Archive for » July, 2006 «

Thursday, July 27th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

Dracula 2000

Yet another retelling of the Dracula legend, only updated for the younger, hipper crowd!

Dracula, being immortal is now locked in a high tech prison by none other that Van Helsing. Treasure thieves, seeing the elaborate security in place, assume that there has to be mountains of treasure hidden inside Casa De Helsing, and proceed to break in. Coffin found, some one bleeds, Drac comes back, people die. Yay.

There is not a whole lot being added to the Dracula legend this time around. This is more or less the same Dracula tale told over and over throughout infinity, except this time, it’s in the present day. We have Mr. Bitey back in action, we have succubi trying to look all slinky and sexy, and we have a lone maiden confused and the object of Mr. Bitey’s obsession. Yawn. There are a few minor details that have been changed or enhanced, which does help Dracula 2000 stand out slightly from the pack, but the end product, is still left a yawner. As we learn the story of Van Helsing’s process of staying alive, as well as the film connecting the origin of Drac to Judas, we are given a few minor changes that will have you saying ‘hmm, interesting’ in between snores and uncomfortable twitching as you watch Dracula 2000 dig it’s own hole, even deeper.

As far as acting, there’s not much to see here either. Omar Epps and Hyde from that 70′s show make a brief appearance, as do a few other vaguely recognizable faces. Johnny Lee Miller tries once more to reinvent his career, but ultimately falls short with his forced British accent. (I do like Johnny Lee Miller, I think he’s an all right actor, but good lord man, get a new agent!) Dracula himself, played by Gerard Butler is presented as a sulky goth teen, and fails miserably at being menacing, intimidating, or…interested. This guy’s asleep at the wheel here folks. As far as acting goes, the highlight of Dracula 2000 would have to be Christopher Plummer as Van Helsing, he being the only one that didn’t seem bored, clueless or forced.

Dracula 2000 is rather boring at best, and will throw a theory or two at the Dracula pantheon that may make you nod your head once or twice, but in the end, make sure you have a pillow. It’s a snoozer.

2 Sleepy Sulky Goth’s out of 5

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Wednesday, July 26th, 2006 | Author: David Kocher

Where to begin? Let’s get the facts out of the way first, so we can investigate this atrocity further. Catherine Tramell is back. The character famously realized by Sharon Stone in 1992′s sexually charged thriller Basic Instinct has moved her act to London, and the 14 year gap in between movies hasn’t slowed her down one bit. The film opens with Catherine driving real fast in an exotic car while getting fingered by some dude. Moans and groans ensue, the car drives off the road into the water, and Catherine swims to safety as Mr. Fingerer drowns in the passenger seat (damn seat-belt laws, anyway). Let’s see if I can wrap up the rest of the movie quickly. Police, sex, psychologist, murder, whodunnit?, police, sex, murder, group sex, murder, hot tub, mental hospital. The End.

Here’s the problem with the whole thing. Going into the movie, I really wanted to dislike it (hey, we never said that we were objective here at Cinema Fromage). The original Basic Instinct had a lot going for it; Stone was gorgeous, Michael Douglas held his own as out-of-control cop Nick Curran, the film itself was smart, sexy, violent, had hot women making out, and who could forget Stone’s famous hoo-ha shot. Winner!

Basic Instinct 2 on the other hand… Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate a bad film just as much as a good one. Perhaps if Stone had come in chewing scenery and going totally over the top with the character, I could have at least appreciated the effort. But BI2 is worse than bad; it’s boring. The violence (the little of it that there is) is vanilla, the sex scenes are snoozetastic, and every actor in the film looks like they are just sleepwalking through it to collect a paycheck. Even the dialogue is trite and ridiculous (although I think the movie might have set a record for usage of the expression “cum”).

OK, so the movie itself sucks. How about the visuals? They aren’t any better. Stone looks like an ad for Botox, and the one time she actually gets fully naked I wasn’t excited; I was embarrassed. I just wanted her to put her clothes back on. According to IMDb, the budget for BI2 was $70 million. I’m assuming at least half of that went towards Sharon Stone’s facial upkeep, because you can’t see the money anywhere else. The other actors (mostly British unknowns) aren’t anything to write home about in the looks department either, but this was probably done intentionally to make Stone appear more attractive. The set design is drab and grey, the locations are plain, and even the cars (with the exception of the opening scene’s Spyker C8 Spyder) are mostly black British cabs.

To be honest, I’m not really sure why they even made this film. I give Basic Instinct 1 ZZZZZZ out of 5.

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Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

Knightriders

If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing Elton John playing at a Harley rally, you’re gonna love this.

A Romero opus not involving the undead, Knightriders treats us to a traveling renfaire. Costumes, sword fights, jousting and suits of armor. On motorcycles! As the troop grows tired of their daily dealings with crooked local cops, falling ticket sales, and a skewed public opinion, many of the members grow dissilusioned. As King Billy strives to hold the troop to his strict warrior code, the Black Knight becomes increasingly unhappy, and soon starts to look to the bright lights of Hollywood.

Night, Dawn and Day of the dead brought Romero to the limelight. Knightriders cements Romero atop the throne of the B Movie Bourgeois. Bold statement I know, but you can’t deny it. First, the cast. Starring Ed Harris (Oscar winning Ed Harris) you will cackle with glee at his portrayal of a biker dude hell bent on a D&D bender. A Romero staple, Tom Savini as the Black Knight, the cantankerous companion to King Billy, and the knight that starts to troop to stray from the pack heightens the camp. The cameos are astounding as well, as you see Stephen King in quite possibly one of the most classic and memorable cameos I’ve seen in a long time. Brace yourself as Ed Harris declares boldly (and muy muy macho) “This isn’t some dog and pony show…I’M SLAYING A DRAGON HERE!”

Knights, ren faires, and motorcycles. Sweet jesus this is the type of movie this site is named after. Sweet beautiful cheese. From the moment the movie opens and you watch King Billy arising from his bed in his make shift campsite, steeling himself for the days battle, you know you are in for something special. Praying over his sword, staring stoicly into the rising sun, he rises and beckons his queen to him, dons his massive metal chapeau, and mounts his faithful Kawasaki. Soon, you see his faithful liege join him upon the road, and together they ride off into the surise, armor gleaming, feathered plumes blowing, and emitting an aura of general bad assitude. (Upon my first watch, at this point, my wife glared at me annoyingly as I pumped my fists into the air shouting YES! This movie RULES!)

This is not standard Romero fare. There are no zombies, there is no blood and gore. There is midevil knights, on motorcycles. Midevil Knights on Motorcycles. The plot is corny at best, yet the recognizable faces and names, and the overall ham applied to the faces respective roles brings Knightriders to the forefront of the B Movie Cheese, and for this George Romero, I salute you.

It’s not a film for everybody, and your friends may think you strange, but if B grade ballyhoo is your thing, you owe it to yourself.

4 Dragon Slaying Bikers out of 5

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Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

Rabid

You too can have your blood drained by Marilyn Chamber’s armpit!

Rose and her boyfriend are on a motorcycle ride, cruising the countryside and stopping to pose at random intervals. When the boyfriend flies around a corner, only to find a broken down truck in the way, they have to ditch the bike, and hope for the best. Gravely injured, Rose falls unconscious, as an ambulance from the nearby secluded plastic surgery center is dispatched, and they bring Rose in to try and save her life. Using an experimental procedure, unforseen side effects begin to surface in Rose’s recovery, and soon, an entire country town has become…..Rabid.

Early Cronenberg is often a mixed bag, but generally once you’re a fan, you’re always a fan. Always with a slightly off kilter take, most Cronenberg films are generally a good watch for the hardened horror fan, and sometimes, they’re even scary! With Rabid, you will find yourself both creeped out, slightly startled, a little nauseated, and a little bored. Not all at the same time mind you, but a little of everything here and there and throughout.

Acting is standard fare, nothing too new and exciting. Competent character acting from the main cast, however Marylin Chambers (Yes, that M.C.) is a bit over dramatic at times, but you can expect that considering her background. No stand outs to speak of, you soon forget about the actors (Except for the topless scenes of course) and begin to focus on the plot. In Rabid, the plot is the standout character.

In general a vampire plot, crossed with a standard zombie plague plot, mixed in with rabies. Out there, yes. Unique, ya some what. As you begin to catch on to Cornenberg’s formula, the plot is fairly obvious, and there are no real surprises, minus one. In classic Cronenberg fashion, the man has a thing for open skin wounds with creepy crawly stuff lurking underneath, and Rabid is no dissapointment. Changing the standard vampire fang formula, for an armpit based tentacle, Cronenberg mixes it up a touch, and makes it his own beast. You’re going to scratch your head there for a minute, but then M.C.’s boobs are out, and you don’t really care anymore.

Standard horror fare, with a subtle twist here and there, makes for something not exactly great, but by no means awful. Smack dab in the middle of mediocrity, Rabid is one to be seen by any Cronenberg fan, and most horror fans can appreciate it as well.

3 Marylin Chambers boobs out of 5

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Tuesday, July 25th, 2006 | Author: David Kocher

Many of the recent wave of horror movies that have crashed onto America’s shores from Japan (both remakes and originals) include similar versions of the classic Asian ghost story. A person is wronged in life, and hangs around as a ghost to make their tormentor’s life (and the lives of the tormentor’s friends, lovers, spouses, children, relatives, pets, etc, etc) a living hell.

Shutter (from Thailand) is no different. Photographers Tun and Jane are a happily dating couple, going out for drinks with their friends and generally doing lovey dovey-type crap. Driving home one night, Jane runs down a girl in the road. Luckily their car is still running, and Tun convinces Jane to drive away. Soon after the accident, strange smears start popping up in their photographs. Eventually images of the girl begin to manifest themselves in the pictures, and that’s when the bad things start to happen (stop me when any of this starts sounding unique).

Tun’s friends start dying off, Jane gets scared, so they go meet the unfortunate girl’s mother (who or course keeps the corpse in the bedroom). It turns out that Tun secretly dated the girl in college, but she disappeared. When the “shocking” back story is filled in, you know that Tun’s fate is sealed.

Shutter has nothing on the orginality front whatsoever, but still manages to be an OK little scary movie. I give Shutter 3 Scary Dead Girls Walking On The Ceilings out of 5.

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Thursday, July 20th, 2006 | Author: David Kocher

Take five seperate but interwoven stories. Add Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch), Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer, Zatoichi), Sonny Chiba (um, it’s Sonny friggin Chiba). Pour into a blender, press puree, and let ‘er rip for about 2 hours. Welcome to Survive Style 5+.

On their own, the five stories that make up Survive Style 5+ don’t sound like anything special. A man attempts to kill his wife. A salaryman takes his family to see a hypnotist’s live show. A creator of commercials thinks up new ideas, and attempts to sell them to corporate executives. A British hitman comes to Japan with his translator in tow. Three hooligans break into people’s houses and rob them. But when the individual plots and characters start to mix together, the movie goes from something that could have been a big mess to something amazing. The hyperactive directing and mind-blowing cinematography add to the barely-controlled chaos, and if you don’t have a smile on your face by the time the credits roll (to Cake’s version of “I Will Survive”!) then there is something wrong with you. The set design is spectacular as well, from the “I want that” of Asano’s character to the boring on the inside but crazy on the outside dwelling of the salaryman and his perfect family, to the hitman’s office with everything helpfully labeled in big English words.

Along with the visuals, the genius of Survive Style 5+ is that it never breaks pace and never slows down. It just keeps barreling along at breakneck speed, and just when you think you have one of the stories dialed in, the film switches gears. The story lines are all introduced within the first 15 minutes of the movie (with helpful numbers to make sure you know which is which), and then they are set free to run amok with each other.

All in all, Survive Style 5+ is one of my favorite Japanese movies ever. I give it 5 Rocket Fists out of 5.

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Thursday, July 20th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

I Walked With a Zombie

Quite possibly the origin of your grandpa’s infatuation with pulling his pants up to his nipples!

Young Candian Betsy, is a nurse. Her latest job carries her to and Island in the West Indies, to care for Jessica, the catatonic wife of a plantation owner. Upon arriving, Betsy finds her self surrounded by a local society deeply steeped in the ancient rights of Voodoo. As she delves deeper into the search for a cure for Jessica, she finds her self deep in the center of said Voodoo society.

For a flick coming out of the early 1940′s, I Walked With a Zombie actually has some moments that remain somewhat creepy, even in the new millenium. The cinematography stands out, as the camera pulls you ever deeper into the bizarre and macabre world of the voodoo ceremony. In fact, the cinematography itself sets almost the entirety of the creepiness factor in I Walked With a Zombie. As Betsy leads Jessica through the sugar cane, with the winds whipping up to a lively and forboding wail, to dark shots of lone figures standing in a moonlit cane field. It’s astounding the feeling of isolation that is delivered, in a film from 1943.

The plot itself is even an attention grabber, as you follow the young and naive Betsy, as she delves deeper into this new unknown religion. With a last ditch effort she decides to trust in them, only to find out even more of her patient than she ever dreamed possible. Twists abound as well, as the plot snakes it’s way back and forth, with some catching even this hardened veteran of the horror cheese off guard.

A well rounded oldie, and definitely a goodie, I Walked With a Zombie is an excellent lead in to the world of Val Lewton (Producer). For those unfamiliar with Mr. Lewton’s works (as I was) you will find yourself left with a slight sense of wonder, a niggling of something watching you just over your right shoulder, and a resolution of ‘hey, I gotta watch some more Val Lewton flicks!’

Just as an aside, the one thing that cracked me up with this movie, is the costuming. Filmed in 1943, I really don’t know if this was the start or the end of the ‘Zoot Suit’ era, but they appear in Walked With a Zombie in full force, and it’s one of those moments that make you sit back and chuckle at fashion’s past. It’s sometime hard to take a man serious with a baggy and overlong suit jack, and pants by Fred Mertz!

4 catatonic babes out of 5

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Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

As you may have noticed, the movie reviews have been few and far between the last week or two, and really, I have no excuse, other than….addiction.

You see, there are times in ones life where an ugly beast may rear it’s head, and lay waste to what the afflicted may have once taken as a normal day. When addiction sets in, one’s daily routine falls to the wayside, as they become all consumed, and obsessed, with one thing, and one thing only.

Folks, I’m ashamed to admit, but the Gooch has fallen to the mighty sword of addiction, and the outlook is bleak I must say. For the last two weeks, I have fallen into the seedy underbelly (or down below as some may call it) of fandom.

Fandom, thy name is Babylon 5.

For years I had fought off the constant nagging of a few select peers (P and Corey, I’m looking at you) who constantly plied me with peer pressure, to succumb to the nerdly high that is Babylon 5. For years I survived unscathed by that which is serial, but alas, the day has come I have fallen. And fallen mightly I have.

Starting where most things start, at season one, I settled in with trepidation and wariness. ‘Am I ready for this?’ Constantly I question myself was I willing to risk fighthing the good fight?

The start of season one was rocky. I pushed myself through episodes one and two, and found myself with a bad taste in my mouth. ‘Those were….not so good’ I told myself repeatedly. The fetid hooks of Bab 5 had skimmed past my cushy exterior, failing to take hold. Months passed, first one, then another. Then it was time to dive in once more. Episodes three and four behind, still the ill taste of dislike resided in my mouth. Again, two months passed. This time the barbs of Bab 5 had at least scratched the surface. While not yet a rabid fanboi, I was still…curious.

With another two month cushion in place, I dove once more, and this time, I did not make it back up for air. This time, I sank to the briney deeps of addiction, and oh how far I have sunk.

So, like I state above, season one of Babylon 5 is a rough start. The first four episodes, are…not that good. Rough and rocky, and fighting to establish a foothold in the pantheon of serial televised sci-fi drama, the first four episodes were mostly forgettable, and somewhat cheesy. Starting in on episode five however, and the show makes a complete three sixty, and the addiction begins to rise, as the characters begin to develop and settle into the basis of an ongoing five season story arc. A five season story arc folks. There is a lot to say about that.

With the joy of watching a full a season at a time on dvd, truly brings out the positives of said story arc. Watching each episode, as they each begin to tie together in one way or another, and catching more subtleties than you most likely would have had if you had watched them on a weekly basis when they first aired.

Filled with political intrigue, a healthy dose of humor, dark undertones, and a sense of forboding overlying the entire Bab 5 universe, once you get past the rocky start, this show becomes something to behold, and behold you it will, as you find yourself (and the seat of your pants) transfixed to the couch for three hours a night.

You’ve heard about it, you’ve fought it off. It’s time to give in and enjoy yourself, you deserve it!

Best info on the net right here Warning: mondo spoilers ahead. For the unintiated, take it in small chunks, you don’t want to spoil this!

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Tuesday, July 18th, 2006 | Author: David Kocher

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Chinjeolhan geumjassi) is the third movie in director Chan-wook Park’s loosely related trilogy of revenge, and like the first two films (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy) it is at times beautiful, disturbing, thought-provoking and not for the squeamish, often at the same time.

A the movie opens, Lee Geum-Ja is being released from prison after 13+ years. As we learn though flashbacks, Lee Geum-Ja was 19 years old when she was sent to prison for the abduction and murder of a young boy. It turns out that her accomplice Mr. Baek (Oldboy’s star Choi Min-sik) had her take the fall for him, and she spends her entire incarceration planning her revenge. She befriends many of her fellow inmates, eventually earning the title of the “Kindly Miss Geum-ja”, knowing that when she is finally released she will call upon them to help her exact her retribution.

Once freed, Lee Geum-Ja changes from the God-loving “Kindly Miss Geum-ja” that she was known as in prison to a cold, calculating, vengeance minded machine. She uses her old cellmates, the detective who was once assigned to her case, the Australian family of the daughter she was forced to give up, and even the daughter herself. When more details of her former accomplice are revealed, Lee Geum-Ja goes to brutal lengths to ensure that vengeance is indeed wrought.

As with the first two films, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is amazingly shot and directed (the opening credits sequence is one of the most beautiful I have seen), with colors and images almost leaping from the screen, or as the movie draws to a close, taking on a subdued, monochromatic look. Park seems to paint with the camera, and the colors take on lives of their own, instantly creating mood before a word of dialogue is spoken. The Korean DVD has digital effects that gradually turn the film into black and white with splashes of color (a la Sin City). Park says that this rendition is his original vision, but wasn’t able to complete it until the DVD was released (which contains both versions).

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance is a fitting end to Park’s revenge trilogy. It is definitely slower and more laid-back than either Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance or Oldboy, but still packs a visual and visceral punch. I give Sympathy For Lady Vengeance 4 Red Candles out of 5.

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Monday, July 17th, 2006 | Author: Gooch

As reviewed earlier this week, by Punkin Donuts, I myself caught Dead End and here’s my take.

Well, this is actually going to be more of a point, point, as opposed to point, counter point, cause really, I have to agree with Punkin Donuts and just about all fronts.

Dead End presents us with a story, that already been told. However, this time it’s told in a fun and solid way, that leaves the viewer happy to have seen it, even if they have seen it many times before.

Solid acting on all fronts, we are presented with a film that is pretty much solely character and story based. With the set being nothing but a family of five packed into a Jeep Cherokee, on a lonely country road, your focus is drawn soley to the acting ability and interaction of those involved. Luckily, they did not dissapoint. Starting as stereotypical roles, and finishing up with new facets and dimensions by the end of the film, our characters are quickly introduced, built, and picked apart over the course of two hours. That’s really the highlight of Dead End, and what makes it stand out above the rest.

So, this one’s a definite watch, you’ll enjoy it.

3.5 dark & lonely roads out of 5

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