Friday, February 28, 2014

Terror Tally: Best (Worst?) Shark Horror Movies

Ghost Shark is deadlier than lawn darts.

Terror from the deep, or maybe the skies! A quick list of the best and best-worst shark horror you need to see. Did I miss any other aquatic assailants? Let me know!

1. JAWS - "We're gonna need a bigger boat"

2. OPEN WATER - I still refuse to go scuba diving. Ever.

3. SHARKNADO - Ian Ziering and Tara Reid versus airborne Selachimorpha.

4. JAWS 2 - Actually a good sequel.


6. TWO-HEADED SHARK ATTACK - At one point it eats people in a church.

7. MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS - Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson.

8. DEEP BLUE SEA - Best Samuel L. Jackson monologue since Pulp Fiction.

9. JAWS THE REVENGE - Remember when the shark literally roared? Sharks can't roar.

10. GHOST SHARK - Ghost Shark is in your toilet, your Slip n' Slide, and your NIGHTMARES.

Monday, February 24, 2014

'Carrie (2013)' (Movie Review)

There are a few things you can generally count on with modern horror "reboots".

1. The plot will be boiled down and distilled into a less challenging formula for modern audiences.
2. The films violence will be downgraded to achieve a PG-13 rating (unless it was originally a controversial film, in which case the gore will be ramped up to overshadow the watered-down screenplay)
3. Any social subtexts or satire will be completely stripped out as unneeded as up-and-coming young stars run screaming for their lives.
4. The reboot was most likely unnecessary.

Carrie falls prey to a few of these aforementioned points, but not all of them. However, it commits the ultimate sin of being a pretty boring (and unneeded) re-make of a Stephen King classic.

I think I can safely tell you a synopsis without hitting spoiler territory? Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is an outcast young girl who doesn't fit in with anyone at school. She is terrorized by her religious zealot mother (Julianne Moore), and eventually realizes she has telekinetic powers. Pigs blood; total chaos ensues.

Here's the problems with this "de-make" (I think I'll start using this term more often to be a jerk). First, the deck was stacked against director Kimberly Peirce trying to go up against Brian De Palma's classic. In the tradition of modern Hollywood, nothing can be left to the imagination and no new ideas can be introduced.

Moretz portrayal of Carrie starts as mildly believable,  but quickly turns her into a student from Xavier's school or maybe some sort of unpopular girl from Hogwart's. In a matter of three scenes we go from Carrie not understanding what is happening to ham-fisted CGI effects with her magically levitating beds and books and people. There is an empty "explanation" for her powers, and what we end up with is a mildly sympathetic superhero. It doesn't help matters that Moretz is well known for her role in Kickass. So there is zero subtlety, and everything is re-hashed from either the original film or updated pieces from The Rage: Carrie 2. The power of De Palma's vision was that "bad things can happen to innocent people." None of that is present here. By the time the iconic prom scene arrives, it's pretty much an antihero vengefully and selectively murdering evil high schoolers.

I'll give credit to Julianne Moore. She really tries to do a great job of portraying Carrie's lunatic mother. However, the scenes between her and Moretz are unfortunately cliched and stale. You already see everything coming from a mile away.

In the end, this is a totally unneeded and boring movie that just recycles content from its superior predecessor and brings no fresh ideas to the table. Even Rob Zombie's flawed reboots of Halloween tried out some new material. For the record, at least it shot for the R rating...

Grade: D+

 Reviewed on DVD via Redbox. Running time 100 MIN.

Friday, February 14, 2014

'Truth or Die' (Movie Review)

She's being forced to watch Truth or Die
Nothing drives me crazier than "torture porn" movies full of stupid characters.

Truth or Die is a recent offering from The Collective and Bloody Disgusting that heads across the pond to follow the exploits of some British party kids who torment an unpopular guy and then inexplicably get coerced into going to his "birthday party" where they are captured and brutally tormented by his older brother who informs them that said kid has committed suicide.

What's most frustrating about this genre is that the entire point of the movie is survival, so when the cast of characters is totally inept at that it causes scene after scene where I was yelling at the screen asking "WHY ARE YOU ALL SO STUPID?!". Things become such a debacle that there is actually one part where a protagonist is holding a loaded gun directly at the villain and doesn't shoot him. It's obnoxious.

What you end up with is a pile of played out tropes, including a "shocking" (not shocking) plot twist, and a cobbled together ending with an easy out. Who do I have to lobby to not have all these films fade to credits on a car driving away?

This one can easily be skipped and you'll be better off for it.

Grade: D- 

Reviewed on VOD via Netflix. 96 MIN. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

'Stitches' (Movie Review)

Not clowning around.
Once in a while you'll find a random gem on Netflix.

I was browsing my queue and decided on the murderous clown flick Stitches that I'd never heard of before. From the box art I assumed it would be a standard concept slasher romp like Ice Cream Man or Dr. Giggles. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it's actually an entertaining horror parody starring stand up comedian Ross Noble.

Scummy birthday clown Richard Grindle who goes by the stage name "Stitches" is a drunken, drug addicted loser who hates kids and life in general. During a performance at a birthday party, the kids tie Stitches shoe laces together, leading to his accidental and violent death. Fast forward six years and all the brats except for Tom (Tommy Knight) have grown into stereotypical high school douches of the highest caliber. Tom is turning seventeen and wants to have a birthday party, but he still has terrible PTSD from watching a clown die.

As events unfold that lead to Tom and his mates throwing a rager while his mom is out of town, a cabal of evil clown wizards (no, seriously) ressurects Stitches from the grave utilizing a magic egg. He comes back with a chip on his shoulder and a taste for blood! What follows is a hilarious, gory, and downright goofy bloodbath as Stitches exacts his revenge on Tommy and his pals.

Ross Noble does a great job playing the role of an undead psychopath harlequin. He knows the dialogue is ridiculous, and delivers the lines in a deadpan way that makes it impossible not to laugh. That along with the over-the-top kills he scores as the body count piles up is a formula for success. It's one of those movies that "gets it" and revels in classic slasher movie stereotypes while not taking itself too seriously. It lets the audience in on the joke and has the makings of a cult classic.

If you're in the mood for something silly and gory, this budget European import won't disappoint.

Grade: A

Reviewed on VOD via Netflix. Running time 86 MIN.