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One of the Worst Found-Footage Movies I've Ever Seen, Which is No Small Feat
1 July 2014
I don't know why I started watching this; I know if I'd seen the 3/10 rating here, I wouldn't have bothered. The fact that EVERY cast member except one was "uncredited" would have tipped me off too, but nooooo, I had to blow off the usual IMDb check. It's my fault because it come up on Netflix streaming as "recommended" (thanks for assuming I have sh*tty taste, Netflix) and even though I vaguely recalled the title as one I was warned against by several reviewers whose opinions I trust, I had a little time to kill and figured what the hell.

The opening minutes featured some gore (more than usual in a found footage movie with a "haunted house" theme) so maybe that got my attention. A big red flag came up with the voice-over acting by the cop who was supposed to have discovered the bodies was TERRIBLE.

Less than five minutes after that scene the only thing keeping me watching it was my deep hatred for a certain character, (who naturally, survived the movie as a last "f-you" from the movie to me). I wanted to see her get kicked down a flight of stairs or pushed off a cliff or die brutally. This is not a good sign when it's the only thing keeping you from turning off the movie. The character was (I think, because I swear they were barely trying) supposed to be likable, too.

This movie was so terrible, so boring, such an endurance test that I can't even write a traditionally-structured review for it. I have to make a list of things wrong with it instead.

1. Every found-footage horror cliché in the book used. transcription of 911 calls (even when someone on screen is clearly seen making them and you can hear everything fine, in a couple cases)? check. shaky-cam over-use? Check. There are what seemed like several 10-minute segments of someone holding the camera while they run around freaking out and all you can make out is occasionally the ground or trees. Mysterious forces throwing someone across the room? check. Night-vision footage of people sleeping while some object moves around by itself? Check. Stupid fake jump-scares where one character sneaks up on another and makes a "scary" noise as a prank? Check. 2. People keep filming after any sane person would have stopped, under the circumstances 3. I wasn't even sure who was filming what, supposedly, by the end. 4. the movie actually gets worse as it goes along. 5. some of the worst make-up "effects" I have ever seen. 6. some acting so bad it is funny instead of scary... but do NOT see this movie because it's one of those MST-3000 movies that is fun because it is so bad, this is NOT one of those movies.

There is no shred of entertainment anywhere in the movie. At no point did I feel remotely scared or even mildly creeped out, nor did I care what happened to the characters (other than hoping they died horribly for being such idiots). There was no point where I was in any kind of suspense.I could see every jump scare (or what they thought passed as jump scares), or pretty much any action whatsoever coming a mile away.

"Bell Witch" (I don't respect anyone involved in the making of the movie enough to go and look for the complete title) is the reason people hate found-footage horror movies.

DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME! Even if you watch this just to see how bad it is, you will hate yourself when it ends. I hated myself before the first hour of the movie was over. If you want to see a good paranormal found-footage movie, see "Grave Encounters". Hell, even if you've seen it already, just watch it again, you'll have a much more enjoyable time.
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Now THIS is how it's done.
19 July 2012
I stumbled onto this gem after I discovered the existence of the upcoming movie "The ABCs of Death", and shortly afterward, discovered the film-maker's competition and call for submissions for being the "26th director of the movie". The other 25 letters of the alphabet were already set, the call for entries was for the letter T, with the winner being included in and getting credit for the segment in the movie, alongside directors of the movies "A Serbian Film," "House of the Devil", and "Tokyo Gore Police, among others. Unfortunately, the voting was closed by the time I found out the contest. I watched over two dozen entries in a row (binging out like I did, with a little marathon after dark, is NOT recommended if you need to get a nice peaceful night's rest) and I'm not even sure how the voting process worked, but this excellent and satisfying entry in the contest would have had my vote. Nothing at all I'd change about it.

It's really too bad they couldn't pick more than one entry. The Lee Hardcastle claymation horror short ended up winning, probably because Hardcastle has a big cult fan base (as well he should), his film "T is for Toilet" is pretty impressive (I'd put it up there in my top five entries) I decided that TIFT was the best live-action entry.

It was up against some strong competition, but writer/director Michael Foulke's entry has everything going for it. Obviously a lot of care and concern and craftsmanship went into creating this film. I don't have confirmation on this, but I'm pretty sure he's a horror movie fan, and any movie (short or not) made by horror fans, for horror fans (Spain's "REC" is a great example) turns out to be a fine work of film-making that REALLY knows what horror fan audiences want: story, scares, and some gore. A horror film can be pretty good when it contains 2 of the above (for example: good story, good scares, I can live w/the barest amount of gore possible). This entry has all three, though I'm pretty sure the gore level contained in this short is PG-13. Tops. I doubt they had a huge budget, but with the top-quality production values, it sure doesn't LOOK like there was anything low-budget about the movie.

The acting by the two main cast members is high-quality, and I was especially impressed by the talent of the actress--Ashley Lynn Switzer-- who plays the Girl Scout. She NAILED it, especially for an actress her young age. I don't see a lot of actors/actresses appearing in horror films under age 10 stealing the movie. I couldn't find her age on her IMDb page, but she looks to be about 11 at the very oldest, my guess is (at the time the movie was filmed, anyway) more like 8 or 9. She was so convincing that I wondered at first if she was one of those more experienced young actresses who they "age down" well, then use her because she can sell being that young. I doubt that was the case here.

I've seen so many horror movies, TV shows, graphic novels and even novels that I'm very good at guessing what happens next. TIFT was one I couldn't second guess, so that says quite a bit. Check this one out (use the link on the "external links- miscellaneous" to find the Vimeo page to watch). It's less than five minutes long, so why wait? Check it out! Oh, and I guess I should state as a disclaimer I was NOT involved in the production in any way, nor did I sell out for personal gain or to get any perks for giving a 10/10 rating (not that I'm complaining, I didn't expect any). If you click the page that shows all my reviews, you'll see I write plenty and am not biased, and definitely not a 'plant.' Like I said, if you miss this, you're missing a treat!
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Worth a Watch for Genre Fans
6 December 2011
The only Shake Rattle & Roll (awesome name for a horror franchise) I'd seen before this was one I rented On Demand, the description of which didn't bother to mention the installment was in Tagalog with no English subtitles. I still sat through it, more or less, and could still see it had some very creepy images and even plot twists.

The first story is the weakest, more a comedy than horror. Set-up for "The 13th Floor" sounded promising, but it's played as a comedy (and didn't succeed as one). The CGI was used in a slightly original way, but the effects were terrible enough that it just screeched to a halt. In fact, the FX, combined with the predictability of the plot, almost made the whole movie screech to a halt for me. However, before I kicked it out of the DVD player, I started looking at reviews online and saw most said the middle segment made SR&R 8 worth a rental. They were right, and I'm glad I watched the entire movie.

"Yaya" is indeed the most memorable of the lot, about an especially cute little boy who suspects something isn't right with his new nanny. His fears are confirmed, as he learns the folklore about "aswangs" from his teacher. Naturally, his mother and aunt just roll their eyes and assume someone's been telling him ghost stories. He sets out to discover a way to protect him and his baby sister, but soon realizes he may be in way over his head. The actor that plays the boy is really talented; I've seen a lot of terrible kid actors in foreign (and American) horror, so my expectations were low. Instead I was very impressed, this kid is talented. The segment probably wouldn't have worked as well if they hadn't cast an actor who could portray fear, as well as love for his family and protectiveness towards his baby sister so convincingly. Honestly, the majority of kids in horror movies get on my nerves, but I just wanted to give him a big hug. The aswang is genuinely frightening, enough that I decided partway through this installment that maybe it hadn't been a clever idea to watch it with all the lights off, and pause the movie to turn on all the lights in the room. As far as I could tell, the effects were mostly practical, and pretty good ones at that.

What I read about the third segment, LRT, didn't make it sound like anything special. I turned the lights back off when it started ...then realized I'd fall asleep easier that night with them on again. The subway monster has an original design, and is definitely not something you'd want to catch a glimpse of in an abandoned LRT tunnel (or anywhere for that matter). The characters mainly died in the order I expected them to (until the last 10-15 minutes), but that didn't make it any less entertaining to watch, and there was a pretty clever twist at the end--I didn't see it coming, and the reveal made the whole tone even more dark and creepy. The FX were played just right; the minor use of CGI just enhanced the practical effects. I heard a quote once about cosmetic surgery that I also heard several film-makers paraphrase- it shouldn't be used to turn an apple into an orange, but instead to make the original apple a shinier one. I didn't watch thinking, "Oh hey, there's some interesting CGI", instead I just thought how awesome the shots were in general.

So check it out. I'm going to start seeking out other installments, and hope that one story/segment is at least as entertaining as this one.
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Cinderella (2006)
Creepy K-horror That Earns a Hell of a Payoff
17 November 2011
To start, I want to mention something: I have a list of "Top Ten Scariest Asian Movies". This may have been the weakest in my original list (though the 'weakest' still made the list for almost a year as a Top Ten scary-as-Hell Asian horror flick). Since I created the list, I saw the blood-curdling, cleverly-scripted 'Coming Soon' and decided it had earned a place over 'Cinderella'. I removed it, but that doesn't mean I don't want to give this creepy Korean thriller its props here.

First of all, if you love K-Horror, this deserves a look. Yes, it has one or two elements that appear in other Asian horror. I should point out that except in some extreme cases, I actually like the formula and the common images (black hair covering a face, usually with one ghostly dead eye peeking out, and the horrifying, creepy reveals of what is almost always referred to in the movie's promo materials/synopsis as 'the Dark Secret behind it all'. Usually in the last act, the 'horrifying buried past' is usually so brutal and disturbing you have sympathy for the 'Onyro' (lf you're familiar with Asian horror enough to have done a little research, you know the meaning--if not, this is a great time you to look it up) along with the fear. When handled right, the true back-story is so horrible that you kinda decide the ghost/Onryo out for revenge has every reason to come back and try to cause serious damage.

I gave Cinderella seven stars rather than the 9-10 I give to perfect, close-to-soiling- yourself in utter terror Asian horror such as Shutter and Ju-on. I took three stars off based mainly on my opinion that some parts, especially the first act, are slower than I thought they needed to be, dragging down the film and viewer a bit. The movie could have stand to lose 10-15 minutes for a tighter edit. HOWEVER… get ready for the last act of Cinderella--it pounces right at you out of the dark.

This is one of those last acts, and with a back story that stuck with me. There's a couple hints, but it turns out to be way uglier (no pun intended-if you've seen the movie you'll get the pun) than anyone imagined. I also actually started talking back to the flat screen TV a couple times (if I'd seen it in a theater and said the same things at that volume, I would have been asked by an usher to calm down) and at least once hearing myself urgently and loudly giving a character advice ("oh no, no, NO, don't, DO NOT go in there, Oh God, RUN!"). I do that frequently during really addictive, well-made, fun TV shows (True Blood, Breaking Bad, and Spartacus for example), but it's rare when I watch a movie. Yet another movie on this list where a movie-watching exception was made. Funny thing, it's usually Korean chillers like "Cinderella" or Korean crime-revenge "I Saw the Devil" and "Memories of Murder" that get me so hooked in that (more than once) almost blew off a deadline because I HAD to know what happened.

I saw that many reviewers cited the movie for being 'too melodramatic' and 'more like some soap opera'. I can see a base argument for 'melodramatic' ; fair enough,I suppose (though I personally don't agree). However, a SOAP? Jesus, really? If so, I'd like to ask what the hell kind of fu(ked-up soaps have YOU been watching? The only thing on TV right now that is a 'horror-drama' and would even come close to this claim is American Horror Story. Note: if you're a big fan of the show AHS --like I am--you'll probably enjoy this movie.

Yeah, Cinderella is no Shutter or Two Sisters (then again, nothing put on film is) but if you're looking for some Oynro-genre scares and a twist or two you didn't see coming, watch it now. There's much worse ways (and MUCH worse Asian horror movies to watch, trust me) to spend 100 minutes. As long as you weren't really planning on sleeping that night anyway….
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Rubber (2010)
Not Funny, Not Scary, Not Entertaining, Just ...No.
12 June 2011
First, VERY glad I watched this as a 'New Release' rental. Several months ago, it was 'premiered' on demand, and the price to watch it was $9.99. Fortunately, with our low budget, I couldn't justify the expense just because Rubber was featured in Fangoria magazine. I wish it had been a .99 rental, because that's what it's worth, tops. If I *had* paid that $10 to see this movie, I would have been enraged at myself and my stupid mistake and trying to figure out a way to get the price refunded.

If I'd seen this for free, it wouldn't have been worth it. I've never said this in a review before, but I want the 90 minutes of my life back that I wasted watching this VERY over-rated flick. I got a bad feeling very early on when a character (the most irritating one in the entire movie, turns out) breaks the fourth wall within a minute tops of the start. Now, a decent script, or premise can pull this off. "Why is the alien in ET brown? No reason." Then with each example given ("Why do the two main characters in Love Story fall madly in love? No reason") I got increasingly worried we'd wasted a rental, but also started getting insulted. Then, in a very condescending way, he points out that all good movies must have an element of NO REASON (I am capitalizing that it due to the fact it got shoved down our throats over and over his whole monologue less than 5 minutes I was sick of it). Uh, dude? I hate to break it to you, but you're not exactly Tarantino (who can come off as arrogant during interviews, but has also earned it) giving a lecture to film students. After he establishes the fact that we're all total morons he says this 'film' is an homage to that crucial element of NO REASON. Believe it or not, the film manages to become more insulting as it slooowly plays out. There's no need for me to give you examples--not because of spoilers (it's already spoiled rotten, trust me) but out of courtesy to anyone reading-it wasn't worth wasting paper to print the screenplay, definitely not worth repeating.

Here's an example, though. Did you get insulted by the appearance of the rat at the end of The Departed (like everyone else I've talked to, even the ones who are not big movie geeks)? Then BEWARE this movie. Imagine if the rest of The Departed that preceded the rat was NOT entertaining, well-acted, well-written, well-directed and cool enough that you let that insult to your intelligence go. The makers of Rubber might as well have flashed signs every five minutes or a non-stop teletype in huge letters reading LOOK HOW UNEXPECTED AND QUIRKY WE ARE! ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THE GENIUS OF THIS? The only semblance of a plot in this movie is already given in whatever the sentence or two on the box pitching it to you: for no apparent reason, a tire with the ability to make things (mostly human heads) explode goes on a killing spree. By the way, that summary is much more interesting than the actual movie. They also have the nerve to brag in a DVD extra that Rubber is also homage to the grind house movies of the 70s. First, no. Second, I know what a good, fun grind house tribute looks like: Planet Terror, Machete are a couple. Good, fun-to-watch movies with unexplained elements, that are hard to second guess: Nowhere, Storytelling, and the original Feast are a few who do it MUCH better. Take 10 minutes of any of the above movies I named and watch-even the worst 10 minutes of these are still better than the entire running time of Rubber.

If 90% of the movie deliberately makes no sense, then whoever is responsible better make sure than the movie is very good, and worth seeing. By the end of the first act-- woop, wait, this movie doesn't have discernible acts, so I'll say 20 minutes tops--I said out loud, "OK, now you're not even f--king trying." If you're curious what the 3 stars I gave it are for (actually, while writing this review, I decided I was being too generous and wish I could knock it back to two stars) then here it is. One for supporting indie films (in general, not this one), another for some pretty well-done gore (no obvious CGI), then I break the third down into parts: cool title, good and occasionally amusing puppetry of Robert the killer tire, decent enough art direction, and...uh... I guess that's it, round it up to 3.

Just in case you're still tempted to watch Rubber (God knows why), here's seven reasons for the remaining seven stars I did NOT give it: 1. a half-decent premise that goes absolutely nowhere 2. trying to pass off sloppy writing as deliberate non-conformance and ultra-cool rule-breaking 3. deliberately random events (and dialog) to make the movie seem edgy 4. clumsy breaking of the fourth wall 5. not even pretending to attempt any semblance of characterization 6. a slow pace that never pays off 7. categorizing the movie under 'comedy' when it only offers a couple half-hearted chuckles. However, the condescending tone (hey, we're already renting a non-mainstream movie, independently released, so how about deciding we are all not necessarily virgins to a non-traditional format) ranging from mildly irritating to insulting time is still by far #1 on my sh-t list for Rubber, though.

I sat through the whole thing because I thought it might be worth taking a chance on. Please, learn from my mistake! Life's already short and there's too many GOOD indie movies (and mainstream too, now that I think of it) worth your time to watch instead.
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Chain Letter (2009)
Mean-spirited, Boring Mess of an Excuse for a Horror Movie
13 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Just in case you could not grasp the subtle undertones of my review title above...

My recommendation in a nutshell: NO. I guess to justify the one star I left I could base it on Keith David and Brad Dourif doing their best even when the material to work with is utter crap. Both are the only ones in the movie who made my brain perk up when they were on screen. You may have heard talk about the show-stopping opening. I was about to point out that hardly qualifies as 'show-stopping' quality in my book, but it SHOULD have stopped the show. The credit sequence to follow was an eyesore. It all goes clumsily and rapidly downhill after there.

You want a longer explanation? Okay, then. First, I cannot believe I actually read a few fairly good reviews on horror sites. Possibly due to some of the gore I rattle (har) off below. Yes, the movie has a nasty, mean-spirited, creative dismemberment before the title credits. Actually, the entire movie is very mean-spirited, not just the gore. Here is some but not all gore included (I saw the unrated version): victim's arms being dislocated/Achilles tendons cut, then the face sort of scrubbed off slowly with 2 chains (yes, this all happened to the same poor guy, arguably the ugliest demise in the whole firm), hook through jaw, upper body crushed w/heavy object, giant hook through shoulder, heat split open by chain ...see now, I don't even think it is worth the use of my brain to recount them all. In at least one scene I got this specific creepy feeling I get while watching a horror film that usually causes me to classify it as 'torture-porn': getting an icky feeling during a drawn-out torture scene that someone involved in the making of the movie got off on it. Some creepy duct-tape and/or mutilation fetish, or something, bleh, I don't want to think about it any more. I'm pretty sure if I searched here I'd find that a frequent tag associated with CL is "Torture Porn", but that is NOT a recommendation …at least I hope to God it isn't!

Where oh where to begin with the bad? Here's some. 'Teenagers' in high school that appear to be portrayed by actors mid-20s at youngest, and some closer to pushing 30. Keith David not getting to be bad-ass enough. Characters (all of them) that the "writers" did not even TRY to give the flimsiest of personality traits or a back-story to, so you could not care less who lives or dies. A couple of the 'highschoolers' did their best, but you can only go so far with a boring, sloppily-written script. One 18-year old character's mother looks 30 years old, tops. Not enough reasons to avoid? Try adding in these! No real ending. They try to convey a message about technology and that those who give up their privacy in trade for the newest, most convenient, "cool" tech/apps don't deserve safety, but that message only would have been original or effective 10 years ago (and a LOT has happened between now and then). We get hit over the head with this message so much it gets insulting to most people's intelligence, and far before the movie is over. Motive for killing is very vague, and there's only so many ways you can kill a person directly involving a chain and keep it "new".

Also--and I hope people are through having to pay money in a theater to see CL and go for rental only- my DVD had no subtitles, not even CC for the hearing impaired (when I used the standard TV CC settings) .Bare bones for the special features. In fact, I don't even recall if there was a trailer. NO back-story on the killer, even though he has one distinctive (but unoriginal) feature, it isn't explained, and could have added a teeny bit of depth.

Don't get me wrong. I never set out NOT to like a movie, I don't rent them out of spite, life --and my funds-- are too short. I've seen more horror movies --just over the past couple years--than most people see in decades. I know what mindless, fun, entertaining horror movies look like; I grew up in the 80s, so trust me, I know mindless horror fun when I see it. This is not one of those movies. Want some movie that is a gory blast to watch, has some scares or at least very creepy moments, doesn't follow a complicated plot, and that you could keep up with plot-wise even if you had a few drinks in you? Chain Letter is NOT one of them. Try, oh, any of the Evil Dead series, the 80s re-make of The Blob, Planet Terror, 2001 Maniacs, Dead/Alive, Feast ...and those are just off the top of my head. No wonder Fangoria didn't bother to cover this train wreck to do a feature.

Finally, another BIG minus is the fact that this had a lot of potential. I had a little hope before I saw the movie, since the plot, and even some of the buzz, was along the lines of what could have been another Final Destination franchise. Now I sincerely hope a sequel does not happen, but I think they were trying (and WAY too hard) to be the next Saw or FD. Not even close.

Avoid! If you rent it just to see the gore, don't do it. You'll hate yourself after, take my word for it!
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The Blob (1988)
What's not to like?
29 September 2003
SEE! Intentionally laughable corny dialogue! SEE! The time period of the movie not being able to decide whether it is the 80's or the 50's, with hilarious results like Kevin Dillon dressed like James Dean in a motorcycle jacket, but with a mullet! SEE! Stock characters you know and secretly love, like Candy Clark as the diner waitress who acts tough but has a heart of gold, especially when it comes to the amorous local sheriff, the Football Hero who is a little bit of a snob, the MIsunderstood Motorcycle Punk with a crush on the heroine who looks tough but is smarter than he looks, the Priest Who is a closet drunk and preaches Hellfire and Damnation and says things like 'This was all foretold in the book of Revelations!' when the Blob slithers around main street. SEE! Candy Clark (I almost called her Candy Johnson by mistake--now THAT I'd buy the DVD to see) trapped in a glass phone booth surrounded by the blob! SEE! Annoying characters, even bratty kids, graphically get what they deserve! SEE! A government conspiracy involving top brass in biohazard suits that tell main characters things like, `You're not prisoners... you're patients' while locking them into the back of an 'am ambulance'. SEE! Chapter selections on the DVD with titles like 'Punk Yes, Killer No'. SEE! Loving homages to the original such as the centerpiece mentioned earlier where the blob attacks/devours nearly an entire movie theater with a shot of terrified patrons stampeding out of the theater pursued by the blob! SEE! An urban legend involving a druggist and a teenage boy buying condoms! SEE! A black character who not only lives through an entire horror movie, but helps save the day! SEE! No CGI! Animatronic that are almost as fun as the ones in Carpenter's The Thing (some might call this a low rent version of The THing, what with tentacles suddenly whipping out of monstors you thought were people and characters post-monster attack who retain facial features or props as they're being slowly consumed, to the horror of other characters! SEE! Character's loved ones melting away right in front of their very eyes front of them until they (the non-eaten character) faint from horror! SEE! Me forcing myself to stop before I spoil any more fun surprises or talk it up too much! I'm not saying it's the best horror film of the 80's, but it is one of the better gruesome and gooey monster flicks of that era. Nice high gross-out fator, with some really creatives draths. As I said before, it borrows from The Thing remake, but I think not so much as a rip-off but ina admiration for the film. Sure it's not John Carpenter's The Thing, but then again, what is? In fact, if you're fan of The Thing but need a break somewhere between your 10th and 20th viewing, definitely plop this one in and get your fix. My two cents--pick up this fun, underrated popcorn flick monster movie and get ready to have a good time. And if you don't? Well, don't come crying to me to explain why there weren't more CGI or A-list stars. I'm not angry with you, I feel bad for you, honestly, 'cause you're missing out on a helluva lot of fun.
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Lookwell (1991 TV Movie)
Hee hee!
7 September 2003
My husband saw a clip from this on the Adam West Bio and

hunted it down on eBay. It was worth every cent, and actually gets

funnier every time I watch it. It's obvious, if you know and

appreciate Conan OBrien's sense of humor, that he had a good

hand in the writing. Adam West is perfectly cast and for those of

you who thought he had no sense of humor about himself...just

watch. Words can't do it justice... down to the last detail, this pilot is

hilarious and if I think for too long about the fact it didn't get picked

up, I wnt to bang my head against the wall (or bette yet, bang some

network exec who makes these genius decisions against a wall).

I defy anyone with a sense of humor to sit through this without

giglling uncontrollably in the first 5 minutes (at least once).

10/10 stars. Hunt it down or wait till it's on Trio's worth it,

trust me.
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Cabin Fever (2002)
Makes me hot just thinkin' about it
3 September 2003
This movie was just a hell of a lot of fun. I should preface this (and

date myself) by saying I grew up in the horror boom in the 80's.

Other fans in their 30's... remember when movies like this came

out ALL THE TIME? Remember when animatronic, not CGI, were

the norm? Remember when you didn't have to wait for DVD for

something fun like this, when you knew it would play in a local

theater that wasn't a huge pain in the ass to get to, you could just

go catch a matinee alone if you couldn't wait? I grew up bugging

my parents (till I was 17) to take me to see The Thing, The

Howling, American Werewolf in London, Evil Dead 2, Scanners...

and I got spoiled, because I figured horror flicks like that would

always be the norm. Young, naive, I thought things would always

be this great.

So I guess it's sort of bittersweet that when I heard about this

movie harkening back to the 80's and even 70's good old gory fun

guilty pleasure horror flicks, I got so excited I almost peed my

pants. I read about it in Fango (I've been a subscriber and read

every issue cover-to-cover eagerly since 1986, that should give you

an idea of my horror fan credentials) Premise? A group of teens

are trapped in the woods, hunted not by a boring slasher, but a

flesh-eating virus. OK, sold me right there. That right there is

enough to make me want to see it. Then I heard it had animatronic, no CGI, the filmmakers were about the same age as

me and grew up on the same films, just wanted the movie to be

entertaining like the good old days, and got more excited. The

bittersweet part, I guess, is how much I had to go out of my way to

hunt down info about it and buy tickets in advance to see it at

Seattle International Film Festival (Since I missed out on Bubba

Ho-Tep, by God, I was NOT missing this one), though I didn't mind

the line around the block an hour in advance (more nostalgia,

especially for when I saw Dead Alive at a midnight show there

--gulp--ten years ago).

The audience that night in May of 2003 was packed with fans like

us, who were also, how do I put this, not entirely sober, ready to

have a blast, and we weren't let down. When this comes out in

wide release-- YES, they made it into wide release!! see it at a late

night opening weekend for maximum fun and impact. As I said

before, I don't remember every single detail of the film (if you get

my chemical drift) but I don't need to, and you can see it sober and

still get every iota of entertainment out of it.

A group of college-age kids decide to head out to an extremely Evil

Dead-style rural cabin, get stoned, have fun. One of the guys has a

huge crush on a blonde, now dating his buddy, he's been ‘just

friends' with until now, and he hopes to change this over the

weekend. The way this particular plot thread/character arc ends

was probably the most haunting in a movie filled with seriously

nightmarish moments.

There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments-- the audience,

including me, roared through the whole film and cheered with

approval so frequently (at the gruesome as well as the funny parts)

that I missed many lines. There were also groans of anticipation

(that sounded pornographic, didn't mean it that way) when we

could all see foreshadowing of something satisfying to come. But

these weren't the `Well, I can see THIS coming five miles away'

predictability- type groans-- instead, the audience were made up of

savvy horror fans who saw a great payoff coming and got it.

It's not perfect (though damn close enough for me). It was

gruesome, but the ‘buckets of gore' had been hyped so much I

was a little surprised it wasn't bloodier. Plenty of gross-outs,

though, and keep in mind this is a reviewer who has seen the

deleted scenes from the UNCUT version of Dead Alive and is thus

very, very jaded and almost impossible to shock. I doubt most gore

fans will go away unsatisfied. An ending that I thought left one plot

thread hanging (and not in a set-up-for-a-sequel way, just in a

huh? way) but again, I could have missed it.

For me, though, the single scene worth twice the price of

admission is a campfire tale told in flashback early on in the film

that is a Tales From the Crypt fan's wet dream, about a killer in a

bowling alley. Kind of a throwaway thing that isn't tied in intricately

with the plot of the movie, but was the *single coolest thing* I've

seen in any movie all year. The audience obviously was just as

elated as we were because they ROARED through the whole

sequence. For that alone, I give Cabin Fever 10/10 stars.

I also am not a flamer, but I have to say-- those of you calling this

movie a rip-off do not know the difference between a rip-off and a

tribute. There's tons of rip-offs out there. Cabin Fever is a tribute.

And the rest of the flick isn't bad either. Go, and have a blast like

you used to in the good ole 80's golden years of the horror flick. Is

it too much to hope that this will start some sort of nostalgic trend?

From what I've read in interviews from the filmmakers (who

worked their ass off making, financing, and pitching the film)

expect more of the same from them, at least.
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Swimfan (2002)
insulting to everyone's intelligence
19 March 2003
I rented this because some idiot of a film journalist, who by the way I will never trust again, put this down as the 'guilty pleasure' of 2002. There is no pleasure or entertainment to be found in this movie. A watered down high school version of Fatal Attraction, except without surprises, believeable dialogue, talented actors, hot sex, or a half-decent script. Oh and with no entertainment value whatsoever. Now while I'm on the other side of 30, I've made for teen-type suspense movies before and been entertained (the Faculty, Wild Things). But does the director (who looks sort of embarassed during the lame featurette, as well he should) and the writers and everyone else involved really think teens are that stupid? Do they think that they have no idea the movie Fatal Attraction (hereafter referred to as FA) exists? Also during the featurette, the director's dumbed-down pitch line of "FA set in a high school" turns out to sound more interesting than the movie.

The hero is an idiot--yeah, have sex in the school swimming pool when anyone can walk in, including your girlfriend, with a chick you've known less than 24 hours and say 'I love you' during sex when the chick asks you to, when you have a big important swim meet coming up and don't need any complications in your life AND your girlfriend is in town, then when the chick starts following you around and messing with your mind, just sort of act neutral towards her for awhile...arrgh, I have to stop, but I don't know how many times I said, "NO, you MORON!!" when he did or said something. Yeah, I know teenage guys are horny, and don't always make brilliant relationship decisions, but come on, I'm supposed to be rootiing for this guy. I ended up rooting for Madison (villian) because I figured everyone deserved what they got, only then her character got so boring and one-dimensional I couldn't even summon up any energy to root for her.

I honestly cannot recommend this movie to anyone; no redeeming qualities whatsoever. This is not a 'guilty pleasure' , don't let yourself be tricked into renting it for that reason... just ignore this lame excuse for a movie.
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I wish I hadn't rented this
2 January 2003
Oh man, this was bad. This is one of the few times I actually felt as

though I would be justified in taking it back to the store and

requesting a refund. Some people LIKED this? A few questions 1.

Were we watching the same movie? 2. If so, were these people on

drugs? 3. What kind of drugs, as I don't think any narcotic invented

could make this movie enjoyable.

I didn't expect much. All I ask for a Wishmaster movie is there be at

least one cool scene, slightly inventive, of a character foolishly

making a wish and the Djinn taking some little loophole in their

wish and exploting it in a gruesome fashion. That's all. All hell

breaking loose during the finale (as with the first one) would be

nice too. No. This movie did have a few gore scenes--trust me they

are NOT worth it. They're stuck in with no suspense or buildup, so

they aren't even remotely scary, just sort of boring and

innapropriate. Not disturbing, just slightly gross.

This movie is like Wishmaster-The Red Shoe Diaries. I do not

mean this in a positive way. I felt embarassed for the actors. OK, I

could MAYBE see the Djinn wanting to get laid, but falling in

love???? Why? And what would happen if he did get together with

the woman? Hell would be unleashed? No, not really. He doesn't

even want her for reproduction, I guess he just got bored, lonely, or

lost his mind. The first half hour was tolerable, the second

downhill, and the third painful and embarassing. I actually winced I

was so embarassed to be watching it. The plot is terrible; we don't

even know who we should be rooting for, and I don't think this was

intentional. Worst --well, actually the worst part is a toss-up of

several emelemnts, I take it back-- is the introduction of some

halfassed attempt at Djinn mythology, with some "Hunter"

appearing with a mission to kill the woman the Djinn wants,

something like a rejected Angel plot arc, and that's being insulting

to Joss Whedon. If I want to see demon swordfights I'll watch Buffy,


There was not even one mildly scary moment or even a hint of one

in the movie. I kept watching out of a sort of horrified amazement at

how much worse and bizarre the movie got as it went along. But it

wasn't entertaining. It's also not 'so bad it's funny/good', just very

bad and boring. Terrible! Rent the original and watch it a second

time if you're feeling nostalgic. Don't touch this mess with a ten

foot pole!
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Resident Evil (2002)
15 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
I can't compare the game to the movie that well, since I've only played the game once or twice in the arcade and didn't last very long before I got eaten. (Check the trivia section on the IMDB if you want more info on that, though beware of many spoilers) I don't know if the game has any more of a backstory than the DVD box did: a virus is accidentally unleashed at an underground biological research facility that turns all the employees, lab animals, and experiments into flesh-eating undead. A rescue team discovers too late they are stuck in there with them; they have 3 hours to get out without getting eaten or, worse, infected before the ‘Red Queen' master computer permanently shuts down all the exits.

On the negative side, it was a little longer than an action movie needs to be-- 10 minutes could have been trimmed, I caught myself wanting to hit forward and skip scenes in the first half hour of people wandering warily around deserted areas. I've never wanted to do that with a Romero movie. It does take a little too long to get going, but when the action kicks in, trust me, it doesn't let up, to the point where I felt kind of battered after the movie-- really unrelenting. I couldn't stand the industrial/techno soundtrack, but then I don't usually listen to bands with song titles like ‘Fistf*ck' and `My Plague (New Abuse Mix)'. I guess it was appropriate for the movie, I didn't exactly expect, say, Oingo Boingo (though that would have been kind of cool, now that I think of it) but it was grating after a while. Several shots were extremely derivative of Romero, but since I haven't watched the featurettes or commentaries, I'm not sure if the filmmakers intended them as a tribute/in-joke (like the newspaper headline blowing around a deserted street proclaiming THE DEAD WALK, always great to see in any movie) or just ripped them off with the plan to say they were ‘inspired by' the other movie if anyone pointed out the similarities.

The end seemed to be setting up for a sequel (according to the IMDB, one is planned but not even in pre-production), though at least not in an extremely cliched way, and it mainly irritated me because it was a cliffhanger. There's also several CGI shots where the monster looks about as realistic as the one in the actual game; I did not for a moment forget I was watching CGI, and it was VERY easy to tell where the animatronics ended and the CGI began in several key scenes.

OK, enough of what didn't work. On the plus side, Milla Jovovich has proven herself to be one of the few genuinely talented model-turned-actresses, and gives a great performance. I was kind of disappointed in Michelle Rodriguez's acting, mainly because she was so good in Girlfight, but she was acceptable and at least can really look like a badass. There's quite a few fun--and sick--shots. There were plot twists that I actually didn't see coming--sorry to say, I could see most of the jumps walking up 5th Avenue-- and the plot was a lot more brutal and downbeat than I expected (for a movie based on a video game, and for a modern zombie movie, anyway)--good for them. They did definitely outright steal some ideas from Dawn of the Dead (and, as everybody has already probably pointed out, Cube) but at least had some originality by putting a slightly new twist on them. There was a much higher body count than I thought (not counting all the zombie employees, of course, I mean among the heroes), most of which was pretty ballsy. Characters did not die in the order I expected them to. Things got pretty cold-blooded (so to speak).

I'd recommend it for a rental, if you want a mindless, scary action movie with some real suspense. You could do a lot worse (like rent the director's Mortal Kombat, for instance) Not bad for a mainstream studio movie based on a game.
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got a little more than I bargained for here
21 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I rented this movie because it was recommended to me, and I love

the Hughes Brothers. Wanted to see a little action that might take

my mind off the news lately (boy, did I get a wrong number there)

and be at least mildly entertained.


Yeah, they definitely mis-marketed this-- it is not a 'heist' movie, or

a simple 'action' movie. There is a heist, but only the last half hour

of the film (and it's a 2 hour film) is spent on it. It starts out in the

late 60's-- I was thinking please God, let this not just be a short

prologue and have the whole movie take place in the 60's and

70's, and I got my wish. Tate's character hangs out with his

friends, wants to have fun and get laid, and go to Vietnam and

'make a difference' since a local poolhall owner and his father are

both vets, he looks up to them. The first 1/3 or so takes place in

1969, shows what a dangerous but fun lifestyle (not to mention,

great music and great wardrobe) Tate's character is living it up

with his friends (including Chris Tucker, who has more depth than

I thought). By the first 15 minutes, I was glad the movie was

mis-marketed, because I was enjoying the kind of coming-of-age

story and characters. The next 45 minutes or so--there's a great

transition talked about in the other reviews, switching from Tate's

character (sorry, blanked on the name!) sprinting over fences and

backyards after he almost gets caught with his pants down, to him

literally dodging bullets in Nam-- are spent showing his tour of

duty in Vietnam.

Things get ugly there, I mean really gory and disturbing- BIG switch

in tone. I feel like all the most gruesome, disturbing moments and

scenes from hours of Nam movies were all crammed together,

and the 45 minutes or so in this movie still tops them. Do not eat

while watching this. All the violence and nightmarish scenes are

not just for the sake of being violent, they are essential to the plot,

and I'm not complaining (though something tells me I'm in for

some really bad dreams tonight) but I was totally unprepared. I'm

surprised Fangoria didn't do a story about all the splatter effects.

We're talking heads chopped off with machetes, said heads

carried around by insane soldier as a 'souvenier' (As he was

shoving the head into his pack with difficulty, I was thinking that if

he was going to start taking souveniers, he should pick a much

smaller body part if he wants to get a collection of souveniers

going) keeping it around until said head is rotting with maggots,

people being blown into smithereens, body parts all over the

place, characters with their guts strewn everywhere but still alive,

people's genital chopped off and shoved in their mouths, and this

is all on-camera and in daylight-- really, really graphic.

Tate manages to get through this without developing a serious

drug habit or going insane. He comes home after a 4 year tour of

duty, so the last third takes place in 1973. He goes back to the old

neightborhood to find some unpleasant surprises-- not the least of

which is money problems, so that's when he and his surviving

buddies- who are not in the greatest mental or financial shape

themselves-- start to work out the heist.

The movie got the message through without hitting me over the

head-- black men fighting a white man's war, coming home and

finding things much worse, little respect. The character

understandably ends up joining a revoluntionary group. I guess I

was dissapointed when he decided his only option was to pull a

very ill-advised heist (hmmmm, at least one of the guys in on it has

a serious drug habit, a few of them don't get along, another has

totally lost it and just wants to blow up things and people for the joy

of it, could this possibly have a happy ending?) but considering all

the atrocious, hideous experiences in Nam (he has very graphic

and disturbing nightmares and flashbacks) then coming back to

all the depressing ***t that he does, I guess I don't blame him for

having bad judgement or doing something desperate.

Not a cheerful movie. But grim as it was, I was very impressed,

especially considering how young the directors were-- they pay

homage to other directors but don't rip them off. It is too bad the

studios didn't market it to be more of the themes of war, struggle,

and survival the movie really focuses on. I'm pretty sure that the

Hughs wanted to market it that way, but the racist studio heads

took it out of their hands and figured that all audiences expected to

see a black cast doing was shooting and robbing people, so they

geared it towards that. Too bad, the movie deserves a better

campaign and a wider audience.
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Python (2000 TV Movie)
10 August 2001
For maybe the first 5 minutes of this movie-until they got to the

"se7en" ripoff credit sequence (by now, when you see a movie with

this type of credit sequence, that's a sign right there that the movie

is going to go downhill), which is intercut inexplicably with shots of

a guy mountain biking-I thought it might qualify as a guilty

pleasure. Then by the tiime Jenny McCarthy showed up, I realized

it was just really, really bad.

I saw this less than 24 hours ago but my mind is already blocking

most of it out. I think I rented this because I was looking for

something dumb and lightweight. Well I got those two, I just forgot

that it should be dumb, lightweight, but also entertaining. I haven't

looked at the credits too closely, but the movie is so wildly uneven

it looks like about 10 different directors and editors slapped it

together, none of them ever co-ordinating at all with the other, and

that half of them were just maybe random people-no, children-they

stopped on the street and handed a movie camera and asked

them if they felt like taking over for a couple days, and the other half

went out and spent all their paycheck on drugs. Actually I think

both, the 10 different directors spent all their money on drugs, then

handed the camera to some random kid on the street because

they were too stoned to focus.

A bad CGI python terrorizes a small town. that's about it. Not that

this would be a problem, if the movie were decent. Anaconda had

a pretty simple plot, and I liked it-it was trashy but at least fun.

Casper Van Dien and Robert Englund play two scientists or snake

experts or something who both try to upstage the other. Van Dien

has this mustache, which I think was supposed to make him look

older or smarter, but it just looks bad. The CGI python doesn't

seem very interested in eating people, either, just mangling them

or spitting venom on them. I guess it wasn't very hungry (though it

does eat a shower curtain at one point) or just cranky. The only

positive thing I can think of to say is at least this movie didn't try to

pretend to be anything other than it was, and had a couple slightly

amusing parts-well, maybe one. The scene with Jenny McCarthy

made me realize why she doesn't get much acting work. Her and

this actor who play a real estate salesman ham it up and overact

so amazingly in their scenes that it was way past the point of being

as amusing as they thought they were being.

The constant patting-themselves-on-the-back smugness of "hey,

look how funny and noncomformist and wild we think we're being!'"

that the film oozes gets old within minutes and ruins any sort of fun

you might have.

They must have blown their whole budget on Englund (I thought he

would have made enough money to retire by now-either he lost it

all or is just kind of bored, or took the job as a favor to someone)

and McCarthy, because as I said, the effects were terrible. The CGI

itself was OK in parts, but then it would be really badly

superimposed on what what obviously just the actors being filmed

pretending to see a big snake. The lighting didn't even match. It

looked like the snake was rearing up in front of a movie screen

that needed cleaning.

Anyway, this was just terrible and stupid in a bad way. I actually felt

sorry for most of the actors. Even Caspar Van Dien looks

embarassed, for God's sake. If you want a guilty pleasure, you can

do soooo much better. Try Wild Things, Nowhere, an episode of

Melrose Place, or Lake Placid. Caling this movie a guilty pleasure gives other genuine guilty pleasures a bad name.
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Ghost World (2001)
Best movie of the year
26 July 2001
This is almost hard to review, I have so many good things to say

about it. In fact, I might have to keep it short for once. Keep in mind

I saw this in Seattle last night, with about 3 dozen people about our

age who were "gen-x" (though I hated the term) and were in their

20's when the comic came out. I actually didn't read it much,

because it was way, way too much like me and the people I knew.

Anyway, you can bet it was a live crowd who clapped when "the

end" came up on the screen.

What can I say? There's people who probably won't 'get' this

movie; either they just were completey into another culture in their

teens or 20's (the type the movie made fun of), or are too young to

realy identify (though I doubt most teenage girls will have a

problem). Absolutely perfect casting, needless to say, Buscemi

steals the movie, which is saying a lot. Miss him playing sarcastic

losers? See it. And stay till the end credits are over for a real treat.

Best after the credits' scene I can remember seeing, period.

I can't even tell you the number of times we couldn't even hear

dialogue because everyone around us (and us, of course) were

laughing or cheering at the top of their lungs. Some characters

didn't even have to *say* anything, they'd just show up and look so

much like a Clowes cartoon, or someone you see in town, that

people roared with laughter. Ileana Douglas is perfect, as always,

as the art teacher from hell. Doug, the guy from the mini-mart,

-well, again, we couldn't hear anything he even said, because

everytime he so much as walked onscreen, the audience just

ROARED through the whole scene (and after the scene ended).

It was pretty touching in parts, and about as realistic as a script

gets. Oh, why the hell am I even trying to put into words how

incredible this movie is? I'm not THAT good of a reviewer (and take

a look at how many movie's I've reveiwed, and how long the

reviews are). Just go see it.

20 out of 10 stars.
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Put the tape down. Step away from the VCR.
20 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
No no no no.

I foolishly rented this, thinking that...uh…what was I thinking? I've seen Man Behind the Sun and while I can't exactly say I 'enjoyed' it, it was shocking, powerful, and deeply disturbing. I watched it once around 5 years ago, re-watched it recently to review it. For some reason I thought I'd read the sequel was much more disturbing. So, what do I do? Like a fool, out of morbid curiosity I have to check it out.

If you've seen the original, just quit while you're ahead. I cannot stress this strongly enough. I mean it. RUN! If you haven't seen any of the 'series' and feel the need to see any of them (whether or not that is a good idea for you to do is a whole different discussion) just see the first one. In the original, the plot centers on camp 731, where horribly inventive and vicious medical experiments are performed on prisoners under the guise of 'scientific research' for warfare. That one actually has a plot, and some characters you care about. The reason I'm going on at length about the first movie is that 90% of this movie "Laboratory of the Devil" is simply the first movie, re-staged, only done very badly.

The ‘plot' goes something like this: a guy, who I think was supposed to have been at camp 731, goes to a house for a meeting, post WW2. A bunch of Japanese men sit stiffly around the table. Through This review contains some slight spoilers, but you'll be doing yourself a big favor if you read it before you decide to waste your money on this terrible sequel (if you can call it that). some very badly written dialogue (though to be fair, the movie is dubbed, so maybe the translation lost something) we find out that the main evil guy from the first movie wants to restart the medical experiments. Why he would want to is not that clear, other than out of sheer meanness. After more boring dialogue that I was tempted to fast forward through, the guy that came in says something to the effect of 'have you no honor? Don't you remember what happened before?' No, for some reason they don't, even though they were all there the first time. "Well let me tell you about it..."

We go into flashback mode and I optimistically figure it'll last maybe 5 minutes, summing up the first movie. Uh-oh, it seems to be going on longer. And the plot seems kind of familiar. OK, well, maybe they'll wrap it up in the next 15 minutes. After I realized the movie was half over, I resigned myself to the fact that the whole movie was going to be a re-hash of the first.

Now that's bad and lazy enough, but not only do they just blunderingly re-stage the first movie, they manage to completely f-*$% it up in every way possible. To try to add pathos, there's a lame romantic subplot. The experiments that are restaged are the most boring ones, and they only include one from the first movie that was a real shocker, but since most of us have SEEN the first movie, it's not shocking. The first movie was well paced, but in this case, it seems like the screenwriters just wrote down all the scenes from the original on index cards, put them all in a hat, and picked them out at random and filmed them in no particular order, making sure to leave out the most powerful ones and substituting incredibly stupid ones in their place. There's an autopsy at the beginning on a corpse that goes on way too long and is obviously intercut with actual autopsy footage. Not only is this lazy, but if I wanted to sit there watching endless scenes of autopsies, I would have, well, rented a video that consisted of actual autopsies

instead (yes, you can rent those now). I didn't think a movie could be disgusting and boring at the same time, but LOTD manages.

But wait! There's more. They also figured that maybe the first movie wasn't humorous enough (yeah, you really need humor in a movie about POW torture), so they stuck in some really, really unfunny "comic relief". Here is an exact quote, to give you an idea. Two guards are walking out of the lab after a frostbite experiment. Guy #1:"...they found out that women have a greater resistance to cold than men." Guy #2-"Yeah well, I guess that explains why my wife is frigid!" (rim shot) They roar with laughter. HAHAHAHAHA!

Stop, you guys, I'm laughing so hard it hurts! Whooo-hooo! I'm still holding my sides! (I was kidding about the rim shot, but there might as well have been one, it would have been an improvement).

There is, however, some unintentional humor (though NOT worth watching the movie for-if the forthcoming description of the unintentional humor amuses you at all , just LEAVE IT AT THAT. Count your blessings. I'm making it sound much more entertaining than sitting through the movie is) For instance, the English dubbing is so laughably bad it sounds like a parody of bad dubbing in an Asian film (Your Kung Fu is lousy!) It sounds like they have maybe 2, 3 guys tops doing all the characters. In one scene a bunch of scientists or commanders or whatever they're supposed to be are wearing surgical masks. One sounds completely normal while the other guy sounds like he's yelling into his cupped hands or through a saltine box. Also, the characters, both heroes and bad guys, are amazingly stupid. At one point, the hero (I think he was the hero, anyway) helps with one 'test' that consists of prisoners being lined up and shot. Why they need to research what happens when they do this, I don't know, but anyway, the hero reluctantly fires at the commander's order, naturally killing them, then looks shocked and horrified at the results. What did he think was going to happen? Oh, and this is after he watches the same thing being done 3 times in a row before this with no expression at all on his face.

In another scene, the bad guys inject a slice of watermelon with what I assume is some sort of toxic substance. Then we see a guy being dragged, struggling, into frame by the other bad guys,: "No! No! You can't make me eat it!" "You WILL eat this!!" They force feed it to him, though it looks more like they just rubbed it into his teeth, he foams at the mouth a little, and dies. Was that supposed to scare me or disturb me? Why the hell didn't they just give it to him to eat and not tell him what it was? In the first movie, during several scenes prisoners are tricked into the experiments, which is much more believable and has much more powerful and disturbing results. In the first movie, it had the effect of making you hate the villains even more. Here, you just think they're badly organized morons. Speaking of that, there's another scene where the prisoners are all in one room with huge numbers on their uniforms so large that the digits would be visible from another planet, and when they need them for experiments, a guard just walks in with a clipboard and calls out their numbers, and they call out "here!" like it's roll call in a class or something. For some reason that struck me as funny. Maybe I was just so bored I was trying to entertain myself by finding anything I could to jeer at.

Not enough reasons to skip this? OK, here's more. The makeup effects (other than the real autopsy footage) are really, really cheesy and unrealistic. Several workers are beaten and slapped for disobeying. I've seen more realistic punches thrown in Dolemite movies-seriously, we're talking the hand visibly not coming within six inches of the person's face and the person reacting like they were hit. Terrible continuity, too-in one scene, a guy bites into a small corner of a guards earlobe while fighting, then we cut (they always cut away instead of going to the trouble of showing any sort of effect) to a shot of the guy with a huge chunk of flesh in his mouth. Oh, and every once in a while, they stick in some stock war footage that is so grainy you can barely tell what's going on (I *think* that was a shot of something being blown up there...)

The characters look so much alike (I'm not saying this in a racist way -in the first movie, I had no problem, but here the screenwriting is so sloppy I didn't know who was who. OK, is that guy upset because they just killed....uh...his father?his brother? Was that his roommate? Who knows? The only positive things about this wretched excuse for an exploitation movie are that it leaves out the suspiciously realistic, unnecessary scenes of animal cruelty included in the first one, and that it has the guts to have a downbeat ending (though again, it's just a really inept rip-off of the first movie). SPOILER AHEAD:

any movie that ends with the hero suddenly being decapitated should get a tiny iota of credit, I guess. The first movie was so disturbing it made me lose sleep, this one just put me to sleep. I repeat, do NOT waste your time with this (especially if you've seen the first one). If you want to see something really shocking, upsetting, and disturbing, just rent the original. If you want to be bored, mad at yourself for wasting your money, and have your intelligence insulted, then rent this one. I heard that the third one is the worst in the series-boy, I don't even want to think about that.
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Get three coffins mistake, four coffins.
28 May 2001
We rented this because the trailer was so impressive (see dialogue above). Before watching it, I read a short review that said it was "the epitome of spaghetti westerns." Man, I just love that term and the ring it has to it: Spaghetti Western. I will admit, right off the bat, a couple of things. First, I've only seen maybe half a dozen of the classic ones. Second, that I kind of have trouble following the exact plot of most SW's (though this could also be due to the fact that, when a character is explaining crucial plot points, they have such a thick accent and talk so fast that I have to hit rewind--this probably has something to do with the dialogue dubbing). Also, Clint Eastwood never has too much dialogue, and he's usually one of the few who isn't dubbed and and is actually clearly understandable. But as far as the plot points go, you get the idea. CE plays the proverbial Stranger in Town, who Has a Score to Settle. He gets called "Gringo" a lot. This is not the kind of guy who comes to town just kinda to kick back and relax, or hang out because he's on vacation. He doesn't take kindly to characters who shoot an unarmed man (especialy in the back), or kill an innocent -especially a child, because he seems to have a soft spot somewhere in that hardened soul of his for kids--and his creed usually makes the wrong people, aka the Bad Guys mad. The aforementioned wrong people usually being a corrupt authority figure such as a sheriff, or the kind of Lowdown Dirty Gang that would kill a baby or a woman for money/gold, or just for kicks You either dig this kind of movie or you don't. No middle of the road. It is , however, possible to develop a taste for this kind of movie-I can say this because it happened to me. Maybe it was just that I developed that taste for it like you do for red wine, or maybe just that one realizes that you really enjoy a killer opening scene, the cool credits with the Morricone score, or hearing dialogue like, "Kill them like dogs!" or "Bring him in alive...I want him alive!". Maybe I developed a taste for seeing these movies while watching the way there's a build up when the Man With No Name enters (usually by showing a shot of his boots, or his shadow), or someone being shot on a balcony and then crashing through the railing and plummeting a few stories to the dust below, or seeing something (or someone) getting spectacularly blown up or set on fire, or scenes where even though they take place at night, it seems to be 110 degrees-there isn't one character's face that isn't shining or dripping sweat. Maybe I just get a kick out of some charcter saying something along the lines of, "Please don't shoot, OK? I'll give you whate--"BLAMMO! Extras that are missing key teeth and have pitted skin and look like they actually realy are career criminals,. Or, almost best of all, you love moments where a character either jeers at or beats up CE and you think/say, "OK, he's dead" or 'that guy just signed his own death warrant.", and you can't wait for the moment when the character is riddled with bullets by CE. Other than the fact that I had slight trouble following the plot (maybe it was so simple that I was reading too much into it), it's hard to find much negative to say about Fistful of Dollars. Some of the dubbing isn't so great- there's a child whose voice doesn't match at all, and is obviously an adult just talking in a whiny annoying voice. I also get the sneaking suspicion that the movie didn't exactly have the ASCPA's seal of approval. One actress in particular had obvious mid-60's eye-makeup that looked pretty dated, though this wasn't necesarily a negative point for me. This movie didn't have a high budget, but you would never know it from watching it. I know I'm not exacty a ground-breaker in saying this, but If Clint Eastwood hadn't been born, someone would have had to invent him. I have to give credit where credit is due.He's at the height of his style here. He sleeps in the same clothes he wears in the daytime. He almost never takes his hat off. He has a cigarello clamped between his teeth half the time. He has two facial expression-angry and pis$ed. He has almost no change of expression in his face at all when he plugs someone full of lead. Women love him, but of course, he's a Ramblin' Guy and can't settle down. He could probably look cool riding a unicycle, and never shows fear-he could be tied up, about to be set on fire, and pushed off a cliff and still look mean. Let's face it-his style as the Man with No Name his often been imitated and emulated, but no-one even comes close to touching him. They don't make 'em like this anymore, and it's too bad. With the execption of Sam Raimi's brilliant and underrated 'The Quick and the Dead (which I saw prior to seeing this movie, and then realized how obvious it the infuence FOD had on Raimi), you don't see movies anymore where someone rides by on a burro with a sign stuck to their back that says "Adios Amigo" , or where characters seem to be wearing Man-tan. As I was saying before, if 'You've Got Mail" or "Forrest Gump" is your kind of movie, this probably isn't for you. But if you want to see the epitome of the Spaghetti Western, you need to see this movie. A note on the DVD- not too much in the way of extras, but the original trailer included ("my mistake, four coffins") makes up for it. At the end, the trailer says confidently, 'The first movie of it's kind...and it won't be the last." . Thank God for that. Best watched when eating Itiallian food, or drinking tequila, or both of the above.
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Ringu (1998)
Now THIS deserves the tagline "Scary as hell".
23 May 2001
I heard a lot about this movie, and what I heard 99% of the people who saw it say most often was that it scared the living &^%$ out of them. It's kind of hard to track down in the US (you may have better luck just buying a used copy of the VCD over the net than you would have finding a video store that has it in stock) but worth it. It's not available officially on VHS format at the time of this writing, which upon reflection, is probably wise due to the storyline. I don't know if this is the scariest movie I've ever seen, but it's definitely up there in my top 10. Also, it's probably the movie in my top list of scariest movies with virtually no gore.

The plot centers on a reporter who investigates what could possible be a video tape with a 'curse' on it. Yeah, I know that sounds ludicrous, but the way the story is laid out, it doesn't turn out that way. It starts with two teenage girls talking about the VHS videotape, one telling the other a sort of urban legend (anything involving an urban legend scares the hell out of me right there-I think I heard too many of them at slumber parties as a kid and was permanently warped). Anyone who watches the tape, then gets a phone call (we never hear what the voice on the other end of the phone says exactly) telling them they will die in a week. So far, everyone who has seen it has died in exactly a week. And guess what? One of the girls saw it slightly less than a week ago! One dies, and the other goes incurably insane. One of the girls is the main character's niece, so she and another journalist (who I think was her ex-husband- the English subtitles were pretty badly translated in parts, but you get the idea) have a week to track down the source and try to stop things before the next Sunday evening.

There's plenty of big jolts and scares in the movie-times where I really jumped. That's scary enough, but what's more frightening is the creepy sense of dread you get as the movie goes on. It's filled with extreme suspense as well- captions show the days counting down and their time they have left ticking away. The dread was the worst-there are quite a few very creepy images, such as those shown on the videotape itself. You have a horrible feeling you're going to see something you really, really would rather not see very soon, but you can't stop watching. This is a good one to watch with the lights off, though I am very glad my husband was asleep on the couch next to me.

There's a scene towards the end where the two main characters must bail water out of an abandoned well in an area that is already dark and creepy. One of them, of course, has to be lowered down into the well (which is somewhere you *really* don't want them to go, but they have to) to fill the bucket, and I actually had to wake my husband up to hold my hand only about 20 seconds into the scene. That scene is wonderfully filmed and edited. You have the nail-biting suspense when the clock is ticking for the characters to bail out the deep well as quickly as possible to find what they need to, yet you also REALLY don't want to see what is at the bottom, so along with the suspense there's the creeping dread.

Unfortunately I read a review that gave away the TV scene at the film's climax, but it still made every hair on my body stand on end. Jesus! I'm a grown woman who has seen some pretty hideous, frightening movies, but I still spent at least the last half of the movie curling up into a smaller and smaller ball and covering my eyes in parts. The story-line is clever yet simple, with a couple of twists, the scenes are beautifully filmed, the cinematography is gorgeous, the editing and pacing are perfect, and the acting is also pretty impressive. The score is great-I had to keep lowering the sound during the movie because it was giving my cat (and me) the creeps so badly. It also says a lot when a movie can scare you this bad without virtually any blood, gore, or the popular sudden-discovery-of-a-mangled- corpse effect.

I really can't think of anything negative to say, other than to see this movie before the American remake/version comes out and probably completely screws it up. Younger viewers who only have seen those teen slasher pics and expect every horror movie to be exactly like that, may just not get it. Either that, or they'll realize what they've been missing. Viewers that get bored unless there's not slam-bang action and over-the-top gore every other scene...I just feel sorry for them because they will probably get impatient and turn the movie off after 20 minutes and miss out. If you want that kind of movie,(not that there's anything wrong with that) rent TerrorFirmer or something instead. But if you don't fall into either of the above categories, like a well-made, atmospheric movie and want to have the hell scared out of you slowly but surely, see Ring.
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Charles Busch is a genius
15 May 2001
First of all, anyone who comes up with the movie title "Sex Kittens Go Bossa Nova" deserves some sort of award or national holiday in their honor just for that alone. I was sold on this movie way before the incredibly cool opening credits rolled. Actually, we saw the trailer for it in the theater, and almost instantly and simaltaneously said, "we're there".

There's about a dozen different elements to this fun flick that would have made me see it if only one of them had been present. First, I've seen almost every 60's Beach Party movie (though I'm sure Charles Busch has most people beat on the number of times they were watched) and this is not only a hilarious parody, but the 60's detail down to the costumes, sets, make-up, and hair is so dead-on I wouldn't have been surprised to see Donna Loren or Deborah Walley show up. The soundtrack is really, really great, some of the best surf music that wasn't actually recorded in the 1960's I've ever heard. The plot is actually really clever, with one of the best twist-upon-twist endings I've ever seen. The opening credits and closing credits are great, and I'm sure any guys who didn't really want to see the movie but were dragged by their girlfriends will dig the hot Ann-Margret crossed with a Bada-Bing! girl go-go dancer.

I first heard about this movie when I read about it in Fangoria of all places. I was impressed by what I read but thought, "they better not screw this up". Once I saw about 30 seconds of the trailer I realized they knew what they were doing. The movie actually has more of an actual plot than many of the 60's beach movies did (not that either really needed one). The plot centers on a series of Blood-Feast type murders in Malibu. In their search for the killer, the female police detective (Charles Busch, who is probably the funniestof anyone in the movie) focuses on Florence (Lauren Ambrose, almost as funny), who suffers from a very entertaining form of multiple personality disorder but doesn't know it yet. There's a huge number of great supporting characters, such as her love interests Starcat and surf God Kanaka. Bettina Barnes, a B-movie actress on the lam from Hollywood, shows up to add extra glamour. Also especially funny-especially if you thought parts of those old beach movies got kind of homoerotic-are young beach studs Yo-Yo and Provoloney (next to John Waters, this movie comes up with the greatest names for characters of all time) who are suspiciously more interested in wrestling each other than checking out the chicks in bikinis.

If this weren't enough, Busch also makes almost every single line include some sort of campy and hilarious 60's lingo. If you've read or seen the play the movie was based on, you know exactly what I mean. The young cast, which could have ruined the movie if they took themselves too seriously, are talented enough to take lines like, "Is this a beach shack or the Malibu branch of the CIA?" and "They look like beatniks...should I unpack my bongos?" and make them sound fresh and funny. Considering most of them probably weren't born until a decade or so after these type of movies came out (yikes), this is pretty impressive. Ambrose is perfect as Florence "Chicklet" Forrest/Ann Bowman, and if Busch (who played the part onstage)had to tutor her at all on how to play it, she picked it up pretty well. Busch has less scenes, but almost steals the movie- he's probably the funniest and best in drag I've seen since Divine. His facial expressions alone made me laugh so hard when I saw it in the theater that I was worried the usher might come over. Fortunately everyone else was laughing just as hard.

There's plenty of shockingly raunchy jokes, but somehow the whole movie still seems as innocent and good-natured as if it were rated G. Ok, maybe not G, but you get the idea. Everyone involved in the making of the film obviously loved what they were doing. A completely fun, clever but brainless, campy movie with an awesome cast, screenplay, wardrobe and soundtrack, perfect from the font used in the opening credits to the to-die-for tiki torches. It's pretty hard for me to think of anyone who this movie wouldn't at least bring a smile to. You don't even need to have seen a Beach Party movie to have a good time-it's not all in-jokey (though those who grew up on those movies will probably notice and appreciate some smaller details more). Even if you have no idea who Annette and Frankie are, as long as have a sense of humor, you should still enjoy it. If you liked Hairspray...well, now that I think of it, most fans of Hairspray probably have already seen the movie. If you liked that movie, if you're into surf or just surf music, or 60's movies, or if your favorite cocktail comes in a coconut shell or tiki mug, drop everything and rent this movie now if you haven't seen it yet. You'll have a blast. 10/10 *s. Dig?
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One of those movies that you definitely only need to see once.
9 May 2001
There's only a handful of movies I can say that about- Threads and Funny Games are the other ones I can think of off the top of my head. If you've seen a lot of disturbing movies, you know exactly what I'm talking about. You'll get the idea after one viewing, and you won't be able to wipe some of the images out of your head, or still have nightmares about them, even years later anyway.

I heard about this movie in the 80's, when I went out of my way to see every movie or video I could that was supposed to be shocking, disturbing, or really sick. Actually, I still do that, though these days I do try to read about it first, to make sure it is worth spending my money on. So that probably means I need some sort of therapy, but that's beside the point. Many of my favorite horror authors had brought up the movie when asked about the most upsetting movies they'd seen, and someone I talked to who had seen it just shook their head grimly when I asked them about it. I looked everywhere for this movie but couldn't find it. Years after I'd given up I found a bootleg copy from the laser-disc. This was after I'd seen Peter Jackson's "Braindead" uncut at a film festival, and pretty much decided I'd seen it all and couldn't be shocked anymore.

This movie is evidently based on real-life events during WWII, about a medical camp referred only to as "Camp 731" where the Japanese perform really nasty and unusually creative medical experiments on the Chinese prisoners. This includes women, children, and, in the one scene you couldn't pay me enough to watch because it was rumored to be real and I didn't want to even see a fake depiction of it, a cat. I'd heard that it made Ilsa's SS Camp look like a day at the beach. Well, I don't know about that, but this is definitely one of the most disturbing and depressing movies I've ever seen- as the guy I bought it from said, "Guaranteed to ruin your day". Fortunately, my day was already pretty much ruined, as I was home sick with the flu and feeling wretched the day I watched it. I probably would have been able to fall asleep way earlier if I hadn't watched it, though.

This is definitely not an enjoyable movie, or fun to sit through. Any Italian cannibal movie I can think of is more upbeat than this. Even if you were one of the people who thought the un-cut Ilsa was 'campy' and 'fun', I don't think you'll be too cheerful during this.

I'd actually heard about what were supposed to be the most upsetting scenes, like the poor man in the decompression experiment that sort of implodes in a horrible way that I think is safe to say has never been filmed before or since, when all the air is sucked out of the room, and the very graphic autopsy of the one character in the movie that the filmmakers go out of their way to make sure you care about. Man, that was cold-blooded, but I was expecting that. There's one experiment, though, I think it was called the "frostbite experiment" (most of the experiments are preceded by a title card, which gives the movie an even more cold-blooded, documentary feel) that caught me totally off-guard. I don't want to "spoil" it if you're really into getting caught off guard, but it was one of the rare times I was so shocked when watching a movie I actually gasped and cursed out loud when I was watching something by myself. It takes a lot to shock me, but whenever I'm talking with someone about scenes in movies that really disturbed us, this is one of the first ones I think of. It's been over 5 years since I saw that scene but I still remember it waaay too vividly. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) some of the newer DVDs I've seen for sale give it away in the cover art, so don't look too closely at the box before you watch it (unless you want to know what you're getting yourself into before you rent it). I've got to hand it to whoever thought up that one, because I did NOT see it coming.

If you're into non-stop over-the-top gore, then you might get bored during parts of this. The filmmakers spend some time making you feel sorry for the characters in other ways. This film is well-made, well-acted, has very realistic (way too realistic) gore, and nothing is ever played for laughs - it's not a low-budget splatter movie.The entire movie is just completely depressing, downbeat, and disturbing to the very last frame, and I really only recommend it to people I know who are pretty jaded and don't mind really disturbing, upsetting movies, or those (like me, I hate to admit) that want to say they've seen it all. You also might want to recommend it to any smug people you know that brag about how nothing makes them sick.
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Who will survive and what will be left of them?
18 April 2001
I want to comment not only on the movie itself, but also on the new Collector's Edition DVD. I usually don't do this in IMDB reviews, but I was so impressed I wanted to in this case.

If you want a short summary, here it is. Excellent movie, excellent DVD, excellent special features.

First, the movie. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably one of the scariest movies ever made (and one of the best titles of all time). Man, they made some creepy movies in the 70's (Carrie, The Exorcist, Rabid). It was unique for its time, and there's still nothing quite like it today. The plot doesn't sound like much- 2 women and 3 men make a drive to rural Texas to check out a graveyard that has been 'defiled', and to also relax and enjoy themselves. This last part of their vacation plan doesn't go real smoothly, as they make the mistake of wandering into an area where an insane, backwoods, inbred, cannibalistic sociopathic family live. Things get more and more horrifying from there.

I've heard people complain this movie isn't scary and not gory enough. Well, as far as the gore, it is fairly low-key by today's standards (though I'm sure my mother wouldn't want to watch it, and it couldn't be shown uncut on regular network TV). There's not a lot of blood till the end of the movie, but the acting is so good, and the screams of the victims so wrenching, your imagination fills in the rest and it actually is painful to watch. I will agree that the movie is kind of slow to get started- I admit the first time I saw it as a teenager I was getting impatient for some action. However, the last half of the movie more than makes up for it.

But if you think this movie isn't scary, I seriously doubt you've watched alone, at home, at night, with all the lights off. The first time I saw it was in the daytime, and it still made my hair stand on end. When I got the Special Edition DVD (more on that later)I unwisely watched it after midnight with the lights off, after my husband went to bed. That night, I couldn't sleep until the sun came up. The opening scene of the rotting corpse in the cemetery wired to a headstone alone made my skin crawl. The scene where Pam first discovers Leatherface's room, with the furniture made of bones and the chickens in bird-cages, gets scarier each time I see it. The last 20 minutes, at the dinner table, has to be one of the most grueling and realistic scenes ever. The final few images-the crazy laughter and the spinning-well, over 10 years went by between the last time I saw the movie and the time I watched it on DVD a few weeks ago, and I *still* could remember those shots so vividly it was like I saw it yesterday.

The DVD is incredible-the transfer is so crisp that it seems like the movie was filmed last year instead of in the early 70's. Since I'd only seen it on VHS, I never really appreciated how beautiful some shots of the rural setting are, and also how well-thought out and carefully put together most of the cinematography is. Breathtaking, actually. Until the commentary pointed it out, I never realized how perfect and effective the long, continuous shot of Pam hesitantly getting up off the porch swing to try to find out where her boyfriend has gotten to and slowly walking to the screen door is. This movie does not look at all amateurish, even though it was made on an extremely low budget.

The DVD is packed with cool and interesting special features. First, the commentary by Tobe Hooper, Gunnar Hansen aka Leatherface, and director of photography Daniel Pearl is fascinating. There's lots of subtle but powerful elements in the movie I missed till now-for instance, the lack of almost any score or soundtrack that gives it a documentary feel, making it that much more disturbing. Hardcore fans of this movie know already this was NOT an easy shoot by any standards, but their accounts of how much energy and work it took to get certain things right, not to mention the really tortuous things many of the actors went through...well, if any actor deserves to be paid millions for a movie, this cast certainly earned it. The dinner scene was the most horrendous- they could only do one take, since the actor playing Grandpa decided he would only give them one day, it went on for 20+ hours, and this was in 110 degree heat with no air conditioning. Gunnar Hansen said that by the end, he was so out of it he started to think he wasn't acting. Kind of gives the tagline "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" a whole new meaning.

There's also some deleted and alternate scenes; nothing mind-blowing but still very interesting. With many of them, you can read the script excerpt of the scene first. There's a hilarious blooper reel-the quality isn't that great, but you'll laugh your butt off. There's lots of production notes and stills, along with shots of rare publicity material. A couple scenes are broken down shot by shot, with Hooper explaining why he made the directing and editing choices he did. There's even more, I just don't have room for it all. The menu is also pretty great-if you let it sit too long though, you'll get a brief surprise that'll make you jump. I was quietly paging through the booklet at the time and it scared the bejeezus outta me. I highly recommend the Special Edition to anyone who is a fan of TCM. You'll be able to spend hours enjoying it, and they couldn't have done a better job.
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Hollow Man (2000)
Makes "Showgirls" look like "Goodfellas"
9 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Note: This review contains minor spoilers, though there isn't much to spoil and you'll be doing yourself a huge favor if you read the review instead of seeing the movie.

I don't think I've ever rushed this fast to give something a bad review in the IMDB.

I keep trying to go back to what I could have been thinking when I selected this at the rental store. I heard a lot of bad things about it, enough to keep me from seeing it in the theater. Maybe what stuck in my mind were a few people saying it had one or two really good FX scenes, and also Kevin Bacon's diary of the filming, which made it sound so grueling and unpleasant that I felt some pity for him and thought I should give it a chance. Big mistake. Big, BIG mistake.

Most of the other reviews say it all...but I need to write down how bad this movie is and hopefully purge it from my system. You know, I don't ask for the impossible when I sit down to watch a movie. All I really want from a movie, at minimum, is to be entertained or to escape for 90 minutes or so. The movie started out OK but after the gorilla scene, and the two other invisible transformation scenes, it really went downhill. And got worse.

Oh yeah, in case you haven't seen the trailer, or read a review, the plot is: a group of scientists is working on an invisibility formula, for the government. The leader of the project is smart, but an arrogant jerk. He meddles with mother nature (another no-no in a scary movie) and deliberately deceives people who trust him (again, another mistake) so the formula can be tested on him as the first human. You'll never guess what happens then: things go horribly wrong! People turn to murder! Disaster strikes! You waste 2 hours of your time and a rental fee because you should have just watched the trailer, which gave the whole plot away anyway!

I had low expectations for this movie-all I wanted was for something to surprise me, or there to be a special effect or shock that made me watch the scene/moment again a couple times. Or at least want to. For instance, "Deep Blue Sea" was stupid and mainly lame, but at least had that one big surprise (you know the one I mean-I won't give it away like someone did to me before I saw it). Nope.

I didn't find any of the characters likeable. Sorry, but I don't have too much respect for any character in a horror/thriller movie that does any of the following: 1. walks backward when they know they are in danger 2. turns their back on someone dangerous that they've conked/injured and strolls away without checking to see if they've really been incapacitated 3. immediately separates when they first realize they are in an isolated area being stalked by someone or 4. says something to the effect of "well, I'm glad *that's* over" when things obviously aren't-and if you've seen even one other scary movie, everyone knows this is always a precursor to the villain/monster immediately swooping down on them again or lunging into frame. This movie has ALL of the above-which I could overlook if the movie was at least slightly entertaining (Bruce Campbell in any of the Evil Dead movies usually does all of the above, but makes it fun to watch, to name just one example).

Also-and I see by the other reviews that I'm not alone here- I get really insulted when, especially on top of all the other crap, a villain conveniently becomes indestructible in the last half hour or so with no explanation. About every possible debilitating injury happens to him and it doesn't seem to slow him down. All that was missing was him being shot and the bullets bouncing off him.

I expected there to be one interesting or memorable concept, especially since (I thought at the time) the movie had such meticulous attention to detail and seemed to take a very high-tech, scientific approach to the story. The trailers and background info on the making of this film, plus how long it took in post-production, gave me that impression. The reviews gave it more credit than it had. I was at first slightly interested in the fact that an invisible character couldn't close their eyes, because they had transparent eyelids. I never thought of that! Hmmm, maybe they came up with some other cool twists. That's about as interesting as it gets, and the only new idea they came up with. (then, that got shot all to hell, because about 1 minute later it occurred to me that the person could wear a sleep mask, or go in a completely blacked-out room). A person graphically stripped of all their layers, reminding you (if you're old enough) of the 'visible man' kit you had as a kid? Been done before (though not as well technically as in this movie). A gorilla doing the same thing? OK, that hasn't been done before, at least not that I know of, but that's maybe 30 seconds that are slightly interesting. Let's face it, you thinking "hey, good CGI" occasionally is not enough to build a good movie on- in fact, it's pretty sad.

I would run out of room if I went into even half of the continuity errors. Just look at the goofs page-I think I've seen one other movie in the IMDB that had a goofs page that long. Now, I'm the type of person who people have to point out continuity errors to before I notice them. Here I noticed ones I didn't even LOOK for. What happened? Did they run out of time? Money? The studio rushed them? What's really depressing is someone probably noticed, but they either were too lacy to care or figured the audience would be so impressed with the CGI that their IQs would drop about 50 points and they'd miss it. Not to beat a dead horse, but if the movie had a character that was interesting, or if any scenes surprised me, or entertained me, I could overlook it being stupid and built around some 'ground-breaking' CGI. Yes, I know what a 'popcorn movie/turn off your brain movie' is, where you just sit back and enjoy the mindless ride. Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Scary Movie- *those* are popcorn movies. It's also not a camp/so bad it's good type movie. Showgirls, Mommy Dearest, Glen or Glenda- those are ones you can sit and make fun of with your friends. No, instead The Hollow Man is just a waste of everyone's time and money, and that's putting it in way more polite terms than I want to.

I would only recommend this if you are a CGI/FX junkie,if you thought "Armageddon" and "Patch Adams" were deep, insightful masterpieces and and you didn't understand why everyone said anything bad about them, or if you really have the hots for Kevin Bacon (though skip the 'becoming invisible' scene, among others, if you don't want to get completely turned off). Interesting premise that goes absolutely nowhere. You have been warned!!
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Touching, entertaining look at an easy target
28 March 2001
We rented this mainly because we like documentaries and this was supposed to be a good one. I was very impressed, and also moved.

I remember not being able to stand the sight of this woman back in the 80's, and being extremely satisfied when the Bakker's empire crumbled very publicly. Maybe I just got sick of hearing about them, and the media did not exactly paint a flattering portrait. I started out this movie feeling pity for Tammy Faye, but began to admire her as it went on. I had no idea she was gay-friendly way before it was fashionable to do so(and even now, I don't think there are too many gay-friendly televangelists), and had no idea she had a TV talk show with an openly gay co-host. Not to make media headlines for being 'daring', either. With many other celebrities, you get the feeling they figured out, "Hmmm, gay men seem to really love me, I think I'll use this and cash in on it". With Tammy it's clear that she is not calculating at all but just a very friendly person with no prejudice.

The movie, narrated by RuPaul, chronicles her life, and gives her side of the story of the scandals. There are interviews with her current and ex-husband, and many of her friends, people she worked with, and biographers. The film includes great archival footage of her early television shows (if you think she has big hair *now*, just wait) to her later ones. The movie is divided up into chapters that are introduced with sock-puppets (this is not as ridiculous as it sounds, though the movie has plenty of humor).

In one scene Tammy confronts a reporter who wrote a very unflattering, and Tammy says untrue, book about the PTL Empire. This and several other scenes are hard to watch (though it's fun to see the reporter stammer when Tammy asks him point blank why he printed lies about her). In another scene I felt like watching through my hands over my eyes, during a point in her life when she was addicted to prescription drugs, we see Tammy sort of wandering off in the middle of a broadcast to remark on the backdrop, pretty whacked out. When I found out the circumstances that led to her doctor prescribing something to calm her down, I wasn't disgusted but more surprised that she wasn't taking every narcotic she could get her hands on at the time.

I remember thinking back in the 80's that anyone who walked around looking like Tammy and carrying herself confidently was out of their mind, or at best, delusional. At some point during the movie- probably a scene where she cheerfully pitches ideas for TV shows to someone probably 20 years younger than her at the USA Network (you get the feeling maybe he won't make fun of her as soon as she's out the door, but it's easy to imagine him having a good laugh with someone he knows later as he tells them about his encounter)- I realized she is just, well, being herself. She knows that her heavy eye makeup is "her trademark", and is proud of it. Let's face it, it takes real guts for this woman just to walk down the street when most people consider her a punchline, a cartoon, a freak, or all three. She is not a stupid woman and knows this, but holds her head up high anyway, and carries herself proudly. How many people would be brave enough to do that?

I never thought I'd say this, but after seeing this, I have a newfound respect for Tammy Faye. If the film-makers intentions were to have people view the subject of their documentary in a different light, then they did an excellent job, and I don't have any complaints about it at all. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about Tammy (even if only out of morbid curiousity, like I did at first) and loves a fascinating, touching documentary. Be sure to wear waterproof mascara when watching it, though.
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9 March 2001
Well, this stripped my nerves raw, they got that right. I first rented this movie back in the 80's, when my friend opened a video store that carried every rare movie he could find. He also carried all the shock, horror, and exploitation movies he could dig up, and I went through almost of all them. Previously I had seen Blood Feast and 2000 Maniacs, and the Wizard of Gore. They were gruesome (especially for the time period), and the Wizard of Gore got pretty nasty. The Gore-Gore Girls, however, was the one I remember as being the most disgustingly gory.

I rented it on DVD a little while ago because I wanted to hear the commentary, and thought it might have some cool dancing and clothes. I forgot that it was made in the early 70's, so fashion had kind of gone downhill by then. I also realized this was a movie I didn't really need to see more than once. It had amusing parts, but gaaaah! It was much more disgusting than I remembered. I'm very jaded to movie gore but a couple of times I just got too grossed out and had to look away. This wasn't a good choice of movie to put on DVD all crisp and cleaned up with better sound and picture quality. The commentary is amusing in parts, and interesting (I think HG said the budget was $6100.00) Maybe HG Lewis wasn't feeling well that day, but he sounded tired overall and also had the nerve to get offended when the interviewer from Something Wild compared him to Ed Wood Jr. Sorry pal, but you're not exactly Martin Scorsese yourself.

The extremely thin plot is about a series of murders of topless go-go dancers in strip clubs. A cute reporter and a really unattractive private detective team up (sort of-he can't seem to stand her) to try to solve the crimes. Henny Youngman owns a strip club. A bunch of really ugly murders happen.

I'm going to apologize in advance because I don't want to sound like I need to lighten up, but this movie was so misogynistic it p***ed me off more than "Company of Men". Mainly because the main character's and the director's extreme dislike for females- and the audience- just oozes from every frame. It's not just the murders. The highly unattractive detective goes out of his way to treat the female reporter like dog dirt at every opportunity, for no apparent reason, (he's not exactly a threat to George Clooney, like I said) and she still follows him around like a puppy. She faints upon seeing a horribly mutilated body and he looks distastefully at her, then pours cold soda from a can onto her face to wake her up. Later he calls the police to report the crime- " hurry...she just seems to have...lost face." This guy is THE HERO. You can imagine how the other characters feel about women. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Please note that I am making this movie sound much more politically correct (and much more fun) than it actually is.

Most of the cast are the type of actors you pray will never take their clothes off- not too easy on the eyes, so don't watch the movie just to see the nudity unless you're not too picky. The go-go dancers all look like they desperately want to have the scene end so they can get their $10 or whatever the going rate HG paid them was and get their drug fix. OK, it's not quite that bad, there was one dancer that looked like she might have been a pro and also one other cool dancer with a huge afro that didn't look as miserable as the rest, but still not too thrilled. The only slightly entertaining things were a couple moments of brief unintentional humor, such as when a policemen in charge at a murder scene angrily yells "Get outta here before I have you all arrested!" not to a bunch of reporters but to some other policeman calmly going about their work (they mutter and stroll off, though). Henny Youngman is kind of funny though, like Lewis says, he said his lines so fast that they almost needed subtitles (I'm sure he was trying to get the whole day over in a hurry so he could get paid and get the hell out of there, though he doesn't look like he minded watching some naked chicks).

Might be worth seeing just out of morbid curiosity- for the era the movie was made, it was probably the most gruesome thing on film at the time- or if you're really big HG Lewis fan and find him or low-budget film-making by anyone fascinating. Otherwise, if you've seen it once, you've seen it and can move on to other disgusting but much more entertaining low-budget movies from the early 70's...this movie doesn't even come close to, say, "Pink Flamingos" when it comes to the skip-the-popcorn factor. If you've never seen an HG Lewis movie, I recommend you try "Blood Feast" first instead, you'll have a much better time.
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My husband almost had to throw a bucket of cold water on me
6 March 2001
Sorry, but I'm not made of wood, people. I should probably mention right now as some sort of disclaimer that I'm going to do my best to focus on the details of the new Special Edition DVD here, but I was seriously distracted from technical details because Elvis looks so damn gorgeous and sexy in this footage. I'm not exaggerating, nor am I alone here. I've read at least 20 books about Elvis by those who were closest to him, and they all agree that he hit his peak around 69-70. By 68 he lost all the baby fat he had before and then some, was in the best shape of his life, tan, healthy, and confident. "Thin as a rake and more handsome than 10 movie stars" is the quote from a reporter that kept coming to my mind. Members of the Memphis Mafia said that around this time, they would frequently be looking for Elvis and find him admiring himself in the mirror and saying things like, "Damn, I'm one good-lookin' sonofagun!". Watching this movie, you definitely don't blame him one bit. I better just move on to the actual movie here before I start really embarrassing myself, but I think most people would agree that it's probably impossible for anyone to watch this and not see why Elvis caused women to completely lose control around him.

OK, anyway, where was I? Since this hasn't gone into wide release as of this writing, we were lucky to find a rental DVD copy a few days ago. I'd heard it was great, but expected maybe 1 or 2 new songs or alternate takes and 5 minutes more of rehearsal footage, plus a better picture/ sound quality. This is just like a second (better, I thought) version of the movie. Most of the footage of the fans that went on too long in the first version is gone. I have to admit that some of the original interviews with babbling fans loaded down with every type of Elvis souvenir (and it if it was wearable, wearing it all at once) probably helped cause the stereotype most people have of Elvis fans as lunatics. I've had people (usually, they were born after Elvis passed away) look at me like they way they would at a member of a cult dancing around in an airport when I mention that I'm a big Elvis fan. This version might make those people change their mind, or at the very least, see why Elvis has so many fans in the first place.

Instead of the insane fan interviews, there's plenty of rehearsal footage. Most of it is new, and amazing. It also reminded me strongly of the section of the 68 comeback special (and also "One Night With You") where Elvis jammed with his old band, just having fun. Again, I'm kind of fuzzy on the exact songs and the order they're in, ("Little Sister" was probably the best) but most of it is not in the 1970 version, including him talking to the Sweet Inspirations and joking with the band. The concert footage is amazing. Even though it's spliced together using the best of 6 different shows (not that I would have minded sitting through all of them) the performance is so energetic and intense that I can't believe that Elvis did his act twice a night, 7 days a week. Biographers say that Elvis actually requested not to have a day off because he was having so much fun when he first started playing Vegas, and it's obvious from watching this footage that he was having the time of his life. Most of the patter between songs is different, and so are some of his interactions with the audience. There's an extended version of "Suspicious Minds" that's even more impressive than the other one, using alternate takes (they leave out "I hope this suit don't tear up baby", and put in more of the type of dancing that, how do I put this politely, got him banned from the waist down in the 50's ). Just a complete show-stopper. You have to see it to believe it. And if you already thought Elvis was hot, you might want to have that bucket of cold water handy to pour over your head before you sit down to watch this.

Some of the extras include an extremely entertaining trailer that makes you want to watch the movie again immediately, and a pretty interesting "making of" documentary. Obviously, a lot of care and time was taken to produce this new version; this is not something they just slapped together at the last minute just to cash in on the popularity of special edition DVDs. Elvis fans, you have got to own this-or at least see it ASAP, at which point you'll want to buy a copy. I still haven't picked my jaw up off the floor. At some points when you're watching the movie, it's hard to believe he's gone. But it's not hard to believe he would have been very proud of this edition.
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