Texas Death Trippin’
Written and Directed by R. Lopez
Catherine Daisy Coleman, Bryan Slusher, Cody Calderas, Dakota Danger, Melesa Murphy, Rob Di Perna, Robert Robson, WRGIII, Todd Hughes, George Wang, D.E. Todd
Music for film provided by the following:
Spencer Jacob Grau
DJ Halo Dark
Buffalo Bud Buster
The Death Ray Angels
The Reefer Hawks
Mi Corazon Negro
Now I know if you are an avid visitor to my site you will be wondering why I’m reviewing the same movie twice. I’m not. The guys decided to add so much extra footage to this film that is really is a completely different movie than the first time around. The first version will soon be out of print and THIS is the REAL version of the vision these guys had for this film.
While the basic plot of the beginning of the film remains the same, that’s really the only part that they didn’t add something obvious to. In almost every scene there is new footage, new dialogue, new characters.
What we have is a group of stoners road trippin’ to see a music festival. And everything seems to be going perfectly as they make their rounds to grab everyone that is going on the trip. Three guys, two girls. (Someone is about to be the fifth wheel and they don’t even know it.)
So how about a few observations about the characters in the film. First off, Andy is a sexual assault charge waiting to happen, total perv. Not that the other guys, Muppet and Sidwell, are much better, but they are slightly. Sid is driving the 420 white box molester van. Muppet rides shotgun. Andy is in the back with the two chicks, Sheena Starr and her gal pal Teresa.
Now, think about the road trip those teenage fools took in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now merge that with Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 corpses. Then, throw in a creature that looks like Swamp Thing and Leatherface had a very ill-conceived child. Finally, add the smell of a landfill. This film is like a very whacked out version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre melded with House of 1000 Corpses.
One character, an old guy at a gas station, is the epitome of Otis from House of 1000 Corpses plus Leatherface from TCM.
We also have a character named Malakhy. This guy, wow. As soon as I saw him, I was like, OMG it’s the new Vince Neil! Except maybe a little creepier.
This movie also taught me a few lessons that I will live by until I die.
There is a point where Sheena proves she is one tough badass chick by opening a beer bottle with her teeth. Just watching that made MY teeth hurt. Then, at one point when she’s running from the mutant swamp thing monster, they show her actually RUNNING. Not that half-ass side step looking run that victims always use in movies so the killer has time to catch up. Sheena didn’t want him to catch up. She RAN ran. Thank you! Finally! A chick that can RUN in a horror flick.
This is a dark horror comedy. The guys meant for it to be funny and it is. I was laughing through most of the movie. The simpleton type of comedy, the dark comedic comments, the toilet humor, it’s all constant and perpetual through the whole movie.
Now, I watch a lot of horror. I watch a lot of true crime. I’ve seen an autopsy. Very few things can actually gross me out. I mean, to where I feel nauseated. Watching the guys eat food in this film is something I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to unsee. So, fair warning, food is involved and not always in the way you are thinking. Like Muppet’s insatiable love affair with cold, canned ravioli. I just, yechhh! Still the most disturbing ravioli interaction I’ve ever seen, but it was totally funny as hell.
Another thing they did so much better this time around are the kill scenes. The guys got a lot more creative and with the extra characters and added footage, that left a lot of opportunities for some really fun murder scenes.
Now, if you are looking for an A-List film with A-List Hollywood actors, this is not what you are looking for. If you love horror and comedy and want to have a good laugh and have some fun, this IS the film you are looking for.
The guys from The Toking Dead make a special appearance in this film too.
Also, this could be the new Reefer Madness except for shrooms not marijuana. That’s how outrageous some of it gets.
Some of the horror effects are truly disgusting and it’s obvious the filmmakers had a lot of fun with the gore factor of this movie.
There are some full range bird’s eye view shots of where the group decides to go camping. It really adds to the realization of the vastness and isolation of where they are. That, in my opinion, adds a certain chill factor to the whole film. Along with that, there are some very seriously high-pressure moments that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Even though it’s a horror film, the most disgusting part of the whole movie is, well, food. The things that involve food in this movie are going to be forever disturbing to some people, no matter how hilarious it is. And this is not entirely a comedy. Lopez pulls off a few truly eerie and creepy moments that would make anyone’s skin crawl. Mine did. (I have this thing about evil or creepy laughs. It’s such chilling to me.) Additionally, the flipping back and forth between the various character’s stories add a lot of body and heft to the film.
But, here’s the kicker. Even though we can see the killer, up close and personal, it’s still hard to determine what the hell it is exactly. This creates the fear of the unknown which is a natural human response to things we feel are out of our societal “normal” range.
To top it all off, an ending fit for any horror lover. Nice and quick, concise, easy to understand and entertaining. The guys really did go balls to the wall when refreshing this film and adding all the extra stuff.
A definite win and a fantastic dark comedy horror film for the avid horror lovers.
Directed by Robert Altman
Screenplay by Al Hayes
Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger, Robert Duvall
Budget $25M Box Office $1,534,569
IMDb 5.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 58% Metacritic 65/100
Today when I got up, I happen to catch this movie from the beginning. My lucky day. So, with coffee and cigarette in hand, I embarked on waking up to this thriller. I have to be honest it was the description of the film that was on the info on cable and the cast. I mean, I’ll watch almost anything with Robert Downey Jr. in it. Except the Iron Man movies. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I’m the only person on this earth that doesn’t like those movies. Don’t get all twisted about it. The franchise isn’t going to go down because I don’t watch it.)
This was one interesting film. First off, this is the first time I’ve seen Robert Duvall have so few lines. I mean he barely speaks at all in this movie. But he does have a certain creep factor about him. I think a lot of that has to with his character and appearance rather than the actual script. Next, Robert Downey Jr. was quite the piece of work in this film. He pulls off this great accent and plays the drunkard private investigator to damn near perfection. This was in 1998, during the height of Downey’s drug use and failing career. So, it doesn’t surprise me that he can pull off a drunk when he’s drunk and stoned all the time himself.
So, here’s the set up for the film. A young woman meets a divorced lawyer with a questionable reputation at a party that he’s attending and she’s waiting tables. He expects to have a one-night stand but develops feelings for her rather quickly. She shares with him that her father is stalking her and threatening her, that he’s done things like steal her car and hang her cat to its death. Seeing as how this lawyer has a personal interest in this gal, he offers the support of his small practice and resources to help get her father committed to a mental hospital for evaluation. They succeed.
Unfortunately, Daddy breaks out of the hospital, with some help, and starts stalking not only his daughter but her new lawyer friend and his kids. Things start getting violent and crazy. Next thing you know, people are dying, being abducted, being terrorized and threatened.
So, what do they do? Does she make it? Does the lawyer? And why is Dad all crazy anyway? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
I will say that I didn’t have any trouble staying interested in the film. It was easy for me to watch. I haven’t read any other reviews on the movie, but the ratings seem to label this film as average. What really surprises me is the horrible Box Office numbers compared to what the film budget was. I mean, I don’t think a lot of that budget went to the actual making of the film.
At the time this film was made, Downey Jr. had had so many problems with drug arrests and failed drug tests as part of his sentencing that it was almost impossible for the studio to insure him. It ended up costing over $1 million dollars to insure the actor and filming had to begin with no insurance for Downey Jr.
The screenplay writer, Al Hayes, is actually director Robert Altman. However, after all the time he put in to write this screenplay, the initial test screening was terrible. The studio, Polygram Films, decided to go outside the film crew and hire an editor to re-work the film. This editor criticized Altman’s version of the film, saying that it basically lacked punch and suspense and had an ailing film score. The new editor made changes and the film was screen tested again. This time it went over worse than the original Altman version.
Still, when the film released it got decent reviews, a vast amount praising Altman for his touches to the film, citing that it would have been just mediocre fodder without his contributions to the film. The initial reviews also praised main character star, Kenneth Branagh for his role in the film and attributed a lot of the films interest to his acting as well.
Overall I liked the film. There were a few times I was rewinding the DVR to catch something small that was said or something like that. I liked the story. I liked the way it all came together and I like that it’s definitely more realistic in the end than a lot of stuff spewed out of Hollywood. I do think it’s gonna be a film that I’m going to have to watch a time or two more to really be able to follow all the little ins and outs of how it came together, which doesn’t bother me. It’s a movie I’m willing to watch again. In fact, it might be one of those that grows on you.
W. D. Richter
Based on: Dracula (1897 novel, Bram Stoker), Dracula (1924 play, Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston
Frank Langella, Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasence, Kate Nelligen
Budget $12.164,000 Box Office $31,235,812
IMDb 6.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 59% Metacritic NO DATA
So, I have to start this off and be completely honest, I have never watched an actual ‘Dracula’ movie. Vampire movies, yes, but Dracula himself, no. So, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas as to what to expect from this film.
Just as the graphic novel I have (Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Roy Thomas), the beginning is sort of haphazard and unclear. It is very slow moving and honestly, I expected more, I don’t know, Dracula action, I guess. I don’t know how to put it.
One thing that really threw me off was that there was a lot of focus on wolves in the beginning. I was sitting here trying to figure out if I was watching a werewolf movie or a vampire movie. The howling of the wolves seems to play a big part. Although, you always kinda expect Dracula to be a bat, or turn into one.
Now, in this film, Dracula has killed everyone onboard and enters England, appearing to be, of course, a man of extreme wealth.
He immediately sets his sights on the daughters of those that are helping him set up his England home, a dreadful looking castle only befitting a character such as Dracula. The people helping Dracula are the famous Van Helsings. I know this name to be that of vampire hunters so, this is not a good situation for old Dracula.
The rest of the film is Dracula’s pursuit of his prey and the chaos that follows.
Again, the strangest thing was that they had Dracula scaling the sides of buildings as if he were Wolverine or his brother Victor. I’ve never heard of Dracula being anything close to a werewolf type beast. He’s always changed form into a bat, which DOES happen in this film, but it’s almost like a side note, when I would think it would be of great importance to the Dracula character himself. Plus, I think I just expected more blood-letting, considering it was a vampire film.
In this film, Dracula also has some sort of half living lacky that is like a butler, but with no refinement at all.
Donald Pleasence is the father Van Helsing. He’s fantastic in the role. I miss Donald Pleasence. What a great guy on screen in horror, ya know? He just has this calmness about him even when he’s freaking out, he’s still got it more together than anyone else in the situation.
I will say the final showdown is a gnarly one. But I am not going to give any details. You’ll have to see for yourself.
Based on Het Gouden Ei by Tim Krabbé
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, Nancy Travis, Sandra Bullock
Budget $23M Box Office $14,543,394
IMDb 6.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 47% Metacritic 49/100
The other day, I caught an old 90s psychological thriller on TV. I’ve seen the movie many times so I didn’t have to see it from the beginning to know what was going on at the time I came in on it. This truly is a movie that I watched as a kid and have remembered very well, even to this day.
The gist of the story is a boyfriend and girlfriend, Jeff and Diane (almost sounds like a John Mellencamp song) are road tripping, she goes missing and he spends the next three years trying to find her…unsuccessfully. During this time, he tries to forge a new romance with a new woman, Rita. Yet, in the background, he still maintains a stringent search for Diane…unbeknownst to Rita. It creates lies and problems and of course, they split.
Then, just as Jeff has seemingly lost everything and all his hope, the man who took Diane appears at his front door and offers him all the answers he has been seeking. With one condition. He must experience everything exactly as Diane experienced it, then he will know what happened to her.
Now, I find no need to tell you any more than that about the actual details of the plot. However, the psychology behind the film is so twisted and out there, it’s like Jigsaw before there was Saw, only with a twist.
This guy, the bad guy, Barney, he’s all about philosophy, okay? He likes to prove things to himself. Like when he was fifteen, he wanted to prove he had the courage to jump off the balcony of his house, so he did. And it made him proud. He claims psychologically that prepped him to jump from a dock hanging out over a lake and save a little girl from drowning. Now, I personally don’t know anyone that can swim that wouldn’t jump off the dock to save a little girl in a LAKE from drowning, not like it’s the ocean. But, in his mind, he makes it this big ordeal about how his daughter thinks he’s a hero and that made him feel guilty because he didn’t know if he was really deserving of his daughter’s love.
This is where we get all philosophical, or well, Barney does at least. He needs to know if he is as capable of evil as he is of heroism. That in itself seems like a jacked-up reason to hurt someone. But he thinks this will make somehow a more complete human being, a kindred spirit as he chooses to sort of describe it. In theory, you can’t have one without the other. If you believe in one, you kinda have to believe in the other. Good can’t exist without evil. It’s like having light without dark or wet without dry. One state can’t exist without the presence of the other.
So, Barney wants to know if he’s a complete human or just a big ol’ softy that cares about others and lives right and contributes to society…oh wait, that’s most normal human beings, that’s right, I forgot for a second. Apparently though, being average, being normal, being like everyone else isn’t good enough for Barney. William Shakespeare wrote, “Nothing is so common as the wish to be remarkable.” So many people crave to be outwardly special, possess some special talent, have some special gift, something that sets them apart from everyone else. What they fail to realize is that we are all unique.
Unfortunately, being inwardly unique wasn’t enough for Barney. He had a wife who loved him and was devoted to him, he had a thirteen-year-old daughter that thought he was a God, he had a nice job, lovely house. What’s not worth having in that??? Most people, most normal people that is, that would be enough.
But, then there’s Jeff. The inability to accept not knowing is truly an American thing, in my opinion. We as Americans (the current times are a perfect example) will do damn near anything we are told as long as we are told WHAT and WHY. Americans LOVE the WHY. We require explanation, detail, information. As time wears on through the years, we seem to require more explanation than we used to (kind of worries me just a tad). We also seem to have a hard time wrapping our heads around the idea of “I don’t know”. I mean, even as human beings, it’s hard for many when asked about religion or faith to not have SOMETHING they cling to. It’s a scary thought to a lot of people that things just happen unexplained and for no reason. That there might not be an afterlife, that once you are dead, that’s it, you’re dead. People fear the unknown. And in absence of actual information they will grasp at whatever makes them feel safe and secure.
And as Americans and just plain human beings, we want answers. And Jeff, well, he just can’t seem to get his life together after Diane disappears. If he had found her dead or something, that would be different, but he has no idea what happened to her, she was there and then, she wasn’t. Jeff just can’t stomach that. No matter how hard he tries, even with Rita at his side he is still willing to give up everything for the opportunity to go back those three years and find out everything that happened to Diane.
Just think about that, I’ve lost people to things uncertain and certainly unexplained, and I can’t say that I would give up the life I’ve built to go back in time to get that one answer. I don’t think my loved ones would want that for me either. That strikes me as so entirely self-absorbed. It’s like Jeff thinks he’s the only person to ever lose someone without answers. It’s like he doesn’t realize that he’s destroying not only his life, but others.
And Rita. Poor, poor Rita. She loves Jeff so much and she’s lived through so much that she just doesn’t know how to give up. Talk about a fighting soul. This chick is hard core deep down inside. Jeff doesn’t really know it, but he’s no match for Rita and her resolve. And neither is Barney.
If you want to know how it all comes together, you’ll have to watch the movie.
Directed and Written by
Ed Asner as Dr. Howard Arden
Melinda Page Hamilton as Abbey Bell
Julian de la Celle as Greg
Bailey Edwards as Jacob Bell
Janet Ulrich Brooks as Nana Millie
Note***This film is so new that budget, box office and rating information is not yet available. The film’s theatrical premiere release date was March 13. So, keep that in mind while you are reading this because I am not going to be giving a whole lot away.
I was lucky. I got sent a screener of this movie to watch and review for you guys. From the trailer I saw, I was excited to see it and thought it had a lot of potential to be a really good flick. My only concern was that it was in that kind of home movie/found footage style and sometimes I have a hard time with those films. But I still wanted to give it a shot regardless because of the plot. Here’s what got my attention enough to watch the trailer.
“A distraught mother (Hamilton) suspects her teenage son (Edwards) is plotting a school shooting, but when he slips through the cracks of the system, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. After installing an elaborate spy camera system in their home, Abbey captures a series of disturbing videos that confirm her worst fears.
Torn between a mother's unconditional love and a mother's acute intuition, Abbey caters her videos to all the other "mothers of monsters" online. Abbey's plan backfires when Jacob uses a dark family secret against her, launching both mother and son on a terrifying, and ultimately deadly, game of cat and mouse.”
Right?!?! How can that NOT sound interesting to a horror fan??? I mean, that should appeal to the very core of the fiber of our being! So, I had to watch it.
Now, what we really see here is a truly desperate single mom, who is at her wits end, making video diary entries of her daily life experiences and video recordings of her son’s behavior, abuse towards her and his escalation of the two in addition to his anger and poor coping skills.
This poor woman, Abbey, is a 42-year-old single mom and she just can’t seem to communicate with her 16-year-old son, Jacob. She’s worried about him. She’s scared for him. She’s scared OF him. So, scared in fact that she installs hidden spy cameras all over the house. When Jacob is gone, she searches his room (Any teens reading this??? Yes, your parents know way more about the shit you’re doing than you think they do).
Abbey seems truly terrified. She records these videos as warnings to the other moms out there. She’s alone and afraid. She feels like there’s no one to turn to, no one to help her. These videos she’s making, collecting, they are also, in my opinion, a way of talking through the things she’s going through.
Jacob, on the other hand. Jacob is the typical rude, hateful, mouthy, ungrateful, entitled teenager…kicked up a few hundred notches. He yells and screams at Abbey, cusses at her, calls her names, insults her, plays mean tricks on her. He treats her like she’s his mortal enemy at times. It’s amazing how he talks to her.
Needless to say, their relationship is anything but warm and loving, nurturing and caring. Their relationship overflows with toxicity and negativity. And no matter what kind of approach she tries, Abbey just can’t seem to get a handle on things. Jacob makes even the simplest of things, like having a conversation, practically impossible.
Abbey is very worried that Jacob is going to end up hurting SOMEONE. Maybe even her. She’s voiced these concerns, even to the police, which is hard as a parent, to turn your own child into the police, but it didn’t do any good. She is basically told he’s fine and to move on.
Things between Jacob and Abbey continue to spiral out of control as Jacob finds out about certain things here and there until Abbey is in true fear for her life. It’s getting extremely tense and time is of the essence. He’s got her backed into a corner and everything she does makes him mad or frustrated or worse. It’s decision time for Abbey. She’s going to have to make a choice.
I really, really enjoyed this film. Like I said before, I was worried about the film style but it actually worked great for this movie.
I thought that Bailey Edwards was exceptional with his part. He definitely made it easy to hate a bratty 16-year-old. He expertly splashes the screen with the overflowing teenage angst and deep anger and rebellion a lot of us remember feeling at that age. (Remember how EVERYTHING was the end if the world and life and death at that age?)
And Melinda Page Hamilton was superb. Her portrayal of this mom who thinks her son may be a school shooter or a family annihilator is completely believable and totally brilliant. You see the fear in the red rims of her eyes, the anguish and desperation from crying, all caught in her eyes as she makes her videos.
There was definitely, without question, an eeriness within the film. Not so much in the beginning, but as the movie gets going you really feel the anxiety build along side Abbey as she gets more stressed and scared. It’s not really a suspenseful feeling, but it’s for real creepy and sinister. I have to say, with all my education and research, all the true crime videos I have seen on true crime shows, this duo really does seem to nail the psychological aspects of both sides of this troubled mother/son relationship. That's exactly why I found this so creepy and disturbing.
My only complaint is this…during the entire movie I could hear a low vibrate, two short buzzes at a time, like cell phone on vibrate. It’s like someone working on editing sound or something had their phone on silent and it was getting blown up throughout the making of the whole movie. I don’t know if it was accidental or part of some soft and slight background noise I didn’t fully pick up on (I have a slight hearing loss in both ears), but it was really weird. That buzz may actually have something to do with the eerie feeling. It’s what happens when your body responds to stimuli you can’t see…basically. There’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic gist.
So, other than that, I loved the movie. And I do hope you guys take the time to check this one out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Scotty Landes and Tate Taylor
Story by Scotty Landes
Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, Corey Fogelmanis, Luke Evans
Budget $5M Box Office $61.1M
IMDb 5.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 55% Metacritic NO DATA IndieWire 2/5
I wanted to watch this because it’s listed as a psychological thriller and from the general description that was on the cable summary, it reminded me of a couple of true crime cases I had heard about.
The basic premise is this: A middle aged woman named Sue Ann works as a vet tech in the local vet clinic in a small town where she grew up. Needless to say, she’s a quiet woman with a soft, loving smile and that genuine church lady love kind of voice that you just can’t walk away from, ya know? She just seems like such a sweet gal.
Flash to our other characters: A group of misguided teenagers (Maggie, new in town and new to school, Haley, Darrell, Chaz and Andy, who ends up dating Maggie) always looking for someone to buy their liquor and a place to party. Now, I never had to do this because I hung out with slightly older kids and they always had older siblings or parents even that would buy us alcohol and let us drink at their house (don’t OMG me people, this was a different time!). However, these kids know the struggle I don’t, so what they have to do is stand outside the liquor store and ask random strangers to buy their goods. (Like really, does that shit eve work? Do adults really do that? How do you know these kids aren’t plants by the cops? Moving on…)
So, that’s how they meet Sue Ann. She’s walking her dog and passes by the store and Maggie, the newest addition to the group because she’s the new girl at school, is standing outside and does the approach and ask on Sue Ann. And it works. Then Sue Ann becomes their regular hook up. But even more so, she offers up her basement as their party pad so they aren’t drinking and doing drugs out in the open. They’ll be safe at her house.
[I have to interject here with some logic from a cop’s kid. Okay, even at seventeen years old, if some random older woman who was willing to break the law to buy me and my friends alcohol wanted all of us to come party at her house which is not in the suburbs, but off in the woods, my answer would not only have been no, it would have been hell no. I would have NEVER gone from point A to point B with a stranger to a basement with the intention of getting all trashed and drugged and liquored up. Ummm hello??? Where’s those brain cells???? Moving on…again…]
So, being teenagers, they think this is the PERFECT setup and are all in. And at first, it’s great. They party, they get drunk, they get high. Sue Ann has established the rules, which are: Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, Never go upstairs EVER and Call her Ma. So, they have fun, Ma has fun. And things are raging like a techno club for a while.
But then, as it always does, real life sets in and these kids have to go to school and do homework, extracurricular activities, sports, spend time with their families. And eventually, they get kind of tired of Ma always wanting to be around. See, she’s strangely sort of just inserted herself right in the middle of their “circle” (you know how it is in school), and it makes the kids uncomfortable. Not to mention that things start getting weird at Ma’s house and some people’s belongings start going missing, things become fuzzy and hazy and questions start being raised.
What these kids don’t know is that Ma grew up with their parents. And that for some people, high school never ends.
I have to be honest, when I first watched this movie and I got through the whole thing, originally, I felt a little dejected. But after thinking on it for a couple of days, I really think this is truly the kind of movie that will grow on you. There are some things in it that have just stuck with me, just kind of interesting, I think. I don’t want to tell you what they are because I don’t want to spoil the movie. But, after rethinking my original reaction, I think I reacted harshly.
Octavia Spencer is great in this movie. We always see her in this role of love and care and support, like the loving mother or the supportive caretaker or the strong supportive female friend, etc. But in this film, she really comes out of her shell and pulls a complete switch on us. This is a side of Spencer that we have not seen, but that she was especially good at showing. I give her fantastic praise for her performance in this film. She creeped me the hell out, that’s for sure.
So, DO give this film a chance. And if you feel a little, say, shortchanged at the end, do what I did and go over the film in your head a bit and sit on it. It’s not for gore. It’s psychological. Remember that and I think you’ll enjoy the film much, much more.
Starring: Michael Ealy, Meagan Good, Joseph Sikora, Dennis Quaid
IMDb 5.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 32% Metacritic 39/100
Budget $5-8M Box Office $36.6M
Let’s take a little trip down imaginary lane. I want you to pretend that you’re newly married. And you and your new spouse are wanting to start a family. But not just in any regular old cookie cutter home in the suburbs. You guys decide to buy a house outside of town, like in the country type kind of place. The kind of place that is surrounded by big, beautiful trees and scores of flowers and foliage everywhere you turn. It’s quiet, away from neighbors and the hustle and bustle of the city. More importantly, it got acreage, lots of room for kids to run and play and grow up. And you find this house on the outskirts of town and man is it perfect. It’s everything you are looking for. You talk to the seller; he seems to be a nice guy. He gets what you might consider to be somewhat personal but hey, he’s just being friendly like most country folk, just small talkin’. After a little dealing and signing some papers this dream house you’ve picked out is ALL YOURS.
Or is it?
Imagine, no sooner do you get moved into your new home and the previous owner starts popping up. First with housewarming gifts and such and he DOES seem like he misses the house so why not invite him to the housewarming party, right? Have some dinner with friends, maybe some wine and talk about what you want to do to the house to make it more “YOU”. Isn’t that what people do?
Little do you know that your previous owner has a hard time letting go of things. He doesn’t like being cast aside or slighted, he doesn’t like having to have sold his home and he sure as hell doesn’t want you changing everything in HIS HOUSE. Imagine you start putting up, say, security cameras and the old owner comes up and tells the workers to halt working and starts yelling about holes being put in HIS house. HIS house? Remember, you just bought this house. Don’t forget that. This is your property. Then the previous owner starts showing up unannounced and at inconvenient times.
What’s worse is that as a man in this situation, you also realize old owner dude has fixated on your wife. And I mean like stalker, gets inside your house and watches you shower and sleep, kind of fixated. Imagine what it would be like to be terrorized like that and not being able to really do anything about it. The law is slow and skeptical when it comes to matters like stalking and harassment.
We all know that this is going to come down to which man wins the fight defending his castle. So, who will it be?
I really liked this movie. I thought Dennis Quaid was great. I don’t normally picture him in a role like this but, I think he really did pull it off quite well. There is definitely a true on the edge of your seat kind of suspense factor. The kind where you want to yell at the actors to do something or not to do something, tell them to turn around, not to answer that door…etc. That ambiance is well kept throughout the whole movie.
I also didn’t feel like there were really any holes in the plot line. It’s something I often look for, especially in stories involving crime, the legal system, etc. There is a point where you start to kind of feel for the previous owner, I suppose some people would anyways, but then, as it always goes, the true colors come out and you see who you are REALLY dealing with.
I don’t quite know if this movie centers around the married couple or if it centers around the previous whacko owner. It really seems to focus on the owner quite a bit. It’s almost as if he’s running the roller coaster and the married couple, and whoever else gets in the way, are just along for the wild, twisted ride.
This film is also kind of an eye opener about what people can be like when it comes to being forced out of their homes…and their lives. Sometimes people can’t take the stress. Sometimes they take up oil painting or wood carving. And sometimes, they go attack people they feel have wronged them and helped put them in their current position. (Hey, I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying it happens.)
So, other than entertainment value, if you take anything away from this film, it should be this:
Don’t become friendly with the previous owner of your new house.
Happy house hunting my ghoulish friends!
Starring: Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson. Sandra Oh, Odessa Rae
Budget $950,000 Box Office $8.3M
This is a film about a fourteen-year-old girl who calls herself Haley, that plots and carries out a revenge plan against an adult male she suspects of being a sexual predator. The best thing about this movie is that this girl does what most people dream of doing to these monsters when we see them on the news or in crime shows.
She starts out by luring him to a coffee shop to meet FTF (that’s face to face for us older peeps who don’t speak in anagrams). When they do finally meet, she slyly tricks him into taking her to his house. He may think it is HIS idea but, it’s really HERS, it’s part of her plan.
When they get there, like any sexual predator, there’s some light flirting, some drinks are made, he shows her around his house while talking about his profession as a photographer, trying to impress her. But, when he hands her the drink, she says that it’s not a good idea to drink something you didn’t mix yourself. He agrees and says they can go back in the kitchen and she can watch him make the drink but, instead, she takes charge and says SHE’LL mix some drinks…screwdrivers.
She brings the drinks out and then starts slowing pushing him to drink his cocktail, faster and faster, saying that he’s falling behind and needs to be able to keep up with a teen girl. Appealing to his ego, which works, and he continues to drink the screwdriver she made for him. What he doesn’t know is that she put something in the drink to drug him. And it works.
She gets him tied to a chair, bound well with nylon ropes. And from that point on SHE is in control. And she has a purpose. She wants to get a confession out of him. A confession about a missing girl named Donna Mauer, who he admits he met for coffee.
Throughout the film we see the two of them play mind games back and forth. Haley claims to be an honor student and very bright. And she seems to live up to the claim. Jeff, the adult male predator, claims he’s not a pedophile, which in my opinion is a matter of semantics.
Quick lesson: The term pedophile gets thrown around to encapsulate ALL sex offenders that prey on minors. This is NOT accurate and is very misleading. A pedophile is a predator that preys on pre-pubescent children, usually the law says twelve and under. After that they are labeled sexual predator. Or rapist.
She finds all kinds of hidden secrets in his house and she toys with him like a cat with a mouse. Eventually, Haley sets Jeff up for an ultimatum. And it comes down to him making a choice. It will be a life changing choice either way he goes. And that’s her intent. She’s going to change his life. And his will.
I loved this movie. Haley is played by Ellen Page and she’s awesome in this film. She is excellent at the cold-hearted attitude this kind of person must have to do the things to Jeff that this girl does. The funny thing about this movie is that we go along through the whole movie believing Haley from the start. Jeff seems like a perv. And even if he isn’t the exact predator she thinks he is, because he continuously claims he’s not, he’s a predator in her mind, nonetheless. And for that, the ends justify the means. I guess in some cases it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. But, then again, she’s not really worried about forgiveness.
What strikes me is that she’s a fourteen-year-old girl and she’s doing things that an adult wouldn’t be able to handle. She’s quite the thinker, definitely living up to her claim as an honor student. She definitely has a level of sarcasm and dark humor that I can appreciate, although her victim didn’t seem to find anything funny at all. Can you believe that? Not one thing. No sense of humor.
I have watched this film three or four times before I decided to write a review on it. I was originally watching it because I found it psychologically interesting. This is definitely a psychological thriller. At least in my opinion. I mean, this girl plays with this guy’s mind in every way possible making him almost crazy with fear and anger and anxiety. The mind games and psychological torture she puts this guy through is pretty impressive for a fourteen-year-old. I mean, she comes up with things that NORMAL teenage girls wouldn’t, couldn’t even imagine. She’s also very good at planning ahead, her ability for foresight is astounding. She’s quick thinking and fast on feet. It’s almost like this guy Jeff doesn’t seem to stand a chance against her, and she’s just a kid.
But, then again, this film is a good example of how much we underestimate our youth of today. They aren’t the same. Fourteen years old in 2020 is not the same as fourteen years old in 1994. We’re talking a completely different generation, with a completely different upbringing and a completely different mindset. These kids aren’t kids anymore. They grow up faster, they experience more earlier in life and they don’t do the things we did at that age. Yes, the general stuff about being a teenager, all the angst and awkwardness and such is still there. That’s just biology and natural and that will never change. But attitudes and maturity do change. And things are different now. Oddly enough, this film reminded me of just that.
There’s no blood, no gore. No slasher scenes and no chases of big breasted blondes running from madmen with big bladed weapons. This is altogether a different kind of thriller and it’s a good one at that.
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
Budget $55-70M Box Office $1.067Billion
IMDb 8.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 69% Fandango 88% Metacritic 59/100
So, right up front I am going to tell you some things that don’t seem to be very popular in this day and age.
First and foremost, I have always felt VERY strongly that, in Hollywood, there is, was and always will be only one of each of the following:
One Superman: Christopher Reeve
One Batman: Michael Keaton
And ONE Joker: Jack Nicholson
I have felt this way since I was a small child, growing up watching the movies of these incredible men doing unthinkable things. So the idea of ANYONE else playing The Joker is almost offensive to my sensibilities.
Next, I am not a Heath Ledger fan. Yes, I realize the young man has passed on and that his death was a heart wrenching tragedy. But, his death has absolutely nothing to do with his acting ability. Yes, I saw him in A Knight’s Tale and it was a pretty good movie. I wasn’t big on the love story aspect but hey, I know they have to throw that in there, I mean hello??? The story involves knights, there has to be a fair maiden with whom he falls in love. Not having the love story in that movie would have been like making that movie without horses. But, I’m getting sidetracked. I admit I refused to see Ledger’s performance of the Joker. Having seen this film, I feel it will be necessary at this point in order to accurately compare all of the Joker performances I’ve seen. But, at the time, I had no interest in seeing Ledger play Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix on the other hand, he has a natural creep factor on screen that is just cosmically mesmerizing. I mean, even in Gladiator he was a creepy, wretched little man who wanted to sleep with his sister and rule the kingdom. No, not incredibly narcissistic , delusional or oedipal at all. Not at all. So, we’ve see that, even without the Joker makeup, Phoenix can portray quite a shady and suspicious creature.
One thing to keep in mind is that this particular Joker movie is an origin story. This is where we learn how and why the Joker became the cold, heartless villain that he is.
Now, because this film was only release about two and a half months ago, I’m going to avoid spoiling anything for you. So, here are my thoughts on the film, WITHOUT giving you the whole film summary. I think saying it’s an origin story is pretty clear enough
I actually really liked this film. I found myself truly empathizing with Joker as the movie went on. It is also an excellent example of how people with ANY sort of mental illness, big or small, are treated like some kind of pariah. As is mental illness is contagious. It truly left the film surrounded in a deep darkness, a loneliness and a feeling of despair. There’s not a whole lot of comedy in this film although there is some, it’s required seeing how it’s a movie about the Joker. But, think about this…we (the audience) have known for a long time that Joker has some serious issues, that he’s not playing with a full deck of trick cards, that he’s not really there mentally or emotionally like the average human being. But in this film, we find out why.
And Joaquin Phoenix…wow! I have to admit, as far as the new generations of Jokers go, Phoenix is the one that really has it down. He feels who the Joker really is. And he played the creepiness to the hilt. I mean, perfectly. It was truly an amazing performance.
I also like that Phoenix was the lead in this film. I think he is very talented and sometimes gets overlooked when he’s playing the support roles. But he really put it all out there for this film and it really came together in such a fantastic way that, once it was over, I wanted to watch it again. I used to really be a Batman fan. Michael Keaton was a hero when I was a kid. But after watching this origin film, I really feel like I have switched over to the “dark side” and become a Joker fan. He’s a very complex character. Batman really isn’t. But, the Joker, he’s got layers…like an onion.
So, if you get a chance to watch this, it is an absolute must. It’s a different kind of Superhero/Villain movie. Not a lot of action, very up close and personal on Joker and some things slid in there to make you think…if you catch them. So, enjoy the birth of this villain, because he’s like no other before or since him.
Scott Kosar, Ray Wright
Starring: Timothy Oylphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker
Budget $20M Box Office $55M
IMDb 6.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 71% Metacritic 55/100
Ahhh The Crazies. I saw this cover and thought “Oh, my people! Is this a home video?!” Just kidding. I am a little nuts though. Lol. No, not really. Okay, maybe a little. Anyways, I had tried to watch this movie once before and only got through about the first fifteen minutes. So, I wanted to give it another shot. I couldn’t believe how much money it made when I looked it up before I watched it. To me that is usually a good sign on a horror flick.
In this film, “the crazies” are people that have been infected by some virus. At first, it makes them stand there all blank and wide-eyed, looking totally creepy, if I do say so myself. It truly is this weird zombie like effect but without the standard hunger for brains.
The first to notice the odd behavior of the townspeople of Ogden Marsh, Iowa is the sheriff David, played by Timothy Olyphant, and his pregnant wife Judy (Radha Mitchell). David and his deputy then try to find the reason for the newfound virus that seems to be infecting the township at an alarming rate.
David and his deputy soon find that a military aircraft has crashed nearby and that it was carrying some sort of cargo containing a pathogen, which has now infected their own water supply for the town. On top of that, since it WAS a military aircraft that crashed, the town soon comes until military control. The town is hoarded into holding centers and tested for this virus. If they pass, they are taken to one area of the quarantine station and if they test infected, they are taken to another area. Unfortunately, David passes the infection test but, his wife, Judy, does not, and she and David are split up.
Now, remember, the town is under military control, so it is now like a police state. (I know some of the people out there think this is the way we should actually be living but, [I pause while I catch my breath from laughing my ass off] there is NO WAY anyone in their right mind would be okay with MPs (military police) coming into their homes and tearing their families apart just because they MIGHT be sick. All roads in and out of town are blocked off, no one is to come in or leave until the problem has been resolved.
The resolution? The military has been ordered to destroy all human beings in the town. Eradicate them. Kill them. Yes, kill them. Everyone. Every single person in the town. Every single living being in the town. Men. Women. Children. Even the family pets. All are to be dead before the military leaves the area. So, in order to survive, David must figure out a way to escape quarantine, find his wife, develop a plan to leave the full quarantine area AND get out of the town, ALL without getting caught and killed or infected by this strange virus.
So, do they escape? And what about Judy? Will she and the baby survive? Will the baby be affected by all this in any way? And where will they go if they do make it out alive?
Watch and find out.
So, as far as horror movies go, this wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a zombie film, as these infected people are not actually ever coming back from the dead. But I will say that the way they stand and stare is creepy as hell. It reminds me of all those K2 videos that the news stations were playing for a while where the people were using K2 or Spice or whatever and walking around like drooling zombies, standing on the sidewalk with their eyes barely open like a heroin addict that just lit up a vein. This was very reminiscent of those images. And I have to be honest, that kind of thing really gives me an uneasy feeling. It’s not that it scares me so much, even creeps me out isn’t really the right description. It’s unsettling. That’s what it is. And it’s because that look, that behavior, that blank stare and emptiness and absence of soul, it’s just unnatural.
Now, the whole police state idea…that scares the shit out of me. I grew up in a second-generation military family and my father was a cop for my young childhood. From a very young age I was taught about my rights as not only an American citizen but, as a human being. I was regaled with spirited talks from my father on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, on their meaning, the spirit behind their conception and what IDEALS this country strives for and to represent. So, the idea of a bunch of our own soldiers (all of whom I appreciate, support and defend by the way) coming into my town, seizing control of the town’s authority, bursting into homes and dragging us out, taking us and stuffing us all into containment areas with the sole purpose of complete genocide, yeah that tends to make me a little jumpy and paranoid. That is just way too similar to events like what Hitler did during WWII or the millions of lives Joseph Stalin snuffed out.
Interestingly, I think while most people are going to be focused on these infected people, I’m one of the odd balls that just couldn’t seem to get past the whole police state and quarantine factor. Even now as I write this, it makes the hairs on my forearms stand up. And to try to escape from a scenario like that? THAT is scary stuff. I mean, these soldiers are trained to kill and here these people are trying to run away…and runners are the enemy. Plain and simple.
I will say that while I couldn’t get into this movie the first time I tried to watch it, this time I actually did like it. Now, it won’t be one that I’m going to grab as one of my favorites on a dark night with a cup of hot cocoa and a fire to curl up and watch in the shadows of my living room. However, it was certainly worth seeing and I do believe I will be watching it again at some point. I happen to like Timothy Olyphant. I like his sarcasm and he has this way with his delivery that’s like it makes him slightly arrogant but, you can’t help but like him, ya know? (Personally, I thought he was perfect for the role he played in Scream 2.)
I did like the violent scenes in this film. The kill scenes were good and the gore was fun. Nothing looked cheap although, to be honest, this is probably a B-Rate horror film. At the top level of B-Rate but, B-Rate nonetheless. Which is totally fine. Most horror films don’t make it to A-List ya know. But this one was definitely worth the watch. I mean, at least once. If for no other reason than to see the gory kill scenes.
So, I hope you do take the time to chill out with some popcorn, soda, milk duds (whatever blows your skirt up) and sit back a relax. Keep in mind this is NOT Oscar material. But if you are a horror lover, this will be a decent flick for you.