Reviews written by registered user
MrGKB

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467 reviews in total 
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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
More make-work mediocrity...., 31 October 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...redeemed only by looking better than its chickenfeed budget, "The Haunting of Whaley House" brings absolutely nothing new to the haunted house table whatsoever. Its cast of unknowns is likely to remain so, although I'll choose to blame a tyro writer/director for failing to elicit their best chops. From its throwaway opening to its clichéd conclusion, the script is a tired, uninspired mess. I had limited sympathy for the one girl who kept wanting to leave, thinking, "Hey, you signed on for the stupid thing, girl! What were you thinking?" Really, it's sad that young talent has to submit itself to junk like this in the hopes of furthering a career. Pick one too many of these clunkers and that's all your career is ever going to be. I've written enough, thankfully; now be smart and don't waste your time with this turkey.

Ironhorse (2010)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Backyard nonsense shot on Super8..., 31 October 2012
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...with the potential to maybe---maybe---be a background video in a Residents movie. Maybe. Lo-fi all the way and pretty much unsalvageable even by naked hooters and the occasional gout of fake blood, this baby can't even stand up to experimental film school standards of quality. Sorry, guys, but the ability to string a bunch of shots together doesn't make a worthwhile movie, even when you're being silly for silly's sake. I'm giving it a deuce for the effort, but really, "Ironhorse" is a oner all the way, fit only for the junkheap. I may well have seen worse, but would have to think a while to figure out what that might have been. Avoid at all costs.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A disappointing follow-up..., 27 October 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...to the core creative team's cult classic, "Re-Animator," "From Beyond" does what it can, but simply can't match its predecessor despite a much higher budget and the return of fan favorites, Jeffrey "ST:DS9" Combs and Barbara "Body Double--I don't need no body double!" Crampton. Tyro director Stuart "Bleacher Bums" Gordon and longtime collaborator Dennis "Body Snatchers" Paoli (both of whom now seem to be retired) take a very short story by H.P. Lovecraft and run with it, though perhaps one might quibble with that phrase given the mostly lethargic pacing and lack of suspense/tension in the finished product.

This is not to say there's no entertainment to be derived; Combs delivers another charmingly quirky nutjob performance that's distinct from his obsessive "Re-Animator" wackiness, and Crampton heats things up with a transformation from prim psychologist (wearing glasses, of course) to kinky sex object. There's plenty of gooey fx work, a bit silly-looking by today's standards, but striving heartily to one-up the visceral mayhem of "Re-Animator" if at all possible (and marking another of Greg Nicotero's early pre-KNB gigs--who knew that one day he'd be an sfx legend in his own right?) Ken "Dawn of the Dead" Foree plays an amiable bodyguard who ends up as a body count. Other "Re-Animator" alumni include Bunny "The Last Starfighter" Summers as a nosy neighbor, and Gordon's wife, Carolyn "Hubby gets me work" Purdy-Gordon as a hostile doctor ripe for eyeball-sucking. Ted "Network" Sorel is the lucky ham who gets to be draped in dripping prosthetics as the obligatory bad guy; it didn't give his career any great boost.

It's the less-than-stellar script that keeps this one from being a true classic. Still, it was fun to revisit a film I hadn't seen in decades, if only to demonstrate that "Re-Animator" would have been the better choice.

5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Perhaps too clever for its intended audience..., 26 October 2012
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and apparently well over the head of many a commentator on this benighted site, "Cabin in the Woods" nevertheless adds another worthy notch to the belts of writer/producer Joss "Firefly" Whedon and writer/tyro director Drew "Cloverfield" Goddard. Its deft deconstruction of horror movie tropes wedded to an outlandish Act Three reveal of Lovecraftian fantasy sets "Cabin in the Woods" firmly above the bulk of its LCD competition. Whedon may have cut his eyeteeth with dross like "Roseanne" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," but his truest creative successes have always come with genuinely intelligent creations like "Toy Story," "Firefly"/"Serenity," (yes) "The Avengers," and "Cabin in the Woods." Goddard handles his fine cast extremely well, with nary a flicker of self-conscious aren't-we-cleverness. Everything is of a piece: acting, effects, and camera-wrangling. Had the powers-that-be not foolishly delayed the film in a misguided attempt to render it in 3D, thus consigning it to a less than appropriate early spring release, I'm convinced it would have done much better box office than it did. Still, it did decent business worldwide, and is likely to have a strong video run, and if nothing else will be a cult favorite for some years to come.

Needless to say, highly recommended to fans of the genre. I'd wax even more enthusiastic in detail, but I think my time would be better spent rewatching it.

The Gate (1987)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
More of a curiosity than anything else..., 22 October 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

..."The Gate" is a classic example of Sturgeon's Revelation in action. Michael "Flipper" Nankin's script, centering on two tween-agers who manage to accidentally open a demonic portal to wherever, is slipshod and undistinguished--routine TV quality at best; the direction by Tibor "The Outer Limits (1995)" Takács is pedestrian. "The Gate" has all the markings of an on-the-cheap Canadian production, highlighted only by a few snippets of stop-motion animation and some forced perspective work that looks pretty good, but adds nothing in terms of actual suspense or much of anything else. On a whole, it strikes this viewer as a made-for-TV movie with a slightly higher budget, just not enough to put it on a par with genuine feature films.

No, the only thing that makes "The Gate" stand out is the fact that it was Stephen "Immortals" Dorff's first film (at age 12-13), along with several of his co-stars. All the kids, in fact, came from TV-land; interestingly, the two with the choicer support roles in "The Gate" eventually faded from acting, while the two girls playing Alexandra's friends both went on to solid (though not brand name) careers. Such is fate and show biz. I'll also opine that Christa "The Burning Bed" Denton's birth year listed here on the IMDb is inaccurate; Dorff was pushing 13 when the movie was shot, so take another look at Al and do the math.

"The Gate" is one of those films that benefits from nostalgia, and the more years between seeing it and remembering it, the better. The (apparent) impending remake stands a very good chance of being an improvement, should the powers-that-be actually cough up for a decent screenplay and a quality director. There'll be no excuse for not providing quality acting talent; Dorff and Co. established the only high bar the original provides. I won't be holding my breath, mind you, but in the meantime, if you really must re-explore your childhood film thrills, surely you have better examples than "The Gate" to provide them.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Ain't no Emerald City at journey's end..., 19 October 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and no Wicked Witch along the way, but "YellowBrickRoad" remains an effectively unsettling trip into a distinctly creepy, yet often beautiful, place. Rare is the thriller/horror movie that prompts me to revisit it at first opportunity to confirm first impressions or to listen to a commentary track, but "YellowBrickRoad" proved to be one of those films. I'm tempted to delay this review until then, but since I can always come back and edit this piece, I'd rather get first impressions down before they're spoiled.

This dual director/writer tyro feature is quite praiseworthy despite its flaws, and I look forward to whatever these gents may pursue in the future. Likewise, the (mostly) unknown (to me anyway) cast is strong, particularly Anessa "Footloose" Ramsey (who co-produces) and Laura "Cold Souls" Heisler, although in no way do I mean to impugn the rest; they're a pitch-perfect ensemble, including the brother/sister team also involved in production. And then, along with some nice camera-wrangling by another under-the-radar DP, Michael "my CV is pretty obscure" Hardwick, there's some deliciously unnerving sound work by ADR pro Daniel "Fringe" Brennan to keep the witchy vibe blaring, pardon the pun. This is in no way some slap-together, hey-kids-let's-make-a-movie movie; it may falter here and there in the narrative arc, but those slips are slight---never mind the weenies who wail and whine about the film's ending---and ultimately negligible. "YellowBrickRoad" is fine indie film-making sporting a nice, creepy story well told. I'm glad to have run across it, and look forward to another visit to confirm initial impressions.

Battleship (2012)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Somehow likable despite its imbecility..., 13 October 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and director Peter "Hancock" Berg's earnest bid to be the new Roland Emmerich, "Battleship" very much lives up (or down, as the case may be) to its titular inspiration, an ancient (relatively speaking) boardgame that typically outlives its entertainment value by the time its adherents hit puberty. The film pretty much suffers from every BSM flaw available, including a childish script, rudimentary characterizations, a risible premise backed with faux-to-no scientific veracity, and at least one brand-name actor squandered in a paycheck role (in this instance, Liam "I'm often squandered in lead roles, too" Neeson). Nonetheless, having had no positive expectations whatsoever, I enjoyed this foolish romp, as fine a piece of advertising for the U.S. Navy as I've seen anywhere. Not for the discerning film lover in the least, "Battleship" will appeal only to the naive 10-year-old hidden within.

Dead Snow (2009)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
"Evil Dead" meets "Dead Alive" in frosty Norway..., 4 October 2012
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...to limited effect; overall it was a better film than I expected, never mind the dubious raves I've seen here and elsewhere, but sadly not up to snuff with the aforementioned hype. Nonetheless, auteur Tommy "I'm no household name--not even in Norway" Wirkola shows a talent for film-making that may yet come to fruition, at least if the trailer to "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" is to be believed. Hopefully his new writing partner will have reined in the sophomoric scatology and harebrained plotting that torpedoes "Dead Snow." By and large, he knows how to stage an action scene, if nothing else, and manages to get fairly decent performances from his cast of unknowns, all of whom seem to have continued working. So there is that.

"Dead Snow" doesn't really know what it wants to be. Is it a horror movie? Not really, because it's not scary; it's too silly for that. Is it a comedy? Not really, because there's very little humor in it that's worth a listen. "Shaun of the Dead," this ain't, let alone "Dead Alive" or "The Evil Dead." The story is derivative--think John Carpenter's "The Fog"--and worse, suffers from a lack of internal consistency and very difficult suspension of disbelief. The result is an insult to the intelligence of the audience, a typically unforgivable sin in the realm of cinema. A med student with an aversion to blood? Okay. Who later amputates his own arm and then cauterizes the stump with no great ill effect? Okay. Long dead intestines with the tensile strength to hold two men dangling over a cliff? Uh-huh. A woman who gets all frisky in a noisome outhouse? Sure. I could go on, but you get the idea. On top of that we get essentially generic characters who fail to endear themselves to us, so we don't care what happens to them at all. Not good.

Once again, Sturgeon's Revelation holds sway. Contrivance does not make for a compelling story. Fountains of grue are old hat, regardless of the quality of the effects and camera-wrangling. Let us hope that Wirkola has learned some lessons and has applied them to "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters." The trailer looks promising, but we all know how deceptive trailers can be.

Meanwhile, don't be snowed. You won't lose any sleep missing this one.

Martyrs (2008)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The real martyrs would appear to be the audience..., 29 September 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...and what we're ultimately allowed to witness is, at its core, some pretty empty-headed, although visceral, existentially sadistic nonsense. Nonetheless, I can't deny that "Martyrs" packs a punch (several of them, in fact, to the face and gut, repeatedly, to its protagonist, after fooling us about who the real protagonist is). It's ultra-violence that Alex and his droogies would lap up like synthemesc milk-plus; presumably the audience is meant to as well. Aha, but auteur Pascal "The Tall Man" Laugier isn't through with us yet! After rubbing our collective noses in viscous pools of vengeance and hallucinatory blood guilt, he dials up the sadism a few more notches with a tiresome third act that trucks in absurdist fantasies of an elite cabal searching for proof of an afterlife through the inducement of a tortured martyr's vision of what can only be feebly represented by a coruscating white light.

What tripe.

Neither the acting chops of the two leads, which are considerable, nor the overall production values, including some very convincing Grand Guignol splatter and grue, can conceal the vacuous conceit of the film's plot nor the soul-less nihilism of its theme. "Martyrs" leaves its audience numbed by its brutality, but with precious little else, and ultimately comes off as mere torture-porn with a glib pretension of meaning. I won't say it's not worth watching, but be prepared to be unsatisfied. Mayhaps that was Laugier's intent; if so, his intentions were shallow and venal.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fails to live up to its so-called reputation..., 24 September 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

...not to mention the strangely positive reviews on this site. Despite a few moments that work well (mostly involving Tiger, the dog, a true scene-stealer), "The Boogens" is utterly forgettable, dispensable, and ignorable. It's as pure an example of Sturgeon's Revelation as one might ask, and further proof that Stephen King is not a trustworthy blurb-whore, at least not when it comes to movies.

The ostensible lead, Rebecca "Soap" Balding, handles her underwritten part fairly well, even favoring the target audience with some brief T&A, but the best one can say about the ensemble cast is "adequate." It's the uninspired script and lack of production value that chains everyone with mediocrity; this thing has made-for-TV written all over it (even though it wasn't). The creature (such as it is) is wisely kept hidden until film's end, but the payoff is risible at best; I have known scary monsters, sir, and you are no scary monster! Truthfully, I wanted to like this unassuming little feature, perhaps only because my brother and I had a habit of calling each other "Boog" when we were young and callow, but sadly "The Boogens" never rises above its own shopworn premise. I'd have given it another point if I'd been in a more forgiving mood, but it really wouldn't deserve it. There are simply far, far more films worthy of our attention. Second-tier character actors gamely earning paychecks is not my idea of a good time. "The Boogens" is, sad to say, late night insomnia viewing only.

Some amusing trivia: Anne-Marie "Sledge Hammer!" Martin, whose career apparently withered away with her divorce from Michael Crichton, co-wrote "Twister." Balding's romantic co-star, Fred "Class Reunion" McCarren died much too young at 55, while Balding ended up marrying her director, James L. "Star Trek: TNG, V, DSN, E" Conway. "The Boogens" DP got his start (and spent most of his career) shooting low-fi exploitation films like "Thar She Blows!"


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