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Hide and Creep (2004)
I really had some hope....
I really can't say what possessed me to rent this movie. Maybe it was passing it on the shelf all those times and just getting too curious for my own good. Or maybe on some level I knew it would be awful and am a masochist at heart. Either way, I rented it and it's pretty crap. Some of the dialogue is good (namely the zombie movie phone convo and the coke vs. pepsi diatribe) but that's about it. The acting is third grade level and the actors themselves are some of the least engaging people ever. My biggest complaint however was with the zombie "action." The zombie makeup is basically white with big black rings around the eyes. The guns clearly aren't firing or making any noise whatsoever and the gunshot wounds are just someone flicking blood at the undead. All in all a boring and rather worthless 85 minutes. I do not recommend it but can't very well stop you from seeing it. Just remember it's your own trip. Your own stupid, crappy trip.
The Howling (1981)
The Opposite of Good *spoilers*
I am a fan of werewolves though I really don't know why anymore. The majority of werewolf movies are really not very good. While perusing the horror aisle at my local chain rental place, I saw a copy of Joe Dante's "The Howling" which I had heard was pretty decent. I heard wrong. The acting is awful, especially by our heroine Dee Wallace who has probably been in more horror films than anyone else from 1972-1990. There's not even a real werewolf until more than halfway through the flick. This movie was really just an excuse to showcase makeup effects. Apparently when fighting a werewolf it is impossible to fight them while they are metamorphosing. I laughed out loud when it takes Eddie, the rapist/murderer werewolf with horrible hair, 15 minutes to become a werewolf and as soon as he's done, Dee Wallace immediately throws acid on him. Was there no opportunity to throw it before or during the change? I also wish to thank the filmmakers for subjecting us to werewolf sex in the woods. That was just peachy. It was neat to have John Carradine and Kevin McCarthy in the same movie but did it have to be this one? At the end when Patrick Mcnee gets shot and says "Thank God" I nearly applauded because he now was free of this waste of time. Good job John Steed. Avoid this movie unless you want a good laugh.
Sin City (2005)
SIN CITY *minor spoilers*
I was so excited for this movie for weeks and last night I finally saw it and, I'm happy to say, it did not disappoint. Being a big Robert Rodriguez fan as well as a fan of comics, I already had the fan boy thing going but I think even non-fans will find something they like. Firstly, the look of the film is amazing and will get most of the press. It really does look like Frank Miller's drawings come to life, even down to the stylized white (or in some cases yellow) blood. The flashes of color add much to the stark black and gray. But what I was most impressed with was how well the stories unraveled. Each of the leads held their own, though Marv (played masterfully by Mickey Rourke)is the heart of the film. His story has the highest body count but Marv is still the most sympathetic character of the bunch. The action is phenomenal and as graphic as the novel. This film is dripping with noir and despite the entirely computer generated environment, it was easy to forget Sin City isn't a real place. I found myself so immersed in the City that afterwards I unconsciously began to narrate the walk to the car and wishing corrupt cops would pull up and attack. This is one of the most innovative and downright awesome films I've seen in recent years. Rodriguez and Miller's film accomplishes much cinematic ally without sacrificing any of the graphic novel's integrity. The scene Quentin Tarantino directs (I'll leave it to you to pick it out) fits perfectly within the film. Kudos to all involved. 9.8/10 (no movie gets a 10)
Argento's "Suspiria" *minor spoilers*
About a year or so ago, my friend bought the DVD of Suspiria because we both had wanted to see it. I watched a documentary about the director, Dario Argento, and was interested in seeing what is considered his best film. I heard in an interview with Alice Cooper that he thought Suspiria was one of the scariest movies ever... quite an achievement if Mr. "Welcome to My Nightmare" thinks it's a frightening film. Well we never got around to seeing the film until a few weeks ago it was on IFC so I was excited. However, I didn't find this film overly scary. It's the story of an American ballet dancer, Susie, who goes to a prestigious, if not all together creepy, ballet school in Germany. Right from the start there's some strange things happening and within a few minutes there's two dead people, killed in quite inventive ways. As the story goes on, Susie starts finding clues about witches and evil at the school, which of course leads to the thrilling conclusion. Surely it's visually stunning and relatively violent (far less violence than I expected). The thing this film had an abundance of was suspense and mystery. So mysterious, in fact, that I still wonder why witches would need to use a knife to kill people. Wouldn't they just cast a spell or something? Of course, I'm no witch. The constant and repetitive score (by Goblin and Argento himself) is quite unnerving and succeeds in heightening suspense. Overall it was an enjoyable film, if only for the striking visuals. Argento certainly makes gore seem like art. I only wish there was more. Does that make me weird?
Natural Selection (1999)
Don't Be Fooled *SPOILERS*
I was walking through my local big-chain video rental place looking for something cool to watch. I come across a video box that says "David Carradine is THE MONSTER HUNTER." Sounded promising. The cover picture was of good IL' Mr. Carradine looking really cool in a black suit with sunglasses and holding a gun and there were pictures of demon-looking guys in wanted posters. It looked as though it was gonna be like a cheap Men In Black. I pick up the box and look at the back and the tag line reads "Evil Dead meets Natural Born Killers," and being a big Evil Dead head I liked the direction is was going. There was also a quote about the movie on the box. Generally they are something like "An Awesome Thrill Ride!!!" (more than one exclamation point is a must) and they are usually said by some film critic from a publication that you've never heard of. This one said "Great!" - Quentin Tarantino. This was another good sign because Quentin knows movies.
Based on all of these things I thought it'd be a gory, low-budget, Buffy-meets-MIB flick. However it wasn't. The reality is that it is a comedy, half-mockumentary about a serial killer in an East Texas town. Carradine is less of a bad ass and more of a half-crazed rogue FBI agent who can see the "demon" inside serial killers and their victims. The real star of the film is Michael Bowen who plays Willie the serial killer and does a phenomenal job in making him a somewhat sympathetic character in a film where you really feel sorry for no one. However, once I got over the fact that the box was lying, I really enjoyed the silliness of this film. Nothing like the Evil Dead and only kind of like Natural Born Killers, The Monster Hunter (or Natural Selection as I came to find was the real title) is a funny little low-budget movie. As long as you know the truth of the movie's premise then you should enjoy it.
Intensely Powerful (POSSIBLE SPOILERS)
I've been intrigued for awhile about hit men. It takes a certain type of person to kill someone for money and then go on and kill more people for more money. Movies about hit men are some of my personal favorites. There are two types of hit men in movies. The first is the kind who has fallen into the job by factors out of their control and they become saddened by the carnage after time and want to quit. The other is the crazy sociopath type that actually takes pleasure in the killings. The movie Collateral takes it in a slightly different direction. The story is simple: a hapless taxi driver played by Jamie Foxx happens to pick up a hit-man played by Tom Cruise. This hit-man, Vincent, is surely in the second group but at times we see tinges of group one in him. For all his insanity, there's always a sense that Vincent is deeper than even he might know. But that doesn't stop him from doing his job. He drags Max, the cab driver, into his world of murder for hire and the two form an unlikely partnership. At every step of the way, Max tries to get out and get help but Vincent is always right on his heels. The tension builds until the film reaches it's climax, which I'll admit, had me at the edge of my seat. One of the better hit-man movies.
Not as action packed as The Killer or even The Professional, but Tom Cruise does play one of the scariest hit men in recent films. A solid grade A movie.
Darkness Falls (2003)
Get Into The Light!!! (spoilers)
Going into this movie I was pretty positive it was going to be pretty crappy. Was I wrong? Not entirely. Aw, who am I kidding? It sucked. While the Tooth Fairy is one of the lamer ideas for a villain, I was actually impressed by how creepy they made her. The beginning montage was clever and spun a pretty cool legend. The old time pictures they used reminded me of if Children of the Damned had visited Little House on the Prairie and the lady who would become the tooth fairy was evil looking. The first real scene was even good. A young Kyle loses his final tooth meaning he'd be visited by the evil tooth fairy (as mentioned in the beginning). The first big scare is a teaser which introduces us to young Caitlin (or Catie or Cat or whatever else they decide to call her) and we learn of Kyle and Cat's budding romance. The we have a pretty genuinely scary scene where Kyle sees the fairy and a tragedy befalls him and he has to leave town. I admit, the opening made me think maybe this wouldn't be a cruddy movie after all. But I thought too soon. 12 years later, Cat's 8 year old brother (where are their parents? Nowhere to be seen) is suffering from the same fear of the dark that Kyle was afflicted with his whole life. Cat calls Kyle back to town to try to help and no one likes him. He gets into a fight with a big stupid drunk and they fall into the dark woods. You guessed it sports fans, the tooth fairy gets the idiot and saves us from having to see him ever again. All the cops assume Kyle did it, but they never to my knowledge run any sort of tests or collect any evidence that Kyle in fact committed any crime at all. This style of policing is called "Look, a guy! He did it!" But luckily, the nerdy yet ineffectual lawyer Larry comes and gets Kyle out of jail. Kyle tries to get back to Cat and her brother but Larry loves her and doesn't want the return of the Kyle-Cat love. Just when we're beginning to really hate Larry, he gets killed and Kyle once again is the only witness. He drives in Larry's busted car back to the hospital just in time to get Cat to stop listening to the stupid doctors. These doctors think the brother is hurting himself, but this again is based on no testing being done. The cops arrest Kyle AGAIN and lock him up. A convenient plot twist called a power outage causes only the emergency lights to keep them alive. A bunch of cops with no name get killed. Then the writer has a brilliant idea to have Kyle repeat the line "Get into the light!!" for the rest of the movie. As if they'd forget after the first 45 times. From here it's more running and people you don't bother to care about dying. The problem I had with this movie was that it had some very good parts which made it even worse when it turned out to be so bad. Also the fact that there were three screenwriters was disheartening. I think an equally good script could have been written by one stoned guy. Emma Caulfield is a good actress but Chaney Kley is one of the weakest heroes in recent memory. He has a real screen absence. In the end, interesting concept but not a good movie.