Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Mirrors is Alexandre Aja's follow-up to The Hills Have Eyes. His first foray into the American Horror genre was a classic in my opinion and he had the unenviable task of trying to outdo himself with yet another remake. This movie stars Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton, and Amy Smart which happens to be a pretty solid cast for a Hollywood horror movie. The only thing that held this movie back was that Aja seemed to not want to go over the line in any of the parts of the movie and the brutality was scaled way back when compared to his first few movies. Oddly enough this was also the only movie that he has ever made that did not need to be cut in order to meet the MPAA's approval.

Mirrors tells the story of a disgraced cop, Ben Carson (Sutherland), who is separated from his wife (Patton) due to an unseen event. He lives with his sister, played by Amy Smart, and he seems to be depressed all of the time. We find out that he killed a cop while he was on an undercover assignment and had been dismissed from the force because of this. Ben takes a job as a night watchman of a department store that had burned down several years prior to the events in the film. He starts to have strange experiences with the mirrors in the store at night and he begins to unravel the mystery of the mirrors and of the events that took place in the store.

This is a movie that desperately needed to take more chances in order to be relevant. The idea of demons being in mirrors is a pretty good concept but you have to do something with it. Aja failed to bring a sense of dread to the movie and that is what ultimately killed its success. There should have been a few more kill scenes (there are really only two) and that is just not a high enough body count for a modern day horror movie. I'm just being realistic on that front, I love some slow burning horror movies with low body counts but they generally have better casts and stories than this movie. When you have a director that has made movies such as High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes, there is a certain expectation for the amount of violence and gore that will be in the movie.

Kiefer Sutherland was also a very odd choice for the "hero" in this movie. He was still in the middle of his run on 24 and I felt like I was watching Jack Bauer fight off a demon threat to America, it just fell flat. Another thing that was flat was the chemistry between Sutherland and Patton, which was damn near non-existent for the duration of the movie. If you can get over the fact that you are pretty much watching a horror- inspired version of Jack Bauer then his performance works pretty well. The few death scenes that are in the movie are actually really well done and actually show how fucking terrifying the creatures in the mirrors could actually be, but the there are no kill scenes after the first 45 minutes which seems like a waste.

This is a movie that just fell flat in almost every way. There were a couple of really well done death scenes but other than that there was nothing to really be impressed by in the movie. This was a really weak offering from one of the great young minds in the horror industry. Aja really needs to start developing his own stories and concepts and shy away from remakes. This movie is by no means an essential movie to see but if you catch it on TV there would be worse things to watch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes remake is fucking incredible, and it demolishes the original in every way possible. This is the movie that introduced Alexandre Aja to American audience and proved once and for all that outside of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Wes Craven's movie properties are generally better as remakes. The movie stars Aaron Stanford, Ted Levine, Emilie de Ravin, Dan Byrd, Vinessa Shaw, Kathleen Quinlan, and Billy Drago. This was one of the first in a long string of remakes in Hollywood and it remains one of the best to date. In my opinion it easily beats The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and Halloween in the remake category.

The Hills Have Eyes tells the story of a family on their way to San Diego for their summer vacation. On their way they deviate from the highway and decide to take some "scenic" back roads that are supposed to be a shortcut. Unbeknownst to them, there is a pack of bloodthirsty mutants residing in the hills around the road they are traveling. Big Bob (Ted Levine) is the head of the family and when the car breaks down he decides to look for help in one direction while his son-in-law Doug goes for help on foot in the other direction.  Big Bob goes missing and that is when the real fun of the movie begins and the mutants begin to brutally attack the family.

This is one of the most graphic movies that you will ever see come out of Hollywood. Most mainstream horror movies tend to shy away from over the top gore these days but this movie embraces it. it also helps when you have one f the best directors in horror movies directing your movie in Alexandre Aja. The cast also does an awesome job with Aaron Stanford being the standout of the movie. Most of the action focuses on him trying to find his kidnapped daughter and seeing him evolve from this meek man to this rabid father that will do anything to save his child is just staggering to watch. He gets in a fight with one of the mutants and just gets brutalized for 90% of the fight and then he realizes that he is smarter than the mutants and finally starts to think instead of just reacting. He takes apart quite a few mutants in horrific fashion and it is glorious to watch. This has become a staple in my collection when I want to see a great gorefest.

This is the best of the horror movie remakes in my personal opinion. The story, acting, and gore are all top notch when compared to any other horror movie. The direction by Aja is just impeccable and this is one of those horror movies that you really can believe because I could see a bunch of psychos picking people off in remote areas. Go see this movie as soon as possible, this is what a modern horror movie strives to be, brutal and scary. This takes all of the great things that the original did and cranks them up to 11, just what a remake is supposed to do. GO. SEE. THIS. NOW.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4

I feel like I could literally copy and paste my review of Paranormal Activity 3 and it would be almost identical to the review for part 4. Instead of being a prequel like part 3, this is a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 2 and it picks up several years after the abduction of Hunter by Katie. This is the new yearly horror franchise that replaced Saw and somehow they have eclipsed the Saw movies in terms of popularity. Even after 2 sub par opening days, the fifth installment of the franchise has just been announced, much to the chagrin of horror enthusiasts.

This installment follows the Nelson family, who live in a very typical upper middle class neighborhood. Katie from the first movie (still possessed) moves in next door with a child and then really weird things start to happen. The kid starts to randomly show up on their property at different times during the day and he moves in with them when Katie is taken off to the hospital with an undisclosed medical condition. As soon as the kid, Robbie, steps in the house weird shit starts to happen. Doors open and close by themselves, and people hear loud noises in the house. Alex Nelson, a teenage girl, and her boyfriend keep track of all of these events by using the webcams installed in the family's various computers to record everything. When these recordings start is when the real fun stuff happens.

There is really no point to these movies anymore, seeing as how each installment is used to set up the next. There is no attempt to have any real conclusion to the film, there is just a cliffhanger that will more than likely have nothing to do with the next movie. There is no reasoning behind why the characters would continue recording in certain situations. The whole movie seems like one big anti-climactic haunted house attraction. This movie carries over none of the innovative effect sequences from the third installment, but it reverts back to using very simple scare tactics that were used in the original but with none of its charm. This was just a huge let down after the surprising performance of the last movie. I really hope the next movie is the final in the series because this movie series really needs to die as soon as possible. None of the actors are compelling and the story is so basic that it is laughable.

This is a franchise that needs to go away as soon as possible. There is no desire by the creators of the series to innovate or even bring a compelling story to the screen. This is just more of the same crap that has been produced for the last 4 years. The only way this franchise could have worked is if the story changed completely from year to year, with whole new scenarios and characters being used. This story has been milked to death and it really needs to be resolved already. Because without a speedy ending this franchise will become a laughing stock, of which I already consider it. This is a steaming piece of shit of a movie and does not deserve anyone's time, the only reason to see this movie is to see the crowd's reactions and they weren't even that great for this movie. AVOID. AT. ALL. COSTS

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iron Sky

Nazis have been the subject of many B-Movies, ranging from horror to action. They have been werewolves, vampires, and zombies but they have rarely been astronauts. For such a serious group of people they get ripped on constantly, generally with hilarious results. The idea of the Nazis residing on the dark side of the moon after losing World War II is just ridiculous, which always the first sign of an awesome B-movie. The movie was co-financed by Finnish, German, and Australian backers so it is kind of a weird mash up of cultures. It takes the charm of those crappy Sci-Fi channel movies and brings along the special effects of a blockbuster.

The movie deals with an American space mission to the moon that is being used by the President of the United States as a re-election platform. She sends a black male model, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), and uses the slogan "Black to the Moon" as her campaign slogan, which is not the greatest of ideas. When they land on the moon, they discover a massive Nazi moon base and James is captured. He meets Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), a Nazi school teacher, who is very idealistic and believes that the Nazis' intentions are pure and peaceful. Then there is her warmongering fiance, Klaus, who wants to be the next Fuhrer of the Nazi Empire. Then the Nazis' plan unfold of trying to take over the world over again using their "space age" technology.

This is a movie that takes everything to 11 and it is just awesome. The acting may not be the best, the story might be predictable, but it doesn't make the movie any less enjoyable. When you are watching a movie about Space Nazis, you really can't expect to get Oscar quality script and acting. The special effects in the movie are actually really good for a B-movie and to be honest they are probably better than 75% of the big budget Hollywood movies out there. The two main characters, James Washington and Renate Richter, are extremely likeable and especially Richter. She really believes that the Nazis' intentions are good and that they are trying to help heal the world. Her concept of the Nazi party is then shattered by watching Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, and from that point on she only wants to destroy the Nazis' plans. There is an outer space battle that has the visual flair of the best scenes from Battlestar Galactica and they are great scenes. The acting overall is not that great and there are a few plot points that are dropped without any follow through, but those are only minor complaints when stacked up against the manic craziness that is the rest of the movie.

Iron Sky is a B-movie through and through. You have space Nazis, a swastika shaped Moon base, and the USS George W. Bush battlecruiser which can only lead to major success. This is a really great B-movie, it is funny, takes chances, and goes over the top for everything which always leads to a quality B-grade movie. This is a movie that encompasses the definition of fun to watch and you should really try and see it as soon as possible. Check it out on DVD, Blu-Ray, or On Demand. SEE. IT. NOW.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poltergeist II

Poltergeist (the original) is one of the best horror movies ever created and unfortunately Poltergeist II does not live up to expectations. The first movie was directed by Tobe Hooper (a legend) and produced by Steven Spielberg (a legend) and neither of them are involved in this mostly lifeless sequel. If you have seen the original, the plot is very similar except the family is now hunted by the leader of the malevolent spirits from the first movie. The cast is almost unchanged with Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, and Zelda Rubenstein returning for another go around. The notable missing actress is Dominique Dunne, who was murdered by her boyfriend after the release of the original. It is a little weird that the movie never explains her disappearance from the family.

The plot is almost exactly the same as the first but it retains nothing from the classic that is the original. This movie does not try to introduce anything new to the franchise except for a centralized villain, who happens to be so over the top that it makes his character seem laughable at times. They use the same effects as the original and the story is just very flat. You know the family is going to be safe at the end and they never really seem to be in any terrible danger. There are a few scenes in the movie that I laughed out loud because they were so corny and they were supposed to be really serious but they weren't to me. This is just a fail of a movie for the most part with a couple of exceptions. 

There are a few things that this movie does nail perfectly. Craig T. Nelson does an awesome job with the material that he is given and his standout scene is when he becomes possessed by The Beast, it is just an awesome scene. He has to become a completely different character and is just super creepy in the scene. The aftermath of the scene is also awesome when you get tot see the transformation of the beast from a small worm into this hulking beast. It has some of the creepiest looking creature designs I have ever seen. Those are the things that movie does great, unfortunately the bad far outweighs the good.

This is a movie that completely and utterly pointless in every way possible. If there was ever an unneeded sequel, this is it. Most of the performances in the movie are wooden and lifeless, to go along with a shit story. The only standout is Craig T. Nelson, who does a great job with the material given to him. This is a movie that I cannot recommend except for seeing the transformation scene towards the end of the movie, it is spectacular. This movie is a shit sandwich, so don't eat it. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NYCC Coverage: Evil Dead

I got the awesome opportunity to sit in on the Evil Dead Remake panel on Saturday at New York Comic Con. We were not allowed to record any of the footage under the threat of death (kidding), but I can say that it looks absolutely fucking amazing. This is not the horror/black comedy of the original, the remake is going to be pure balls to the wall, brutal horror. We got to see the world premiere trailer which also happened to be red-band. From what they showed in the trailer, the main character will be a female, Mia (Jane Levy),and will still revolve around the group finding the Necronomicon and unleashing the horrors within it. They showed footage of a demonic infected arm with a saw being put up to it, a potential tree rape, and the final shot was of Mia being trapped in the basement with one of the possessed. Mia being trapped in the basement provided the trailer's creepiest shot with her coming face to face with one of the possessed and the demon then sliced its own tongue down the middle with a razor. Without you actually being able to see it,  my explanation loses a little of the power that the trailer had. This was the best thing that I was over the weekend and the movie just looks incredible. Now we get to the panel itself.

Bruce Campbell was the highlight of Comic Con for me, he was funny and witty from the beginning of the panel to the end. He was able to justify the remake and got the crowd really pumped for it. Having Sam Raimi and him being the producers of the film, I have full confidence that it is going to be awesome. The question an answer session was pretty standard stuff with 99% of the questions going to Bruce. The highlight of the Q&A was when a female was asking Bruce a question and started to cry mid-question because she was so nervous. Bruce told her to come to the edge of the stage, he gave her a kiss and 5 bucks, and told her to hit the road. It was one of the greatest things I have ever see, it was both funny and sweet all at the same time.

This was the best panel of the day and it was great to finally see Bruce Campbell in person. The director that they chose also seems to have a real passion for the material and he wrote the movie as well. They also brought in Diablo Cody to clean up some of the dialogue because the director is foreign and didn't have a full grasp of all of the terms we use. Bruce put it best when he said, "we're old men, what do we know about how young people talk, plus she won a fucking oscar". Jane Levy also seems like she is going to be a solid lead, because she really believes in the material and said she would have done anything to get the role. She said after she watched the trailer that it actually scared the shit out of her and it was the first time she was seeing footage from the movie.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Katy Perry: Part of Me

Katy Perry: Part of Me would not be a movie that I would generally go to a movie theater to see. Being the only guy in a theater filled with teenage girls and women is not a good look. Not wanting to be the creepy guy in the theater, I chose to watch this at home. I must say that I was really impressed by the movie itself and especially Katy Perry. After seeing this movie I can now admit that I am a fan of Katy Perry, maybe not her music but definitely a fan of her as a person. She is an example of what hard work and determination can get you in this world and that is what the real message of the film ultimately is.

The performances in the film are very high quality and the movie doesn't just focus on her main hits, it also shows her earlier music which has an Alanis Morissette quality to it. Her earlier music is actually very good and it would have been very interesting to see where her career would have been now had she been allowed by her record label to continue to pursue that alternative style. Through the course of the movie you get to see her triumph over all of these obstacles no matter how big they are and she becomes a better person because of it. You get to see her perform on stage in front of 10s of thousands of people, backstage during rehearsals, and in the studio. The best performance of the entire movie comes in the form of Katy covering The Beatles "Hey Jude", and it is fantastic. It is the first time that I feel she was really singing in the movie and not just performing and it made me see how truly talented she is.

On a separate note, you also get to see how her marriage with Russell Brand erodes over the course of her tour. They start out being madly in love and she is traveling to see him in between tour dates and it just starts to erode away. He seems jealous of her success and all of the attention that she is getting and seems agitated every time that he is backstage with her. Thought he was a complete tool before seeing this movie and this movie just reinforced my opinion of him.

This is one of the better music documentaries that I have seen in some time. The movie really does reveal how talented Katy Perry truly is and show the great lengths she had to go through to become successful. Her performances in the movie are top notch and her stage presence is ridiculously good, as she commands the attention of tens of thousands of people at a time. If you are a fan of her music or her boobs (for the guys) then this movie is made for you. Stream this online or pick it up on Blu Ray, either way it is worth your
viewing time. I included her version of "Hey Jude" for your listening pleasure.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pitch Perfect

This is a movie that I was pumped for from the first time that I was the trailer. I am a huge Workaholics fan, and it was awesome to see Adam DeVine from Workaholics getting a shot at the big screen. I also for whatever reason tend to like these campy PG-13 movies, so I was ready to see it opening weekend. The cast includes Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The cast in this movie is very talented and most really have to be triple threats, acting, singing, and dancing. I am also a fan of having Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow on-screen at the same time because they are both extremely easy on the eyes and are very good actresses.

The story follows an all-girls a capella group, The Bellas, who try to beat the reigning a cappella group, The Treble Makers. Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, wishes to become a famous DJ in Los Angeles, is forced to go to college in Carolina because her father disapproves. There she is introduced to the Bellas, who are scouting for new members. She also meets a boy who works in the radio station with her. One girl suggests that she should audition, but Beca turns down the offer. She later decides to audition, and passes the test along with Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson, and a few other girls. It turns out the boy she met passed the test to be in the Treble Makers, rivals against the Bellas. Both of these groups aim for winning the international a cappella contest, creating tension, and forbidden romance.

First and foremost, this is a comedy and it turned out to be one of the funniest movies of the year so far. I laughed out loud pretty consistently throughout the entire movie and that to me, is the sign of a good comedy. If you are sitting around waiting for the next laugh and not engaged in the story then the filmmakers messed up.  It was also great to see that the trailer did not spoil the funniest parts of the movie and instead used a lot of alternate takes for the material in the trailer. The quiet Asian girl in The Bellas is fucking hysterical, she says the most outrageous shit underneath her breath and it was just too funny at certain points.

Anna Kendrick plays the outsider in this movie, not wanting to connect with anyone around her because she thinks that she is going to go off to LA to produce music. She can really sing, if it is really her singing in the movie, and it just adds another dimension to talent that was never shown on-screen before. Rebel Wilson steals the show in every scene that she is in, and provides most the biggest laughs in the film. Her character is not-self conscious about her appearance and that is refreshing to see when plus-sized women are usual made fun of or relegated to lesser roles in movies. The mash-ups in the movie are also creative for the most part even if they exclusively use overplayed pop music, but since they are so well done it actually adds to the movie rather than take away from it. This movie is what the show Glee wants to be but it will never get there because it is too campy and wacky for its own good.

The movie is slightly predictable and you can tell what is going to happen over the course of the movie within the first half hour but it still a good ride. There is also no real clear-cut villain in the movie, not that there really could be in a movie about a college a cappella group. Other than those very minor complaints this movie is solid as hell.  There also could have been more Brittany Snow in the movie but can't really complain because she is smokin’ hot in almost every scene that she is in. The shower scene with her and Anna Kendrick pretty much made the movie worth seeing by itself.


Pitch Perfect is one of the best comedies of 2012 and features some of the best young female talent that Hollywood has to offer. Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, and Brittany Snow make the movie worth seeing and that especially goes for Wilson, who steals every scene that she is in. I actually ended up liking this better than Bridesmaids because it was just a flat-out funnier movie. It was also great seeing Adam DeVine from Workaholics bring his comedic styling to the big screen. Go see this movie, and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones is a movie in the same vein as the Hostel franchise or Wolf Creek. The horror "sub-genre" of torture porn was really popular about 5-6 years ago and a lot of movie studio decided to make a ton of the movies no matter what the stories were. The problem with these movies is that they generally throw away the concept of characterization and focus solely on the violence. The movie has the premise that sounds very standard but the execution of the story and the quality of the characters elevates this into the upper tier of the genre and it seems to have a little more behind it than your standard crappy torture porn horror movie.

The Loved Ones follows Brent, a high school student recovering from a car accident that claimed the life of his father. He is approached by Lola to go to the prom but he is going with his girlfriend already and turns Lola down. Turns out that Lola is a crazed psychopath who has her "daddy" kidnap Brent. Lola and her "daddy" create a fake prom in their secluded house and Lola is the Prom Queen and Brent is the Prom King. They torture him in hopes that he will change his mind and fall in  love with Lola. From that point on it is a mad dash for Brent to try and escape, his mother to find him, and for Lola to fulfill her psychotic fantasies.

The thing thing that really separates The Loved Ones from the shitty movies in the genre is the fact that the characters are interesting and the villain is absolutely batshit insane. The main character, Brent, is a genuinely good guy dealing with the death of his dad that he feels responsible. He turns to cutting and drug use to try and dull the pain, and when he rebukes Lola there is no intention of hurting her. She has other plans though. Generally in a movie like this, the main character would be a jock and act like a jerk then would learn a lesson from his experiences. Brent just got targeted by a psycho and had to suffer the consequences.

The villain, Lola, is fucking brilliant in this movie and is a stand out in the horror genre. She is the embodiment of hatred and pure evil, and she will stop at nothing to get exactly what she wants. She lobotomizes people and has an incestual relationship with her dad, that pretty much sounds like pure evil to me. She seems like such a mousy outsider when you first meet her, then you realize that she is a tornado of crazy and will tear apart anyone in her path. She is damaged in just about every possible way a human could possibly be damaged and that is what makes her so engaging. You don't know much about her past and that is what makes her a compelling villain, you want to know what fucked her up.

This is a great horror movie, and while I am not a huge fan of the "torture porn" genre, I am a huge fan of this movie. The performances are stellar and the violence is brutal which is always a successful combo for a horror movie. This is a much more effective movie than Hostel or even Wolf Creek. This movies is certainly not for everyone and I would only recommend it if you are a fan of horror movies with brutal violence. Give it a watch on Amazon On Demand or on DVD.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Exit Humanity

This is a movie that I have seen previews for several times over the past year. Each time I saw it, in my mind I was saying, "looks cool but seems just like every other zombie movie". I will admit that I was completely wrong because this kicks the shit out of any movie/television show involving zombies over the past five years.  The fact that it takes place during the Civil War and the years immediately following the Civil War only adds to the greatness of the film. Every actor in the movie leaves their mark on it and it introduces a few legends of the horror genre to the new generation of horror viewers.

Exit Humanity tells the tale of Edward Young, a confederate soldier, who during the course of being ambushed by a squad of Union soldiers comes face to face with a zombified soldier. He takes the zombie down and then we find out that six years later there has been a zombie outbreak in Tennessee. His wife and child become zombies and he is forced to take action. He comes face to face with the realization that he has nothing left and latches on to a promise he made to his dead son. The promise he made is the only thing that is keeping him going and continuing to fight for his life. Along the way on his journey he meets several unlikely allies and runs afoul of an ex-Union General, who has become consumed with the idea that there is a cure for the zombie outbreak.

This sounds like a pretty lame story doesn't it. Well get ready to have your fucking mind blown. This is a movie that will be considered one of the best movies in the zombie genre t have ever been created. The zombie action isn't really the main part of the movie, it is essential but it doesn't define the movie itself. The thing The Walking Dead comic book does so well is to bring the humanity out in the cast of characters and you see how each and every decision they make affects them on a personal level. That is one thing that Exit Humanity replicates almost perfectly, and Mark Gibson, who plays the main character, carries the movie alone with his performance. His performance is marvelous and he portrays every type of emotion that you could possibly have in his performance. You see how killing zombies effects him over time because he begins to have the realization that they were once people and need to be respected in a way. It is an odd realization to have but it fits in line with the nature of the character. He is a good man stuck in an unbelievably horrible situation that is trying to regain a semblance of his former being.

The movie itself is beautifully shot and some of the shots in the movie rival that of one with 10 times the budget. The film has a bleached look to it but it never detracts from the viewer's experience, it only adds to it. There is no over the top gore in this movie and it happens to be one of the strong points of the movie because it relies on telling a top notch story instead of relying on gruesome deaths to draw in viewers. This is a story about how people deal with a horrible situation and how it can change those people, for better or worse. This is the type of movie that comes along once every few years and it really needs to be seen to be appreciated.

A Must See

This is one of the best horror movies that I have seen so far this year. I did not expect to like this movie at all but in the end I loved it. Having genuinely well thought out characters coupled with a great story and gorgeous cinematography will hook me 10 out of 10 times. The cast was spectacular and I foresee great things in the future for the lead, Mark Gibson. I really wish the Walking Dead television show could replicate the heart that this movie had because it could then be considered to be a truly great show. Until that day comes, Exit Humanity is the best entry into the zombie/horror genre for the past few years. Watch it on Netflix or on DVD, just see it as soon as possible. This is perfect for those of you who are horror movie fans that love zombie movies.