Monday, September 13, 2010
From the very beginning Resident Evil Afterlife starts off ATTACK OF THE CLONES style. You get to see "CLONES" of Alice (played by Mila Jovovich of Zoolander fame) "ATTACK"ing Wesker (played by Agent Smith of Matrix fame) in his super deluxe underground base. This base is huge. Its practically a large city underneath Tokyo. I bet that the Umbrella corporation rents out some of the base to COBRA when they are fighting G.I. Joe. The action you see never stops. The body count is high and bloody. Bullets fly out of the screen which would look really cool in 3D. Dammit. In fact in 2D the bullets seemed like they were coming out of the screen right at me impacting into the seat in front of me but then I realized that there was a drug deal that went south happening in the front row of the theater. The camera never stops moving but it never distracts from what is happening on film. Anderson captures the intensity of the violence perfectly without shaking the camera all over the place. Michael Bay could learn a thing or two from this movie. Yes, it does look like the Matrix but the actors never turn into digital cartoon characters. The whole beginning could easily be the final climax. The movie could be only ten minutes long and you would feel like you got your money's worth. But Wesker escapes and is able to change the real Alice back to human. That's laughable because she can still do all that crazy impossible acrobatics stuff you see in the previous three films and she survives a plane crash into a mountain but she does lose her psychic telekinetic whatchamacallit abilities. No more Dragonball Z fighting for her.
The rest of the movie settles into a more traditional horror movie premise with Alice seeking refuge at a prison in L.A. (I think) surrounded by the extremely impolite undead. There she meets more characters from the Resident Evil games. My favorite is this large super zombie sporting an axe/hammer that shows up just to be a jerk. I don't know where this guy came from but in his former life he must have been a real bastard. For no reason he comes over to the main gate of the prison and starts hammering it down. Go ahead. Shoot him in the head. That won't stop him. So they have to leave in a hurry and the rest of the movie is spoiler alert territory so I will stop there. I will say that one of the characters who turns out to be the "jerk" character (just like the "jerk" character in the Dawn of the Dead remake) looks like a really skinny Ron Jeremy. Maybe that's just me. Maybe I just watch too much porn. I don't know. You tell me.
Rule #1 for a great horror movie: Anyone can die at anytime. Rule #1. for a great zombie movie: Kill lots of zombies. This new Resident Evil does both. It does what it is suppose to do. Entertain. The movie never slows down. There is always something happening. The music is mostly really moody, sometimes dramatic techno that compliments the polished look of the film. I need to buy the soundtrack. At times the new Resident Evil is kind of scary. The zombies are mutating and provide new challenges when fortifying yourselves from the undead. Apparently they can burrow underground and their faces turn into toothy squids. Yikes.
Paul W.S. Anderson is one of the most hated directors in Hollywood today. The reason why is because he directed the first Resident Evil and it looked almost nothing like the game. The main character could walk and shoot at the same time and there was no giant purple snake. (Insert Purple Snake in my pants joke here) He also made a PG-13 Alien vs. Predator movie which is a big "No-No". But to be fair that is the studio's decision and with studio restrictions he made two really good movies. Now with the leash off Anderson has made a rated R Resident Evil movie that does two great things. 1.) He made a movie that delivers on the promised action and horror the audience seeks and 2.) he pisses off the "die hard" nerds. Good work, my friend. Good work.
Anderson is like John Carpenter from back in the 80's. Carpenter films like The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China are two amazing films that didn't do too well theatrically and were ridiculed by the critics back in the day. But the kids loved them. Today those same critics see The Thing and Big Trouble as new classics. But the kids from those days are grown up and they think they know better. They have forgotten why we love the old 80's films. Those older films showed monsters and zombies all the time. When the 90's came those films became less available in the theaters. Now Anderson brings those monster movies back but with a new more polished look. Where's the love? Hopefully the kids nowadays that grow up with these movies will love them when they get older. I believe eventually some of his movies will be looked back on with similar favor that John Carpenter's films are today.
I don't know. I think the new Resident Evil is my new favorite R.E. film which was previously part 2. The movie isn't perfect but its better than what most people say even when they are giving a positive review about it. Watch it, love it and don't do drug deals in the theater.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The movie is about a Mexican federale whose wife is killed by a drug lord and he is left to die in a burning house while he tries to save some girl. Next thing you know he is in the U.S. illegally and tries to start some kind of new life (I am assuming) working odd jobs. Fahey shows up and offers him a job to kill an "Independent" senator who is against illegal immigration. For a weak reason (they will hurt him if he doesn't accept) he takes the job. Of course its a set-up and Machete spends the rest of the movie running from the bad guys. That is all the plot I am going to give you because there are so many characters and subplots that affect the movie that it would take all day to write. That's a huge problem for a badass movie. Keep it simple. Its like Rodriguez never learned his lesson from Once Upon A Time In Mexico. There were too many characters with stories to tell leaving the action sequences an unimpressive mess of explosions and people running around for no reason in that one. Machete never develops nor does it invoke your emotions to care about most of these characters. Why doesn't Machete refuse the job and kill anybody who tries to hurt him? He has to kill everybody anyway. Machete says he wasn't going to kill the senator. He was just going to shoot him in the neck. I'm pretty sure that would kill him, Machete.
There are a lot of villains but they seem to be put into this movie as nothing more than political cartoons with an agenda. Deniro is the "Independent" Senator who is a racist. Fahey is a businessman who is greedy who works for Deniro and Seagal. Don Johnson is a sheriff along the border who is racist. These are the basic Republicans are evil stereo-types. In the movie universe I accept them as bad guys and can't wait to see Machete kill all of them which is why I went to see this movie in the first place. Rodriguez misses the mark. Machete kills a lot of the low level goons in awesome gruesome fashion but he doesn't kill any of the main bad guys. They all get killed off by each other or by other characters who aren't as interesting. Some of the deaths are really weak sauce. There is a main goon who is kind of like a main villain who is built up pretty good but instead of getting chopped in half by Machete he is strangled by Fahey. That's like killing Darth Vader by pushing him down some stairs. Tom Savini makes a surprise appearance as a hired hit man who kills Machete's brother and instead of getting a machete shoved down his throat he just goes away and is never seen in the movie again. Maybe they will bring him back in a sequel but it seems like there was so much junk going on in this movie that they simply forgot to film him getting killed.
Lindsey Lohan is in this movie! That is not a good thing. Lets just say that she is playing herself. Her story is so not needed in this already packed movie. There is almost no impact on the story with her character. She shows up at the end dressed like a nun shooting a machine gun that knocks every body's gun out of there hand. Everyone gets the message and there is peace. Symbolic? Nope, just stupid. They are called deleted scenes, Rodriguez! Use them!
The whole movie is out of focus in more ways than one. The movie begins with a grindhouse look to the film with scratches and jump edits but as the movie continues it simply looks like a direct-to-video movie. The scratches and old school look disappear after the first ten minutes or so. The movie has a rushed feel to it. I assume that is why there are weak action scenes at the end with weak deaths of the main villains. Deniro's death is a little poetic and Seagal's should have been more badass but its the message that counts. Right? Emotions don't match up sometimes. Machete finds his brother who is a priest nailed to a cross. The next scene is suppose to be a pissed off Machete hacking through waves of baddies getting revenge on the suckers who did that. But that doesn't happen. Instead he goes to Fahey's house and takes down the four guards in ways that don't require blood and guts and intestines. He lets them live. Its a great scene but it should have happened earlier not after Machete is motivated by immediate revenge. Heck, Machete doesn't even take time to cut his brother down. What kind of hermano is that?
At the end there is a big assault on the compound where a bunch of racist white dudes who hunt illegals as they cross the border live. What you see is a bunch of crap thrown on the screen trying to look like a badass ultimate final showdown between illegal aliens and racist rednecks. Everyone shows up, twin nurses, two dish washers, a one-eyed super hot back from the dead Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsey Lohan dressed as a nun carrying a machine gun. Its a mess. The movie becomes less badass and more cartoon. The Expendables was better.
I know there is a lot of negatives but I still really liked Machete. I really liked the over the top violence that is plentiful throughout the film. Danny Trejo is a total badass even though there are some shots where he looks really short. There are still some great scenes with some clever dialogue but I can't recommend it. Rodriguez should watch They Live again. John Carpenter made a sci-fi film that pokes fun at the 80's but it doesn't shove it's political message down your throat. The message doesn't get in the way of the story. Everyone can enjoy it. Machete is a step back for Rodriguez. Hopefully Machete Kills and Machete Kill Again will be better.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I know everyone in the world will disagree with me on this statement but Cigarette Burns is one of the greatest horror pieces ever made. I would put it in my top five favorite horror movies ever. Its only a hour long but it is incredibly imaginative and despite being a straight faced horror film it contains a under lying sense of humor.
Norman Reedus from Boondock Saints fame plays an acquirer of rare films who is sent by a crazy millionaire to find a film that has an extremely dangerous reputation. Wherever the film plays everyone who watches it dies. (Insert joke about Brokeback Mountain here.) Udo Kier plays the millionaire who wants the film. Its called THE END OF THE WORLD. Its a french film and they call it by its french title which sounds way better but I am not looking it up and spelling it out. Its too long and too hard to do. Sorry, but they don't call me "lazy good for nuthin" for nuthin. The film is supposedly lost forever. Udo is obsessed with the film. He never saw it but he has props from the film. In his office he has the poster and these strange life sized angel wings that hang on the wall in his office. To me this is his greatest role. He is only in this film for like maybe a total of seven minutes but he is magnificent as a sophisticated gentleman with a eccentric cruel streak that peaks out when he takes Norman into what I believe is a hidden room where he keeps his most valuable prop from the film. You see a strange being standing in chains on a rotating table. You realize that it is an angel with it's wing cut off. The same wings hanging in the Udo's office. Apparently Udo likes to tease the angel even throwing a piece of ice at it from his drink when he talks to it. The angel knows the film is still out there. Unfazed by all the weirdness Norman sets out to find it.
Cigarette Burns is a creature feature. THE END OF THE WORLD is the monster and it wants to be seen again. It must be seen again. It leads Norman on his journey to be found. When an obstacle gets in his way a cigarette burn shows on the screen and the problem disappears which is especially helpful when you find yourself the star in some crazy European snuff film. By the way a cigarette burn is what they call the black hole that appears on the screen in the theater during a movie that lets the projectionist know when its time to change the reel. I thought I would just throw that important tidbit of information out anywhere instead of at the beginning of this essay where it belongs.
Now there is a whole subplot about Norman's dead wife and his strained relationship with her father but I don't want to talk about that. What I want to talk about is the unintentional meaning I get from Cigarette Burns. I get the feeling this movie is about the power and danger of imagery. In Cigarette Burns it is the image of an angel being tortured on film that plays metaphor for some of today's extreme horror movies. Horror makers seem to want to out due the next guy in the "F'ed up" department. They linger on the atrocious moments of horror believing it's the sick out factor that makes a film scary or stand out. Too many movies do this and they are no longer remembered because Texas Chainsaw Massacre did it thirty years ago and did it better. Story takes a backseat to long projected scenes of rape and torture. The movies become no longer fun to watch but just unpleasant experiences. See Feast 2 or Martyrs for examples.....No, wait! Don't! Is this what Carpenter or the writers were trying to say? There is a scene where a torture porn is being filmed. I don't think so but that's how I saw this movie. It's my own personal interpretation. See it for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
The best thing about this movie is it's humor. I'm not talking about clever one liners or comical situations. Carpenter grew up on 1950's sci-fi. Most of those films had aliens that were kept in the dark until the very end. Those movies built up the expectations of what the monsters looked like but all too often they never lived up to the hype. You would be watching some movie about people getting their faces sucked off by some unseen tentacled monster. For two hours you would wait excited but dreading the moment the alien is revealed. Finally at the climax a giant potato with lobster claws and a blond wig would emerge from the dark and you would have to laugh. This is what you were so afraid of? Well the same thing happens in Cigarette Burns. There is no way in Heck-ola that Carpenter can show a film so scary that it could cause people to go insane. He knows that. So he builds THE END OF THE WORLD up through out the story. You have to see it. You don't know if you can handle it but you watch until the very end. What Carpenter does is he shoots a bunch of crazy images of people screaming and clawing with red skies and stupid stuff everywhere and throws that up on to the screen at the end. THE END OF THE WORLD looks like a bad pretentious student film from France. When you think about it, its hilarious. You better think about it or else.
Cigarette Burns is an episode from the Showtime series Masters of Horror. Each episode is a stand alone mini horror movie directed by the legends of horror. Most of them aren't very good. Cigarette Burns is the best one but oddly enough in season two Carpenter makes the worst one titled Pro-life. It had potential for being great but the movie looks rushed and unfinished with terrible acting and a unimpressive ending. How is that possible? They can't all be great I guess.
Cigarette Burn is great though. If you love it tell your friends. If you hate it tell your enemies. At least there are no scenes of people tied to chairs screaming over and over again "No! Stop, please! Why are you doing this?" for thirty freakin minutes. I'm looking at you Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Oh, wait there is but that one doesn't count.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I get the feeling that maybe Ol' George is losing his memory. Maybe he was watching late night television and the original Dawn of the Dead came on and he was like "Hey, this is a great movie. I wonder who made it. I think I will make my own zombie movie." Meanwhile Tom Savini is calling him on the phone telling him that he made those movies and Romero responds with "Savini who?" That would explain all the crappy digital bulging eyes and cartoony flaming heads we see in Diary and Survival. The original anthology had spectacular practical effects. It was always an interesting story to see how they made all the gore realistic. The new films special effects are easy and not so interesting to explain. I think on the special features of Survival there should be a making of segment that when you click on it all you see is footage of a nerd behind a computer that says "We used computers". The End.
Survival isn't scary. That's the biggest problem. Zombies are no longer scary in the new films. They are used for comic relief. One of the first zombies that dies gets his head get shot off but the top of his head is still intact and falls down onto the neck part that is still intact. Its like a freakin cartoon. Zombies are walking tragedies. At one time they were alive and you see by the clothes they wear who they were before when they died. It gives them character. They look human and you try to reason with them as you feel the unpleasantness of them eating you. There is nothing human behind their eyes. There should be a circle of zombie doom that surrounds our survivors that shrinks and shrinks as the movie progresses until the end where all kinds of zombie carnage happens. That doesn't happen in this one. There is no tension or sense that the world is at its end. They still have Internet and electricity for crying out loud!
The movie starts off really terrible but as the story goes along it does get better and better. The hero is a soldier who leads a small group of comrades to an island that has a feud between two families going on. One family wants to kill all zombies. The other wants to keep them around until a cure is found. Survival is kind of a western with ranches and cowboys and family feuds. Its kind of neat. But just as you find yourself getting into the film something stupid will happen like a zombie riding a horse and you are immediately dropped back down into reality. The hero is very good and interesting. He appears in Diary where he robs the forgettable characters and then leaves. This movie follows him around which is pretty cool. It beats watching the annoying stupid teens from Diary complain and cry for two hours.
I won't lie. I did enjoy most of Survival. There is a lot to forgive but the characters are interesting enough and there are some good unique moments. This is the first zombie movie I can think of where a guy turns into a zombie by biting a zombie. Usually its the other way around. I would have figured the zombie would turn back into a human. What if the zombie did change back by being bit by a human? What am I thinking? That's a stupid idea. But you know what? The zombie genre is so over played that the ideas well is running low enough that I bet somebody will make a zombie movie where that happens. People turn zombies into people. Brilliant. That's so stupid it just might work. When there are no more good ideas for zombie movies, George Romero will make just okay zombie movies.
That's right, folks, Machine Gun McCain is an old 60's Italian heist flick with a lot of setup but almost no pay off. If you look at that poster there are two guys dead on the ground with two more standing up as if they are being shot. Guess what. The two on the ground are the same as the two standing up and neither one of them is shot by the larger than life Machine Gun McCain. They are gunned down by the mob. Does MG McCain shoot anybody? Yeah, he shoots two low level goons near the beginning of the movie. That's it. I think there are maybe three scenes where Machine Gun McCain actually carries a machine gun. Yet despite the fact that the movie doesn't live up to the carnage and excitement the title promises I like this movie.
The premise of this movie is very simple but told in a complicated way. Essentially all that really happens is that Machine Gun McCain is released from prison. He robs a casino that is run by the mob. The mob kills Machine Gun McCain and his wife trying to leave the country. It's the disappointing yet matter-of-fact ending that makes me like this movie. Yes, I did see it coming half way through the movie but I still liked it. This movie answers the question "Why can't villains in movies be really smart?" The answer is "The bad guys would win and then you wouldn't like watching movies anymore". At the end MG McCain is on a boat about to leave. The bad guys show up with his wife. As she runs to him they shoot her in the back. McCain is pissed and charges out after them but he can't find them. They are all hidden. He runs out into the open to his dead wife and BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! McCain is dead. Movie over. You got to love a movie that doesn't insult the audience and tell it like it is. Lesson learned. Don't mess with the mob. Isn't that what would happen in real life?
I guess there is part of me that wanted the movie to insult me with a big shoot 'em up ending where McCain kills all the baddies before either getting away with the money or taken down by enough bullets to bring down Godzilla. I mean that is why I bought the movie in the first place. I watched the trailer on youtube before I bought it and I did notice that there wasn't much in terms of action being shown. But I don't regret it. I enjoyed the whole movie. I have really grown to love Italian cinema because you never know how the movie will end. It doesn't matter how big your star is or how mainstream the movie is if the script calls for the hero's death they die. Happy endings are not as common as they are here in the states. YIKES! I think if Lee Marvin was Machine Gun McCain the movie would have a totally different ending. Nobody messes with Lee Marvin. Well, unless your name is John Wayne.