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Original But Pretty Bad, 16 December 2014

Antfarm Dickhole (2011)

1/2 (out of 4)

The title pretty much tells you what to expect out of this "Z" grade horror film. A man discovers that ants have laid a nest inside his penis and whenever he wants, they will attack those who have picked on him.

CARRIE it's not but ANTFARM DICKHOLE will probably gather a few interesting viewers who are wanting to see something wild, over-the-top and different. There's no doubt that there really hasn't been a movie like this one before and that in itself is worthy of one viewing but unless you're a major fan of these types of low-budget movies then it's doubtful you're going to be able to make it past the ten-minute mark.

The film features pretty much everything you'd expect including the awful acting, lousy editing and all around low-grade filmmaking. With that said, director Bill Zebub at least manages to create something that you can at least call original but one wishes there had been a slightly bigger budget. The film is advertising itself as having the most "WTF moments in film history" and this might be true to a point but there's still several awful moments or moments meant to be humorous that simply don't work.

One could really argue that one shouldn't be too harsh on a "film" like this and to a point I'd agree. However, at 85-minutes the movie drags incredibly long and one only wishes that it was just a two-reel short.

Another Winner for ESPN, 11 December 2014

30 for 30: Rand University (2014)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Another winning documentary in the ESPN series. This one here takes a look at Randy Moss, one of the most talented athletes to ever play football. The documentary covers his early days growing up in Rand, West Virginia where we learn about the various troubles that he ran into, which almost cost him his career. We learn about the infamous fight that landed him in jail and we get to hear his side of the story. We also learn how both Notre Dame and Florida State ended up taking back his scholarship and how this led him to Marshall University. Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy this episode. It certainly covers ground that most people are going to know about Moss but the most interesting aspect is the look at the town he grew up in and what the title itself refers to. Running at just 50-minutes the documentary pretty much looks over his NFL career but this is still a highly entertaining film.

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A Different Kind of Slasher, 10 December 2014

See No Evil 2 (2014)

*** (out of 4)

Surprisenly good sequel to the 2008 film has a group of friend's celebrating a birthday when one of them (Danielle Harris) can't leave work. What they don't realize is that the dead body of Jacob Goodnight (Kane) has come back to life and he's seeking more victims.

SEE NO EVIL was a decent, run-of-the-mill slasher film that was pretty much entertaining due to its incredibly graphic and over-the-top gore/murders. Outside of the murders the film really wasn't all that memorable so I was shocked when a sequel followed so many years later. I was even more shocked when I learned Jen and Sylvia Soska was directing it. SEE NO EVIL 2 isn't going to be mistaken for a masterpiece but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it turned out thanks to a rather good screenplay and the very good direction.

Whereas the first film relied on gore and violence, this one here really doesn't contain too much of that and in fact some of the death's are off camera. Instead the Soska sister tried to add some tension and suspense and I think for the most part they succeed. There are some extremely good scenes including one where the Harris character is stuck in an elevator with the "dead" body. Another highlight includes a scene where two characters are in total darkness and keep striking a match to see where they are. There's an extended chase sequence through the basement, which also manages to build up some good suspense. The atmosphere created by the Soska sisters is another major plus and stuck inside such a small location the directors are also able to build up a claustrophobic nature.

The performances are pretty much what you'd expect to see in a film like this. Harris is always fun to watch and she manages to bring you into her character and make you care for her. Kaj-Erik Eriksen also gives a good performance. Katharine Isabelle plays her typical slut character but man is she terrific here. She clearly steals the film in a rather over-the-top "kiss" that I won't spoil. Kane doesn't give what one would consider a great performance but there's no doubt that frame of his makes for an impressive killing machine. The film also manages to have some nice cinematography and a very effective music score.

The screenplay contains moments where the characters do stupid things but this is a horror movie after all. I really can't think of too many horror films where the characters are doing smart things because if they were the movies would be over fairly quickly with them all getting away and surviving. I really liked what the writers did here including a couple twists that happen in the final ten-minutes including one that even the most jaded horror fans won't see coming. SEE NO EVIL 2 isn't going down in history as one of the greatest films ever made but it's certainly an entertaining slasher.

At Time Hilarious, 10 December 2014

Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

*** (out of 4)

Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) decide to take a road trip when a medical condition has Harry trying to track down the daughter he never knew he had. Along the way the two get caught up in a murder plot and well as countless misadventures.

DUMB AND DUMBER TO was a film fans wanted since they walked out of the original movie twenty-years ago. Considering how long it took to arrive, I must admit that my expectations were rather low. There's no question that this film isn't nearly as good as the original but with that said, it kept me smiling throughout and it did feature some very big laughs. Again, I understand how some fans are upset at this thing because there are certainly some flaws but at the same time there were just way too many funny moments not to enjoy it.

Of course, one of the biggest highlights was just seeing Carrey and Daniels back in the roles that they made so memorable. For the most part I thought both slipped back into them quite well, although there's no doubt that Carrey seems more "in character" as Lloyd. The two certainly have some great chemistry together and after two decades they're still able to work well off of one another. Rob Riggle is also very funny in his supporting role as is Laurie Holden, Kathleen Turner and a couple nice cameos.

While watching the film there's certainly a very uneven feel to it. This was pretty much explained during the closing credit when I saw six writers listed. It seems that there really wasn't a good story to carry these guys through and it really did feel at times like they were just throwing anything on the screen just hoping that people would laugh. This uneven flow is what kept it from being as good and as fresh as the original but there's just no denying the countless laughs that do work. There were times when tears were running down my face but others where I couldn't believe they'd even attempt the joke that fell so flat (the AIDS one). Still, DUMB AND DUMBER TO has me hoping that Lloyd and Harry revisit us in another two decades.

A Must for Fans of Page, 9 December 2014

Bette Page Reveals All (2012)

*** (out of 4)

Very detailed look at the life and career of the iconic pin-up Bettie Page. The documentary uses an audio interview with Page to tell her story, which starts from her childhood days and goes all through her career and her eventually downfall due to a mental disorder. It's hard to believe that in this day and age there's someone out there who hasn't seen Bettie Page. After all, she broke down all sorts of walls when it comes to women's sexuality and it's easy to forget that she was the "it" thing long before Playboy.

This documentary does an extremely good job at telling her story and making sure the viewer knows just about everything there is to know about the legend. Some of the most fascinating stories come from her early, pre-fame days where she struggled a lot of sexual abuse from not only her father but by a group of men in New York. We also hear about her first marriage, which turned out to haunt her later in life more than her nude work. Of course, the thing Page is known for the most was her sexuality and there's no question that the film leaves nothing to the imagination. It might be an over-statement but I'm pretty sure just about every nude picture Page has done is on display here so those who enjoy her work will certainly have a lot to look at.

There are several talking heads giving their thoughts on the icon (including Hugh Hefner) but the highlight is certainly hearing from Page herself. Getting a first-hand account of everything that was going on is certainly the best thing about this documentary.

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Good and Sad Look at the Hilton Sisters, 9 December 2014

Bound by Flesh (2012)

*** (out of 4)

Highly entertaining documentary taking a look at the lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, the conjoined twins who are best remembered today for their role in Tod Browning's FREAKs. The documentary covers pretty much every aspect of their lives ranging from their mother giving them away at a very young age, their rise in the carnival circuit and their later years when they were basically living in poverty, unable to exploit themselves as times started to change.

BOUND BY FLESH is without question a well-meaning and entertaining documentary but I think where the film really works well is in its heart. Director-writer Leslie Zemeckis obviously has a passion for the subjects because there's so much heart in the picture and one can't help but really feel heartbroken for the sisters and especially at the end of their lives. In fact, hearing there entire story makes you wonder why Hollywood hasn't tried to tell it, although I'm sure the appeal might not be that wide.

The film's strongest points come in the history of the circus. It was very fascinating learning how the circus worked back in the day, how the "sideshow" was added and how much certain acts were making a week. It's certainly fascinating seeing how the sideshow world worked at one point in time and how popular it was. Hearing the Hilton sisters earning $5000 a week is pretty impressive and especially when you hear stories about how their "managers" were making good money on top of that. Of course, the documentary also covers other subjects including the personal lives of the two sisters and there's even an exploitation feel dealing with their sexual lives and the various men who were in and out of their lives.

We get several talking heads telling some wonderful stories and sharing their opinion on the sisters as well as what was going on during this period in history. It's hard to believe that this type of thing was once normal but at the same time it's easy to see why the trend really didn't stay around too long. As for the Hilton sisters, they've certainly always had their fans since FREAKS has become a cult favorite but you'll certainly see them in a different way after viewing this rather touching film.

Wonderful Documentary, 8 December 2014

30 for 30: Playing for the Mob (2014)

**** (out of 4)

If you've seen Martin Scorsese's GOODFELLAS then the story told here is going to feature some familiar characters. Henry Hill and Jimmy Burke were involved in point shaving scheme at Boston College and this here led to the downfall of one of the most notorious gangsters in New York while also ruining the lives of some of the college players taking money. PLAYING FOR THE MOB is a terrific companion piece to the Scorsese film for a number of reasons but the biggest is just hearing how all of the events went down. If you're familiar with the Scorsese picture then you'll know all the characters here and you can't help but be fascinating on how Hill got involved in the plot and how it eventually got carried out and broken apart. It's funny hearing the various sides of the story because it really comes across as a mystery because you don't really know who's telling the truth and who's lying. Hill, as energetic as always, does a great job at explaining the "rules" of what was going on but the Boston College players are also great to listen to because you have to remember these were young kids who found themselves involved with murderers. PLAYING FOR THE MOB was rightfully narrated by Ray Liotta who of course played Hill.

Good Look at the Subject, 8 December 2014

Nova: Who Killed Lindbergh's Baby? (2013)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

This episode in the popular series takes a look at one of the biggest mysteries in American history. When Charles Lindbergh's 20-month-old son was kidnapped and eventually found murder, everyone was convinced they knew who committed the crime after a man was arrested and convicted. Throughout the years several experts have come forward claiming new evidence showing others were involved. This documentary, for the most part, does a very good job at telling the story of the events and also questioning some of the people involved including what role Lindbergh himself might have had in the event. Lindbergh's history in Germany is also discussed as possible evidence why he might have had a few secrets of his own. Fans of mysteries will certainly enjoy hearing this shocking story and there's no doubt that the documentary remains entertaining throughout.

Hate Crime (2013)
Not Bad For Its Type, 7 December 2014

Hate Crime (2013)

** (out of 4)

Decent "found footage" film has a Jewish family celebrating a birthday when three Neo-Nazies break into their home.

That's pretty much the only "story" to this film as for 70-miutes we see the five family members being abused and tortured by the maniacs. I'm not going to sit here and call this a good movie but I do think director-writer James Cullen Bressack at least made a realistic one. I say that because this genre seems to have a new film hitting store shelves weekly and by now they're all starting to feel as if they're gimmicks. HATE CRIME at least looks like real footage and for the most part the actors do a nice job to where you can believe what you're watching.

I think the biggest problem with the film is that often times we've just got scenes that are dragging on without enough drama/tension. This is especially true as the movie goes on and even though it runs just 70-minutes, that seems way too long. As with a lot of films in the genre, this one also suffers from some logical stuff especially towards the end when a few plot twists are thrown in. This includes a member of the family breaking free yet the killers just seem to not pay it too much attention as they stand around screaming at one another. HATE CRIME certainly doesn't fall into the group of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT but it's not nearly as bad as some out there.

Poor Sequel to a Disturbing Movie, 7 December 2014

Amateur Porn Star Killer 2 (2008)

* (out of 4)

The second film in writer-director Shane Ryan's series finds himself back playing the serial killer Brandon who lures a young woman (Kai Lanette) into a hotel room where they're supposed to make a porn movie but his plans include killing her.

It seems this series has many people who hate it but I actually enjoyed the first movie and thought it was rather disturbing but extremely well-made. The original film had a very simply plot but director Ryan did an extremely good job bringing it to life and it managed to work. Sadly, the same can't be said for this sequel, which is a pretty big mess. I will say, however, that Ryan at least did a good job in the acting department and I thought Lanette was also good in her role.

There are all sorts of problems with this film, which is basically just a remake of the first one. What made the original film work so well is that it really did feel like you were watching a real snuff film of a woman being brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer. The same can't be said with this movie because there's a music score that adds nothing and there are all sorts of experimental filters and colors going on here. The experimental nature makes it clear that there's a "director" behind the camera operating everything and this simply ruins the snuff film appeal of the first movie.

The biggest problem is that the film is just downright dull as well. Just check out the opening sequence, which seems to drag on forever as we see various women being filmed by the killer. There are flashback scenes here that add nothing to the picture and in all honesty they're not all that memorably filmed. AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLER 2 sadly just never works and in the end we're left with a boring movie.

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