Sunday, January 10, 2021

Body Bags was the okayest movie of all time

Ah, body bags. You see, if it's murder, suicide or a nasty accident, they put them in here. Checked off a lot of boxes for me. Anthology comedy horror with two "masters" of horror directing. A rip off of Tales from the Crypt with lots of fun cameos. Stacey Keach, Debbie Harry, and Sam Raimi. I figured this would be dope. But in the end, not really my cup of tea. 

Three segments. John Carpenter hosts and introduces each story. He is this morgue employee, it seems, who is into some weird shit. Sort of tells us about how some of the people there die and are brought in in body bags. These are their stories. 

The first segment was the slowest and most traditional/run of the mill of the three. Slasher stalks a gas station attendant. Cool setting and lots of great bit parts, but it doesn't hold up at all when it comes to logic. The plot holes in this one are too distracting, and I'm not one to care about that generally. But you ask yourself a couple of questions and it comes undone as shit. Robert Carradine, bro of David, plays the killer. Get cameos from David Naughton from American Werewolf in London, and directors Wes Craven and Sam Raimi.

Second segment is easily my favorite. Stars Stacey Keach, the obvious MVP of the movie, as a dude going bald who is fucking obsessed. He has a pretty girlfriend who is supportive, but dude just won't let it go. Fucking paints his head and shit like that. It's fucking gross. But everywhere he looks he sees dudes with like 80s rockstar hair, or some dog with a golden mane, and dude loses his shit. So he goes to this Hair Club for Men type place and gets some hair treatment whilst nurse Deddie Harry is all over him, telling him how sexy he'll look with long flowing locks. He's fucking stoked when he pulls off the bandages and has hair down to his ass. It's crazy ridiculous and obviously looks like shit. But he gets what he wanted, but, you know, this is a horror anthology, so that shit comes at a price. 

Third segment is sort of the same as the second. Dude loses a part of himself, his eye, is obsessed with getting it back. Does an experimental surgery. Gets what he lost back. Is ironically tortured by the eye. It's the old, got an eye from a dude that got executed, now I see his crimes and will start killing myself bit. If you're a Simpsons fan, it's the same plot as "Hell Toupée" from "Treehouse of Horror IX" where Homer gets Spike's hair after he got the chair and then Homer starts having urges to kill and what not. The guy that gets the eye, by the by, is Mark Hamill. He is basically out there playing hero ball during his whole segment. 

Directors are listed as Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. Carpenter did "The Gas Station" and "Hair" while Hooper did "Eye". Not what either are going to be remembered for, for sure. But definitely not either of their worsts. Plus, I think Carpenter is a genius and generally love his work. That said...

There were moments that I had fun, and the casting was amazing. But overall I thought it was sort of meh. I thought the bookend segments with John Carpenter as a morgue attendee ghoul were especially disappointing. Too much a really bad rip off of Tales from the Crypt without the humor. I mean, they tried, but the jokes were shitty and sad. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Wonder Woman is the greatest movie of all time

I've touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they'll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give... for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever. 

Trully the greatest movie of all time? Yeah, not quite. Visuals are stunning, action sequences are insane. Plot is decent. Gal Gadot is a star, sort of, but her lines and acting weren't the best. However, she nailed the role. 

Cool to see Germans that aren't Nazis. WWI, so the Nazis are still the bad guys. Cast is great, like with any super hero movie. Lot of "that guy" actors. Liked that Danny Huston was in it. Love a Huston in any movie. Also, Robin Wright is smoking. More so now than ever. Grrr. 

Overall, it's fine, but I didn't think it was anything special. Sure, Gal Gadot is solid and hot. I mean she's no Margot Robbie, and sort of seems like an idiot, but she's an A-list act/beauty. But the film is a lot of really bad Wonder Woman dialogue. A lot of Gal Gadot saying to Chris Pine, "let's save those people," him being like, "are you crazy? We can't do that," and Wonder Woman being all, "We do nothing? I will do it myself." Then doing it. Repeat. 

Also, a lot of bad CGI. I'm not sure what is going on with DC's CGI, but it always looks like shit. I dig how colorful the DC movies are when it visuals. But they get super cartoon when fighting the big bads at the end. 

While it's the best of the DC movies going back to the Christopher Nolan Batman flicks, it'd be in the back half if it were a Marvel movie. Villains are extremely forgettable and numerous. Ares is no Loki, for example. But it's solid and fun. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Book Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. A fun true-crime romp that was super engaging but sometimes hard to follow. Felt like the jumping around in time and place was a bit of a mistake, but hey, what the hell do I know. 

Title of the book came out of a quote spoken by the Golden State Killer to one of his victims: "You'll be silent forever, and I'll be gone in the dark." That's some scary shit. Fucking asshole. 

The book is somewhat of a memoir as well as a chronicle of the Golden State Killer (a name she coined), his victims, and his near escapes. It follows McNamara as she goes down the path of seedy crime blogs and forums, which is super dark, but fun (I'm a long time lurker on Websleuths). Has the feel of a cross between Gillian Flynn (who wrote the forward) novel and The Devil in the White City, except all over the place. 

This makes sense considering the book was unfinished when McNamara suddenly died. Patton Oswalt (her famous husband [big fan]), along with her assistant and journalist/Websleuth regular Billy Jensen, put the book together from McNamara's notes and completed chapters (which were in separate files in no particular order). The final product was released two years after she died. 

Meanwhile, whence Oswalt and company were promoting the book, just after the book was released, Sacramento police announced they had arrested a suspect. They arrested one Joseph James DeAngelo, a 72-year-old former cop, after Sacramento's finest submitted his DNA to one of those family DNA database sites, I'm not sure how I feel about that but that's not really the point here. 

This was right after shooting of Stephon Clark. I know it's hard to keep up with these officers-shoot-young-black-guy stories, but in this one, cops had been looking for a young man smashing windows that, you know, fit this guy's description (I guess). Cutting through yards and with a helicopter searching the area, the police find a black guy on his cellular phone in his grandma's backyard. They light his ass up, saying he had a gun. He did not. The cops also went out of their way to say they were confident that he was the one smashing windows, which was unlikely and doesn't really matter. So, alas, the cops got off, as they do. Mass protests followed. Then, suddenly, the Sacramento PD is like, oh, now's a great time to get in the news for something else, lets run that DNA through 23andMe or whatever. The lady who announced that they caught the guy, one Anne Marie Schubert, the Sacramento County District Attorney, was the same person who I'd seen a month earlier say that her office would not be filing criminal charges against the police officers that killed this Clark guy who, again, was unarmed and not doing anything. 

Also, they eventually mentioned that McNamara's research was worthless except for keeping people interested. This was obviously bullshit and infuriating. She coined the killer's name which the Sacromento PD used and they offered a $50,000 reward for his capture while she was knowingly gathering information from them for a book. Before then, they called the guy the East Area Rapist, Original Night Stalker, and Visalia Ransacker, among other things. In that press conference where they offered $50k, they called him the Golden State Killer. Plus, she talked extensively about submitting the guy's DNA to commercial databases, which was how they eventually caught the guy. Whatever. Glad they caught the guy, but don't be dicks about an amateur sleuth helping out a little bit by thinking outside of the box or what have you. 

For me, the best part of the book is the end. After getting all this information on the EAR, seeing McNamara tracking him down, and knowing the final outcome, it is bitter a pill that she didn't live to see DeAngelo arrested. But seeing the letter she wrote to him, before he was caught, was a touching way to end it. Especially since we know he was ultimately caught. 

Finally, I was flipping through HBO Max and see that this was turned into a docuseries sometime in the summer. Guess I know what I'll be watching over New Year's break. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Freaky is the greatest movie of all time

Oh my God, it's a slaughterhouse! Why are you smiling? Ah, I've heard that before. As a former reporter, my sense of humor is pretty dark, I guess you can say. On many occasion, when explaining some horrific thing I covered, my partner would whisper, "you have to stop smiling." 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: An entertaining slasher with a gender-bending, body-swapping twist, this horror-comedy juggles genres with Freaky fun results.

I loved this movie. Same director as Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U, and Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Sort of the same take as Happy Death Day. Take a popular movie, Groundhogs Day, or in this case Freaky Friday, and turn it into a horror flick. I'm definitely a massive fan of this Christopher Landon guy. At four for four, I will definitely be watching everything this guy does in the future. 

Cast is great. This Kathryn Newton girl is really having a moment. She was also in Lady Bird and Three Billboards. They do that thing where everyone treats her like she is hideous when the movie first starts. Sloppy bullshit. No one buys that this beautiful young woman is so ugly to be a pariah. The kids at her high school treat her like she's the spitting image of Janet Reno or something. But then when her and the killer switch bodies, the killer pulls her hair back and puts on different clothes. Now everyone wants to fuck. She looks the same, honestly. Don't jerk me off, man. 

Does get a killer line though when she tells this rapey asshole, "Your touch makes my pussy as dry as sandpaper, you fucking monkey. I can't wait to kill you." 

Her friends, played by Celeste O'Connor and Misha Osherovich, neither had I seen, are great sidekicks with solid comedic timing, especially Osherovich.  

But the best is Vince Vaughn. He is perfect and hilarious. Total MVP of the movie. He is the reason to watch this flick. Carrying himself like a young woman is pretty great and not as offensive as I was expecting. This might be his best role of all time. He comes in smoking hot and kills it as a high school girl. 

Definitely going on my Plex server. Solid kills. Solid directing. Good performances. Fun and funny. My type of flick.  

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Stand-up Comedy - Maria Bamford: Weakness is the Brand

Maria Bamford. A Bloomington Comedy Attic favorite. That was how she first got on my radar. The club here is exceptional at picking up-and-coming talent. Sort of that next big thing. Then saw here on some programs, Louie, and played a major role in one of my faves, Arrested Development. By the time she had her own show on Netflix, Lady Dynamite, my partner and I were all in. Watched all her stand-up. It's amazing. So, yeah, I adore her work. This is no exception. 

Definitely "on brand," as it were. I love her style. The way she flows is completely unique and my favorite part about her. It's like she is talking about one thing, just goes into something else, goes back to the original, has an aside with the audience, onto something else, talks about ten other things at once with no segue, no theme, just spills it all out there. 

Highly recommend the show. One of my favorite bits was her and husband's sexual role-playing about “gentrification” and “earning a living wage." Also when she tells the story about her forcing her mother into a three-part religious-off to see who is the better person. Her style is never more out there than during that bit. “The important thing about standup comedy,” she tells the camera at one point, “is to call whatever you’re doing standup comedy.” Totally how she rolls. Loved it. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Book Review: The Stand - Stephen King

Trippy read during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loved it, of course, and started reading it again because of my slightly more extra time during quarantine and it being all timely and all. I've read something like 15 Stephen King books. Dude got me into reading when I was young. This was my second reading of this novel. The first was like 26 years ago. 

If you don't know, The Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel (up there with distopias as one of my favorite subgenres). The plot centers on a pandemic of a weaponized strain of influenza that kills 99.94% of the world's population. The few survivors in the United States form in two groups, the evil one led by Randall Flagg, the good one by committee, get it on at the end which concludes with a literal hand of god. 

Like I said, read this a long time ago. Seventh grade. There were parts that were definitely a little much for a sensitive, somewhat sheltered child such as myself (I'm thinking specifically about the many extremely violent deaths and extremely disturbing sexual violence), but I couldn't put it down. Plus, I've thought about it a lot since then and it still looms large. 

I'll say that I find several of the main characters a little milqutoast (Stu Redman, Mother Abagail) and others irritating. The Kid and The Rat Man are maybe two of my least favorite characters from any work of fiction. However, the novel features some of King's most vivid and well written (Larry Underwood, Harold Lauder), and others where we get just enough that we are left wanting so much more (Dayna Jurgens, Lloyd Henreid [these two are so damn interesting]). 

Depending on the day, this is my favorite Stephen King novel and favorite post-apocalyptic work from any genre. Though it is considered popular fiction, I think this work will be read in schools years from now. Like Twain or Mellville or Sir Walter Scott or someone like that. 

King said, of the book, "There’s something a little depressing about such a united opinion that you did your best work twenty years ago." While that may be the case, it's not like he didn't set a pretty damn near impossible bar to clear. Plus he gets pretty close once or twice a decade. Great shit. 

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is the greatest movie of all time

What is more dangerous? This virus or the democrat?... My daddy is the smartest person in the whole flat world. Official title is Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. If you don't think Sacha Baron Cohen is a genius, then we probably can't be friends as you are probably going to defend Rudy Giuliani who was totally masturbating. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm proves Sacha Baron Cohen's comedic creation remains a sharp tool for exposing the most misguided -- or utterly repugnant -- corners of American culture.

Gist is that Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat, the fictional Kazakh journalist and television personality, offers daughter Tutar (played by Maria Bakalova) to Vice President Mike "Penis" as a bride. When that doesn't work, he settles for Giuliani, who tries to get his dick hard on hidden camera which he claims was ye olde tucking in his shirt routine. Not even a funny euphemism, bra. There are also shenanigans at a debutante ball and lots of other CPAC type events, and various COVID-19 pandemic hijinx as well. 

After all that, though, the movie is surprisingly touching. First there is the relationship that builds between Borat and his daughter. It's super sweet. There is the babysitter that Borat hires to watch his daughter that does some amateur therapy with the two of them, which comes off as genuine.  Then there were Holocaust survivors he meets when he is doing his anti-semitic schtick. These women greet him with such kindness it is incredible. Meanwhile, Borat carries around a bag with a dollar sign on it and is dressed like this:

And finally, during the COVID pandemic, Borat stops at a liquor store. Whilst there, he asks a man where everyone is. The guy tells him about the pandemic. Borat then asks if he can stay with the guy. Cut to him with this guy and his roommate. These guys, Jerry Holleman and Jim Russell, are two Trump-supporting conspiracy theorists. They seem to actually care about Borat's well being and are extremely kind to him. I mean, no way I would have said yes to that request. And these two guys were like, fuck it. Of course them helping Borat write a “Wuhan Flu Song,” with lyrics like “Obama, what we gonna do? Inject him with the Wuhan flu” and “Journalists, what we gonna do? Chop ’em up like the Saudis do,” doesn't help their case. By the by, Borat, in disguise as a southern Trump fanatic, lots of layers here, obviously, performed this catchy tune at an alt-right rally opposing the lockdown. He got the crowd to sing along to the racist lyrics before the croud figured out they were being mocked and turned on him, nearly killing him. These dudes, though, were pretty proud of their new friend in a sort of, "wow, look at him go," way. At one point, while hanging out with these dudes, Borat says that he "hope quartine never end." OMG. 

Obvious MVP is Sacha Baron Cohen. I mean, true genius. But Bakalova is super solid as well. Then there is a girl at the deb ball that gets an honorable mention. So Borat asks this girl's dad how much he thought he could get if he tried to sell his daughter. The dad, a real piece of work here, says "$500." His daughter, super pissed, gives him a look that has to be seen to appreciate, and says, "that is FUCK-ING gross." Good for her. Gave me a lot of hope.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all time

If he dies, he dies. Holy shit this movie is amazing. Watched it on Election Day because I needed something that could get me to believe in America again. This did it. Then a few days later, the results came in. I'm proud of you, America. We did it. Watched Rocky single-handedly defeat the Russians, and then Biden did that shit again.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Rocky IV inflates the action to absurd heights, but it ultimately rings hollow thanks to a story that hits the same basic beats as the first three entries in the franchise.

Gist of the movie is that Soviet boxer Ivan Drago played by Dolph Lundgren beats Rocky's best friend, Apollo Creed played by Carl Weathers, to death during an exhibition match. This match is fucking incredible. Creed comes out dancing to James Brown singing "Living in America." James Brown is absolutely on fire here. Fictional people that were at this fictional fight got one hell of a show. First, they basically got a 10-minute insane James Brown concert, then they got to watch Apollo Creed die. Hell of a date night. Anyway, so Rocky decides come out of retirement to fight Drago in Russia, for no money, on Christmas, much to the shock of wife Adrian (Talia Shire). "You're doing what now?" In the next movie, we see Rocky is broke by the by. Maybe Adrian was right to be pissed about this, ya know? But nobody, even Adrian, thinks Rocky can win. But after repeated montages and truly impressive CompuBox numbers, he does and wins the Cold War for America in the process. Also, Uncle Paulie has a butler/sex robot that later goes on tour with James Brown. I shit you negative. Greatest film of all time. 

Maybe the most mumbly movie of all time, with Stallone and Lundgren, this shit consists of 33% montage. In one he climbs a mountain, for fuck's sake, with no equipment and wearing a light jacket in the Russian wilderness. 

Playing Drago's wife in the movie is Brigitte Nielsen who is actually smoking hot. Seeing her in her Flava of Love years is shocking after watching this. She is said to be an Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer at the 1980 games held in Russia. Totally on steroids. Her and Drago have a kid who also grows up to kick ass in Creed 2, but this bitch has left Drago for a higher-up at the Kremlin. Meanwhile, Drago's life is dark and in fucking shambles. 

Stallone, who has to be roided out of his mind here, is the MVP of the movie. Wrote, starred, directed a perfect movie. 40% on Rotten Tomatoes my ass. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Fantasy Island is the worst movie of all time

This was a bullshit movie. Maybe you had to be into the show. I'm not entirely sure if they are even connected. It seems like it might be a prequel, the timeline is all kinds of fucked up on that. All I know is this movie sucked. Sort of started out interesting and kept getting worse and worse before coming to a crescendo of suck. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Fantasy Island tries to show audiences the dark side of wish fulfillment, but mainly serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of exhuming long-dead franchises.

Oh boy. Gist is a group of young people win a free trip to Fantasy Island, where they get one wish granted during their stay on the island. The place is Westworld for the lazy. The island is magic, you see, with some magic TV rock and water that does shit too. However that shit comes at a price, and who is to say that they aren't part of someone else's fantasy? Late in the movie we find out that is exactly what's up. Spoiler. Her fantasy is to get revenge on all the people that led to her losing the love of her life, who we find out she went on sort of one date with. She fucking cray. 

Directed and co-written by one Jeff Wadlow, who is behind some of my personally most loathed films. Cry Wolf and Truth or Dare?, for instance. Stars Michael Peña, who I hate, as the dude who runs the island. He's sort of the Richard Alpert in Lost. Peña is the sidekick from Ant-Man. He's also a Scientologist. Again, hate him. The beautiful Maggie Q whom you might remember from Mission: Impossible III  or the Nikita reboot from 2010. Lucy Hale from Truth or Dare?. Austin Stowell and Portia Doubleday I don't recognize. Doubleday plays a woman who bullied the cray chick and has continued to be pretty much a piece of shit. But she's learning. Jimmy O. Yang from Silicon Valley,  Ryan Hansen from Party Down, and Michael Rooker from The Walking Dead and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies (he's the blue guy with the arrow).

Not really sure that anyone really won the movie. Maybe Doubleday, who actually showed a little bit of range. However, didn't really give her, or anybody, a lot to work with. This is not a good movie. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Hell Fest is the greatest movie of all time

Some people are just evil. They walk amongst. Another killer in a haunt movie. Another decent entry. I would totally go to this place, by the by. Basically, it's a theme park of horror attractions. Sign me the fuck up. In reality, the filming location was a Six Flags outside of Atlanta. Wah wah. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Hell Fest might give less demanding horror fans a few decent reasons to scream, but it's neither clever nor frightening enough to leave much of an impression.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. Gist is that a group of high schoolish kids go to a haunt, this one amusement park or state fair-sized, to get their scare on. It's all fun and games until a serial killer starts killing folks in their click. Then shit gets real, but everybody just thinks it is part of the show. 

Directed by one Gregory Plotkin. Mostly known as an editor. He did Get Out, Happy Death Day, Game Night (all movies I adored), and it looks like all of the Paranormal Activity sequels. This was his first feature film as a director. His second, Crimson, was released today. 

The film stars Amy Forsyth (never seen her), Reign Edwards (don't recognize her from anything), and Bex Taylor-Klaus (BTK, unfortunately). BTK is in that show The Killing (which was good as fuck), Arrow, and a bunch of solid horror stuff. Non-binary, prefers the they/them pronoun. Might recognize from Scream the television show (loved that shit), or iZombie. Tony Todd--you know, Candyman!--is in the movie for like 30 seconds but gets top billing.

Again, I thought the movie was good. However, only one thing makes it really stick out from the other haunt movies. Namely that the killer guy ends up just being a normal family man. You know, kill a shit-ton of people, get stabbed, go home, kiss your kid good night. There are some cool scenes that use the setting to its advantage. Not sure I'll remember that they came from this movie in a couple of years though. 

While all that sounds bad, I assure you this is a good, fun slasher movie. If you like going to haunted houses, this is a really good substitute during COVID, with way more tension. Definitely recommend. 

MVP is this Taylor-Klaus. I've seen BTK in several things and always stands out. Always a plucky smart-ass sidekick, but does that shit well. Steals the show—total MVP performance.