, it does look like that kind of movie. The overtly sexual blonde bimbo is dating the douche-face jock. Stoner guy is thrown in for comedic effect while you assume the virgin is going to be the only survivor in the movie. Actually, like so many horror movies, there is a gang of kids that kind of resemble Scooby-Doo. It makes me laugh how accurate that statement is.

Upfront, I can address why a lot of people didn't like this. There are two groups of people, the 'what the hell is going on crowd' who don't like it when a movie is one upping them and they can't figure out the plot. These people are the ones who will walk out before the movie is completed because it doesn't make any sense and it seems like a couple other horror flicks they've seen before. Basically, they have no patience and shouldn't be allowed in the door to a movie of this calibre.

The second crowd is the 'I've seen every horror movie known to man and I will never be happy with anything big Hollywood does'. These elitist horror snobs are the worst. They can't enjoy anything except for seventies Italian horror and Foreign films with knife wielding and a fair bit of pert nipplery. These folks are annoyed because this movie used ideas other movies that came before used. Apparently, they didn't get the memo that there are no original ideas and people borrow, modify and steal lines, characters, plot points all the time.

To be blunt, when I went to go see this, it'd been a long time since I saw a truly good horror movie. Cabin in the Woods is at once a parody of the horror genre and also a tribute. In a lot of ways, it is like a magic trick, a genius case of misdirection, but revealed to the audience.

First, they show you what you already expect to happen. The Scooby-Doo gang, all good-looking college students, going to an isolated cabin for a chance to kick back and relax. Because we have all seen this a hundred times before, we check our watches and think to ourselves, good another hour of blood and mayhem and I can get home and trash this on my blog. That's when the zombies make an appearance. Well, not just zombies. The zombie redneck family!

Second, they hit you with a sub-plot and start to explain things, a bit. This is where you have the 'wait, something else is going on here', thought. What are these tech guys talking about? What are they betting on? Wait, they know who the Scooby-Doo gang is? They've been watching them. Wow. So, this whole weekend getaway has been orchestrated? The dumb shit these seemingly stupid characters are doing has all been planned? Nothing is as it seems? It's all a giant set-up!!! At this point, our brains explode, but we are delighted because this is new. This is exciting. We didn't plan for this.

Or it's where you walk out of the theatre.

Last, they deliver the big reveal. The climax. Why this group of techie nerds is harbouring every monster known to man in the pits of this underground lab. What these kids have been sacrificed for. And how it all was able to be worked out. This is the part where a lot of people asked 'is this for real?" It is. It is so for real.

The most important reason for you to go and watch this movie is to see the epic monster battle scene. I can't even explain it. I will simply say, the unicorn made my day. And it doesn't end the way you think it does. In fact, nothing about this movie is what you think it is. If you don't like to laugh during horror movies, or if you have a serious case of the 'nothing-is-ever-good-enough-for-mes', then just pass on watching this, okay, fun killers!

 Honestly, the only disappointing part is the ending. Not the end itself, but the fact that there can't really be a sequel. And I would have loved to have seen a sequel for this one!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wanna Play - Day 28

To the five people who are diligently reading these reviews, thank you, and congratulations. You have almost made it through. October is almost over. Let's go out with a bang and make these last couple of days count.

Title: Curse of Chucky
Year: 2013
Synopsis: After her mother's mysterious death, Nica begins to suspect that the talking, red-haired doll her visiting niece has been playing with may be the key to recent bloodshed and chaos.

Tagline: Foul mouth. Foul temper.

Sometimes movies are bad on purpose, like a lot of the 'b' rated campy slasher flicks from the eighties. That said, I'm not sure Curse of Chucky was supposed to be bad. I think they were actually trying to make a legitimate horror movie, but maybe they haven't seen the rest of the Child's Play franchise. These movies aren't supposed to try. There isn't supposed to be a twist ending. They are supposed to be bare bones, with funny dialogue, and the quirky doll stealing the scene.

Sadly, Chucky got his scene stolen from him by the emotional acting of Nica, played by Fiona Dourif. Yeah, emotional acting, since when is that supposed to happen in these movies.

Just so we are all clear, I love Chucky. He's a puny little guy who has some of the best lines of any of the horror baddies. Except in this installant his witty, bitter ways seem to have fallen to the wayside. He just paled in comparison to all the other movies, which makes me think this was just a lack lustre attempt to make a bit of money.

Here's the sad part, I have been waiting two decades for Andy to make a return. Finally, he does and it's just a bit cameo, which happened to be the best part of the film. Okay, that's a spoiler, but don't worry, I'm not ruining anything for you. I could tell you word-for-word what happened in this film and you'd still be lost when you watched it. Honestly, I have no idea what the writer, director and producer were all thinking when they decided on dual endings and a plot twist. Give me a break! It's like these guys were trying to apply big Hollywood tricks to their low budget film.

It failed miserably.

In the end, this movie makes no sense. The ending with Andy is negated by the fact Chucky is transferring his soul into Alice before the credits roll. And he is supposedly doing this soul transfer thing without the pendant, the tool they put so much emphasis on in the first three movies. Then there is the fact that Tiffany is still helping him. Oh, and Chucky doesn't bleed when he gets hurt. Since when?

And why is the doll all normal looking at the beginning of the film only to get scars and stitches later on?

Colour me confused.

Also, the murder scenes kind of suck. I mean, they aren't tense, scary or gory.

Even if you love Chucky, go ahead and pass on this. Needless to say, I think this franchise has finally be slashed to pieces and laid to rest.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Found Footage - Day 27

Remember when everyone was all about The Blair Witch Project?

Title: [Rec]
Year: 2007
Synopsis: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Tagline: Experience Fear

Before 1999, there were only a handful of found footage horror movies, Cannibal Holocaust being the first I can remember and that was from 1980. Then Blair Witch was made and the world went crazy for these 'this could be happening to you' movies. You know, I don't actually remember seeing at all. I mean, I know I saw it, but it didn't leave any sort of impression and if someone sat me down and asked what it was about I'd shrug my shoulders and say, "Not sure. Some kids with a camera and snot coming out of a nose or two." Seriously.

Like it or not, Blair Witch popularized the mockumentary style genre. After came Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity, The Zombie Diaries, The Last Exorcism, and this foreign film [Rec]. That's right, it's a Spanish film with English subtitles, which means you're going to have to read. I know, I know. We all hate reading. Or, maybe we don't, but apparently that's what Hollywood thinks. They always remake amazing foreign movies and I can't think of any reason other than the fact they don't think people like to read. Remember that movie Let Me In? It was a remake of the Swedish horror movie Let The Right One In, which was amazing. So often these remakes don't do the originals any justice. Since I haven't seen the remake of [Rec], called Quarantine and stars Dexter's sister, I can't comment on it, but I'm going to hazard a guess that it pales in comparison.

I myself don't LOVE the found footage style of film making. It kind of makes me sick, all that running around and shaking camera nonsense. That said, this way of shooting really did add to the overall tone of the movie, instead of feeling gimmicky and humorous, it had an incredibly authentic air to it.

A journalist and camera operator are following these fireman around. They go on a call to investigate a scream, only to find an infected woman. Then the biting starts. Like most zombie movies, the plague travels fast, easily taking out the people who were healthy only a moment before. The plot line isn't actually anything original, we've seen it before, but the sense of urgency in the first person perspective certainly lends an engaging element to the overall film.

People raved about [Rec] when it first came out, calling it ground breaking, but in truth it is a simply mash-up of a few other movies. Nothing about this breaks boundaries or is in any way 'new' to the viewer. That doesn't mean I am trashing the movie for taking bits and pieces from other horror movies, such as Blair Witch and 28 Days Later. The truth is, I love Quentin Tarantino and he loves borrowing from the classics that came before. It's what he's known for. Sure, he's smarmy and has major attitude, but who didn't love Django?

To sum it up, [Rec] is good. Tense. Scary. And totally worth it for the last ten minutes. For a movie that had a very limited budget, was shot on a digital camera, and contained in one building, it was really well done. A quick view that any zombie lover will surely enjoy.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Funny Horror - Day 26

If a horror movie is funny, can it still be horror? Yes. In fact, a lot of horror movies have funny parts. I call these little quips, one liners and humorous moments breathers. Because it gives you a chance to take a breath, gather your thoughts and prepare yourself for the next big 'scare'.

Last night, I watched two 'funny' zombie flicks Dance of the Dead, it was better than I expected it to be, and Warm Bodies, which could almost be chalked up to a feel-good romantic comedy. So, maybe they weren't exactly horror, but we all need a break from slasher flicks and torture porn, or maybe that's just me.

Title: Warm Bodies
Year: 2013
Synopsis: After a highly unusual zombie saves a still-living girl from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

Tagline: There's nothing hotter than a girl with brains.

Boys the world over cringed at this movie. It's the romance. And the fact that it smelled like a chick-flick. Not to mention that cover? It practically screams high-school love-fest.
The truth is, there's a bit more going on than what you might naturally assume. It is because I read the book that I knew this wasn't going to be another Notebook or High School Musical. Granted, I will watch anything with Zac Efron and Ryan Gosling in it, so perhaps my opinions can't really be trusted. Whatever, just read the damn review. 

The number one reason this movie is watch-worthy is the main character is a zombie. It's from his perspective. His point of view. He's the narrator, for crying out loud! That's a big 'hell yes'. Yes, sure, the movie deviates away from the 'unfeeling, unthinking, uncaring' zombies we grew up with, but that's why it's rather brilliant. Not to mention he eats his love interest's boyfriend's brain, but not all at once. He takes some of it to go and, throughout the course of the movie, takes bites. There's a reason for this, which I will detail in a minute, but if you think about it from the angle of the girl, Julie, then you realize this is a very disturbing thing. Of course, she doesn't know, and maybe that's what makes it even more twisted. 

Up next, the second reason why you should watch this movie is why 'R', the zombie, decides to keep the boyfriend's brain and savour it. Not to devour it all at once. Brains to zombies are a glimpse at their humanity again. They experience the memories of the owners of the brains and, for a brief time, get to live again. I've never seen this twist in any zombie movies. While I certainly love the shuffling, groaning, non-thinking walkers we have know for decades now, I always enjoy an alternate way of looking at things. It shows imagination. 

Thinking outside the box and all that crap. 

Up next, plot. The movie has heart - if you've seen the movie then you understand what I did there. If not, oops. Normally, zombies aren't curable, but in this, love kind of saves the day. And that might seem hokey and clichéd, but sometimes clichés are clichés for a reason.  

Another point to make would be the humour. It really is fantastically written. The dialogue, the awkward moments, the uncertainty between the two main characters, and the inner monologue of R is witty and funny. Not to mention the development of the characters is believable. If you have great actors in far-fetched roles, then sometimes you can add a sense of believability to a 'this will never happen' plot. 

While there are other parts I loved about this film, including the score, special effects, bonies, best friend sub-plot and humanizing zombies, I feel the need to end this review with mentioning John Malkovich is in it. Have you ever disliked anything he's done? He plays Julie's militant, don't bend the rules, kill kill kill father, and he does a superb job.  

The bones of this plot aren't original. It's actually a parallel with Romeo and Juliet, R and Julie, but the flesh is what sets it apart from other similar movies. In the wake of Twilight, there are a lot of monsters falling in love with awkward girls. Unlike others, this one is actually quite charming. If Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead can be considered horror movies and be loved the world over by zombie enthusiast, why can't this one? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zombie Weekend - Day 25

Yesterday kicked off Zombie weekend here, and let me just tell you, I am over the moon. Zombies have been and always will be one of my most favourite horror creatures.

Title: 28 Days Later
Year: 2002
Synopsis: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Tagline: Be thankful for everything, for soon there will be nothing.

The truth is I can't say enough good things about this movie. Granted, there will be some who meekly raise their hands and tell me this isn't actually a zombie movie. After all, zombies are people who have died and been reanimated. The monsters in 28 Days Later don't actually die, but contract a virus called 'rage' that makes them act like the cannibalistic undead. Now, while I can appreciate that outlook, I don't feel the same way.

If it acts like a zombie and looks like a zombie. It's a zombie.

That being said, I would actually suggest categorizing this as a virus/outbreak movie, as opposed to a zombie flick for one simple reason. People think zombie and they assume it will be cheesy and regurgitate all the stuff we've already seen in other lurching, moaning, flesh-eating movies. This is not the case with Danny Boyle's 2002 masterpiece.

Now, why is this movie so phenomenal?

Well, it contains all the necessary pieces to make a great film. Believability. Anyone who existed ten years ago remembers when the swine flu was taking the world by storm. It was all over the news. People were dying. Everyone was scared. Before the swine flue was the plague. Black death. It happened. And it could happen again. In fact, my money is on a virus wiping most of us out one day. Besides, have you seen how many people don't wash their hands or cover their mouths when they sneeze? Disturbing.

28 Days Later also touts sympathetic characters. You can't help but like Cillian Murphy's character. Not only is he undeniably attractive with those pale baby blues, but his fear is palpable. You can feel it. He doesn't do stupid things because he is afraid. He's sensitive and lost, certainly not the stuff most heroes are made from. All his moves are authentic, he does things we all would do if we woke up in the hospital and suddenly found the world taken over by mobs of very angry people. Kind of like Vancouver when the Canucks crap the bed during play-offs and the citizens burn their own city down. Bravo.

And maybe that's the whole point. The parallel between real life and the virus induced state isn't too far away from one another, is it? People seem to be so very agitated so often in lift and, towards the end of the film, you really get the sense that Danny Boyle is skewing the line in who is the 'monster' and who isn't. In the end, this truly does explore human nature, and maybe that's why it is one of those flicks that sticks with you after the fact.

Unlike a lot of horror movies, this one doesn't let up. From the very beginning straight through to the end it is a blood spraying riot of violence and tension. But it isn't in your face gore, it isn't overwhelming, and it isn't trying to be the grossest movie of the decade. Each scene shows you a snippet into the characters and their development, creating this perfect arc that you can see over the entire film, kind of like a rainbow.

The writers did a fantastic job with plotting out and executing this storyline. Like I said, I can't say enough good things. Watch it for entertainment or because it is subtly layered and beautifully executed. This is just another example that great movies can be done on small budgets. I am beginning to think Danny Boyle is untouchable.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Re-Imagining - Day 24

Remember that time you thought I got ranty? That was just a glimpse into the madness. Hold onto your horses, this is going to get messy.

Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Year: 2010
Synopsis: A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.

Tagline: He knows where you sleep.

First off, let's tackle this re-imaginging bullshit. Is this what we are calling remakes now? Re-imaginings?And is this to try and give the screenwriter and director props? Like they put a little something extra in it? Like they actually did some work and put an original idea in it? To give the pretence they improved on the classic they maimed? After watching it, I can safely tell you, this isn't so much a re-imagining, as it is a re-destroying. 

Unlike yesterday where I listed what I didn't like only to cap the review off with what I enjoyed, I am going to do the reverse today. First, I will tell you the strong parts of this remake. Here they are in alphabetical order: 


Zero. Zilch. Zip.

That's right, nothing. I liked nothing about this redo of the 1984 cult classic. Since I am sure you want to know why, I shall detail it for you forthwith. 

Like Rob Zombie's version of Halloween and Marcus Nispel's redos of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, this movie suffered from the 'we have to explain everything' epidemic. I didn't need to know Michael Myer's came from a broken home. I didn't need to know Jason Voorhees liked to play hockey. I didn't need to know Leatherface apparently didn't have a nose. And, this is the most relevant, I didn't need Freddy's paedophilia spelled out for me. 

All of this information these writers put into the remakes of the classics I know and love is utterly frustrating. Mostly because it is freakier not knowing. Not being sure. Trying to figure out if the person is an anti-hero or not. Wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt. And this just happens to be one of those films for me. They never told you flat out what Krueger did to kids in the original. Sure, it was implied, but then there was also the uncomfortable feeling that the lynch mob who burned him may have been wrong, and that's why it was such a brilliant film. 

One would think with this re-imaginging (ha-ha) that the CGI and green screens would make it scarier and more intense. Nope. Because it lacked creativity. The original had better dream sequences, deaths and acting, which is hilarious because it was filmed in 1984. Like the scene with the friend all in plastic, that part in the 84 version freaks me right out, but this one was boring and, somehow, managed to be comical. 

Apparently, this new version of Nightmare on Elm Street had fifteen scripts written for it and the final product is a mish-mash of four of those. Too much material apparently equals too little plot. And for some strange and inexplicable reason they decided to turn Nancy into a walking cliché by making her the social outcast who doesn't fit in but is an extremely gifted artist. In the original, Nancy was popular. She had friends. A relationship with Johnny Depp, for crying out loud. And her last name was Thompson, not Holbrook. Why keep the central character's first name the same and change the last? 

It makes no sense. Was the whole production team high when they decided to smoosh four scripts together? Four! I mean, that's a lot of scripts. Didn't anyone sit back and think it might not work. 

Okay, I don't like Michael Bay, I will admit that right now. But I am not being bias. Just because I find him a womanising jerk with bad hair and a smarmy smile doesn't mean I can't be impartial! Just because he hasn't ever done a good film - yeah, I went there - doesn't mean I can't go into this movie optimistically. After all, he's only been on the board of ruining two other classics for me, Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But he was only a producer for this film, so a bad taste isn't left my mouth, right? Fine, maybe there's a little bitterness on the tip of my tongue, but I went into this with an open-mind. Well, as open as my mind can be about remakes. 

Fat lot of good that did me. 

Remember in the original movie how Nancy is drinking coffee on the sly in order to stay awake? That added to her character a certain innocence you couldn't help but love. Apparently in 2010 it is all about sleeping pills and needles to keep yourself awake. The whole original cast proved to be better actors than the ones who came 26 years later. While I know these kids don't have the same names, the same plot plays out but in a much less appetizing way. It baffles me why they would insist on re-imagining a movie only to not add anything worthwhile to it and not do the original justice in any way shape or form. 

And what the hell is with the new tagline? Pathetic. He knows where you sleep. Yeah, in bed. Duh. Besides, he comes for you in your dreams, so shouldn't it be 'He knows when you sleep'? Just a suggestion. And the original's tagline? 

If Nancy Doesn't Wake Up Screaming She Won't Wake Up At All... 

They couldn't even best the original's tagline. How embarrassing.

Oh, and are we supposed to believe that this Kyle Gallner is this version heartthrob. Please, the guy looks strung out from the word go! To quote the Sidekick "Are we supposed to believe this is the new Johnny Depp?" Exactly! Greasy mop-haired boy with a gumby expression on his face. Pass. Give me J.D in a crop top any day of the week!

   Look at that tummy! 

And lastly, I tackle the subject of Freddy himself. Dear old Fred. The guy with the knives for fingers. Here's the thing about remaking movies, some characters are so iconic you simply cannot put another person into the role. Bluntly, I love Jackie Earle Haley, adored him as Rorschach in the Watchmen, but he simply couldn't fill the shoes, or sweater, of Robert Englund. The truth hurts, I know. You can stick anyone in the roles of Jason, Michael Meyers and Leatherface and no one will bat an eye because they wear masks and suits, and they aren't exactly big talkers, but Freddy Krueger? You can't. 

Like Pinhead and Doug Bradley, Robert Englund is synonymous with Freddy Krueger. They ARE these characters. Their voices. Their faces. Their movements. These men are what nightmares are made of. You
can slap prosthetics on anyone, but you can't replace heart and personality. These characters were just characters until these men breathed life into them.

And the way they changed the new Krueger disappointed me. Englund made Uncle Freddy into a believable freaky and twisted killer, while Haley stoked the fires of him being a child molester and played the part in an overtly sexual way. This bothered me. Granted, there was some sexualization in the original it wasn't to this extreme. Also, my favourite part about Nightmare on Elm Street has always been the quick-wit Freddy had and his sick twisted sense of humour. While there were a handful of humorous lines in this 2010 version, they all seemed to be stolen from other Freddy movies, and sounded so much better with Englund's voice behind them.

In the end, just avoid it. If my long winded rant can't convince you, nothing will.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Possessiveness - Day 23

The whole idea of possession is so very intriguing to me. To be taken over by demons, controlled and contorted, twisted and tortured. For me, this always has had a parallel to mental health. Of course, in the movies and books, the person afflicted is literally possessed by demons, sometimes Lucifer himself. I myself cannot say if this is true or not. It is like meditation and hitting that higher plain. It is like people who unlock their past lives.

I have never experienced this. But that does not make it untrue. After all, I have never seen a narwhal whale but that does not mean they do not exist.

Last night, I watched two possession movies. The Exorcism of Emily Rose and this more recent film.

Title: The Possession
Year: 2012
Synopsis: A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.

Tagline: Fear the demon that doesn't fear God.

A little girl buys a cool looking box from a garage sale and starts acting all sorts of messed up. Of course, a demon is inside the box and it tries to take over the girl. Not a crappy plot line, except no one in the movie acted accordingly.

Remember in Exorcist when Regan's behaviour started changing her and her mother noticed and tried to get her help. Apparently, the Brenek family doesn't have those natural instincts. I can tell you this much, if my gentle, lovely, animal loving daughter suddenly stabs me in the hand with a fork one breakfast morning, you best believe she'd be making a trip to the doctor's office and a therapist. The reason they don't? She must be feeling the affect from their divorce, which happened months prior.

Though this whole movie I sat there wondering, why the hell isn't anyone helping the obviously disturbed and unhappy Emily?

Her obsession with the box alone would raise some eyebrows. And the fact that her finger was turning green and swelling from the ring she was wearing. How did anyone not notice this? It reminded me of the time I put a rubber band around my finger to the point that I couldn't get it off. At first, I panicked, but when my finger started turning blue, I decided I needed to tell my mom because I didn't want to lose the tip of my finger. This was over the span of twenty minutes. Needless to say, if my entire hand went blue, my mom would have noticed. The fact that neither the mother or father in this didn't seem to care that her finger was practically falling off leads me to believe they are neglectful.

And what kind of parent buys a weird box for their child but doesn't investigate how to open it or what's inside. There could have been drugs or porno in there! Instead, there was just a demon that ended up possessing the daughter.

You know what this movie really suffered from? The inability to hurt any of the main characters. Right from the first ten minutes, I knew what was going to happen. I knew everything was going to be okay for the Brenek family, that they would all be alive and well by the end, but the box would some how fall into the wrong hands. Maybe it was so predictable because I've seen far too many horror movies before. Or maybe it was predictable because this is he classic Hollywood way. They only like to kill the people you aren't connected to. These people should take a cue from George R.R. Martin, I'm still suffering the depression from him killing ... everyone. (No Game of Throne spoilers here!)

Let's put the bashing of this lack-luster film (that I was really looking forward to watching) to the side and detail what didn't disappoint.

There were a few greatly creepy scenes. The fingers down the throat of the girl. A demon being shown in the MRI. And the boyfriend's teeth falling out. That's about it. Granted, the movie did start out with a bang, but why didn't the family go back to the original owner and ask a few questions?

Just doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A House and Chainsaw Wielding Maniac - Day 22

Talk about a crappy inheritance, huh? With this gorgeous house, you also get your bonkers cousin who likes to cut faces off people and has an affection for chainsaws. Yikes. But don't worry, Leatherface will protect you because you're family. Just make sure you tell him you two are related or else he's going to cut you to pieces, okay?

Title: Texas Chainsaw 3D
Year: 2013
Synopsis: A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.

Tagline: Evil wears many faces.

With my approaching birthday, I find myself wondering if I'm getting soft in my old age. And I'm not talking about my body. No, this here body is a temple and it just happens to be curvaceous and soft, pliable and cuddly. It's always been that way - another birthday isn't going to change that. What I'm referring to is my usual hardass ways - especially when it comes to horror movies. I don't think I was supposed to like Texas Chainsaw 3D. After all, the Tobe Hooper classic is one of the scariest films of all time both cinimatically and on a psychological level. Simply put, it leaves a disturbed taste in the viewers mouth.

This doesn't do that, not really. In many ways, this supposed sequel is actually a very nice movie about the bonds of family. No character development. Not scary. A decent amount of gore, but it lacked tension. Still, I didn't hate it. And I honestly don't know why. See, it isn't the most brilliant movie of the year, not by a long shot. But I thought the premise kind of cool and the female lead, who wore way too much make up, was actually fairly likable while still being off enough that you can believe she is related to a bunch of homicidal maniacs. 

This did fall victim to continuity issues as well, not to mention realistic viability. If this movie takes up right where the last left off and is supposed to be in present day (they use Iphones), then the ages of both Leatherface and Heather are off. According to the expanded beginning which extends from the end of the previous, we can assume it picks up from 1974 which would make Leatherface 60 and Heather nearing the end of her thirties. Now, I can bend my imagination enough to allow for a couple of years flexibility, maybe, but Heather would have to be at least in her thirties for this movie to even be plausible. And she most certainly is not. Her breasts are far too perky. 

Then there is Letherface. Was he seriously locked in the basement for the last 35 years? Perhaps this is why he limps, but I can only surmise that he would certainly have other noticeable issues. No sunlight and little exercise alone would guarantee this man to be handicapped in some capacity. But there he is chasing after the young kids, clubbing buff twenty year olds and dragging them around as if they weighed the same as a sack of potatoes.

See what I mean about continuity and whether or not it is realistic?

Through the whole film, I kept telling Heather to read the bloody letter from her Grandmother. In the end, it detailed everything, from Leatherface being locked in the basement and what happened to her family. If she had of at least skimmed the note to being with the whole movie might have been avoided. Furthermore, what isn't explained is why everyone in the town is mental. The attractive police officer who happens to conveniently be the son of the mayor who was part of the lynching party who burned Heather's family to bits. Truth be told, you don't care about anyone in the movie and are kind of rooting for the cheater boyfriend and whore best friend to bite it from the get-go.  

Oh, and by the way, Tobe Hooper already did a sequel to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which was, in fact, a terrible, terrible, terrible movie), but this 3D follow up completely disregards the 1986 installment of this series. Which is fine, I guess, but is something I just now thought of.  

You know, I think I've just talked myself out of liking this. Funny how analyzing things can do that. 

In the films defense, I really did like the idea. Family takes care of family, no matter how messed up said family is. It's kind of a nice thought. But if your cousin who has been touched by the angels is slashing people to bits with a chainsaw (the loudest weapon of them all) then I highly suggest you notify the authorities. It's just good manners. And I have to give props to the scene where Leatherface is sewing the skinned face onto his own. It made me squirm. 

Thank goodness I'm still a hardass!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Only Edward - Day 21

Apparently, last night was also Burton-fest 2013. I partook in two of his most classic films. Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. Excuse me while I get ranty in a good way.

Title: Edward Scissorhands
Year: 1990
Synopsis: An uncommonly gentle young man, who happens to have scissors for hands, falls in love with a beautiful adolescent girl.

Tagline: His story will touch you, even though he can't.

Teenage girls the world over have spent the last decade (almost) swooning over a sparkly vampire by the name of Edward Cullen. This broody, pale, and (apparently) lethal creature somehow managed to get thirteen-year-olds and their moms all up in a frenzy. Personally, I'm confounded. Yes, I have read the books and watched the movies. They are all the comedy, and then some. But I just don't understand what the appeal is of this stalker-type fellow.

If you want a morose, bone-white dreamboat then there is another Edward who came before Mr. Cullen, and who has evidently been forgotten. And this Edward isn't going to play baseball or magically catch a falling apple, mostly because he has scissors for hands. Don't scoff and roll your eyes at me, young lady. This man does not warrant your flippant disregard or snorts of derision. He is a gem. A diamond in the rough. Far superior to any Volvo driving vampire, that's for sure.

Proof, you say! You want proof. I will give you proof.

Windswept, tousled hair - check. Peril - check. Intense stare - check. Amazing house - check. Swooping in and saving the day - check. That's all the proof you need, but let me go on.

If you want danger, try dating a man with scissors for hands. If you want taboo, try falling for a cyborg-ish man clad in latex, covered in scars who can't touch you. If you want a love story, try being with a man who leaves in order to keep you safe, and he doesn't come back later either, even more so, you don't have to travel all the way to Italy to stop him from stepping into sunlight and making himself appear as though he is participating in a Pride parade. If you want knight in ivory skin, try having the hero defend your honour only to kill the man savagely attacking you. If you want tragic love story, try the only girl he ever loved confessing the same and sharing a kiss, the only one - and there isn't the risk of him eating you, but he might possibly impale you on a scissor.

If this appeals to you, put down the Blu-ray of Twilight and pop the VHS of Edward Scissorhands in.
You know, now that I've spelled it all out like that, there are several parallels between these two story lines. Imagine that, the Twilight plot line isn't all that original. What a shocker. But despite the similarities, there is only one that is actually good amaze-balls, and it's the one with Johnny Depp - who even 23 years later is eight-hundred thousand percent more attractive than Robert Pattinson. And cooler. So much cooler.  Granted, they both seem to have problems in the relationship department.

But this isn't Us Weekly, and I'm not reviewing their love lives. I'm just refereeing the battle of the Edwards.

My love for Edward Scissorhands goes back years before Mrs. Meyer dreamed about two kids laying awkwardly in a grass field. And through these decades it remains untouchable. While none of us really live in the same cookie cutter neighbourhood, we all have experienced displacement and not fitting in. How about wanting love but not being able to have it? We know what it is like to be isolated and alone, different, a novelty for a certain group only to be discarded when our luster wears off, and I think all of us have tasted the bitterness of fear, of worrying about having the good things taken away.

Enter Mr. Scissorhands.

He is innocence. Kindness. Compassion. Loneliness. Regret. Disappointment. A mistake. Gentle. Dangerous.

He is reality.

And he is a reminder that not everything ends happily. Unlike Cullen with Bella, Scissorhands leaves Kim and her family alone, knowing he isn't good for them. That they aren't good for him. He is responsible and, ultimately, the greatest gentleman. Edward Scissorhands is the real story of forbidden love out of these two. It's sorrowful and beautiful and utter perfection.

And I don't want to hear anything about any other Edward, okay? Because they ain't got nothing on this one.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Making Christmas - Day 20

Last night, I watched Frankenweenie and Nightmare Before Christmas. It probably goes without saying that I love Tim Burton. Neither of these movies will disappoint. Both of them carry the same moral of it being good to try new things and not giving up. Victor and Jack Skellington are both extremely determined individuals.

Title: Frankenweenie
Year: 2012
Synopsis: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Tagline: The electrifying dog is back from the grave. 

Anyone who has ever loved and lost a pet will appreciate this film. The very core of it is a love story, between a boy and his dog. Perhaps that's why I love it so much. 

In 1984 Tim Burton did a short film of the same name for Disney and, as I recall reading, it was close to his heart. Not only did it pay homage to the monster movies he loved but it was filmed in Burbank California where he grew up. While people initially thought Frankenweenie was too dark, it eventually grew to such popularity that it sparked an idea for the director/writer to go back and make it bigger, and better. 

There are a lot of people who didn't like this extended edition of Frankenweenie, which surprises me, but all I can gather is that they just didn't 'get' it. What's there to get? you might ask. Well, the references for one, which are rife throughout this movie. From Shelley the turtle being revived being a tip of the hat to Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein, and Elsa Van Helsing's name being a not-so-subtle nod to Abraham Van Helsing, Bram Stoker's Dracula character and Elsa Lanchester, a character from the original Bride of Frankenstein.

Maybe to truly appreciate this film you need to have horror chops, to actually enjoy the genre, so you see the Vincent Price-ness in teach Mr. Rzykrusk, and understand the influence he must have had over Burton. Even the the whole opening scene with Sparky tramping all over a town as a gigantic monster-dog is such an obvious parallel to Godzilla.  And who else noticed the movie Victor's parents were watching? That's right, it was Horror of Dracula starring Christopher Lee! 

Okay, how about I turn my nerd off? 

I think people are also turned off by black and white. Don't ask me why, but I've heard it said by more than one person that they won't watch movies not in colour. It must come down to narrow-mindedness. Also, people tend to assume this is just a kids' movie because it is stop-motion animation. It isn't. Then there are the sheltering Sallys who cover their kids' eyes at 'scary parts'. They come away angry, thinking it is too morbid of an idea for children. Ladies and gentleman, this may come as a shock but your kids are more resilient than you think. While people will talk about how dark this film is, I see life in it. Besides, can you name a Disney movie that doesn't deal with death? Just because Victor brings Sparky back to life the PC brigade blew a gasket. 

Dear parents, get over it. 

You see way worse on day time television these days. 

When I was a little girl, my best friend was a Great Dane named Patches. He had the biggest head and the floppiest ears. I loved him with my whole heart. And he died. If I could have, I would have brought him back. Maybe that's why I love this movie so much. Not to mention, I kind of see Oliver in Frankenweenie. 

Tears were shed when I watched this. Not necessarily by me. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Womanising Jerk - Day 19

Ichabod Crane was a womanising jerk. Let me explain.

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Year: 1949
Synopsis: In a small town, a brewing romantic rivalry with a local tough and a school-teacher culminates in a terrifying ride in the night.

Tagline: Heads will roll. 

Okay, that isn't the real tagline for this 1949 movie by Disney. You got me - I made it up. There isn't a tagline  for this 34 minute animation and I just happen to think of decapitation whenever the headless horseman comes into conversation. And I am head-over-heels (see what I did there?) with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song Heads Will Roll. Based off the book by Washington Irving, this Disney story time classic is a quaint trip into the lazy town of Sleepy Hollow and an introduction to the Headless Horseman. 

Now, onto the point. 

Ichabod is a womanising jerk. Even worse, he's a money grubbing whore-monger. For a man who is awkward, tall, thin with a crook nose, he gets a lot of play. Throughout the first twenty minutes of this film, I watched him use women, toy with their emotions, and generally be a nuisance.  He also objectified Katrina Van Tassel! I mean, the girl was a pretty face, for sure, and a flirt on top of that, but what was her personality like??? To be honest, I haven't a clue. From how she is depicted, she likes to flirt, get men to carry her packages, and generally be a bit of a shit disturber, which is totally something I can appreciate. 

Truth be told, Ichabod's obsession with Katrina is a little unnerving. As is his interest in her father's fortune. He basically dreams up Von Tassel's demise and super imposes him into his place. All the talk of the money and how wealthy he would be left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me wonder if you are even supposed to like Ichabod at all. Or any of the characters. The development in this is some-what confusing. By the end of the thirty-four minutes, I didn't care for a single person, except the chubby girl Brom dances with. I mean, she's hilarious - granted, her desperation and aggressiveness is a bit worrisome.

It seems as though the personalities in this are a bit on the extreme. Yes, I do know I am over-thinking this. But it just seems so backwards and stunting. Maybe that's the beauty in it? Don't get me wrong, this is totally worth your time, and it certainly opens your eyes to how much we've grown over the years. For the musical numbers and the (unintentional?) humour, it is worth it. 

Personally, I think there needed to be a bit more of the Headless Horseman. He's the best part. Like when he throws the pumpkin. Not to mention his horse is rather spooky. 

It's funny how a little movie like this can bring up thoughts about feminism, womanising, objectification and greed. Or maybe I'm just in one of those analytical moods. 

On a side note, I did like the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton mash up of Sleepy Hollow and even have been enjoying the reboot television series of the same name. 

Anyway, the whole movie is on YouTube for you to partake in. Here's the link.  

And now, let's dance till we're dead.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

All About Cartoons - Day 18

Last night I kicked off my cartoon weekend, and I may have deviated from the schedule. Don't worry, I am all caught up now, but I completely forgot Monsters University came out and I HAD to watch it. I know, I know, it isn't technically horror or halloweenie, but there are monsters in it. I thought it was amazing. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times. None harder than this part:

Anyway, because it wasn't on the list of movies it is off the review selection, which leaves me with another cartoon I simply adored. 

Title: Hotel Transylvania
Year: 2012
Synopsis: Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count's teen-aged daughter.

Tagline: Even monsters need a vacation.

Horror buffs the world over are rolling their eyes at my cartoon weekend. And I say, go ahead and roll your eyes, fun killers! No matter what, there are certain movies that will always be spooky even if they are cartoon-y and they deserve to have their day in the spotlight. Hotel Transylvania has all the elements of a fangtastic film. Dracula, Werewolf, Frankenstein, The Mummy and let's not forget skeletons, zombies and bats. 

While I really do love this shiny nugget of fun from last year, I also think it was misrepresented. While Count Dracula certainly does build and run a resort for monsters, it really isn't about that. In truth, it centres around his love for Mavis, his daughter, and the desire to keep her close, even though it is her 118th birthday. But the Count's overprotective ways are inevitably what shows a wandering twenty-one year old backpacker the way to this exclusive resort. 

What unfolds truly is a cute film with all our favourite campy b-movie creatures making an appearance. I think a lot of people who watched this failed to remember that this is a children's movie. Like Shrek and Toy Story, this movie does have adult humour, which you have to be quick to pick up, but it also has fart jokes and a kind of annoying impression of Dracula. That said, it is a KIDS MOVIE. And of course there is a moral to the movie! After all, it is for CHILDREN, and we want our kids to learn. 

I thought it rather ingenious to address discrimination in this manner. We've seen it before, with Shrek and Paranorman and a lot of other family rated movies, but seeing monsters afraid of humans was enjoyable for me. Then again, I am easily contented. Sure, it's cliched. Yes, there are some unfunny parts. But the over all idea and animation are good. Trust me, I'm not an Adam Sandler fan either, but he isn't at his most annoying in this. The only thing I really didn't like was the final musical number. What was that??? And why was it necessary?  

If you want to watch a cartoon tonight, make it Monsters University, but if you've already seen that, give this one a go. It's fun and cute. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

And Ghosties - Day 17

For those of you who didn't know, I love exorcism and ghost movies the most. While there will always be a soft spot in my heart for a good old slasher flick, I actually like being creeped out. Up until last night, it'd been awhile since I'd seen an amazing ghostie movie.

Despite what the naysayers say, Woman In Black was probably the last good one I saw. Not counting yesterday's film.

Title: The Awakening
Year: 2011
Synopsis: In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the 'missing' begin to show themselves.

Tagline: All the children are gone...except one. 

Right from the first five minutes I was hooked. What can I say, I have a weakness for movies set in the past with strong female leads. Florence Cathcart is my type of character. A learned woman who travels around debunking ghost sightings while secretly wanting to be proved wrong. She has a certain Sherlock Holmes-y feel to her as she fiddles with ghost-catching equipment and runs through the house determined to disprove the sightings seen within the stark walls of the Rookford boarding school. She is equal parts brilliant, beautiful and tormented. And, as we all know, there is nothing more riveting than watching a tortured character unravel right before your eyes. She is portrayed rather breathtakingly by Rebecca Hall, who did flit across my radar when she appeared in The Town, but didn't make an impression until now. I do say, I have a crush on her.

While on the surface this is a ghost story about a woman who goes to Cumbria to investigate the sighting of an apparition that drove a boy to his death, but underneath it is a foray into the human mind and the misdeeds of the people we brush past every day of our lives. She is supported on screen by  Dominic West, of The Wire and 300 fame, who plays the role of Robert Mallory - another person suppressing his demons and walking about riddled with guilt. There is a rather robust list of actors in this but the most notable for me was Isaac Hempstead Wright, better known as Bran from Game of Thrones. Isn't this kid just the cutest?

And he can act too. He conveys quiet uncertainty and oozes loneliness in this movie. You just want to pick up this boy and hug him. But I might be a little bias since I am a Game of Thrones nut. Here's the proof:

Less about the actors, more about the movie. Remember the other week when I was talking about twist endings and how High Tension wasn't a 'spot the clues' type of movie and that people were over-thinking it. The Awakening is the opposite. It is a 'spot the clues' movie and will probably be disliked because people won't catch them. Director and co-writer Nick Murphy does a phenomenal job with his subtle plot hints throughout. He is also very good at painting a very bleak picture. Shot in colour, he uses dark tones and grey hues to bring out the 'old fashioned' feel to the film. In this day and age, we are desensitized to gore. There is so much torture porn and hack 'em, slash 'em flicks out there, that we forget how awesome a good old fashioned spooky movie is.  That sometimes less is more. And that our imaginations can be our own worst enemies. Don't worry, there is certainly a jump factor to The Awakening and it will get!

This movie is definitely going on my favourites list.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh Man - Day 16

Last night, I watched the remake of The Omen.

Here is my review:

Title: The Omen
Year: 2006
Synopsis: A remake of the 1976 horror classic The Omen (1976), an American official realizes that his young son may literally be the devil incarnate.

Tagline: His day will come.

After all these years I've come to the conclusion I don't like The Omen. Not the original from 76 or the remake of 2006. It's just a bad movie. And I know it's heralded as a classic, but it really isn't very good. I can't even pinpoint what it is I dislike so much. Probably because we've seen it before. Is this not just a blend of The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby? Both of which are far superior films. 

In both movies, the slow build is almost agonizing to watch. Nothing really happens. A lot is hinted at. And the creaking wheel on a tricycle is supposed to be scary. I must have missed the memo. It takes about 3/4 of the film to actually get to any action, but by that point you're so board that they could kill Damien and you wouldn't give a care because you can't stand any of the characters. Or maybe that's just me. Like Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber couldn't act in this movie. Granted, I am not a huge Julia fan, but Liev, I love Sabretooth! But that's beside, even then, most of the action and suspense in The Omen is delivered through the dreams of the mother. What a cop out! 

Both of the fathers from the original and remake are annoying. The mothers weak and kind of crazy. Priests are erratic and don't offer enough evidence of their claim to convince. And the fact that everyone who is associated with the anti-christ is marked is far-fetched. Something else that drove me nuts, the dog. Why are dogs always these snarling snapping balls of fur in movies? Especially horror movies! 

There is the bones of a good movie here. It just so happens the flesh over said bones is rotten. To put it simply, the acting is stilted in both, plot is thin and watered down, movie generally lack luster and boring. I honestly think that this was such a success because it capitalized off the gore it displayed. Some of the deaths in this are cited in horror movie blogs as ground breaking, so I suppose it does in some ways deserve its cult classic standing. But I honestly think the only reason it was ever popular was because horror exploded in the seventies as cinema and the audience embraced their desire to be scared. 

Then they went and remade it. But that's irrelevant in this day and age, because there are far scarier, gorier movies, that actually have good actors and keen plots. 

A truly good movie stands the test of time. 

This sadly isn't one of them. Neither will the remake. 

Just pass on The Omen. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stoke The Fire - Day 15

Halfway through Horror Fest and, I must say, it's so much fun. I know there are a lot of people out there thinking I could be doing more constructive things with my time, but this is what I like to do. Watch movies. Horror movies.

Last night's movie was another new release, which was kind of refreshing, since I've been down memory lane so many times in the last two weeks that I've started wearing holey jeans, plaid shirts and listening to Nevermind on repeat.

Title: Stoker
Year: 2013
Synopsis: After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

Tagline: Do not disturb the family.

This movie is in essence a simple whirlwind of what the fuckery. And you know how I try to keep my potty-mouth to a minimum around these parts, just in case there are impressionable youths and elderly persons reading. That said, what the fuck indeed. If you like twisted tales of dysfunctional families tied up in a nice package with gorgeous cinematography, then this movie is for you!

What starts off as a weird family dynamic quickly grows into one gigantic mess of 'that shouldn't be happening' and 'this isn't going where I think it is, is it?'. The synopsis of this movie will have you believe it is about India's infatuation with her uncle. This is so utterly false, in my humble opinion. It is actually about oddball Uncle Charlie and his obsessiveness with India. Thrown into the mix is Nicole Kidman's character, who is not only jealous of her daughter but who has this inexplicable need to be ravaged by her husband's brother. See, it's getting messy already.

Well, let's throw in not one homicidal maniac, but two. Don't worry, I won't spoil the plot and reveal who the crazy people are, but I will say, one uses a belt as their device of death and the other a long range rifle.

For a movie that is one hundred and ten percent fucked up, it's also beautiful. Exquisitely shot. Well-written. Executed to perfection. Director Chan-wook Park is brilliant. Yes, I said brilliant. Have any of you seen Oldboy? If yes, then you know what I am talking about. If no, then why the hell are you reading this blog? You should be watching Oldboy, followed by Stoker.

Regardless, Stoker is Park's first step into the tawdry world of Hollywood, and I have to say it is a smash. The best part being, the bigwigs in Hollywood didn't try to squash Park's flare. He managed to keep it dark, very controversial, by touching on such harsh themes as incest, matricide, rape, and murder. What I love the most about Stoker is the father. You don't know much about him, but from what is hinted you can gather he tried to keep India safe only to eventually be the catalyst for her demise, whenever that will come. And it will come.

Finally, the star of this movie is India, who is played by Mia Wasikowska - the phenomenal budding actress from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right, and Lawless. What can I say, I'm a fan. I expect great things from her in the future. India is at once naive and ignorant, sheltered and plain, yet stunning, frightening, and wise. It's wonderful how much can be conveyed by a glance, tick of a clock, and very uncomfortable piano scene.

In the end, Stoker isn't your run of the mill horror, despite it's link in name to "Bram Stoker". Yes, it certainly has a vampiric theme, but in this you won't find any fangs or capes. What you will come across is seduction, temptation of the macabre and the hunter and prey cat and mouse game. It's horror is bold and subtle at the same time. This will not keep you up at night but at the same time it won't be easily forgotten.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Great Idea - Day 14

Does anyone remember the short story called The Lottery? It was required reading when I was in school. To sum it up, this town hosts a lottery and the person who 'wins' is killed by the town folk. A means of culling the heard. I want to say I read this in elementary, but that seems odd. It was probably junior high. Regardless of when I first saw it, the story always stuck with me.

And that is what this next movie reminded me of.

Title: The Purge
Year: 2013
Synopsis: In the future, a wealthy family is held hostage for harbouring the target of a murderous syndicate during the Purge, a 12-hour period in which any and all crime is legalized.

Tagline: Have a safe night.

This is not a bad movie. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. That said, I can enjoy terrible movies, but I still recognize them as terrible. So, to be fair to honest to goodness movie goers who are determined to watch a great movie and cut out all the crap. I will be honest.

One thing makes this movie good. The idea behind it. On one night a year all crime is legal. There will be no police, fire or ambulances. For 12 hours, you can basically do whatever you please. Except survive, apparently it isn't your right to survive. Not for these 12 hours.

While the main plot is pretty awesome, and reminded me of the lottery, I think the writer simply forgot to include all the other important things, like how the Purge came to be, how is it legal to kill tourists from another country, what is the blow back from this, who sanctioned it and why are the higher ranked government officials off limits. Those people, if no one else, should be purged.

The acting isn't bad, but the characters are clichéd. The cast is good, but the dialogue sucks. The idea is good, but the movie lacks substance. There is a twist, but they gave too much away in the beginning so it wasn't much of a surprise. Someone dies, but the ending truly is predictable.

And then there is the idea that people have to kill. That there is this insatiable urge inside us, our animalistic nature tempting us to maim, hurt, kill, rape. In reality, I think there is a very small part of the population that have the desire to do these things.

At the end of the movie, I pretty much came to the conclusion that elitist pricks came up with the idea of the Purge in order to weed out the poor. While the people with money hole themselves up in their expensive homes, the homeless and unwealthy are left to be picked apart by the sadistic part of society who are out to shed some blood.

Here's what the movie doesn't explain - crimes of passion. Though, I suppose, if a wife caught her husband cheating, instead of shooting him on the spot, she might just wait until March 21st to pull the trigger. Because the murdering, raping, pillaging types are always the most rational.

I waited a long time to see this movie. The idea excited me. And I did enjoy it. People wearing masks always freak me out. This review kind of sucks and that's because I truly feel I could have done this movie justice as a writer. The kids were a nice touch, but it would have been awesome to have them know the daughter, or to even have the daughter involved in her boyfriend trying to kill the father. The neighbours were a nice little taste of the true feelings behind the Purge, but I would have brought it to the forefront, not foreshadowed as much. I would have showed the Purge party, explained how people get prepared for it. In the end, I think the movie would have been way better following a family intent on participating IN the Purge, their reasons why and how it turns out. Even the group of kids, having them in school the day before, preparing, selecting the homeless dude and why they feel safe roaming the streets when anyone could shoot them.

I am working myself up here. It's time to step away.

Go ahead and watch The Purge, but follow it up with Daybreakers, a truly epic Ethan Hawke movie.