Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Reef (2010)

I saw Open Water a very long time ago.  In fact, I saw it in the drive-ins.  The Reef was said to be much like Open Water so I decided to give it a chance.

Everyone is snorkeling off of Australia and things are awesome.  I identify because I've been on snorkeling trips that seem sweet but things could go wrong at any moment.  The fish are cute and everything's great but the boat capsizes and everyone has to figure out what's up.

Some people decide to swim to an island 12 miles away.  Programming note: I'm a marathoner and I run 12 miles on a fairly regular basis.  Swimming 12 miles is an entirely different thing.  Running 12 miles takes around 2 hours...I can't imagine what swimming 12 miles would take.  Some people stay put on the sinking boat and hope it doesn't take them down with it.  

Now a shark is stalking around as everyone tries to get to safety.  Now I thought sharks only were attracted to humans if they were on a surfboard and looked like seals.  Apparently not.  These snorkelers try to dodge sharks as they attempt to reach dry land.

Unfortunately you really can't make a fast-paced movie when it comes to sitting around in the ocean waiting for a predator.  Jaws did it years ago but that combined excellent acting with quite an anomaly that The Reef cannot quite match.  It wasn't a complete waste of my time, but was not awesome either.

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High Lane (2009)

Dear Netflix Instant:

First, you cannot fix your subtitles so that they appear correctly on my television.  Now, I do not get the choice to watch with subtitles or dubbed.  I hate dubbed movies.  It reminds me of those crazy dubbed Asian game shows they used to show on Spike.  I want my subtitles, and I want them to be visible.

The Scream Queen

High Lane (aka Vertige) is a French movie about some 20-somethings hiking in Croatia.  They choose a trail that is currently closed, thinking it will be more of an exciting challenge.  However, their ringleader, Fred, neglects to tell the less-experienced members of the group that there is only one way in and out.  They become trapped, and hunted by an unknown group/person/entity.

High Lane is very The Descent meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Wrong Turn.  So, you know, hearing banjos en Francais in the middle of a Croatian hiking trip.  The action scenes were super exciting and very well filmed.  I personally have never gone rock climbing, but this movie makes me want to never attempt it.  There's beautiful ladies, sort-of hot guys, but no nudity to be found.

I really liked this movie, from the action to the acting to the super-fun blood and gore.  Dubbed or not, this is definitely a French film to check out.  They get it right nearly every time, don't they? ;)

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And Soon The Darkness (2010)

I never saw the original And Soon the Darkness, but maybe I will now.  I like watching different versions of movies and comparing them.  The original was British and had two girls on a biking trip in France.  This version has two American girls on a biking trip in Argentina.  You'll probably immediately think of Turistas, and although this has the same vibe, it doesn't really venture into the torture porn category.

The two female leads, Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman/Annable) need their membership to the girls' club revoked forever.  I'm reminded of Final Girl's take on Frozen in the sense that these girls were assholes and horrible friends to each other, and maybe karma is coming to bite them right in the ass.  On Stephanie and Ellie's last night in Argentina, they go out of a bar and get quite tipsy.  Being a horrendous friend, Ellie traipses off to bang some Argentinian dude, leaving Stephanie to wander back to the hotel by herself.  The next day, they drag their hungover butts to go sightseeing, but begin fighting again and separate.   A real friend would never peace out on another no matter how mad you are, so both of these girls are just stupid.

While separated, one of the girls is kidnapped, and the other, who knows zero Spanish, is forced to go running around rural Argentina trying to find her friend.  She soon discovers that not only is her friend not the first American to be kidnapped, but there are very few people she can trust to help the both of them.

And Soon the Darkness was shot in Argentina and I found the cinematography to be beautiful.  No generic Canadian shots here.  Kudos to the location scout, who not only found beautiful wide expanses for the biking scenes, but also surreal creepy and deserted towns.  Stupid girls aside, I really liked this movie overall.  I love flicks that can achieve the feeling of "trapped-in-the-open" and extreme helplessness. 

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Resident (2011)

I usually stay far away from mainstream horror movies, but we're stranded here in a hurricane and I'm just making my way through my 235 strong instant queue.  Also, I usually can't skip a flick about NYC, even if it's based in Brooklyn.

The Resident is about a Brooklyn doctor, Juliette (Hilary Swank) looking for a new apartment after she catches her boyfriend cheating on her.  She finds a steal in the BK for $3800/month and rushes to move in.   Her landlord, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is super foxy and they develop a flirtation.  But when she decides to reunite with her old boyfriend, she discovers that Max has gone all Norman Bates on her, creeping around the apartment and drugging her at random.

I'm not typically a Hilary Swank fan, but I liked this movie.  Apparently Hil is trying to highly sexualize herself in the wake of comments about her looks, so we get to see Swank boobs, panties, and even some Divynls action in her tub.  The Resident was like a fun combination of Single White Female and Pacific Heights and is definitely worth a watch. 

Mongolian Death Worm (2010)

Due to the impending hurricane, we New Yorkers are trapped in our apartments all weekend.  As my husband is confined here with me, I am subjecting him to as many horrible sounding horror movies as I possibly can before he goes all Jack Torrance on me.

I'm watching the last fifteen minutes of this movie while I write this, and I'm still not entirely sure what this is all about.  There appears to be worms, which kill people at random, but also make them sick.  Several different people appear to be involved in this issue, including a oil refinery manager, a guy searching for treasure, some volunteer doctors, and the only Mongolian main character -- a cop dressed like a cowboy.

The plot of this movie was pretty nonsensical.  Apparently some oil drilling has stirred up the infamous Mongolian death worms, letting them loose on all these unsuspecting people.  There were like 12 different subplots going on, making the whole thing nearly impossible to follow.  Also the entire thing was filmed in Texas, making its resemblance to Mongolia completely nil. I was hoping for Mongolian Death Worm to be awesomely bad, but it was just plain bad. 

Kiss the Girls (1997)

This was on USA today, and I went back and forth on whether I should review it.  But it does contain kidnapping, chicks tied to trees, and a smokin' hot Ashley Judd so I decided to go ahead with it.  I read Kiss The Girls before I saw the movie, and the film follows the book pretty closely.  The book is actually much more descriptive in terms of the sexual abuse and such so it's fine that was left out. 

For the like 2 people out there that haven't seen this movie, Kiss The Girls is about a kidnapper/murderer called Casanova, who keeps a harem of young, smart, beautiful women in an underground lair in North Carolina.  Detective Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) is put on the case after his niece, Naomi goes missing.  Shortly after, Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) is abducted from her home and added to the menagerie of women in Casanova's collection.

She escapes the killer's clutches and joins Det. Cross on cracking the case.  They open a Pandora's box of missing women, exposing a bi-coastal operation that has been going on for years.  But as they get closer to nabbing the suspect, they realize he may have been closer than they thought all along.

Kiss The Girls is a little on the long side, but it's a fast-paced and exciting thriller.  The acting is great, although Ashley Judd in the scene where she describes her ordeal contains super-ugly cry face.  The twist was good, and overall good flick.  I've always liked this one.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

YellowBrickRoad (2010)

YellowBrickRoad didn't really appear to be a critic's favorite, but there was something about this movie I really liked.  It's like a strange hybrid of Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows and Lost.  There was just so much creepiness and trapped-in-the-outdoors feeling to this movie and I just really dug it.  The ending was completely awful, but more on that later.

Background: in 1940, the entire town of Friar, New Hampshire just upped and walked away.  Most were determined missing, or found dead along a trail in the mountains outside of town.  Some died of exposure, and others were brutally murdered.  There was one survivor, who provides pretty much no information in a recording where he mumbles creepily. 

Fast-forward 70 some-odd years and a motley crew of smartypants and filmmakers are looking to make a little documentary on the disappearance of the town.  Much like Blair Witch, they run around asking the townspeople questions that no one wants to answer.  Luckily for them, they find a movie theater employee eager to get the hell out of Dodge.  She says she'll lead them to the trail, called the Yellow Brick Road, if they take her with them.

So the whole little group goes traipsing through the woods, taking constant notes, measurements, and the like.  But they are soon to learn that the Yellow Brick Road is not just a trail, and it can't be followed with compasses and maps.  I really liked the pressure and buildup in this movie...the shift in the group dynamics escalated at a good pace, and never got too slow.  There was some gore, and seriously willy-inducing moments, especially the "scarecrow" scene. 

The ending of this movie was absolutely horrendous.  It had a vaguely Shining vibe, but was just overall stupid and made no sense.  I wish they could have wrapped it up better, but overall I enjoyed this flick.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I get a Liebster Blog award!

The awesome blog Bad Ronald hooked me up with a Liebster Blog Award.  This is a little different than most of these award things, because you have to shout out blogs that have less than 200 followers so that they get more followers.  What a novel idea!  Thanks Bad Ronald!  Also, can someone spring $20 and buy me Bad Ronald on DVD from Amazon?  Netflix apparently does not compute this title.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!
Now give these badass bloggers some followers:

*Disclaimer: it was sort of hard to tell on everyone's site how many followers they have!  So forgive me if I chose you and you have a billion followers or something and I made a huge mistake ;)

Pass it on, horror lovers :)

Cameron's Closet (1988)

I don't think that this was an overly popular movie for it's time, but there were a few pretty important people involved in its making.  The score was composed by Harry Manfredini, obviously famous for creating the Friday the 13th music, among other things.  The special effects were done by Carlo Rambaldi, who previously won Oscars for his work on E.T. and Alien.  

Cameron's Closet was one of my favorite movies when I was just getting into the horror genre in junior high.  We would always rewind and replay the machete scene, one of the many fun death scenes in this movie.  Sure, the effects weren't perfect, but I always take the 80s with a grain of salt.  A lot of movies from back then were scarier than the crap they spend millions on now.

Cameron's Closet is about a little boy with telekinetic abilities.  His father is some sort of doctor, and decides to exploit these abilities to test the limits of the human mind.  He partners with another professor, and they conduct a series of experiments involving Cameron.  Unfortunately, they take the experiments a little too far, and unknowingly release a demon into the world.  People start dropping like flies around Cameron and his infamous closet and a detective and psychiatrist get involved.  They're determined to get to the bottom of this case, to save Cameron.  But will they be busy saving themselves?

What is there not to like about this movie?  Decapitations, eye explosions, zombies, people boiling from the inside out, creepy telekinetic kids, and even incestuous zombies.  Cameron's Closet has a nice short running time of less than 90 minutes, and although it starts to drag a little near the end, it's nothing you can't sit through, horror fans.  This one is worth a nostalgic watch.

Where is little Cameron now you may wonder?  He's married and in a band that once opened for the Pussycat Dolls.  He was in I Know My Name is Steven and on Full House.  According to his IMDB picture, he looks exactly the same as an adult.  Cute!

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bundy (2008)

An American Icon?  A Legacy of Evil?  What is the tagline?  We shall never know.  I don't even think the person on the one-sheet is Corin Nemic, who played Bundy in the movie.   Putting Kane Hodder on the bill for this movie would be pretty much like listing Danny Trejo second for The Devil's Rejects.  He's in this movie for about two seconds, and cast as a lawyer, which makes zero sense.

This movie is insanely boring, to be honest.  I like Corin Nemic, and I think he really could have played a good Ted Bundy but the script for this movie was just freakin' stupid.  It mostly revolved around Bundy's childhood, where his dad sometimes yelled at people, and his college years, where he got dumped by a cute girl because he couldn't get it up.

I was under the impression that Bundy was pretty threatening but in this movie he just seems to have whiskey dick, drive around drunk aimlessly, and wear dorky clothes.  I was not scared of him at any point, and I was pretty much bored through the entire movie.  At the end, there's sort of a flashback/retrospective of Bundy, but no real life facts.  WTF?  A Netflix search shows me that there's never really been a good movie made about Ted Bundy...maybe a business venture for a sharp writer?

The Canyon (2009)

I'm going to Vegas in two weeks (wooohooo Vegas baby!!) and everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to the Grand Canyon.  I think people do not realize that it's a 5-6 hour trip from the Strip, and when I'm in Vegas, that time is better spent drinking.

As you probably know, I mostly watch 2-star crap on Netflix (especially instant) but I decided to look for something decent and went scrolling through the four-star horror movies saved on my queue.  There weren't many, but The Canyon was one of them and I decided to give it a shot.

This movie was kind of a combination of The Ruins and Thirst.  There's leg hacking and starving like the former and being lost in the desert with no water like the latter.  Also, fearless wolves like Frozen.   Newlyweds Nick and Lori decide to go on a honeymoon trip in the Grand Canyon with a questionable guide.  He gets bit by a rattlesnake, leaving the two to fend for themselves.  While searching for cell phone service, tragedy strikes, making their already bad situation a whole lot worse.

I found this movie to be pretty fast paced and realistic.  The special effects were pretty on-point, and although apparently this wasn't even filmed in the Grand Canyon, I liked the cinematography.  The ending was very reminiscent of The Mist and after watching this whole movie, I wonder if the writer took all of their favorite elements of various survival movies and put them together to make The Canyon.  A good watch though, and available on Netflix instant.

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We Are What We Are (2010)

I wish I had counted how many times they said "whore" in this movie.  I really think it had to be like over 100.  We Are What We Are was really only a horror movie in the sense that involved cannibals.  There was nothing too scary or overly gory about it.

The premise is pretty original -- a family living in Mexico eats people.  Typically, their father procures their meals, but at the beginning of the movie, he drops dead from poisoning.  Therefore, the eldest son, Alfredo, must now take responsibility for the family duties.  Alfredo immediately struggles with internal conflict about actually killing people, taming his violent brother Julian, and dealing with his whackjob mom.

Apparently the timing of obtaining bodies/food coincided with some sort of ritual.  And this is where this movie confused me.  I didn't understand the motivation behind the family being cannibals.  When I heard about the movie, I thought it was because they were hungry and poor and had no other means of getting food.  But all of these people seemed more than able to work, and it was unclear why they didn't.  So was this all about some sort of religious/pagan sacrifice deal?  This was not fully explained.

I did enjoy the movie overall, and it had a nice, short running length of less than 90 minutes.  Probably my favorite part of the movie was the stunning cinematography and images.

We Are What We Are is rife with socio-political commentary, and even includes a subplot about Alfredo exploring his own sexuality.  I've read that some people are displeased that the Mexico of movies is often represented by the gritty and rundown Mexico City, but in this movie, that backdrop was essential.  Definitely worth a watch.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hatchet (2006)

Somehow I managed to see Hatchet II before Hatchet, although that doesn't seem to make much sense.  I signed onto my Netflix instant queue (via Apple TV) and was pleasantly surprised to see that Hatchet is streaming again.  Yay!

I know not everyone is an Adam Green fan, but much liked the oft-hated upon Rob Zombie, I love the guy.  His movies are a fun time and he just seems like an all around cool guy.  In the first Hatchet, we don't get treated to the lovely Danielle Harris as Marybeth, since Tamara Feldman played her this time around.  But we still get Kane Hodder and Tony Todd, so all is good.

Hatchet is about a group of friends partying in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  Ben (Joel David Moore) is mourning his breakup with his longtime girlfriend and is not in the mood for booze and boobs.  He convinces a friend, Marcus (Deon Richmond) to come on a haunted swamp tour with him.  They first inquire with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) who tells them that he doesn't do the tours, but to try someone down the street.  The friends end up on a tour with some sort of porn director, two oft-topless ladies, a middle-aged couple, and quiet and reserved Marybeth (Tamara Feldman).  The tour guide is obviously ridiculously inexperienced, and they end up stranded near the house that is supposed haunted by the deformed Victor Crowley.

The group spends the evening running from Crowley and fighting for their lives.  The deaths in this movie are gloriously bloody and disgusting.  Adam Green was going for old school American horror, and he hit that nail right on the guts-soaked head.  The acting was pretty good, although I kept picturing this...

 ...and it made Tamara Feldman's performance fall a little flat.

There's lots of fun little tidbits about this movie.  This was the last production filmed in New Orleans before Katrina hit.  Young Victor Crowley is played by gorgeous actress Rileah Vanderbilt, who volunteered to try out the prosthetics and makeup for the role.  Since it had already been applied, they just had her play the child.  I think haters of this movie think way too deep into it.  This flick is a fun and gory romp through the slasher genre and you can't deny that Adam Green has a hell of an imagination.  Victor Crowley lives, bitches.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Mr. Gacy (2010)

I was sort of sad about William Forsythe playing a gay serial killer since I have a not-so-secret crush on him.  Kind of like when my dreams of a tryst with Guillermo Diaz fizzled when I learned he was openly gay.   I would prefer him maybe to play a serial killer writing to a cute girl with a pixie cut who likes wine and The Devil's Rejects but I guess it's not in the cards, is it?

Dear Mr. Gacy is based on the true story of Jason Moss, who wrote the book The Last Victim.   Basically, this oddball kid is bored with life and his college education, and becomes obsessed with serial killer John Wayne Gacy.  Frustrated with the lack of information that law enforcement is getting from Gacy, he decides to take matters into his own hands.  He writes letters to Gacy in jail, posing as a confused and likely homosexual teenager.  He takes suggestive photos, hoping to make Gacy so enamored with him that he tells him all about the murders.

However, Jason digs himself a hole far, far too deep and goes from sunrise chats with Gacy, to the killer suggesting he have a sexual relationship with his own brother.  As Gacy dives deeper into the relationship, so does Jason.  He becomes more violent and reserved in his personal life, and it's obvious that his discussions with Gacy are deeply disturbing him.

Although I've never read The Last Victim ($11.99 on Kindle, c'mon) I did already know what happens when Jason finally meets with Gacy.  I'm fairly obsessed with serial killers and it never fails to amaze me how truly disturbed and manipulative they can really be.  I liked this movie and I'd venture to say that Forsythe played a pretty good Gacy.  He did make a couple of faces that looked exactly like Sheriff Wydell and that sort of made me LoL but I guess most people wouldn't have that reaction.  This kid Jason obviously had some issues from the start, and the book actually appears to make him out to be a bit of an egomaniac who feels he can "get inside the head" of any serial killer.  This movie was a good time, and I always love seeing my man Billy Forsythe on the big screen (or straight to DVD...whatever)

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