Sunday, February 28, 2010

Take a Hard Ride (USA. 1975)

A weirdo mix of spaghetti western tropes mixed up with the stars of the Blaxploitation boom.
Antonio Margheriti (Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor: Bounty Hunter) directs Jim Brown (Slaughter), Fred Williamson (Black Cobra) and a mute Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones) through epic desert iconography.Through all this, Lee Van Cleef hovers around the side lines not doing much. It's fun stuff staged competently by Margheriti, but its nothing earth shattering, and it all falls apart in a climax that feels like they ran out of money.

It's a solid Italian Western and is worth the watch for the sheer oddity value.

Boss Nigger (USA. 1975)

Fairly routine American Western (The third in a trilogy!) that's only notable for its racial slur title (and wicked theme song!), the presence of the always bad-ass Fred Willamson and the fact that it was directed by genre vet Jack Arnold (He did the original Creature from the Black Lagoon way back in the day).

Arnold does a unremarkable job with the material (He worked in television for most of his career and it shows), Williamson does his best with his wafer thin character, and the story of a black man becoming the sheriff of a small town is played for surface laughs. It leads to a lot of lame comedy, mostly from Williamson's grating sidekick, and an eventual procession to the completely unexciting final gun fight.

For Williamson completists only.

Friday, February 26, 2010

We want you to write for me!

You may have noticed that Punch A Shark has shifted from an all around entertainment review website to a strictly film review place of fun. It saddens me that I've gone in that direction. I would love to write personal essays on things that I find really passionate.

Bummer that nothing has really gotten me excited lately.

I've read, listened or watched tons of stuff that's been great. Nothing that's been amazing.

If you'd like to write some review, personal essays, really ANYTHING for Punch a Shark, drop me a line at I'd love to expand the scope of this place from just my average writings. Lets get some people on here that are decent to good! Dare I even say....pretty good?


Well, it happened again: I vanished from Punch A Shark.

Blame it all on the TV series PSYCH. I've been watching all three seasons on a marathon run (I'll hold off on the fourth season till it's complete, just like the fifth season of everyone's favorite Monster Hunting Brother Duo - Supernatural) and it's been one fun little ride. It's a witty, endearing, light comedy cocktail with solid performances from all the leads and enough easy mysteries and style to keep me continually watching. You'd think that a guy pretending to be psychic to solve mysteries (he's really just observant) would get old. The creators have found a way to keep it fresh. CRASH ZOOMS AHOY!

I'll be back in a day or two on my regular schedule.

TV is not good for my productivity.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hard Revenge Milly (JAPAN. 2008/2009)

Japanese Action films baffle me to no end.

Take a look at The Princess Blade, Ryuhei Kitamura's work, and all of Takashi Miike's action output and you'll see the same sandwich served:

Dry as hell slow paced storytelling.


Annnnnnd more hellishly eye melting nothingness.

Hard Revenge Milly (The DVD from Well Spring USA includes the original 45 minute short and the 75 minute sequel) follows that recipe to a baloney tee. When people fight, it's some of the best edited, shot, and choreographed low budget action beats I've seen all year. It's insanely creative and EXTREMELY violent (Thanks Yoshihiro Noshimura handling the splatter effects).

Everything else makes me want to to smash the fast forward button repeatedly.

The post apocalyptic story (A.K.A: A bunch of abandoned buildings) follows a woman who's lost everything named Milly (Miki Mizuno) seeking revenge on the gang that killed her husband, stabbed her roughly a hundred times and lit her baby on fire. She seeks bloody revenge with her shotgun leg! It could have made a great future, but there's only enough material for a fifteen minute short that's stretched out to a painfully as Director struggles to fill what seems to be a prescribed running time. The highs are HIGH but everything else is snore worthy: Milly cleans her sword, sharpens her sword, and stares off at nothing. It's obvious that Director/Writer Takanori Tsujimoto has a great eye for composition (even when nothing is going on) but he should have let someone spice up his script.

The sequel (Subtitled BLOODY BATTLE) is a little more interesting, but still suffers from the long stretches of arid empty wasteland. The story this time around deals with a woman seeking Milly's help to take out some more murderers. The film includes a MUCH higher body count, more weapons (Gun-Chucks!) and longer fight scenes, but there's still no story to fill in the gaps. The pause between fights physically hurts.

After all my negative criticism, if you're an action film fan, you owe it to see them (at least once) The Director is good, but he either needs to work strictly as a second unit fight director or get someone to push him in a more overall engaging direction.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shutter Island (USA. 2009)

Martin Scorsese attempts to pull off a old school Hollywood genre thriller, but is hampered with a twist that can be seen a mile off (See the trailer? You figured it out) and script bloated to the point of asphyxiation. Leanardo stars as a Deputy Marshall sent to solve the mystery of a missing patients at the Federal mental hospital on Shutter Island. De-cap does great work with the material (The man cries at least a dozen times. It never feels off). The problem lies not with the cinematography (which is controlled), the performances (which are solid if unspectacular), or sadly infrequent the over the top fantasy sequences (Reminiscent of The Red Shoes) but with the general execution of it all. Suspense is consistently defused by length. There's a lot of green screening going on that jarred me straight out of the narrative. Instead of a film where the paranoia is tightened as the running time rolls on, we get something that slowly unravels at a ponderous pace. You never feel the fear the protagonist is experiencing. The worst offender is a finale that goes on...and on...and the point that you'd just wish it would finally end. The final coda is bitter sweetly realistic, but it's a shame that the general meal leaves a sour taste in ones mouth.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Band of the Hand (USA. 1986)


Oh, quit your whining, it ain't so bad.

A bunch of teenage delinquents are dropped in the ever glades, forced to learn the art of survival, and finally let loose on the crime riddled streets of Miami.

Accept the goofiness that comes with the era and you'll find BAND OF THE HAND a solid action picture that delivers on all the basic cinematic check marks. . I liked the the almost annoying young leads, I liked Steven Lang as a bad ass Indian (???) teacher and I even stomached the fashion. It's broad stuff with a by the numbers plot, but it's none the less a fun engaging ride that keeps the excitement level high. A classic of the eighties and nowhere else.

On an interesting note, the director/star of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY inch plays the demolitions expert.

Jake Speed (USA. 1986)

Questionably fun rip-off of 'Romancing the Stone' from New World pictures that benefits from an enthusiastic supporting cast, an almost witty screenplay and a solid budget that bring the pulp thrills to the screen. On the losing side of the whip, the performance of Cameron Mitchell as Jake Speed is a charismatic black hole and the pacing drops dead to way to many times for a breezy adventure flick. John Hurt hams it up majestically at the cackling killing big baddie. Lots of fun set-pieces come into play, but you just wish they had cast anyone else than Mitchell (Who co-wrote the screenplay) was the one cracking the one-liners.

Still, he does have a wicked gun.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Lost Weekend (USA. 1945)

The classic wave continues...

Applause all around for f Ray Millan as the boozer without a hope in the world. The film follows his every move and he brings the acting thunder to make it worth your time. Director Billy Wilder his thing (This is the man that Cameron Crowe called "The best Director EVER" after all) and its a gripping ride through the dementia of an addict. Only the out of place pat ending is off putting with a quickie wrap up. Life doesn't always have happy endings, but Hollywood at the time seemed to think otherwise. There's no question in any ones mind that this isn't a piece of pure gold cinema.

The Driver (USA. 1979)

Director Walter Hill is synonymous with stripped down. His characters are emotionally cold, they have little to say and they drive straight to the point. The same goes with Hill's plots.

The Driver (Ryan O' Neal) is a methodical man. He does his job, you do your part, and everything goes smooth. Don't worry, he's the best at what he does. A police officer (Bruce Dern) sets up a sting operation to catch the elusive Driver (Who he continually calls "Cowboy" driving the theme straight home) and that's the basis of the full run time. It's a tense ride, filled with a few fast paced car chases and a fine kick-ass performance from star Ryan O'Neal. It suffers from a few odd asides, but the individual sequences still work on their own. At the end, it's satisfying entry in Hill's work, but the biggest sticking point is that it feels like a minor entry in the life of The Driver. There's so much more under the surface, or in the future, but we just happened to enter at a point in time when things were exciting, if not earth shattering. It would have made a great series of films, but sinking like a stone at the box office didn't help its odds.

The Wolfman (US. 2009)

I wrote the following on a message board:

Looks fantastically gothic, there's some great dollops of of gore and the Wolf transformations are surprisingly visceral for being so CG enhanced. Joe Johnston knocked it out of the park on a tonal and technical scale.

Whoa boy this baby is miscast. Hopkins looks like he's about to fall asleep at any second and Del Toro mumbles through every single line with a constipated look of concentration not to let his accent slip through. The love story is as flat as a freaking pancake. I was supposed to care? Really? Is it some kind of joke? The only shining light was Hugo Weaving being an almost bad-ass.

I don't think the final bout of wire-assisted wolf-fu was supposed to get the reaction it generated out of me.

Still, if you ignore the gaping bouts of snooze inducing dialogue scenes, it still has enough moments of fun to make it a fun cheap watch.

Get Carter (UK. 1971)

Michael Caine is a cold monster out to avenge his brother's murder. Director Mike Hodge films it all with long lenses and a detached soulless style. Not a rocking revenge picture. It's a calculated sleeper that oozes British-ness. Classic all the way. There's even a bit predates Nicholas Roeg's time shifting editing style.

Shane (USA. 1953)

Watching all these classics is dang hard. What else do I have to say that hasn't been laid out in countless books before?

One of the most famous American Westerns that doesn't feature The Duke. Director George Stevens directs a fine un-showy picture that hits all the right emotional beats and makes mythical archetypes out of everyone that crosses through the frame. An evil land owner wants to chase off the farmers on his land and they'll have nothing of it. Alan Ladd is Shane, the titular stranger in town. He's classic uncomplicated hero material, slow to fight, but vicious when the chips are down. Jack Palance is the evil black hatted gunfighter. Bradon De Wilde is annoying as hell as the wide eyed kid that idolizes Shane. It all ends in and everyone goes home with a bittersweet feeling of happiness.

The Peacemaker (USA.1997)

Bloated big budget action flick that's worth a precursory glance for the matinee charm of George Clooney as an action hero hero. Short of that, it's incredibly muddled Tom Clancy-ish cyber 'Find the Bomb' thriller that has no idea what it wants to be, and in the process stuffs everything into the picture till it leaks out the sides. Mimi Rodgers make it look slick, but it the 'all over the place' nature does her now favors. She's never allowed to rack up the tension, and in effect, it actually winds down.

Still, Clooney is his magnetic self and it leads me to wish he let loose a little more often.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Straw Dogs (USA. 1971)

One poster artist took the tittle a wee bit to literally.


What the hell took me so long to see this?

I'd say it's because STRAW DOGS is so famous that I felt it had already dug itself straight into my pop culture subconscious. Yea, it's about a man's breaking point after his wife gets raped (and seemingly enjoys it) and the fact that he snaps when the hooligans attack his home. I got it. Moving on. I had piles of Z-Movies starring Marc Dacascos to watch!

Once again, I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Morally complex, savagely dirty, and edge of your seat all in the same breath, there's no doubt in my mind that Straw Dogs is Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece. Dust Hoffman as the meek protagonist brings so much to the role, as do every single character actor that rolls along the screen until the film reaches it's extremely tense final minutes. It's the kind of film I really feel no need in critiquing because it's universally known as a classic. Just watch it.

FALLEN (USA. 1998)

For BODY HOPPING SERIAL KILLER ANGEL film, FALLEN sure plays things safe. Denzel Washington acts as himself (as he per usual) as he deals (at his own leisurely pace) with the threat of a killer that has no form. It doesn't take him very long to figure out what's going and even then, the threat is never immediate, just lurking on the horizon. Donald Sutherland and John Goodman show up, do their thing and collect apaycheck. Well made, but way too routine for the nutzoid subject matter. It even goes as far to set up a world where there's a group that fight the renegade angels, but drops that narrative thread before it has a chance to get interesting. With so little to say, it's way to long at two ponderous hours. The out of place on the nose narration stinks of studio tampering, no matter how clever the final reveal thinks it is.

I read on the net that there's a fan cut of this film that radically changes the ending. Really? There's big fans of this flick? The world continues to mystify on a daily basis..

The Funhouse (USA. 1981)

No killer clowns here. THE POSTER LIES!

Underrated Tobe Hopper horror flick that's ripe with late 70's style and mood. The story deals with four kids that going to a carnival and get more than they bargained for - in this case a monster with a taste for rape and murder. Well, kind of. The film's structure is really easy going, with the killing only starting about an hour in, and than wrapping up with three quick bloodless murders. It's all about the overall feel and in that respect FUNHOUSE succeeds brilliantly. Colored lights, a grimy overall tone and tons of weird humorous asides make it memorable. The monster looks halloween mask fake (Did SFX wizard Rick Baker rummage around in his attic for it?), the kids are pot smoking waiting to dies, and the final scream queen literally does nothing but stand stock still with tears running down her cheeks as the monster growls in her face. It's a worthwhile watch that crystallizes an era on the screen without ever feeling derivative.

Crystal Hunt (Hong Kong. 1991)

Generically action packed film only notable for starring an on-his-way-to-fame Donnie Yen and master kicker Ken Lo (The baddie Jackie Chan fights at the end of Drunken Master 2). The fights are abundant, but overly sped up and lacking in memorable spark. The plot about the baddies looking for some kind of crystal exists only to link up the fisticuffs. The only notable part was the absolutely terrible English dubbing on the copy I saw. Every female sounded like a screeching, angry banshee every time one open their mouth.

Monday, February 15, 2010

FWT: A Dangerous Man, Supes/Doomsday, Accidental Spy, Born to Defense,

Lately I've found that I just don't have the drive to write lengthy film reviews for everything that I watch (As was the original plan). Instead, I'll be listing the films I've seen in a day and write something short or long depending on my mood.

A Dangerous Man (North America. 2009)

"Come back, I'm going to kill you bitch" - Some Guy Dubbing Over Steven Seagal.

Seagal wears his bad ass doo-rag. Seagal looks constipatedly confused as a naked woman frolics on top of him. Seagal beats a bunch of punks to a BLOODY pulp with only THE SLIDE PART OF THE GUN! Seagal gives a heart warming speech off a bunch of cue cards as the editor desperately tries to cut around his sleepy eyed performance.

It's an average, super-quotable Seagal flick where his story seems to be the B-Plot to everything else going on (which is becoming a trend). There's some slightly over the top moments over violence (every baddie gets caked in blood) but nothing extravagant enough to make this a must see.

"I'm going to fuck you up ugly."

- Superman/Doomsday (North America/Animated. 2007)

DC Animated Films continue to deliver the greatest superhero action on the market. Marvel Animated pales in comparison to the storytelling, character design and sure unadulterated excitement factor contained in a DC production. The Death of Superman story is stripped to its bare essentials, but its still one hell of a knock em drag out ride with a surprisingly grim tone (Superman vomits blood at one poin). I think the adulation should be laid at the feet of Co-Director Lauren Dowell - her work on Wonder Woman and JLA: Two Earths shows that she brings the quality to the table.

- The Accidental Spy (Hong Kong. 2001)

Average Hong Kong Jackie Chan effort. Muddled plot (He's never even a freaking spy!), not enough action and it all ends in vehicular destructive ending instead of an actual martial arts brawl - a trend that Chan fell to a lot in the later part of his career.

- Born to Defense (Hong Kong. 1986)

Jet Li's only directorial effort is a well-shot big budgeted period drama with Jet facing off against those dastardly Americans! It's atypical of most of his work for having most of the fighting take place in the boxing ring and emphasizing gritty energy as opposed to coolly choreographed artistry. There's a lot of nifty ideas half-way executed. The action is abundant and well put together, but it feels ropey due to Jet's sparring partners (All of the Caucasian) and so-so camera angles. The script is classic Hong Kong quality, made up as they went along, with a weird final act taking a turn into Brutal-Revenge-Cinema territory. Jet Li ends up being a broken and bruised piece of flesh by the time the end credits roll.

- Inspector Wears Skirts (Hong Kong. 1988)

Below average Girls with Guns flick patterned after the POLICE ACADEMY flicks while that somehow succeeds at being extra unfunny and annoying. The action that bookends the film is decently choreographed by the Jackie Chan Team, but it isn't worth checking it out for that alone.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Trust me. I'm the Doctor"

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been busy plowing through two and a half seasons of Dr.Who. I'll be have some new material in the next few days and the next week will be the most prolific (writing wise) epic week of postings PUNCHASHARK has ever seen.

If you haven't been watching Dr. Who...What the hell have you been up to? Get on that stuff now.

I'll be back with some reviews (Three O'Clock High to be sure) and a breakdown on my Doctor. Who experiences soon. Till then. Keep watching.

I'll be out of the time stream in a jiffy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cool World (1992) - FILM

Not as bad as people say, but not good either.

The main problem with Cool World is that it isn't funny. The animation is chaotic and energetic, but it translates to a lot of insignificant sound and fury. Human wise, everyone is lost: A very young and wooden Brad Pitt stars as the human detective of the toonverse, Gabriel Bryne is non-presense as a comic book artist, and Kim Bassinger is attractive, but dull as toon-turned-human Holly Wood. The idea of it being illegal to have a human copulate with a toon is potent stuff, but it only gets a superficial treatment. Ralph Bakshi is a fine animator and a piss poor live action filmmaker. You can see the money on screen, and its fun to watch, but unsuccessful. Sometimes you don't even know if some things are supposed to be funny or just cheap, like the live action backdrops of the toonverse that looked like they escaped from a a community theater abstract set design closet.

The original pitch of Cool World being a horror film about the offspring of a human and a toon would have been better material - like the original DARK HORSE inception of THE MASK.

Cabin Fever 2 (2009) - FILM

How can you hate a film that freeze frames the title on a man being exploding as he is hit by a bus?

Long delayed (It was completed in 2007 ) sequel to Eli Roth's debut feature, CABIN FEVER 2 is a extremely graphic and mean-spirited sequel that will probably disgust even the most ardent new wave horror fan. Penises spurt semen blood (In close-up), heads are caved in Irreversible style, and nails are graphically ripped off in a straight faced attempt at getting the viewer to hurl.

On their very special night, a class of seniors have to deal having drunk some water bottles infected with a fast acting flesh eating virus. The high-school is surrounded by the government (who's ordered to shoot on sight) and our motley gang of loser heroes are forced to figure out a way to get out - and not fall apart in the process.

Director Ti West demanded his name be removed after they did re-shoots and re-edited his original cut. Some things feel superfluous to the plot, like the party loving cop from the first one who returns to take part in an unrelated subplot filled with bit part cameos, but most of the main material works. West's direction is cold and detached, proffering wide shots coupled with simple direct editing to get the point across. Some angles even reminded me of a gore obsessed Wes Anderson composition. The acting is likable across the board, with the always reliable Noah Seagan (Brick, Dead Girl) starring as the main protagonist, and the rest of the teenagers being played by people in their mid twenties that kind of look like teens. On the downside, the ending is at once rushed and bloated, with an lame ass, animated epilogue finishing things up and leaving a bad taste in your mouth.

I haven't liked any of West's films I've seen yet (House of the Devil and The Roost), but this film leads me to believe that he can pull off an audience-pleaser. He's a good director that just needs a fun screenplay he can work with.

House of the Devil (2009) - FILM

If someone told me that HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was filmed in the eighties, I wouldn't doubt 'em. Everything down to the fashion, the credits, the music and the beautiful posters hearken back to a fruitful time in horror film-making.

Now, if only they had made something that wasn't a mind numbing bore...

The lead girl walks around, she goes to the bathroom, she stares at herself in the mirror, she talks with her bad actor friend, she drives around, she meest creepy Tom Noonan, she walks around the house, plays the piano and...Nothing happens. There's one quick violent death and a ten minute final chase, but by that time the real fear was falling asleep . Ti West's direction is carefully controlled and good looking, but its adds up to nothing.

The tagline "Talk on the phone, finish your homework, watch TV, DIE" is truth in advertising. If it was made in the 80's, it would be in the dollar rental bargain bin.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

FROZEN (2000) - FILM

Three friends get trapped on a ski-lift in the middle of a snowstorm. Everyone's gone for the entire week. If they stay on the lift, they won't survive the night.

The ice shit is about to his the fan.

The most important thing is this: Director/Writer Adam Green has successfully constructed a tight, shocking and simple story that works. It's not filled with many surprises, but the few moments of violence go right for the jugular. Hats off for Green and his team for shooting on location. No annoying green screens anywhere to be seen.

The characters are thinly sketched, but some good actors and a some scant details is enough to generate sympathy. We don't want to see these characters die. No one is going to agree with every direction they make ("Duh! Well I would have done THIS!") but that comes with the territory. It's not insulting to your intelligence, so at least it has that going for it.

If you ever want to indie horror on the big screen, you owe it to yourself to check FROZEN out in a crowded theater.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Society (1989) - FILM


Well-off highschooler Billy (Bill Whitney) has a niggling feeling that something weird is going on in town. His family has been acting very oddly, his friends keep ending up dead, and there's a mysterious girl stalking him. It's pretty routine 80's paranoid-horror-movie territory.

That is, until the famous climax.

Don't be dissuaded by spoilers. You owe it to yourself to witness the eye-popping (literally and figuratively) goopy wonders on display in the final orgiastic blowout. On the negative side, Yuzna loses his grip on the denouement from a tonal perspective. I don't mind a pun or two, but a whole comedy bit interrupting the big reveal tore me completely out of the moment. Don't even get me started on the the unearned pat ending. Good thing FX wizard SCREAMING MAD GEORGE is there to pick up all the prosthetic slack.



Zero Effect (1998) - FILM

Bill Pullman stars as Daryl Zero, the greatest detective in the word who hates to leave the house. Ben Stiller, as his sidekick, does all the talking. They take job from a millionaire to find a pair of lost keys and the next thing they know...of course...there are complexities involved.

Film Noire-ish in presentation and overall mood (Pullman narrates in a straight dead pan style), the film is less of a thriller than a drama with slight comedic overtones that leans heavily on the side of a romance. The film isn't concerned with the overall mystery (as there's barely any stakes involved) but with the characters of Zero and his difficulty interacting with people. It all falls down to the shoulders of Pullman and he does a tremendous job of being a smooth operator one moment and a nerve-addled wreck the next. It would have been nice if Director/Writer Jake Kasdan had gone deeper on the detective angle or the drama angle, but his decision of straddling the middle line results in a film that is great, but not the classic the material could have been elevated to. Ben Stiller's storyline could have been trimmed outright as it had very little impact on the film. Very fun film that could have easily been a solid jumping of point for an ever expanding series of films featuring Zero.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nothing to Lose (1997) - FILM


The gang is having a picnic.

Martin Lawrence's heeeeeelarious overweight jive talking mother says "Don't let anyone touch my favorite mustard!"

Tim Robbins shows up and inadvertently uses her favorite mustard.

She makes an angry face.

She knocks it out of his hand.

Everyone laughs.

The heeeelarious overweight mother smacks Martin Lawrence.

If that (Which is the LAST JOKE OF THE MOVIE!) had you in stitches you're going to love this comedy classic! Tim Robbins and the always annoying Martin Lawrence team up to pull off a robbery.

Shoes are lit on fire. Penises are cut off statues. Lawrence bugs his eyes out and squeals.

Hilarity ensues.

Disposable 90's comedy toilet fodder. I'd make a pun on the title but it doesn't deserve that kind of high brow comedy.

I'm going to go watch the director's film KUNG POW: ENTER THE FIST now.

I love that movie.

The Crazies (1973) - FILM

A small rural town gets infected by a virus called "Trixie" that drives them normal folk MURDEROUSLY INSANE! A ragtag of bad actors gather in a farmhouse (Shades of Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) to wait it out as the army mishandles the chaos.

The Crazies shouldn't work. The story is unfocused. It start running into the chaos from the word go, but the viewer is never given a chance to catch up. The wooden community theatre actors can't rattle up an interesting characters with the material handed their way. The editing is scatter shot, clunky and all over the place with a never ending stream of rapid montage style cutting. Romero just isn't that good a director.

Yet, it still won me over.

I have to hand it off to the overall mood of the piece. The way people talk, the fashion, and the framing all screams THE SEVENTIES! The clunkiness actually gets to be kind of charming once you get past that first rough hump. It's a film that's so frenetic and scatter shot that all the unaffecting sound and furry on screen numbs the viewer. There's a lot of interesting broad ideas, but without any characters to relate too or a real point to it all, Romero never gets a handle on the material. For every sequence he knocks out of the park, there's five more that fall completely flat. It's the kind of film that's better appreciated thinking about it afterward.

The remake (Directed by *shudder* Breck Eisner) looks to be taking a much more conventional approach. The trailers indicate it will actually take a slow build instead of throwing viewing head first into the madness.

Atlantis: Lost Empire (2001) - FILM

Disney tries something new. It bombs at the box office. They go back to making pop culture laden pieces of droll pandering entertainment.

Stupid audience.

The voice Micheal J. Fox star as a geeky researcher that is obsessed with the lost city in question. Teamed up with a motley gang of mercenaries he goes on a mission to find it the fabled lost city. On the way they fight giant robot crabs, an finally the most evil thing of all: HUMAN GREED!


It's nice to experience family entertainment' that puts likable distinct characters on the table, isn't afraid to kill people (Around 200!?) and adopt a different artistic template (based on the work of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola) than the usual cookie cutter formula. It loses steam when they finally do reach the Atlantis. We're forced to sit through some painful "Beauty of the Supernatural" sequences powered by James Newtown Howard's derrivitative score (Lots of female voices going "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh"). Characterization gets the shaft for an unwarranted action packed climax, but it all ends on a nice note, and the good far outweighs the bad.

Devils' Den (2006) - FILM

Why do I put myself through this? Chalk it up for my odd obsession with director Jeffrey Burr (He won me over with STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS. As I said before, it only takes one fun film to make me a filmmakers bitch.). Burr is credited on co-director on this penny budget From Dusk Till Dawn rip-off and you can tell it's a straight "Please slip the cheque in my open hand as I look away in shame" project for him - as is most of his directorial output. A really bloated Devin Sawa (Dead on arrival since starring in FINAL DESTINATION) and his disposable buddy try to drug a bunch of strippers with a batch of Spanish fly (These would be rapists are supposed to be the HEROES?) and find themselves dealing with some pasty faced ghouls (Not vampires!) on a sad strip club set. There's a massacre, they get trapped and are forced to try to escape. The bloodshed is as unimaginative as the plot and the greatest sin is pulled - THE FILM IS BORING. Ken Foree (as a sword swinging monster hunter) and Kelly Hu (as a leather clad assassin) give it their best shot with the nothing material. Sawa is annoying and out of breath. It's better than shit, but that's not really a recommendation.

There's one out of place padding scene where they imagine what would happen if the Zatoichi, the Blind Swordsman were caught in their predicament. Where the hell did that actual fun action beat come from? Oh wait. It's gone now.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stakeout (1987), Another Stakeout (1993), A Better Place


Generic late 80's buddy cop shenanigans with the charming Richard Dreyfus and Emilio "The Man" Estevez. The viewer is dropped in an episode of a TV series already in progress. They have to watch a woman suspected of committing a crime. There's a little violence, a little swearing, and workmanlike direction by Buddy Cop Director John Bandham. Way overlong at two hours when it should clock in at a brisk 90.

Another Stakeout

Dreyfuss and Estevez have even more comedy chops in this one, but the inclusion of screaming banshee Rosie O' Donnel and a snoozer of a plot knock it down a few pegs. Way to much uninteresting dinner room farce that serves absolutely no purpose. CUT IT DAMMIT.

I'm tired of Bandham only ever having one or two bad guys. Give us body counts dammit!

A Better Place

Above average indie drama starring a Martin Starr and Paul Rudd look alike. Both of them are solid actors surrounded by average ones. They're forced to throw out some pretty painful dialogue, but the general idea gets through the ham fisted direction (Not helped by on the nose voice-over that jams the point down your throat.) Recommended.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Purple Rain (1984), The Informant (2009) , The Chase (1994) - FILM

Purple Rain (1984)

I had to see this CLASSIC!

Prince acts like a dick. He's charismatic on stage and we hear lots of great music. Yet, he can't act his way out of paper purple suit. And he's a dick. A real mean one that never really learns his lesson.

At one point I hoped the film was going to turn into a slasher film starring a wild eyed mustachioed singer who runs people over with his motorcycle.

It was not to be.


Why doesn't Prince let the girl have her own dreams and move on to another club? Because he's a dick. That's why.

Listen to the album and save your mind the pain.

Now, I need to see Prince's Directorial Opus Graffiti Bridge to have my mind completely blown.

The Chase (1994)

Charlie Cheen lays on the charm in this crazed little road picture that's light on the action and heavy in the forced "LOOK AT HOW WACKY WE ARE!" attempts. You can tell that the budget was keeping the real madness from going on, but it's still a fun little Sunday morning movie ride. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Director Adam Rifkin's work. The few times he shows the prowess with the camera is undermined with a sequence moments later that looks MADE FOR TV.

The film has a place in the history books as the first time Henry Rollins played a cop - a role he'd repeat over and over again.

The Informant (2009)

Soderbergh is a machine. He churns out films like as if he was afraid someone was going to steal his eyesight forever. Most of the time he lathers his productions with his styalistic ticks, but with with The Informant, a tale of economical espionage, he takes a step back and lets the film breathe a little, but is hampered by an out of place feeling Matt Damon and a dramatic 'real life story' that really can't sustain the two hour running time. I think the entire film was an excuse to fill every scene with a plethora of character actors in straight little two line roles: Look! There's Biff from Back to the Future! Patton Oswalt! Scott Bakula! Clancy Brown! Tony Hale!

Why are they there? Well, why the hell not?

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Emperor's New Groove (2000) - FILM

The selfish emperor (David Spade) gets turned into a Llama and only a warm hearted peasant (John Goodman) can get him back to his castle. Hot on their tails (No pun intended) is the emperor's evil advisor (Eartha Kitt) and her dim witted sidekick (Patrick Warburton) who want to finish the job.

An oddball entry released at real low point in Disney Animation. The Emperor's New Groove is a frothy entry that overflows with style that's slightly at odds with the warm hearted material at play. You get the big eyed animals looking cute, but it's undercut with a solid vein of cynicism. No musicals number in this one, the tone is more adult orientated (And that doesn't mean SEXUAL INNUENDOS ya dirty minded perv) and the plot is stripped to its bare essentials. David Spade and John Goodman make a good bickering odd couple and Patrick Warburton plays his usual humorous dimwitted lunkhead. It's a scaled down affair that's experimenting without taking too many risks. Emperor is a refreshing breath of fresh 2D air in today's CG infested cinematic world that's clogged with stale pop culture references.

A Bucket of Blood (1955) - FILM

In A BUCKET OF BLOOD Dick Miller looks exactly the same way he looks now. Not younger, maybe a little less wrinkless, but the same straight up Miller.


Miller stars as struggling simpleton artist Walter Paisley who discovers that killing people and covering them in plaster makes quite the sensation at the cappuccino bar. Under the economical direction of Roger Corman (The film lasts a scant hour and five minutes) things get kind of out of control before it all wraps up in an unsurprising fashion. If anything, it would have been nice to see Miller really sink his teeth in the material and have a chance to create some real mayhem. Sadly, it never gets that far and things wrap up before they really have a chance to take off.

Tune in for the fun lead role from Miller (who's been typcast as Second Banana Incorporated) and the goofy groovy dialogue from all the hep cats.

It's a real bummer that the chill stylings of the Mill never really got the chance to shine, dig? He became the guy you point and go "Look! It's him!" as opposed to really enjoying one of his performances.

BUCKET was the starting point for LITTLE SHOP OF HORROR. Corman recycled the sets for BUCKET, wrote a quick script and created HORROR in the blink of an eye.