Friday, July 29, 2011

THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD! The 80's were the best.

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD is by far one of the greatest zombie movies ever made.  No zombie movie could ever duplicate the unique horror comic book style that this movie has.  As a zombie movie it defies zombie movie rule #1 which is KILL LOTS OF ZOMBIES.  Yet the movie is one of the greatest.  You can't kill these bastards.  Shooting them in the head doesn't work.  They also run and can think and talk.  That is not a good combination for our characters.  In fact there isn't a lot of people that could survive the situation our heroes face in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.  We would all die too......Well, I wouldn't.  I would be just fine.

This is a film that every person that plans to make horror movies should study.  It is so easy to not understand what makes this movie work.  Just watch THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD part 2 for an example of failure to understand.  What a lazy piece of crap.  Yes, ROTLD is a dark comedy but it is not a complete comedy.  The horrors in this film are genuine.  What makes this movie work is the characters.  Particularly the old warehouse keeper and his new employee.  Their antics in the hospital store supply warehouse are so interesting that you could make the whole movie about these two guys and not have any zombies whatsoever.  The horror element is a bonus.  Those two along with the coroner (who is a possible ex-Nazi) and Burt (Clu Gulager) walking around talking about cadavers and all the weird stuff in the warehouse would make a great little indie movie.  The punk teenagers there to die are fun too.  They just basically bitch around, party and look as 80's as possible.  Brings back memories it does.  The whole movie is just a bunch of people trapped in a couple of buildings surrounded by the undead until the army finds out and nukes them.  Of course this just makes things worse.

It is so creepy to have zombies talk.  They essentially are human with an uncontrollable need to eat brains.  (YOU HEAR THAT, NECROPOLIS AND RAVE FROM THE GRAVE!?!  They eat brains not flesh and organs!  Get it right, morons.)    I love the first zombie that rises from the grave.  It's just a complete skeleton with eyeballs.  It looks fake as hell but it adds a slight cartoonish aspect to the film.  This falls in line with the comic book element to the film.  Overall the zombies look different than zombies from other films.  They are a little more colorful.  Some are just completely decomposed with not much skin at all but others are brightly colored blue and yellow.  The naked chick zombie has a monster face with a jaw that hyper extends when it bites the tops of peoples heads.  They run too which hadn't happen (as far as I know) since NIGHTMARE CITY.   But the zombies in NIGHTMARE CITY used machine guns too. (The cheating bastards)  The only way to kill them is to completely burn them to ash.  Cut their heads off and they will still keep coming.  Cut their arms off and their arms will try to kill you.  Its all rather frustrating.  Its like playing Resident Evil 2 with just the knife.  IT SUCKS!

The sequels are all crap.  They suck on so many levels that it would take volumes to explain.  It hurts my face just to try and watch them.  Here we have one of the greatest horror movies ever made with the worst sequels ever made.  Not one single one of them is good but they show just how brilliant director Dan O'Bannon was.  It's not easy to make a zombie movie.  He took a terrible script and reworked it into a fun terrifying zombie movie.  He was one of the greats. 



ARMY OF ONE is a strange hybrid of car chase movie and shoot'em up blood all over the place John Woo style action film and it's great!  Being a Dolph Lundgren fan I figured this one to be just a mediocre, kind of boring but it has it's moments kind of film.  Let's face it.  His movies tend to be not the greatest.  That really isn't his fault though.  He as an actor can be quite good given the right material.  If he gets the right director with the real actors to support his role Lundgren can be great.  This is one of those movies.  Okay, maybe he isn't that great in this but he is still good.

Framed for the murder of his truck driving partner (Hey! Ken Foree is in this!) by two crooked cops, Lundgren escapes jail and seeks revenge on those responsible.  For some dumb reason while on the run he kidnaps a woman and steals her truck in front of HUNDREDS OF POLICE!  Yea, maybe the writing isn't that smart or maybe Lundgren's character is suppose to be really stupid on occasion.  Anyway this turns into one long car chase until the end of the movie where we learn that the woman that was kidnapped is a cop and she learns that Lundgren is innocent. 

Basically Lundgren and Foree drive big rigs that transport exotic cars for a local gangster named Shoeshines.  The two crooked cops insure that the trucks pass through their district without being pulled over.  Lundgren goes after Shoeshine where they both meet at a warehouse where Shoeshine keeps his exotic cars.  Shoeshine brings along hundreds of goons.  This is where the movie gets awesome.  There is a really long gun battle where Lundgren shoots the crap out of everybody.  Slow-mo shots are heavily used and the squibs explode with massive blood flow.  The whole scene looks ripped off from the garage shoot out from HARD BOILED.  Lundgren is unstoppable and lives up to the title of the movie.........I don't know, man.  I got to say I think Lundgren was using some kind of cheat code.  When he shoots his shotgun not one but up to three shots come out of it at once.  You will see Lundgren shoot his shotgun and then the reaction shot is some poor bastard in a jump suit exploding three different times like the gun shot three blasts.  When Lundgren shoots a pistol bullets fly out like a machine gun.  It's kind of weird.  And don't get me started on how his guns almost never seem to run out of ammo.  The whole action scene is awesome and a rarity in most American action films.  It's pretty good and it makes Lundgren look like a badass even though his character is just some driver that happens to be able to kill hundreds of guys.  There is so much going on that I thought this was the end of the film but it wasn't.  This was the halfway mark.

At times the writing is really good.  Those times are when the two crooked cops (One played by George Segal) are bickering like a married couple.  Geoffrey Lewis is also in this movie as the good guy sheriff.  These kind of real actors keep the movie going.  In a lot of low budget movies that tend to be filmed in Bulgaria because it's cheaper these supporting parts are filled with not so good actors.  They have a hard time bring some kind of talent to the screen and keep things interesting.  Good actors can make a mediocre movie better than what it should be.  Some of the direction is really creative too.  The opening shots of the desert are impressive and tricky.

If you are a fan of Lundgren or car chase shoot'em up too much to where you basically killed them twice before they hit the ground kind of movies then you should like this one.  I think it's a pretty good little gem of a film.  Hope you like it.  How come this is on DVD and I COME IN PEACE isn't?  Also why is this movie also called JOSHUA TREE?  Give me a break.  Let's not get all artsy-fartsy with the title, folks.  It's a dumb action movie not a U2 album.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT! A nice companion piece to CEMETERY MAN.

DYLAN DOG:  DEAD OF NIGHT is a WAY better movie than what it is given credit for.  I know the movie is PG-13 but thats okay.  It really doesn't need to be R.  In fact I couldn't tell the difference anyway.  There are dead bodies and blood and guts and body parts all over the place in this supernatural mystery movie.  There really isn't much to complain about.   Maybe I am going a little overboard but I would argue that this is a great movie and probably one of the best comic book movies released this year.  Thats right I said it.  Come and get me, NERDOs.

Dylan Dog (played by ME lookalike Brandon Routh) is a retired supernatural detective brought out of retirement by the death of his comedic sidekick while the two were investigating the death of an antique dealer.  Fortunately his sidekick was killed by a zombie so now he is a zombie dealing with the fact the he is now undead.  The story weaves the two in and out between the various monsters and how they live in human society.  Its all rather fascinating to learn of this underworld.  They meet with werewolves, vampires, zombies and worst of all..............MAN! 

You know what the best thing about DYLAN DOG is?  ITS NOT A FREAKIN ORIGIN STORY!  That is why the new Spider-man movie is going to suck.  Its not because the movie is poorly made or anything.  But because its a story we already know.  We have been told it not just with the original Sam Raimi SPIDER-MAN but with almost every single comic book super hero movie that comes out to theaters.  DYLAN DOG is more unpredictable (even though I predicted who the villain would be. You probably did too.)  because it doesn't start at the very beginning of his foray into the supernatural.  His back story is mentioned but is kept a little vague.  What is more important is how the underworld doesn't trust Dylan Dog anymore.  Monsters aren't necessarily bad.  Most are good and Dylan keeps them in check.  He had a relationship with the multiple factions until an event occurred that cost Dylan the woman he loves.  He got his revenge and now the undead have no love for him anymore.  Pretty cool back story, don't ya think?  There isn't any of this "with great power comes great responsibility" bull crap.

The movie as a whole is very creative.  The story is tightly told and is very funny when it wants to be.  Dylan Dog can go from charming and fun to a serious and badass action hero.  The dialogue is sharp and funny.  There are tons of really great moments too.  The scene where Dylan storms a vampire's home killing all the blood suckers and forcing the head vampire to talk by simply standing out the way of sunshine was total badass.  It's a great way of showing that even the powerful are weak.  Why did we not see this in theaters.  And why do some really great movies bomb?  This isn't a watered down PG-13.  It pushes the rating.  This is kind of a CAPTAIN AMERICA PG-13 where there is on screen death and blood but it doesn't go overboard with it.

I am pretty sure DYLAN DOG the movie is a far cry from DYLAN DOG the comic but that doesn't mean the movie itself is bad.  It would have been cool if Francesco Dellamorte would make a cameo in the movie just like he did in the comic but that would make this movie a little too smart.  I guess maybe I will notice more of the flaws the next time I watch DYLAN DOG.  Maybe next time I won't heap so much praise.  But as for now I can't say enough good things about this movie.  I love monster movies and I love it when I have low expectations for a film and the film completely blows them away.  Who knows maybe the same thing will happen when I see TRANSFORMERS part 3...............................Not bloody likely.


Saturday, July 16, 2011


There is a war going on between the angels of Heaven and the demons of Hell.  Their battlefield?  Earth.  The war is in a stalemate with neither side holding the advantage.  One lowly cop still grieving over the death of his family holds the key to sway the battle into one's favor.  Now the battle has moved into the streets of New York as the two sides fight for the cop's soul.  The cop's name?  MAX PAYNE.  I'm sorry, folks.  I haven't seen this movie yet.  I am going by what the trailers are showing me.  Please excuse me for a minute while I put the DVD in and watch the movie.


I feel like I just read an entire phone book TWICE!  Could the trailers be more dishonest?  They make this movie look like its LORD OF THE RINGS or something.

In all honesty I am a big fan of the original MAX PAYNE video game (except the dream sequence parts).  I was really hoping that the movie would be good.  I wanted a high energy action packed Hong Kong inspired shoot'em up that would rival anything John Woo had done in his Chow-Yun Fat days.  But this is an American made action movie so you have to throw out all the action scenes and convoluted the simple story to make it more complex with lots of characters and talking.  That means the movie is smart.  When I first saw the trailers I could see that they were focusing the action element of MAX PAYNE on the visuals of CGI angels and fiery skies.  I knew there wasn't going to be much action or anything resembling the game.  In the game drugged out freaks kept speaking about "the flesh of angels".  So that means we get to see a bunch of CGI angels that aren't even real and have nothing to do with what is happening in the film.  All I am saying is that when it came out in theaters I stayed home and watched porn.  Hi, mom!

Like almost every video game movie adaptation, MAX PAYNE completely misses the point of what the game was.  The MP video game was about delivering a John Woo action experience.  The game play was molded around John Woo's directing style.  In the game when you slowed down time to jump in the air and kill bad guys you were actually directing your own action movie with your controller.  You could change the camera angles to the right moment to show how badass your character looked shooting that mobster in the face.  How cool is that?  The movie, however, is a forgettable cliched riddled wannabe tough cop movie that can't even do that right.  The action has been completely replaced with long periods of Max Payne walking and or just standing there with that blank "I'm Mark Walberg.  I'm in this movie" look on his face.

Forget about the lack of action.  As a tough-cop-out-to-get-answers movie MAX PAYNE fails in every aspect.  Take for example Max's character.  He is suppose to be a burned out cop obsessed with finding his family's killer.  He is so destroyed by his loss that he wears nice clothes under an expensive leather coat.  He is clean shaven with a perfect hair cut and he has perfect posture.  I assume he works out too.  I don't think he takes any pain medication like he does in the game.  Just the way the character looks contradicts the character's motivation.  He looks more like a guy out on the town looking to "hook up" than a homicide detective solving his own wife's murder.  Also isn't it a little too obvious to make Beau Bridges the killer of Max's wife and child.  Why do these movies go in circles to come around again to "the person we least suspect".  I didn't least suspect him.  The lack of story creativity lead me to the conclusion that he did it. 

Every scene happens too fast or too slow.  You are not sure what is happening or why.  In film, scenes have "beats".  There is rhythm to scenes that are moved by dialogue, music or camera work.  This is done to stress emotion or the point of a moment.  If done well a movie will never get boring or tedious.  In MP there is none of this.  Scenes plod along with almost no point and then quickly cut to another scene with no imprint on your mind as to what is happening and then quickly cut to another.  No time is spent on development.  Characters have dramatic conversations with one another almost right away as if we knew their relationships already.  The whole story seems pointless with weak coincidences occurring or fast edits to propel the movie forward.  How many tattoo artists do you know that happen to not only know about Viking history but have a book on the counter to illustrate the point? 

MAX PAYNE the movie is full of visual boringness.  They filmed this thing with the latest technologically advanced cameras with expensive special effects with different camera angles yet nothing stands out.  Nothing leaves an impression on your mind.  The whole movie is one big grey blotch in your memory.  I can't remember half the stuff that happens in this movie.  Actually MAX PAYNE reminds me of DOOM the movie.  Both have that drug (or whatever) that turns people crazy or turns that one percent into invincible killers.  I wonder if the makers of that movie made MAX PAYNE too.  They both feel like the same damn movie.  The director apparently thinks he is remaking THE MATRIX with those irritatingly slow motion action moments where it takes five minutes to shoot some idiot that can't use a scoped machine gun behind you.

In the games there were these horrible drugged fuel nightmare levels where you had to follow long trails of blood that maze over total darkness.  These levels were horrible and didn't fit with the rest of the game.  In my opinion the creators of the movie basically made the movie about those levels.  That is the exact opposite of what we wanted in a MAX PAYNE movie.  Congratulations, movie makers.  You suck.  It's one long bad music video, folks.  It's sleek.  It's stale.  And it sucks.  Buy it for someone you hate.



HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is one of the best exploitation films ever made.  The film is a colorful well contained mess of high imagination and low brow gore effects.  Originally after watching the trailer I kind of felt like this was more of a Troma produced cheap fun but completely stupid style of movie making.  Troma films are made cheaply and are meant to be stupid and nothing more.  There is no art to them.  The mentality behind them is just make something outrageous to capture the young stoned out minds attention.  After watching HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN I can tell you that this movie is nothing like them at all. 

Rutger Hauer is a hobo who gets a shotgun and starts shooting all the criminals in his neighborhood.  This doesn't sit too well with The Drake, the local crime boss and his two sadistic sons  Ivan and Slick. Apparently both sons are played by ALL THE RIGHT MOVES and RISKY BUSINESS style Tom Cruise I could be wrong though.  The Drake and his two sons spend the movie trying to kill Hobo but to no avail.  Along the way Hobo meets a hooker who helps him but that's boring I don't want to talk about that. 

The film does have a retro vibe to it.  But it is also visually unique creating its own feel like a movie you have never seen before.  Its not just another modern exploitation movie filmed in "GRINDHOUSE-O-VISION".  This is more like filmed in "JASON EISENER-O-VISION" or whatever you want to call it.  The energy is high in this movie and seldom does it drop leaving your mind to think of other things going on in your life.  HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN keeps your attention throughout.  This is a colorful film.  In fact there is so much color in this film that the colors seem to bleed into one another.  Its never bland and grey.  I think most low budget directors would go for a more obvious depressing look.  Most directors take film too seriously and try to make everything as realistic and dark and moody as possible losing the fun aspect to a movie like this.  There is a lot of heart in this film.  The creators give the Hobo character some depth giving the audience a person to care about.  Hobo just wants to buy a damn lawn mower so he can start his own lawn mowing business. 

THE PLAGUE!!!!  There is a lot of outrageous stuff going on in this movie.  But just when you think you have seen everything the movie brings out The Plague.  The Drake calls in these two biker hit men, bounty hunters or astronauts from hell.  I don't know what their occupation is but they are totally badass.  Both of them are dressed in full metal armor.  One looks like a metal samurai S.S. storm trooper and the other is more like the devil's washing machine that makes "TRON" sounds.  They are totally badass.  The samurai one cuts people in the leg while the devil's washing machine follows behind and hangs the wounded to the ceiling with his harpoon noose gun.  Its really cool.  They kind of remind me of the NEON MANIACS.  These two psychos come from another movie all together.  They look like they belong in KAIJU-MONSTER BATTLE.  In fact back at their lair they are fighting a giant squid for some reason.  I guess they are Anti-Monster Creation which is good because Pro-Monster Creation is just sick.  It's sick I tell you!  That's a testament to Rutger Hauer's badassness when the bad guy has to call in villains from another movie all together just to take him down.

There is high quality professional film making mixed with some amateur writing and dialogue.  Hauer shines above all with his support cast usually keeping up but not always.  It's a small complaint but every now and then you get that "these are the local community actors" impression from the supporting cast.  That doesn't happen too often though.  The movie does lose a little bit of steam at the end with the hooker showing up dressed like EXTERMINATOR 2 and DEAD-ALIVE.  She saves the day which is fine but I would have liked to have seen Hobo shoot more baddies at the end with his shotgun.  Again it's just a small complaint. 

The film makers enjoy the art of film making and it shows in every scene.  Unlike Troma films HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is made with care and control even when it doesn't look like it.  This film could have been a lot more tasteless to the point of unwatchable.  I'm talking TOKYO GORE POLICE.  But it never goes that far.  Even the blow torching the kids in the school bus scene wasn't too terrible.  I kind of thought it was funny.  The payoff is when the scorched bus comes back to claim the soul of Slick and take him to hell.  That scene itself shows that HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN is operating on a higher level of creativity.  That is why I am considering putting this film up in my mental list of top ten all time favorite films but I don't know.  I need to watch this one again soon to make sure.  All I am saying is if you like hobos with shotguns shooting pedophile Santas in the face then you should check out HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.  It's good fun.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS: Best Horror Movie Ending Ever!?!

When is a movie not really a movie?  When its called JOHN CARPENTER'S IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  This is one of his greatest films.  As usual it is overlooked by many in the horror community even by Carpenter's own fans.  I admit it.  I only wanted to see this film because he directed it.  But honestly I didn't think the movie was going to be special.  I was wrong.  I am pretty much just going to talk about the ending so if you haven't seen this movie PLEASE STOP READING NOW!  Trust me.  This is a film you want to watch in complete ignorance.  Watch the movie.  Contemplate everything you just watched.  When it sinks in as to what you just watched it will blow your mind.  Wait maybe you shouldn't.  The whole point to IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is to not watch IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS. 

So yeah,  IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS starts off just like any normal movie.  You have opening credits set to awesome rock music.  We are introduced to characters and a story develops.  Nothing strange about that, right?  Sam Neil plays John Trent.  He is a freelance insurance investigator.  No one holds his leash.  He is his own Han Solo.  A publishing company hires him to find Sutter Cane their most prized author.  Sutter Cane writes extremely popular horror novels that sell out all over the world and have caused people to go crazy.  He has gone missing while writing his latest book IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  Trent figures out that Sutter Cane is hiding in a town not on the map called Hobbs End.  Along with the book publisher's editor Linda Styles played by Julie Carmen the two set off on a road trip to find him.  Just like most movies there is a little tiny bit of a spark between the two.  At least Trent thinks so.  Every movie has to have a love interest, right?

After a couple of strange occurrences the two magically find Hobbs End.  There they discover that the Sutter Cane's stories are coming to life.  The two witness events from his books take place right before their eyes.  Trent can't accept what he is seeing as real because monsters and crazy stuff doesn't happen in reality.  True that, but he isn't living in reality.  Its at this point where IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS stops being a real movie.  Something else is happening.  A great revelation is occuring and Trent can't see it.  After finding Sutter Cane and understanding that his new book will turn everyone who reads it into monsters, Trent spends whats left of the movie trying to stop the book from being published.  He doesn't understand what is going on.  He burns the book and goes back to the publisher only to discover that he has already been there months before and hand delivered the book which has just been published.  Unable to stop the madness from spreading because Sutter Cane has become some kind of god Trent goes out and axes some guy who just bought the book.  Trent ends up in an asylum.

So the world goes to hell and the dark forces release Trent from the asylum.  With nothing better to do he goes to a still functioning movie theater that is playing the movie version of IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.  This is the best part.  He sees himself on the big screen and everything he has just been through from the very start of the credits.  That means the story that turns people into monsters is the very same story that we the audience have been watching this whole time.  Anyone who watches this movie will turn into monsters.  Well maybe not really but it is kind of cool how fiction almost seems to become reality.  Trent realizes that he is not a person but a character in a story.  He doesn't live in reality so monsters and crazy crap can happen.  This isn't a real movie but merely a device to change the world into monsters.

This is a great creature feature.  This isn't a movie you have seen before.  There are quite a few monsters in this movie even though they are rarely glimpsed.  Obviously H.P. Lovecraft was a heavy inspiration on their design.  They look real.  Even the story and buildings of Hobbs End could have come from the imagination of Lovecraft.  Could you imagine this movie being made today.  You would probably have a bunch of cartoons jumping around rooftop to rooftop not being very realistic or scary.  All the suspense would be lost.  The first time I saw IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS I was a little bored with it.  It was a little too weird for me and I was about to throw it into the NAKED LUNCH nonsense category of horror.  There is a lot of weird crap in this movie.  But after seeing the ending I was shocked at how cool and original this movie was.  Despite how weird the movie is it does make sense.  You probably will never see another movie like this again.  But that is just because you turned into a squid-faced monster and ate the neighbor's cat, ya freak.