In my search for this horror/comedy review collection, I stumbled on this title quite a bit. It seemed to come pretty highly recommended by various lists, and the images that I was able to see taken from the film certainly intrigued me. I could tell just by a few details that this was going to be something I enjoyed, and I'm happy to say that I definitely was not mistaken. This is one of the finest examples of all-around creativity I've seen in a film to date, and we all know how I'm a sucker for imagination put into a film.
Things open up with Dave's (Nick Thune) girlfriend, Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) coming back to their apartment after having been away for the weekend. Upon entering, she notices a fair-sized cardboard fort has been constructed in the middle of things, while Dave's voice comes from it. Dave explains that he's built an elaborate labyrinth, and has become lost within it. He insists on having no one enter it, as things are too dangerous and people could get lost or caught in one of his booby traps. We also learn it can't just be knocked down, as it's actually a pretty gigantic structure that goes far further than just the apartment.
Annie calls Dave's good friend Gordon (Adam Busch) over to assess the situation, and Gordon, in turn, invites a whole whack of other guests over as well, including their friends Leonard (Scott Krinsky), Brynn (Stephanie Allynne), Greg (Timothy Nordwind), Jane (Kirsten Vangsness) and last but not leats, a filmmaker named Harry (James Urbaniak), his boom operator (Frank Caeti) and cameraman (Scott Narver). Eventually, the fascination with the alleged complex maze within the simple cardboard box fort leads these people inside in an attempt to rescue Dave, and help him find his way out.
Once in the maze, that's where the film takes a crazy turn with its imagination and just goes all out with things. Booby traps are sprung, for example, causing plenty of blood and gore, giving this horror/comedy its horror element. However, the gore is made up of things like red confetti, ribbons and other things one might see used as fake blood on a stage play. Beyond that, however, is the overall environment of the maze itself. It's all created with layered cardboard, paper, etc. and decorated both simply but elaborately. Think of it as a giant cardboard fort that a group of children constructed over the course of a summer or something. It's pretty simple stuff, but at the same time, you can't not think it's kind of awesome.
Things do not end on simple elaborate design, however. As I said, this is also loaded with imagination. One of the finest examples of this includes the group entering a room in which they all transform into paper bag puppets. Why? I have no idea whatsoever, but it's proof that they weren't afraid to go all out on this one instead of just thinking "nah, that's kinda dumb". There's also a minotaur that chases them around all throughout the maze, a strange portal that can transform you into cardboard if you touch it, and just pure works of art as far as the eye can see. This came from a genuinely creative mind who wanted to have fun with things.
All in all, this makes me think a LOT of being a kid and building forts in my basement. Things would transform just enough that it felt like a different room altogether, and we'd play games in there and such. It's almost like director Bill Waterson is a grown-up tapping into that childlike mentality and taking it to the next level - like what if we still thought like this? Beyond that, there's also a pretty strong message in here about the creative process, not being able to finish things and the frustrations of trying to create something perfect. One could think of the maze as Dave's own frustrated imagination at work as his friends travel through it trying to help him.
One can find this movie on Shudder at the moment, but otherwise, I'm afraid it's a pretty hard one to come across. That said, if you can find a way to watch it, this is one of my high recommendations for those of you who want to see something fun, original, creative and new. It's like I tell people, and this is further proof of it as far as I'm concerned, new and original movies DO still exist, they're just much harder to find now. This is also more of a comedy than it is a horror (especially with the blood not being remotely real), so just keep that in mind if you're coming here for the creepy factor. This may end up being one I want to show visitors when they come by though. If you can find a way to watch it, do check it out. It's bizarre, but really well done!
Let's face it; whether you're like me and can't get enough, or someone who's sick of it all, one can't really deny an oversaturation of the superhero genre lately. It is, indeed, to the point where a lot of it can be played for laughs nowadays (like three of the four titles on this "Underground Superhero" list). But one might recall this somewhat forgotten farcical title from 1999 that has since become something of a hidden gem.
It's important to remember that this predates things like the 'X-Men' and 'Spider-Man' movies, and at the time, the best superhero movie in existence was probably still 1989's 'Batman'. Sure, 'Blade' was still very fresh as well, but the superhero genre was only really on the first rungs of the ladder to success. As a result, there was something about 'Mystery Men' that always felt a bit off, as it was a parody of the superhero genre before the superhero genre was anything really good yet. Therefore, it's largely considered nowadays to be before its time, and it's currently something fun to check out more so than it was upon its initial release.
An amateur superhero team consisting of Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), The Shoveler (William H. Macy) and The (now probably controversial) Blue Raja (Hank Azaria) try to make a name for themselves by preventing a robbery. They are, however, interrupted by the arrogant Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear), whose fame and power have seemingly resulted in all of his primary enemies being eliminated, one way or another. This leads to his sponsors withdrawing support, and his own desperation to stay on top. Using his secret identity of lawyer Lance Hunt, he pleas for the release of his arch-nemesis Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), basically so that he has something to do.
Amazing's plans backfire, however, and Frankenstein outwits and captures him. All the while, his diabolical plan involves unleashing something called the "Psycho-frakulator" on Champion City - a device that can bend reality with fatal consequences. So we have a very classic Batman-ish villainous plot here which, along with silly things like not recognizing Captain Amazing out of costume (like Superman) really lends itself to the comedic aspect of the movie when we think of how silly some of these things are. Anyway, with Amazing out of the picture, it's up to the trio of unlikely heroes to save the city.
Realizing the team needs more allies to go after a big villain like Frankenstein, the team holds auditions for new additions. Through this, they recruit Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), The Spleen (Paul Reubens) and The Bowler (Janeane Garofalo). The trouble is, no one but The Bowler is very good with their superpowers, and they eventually need to undergo some training from the Sphinx (Wes Studi). Can the unlikely superheroes show their full potential, rescue Captain Amazing from the clutches of the evil Disco Boys and save their city?
It's interesting for me to remember seeing this upon its release and not really being into it at all. I think a lot of it was, again, the timing though. It was kind of hard to see this as a farce more than thinking the superhero genre was just kind of doomed at that point. I mean, it was still pretty hit or miss after that, save for a few titles leading up to 2008's 'Iron Man'. But it's like I said before. One can actually probably get a real kick out of this nowadays with the whole genre basically taking things over. It's a fun superhero comedy that doesn't take itself seriously at all, and even seemingly makes fun of the whole thing. I really think this is one that both fans and non-fans of the superhero genre can appreciate.
Perhaps one may know this better by its other long, drawn out name, "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent". Either way you name it, it's still another hilariously bad piece of the Roger Corman collection. This movie made me laugh so many times, but often for the wrong reasons. There's a sort of over-the-top hilarity to it all in that it's trying to be a step forward for women, but it's really taking two steps back. After all, this was still 1957.
The film features a group of Viking women whose men have gone on some kind of venture, and haven't returned. It opens with the women deciding on whether they go out looking for their men by throwing spears at a tree. How anything is really decided here, I have no idea, but it's al null and void once their leader, Desir (Abby Dalton) makes the decision for them. They head out, along with the only dude left on the island, Ottar (Jonathan Haze), who insists he goes with them because they're women and need a man to go along. You instantly question what he's even doing there while all the other men left, and the movie makes it sad but clear.
Anyway, the women (and Ottar) decide to depart on a kind of lousy boat, which is eventually attacked by a sea serpent, and they soon find themselves stranded somewhere that just so happens to be the same place their men are. A race of savage, but very well-spoken men called the Grimaults find them, and take them all captive. Lead by the ruthless Stark (Richard Devon), the women are shown that their men have since become slaves, working for the Grimaults in the mines. Soon this all leads to an escape plot, with Desir and her man, Vedric (Brad Jackson) at the wheel.
So, needless to say, this is an extremely dated movie. There seems to be some sort of effort for the time in giving women a voice - but their voice is written by Roger Corman. About the best this does is show that women can do what men can do... like row a boat. It carries with it, the old fashioned thinking of a woman needing a man in order to, not only be happy, but honestly live. For comparison, look at 'Wonder Woman' and the land of Themyscira - that's a society of women who just plain don't need men, and they're doing great on their own. Here, though, the women go looking for their men as a sort of "need" - especially when it comes to going unloved.
The sad truth is that a lot of that old age thinking is in a lot of the dialogue, and I couldn't help but laugh at so much of it. There's even one dude who keeps whipping people, but the amount of randomized times he does it makes for an honest to God running gag. Everything about this movie that's hilarious is a bad thing, be it abuse, overall treatment of women in the script, or how guys spoke about women. To make things perfectly clear though, it's funny in the context that it's such ridiculousness to even consider nowadays. This isn't like watching a movie from the 80s where it gets awkward because of some of the terms used. This is a bit more like... 'Reefer Madness' in that the context is so crazy, it's funny.
So, in my humble opinion, this is really quite worthy of landing on anyone's eventual long list of films that are "so bad, they're good". Even though there's nothing particularly good about this movie, I still had a great time watching it. I think there may come a time on this site of mine that I will have to squeeze in a Roger Corman special, because I'm slowly learning how fun his movies actually are. For those curious, one can find it, absolutely free on YouTube. It just might be under its original title.
Here's another one of those movies that has been on my radar for several years now, solely based on the subject matter of "Nazi Zombies". Because sometimes, even I can be a gore hound, and what better way to have fun with that than offing something one couldn't possibly have much sympathy for? There is something more satisfying in seeing them get treated like slabs of Hollywood meat, and I believe there is good reason this has actually become a bit of a cliché over the years. Hell, 'South Park' even jokes about it in 'Stick of Truth'.
But please don't get me wrong, I do stick to the fact that I enjoy "human" stories, and often enjoy seeing a certain "good" side to Nazis - I know how that sounds, but 'Schindler's List' is a fine example of this. Or a scene in 'Band of Brothers' I recall with an American talking to a Nazi soldier, only to find out they're from the same town, and that particular German was simply called into action, fighting through no real fault of his own. But with that said, this is NOT that. This is, as the trailer suggests, 'Evil Dead' meets 'Dawn of the Dead', and comes to us from Norwegian writer/director Tommy Wirkola - the guy who also did 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters'. And while that probably doesn't sound impressive, I can say with all honesty that I had a great time with this.
We meet seven students on Easter vacation, headed to a small cabin near Øksfjord, Norway. In one car, Martin (Geir Vegar Hoel), Roy (Stig Frode Henriksen), Vegard (Lasse Valdal) and Erland (Jeppe Beck Laursen). In the other car, Hanna (Charlotte Frogner), Liv (Evy Kasseth Røsten) and Chris (Jenny Skavlan). Once there, they are met by a mysterious stranger, or harbinger, if you will (Bjørn Sundquist) who warns them of the supposedly cursed history of the area. Once occupied by Nazis, led by the Hitler-paralleling Herzog (Ørjan Gamst), they tortured the locals until there was an eventual uprising towards the end of the war. Surviving Nazis, including Herzog, were chased into the woods, and eventually presumed to have frozen to death. In reality, however, their fate was much worse.
Soon enough, things go pretty much as you expect. Group in cabin finds foreign object (in this case, stolen gold) and unleashes unspeakable evil that pursues them through the rest of the film. So in many ways, it's relatively typical - 'Cabin in the Woods' even uses this scenario as a sort of farce on American horror. And while it does come down to survival, it also has something to say about greed, and even deeper things I caught, like how our rage during times of war can lead to hurting our loved ones. If you've seen it movie, you know exactly the scene I mean. So I can't really say that there's no heart put into this. It also has a solid sense of humour, and even what could be one of my new favourite all-time deaths.
The film's real star, however, is just the gorey kills. It's a lot like 'Evil Dead' that way, where the more splatter there is going on, the more into it you are. If they decide to make this a musical one day, it may also involve a "Splatter Zone", just like 'Evil Dead' did. I think in many ways this is very typical for both the zombie subgenre and the horror genre. But there were just enough moments in here to make it incredibly fun for me. If you are a gore hound of any kind, I can recommend this one pretty highly as something to just sit back and enjoy with a bag of popcorn. Just one more thing though - don't expect a happy ending.
For the final movie of this second "Ghost Month" installment, I thought I'd take a look at a Spanish film, brought to us from executive producer Guillermo del Toro. There are many avenues in horror I haven't explored yet, and Spanish horror is most definitely something I've been meaning to delve a little more into. While I don't consider the film to be a total original, it's still quite well done, and does a good job of blending very different types of horror into one movie.
Thirty years after an orphanage adopts Laura (Belén Rueda), she returns with her husband, Carlos (Fernando Cayo) and young son, Simón (Roger Príncep). Now closed, Laura plans to reopen it as a facility for disabled children. While settling in, Simón says that he has befriended a boy named Tomás (Óscar Casas); a boy who evidently wanders around wearing a sack mask. We later learn that Tomás was a kid who was facially deformed, taunted by other kids, and ended up drowning as a result of their shenanigans. This, to any real horror fan, sounds all too familiar, as Jason Voorhees once met the same fate. You might as well just say "he died in a car crash" as far as unoriginality, but I digress. Thankfully, this little nitpick didn't ruin things for me.
Simón soon teaches his mother a game, following clues around the house. Upon winning the game, your wish is granted. It is during this that Simón gets into a fight with his mother after apparently learning from Tomás that he was adopted, and Laura wasn't his real mother. Eventually, during a party to celebrate the opening of the new facility, Simón goes missing. As the months pass, and Carlos loses hope that their son is still alive, Laura does whatever she can to find her missing son, even if it includes breaking the boundaries of reality and playing a game with Tomás and the rest of Simón's imaginary friends to find him.
When all considered this doesn't entirely feel typical of a ghost/haunting movie, but one can't deny how much it seems to borrow from, either. Aside from the 'Friday the 13th' pull, I'd also throw in dashes of material from movies like 'The Others' and even perhaps a touch of 'Trick 'r Treat' considering Tomás' look being very reminiscent of Sam's. However, being released the same year, that's perhaps a bit of a stretch. Perhaps most interesting of all is that it dabbles in 'Peter Pan' (knowingly) and the concept of the Lost Boys. It all comes together in the end to make for a pretty solid movie, despite a few weak points in the beginning. Much like with 'The Others', there's definitely a creepiness to it, but it's not entirely on the horror side of things - it just has horror elements.
Perhaps most impressive to me here, however, were the performances. It's not often you can cast a child actor and have them pull off something kind of amazing. Roger Príncep does a great job here as Simón, especially for being around 8 or 9 years old at the time of filming. He carries a lot of personality, and expresses himself very well. I like that he's not afraid of these ghosts, but at the same time, they don't give him any sort of creepy edge. He's just a kid convinced he's hanging out with other kids, and does a much more casual job of it than say, Zachary David Cope in 'Stir of Echoes'. I was actually quite impressed, and have learned that he has been nominated for various awards for this role.
While little Roger steels the show here, Belén Rueda certainly holds her own as well. She plays the ever-caring mother type, and wants her kid to be happy but safe all at once. However, she's never overbearing while he's still in the picture, and when he disappears, she suddenly turns into a lioness on the lookout for her missing kid, never willing to give up, but never completely breaking down in the process. She didn't spray tears quite as much as say, Joyce Byers in Season 1 of 'Stranger Things', and she's willing to do whatever it takes, even if it means getting into the supernatural as an act of desperation. It may not be a film that's altogether mind-blowing or even amazing, but it certainly holds its own and has a very well thought out ending, in my opinion. It's strangely haunting but charming all at once, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't actually really enjoy it despite any flaws.
Here's a title several people probably remember from when the 21st century introduced itself. In the past twenty years, it has seemingly gone unnoticed and/or tossed aside. Most people I talk to either haven't heard of it, or think I'm referring to the fairly fresh 2019 drama series of the same name. This all frankly sometimes surprises me, considering it's a movie that features Nicolas Cage in the lead role. But perhaps it's just that he's not quite "Nick Cage" enough for viewers here. Indeed, it's one of those times he plays it more serious, so if you wanna see whacked out crazy Cage, you're out of luck.
Cage plays the role of a Wall Street Executive named Jack. He, and his long-time partner, Kate (Téa Leoni) are parting ways at JFK Airport, as Jack is headed to London to take up a twelve-month internship. The fear of his leaving hurting their long-term relationship, however, gets to her. Then, as though it's already the end of any typical romance movie, Kate asks him not to go. She gives a short but pretty convincing speech about staying with her to start a nice, peaceful family life. He reassures her that their love will last through the worst, and takes off anyway, leaving her heart-broken at the terminal. So, right off the bat, we see who these people are - their introductions are quite solid for being so quick.
Thirteen years pass, and Jack finds himself living a carefree bachelor lifestyle. Things are going quite well for him; he's a successful go-getter on Wall Street, and loves what he does, making him the cocky type who cares a little more about his lifestyle than other people. This comes right down to Kate who evidently tries calling him, but despite the fact that he remembers her, he doesn't answer the phone. He leaves work one night, and heads into a convenience store where an average young New Yorker named Cash (Don Cheadle) tries to claim a lottery ticket that the clerk refuses, accusing him of cheating with it. This leads to an interaction of Jack attempting to find Cash some help, but little does Jack know what's about to happen. When Cash asks Jack if anything is missing from his life, and he responds by stating he has everything he needs, the magic begins with the offer of a "glimpse".
Jack awakens the next morning next to Kate, in a lovely house with two happy children. For the first while, as anyone probably would he goes around town freaking out just a little bit at the fact that people aren't recognizing him, or at least not recognizing him correctly. He's suddenly married with children and working as a car tire salesman, with people being a bit more friendly than usual towards him. He soon comes to realize this "glimpse" is what he could have had if he stayed behind from his opportunity in London, thirteen years ago. The big question is, which lifestyle does he want more?; the swinging lifestyle of a bachelor Wall Street executive, or the simple life of a "family man" where love and good memories is all one needs to be happy?
Just to get it out of the way, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit. It takes some of the best aspects of 'It's a Wonderful Life', sort of flipping it, and I'd even go so far as to say there's a bit of 'Christmas Carol' here just as well. It's a neat take on the idea, and the point that money can't buy you happiness is abundantly clear by the end. All in all, it's a film that goes from very cold to very warm, and things flow pretty well. It may not be entirely original, but it's sweet. It's a good film to make one appreciate what they have in the way of love and affection. It also puts the idea forth that being rich and successful are all well and good, but what if it makes you miss out on the love of your life? It's a good way to analyze the different paths we choose in life.
The film isn't without a couple of nitpicky flaws, but at the end of the day, that's exactly what they are - personal nitpicks. I think the prime example for myself is that the daughter (Makenzie Vega) was made a little too cute - almost as though she was a cartoon character. So there are certainly those aspects thrown in there just to make things sappy. But with that said, I was impressed at how much Cage was able to bring himself down, and how much Leoni was able to bring herself up. I tend to like Cage at his "Cagiest", but this was a role that proves he can settle his ass down for a couple of hours if need be. Leoni was someone I was never a big fan of, mostly because I find her to be very one-note and bland with almost no character in almost anything. But here, she shows some of her range, and I admit I was impressed.
The real takeaway here though, is the story. Once again, it's not entirely original, but it is some of the best aspects of some of those Christmas classics we all know and love. Regardless of anything, it's a movie that teaches the right lessons, it's warm, it's sweet, and it's something one could easily cuddle up with their partner to watch by a cozy fireplace in these cold December days leading up to Christmas. I wouldn't place it at the top of my list of Christmas recommendations, but it's certainly not something I'd try to steer people away from as a waste of time. It's quite good for what it is, and I enjoyed how sweet it was, so for many, it could be worth the watch.
To cap off this month of Campbell, I decided to go with the one where Bruce plays not only himself, but potentially the worst version of himself. He does it really well, it's further proof that the man can have a good laugh at himself, and despite its low ratings, I actually kinda love this one. Of course, there may or may not be pot-laced carrot cake involved with my first watch on this, which may have made me enjoy it a little more than others did. It's possible that now there's just that connection with it. But I digress.
The film opens in the small mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, where a die hard Bruce Campbell fan named Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) and his friend Clayton (Logan Martin) meet a couple of girls at a cemetery; Big Debbie and Little Debbie (Ariel Badenhop and Ali Akay, respectively). While wandering around, Jeff takes a mysterious medallion from the mausoleum, which in turn releases the Chinese God of War, Guan-Di (James Peck), who also happens to be the patron saint of bean curd. It sounds silly, but after doing a little bit of looking, I learned that there's some truth to this lore - at least as far as mythical Chinese deities go.
These events lead Jeff to the one and only Bruce Campbell, who is living his life in a bit of a rut. His divorce is final, he can't stop getting B movie roles, and his only friend is his dog, whom he shares beers with, drowning out his sorrows. When Jeff finds Bruce, he kidnaps him and brings him back to town in order to fight the spirit of Guan-Di, because of course, Bruce Campbell is a pro at horror monster killing. Bruce goes with it, thinking that it's a role play of sorts, as a surprise birthday present from his agent, Mills Toddner (Ted Raimi). This is mostly fueled by Jeff's Mom, Kelly (Grace Thorsen) who Campbell develops an immediate thing for. Little does he know that he's about to get into the real deal. Can he keep his composure?
Truth be told, it's not the best quality of movie. It's relatively basic, and there's not a whole lot to it, but I have to say that it delivers some laughs. So let's talk about Ted Raimi. He has a bit of a thing for taking on "foreign" roles. Here, aside from Mills, he plays Wing (an old Chinese harbinger of doom) and Luigi (an Italian running gag who has to keep painting the town's population sign). He's got a bit of a Rob Schneider thing going on with that, but I'm sorry to say, they are some of the funniest bits of the film - not because of the stereotypes, but because of the jokes that are written for these characters. Luigi is just so frustrated about having to paint the sign, and the gag works out to have a pretty funny punchline, and Wing actually has my favorite line of the whole film, which I won't put out of context here, but if you've seen it - the line right after his "dispelling dance". So for me, the laughs have nothing to do with the racist stereotypes being portrayed, but I do feel like I'm walking a fine line with it. So fair warning if you may be sensitive to such things.
The real entertainment value to it, however, is just Bruce Campbell willingly playing what could be his stereotypical self. He's cocky, has a bad attitude, treats his fans like a bunch of morons or objects. He once used me as an arm rest in real life. Photo at the bottom of the page - my smile is a little wonky, as I was a tad starstruck. Anyway, it's a weird thing to say, but he plays himself so well. What I mean by that is that sometimes someone plays themselves and often it can be a bit glorified. There's nothing like someone who can play the worst versions of themselves. My personal favorite is probably Michael Cera's polar opposite version of himself in 'This is the End', but Bruce playing himself here is a very close second - basically a coin flip.
There's not much more to say about it, so I'm gonna end it here. I had some fun this summer, going through a big chunk of Bruce Campbell's resume (with a couple of repeat views, including this one), even if a lot of them just came out as average at best. Campbell is a B movie actor, though, so one can't expect Oscar-worthy watches here. He caters to those who don't need to take movies seriously to enjoy them, and here, it shows. Hell, there's even lines that flat out insult him, saying things like how his films are childish, or that he was the worst part about 'Moontrap'. But the reality is that Bruce Campbell is a bit of a legend when it comes to cult horror, and even in comic book form, he's taken on Freddy and Jason as Ash. Like a good stiff drink, he may be an acquired taste, but once you acquire it, you fall down a bit of a rabbit hole with his stuff.
Here we have a modern B movie, of sorts. This one comes to us from Bruce Campbell, himself, with both writing and directing credits. Being his debut in the director's chair, he's helped along by the legendary Sam Raimi (as they work so incredibly well together), and the lesser known David M. Goodman, for which this is his only writing credit. Together, they have created something very strange, indeed. I mean, if you couldn't tell already by the title and accompanying picture.
This tale of twisted comedy centers a wealthy drug company CEO named William Cole (Campbell); a smug and rude American who travels to Bulgaria, on business, with his wife, Jackie (Antoinette Byron). The couple take a Taxi to get to their hotel, and luckily, the driver is an ex KGB agent named Yegor (Vladimir Kolev) who ends up protecting them from a car jacking. William pays extra to keep Yegor on-call for protection, which soon leads to Jackie cheating on William with Yegor while William's busy at a construction sight. The tables are soon unknowingly turned when William gets back to the hotel to find Tatoya (Tamara Gorski) and act on his own impulses - the difference being, he gets caught.
Tatoya knocks William over the head, causing severe damage, and further murders Yegor, who witnesses the whole thing, and we do find out that Yegor and Tatoya were once a thing, but he escaped her murderous ways (she kills men who leave her). This leads to the pieces of Williams and Yegor's brain to be fused together by a mad scientist named Dr. Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov (Stacey Keach - in another Bruce Campbell movie) and his dopey but hilarious assistant, Pavel (Ted Raimi). To keep it short, William wakes up with the voice of Yegor in his head, and together, they seek revenge on the woman who killed them. There's more, but some of it has to just be seen to be believed.
This is a movie that's very clearly running on "bad" on purpose. It's very much a B movie comedy, not to be taken too seriously. It's just Bruce Campbell's answer to a mad scientist movie, or a 'Frankenstein', if you will. This something like 'Upgrade', but a little more classic monster movie, and a little more clumsy. 'Upgrade' was badass, this is just silly - but for all the right reasons. At the very least, the film is entertaining, and did give me a few genuine laughs. If you are a Bruce Campbell fan, I might recommend it just to check out for a giggle, although it's not like it doesn't come with a few faults.
I think the biggest thing to point out is that this is a film where the accents are immitated rather than legit, and often it can be a bit cringe-worthy, but that almost makes it funnier to me. These guys aren't taking anything seriously in this movie, and nor should anyone else. The rest of its downfall is just the strangeness of it all. Sometimes the humor just comes off as weak or trying too hard. It didn't do so hot with critics, but this clearly wasn't a film that was aimed at critics - it was aimed at those of us who like a good sci-fi comedy with old B monster movie elements, as only Campbell can deliver. For that, it works just fine. It's not "bad", per se, just... really odd.
As far as Bruce Campbell's movies go, it's one title I remember seeing a lot of, but just not bothering with. I saw it on the shelf at Blockbuster (when that was still a thing), and kept debating on checking it out, but decided it looked too stupid. One must understand that my love for Campbell didn't come along until way later in life, and at that point, it was kind of 'Evil Dead' Universe or bust, for me. But this is just another film of his I'm glad I finally saw. I got some good laughs, and the film is perfectly passable for the sci-fi oddity that it's trying to be. Could have been better, but I also don't have any real complaints.
As far as Bruce Campbell's resume goes, I think it's safe to say that 'Bubba Ho-Tep' is the quintessential non-'Evil Dead' movie of his fans need to see. It seems to have reached a generous cult following, and 'My Name is Bruce' even references its popularity among the general public. But that review comes later. It's all with good reason, too. It's a great horror-comedy flick from the perspective of a bitter old Elvis impersonator - what more could you want? But there IS more.
Known to the staff of Shady Rest Retirement Home as Sebastian Haff (Bruce Campbell), our hero claims to be the real Elvis Presley. It's explained away that in the 70's, he grew tired of his fame, switched places with Haff, and it was Haff who eventually died while he lived his life impersonating Haff, impersonating himself. It's a little convoluted, but it supplies the viewer with the question of whether he's actually Elvis, or just a guy who is convinced he's Elvis. Anyway, following a bad hip injury, he finds himself stuck at the Retirement Home, contemplating all of the negativity that comes with old age, and essentially he's laying there waiting to embrace the end of things.
Elvis/Haff has a best friend who listens to him, taking him more seriously than others, named Jack (Ossie Davis) who swears to be John F. Kennedy, claiming his black skin color to be a dye job to disguise him after an assassination attempt, and being abandoned by Lyndon Johnson in the home. But while this entire set-up makes for a hilarious one, there's more going on in this home than meets the eye of Ra when Elvis/Haff and Jack/Kennedy find themselves going up against a re-animated Egyptian mummy, stolen from an American museum and lost in a storm. The mummy is dubbed "Bubba Ho-Tep" (Bob Ivy) by Elvis/Haff, wears cowboy duds as opposed to anything traditionally Egyptian, and goes around the home sucking the souls out of easy, bed-ridden prey for sustenance - which can be done through any orifice, by the way.
The novella of the same name by Joe R. Lansdale can be found in an anthology book called 'The King Is Dead: Tales of Elvis Post-Mortem'. It really does make me wonder what kind of differences there might be to the written story, as this is a movie that takes a lot of weird turns, like the idea of sucking someone's soul out through their butt. Lansdale has a few TV/film adaptations under his name, all of them are under the radar, including Season 1, Episode 1 of 'Masters of Horror'; 'Incident On and Off a Mountain Road', a zombie film called 'Christmas with the Dead', a crime film called 'Cold in July', and a 3-season TV series called 'Hap and Leonard'. I figured I'd mention his works just in case a 'Ho-Tep' fan wants to see what else its creator created.
32 prints of the film were made, and it ended up being a touring movie, hitting up various film festivals and gaining a cult following powerful enough that by the time of its DVD release, everyone who was a Bruce Campbell fan seemed to at least know the name. So of all the Campbell titles to put "Under the Radar" this summer, this is probably about the only one that almost doesn't belong. But since Campbell is the undisputed king of cult film, and all things under the radar, of course it made the cut.
Getting back to the actual film, and my overall opinion on it, I frankly love it. The whole concept is one of those things you hear about and suddenly have to see it because it sounds so ridiculous. It's definitely one of the most fun Campbell roles, and Ossie Davis as his sidekick adds a whole layer of comedy to everything. It's a film that's up my alley because it's so oddly original. I mean, it's Elvis vs. a cowboy mummy with a black sidekick who thinks he's JFK. It captures your attention, and then it's surprising to watch and come to terms with the fact that it's actually a good movie that speaks a lot for the elderly community and how they might feel we treat them. Some, with the right tools and attitude aren't as helpless as they may seem. If you haven't seen it yet as a Campbell fan, you need to fix that, because this movie's awesome in all the weirdest ways.
Arthouse films have always been such a hit or miss thing for me. I usually never fully end up enjoying them, but certain things about them will always stand out. This one is no exception. If I'm honest, I really didn't enjoy myself with it. Yet SOMEHOW, there was a certain, if you'll forgive the pun, haunting beauty to it that still came through.
The story follows a nameless couple, according to IMDb, known as "C" (Casey Affleck) and "M" (Rooney Mara). Basically, C dies in a car accident, and we follow his ghost in Halloween costume sheet form as he watches his wife mourn, move on, as well as other events that occur around the property. And I'm not kidding about this, time travel is included. Oh yeah, this ghost goes into the past. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The thing about an arthouse film like this is that I like to interpret it for myself as opposed to whatever the director was going for because, well, it's art. And often times I find myself matched up pretty well. But with this one, I kinda just hope I got the point.
Starting with various criticisms, I'd have to say my biggest one is that all too often, we need to remain focused on one scene where nothing seems to be happening. For example, there's a scene where C watches M eat a pie for, and I times this, 5 minutes. It's a scene in which she's meant to be mourning, and it's dragged out to sort of represent how long coping with a loved one's death can feel. So in its own way (and if I'm accurate) it's kinda clever, but at the same time, I couldn't help but get frustrated at the fact that nothing was happening.
The thing about this particular film is that there's a hell of a lot of that - focusing on one scene for too long. It almost feels like lazy filler, whether they were going for something more deep or not. It's just plain boring, really. This film, to me, was the on-screen version of watching paint dry. I just found it far too tedious.
But as I mentioned before, this is not without a certain beauty, as well. We get to see their relationship while C is still alive, and it's actually far more loving and intimate than most relationships you see on screen. It's almost the kind of intimacy where you can't help but look at it and think to yourself "I want that kind of relationship" (speaking for myself, of course) anyway, it really shows us how close they were, making his death that much more tragic, along with the amount of time the ghost seems to also mourn.
It's an interesting concept altogether (the ghost's perspective), but parts of it, like the time travel bit, kinda took me right out of it. I never really got the point, other than it eventually referring to earlier events (and not even in that interesting of a way). So, I'm afraid I kinda have to go against the grain with other reviewers on this one. A Rotten Tomato rating of 90%, and a Metacritic rating of 84% really holds this movie in high regard. But for me, I guess it was just a bit much with how much it felt like it dragged. Again, perhaps that was for a good reason and what the director was going for. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Here we have a rather fantastic ditty from 2014 that managed to get itself an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. But, much like its predecessor, 'The Secret of Kells' (both directed by Tomm Moore, and both similar in tone), it was forgotten about, and kinda swept under the rug. However, also like 'Kells', it's most definitely a film worth checking out.
The film opens by sowing us a happy family consisting of Father, Conor (Brendan Gleeson), pregnant Mother, Bronach (Lisa Hannigan), and son and overall protagonist, Ben (David Rawle). One night, Bronach heads out and disappears, randomly, but the presumption is that she heads out to die after giving birth to Saoirse (Lucy O'Connell). So the beginning is pretty heavy, and sets the tone for much of the rest of things.
Some years later, Ben is shown with her little sister, being a bit mean to her, as he blames her for the apparent death of his mother. All in all, he loves her, but there's that bitterness that sort of overshadows things, causing him to do things like scare her with some of his mom's old stories of Irish folklore.
One night, Ben finds out that Saoirse is a selkie (a being who can alter states between being human and seal) who is sent on a mission to free a bunch of faeries from Celtic Goddess, Macha (Fionnula Flanagan). He joins her on the mission, and along the way they meet all sorts of entertaining characters from Irish lore, providing us with the idea that the mother's stories are actually true.
With that in mind, this ends up being one of the most gorgeous looking animated fantasies I've had the pleasure of viewing. Even looking at the simplicity of the animation here, the film provides us with some pretty awesome creatures and characters and settings that are something straight out of a dream. In fact, the best one-word description I can come up with for this title is probably "dreamlike". It's just beautiful.
It's otherwise that sort of adventure film we've seen done a few times over. I personally found it sort of reminiscent of something like 'NeverEnding Story' or 'Labrynth' in its execution. However, the animation allows for a bit more leeway in imagination, and some of these characters are reminiscent of Ghibli material with just how imaginative they are in their execution.
It's an all around beautiful film, between its animation, dreamlike settings and characters, and the story really sticks to your heart when everything is all said and done. A lot of it has to do with Ben learning to be a big brother, as well, and slowly being able to forgive Saoirse, and love and help her as her big brother. It's just one of those films you finish and think to yourself "wow, that was just beautiful".
I hope to see more from Tomm Moore, and intend on eventually seeing last year's release, 'The Breadwinner'. He has this particular style that really lends itself to all-out fantasy, and his films are as overlooked by the academy as Hayao Miyazaki - and even he won for 'Spirited Away'. I hope to see Moore win his Oscar one day. Seriously, check out his films if you haven't yet. They're a great peek into Irish folklore, and make for some really beautiful family viewing. I absolutely loved this, it was right up my alley.
In my search for some Under the Radar animation, this particular title was mentioned. The thing is, even though it's under said radar for myself, let's not forget that I'm just recently getting into this whole anime thing, starting with my Ghibli review series just a few months ago. Otherwise, this actually does seem to be a rather well-known film, at least among fans of anime. But I digress.
We're introduced to a girl named Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi/Stephanie Sheh), who is bored as hell, wants out of her town, wishes to be a Tokyo boy, and gets her wish. She and a boy named Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki/Michael Sinterniklaas), from Tokyo, begin switching bodies at random.
They end up realizing what's going on, and throughout their body-switches, they leave notes for each other as a means of communication. As Mitsuha, Taki tries to make her a bit more popular, and as Taki, Mitsuha tries her hand at hooking him up. Eventually the body swapping ends, and Taki is left with a note, telling him about a comet that's expected to pass over her town on the night of the town festival. This comet ends up being the big wist of the movie as well, so I'm just gonna shut up about plot at this point 'cause things admittedly get interesting.
As one may remember from my Ghibli reviews, I had a bit of a tendency to say "meh" to anything of the romantic sort, often claiming them to be along the lines of "pretty-looking, but dull". For the most part, the romantic side of anime isn't necessarily for me. I just prefer the fantasy side of things much more. But with that said, I think I can say with all sincerity that I actually kind of enjoyed this one.
Although it gets pretty sappy at points, and the whole back and forth of "who are you? / what's your name?" was very driven home, the film's overall execution is beautifully done. It carries a sense of humor with it, but there's also an undeniable charm to the more dramatic moments. In many ways, it's actually quite touching.
Also, take into account the flow and overall beauty of the animation here (which seems to be a praise I have for most anime films). It manages to make the big city of Tokyo just as appealing as the countryside, encompassing Japan's beauty as a whole. Finally, the overall climax of the film is something to be admired as to how it seems to turn the film on its head. It goes from an almost romantic comedy to a creative drama, and you can't help but find yourself a bit more engaged as the movie continues.
At first, things may get a bit confusing because you're not entirely sure what's going on. The film kinda just jumps right into things, and it's largely something you piece together as you go. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good anime that leans toward the romantic side of things. It tries something a bit different, and in my opinion, succeeds.
Here's the one film on this list that actually counts as something by Linklater that I've actually seen. It was brought to my attention by a friend as something that would kinda sorta "change my world perspective". And yeah, that's pretty much what 'Waking Life' does, in a nutshell.
'Waking Life' features 'Dazed and Confused' actor Wiley Wiggins as a nameless character, experiencing what seems to be a pretty much non-stop dream state. Throughout the dream, he meets the likes of various deep thinkers and modern philosophers who give their takes on life, death, where we're going, where we've been, what it all means, and dares to ask some of the deeper questions about our very existence.
This is an extremely deep movie that poses as a bit of a story, and a bit of a documentary. It has a lot of similarities to 'Slacker', but this involves more of an interview process with these real-life people as opposed to a bunch of actors portraying very real characters. In my mind, this movie is far more of an existential experience than just a Linklater art project. But I warn, it's not necessarily for everyone. It's for the open-minded, yes, but the extremely open-minded. You have to be able to let yourself accept what these people have to say, as it takes a largely philosophical stance on things.
On top of everything here, it also boasts a unique animation style that many may remember from another film of his, 'A Scanner Darkly'. Similar animation is fairly common these days, but back in 2001, it was a big deal. To put it another way, this was the same year 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' was released, and the animation for that was a VERY big deal for the time.
Personally, I'm a fan of philosophical, deep thinking, unique animation, and everything to do with dreaming. So, for me, this is a movie that's right up my alley. But as I say, it represents more of a deep experience for the viewer as opposed to just a movie with a story and some characters. So, perhaps it's not entirely what one is looking for. But for me, it was definitely a movie that offered a pretty awesome, deeper perspective on some of the bigger mysteries of life.
To put it one way, I would almost recommend this movie to anyone looking for a deeper meaning in their own life. But again, it's to be approached with an open mind. If you shut too much of what this movie has to say out, it's not exactly gonna get into your head like it wants to.
Think of it like this - before you press play on the movie, pretend that you just took some crazy mind-expanding drug. If you struggle against it, and question too much of what's going on, you're gonna have a bad time. On the other hand, if you embrace its effects, you will come out the other side a little more enlightened, and have a great experience throughout. Or you'll just wonder what the hell you just watched, which is also acceptable considering the film's subject matter. But personally, I find this one to be a great experience for the open-minded.
For the month of May, I thought I might aim my focus toward the overused, yet underappreciated found footage sub-genre.
Let's face it, the age of the found footage genre is starting to die away. I mean, to keep feeding us the "true story" horror gimmick, time and time again, gets really old really quickly. This is why movies like 'Cloverfield' and 'Chronicle' appeal to people like me a bit more. Their concepts are just different and more appealing than the usual paranormal activity movies like, well, 'Paranormal Activity'. For the most part, it's decided that the genre just wasn't played with enough. That is until I stumbled on some of the titles I'll be reviewing this month, staring with the surprisingly good 'Trollhunter'.
Now, I don't mean surprising as in "this is a Norwegian film with subtitles so I thought it would suck". I mean surprising as in "holy shit, something really original and interesting." If you do your homework, you'll find this on a lot of "Top Found Footage you Haven't Seen" lists (which is admittedly where I got the idea to do this month's theme). And not only does it make these lists, but it's always near the top at #1 or #2.
The basic plot involves a group of students who delve into investigating a strange case of bear killings in the area. In their sleuthing, they come across this mysterious hunter dude named Hans (Otto Jespersen). Eventually, the students learn that trolls are, in fact, very real, complete with a history, and a veterinarian's explanation of such allergic reactions these trolls have, such as exploding or turning to stone.
But I wanna just stop the description there, because as far as found footage movies go, I'll just say this one does plenty of cool stuff that a lot of other found footage movies don't. It's actually really well executed, all in all, even if there are certain gaping special effects. I actually feel like I can't criticize that aspect of it anyway 'cause it wouldn't be fair, considering I have no idea what kind of budget Norwegian films have. Quite frankly, if you just buckle up and enjoy the ride for what it is, it's one of the better found footage films out there, as long as you don't mind subtitles.
This is truly one of those hidden gems I'd love to see get out there more, so consider this review a recommendation for it as well. It was just a lot of fun, in my opinion. A good sense of humor is carried through, but there's some light horror aspects to it as well. It's really more of an adventure than a horror, if you ask me. All in all, worth checking out if you have a couple of hours to kill.
After a Gulf War vet named Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) miraculously survives a fatal wound, he finds himself wandering along a road in the midst of winter in Vermont. He finds a mother (Kelly Lynch) and daughter (Laura Marano) stranded on the side of the road with a broken down truck. He helps them out, gets friendly (in an okay way) with the daughter, whose name is Jackie, and goes on his way only to get caught up in a brutal crime. However, due to sufficient amnesia, Jack doesn't end up remembering anything that happens, and is committed after being let off the hook for reasons of insanity.
At this particular asylum, the head doctor Dr. Thomas Becker (Kris Kristofferson) believes that the more brutal the technique, the more effective. With one particularly disturbing sensory deprivation technique, Jack finds he can see into the future by 15 years. Or is he really travelling back and forth between his treatments? Well, the rest would pretty much be spoiler territory, so I'll end it on that note.
The end result is a pretty intense ride, well-acted, and well thought out in it's execution, offering something a little bit new to the time travel sub-genre. The only thing to bear in mind, however, is that this movie is also classified as a horror, considering some of the "treatments" throughout it. There's a slight bit of a 'torture porn" aspect to it, but it's mostly mental torture, not so much physical. It all depends on what makes you squirm, and this movie really likes to play on claustrophobia.
When all said and done, I have to say I mostly enjoyed this movie. Although at times it ends up getting a bit confusing, the ride it takes you along is pretty interesting. I always enjoy when the intensity builds up as the movie goes, with a rather pleasant payoff before the credits start rolling. I like being left thinking about the movie, and at least for myself, this movie accomplished that.
As far as time travel movies go, this was a neat idea, even if it does end up playing games with our psyches rather often. As I say, it's almost torture porn for the mind. But even so, this is one of those titles with a big cast that went over our heads, well worth checking out just to see something a little different. I give it a 3, but it's certainly the higher end of it.
Continuing on with the theme of unknown Oscar-nominated, animated movies, here's one I once reviewed on the old site, in preparation for the upcoming 2010 Oscars. This one was nominated for Best Animated Feature, alongside such titles as 'The Princess and the Frog', 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', 'Coraline', and of course, 'Up', which ended up winning. When this title was mentioned, however, it was definitely the "what?" title that year, much like 'My Life as a Zucchini' was last year.
The story, in question, is based on the origin of the Book of Kells; a Latin manuscript containing the four gospels of the New Testament. It tells about a young boy named Brendan (Evan McGuire) who lives a sheltered life in a remote outpost. When a master illuminator named Aidan (Mick Lally) comes by with an ancient book. He calls Brendan to adventure, by sending him out into the wilderness to gather gall nuts to make ink with. In the forest, Brendan encounters various situations in which he has to face challenges as well as his own fears, and meets a forest spirit named Aisling (Christen Mooney).
As far as the rest of the movie goes, it's essentially a fantasy back story to something that exists in real life that I'm not sure a lot of us knew about. That is to say, at least I was blind to it. It seemingly went kind of ignored, despite it's nomination. But was it worth ignoring? Being a film having to do with religion and all, one might imagine it to be preachy in parts, it's anything but.
This movie has a lot to do with facing adversity head on just as much as it's a religious fantasy, if not more so. Most of this comes from the Vikings coming to attack the outpost while finishing this book holds the hope that it will draw back "evil forces", keeping them at bay. So there's a certain realism to this movie as well, covering the Viking raids of Ireland back near the end of the 700's.
Between the style of animation, making a historical and religious fantasy tale exciting, and even a bit of comedy here and there, I'd argue that it's the overall mood of the film that really makes it pop. It has this overall dreamy atmosphere going on throughout it, and it really shows with how beautifully animated it all is. When there's a scary scene, it looks and feels like a nightmare. When there's a pleasant scene, it looks and feels like some pleasant dream that might make you ponder things upon waking up. All in all, it's a rather intriguing escape.
It remains pretty under the radar as it is, but in my humble opinion it's well worth checking out. It's about an hour and twenty minutes, easy to get through, and it really does engage every emotion from the viewer. It seems clear to me that it was nominated that year for obvious reasons.
This was always a title I was a bit curious about, just looking at the movie poster for it. I mean, there's Harry Potter with a couple of horns on his head, and he's just looking kinda casual. Thankfully, it can now be found on Netflix, so I finally decided to see what it was all about.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is the prime suspect in his girlfriend, Merrin Williams' (Juno Temple) murder. He goes into hiding, but manages to sneak into the candle-lit vigil that Merrin's father has for her, hiding in a tree house. After everyone leaves the ceremony, Ig proceeds to go full-drunken-rage on things with the inclusion of urinating on and breaking a statue of the virgin Mary... certainly one of the more "evil" things I've seen on screen, and I watch 'Game of Thrones'!
After the incident, Ig wakes up the next morning with horns protruding from his head; most likely from his act of desecration. But here's where it starts to get a bit confusing. As he goes to the doctor to try to figure out what the horns are all about, and if they can be removed, he has encounters with people who fully illustrate their evil-most thoughts to him. For example, the girl he wakes up next to that morning seems to be fully aware of the horns, and proceeds to pig out on a box of donuts in a very animalistic way, illustrating her gluttony, and that she probably has a horrible eating disorder which includes vanity. Then at the doctors office, a woman talks about her screaming kid in a very murderous and hateful way; wrath, you get the picture. But once he's in the doctor's office, the doctor seems perfectly fine with the fact that he's got horns, and offers to remove them. Ig wakes up in the middle of things only to find his doctor having sex next to him while he's under, which I guess shows lust, but does that mean that he's not only hearing sinner thoughts but seeing their acts of what they want to do as well? Trust me, if you're confused now, you feel exactly like I did by this point. He goes on to find one guy, his friend Lee, who can't see the horns, so for most of the movie you're just asking "okay, how do these horns work, exactly?" In the end, you get a bit of an answer, but it's still a bit foggy as to HOW it all works.
Anyway, the movie is generally about him getting the truth out of people and using this to track down Merrin's real killer. Along the way, we get several flashbacks to the characters' childhoods just to give us some kind of emotion, and try to get us to feel what Ig is feeling. But even then, I can't say it all paid off. Merrin's character is kind of unfortunately dull. Your care for her doesn't lie in her character so much as the sorry feeling that she was murdered terribly. It's not "OH NO! NOT MERRIN!" so much as "Aw, that's a damn shame."
This one reminded me quite a bit of 'The Butterfly Effect' in so many ways. Mostly just the delving into the past and watching all these dark moments unfold throughout the movie. However, unlike 'The Butterfly Effect', the ending here is SUCH a bummer! Not in the sense that it's a down-ending, but in the sense of it just straight up copping out. That said, I do not know how I would have ended something like this, myself. But I can say I'd put more focus on his ability to see and hear people's sins. That's an idea that they could have had a bit more fun with, I think.
One thing I will give this movie quite solidly, however, was Daniel Radcliffe's acting... But sadly, that's about it. I haven't seen the guy in much else than the 'Harry Potter' series and 'The Woman in Black' which was basically 'Harry Potter and the Woman in Black' as it was. This was one role of his where I was finally able to say "okay, this dude's got great potential". He was also good in 'Swiss Army Man', which was interesting, but REALLY messed up and strange. Come to think of it, I wonder, between 'Horns' and 'Swiss Army Man' what was the more messed up movie?... 'Horns'... It's gotta be 'Horns' if only because at least 'Swiss Army Man' had some heart.
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that's so incredibly terrible, it's viewed as a fun experience just for a laugh, and ultimately a great movie to watch in your spare time. The most prominent examples of this would be movies like 'Troll 2', 'Manos: The Hands of Fate', and of course, 'The Room'.
With this movie coming out called 'The Disaster Artist'; a film on what went on behind the scenes of 'The Room', I took to the internet to see what people were saying. Very briefly, someone brought up 'Fateful Findings', and even showed this clip. Of course, I knew I HAD to see this movie. There was just no stopping me.
So, the story goes like this. A boy and a girl find a mushroom that gives the boy some black cube that gives him supernatural abilities. He grows up to be a great novel writer, and eventually decides that with his power, he is going to hack government files and expose them for the goblins they are. This happens after a car accident and the reuniting of his childhood girlfriend he found that random mushroom with. Did I mention the movie's plot if a bit of a mess? There's a love triangle going on here too.
But let's face it, this isn't the kind of movie you watch for a "great story" or even "great visuals". This is a movie you watch for the sole purpose of seeing just how bad it really is, and laughing your ass off along the way. And although it's not quite as fun as something like 'The Room', it does manage to stay within the same vein.
Admittedly, some may be reading all this wondering where the hell I've been. But even though this was a 2013 release, I can honestly say, I haven't heard of it until just recently. To be honest, I was questioning my own whereabouts on this, as this was right around the time I fell in love with bad movies like this.
In closing, much like other movies like this, I can highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates a bad movie. I think if 'The Room' did it for you, you might enjoy this, as it's essentially the same tone - boring in some areas, but laugh out loud hilarious in others, with a hint of "what the hell did I just watch?"
I was surfing Netflix the other day, looking for something new to watch, when I stumbled on this. The description basically states that it's a comedy about four different vampires who share a flat. That's good enough to have me curious, but then I see that one half of the Flight of the Conchords, Jemaine Clement, is in it, and I was sold.
The film is actually a very basic idea. It's shot documentary style, and a team essentially follows these four vampires around for a couple of months and film what it's like for modern vampires.
The four are quite different in personality - Viago (Taika Waititi) is sort of the lead here, and he plays the more sensitive, romantic type. Vladislav (Clement) is more of a totally badass pimp-like vampire, who was once a name to be reckoned with. Deacon (Jonny Brug) is a bit more or what you'd expect a modern vampire to be. And finally, Petyr (Ben Fransham) is like a Nostfaratu, demon-like vampire, and is significantly older than the others.
Deacon also has a "familiar" who follows him around named Jackie (Jackie van Beek), and does errands for the vampires, all the while nagging him about when he's finally gonna change her. As the story unfolds, it all makes for a pretty funny scenario.
There's not a whole hell of a lot to say about it other than the fact that it was pretty damn hilarious. It gave me a good laugh, anyway. It's just funny to see the lighter side of what it is to be a vampire, while all the dark stuff still surrounds it. They show and tell you stuff like their hunting and feeding habits, and the various ways it can all go wrong. It often goes over the top and delivers a good laugh.
I'm glad to see that someone was able to show me something about vampires that didn't feel completely old and stale. I always enjoyed the whole vampire thing until 'Twilight' came along. And it's not even 'Twilight' itself that bothered me so much as the fact that EVERYTHING became about vampires for a while after that. It was an obsession the same way that 'Walking Dead' really brought zombies into the light again. But this was a new and interesting idea, it was simple, and it was loaded with good laughs.
I highly recommend it to anyone who can appreciate the vampire trend, but want to see something different. As a bonus, if you enjoy 'Flight of the Conchords', it very much plays like an episode of that, except without the songs. Definitely a great movie to tickle the funny bone.
Believe it or not, the Marvel MCU isn't the first time Marvel tried to corner the market. Back in the late 70s, comic book superheroes were just nudging themselves into our lives. By launching made-for-TV movies such as 'The Incredible Hulk' (which was ultimately successful) and 'The Amazing Spider-Man' (which was not so successful, but still made it somewhere) Marvel had a pretty good thing going at the time in answer to the very successful ongoing DC franchise of 'Batman'. Of course, 'Batman' was always better in comparison, but... Adam West kinda seals the deal on that one. Anyway, one attempt at bringing a property to the small screen included that of 'Dr. Strange'.
The film opens up with an evil being of some sorts talking to Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walter). He tells her that he can't enter the Earthly realm due to a powerful wizard who is holding him at bay. He then gives her instructions to destroy the wizard, and to win over his apprentice to their side within three days time.
Morgan possesses a lady by the name of Clea Lake (Anne-Marie Martin), and makes her drop the Sorcerer Supreme, Thomas Lindmer (John Mills) from a bridge. He gets up, brushes himself off, and onlookers are mind-blown that he's miraculously okay. His friend Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) takes care of him afterword, and locates Lake for him. She is being looked after by psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) as she now suffers from psychic aftereffects from the possession, and is also haunted by terrible nightmares.
Eventually we learn that Dr. Strange has a psychic connection with Lake, and is ultimately considered a prime candidate for Lindmer's successor. He is soon enough charged with the task of protecting Earth from Le Fay, and the evil entity trying to break through to Earth realm.
When all said and done, the movie was just a long, boring, and downright confusing waste of time. It ended up failing pretty hard as a pilot at the time. It was somehow a film ahead of it's time that people weren't quite ready for, and yet it's such a boggled mess watching it now, it almost feels like it's more confusing by today's standards. It's nearly impossible to tell what's a dream and what's not, and all in all, it just belongs in a list of bad 'Mystery Science Theater'-worthy films.
The really sad thing is you can tell by watching that this was a work the creators took very seriously at the time. But there were things to consider. People could relate to 'The Incredible Hulk' 'cause it was basically about a mild-mannered man who can get away with rage fits and destruction once in a while, but is ultimately good. We could relate. And even taking it a step further with 'Spider-Man'. It's pretty bad to look at now, but... well, I don't need to tell you, it's 'Spider-Man' - one of the most relatable heroes there ever was. 'Dr. Strange' on the other hand is all about otherworldliness and the mystique of the universe and parallel dimensions, so by that respect it could get incredibly confusing. But it's all helmed by a Stephen Strange we can't relate to as well as the portrayal done by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2016 film. He lost the use of his hands and had to learn that not all his ability lied in what he could do as a surgeon. This Dr. Strange is... pretty much just a psychiatrist. I think they tried to go the "average joe" route with it, but it doesn't work the same way here. The other stories had underlying messages about power, responsibility, control, and doing what's right. 'Strange' was far more about just trying to look cool and had a sort of "destiny" element to it, like a "chosen one". And that's fine, but it's something more of an epic movie or novel plot than a TV series. It was trying to be something new, but in the end, it just didn't pan out.