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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D

 I am going to start off this review by saying something that I never thought I'd say. I actually liked this movie. You are probably thinking that I have seen so many bad films that my brain has imploded, rendering me easily amused.

 Chainsaw never had the ups and downs that one would expect from a horror franchise. There was only one up and that was followed by a number of increasingly bad sequels. TCM2 was not only a victim of extensive executive meddling but it was also silly and quite possibly the worst film Dennis Hopper ever made.

I stand corrected
 TCM3 was either a reboot or a sequel, I never could tell. It wasn't as bad as part 2 but it did not hold a candle to the awesomeness of the original. And like TCM2 it was also violated by executives who decided that a movie featuring a skin wearing serial killer was too gory and demanded cuts.

Then came TCM4 which starred  a couple of unknown actors named Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger. McConaughey reportedly tried to get this film squashed as to avoid embarrassment. From an actor who thought Failure to Launch was a good idea, that's saying a lot. It also inexplicably decided to turn out favorite redneck slasher into a whiny little drag queen.

  In the early 2000s, the franchise attempted a reboot with a couple of films that I found bland and not worth typing about here.

  Texas 3D picks up where the original left off. The local sheriff demands custody of Leatherface after the events in the original film. The family actually considers going along with it when a gaggle of rednecks led by the mayor attack the house. The only survivors are of course Leatherface and baby Heather whom one of the rednecks kidnap and raise as their own.

A couple of decades later, Heather learns that her grandmother has died leaving her a swanky little home in Texas. I have a lot of problems with this set up. First, why was the Sawyer clan living in such a dilapidated house in the middle when they obviously had money. Second, why did Granny wait 20 years or so to reclaim the granddaughter that stolen from her. Is there no punishment for her kidnappers who killed her own mother?

Heather along with her boyfriend and best friend decide to go check out the house and encounter a hitchhiker. Luckily this hitchhiker doesn't follow the TCM tradition of blowing his brains out. He does however convince these complete airheads to leave him alone in the house where he commences to robbing the place blind.

Fortunately for Heather that house has the best home security that money can't buy. That's right, good old Leatherface who has essentially been protected by Granny all these years. The films plods along and we get to see

Guy playing pool

Awkward attempt at a love triangle

And Leatherface battling a pig

   And of course all of this is in 3D!!! so expect things tossed at the camera at any given moment. These effects may have been cool in the theater but on DVD it's just kind of dumb. Heather eventually learns that the town was responsible for killing her family and eventually decides to protect Leatherface as her grandmother has done before.

For a sequel, this movie is actually pretty decent. The movie actually made me feel sorry for Leatherface in a way that I could never feel sorry for Jason or Freddy. They took a stone cold killer and humanized him without turning him into a good guy or explaining away his sins. 

 Alexandra Daddario who plays Heather is a great actress and a likable scream queen. She is tough but also vulnerable and you generally feel for this lost character who is just trying to find her place in the world. I also love Tania Raymonde who despite playing the obligatory oversexed friend still manages to put in a good performance. I have been a big fan of hers since her days on Lost and am always pleased to see her pop up in movies. 

The only quibble I have is with the dates of the film. It was established that the original TCM took place in the mid seventies and that the beginning of this films took place soon after. That would set the events of this movie in the mid-nineties based on Heather's age. This wouldn't have been an issue had a video phone not been a main part of a scene. In the mid-nineties cell phones looked like this 

Not included: VIDEO

 If you like the original TCM then definitely give this one a whirl. It's a respectful homage that despite having some dull pointless scenes is entertaining. Kudos to this movie for paying tribute to the film's predecessor by bringing back original actors, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Bill Moesley, and John Dugan for cameos as members of the Sawyer family. 

Listen up re booters and classic horror film violators how about a little more of this and a little less this

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Contractor

 I think Danny Trejo may have Nicolas Cage syndrome. Nic Cage Syndrome is where an actor that has proven he can carry blockbuster films still takes any crap role that shows up in his inbox. Mr. Trejo, you are Machete for Christ sake. Stop doing these awful movies.

 The Contractor is your typical worker with an axe to grind picture. We meet the bland Chase family consisting of lawyer dad, sickly teenage sprite and frigid bitch mom. They need the kitchen remodeled quickly in time for a big fundraiser. But of course Daddy Dearest is a cheapskate looking for the lowest bidder, enter Danny Trejo.

  I get it, we need a convenient reason for Danny Trejo's character to be present in this movie. But the reason is totally convoluted and is out of character for the father. This is a guy who just bought this ridiculously swank mansion and on a whim bought his daughter a horse. We're supposed to buy this cheapskate routine?

  This movie proceeds strictly by numbers. Danny charms the pants off the family, frigid bitch gets uncomfortable with him and has him fired, and of course it turns out that the beloved contractor has a personal vendetta against Daddy Dearest. You could see this coming before the opening credits finish rolling.

   Danny Trejo is a bad ass; he has played killers, gangsters, and mercenaries. You have seen him fight vampires and zombies. And we're supposed to believe that a trio of suburban dumb asses can best him in a fight to the death?

  Another thing that really irked me about this movie was a major plot hole concerning the teenage daughter. She has asthma, very bad asthma, and this fact that is touted constantly throughout the film. The fundraiser is for an asthma wing at the hospital. The daughter is reminded to bring her back up inhaler while going on a trip. The girl's angry boyfriend drives off with her stuff including her inhalers.

 One would assume that a convenient asthma attack would ensue while she and her mom are running for their lives. Nope, it never comes up and is pretty much forgotten.

  I would only recommend this movie to hard core Trejo fans and even so I would do it very reluctantly. And since this is the second Trejo film that I have hated, Machete 2 better be fucking awesome.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Secrets in the Attic or how to be a masochist without even trying


  Imagine you had a friend in high school, a close friend with whom you were inseparable. Eventually though you outgrew this friend and drifted away. Time passes and you look them up only to find out your friend has lost their effing mind. This sums up my relationship with Andrew Neiderman aka V.C. Andrews.

  I haven't read a V.C. Andrews book in years but Secrets in the Attic called out to me. Mainly because it I thought it might be a throwback to Flowers in the Attic. The novel centers around two besties, Karen and Zipporah. At least the Andrews' legacy of terrible names hasn't gone out of style.

  Karen begins to act strangely and eventually reveals that her stepdad is a regular Norman Bates who has been molesting her. Eventually Karen kills him and Zippy is forced to hide her friend while feigning ignorance to her trusting parents.

  This story could have been a great psychological study on whether Karen was a victim or a heartless murderer. This book could have been some Nancy Drew mystery with the girls working to clear Karen's name. This book could have been about giant zombie bunnies fighting vampire guinea pigs. Any of these approaches would have been better than what really happened.

   Aside from the murder, the plot of the book centers on Zipporah getting laid. Your best friend's virginity is far more important than being on the lam for murder. She even goes so far to manipulate some guy into thinking Zipporah's a sure thing. In the old school V.C. Andrews novel, Zipporah would have been raped, but this is a kinder gentler V.C.; attempted rape only.

  Zipporah soon finds out that her older brother not only knows about Karen, he is also sleeping with her. Everyone eventually finds out that Karen has been lying about what had really happened and is conveniently put away in a mental hospital. And that she has a convenient sequel hook growing in her belly thanks to all that secret attic sex.

   Secrets had the potential to actually be worthy of the V.C. Andrews name but was incredibly botched by boring characters and ludicrous story lines. I was hoping to read more about Karen not Zipporah and her search for a clue. Sadly, there is a sequel and I will read and review it. It’s because I may be a masochist who specializes in torturing herself.

  Hopefully Secrets in the Shadows will tie up the multitude of loose ends that Attic has left behind.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cinemania's First Guest Post

Thank you to Spencer Blohm for this blogs' first guest post about a one of my favorite actresses, Kate Beckinsale. Happy Belated Birthday.

The talented and beautiful Kate Beckinsale turned 40 this past week. In honor of this milestone, I have collaborated with Jen to do a celebratory post on her life and career. Happy birthday Kate, I don’t think 40 has ever looked so good!

Kathrin Romary Beckinsale was born on July 26, 1973 in London. The only child of two actors, it seemed destined that Kate would join in the family business. Her first television appearance happened when she was four. She appeared on an episode of the British biographical series This is Your Life which had dedicated an episode to her father. Unfortunately, the following year, when Kate was only five, her father suffered from a heart attack and died. Kate and her mother then moved in with director Roy Battersby and she was raised with his five children.

Kate attended the Godolphin and Latymer School during her teen years and became involved with a local youth theater group. Despite being considered one of the most beautiful women in the business today, in high school Kate was a shy and reserved teen who hadn’t yet grown into her looks. She spent her teen years miserable and isolated, resulting in a difficult battle with anorexia. Eventually she suffered a nervous breakdown and was forced to undergo years of therapy to recover. She feels she fell prey to the disease primarily because of the trauma surrounding her father’s death. She discussed the rough patch with report Janie Lawrence in 1997 saying, “For some kids, if something traumatic happens to them when they're very young they pick something safer to worry about...The worst thing about it is that it takes on a life of its own separate from whatever's caused it.”

She moved on from that dark period while at New College in Oxford where she studied French and Russian literature. She excelled in college, earning the WH Smith Young Writers Award twice and joining the Oxford University Dramatic Society. Her first acting role came in 1991 when she appeared in the mini-series Devices and Desires. That same year she appeared in Hallmark made-for-TV movie One Against the Wind. Her first major role came in 1993 when she landed the role of Hero in the film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. She appeared in a few more films while attending school, but ultimately decided to quit school in 1995 to put all her time and energy into her acting career.

The same year she dropped out of school she received critical praise for her portrayal of Flora Poste in Cold Comfort Farm, also that year she starred in the horror film Haunted. She followed Haunted with her first professional theater appearance in The Seagull. It was during this time she met her boyfriend Michael Sheen. They stayed together until 2003, and Sheen is the father of her daughter. After starring in three more plays during 1996 she began work as the title character in the mini-series Emma, which was based on Jane Austen’s novel.

In 1998 she and Sheen moved to New York and she landed her first American movie: The Last Days of Disco. Kate received many positive reviews for her role as the uptight and snobby Charlotte. She continued to act in a series of lesser known American films through the end of the 90’s. In 2001 she landed her first leading role as a nurse torn between two best friends in the Michael Bay war epic Pearl Harbor. Despite differences with Bay and mixed reviews of the film, Kate’s star began to rise. She ended 2001 with a co-starring role alongside John Cusack in Serendipity.

Kate’s signature, most well-known role, came in 2003 when she starred as the vampire vixen Selene in Underworld. Her second action film came in 2004 when she starred in Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman. That same year she married director Len Wiseman at the Hotel Bel-Air. In a bid to diversify her resume, she accepted the role of screen siren Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator, a Howard Hughes biopic. In 2006 she showcased her acting skills by reprising her character in Underworld: Evolution and also starred in the family comedy Click.

Kate spent the following years appearing in series of independent films, most of which received mixed reviews. Her most critically praised role, in Nothing but The Truth, earned her a Critic’s Choice Award nomination, but the film is generally forgotten because of its lack of a theatrical release due to the film company filing for bankruptcy in 2008. Following two films in 2009, Everybody’s Fine and Whiteout, Kate took a break from acting for three years.

She made her return in 2012 with three back-to-back action films; Contraband, Underworld: Awakening, and Total Recall. Up next for Kate is the release of her film The Trials of Cate McCall later this year. She is currently filming Eliza Graves, a thriller where she plays a patient in a mental institution.

Through the years Kate has managed to create a body of work that is unique and diverse, both in subject matter and in scale. She continues to captivate audiences no matter what role she chooses. Kate Beckinsale is, and will remain, one of a kind. Happy birthday Kate!

About the Author: Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and film blogger for A fan of Kate’s since seeing her in The Aviator, he still considers that one of her best roles (alongside The Last Days of Disco and Pearl Harbor). He lives and works in Chicago with his cat Rupert.

Monday, July 29, 2013

10 Things I Hate About Halloween 5

1. Perfectly good storyline from part 4 is completely abandoned.

2. Ellie Cornell is killed off in the first reel taking half of the movies combined talent with her.

3. Terrible Awful Atrocious acting 

4. These fuckers don't die quick enough

5. Cliched cat scare scene

6. Dr Loomis has turned into a dick

7. Movie introduces two bumbling cops for comedic effect, torpedoes franchise for seven years.

8. This scene

9. Michael Myers' cheap dollar store mask

10. Dr Loomis dies yet returns in part 6 with no explanation

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Co-ed Call Girl

 Once again, I dive into the pink ghetto known as Lifetime. Like the Nostalgia Critic, I watch it so you don’t have to.

Ahh, Tori Spelling, the spoiled rotten fruit of Aaron Spelling’s loins, how I loathe her. I try not to be that person who hates a celebrity but she just doesn't make it easy. I even read her biography in a last ditch attempt to quell my hatred, it didn't work.

Tori plays Joanna, every Lifetime girl ever. She is a smart girl with a bright future, you know doomed. Her roommates hate her probably as much as I do. As a prank, they call an escort service and leave Joanna’s name asking them for a job.

They actually call her back. This escort service is so desperate that Tori freaking Spelling is a viable option!  The girl who recruits her is played by Jeri Lynn Ryan, a girl you would actually pay for. Joanna meets her favorite author and promptly beds him, getting a healthy paycheck in return.

Joanna soon learns that prostitution does not mean she can’t sleep her way through the male population of her bookshelf. Her pimp, Ron, spends half the film cajoling her and the other half threatening her. At one point he punishes her by selling her to a client for 50 bucks, which is still highway robbery.

Ron attempts some forceful sampling of his own and Joanna shoots him. She’s arrested but the courts declare her to be like totally innocent, ya’ll.  Flanked by her mother and boyfriend, she gives the pimp a triumphant glare before trotting off to her happy ending.

About that happy ending, it’s bullshit.
  • ·         She was arrested and her college’s name was dragged through the mud. You really think they are not going to kick her out of there.
  • ·         She also shot a man and admitted to being a hooker, you can kiss any job that requires a background check goodbye
  • ·         The pimp that she shot is alive; she’s about 20 seconds away from a drive-by shooting carried out by a neckless goon named Big Lou.

Thank you, Lifetime. If it weren't for your terrible and oddly addictive movies, I could actually maintain my self-respect.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

V: (The Second Generation) by Kenneth Johnson

  This is what the latest remake of V should have been. In fact, this was what the remake would have been until Warner Bros decided to remake the series completely. Nothing against the newer V series, I did like it and was bummed when it was cancelled.
   But this version of V is in a word awesome. It's pays tribute to the show's history and manages to create new story lines that keep the story fresh. First of all, it did what the new series did not, bring back all the old characters not just Diana. In fact, Diana barely came back, the remake flanderized her and wasted the talents of the phenomenal Jane Badler. 

  The novel takes place 20 years after the original series ended. The Visitors are in full control of the world and having been slowly draining the world's water, turning San Francisco into a desert wasteland. The Resistance has been almost destroyed in the Great Purge of '99, leaving only a few left. Things change when a new race of aliens arrives to help the humans take back their planet.

  Starting off, most of the old favorites are back. Mike, Juliet, Willy and Harmony, Robert, Martin, and Diana are all back. There is also the introduction of the second generation who are well written and fit seamlessly with the older series. Particular favorites are Emma and Nathan, former Visitor sympathizers turned vigilantes. And Ruby, Juliet's scrappy half-breed daughter, who avoids being a stereotypical Mary Sue like a lot of child characters turn out to be.

  I wasn't too crazy about the newer alien race; they were rather bland with no real back story. In fact, most of their story was observations on how hot the alien babes were. If I wanted to read alien porn, I would. My biggest quibble with the book was the absence of Robin and her half-breed child, Elizabeth.

  Robin and Elizabeth were an integral part of not only the original mini-series but also the following television series. The alien birth scene is probably one of the most memorable in Sci-Fi history and they don't even warrant a mention. At least scribble a couple of lines about them dying in the purge or whatever. To add insult to injury, Robin's father is a major character in this novel and all he utters is some throwaway line about Mike saving his daughters, just insulting.

 Still this is a great novel, if you loved V or even just love a good Sci-Fi novel, then check it out. You won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Alien Nation #1: The Day of Descent by Judith &Garfield Reeves-Stevens

Normally I am not a fan of tie-in novels. While there are some good ones out there, there are plenty more mediocre ones as well. But since I was a huge fan of the Alien Nation series, I had to give this one a shot. This is definitely one of the good ones.

Day of Descent is sort of a prequel to the original series. It picks up just after the season finale left off, with George’s wife and daughter in critical condition after a terrorist attack. While waiting in the hospital George and his son, Buck relieve the events that led to them crash landing on Earth.

Meanwhile, George’s partner, Sikes reveals his first encounter with the aliens to his Cathy, his alien love interest.

I loved being able to delve into George’s past while on the slave ship and how he got the courage to revolt. Buck’s story line about being torn between family and duty was also well-written, though it was hard seeing him as a child as opposed to the teenager we saw in the series. I loved getting a more proper feel for their lives before breaking free from their captors.

I wasn't too fond of the Sikes story line  nothing against the character, I just couldn't get into it. The whole finding out about the aliens/government cover up was done in V and much better in my humble opinion. I found myself being disappointed when the story would shift to him and pretty much skimmed the chapters until I got back to the slave ship.

If you were a fan of the series, then this book is a must read. It gives you a better appreciation of the characters and fills in a lot of necessary back-story. I look forward to reading the other books in the series. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Horrifying Non-Horror or Oh Hai, Romy & Michelle.


 As far as '90s movies go, Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion is a personal favorite. It had likable characters, a solid cast, and an awesome soundtrack. It was the magic of this film that made me stupid enough to seek out this insipid prequel.

  The prequel could have had excellent casting had the casting director not mucked it up. Katherine Heigl plays Romy who was the smarter half of the duo in the original film. She plays Romy as an absolute ditz, same with Alexis Breckinridge who takes the ditzy role of Michelle and makes her more serious and smarter. Had they simply switched roles this movie might have been more tolerable. Maybe the people who made this film couldn't tell the characters apart but the fans could.

  We meet up with a post high school Romy and Michelle who are desperate to leave Phoenix. Inspired by their new favorite movie, Pretty Woman, they decide to move to Hollywood and become hookers. Since this was made by ABC Family, they obviously don't go through with their goal. They are befriended by Donna, a transgender Fairy Godmother who takes the poor girls in. Donna is by far the most likable and entertaining character who should have gotten more of a plot.

   The plot of the original Romy & Michelle was actually relatable. It was about two high school outcasts hoping to show up their former tormentors. The plot of the prequel: Romy & Michelle are desperate to get into a trendy nightclub. This is not a movie plot, this is something you would fined in a typical sitcom or teen drama. 

   There are other more inane subplots, such as the girls’ lucky red shoes whom the original owner is desperate to get back. There’s an insecure model threatening to end the girls’ friendship. There is also a romantic subplot with two actors completely lacking in chemistry. They even trot out a shy maid with musical aspirations to butcher a Cyndi Lauper song. And of course a completely random cameo by Paula Abdul that makes no sense.

  The ditzy duo learns that they should be their selves and not try to fit in with everyone else. This is a lesson that they will completely years later and will have to learn all over again.

    I was at best hoping to find a cute little TV movie to bide my time. This was seriously an in name only movie that felt more like a drawn out cheap sitcom sans the laugh track. Save yourself the agony and simply rent the original instead.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Rise of the Zombies...and my lunch

Very rarely do I hate a zombie movie. The zombie genre is one of my favorites and if you have read my blog, you know I am not afraid of terrible movies. But Rise of the Zombies goes beyond terrible; it is heavy handed and downright unpleasant.

 The movie centers around a group of survivors who have been living on Alcatraz Island. However their safety is soon compromised when the zombies begin to infiltrate. The group decides to return to the city in the hopes of finding a cure. One of the survivors played by LeVar Burton opts to stay behind and basically spend the whole film having his talents wasted.

Speaking of wasting talent, Danny Trejo also stars in this film and dies in the first reel. This is the same thing that ticked me off about the Day of the Dead remake when Ving Rhames died early. You do not cast bad ass actors in a zombie film and kill them off. Trejo was the main reason I gave this movie an ounce of my attention.

One of the main plots of Rise is a pregnant woman named Ashley. Ashley is a pessimist who believes that her pregnancy is more of a curse than a joyous event. This was a pretty decent plot that was literally squashed in one of the worst scenes I have ever seen.

Our survivors come across a pregnant woman who is trapped in an ambulance and in labor. Unfortunately our mom to be is turned and the survivors are forced to do a C section to save the baby. The baby initially is fine and the scene is rather heartwarming. That is until the baby turns into a zombie and promptly has its head smashed in.

I have seen a lifetime of blood and gore but that scene turned my stomach. It also ruined any respect I had for the movie. To make matters worse, Ashley kills herself later on resulting in yet another infant death in this movie.

The rest of the movie consists on wasting the talents of Ethan Suplee and Mariel Hemingway, religious discussions and a tacked on "optimistic ending." With this movie, SYFY hit a new low in poor taste. When you fail as a SYFY movie, you kind of fail the movie industry all together.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sleepaway Camp 3: The final nightmare.

Once again reminding us that there are better movies out there

After a long hiatus, I have returned. What better way to start a new year by finishing something I had started last year. It’s time to cover the final installment in the increasing shit storm know as the Sleepaway Camp series.

I have to start this review by stating that Angela has one of the stupidest motives in slasher history, stupider than Michael Myers’ thorn cult. Her motive is summer camp and not in the way that Jason Voorhees sees summer camp. She obviously loves bug juice and macrame art so much that she would kill for it.

Since part 2 and 3 were filmed back to back, the action takes place at Camp Rolling Rock now rechristened Camp New Horizons. In an effort to drum up some good publicity, the owner’s are hosting an outreach program for rich and poor teenagers.

Angela is really devoted to her motive. In the days before Facebook, she manages to get a hold of the list of the campers. She manages to find someone who looks enough like her so that she can use her I.D. without suspicion. She steals a truck in order to kill her and steal her stuff. She even takes the time to indulge in a little graffiti art.

Let’s condense this film, shall we? Most of the kids are assholes begging to die. The fact that Angela looks so old is mentioned in increasingly unfunny jokes. There are random acts of nude scenes and a very uncomfortable sex scene involving Michael Pollard. I understand that sex scenes are a staple of slasher films but this was just unpleasant. It was so graphic that one might have mistaken that scene for a bad porno instead of a bad horror film.

There are a couple of assets that makes this film a little more likable than its predecessor. One was the introduction of Officer Whitman. He was mentioned in the previous installment as one of Angela’s arresting officer and the father of one of her victims. I wish they had actually devoted more screen time with this instead of offing him so quickly.

I also enjoyed the character of Marcia. She is such a likable character that even Angela decides not to kill her. Marcia is also a bad ass rather than let Angela live, she engages the psycho into a knock down drag out fight where she emerges as the victor. The film even takes time to poke a little fun in the end at the typical romances that we find in slasher films.

And Michael Pollard it’s not your fault you resorted to such dire straits for money. If I can forgive Dennis Hopper for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, I can forgive you.