8 Reviews
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Mountain Monsters (2013– )
An Insult to Audience Intelligence
15 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I realize the low likelihood of ghost and monster chasers actually finding something, but the efforts of most at least seem sincere. These "Sons of West Virginia," led by a former NFL player from New York, rely on the gullibility of its audience and serve to insult the people of West Virginia and the Appalachian region in general.

With characters out of old books (and comic books) such as Buck and Huck and Wild Bill, who, if you're old enough, will remind you of every mentally-challenged gas station attendant prior to self-serve, this phony "team" of monster hunters have amazingly close brushes with pseudo-monsters, but upon achieving extremely close proximity, walk (or run) away with no discernible scientific evidence. And each "achievement" is punctuated with stereotypical rebel yells, hoops, and hollers.

There is nothing entertaining about the stupid hillbilly stereotype - Bugs Bunny hillbilly hats and all. In fact, it's something that the actual people of Appalachia and their descendants are working diligently to surpass. There is also nothing entertaining about attempting to pass off amazing "evidence" that somehow never makes it into the mainstream press or for review by actual scientists.

By comparison, since 2004, Ghosthunters have amassed a handful of extremely interesting material and a lot of question marks. They are fairly cautious to rate the quality of such finds, and even if you're inclined to dismiss all of their evidence as bunk, you at least get the strong impression they're entirely sincere and following a consistent methodology of investigation.

With a notice conspicuously tagged at the END of the show that no animals were harmed or actually hunted, which should be a huge red flag to anyone paying attention, the Mountain Monsters crew go off firearms in hand as if to kill their prey, the legality of which would be highly questionable, and yet, in spite of countless close calls and what would be mind-blowing audio if not obviously faked, never bring down a thing. You'd think world class hunters and trappers could catch something.

As for the traps, while they would amuse the average ten-year-old, in the real world would never be employed. Try one of the several iterations of Scooby Doo instead.
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Simba (1955)
a few comments
27 March 2014
I don't intend to review the film in its entirety, but rather discuss its treatment of race relations. There is little doubt that it was transgressive by the standards of its time, and, also, it was incredibly raw and often offensive in terms of rank racism, but it was also refreshingly honest and unvarnished. We saw the ugliness for what it was on all sides. We saw the complication. We saw how truly decent people could hold a variety of view and then change them for the better. Most importantly,we saw humanity. I don't think we can achieve that by sanitizing and political correctness. I am grateful that this film is available for viewing and consideration. Just the notion of an accomplished black doctor standing up to a white man in such an astonishing way circa 1955 was amazing. We didn't see anything like it until Sydney Poitier uttered his famous line, "They call me Mr. Tibbs."
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Red Tails (2012)
Most Unfortunate
3 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have no choice but to give the movie one star, but that's only because it's the lowest option available. This movie really has to work its way up to that one star.

This is a story that deserves to be told. This isn't the movie to tell it. 1995's The Tuskegee Airmen is an infinitely better story.

The CGI is comical. If you've watched one episode of Dogfights and have ever seen real WWII footage, you know that this pales by comparison to either one.

A little of the jargon has entered common usage, "He's on your six" and even though men are supposed to be in the midst of battle with talented German pilots who are here reduced to cartoon characters, the American bomber pilots manage to make sure the audience knows how hip they are to period phraseology.

Planes fly apart in all-too-predictable ways, but since we're supposed to be impressed by the horror of war, everybody is exploding in B-17s with collapsible wings and beautiful flowing fire trails that bear little resemblance to the way a plane would go down.

Guys are getting killed all over the place, but those right next to them seem emotionally unaffected.

Worst of all, before the Redtails, fighters are portrayed as a bunch of perpetual juveniles looking to rake up points toward Ace rather than providing cover. To say that it's nonsensical and insulting in the extreme as well as historically inaccurate is the grossest imaginable understatement.

I wanted to like this movie, but I'm disappointed beyond adequate words.
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Hostel: Part III (2011 Video)
We Live in Predictable and Safe Times
15 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Torture porn masquerading as a legitimate movie is inherently limited in scope and potential. The first two installments in this series were fair. This stinks.

Oh you have the predictable elements - attractive young people caught in a terrible game with sadists. The Most Dangerous Game comes immediately to mind but this doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence.

Yes there are kinky aspects of this but not nearly as kinky as you might hope. This is cartoon violence. The shock and awe of nudity and suggestive bondage and liberal sprinkling of stage blood are supposed to lull you into the sense that this is a scary movie. The only thing scary about this is if you wasted a dime to see it.

If you want to see something of the kind to shake your world, delve into's The Upper Floor series or if you really want to walk on the wild side try downloading a copy of something - anything - from but this sad affair? Don't waste your time.
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Little Deaths (2011)
The Scariest Thing is that It Could Be Real
15 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
We live in a bizarre world where flesh and fantasy blur the lines of reality and acceptable behavior. The dance of Eros and Thanatos being omnipresent throughout this film culminating in appropriately designated Little Deaths - le petite morte - contextualizes three effective stories. The scariest aspect of this film is that any of the stories could happen.

You know the people. They live down the street, around the block, or perhaps even across the hall. The film's dark and somber cast is perfect. It brings you down from any giddiness that might result from an all too common torture porn treatment of the subject matter like Saw or Hostel. This film seduces you. You find yourself increasingly conflicted as pleasure crosses over with pain.

But before you consider this an homage to safe, sane, consensual fetish gone horribly wrong, each story is firmly enough rooted in the world of the sociopath to reassure you that your well-honed moral skills would prevent you from dallying beyond the bounds...maybe.

Sit back. Enjoy. Cuddle up close with a loved one but not too close. It might give your significant other ideas too.
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The Muppets (2011)
This is Abysmal
5 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have been a huge fan of the Muppets for decades. Somewhere Jim Henson is turning in his grave or should be. This is just awful.

The most immediate criticism that comes to mind is reduced to one word, pacing. This drags like a corpse through the slowest zombie apocalypse movie ever made and as much as you hope it will pick up the pace, you cannot eventually help hoping that someone will put this zombie to rest with a quick head shot.

I wanted to like this movie. After all, how can you go wrong with Muppets, right? You expect formula, maudlin music to tell us how we're supposed to be feeling, and incongruous shots of glee in the midst of a terrible situation that you know will somehow be fixed in the last reel. You hope for better, but you know how the predictable sells, but this?

This is a movie that didn't know what it was. It could have been - emphasis could have been - a meaningful yet light and entertaining criticism of being left behind and forgotten. You know like the middle class people who used to have enough income to waste money buying tickets and renting videos for movies like this. Instead we get a feel good, Capitalist fueled commentary about combating cynicism.

Amazingly, there is also bitterness painted over as humor. Miss Piggy and Amy Adams' Mary have men who've done 'em wrong. They weave as much "I am woman hear me whine" mono-normativity and passive aggressive co- dependence as you might expect from a 1950s advice column white gloves included. It sends the wrong message to young women; and the tacit expectation that men should tow the line and give them whatever they want no matter what they might want is simply appalling. It has NO business in a movie that children might see.

The one ray of hope in the movie was Chris Cooper whose acceptably obvious-sounding character Tex Richman (Rich Man, get it?) provided a little Scrooge-esque energy to this latter day Christmas Carol (sans Christmas of course). Those hopes were quickly dashed, though, as he managed an even more puppet like performance than his co-stars.

The one legitimately funny moment of the film came when the gang caught up with drummer, Animal, at an anger management meeting. I won't spoil it, but watch out for it, because it produced the only giggle in two hours.

Cameos were dismal and apparent from an early appearance of Mickey Rooney to Zach Galifianakis' Hobo Joe to his Hangover co-star Ken Jeong. The sole bright spot among the also-ran list was Jim Parsons as Human Walter. Maybe they'll let him come back in some future installment and actually show people how funny movies are supposed to be made.

I only have two thumbs but if I had more I would give this ten thumbs down.
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Will Somebody Please Tell This Guy to Make a Blackadder Movie?
19 September 2011
Rowan is frustrating. He is one of the funniest men on any screen large or small but he insists on giving the world outside BBC his B through Z grade stuff. Will someone please tell him to make a Blackadder movie? It would go through the roof. Hugh Laurie was an also ran on the series and now he's a huge star. This guy would be in the firmament of comedy heaven if he only woke up and gave the world his best stuff - Blackadder.

Johnny English is abysmal. Abysmal. From start to finish it is at best a parody of a parody. Austin Powers has the franchise on this. Johnny English misses the mark by ten miles. It is, at best, a competent comedy with an occasional giggle in the audience unless the audience has been seeded. I sat at home and watched this thing and simply felt depressed from start to finish.
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Take It On It's Own Terms
10 September 2011
I am a tremendous fan of both Jess Franco and Lina Romay and have been for decades. This is not their best film but if you take it on its own terms, it's an enjoyable experience. I don't want to give anything away about the film and to be honest there isn't much to give away. It has no plot, the pacing is slow and choppy, the quality of the film is far from optimal in terms of graininess, focus and sound, but it stomps all over some assumptions and therefore is worthy of consideration. There is an unwritten rule in films that you have to be young, fit and conventionally beautiful to be considered desirable. The notion that folks who are older could be hot is taboo. Romay was unbelievably hot forty years ago and is even hotter now - not because she is young and conventionally attractive, but rather because she brings all the energy, enthusiasm and experience of a woman of her age to the screen and never fails - never - to outshine everyone else on there. And the only person who holds a candle to her in terms of cinematic heat is Franco himself. I cannot give the film high marks, but I'll give it a five out of ten for breaking the ultimate taboo - ageism.
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