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. 

Haunt is the greatest movie of all time

Do you still want to see my face? It's a work in progress, but I think you'll like it. Sort of a standard slasher elivated a little bit with intriguing killers and a cool location. I'm sort of a sucker for these horror movies set at a haunt. Basic gist is that folks think they are going to a haunted house to get scared by dudes in masks, but people really start to die. The Funhouse back in the day was sort of like this, then you got two pretty interesting ones that were ultimately unsuccessful in The House October Built and The House October Built 2

As someone who goes to these more extreme haunted houses, I get it. Twice I've gone with chicks who freaked out, thinking it got real like it does in these movies. The first time I was in eighth grade and the girls started to cry. The next time I was in college with a pair of friends and my sister. My friends were from Germany and France and had never experienced anything like a haunted house. The French girl locked on to me and screamed at anyone who came near us. The German girl went ahead with my sister. When we got out of the corn maze, we saw the German girl absolutely sprinting away from a guy wielding a chainsaw. "Ze chain-saw wus real, Ay-run." That was a fun night. I thought what a good idea this type of movie would be that night. Now, 10 movies later, it's starting to get a little overplayed. However, a Shudder original, this was the most popular movie on the streaming service this year. So don't expect these to go away. Also, this is better than most of the ones I've seen. 

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Haunt is spooked by the spirits of its obvious influences, but still packs enough thrills and chills to satisfy horror fans up for a haunted house excursion.

Gist of the movie is that a group of college kids go to a secluded haunted house. The kind where you have to sign a waver and shit. Eventually they discover that the actors are real killers after several of them indeed die. 

Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. These guys wrote A Quiet Place. The kids include Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, and Lauryn McClain. Haven't seen or heard of any of them. One of the killers, Damian Maffei, the Devil, was one of the killers in The Strangers movies. He's masked in that as well though. 

There is some dumb shit about this movie. First, there is this whole abuse victim/chilhood drama subplot that the writers throw in for the survivor chick. Gets them a car at the end though and pads the bodycount a little bit. Then at the very end, the Clown goes to the survivor girl's house, she had to put her address down when she went into the haunt, to finish the job. However, chick has Home Aloned her house and she ends up killing the dude, which is deserved, but come the fuck on. 

Overall, the movie is some pretty creepy shit. The people that work at the murder house all wear these masks. Shit like a ghost, a devil, a witch, a clown, so forth. Underneath those masks their faces are tattooed and mutilated to look like a much more horrifying version of the mask. These are guininely pretty scary. No thank you. We get told that one of them is a tattoo artist and all the workers are into death metal and they earn their faces by killing people. Producer Eli Roth, the "Bear Jew" in Inglorious Bastards and director of Hostel, told the writers to write out backstories for all these killers even though it wouldn't be used in the film. I feel that definitely gave the characters some richness that shined through. For that, I'm giving him the MVP. Hell of a talent, that Eli Roth. 

Night of the Demons 3 is the worst movie of all time

Come here. Just the bitch I was looking for! Oh, look, another one of these movies. This one a threequel. That's where the magic starts. You know, when things go way off the rails. This is, of course, no exception. So while a bad movie, it is pretty fun. Has the stink of Canada all over it. 

Gist is that a group of kids try to buy booze to party on Halloween and it goes horribly wrong. They end up shooting a cop, which is insane, and have to go on the lamb. The guy who did the shooting is obviously completely over-the-top. He totally commits to this life of crime when they can't buy booze, which is grossly unnecessary. Maybe try another gas station before going scorched earth. But his girlfriend is into it. She seems to be turned on by this nonsense and fully commits to this crazy life their going to have. Some of the others aren't so into it, but they don't really have a choice at this point. 

To avoid arrest, they go hide out in the old abandoned mansion that becomes possessed on Halloween night. They are obviously unaware of this fact or of Angela. Once again we have Amelia Kinkade, the glue that holds the franchise together, I guess in the role. She plays the role of the demon character Angela known for her gross "sexy" dancing. If you were into that the first two times you saw it, don't worry, this third installment has that too. She shows up, does her vomit-inducing sexy dancing, and starts killing the 30 year old teens one by one. 

This movie features some of the most bat-shit decisions in all of the films I've ever seen. You get turned down for booze at a gas station so you steal the attendant's shotgun and shoot the place up? A cop show up so you fucking shoot him? What the fuck are we doing here? You're on the lamb and a demon is killing your friends? Might as well bone, am I right?  Have some self-control.

Some of the names of the people in the film are Vlasta Vrána, Gregory Calpakis, Tara Slone, Christian Tessier, Joel Gordon, Larry Day, Kristen Holden-Reid, Stephanie Bauder, and Patricia Rodriguez. I didn't recognize any of them though it looked like most of them have had semi-successful careers. The problem with the movie isn't the acting. 

The plot, which is completely insane--one character has a snake hand for christ's sake (like, that shit really happens in a movie)--isn't the worst thing either. That would be the truly horrific CGI. This shit is like really bad. It would have been noticeably bad in the 1980s. Was awful for 1997. It is OMG bad by today's standards. And it was completely unnecessary. But, again, gives it charm in that so bad it's fun to watch way. 

Overall, while I liked the first two, the second was a lot of fun, this is sort of a terrible send off. Disappointing since Kevin S. Tenney, who directed the first one, wrote the screenplay. The franchise got a reboot in 2009. Don't think they'll be revisiting this any time soon. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Terrifier is the okayest movie of all time

How can you eat a greasy croissant while you're cutting up dead bodies? Sweetheart, I've been doing this twenty-two years, alright? Once you've seen an eight-month-old microwaved to death... everything else is just old hat. About the overall gist of this movie. Saw a lot of love for this online. I thought it was fine, but nothing super special. Hell of a costume for the killer though. And his use of body language and his silence are pretty creepy. However, felt like it relied a lot on shock value--I mean, it was very shocking/disturbing--but that type of movie doesn't really do it for me. Brutal and sick. 

Plot runs thus, it's Halloween and this these chicks run into and become fodder for a truly sadistic supernatural murderer named Art the Clown. They run, he gives chase, commits murder, repeat. These murders are some next level sick shit, by the way. 

Written and directed by one Damien Leone. Also in the girl are the likes of Catherine Corcoran, Matt McAllister, Pooya Mohseni, and Samantha Scaffidi. Don't feel bad if you don't know them because no one does. Guy named David Howard Thornton plays Art the Clown. Looks like a much more terrifying Crazy Joe Davola from Seinfeld when he dressed up like Pagliacci in "The Opera." 

Tara Heyes, played by Jenna Kanell, is the final girl who ends up looking all fucked up. I think this is shown at the beginning but I can't quite tell if that is her or another chick. 

Apparently this is the second feature film appearance of the Art the Clown character. The first was Leone's 2013 anthology film All Hallows' Eve, which sounds pretty interesting. Chick watches horror movies with the kids she is babysitting that feature the character. He ends up coming alive and doing what he does. Might check it out.