Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Chapter One is the greatest movie of all time

 It was so hyped that there was almost no way that it was not going to disappoint, at least a little bit. About the time we collective had decided this, critics came back and said, "no, believe the hype, for reals." While It doesn't quite live up to all that, it was a very solid movie, especially for horror, which seems to be finally getting some respect as a genre. Above is my Dr. Carver, Auteur Autopsy review. Enjoy!

The film follows seven bullied adolescents who come together to form the "Losers' Club" when a supernatural clown terrorizes them and kidnaps and eats children in the sewer system, where he resides, in town of Derry, ME. Along the way, we witness their growing pains like dealing with a sociopath, love triangles, and their parents (who are the worst). All that being said, this is basically nostalgia porn. It has its moments where it is scary but if you could handle Stranger Things then you can handle this.

The movie is only the second feature film of up-and-comer Andy Muschietti, which is extremely impressive, and stars mostly unknowns in Jaeden Lieberher as the leader of the Losers' Club Bill Denbrough and Bill Skargard (who was in Hemlock Grove [the rich vampire one] and Atomic Blonde and is the son of Stellan Skargard who was the killer in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo among other things) as the immediately terrifying Pennywise the Dancing Clown or It. Rounding out the rest of the Losers are Jack Dylan Grazer who sort of stole the show with his dry humor as Eddie Kaspbrak who is the smallish sickly one with asthma, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon--the black one, Sophia Lillis as Bev Marsh--the girl that Bill makes out with at the end, Wyatt Oleff as Stan Uris--the jewish one, Jeremy Ray Taylor who is the chubby one that also kisses and is into Bev, and Finn Wolfhard (whom you'll recognize as the main boy in Stranger Things [I think he does a better job here btw])as Richie Tozier who is the funny one with glasses. I don't know if this is a spoiler or not, it won't really make any sense if you don't know at least this so just roll with it, the movie is first of at least two movies movies based on Stephen King's book of the same name.

Pros: The acting is flawless across the board. Where do they find these kids? Skargard was really good too. Like when he is talking to Georgie, the first kid we see him kill, trying to get him to come up to the sewer grate, you hear a kind of desperation in voice that you didn't get with Tim Curry, the original Pennywise. Seeing my childhood years, I'd be about the same age as the kids in 1989, portrayed on screen is always pretty cool and this film really gets that time period, which is dope. It's just a really sweet movie about child abduction, murder, and cannibalism (though I guess technically not since Pennywise is a

Cons: Not as scary as I wanted it to be. Just a couple of jump scares and one super creepy scene. When Pennywise dances it is more unintentionally hilarious than spooky. They strip down two characters in a way that is pretty irritating.

Rotten Tomato Consensus: Well-acted and frightening with an emotionally affecting story at its core, It amplified the horror in Stephen King's classic story without losing touch with its heart.

Random thoughts on It: Here are my sort of complaints and one thing I thought was pretty awesome. First, there are two too many kids for a film of this length, at least in the way that the director/studio decided to do it. Those two kids are Mike and Stan who are basically just the black one and the Jewish one respectively. In the book and the miniseries this was not so. The difference was that they took away the two characters' things and gave them to Ben and Bev, giving them even more screen time. In the book it was Mike who does all the research on the town and discovers the pattern of the clown. In this film this role was given to Ben who had his own thing in the book (he was really good at building stuff). Stan, meanwhile, basically offers nothing. He is sort of the voice of reason, I guess, but less than in King's telling where he has a Spock-like presence. In this adaptation, he comes off more of a wuss. The most irritating thing here is that in the book, Stan saw the dead lights before the battle when they are kids, survived but was unable to completely adjust, and eventually was unable to deal when Pennywise reappears in adulthood (SPOILER FOR THE BOOK: Stan kills himself). SPOILER FOR THE FILM: Here they completely take that shit and give it to Bev which is sort of bull shit.

My biggest fear here is that they are setting up some long, horrible franchise like with The Conjuring movies. Could you imagine them doing prequels or even worse movies where they are old or their children fight Pennywise. Gag. Let's hope they stick with just one more.

The film is not as scary as I was expecting. There were basically two scenes that creeped me out and two scenes that made me jump. The scene in the garage is easily the most insane and where Pennywise is genuinely pretty terrifying and where he twists out of that clock during one of the battle scenes is cool looking and creep city. When he catches the kids he generally just grabs them and is like, "Boogah-boogah! ... Are you scared? ... ... ... Boogah-boogah!"

The movie had way more humor in it than the miniseries. It seems like they got the kid from Stranger Things just to crack wise, and he does a great fucking job. Like after they go to the reservoir and the young girl swims around and suns herself in her underpants and the boys lose it, the next day she says to them "I need to show you something," and he asks, sardonically, "More than you showed us yesterday at the quarry" He is pretty good with the one-liners.Then there is Eddie who is just super dry and funny as shit. Example: Richie gives him shit about taking so many pills and he snaps back that he takes them so that he can do Richie's sister. Or something like that. Just like the kids I grew up with.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Dr. Carver's Auteur Autopsy discusses Freaks of Nature

This week I talk about 2015's Freaks of Nature, a vampire, werewolf, alien, zombie, coming of age horror/comedy. This is of the direct to video, premier is my living room variety of movie which is surprising considering its star power (more on that in a minute). Though the movie got more or less exclusively bad reviews, I loved it (though my taste may be a bit skewed with all the carnage I have to see) but it's not in the god tier of movies by any means.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Detention is the greatest movie of all time

I looooooved this fucking movie. Totally one of those kitchen sink type movies, there is a lot going on. The film has lots of meta, self-referential humor,
features a slasher based on a Saw esque movie within the movie called
Cinderhella, time travel, prom, Freaky Friday body swapping that makes the old noodle hurt to think about, a vegan protagonist, a guy with fly DNA, Canadians, and even aliens. It is fucking awesome.

The basic gist of the movie is a killer obsessed with the fictitious horror franchise Cinderhella dons the costume and kills a bunch of Grizzly Lake High School students. The group of suspects/potential victims include protagonist Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell, a pretty young lady who was in The Conjuring but not much else I've seen) who is sort of a suicidal outcast with a broken leg, her love interest/buddy from childhood Clapton Davis (Josh Hutcherson who was Peeta in the Hunger Games), his love interest and her one-time homey (whose mother has inhabited her body, sending her mind back to 1991--it's best not to think to hard about this) the cheerleader Ione, the "nerd" that's obsessed with Riley, Sander Sanderson (A.D. Johnson), and the jock with fly DNA that is obsessed with Ione, Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley), and numerous others including a Canadian. The principal, Dane Cook, gives all the usuals all-day detention in an effort to keep Cinderhella from murdering anyone at prom. 

Pros: Pacing. Pretty ladies. Meta as fuck. The survivor girl is a vegetarian. Casting. Soundtrack. This movie rocked.

Cons: Sometimes it is tell what the hell is happening. There may be too much going on here (at times).

The pacing of this movie is fucking insane. It's a movie for people with no attention span and it really jumps all over the place. It's like being on Adderall. We start out with a killing, segue to Mean Girls, get some more killing, suddenly get a dude with fly DNA, more killing, get the ludicrous solution to the killings (put them all in detention) when they start watching the Cinderhella movie where they see the movie is about a bunch of kids in detention are watching a lower budget movie of about a bunch of kids in detention watching a very
low budget movie of about a bunch of kids in detention watching a possible porn movie of about a bunch of kids in detention

It is here when we get my favorite line in the movie which sort of requires a bit of backstory. For a long time my female companion and I would seek out ridiculous Canadian horror. It is a sub-genre I encourage everyone to explore. Some of these movies are genuinely good movies with lower costs to make like Ginger Snaps, Ponypool, Trick 'r Treat, or The Witch (2015). Others decide to mix in elements of comedy, these being along the likes of Horns, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, and Wolfcop. And then there are the ones that are just a train wreck that ends up sort of working, Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare and Zombie Nightmare both  come to mind here. Zombie Nightmare even had a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode devoted to it where they address this sub-genre at one point saying that the movie had "Canada's stink all over it," which is something we often say and both said while watching this movie. So it really tickled us when one of the kids in detention, watching one of these low budget slasher flicks inside of flasher flick, and so on, asks, "what is this, Canadian?" It was the first time we had ever heard this addressed and could not stop laughing. 

Another hilarious moment and reference to Canada comes near the beginning of the movie from Gord, the Canadian, is easily my favorite character (but they are all pretty amazing). He is facing off again the main girl in debate class on vegetarianism. This fucking rant he goes on is fucking golden and complete nonsense and it comes at you in that style of debate where information is just thrown at you at insane, breakneck speed with "facts" that have no basis in reality. I don't usually include fucking dialogue (or monologue or whatever) in these things but this is fucking out there. It goes thus: "Yes, I'd like to start off by saying that this girl's argument is ridiculous! Vegetarians who eat fish are hypocrites! She thinks because fish may feel no pain they don't value their lives. Absurd! And notice how she expresses almost no sympathy for chickens. That's because Americans hate chickens. For example, KFC serves popcorn chicken to assure the customers that the chicken was blown to bits, yet the meatball sub at Subway isn't called 'popcorn cow.' Americans want chickens to die! Lame! Personally, I do feel sympathy for animals, which is why I choose to only eat baby animals. They have not lived as long, and they are not leaving as much behind. Baby clams, chicken wings, baby seals - no... big... loss! If we don't eat meat, we lose out place in the food chain. Eating animals gives us confidence as humans. Vegetarians like this girl, who is only wearing one shoe, have less confidence than everybody else."

More comedy than horror, we are treated to a mullet beats ponytail battle where two dudes fight in the style of Swayze and Seagal, time traveling and freaky Fridaying (for no reason), a dude with fly DNA (again, for no reason other than referencing another horror movie), the best possible answer to "do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?" ("the easy way"), and an out there ending involving aliens and Canadians.  We get lots of meta-references like talking about how the murders at the beginning are like Scream, a cop says the goings on in the school really "nuked the fridge," and so forth. And when the vegetarian decides to eat meat again we get a dude that comes down in pieces on the grill, making the burger falls out of her mouth in disgust (noice). Movie is sweet and definitely worth your time. 

Update: My Dr. Carver Auteur Autopsy review...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Annabelle: Creation is the worst movie of all time (though it was extremely scary)

I am not sure where we are in the Conjuring series here. I think this is the second prequel, fourth movie overall. The first one was impressively scary, the other two meh, and this one, while scary as shit, was not what I would call a good movie. It was only like two days ago that I saw this, yet I can't tell you much of what happened. This is the archetypal "cheap thrill". Crappy story but the director does a phenomenal job of scaring the piss out of me.

This movie starts out with a youngish family, a dad who makes dolls and a mom who is there, who have this playful little girl that dies when she is hit by a truck on a dirt road. From there we cut to 12 years in the future. The couple, the mom now crippled and the dad a broken shell of a man, now opens up their home to a nun and a group of orphans to "make amends". Of the orphans, there are six(ish) of them, only two of them are really important: the one with polio and little one. Things are pretty much immediately fucked but the horror ramps up when polio goes into the dead girl's room and finds the possessed doll, Annabelle. From there things escalate, leading to smoke monsters, demon dolls, possession, telekinetic disembowelment, nun flinging, scarecrow inhabitancy, so forth, which ultimately takes us to the start of the first Annabelle movie, the second in The Conjuring series.

Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Annabelle: Creation adds another strong chapter to the Conjuring franchise - and offers further proof that freaky-looking dolls remain reliably terrifying.

Pros: Super creepy, unsettling atmosphere. Decent intro. Really good combo of slow burn and jump scares.

Cons: Plot is forgettable. Feels a lot longer than it was (never a good sign). Run of the mill demon flick that doesn't offer anything new.

Just making some dolls
Notes:  The opening is Lynchian. We get the dad, Anthony LaPaglia whose biggest role is likely Jack Malone in Without a Trace, putting the finishing touches on the creepy-ass Annabelle doll. This is number 1 of 100. He is getting these little notes that say shit like "come find me" and what not. Eventually see they are being left by his daughter. Normal family from the 1940s or 50s or whenever this is from. Mom is Miranda Otto whom you may remember from The Lord of the Rings as Eowyn. She is barely on screen and her face is covered for a lot of it (later see it was an Annabelle mishap) but she is fine looking here. They go to church and we see some toy store owner that is like, "hey, do you have any more of those disturbing looking dolls (even though that one you made obviously said 1 of 100)? The kids just love those things!!!" Anyway, they get on the road and get a flat. While they are there on the side of the road, the little girl is hit by a truck and killed.

Next thing we see is a group of orphans getting off a bus with a nun and a priest (who does not stay with the ladies at the house). This is 12 years later. Really pull at the old heart strings. Give one of the orphans polio. Her name is Janice. The rest of the girls mistreat her, sort of. The early story focuses on her and her little buddy, Linda, who just want to get adopted. Fuck. Well, that first night Janice goes into the forbidden room and lets out the demon doll. Shit. The next day she goes to confessional and admits that she went to demon doll room. The nun gives her a bunch of shit for this, is like "you are going to get us kicked out of here and then you'll never get adopted." Ouch. Come to think of it, it's pretty inconsiderate having all these children into your home along with all these devil dolls hidden about the house. But Janice, we see, is weird so whatever. She steals the dead girl's picture off the wall which was bizarre. Why would anyone want that?

Several times throughout the movie Janice screams bloody murder just feet away from her sleeping housemates and no one wakes up. Around here we get the obligatory "I'll steal your soul!" line, which (SPOILER FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH HERE) it does, eventually. She gets super creepy here. Her and the doll are inseparable. Linda takes the doll and throws it down a well which doesn't phase it. They need to fucking cunt punt the shit out of that fucking thing. They ultimately determine that it is too late for Janice and lock her possessed ass in the demon room with the doll. This is after all the demon murder and carnage, of course. When they all run out of the house, I thought for sure that the house was going to implode, Poltergeist style. When the police and such come to the home at the end of the movie, Janice is gone. That's weird everyone collectively says, but they are not very concerned. Should have been though as we see the girl getting adopted by the family that gets killed at the beginning of Annabelle. The flick then segues into that piece of shit movie. Roll credits.

The scariest parts of the film was probably the tea party scene when the mom character walks in on her dead daughter playing with the Annabelle doll. The mom has her cross out while the daughter is facing the opposite direction. As she steps closer, the daughter levitates and bones crack and break in disgusting jerking motions. The girl is possessed as fuck, coming at the mom all quick and unnaturally. It's disturbing. The most (maybe) unintentionally hilarious part of the movie, there are several of these moments, comes at the end after the priest comes back to the house to check everything out. He carrying Annabelle, is all, "the doll was possessed but isn't now." He then plops the doll down in front of the girls and is like "which one of you gets it?" Yeah, pretty sure a half hour is a little too soon to make jokes, if that is what it was.

Ultimately the thing I didn't like about the movie was how unbelievable it was. Part of the appeal of The Conjuring was that this was based on a "true" story and it felt real with some embellishments. The thing that sucked about that first Annabelle movie was that is was just a bunch of made up nonsense about where the doll came from that had no basis in reality. Basically, it was over-the-top absurd. This one doesn't go quite that far, but on the whole the plot is pretty ludicrous, though I'd put it second of the four on the most believable list, including The Conjuring 2 which was supposed based in reality as well.