Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sorority Row Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After covering up their friend's death, a bunch of bitches are stalked by a hooded killer.

Review: It really shouldn't have been difficult to improve on the original yet they managed to screw it up anyway. Of course! Sure, there are a few intelligent decisions like making the girls hotter and trying to add some sexiness to the experience. But even this aspect is screwed up since all the girls come off as so sleazy and disgusting. It's like you can almost smell the STDs coming through the screen! I guess this is the 4D experience? can't go wrong with that kitten, Jamie Chung. The real icing on the cake though is this film has the honor--or, rather, dishonor--of having (probably) the worst motive for a killer in all slasher history. That's something, right?

Definitely a vast improvement over the original cast.

Something certainly worth addressing was the decoy trailer. Making this look like a drama, or mild thriller, only to suddenly switch to horror actually made me hopeful going into this. If only the film itself were that creative. There were plenty of opportunities within the story to take things up a notch, but they decided to stick with cliche-land. By the way, this has abso-fucking-lutely no connection to the original except tiny Easter eggs. Though, one similarity they share is the idiotic decision to end the movie ill-timed. This film ends with the revelation that a secondary character is alive...because...I think they forgot he wasn't the killer during post-production.

So let's address that retarded killer. Two missteps: not making one of the girls the killer and not making that particular killer Ms. Chung. Come on, let's finally have an Asian, female killer outside of Asia! Admit it, had they restructured the film to change her character's locations, you would have never guessed it was her. Instead, we were left with two obvious red herrings and two contenders. I knew they would go with the safe bet, but I never imagined his motive would be so profoundly stupid. The killer turns out to be the main chick's boyfriend (so shocking), and his motive is to make her...forget that she covered up a murder? Whaaaaaaat? Let me get this're the valedictorian of your college, seemingly rich, and decently attractive (he's a wannabe Hayden Christensen especially in voice). thought, "hey, fuck that shit, I'm gonna torment my girlfriend and her friends, kill those assholes, and then she will finally get over another friend's death and love me forever!" Yeaaaah...makes perfect fucking sense. Was this written on a napkin lying around on the set or something?

Wet and wild and should have been the killer.

I don't know why they bother to make these shallow remakes. Are they even profitable? The initial direction of making everything sexier could have worked wonders, but that can't be your only improvement. The original's whodunnit aspect was flimsier, but they managed to pull off better atmosphere. The reveals for both killers were lackluster, but at least the original attempted to make things scary. Here, the claim to fame is just how terrible the killer turns out to be! I guess there were funny parts to this remake, but this angle is nonsensical given that no one would still be cracking this many jokes in the face of death. If I'm generous, this can receive a mediocre rating mostly due to the abundance of scantily clad girls and Ms. Chung. This isn't the worst remake out there either so there's that.

Notable Moment: When that one guy rejects Chugs (that name, dude). That was actually an amusing scene, and it kind of sums up my own feelings on trashy skanks you see everywhere nowaday.

Final Rating: 5/10

Friday, July 29, 2016

The House on Sorority Row Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a prank gone wrong, a group of graduates are picked off by a mysterious killer.

Review: I know some fans may have an attachment to this little slasher, but I never stumbled upon it until Randy mentioned it during "Scream 2" so I may be a little biased. This was close to being a good film too, but it falls apart during the climax and doesn't really have an ending--it just ends. The story itself isn't necessarily the problem--though, it is cookie cutter--it simply lacks anything of distinction; we needed some plot element or twist that made it stand out among the countless slew of '80s slashers. It certainly wasn't doing the audience any favors by including one of the most busted up-looking sororities imaginable. Why does everyone look like they're 40 to boot? I mean, seriously, check out that party scene for proof!

One major positive I can say is that the kill count is high for this era. I doubt you could kill that many people with a cane (the killer's weapon of choice), but, hey, maybe the killer sharpened it? Speaking of which, the revelation regarding the killer is lame. A wannabe Jason scenario except we don't receive any payoff? No thanks. I'd be inclined to overlook this facet had they made the killer dress up in that jester costume the whole time. I get that they wanted there to be ambiguity regarding the identity, but the costume was too cool to waste arbitrarily. Of course, the defeat of the killer is also mishandled. Ignoring the fact that the main chick couldn't land a single bullet at point-blank range, she manages to pull a knife out of her ass to put the guy down. However, he merely springs to life, like all good killers do, and that is the point they decide to roll credits? Um, no. Maybe if the cops had already come and we thought the main chick was out of danger...then you could end it that way but not before. I don't know, dude, there are a lot of goofy moments all over the place.

Overall, this is a textbook '80s slasher with little else going for it. There are a few amusing aspects, and a lot of people do bite the dust, yet, there is a hollow feeling to the experience. Maybe if the reveal of the killer weren't so lackluster things would feel better. Not sure how they could have corrected this, but, as it stands, this is like a combination of "Friday the 13th" meets "Prom Night." Not a bad combination at all...nothing special either. I'd still say check this out if you ever wanted to run down Randy's list from "Scream 2." Plus, you can't go wrong with your millionth slasher.

Notable Moment: When that one chick, as if momentarily suffering a stroke, provides one of the worst line deliveries in cinema history. "How do we know she is alive?" You said it, sweetie.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Honest Abe starts off killing vampires with an axe and then with his politics...what could possibly go wrong?

Review: The first time I tried watching this, I made it about 5 minutes in. This second time...I don't know what the hell I was thinking. My goodness, this was fucking HORRENDOUS! After all these years, and thousands of movies under my belt, I need to trust my gut reaction. They say the book was significantly better but oh well. The combination of editing and pacing was giving me a seizure. Please, for the love of all that is holy in this world, stop with the ADHD crowd-pleasing. Come to think of it, I'm getting a migraine by simply reflecting on this shit.

I've read other reviews hide behind the excuse of "It's a movie about Abe Lincoln killing vampires...what did you expect?" How about plot consistency at the very least? To suspend one's disbelief, it's up to the storyteller to make things feel plausible or at least remotely possible. Instead, all it takes to become inconsistently superhuman is to tell the truth, and you can chop down a tree with one swing; in fact, the tree explodes! But don't worry, if the script demands it, Abe can be subdued by a chair. A chair. In fact, becoming superhuman for no reason can be transferred to your friends...just not any secondary characters. Gotta take that plot armor to the next level. I mean, we are shown vampires who can run as fast as a horse (faster really), can go invisible, have herculean strength, and are borderline invincible. Yet...a couple humans can hold their own against them and kick their ass...because...? But don't think I'm simply hung up on this idiocy alone. Oh no, baby. The main villain is killed by a single punch. That's so stupid I almost like it. The death of the bad chick was also so bad that it was quite funny really. The train sequence and fake betrayal were both painful. Not to mention, I love that scene where a carriage comes crashing through a wall, does a 180, and Abe Lincoln and flunkies escape. Beautiful. Let's not forget that vampire lore is kind of thrown out the window and that the characters don't understand imagination. If vampires can't kill each other, but they want to, why not simply set up scenarios where they are killed indirectly? Fuck, tie one up and leave him on the train tracks! And that fucking god that ending. It's all sad and stuff like "Oh no, Abe if you just became a vampire you wouldn't have been assassinated!" Nah, forget that this guy was able to take on a goddamn vampire army but can die to a human with a gun. Arrrrggghh. This preschool version of historical events was told from such a modern perspective that I can almost picture dumbasses walking out of the theater questioning whether this could have happened:

Kid (might as well be college-age by today's standards): Hey dad, did Abraham Lincoln really fight vampires?

Dad: I don't know, my androgynous offspring...maybe he did.

I planned to dig a lot deeper into this film's pitiful problems, but I really don't care enough anymore. I'm giving it a mediocre rating, because it does have a few entertaining moments and ideas. There are legitimate positives as well such as the actors trying to work with the script. If you want to view this garbage as a popcorn flick, have at it, however, you should question the sanity of anyone purporting this as good. Fundamentally, this is a stupid and terrible film from start to finish with outlandish scenarios, unbelievable situations, ugly CGI everywhere, and still manages to bore despite the aneurysm-inducing editing.

Notable Moment: That idiotic horse chase scene. This moment perfectly encapsulates why I hate this movie. You have that shitty CGI, a vampire clearly demonstrating god-like abilities yet Abe can match him...somehow, and Abe manages to "catch" a horse thrown at him, mount it, and turn the tide of the fight all within a split second! If this were intended to be a comedy, I'd give this film a 10/10!

Final Rating: 5/10

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Deadpool Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The merc with a mouth gains his superhuman abilities as a slew of zany antics ensue.

Review: A few caveats. Unlike every other poser, I'll admit, I was never a Deadpool fan as a kid. A friend of mine really loved the character, and I didn't get it--he was a blatant ripoff of DC's Deathstroke to me (which he is). My friend would tell me there was a lot more to it than that, but I didn't feel like wasting my time with yet another comic. The other thing is Ryan Reynolds...yeah...have never been a fan. As you know, I hate everyone else named Ryan as a matter of principle, but I was always annoyed this guy kept getting superhero gigs, including the torturous portrayal of Green Lantern. Sooo...with all of that said...I fucking LOVED this movie! This more than lived up to the hype--it surpassed it. I have also come to terms with Mr. Reynolds' career and understand why he has made the goofball decisions he's made. Other Ryan, you have earned my respect...

So why have many been referring to this as the best superhero movie? I don't know what the hell happened, but someone at Fox must have said, "Fuck it, just do whatever you want." And they succeeded! The comedic elements are pure genius, the action is intense, and, of course, Deadpool is perfectly captured--fourth wall breaks and all. No bullshit changes to the core concepts, no studio meddling, no retarded test audience re-shoots into oblivion...this is how superhero movies need to be! The jokes are raunchy and hardcore, the violence is bloody and painful, and you get some titties or other Ryan's sweet ass if that's more your pace. The pop references are golden and appeal to an older demographic than...argh, it pains me to say the name...Dis--ughhh--ney's efforts with Marvel. Not that fookin' Disney can't handle some of the characters, but they definitely want to draw in the kiddies whereas "Deadpool" has jokes and references the kiddies would not understand; well, that and the hard R-rating, nudity, Deadpool taking a strap-on to the ass, pulling a ringpop from his ass, that blue ball tease of Gina Carano's titty, etc. Meh, I saw worse as a kid. Among the best highlights were how much they make fun of Ryan Reynolds as a person, his career, and the X-Men series in general (especially Hugh Jackman). Also have to acknowledge the, surprisingly, endearing romance plot line with the beautiful Morena Baccarin. I was actually invested with these two and loved their banter; great chemistry there.

The one, kinda, major grievance I have with the story is that not a lot happens. Or maybe not enough happens would be more apropos in this case? The story could have benefited from, at least, one more action set piece and having a villain lurking in the background. Mr. Sinister or Apocalypse probably would have been good picks given that the villains shown are giving people powers for no discernible reason. Don't get me wrong, the pacing is great--never letting up--but there really needed to be another plot element at play in order to push this film closer to a 9 or 10/10. A final complaint, that is serious nitpicking, is simply that the trailers spoil far, far too much. I mean, the vast majority of film's events are depicted through the trailers. Of course, this isn't "Deadpool's" fault which is why I'm merely mentioning it but not taking anything away for it; just something to keep in mind in advance.

I could rattle on all day singing the praises of this film, but this is another instance where I think it's best you see this one for yourself. "Deadpool" is pure, unadulterated fun from the moment those ridiculous opening credits roll all the way through to that post-credit scene. Will everyone appreciate the comedy style or dangerous levels of shenanigans? No, of course not, and I'm sure plenty will conclude this was, in fact, over-hyped. However, should everyone give it a chance at the very least? In the words of Heisenberg, "You're goddamn right!" Look, if "Deadpool" made me go from hating Ryan Reynolds to respecting him...that's gotta tell you something, right?

Notable Moment: Tough call--really tough--but I'm gonna go with when Deadpool is stabbed in the head and starts hearing "You're the Inspiration" playing. Epic!

Final Rating: 8/10

Monday, July 18, 2016

Apartment 1303 (2012 Remake) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Could quite possibly be the worst remake known to cinema.

Review: I considered turning this off, permanently, by the 5 minute mark. If I hadn't already reviewed the original there is no chance on god's green earth that I would have kept watching this abomination. This ranks extremely high among the worst movies I've ever watched, and you know that is always saying something coming from this blog. This is a fucking disgrace to the film industry! All the actors should be ashamed of themselves for phoning in these laughable performances. Not joking--I could have played all the roles myself, swapping clothes and voices, and delivered more passion and energy. I have never seen such lifeless acting even from things like "Howling VII" or "Asian School Girls." Those "actors" were simply idiots--these actors are known yet were reading cue cards in the way a kindergartner sounds when trying to learn to read. Oh, I'm sorry, that's an insult to 5 year olds. The ONLY redeeming qualities were a, surprisingly, decent camera and music that was at least a notch above stock. That is it.

The original "Apartment 1303" was just a stupid movie, but this remake takes things to a whole 'nother level of bad. My viewing went something like this: watch a couple, unbearable moments of footage, pause, watch a J-pop video or two or ten, then torture myself a little more. I could not take a dose of this shit-show for more than 10 minutes at a time. Having the sister voice her inner dialogue is one of the single most embarrassing things I've ever beheld. The crack whore-chic look of each actress wasn't doing them any favors either. I also really loved that inept continuity error in the beginning with the picture that is kissed. Hilarious. The editing is horrendous with all manner of shenanigans going on. My favorite was that asshole trying to sleep and the ghost making noises...the cuts and reactions were pure gold. The story is a mess--big shock--and they actually change the original premise to throw in drama with a boyfriend who is an undercover cop with a nagging ex-wife and cliche kid he's letting down. If this weren't so comically retarded I'd be flipping a table in anger. Another, sorta, fuck you to the original was the pointless inclusion of a little Japanese store within the apartment building. Just a reminder of what you're missing out on I guess. I had about lost my mind when we found out this perverted super or whatever was also a ghost. That's a good one. My goodness...fuck this movie!

From start to finish, this is a migraine-inducing disaster; this was truly painful to endure. What were the producers hoping to accomplish here? The original could have easily been improved upon yet they found a way to make that below average experience appear to be a masterpiece in comparison. The biggest pieces of shit I've reviewed usually have something entertaining to them, but this was a chore to finish. My policy is to no longer leave a series unfinished once I begin, but this was the first time I strongly considered rethinking that. Heed my NOT, under any circumstances, waste a second of your life on this garbage.

Notable Moment: When those two idiots are doing simu-sex with their clothes on. Yeaaaah, that's not how things work, but, sure, dry hump away.

Final Rating: 2/10

Friday, July 15, 2016

Apartment 1303 (Japanese Original) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The misadventures surrounding a haunted apartment that ONLY kills young girls trying to move out on their own.

Review: Yes, loudly and proudly, brag about the parallels between this and "Ju-on," because this is, more or less, a Grudge-wannabe. And how in the hell do you provide so little story content yet still over-complicate the plot with needless tangents? Arrrgh...what a mess. There are a few redeeming qualities here and there, but, for the most part, this is a cookie cutter, Asian horror film from start to finish. I'm serious...if I told you to start guessing some stupid shit you think will happen, you'd probably come up with 75% of the story or more. And, even with all the cliches, I still could have forgiven the shenanigans if the ending weren't painfully moronic. You can't just roll credits whenever you feel like it!

One highlight--sorta--was the casting of the two leads. For the main girl we have the chickadee from the infamous "Rattle Rattle" segment in "Kowai Onna," Noriko Nakagoshi. The ghost, or villain if you will, was our lead in "Uzumaki," Eriko Hatsune. Besides the inclusion of these ladies, and a few other by the numbers moments, there isn't much else to write home about. As my plot summary suggests, the scenario that this ghost functions on is oddly specific. Whereas someone like Kayako simply kills anyone who enters the Saeki house, this ghost only kills a girl that fits that specific description. How the ghost knows this--that's up to you to imagine. You'd think they would rent the apartment out to men, couples, old people, etc. but, nope, gotta keep that plot rollin' somehow. Beyond this lame setup, the ghost is just your typical, long-haired Asian girl--nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes the ghost physically throws you over the balcony or you are possessed (in a way) to do it yourself. It's nice and inconsistent just the way I love it! For whatever reason, the filmmakers wanted a sympathetic villain that turns out to be super evil anyway; funny how things always seem to work out that way. So, yeah, big shock, you think the ghost is pacified only to reveal her true intentions...except she genuinely appeared innocent in life before becoming a ghost...huh...sure! One aspect that I did like was when a good ghost appeared, but she did jackshit and might as well been evil too for all I know. Finally, the icing on the cake was the neighbors of the haunted apartment. They're ghosts too?! Whaaaat? Whatever, dude. Fuck this shit.

Needless to say, this wasn't a very good example of what J-horror is capable of. The scares are nonexistent, the pacing is as slow as molasses, and the ending makes no sense whatsoever. While I can overlook a substantial amount of the cliches--appreciating them even--it would be a huge stretch of the imagination to call this film good. I do want to lump this closer to the mediocre side of things, but, due to the ludicrous rules of the ghost, I had to take the score down a notch. This is an easy pass.

Notable Moment: When the ghost was trying to do tentacle-hair rape or something. What exactly was going on there for a hot second?!

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Final Destination 5 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After another premonition of disaster, the survivors learn there is another way to cheat death.

Review: With FD4 leading me to believe this franchise would devolve into nothing but standalone splatterfests, I was shocked to learn this wasn't the case. Not only does FD5 put the franchise back on track, it adds to the mythos, ties back to the original story line from FD1 and 2, and has a wonderful twist to really spice things up. Not only that, but this is arguably the best disaster in the whole franchise. Another, incredibly important, thing to consider is the inclusion of two little cupcakes: the always luscious, Chasty Ballesteros and a newly featured chickadee, Jacqueline Wood. Factoring these aspects altogether, it's a tough call whether this or FD2 is my favorite.

Definitely hotter with the glasses on.

This time around we have Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam as the main character. The disaster involves a bridge collapsing when Sammy-boy and his coworkers are going on a retreat. I appreciate the attempt at, once again, making the characters feel more lively and memorable. In fact, I think this entry has the best uses of humor--with no awkward timings. For example, when they're at the memorial for the victims, one of the survivors is mistaken for someone who died; of course he was well on his way to hell regardless. Most of the deaths are imaginative and get under your skin like Ms. Wood taking a laser to the eye. However, the usual flair isn't what makes this installment stand out. We are introduced to a new rule whereby if a survivor kills someone else then they receive that person's remaining time alive. This darker turn drives the Tom Cruise-wannabe character crazy which is, essentially, the inevitable conclusion to the McKinley character from FD3. But what really lands this sequel into amazing territory is when we get the twist at the end: FD5 is actually a prequel! The film ends with the remaining survivors being killed with flight 180 that set the entire franchise into motion. The clues are actually all over the movie if you have a keen eye and working knowledge of the late '90s.

That chesty--uhh--Chasty is so damn sexy. I don't know what's going on with that tongue, but I like it!

A few things to consider: first, the significance of 180. Until now, we've been led to believe everything is a ripple effect from FD1, but things go deeper (that's what she said! I'm sorry...). What could the number possibly mean? Furthermore, what the hell does the Tony Todd character really know? He's more subdued here which implies his smugness wasn't as established yet. Maybe at this point he had experienced only one prior incident...or what if he somehow survived a disaster of his own? We also have all the companies that lurk in the background of each installment like the logging truck. It's probably best we never learn the truth since I don't want the franchise to be demystified.

Overall, this is a vast improvement over FD4 and one of the best sequels. More so, this entry flat out impressed me. The disaster is effectively brutal, the characters are interesting and fun, the deaths are creative, and the twist leaves you more than satisfied when the crazy credits begin to roll. If only all horror sequels could be this good. Now, I'm not saying this is perfect or anything, but it's a giant step in the right direction. The final thing to acknowledge is that FD6 has been announced and supposedly will begin filming in the near future. Let's hope they can keep the momentum going.

Notable Moment: As much as I love the bridge collapse, I have to go with the revelation at the end. Seeing Alex and crew from FD1 out of nowhere was such a glorious "what the fuck" moment.

Final Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Final Destination Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: It's business as usual with another guy having a premonition and death coming to collect clueless survivors.

Review: Now we come to the black sheep of the franchise. The very fact that they couldn't simply call this movie "Final Destination 4" is annoying unto itself. And you're out of your damn mind if you think I will ever refer to this as anything but part 4. THE final destination? Yeah right. Setting aside the title, the story is weak, the characters are lame, and the acting is abysmal. Say what you want about the other entries, but they all have FD4 beat, hands down, in every single facet of film making. They couldn't even come close to getting the running time up to 90 minutes with credits. Despite these tremendous flaws, this is at least passable and has a few entertaining moments. It's just frustrating that the worst sequel is also the most financially successful installment.

This time around we have some dude, named Nick, who foresees an accident at a speedway. At a glance, this would appear to be a different take on the pileup disaster from FD2, but they do, admittedly, alter things considerably. I'm fine with it...I guess. In retrospect, the movie theater disaster at the end actually would have served as a better and more creative calamity. The pacing is extremely fast as if some focus group idiot scribbled down "get to the kills sooner." Speaking of which, the kills are decent yet I didn't feel any tension due to the lack of buildup toward each individual. For example, the cowboy, as they refer to, pops up out of nowhere and dies immediately. The casual audience is going to say, "who the fuck was that?" Including a second vision, similar to FD3, was equally pointless due to how shitacular it was handled. Did the makers not even remember the goddamn premise of this series?! Nicky-baby saved all of those people at the movie theater with his second why aren't any of them on death's list? Plus, let's say they all died eventually off screen, wouldn't this change up the main characters' position on the list? Yet another issue I must acknowledge is the one girl at the car wash that almost died. She was narrowly saved yet she wasn't next to die. You could argue that she was saved due to the fact that she wasn't next, but that's quite a stretch considering the setup and that it took other survivors to intervene. Realistically, this was shit planning to simply allow for the lame twist with the cowboy.

Bottom line, never have the audacity to declare a sequel the last one unless you have real integrity to back those words up; just look at "Star Wars," "T2," "Harry Potter," etc. it's not over until people stop paying. Likewise, if you intend to wrap things up, go out on top and with a bang! This entry has virtually no connection to the other films and doesn't do anything to tie up loose ends or reveal something we never knew; hell, they couldn't even get Tony Todd to come back. Although this is such a disappointment, don't let it discourage you from proceeding to FD5 which is one of the best installments. On the other hand, I would say only watch FD4 for the sake of completion. Otherwise, you're missing out on nothing by skipping it.

Notable Moment: When George gets killed. Probably the only shocking death in the film, but still just a copy of Terry from FD1.

Final Rating: 5/10

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Final Destination 3 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Death seeks out more would-be survivors after a girl and her classmates narrowly escape a roller coaster accident.

Review: For the third entry, I felt like they went back to FD1's structure for inspiration. Rather than trying to outdo FD2 with a crazier catastrophe, they scaled it down to a roller coaster losing control. Likewise, there is an increased emphasis on getting to know the characters compared to FD2; I mean, other than Kimberly, what did we know about anyone else? While the story fails to connect to the overarching plot line of the series, they do spice things up with a few, novel ideas. I really like this entry, but it does have a few glaring flaws that prevent it from being as good as FD1 and 2.

A few things do play out differently this time around. People still die in the order they would have, but now pictures taken before the accident reveal how everyone will die. This works better than you'd imagine, but it kind of opens up a whole new can of worms. Following the logic of this franchise, a supernatural force allows individuals to see a premonition of their death. Upon changing the outcome of their demise, death, as another supernatural force, seeks to restore order by killing them anyway. Sooo...wouldn't these pictures imply that the survivors were always meant to get off the roller coaster and that the premonition was necessary? And if it were their destiny to live, this changes up what we know about the series. This is merely an observation I want to address since the franchise never acknowledges this nor is it ever brought up again. Another aspect that we see for the first time is a character having a second vision; the main girl, Wendy, has a second vision at the end with her train derailing. Again, does this imply there are other forces at work in the series since this was like a slap in the face for her? She is shown the second vision with no way of preventing it except she could potentially dodge the train that hits her as she knows it's coming this time; hey, Wendy could be alive after all! Due to this cruel twist, it makes me wonder if death isn't the one giving the visions in the first place just to fuck with people! There you go, death gets bored and decides to watch people squirm a bit knowing their end is closing in. Plus, what is with Tony Todd's voice near both accidents? I have no doubt those are merely easter eggs, but it could mean more in the mythos as we still don't know his role.

What stops FD3 from being just as good as the previous two, for me at least, is the shitty CGI. Sure, they've been using CGI all along, but it's too much this time. I don't know how to explain it other than to say that the roller coaster accident looked faker than the plane crash which was made 6 years earlier. I also didn't like that this entry introduced the trend of killing all the characters off by the end. This isn't inherently a bad concept--it obviously fits the theme of the series--but it has the unintended side effect of making each entry appear as a standalone sequel. This might be why I love FD5 so much as they kind of amended this issue. Finally, I take issue with two unrealistic moments that raise an eyebrow. At the end, when the characters all coincidentally cross paths, they don't immediately think something is wrong?! Then there is McKinley and Erin's joking around that death is coming for them despite FOUR people who got off the roller coaster already dead?! Being in denial is one thing...but still at the joking phase? Yes, this is nitpicking...oh well.

All things considered, this is still a great sequel. You get your fill of "carnage candy," but, at the same time, enough was changed to make this stand out when compared to the first two installments. The deaths aren't quite as impressive as FD2, but the characters are more interesting. The usage of the photos is cool, and the twist about two unknown passengers makes for a nice reveal toward the climax. They did consider ending the franchise here, but I'm glad they kept on going.

Notable Moment: When McKinley starts talking smack at the funeral. Yeaaah, because that would happen.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Friday, July 8, 2016

Final Destination 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Thanks to a premonition, a girl narrowly avoids a highway pileup and realizes she has a connection to the previous plane incident.

Review: You know, it's getting tough to decide if this, FD3, or FD5 is the best. In a lot of ways they improved over part 1, but that ridiculous ending pulls down the rating a tad. This time around they focus on a car pileup as the disaster. There was the obvious attempt to outdo the previous film in regard to the premonition, and they certainly succeeded. In fact, it's a tossup between the pileup and FD5's bridge collapse for the best vision. Essentially, they made everything bigger and badder, with faster pacing, in order to get that "carnage candy" rolling.

Now we have Kimberly as the person seeing the future, but there is still a direct connection to part 1. This facet is my biggest gripe with FD3 and 4--they didn't bother to tie those events to the main story line. Instead of dying in the order you would have died in the accident, things are going in reverse. Clear (what a stupid name) returns as well since they wrote out Alex; not getting Devon Sawa to come back was not appreciated. Simply explaining that Alex was killed by a brick is beyond stupid too. We could have had an interesting dynamic if Alex and Kimberly were discussing the visions and implications as to what causes them. However, they did get Tony Todd to come he can smile at the camera for one of the worst cutaways in film history? Surrre, why not? Anyway, the awesome part of this film is when we realize that these victims all have a greater connection to one another. Clear describes it as a ripple effect whereby the plane survivors helped these people to survive. For example, Kimberly would have been shot with her mom had she not been distracted by Tod's death on TV. This was the perfect idea to continue the series since it introduces all manner of things to consider. We could conclude that FD3 and 4 are still a part of the ripple not explained, but it's lazy since FD5 managed to figure out a way to do it.

As for the deaths, the gore is aplenty. FD1 focused on building a grim tone over sheer gore while this movie was having a little more fun with the material. Most characters meet interesting demises, and they do toy with the audience's expectations here and there. The original ending of FD1--giving birth to a baby to stop death--is used here though it doesn't work for the characters since the pregnant chick didn't die in the pileup after all. Instead, the way they apparently "win" is questionable; Kimberly tries to commit suicide and is miraculously saved. I guess they're trying to say since no one intervened in saving her, since it was a random doctor, that it went around death's design. The film does end with Kimberly and the one cop surviving, and, since we never get a followup for the rest of the franchise, it does stand to reason that these two did cheat death permanently. Yes, there was an acknowledgement of these two dying in a deleted scene from FD3, but it was deleted! Let's simply settle for the idea that their fate is ambiguous. This isn't the aspect of the ending that is dumb though. We get some kid blowing up while grilling and his arm goes flying in front of his mom who is shrieking like a banshee. The cartoonish nature of this scenario is presented horridly. Maybe it's just me...I don't know.

Overall, this is a solid sequel from start to finish. FD2 outdoes the original in numerous ways while still remaining faithful to the continuity. In fact, the revelation of the character connections was downright genius and opened up the door to all manner of ways to expand. This is how you successfully establish a franchise. Unfortunately, the ominous tone is slightly lost along the way, and the ending borders on comical. Whether you choose to continue on with the sequels, these first two entries have the tightest connection; you could very easily consider the story concluded after FD2.

Notable Moment: When pigeon-boy gets it. This is easily one of, if not, the dumbest characters in the series. Come to think of it, his death wasn't even any kind of supernatural force. This fool simply did something stupid that resulted in his death. Natural selection?

Final Rating: 7/10

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Final Destination Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After having a vision of the future, a teen and others manage to survive a plane's destruction only to be killed soon afterward by a supernatural force.

Review: I'll be upfront and say that I love this series. The only entry that was on the weak side was part 4, but it still had its moments. As for part 1, I actually don't think it's the best entry, however, it did establish the scenario in the most concise way. In the age of "Scream" wannabes, this was a welcomed change of pace that offered up something beyond masked killers or ghosts. Now, the filmmakers insist the script was originally intended to be for an episode of "The X-Files." I don't doubt that to be true--there are even characters who somewhat feel like tamer versions of Mulder and Scully. But, and it's a big but, they were clearly inspired by the premise of "The Twilight Zone" episode, "Twenty Two;" the similarities are a bit too striking and the shots of the planes blowing up are almost like a re-creation. Here is a link to my review of that episode if you're curious:

In case you're unfamiliar with the premise of this franchise, there is always a person who randomly has a vision of impending doom right before a calamity that claims many lives. For part one, this involves the main guy, Alex, seeing his plane blowing up. When trying to warn people, he and others are kicked off the plane which does, in fact, blow up minutes later. We've yet to learn where the visions come from or why, but we could speculate all day. Since this franchise implies these visions are a form of "cheating death," the characters are eventually picked off by a supernatural force that sets up a series of elaborate coincidences that result in an apparent accidental death. The characters simply refer to this force as death personified, but, like the visions, it's yet to be fully explored by the franchise. What I especially like in part 1 is how Alex continues to receive glimpses of the future; I'm not sure why the other entries don't fully embrace this. Anyway, Alex figures out that everyone is dying in the order they would have died on the plane yet there are rules in order to cheat death again. For example, if someone intervenes to save you again, death will move on to the next person in line. It's also implied you cannot die until it's your turn as well; this is demonstrated by Alex magically surviving close calls in the same coincidental manner people are killed. By the end of the movie, thinking they're free and clear, we get one final instance that demonstrates death's plan is still going. There was an alternate ending that would have killed the franchise-potential so it's good for them that they didn't go with it. One other thing I want to mention is the vague nature of the--I guess--coroner, played by Tony Todd. We still don't know what's his deal and why he, seemingly, knows what's happening.

Intentional or not, the major aspect at play with FD is the notion of synchronicity. This is an idea proposed by Carl Jung that surmises that innocuous coincidences actually exist in a meaningful way; I'm simplifying things of course. In other words, coincidences are not just by sheer chance and probability but hold significance. If you look at the FD series from this perspective, it opens up an incredible way of seeing the events and what everything could mean. Synchronicity is definitely an interesting topic, and I'm not going to do it justice in a couple sentences, so I'd recommend looking into it more deeply if you're even remotely interested.

A few other things to acknowledge: the gore factor. Part 1 is standard fare in my opinion, but each sequel was trying to outdo the previous entry. I do appreciate this "carnage candy" approach, yet, I don't know if that's the direction this franchise should have necessarily taken. The main detractor I have for part 1 is the oddity of the tone. The lighthearted moments are not timed properly and take me out the story. For example, when Alex is hiding at the cabin and death is seemingly fucking around with some fishing hooks...this is dumb. Likewise, it doesn't help when there are characters making stupid jokes when they probably should be super depressed or at least somber. I don't know how to explain it--it's as if they were still trying to capture that snarky tone from "Scream" or whatever.

Overall, this is still a great movie and a unique one at that. Although there are plenty of unanswered questions, none of this hurts the final impression. The elaborate nature of the deaths and scenarios are fun to behold and keeps audiences engaged. Despite being made for the teeny crowd at the time, I think the philosophical implications give it an added layer of depth and longevity for all horror fans to embrace. There are stupid moments, undoubtedly, but nothing is of a detrimental quality. I'd definitely recommend checking out the 5 entries in this franchise alongside me if possible. The trailer alone is awesome enough to get you interested.

Notable Moment: When Alex has the original vision of the plane exploding. The vision is typically the highlight in all the movies.

Final Rating: 7/10

Monday, July 4, 2016

Uncle Sam (1996) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A dead soldier is magically resurrected after sensing his hometown's severe lack of patriotism.

Review: In honor of Independence Day...I will not be reviewing "Independence Day." Instead, let's take a look at "Uncle Sam!" Man, I remember this movie used to come on HBO or skinemax or one of those pay channels all the time. It got to a point where even my mom watched it and, strangely, ended up liking it. I was like, "Really?" But I can see the lame charm. Don't get me wrong, this movie is absolutely terrible, but it has its moments. Besides, it does have two extremely important aspects: yummy food and a ton of G.I. Joe toys scattered about!

As to what is happening...I don't know, dude. A crazed soldier, aptly named Sam, is killed by friendly fire. When he is shipped back home, he magically comes back from the dead to wreak havoc. Since the main character is supposed to be this little, bratty kid, this makes Sam his--you guessed it--Uncle Sam! Oh shit, so clever! Another reason why my friends and I kept watching "Uncle Sam" was because this brat, oddly named Jody for whatever reason, looked exactly like my friend's brother. Yeah, you know that brother...the one I've mentioned before that Uwe Boll kept stealing ideas from. Anyway, Jody is obsessed with Sam and the military which means he is always playing with G.I. Joes. At one point there is a cookout and those ribs looked fookin' amazing! None of this matters, but I thought it needed mentioning.

They don't explain why Sam is now a zombie, but he intuitively senses people who lack patriotism. Fuck those hippies! He also goes after a corrupt politician, some slimy lawyer, and other little bitches. Eh, I'm okay with the killing of these people. They try to make the kills feel "American" in a way, but the degree to which this succeeds is questionable. For example, some guy gets impaled on a flag, another guy blows up from fireworks, some chick gets her face grilled, etc. Speaking of which, how the hell are you gonna kill the chickadee on ribs duty?! Complicating the story a little further is the mindless inclusion of another kid who was injured by fireworks and Sam's...uhh...mentor? And that one kid gets his face molested by Sam too--what's up with that? Did I mention Sam is wearing an Uncle Sam outfit the whole time? Finally, not caring that Sam is already a zombie, they shoot him with cannonballs that are somehow of C-4 quality. You gotta have explosions after all. Believe it or not, there is no final zinger unless we count the mildly creepy smirk from Jody. All I see is a punchable face waiting to get hit so...yeah.

Setting aside a few bonus points, this movie is seriously lacking in higher levels of shenanigans. The material, once again, is not taken seriously, but they missed many opportunities to have fun. Hell, Sam doesn't even put on the costume or kill someone until around the 40 minute mark! SAAAAAAAM! Sorry, I just had to scream that in Dean's voice like I'm off my meds. Where was I? Oh yeah, the acting is fucking horrendous! It's like the cast can't read, but all their lines are on cue cards. The gore is weak too with only one worthwhile kill out of the bunch. I guess if you're tired of watching "Independence Day" for the millionth time, this is an option. Overall, this is a majorly cornball film, but it can be moderately enjoyable one day out of the year.

Notable Moment: When that dumbass Jody burns his toys at the end. Dude, back away from the G.I. Joes or else someone (you) is going to get hurt!

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hellgate (1989) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: This is what happens when you do far, far too much ecstasy.

Review: This movie is...hmmm...special...yeah, let's go with that. True, the filmmakers were not taking the material seriously, but, still, this is some MST3000 fodder right here. The story is sheer nonsense, the characters are moronic, and the effects are downright embarrassing at times. I'm not sure who got suckered into funding this abomination, but this was money in the garbage essentially. But you know what? Despite the horrendous quality to this film, it still kind of crosses into so bad it's good territory. I mean, even as stupid as everything was, it's still nowhere near the torturous likes of "Severed" or "Asian School Girls." Plus that one chick is kind of hot, goes topless, and is scantly clad most of the running time. So there's that at least!

You know, I will just list random shit that happens. Apparently there is a glowing crystal in the ground that can bring the dead back to life with no explanations whatsoever. Why in the hell would you put metal implants on your face where a zombie turtle bit you? You're telling me a street sign's edges are so sharp that you can slightly swing it at someone and cleanly decapitate them like it's a lightsaber? Don't drink or else ghostly cabaret dancers will appear. To make someone look 30 years older you only need to dye their hair gray! Everyone knows 1950s bikers love to just bust into your diner, kick out your patrons, and kidnap the local hottie while you shoot your own tables in response. Always grope a statue for good luck right before dying. Pesky bats on a string can die to a slight tap from a shovel. When gaining magic powers, test them on your goldfish first that way it mutates and then blows up for no reason. When going down on your girlfriend, you aren't doing it right unless she goes cross-eyed. Also when massaging your girlfriend, make sure to tell her about how hot another girl is...she will understand. This is a must: horribly dub everyone's dialogue, because that is awesome. If you barely survive an encounter with zombies and all your friends are dead, definitely start telling jokes immediately afterward to honor their memory. Remember, just because you were clearly driving a car with no one on the roof DOES NOT mean an old man can't materialize there later. Sharpening a machete is great for relaxation especially when you pop up out of nowhere just to die immediately and accomplish nothing. Should you decide to kidnap a girl, and, you know, accidentally kill her, it's all cool, because the townspeople will never believe it happened...not even the cops. If you open a fridge with a talking head inside just make a stupid quip for the camera. When you daydream about your dead daughter, make sure it's a scene from earlier in the movie that you weren't even around to see. In the '80s people didn't go to college until they were 35+ apparently; who knew? If you're making out with a topless zombie girl, who you already rejected TWICE when she assumed the blowjob position, just casually say "are you sure?" when she suggests you leave after her dad shows up holding a giant blade saying "I want this one." Likewise, when he starts shooting lasers at you, it's no big deal. And, finally, the key to a successful film is surely adding a ton of slow motion and stock soundbites that have been around since the '40s. This never fails.

I'm really only scratching the surface with the zany antics present. In this situation, you really do need to experience it to fully comprehend the absurdity, yet, I can't legitimately recommend this trash. Of course, if you have an acquired taste for bad movies, then this might be up your alley. For all the stupidity going on, there are still a few moments of decency scattered about. For example, some special effects were satisfactory given the paltry production. I don't know, this is nowhere near the worst movie ever, but it is one of weirdest and still really bad unto itself. I wonder what the script must've read like? Definitely schizophrenic-chic that's for sure.

Notable Moment: This is quite difficult as the majority of the events shown are notably bizarre. Hmm...maybe...when the zombie girl goes flying out the window at the end. So dumb yet mildly sexy at the same time.

Final Rating: 3.5/10