Category Archives: Just Bad

Film Review: The Gallows (2015) HorrorAthon 3

gallows

Directed by: Travis Cluff

Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown and Ryan Shoos

Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)

Do you have school spirit? Neither do I, but some folks do, but in this case, this High School has a real one. His name is Charlie, and one day, 20 years ago, he died during a stage production of “The Gallows” after a prop noose goes haywire and literally hangs him on stage. Now, the school plans on doing the show once more to honor him, but the high school jocks Reese and Ryan (Played by Reese Mishler and Ryan Shoos) are not having any of that. Does the ghost let the show go on? Or do the jocks get their way and cancel the show? I kinda wish they got it cancelled…

Continue reading Film Review: The Gallows (2015) HorrorAthon 3

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Film Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

a-million-ways-to-die-in-the-west-wanted-posters-1

 

Starring: Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Charlize Theron, and Seth McFarlane; Directed by: Seth McFarlane

Reviewed by: CinematiChris

After dipping his toes into the water with 2012’s TED, Seth McFarlane’s finally given himself an opportunity to do some actual live action starring in a film, in a genre that hasn’t been confronted in a while (the western comedy)… How does he and this film do?

Continue reading Film Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Film Review: Teeth (2007)

teeth_ver2_xlg

Well, this is an interesting one, for lack of a better word. Jess Weixler plays Dawn O’Keefe, an active member of a Christian abstinence group with… ahem, teeth in her vagina. Being relatively sheltered and seemingly innocent, she has not discovered this at the beginning of the movie, save for a small foreshadowing involving an incident between herself and her brother when they were very young (yeah, you can see where this is going). As the movie progresses, Dawn discovers her abnormality, falls into denial, proceeds to acceptance, and then turns her abomination of genitalia into a murderous weapon. If you’d like to stop here, you can. This film, despite being a “comedy horror”, was quite disturbing (if not simply for the severed penises shown on screen) and the only reason I have written this review is due to the pressure of my fellow Film Freaks.

What works: 

I apologize in advance if this section is a bit dull. There wasn’t too much I enjoyed about this viewing experience. I suppose it is an interesting concept that hasn’t really been touched on in film before, but I’m not sure if it is a concept that can ever be done successfully. Also, the main actress isn’t terrible looking? There was a disgusting but perhaps mildly satisfying conclusion? I don’t know, I’m really trying here guys!

What doesn’t work:

Teeth has grown infamous in pop culture simply due to the concept of toothed vagina. It has been mentioned, usually with cringes, throughout my group of friends multiple times, and I decided I’d try to give it a chance. It was ultimately a bad idea and I feel like my life would be better if I had not seen this movie. The acting is quite bland and multiple characters are completely stereotypical (most of the men that fall victim to the toothed vagina). It is incredibly predictable and boring up until the point where a bloodied, severed penis appears on screen (which occurs multiple times), resulting in gags among viewers. In addition, themes of incest are typically not conducive to humor and thus I really have no idea where the “comedy” portion of the film is supposed to come from. Perhaps we are meant to laugh at the misfortune of the de-penising victims. Eventually, our protagonist goes from sheltered church-goer to murderous temptress, and even feeds a penis to a dog! Gross, huh?

Conclusion:

If you are into stupid, disgusting films, this could be the one for you. However, for a horror comedy, I did not find this film funny nor scary. Really, it just wasn’t enjoyable under any circumstances. It’s biggest redeeming factor is that is isn’t based on a true story. Three severed penises out of ten.

(Ranting) Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Having been an avid fan of the Kick-Ass franchise for years, I was really excited when a sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s fantastic adaptation was announced. Then it was revealed he wouldn’t return as director, and Jeff Wadlow, director of such classics Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down would take the reins. This set my hype levels from being nearly equivalent to my hype for Pacific Rim and the Evil Dead remake to being only interested in seeing it. So, that being said, was Kick-Ass 2 a total garbage heap, or a surprisingly good time? Ehhh…. honestly? Probably somewhere in the lower middle. But, as a cinephile and a fan of the series, I think I owe it to myself and anyone even mildly interested in reading my reviews to explain why I thought so in my favorite format:The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

The Good: 

  • Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, and Donald Faison are strong one-off additions to the franchise. Jim Carrey was surprisingly reserved and enjoyable, something I haven’t seen in him since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So, props.
  • They actually provide a justification for The Motherfucker’s ridiculous costume. A weak one, but one nonetheless.
  • Awesome cameo by Ser Jorah from Game of Thrones. (Sorry, but I’m kind of stream of conciousness writing this and don’t want to disrupt that by IMDB’ing the actors name. I’ll fix it later.) (It’s Iain Glen)
  • Hit-Girl seriously gets some moments to shine. Especially with her earlier one-liners and action scenes.
  • No rape scene or child murder that was in the books.
  • Union J’s cameo totally takes the piss out of boy bands. I found that interesting.
  • The Sick Stick. ‘Nuff Said. Juvenile revenge humor at its finest. But yeah, emphasis on the juvenile.
  • I actually liked Remembering Tommy better in the film than the comic. They were a really cute couple.
  • Hit-Girl’s Last Resort was a great reference to something you see in the first Kick-Ass book. Kind of. I don’t think giving cocaine to this iteration of Hit-Girl would go so great.

The Bad:

  • Aaron Johnson’s accent really showed, especially when he tried to act stressed.
  • Lyndsey Fonseca is in this movie for two short scenes. That’s it. Way to just disregard Dave’s main plotline of the first film.
  • Night Bitch. Nice to see a strong, dedicated female adult superhero who don’t need no man… Oh wait. Nope. She and her “banging/dating Kick-Ass” sub-plot did nothing besides initiate the cops hunting masks subplot.
  • The Mother-F***er’s costume…
  • ...I mean seriously, what happened to that kinda cool mask from the end of the first movie?
  • Why go from this:
  • To whatever this is:
  • Actually, just the entire Chris D’Amico plotline and character in the film. Yeah, y’know, I understand the whole basic vengeance plot structure in films, I actually love that type of story. But Chris goes from being an under-appreciated son just looking for his father’s love and support, to a completely immature moron. Unlike the comic, where Chris/MF’er is an emotionally unstable psychopath and potential sociopath, Chris is just an unlikeable spoiled idiot who has no justifiable motivation for pretty much everything he does besides “But my dad… bazooka!” Which is obnoxious and not an adult, fully thought out argument.
  • Hit-Girl’s “Mean Girls”-esque plotline was not necessary and was done much better in the Hit-Girl tie in comic.
  • Iron Kick-Ass? Wha????

The Ugly:

  • The utter lack of fun. The first film toed the line a lot between it’s violence and it’s humor, but it never forgot it was fun. Superheros are fun. Seeing bad guys get their comeuppance is fun. Pain and misery and erratic soundtracks with explicit songs just for shock value, with no contribution to the actual film, are not.
  • Ass-Kicker. Seriously, first you recast Evan Peters, then you write his character into being either A)a traitorous dick or B)The Biggest Moron in the History of Morons. I’m still unclear on which.
  • The Date Ditch scene. It just left me with so many questions… Is that even a thing? How do you even find that many people to pull such a dickish stunt? Why didn’t she call Marcus or Dave to come pick her up/explain the situation?
  • The rape scene’s replacement. Chris/MF’er is about to rape Night Bitch, but he can’t get it up, and it’s played for a laugh. Seriously? Friggin SERIOUSLY?
  • MF’er or his henchmen (excluding Mother Russia) doesn’t come off as a legitimate threat, seeing as besides the siege of Night Bitch’s house, we don’t see them really do anything besides hang out in a warehouse. Speaking of which…
  • The location of the final fight. Rather than the scope and chaos of Times Square that the comic had, it’s held in a mid-sized warehouse. Did they just get down to 20 dollars on the budget or what? I understand shooting on legit Times Square’d be crazy difficult and expensive, but still, that sort of thing or something similar can be accomplished with a set or a CGI shot. Just having it in the open, where civilians were actually a factor could have upped the emotional ante quite a bit.
  • The awkward, stilted, Dave/Mindy romance. Why? Hit-Girl is badass enough on her own, she doesn’t need a useless/pointless romantic subplot that comes out of nowhere. I can see the twisted logic the director or writer (I don’t know who to blame there) was going for, but it’s just no bueno.
  • The post-credits scene. We see in some of the last few minutes of the final fight that Chris is regretting at least some of his stupidity before he gets omnommed by a shark and presumably killed, so what’s the point in showing him whining about not being able to reach some water in his hospital bed while showing he is at least a triple amputee now? Even if Kick-Ass 2 breaks even, I don’t think he’s going to make too fantastic a villain in that shape if it gets another sequel. That left a really sour taste in my mouth.

 Final Score:

Somewhere between

.
.and…

disappointingIt’s nowhere near great, but it does have a select few charms left. 3.5 beat-up high-schoolers out of 10.

Movie Review: American Mary (2013) HORRORATHON

Truth be told, I couldn’t finish this film in one sitting. It’s not often I say this, but this film was too much for me. It was only by a lot of goading from a fellow Film Freak that actually convinced me to finish this.  Written and directed by the Twisted Soska Sisters, American Mary stars Katharine Isabelle as the titular Mary, a young woman trying to get through medical school, yet struggling with the costs and workload. In an attempt to make ends meet, she tries to apply for work at a local strip club. When the sketchy owner of the club finds out she has medical experience, he offers her $5000 to fix up someone he presumably tortured. Mary accepts this offer, and in turn, is accepted by the employees of the club. This leads her to be confronted by a stripper who works there asking Mary to perform a body modification surgery on a close friend of hers. With another large reward being offered, what’s a college student to do? Mary takes the money, and does the surgery, leading her to be recognized within the body mod community. After a harrowing incident where Mary is drugged and assaulted at a party with her medical “colleagues”, Mary drops out of med school and goes exclusively into the body mod gig full-bore, becoming something of a dark legend amidst the community.

What Worked:

The Soska Sisters have once again proved they are capable of writing some sharp, snarky dialogue. That’s about it though. Aside from a few solid scenes showing off either real people who’ve undergone body mods or makeup, there isn’t much being offered. I guess I could say some of the gore was convincing, just so there aren’t just two sentences in this category…

What Didn’t:

The rest, which is seriously disappointing considering the Twins’ other work, especially Ginger Snaps (my 3rd favorite werewolf movie). All the characters are more bland than uncooked ramen, including Mary herself. The film starts out convincingly enough, making her seem like a normal girl going through the psychological and financial trials of medical school, but then loses all sense of itself after Mary’s first illegal “surgery”. After that point, she becomes completely cold and emotionless. I’m not sure whether this is because of the directors or the actress herself, but the transition was extremely random and stilted. The plotting/writing seems really sloppy at a best for the final two thirds of the film, making it seem like the Sisters didn’t have a plan for how they were going to end Mary’s saga until the last few days of shooting…

Props to Ms. Risk, not many people can act with 15 lbs of prosthetic on their face and still give a solid performance.

And the acting… oh, the acting. Aside from Tristan Risk as Beatress, and a blink-and-you’ll miss it cameo from the directors, no one seemed to give a damn about adding subtlety their performance, and it shows, and detracts from the finished product. I understand some films do like to go for a schlock angle, but American Mary starts out too subtle and real to make a solid, sudden transition like it did, especially at the party where Mary get’s assaulted. Admittedly, it was at that point I stopped watching the film the first time, because the actors in the scene just screamed rape-y, for lack of a better descriptor. This can easily tear the viewer out of the experience because up to that point, the characters seemed real, while from that scene forward most became cartoonish tropes. Also,  if you see this movie or have seen it, you’ll relate when I say, “How the hell didn’t Mary pick up on all those disgusting cues, fake being sick, and jet out of there?!”

Final Score:

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I really wanted to give this a higher score, I did. I loved Ginger Snaps, and was hoping the Sisters’ newest project would live up to my hopes. I was wrong. Bad acting and writing weigh down what could have either been a gritty, taut, melodramatic thriller or a guts-to-the-wall schlockfest a la a feminist Sweeney Todd. Unfortunately, the film strikes an awkward middle ground. 3/10 stitched turkeys.

Movie Review: Stay Alive (2006) HORRORATHON

Stay Alive or Stay Awake? Both could be difficult.
Stay Alive or Stay Awake? Both could be difficult.

Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)

To be a successful horror film, there are many important factors that a movie needs to have to capture the hearts and minds of it’s audiences. It needs to be exciting, it needs to have a crew of characters that you can identify with, it needs a clever premise, and it needs to have a fear factor to it to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. In 2006, we were treated to our fair share of horror flicks that attempted to do just that, and one of the contenders was a film about a cursed Video Game, and if you played the game, and if your character died in the game, you died for real. A movie with a cursed video game? Sign me up for that right?

Looks like a fun group, and hey, a Steamboy banner! They must have good taste!
Looks like a fun group, and hey, a Steamboy banner! They must have good taste!

While beta testing a crazy survival horror game, a young man is killed in a brutal hanging in the mansion in the game, and through a crazy turn of events, it happens to him in real life. At his funeral, our protagonist Hutch (Played by Jon Foster) receives all the video games from the collection including, you guessed it, the very game that killed his buddy, Stay Alive. What’s the first thing any gamer would do with a new collection of games? That’s right, play the game in honor of his buddy, getting the old gamer group together to play, including Swink (Frankie Muniz), Phineus (Jimmi Simpson),  October (Sophia Bush) and a new girl he met at the funeral, Abigail (Samaire Armstrong). Of course, after they start the game, speaking the prayer aloud and fighting their way through The Blood Countess’ Mansion (aka Elizabeth Bathory), they begin to realize that this may be more than a game, as one by one each of them dies the same way they died in the game.

What Worked: I just have to say, I would play the hell out of that game. The graphics are gorgeous, the character designs are fantastic, and the gameplay looks exciting and scary. Yes. I just said one of the best parts of the movie is watching them play the game. Usually, when you watch someone play a game, it becomes boring and frustrating, because you want to pick up the controller and play. In this case, the game doesn’t really exist, and all you can do is watch.

The cast is pretty good, I can buy that they’re gamers, and that they’re a closely knit group that resembles my own gaming circle, and that’s a hard relationship to truly convey correctly without it sounding contrite. The concept of the film works pretty well too. Countess Elizabeth Bathory has never really been the head of a horror film before, and she’s a scary bitch. If you’re not familiar with her, I will let you do the research, but let’s just say she used to murder young girls, and drink and bathe in her blood to keep herself young. Yup, she was a fucked up person, and she’s the perfect subject for a survival horror game/movie.

Look at that character customization, I'm drooling.
Look at that character customization, I’m drooling.

What Didn’t Work: Sure the video game they play is fabulous, the cast is good for the most part, and the story is interesting. But the execution is incredibly lazy, and the filmmakers miss very good opportunities to make the story an effective horror piece. The scares are formulaic and predictable, loud noises and sudden appearances, run rampant throughout the whole film, and it just starts to get obnoxious. Outside of the main cast of the gamers, the detectives especially are absolutely terrible in this film, they’re not even trying to sound enthused, it’s pretty obvious that they just want the paycheck. The script is especially lazy towards the end, the dialogue gets strenuously bad, and you start hoping that these characters will die faster so they will stop talking.

Malcolm in the Middle. I had to, I just had to.
Malcolm in the Middle. I had to, I just had to.

The main problem with the film is the game is far more interesting than anything that is happening in the real world. In contrast with the incredible graphics, and intense horror scenarios, the movie is rather dull and throughout the film, you just keep wanting them to cut back to the video game. When you’d rather watch a video game that someone else is playing rather than watch the main plot points of the movie, there is a rather large problem there.

Seriously, I want to play this game. Someone needs to make a mod of it.
Seriously, I want to play this game. Someone needs to make a mod of it.

Final Score:

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This movie had so much promise, but when the gameplay ends, and you’re stuck with formulaic scares, bad dialogue, and lots of missed opportunities, the experience is more frustrating than frightening, and that’s too bad, because there was a lot they could with the Countess Bathory story. 3 out of 10.