Archive for » December, 2008 «

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Note: I’m playing with some of the features on Good Reads. Cool site overall! If you’re a reader, you should check it out. If you’re a member, feel free to add me as a friend!

Seven Deadly Wonders: A Novel Seven Deadly Wonders: A Novel by Matthew Reilly

In a Nutshell…

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Decent book over all. It’s essentially the poor man’s “National Treasure”. Very much written in a cinematic style. Some of this works, some of it doesn’t. I’m not sure why but Reilly likes to break up his paragraphs into odd groupings which gives the story a choppy feel.

Aside from that though, the book is an enjoyable adventure. Jack West Jr. is a solid main character. There is never any real doubt that West will find his way out of any adventure, but that’s okay. The egyptian history, the discussion of all of the seven wonders, and the adventure of the traps contained with in were all well researched and added a lot to the fun of the book.

Overall, a fun read but not very deep. You can tell Reilly wants a film deal more than anything by the lay out of this adventure.

View all my reviews.

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Monday, December 22nd, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

For our Christmas episode we decide to forgo the usual fair for a film that will make you feel truly cold inside… the breakout Swedish vampire film “Let The Right One In”. Also, Shelton continues to do a fantastic job filling in for Schnaars, Casey has the latest in DVD releases and those hosts who live above the frost line spend plenty of time bitching about the winter weather that has come their way recently.
Jump over to Bloody Good Horror to check it out!

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Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Let me preface this little diatribe here with a disclaimer. A warning shall we say. When it comes to the original “Day the Earth Stood Still”, I am one of the biggest self described fan boys there is. It is a movie I’ve watched probably hundreds of times over; I love it dearly. With that in mind, I went into the remake with a biased mine, but I felt my bias was justified in the end. This can also be classified as ‘nerd rage’. I’m guilty of that too!

When the word first came about that they would be remaking the 1951 classic, I was skeptic like most out there. At first, where was the need for a remake? The original film was created in the days of the Cold War and spoke directly to that situation, and it worked. With the current state of world affairs, the message is somewhat lost. So, they changed the message in the film to be more fitting with modern times; Klatuu was here to police us for the ecological damage being done to planet earth. While I still fail to see the need for a remake of this classic film, I can get on board with the basic premise in their changes. Ecological issues are on a pretty grand scale these days, much like the Cold War of the 1950’s. The problem arises when the issues are brought to hand and then glossed over with shiny special effects and forgotten about. In the original film the message of ‘violence’ and ‘war like tendencies’ were prevalent throughout the film. It was the essence of the film; they showcased out violence and aggressive nature throughout the movie in a myriad of ways and it was effective. Instead, we get flash and bang.

I understand that this was never intended as a frame by frame remake of the original film, and frankly a frame by frame remake wouldn’t work. The message would be somewhat lost and watered down and lose its effectiveness. However, without taking the basic elements of the film and its plot with them to the modern era, it becomes pointless to call it as such. Why not call it something like ‘Space Cop’ starring Keanu Reeves and let it be homage to “The Day the Earth Stood Still”? That would probably make the film more passable. You can also make the argument that they didn’t make the remake for people like me, people that didn’t revere the original movie in such high regards. That’s fine too, but you have to be able to take this critique as well. Fact of the matter is, sharing the same name and characters; they have to go hand in hand.

Beyond the rants and raves of a disgruntled nerd, there were other issues beyond the basics of film study 101. First and foremost was the lead actor of the film, Keanu Reeves. In theory it makes sense that Keanu’s wooden acting skills would fit well for the stoic and robotic Klaatu of the original, but it doesn’t carry through to the big screen. Reeves manages to stomp about emotionless for an hour and a half and fails to evoke any sort of urgency to the plight of humanity or the earth. Other actors involved in the film fared much better at least; Reeves just came across as boring and lifeless. Jennifer Connelly fit well with the changed character of Helen Benson with her interactions with Robo-Reeves, however she did fall short when it came time to play step mom to Jaden Smith. There is a changed dynamic to the relationship of Helen Benson and her son from the original film. This change in itself is not a crime and could be passable, but they fail to make the interaction between the step mom and lost and lonely step son work. Smith comes across as petulant, whiney and bratty as opposed to an endearing child who misses his dead father.

The biggest question on most people’s minds I’m sure is: Gort. How did Gort translate to the modern film world? In appearance, I can happily say that the visage of the tin can robot was left mostly unchanged. The important parts were covered; he was large, metallic and had an impressive eye ball laser. The robot was made entirely of CGI which is a bit jarring when he makes his appearance but serves its purpose. However, I can say that watching the footage shown in the post release commercials do tend to show Gort’s flows however and tend to showcase it as too cartoony; in his initial big screen appearance though he fits well in the context of what is going on around him. Where the annoying changes come however is in the name. Gort is no longer ‘Gort’. Gort is now a military acronym; G.O.R.T. or ‘Generic Organic Robotic Turd’. That may not be exact, but that’s what I walked away from the film with. And even more disturbing? Never once are the code phrases uttered to shut down Gort should he begin to carry out his objective. The original phrase was so striking that it worked its way in to popular culture in many different ways; the film makers however never saw any need to have Klaatu utter “Klaatu Berada Nikto”. And that’s just not right.

There are signs here that the film makers tried to stay true to the film, signs that they tried to explore some angles closer and in more detail. There is too much going on however that makes the movie a muddled snore fest outside of the scenes that they do in fact remake from the original. Things such as the ‘Arc’ theory, saving animal species from Earth, is a well thought out addition to the film. It explains the appearance of other spheres hidden on the planet and fits in with the new eco-friendly ethos of the movie. However, when they try and shoehorn action into a film that did just fine without a lot of it in the original version, it begins to feel like a cheap Hollywood cash in and loses any teeth that it might have. In fact, some would say that it shows the aggressive tendencies that the original film preached against!

The remake of “Day the Earth Stood Still” could have been an epic undertaking to reintroduce the modern world to classic science fiction but it fell flat as it left the gate. Instead, they’ve take the classic form of science fiction, a film that concentrates more on a coherent story with a distinct message morals, and made it just another sci-fi flick with a lot of flash and effects. The point of the original movie lost to the minds of the director and writers, this one was a grand disappointment and somewhat anger inducing in the mind of a petty internet nerd such as myself.

3 Klaatu Berada Nikto’s out of 10

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

I invite you all to check out the guest list for the upcoming Horror Hound Weekend convention in March 09 in Indianapolis!

To be specific, Check out the 2nd to last row, right in the middle!

That’s right folks, my first official convention bill! Yay!

If you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out Bloody Good Horror to catch up on the old episodes!

If you’re coming to the show, stop by the booth and say hi! (I’ll be the large one at the table)

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Monday, December 15th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

We finally get around to reviewing Midnight Meat Train, Jon’s MIA again and Casey phones in from our brand new traffic helicopter. Also, Shelton joins us for a second week in a row and has a strange tie to the Google report.

Head over to BGH to listen!

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Monday, December 08th, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

Punisher War Zone

As a long time fan of the original “Punisher” comics and even the later Ennis version of the “Punisher” books, it was understandable that I grew rather excited over the release of the 1989 flick of the same name starring Dolph Lundgren. If you have watched this version before, you can understand as well that I was highly disappointed! Years passed and the franchise fell dormant until 2004 when it was decided to bring the man in black back to life once more. This time they cast Thomas Jane in the title roll and fans were happier. Of course, they spoiled this by casting John Travolta as the main nemesis for the film and with that in mind, this incarnation of “The Punisher” was a marked improvement of character, yet there were still problems. Mr. Castle was too forgiving, John Travolta was laughable. Overall the effort left a bad taste in my film goer’s mouths. As 2008 clocked in and word of yet another film in the name of the comic, with yet another star headlining the role, it was scoffed from the start. This time around however, things had changed, and changed for the better.

Many websites the world over are decrying “The Punisher War Zone” as pure crap. Mindless, overly violent and gory, all style and no substance; in other words, not “The Dark Knight”. As the opening flurry of bullets, knives and decapitations set forth, I soon realized that they naysayers were wrong; what we were being treated to was the substance of the original comics. Revenge and violence, pure and simple; The Punisher has no need of forgiveness or anything of the sort. He needs the death of his wrongdoers. “The Punisher War Zone” captures this philosophy quite well.

There is not a lot of depth to the film, but this is the type of action/comic book film that doesn’t require much. In the previous two failed attempts at launching this vigilante vehicle, both movies focused on the deaths of Castle’s family and became mired in his origin story. This slowed the films down and added weight that wasn’t necessarily needed. In “War Zone” they glaze over this sequence, figuring that the viewer is now familiar considering this is the third reboot. With a brief flashback a quick visit to the cemetery, the matter is put to bed and we’re taken back to the meat and potatoes; death. This is where the movie shines. The opening sequence is both hilarious in it’s over the top nature and thrilling in its mindless carnage. It manages to set the tone for the rest of the film, and sets it accurately. We’re not being given a thoughtful Frank Castle, we’re being given a death machine. At nearly ten minutes of film time, I soon realized that we had yet to even hear the character speak! Lending to this steely grim visage is Ray Stevenson, the new man cast in the role of Frank Castle. Stevenson excels over the past two actors to try on the heavy combat boots of the vigilante. He evokes fear and matches his inked counterpart in the pages of Ennis’s comic quite well. With few lines to speak, his acting is left to action sequences and brooding stares and it works for him. When he does speak, it is effective and passable.

As we passed from action sequences to speaking moments, the movie began to bog down a bit. Apparent that this was not the main focus of the film, there were loose attempts made at drama and engaging story lines, however they felt slow and slightly forced in the shadow of the opening fracas that got the blood pumping. Granted they do not dwell on these moments for long, so they are forgivable. Other than Dominic West and Doug Hutcheson as our two main protagonists, the rest of the named cast is mostly underused. Julie Benz, while lovely as a brunette, has very little work with. The plot of her mistakenly killed agent husband at the hands of Frank Castle fit as did Castle’s attempt at restitution, but other than shedding a few tears, they didn’t use her much. The film focuses near solely on the conflict between castle and Dominic West and Doug Hutcheson’s mob villains. Thankfully they handled the parts well and made it easy to be entertained. West’s ‘Jigsaw’ was highly over the top, but it fit well; he’s playing a comic book villain after all.

“Punisher: War Zone” is not a thinking man’s film. This is a movie that you go to turn off your brain, enjoy some action and laugh. The movie does not take itself overly serious at all which allows it to flow well. There is just enough meat here to give it a plot and keep it from being nothing but a two hour long special effects mess. While movies concerning other vigilantes are quite excellent in their serious and dark angles, there is still plenty of room at the theater for a rock em’ sock em’ anti hero; luckily for us, Ray Stevenson fits the bill.

That said, Ray Stevenson is the best incarnation of the “Punisher” yet. Just saying.

7 I like watching things go BOOM! out of 10

Wednesday, December 03rd, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell

From the blog of Brian Keene…

We are proud to officially announce the formation of Drunken Tentacle Productions, a new independent film company based in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and headed by Mike Antonio, Matt Blazi, Jeff Heimbuch, Brian Keene, and Mike Lombardo.

Drunken Tentacle Productions’ main focus will be feature-length horror films for DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download formats. Their first project will be an anthology film based on selections from Brian Keene’s short-story collections Fear of Gravity and Unhappy Endings. The film is expected to be released in 2010.

It’s a well known fact that I’m a fan and supporter of the direct to DVD horror market. When you pack some powerhouse talent into it, I get even more excited. I’ve been a Brian Keene fan for quite awhile as he’s quickly made himself a staple in the horror lit world. With their first film being based off of his short story collections, I find myself a bit excited to say the least!

The independent and direct to video market is where the future of our genre lies. Be sure to check it out and support it!

For the full press release on Drunken Tentacle Productions, head over to Brian Keene’s website for all the info!

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Monday, December 01st, 2008 | Author: Casey Criswell


In a small town, there’s not much to do. In this small town, all there is to do is…bowling. As the cool kids in town gather to knock a few down and knock a few back, the common cliques of high school still exist. On one side are the jocks; foul mouthed, bullish and crude. On another side, the pretty girls; full of themselves, decked to the nines and looking…inviting. Finally, you have the cool dudes; rockers, not so jocks and…well they weren’t too specific with this last group. As different minded gangs of youth gather together, of course tempers clash. The jocks get belittled by the rest of the gang, they decide to enact their revenge. Grabbing hold of the head lady in training and having their way with her in brutal fashion; afterwards they all gather to bowl again the next night except this time there’s somebody new on the premises; a bowling bag bedecked killer is on the loose!

“Gutterballs” is a low budget throw-back from Ryan Nicholson who previously brought us “Live Feed”. With this outing Nicholson aims straight for the 80’s jugular in setting, presentation and plot. In some factors he reached his goal admirably; in others he leaves you cringing with mild disgust. Once we roll through to the final frame however, “Gutterballs” proves to be a fairly fun low budget throwback worthy of attention.

As with most 80’s slashers, the main forte of “Gutterballs” is a joy of creative kills and high quality gore. Featuring some clever and some over the top kills, they both drew some laughs and groans. Quite possibly the first film I’ve ever seen featuring a death by ‘69’, Nicholson obviously holds a love for the genre and its craft. Later we see a death by bowling pin sodomy, various deaths by random bowling alley equipment and quite possibly my favorite; death by ball polisher. In addition to this, the plot in itself is solid enough to get the job done. Most makes sense by the end and there is enough to keep you guessing throughout the movie. However, there are some faults at play here.

The most grating issue with “Gutterballs” has to be the dialog sprinkled throughout the film. While most characters come across as passable, our trio of jocks becomes highly grating within a good ten minutes of film. While it is understandable that they are aiming for a certain stereotype, the parts are delivered so over the top that it becomes distracting and frustrating. If this could have been dialed back a touch, the film would have been far more enjoyable.

My only other gripe with this film comes in the main plot point; the brutal rape scene that airs early on in the film. The scene is shot in very graphic detail and has some elements that come across as too much; so much that the scene comes across as disgusting and not in that fun way; that morally wrong and ‘you’ve gone too far’ sort of way. Now, the idea of the acts portrayed here is meant to be horrible and I can understand that. For what takes place however, showing the majority of this act is stomach turning and for the most part unnecessary. The rest of the scene borders on near ‘Cinemax After Dark’ soft core levels. I don’t have as much problem with this thematic choice; however it does make you wonder at times if you’re watching a horror flick or skin-e-max.

Despite the rape scene and some annoying characters, “Gutterballs” was otherwise rather enjoyable. With a solid plot and some kick ass deaths, the movie will make you cringe and laugh all the while. I’ve never seen a killer that wears a bowling bag for a mask, but I can now say it was quite effecting. Not in that ‘oh god he’s going to kill me’ kind of way, but that ‘holy shit what’s up with this guy?!?!’ kind of way.

6 bowling baddies out of 10

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