Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Let's All Go to the Lobby...

OK, here are quick reviews of twenty movies I've seen in recent months...and...go!

Anvil: The Story of Anvil - I'm guessing the majority of folks who read this blog have already seen this film, but if not, for the love of Zod go rent it! It's the story of the band Anvil, who at one time were thought to be the "next big thing," but never were. It's heartfelt, and tear-jerking, and hilarious, and insightful, and just...wonderful. These guys are such lugs, and you can't help but feel for them (and those of us who have toiled in relative obscurity for years will absolutely empathize with 'em). If you can watch this without both laughing and crying...well, you're probably not someone I'm going to invite to my swanky dinner parties.

Pontypool - Another little gem. This was stars Stephen McHattie as an Imus-style radio personality who, along with a few other folks, finds himself trapped inside a radio station in the midst of the most unusual zombie apocalypse ever. I can't say much more than that without giving away the plot, but trust me, this is one of the more cerebral walking dead films you'll ever see. Just...peculiar. But in a very interesting way

Farmhouse - Holy moley, mother of god...this one knocked the wind out of me...OK, so it stars, among other folks, Steven Weber. Have I ever mentioned how much I cannot stand Steven Weber? Between his oh-so-affected acting and his moronic political rants, he's also not coming to my swanky dinner parties. But anyway, the movie is about a young couple who get mixed up with another young couple, and the latter duo are quite dangerous and insane. Now, up until the last twenty minutes or so, it's a bit like a much lesser version of Kalifornia...if Kalifornia had the DUMBEST...ENDING...EVER. I'm not joking. When I say this thing jumped the shark, I mean it jumped Mega-Shark. I'd tell you not to watch this piece of crapola, but really, you HAVE to see the ending. It's sublime in its awfulness.

Martyrs - I'm not sure what to say about this one. It's ostensibly a movie about a woman who is kidnapped and tortured, but not in a Hostel or Saw sort of manner. It had a great number of twists and turns, and I wasn't really sure HOW to feel about it, but there was something about the ending that won me over. If I may channel Mitch Hedberg for a sec, I'm sure people will either love it or hate it...or think it was just OK. I really dug it, though.

Seventh Moon - Ah, it was OK. It's one of those Ghost House pictures (who seem to have patterned themselves at the Eight Movies to Die For franchise). It's about an American couple in China who have to deal with some weird ghosty-demony kind of spirits. It had a few good scenes and interesting visuals. It wasn't great, but compared to Farmhouse it was Citizen Kane and the Magnificent Ambersons COMBINED.

District 9 - One of my favorite movies of the year. Great story, great acting, funny scenes, poignant scenes, and some of the most convincing effects I've seen in quite a while. And as opposed to the heavy-handed Avatar, this allegory doesn't beat you across the head. In fact, you could watch the thing and not necessarily even draw the Apartheid conclusions, because the story carries you along just fine without it. If you haven't seen this, seek it out.

Final Destination - The newest in the FD franchise, this one was filmed for 3-D, so it tends to look a little wonky as things come flying toward the screen. But really, what movie has a better rationale for 3-D? I generally have enjoyed the FD movies much more than other formula series like Saw, as the deaths are fairly inventive, and they really manage to maintain a sense of suspense. This one lived up to the rest for the most part, though there were a couple of cheese-o-rama scenes. Good for a night of brainless fun.

Machined - The upside of watching low-low-budget horror films is that you occasionally find a little gem. The downside is stuff like Machined. It's...oh, hell, I dunno...it has something to do with this guy that looks like the titular character from Otis, or maybe Grossberger, and he scrapes a motorcycle accident victim off the pavement and turns him into a killing machine. Well, assuming that your definition of killing machine is a guy in football pads wearing a welding mask. I guess he's supposed to be all cybernetic or somesuch, but no, he appears to just be on the welding squad of the Minnesota Vikings. It was just bad. Oh, so bad. It was "I need to take a shower afterward" bad.

Reborn - This movie is...THE SEQUEL TO MACHINED! I know, I know. "But Troy, if it was that bad, why would you watch the sequel?" Frankly, it's because I'm a completist who also suffers from OCD, and if there's more to a story out there, even a bad one, I generally go looking for it. Yeah, I DO realize how sick I am. Anyway, this one was actually a little better than Machined, but that's like saying being dropped into a vat of acid is slightly better than slowly being killed with a cheese grater (which is a scene from Farmhouse, btw).

It's Alive - Blech. A totally awful and unnecessary remakes of Larry Cohen's, well, sort of classic tale of a killer infant. This version was confusing, muddled, goofy, and totally pointless. There was no miracle to this birth, except perhaps that it actually got someone to produce it. I can only wish Margaret Sanger could've gotten to it before I did.

The Collector - Nine tenths of a pretty cool movie. The premise is that you have a burglar who breaks into a house, not knowing that a serial killer is already there, holding the residents hostage while he tortures them. The thief with a heart of gold finds himself in the role of erstwhile hero and has to save the family and himself from the dementoid. Really a nice little bit of suspense...until the end. Arrrrgh! Hey, Hollywood, I realize that many of your denizens are of the cynical, far-too-cool-to-be-upbeat crowd, but you know it's occasionally OK to have an ending that doesn't cry "I'm so nihilistic!" Lighten up; I know what screenwriters make.

Wrong Turn 3 - As everyone knows, I love cannibalistic hillbilly movies. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. And I dug the first two WT movies, especially the second, with Henry Rollins blowin' stuff up reaaaalll good. But this one made a HUGE mistake: they decided that basically just one crazy, cannibal hillbilly was enough to satisfy we cannibillyophiles. BZZZZZZZZ! Oh, so sorry. No, if I wanted one crazy murderous hillbilly at a time, I'd go see any one of my uncles on visiting day. No, I want as many flesh-eating, mutated jethroes as you can throw at me, please. WT3 is an OK film, I guess, but it was the weakest entry of the series thus far.

Albino Farm - OK, so here's another crazed hillbilly flick. This one has its own creepiness, largely supplied by a guest appearance by wrestling star and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho, who plays a cornfed creepster well. For the sake of truth in advertising, I should mention that there were no actual albinos harmed in the making of this film (the family's NAME is "Albino"; that would've been a tough one to deal with in grade school). Not the best of its kind, but there's a perversity to this one that you have to appreciate.

Offspring - This one is sort of a switch on the cannibalistic hillbilly deal; rather than atomic Clampetts, this bunch is made up of warpainted savages who look like Sideshow Bob living in caves and kidnapping our menfolk to perpetuate their kind. All in all it's fairly lame. It's a good flick to give the MST3K treatment to, however, especially every time Art Hindle is on screen.

The Hills Run Red - Pleasantly surprised here. This fits into that "film within a film" genre that we've seen with things like Midnight Movie, but it makes its own mark, too. There's a fairly twisted angle to it that is quite horrific, and well, since it's a horror movie, that's a good thing!

Repo the Genetic Opera - Damned if I know. I'm guessing this thing will be a cult classic, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. There were a couple of tunes in there that are quite well done and catchy, but much of the music...I don't know...it seemed like it was being made up on the spot. For a movie like this to work, the lyrics have to be ultra-sharp, and for the most part these weren't. Your mileage may vary, though.

Trick 'r' Treat - A nice little anthology piece. It didn't live up to the HUGE hype I'd heard about it, but it was still quite enjoyable. I dig the fact that the vignettes are more closely tied in to each other than the standard anthology (say, Creepshow). Definitely worth watching.

Evil Bong 2: King Bong
- Yikes. Y'know, I've never minded Charles Band and Full Moon Pictures doing their occasional goonfest, as long as they keep turning out stuff like the Puppet Master films. But these days, with stuff like Gingerdead Man and the Evil Bong films, and none of my beloved puppets to be seen, it's hard to look at this studio, one that I used to follow fervently, as a serious venture. Really, to enjoy this film, you probably need to be enjoying your own evil bong. Thankfully, though, they've announced a couple of new Puppet Master and Demonic Toys projects, none too soon.

Saw VI - By all that's holy, GIVE IT UP!!! Tobin Bell died, what, three or four movies ago? And the premise used to be that there was a certain amount of justice in the predicaments the victims found themselves in. But criminy, now Jigsaw is torturing people for having seventeen items in the "15 items or less" lane! I'll keep watching them because of the aforementioned OCD, but cripes, it's getting spread thinner than a woman in a David E. Kelley production.

Black Dynamite - An excellent spoof on blaxploitation films. Unlike something like I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (also a terrific movie), this one really captures the low budget aspects of the source material (right down to purposely having boom mikes in the shot and clunky editing). Very funny, and obviously a labor of love. I want more Black Dynamite!