Archive for » March, 2007 «

Friday, March 30th, 2007 | Author: Jeff Gabbard

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Author Sam Sheridan has done a lot of living. He has sailed around the world, put out forest fires in America’s southwest, and been part of a work-crew in Antarctica. That’s a lot of adventure for someone so young. Oh, and he’s still found time to travel around the world to train with Olympic boxers, Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) superstars, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champions, and Muay Thai fighters. From the moment he first put on boxing gloves as a student at Harvard Sheridan discovered a love for fighting. This fascination eventually led him to wonder “Why?” Why would an otherwise sane individual choose to get into a ring or cage and stand toe-to-toe with someone who wants nothing more than to beat the living crap out of you? This is the basic question put forth in Sheridan’s book
A Fighter’s Heart
, one that he and the reader explore as we follow the author around the globe.

After spending a little time in Australia studying kickboxing Sheridan decides to travel to Thailand to study Muay Thai kickboxing in depth. Sheridan’s descriptive detail of the training village, the people he meets there and the pre-fight Muay Thai rituals are wonderful and an example of the books strengths. Thailand is one place I have never really considered visiting, but after reading the account of his time there I am putting it on my list of 100 places to see before I die.

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All pictures in this article are for illustrative purposes only

We feel the author’s aches and pains as he trains daily for his debut match against a Japanese Karate fighter. The buildup to the fight doesn’t disappoint as we feel like we’re right there with him preparing for the big day. After the fight (sorry, you’ll have to read the book to see who wins) the author eventually returns to the states and goes on with his life only to realize that he hasn’t gotten fighting out of his system yet.

This desire to fight leads him to Iowa where he trains under MMA pioneer, Pat Miletich the Croatian Sensation. Here he falls once again into the daily routine of constant training and easy camaraderie with many of today’s top MMA superstars. Among them are Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia.

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Training MMA Sheridan compares and contrasts its differences with Muay Thai and boxing. We learn to appreciate all the knowledge that a good MMA fighter must possess as he can be beat in any of a number of ways. Sheridan’s training eventually leads to a fight where he is injured and forced to quit. This starts an unfortunate trend where each time Sheridan trains in a new style he can never devote 100% of himself to the endeavor because of his nagging injuries. This makes many of the chapters a little anti-climatic.

His time training MMA helps him realize that his “ground-game” is weak. So Sheridan travels to Brazil to study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I got a real kick out of reading his struggles getting used to wearing a Gi while training. Anyone who practices Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will relate to this and share a knowing grin.

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Sheridan does a great job describing the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and how the local surfer culture has influenced the evolution of the sport. His depiction of poverty in Brazil is gripping and a real eye-opener. Here we get a clear picture as to why some people fight. It can provide a way out of the poverty they live with everyday. Again though, due to his injuries, Sheridan is not able to train fully and so his ground-game does not improve as much as he or the reader would have liked.

After leaving Brazil he spends some time studying Tai Chi from the venerable Master Chen and learns that this “soft” art has its roots in real fighting. It’s goal of slowing everything down as much as possible helps focus and refine your technique.

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One of the biggest sections of the book covers his time training with Olympic caliber boxers. Sheridan provides great insight into the history and importance of the “sweet science” to American history. As with the other chapters we follow his training as he works to develop into a sound boxer and we are once again disappointed when he is injured in a sparring match and unable to have his debut boxing match.

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I found the section on dog-fighting uncomfortable and awkward to read. The author is using it as a way to describe the idea of “Gameness”. Where a fighter is always ready to throw down no matter how tired or outgunned he is. While I understand the intent, as a westerner, I have trouble relating to the idea of training animals to fight for sport.

In the final chapter the author sums up his theories on fighting and provides some sound insight into man’s desire for competition and to “prove” himself. I’d like to add that the difference between a fighter and a martial artist is that a fighter sees his opponent as the guy standing across from him in the ring while a martial artist recognizes that his opponent is within him. Eventually speed and strength vanish and a fighter must recognize that the challenge has always been to improve himself. Hence the “DO” (way) in the name of so many traditional martial arts.

A Fighter’s Heart suffers from feeling like a collection of magazine articles loosely tied together to create a book. This is unfortunate as each chapter could serve as the basis for a book of its own. Just as the author jumps from one fighting style to another, never mastering any, so too are we, the readers, never given time to fully immerse ourselves in the culture, and techniques of any one style.

The book’s greatest strength is the author’s gift for fantastic descriptive writing. We truly feel like we are there with him, covered in blood and gasping for air. His first hand experience training in these sports provides a legitimate snapshot of the skills and dedication needed to successfully pursue them. Are you game?

3 bloodied fighters out of 5

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Tuesday, March 27th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Hills Have Eyes II

The remake train is back and this time we’re heading back into the hills locked and loaded. The government has moved into the mountainous desert visited in the first remake last year, and now it has been dubbed Sector 16. You see, the boys in blue know there’s something crawling around in the old abandoned mine shafts but they’re not quite ready to admit it. Setting up a research team in the valley nearby complete with electronic surveillance and all sorts of gadgetry they begin preparations to see just what’s living down there in the dark. When a hapless National Guard unit shows up to the site to deliver extra equipment they find an abandoned camp. Next thing you know, just as you expected, there’s muties all over the place and the weekend warriors are getting messed up in gnarly style.

While I’m not normally a fan of remakes, there was still some good stuff in the first Hills do over. It was intense, had some good gore, pretty damn violent and overall, an enjoyable horror flick. (Plus it had Claire) Naturally, I went into The Hills Have Eyes II with hopes of a similar fare. Unfortunately my expectations fell a bit short and I walked out of the theatre disappointed and tired.

The Hills flicks have a pretty straight forward formula. Mutants kill people violently. That’s pretty much it. We did in fact get this formula in number two, and that is what allowed this to be a watch able flick as opposed to walking out of a movie for the first time in years. Blood and guts abound and there are some truly cringe worthy kills for the gore hound in all of us. Mutant rape, exploding brains, both were standouts with the true high light being death by port a potty pit. Yeesh.

The problem here is the cast and the writing. This factor alone made me twitch uncomfortably throughout the entire film. To cut to the quick, the National Guard unit portrayed in Hills 2 is by far the stupidest example of military prowess I think I’ve ever seen on film. Sure, usually the guards aren’t as fully trained, etc. since they do not serve full time. Still, I’m positive that our real National Guard performs far more cohesively and strategically than this. Random stupidity, constant bickering, and wooden acting all serve to make this portrayal kill almost an entire film. After an hour of watching over blown stereotypes showcased by the various members of the unit, I was to the point of cheering on the mutants and ready for these people to be dead and gone. The more violent, the better!

Getting past the rancid acting and piss poor characterization, Hills Have Eyes 2 still holds a modicum of entertainment value. This is all in the violence of the mutants, and a smidgen of story arc they’ve built around ‘Sector 16′ and the history of the area given in the first remake. I still had issues with the mutants themselves as this time around they’ve been overblown to almost cartoonish proportions in appearance and mutation. Where in number one Papa Jupiter and his brood still managed to pass as remotely human in appearance, this time around they are all mostly over sized with huge lumpy heads. And that’s just the start. Sure they’re mutants living in a hostile environment…but some of these guys are just way too out there to be even remotely believable. Yes, I’m aware it’s a story about radioactive mutants, but what made the originals so scary was if you thought long and hard about it, sure there could be some freako’s running around out there in the old nuclear test sites. With the visages in Hills 2, that slight connection to reality is pretty much gone. (Don’t’ worry, I had similar issues with the backwoods weirdos in Wrong Turn.)

While I’ve yet to have the pleasure of seeing Wes’s original Hills Have Eyes Part II, I have a great amount of love for the very original flick. Where the first Hills remake left me happy in it’s homage to the first, I had no such connections for the second flick. So walking into this completely unsuspecting as far as holding it to remake standards, I still felt frustrated by the cartoonish over blowing of both mutants and National Guardsmen alike. If it weren’t’ for the blood and guts and some good old fashioned death and dismemberment, this would have been a total washout.

2.5 mutant mishaps out of 5

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Monday, March 26th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

It’s new feature time gang! Every great once in awhile, myself and the First Lady of Fright actually manage to sit down and watch a flick together! When that happens we often times agree to disagree whatever feature we have to watch. Now that I’ve got her into the review game, we thought this would be the perfect time to launch a he said/she said feature. Some days we’re agree, some days we won’t. So here’s our first of the the new feature, Irreconcilable Differences!

Be sure to let us know what you think!

Cheerleader Massacre

She Said:

Well, it was our “date-night” and my turn to pick the movie. For our little romantic interlude I chose the movie Cheerleader Massacre. This is part four of the Slumber Party Massacre series. Now with the series, I have learned as with any b-movie slasher series, there is no real continuity whatsoever however usually there is the same killer, possibly a character left over from the previous movie. But that is about it. Now this movie didn’t even have that… no I take that back…They tried desperately to tie this movie in to the franchise by reviving one of the girls from the first film. This character however died in the first film (played by Brinke Stevens), but they are claiming that the janitor found her just in the nick of time. Other than a cop going to visit her to pointlessly discuss what happened to her 20 years ago and a flash back to the original movie footage… that was about it. There was no point except to attach this film to the franchise and to remind us that time is never a kind mistress in the b-movie world.

:D

:(

Now my main problems with the film in the continuity sense, is this. If you are going to make a sequel and try to make it fit in with the other films in the series, and in the original movie the killer has a specific MO, you may want to try to stick with that. If the killer was meant to be the same guy from the first film, then that would explain the trip to Steven’s house. In the Sleepover Party Massacre films, the killer uses a drill in all of his killings; that is his only weapon of choice. No drills in this movie at all.

Also, they obviously spent all the money on stock footage and location costs. Special effects were almost non existent other than the one where the kid has his head shot off. The whole idea of stumbling on a “deserted” house in the middle of nowhere, where the pantry is fully stocked with fresh food and the front door is unlocked is laughable. The house also had some magical lighting fixtures. The power is out, yet in some rooms the power is on. But of course we had to have the lights on for the shower scenes! Oh and that is another thing; the shower scenes. The director loved his shower scenes. They went on and on and on… and were pointless! Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good shower scene and if this was a porno it would have worked. But these were pointless other than to show nudity. I have no issue with nudity and it did numb the pain of an otherwise lacking script, but come on! And speaking of lack of clothes, the costumes for this movie were just horrible. Apparently this takes place in a mountain region. We are going to have a blizzard… yet still two characters are wearing nothing but sports bras (and one had her pants on inside out, which was annoying the hell out of me), we have a character in a sun dress, and another in a tank top. Oh, and cheerleading practice in jeans and not workout clothes. Lets wear our street clothes, get all sweaty, shower and then put them back on. Yeah that makes sense.

Shall I move on to characters? Again little to no development of characters, and there were too many of them at that! Some of them looked alike! It was just all over the place! The story lines didn’t make sense. There were mentions of another student who they sort of explained in the end but not enough mention of her to make it sound like she was a possible threat like they were aiming for. They had some blonde chick in like… two scenes that had nothing to do with any of the plot and really had no purpose in the movie other than another pair of fake boobs! (Which we never saw anyway because she didn’t do a shower scene)

The only saving grace I found was Buzzy played by the movie’s writer, Lenny Juliano. Now I am not saying he was a great actor, but his bumbling and crudeness made his lack of talent tolerable.

This movie to me, lacked any type of finesse or charm that I enjoy from my slasher flicks. There was no real feeling of camaraderie amongst the players; there really was no emotion what so ever through out the film other than vanilla. Timing was bad and the steady cam operator must have thought he was doing Blair Witch Project. This movie was just… well… craptacular.

I give it 1 soapy ass crack out of 5

He Said:

First and foremost, kudos to the casting person for finding nearly the whole cast at the boob job clinic. There’s something to be said for casting choices such as these, unfortunately it’s usually nothing to do with the quality of the film and more along the lines of ‘YAY BOOBIES!’ Aside from all the boobs, and really we don’t see THAT many of them unleashed, there’s little else in this crap fest to hold my interest.

‘Continuity Smontinuity!’ was the mantra of the day when Cheerleader Massacre was shot and at the end of the day it becomes down right comical. If you are a viewer that relies on continuity to help the feel and flow of a film to get you through to the end, abandon all hope now. There is not one iota of this film that makes any sense what so ever in this department. Surpassing eye rolling annoyance it truly is the highlight of the film to see just what glaring error they’re going to make at any given point. As the Mrs. said above, there’s a blizzard coming towards this sleepy little mountain town. We’ve got at least two people wandering about in sports bra’s, and one hiking in daisy dukes and a tank top. When the killer cuts the power to the cabin we cut back and forth to rooms with no lights to rooms with lights so much, I gave up trying to keep count.

The continuity errors help add to a muddled plot that really makes little to no sense whatsoever. What I figure is mostly likely the case the creative team presented a crappy slasher feature to a film studio, and got turned down. They went home, thought it over and it dawned on them that they might be able to loosely tie this into another franchise. Hence, Slumber Party Massacre IV was born. Sadly, there’s just enough S.P.M. in here to make this theory unlikely. I think they really set out to make a Slumber Party Massacre IV! The entire movie is nothing but one giant festering plot hole so it is rather pointless to discuss in depth. To cut to the gristle, I imagine the first writers meeting sounding a little something like this: “You need cheerleaders, you need naked cheerleaders. You need a killer, and hell, let’s tack on a second killer just for the hell of it. Let’s not worry about making this second killer make any sense, that would take too much time and money. We’ll just dump her entire story in the last ten minutes of the flick. People will buy it, surely! The important thing here is naked cheerleaders. We’ll steal a good ten minutes of stock footage from the first flick, and since it’s got that Brinke Stevens chick in that clip, we’ll throw her into our flick for good measure. Really guys, what’s key here is this: I hear if you have a video camera and tell chicks you’re a film maker, they’ll take their clothes off for you! Voluntarily!”

Really, that last tidbit had to be the sole decision maker in the casting department. “I want to see her naked, I want to see her naked, and I want to see her naked!” There is really little to no real acting going on here. In agreement once again with the Mrs. up above, the only ‘good’ performance in the flick was that of Buzzy, and the term ‘good’ is a bit of stretch to be honest. Still, he was the only person throughout that didn’t come across as wooden, and you couldn’t see his eyes scanning the queue cards. Most of the cheerleaders did do well in their ‘lather yourself with soap and stand around nekkid in the shower’ roles, and I truly can’t fault them for that. Not to come across as a complete naysayer, I always like to point out at least one positive and they showed off their goods. So there you go. (Oh yah, and one of them was even actually kind of cute! Kind of…)

This movie was laughable and somewhat fun in the MST3K sense of the word. Looking for a slasher flick to chill you and your date? Pass on this one. Looking for some viewing material because you don’t have a date? Watch the first ten minutes then be sure to hit stop. Figure you’ll give it a watch to stave off boredom? Go watch the grass grow, it’s a far more entertaining production.

1 showering cheerleader out of 5

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Monday, March 26th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

TMNT

Ever find your self watching a movie that makes you relive your childhood a bit? Gets the juices flowing, gets you all excited and a bit jittery by the time you walk out of the movie theater? Imagine the confused stares of many fellow movie goers as my six year old daughter and I bounded out of the theater throwing kicks and punches at each other shouting ‘COWABUNGA DUDE!’ Sure maybe a bit embarrassing in hindsight, but you know what? I didn’t care; the Ninja Turtles are back!

This ain’t your dad’s Ninja Turtles, yet it’s still loosely connected to the crap we saw in the 80′s and early 90′s. Shredder has been defeated and this has led to a period of down time. This means training for Leonardo and falling to disarray for the rest of the Turtle family. There’s a new power a foot though, and this includes the return of the Foot clan, as well as numerous hairy beasts roaming the city. With a family filled with internal strife the Ninja Turtles head out once again to look into these new strange occurrences and with the help of April O’Neil and Casey Jones, they begin to unravel the source of this newest scourge of evil.

There’s so much I love here in TMNT and once again I’m fighting off my boyish fanboyism. This time around however, I really don’t care. It’s Ninja Turtles! First and foremost for this outing, this turtle adventure actually has a solid plot behind it which really pushes this flick to shine bright in the spring onslaught of animated features. Darker and low on slap stick, we get an engaging story that is both thought provoking and entertaining to boot. A enemy (or maybe not an enemy?) that is a bit more threatening thant the often bungling Shredder of the days of yore. Family strife between two brothers butting heads for power over their clan; one selected by their father to train to be a master, the other fighting with issues of not being chosen by the father and feelings of inadequacy. The once powerful clan now fallen to disarray having to fight off the rust from ages of disuse while trying to fight of a new menace. There’s a real story here folks, and it has its touches of darkness making this an attention grabber for the older folks as well as the kiddies. Yes, the kiddies too as it’s not just darkness and despair. There is a lot of humor as well, but not the heights of slapstick comedy seen in the first three rubber suited outings. Subtle and funny, there are a fair number of jokes spread throughout. This isn’t the Bebop and Rocksteady Turtles from the 80′s animated days either and I think the big guy upstairs for that. This is straight up Eastman and Laird Ninja Turtles, or at least as close as we’ve gotten to the real deal.

The voice acting is top notch here as well. With all four Turtles being voiced by seemingly veteran voice actors, none of them are of the pop star variety cast for name recognition alone. This helps to give each of the turtles a unique personality as opposed to ‘hay, that’s what’s his name from that one movie!’ The rest of the cast spread about them however is recognizable and turn in top notch performances as well. We have Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame, Sarah Michelle Gellar as April O’Neal, Patrick Stewart who’s voice has a career of it’s own by this point, Ziyi Zhang and even brief appearances from Kevin Smith and Laurence Fishburne as well. All actors performed smoothly and convincingly and helped to push the story telling to new heights.

The final touch to make this flick such an enjoyment is the animation itself. Being all CGI, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and unimpressed these days with the medium, especially since everybody and their brother is spitting it out nowadays. Luckily for us, the CGI in TMNT is done to perfection. Recalling the original turtle designs from the Eastman and Laird days these Turtles may appear slightly different than what you’re used too, with detailed cranked up so high they actually look like passable bipedal tortoises as opposed to the old ‘man in suit!’ fare. With the details of the entire city as well as all of the characters brought to life with the same loving detail, the scenery of TMNT becomes a character unto itself and serves to make us forget we’re watching a cartoon, and not a kick ass turtle wielding a Katana.

There are many things that young kids find amazingly mysterious and cool, among them are Ninja’s and slimy green critters. It’s good to know that after a good 20 years, some things don’t change. TMNT managed to over stimulate my childhood fancies to an extreme degree, and even now a day later writing this review I find myself growing giddy and wanting to drop kick a cube wall all while shouting COWABUNGA DUDE! Surely the wife will draw an end to this as me and my daughter break a lamp rolling around playing ninja turtles, but until that time comes I’ll continue to revel in the fun that this flick brought, and continue to talk about it to anyone that will stand still long enough for me to get the first sentence out. I liked it that much folks, and I truly hope you do as well.

4.5 heroic half shells out of 5

TURTLE POWER!

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Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Final Stab

Ok, so one of my most favorite horror films is April Fools Day. A group of kids go to a gal’s family home; one by one they get picked off… or do they? I have always had a love for that movie. It may not be a stellar blood bath, but it was creative and it made me sit up and say “Wow, I didn’t see that coming!” Of course I was only sixteen when I saw it and hadn’t had much horror film experience yet. So that film was about a group of kids being duped into a horror/mystery weekend that only two people were aware of. This movie was the opposite; everyone comes for a murder/mystery weekend but only two people don’t know about it.

Now I am getting ahead of myself. Final Stab is supposedly Scream 4. Much along the lines of Halloween 3, it has absolutely nothing to do with the franchise so I am grateful that they decided to change the working title to something that makes a bit more sense. We have a rich bitch, Kristin, played by Erinn Hayes (might I say absolutely beautifully…. I mean she made me say “Wow, I want to be her…. that sounds like something I would say!”) who is pissed because her sister’s boyfriend rejected her. Add to it that the boyfriend is a little crazy due to being the only eye witness to his parent’s murder, she devises a way to make the guy freak out by putting together a bit of an elaborate scheme. Getting together her rich bratty friends she puts together a murder party to end all murder parties leading her sister and the boyfriend to believe that they are all getting picked off one by one. The problem is, they actually are.

Now we have our basic cliché crowd. However the three characters that I still have problems with are the three lower-class bad-boys who served no purpose. The three, who I have a feeling that the writer just picked the names of his dogs for these boys, had no point what so-ever. I mean I am all for a nice body count but these guys didn’t seem to even count. They were supposed to be there to disrupt the party; this was our understanding from the dialogue. Plus a flier they found which made no sense because if I was going to bring all my friends up for a murder weekend where I was going to actually murder them and blame it on someone else, well I sure as hell wouldn’t advertise it. But that is just me! They never got to disrupt the party, nothing. They just wandered around the edge of the woods and got killed randomly and the bodies never showed up in the reveal where our young virginal runs around screaming as she comes across each body. It would be cool to just see the bodies of these three guys and have her scream and then be like “Who the hell was that?”

As we head through all of this, where I am saying out loud “ok it is this person’s turn”, and sigh as yet another person gets their throat slashed, I get a big gift and actually sit up at the end. A twist, that I didn’t see coming.

This is something I would write! This is why I watch these movies, right here folks. For that little glimmer of hope for something that gives a teeny tiny bit of originality. It doesn’t really give me much, but just that tiny little bit there at the end, where I smile and say “Finally!”

I give this 4 Horror Movie References out of 5

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Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Boo

Today’s deadly dose was Boo. This made-for-TV gem from Sci-fi was not quite that glittery. As the movie begins one is brought to mind of the movies Scream and Halloween. In a nut-shell a group of young people decide to go to a haunted hospital on Halloween and poke around and scare themselves. Our list of characters include; the slut, the golden boy, the young romantic, the prankster, and our heroin, the troubled wishy-washy female character who later gets a spine. Added to this are a young man who is looking for his sister and her friends who came to the hospital for the same reason, and his father’s (who I am assuming is dead) partner; a cop who used to do bad B-horror flicks. Rounding things out we have the ghost of a child molester (how very Nightmare on Elm Street of you… but sorry this one is no where near as sexy as Robert Englund), the ghost of his last victim, and the ghost of the nurse who has sworn she would never let him leave (Yay for Dee Wallace Stone… baby you still got it).

The move in and of itself was ok. Script, acting, special effects, plot, all decent enough; but there is nothing new here. The whole thing was very formulaic and agonizingly so. We knew exactly how we were getting from point A to point B and it never deviated from the millions of similar movies like this we have seen over the years. Jump scenes, not really any. Now granted it was a made for cable TV film and Sci-Fi channel at that, so I wasn’t really expecting much in the lines of being astounded. This is good. If I was going to go into this movie looking for something original and awesome and something that is going to really make me sit up and take notice, well I would have been disappointed.

I felt that the whole thing was lacking in story development. I am not one of those people who enjoy it when it is all explained at the end in a neat little package and presented with a big ribbon on top for me. I like to get the clues along the way and watch how the characters figure out the mystery not ‘boom lets have a vision that tells us the entire reason!’ Give us some suspense people, give us something that will chill us, make us think!

Yes, I said it. I want a horror film that makes me think! Not one of these where I figure out the twist in the first 15 minutes of the film. I still haven’t come across any like that, and maybe I never will, but here is for hoping. So I will simply have to settle for some decent acting and some lovely blood shots… unfortunately this was not the best of the best.

I will give this one 2 flayed dogs out of 5

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Wednesday, March 21st, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell
Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Category: The Trailer Court of Doom  | Comments off
Tuesday, March 20th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

Zodiac

David Fincher returns with a movie based on real life. In the late 1960′s the Zodiac Killer terrorized northern California for ten months. Fincher recreates that time period in his latest flick, and he does it quite well indeed. With a grade a cast including Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith, the San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist who became obsessed with the case later to write a book on the subject. Joining Jake are Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox and many more familiar faces.

The stand out performances here are from Downey and Ruffalo as addictive reporter Paul Avery and Detective Toschi respectively. Both completely convincing in their roles it was due to these two performers this film was so easy to get caught up again. Standing out as a character in it’s own right is the atmosphere itself brought to life by David Fincher. Some have said that he failed to capture the true panic that was created back in the 60′s by the Zodiac, but I wasn’t around then and can’t speak the truth of this. For me being an outsider to these events this movie held me captivated for the duration of the nearly three hour length with naught but a brief slowdown towards the end. All performers put on a grade a show here and this is one I’ll be looking forward to spending more time with in the future when it’s DVD release draws near.

The Illusionist

The Illusionist is a bit of a period piece giving us a slightly creepified love story. Starring Ed Norton as the illusionist Eisenheim, we are treated to a tale of classism, rediscovered love, and a heaping helping of Romeo and Juliet to top it all off. Ed Norton puts in a fine performance as Eisenheim the worldly magician, Jessica Biehl is mostly forgettable as Duchess Sophie, and Rufus Sewell plays the self centered as assholish Crown Prince Leopold so well that you find your self cheering for his demise by the end. The true master craftsman for this flick however is the always amazing Paul Giamatti as the chief police inspector. For myself there is no finer character actor working these days, and his performance in The Illusionist is no exception.

Outside of the acting this flick is an entertaining story to watch if not a bit slow. Period piece can be a bit dry at times and this one is no exception. However the mystery of Eisenheim’s antics, the off putting ways of the crown prince, and the underlying anguish of these two separated loves makes for a fun watch and a decent flick. Nothing mind blowing, but worth your two hours indeed.

School for Scoundrels

School for Scoundrels is a mildly entertaining comedy pitting in your face con-man Billy Bob Thornton against the meek and mild Jon Heder.

While this was mildly entertaining and did contain a few laughs here and there, Scoundrels winds up as yet another mostly forgettable comedy without any real redeeming factors to bring you back over and over again. The antics Billy Bob and Napoleon get into as they constantly try to one up each other are indeed laugh inducing, however we’ve seen the schtick before and we’ve seen it done better. Billy Bob pulls of the boisterous Dr. P quite well, but when is he not loud and in your face? Jon Heder’s dopey looser was seen once before in Napoleon Dynamite. While not as extreme this time around, it’s not like it was a big stretch for him to pull off a second time. The standouts for the cast were the extras in the back ground, mainly Todd Louiso of High Fidelity fame and his conquest of women by making them believe he’s Moby.

Give this one a rent if you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night, but don’t knock yourself out getting to the video store. You’re not missing much.

Fifty Pills

Darren Giles has a stupid room mate. He’s one of those room mates that has to party constantly and is a ‘BMOC’. After returning from thanksgiving vacation, Darren discovers that his roommate has gotten them a room violation once again and Darren has approximately three days to raise the money to pay his tuition as he’s lost his scholarship. Enter smarmy roommate once again. He’s heading home to poke his girlfriend for the weekend and since he feels bad for getting Darren ousted, he’s offered to help him in his plight. Handing him a beeper and fifty pills of ecstasy, Darren now has the tools to raise the money he needs. The one thing holding him back however is that his new love interest, Kristen Bell isn’t keen on his being a drug dealer. It’s never easy is it?

Yet another forgettable comedy the highlight of Fifty Pills is the myriad of people that are paging Darren for a score. From two buxom coeds offering to pay him in sex, a dominatrix working in her grandmothers basement, a sex crazed school girl complete with creepy older guy as ‘principal’, and many others. While these are all amusing in themselves the parts in between centering on Darren’s blossoming love life with uber cutie Kristen Bell (sorry Louis) just do not click and fail to stir up any interest in the interim. Once again worth a rental on a slow Saturday night, but don’t break your neck getting there.

Let’s Go to Prison

A Bob Odenkirk movie centering on prison rape jokes and the like? Wait… a Bob Odenkirk movie centering on prison rape jokes and the like!

For fans of stupid humor, you really can’t do better that Bob Odenkirk. Let’s Go to Prison is exactly the stupid humor you’d expect from him, with a bit of a plot to go along with it! The first hour or so of this flick has many gut busting moments help the film live up to it’s directors name. However the last thirty minutes or so begin to drag and soon you find yourself distracted by small shiny objects and the like waiting for the next big laugh, or waiting for it to all be over. Luckily, the ending does pay off.

I myself tend to sign on for any comedy starring Dax Shepard and and happily they do not dissapoint. The addition of Chi McBride as a rather large and violent gay man is a nice touch and he helps to add a lot to the laughs throughout.

Die hard Odenkirk fans check it out. Die hard prison rape joke fans be sure to check it out as well!

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Friday, March 16th, 2007 | Author: Colleen Criswell

Chainsaw Sally

Today with my morning coffee I have chosen the movie Chainsaw Sally. Now, for those who know me, one of my big fears is chainsaws…. so I was immediately drawn to this movie. In the beginning I thought I was going to be disappointed. The first scene was stiff and played like the dialogue in a porno flick; under rehearsed and thrown together. The actors had little emotion and I wanted to cry “Oh god no… not another movie like this….” However after the first murder and the opening credits, I started to smile again.

So, we have Sally (April Monique Burril) our town librarian in her boxy skirt suits. However, our little heroine is hiding her little secret of being a sexy gothed-out chainsaw wielding mass-murderer. She and her little brother, an adorable little queen named Ruby (Alec Joseph), live in a tiny trailer on some old land where they bring their little play things (groceries they call them) and later consume them. Yay cannibalism!

The soundtrack was very well put together, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough played for my taste to underline the drama. Special effect wise, for a low budget film, I was pleasantly surprised. Especially with the death of the ice cream girl; anything that actually makes me say “Ewwwww that is awesome” needs recognition!

Writing wise I was pleased. The story didn’t have too many holes, the jokes were subtle in parts and a few actually made me giggle. The sex in the film was also subtle, which I respect. Where there was a very sultry moment when Sally was caressing a shovel, the whole dance club scene with Sally and Ice Cream girl was very blood pumping. Not to mention the tea party… well…

Ahem… anyway…. This movie was really fun to watch! Not only that, but it paid homage to so many great films! And not only that, it had Gunnar Hansen in it as Sally’s father! Now, if you don’t know who that is…. well here is a photo that might help you remember…

I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a fun romp with a chainsaw, and remember, be nice to your librarian and remember to bring your books back in a timely fashion. Storyline wise, we have a few little gaps here and there, but all in all it was solid. Very colorful characters and decent acting and mainly well delivered lines made this enjoyable and not quite so painful. Fun death scenes (I never would have thought to use sparklers) are always a plus. And always a lot of fun with power tools!

I give this 5 Games of Bloody Twister out of 5

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Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 | Author: Casey Criswell

300

By now, most of you should know what 300 is all about. A loose retelling of the Spartans stand against the Persians at the battle of Thermopylae. Further more, a film adaptation of Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel of the same name.

Many a comic geek, myself included, have waited with baited breath for a year or two now since it was announced that Zack Snyder was setting forth to bring the book to life. As time grew near and the footage and clips started to leak out excitement and hype grew. Finally, on March 9th many a nerds wet dream came true and the film finally hit theaters.

Well I’m happy to say folks, the hype was well deserved.

I managed to catch this one last Saturday and in an effort to stave of the rampant fanboy-ism that’s been raging forth from my own girded loins all week, I’ve managed to hold off on the review until now. Still, after near five days post viewing I still find it hard to not let forth with a barrage of ‘WOOOO! FUCK YA! WOOOOOOOOOO!”s even to this day. Author Brian Keene summed up my own post viewing feelings pretty nicely:

“When the movie was over, I wanted to pick a fight with 20 complete strangers, kick their collective ass, kill an elephant with my bare hands, eat it, bathe in blood, and then go home and make love to my queen.

Instead, I sat in Baltimore/Washington gridlock and got grumbled at by my queen for waking her up at midnight. And then the dog farted on me as I slid into bed.

I wish I was a Spartan.”

There so much I loved about this movie. So much there to get the blood boiling. Being a long time fan of the original book (I <3 you Ak :manlove:) the movie follows along closely throughout. With the exception of an increased story surrounding the queen, we’re pretty much spot on for the book. That’s a big plus for book to movie adaptations and one that should make any fan happy.

Next up on the highlight reel is the cinematography. Shot entirely on green screen 300 showcases a washed out look giving us a movie somewhat dreamy in appearance. Furthering the cinematography angle we get down to real meat & potatoes. The fights. Oh boy the FIGHTS. WOOOOOOOO! FUCK YAH!!!!!!! er….sorry. Slipped out. Flying limbs, spattering CGI blood, countless bodies, walls of bodies, falling walls of bodies, the fighting machine that is a Spartan shield wall…the list goes on and on. Even in the pen and ink of the book, the fight scenes were gruesome and gritty and were a character all their own. On film it is one and the same.

Finally, Gerard Butler? Kicks ass. Plain and simple.

Many historians may poo-poo the historical accuracy of 300, but poo-poo right back at them. Never once has Frank Miller claimed for this to be an accurate account of the Spartans, simply loosely based. This simple fact is what may prevent some from enjoying this film. If you prepare yourself ahead of time for an action adventure flick full of ass kicking then prepare to have a good time. For the fellow comic nerds out there fearful of yet another comic book movie that will shit all over your childhood, fear no more. They got it right this time.

5 manly bearded men out of 5

On a side note, if one can say no more about Zack Snyder and his story telling abilities, the man sure loves him some nipples. They’re all over the place! But seriously…how can you fault a guy for that?

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