Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Burbs is the greatest movie of all time

The Burbs. One of my favorite movies from this era. Remember seeing it right when it came out on video and then watching the shit out of it on HBO. At some point, my bro and I caught it and got it on VHS and from it was on like Simon Le Bon. It is light. Funny. Occasionally dark. Has a killer cast with Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, the dude who plays Art, Mr. Rumsfield, and Corey Feldman. This is the greatest movie of all time.

Pros: Comedy/horror. My favorite genre. Both work. Cast is like insanely 80s great. Some pretty great one liners. Love some of that zany camera work. I wished my neighborhood was like this when I was a child because I was insane.

Cons: Not the best message really. Art gets harder to stomach as time goes by. Ditto for Rumsfield who partly suffers that unfortunate name.

This is what happens when you are bored in suburbia and your neighbors are Nazis. The gist of the film is bored suburbanites, led by Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks), come to believe their newly installed eccentric neighbors, the Klopeks, are members of a homicidal Satanic cult that killed the old man Walter (Gale Gordon) who has gone missing at the end of the cul-de-sac. While the wives, played by Carrie Fisher and Wendy Schaal (who is probably most famous for voicing Francine in American Dad), believe nothing is out of the ordinary, dudes Art (Rick Ducommun), Peterson, Mr. Rumsfield (Bruce Dern), and the neighbor kids, led by Ricky Butler (Corey Feldman), all think the Klopeks are are members of an evil satanic cult. All this equals shenanigans of a hilarious and creepy nature.

Some shit I really liked in this movie was the zany camerawork. I don't usually like stuff like that but in this movie it totally fits the tone and works. The instances that I am thinking of are when the camera focuses in on everyone's faces as they watch Ray go up to ring the door bell on the Klopeks's house and the zoom in and out scene with Art and Ray screaming. In the face scene, it is pretty tense and everyone stares ahead very seriously and then we get a shot of Walter's dog intensely looking ahead. It was pretty great. The other one is after Art and Ray find the femur in the back yard and Art explains to Ray what that bone is and such, ending it with "this is Walter!" and they both scream as the camera keeps sort of bouncing in and out as they completely freak out. Eventually the moment passes though and Art calms down. Ray though is still scream so Art taps him like, "come on man", and he straightens up.

Also, this film, as with Goonies before it, has just the right amount of Corey Feldman, in this flick as stoner/teenager painting his parents' house Ricky Butler. Spoiler, Ricky never paints that fucking house. He comes in, usually on the periphery but once or twice carries the scene, yucks it up, says some surfer shit, and he is out. Joe Dante, who did the same shit with Feldman in Gremlins, seems to have perfected the art of Feldman usage. Good shit.

Klopek. Sessions. Same damn person
Easily my favorite scene of the movie is when the Rumsfields and the Petersons go over to the Klopek household for an insane and awkward neighborly meeting at the behest of the wives. Ray, for the most part, plays it cool like he is unsure what the Klopeks are up to. Mr. Rumsfield, however, is all in on them being murderous psychos and pulls no punches, making pointed, confrontational small-talk with the occasional accusation just thrown out there. Whenever this happens, Ray acts like a freak in order to keep things semi sane. One of the best ones is when Rumsfield asks if Klopek is Slavic in a way that implies that he definitely thinks there is something wrong with being Slavic and the one played by Brother Theodore, Rueben, who is so angry throughout his entire time on screen, barks back "NO!" to which Rumsfield is like "about a nine on the tension scale there, Rueb." He asks a bunch questions about why they move around so much, what happened to the people that used to live there, and all this shit which come to think of it, why the Klopeks are murdering all these people is never really addressed but I'm pretty sure they are probably Nazis. Part of my reasoning is Rueb's insane reaction to the Slavic question. Then Dr. Klopek, who I think grew up to be Jeff Sessions, is totally Mengele-esque with his weird paintings and trunk of bones and all that. But I think they are more or less just Nazi caricatures than anything. Just some homicidal weirdos that are vaguely Nazi(ish). Speaking of, the one Hans, played by infamous ginger Courtney Gains, the Pinocchio Klopek, has the most disgusting neck beard in all of film. You might remember him in the slightly less disturbing roll of Malachai in Children of the Corn.

Rueb. Total sweetheart

The ending, spoiler, sends some mixed signals. What happens is Tom Hanks blows up the Klopeks' house looking for the rest of their neighbor Walter whom they are sure they have burned and buried in the basement. They appear to be totally wrong as the Klopeks have brought the police to the scene and act completely innocent. At first, when that that shit is going down, you side with the Klopeks as Tom Hanks does he thing, explaining that they are the crazy ones for being paranoid and burning their neighbor's house down. But then their trunk pops open and Corey Feldman looks underneath this blanket and we see underneath it their trunk full of skeletal remains. From there it is all, nope, just kidding, they are totally justified in their insane behavior because the Klopeks were fucking crazy after all. But I still like it and it was definitely better than the alternative. In the original script, Ray gets killed in the ambulance and the Klopeks go free which is obviously a huge bummer of a scene. There is another alternate ending that isn't terrible. If you want, you can check it out below...

Anyway, Tom Hanks is the obvious MVP of the movie. I feel this is sort of the movie where he went from goofball kid to America's dad. He is totes still goofy AF, but with this flick progresses from the hilarious, lovable frat bro/manchild from Bachelor Party and like everything else he did prior to the 1990s, and is everyone's surrogate dad for the next 20 years or so. He is stressed out and out of control and is god damned perfect which we later just take for granted with good old reliable Hanks. Total MVP performance right here. Feldman and Dern were also solid. Fucking greatness, this flick.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Sleepaway Camp is the greatest movie of all time

Sleepaway Camp. Another franchise. This one goes fantastically off the rails. This first one. Wow. The ending is fucking insanely shocking and comes out of nowhere. The second and third installments, at least, ignore that ending and basically everything that goes down in this first flick except that someone named Angela who looks vaguely like Sarah Silverman kills kids at camp. But yeah. This movie is insane and shocking and in fact is the greatest of all time. There is a fucking crazy spoiler here but basically everyone fucking knows it by now. The movie is almost as old as I am after all.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Sleepaway Camp is a standard teen slasher elevated by occasional moments of John Waters-esque weirdness and a twisted ending.

Pros: One of the most memorable movies I've seen. Smart and well set up. One of the best reveals in all of horror. Great setup for that shit too. Campy as fuck and completely unique. The Angela actress is super solid.

Cons: Pretty fucking transphobic. Pretty low budget. Definitely not the most taut movie I've ever seen.

Here we go. The movie is about a young girl, one Angela Baker, played by one Felissa Rose who looks like a young Sarah Silverman, apprehensive and disturbed, who goes to Camp Arawak with her cousin Ricky, Jonathan Tierston who looks a lot like a child Tony Danza, where people with dubious intentions start dying in gruesome but often times explainable ways--scalding by boiling water, drowning, bees ("not the bees!"), so forth--before things really escalate as the movie eventually ends with insanity. Angela is all disturbed and what not after her family is killed in the opening scene in a boating accident which is why she lives as a second class citizen with her insane fucking aunt who is way over-the-top and cousin, who seems nice, actually. If it weren't for the outrageously shocking ending, it is unlikely the movie would be remembered at all. But that sure as shit was one hell of an ending. Besides Rose it is unlikely you are going to recognize anyone in this movie though there is an actor of note in Robert Earl Jones, who isn't so much known for his work but for his progeny James Earl Jones. Yep, Darth Vader himself.

The weirdness begins at ground zero of this flick, starting out with a strange dedication at the beginning before the opening credits. It reads In fond memory of mom. A doer." Uh, what the hell does that mean in this context? Could you imagine dedicating this POS to your dead mom who was apparently a real go-getter. That's how we enter this strange world.

This lady. Fucking crazy
One thing you will notice right away here is the insane, over-the-top aunt who is fucking nuts and talks like a crazy person. She orates like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club when he is mocking Anthony Michael Hall's perfect family but also in a horrible community theater sort of way. This bitch is a little much. But this performance is totally intentional as we see later that she is fucking disturbed. A little important nugget we are supposed to retain is that she is a doctor and has faked Angela's physical.

Flick features one of the biggest pieces of shit I've seen in a while that says something made me nearly retch. So this guy, the head cook at the camp who is 40 years old, stands out in the parking lot as the kids get dropped off by their parents and take their shit to their bunks. This guy openly checks out these kids who are like 12 and comments on them to his all male coworkers while practically stroking himself. The thing he says that was fucking disgusting was something like "look at all that fresh chicken." Fucking gross. Fuck this guy. And his coworkers are like cool with this and shit. Fuck them too. He immediately then tries to sexually assault Angela, again, like 12, by taking her into the storage room and forcing himself on her. He is undoing his belt when the cousin comes in and goes ape shit. He claims he's not doing anything while zipping up his fly and flying into a rage... and everyone believes him! Since trying to rape a child is totally fine in 1983, the guy is just making soup in the next scene in a like 10 foot tall pot that I'm pretty sure wouldn't cook shit. But the water boils and what not and we get a POV of the killer pulling the chair the guy is standing on out from under him and he ends up sort of hanging over the pot, eventually, and unnecessarily, falling on top of it and pulling it down all over him. He screams hysterically for the rest of the time he is in the movie.

The infamous jorts game
What I considered to be the most absurd (and probably my favorite) scene in a movie that is just god damned full of them is the baseball scene where the 30-year-old actors playing 18-year-old counselors play against the legitimately 12-year-old campers. They show pretty much this whole game in real time. It is fucking insane and super polarizing. The jorts game and shit talking is on point. At one point one of the adult dudes is like "eat shit and die, Ricky" and Ricky retorts, "eat shit and live," which is nonsense but awesome. Eventually it breaks out into a fight with the adults basically assaulting the children as the head of the camp watches on, not giving a shit.

The camp owner or whatever is a real piece of work as well. Played by 60-something-year-old actor Mike Kellin who was literally days away from death and totally looks it, the guy is boning one of the counselors. She is supposed to be 18ish as she is a legit camp worker. I mean she is fucking terrible and all and takes every opportunity to tool on Angela for whatever reason. What is crazy is that she is super into it. Brags about having a date and what not with this gross old man. Fucking wild, this movie.

The murders are all pretty cray. My personal fave is also, not coincidentally, the most homoerotic. There we get this rapey asshole on a boat that has previously tooled on Angela for being weird, basically. Well, he ends up taking this chick out and purposefully overturns the boat. She swims back pissed while the dude sort of chills under the capsized boat. Meanwhile, his dude friends skinny dip and play grab-ass for no reason. That's when the killer shows up and says something like, "the rest of the boys will be glad to see you." Again, rape vibe. But the killer, Angela, spoiler, has none of that and drowns him. The next day when they find his body with snakes coming out of it and shit, that idiot camp owner dude is all about explaining away all the suspicious deaths which is most of what these movies are, the owner coming up with weak excuses before eventually getting killed himself. In this one, the EMT or whatever is like, "we'll have to wait for the medical examiner to check him over before we can know what happened." The owner just starts acting like a dick and comes up with his own theory of how he hit his head. EMT says, verbatim, "I don't think so. Weren't any bumps or bruises when I checked. Though again, I'm no expert on this matter." So this old guy just bullies him, yelling something like "the boy scared and panicked. Right?" And the EMT says "that could be a logical explanation." And that is fucking that. Case closed.

And then there is the last scene. Spoiler. It's fucking cray. The surviving councilors have figured out who the killer is and are going to stop her. That is when we see Angela making out with her shitty little rapey boyfriend. The councilors are like, "oh god, no!" and the camera pans out. And that is when we get the shocking reveal. Hissing, mouth agape, severed head of BF in hand, tiny penis dangling there--Angela is a dude. The boy at the beginning of the movie whom Ricky's mom has turned into a chick. And this forced sex change and confused sexual identity, which her dad is also revealed to have struggled with, as well as an incestuous encounter with the sister has led to Angela being a murderous wild woman.

One thing though... So... this ending is pretty problematic. Nor does it what you would call age well. Angela is basically portrayed as nonhuman with her insane hiss and face fixed in a permascream which is supposed to be even more terrifying when it pans out and we see the penis. More than anything, now, it comes as an out of nowhere shock for being transphobic. Basically, this movie equates Angela's psychopathy with her quote unquote confused gender role. It's not Ace Venturabad but basically the reveal was meant to be shocking in and of itself is the one of many movies that portray the trans character as a psycho that just loves killing. Most trans people, as it turns out, aren't this way, but you would never know it from movies from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Nonetheless, MVP has to be Rose who does one hell of a job with what is not an easy performance. Shows a lot of range as we see her as both a vulnerable kid and a terrifying psychopath. Plus it can't be easy to take on a role like that as a teenager in the 80s. And she grew up to be a beautiful woman who seems more or less pretty well adjusted. Ricky also does a hell of a job for a kid and the jacked camp councilor was over-the-top but cool. Overall, a dope fucking movie.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Scream 4 is the greatest movie of all time

Scream 4. Probably the last one in the franchise. Scream popularized the whole "meta, self-aware, postmodern" horror genre. Basically every horror movie that came out there for a while was a total Scream clone. Basically came out and defined the genre. Literally did this in the flick even. Scream 2 came alone and did the same thing for sequels. Then with Scream 3 we sort of get that with trilogies but maybe not so convincingly. Now we get this one that attempts to do the same thing with reboots. And though it generally didn't get the best reviews, it totally works. All that negative ink is a bunch of bullshit because Scream 4 is the great movie of all time.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: The franchise is showing its age, but Scream 4 is undeniably an improvement over its predecessor, with just enough meta humor and clever kills.

Pros: Wes Craven directed. His last picture. Great cast. Maybe the best of the franchise (though the first one had a pretty great one as well). Also some pretty ladies. Do a really good job of world building/character development. Though we've seen this same setup in this same time, it totally throws you for a loop with it's originality.

Cons: More brutal than the previous movies, which is quite the dubious achievement. The killers' motivations/whole murder plan is pretty bonkers.

Bad enchiladas 
You likely know the drill by this point. The gist is Sidney Prescott shows up somewhere, in this one her home town, Woodsboro, where the first movie took place, and the Ghostface killer(s) soon follow. This time it is 10 years later and the murders seem to revolve around Sid's cousin, Jill (played by it girl Emma Roberts from Scream Queens, among other things), much like they did with her back in the day. David Arquette, Neve Campbell, and Courteney Cox return as Dewey, Sid, and Gale Weathers, respectively. Gale and Dewey are married now. Women fawn over Dewey who is the sheriff now, god help us, who no longer has a limp or quite as much brain damage. Newcomers to the series include Roberts, Anthony Anderson, the lovely Alison Brie who will always be Annie from Community to me, Adam Brody, Rory Culkin, Marielle Jaffe, Erik Knudsen, Mary McDonnell, the also lovely Hayden Panettiere, Marley Shelton, Nico Tortorella, Aimee Teegarden and Britt Robertson. We also get cameos from Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin, a former Academy Award winner, as characters within the Stab universe. Kevin Williamson, who wrote the first two, returns as the writer and knocks it out of the park. I would argue that this is why 1, 2, and 4 are considered solid to classic and 3 is generally considered shit. It is also the final film from horror master Wes Craven who died in 2015.

Remember that chick?
Like all the other Scream movies, the opening is significant and does most of the world building. The opening of the actual movie are the openings for Stab 6 and Stab 7 which we sort of got in Scream 2 but in this one you think this is actually the opening of the movie we, the audience, is watching. But twice we are tricked with the movie within the movie withing the movie. It is a bit confusing when you try to explain it, I realize. Basically, here the Stab flicks like Scream are also in need of a soft reboot and sort of go off the deep end. We see the Stab movies have gotten stale and turn toward the uncertain. There we get just a bunch of nobodies in 6 doing the same old shit. Then big name actresses in just phoning it in in an unpredictable movie that is unpredictable because it has sort of gone stale. Hey, that is just what Scream 4 is! This explanation is all over the fucking place. You'll just have to watch it for this to make sense, I think. Anyway, we eventually get the real intro. It's Coach Taylor's daughter, Julie, from Friday Night Lights (the series) played by the actress Aimee Teegarden, and some other chick. Since this is a Scream movie, we know the semi-famous person at the beginning is going to die, horribly. And... she does (and so does the friend). First, the friend is stabbed in the stomach and arms half a dozen times before being thrown through a window and then finally hanged from a ceiling fan while Teegarden gets stabbed a shitload of times before being crushed by garage door like whatsherface in Scream and then is stabbed some more.

Alison Brie. Me-yow
Speaking of brutal deaths, this flick is full of them. Every single death is more gruesome than the most severe in the first three--probably the Drew Barrymore death. And they look fucking real, too. Some of the notables include Sid's assistant or whatever played by the lovely Alison Brie who is toyed with like the old cat and mouse thing before she is stabbed and thrown off a parking garage onto a van, the boyfriend, red herring guy who gets shot in the dick and head, and Emma Roberts's next door neighbor sort of friend, one Olivia Morris, who gets the shit stabbed out of her including a bunch of defensive wounds which they show Psycho style before she gets gutted. And a note on Psycho, that movie gets another nod with  Anthony Anderson's (from Blackish) character who is named Anthony Perkins after the actor who played Norman Bates. His death is also notable for being hilarious. For his demise, Ghostface runs up on him and stabs him in the forehead. He gets out of the car and takes some wild swings at GF that is nowhere near landing, falls to his knees and says "fuck Bruce Willis."

Dewey. Dumbfuck
The body count is a little higher in this one than the previous films. I don't think that it is a coincidence that Dewey is now the sheriff. So everyone is fucked, obviously. Some issues arise here with his incompetence, which is expected. First off, he is back with Gale/Courntey Cox who is back to looking fantastic. They are married and she has writer's block (she is the Stab author in this universe). But once the murders start back up, she is fucking in it, trying to get in as much of the action as possible. But Dewey fucking denies her, saying she isn't a cop and can't be on the scene or whatever. She says shit like "I wrote the book on this," which is a killer line, but she still gets denied. Part of this I'm sure has to do with Dewey's deputy who is a cute chick that wants to fuck that fucking hates Gale. But, you know, she legit isn't a cop and shit. That shit though doesn't fucking matter, apparently, since Dewey lets Sid lead the fucking investigation for some insane reason. It is fucking nuts. This guy is an elected official. Let that shit sink in.

A few scenes that stuck out... One, the whole Stabathon that the high school AV club hosts where Gale puts these hidden cameras all over the place. Before they have it, Gale and Sid are visiting these HS kids and they float the idea of the two of them showing up to the film fest. The two of them are like, "this is in extremely poor taste, so how about no and you not do this." The kids respond with, "lame, we doing it" and then Gale ends up coming incognito anyway. She is wearing a mask so it isn't a "hello, fellow students situation," but it is pretty close. It is like the first movie where they have the hidden cameras all over the place and they can see the killer coming after one of the main characters. In this one, they damn near get Gale (and Sid later in the movie) but of course they live on in the Screamverse. But the scene is memorably tense and drawn out with a bunch of that the-killer-is-behind-you goodness.

That shit leads to another scene that really stuck out as the main kids that are still alive, around six of them, go to the cheerleader one's house to finish the horrorfest. There, a Culkin boy, Rory, nearly makes nerd history, they say, when Hayden Panettiere, a pretty lady, comes onto him and encourages him to make a move. She is indeed a very attractive lady, and even though he is the killer, spoiler, or one of them at least, and is boning the other, spoiler (it's Emma Roberts), he still nearly does it. But he's cock blocked by the red herring, Roberts's ex Trevor, who is just sort of a dick. Plus, he's gone too far by this point. That whole shit also hearkens back to the first one as well but with some major twists that are bananas and are easily some of the best moments in the series. Their motivation, by the way, are fame and lulz, basically.

The MVP of the flick has to be Emma Roberts. This flick elevated her to scream queen status and even got her a staring role in the television series Scream Queens which I found to be pretty solid as well American Horror Story. Her final girl status in the film is pretty mind bending. A unique take that turns what the expected upside-down. The shocking reveal at the end illustrates how far people will go to become reality stars, a pretty solid social critique of the Kim Kardashian/Paris Hilton model for fame as well as our collective obsession with serial killers and mass murderers. The performance is super solid and the character totally believable.

And that was the franchise. With that I guess I should rank them... IMO it goes ScreamScream 4, Scream 2, and Scream 3. Can't beat an instant classic in the original which completely changed horror for the next decade and saved the dying genre. Though it doesn't get the credit, Scream 4 popularized the soft reboot in ways that went beyond horror, much like the first one did with teen movies and meta, self-awareness in film. If you are going to do a soft reboot, don't just tell the same story and don't completely reimagine it either. Give the people the movie they liked but take it in unexpected places--with a mind blowing twist, basically. See Star Wars: Episode VIIMad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, and Terminator Genisys. All follow this model. Before that, it was all hard reboots like Halloween, Spiderman, and Star Trek which just shit on everything that came before and retold the same story. Next we've got Scream 2 which sort of defined the rules for sequels. A lot like the first one, it laid out the tropes and knocked them down to make for a super solid followup. Scream 3 tries to do that same shit with trilogies but is sort of all over the place and somewhat fails as the plot makes a little less sense and the shtick gets a little old. So yeah, 1, 4, 2, 3. In that order. Guess I should go back and do Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th as well, so look forward to that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Jaws is the greatest movie of all time

Jaws. We're gonna need a bigger blog. Was just the 4th of July and this is the best 4th of July movie so watched that shit. What can you say? Steven Spielberg's first real movie. The movie that made everyone terrified of sharks, unjustly. Eventually made "Shark Week" possible. It tells a story as old as time. Man and beast are separated for 1,000s of years by a natural line. Man crosses that line. Man is eaten by beast. It's the same formula we get for slashers like Halloween and Friday the 13th and action movies like The Terminator. Hell, Alien marketed itself as Jaws in space. Unthinking, solely focused killing machines (not that that is how sharks really are). Easily the best creature feature of all time, it's also the best Fourth of July movie of all time. I watch it nearly every year around this time. Conservatively this was my 15thish viewing going back to when I was like one. Still love that shit. Greatest movie of all time.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg's Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.

Pros: Extremely engrossing. Pretty F-ing scary. Super tense, even after many viewings. Some unexpected humor. Great characters. Legitimately one of the greatest movies of all time. From the moment they get on the boat the movie is perfect.

Cons: Unjustly soured everyone on sharks. They can kill you, of course, but want nothing to do with you. Like more people are killed by falling coconuts every year than shark attacks.

Here's to swimming with bowlegged women. Gist, which you should really know at this point, is that the police chief of a small beach/island town, a shark expert, and an old fisherman hunt down and kill a man-eating great white shark on the fishing boat "Orca". The three main guys are Richard Dreyfuss who plays marine biologist Hooper, Roy Scheider playing Police Chief Brody, and Robert Shaw who played the salty old fisherman Quint. How none of them nor Spielberg got nominated for an Oscar is insane. Only other people really worth mentioning are Murray Hamilton as Larry Vaughn, Mayor of Amity Island, and Lorraine Gary as Brody's wife, Ellen. Hamilton is a great asshole while Gary is a perfect motherly type. She is totally great in this. The film is based on Peter Benchley's 1974 novel of the same name. In the end this was a huge regret of his. He didn't realize there was no such thing as a rogue shark that develops a taste for human flesh. I mean, who among us would. Later saying, "No one appreciates how vulnerable they are to destruction." Yeah, sharks get a raw deal and will probably go extinct in my lifetime. That's a huge bummer. Anyway, this movie redefined the way movies are shown. They used to have movie play in like 12-18 theaters and then it would expand/move. This opened up in 400+ theaters so that basically everyone could drive to a theater and go see. Thus was born the summer blockbuster.

That's the one
Some shit that stuck out... Lot of ridiculous quotable lines. The first is from the Fourth of July scene just before the Kitner boy gets eaten and we get "the Jaws shot". Here, Brody is watching the ocean with dread, just knowing some shark shit is about to go down. He thinks he sees one but an old guy in a Speedo and an absurd strapped swimming cap pops up. False alarm. The guy climbs out of the ocean, walks over to Brody, says something to him about being too afraid to go in the water. Brody, without missing a beat, "that's one bad hat, Harry." A great and dumb line which you might have noticed after several shows and movies as it is the name of Bryan Singer's production company. You might know him as the director of The Usual Suspects or the X-Men films. Then again, you might know him as a grip in the film Street Trash which is the greatest movie of all time. This is an obvious homage to that absurd line. Anyway, also love the dipshit standing on the dock amongst the dipshits that roped in the tiger shark thinking it was the man-eater. Hooper is like, oh, look at that, you got a tiger shark. This fucking moron looks at him with his dumb, fat face and says, "uh what?"

Directed at Quint but the sentiment is the same
Basically everything that Mayor Vaughn, played by Murray Hamilton, is fucking crazy. He is convinced that there is no shark for the first 1/3 of the movie and is obsessed with keeping the beach open. He basically goes to extraordinary lengths to deny the thing killing everyone is a shark. Like when Hooper and Brody get liquored up (Hooper brings over a nice bottle that he says they should let breathe as Brody pours himself a pint glass of red that he pounds like a champion) and go out on the water and find that boat floating around with that guy's head in it, which was probably the only unnecessary scene in the movie, they go see Vaughn and are all, "yo, the shark is fucking out there still." Hooper is like, "there was a tooth that was 3-inches long! It was the shark that has killed all the people!" He is like, "a toof, huh, where is it?" Hooper is like, "well, I dropped it when I saw the head." And Vaughn is all, "well, there you go, who knows what it was. He doesn't have the toof!" Next thing you know he goes down to the beach and makes his lackeys and their families get in the ocean and swim around which gets some idiot in the lagoon killed with his leg sinking down to the bottom of the ocean. This is what happens when you vote a pro business, free market capitalist psychopath into office.

Quint, total maniac 
Speaking of people saying crazy things, I can't understand a damn word that comes out of Quint's mouth. What the hell is that accent? I'm pretty sure it's Maine. Hear basically, "mah ra, herda hrum, here's to swimming with bowlegged women, hro hrum." Also, he plays pretty fast and loose with everyone's lives. Most notably he blows up the engine chasing the shark at max speed despite everyone's pleas and smashes the radio like a mad man when they are totally fucked and Brody tries to call for help.

Bunch of scenes really stick with you. That opening where they basically waterboard and whiplash a naked woman around with a mechanical god only knows what is a truly great and horrifying way to open a movie. Doesn't waste much time getting fucking brutal. Really starts in the next scene when Brody and the idiot that was too wasted to take his pants off find the dead girl stand there looking at what is left of her with Brody holding her purse and clothes. It is a pretty nice and powerful touch. We later see her remains fit in a small tub which causes Hooper to just about upchuck throughout his examination. Another super fucking brutal scene is after the Kitner boy gets eaten and Ms. Kitner stands at the bloody shoreline looking for her dead kid. She is panicked and desperately looking around when she sees his inflatable floaty thing he was swimming around with wash up to shore, torn to shreds. The last just completely brutal scene comes when Quint slides down the boat straight into the shark's mouth and gets chewed up like chewing gum. The shark looks not super real but you don't really pay attention to that because Robert Shaw sells the fucking shit out of it. This is how you would act to getting turned into chum, for sure. And this movie is rated PG by the way. Nudity, an eaten kid, a dude that gets chomped to death for 20 or so seconds whilst screaming. Totes cool for the kiddos.

Also featuring debilitating grief

A few more of my fave are when Quint scrapes the chalkboard and says he'll find the shark for $3,000 but he'll kill him for $10,000. Bad fish. Chomps oxygen tanks like cigars. All that stuff. The whole time they are in the cabin of the boat where they compare scars and Quint talks about being on the USS Indianapolis. My favorite little line there is when Hooper opens his shirt to expose his hairy ass chest, this during the scar sharing, and asks if they know what that is. Brody is like, "a sweater?" Funny stuff. And more or less the whole last third of the movie when they are on the boat. Shit is tits. Super homoerotic too. Like when Brody takes Hooper's glasses just before he goes down in the cage and sticks them in his mouth to clean them or whatever. Pretty fucking weird/gross. I wouldn't do that for anyone, I don't think.

MVP of the flick, no surprise, is Spielberg, who is like uber famous after this film comes out and goes on to do some of the highest grossing movies of all time. Of course, Jaws, at the time its release, became the highest-grossing film of all time, keeping the title for one year until Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope came out. The franchise would beat itself out six years later with Episode VI - Return of the Jedi but Spielberg would take the title back with E.T. in 1983 which he would surpass with Jurassic Park in 1993 (FYI, currently, Avatar holds top grossing honors). I mean his movies are basically all beloved classics (with a few exceptions) including the four (or at least three) Raiders movies, Close Encounters of the Third KindSchindler's List (a total bummer of a movie), Saving Private RyanMunich (one of my personal faves), and like shit ton of other movies that people fucking love that make stupid bank. And none of this would be possible, probably, without Jaws. Arguable one of the greatest movies of all-time. No shit.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Scream 3 is the greatest movie of all time

Scream 3. End of a trilogy. The quote unquote shitty one. The one where Sid is off the grid. The one where they broke from screenwriter Kevin Williamson's (who wrote the first one and outlined the second) vision. The Hollywood one where they film the third Stab movie within the third Scream movie. The one in the Jay and Silent Bob universe (the duo sees Gale Weathers on the backlot and yell, "hey, it's Connie fucking Chung!"). Lots of in jokes like that here. This is an industry movie like Body Double or Theater of Blood or Sunset Boulevard.

Personally, it was the first movie in the franchise I wasn't stoked about. It was only a couple years since the previous one came out but it both felt like it had been too long and that we had just had a bunch of these come out. Probably the reviews didn't help. It's pretty cheesy and way out of left field. Plus the new big thing in horror in 2000, when this movie came out, were found footage films like The Blair Witch. The self-aware stuff had sort of lost its charm. But it is fun in the end. I really didn't hate it the first time I saw it, it was on network TV by that point, and it definitely aged better than I thought. It was more over-the-top than the other two and got pretty close to being hysterical at times (mostly with Parker Posey the actress playing an actress playing Gale and following her around and what not). But yeah, it's not terrible. In fact, greatest movie of all time.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: According to critics, Scream 3 has become what it originally spoofed. Despite some surprising twists, the movie seems to have lost its freshness and originality by falling back on the old horror formulas and cliches.

Pros: Decent humor. This is so over-the-top that you don't really need spoofs like Scary Movie. The story, while ludicrous, is still pretty interesting.  Pretty ladies. Always with the pretty ladies and these movies. OK way to wrap-up the series, though it was a little anticlimactic and not the real of it.

Cons: Some of the acting is pretty phoned in which I'm not going to dwell on too much. The shtick gets a little old the third time around. Gale's (Courtney Cox) haircut is atrocious. The plot hinges on some pretty confusing bullshit.

Gist of the movie is that three years after the college one, a killer dressed as Ghostface makes the rounds again, this time in Hollywood on a movie backlot, picking off actors from the third Stab movie in the order they die on film in an attempt to get Sidney to come out of hiding. With this being the "final" installment of a trilogy, "the rules" change yet again, brought to you via video by a dead Jamie Kennedy in one of the more bizarre moments of the franchise. Like the previous and preceding films, the installment was directed by horror maestro Wes Craven. David Arquette, Neve Campbell,  Courteney Cox, and Liev Schreiber reprise their roles as Dewey, Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Cotton Weary respectively. Newcomers include Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy from that one doctor show), Scott Foley whom you might remember as Jake Ballard in Scandal or from whoever he played in Felicity, Lance Henriksen from Aliens, Matt Keeslar (no idea), Jenny McCarthy (who popularized anti-vaccing), Emily Mortimer from Lars and the Real Girl, Parker Posey from the Christopher Guest movies, Deon Richmond (no idea), and Patrick Warburton who will always be Putty from Seinfeld. Legendary producer Roger Corman also has a cameo. As does Carrie Fisher. She plays a chick who looks exactly like Carrie Fisher. This was supposed to be the last of the franchise but then it was revived with Scream 4 in 2011, which is solid, and the show which debuted in 2015 and currently is in post-production on season three.

Anti-vaccer, dude

Some shit that stuck out includes Cotton Weary being this major late night talk show host with a car phone. No one gave a shit about him in Scream 2 and wouldn't give him the time of day unless Sid came along with him. Then he sort of gets some credit for saving the day and now he is like a regular old Howard Hughes/Jay Leno. He ends up the opening scene death, which keep getting weaker. It is sort of funny though since the killer has a fancy new voice changer that can make him sound like anyone. So when Ghostface attacks Cotton's old lady, played by Kelly Rutherford who was Dixie Cousins in The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. which is like my favorite show of all time, he talks shit in Cotton's voice. They also talk about having Stab roleplay sex which is insane. She ends up attacking the real Cotton which opens up the killer for a pair of easy deaths.

Oh, that chick
There is a surprise Randy explaining "the rules" scene which is strange considering he died in Scream 2. They needed someone to deliver it, I guess, and since it isn't all that serious of a movie, why not find a way to bring Jamie Kennedy back. The way this is so delicately done is they bring in Randy's never before mentioned sister--played by Heather Matarazzo who is this girl I've always mistaken for Thora Birch who played the girl that gets grilled on the stand by Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate and had a bunch of other pretty dope little roles over the years (like DJ Tanner's girlfriend in Roseanne)--who has a video that her brother recorded just before he died in case the murders start up again after the events of the movie where he dies. Just roll with it. Even though it's dumb, I still love that rules shit. In this one, the end of a trilogy, we learn that: 1.) the killer will be superhuman so stabbing or shooting him won’t work and he must basically be cryogenically frozen, decapitated, or blown up; 2.) anyone, including the main character, can die;  and 3.) whatever you think you know about the past will come back and destroy you. Thems the rules for some of that sweet survivin'.

The killer ends up being this guy Rowan, spoiler, who is directing Stab 3 and turns out to be Sid's long lost brother that was born out of wedlock when Sid's murdered mother was an aspiring actress. Yeah, it's fucking weird and doesn't make a lot of sense and requires some serious dedication for a goof. It is fucking insane. So get this. He tracks down his biological mother (Sid's mom who died before the first one) who gave him up for adoption. She doesn't want to have anything to do with him. He stalks her. Finds out she is having an affair. Recruits people to kill her and toy with and then kill the rest of her family as well as a bunch of other kids. Hope that this becomes a book that is then turned into a movie franchise. Go to film school. Become a big shot director. Get old Hollywood stupid money. Agree to direct the third installment of that franchise. Kill everyone. That's it. What? I mean... What? But that is how it goes down. But he fails because he is an idiot. And then they shoot him, repeatedly, so as not to come back. Funny as fuck but not the most grounded in reality installment of the series.

Again, like Scream 2, not the easiest movie to pick a winner for. In the end I'm going with Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie as fake Gale Weathers. She hangs out with the real Gale and constantly talks shit about how her Gale is better and what her Gale would do in such and such situation. She does die in the end but not before bumbling around and being crazy for all but the last 10 minutes of the film. She was also apparently banging Brad Pitt which is some sort of mind fuck since this would have been in the Jenifer Aniston years and Courtney Cox was on Friends with her at that time and so forth. But yeah, her over-the-top performance stands out as the most absurdly ridiculous in film that is full of them.

Sweet Gale on Gale action

Another little detail that made this for me comes in the scene where the killer corners Sid on the set of Stab at the location of her fake house. Here, again, she has the opportunity to run out of the fake front door of her house but instead runs up the stairs just like she did in the first and just like she railed on would be survivor girls for doing in these types of flicks. Nice little attention to detail there on this deep cut.

Anyway, three of these films down with Scream 4 on deck. That one was genuinely really solid and I'm looking forward to writing about it. So look for that shit in the next few. Going to watch and write about something Independence Day related today though. Still deciding on what but I've ruled out Uncle Sam because it looks too shitty even for my tastes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor? is the greatest movie of all time

Want a good cathartic cry? Jesus is there a movie for you, Won't You Be My Neighbor?. Collectively, this is what we need right now. A message of radical kindness. Good god you are going to cry. More than once. Tearing up now actually. Yep. That's happening. Greatest movie of all time... Oh, and fuck Fox News.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Won't You Be My Neighbor? takes a fittingly patient and honest look at the life and legacy of a television pioneer whose work has enriched generations.

Pros: This film is truly inspired and inspiring. Does a great job of tightly getting at what the saintly Fred Rogers was all about. We get to know him in a way that makes us care more for the man and, personally, inspires me to do better.

Cons: We find out he was a registered Republican which I am not sure I believe. I couldn't see him voting for Nixon (who supported cutting funding for PBS and the Vietnam War) or Reagan (recall a lot of episodes regarding King Friday's pursuit of an arms race during my childhood) and see Trump as the antithesis of everything Mister Rogers believes in. This is exactly the type of thinking that he makes want to reevaluate though... But I am more comfortable thinking of him as a swing voter. Fiscally conservative. Obviously socially liberal.

Gist here is that filmmaker Morgan Neville explores the legacy and life of beloved children's TV show host Fred Rogers, host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. It goes into detail about his personal philosophies and how they shaped his show and the way he dealt with children. Mister Rogers is truly what he appeared to be and this movie does a great job of illustrating this. And it has truly inspired me to do more. I am what you would call a kind person who really gives a shit. This movie makes me want to be better. Care more. Be kinder. The film fantastically details the man' limitless compassion which is totally contagious. Great documentary and Mister Rogers obviously wins the movie.

Some of the stuff that stood out. First, can't ignore that time that Rogers, in response to proposed budget cuts, went to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications on behalf of PBS and talked about the need for the educational television that PBS provides. Talking to the chairman, Senator John O. Pastore, Rogers stressed that his show helped kids deal with their emotions positively which ultimately makes them well-adjusted adults as opposed to the more violent messages of some other shows. To illustrate his point he doesn't read his prepared statement, saying that he trusts that the chairman will read it, and instead recites lyrics to one of the songs from his show that is typical of one of his programs. Those lyrics were "What do you do with the mad that you feel? When you feel so mad you could bite... I can stop when I want to. Can stop when I wish. Can stop, stop, stop anytime... And know there’s something deep inside that helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady, and a boy can be someday a man." Pastore, who was sort of being an asshole up to that point, was really moved, saying "I think it's wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million." It was extremely impressive and should be required viewing.

Something I wasn't exactly crazy about was that he urged actor Francois Clemmons, who played officer Clemmons and is homosexual, to stay in the closet and forbade him from frequenting gay bars. He thought this was more or less career suicide for Clemmons and saw it as potentially something that could tank the show. This was a black guy who, Christlike, Rogers shared a foot bath with on the show when black people and while people couldn't shit in the same can, and Rogers encouraged him to get married, which ended in obvious disaster. This all went down around 1970. Not exactly the most noble thing he ever did, convincing a guy who later became a surrogate son to ruin a woman's life, at least for a short time, by marrying her even though you're gay. That's not you just the way you are, if you know what I mean. One of many examples of a hero from a different time that did something that was pretty messed up. But Rogers eventually came around on the issue, and way before the general public, encouraging Clemmons to commit to a longterm relationship. And thank fuck. Of course he recognizes a mistake and completely corrects it.

The final section of the movie, the one where everyone in the theater was audibly sobbing, was the bit about Jeff Erlanger. Oh, man. This kid. Ten-years-old. Wheelchair. Diminutive. Undergoing a life-threatening surgery that may kill him. Family asks him if he wants to do something special because this is going to be tough on the little guy. Meet Mister Rogers. So Rogers meets him. They hit it off. Chill several times. Eventually Rogers invites him onto the show. This is 1981. Erlanger shows Rogers how his wheelchair works and why he was in it. They segue into what they do to cheer themselves up when they are sad. Oh god. End up singing a song together. "It's You I Like." And I'm sobbing. And they talk about what Mister Rogers used to do when he was feeling blue--make up stories, read, play--and how we all have to figure out what cheers each of us up in our own way.  And Jeff asks him it helped. It did. Then Rogers says, "I'm not feeling blue right now though!" and he laughs. And Jeff says, "me neither." And it is just so touching. The movie ends with Rogers being greeted by Erlanger when he is inducted into the TV Hall of Fame back in 1999. Try to make it through that dry eyed. Check it out.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Scream 2 is the greatest movie of all time

Scream 2. The crazy-things-are-happening-to-Sid-at-college movie. This was the first movie I can remember where I was gleaning leaked info from the internet. A movie within the movie that was based on the events from the first movie. Hearing about this, though nothing new, really, did blow my little freshman mind with anticipation. Was incredibly stoked when it finally came out and I thought was a worthy followup to the most groundbreaking horror movie released in my lifetime (though Get Out might have surpassed the original Scream on that front). In some ways I liked it better than the first film, although it is really tough to beat. Like the way Sid is a damaged character, the way Randy explains the rules for sequels, the way it is established that "brothers don't last long" in horror movies, and so forth. For these reasons I'm gonna call it... Greatest movie of all time.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: As with the first film, Scream 2 is a gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that manages to poke fun at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate.

Pros: Seems cliche now but it did for horror sequels what the original did for horror flicks. Mixes humor and murder pretty deftly. Decent amount of wit. The movie within the movie is great shit. Pretty ladies. Cox never looks better than she does in this movie. Just about as rewatchable as the first one. Great couple of kills (especially the cops).

Cons: More or less just more of the same (not that I consider this a bad thing). A little too cheesy, maybe.

Gist is a couple years following Sid getting attacked by her boyfriend and his partner-in-crime after they killed a half dozen or so people at her high school while dressed in the now famous Ghostface mask, a copycat killer now takes up murdering people at her college. Like the original, we get all the meta genre stuff, wit, and satire as we see how the whodunit unfolds. Also directed by Wes Craven, the movie stars all the survivors Scream in David Arquette as Dewey who is just as brain damaged in this one (see the scene when he almost gets killed at the end [his downfall is stepping in pizza that is on the floor, which is just completely insane]), Neve Campbell as Sidney, Courteney Cox (who looks great in this one) as Gale Weathers, Jamie Kennedy as movie geek Randy, and Liev Schreiber as wrongly accused Cotton Weary. Short-lived newcomers to the franchise include a murderers row of '90s college aged talent in Omar Epps, Rebecca Gayheart, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Joshua Jackson, Jerry O'Connell, Timothy Olyphant,  Portia de Rossi (Lindsey from Arrested Development) who shows up out of nowhere to show us what a Blueth was like in college, and Jada Pinkett Smith. We also get some Laurie Metcalf (who plays Jackie in Roseanne) action as, spoiler, a news report who ends up being the mother of Billy Loomis, the murderer from the first one, who teams up with Olyphant for some sweet revenge.

The mean girls all stars 

First people of color in the franchise. Last less than a scene
Most memorable scenes from the flick include the opening, the Randy talking about movie scenes, and the dress rehearsal of the Greek tragedy "Agamemnon". The first is sort of the amuse bouche for the flick. After having no diversity in the original, here we get Epps and Jada at the "Stab" premiere which is the movie within the movie that details the events from the first flick. So right away we know that that is a thing and that people are into the story in that universe like audiences were into Scream at that same time. Which is all a little confusing. Plays within plays or movies or whatever have been around since the Renaissance dating back to before Shakespeare (although he more or less popularized it) and weren't even new to TV and movies like with "Itchy and Scratchy" in The Simpson, of course, but this movie within the movie about the first movie was pretty fucking nuts. Here we get Epps sticking his head up to a bathroom stall at the premier of "Stab" to listen to two people have sex when the killer sticks a knife through the stall door and into his head. Scary Movie sort of ruins this when they completely copy this scene with one of the Wayons bros getting a dildo to the brain instead of a knife. Jada, for her part, gets murdered in the theater with people cheering, thinking it was a part of the show or something. It is brutal. Being surrounded by all those people and no one taking your screams seriously.

As for the scene where Randy talks shit about them living in a sequel or whatever, keep in mind that while the thing that Scream does where everyone in every horror movie knows they are in a horror movie has been played to death, back in 1998 it was still new and hadn't really been done before the one came out in 1996. So, yeah, this was still defining the tropes and telling us what was to be expected in the age of self aware horror in regard to sequels. Like we saw in the previous film, Randy does this pretty much directly in two scenes. The first one he is in film theory class or something and him and Olyphant and Joshua Jackson are discussing the apparent lameness of most sequels. Randy holds the position that no sequel has ever outdone the original. People name various examples, none of which I give a shit about, where this was not the case. This is an ingenious little scene here and forces audience participation. Every time I see this movie, probably around four times at this point, I think of new examples that have popped up since my last viewing (this time Thor: Ragnarok came to mind, another previous one I thought of in the horror genre is Evil Dead II which I have to get around to soon). And we also get one of the killers talking movies, showing his hand a little bit. The second Randy-talks-movies scene is when him and Dewey are at a diner after the killings start up again. Here we get "the rules" which basically come down to more people will die in more gruesome ways. They all can't be winners, I guess. An honorable mention sort of related to horror movie rules would be when Gale's black camera man states that brothers don't live very long in horror flicks. A bit of situational irony there as he is saying this whilst bouncing out of town and thus ensuring his survival.

The last really memorable, and probably best, scene in the movie is the one where Sid is playing the role of Cassandra in the Aeschylus tragedy "Agamemnon" which is part of The Oresteia which is a trio of plays based around the Cassandra character at dress rehearsals. Early, Sid talks about how she wants to go on with the show despite all these murders. During the rehearsal, the chorus chases her about with fake daggers wearing cloaks and masks. Here we see Ghostface among the chorus, which may or may not have been real, slashing at her and weaving in and out with the other actors. It is all chaos and Sid freaks out. I like to think this wasn't Mickey, who was nearby and is later revealed as one of the killers, the experience is just too much.

But none of those were the truly best scene in the movie. That is hands down when Jerry O'Connel's character sings "I Think I Love You" by The Partridge Family at the top of his lungs to Sid in the school cafeteria. It was super sweet and totally impressive. Apparently the role was between O'Connell and some other guy and O'Connell nailing this scene is what got him the part. If he would have survived, he almost certainly would have won the movie. Check it out...

Best kill of the movie was the cop on the hood of the car. Here, Sid and her soon to be dead friend Hallie get picked up by the cops on Sid's protection detail. While they are stopped at a light, Hallie, who is pretty terrible, is like "uh, where we going?" The cops just say a bunch of stupid shit like "if we tell ya, we'd have to kill ya," and "don't ask; don't tell" which, you know, maybe pay attention instead of making the worst dad jokes of all time and shit. Of course Ghostface pops up here and stabs the driver in the throat. The other gets out, gets kicked in the face, and ends up on the hood with Ghostface driving like a wild man. He eventually rams it into a construction zone, plowing into a dumpster full of metal pipes. One of these ends up through the guys head in super gnarly death. The girls then have to climb over Ghostface, who is passed out from the wreck, to get out of the car. It's a pretty shit situation to be in.

It is tough to say who won this one but in the end I'm going with Gale. No longer hated, her and Sid end as sort of friends. She gets the scoop, kind of falls in love (again), survives getting shot, and kills a rival that isn't even on her level. Plus she is looking fierce in this installment. In 3 she has this weird bang thing going on that I'm not crazy about but here she is perfect looking. And is just totally a badass. Winner. This chick.

So that was Scream 2. I sort of like this watching and writing about an entire franchise and am probably going to do that with all the big ones. So, yeah, look forward to seeing some shit on 3 and 4 here before too long. Also some shit on Sleepaway Camp and Texas Chainsaw as well, assuming I get them done before the fall. Then I'll be doing the rest of the Halloween franchise.