Monday, January 31, 2011

Follow The Monster

Dominik Moll's Lemming (2005) definitely lived up to the reviews I've read. Weird, intriguing and different. Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty good but I really like Laurent Lucas as his character deals with the mystery unfolding around him. Charlotte Rampling is definitely spooky. Good watch. 7/10

Dug into my DVD collection for Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound (1990), which I hadn't seen before. Has the necessary elements to be very good including John Hurt as a scientist who travels back in time to aid Raul Julia's Frankenstein create his monster. But sadly this film is a mess. A delightful mess but still a mess. 6/10
  • January New: 79
  • January Re-watch: 12
  • January '11 Total: 91
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2011 TOTAL: 91

Sunday, January 30, 2011

France After Dark

David Morlet's Mutants (2009) is a decent post-apocalyptic zombie flick but other than its story doesn't give us anything new. It's French and the production values are great. 6.7/10

Went out to Barrington AMC to catch a couple of After Dark horror flicks since this was the weekend and this was the only theater in Chicago screening the films. Wish I had a better selection today but ah well. Hit Fertile Ground (2010) first, which is a creepy evil ancestor possession film. Not sure what more can be said with this story. Good acting but not very interesting overall. Really like Gale Harold and think he'd make the perfect Nathan Drake in the Uncharted adaptation (he looks just like him!). 6.5/10

After that took in Husk (2010) even though it's premiering on SyFy next weekend. Love the scarecrows but the obnoxious teens are unbearable. 5.5/10

Came home and watched yet another French film, District 13: Ultimatum (2009). Not a bad sequel but also not quite as good as its predecessor. Decent watch and some fun characters. 6.7/10

  • January New: 77
  • January Re-watch: 12
  • January '11 Total: 89
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 89

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mega-Cheese with Extra Cheese

Nice rewatch of Mega Piranha (2010) thanks to SyFy. Nice cool down flick after B-fest. Want the blu-ray someday. Just ridiculous.

Now for the premiere of Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011) featuring Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. All kinds of stupid but fun to see these two go at it, which is more fun than the actual movie. Oh, and there's Cruz (A Martinez).

  • January New: 73
  • January Re-watch: 12
  • January '11 Total: 85
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 85

Friday, January 28, 2011

B-Fest 2011 - Part One

The 31st B-Fest kicked off at Norris University Center on the campus of Northwestern University and I was there for my first time. I've been tempted in the past but could never pull the trigger fearful of what I might encounter based on the stories I've heard. But this year, with some coaxing, I finally gave in and I'm glad I could share in the communal experience of watching and berating some truly awful films in an auditorium full of like-minded cinema masochists.

Arrived with all my provisions (snacks, drinks, pillow, flashlight, etc.) approximately 30 minutes before start time. However, the long line waiting for their "official" ticket proved this B-Fest would hold true to tradition and not start on time. No great shakes as I was able to secure a good spot for my things before jumping in line and waiting with the rest of the eager throng, some of whom flew in for this annual event.

With nearly everyone now inside and seated and rowdy as all hell, the A&O staff came on to set the proceedings in motion with the first flick The Pumaman (1980) featuring Walter George Alton as Pumaman with Donald Pleasence as his nemesis. This film is currently rated #47 in the bottom 100 at imdb to give you an idea of the quality of the B-Fest kick-off film. The crowd was so enthusiastic the film audio was completely inaudible. It mattered not for this film as it was clear what was happening and loud audience commentary was a helluva lot funnier anyways. 5.5/10

Due to the late start the next film immediately commenced with break. It was the infamous Chuck Norris & dog cop flick Top Dog (1995). I believe Chuck Norris has been an annual staple of B-Fest for a few years now and here he did not disappoint with this corny film where this dog & cop duo thwart a terrorist plot to kill the pope or bishop or someone dressed as a pope. Or bishop. Top Dog would become a running joke throughout the duration of B-Fest. 5/10

Next up was a real dreck of film called Mama Dracula (1980) that had viewers screaming for it to end. The plot involves a lady vamp who needs to bath in the blood of virgins to remain vital but has a problem with virgin collection. Her dorky twin vampire sons, if you will, kidnap young women while another woman infiltrates their ruse to become the heir apparent. This is a terrible film in that it's so dumb and tedious but I could see watching this on my own had I not seen it here. 4/10

As B-Fest tradition goes it was now 11:45pm and time for the annual 16mm screening of The Wizard of Speed and Time (1979) short film with chunk of attendees on stage providing additional sound effects. Then it was shown upside down in reverse! Only at B-Fest, folks! Would love to see to the long form film of this someday.

The second part of that tradition is the midnight screening of Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space (1958), which has reached a near Rocky Horror-like magnitude with the customary callouts and props. Viewing this legendary bad film in this environment might be the only way to endure repeat viewings. Participation includes such things like shouting "Bela!" when the real Bela Lugosi appears and "Not Bela!" when his stand-in is onscreen; shouting "Tor!" whenever Tor Johnson is onscreen; shouting "Hot!" when Vampira appears. Of course, the big thing when there's a flying saucer, everyone throws decorated paper plates into the air. Hundreds of plates, many with some very creative images and words, are tossed making for a very entertaining experience during a dreadful film. Give this a 5/10 for that alone.

Stay tuned for B-Fest 2011 Part Two!
  • January New: 67
  • January Re-watch: 11
  • January '11 Total: 78
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 78

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Comedy of Arms

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs (2009) contains all those familiar sweet nuances that really make me regret not making the effort to see this on the big screen. Maybe the early mixed reactions or whatever seeped inside my mind because really this is a film that should be seen in the theater. So many delightful touches and characters within a humorous folly on the art of war. Beautiful film. 7.8/10
  • January New: 64
  • January Re-watch: 10
  • January '11 Total: 74
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 74

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Space Cowboys

The Angry Red Planet (1959) was on NWI and one I had to see with my proclivity towards 50s Sci-fi. Basically we (almost) have the origin story of the Fantastic Four as four scientists get trapped in space after finding their way to Mars. On Mars they encounter hostile aliens including a giant bat spider. The red filter is hilarious but it works. 6/10

L'illusionniste (2010) a.k.a. The Illusionist is Chomet's love letter to Tati. Brilliant animation of a somber tale of a wondering magician in Old Europe. Very heartfelt and sad yet beautiful. 7.2/10

Caught of little of the Howard Hawks western El Dorado (1966) on a cable station the other day and immediately knew this was something I had to see from the beginning. Library delivered the DVD and I dug into this film featuring macho men and über-attractive women. Robert Mitchum (again, unintentional tribute month) is the drunkard sheriff while John Wayne and his sidekick James Caan are hired guns. They capture outlaw boss Ed Asner and face-off with Christopher George and his gang. Both Michele Carey and Charlene Holt are stunning in support roles. See this movie! 8/10

  • January New: 63
  • January Re-watch: 10
  • January '11 Total: 73
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 73

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunlight Cycles

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938) is the perfect feel-good, winding down film coming off a busy day. Shirley Temple plays farmgirl Rebecca poised to break out into the big leagues of stardom… only if her aunt can be persuaded to let her off the farm. Plenty of great musical numbers. 6.5/10

Ordered the original TRON (1982) from my library back when there was a lot of online chatter about the film not being available to view (via retail outlets) prior to the release of TRON Legacy. Took a little while but it finally arrived and proves that the film can be still be seen if you're not a dummy. Yes, people, use your library system. Anyways, it's enjoyable for what it is and cool to see the world-building again. 7/10

  • January New: 60
  • January Re-watch: 10
  • January '11 Total: 70
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 70

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love Gun

Jang Yu-Jung's directorial debut Finding Mr. Destiny (2011) a.k.a. Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi plays out its looking-for-love in an ugly duck framing quite nicely. Rather surprising considering I wasn't expecting too much. The first hour moves a little slow as all the pieces are put into place but the second hour is really effective. The Burlesque/Star is Born moment is absolutely fantastic. Im Soo-Jung (I Am a Cyborg, Woochi) does a great job carrying the load.

Seo Ji-Woo (Soo-Jung) is the unattached stage manager for a musical production when her father decides to hire a "Finding Your First True Love Company" to help her locate a long lost love she met while visiting India 10 years earlier. The agency is operated by nerdy Han Gi-Joon (Gong Yoo) who assists Ji-Woo in this seemingly impossible adventure. I won't spoil it but you can guess what happens if you've seen familiar romantic comedies placing two opposite personalities together. Despite the formulaic story it's still a good film with some wonderful moments. 7/10

The Vampire's Ghost (1945) I picked off NWI as clued in by @Gholson. And I kinda liked this old school gypsy tale brimming with beautiful women. Essentially a ghost vampire, disguised as an affluent club owner, is on the prowl and must be put down. 6.4

Wow, what can I say about Jim Van Bebber's Deadbeat at Dawn (1988)? This is Van Bebber's ode to old school exploitation with plenty of drugs, violence and blood. I only wish I had seen this sooner. I'm probably gonna buy this one. It's just charged with such explosive energy I still can't get over it. 6.8/10

  • January New: 59
  • January Re-watch: 9
  • January '11 Total: 68
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 68

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tuesday I'm In Love

Noel Black's Pretty Poison (1968) was mentioned by @bobfreelander on one of his guest posts (@TLBugg was the guest writer) and @VHSistheTruth also commented on it. That was enough for me to seek it out and give it a spin. Damn, this is a good flick. Anthony Perkins is very good conning the younger, super attractive Tuesday Weld into his scheme. But she is fantastic as a manipulative junior black widow. Solid. 7/10

Killing a little time during pre-game, I selected Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964), the westernized Mothra vs. Godzilla on NWI. Not sure if I've seen this version of the film but it's very adequate and still conveys the story just as well. I love Mothra so I'm already predisposed to enjoy this film even in this version. Godzilla looks great and love the baby caterpillar twins taking on the Big Green. Akira Takarada still owns even dubbed. 7/10

After the games I closed the evening with Walter Hill's Undisputed (2002), featuring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames in an all-out prison boxing match. Not a particularly great film as the motivation of the Iceman didn't work for me but as a film it looks very good. However, it doesn't feel so much like a Walter Hill movie. 6.2/10

  • January New: 56
  • January Re-watch: 9
  • January '11 Total: 65
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 65

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Goblin Bugged

Quest for the Mighty Sword (1990) a.k.a. Ator III: The Hobgoblin is the type of junky sword & sandals crap I gravitate towards. This installment again directed by Joe D'Amato (he also directed the first two Ator films), features Eric Allan Kramer (Thor!) in both the role of Ator the father and his son. Weird, right? The son grows up enslaved by the evil Thorn-Grindel goblin, who looks like the same goblins from Troll 2 (probably because Laura Gemser is also in this movie). Ator has to find his father's sword then seek revenge on the Hobgoblin. I guess. It's a terrible film but my kind of terrible. 5/10

I've had The Fly (1958) in my NWI queue almost from the time I started watching Netflix streaming on my PS3. Amazing that it's stuck around that long and hasn't expired. Figured now was good as any to give it a spin since I still haven't seen the original. A little surprised at some of the violence (that crushing machine!). The ending is nuts. 7/10
  • January New: 54
  • January Re-watch: 8
  • January '11 Total: 62
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 62

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hidden Cutter

Michael Haneke's Caché (2005) falls into blindspot territory because it's so highly rated and regarded. Believe I've picked this up before intending to watch but never made the time for it. Finally sat down and gave the film its due. Definitely a well-crafted mystery but didn't wow me as I thought it might after the great build-up. I think that's because the final arc really falls flat with no clear resolution. Daniel Auteuil is very good carrying the film but I think I just wanted more. And I want his apartment in the flick. 6.7/10

Forgotten Warrior (1986) was my VHS pick this week and it's basically a Rambo clone with a fraction of the production values. But a thoroughly enjoyable man on a mission flick as Ron Marchini, our protagonist seeks revenge on his friend who betrays him and karate chops his way through the jungle. Fun watch. 6/10

Concluded my Peter Yates tribute this week with Breaking Away (1979), a film I saw so long ago I had forgotten most of it (except for the bike race). All the drama with the Cutters leading up to that finish seemed all new to me and it's really solid material. Love seeing the young Quaid and Stern stirring shit up. Great, great film. Thank you and RIP, Mr. Yates. 8.2/10

Finished my evening with a mandatory blu-ray, The Transporter (2002), which I haven't seen in a few years. BD looks really good and still an entertaining flick. Shu Qi is really adorable. Wish she was able to crossover into western cinema. Some of the action sequences are pretty ridiculous but so much fun. Wish the sequels lived up this one. 7.6/10

  • January New: 52
  • January Re-watch: 8
  • January '11 Total: 60
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 60

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Eddie's Got a Twisted Brain

The Motel (2005) is a slice of life about a young Korean boy who observes the daily going-ons at his parents' seedy motel (it's the kind of place that visitors rent by the hour). It's an interesting film directed by Michael Kang featuring a mostly Asian cast including Sung Kang. I'd say it's a coming of age film but not much really transpires by the end. Still a decent watch and nice character moments. 6.8/10

Poor Pretty Eddie (1975) was mentioned recently on Twitter when @BradFHenderson said he was watching it (and enjoyed it). I bumped it up in my queue even tho there's a high resolution print due for release (the available DVD is a poor VHS transfer). Excited to see this it only took the opening sequence when Liz (Leslie Uggams) arrives at Eddie's bar for me to realize that I've see this before many years ago. Some parts I had forgotten but definitely didn't forget Shelley Winters as the sociopathic Bertha or the totally bonkers batshit finale. 6.6/10
  • January New: 50
  • January Re-watch: 6
  • January '11 Total: 56
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 56

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eddie Strikes Again

Our first official company Movie Club movie kicked off tonight with Star Wars (1977), the original untainted version. The idea for the Movie Club was born from @Leapmonkey having not seen the any of the Star Wars films (he also hasn't seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy). I decided we ought to have a regular screening for movies and invite the whole company to join in the fun. I had to bring in a couple my extra DVD players to make it work but fortunately we have a large HDTV in our lounge perfect for viewing. In total we had 7 people participate tonight. A couple hadn't seen Star Wars and everyone enjoyed the screening. Already looking forward to the next Movie Club.

Since Horror Movie Night was TBD tonight (BK ended at at the Santa Sangre screening at the Drafthouse) I decided to watch The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) to continue my Peter Yates tribute for the week (and unintentional Robert Mitchum tribute). This is a solid crime flick featuring Mitchum and a group of bank robbers who get double-crossed. The tension is palpable. Very good film. 7.6/10
  • January New: 49
  • January Re-watch: 5
  • January '11 Total: 54
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 54

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dark Fire

One Dark Night (1983) isn't nearly the scary movie that it could've been. And quite frankly the most disturbing scene is in the opening the sequence when a pile a bodies is found in a closet. The basic premise is that a girl who wants to join a clique of snobby girls called "The Sisters" and is forced to stay in a mausoleum overnight where a serial killer has been recently interred. By some unexplained reasons the serial killer has the power of telekinesis and returns to the sorta-living; he uses his powers to "raise the dead" against all those now trapped in the mausoleum. Meg Tilly and Elizabeth Daily make this watchable but it's devoid of tension due to the silliness of the psychic powers. And Adam West isn't featured enough. Like that they used Hollywood Forever cemetery. 6/10

Fired Up (2009) isn't your average cheeseball cheerleading flick. Besides the fact that it's actually pretty good, it's also intentionally meta. Yeah, Bring in On, baby. Good comedy bits throughout some more effective than others. More teen comedies should take note. 6.5/10
  • January New: 48
  • January Re-watch: 4
  • January '11 Total: 52
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 52

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ape Terror

The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959) was featured on @TCMUnderground as part of a Nobuo Nakagawa double feature with Jigoku. As a big fan of his Okatsu films was glad to have caught this. Tôkaidô Yotsuya kaidan follows the tale of a ronin that murders the father of a woman he wants to marry. They eventually marry but he becomes unhappy of his boring life and decides to commit the most heinous of acts. The result is a horrifying display of ghost terror that is remarkable given the year this was made. Really great watch. 7/10

Tales of the Gold Monkey (1982), the TV series, received some mild excitement when the DVD set was announced. I had never seen it but it sounded like something I'd really love, a 30s-era pulp adventure serial. Gave the initial pilot movie a go, which was later broken into the first 2 television episodes, and it's generally entertaining although not nearly as great or campy as I wanted it to be. Stephen Collins is very likable as Cutter and Caitlin O'Heaney is decent for the sexual tension but the other characters didn't work for me. Story of seeking the gold monkey on an island of vicious human-like apes is also just okay. Lots of stock footage too. I watched the subsequent episodes when Roddy McDowall was added to the cast but don't expect to continue. I'd say only the original 90 minute film is worth watching. 6.5/10

Cape Fear (1962) is unsettling and the very reason why I've held off watching for so long. Mitchum is menacing as Max Cady as he stalks a lawyer's family as retribution for being put in the can for 8 years by the lawyer, portrayed fiercely by Gregory Peck. Edge of your seat material. Savalas shines in a bit role. Fulfills my blindspot goal but also may give me a nightmare. Really admire Mitchum for taking on roles such as this. 8/10
  • January New: 46
  • January Re-watch: 4
  • January '11 Total: 50
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 50

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Street Rock

Zone Troopers (1985) is a harmless sci-fi comedy that gives Art LaFleur, Tim Thomerson, and Tim Van Patten a chance to ham it up onscreen. They're soldiers in WWII that discover a Nazi camp with a captured alien. Yes, more Nazi alien conspiracies. Perfectly okay late night pap. The creature design is cute. On NWI. 6/10

The Hot Rock (1972) directed by Peter Yates is not unlike many other heist films but what makes this film special is the cast and the setting. It opens with Robert Redford getting released from prison and pulled back into the game by George Segal. These two guys can easily carry any film of their time but here they're surrounded with a marvelous cast to fill in the gaps. What I love is that the city of New York becomes an additional and necessary character. The overhead helicopter shots are terrific including the still-under-construction World Trade Center. 7/10

The House Where Evil Dwells (1982) is a Japanese ghost story that despite its many flaws is very watchable simply for its location and cast. Let it be known that I can watch Doug McClure in anything. Basically an American family moves into an centuries-old traditional Japanese home where a violent murder and suicide took place. Naturally the ghosts still inhabit the home and eventually possess its new hosts. What I question is the location of the house being in Kyoto yet it appears that Edward Albert goes to Tokyo for some late night partying. Wha? And I still find Susan George annoying. On NWI. 6/10

L.A. Streetfighters (1985) a.k.a. Los Angeles Streetfighter is one of the most amazing things I've seen. It defies all explanation. I believe @mattsinger of IFC was the first to bring it my attention. 30 year old high school students battle thugs and gangs in the streets of Los Angeles as all their voices are dubbed in post. Somehow they're able to get steady gigs as security for parties around the city between the gang fighting get hired by a drug dealer. Then, inexplicably, decide to rob him. This brings Bill Wallace and Ken Nagayama into the picture as the heavies to enact revenge. Also love that Phillip "Best of the Best" Rhee is in this. I feel like we need to watch this at "Bad Movie Night" because I don't think I've seen anything quite like this. 6/10 (for pure entertainment & WTF value)
  • January New: 43
  • January Re-watch: 4
  • January '11 Total: 47
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 47

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cursed Killing

Catacombs (1988) a.k.a. Curse IV: The Ultimate Sacrifice plays more like a religious drama than a demon-possession horror flick. But when the horror happens, it's pretty good. Girl visits a monastery run by Ian Abercrombie (Justin Pitt!) and finds Tim Van Patten. Yeah, him again. Crucified Jesus and final possession are enough to make kids pee their pants. On NWI. 5.4/10

My Battle Royale (2000) blu-ray set, courtesy of Arrow Films, finally arrived a couple of days ago from Amazon UK. Cannot emphasize what an amazing Limited Edition set this is. Even more amazing was the minimal price to obtain. My edition is #73 of 10,000, the lowest number I've seen among my friends. Anyways, been looking for an excuse to watch one of my favorite films again. And, man, does it ever look great on blu-ray. No need to go into film details as I'm sure you've already seen it. Right?! 9.5/10
(thanks to for the image)

The 7 Adventures of Sinbad (2010), courtesy of The Asylum, is everything you'd expect and little more. Patrick Muldoon (you remember him, right?) is the modern day Sinbad (in name only) is sent out on the high seas to investigate a oil tanker leak only to end up on an island (or maybe it's a giant whale?) of magical creatures as he notes, "CRABS! CRABS!" He meets a beautiful islander with a french accent (attractive Sarah Desage) and the thrills begin. Oh, there's Bo Svenson! On Instant Watch and worth a look if you love The Asylum. I watched it twice (tallying once). 4.5/10

Charlie Chaplin's City Lights (1931) was a blindspot I sought to correct. And it's everything and then some. The tramp saves a rich drunkard from committing suicide and instantly becomes his drunk buddy. That's to say, the wealthy douchebag only remembers the tramp when he's drunk. During this friendship the tramp gets involved with a blind girl and attempts to earn money for her that includes a riotous amateur boxing match. Highly recommended for the obvious. 7.7/10
  • January New: 39
  • January Re-watch: 4
  • January '11 Total: 43
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 43

Friday, January 14, 2011

Machine Bee Undead

Android (1982) has Klaus Kinski playing god on a space station, creating life in the form of, yes, androids. His world gets mussed when some wanted criminals take refuge, and our lead android (uncredited Don Keith Opper) begins to explore his humanity. Enjoyed the viewing. Its soft rock soundtrack had me wondering about humanity too. I may have picked up the one-sheet of this a while back. On Netflix Instant. 6/10

The Green Hornet (2011) is the film that should have never been. And it shows. No need to dissect its long tumultuous history here because it's not very interesting. Nor is this film. With the notable exception of Jay Chou, this Hornet fires blanks. Maybe the first Rogen character I dislike. And it has potential but where is Gondry in this? The year is young but this will likely be one of the bigger disappointments of 2011. 6/10

Received Les Revenants (2004) a.k.a. They Came Back from Netflix under the guise of a fresh take on zombies. Instead we're treated with people who die but come back to life as vacant shells of their former selves. Not really anything zombie-ish about it. But it is interesting albeit more on the slow-paced side of things. Kinda thought the pacing was leading up to something grand but not really. 6/10

The Tomb (1986) tumbles but never falls. Directed by Fred Olen Ray, our characters find themselves in a… tomb. Okay, not quite. Basically a tomb is robbed of its artifacts and an evil vampire queen (the sexy Michelle Bauer) comes to America to enact revenge. Watched via Instant streaming but have on VHS somewhere. Not terrible. 5.7/10
  • January New: 36
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 39
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 39

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rock Me, Miller

Rockula (1990) features Dean Cameron as a 400 year old vampire looking to score. Toni Basil is his mother looking to get her dance on. He wants to be in a rock band and be with his girl. Musical performances happen. It's good. It's bad. It's Rockula... on NWI. 5.6/10

Green Zone (2010) I skipped last year because of the mixed reactions. That and it being yet another glimpse into the conflict in Iraq was enough to keep me away. Wish I hadn't because I enjoyed what Greengrass did and the presence of Matt Damon, who sells it. Jason Isaacs is also darn good for the role he's given. Not a perfect film but enough tension to make it a worthwhile watch. 7/10

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972) is not the worst adaptation (this is the sixth I've seen in the past year) but it's far from memorable even with the likes of Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore. Probably due to no one but Alice really having a large part. That was an unintentional joke (she grows larger, folks). Fiona Fullerton is a rather bland Alice. Watched on NWI but won't remember it in a year. Or maybe it's time to take a beak from Alice in Wonderland films? 5/10

  • January New: 32
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 35
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 35

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Be Afraid of Brides

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) was BK's Horror Movie Night selection today and one I picked up from Warner Archives last year. Directed by John Newland it stars Kim Darby (of the original True Grit) as one half of the couple that moves into an old house inhabited by small troll-like creatures. Kinda amazing this was made for TV because it's so damn creepy. I may have even seen it back in the day but repressed it. 7/10

Late night viewing was relegated to the truly awful Bride Wars (2009) featuring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway in a preposterous plot of two soon-to-be-married friends who turn on each other because their weddings were "accidentally" scheduled on the same day. I call bullshit. 4/10
  • January New: 29
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 32
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 32

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Elevator Rage

Space Rage (1985) is what happens when Michael Paré is made a criminal and is placed on prison planet. That is, until ex-cop Richard Farnsworth unretires to save the planet. Not all that good but serviceable. Watched on VHS covering my 1-VHS-per-week goal. 5.5/10

Elevator to the Gallows (1958) is a sublime crime thriller directed by Louis Malle that I hate myself for not seeing it sooner. If you thought that one man stuck in an elevator might lack some thrills, you'd be wrong. The subplot I found even more entertaining as two young people run off for a night of reckless abandon. The night shots of Jeanne Moreau walking the city in desperate search for her lover are exquisite. Highly recommended. On NWI. 8/10

Jake West's Doghouse (2009) certainly has an interesting premise; a group of misogynistic men go on a vacation only to find themselves in a town overrun with cannibal women who, wait for it, hate men. Great production but truly despicable characters. Comedy fails because you really have no sympathy for these assholes. 6.4/10
  • January New: 27
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 30
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 30

Monday, January 10, 2011

Turd Hunting

Mutant Hunt (1987) is clearly an exercise in how to make a bad film worse. There is no other explanation this on-screen diarrhea. The mutants aren't even mutants; they're really androids imitating cardboard characters. But with all the bad comes pure moments of hilarity including our lead's cyborg fight in his tighty-whiteys. Hat tip to @Gholson and @JacobSHall for alerting me of this turd on NWI. 4/10
  • January New: 24
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 27
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 27

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Get Your Motor Running

Motorama (1991) where a boy can steal a car and drive across country encountering character actors along the way while fulfilling his dream. No seriously this is fun little flick that reminds me a lot of my child- and adulthood. Cool to see all the familiar faces make cameo appearances. 6.7/10

An American Rhapsody (2001) starring ScarJo, Nastassja Kinski, and Tony Goldwyn popped up on FLIXe when I was channel-surfing killing time before a football game. This early appearance by a young Scarlett Johansson had me intrigued. It's based on the true story of director/writer Éva Gárdos and her family's plight to escape Hungary after the war. Not a bad watch with decent acting all around. 6.5/10

Screamtime (1983) is a horror anthology directed by Michael Armstrong & Stanley Long that was recently added to NWI. Credit @ReelDistraction for noticing this and informing the rest of us who promptly queued it. I rather enjoyed all three of the short horror stories nearly equally. The first dealing with puppets, the second with a haunting visions, and the final tale of killer garden gnomes all framed by a couple of scumbags that rob a video store. 7/10

Picked up Paul W.S. Anderson's Death Race (2008) on blu-ray from my library feeling the desire to revisit. Think I enjoyed it as much as I did during my theater viewing. Not sure what made this version "unrated" because it looks the same. Watched the making-of featurettes. Someday I'll probably buy this one. It's silly fun as long as you don't shit on the sidewalk. 7/10
  • January New: 23
  • January Re-watch: 3
  • January '11 Total: 26
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 26

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Movie Night '11 #1

Deep Space (1987) kicked off my early morning viewing on NWI. Really gotta love Netflix for bringing a lot of these old OOP titles on streaming. This is a Fred Olen Ray flick, which my capsule should end there. But hey Charles Napier is the star along with the hot Ann Turkel. Oh Bo Svenson and Julie Newmar are also in this. And Ron Glass! This is a monster flick and it's not bad. Lots of people get killed as Napier tries to hunt it down. 5.7/10

Condor (1986) was next via NWI starring Ray Wise with an android (female) partner trying to stop an evil android (female) ex-prisoner. This was a made-for-TV movie and it shows. Not a bad watch for early morning but nothing special. Does feature a fun dragster race! 5.5/10

After several hours of sleep I headed over to Ron's for a impromptu movie night to celebrate his birthday. First movie night of 2011! Sadly no one else could make but whatever. We still had a good time with the blu-rays I brought.

Ninja (2009) was the first blu up so we could watch with the kids, who apparently had seen it before even tho Ron had not. Weird. Anyways, this is the Isaac Florentine helmed throwback film featuring Scott Adkins in a plot you'd see in an 80s ninja flick. Ninja school, bad egg ninja gets kicked outta school and becomes supervillain hired by a secret cult that controls the underworld. I said the only thing missing was a "Cannon Video" logo before the film. Really fun and so much better than the lifeless Ninja Assassin. 6.8/10

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) was next up thanks to Amazon UK offering the all-region blu-ray. Been looking forward to finally watching this low budget thriller and it delivers. Directed by Jonathan Levine, you can tell this movie was made a few years ago because Amber Heard and Whitney Able (she of Monsters) look so young. 7/10

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1978) was our final film on blu-ray for the night. It's considered a Shaw Brothers classic and it comes pretty close to that. Much of the film is really a long training exercise but it's very entertaining. Lo Lieh is the evil general but he really doesn't get that much screen time. 6.8/10
  • January New: 20
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 22
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 22

Friday, January 07, 2011

Love Berserker

Lost and Delirious (2001) dives right into its young love subject matter from the get-go revealing the secret lives of girls in a boarding school. Didn't even recognize Piper Perabo. Less steaminess and more coming of age. Jessica Paré and Mischa Barton are pretty good here. 7/10

Terror in the Swamp (1985) is a VHS flick I picked up recently and is another awfully executed monster flick with a few inexplicable moments including the finale. The bad dialogue makes it watchable but still not a very good film. 4.5/10

The Delos Adventure (1987) continues my bad movie trend today as a group of scientists uncover a secret government plot and hidden underwater Russian base. Always enjoy seeing Kurtwood Smith in what could've been a pretty good flick if not for the rapid conclusion that sunk the film. 5/10

Berserk (1967) is a horror circus flick directed by Jim O'Connolly that could've been one done by William Castle. It features 1) Joan Crawford, 2) has a familiar murderer twist, and 3) the lurid colors and set design (it's a circus!). And for those reasons I really like this film. The circus atmosphere is ideal for staging such an elaborate series of murders. 7/10
  • January New: 15
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 17
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 17

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Creatures Lie Here

Monster (2008) is a odd mash-up of Cloverfield and the most recent Monsters. But unlike both of those, this film doesn't show nary a monster. I can accept the novice acting and the location set in Tokyo. However, attempting to stir up drama and fear from merely shaky cam and sound effects doesn't cut it. Wasn't expecting such a serious take by The Asylum. Doesn't suit them but does fulfill my goal of watching a DVD I own. 4.5/10

Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) on VHS is a corny snow beast flick that's quite awful on most counts. I will say that I fell for the apparent twist because I thought the silly monster suit was supposed to be just that. You know what I mean if you've seen this film. Covers my goal to watch one of my VHS tapes this week. 4.5/10

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (2010) provides an adequate history of DC Comics and its superheroes from their origin to present day including the struggles after the war when people no longer craved hero comics. Nothing majorly new here but nice to see the creators give their perspective. 7/10
  • January New: 11
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 13
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 13

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Demons & Dragons

Tatsu no ko Tarô (1979) a.k.a. Taro the Dragon Boy is a cute feature animation adapted from a Miyoko Matsutani novel that delves into Japanese folklore about the quest of one boy looking for his mother. Along the way he uses his special powers to help starving villagers. Very enjoyable watch. Fulfills my goal of viewing one Japanese film this week! 7.4/10

The 400 Blows (1959) is marvelous! Directed by Francois Truffaut, it's easy to become so involved that you forget this is a child actor playing the main role of kid on the run. This is another blindspot film even though that goal has been hit this week. Don't mind because I've been wanting to view this. 7.8/10
  • January New: 8
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 10
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 10

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Night of the Network

Night of the Comet (1984) is a darn fun little horror flick. Just read this plot line from imdb: "A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types who survive." And Catherine Mary Stewart? That's all you need to know. Just see it. 7.1/10

Network (1976) fulfills that blindspot goal again and I'm a little dismayed that I haven't bothered to see this sooner. Such a great flick that holds up and could easily have been made today. Sidney Lumet plus that cast. Hard to go wrong. Highly recommended. 8.5/10

  • January New: 6
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 8
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 8

Monday, January 03, 2011

Stunts Rock

The Stunt Man (1980) is a must-see but viewing is enhanced because its shot on location at Hotel del Coronado, a marvelous old resort on Coronado Island. I recently visited the hotel 2 years ago during the Christmas holiday. It was great seeing the decorations and just being in such a historic place. So cool to see it onscreen again (last was the Duovision flick Wicked, Wicked). Steve Railsback is terrific here as is Peter O'Toole, such a delight. Barbara Hershey is gorgeous. Excellent film. 7.8/10
  • January New: 4
  • January Re-watch: 2
  • January '11 Total: 6
  • January '10 Total: 51
  • 2010 TOTAL: 6

(My) Top Ten Most Fun Films of 2010

Unlike my "Best-of" list, I present the list of new releases that I had the most fun with in 2010. No need for eloquence here... just fun.

10. Piranha 3D
Went out of my way for a midnight screening expecting very little. What I got was a rambunctious crowd and schlocky big screen B-movie that on paper should not have been anywhere near as entertaining as this was.

9. StreetDance 3D
The only movie on this list I did not see at the cinema was also one that had me tearing up with joy. Not quite as enjoyable as Step Up 3D, this one still has enough moves to make onto my most fun list. For a post-BTSNAT screening with @BTSjunkie and @Noahphex, I couldn't have asked for more. Suuuuuurge!

8. Best Worst Movie
One of my best-of films equally deserving as one of the most fun experiences. It's quite surreal to sit in the very same theater that is also featured in the movie you're viewing. Also remarkable at the wealth of comedy in this heartwarming documentary. Me and the other dozen people at the Music Box laughed a lot.

7. Burlesque
This one may lose me some cred (not that I had any). Can't really put into words my fascination with Cher. Maybe it started as a child watching her variety show with the late Sonny Bono. Not really sure but I am sure that I love this film and all its layers of cheese. Was certain the top half of my head was going to fall off from my ear-to-ear grin. Oh, and Xtina? ♥ her since the genie days.

6. Kick-Ass
Good event. Nice theater. Great company. Kick-ass film. Put those together for a vastly enjoyable experience. After a day spent at the inaugural C2E2: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, we headed over to a brand new swanky theater downtown to see this opening weekend. My ribs hurt afterwards. Yes, that'll carve out a spot on this list.

5. Tangled
Thanksgiving afternoon, tiny packed theater, and my girlfriend, a Disney fanatic. All that overrides Toy Story 3, which doesn't even make this list because, frankly, it wasn't a *fun* viewing experience (awful, belligerent audience). This one, however, was a blast. Audience full of kids completely mesmerized with plenty of adults chuckling along. Place it on a holiday and it becomes unforgettable.

4. Easy A
Easily could've made my "Best-of" list for how much I adore this film. And it's a testament to how much I enjoyed this screening considering the less than desirable screening conditions, i.e. lousy theater, talkative audience, etc. But the charm of this film helmed by Emma Stone - who appears stunningly gorgeous in one frame and a muppet in another - won me over.

3. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Another runner-up for best of the year, this dark comedy of Finnish Santa Claus lore adapted for modern times owned the audience at Fantastic Fest (read my FF scribblings here). Not many films I saw at FF produced a peep; this movie generated laughs. Lots of them. Rare indeed and a magical moment from my eight days at the festival.

2. Step Up 3D
No, this is not a mistake. Before we go on I will admit to being part of the masses that dismissed the early news that the next Step Up would be in 3D. A joke, right? All I can say now is well played, Jon Chu, well played. Clearly he knows the formula for making 3D effective because here it rocks. I caught myself audibly cheering for Moose and the Pirates as they move up the dance battle ladder from Red Hook to the House of Samurai. This is the best use of 3D I've seen and the most fun I had watching a new film in 2010… almost.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
You already saw this film listed on my Top Ten Best of 2010. This might not be everyone's most fun film of the year but if you didn't have fun with this flick, you may need to see a robotics engineer because you're probably not human. Saw it twice at the cinemas and only wish I had seen it more during its relatively short late summer run. I know it has its naysayers but I've yet to meet one. Thank you, Edgar Wright.

Runner-ups: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gallants, Force of Five, Hatchet II, How To Train Your Dragon, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, MacGruber, Mutant Girls Squad, Outrage, Popatopolis, Satan Hates You, Summer Wars, The Expendables, TRON: Legacy.

Just remember: not all "fun" films are necessarily the best films or even great films. All that matters is that *you* have fun with them. (^-^)/

Speaking of "fun" lists, @ReelDistraction just posted his favorite vintage films seen in 2010. That's the way to do a fun list.