Archive for » November, 2006 «

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Hard Rock Zombies

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Tuesday, November 28th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Pulse

Mattie’s (Kristen Bell) computer hacker boyfriend (some dude) discovers a strange wireless signal in the tubes of the internets, and begins to play. Unknowingly, hacker guy has unleashed a virus upon the world that could spell the end for all.

With movie trailers that promised the world, Pulse was originally on my ‘ooo that looks cool!’ list. Throw in a Kristen Bell starring role, and I had high hopes. Unfortunately within a good twenty muddled minutes my high hopes had turned to ho-hum, and from their plummeted straight into the depths of befuddled animosity.

There are one or two high points throughout the film, but they are few and far between. With one or two genuinely creepy scenes, we manage a taste of what the film could be. However, this feeling failed to carry throughout the rest of the film. Throw in some mediocre acting, and we fall straight into boredom.

The standout of Pulse however, is the muddled story line that fails to make sense, or follow any sort of logic. As we begin to see college kids kill themselves, we see the start of the epidemic plaguing the world. With no hint to scale or time flow, we jump from an epidemic of seven to eight suicides, to the world’s population dying off in droves over night. With no attempt to show us how fast this epidemic is spreading aside from background news reports on the TV, we the viewer are often left scratching our heads.

Pulse is a CGI effects fest, and while the rest of the film left me with a bad taste in my mouth, the effects sprinkled throughout were mildly entertaining. Keeping Pulse from becoming a total stinkeroo, they manage to create a few minor creepy scenes. From the digital ghosts stepping jerkily from the darkness, the stains of ash of infected victims to the overall growing doom and gloom of the surrounding cities, we are given heavy atmosphere to enjoy, but nothing of substance to fill it.

The stand out laugh of Pulse would be the director’s choice of establishing shots. We have no problem knowing they have jumped to a new scene. It’s really quite apparent, as they establish this jump with a tight close-up shot of Kristen Bell’s chest. Don’t get me wrong, they want to show me Kristen Bell’s chest, I’m happy to look. But uh…you might want to cut down on the fan service there chief.

If you had high hopes after the successfully tempting trailers for Pulse, save your self the heartache and give this one a pass. If you feel you must, give it a rent, but please please please don’t drop the dough for the keeper.

For establishing shots and creepy atmosphere alone, Pulse gets a:

2.5 Bouncy Bell’s out of 5

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Monday, November 27th, 2006 | Author: David Kocher

Aachi & Ssipak

Poop. Crap. Shite. Ca Ca. Whatever you call it, everyone does it. The Korean animated film Aachi & Ssipak doesn’t just understand this, it revels in it.

It is the future, and feces are the sole source of power for the planet. In order to reward production of this precious resource, for every bowel movement a citizen makes, the government grants a Juicybar, an addictive and hallucinogenic Popsicle, which in turn encourages more production. Meters are inserted into everyone’s anus at birth, which is how their movements are measured and also how the government can track anyone trying to work around the system.

Aachi & Ssipak are two losers who live in Shit City, and they don’t want to have to “work” so hard for their Juicybars. They always have a plan to get more, but it always seems to end in failure (and usually a beating). But when the Diaper Gang (a group of unable-to-poop mutants) shows up looking to steal Juicybars from the government, Aachi & Ssipak get caught up in much more than they had ever bargained for. Throw in an indestructible cyborg cop (built from fresh corpses by a mad scientist complete with “off with his head” cranial stitches) and a porn star with an amazing talent for defecating, along with beautiful 2D meets 3D CGI animation and riffs on a whole bunch of Western movies, and you would expect there to be something special.

Unfortunately Aachi & Ssipak gets too caught up in the gross-out factor, and forgets that good movies have a story as well as great filmmaking techniques. make no mistake, the film is gorgeous to look at. But once you get past the whole knee-jerk, 10 year-old-male “Haha, they’re talking about doodie” response, there really isn’t much of an actual movie. The film does do a great job of paying homage (ripping off?) a ton of Western movies, including Basic Instinct, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Misery, and a hotel shootout scene that looks like it was taken directly from the ending of True Romance. But while its fun to see those homages and point them out, they just highlight the fact that the rest of the movie is pretty hollow.

Visually, Aachi & Ssipak is stunning, and there are plenty of “Ooh, pretty…” moments. The movie took over eight years to complete, and it really shows in the ol’ eyeball test department. The audio is great stuff as well, with an excellent original soundtrack. It’s too bad some of those eight years weren’t used to polish the script, because while toilet humor can make us laugh, it takes more than that to make a great movie. I give Aachi & Ssipak 2.5 Juicybars out of 5.

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Sunday, November 26th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Holy crap! He can read too!

Sure, I watch a hell of a lot of movies, but from time to time, I still find room for a book here and there. But before anybody gets too concerned, I was in fact reading a book on movies! And horror movies at that!

Creation Books have had an ongoing series for a few years now, called Creation Cinema. Stumbling across these one day at the book store, (never heard of them before) one in particular caught my eye. A Taste of Blood: The Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis by Christopher Wayne Curry. Knowing at the time of my find that Herschell Gordon Lewis is considering to be the grandfather of gore yet only being familiar with a couple of his films, this book sounded like a natural fit for me for those lengthy visits to the home ‘reading room’.

Luckily for me, this was indeed a treat.

Seeing as I’ve never read a book about Herschell Gordon Lewis, I can’t honestly compare this tome to any others on the subject. After finishing off A Taste of Blood though, I don’t need to, I’ve got all the info I need.

With an astounding depth of research and an apparent love for his subject, Curry takes us on an in depth trek throughout the entirety of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s career. With in depth plot synopsis on every film of Lewis’s portfolio, you’ll know every minute detail on every aspect. From actors shared between productions to Lewis’s influence on the exploitation genre, It’s all there. Also included are a number of interviews with HGL himself, the influential David Friedman, plus many others involved in Lewis’s films.

Herschell Gordon Lewis was the start of many a trend in genre film. From the ‘nudie-cutie’, nudist colony flicks, the obvious birth of the splatter flick, and even a hand in the start of blaxploitation, Herschell Gordon Lewis was a pioneer in cinema, and this book is the perfect showcase of that fact. Any splatter or exploitation fan looking for some bathroom material owes it to themselves to give this book a read. You’ll learn something new for sure, and you’ll have a good time along the way.

I’m not an experienced book reviewer, so it’s hard for me to lay on the specifics of why I enjoyed this book so much. Curry has a few writing flaws here and there, but he’s upfront in telling us that he’s not a film critic or historian, he’s a fan of the man himself, and felt that everyone should catch a glimpse of what made Herschell Gordon Lewis such a standout in his eyes. And that’s just what he did. With many a funny anecdote and such knowledge on all of the films, it’s easy to get caught up in Curry’s fandom. As a genre fan, I already recognized that HGL was a standout in the field, but after reading this, I know why he was. From marketing to film elements you see copied even today, Lewis made a mark on movies, and he wasn’t even a Hollywood man. Making stand out films on microscopic budgets, and some times in as little time as three days, Lewis managed to make films that started sub-genres.

Ever see a ‘This movie is so disturbing, we advise viewers with medical conditions to leave the theater?’ That was a trademark Lewis.

So, horror hounds, (I can’t believe I’m saying this) give your DVD player a break and pick up a book. If I survived it, you can!

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Saturday, November 25th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Here’s a rarity…I review something current? Say it ain’t so!

Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny

As a long time devotee of The D, I’ve been waiting this moment for a long long time. To me, nothing says rock like two pasty fat men on stage. After years of rumors speculation and tears, the Tenacious D movie finally arrived. Was it all that I hoped for? For the most part.

Fans of the D know what to expect from this feature length adventure into rawk. Much like a stretched out episode of the HBO series that started it all, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny delivers exactly what you expect. Satan, toilet humor and rock. (and cock pushup’s of course) While not striking me as better than the original series, I still left the theater with a happy smile upon my face, and a burning image of Jack Black’s johnson seared upon my frontal lobe.

For new fans of the D unfamiliar with the greatness of the HBO Series, it’s hard to say how they may judge the Pick of Destiny. The trademark jokes are there, the building of the greatest band in the world is there, however for the untrained viewer, this may come across as ‘Date Movie’ style schlock. Yes, I know it’s blasphemy to compare Tenacious D to something as crappy as Date Movie, but newcomers may have no idea just what the hell is going on.

Fanboi’s fear not though. We have a fair share of rehashing going on throughout the flick, but it’s okay as it’s what’s expected of our boys. From ‘The Greatest Song in the World’ to retakes on a couple of old songs, a lot of this flick you’ve seen before. This is what keeps The Pick of Destiny from transcending to greatness as the second coming of Tenacious D, and sliding firmly into ‘just another episode’ territory. I didn’t hate it by any means, I highly enjoyed myself. I just would have loved to have my ass blown out by the power of their tasty licks in all new ways.

There are a few cameo’s sprinkled about, and some familiar faces as well. From the open mic MC with traditional D intros, to Lee, the greatest fan in the world, these icons make heavy appearances as is expected. They’re key elements to the Tenacious D world. With new faces including Meat Loaf as JB’s dad, Ronnie James Dio, Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins, we get a fleshed out history of the D, with some good belly laughs along the way.

The laughs are high, as is the rawk quotient. The new tunes, key to any Tenacious D experience are excellent indeed. With ‘The History of Tenacious D’ being the only true rehash, all of the songs are new territory, with the exception of ‘Classico’ being an reinterpretation of a old theme. Regardless, the D manage to rock out as only the D can. I just hope for another full album (not just a soundtrack) and a new tour. Tenacious D is perched high on my ‘Bands to see before I die’ list indeed.

Much like the cock pushup, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny should only be seen once in the theater, but that’s all you need. After that first time, the die hard fans can wait anxiously for the DVD, hopefully with a slew of new converts to the Church of D.

4 tasty rock squats out of 5

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Saturday, November 25th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Humanoids From the Deep

While the premise is nothing but promising, Humanoids is ultimately forgettable. Horribly dated, fish men in rubber suits terrorize a small fishing town. Pretty basic really. Still, the movie is a relatively fun watch for those of us that love ‘man in suit!’ monsters. There are no real stand out performances here, except for the sheer mass of feathered hair do’s and white man fro’s in abundance. The highlight for this flick is the very end with the delivery of the semi-shapely blond who was kidnapped earlier in the film by the fish men. To give you an idea, I missed the fact that she lived as I fell asleep. Regardless, worth the watch for those of you that are die hard Fromage fans.

Maybe some of you will agree, so feel free to help me convince the other guys in my band that Humanoids from the Deep would make an excellent band name!

Abominable

Now, I’m a smart enough man to know that ‘Sci Fi Original’ means ‘crap’….but I’m a sucker for Lance Henriksen and Jeffrey Combs. Those two together in a movie about Sasquatch? Yah, I’m gonna watch it. But man, what a stinker. Lance & Jeffrey where fine and dandy for what they had to work with, but that’s kind of the equivalent of a shiny corn kernel in a turd. ‘That guy from Police Academy was a snoozer as the whiny handicapped widower returning home after his wife’s death, and the chicks in this one where forgettable at best. (I think? Don’t remember.) While we do get some boobage in the video release of this one, none of it’s worth wading through the septic tank that is Abominable to get to.

Avoid! Evasive Action!

FYI: When I did a Google Image Search for covers, this was on the first page that came up for ‘Abominable’. While not in the movie, it would have been a far more entertaining watch had she been there.

Shadow Dead Riot

Tony Todd of Candyman fame returns to a DVD player near you as Shadow, the voodoo sacrificing inmate put to death at *generic prison* for inducing a frenzied riot killing several inmates, who were buried in the central courtyard in a mass grave. Cut to a few years later and now it’s an experimental woman’s prison. Shit happens, dead guys planted in the yard wake up, people run around screaming, Tony Todd acts like a badass. While the potential of combining a woman’s prison exploitation flick with a zombie flick is quite great indeed, Shadow Dead Riot missed the mark. Hell, they even have the queen of crappy exploitation, Erin Brown. (Misty Mundae) The biggest problem with Shadow Dead Riot, is that it’s boring as hell. Nearly criminal in it’s lack of interest, I found it hard to concentrate on it twenty minutes in. (Except for the boob scenes of course) Stilted acting, wandering plot, and lifeless action, it was a lost cause. Considering you had to suffer through a good hour or so to get to the disappointing zombie horde, that’s a lot of pain and suffering. To be honest, I didn’t even make it to the end of this one. I stopped caring at about 1:05 and moved on to the next flick in the list.

Men In Black

Feeling the need to cleanse my palette, it was time to redeem myself with an old favorite on Wednesday night as we prepared for our turkey day travels. Some people may not like Men in Black all that much, but I’ve loved it since the first time I saw it. Surprisingly, the comedic timing of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith is impeccable, and they play off each other superbly. From the zany aliens, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Edgar, to Linda Fiorentino’s legs, Men In Black is just a good time. Sure, we get a heavy dose of Will Smith’s *, but that’s what he’s there for this time around, and it works.

(*Hell Naw gif borrowed from the Something Awful forums, cause it fits perfectly, and well, I’m a member there as well)

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Friday, November 24th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Here’s hoping you all had a happy Turkey Day from Cinema Fromage!

We decided to let the beast out of the attic for a change to enjoy a happy family meal, but as you can see, we had to put her back in after her light snack.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

Feast

A group of relative strangers get locked inside a bar, as they are assaulted throughout the night by a group of mutant beasts.

That’s it in a nut shell, which makes Feast cut and dry. But you know what? It’s a ton of fun, and that’s what counts. No complicated subplots, no expounding on human nature, etc. This one’s is simple ‘oh shit!’ for oh shit’s sake.

The first stand out for Feast is the packed cast. There are many names to drop in this flick, and for the most part, the talent shines through to make for an enjoyable ride. With cameos by those such as Eric Dane (Mc. Steamy on Grey’s Anatomy) and Jason Mewes (Kevin Smith go to guy) as himself, we start out with some humorous recognition and a few chuckles to start things out. Throw on top the main cast with such names as Balthazar Getty (Young Guns II, Charmed) as the bumbling town jackass, Henry Rollins (Black Flag, general rocking out) as the idiot Tony Robbins wannabe motivational speaker and Clu Galager (a whole bunch of stuff), this flick takes another step up on the coolness ladder.

Sure there are some plot holes in feast, but do we really care? I know I don’t. Feast is as straight forward as you can get these days, as it’s only there for one purpose. Action, blood, jump scares and laughs. (four purposes I guess) For me, they hit all of these goals in stride, and made for a fun ride along in this day and age of juvenile horror flicks. From the opening credits with Snatch like character introductions, we are hit straight away with the dark sense of humor contained within. Follow this with the opening lines from our first hero of the day, and we’re officially on track for a thrill ride. Did I mention the blood and gore? Within the first ten minutes of Feast, we see at least five people slaughtered in a mad house flurry of mutant mayhem, with nary a blink between kills. Our pace was so frenetic, I had to go back to see just who all died.

While the frenetic pace of the action sequences were great and helped to add to the roller coaster feel of Feast, the only major complaint I could find was the over use of ‘MTV Shaky Cam’. While helping add to the insanity in small doses, Feast tends to overload a bit, and at times it’s hard to tell just what is going on. This didn’t stop me from enjoying myself however.

In today’s age of remakes and target audiences in the range of 15-20, Feast was a throwback to how I’ve always felt horror flicks should be. Fun and in your face, without being obnoxious about it. Buckets of blood and cringe worthy gore and jokes, I can’t help feel like I did back in the 80′s when I first stumbled upon the genre. The key here, is when they grab you by the short and curly’s from the very start and manage to hold on for the remainder of the flick. There is no hour worth of buildup to get to the meat and potatoes. Character development is handled on the fly with the stop motion introductions and brief glimpses here and there. No lull in the middle where we’re expected to think that the monsters have wandered off to leave our poor heroes in peace. Heck, we even get slapped in the face with the order of deaths. You think by the standard rules that character A will survive X amount of minutes? Guess again.

Feast has it’s flaws, and is by no means the second coming in horror movie land, but it’s a damn good time all the same. With shit eating grin plastered across my mug for the duration of the 1.5 hr jaunt, I was able to overlook the few plot holes and one or two sub par acting jobs scattered about. We never find out what the mutants are, but it doesn’t matter. This time around we’re here for the beer & fear, and that’s exactly what we got.

4 mutant sex fiends out of 5

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Tuesday, November 21st, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell


(and FYI, Kyle Ruddock rocks.)

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Monday, November 20th, 2006 | Author: Casey Criswell

When a Stranger Calls (2006)

Young Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is your typical high school girl. In trouble for going over on her cell phone minutes, Jill is forced to baby-sit on Friday night, as opposed to attending the high school bon fire party with her on again/off again boyfriend. Starting out as a routine babysitting gig, the tide soon turns as Jill begins to receive random mouth breather calls. Growing more and more scared throughout, Jill soon learns that she is not alone, and soon fear sets in.

Yawn.

I’ve lamented many a time over the death throes of Hollywood as originality seems to be at an all time low out west, and this time around, is no exception. Churning out yet another humdrum remake of what some would consider a past classic, it makes it abundantly clear why I have such a high level of love for the past greats. Really, it’s no surprise to see this remake turd squeezed out of Hollywood once again, but come on guys, I’m starting to loose faith in you all! Having never seen the original before (I know, shoot me) I went into When a Stranger Calls with little to no expectations, and still found myself frustrated and angry by the end.

From the very beginning, this flick is a snoozer. Sloth like at first blush, we first must endure the establishing drama of teenage hormones, boyfriends kissing other girls, and cell phone texting. Do I really give a shit? Not really. Plodding along we soon find ourselves at the lavish Frank Lloyd Wright home of the Dr. who Jill is babysitting for, and the pace creeps on from there, neither slowing nor speeding up, just crawling along, much like the tortoise.

Once settled in Jill begins to explore the huge mansion, and the phone begins to ring. We have random calls at this time, be it the best friend, the jilted boyfriend, our mouth breather of the hour, or the evil ex friend who kissed the boyfriend. We jump around in this vein long enough that soon all suspense is lost on whether it’s going to be the killer or not. Instead, we jump to ‘CHANGE THE RING TONE’ and my personal favorite, ‘these people have this ginormous house, yet they don’t have a freaking cordless phone!?!?!’ (They did, the director just deemed it necessary to focus on Jill walking back to the corded phone repeatedly I guess). There is little to no excitement nor suspense here folks.

Not only is the pacing a glaring issue for When a Stranger Calls, but the plot holes stand out as well. After being in the house for a good two to three hours, young Jill has yet to check in on the kids. They throw a quick bone here and there about the mom saying ‘don’t wake them up’, but really. This family has never met this girl before. They’re going to leave their kids with some one whom they’ve yet to meet, and expect them to be okay with waking up and finding a complete stranger in the house? Failing to think of the children until phone psycho mentions it, the kids are thrown in as an after thought, in the attempt to ramp up the limp tension we’ve been given thus far.

From there, the problems mount. I could go on nit picky point by nit picky point, but really, what’s the point? (Get the point?) After such a pointed statement, this review could ramble on for days. (See, I’m even getting bored writing the review!) Regardless, When a Stranger Calls manages to plod on, and end limply. After an hour and change build up to our tense climax, they carry on for seems like a mere five minutes of fight time between Jill and her would be killer, and even that in itself is lackluster. If you’re going to make me suffer through an hour and twenty minutes of mind numbing fluff, there better be a big payoff.

Avoid When a Stranger Calls like the plague, unless you are in search of a chemical free alternative to insomnia.

1 child ignoring babysitter out of 5

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