Monday, July 30, 2012

The WTF List: The Dark Knight Rises


Well I figure it's been a few weeks since I saw The Dark Knight Rises. I've now collected my thoughts and figured I might as well do one of these WTF lists for one of the biggest summer blockbusters in years.

I have to admit, I liked how it concluded but to me Rises has a Revolutions and Return of the Jedi feel to it. Both are adequate finales but none could live up to their predecessor movies. All in all Bane pushed Nolan's Batman to the brink and riddled the end of the trilogy with ideas of who we are, particularly as Americans. The dirty word here is class and Nolan addresses the issue front and center. We all know Bruce is rich as fuck, but he hasn't lived the lives of 80% of us.

So here be my WTF list with obvious jokes and spoilers.

1.) Umm where's Harley Quinn?
2.) So who installed all the gizmos and contraptions in the Bat cave? Best Buy's geek squad? You mean to tell me Bruce and Alfred did it all themselves?
3.) So how much does it pay to be a Bane henchman? Minimum wage? Do I get benefits?
4.) Anne Hathaway is one of those actresses I respect as she does kid movies, Skinemax, serious indies, rom coms with nudity and blockbuster flicks. No need for stunt boobies.
5.) JGL is clearly Robin in waiting.
6.) Juno Temple is going to be a huge star. See I wrote about it already.
7.) Matthew Modine is such a spazz.
8.) I think half of Gotham knows Bruce is Batman
9.) I like this version of Catwoman. Though the costume needed that cleavage buster from Arkham City.
10.) So Gotham goes all isolation. Did everybody still have TV? Internet? If Bane shut down the Internet, heads would roll.
11.) 3 months of Occupy Bane. I mean was anybody taking out the garbage?
12.) Batman didn't use a lot of his gadgets from his utility belt this time around. Where was the Bat jammer?
13.) So nobody really bothered to look for The Bat plane/coptor/craft?
14.) I forgot to say, Bane fucking up Wall Street was fuckin awesome
15.) I didn't see the twist coming but I was not surprised. I've played hours of Arkham City.
16.) The Riddler and Penguin must be like...fuck this. Let's make trouble in Metropolis.
17.) Bane kinda dies like a pussy no?
18.) Bruce banging everything in sight it seems.
19.) So does Robin have to special order his tech and shit from Alfred?
20.) The ending seems all Inception-ish doesn't it? I don't trust Nolan. All that happy ending is in Alfred's head.

Add your own blurbs to this list. What did you think of the finale?

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Monday, July 23, 2012

V/H/S (Review)

V/H/S

V/H/S (2012)


Directed by  Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin,Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Chad Villella) David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard

In 2011 I hypothesized that we would have a return to the horror anthology. Sadly, I haven't seen most of the horror anthology films I listed but when V/H/S was announced, it clearly was proof of what I knew was happening within the genre.

We all probably rolled our eyes when we heard a found footage anthology was coming via Bloody Disgusting's The Collective. Had we forest fired our way through this genre? Shaky cam was making us have nauseous feelings. But with even non horror sites jazzed by VHS's Red Band trailer, it seemed we all gasped at the images we were seeing. So would we get another Trick R Treat, the gold star of the recent crop? The answer is a close yes. In a nutshell, VHS evolves the found footage genre by being an amalgamation of FF hardcore horror.

VHS somehow pulls off what amounts to a mega punch in the stomach. 5 segments, each directed by a film veteran are wrapped around a plot of a group of kids looking for a mysterious VHS tape in a seemingly creepy house. Though not all the shorts are great, each one is solid and creative enough to put you on the edge of your seat. The shaky cam will get you reaching for the Dramamine and the acting is highly questionable. Think Troma stiffboardines.

But aside from it's drawbacks (another being which short would anchor the ending) it delivers on a promise of being a "back to the roots" kind of underground horror. Splashes of monsters, home invasion, Paranormal Activity phenomenon are just a few of the things you'll see. But the overall theme seemed to be douchebags getting their comeuppance. We all like seeing drunk, horny, misogynistic miscreant fuck ups getting slaughtered by the obvious vixen in the bottle and VHS delivers just that.

VHS is a feel good throwback to an 80s style grindhouse. Gore and nudity, the staples of any horror breakfast are plentiful and wrapped around in stories that will make every horror fan smirk and applause with delight.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

When a group of petty criminals is hired by a mysterious party to retrieve a rare piece of found footage from a rundown house in the middle of nowhere, they soon realize that the job isn’t going to be as easy as they thought. In the living room, a lifeless body holds court before a hub of old television sets, surrounded by stacks upon stacks of VHS tapes. As they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

Well here be some mini reviews of each segment and a letter grade for each. Shorts are listed in the order as they appear in the film (though I think I'm forgetting the order now)

"VHS Wraparound" Segment (Adam Wingard)

Wingard directs the Jackass destructo kids segments between each short. As they investigate the house searching for the mysterious VHS tape, it seems they are not alone. Each of our Steve-Os' puts in a VHS tape which then initiates the shorts below. It's an adequate tie in, nothing more nothing less. Clearly there was a buildup here throughout the film but somehow it ends on a whimper. Wingard has little to work with but his past shorts and films plus the upcoming You're Next show this true genius at work.

Grade:
C+

"Amateur Night" (David Brucker)

If you have never watched The Signal, then you're missing out. Brucker's debut film was outright inspired madness. With Amateur Night, we see the first of douchebag frat jerkoffs getting their comeuppance. After equipping the lesser of the douchebags with glasses with a cam, they venture off in search of the elusive pussy. We experience this through the POV of glasses cam. It's done well, though not without the shakiness. From a bar to a club, we see these Dane Cook fuckers roofie...err I mean seduce the hotties. As our trio get 2 hotties (a blond and brunette) into their hotel room, the silent but deadly brunette starts to reverse seduce our crew but with deadly consequences.

Story wise, it's kinda predictable of where this is gonna go. Clearly the girl is not what she seems but the twist here is what kind of monster she really is. The nudity is plentiful and the gore and splatter are top notch. Brucker's use of a glasses cam is clever and is used in a more point of view as you are exactly seeing what one of our alpha bro's see. It's a bit odd to start off VHS with a short that doesn't pack more of a punch. But you get the feel of watching something that is not willing to hold back from any horror film this year.

Grade: B-


Second Honeymoon (Ti West)

Ti West (The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers) adds his entry into VHS and it is one of the best of the bunch. A couple go vacationing in Arizona, have an odd encounter and their camera seems hijacked by a home invasion-er. Clearly Mr. West goes for the slow burn here as he is damn good at that. The more time we spend learning about our characters, the more we care. Add in a few ha ha's and a few moments of chilled goosebumpiness, and its a wicked short with a most fucked up ending. Oh did I mention the twist I did not see coming? Creative, paced perfectly and filled with nightmares, this is tapping universal fear at its finest.

Grade: A

Tuesday the 17th (Glenn McQuaid)

McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) gives us a Cabin in the Woods like, cliched filled slasher camp horror entry into VHS. The sense of levity is lifted after seeing serious disturbia in West's entry. Blonde bimbo, alpha dog douchebag, nerdy straight edge kid and final girl all make appearances. In any other year, this would have been a spoof on all the cliches we love to love but Whedon has amplified the self aware horror film. Tuesday is blah and oddly misplaced. It just felt off and waaay overshadowed by Cabin's mere presence this year. The acting was completely off, edging on Troma-ness (nerdy kid was a Troma alum).

Our slasher, a mysterious unseen video blip via our camera POV kills and kills and our final girl seems to know all the tricks. Sure there was a twist, but the golden rule of meta horror is that WE as horror fans care more about the slasher than we care about the kids. And Tuesday the 17th somehow wasn't aware of this.


Grade: D

The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (Joe Swanberg)

Swanberg has acted  in a few Wingard's films but his directoragraphy is one where I've seen none of his previous efforts. But with this entry, I'm a follower. Emily, skypes with her boyfriend (we see this via her computer screen in the forefront and her BF in a small box on the bottom right) as she describes her life and mysterious shit happening at her apartment. Later her arm is in distress and middle of the night video sessions have us and her BF seeing some Paranormal Activity in the form of children.

This is a unique way of delivering the paranormal goodiness and I found it worked well. Performances here had to be top notch (as all we see are faces on the screen) and they are. The cuteness of our Emily is appealing and even some backstory gets thrown in adds to the level of WTF. Of all the shorts, this one seemed to have full feature written  all over it.

Of course not all is what it seems and the ending is a POW! of the unexpected and Say what? Who knew you could tell an effective story via webcam?


Grade: A


10/31/98 (Radio Silence)

The group of 4 known as Radio Silence directs the last of the shorts called 10/31/98. Yes it's Halloween and our second group of alpha dogs dressed in their goofiest costumes are off to a party. They wind up at a house with no party but that doesn't stop them from their search. Not noticing the weird floating and moving objects, they wind up in the attic and see a ritual being performed with a girl in distress.

Think House of the Devil, PA trilogy and a whole lot of shaky cam shenanigans. The short has some moments of pure genious towards the end as the guys go on a rescue mission. The visuals, CGI and house come to life escape even seemed to echo some Fulci.

Kind of predictable but the best in terms of using effects to get it's horror across.

Grade: B

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VHS shows off the talent of the new generation of a Splat Pack. Though without the splat. What these guys have done is take the found footage genre and evolved it into something new and exciting. Sure it makes no sense as to why a Skype footage would be on a VHS, but it is clever to to make an anthology that taps the genius of these filmmakers into one film. Two A shorts, two B shorts and a D equals 3 spinkicks. Some negatives are the same old rehashed alpha dogs getting killed is a bit contrives and the nauseous headaches from the spinning cams from all the shorts is a bit much. One can only take so much in a 90 minute run time.

Whereas the last generation of horror filmmakers has gone to the past and reinvigorated our beloved slasher and ghost genres, this generation homages the VHS video nasty by putting their own twist. Original stories, hardcore blood, boobs and splatter and a wink to the glory of the Video Home System.

You will not get a better film that does all that.

Nude-ipedia


Yes and it's awesomely gratuitous

Gore-ipedia

Lots of it. You're momma would be proud.

WTF moment


West's ending was purest WTF I've seen in quite a while.

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

VHS is your gateway to seeing the best the new generation has to offer. Once you've seen it, check out each director's filmography and witness the millennial horror generation takeover.

VHS arrives on VOD on 8/31 and in theaters on 10/5. Head over to the official site via Magnet Releasing.


Rating:

Check out the trailer.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My First Taste of Fandom: Tim Burton's Batman

With Comic Con over and this week being all about The Dark Knight Rises, I figure it was timely I share my first taste of pure, relentless fandom. No, it wasn't Star Wars, nor was it Reeve's Superman or Star Trek. My first real fandom craze was for Tim Burton's 1989 blockbuster. I'm not sure there is any YouTube clips of what it was like back in that summer of 1989. Batman was released on June 23rd. I was just under PG-13 and me and my friends were mega excited. We all had watched the campy 60s version but seeing trailers for this darker, spookier version got us all hyped.

I know I saw it at least 3 times. 

I remember my friend hyping up the Batmobile (he of course was on his 2nd viewing). And the moment Batman says "Shields" I go ape shit.

When Batman goes "I'm Batman". I go gorilla shit.

When Batman goes nuts in Axis Chemical, it was freakin awesome.

Don't get me wrong, Nicholson's Joker was a sight of pure madness and evil genius. She steals the show. 

I start falling in love with Kim Basinger realizing that I can see her boobies in 9 1/2 Weeks years later. 

We all bought Batman shirts. We all had Batman sneakers. If you didn't have a Batman t-shirt, something was definitely wrong with you. That summer in 1989 was all Batman all the time. We started making our own utility belts. Basements became Bat caves.

Don't get me started with Michelle Pfieffer in her latex suit in Returns.

There is a part of me that never left that summer. Now every time I see a big summer blockbuster, I want to get that feeling back. The sense of kid wonder, a movie that made me love comic books. My first comic book infatuation was Spiderman. I was a Marvel kid and made sure I had my own "bag" in my comic book store. "Bags" was a sort of comic book store layaway program. They'd save the latest issues for you and you paid for what you could afford.

But my heart fell in love with DC when Batman came out. I got a copy of The Dark Knight Returns and Frank Miller blew me away with his story and the art work was awesome. Full page shots of a old, muscled up Batman. If you haven't read this, you're not a real Batman fan.
But Burton's Batman is where my fandom started. Kids bought the Batman toys, the cowls, the capes, the games, the everything. (Batman the game was nightmare of mega proportions). I wore a Batman costume for Halloween 3 consecutive years. I wish there was a record of that summer but the videos below give a certain glimpse of the hysteria.









Roger Ebert doesn't like Batman but Siskel loves it.




The VHS version of Batman arrived 4 months after release of the movie which was unprecedented at the time. Check out this news report.


Were you part of the Batman craze in the Summer of 89? Do you remember what Batman hysteria was like that year? Share your thoughts!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Soska Sisters unveil the full traielr for American Mary!

The fabulous Soska Sisters are at Comic Con but they've made Friday the 13th a happy day today by unleashing the full trailer for American Mary.

I'll admit, it looks devishly awesome as Katharine Isabelle may be the hot kind of psychotic we all need.

Check it out below and let me know your thoughts!




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Monday, July 09, 2012

They made what into what? Re-Animator: The Musical


As a horror blogger, you get all sorts of press releases, screeners, newsletters and tidbits. I read through them as much as I can but I usually tweet or Facebook it if I find it interesting. To make it into a post on the jaded viewer takes some OMG WTF type reaction from me. Hence here we are.

They made Stuart Gordon's Re-Animator into a musical?

WTF!

That's just plain awesome. I plan on seeing this AS-fuckin-P. It smells of pure Miskatonic hijinks and LOL musical numbers. Here be the official press release.


RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL comes to NYC, July 17 - 22 - Featuring George Wendt! 


RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL Featuring GEORGE WENDT (“Cheers”, Broadway's Elf) Exclusively at The New York Musical Theater Festival, July 17 – July 22 PTC Performance Space 555 West 42nd Street, New York, NY The acclaimed musical adaptation of cult film comes to New York following a sold-out six-month run in Los Angeles Winner of Six L.A. Weekly Awards Book – Dennis Paoli, Stuart Gordon, and William J. Norris Music and Lyrics – Mark Nutter Choreographer – Cynthia Carle Musical Director – Peter Adams Director – Stuart Gordon (director of the iconic 1985 horror film H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator) New York Premiere Tuesday, July 17th at 8:00 pm


The 2012 New York Musical Theatre Festival, Red Hen Productions, The Schramm Group LLC and Gramily Entertainment present the New York premiere of RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL starring George Wendt (“Cheers”, Broadway’s Elf).


A hilarious new musical comedy based on the classic horror film (and featuring a bloody “splash zone” in the first few rows), RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL plays at the PTC Performance Space, located at 555 West 42nd Street. Tickets for RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL are $25, a can be purchased by calling (212) 352-3101 or by visiting www.nymf.org. For more information:www.nymf.org and www.reanimatorthemusical.com.


In 1985, Stuart Gordon directed his first feature film and created a sensation with H.P. Lovecraft’s Re-Animator. Produced by Brian Yuzna, the cult classic delivered as many laughs as it did screams, making it a cult classic among genre fans and winning a Critic’s Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Last year, Gordon, co-writers Dennis Paoli and William J. Norris, and composer/lyricist Mark Nutter adapted Re-Animator into a musical for the stage, playing to rave reviews for a sold-out six month run in Los Angeles - and winning six LA Weekly Awards, including Musical of the Year.

RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL tells the story of Herbert West, a brilliant young medical student who has created a glowing green serum that can bring the dead back to life. What should be a medical breakthrough results in hideous monstrosities and ghastly consequences. “I guess he just wasn’t fresh enough,” is West’s constant refrain as his quest for fresh subjects results in the murders of half the faculty of the medical school. 

The original Los Angeles cast reteams for the NYMF production. George Wendt, best-known as the affable Norm from Cheers, plays the Dean of the Medical School who West transforms into a mindless zombie. Chris L. McKenna, the star of Gordon’s neo-noir thriller King of the Ants, is Dan Cain, Herbert’s hapless roommate who finds himself drawn into the mayhem. And operatic Jesse Merlin, who played the President of the United States in the long running The Beastly Bombing, is Dr. Carl Hill who loses his head for Meg, the dean’s beautiful daughter (Rachel Avery,) only to actually lose it at the hands of Herbert West. But thanks to the glowing re-agent, Dr. Hill is still able to take his curtain call with his head tucked underneath his arm. Completing the cast are Mark Beltzman, Cynthia Carle, Brian Gillespie, Marlon Grace and Liesel Hanson, Tyler Milliron, and featuring Graham Skipper as Herbert West.


Winning the LA Drama Critics Circle Award for their work on the show, the musical's special effects team is the same as the 1985 movie's: Tony Doublin, John Naulin, and John Buechler - joined by Greg McDougal and Tom Devlin. And the blood will flow so freely that the first few rows will be designated as a “splash zone.” Laura Fine Hawkes, who last designed The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Taper Theater in Los Angeles, provides the sets, with costumes by Joe Kucharski and lighting by Jeff Ravitz. Stage managing is Mike Lemek.


Composer and lyricist Mark Nutter won a LA Drama Critics Circle Award for RE-ANIMATOR THE MUSICAL's cheerfully disturbing score. His previous stage credits include the international hit The Bicycle Men; Christmas Smackdown (created with the equally demented Cynthia Carle); and Wild Men. He’s also known for his work on 3rd Rock From the Sun and Saturday Night Live. His recent CD Twisted Songs for Twisted Sophisticates has been banned from the airwaves.


Stuart Gordon directs. Prior to the Re-Animator movie, he spent fifteen years as the founder and artistic director of the Organic Theater of Chicago, where he co-created and directed 37 original productions, including Bleacher Bums and the world premiere of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago. Gordon has also directed four more films based on Lovecraft, among them the critically-acclaimed From Beyond and Dagon. Gordon’s most recent stage credits include the still-running Nevermore: An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe, featuring a breathtaking performance from Re-Animator film star Jeffrey Combs.


Now in its ninth year, the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) is the largest annual musical theatre event in America and is widely regarded as the essential source for new material and talent discovery. NYMF provides a launching pad for the next generation of musicals and their creators to ensure the continued vitality of one of America's greatest art forms. Hailed as the "Sundance of Musical Theatre," NYMF discovers, nurtures, and promotes promising musical theatre artists and producers at all stages of development, and inspires a diverse audience through vibrant, accessible, powerful new work.

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Check out the trailer.

Thoughts? Comments? Who wants to see this?

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