Sunday, November 26, 2006

You Have Nothing to Fear But : The Thing

John Carpenter has made some terrible movies.

"Ghosts of Mars" springs to mind. And then it eats you from the inside.

Yet this filmmaker has also brought true greatness to the silver screen.

"Big Trouble in Little China" (review coming soon) is still in my top ten.

So when, back in the 80s, this buck-wild director took on a remake, suspicions were high.

Could Johnny Boy, taking an old Black and White crapfest loosely based on a kick-awesome short story, come up with gold?

Yes. Yes he could.


"The Thing" is a crowning achievement in the ingenuity of robotics and old timey special effects.

The story is simple: A group of Americans in an Antarctic outpost stumble upon the grisley remains of a Norwegian expedition. Inside the Norse camp they discover remains, something enormous...and not human.

What I love about this film's premise is that, up until fairly deep into the movie, you don't see any aliens. The true horror is that the creature--the Thing--can look like anyone.

It could be the guy next to you.

It could be your dog.

The psychological aspects of this flick raise it above other alien films of the era.

"Alien" was a great movie, and certainly deserves the accolades it recieves, but "The Thing" took a smaller budget and made a film that is on par if not better than Cameron's little scare-em-up.

I first saw this movie on the Sci-Fi channel at about 3 in the AM.

It was dark.

I was young.

You can't imagine how freaked out I was...actually, I need to start a little earlier.

I am afraid of spiders. This is a perfectly reasonable fear. Spiders are the bane of human existence.

They eat babies. I've seen it done.

Spiders are the anti-Chris. Yes, that's Chris, a friend of mine who was devoured by spiders at a young age.

So when, during one infamous scene, a man's head becomes a SPIDER-DEMON, I was appropriately wet in ye-old-pants.

This movie rocks.

Science fiction is pretty standardizing. All you need is a spaceship, an alien, and a group of people to die and fight back, though not always in that order.

This band of brothers is no different, though the concept that anyone could be an alien adds a new layer to the tension.

The hero of the tale, as it stands, is a man named R.J. MacReady (Kurt Russell, that bad ass of bad asses). He figures out the alien's plan and sets out to disrupt it. With flame throwers.

This is the first movie I ever saw with flame throwers. I hadn't yet seen "Aliens" and was too young for WW II films.

My first impression of the fire dealer?


This movie really owns the screen, and you feel quite shaken by the end. The credits are bittersweet, as the story doesn't really end with the last line of dialogue.

If you care to follow the yarn, there is a game that takes place after the film ends. It's not too great, but the storyline is solid. When I finally get some capital (Hannuka 2045) I plan to make the sequel.

Seriously, it'll kick ass. You have to trust me on this. Would I ever lead you astray?

OK, bad question.

Would I ever let you watch a movie I myself hadn't personally screened? It says I wouldn't right up there at the top of the page.

I give this movie the-sensation-you-get-whilst-using-a-flame-thrower-to-barbeque-a-group-of-Nazi-aliens-as-an-elite-team-of-Swedish-Bikini-Models-rub-you-down-with-oil (non-flammable of course).

Netflix this sucker right now. And then Gamefly the "sequel."

Watch carefully.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

When Feet Meet Face: Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

I love kung-fu movies.


I can watch Jackie Chan jump from building to building any old day. When Jet Li puts his fist through someone's head, I get giddy.

I've even watched a few Stephen Segal films, though I'd rather not admit that ever again.

So when a new player enters the scene talking all sorts of smack about "no strings" and all that jazz, I get a little excited.

"Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" does not disappoint.

Now, I should preface this review with a simple qualifier: I enjoy dumb action movies (let's not forget Mr. Segal....actually, let's go ahead and forget him).

I've seen Jean Claude Van Dam in every dude-on-a-quest movie he's made (about 5,793 so far).

I've watched Jackie Chan's "First Strike" about twenty times just for that ladder scene.

So I don't mind when an action film has no plot.

I mean none.

And "Ong-Bak" is sans plot.

If you want to get technical, there is this small story about a small-time gang member stealing the head of a village's idol prompting a super kung-fu master (mu-thai-boxing to be precise) to go and take on every bag of scum the nearby city can throw at him.

Oh yeah, it's that good.

Tony Jaa, the flying sensation of Thailand, brings something new to the martial arts table that I had only heard of: Thai boxing.

The Thai people, for those of you who don't know, were once a humble and peaceful nation. When a Chinese man came to their country bearing the cracking limbs of Karate, they smiled, gave him fruit, and let him go on his way.

Then they took fifteen minutes and created the messiest martial art ever.

Thai kick boxing looks like it hurts, and it does. It hurts your EVERYTHING.

Knees go into places where knees have never been, bones are snapped, feet meet chins in a most unpoetic's basically the worst parts of the bible.

Let's carry on, shall we?

Ting (Tony Jaa) heads into town following the diabolical theft of his beloved Buddha head. He meets up with Humlae (Petchtai Wongkamlao...don't worry about IMDB on this one, you won't recognize him at all) and his...girlfriend? Sister? It's never really explained, but this girl (Pumwaree Yodkamol) has the most annoying voice I have ever heard.

It's not long before Ting is put into a situation where he has to use his village's chief export--pain--to stay alive.

Humlae steals Ting's money, money that was going to be used to by back the Lord's noggin', and bets it on a fight. When he loses, Ting sets out to get his money back by asking politely.

The MC obliges....but only if Ting can survive some FISTICUFFS!

What follows is the shortest bout of awesome you can imagine. Tony Jaa uses his leg as a sledgehammer and drops the other man like a sack of potatoes.

And then the movie happens.

Stunt men, it is said, are a dime a dozen. I feel the director of this movie understood that concept and exploited it. At least 412 people died as a direct result of the fighting in this film.

At least.

In one scene, Ting grabs two thick, metal rods and proceeds to beat the ever-loving piss out of every bad person left in Thailand. The impacts are so visceral that it hurts in your gut to watch.

Not that you'd ever turn it off, because it's awesome.

The main villain is a chain-smoking, wheelchair-bound gangster with a voice-box and a bad-luck streak. You hate this man the moment you see him. I recommend watching the movie in its original Thai, not just because that language is pretty awesome sounding, but because this guy is ten times worse in his primary form. The dubbing just doesn't cut it.

By the end of this movie, which arrives much sooner than you'd expect, you'll feel pretty spent. Since there really is no story to speak of, the ending is sort of bittersweet. You don't care for any of the characters any further than you don't want to see people in pain anymore.

Still, it has been a fun ride.

I hope that this movie launches a bountiful career for young Tony Jaa, as his antics are quite amusing to watch.

"The Protector", his latest endeavor, is supposed to be rather enjoyable. I'll have to check it out soon.

I'd give this movie a different kind of review than others. This movie is an embodiment of the old-timey saying:

"People have faces, and Tony Jaa has to kick them."

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

I have to go eat myself into a coma.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Apparently You Can Go Home: The Return

I believe Sarah Michelle Gellar epitomizes the Texas gal:

She's drop dead gorgeous.

She's not too tall.

And she can usually kick the ass of anything in her path.

So you can imagine what is has been like for me to watch her lower herself in crappy horror movies that make little-to-no sense.

Now, I'm optimistic about most movies, as you've probably inferred given the titles I sometimes select to view. Despite this predeliction for poison, I did not intent on seeing "The Return", which looked to be horrible in ways horror does not purposefully endeavor.

Allow me to break it down thusly:

The promo for "The Grudge", starring one SMG, was this: "When a murder occurs in a house, the emotion of the murder remains behind and creates a curse. Anyone who touches this curse is consumed by it."

The promo for "The Return" which had an eerily similar poster to that of "The Grudge" and starred one SMG was this: "When a murder is commited, a curse is born. Anyone touched by the curse is consumed by it."

You see where I'm coming from?

Now I don't want to go out of my way to make fun of this movie. It does a good enough job of that itself. I just want to get this out of the way before I go too far.

Don't see this movie.

"The Return" is an attempt to take a great actress--one who already has a solid fanbase--and suck the life out of her until there is nothing left.

One thing this movie has going for it is artistic direction. The movie has some honestly attractive shots.

And I'm not just saying this because it was shot in Texas and SMG is a Texan and, in general things associated with the Lone Star State have a certain appeal to me.

Though all that is true as well.

The director, Asif Kapadia, knows his cinematography.

But one thing he doesn't know is plotlines.

This movie has one-and-a-half plotlines.

First is the main idea of the movie: A young woman seems to be restless due to some unknown crazy trauma in the psychological/supernatural sense. She discovers, through no means of storytelling, what happened to cause her discourse. By the end of the movie, things have happened for apparently no reason and you are glad to leave the theater.

A one-third-plotline involves her distant father who never really connected with his daughter after a car accident almost took her life.

One-third more is the random colleage, Adam Scott from "Art School Confidential", who for no reason whatsoever tries to get a little rape on.

The final third is the worst told love story I've ever seen.

You may not believe that I can make such a statement. Allow me to qualify.

I've seen "The English Patient." I've seen "Riddick." I know bad love stories when they waltz across my TV.

This was B-A-D!

Sarah and this crazy, old-as-her-father cowboy (Peter O'Brien from a bunch of Aussie TV shows) seem to have some gettin'-it-on action.

Not that you can tell what happens due to the worst editing since "Wild Wild West."

Actually, I take that back. "Wild Wild West" had much worse editing. Honestly, it was shameful to even say an editor was present in the country when the film was made.

"The Return" employs a common horror technique where the visual cuts a step after the sound. This makes the transitions as smooth as a flock of seagulls going into a jet engine.

Suffice to say, I spent the entire movie wondering if anything I saw actually happened, or if it was part of some elaborate dream sequence.

Sarah falls into dreams so many times that it's hard to tell when she's imagining and awake or reliving an event from the past.

One particular scene--which involves a little sex, I won't lie to you--may or may not have happened. THIS IS A PIVOTAL EVENT, ASIF! WHAT IS GOING ON?

The dialogue is horrendous. It's not that people say anything absurd, as with other B movies, it's just that their lines are delivered deadpan and without the proper cushion.

For example:

SMG: Hey dad, what happened when I was 11?

POP: Well, you kinda went crazy. I couldn't control you.

SMG: Control me? I was crying for help.

POP: Why don't you stay the night?

SMG: What's in LeSalle?


This isn't a terrible movie in the strictest sense. It's a forgettable thriller that doesn't do anything. All the effects have been done before, and by better directors. I feel that in the hands of someone more daring this could have been a sleeper hit. SMG certainly can pull on a few heartstrings, and Sam Fisher as Pa Gellar worked fine.

I walked away not really knowing what the movie had done to me, and that's generally a good thing from where I come from. I can't stand the idea of the cancerous legions movies such as "Stay Alive" and "Alone in the Dark" have left inside me.

I guess I'd give this movie a seeing-Sarah Michelle Gellar-in-the-mall-from-a-distance-but-when-you-get-close-it's-actually-a-man-dressed-as-Buffy.

Instead of seeing this movie, go online and watch the Ninja Review of "Pirates of the Carribean". Seriously. Funny man, that ninja.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I would like to take this time to apologize to you, the loyal reader. I have been remiss of my duties as reviewer of bad movies.

I assure you, this site has not reached its end yet.

The last few weeks have been a bit hectic, what with classes and drills and theatrical activities and all the other things that go into my life like the ingredients to a Mulligan Stew.

But it's all coming together now, and I guarantee a new post within the next three days. Though I haven't seen any new movies of unnacceptable caliber, I have a wide range stored deep in my subconcious.

So stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Er, I mean the worst.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Dangers of Progress: The Beast of Yucca Flats

If there is one thing you take away from this movie, let it be this:

Progress is bad.

I have reviewed many movies, but never has one been so...patently retarded.

Imagine that the year is 1961. The world is aglow with nuclear tests. The cold war is mighty close to heating up.

What better film to make than a doesn't-make-a-lick-of-sense horror film?

You can't actually understand the power of this film without witnessing it--or perhaps hearing it.

The whole movie has a Rod Sterling mimic reading an incredibly poorly written voice over the whole time.

Seriously, the only thing the guy can come up with are obscure cliches and folky one-liners.

"Once a Russian scientist, now a muderous monster. Another man caught progress."

"Touch a button. Things happen. A scientist becomes a beast."

"Nothing bothers some people. Not even flying saucers."

I wish I had made that last one up.

The whole movie is filled with these inane sayings that never really tie into the story as a whole.

Oh, the story? Well, that's another bag of chips entirely. I shall do my best not to commit hara kiri as I relay the tale.

Tor Johnson (the horrorible beast from every movie in the 60s) is a Russian scientist defecting to the US. He is intercepted by two KGB assassins because he as a briefcase full of secret documents. The agents track him down, kill his guards, and then...inexplicably leave because the 400 lbs man has too much of a headstart to POSSIBLY catch up to.

I'm serious. They walk about fifteen feet from their cars, get fed up, and go back to the Motherland.

Not too worry, because Tor is in for a surprise. He absent mindedly wanders onto an A-Bomb test site. know...NO ONE would care to guard that sort of thing, or perhaps put up a fence.

Tor is changed forever into the oatmeal faced villain known only as "the beast."

You watch this entire scene happen while Jimmy Sterling tells you about "the turning wheels of progress" and how "progress is dangerous."

Now, on to the meat of this tale.

A woman and her husband are assaulted by the beast and the local law enforcement, Jim and Joe the homicidal deputies, go to investigate. Their motto?

"Shoot first and ask questions later."

Seriously. They say that. And they stick by it, damnit!

The cops find the womans body and drag her about halfway back to their car. Then they get tired and decide "doctors can't help her. Maybe angels. Not doctors." They LEAVE HER BODY ON THE ROCKS and head back to town.

They get in a plane (did I mention both Jim and Joe are paratroopers? No? Well, the movie does about 500 times) and fly over the region, shooting at everything that moves.

You think I'm joking.

A man and his family also find themselves in the area. The boys love to wander (a pasttime I share) and they somehow end up in the middle of the desert. The father, being a good old boy, goes after them in A MISSILE TESTING AREA MARKED CLEARLY WITH A F%)(&^ SIGN.

Since Joe sees that the man is clearly in the area, and since he has that "shoot first" policy, he SHOOTS AT HIM.

Now, I don't know about you, but if someone from a plane was shooting at me, I would seek cover. Or maybe try and signal the pilot. Or DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN RUN IN A STRAIGHT GORRAM LINE!

When Joe finally nails his target (or so we think) the narrator helps clarify the situation:

"A man runs, someone shoots at him."

No pun intended, but things we a lot more black and white back in the 60s.

Today, I can go for a run without the fear of being shot for no apparent reason. Fathers chasing down wayward sons sometimes escape without a round fired.

Basically what I'm saying is: WTF!

Now, the boys are chased by the Beast (who carries a walking stick...not to beat people, just to walk). They hide in his cave, which he apparently doesn't notice even though they often are within several feet of him when he returns.

The beast notices his dead woman is missing. I'm sure if he checked the ravine a few yards away he'd see where Ernie and Gomer left her. Instead of taking it like a leperous-looking man, the beast "unleashes his fury!"

He picks up a medium-sized rock...and throws it at absolutely no one.

What say you, narrator?

"Flag on the moon. How did it get there?"


The father of the two trapped boys returns to his wife after being quite rattled by the friendly-fire. He runs past his wife and jumps into the car. He tells her to wait while he gets help and drives off.


Wow, this movie has layers, don't you think?

Jim and Joe decide to take action against the beast, seeing as it is their job.

Narrator, please translate into FUBAR.

"Twenty hours without rest and still no enemy. In the blistering desert heat, Jim and Joe plan their next attack. Find the Beast and kill him. Kill, or be killed. Man's inhumanity to man."

I hate you, Sterling. I really do.

The boys rush from the cave while the beast takes an impromptu nap. He rushes at them, swinging his walking stick with fury. Jim and Joe lay down some suppresing fire while the boys' father flanks from the right with a BAR.

Actually, it's not nearly so interesting. Jim shoots the beast and it's over.


Nothing left.


I scoffed at this movie. Scoffed. I never scoff, and yet here it was my only recourse.

This film was awful in a way I can't explain in words. I felt so unclean and stupid for watching it.

The only thing that kept me going was a healthy dose of "Borat" the next day.

I really can't give this movie a review. Well, actually, I can.

It was like getting hit in the head with a hammer. Repeatedely. And then being served my brain by Tor Johnson.

What say you, oh great narrator?

"Boys from the city. Not yet caught by the whirlwind of Progress. Feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs."

Die already.