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Chopping Mall (1986)
"Dawn Of The Dead" meets "The Terminator?"
"Chopping Mall" belongs to an exclusive league of movies that are so bad they are good. Just like most 80's slasher/splatter/whatever flicks, this one is just pure fun and pure cheese. Another predictable yet enjoyable slice of corny 80's horror where you know who's going to die, what order they are going to die in and how the movie ends. The plot revolves around four couples who hide out in the Park Plaza Mall until closing to have a big party where (oddly enough) they all choose to have sex in the same room (?). All is fine and well, until the mall security catches onto their little party. No, my friends, we don't have the typical rent-a-cop doing the rounds, instead, three deadly machines, meant to protect us, reprogrammed by lightning (aren't they all) chase after our hapless teens at 7 miles per hour for about 70 minutes. There's one particularly gripping head explosion, but other than that, the effects are cheesy and the movie is sorely dated. But that's all part of what makes it endearing. When I bought the DVD I knew exactly what to expect, and when I finally remembered who Jim Wynorski, the director, was, it all made sense to me. This is the man who brought you "The Bare Wench" trilogy.
Bride of Chucky (1998)
"Get Off My Knife."
Ever since I saw it on opening day back in 1998, "Bride Of Chucky" has been a personal favorite of mine. I have been a big fan of the "Child's Play" franchise since I was about seven years old, and this movie pretty much sums up everything that makes a Chucky movie great. In this fourth installment, the focus is finally taken off of the saga of Andy Barclay (which was getting a bit played out by the end of "Child's Play 3"), and instead on Chucky and Tiffany, a previous flame who was with him up until his original death. After Tiffany (played to perfection by the wonderful Jennifer Tilly and her wonderful cleavage) finally gets a hold of Chucky's remains (basically a trash bag full of Chucky parts [see part 3]) and resurrects him with some strategic sewing, he turns on her and ends up passing her soul into another doll. Together, they hitch a ride with runaway couple Jesse and Jade (Nick Stabile and Katherine Heigl) to New Jersey to find a stone that Chucky was wearing around his neck the day he died that will help resurrect them to human form. As you can predict, lots of hectic things happen on this road trip. Blood is spilled, pot is smoked and Chucky does indeed get lucky (in a hilarious and memorable scene that will be burned in your memory forever). Don Mancini, the creator of Chucky, writer of all three previous installments, returns as writer and fleshes out a beautifully demented and imaginative horror comedy. With the flare of director Ronny Yu (who would later go on to direct "Freddy Vs. Jason"), "Bride Of Chucky" is the best installment in the Chucky series thus far. Everything about this movie works. The death scenes are elaborate and somewhat comedic in parts, the music rocks (check out the soundtrack), and the story is so much fun, you just can't turn away in the 90 minutes this movie spans. Add that to a knock-out ending -- which leads us into the upcoming "Seed Of Chucky" (November 10th) -- and you have yourself the perfect Saturday night horror flick.
Somewhat uneven, somewhat satisfying.
The biggest crime that "Halloween: H20" commits is that it doesn't respect the fans that stuck with the series through thick and thin or the efforts made by various people to try and keep a continuous story going, and most importantly, it pretty much voids out the contributions of the late great Donald Pleasance (a.k.a. Sam Loomis, the crazy doctor who hunted Michael up until part 6: "The Curse Of Michael Myers"). You see, this movie completely ignores any sequels that came after part two. Not that this is a bad movie because of that fact, but the fact that it doesn't fit in with the rest of the series has left a bad taste in my mouth. Now don't get me wrong, through all of that, a good movie shines through. It has a great story, some good acting and more than enough nods to the original to keep any Halloween fan content. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to reprise her role as Laurie Strode, only now she is known as Kari Tate and lives in California with her son John (Josh Hartnett) where she is a teacher at a private school and tries desperately each day to put the past behind her. It's been twenty years since the blood-bath that occurred in Haddonfield, and the memory of her brother, the infamous Michael Myers, still haunts her, and she can't help but shake the notion that he may be coming after her. Soon enough, all her fears turn out to be true when Michael starts slashing his way through faculty and students just to get to Laurie and her son. Only this time, Laurie makes the decision to stop running and finally faces Michael, to put a stop to him once and for all (yeah, too bad "Halloween: Resurrection" scratched all of that). This movie is filled with plenty of tense moments and keeps things interesting for the 90 minutes it stays. The usually mediocre Steve Miner ("Friday the 13th Parts 2 & 3," "House") does his best John Carpenter impression as director, and turns in a slightly stylish picture. Sure, I can't help but feel that I would enjoy this movie had the film-makers not snubbed the fans by ignoring the other movies (thanks a bunch, Kevin Williamson), but take it for what it is, and it's good enough.
Scream 3 (2000)
The third and final (?) chapter in horror-master Wes Craven's ("A Nightmare On Elm Street") notorious and extremely successful "Scream" trilogy ends the series in an appropriate and poetic way. There's a bit of mystery, a bit of horror, and some humor thrown into the mix. I was a fan of the original "Scream" when it came out, but felt that the follow-up, "Scream 2" was nothing but a stylish re-tread and didn't bring anything new to the table. With "Scream 3," Wes Craven and the core cast are back to the fold and the story is a bit darker, riskier and more serious. Another movie about the Woodsboro/Windsor College murders is being made ("Stab 3"), and faster than you can say "worker's comp," cast-members are being offed one-by-one in a seemingly scripted manner. This, of course, re-unites Dewey and Gail (the husband and wife team of David Arquette and Courtney Cox Arquette, who fell in love on the set of the first film) and eventually pulls Sidney (Neve Campbell) out of hiding. Throughout the movie, revelations about Sidney's infamous mother are made, and we are let into the back-story a little bit more. The ending will leave you shocked, and I feel, was very fitting. There is hardly any gore this time around, but that doesn't matter, because "Scream 3" is more of a mystery/suspense, than an all-out slasher like the first two films. Unfortunately, it's not as popular with fans as the first two, but I think it succeeds because it takes risks and dares to be a bit different than the other movies. Plus, Parker Posey is absolutely hilarious and there's even a role that makes Scott Foley seem a bit cooler. Not to mention the obligatory Jay & Silent Bob cameo.
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
Some people will just never understand.
You have to be a certain kind of person to appreciate a movie such as "Freddy Got Fingered" (or even appreciate director/writer/star Tom Green's sense of humor). I've found that the sort of people who enjoy this deranged, out of the ordinary and flat out insane movie are actually quite normal. There's a reason why Roger Ebert and every other critic panned this movie: they are not normal. They do not lead a normal life. They obviously don't have to put up with the stress and absurdity that the average working man (or woman) deals with on a regular basis. Sometimes we all just need a release. A real raw, and edgy movie that makes no apologies and does not try to cover up what it is. "Freddy Got Fingered" is this movie. It is hardly a guilty pleasure. I don't think I could feel so guilty about loving a movie that has given me so many laughs and memorable moments. "Freddy Got Fingered" tells the story of Gord (Tom Green), a 28 year-old aspiring cartoonist with some crazy ideas and ways of life who still lives in his parents house and gets under the skin of his father (the brilliant Rip Torn). In his efforts to improve his cartoons to impress the head of an animation studio (Anthony Michael Hall), Gord falls in love with a crippled, rocket-scientist/nympho, accuses his dad of molesting his little brother Freddy (Eddie Kay Thomas), makes cheese sandwiches and has all kinds of other off-color, off-beat and offensive mis-adventures. For all the insanity displayed on here and all the tastelessness that this movie can withstand, at the core there is a good message, and it is quite simple. Gord isn't a bad person, he lives his life his own way, never compromising and it ends up working out for him. Sure, you may not be able to see that through all the blood, cheese and sausage on-screen, but nevertheless, a good story prevails. Tom Green does a great job all around. This is his movie, all the way. His directing (first time) is seamless, his writing is right on the mark and he truly "gets inside" his character. If you have the guts to check it out and aren't afraid to laugh (honestly), then you too will find something you love in "Freddy Got Fingered."
10/10 (and I'm serious!)
It Murders The Original.
The infamous red-herring Trevor Moorehouse returns for round 2 with "Bloody Murder 2," a beefed up, sexed up sequel to the generally cheesy direct-to-video original. Everything you hated about (or laughed about) the original "Bloody Murder" is rectified here. Whereas the first one had zero gore, this one packs on the red stuff, especially with the first murder, which had me squirming in my seat. There is also an abundance of sex & nudity in general (props to Tiffany Shepis) that help enhance the enjoyment of the movie (don't feel guilty -- these flicks are pretty superficial to begin with). Heck, even the acting is better -- although I wouldn't go as far as to say it was good, just an improvement. The characters may have been a bit shallow, but at least they had some sort of definition. The story revolves around a group of camp-counselors closing up camp and celebrating. Tracy, one of the counselors, is the sister of one of the victims from the original, and her motives for returning are somewhat vague. Just like in the original, people start dropping off one by one, and yet the counselors still feel obliged to stick around and finish their work. The ending is somewhat sketchy and cliched, but overall, "Bloody Murder 2" is a triumph over the original, which was basically just a joke.
The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
Bring Your Jacket.
You know, it was so hard to resist those tempting trailers and posters. I just had to see this movie. It's safe to say that I (and most people) knew what to expect when walking into the theater for this one. Roland Emmerich, the man who brought us "Independence Day" and "Godzilla" -- two movies I thoroughly enjoyed (yes, you heard right, I liked "Godzilla") -- returns to direct his first popcorn-flick in six years: "The Day After Tomorrow." Accelerated global warming causes unusual weather patterns, oceans overflow onto land, and before you know it, New York City is sealed in ice (I'm sure other cities are as well, but this movie mainly focuses on NYC) and a few survivors, including the son of the scientist who saw all of this coming, are stored in a library that just barely reaches above the surface of the ice. As pointed out to us in the mid-section of the film, the entire Nothern Hemisphere is basically trapped in an ice age. Hardly any survivors are expected, and anyone who lives in southern USA is urged to flee to Mexico -- illegally (I'll admit, it was kind of funny to watch people rushing the Mexican border, instead of vice versa). In the meantime, the father is rushing to reunite with his son in hopes of leading him to safety (you know how this ends...). There are many predictable plot-points and twists headed our way, and sure, not all of the information pans out too well, but this is strictly a fun popcorn flick. A two-hour escape. In the tradition of other like-minded movies such as "Armageddon" and "Twister," you can't overanalyze the material, or you won't enjoy it. Just like Emmerich's previous films, it is engrossing, an assault on the senses and creates a sense of awe with it's mindblowing special effects. Aside from the clumsy "frozen helicopter" bit, the effects are top-notch and completely breath-taking. The acting is good for the most part. The leads are sympathetic, even if there isn't much exposition behind them. And let us not forget our all too familiar President and Vice President characters. I know I got a chuckle out of that. Poor George W. He never saw the blizzard coming.
Absolutely Abysmal Sequel.
"Hellraiser" was a series that started off with so much potential. The first two installments were completely unique, all while being utterly disturbing and showcasing some mind-shattering gore effects. While the first two movies were perfect excercises in true horror and focused on just how low the human spirit can go, "Hellraiser III" plays out more like any of the "A Nightmare On Elm Street" sequels. These movies were never about Pinhead (Douglas Bradley). In this installment, he is reduced to a wise-cracking, obnoxious villain. Unlike Freddy Krueger, no one is cheering for Pinhead, because when he chooses to talk, it's annoying. So many times I was yelling "shut up" at the screen. The stuff he would come up with was just stupid and dragged the story down. And while I appreciate them elaborating on his mythology, it was all so unconvincing (his good side roams the dream world? Puh-lease). The movie itself could be mistaken as a made-for-TV movie, if it weren't for the cheesy gore effects (which come off really awful this time around). The characters are also way too cartoony and unrealistic. There is a certain plot-point where Pinhead taunts a character about killing his parents which is never mentioned again in the movie and makes you wonder why they brought it up in the first place. Oh, and did I mention the cenobite that shoots CD's at people? Don't even get me started. Although it was released in the 90's, "Hell On Earth" is an attempt at making Pinhead an anti-hero in the vein of 80's icons like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers. They definitely sold the series out with this one, and fail on all attempts, as this series went straight to straight-to-video after just one more installment. It may be worth watching if you haven't seen the first two movies, but if you have, this one will make you wretch in pain.
"You're So Killer"
"Shredder" is the kind of movie that could have been a moderate hit, had it been released in the wave of "Scream," it's sequels and it's clones. It's a simple who-dunnit slasher that tries to send as many twists and turns our way to keep us guessing until the end. It smells of "Friday The 13th" but has a tasty winter element to go with it (something that I wish I could see more of in horror/slasher flicks). Although it's an obvious low-budget, straight-to-video affair, it's not quite as corny as, say, "Bloody Murder," and it actually looks like a professional studio flick, with some nasty gore effects and decent cinematography. A group of rich, spoiled teenagers/young adults heads to a condemned ski-lodge to snowboard the weekend away. The characters consist of the tired, but fun cliches. You have two likeable leads, an extremely cruel hot chick (whose last words justify her death), the ditzy chick, the jock/hunk, the stoner, etc. etc. At about the 30 minute mark, they find themselves being stalked by a skier decked out in all black (aside from his RED gloves and YELLOW boots...). The Shredder (no, not from "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles") finds many clever ways of dispatching the poor (rich?) teens. The movie surprisingly reaches a few tense moments and there are quite a few innovative bits sprinkled throughout (I loved the head-on-a-stick gag in the closet) and there is an underlying good sense of humor. Save from the dispatching of the Shredder (which is quite embarrassing to watch) the effects are achieved well and are convincing enough for such a movie. My only major gripe is that, while the movie is heavy on sexuality, most of it is implied, as we only get some brief nudity. The Kimberly character is a complete tease, but I digress. Although it moves at a snail's pace for the first 30-40 minutes, it's still an entertaining, somewhat guilty-pleasure. If you are a fan of the genre (slasher) flicks, you'll get a few kicks out of this one. It's a good rental. Definitely not as bad as some would have you believe...
Easily one of the best in the neverending series.
"Friday the 13th Part 7: The New Blood" is perhaps the "Friday" installment with the most historical significance. Not only was it the first appearance of the now infamous Kane Hodder as Jason, but it was also supposed to be the installment where Jason Vorhees was pitted against Freddy Krueger of the "A Nightmare On Elm Street" series. But, as things go, New Line couldn't get along with Paramount (who distributed the first eight Friday films, until passing the torch to New Line in 1993 for "Jason Goes To Hell"). That particular film ("Freddy Vs. Jason") wouldn't be seen for another 15 years. Instead, the studio basically deleted Freddy from the story and replaced him with a teenage girl with telepathic powers by the name of Tina. Tina is returning to Camp Crystal Lake with her mother years after getting her father killed by accidentally utilizing her abilities. She is assisted by a psychologist by the name of Dr. Crews, whose intents turn out to be rather mean-spirited. As luck would have it, there is a group of teenagers/young adults partying non-stop next door, and when Tina accidentally awakens Jason from his watery grave, he has his fun, yet again, slashing his way through the crowd. For a series that should be on it's last leg by the seventh installment, "The New Blood" (and it's predecessor, "Jason Lives") does a good job of keeping things fresh and livening up the party a bit more. Special effects wizard John Carl Buechler does a fantastic job at directing, his passion for the material shows through, and even though the movie fell victim to heavy editing, it still stands strong as one of the best in the whole series (aside from parts 1 & 2, it's my favorite). The characters have much more personality than in previous installments, and there are new dynamics added that make the movie all the more interesting. For example, this is the first "Friday The 13th" where a fully-functional love-story is put into play, and that we actually want to see the hero and the heroine survive the disaster. The Jason make-up is just flat-out gnarly. Yes, as I said before, much of it was cut out, but this is easily the man's best appearance so-far. And it doesn't hurt matters to have stunt-guru Kane Hodder behind the mask. This is the movie that started the Kane/Jason phenomenon, as Hodder would return for three more sequels, and is one of the few actors to have actually spoken out about how proud he is of his work. Overall, it's a great film. It's flaws can be overlooked because A. At the time it was released, these movies were coming out annually, and B. most of the outrageous effects were massacred by the MPAA. But not to worry, there is a "Friday the 13th" box-set being released by Paramount in the fall (obviously only containing parts 1-8) and not only has Buechler recorded a commentary track, the cut scenes and uncensored clips and expected to surface as well. I suggest this movie to anyone with even a casual interest in the slasher genre.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
God Will Be Cut
Well, to start off my review, I must state that my knowledge of martial arts, or even the films that influenced Tarantino to make this film in the first place, is extremely limited. I managed to get a thrill out of "Kill Bill Vol. 1" purely on a superficial level. I always love revenge flicks, and the stakes were definitely up with this one. This movie can be summed up in one word: intense. Uma Thurman plays "The Bride" (whose name isn't revealed until part 2) in her best role ever. Lucy Lui, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox and Darryl Hannah play her assassins -- all led by the infamous Bill (played by David Carradine -- although you don't actually see Bill until part 2). This installment focuses on The Bride coming out of her coma and traveling to Japan to convince the retired sword maker Hattori Hanzo to fashion an instrument for her to strike vengeance against those who did her wrong -- and anyone who gets in her way. The best part of this movie pits The Bride against about 60 henchmen protecting O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Lui), and it is a thrill watching her slice and dice her way through the mob. Like I said before, I may not fully understand every aspect of this movie, but I still loved it and was entertained 100%. "Kill Bill" is another example of Quentin Tarantino's cunning ability to take obscure material and bring it successfully to the mainstream. And not only is this Uma Thurman's best movie yet, it's also Tarantino's defining moment. If you thought Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs were great, prepare to be blown away. The ending is perfect and gets us ready to sink into part 2...
"That really was a Hattori Hanzo sword"
So bad it's...well, it's bad.
Rumor has it that Lions Gate Films took an old, un-used script and tweaked it just a little bit to make it a sequel to Universal's 2000 controversial hit "American Psycho." It's easy to see why this went straight to video. Played off as more of a dark comedy than the first one, and severely lacking any gore, nudity or intensity, this is a very weak follow-up and leaves a lot to be desired. Mila Kunis, as gorgeous as she may be, was absolutely annoying during her narrations - I couldn't help but think of "Family Guy" the whole time! I seriously almost took the tape out of the VCR several times, I just got so frustrated. This movie is very low-quality and was obviously made with a shoe-string budget -- which isn't a bad thing, as long the filmmakers know what they are doing, but director Morgan J. Freeman (no, not the guy from "Shawshank Redemption") doesn't seem to take the material seriously enough to make it work (there's a lot of interviews out there of him trashing the first film and the people who made it). Overall, it plays more like a made-for-TV movie and a very cheesy, bad attempt at dark comedy. A few twists here and there might perk your interest, but other than that, this girl is D.O.A.
Idle Hands (1999)
Great music, hot girls, nasty gore (what else do you want?) *spoilers*
Anton is a stunning example of mediocrity. He skips school nearly everyday, he wakes up in mid-afternoon, and he smokes himself stupid. But one day, he gets some motivation when his right hand starts acting up and doing things he doesn't want it to (i.e. grabbing Jessica Alba's butt, killing people). After Anton decides his hand has done too much killing for him to deal with, he comes up with the brilliant idea of chopping it off. Only, the hand doesn't die, and now he must stop his hand from killing everyone at his high school. The movie is flat out hilarious and is meant to be nothing but pure entertainment. It has all the right ingredients for the perfect horror comedy: great music, hot girls and some nasty gore. Devon Sawa ("Final Destination") plays Anton and Jessica Alba (TV's "Dark Angel") plays his love interest (her butt also co-stars in some strategically placed tight-white panties). Seth Green ("Austin Powers") and Elden Henson ("Butterfly Effect") play Anton's burn-out buddies, who have some hilarious dialogue and scenes -- one particularily disgusting one involving a microwave burrito. To me, this is the perfect movie. It is always fun to watch and it has everything you could ever want in a movie (well, this kind of movie at least). I don't know how some people can trash it; although it is a horror, it is good natured and it is just a blast to watch.
Wrong Turn (2003)
It makes for a decent rental (*spoilers*)
So many great horror movies came out in 2003, you can almost forgive a movie like "Wrong Turn" for it's shortcomings. Sure, it's predictable, often implausible (how can someone balance themselves so well on a tree branch?) and flat out pointless, but it makes for a fair 90 minute horror movie rollercoaster ride. The story revolves around a hot-shot doctor who gets caught in a traffic jam on his way to an important meeting. Fed up, he decides to take a back road, and collides with an SUV containing an engaged couple, a pot-head couple and a smart, sexy, head-on-shoulders cliche of a leading lady. When the group goes for help, they find themselves being hunted down by a family of deformed cannibals. The movie does contain some tense moments here and there, but overall, it's all predictable, and I saw the happy ending coming miles away. The movie's main fault is it doesn't stop to establish characters. All we know about the cast is that two are engaged, one is in a hurry, one got dumped by her boyfriend (oh how tragic) and the other two are just plain annoying. The fact that I hated 3/5 of the characters totally blew this movie for me. I almost had to laugh when some of the kids bit it, and unless this is a parody, it's not a good thing. However, there are some memorable scenes (the tree chase) and some nasty cuts (just pretend you didn't see the redhead breathing when she is supposed to be dead) to keep this movie from being a complete waste. Unfortunately though, the movie ends just as it starts getting some steam. And the ending is completely predictable, as it seems the director simply ran out of ideas or a budget and just decided to end it as quickly as possible. So, frankly, the movie is worth watching, but after all is said and done, it was quite pointless.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The Best Horror Movie Of The New Millennium
I'm just as big a horror snob as the next guy. So when I went to see the remake of Tobe Hooper's classic (but severely outdated) 1973 film back in October, I had mixed feelings. I'm always skeptical about TV actors making the jump to the big screen in horror movies (look at the drivel brought forth to us courtesy of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and the "Scream" sequels). But needless to say, within the first 10 minutes or so, all my worries were put to rest. I should have known better; New Line does not disappoint. The movie starts off very dead-pan and does not let up for a second. This movie will keep you glued to your seat (or it will make some people leave) for it's hour and forty-five minute run. The key to this movie's success, I believe, is all in the characters. The core cast, the five young adults, are completely human--flaws intact, well drawn out, and very likeable. The bad guys (Leatherface & Co.) are truly bastards of the sickest form and you'll despise each one of them (the Sheriff still sends chills up my spine, great acting from the always wonder R. Lee Ermey). The story revolves around five young adults, on their way back from Mexico, carrying a pinata full of marijuana, to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert (this movie takes place in '73 as well). When they pick up a suicidal hitch-hiker (almost the complete opposite of the original movie) their world's are turned completely upside down and matters only get worse. This movie is absolutely brutal. I have seen so many horror movies that I have been a bit desensitized to gore & violence and what-not, but I was absolutely sucked into this movie. First time movie director Marcus Nispel (who spent many years directing music videos) presents us with a very professional, very moody and very terrifying movie. Yes, hang me for this if you must, I'm a big fan of the original, but this one completely squashes it. There is no slapstick in this one folks: This is the REAL Texas Chainsaw Massacre (incidentely, this movie is not a true story, it is loosely based on the Ed Gein murders). By far the best horror movie that has come out of the new millennium, and it completely blows all of the previous TCM sequels out of the water. Please understand what you are getting with this movie. Most of the critics gave this movie a bad rating for all the wrong reasons; Roger Ebert gave it zero-stars for not having any redeeming social value and for not making him feel sexy. Puh-lease, folks. We go to horror movies to be knocked off our feet and to be terrified and entertained for an hour and a half. "TCM 2003" does it's job gloriously. It's only fault may be that a whole new slew of potentially hap-hazard horror remakes are on their way. But as it stands, this is an incredible experience. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
Bloody Murder (2000)
It works well as a parody
Ok, let's put this to rest once and for all. It's been said a million times: This movie lifts it's main premise from the infamous "Friday the 13th" series (heck, one character even notes this) and takes other elements from "Halloween" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Just by looking at the cover, you know what you're in for. I don't think anyone can rent (or buy) this movie without knowing full well what they are getting into. The movie focuses on a group of good-looking teenagers prepping a summer camp (Camp Placid Pines) before the kids show up. As soon as you can say "Hello? Is anyone there?" a hockey masked killer starts offing the kids one by one, in very conventional, uncreative and bloodless ways. This movie is basically a typical "Who-dunnit" flick (taking a page from the "Scream" book) and we don't know if it's one of the kids or just that silly old legend of Jason Moorehouse -- no, I mean, Trevor Voorhees -- no, that's not it, oh, TREVOR MOOREHOUSE! The movie is extremely low budget. The special effects are non-existent and the director does his best to make the whole production look like a Saturday night softcore porno. However, if you view this film as a comedy, it comes off pretty strong. The acting is so awful and the characters make some of the stupidest decisions, it's quite fun to watch, especially if you are well-schooled in the slasher flicks from the 80's. Bottom line is, it's worth renting at least once (I bought a VHS copy in a bargain bin for three dollars) and when you sit down with it, be prepared to just have fun and laugh. This movie will not evoke terror in the weakest of hearts.
28 Days Later... (2002)
Don't believe the hype
Scenario: There is mass hype in the media about a low budget unknown horror movie and everyone and their uncle has seen it and is begging you to go watch it for yourself because it is the most disturbing and freaky movie ever! One guy in the theater puked all over himself!
Sound familiar? In 1999 we fell victim to it with "The Blair Witch Project." A non-sensical, frustrating, flat movie that proves once and for-all: You cannot trust hype. And 4 years later, we experience it with "28 Days Later." This time, it's a british film about zombies, or people infected with rage (I tell you, I caught a case of it after watching this movie). While the production values are respectable, this movie just flat out stinks. Like many have stated before, the main problem is that the film doesn't settle on a main theme. It can't decide if it's a suspense flick or a political statement on how disenchanted humanity has become. Nothing in the movie really works. It lacks cohesion. Add to that, a lot of annoying characters, who (surprising in such a supposed high-brow movie) do a lot of stupid things. To me, this movie is nothing more than "Resident Evil" meets the book "Lord Of The Flies" (yeah, remember that book they made us read Freshman year about the kids on the island and the Piggy kid...). Even if the movie wasn't a failure, it was a massive disappointment. Make like Chuck D and Flava Flav and DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE!
Bad in a bad way.
When you consider the sequels and the very loose timeline that came before this one, this movie didn't really screw things up that much. In fact, it's almost (I stress the word "almost") a passable, entertaining sequel -- until the ridiculous ending. Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the original TCM returns to write & direct this remake/sequel. Just like TCM 3, this one makes no effort to include events of the previous movie into it's story (except for a very brief mention in the introduction). Four teens get in an offroad accident after the prom and find themselves being hunted by Leatherface, and yet another horde of new family members. The movie moves at a nice speed and the plot takes many predictable turns and characters do extremely dumb things (i.e. a girl is locked in a trunk; driver pulls over at crowded fast-food area. Instead of screaming for help to the dozens of people around, she calmly pleads with her kidnapper "I'll be quiet if you poke me an airhole"). Renee Zellweger stars as the mousy heroine (you know the cliche, ugly duckling until she lets her hair down and takes off her glasses) and Matthew McConaughey plays Vilmer, the handicapped leader of the family, whose intents don't appear to be of cannibalistic nature. The movie wasn't released until 1997, three years after production wrapped up -- due to the rising popularity of both of the leads at the time, and it's easy to see why the movie was held back and why a lot of people fought to stop it from being released. Sure, it serves as entertaining horror cheese, but the ending and the complete lack of gore, scares, excitement and logic completely flattens the experience. Kim Henkel should have been able to do better. The recent TCM remake is far superior and just embarrasses this farce. I only recommend this movie if you have seen the previous ones and want to say you saw them all, or if you do drugs.
Not as bad as it's reputation
"Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III" marks New Line Cinema's first TCM release (they skipped out on part 4 and returned for the recent remake) and it is severely flawed. But for every flaw, there is a good quality to counteract it. Yes, this movie does have some great assets, first off, a wonderful cast. Ken Foree (the original "Dawn Of The Dead") plays Benny, the cool, rational, tough guy to a T. This guy is the man, I wish I could see him in more movies. Viggo Mortensen makes a pre-fame appearance here as a Tex, a relative of Leatherface who seems to have a fetish for finger-nail polish. There are plenty of other colorful characters sprinkled throughout. Also, (I am speaking of the Unrated version), the gore is top notch, we get it all: Hands nailed to chairs, chainsaws to the head, stomach and everywhere between. And let's not forget the excellent shoot-out towards the end (fingers getting shot off!). I know it sounds sick, but the gore actually elevates this movie and adds to the entertainment. It gets so cartoony towards a certain point that it becomes humorous. There is also a sub-plot about a survivor hiding out in the woods that I wish they would have ellaborated a little more on, but you can't have it all. But as I said before, this movie has it's problems. It is heavily noted on the DVD documentary that TCM3 was the victim of too many edits to many cooks in the kitchen. The result is an unfocused, uneven horror flick. Also, the movie doesn't fit in with the first sequels because it betrays continuity (*spoiler* Leatherface died in TCM2; he returns here unharmed and unexplained). Also, the new family, while very interesting, came out of left-field and wasn't explained. Sure, there are countless theories about how all of this works, ask any TCM fan, and they have their own take on it. But at the end of the day, this movie was obviously made ignorantly with no intentions of keeping a story intact (even the "Halloween" series is more consistent). With all of that said, however, this movie is not as bad as most people would have you believe. It has plenty of treats for horror fans, and if you can just let go of it's flaws and errors, and watch the unrated version (R-rated version is virtually useless), you will find something you like in this movie.
Passable sequel *spoilers*
Well, Freddy returns just a year after "The Dream Master" and this time he is using Alice's (Lisa Wilcox, from the previous film) unborn baby to be resurrected again. Alice wises up to this and faces not only Freddy, but the challenges of motherhood. Overall, "The Dream Child" isn't as bad as it's reputation. As the fifth in the series, it fares pretty well. Director Stephen Hopkins ("Predator 2") gives us plenty of eye candy (I especially loved the upside-down diner shot) and the visual effects are stunning, even if the gore is bit restrained. Robert Englund returns as Freddy, but this is one of his worst performances. Freddy is used very minimally, and when he does appear, he is making jokes (I guess that's the writer's fault, not Robert's). I have a hard time imagining anyone being afraid of Freddy in this one. I really don't like the direction they pushed Freddy into in this one (which just further continued in "Freddy's Dead") and I resent how we were supposed to laugh at the deaths of characters we have grown to care about, for example Dan and the motorcycle fusion (which was interesting and gruesome in it's own right). The gore is a little restrained, just as all late-80's movies are (the unrated version is nearly impossible to find) and the film feels like it was chopped up and dissected too many times. Following up four other superb movies (in my opinion), this one is a minor disappointment.
Batman & Robin (1997)
The absolute greatest movie ever made -- It changed my life!
Ok, so maybe that title is more than just a little white lie. But hey, in the sea of "worst movie ever" titles, it sure got your attention, huh? Well, the heresy is true and if you haven't seen the actual movie before, then let me confirm it for you: This movie truly sucks. The characters are awful, the dialogue is vomitrocious, the special effects are shoddy and the action sequences are completely over-the-top and unrealistic. The homoerotic undertones don't exactly help the movie either; this movie is like Skittles (taste the rainbow!). Joel Schumacher should note that using blue and red filters does not mean you are a unique director. This movie is overstylized and overblown. Way too much was spent on way too little. There is nothing about this movie that feels authentic (maybe that was the intention) -- Well, except for that bending, bouncing ice (?). This movie crosses the line that 'Batman Forever' tip-toed on. That movie succeeded because, while it was a comic-style movie, it still kept true to the style and premise set up by the movies before it. This movie just urinates all over that and insults it's audience's intelligence. What we are left with is an overly long (over 2 and a half hours! Kill me now) action figure commercial. The only thing I liked about this movie was listening to Ah-nuld spit out all those cheesy puns. But that wasn't enough to justify one viewing.
And by the way, I do not read comic books either.
The darkhorse of primetime animated sitcoms.
In a world raised by 'The Simpsons' and desensitized by 'South Park,' it's easy to see how 'Futurama' managed to slip under the radar. Even though it only lasted for four years, it was always a high-quality show from the get-go. Unlike Groening's other infamous creation, this show got it's feet on the ground pretty quick and was solid all the way through. I can't recall a single episode that wasn't funny and the animation was perfect the whole way through. 'Futurama' is about the adventures of a pizza-delivery boy named Fry who was accidentally frozen on New Year's Eve 1999 only to re-awake 1,000 years later to a brand new world. He befriends a bending-unit (aka robot) named Bender (who goes on a few benders himself) and a token cyclops named Leela. Together they work for Fry's great (great, great, great...) nephew on a spaceship where they make deliveries to other planets, galaxies, etc. And that is pretty much the set-up for the show. It really is a shame that this show never got the recognition it deserved. It was just recently cancelled and it was never really a hit in the first place. But still, that doesn't hold it back from being as funny and consistent as it is. 'Futurama' is the best example of how an animated sitcom (aside from 'The Simpsons') should be done.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
A real treat indeed
As someone who grew up watching the 'Nightmare' and 'Friday' movies, I have been anticipating this movie since Freddy's hand popped up in 1993's 'Jason Goes To Hell.' I'll admit, I'm a fanboy, therefore my expectations were high. Those expectations were more than met, they were completely blown out of the water! Having Ronny Yu sitting in the director's chair was the best move New Line made. I loved what he did for 'Bride of Chucky.' That breath of fresh air he gave that franchise is also delivered here. For the first time in a long time, our two anti-heroes don't look or feel tired. I can tell Robert Englund took pure pleasure out of playing Freddy again. This is definitely one of his best protrayals. I would compare it to the darker Freddy of parts 1 & 2. He has a few one-liners, but mostly we are treated to the "dirty old man" side of him (along with a very well-done flashback sequence that proves we don't need a 'Nightmare' prequel). Ken Kirzinger replaces Kane Hodder (Who filled the shoes for parts 7-10) as Jason this time around, and this is really my only complaint about the film. Not to slight Ken, because he did a good job as Jason, but I can't help but feel that this movie could have benefited from having Kane return as Jason. After watching Kane for so long, it didn't really seem like Ken was Jason (ironic that a character thinks this Jason is a copy-cat). We also get a little flashback and backstory to Jason as well. We get to see Jason as he was when he was younger (and no, not in the way the ending of 'Jason Takes Manhattan' did). The story backs up the premise very well. There a couple of little subplots that add to the human element and a few of the characters are really colorful and drawn out. This is a first for a 'Friday the 13th' flick! And Kelly Rowland, for all the trash people have said, questioning her abilities, (and for being a member of one of the planet's corniest pop-groups) has the best character and turns in a vibrant performance (Can't wait to see her in other movies, let's hope she makes the right choices). I can't say enough good things about this movie. It is gorey. It has plenty of nudity. It is action filled and adrenaline pumping. It was definitely made for fans of either series. There are several recalls and flashbacks to other films of each series and the fight at the ending completely blew my mind. As much as the heavy metal soundtrack rocked (and it did), what really did it for me was when the 'Nightmare' theme came on at the beginning. When you see this, you will wet yourself. I promise.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
Possibly one of the best teen movies to emerge from the 90's, 'Cruel Intentions' masterfully mixes black comedy, drama, romance, and, well, sex. Sebastian is a bastard in every sense of the word (except for it's true definition). He uses girls and sees them as trophies. His step-sister Katherine is a manipulative bitch, who challenges him to deflower a virgin, Annette, in exchange for her own body. If he fails, he has to give up his prized car to her. What happens to Sebastian is the unexpected: He falls in love, feels human, and is conflicted. He has never loved anyone and he doesn't know how to deal with the emotion. On top of all this, mind-games are being played and everyone sleeps with everyone. It's like a highly stylized soap-opera. The acting is top-notch. Even though I don't really care for Ryan Philippe's work in general, he totally slips into character and IS Sebastian. Sarah Michelle Gellar is almost unrecognizable as nothing short of evil in Katherine, and Reese Witherspoon is utterly sweet, and, well, herself as Annette. Selma Blair has a bit part as a dim-wit pawn in the game and Sean Patrick Thomas plays a black celloist who tries to seduce her. The previews and such make this movie come across as soft-core porn, but it simply is not. It's a cleverly-written and well acted & directed movie. It does reach typical melodrama at some points, but it never sags like other movies. This one keeps your interest and might even tug at your heartstrings. Well, it at least made me laugh a bit...
Maybe it's just my personality or my own personal tastes, but this movie didn't do anything but make me laugh. A St. Bernard? How can you be scared of that dog? I don't care if he is rabid, all I wanted to do was rub his belly or throw a tennis ball for him. I actually considered Cujo to be the anti-hero. The Anne Heche-esque wife and the David Hasselhoff-esque husband annoyed me to no end, as did Jonathan from "Who's The Boss." Note to film-makers: when making a movie like this, please make sure we can tolerate or relate to the characters. I mean, what is up with that whole cheating sub-plot? How did that add to the story in any way? And Cujo's first victim, I believe, simply saying "Oh my god, you're rabid" in a plain monotone voice. Can you say 'lack of quality?' I hate it in movies where dogs get hurt, and that one scene where his head is stuck in the car window completely outraged me. I guess this film was good for a laugh. I've seen a million horror movies, and I'm a dog lover, so maybe I'm just desensitized to this. I will admit though, they did manage to make the dog look pretty grisly and nasty, but still, I just wanted to play fetch or scratch his back...or something. I think he was just really lonely, not rabid.