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8/10
The most interesting/controversial film in years
25 July 2012
*Very Minor Spoilers* I've seen a lot of controversial movies, including films from the darkest recesses of France and Japan. It takes a lot, and I mean a LOT to shock me. So let's cut to the chase: A Serbian Film is the most shocking I've seen to date and lives up to every inch of the hype. It makes Eli Roth's films look like Disney animated musicals in comparison, and will WRECK any viewer who is even the slightest bit sensitive to violence and/or rape. (Consider yourself warned!) Having said that, the film is more than just shock value. It is satirical, well acted and competently directed, not lazy or cheap looking at all.

Not recommended for the average Joe, but highly recommended for horror buffs.
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Avatar (2009)
4/10
Incredible visuals, surprisingly lame movie
31 December 2009
Yes, the visuals in Avatar are awesome. I saw it in 3-D and agree that it looks amazing.

Unfortunately, it still isn't that great. In fact, it's the most over-hyped and overrated movie of the year. Anyone wanting more than special effects (intelligence? god forbid) is not going to have fun at this movie. I suspect that the more movies you've seen, the less Avatar will impress you. Of course, even the critics (inexplicably) think this is the greatest thing since canned spam, so perhaps I'm wrong.

The biggest problem with Avatar is that its story is mind-numbingly generic, mediocre, unoriginal, predictable pap. It's Ferngully with better special effects. There weren't any twists or surprises here to engage or interest me in the slightest, which made for a dull and sometimes extremely boring film. The film's fans claim that "every story has already been told" and therefore we shouldn't criticize it. But that's nonsense. If no new film ever had any suspense, people would quickly stop watching them.

And then there's the running time. At 80 minutes, Avatar might have been tolerable. At 162, it's an endurance test. Especially with the lame characters and recycled story.

Honestly, I don't think I could even sit through this bore a second time.
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8/10
An excellent experience
1 November 2009
*Very mild spoilers* Let's get a few things out of the way. First and foremost, this is not really a movie designed for mainstream audiences--I predict it will disappoint many (or even most) of those going to see it. If you are unable to tolerate anything other than the conventional Jerry Bruckheimer type film with digital monsters, gore, etc. then save yourself the trouble and stay at home. If you're planning on seeing this, you probably have at least some idea of what this film is like (Blair Witch + haunted house). Needless to say, it is foolish to pay to see a movie you already know you will hate.

Nonetheless, Paranormal Activity is a definite success as far as I'm concerned. The characters are totally believable, the build-up is excellent, and the pacing is perfect. Whether or not it will make you "jump" in your seat depends on how well you take horror films. I almost never jump in my seat (this film included), but was still able to appreciate the suspense and sense of dread created by the "night" scenes. When I was 12 years old or so, I was scared to death of being home alone in my house, especially at night. Every small creak in the floor boards meant that a possible stranger was there, in my mind. Obviously, I've long since grown out of that mindset, but PA helped bring it back a bit! The movie isn't so much "scary" as it is just plain creepy. I'm glad they went with the "demon" angle, because a ghost just wouldn't have been as eerie.

If there's any downside to the movie, it's that it ends somewhat abruptly (perhaps just a hair more information would have made it more satisfying) and feels a little short.

Aside from that, I greatly enjoyed the film and am not sure how much more I can write about it without giving stuff away. If it sounds like your cup of tea, give it a go!
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Sicko (2007)
5/10
Get both sides of the story
13 July 2009
Michael Moore has always been a mixed bag for me. His movies are generally entertaining and thought provoking, but his extreme bias and often dubious techniques can overshadow his strong points. I thought Fahrenheit 9/11 was great, enjoyed Bowling for Columbine (even if parts of it went overboard or felt staged), and found Roger & Me interesting, albeit a little economically ignorant.

Relying mostly on anecdotal evidence, Sicko cherry picks the absolute worst stories from the US and the absolute best stories from other countries. When he does give actual statistics (which is rare), they're often misleading. It's beyond the scope of this review to dissect all of them, but I recommend you do a Google search for Greg Mankiw's article, "Beyond Those Health Care Numbers." Nonetheless, the movie is well-made, fun to watch, and highlights important issues. It's a shame that Moore's methodology and total disregard for the other side of the story make it feel incomplete.
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Inside (2007)
9/10
The best horror movie to come out in years
13 July 2009
"Inside" is an absolute must-see for all horror fans out there, which makes it all the more shameful that it has had such little publicity in the US. It is probably the most intense, suspenseful, and thought provoking horror flick since High Tension, with hardly a single dull moment throughout its entire running time. What's more, it falls outside of the tired fads US horror movies have wandered into (torture porn and PG-13 ghost stories).

Some will dismiss it as a slasher movie, and while it is in some sense a "slasher" film, it is far from the "masked killer carves up dumb teens" movies. And the ending is almost touching in a sick, twisted way.

A word of advice: skip the edited R-rated version (which is all Blockbuster has) and watch it uncut. The R version takes out the most gruesome and effective scene.
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Batman Begins (2005)
4/10
Just couldn't get into it
26 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Very mild spoilers.

Excited for Dark Knight, I bought this DVD because it was dirt-cheap. I've loved batman since I was little, especially the Tim Burton movies. Even with some Smirnoff in me, I simply couldn't enjoy this movie.

Where to begin? Bruce Wayne's "training" feels like a deleted scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2. The whole scene feels out-of-place, as if it belongs in a different movie. The part where his parents are shot is nowhere near as haunting or effective as in the original Tim Burton version. The plot is just ridiculous, and the villain isn't the least bit menacing or interesting.

Christian Bale, who was fantastic in American Psycho, gives a very boring, stiff performance here. He provides almost no personality to Bruce Wayne at all. The movie is overlong and drags horribly in several scenes. The fight scenes (the few that are in there) are poorly directed and shockingly underwhelming.

Sorry, but I can't recommend this one. And I really wanted to like it!
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Saw IV (2007)
4/10
The Jigsaw is Up
23 November 2007
If you've finished laughing hysterically at the clever pun I used for the title of this review (you BETTER laugh--I spent all night coming up with it), you probably already know what my take on this movie is going to be. I saw this on Halloween night, and had a crappy Halloween as a result. Anyway you cut it, this story was finished at part 3 (actually part 1, but oh well), and there was no reason to make a Saw IV. Saw IV is easily the worst out of the series. It lacks the suspense and strong characters of the first Saw, the "funhouse" aspect of Saw II, and the gruesome/disturbing, squirm-in-your-chair schtick of Saw III. It simply isn't that thrilling, because there just isn't much more that can be done with this premise. None of the traps are especially creative or bizarre, and the plot is loaded with gigantic holes. The attempted continuity between all the Saw movies also becomes a convoluted mess, here.

If you're a big Saw/horror fan, I would recommend waiting for video (or better yet, until the Sci-Fi channel shows it or something).
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Halloween (2007)
7/10
Surprisingly good remake!
23 November 2007
The original "Halloween" is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I saw it home alone when I was little, and scared the bejeezus out of me. I have seen it numerous times, and every time it retains its creepiness.

So when I heard Rob Zombie was going to remake a classic like Halloween, I wasn't sure what to think. On the one hand, I largely enjoyed Zombie's previous movies (particularly The Devil's Rejects). On the other hand, I wasn't sure if I wanted *anybody* remaking Halloween.

Now, a lot of rock stars think they can make horror movies, but end up sucking big time at it (coughdeesnidercough). The rock star who can actually do film is pretty rare. As a lifelong horror fan, I can say that Zombie IS very good at it--so good, in fact, that I think he pulled off what not many directors would be able to: a decent remake of Halloween. The remake keeps most of the best parts of the original, but expands on it much more, especially Michael's backstory. Zombie's Michael Myers is more brutal, vicious, and corrupt than John Carpenter's.

A lot of people complained about the babysitter, but I thought she was cast perfectly well: she seemed like a perfectly ordinary teenage girl. Was she not in it enough? Well, she wasn't in it much, but the original was already centered around her. Zombie's remake is far more about Michael than the babysitter. His additions to the story are effective and interesting. He doesn't just "go through the motions" of the original and then cash his paycheck, like most worthless directors do with remakes.

All I can say is: thank god Zombie remade this before some other stupid hack director remade it into a crappy PG-13 snorefest. I don't want to say too much more about the movie, but if you're a horror fan who is curious,check it out! You might end up enjoying yourself.
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6/10
Decent, not a classic
11 August 2007
Before I start, let me say that I grew up with the Simpsons, and consider it the greatest animated series of all time. There was a time in my life when I absolutely would not ever dare to ever miss a new episode, and would then meet up with friends the next day to rehash the funniest parts. Part of what made the series so hilarious was Homers' utter irresponsibility, naïveté, and failure as a role model. (His response to a question about why he litters: "It's easier. Duh.") Bart was also a total brat who would steal things, vandalize, and get in trouble at school. It was one of the few animated programs on at night instead of Saturday mornings (there are far more today, however). It was wildly popular. I can still remember way back to the ads they ran for the second half of the "Who shot Mr. Burns?" episode (real people off the street were being interviewed on who they though the killer was).

The Simpsons is a truly excellent series, but one that should have been ended around the years 2000-2001. The creators of Seinfeld knew to quit while they were ahead. The Simpsons, unfortunately, is not the show it used to be. Granted, it would be impossible for it to be the same after so many years and hundreds of episodes, but that's the reason why most television series eventually have to end. In the "Poochie" episode, Lisa makes the same point about the Itchy and Scrachy show to a man wanting feedback: "Um, excuse me sir. The thing is, there's not really anything wrong with the Itchy & Scratchy show, it's as good as ever. But after so many years, the characters just can't have the same impact they once had." This is a pretty good summary of the gradual decline in quality the Simpsons has been experiencing.

I first saw a teaser ad for The Simpsons movie sometime in late 2005 or early 2006, I believe. I thought right off the bat that it was a bad idea. South Park and Beavis & Butt-Head had churned out movies relatively quickly, when the characters and material were still fresh, which was the wise thing to do. If there was ever a time for a Simpsons movie, it would have been in the mid-to-late 90's.

Nonetheless, I knew I was going to be dragged to the movie by my friends one way or the other. I went hoping for the best, and was even excited that I would at least get to see The Simpsons on the big screen.

So how did things turn out? Well, it at least kept me entertained and involved throughout, and it was better than I expected it to be. It's nowhere near the hilarity of the show at its peak, but far better than the most recent episodes. The first half hour is particularly decent, because it's close to an early Simpsons episode.

While I of course enjoyed the mocking of the US government, I have to admit that I just didn't really care for the "sealed in a dome" story and wish they had come up with a different plot. It seemed like they just wanted the most "huge," "epic" plot ever, so they came up with the dome thing. But the stories on the show were rarely "epic." They were totally asinine and got laughs because of the ridiculous behavior of the characters (like when Homer and Bart make "garbage angels" on the floor of their living room). You have to wonder what kind of opportunities they missed by introducing such a gargantuan idea for a plot. Oh well.

The Simpsons movie is an easy and fun watch, but by the time the credits roll you realize how underwhelming it is. Maybe I'm being too hard on it, because my expectations were so high, but dang…it's The Simpsons movie, man!! Ah well. It still has its moments. Who can possibly keep a straight face when Moe yells, "The top of his head is showing! Claw at it!" Not me.

All in all, while not a classic, The Simpsons movie will probably keep most fans entertained throughout.
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Clerks II (2006)
5/10
The jig is up
31 March 2007
The "Kevin Smith" formula has gotten old by now, and it's a big shame that he didn't just let "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" be the final entry in the series, as it was a perfect ending. Clerks II is just a tired rehash of his previous movies. The gross dialog feels forced and obligatory this time around; it just doesn't have the punch, hilarity, or heart it did in Chasing Amy or the original Clerks. It was like Kevin Smith just made a list of gross things he could have his characters talk about, then wrote a screenplay about it. The raging fanboy-base Smith has attracted has also made his films (which used to be small and independent) less enjoyable to watch. Do we really need to see the names of all the MySpace friends or see an animated Jay and Silent Bob "snooch to the nooch" logo at the end? Good god man, give up this batch of characters and try something new next time. Quit while you're (still a little bit) ahead.
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6/10
Suited for Halloween night
3 November 2006
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is more of the same. But is that really a bad thing? Not in this case. While TCM really is just a Dead Teenager movie, it's still loaded with all the same blood, guts, and dark feeling that made the first a successful horror film. I was quite surprised at how much of the red stuff this movie was packed with. And R Lee Ermey is PERFECT in his role, just as he was in the first one. Whenever R Lee Ermey's voice become angry you know something bad is about to go down.

I guess I don't recommend this sucka to the general populace, but it's great stuff if you're into the horror genre. Non-horror fans probably shouldn't bother. Same for the squeamish. But eh, I had a decent time with this piece of cheese.
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Saw III (2006)
6/10
Let the blood spill!
3 November 2006
The original SAW was gruesome, but did occasionally leave things to the imagination. It had genuine tension, and a pretty intriguing mystery. SAW II was at least inventive and fun to watch. SAW III is easily the most gory, twisted, and nasty entry in the series, making it solid gold for the gore hounds out there. Unfortunately, the sense of mystery from the first two films is completely gone, you won't give a crap about the characters, and the pacing is clumsy. The film drags in many scenes, and just plain goes on for too long. If you're hard-core SAW/gore fan, you'll enjoy it, but there's only so much left the filmmakers can do with the premise. This is the kind of movie you're probably best off catching on sci-fi one night, rather than going to the theater.

And seriously, how many ridiculously elaborate set-ups could a serial killer (even an inventive one) come up with? How big is the size of this warehouse--a city? How many billions of dollars were spent on these schemes? Where did the money come from, and how did a highly-wanted serial killer come up with it? Just a few questions to ponder..
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Boogeyman (2005)
3/10
89 Minutes Of Absolutely NOTHING
4 June 2006
'Boogeyman' is a tremendous waste of time. NOTHING, and I mean, NOTHING happens throughout the entire movie! Sure there are a handful of decent atmospheric moments, but the characters were just hokey (what was that little girl all about?), the CGI is thigh-slappingly funny (not a good thing in a horror movie!), and a lot of the film is just plain boring and repetitive. It sets up minor characters and never shows us how they end up, never explains what the F is going on, and just isn't engaging or compelling in the least. I'm amazed I even finished it, considering I didn't give a crap about anything happening on the screen. Bad, sucky, ridiculous, crummy "horror." Avoid!
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Domino (2005)
6/10
Watchable, But Exhausting
4 June 2006
'Domino' is pretty original (how many other movies about bounty hunters are there?) and never exactly boring, but is directed with more style than necessary, and is about half an hour too long. The story is also a convoluted mess, and if you prefer to relax during a film, instead of sitting straight up and paying hard attention, you might want to skip it. That being said, the casting and sound-track are great, and Christopher Walken owns, as usual. Some of the dialog was stupid {"The rich, the poor, and everyone in between."--uuuhh, that's not as clever as you think, filmmakers, no need to repeat it twice!) and the final action scene is all shaky so you can't really tell what's going on. Overall, Domino is entertaining, but flawed fare.
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5/10
Sorry, But The Da Vinci Code Is Average
3 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Time to face reality, folks. Regardless of your feelings on religion, the Da Vinci Code is just a long, slow, boring yawn-fest. The amount of talking and yapping and jabbering in this movie was borderline painful. The story is ridiculous when you look back on it. If you wanted someone to know they were a descendant of Christ, would you:

A) Write a silly anagram for "Da Vinci" in an obscure place for someone to figure out, then go to Da Vinci's painting and write "so dark the con of man" in writing you can't see without an ulta-special light, and hope the person is with a professor who knows what it means (even while the professor is being ruthlessly hunted and endangered)? or

B) Simply walk up to the person and say, "Hey, you're a descendant of Christ. Pretty cool, eh?"

Hmm...now, I don't know about you, but I would go with choice B. No rational person would ever, ever do anything like choice A. However, without planting a bunch of stupid codes everywhere, there would be no story and no movie, so we as an audience have to suffer through the oh-so-clever Hanks et all dissect all the ridiculous clues, so we can finally go home. Sound like fun? Well, it's kind of interesting I guess, and maybe I'm going too hard on it, but it just felt drawn-out and talky to me. See it if you care.
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Aliens (1986)
9/10
One Of The Best Science-Fiction Movies Ever Made
3 June 2006
I've been a fan of 'Aliens' since I was pretty young, and unlike many other movies you end up liking less when you get older, 'Aliens' still stands as the same roller-coaster freakshow now as it was then. The monsters are huge, slimy, angry, and as awesome-looking as it gets. The casting is perfect, the weapons are just plain sweet (gotta love the flame-thrower!), and the film is never boring, even with its lengthy running time. The film isn't dated at all, and is still intense and realistic. It's tough to decide whether 'Aliens' or the original 'Alien' is superior, so I prefer to break it down this way: 'Alien' is the superior horror film, and 'Aliens' is the superior action film. There's just no comparing the two--they're in practically different genres. Plop in 'Aliens' and enjoy!
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Snatch (2000)
8/10
Very Entertaining!
3 June 2006
Snatch is a surprisingly entertaining comedy/action movie, with oodles of dismemberments, shoot-outs and heists (all in good fun, of course)! Even with the red stuff flowing on the screen, it never loses its sense of humor, and is more goofy than disturbing. Pitt's character is hilarious, the intertwining stories are fun to watch, and Guy Ritchie is da man! Imagine 'Pulp Fiction' with diamonds, and you'll get the idea. It's been a while since I've watched "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," but now I have a sudden urge to rent it again. A lot of crime comedies are boring and unoriginal, but Snatch was entertaining throughout, and quite humorous. Give it a shot if you like Tarantino-esquire schtuff.
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7/10
Decent Popcorn Flick
3 June 2006
The theater's volume was incredibly loud during this entire movie, making me wince every time a gun was fired (rest assured, the film had a loud noise every 2.8 seconds or so). MI:3 was a decent popcorn flick, though I was thankful enough to see it in Mexico, and pay $3 instead of $10. What a shame that this couldn't have been a stand-alone film, as everything out nowadays is a sequel or video game. There's a whole mess of brainless, cheesy action scenes and explosions that are fun to watch (good to know if you're an action fan), and a story I found more engaging than the previous two films. Yes, this stuff has been done numerous times before, and better, but MI:3 is decent action cheese. As a summer movie, it ain't bad. See it if you're incredibly bored and depressed.
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7/10
Quick, Fun, and Dumb Entertainment
3 June 2006
X3 is superior to the first two, in my opinion. It has more action than the first, and a better story than the second. I was never bored, and generally entertained. However, it really doesn't cover a heap of new ground, and I'm not sure how much else can be done with the X-men series. How many more different kinds of mutants can they cough up, and how many different stories? Maybe they should seriously consider making this the final X-men movie, as partly hinted by the title. 'Beast' looked ridiculous and laughable, and the "mutants fighting each other" schtick is wearing thin. Ah, well. X3 is still quick, fun, and dumb entertainment. It'll keep you entertained while you watch it, but you'll likely forget it soon after you leave the theater. Maybe this is a better one to catch on DVD.
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7/10
Man oh man, am I in the minority on this one!
23 May 2006
Critics and audiences both pretty much panned this movie, but I actually didn't think it was too bad! Even the critics I normally agree with thought it was crap, and I normally despise PG-13 "horror films." So this means one of two things: either (1) I'm too easily pleased, and my taste in movies has dwindled over the years, or (2) 'When a Stranger Calls' isn't nearly as horrible as it's made out to be. Now, to be fair, some of the criticisms of the movie are true--there's not much character development, and not much happens in the story. But man alive folks, how much were you expecting from a movie about a babysitter being stalked? Cut them some slack! As a former babysitter who was watching this flick late at night with the lights out, I can safely say the stalker dude was one creepy mofo! Who knows? I guess stuff like this just gives me the willies.

Yes, I admit I had fun watching this, and I don't care how big of a minority that puts me in. ;)
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House of the Dead 2 (2005 TV Movie)
5/10
For Hardened Zombie Fans
22 May 2006
My friends and I were in the mood for a really, really bad movie today. We weren't sure whether to rent 'Sasquatch' or 'Vampires vs. Zombies', but somewhere along the line we decided on 'House of the Dead II'. Obviously, we weren't expecting anything more than B-movie schlock we could point and laugh at, and that's exactly what we got. Better than the first one (as if that counts for anything!), House of the Dead II is an ultra-cheesy gorefest that will satisfy hardened zombie fans, but will turn off most mainstream movie watchers. However, the fact that you're actually on the internet, reading reviews for the movie 'House of the Dead II' means that, most likely, you are already a hardened horror/zombie fan, so you'll probably like this. It has all the 'zombie movie' goods: gore, decapitation scenes, naked chicks, gunfire, etc. Don't expect anything more than that and you'll have a decent time.
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Venom (2005)
6/10
Fun For Slasher Fans
21 May 2006
I wasn't expecting a lot out of this little slasher flick, but it ended up being more creative and suspenseful than I would have guessed. The visuals are decent, the teens actually look like real teens (instead of actors in their late 20's), and the soundtrack is killer (Rob Zombie!)! While it's not a full-bore blood bath, it will satisfy gore hounds, and watching all these poor little teeny boppers get brutally murdered is just plain harsh! Yes, the "gypsy magic" crap and the snakes are lame, and it really is just a "dead teenager" movie (as Roger Ebert would call it), but ah, whaddaya gunna do? I don't see why this has such a low IMDb rating, considering that it's strictly geared for slasher fans, and will probably satisfy that audience.
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Doom (2005)
6/10
Total Guilty Pleasure
20 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not going to lie..this is a terrible, terrible movie. Bad dialog, cookie-cutter characters, and a story COMPLETELY stolen from Resident Evil is what you're getting here. How bad does Doom rip off Resident Evil? Pretty bad. The opening sequence, the zombies, the monsters, the zombie dogs, the character who "double-crosses" everyone at the end..waaayy too similar to Resident Evil! Also, too much of the movie was spent with the characters walking down dark hallways and tunnels, waving around flashlights. Enough already! But I admit that I'm a complete sucker for this stuff. I LOVE zombies, I LOVE monsters, I love gore, and I love huge guns and cheesy science fiction. So I'm going to concede that I enjoyed the hell out of this thing--I'm always in the mood for a movie with monsters and zombies. I just can't help it! If you're not expecting Good Will Hunting, you might find this to be a somewhat enjoyable guilty pleasure, like I did.
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6/10
Carrey Gold
18 May 2006
I have this flick in my DVD stash, and finally watched it for the first time in a while, the other night when I was really sick. Carrey fans will get an absolute kick out of this--the scene where he fights himself is physical-comedy gold. In fact, you could call this entire movie "Carrey gold." A lot of the critics say the gross-out humor in the movie feels forced, but I actually thought it made it more exciting and enjoyable. Sure, most of it had nothing to do with the plot, but if you're going to make an R-rated comedy, I don't have any problem with gratuitous raunchy material being shoe-horned in there for no good reason. Make it raunchy! You won't get any complaints from me! On the down-side, this movie's way too long, and focused too much on its "plot," which I neither followed nor gave a crap about. Screw the "plot," and the running-around BS. That stuff just made the movie drag.

Overall though, it's not too shabby. Just don't watch the TV-edited version, whatever you do.
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6/10
Hardly Worth Checking Out
18 May 2006
Being a huge fan of "raw" cinema, you can trust me when I say "Don't waste your time" on this dull little film, unless you're a pretty hard-core fan of bizarre, perverse, or controversial movies. Loaded with constant nudity and fake-looking gore, Blood Sucking Freaks tries really hard to be shocking, but unfortunately, is just plain boring. I stared at my watch a bajillion times during the final half-hour, hoping it would end. It's just waaayy too amateurish to be shocking or engaging in any way. You'll probably want it to end.

That being said, there were still a handful of moments that grossed me out (however fake-looking they were), so if you're a big, big, big fan of freaky, gross-out stuff like this, I suppose I would give it a very minor recommendation. I give it a 6/10 for adventurous moviegoers, and around a 3/10 for everyone else.
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