Monday, November 2, 2015

I Have a Little Speck of Sentiment In My Eye.

So, in case you didn't know, I got married on Halloween!  Yes.  Trite.  Cliched.  I know.  Hush it.

It was a costumed affair and I want to share it with all of you.

I'm the one in the purple.

My friend Mike's heavy breathing gives me a lovely "Single White Female" vibe.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Poor Little Timmy. Mommy Loves You.

AFTER DARK 8 Films to Die For has returned!

This makes me so happy, you have no fucking idea.

Not happy enough to give out prizes or anything because Uncle Bob ain't got that kinda scratch but very, very happy.

That brings us to today's review.

Oh,  Bastard, you glorious... bas... yeah, that didn't work but YES on the Bastard.

I mean, this movie's got some problems and we'll get to that in a bit but I dug it.  And I'll tell you why.

Tonya Kay.

Also known as The Most Dangerous Woman in Hollywood.  Known for driving a vegetable oil powered scooter, being a raw vegan, burlesque dancing, whip-cracking, fire poi twirling, crotch grinding with an actual metal grinder, Wanting to be a Superhero and showing up on Conan O'Brien to have knives thrown at her.

Her.  She looks like a fuckin' pixie but she'll cut'cha.
Questionable dietary choices aside, I adore this woman.  She's not even IN that much but she makes everything she touches more awesome by sheer proximity.

ANYWAY, we're not here to talk about just her.  There's a movie we have to deal with.

So, Bastard (and since it's new, I'm not going to give away too many spoilers) is kind of a less slap-stick-y, non-vampire, slasher From Dusk Til Dawn and I, for one, appreciate the direction it took.

Don't get used to this motherfucker.
It follows a young couple (of serial killers), their bitchin' (stolen) ride, another young couple ( of runaways who have secrets of their own), a gay (suicidal) cop and Rachael (Tonya Kay) who runs the B&B they all end up at.  Rachael also has a long-term guest that we don't really get to meet.  And a child.  Mommy's just trying to make the best of things now that daddy is gone.

Suffice it to say that the serial killers are not the people you need to be watching out for.

That tree totally deserved it.
So, without giving away to much, the movie is, underneath the gore and pegging (ask your internet friends what "pegging" is) and inappropriate relationships between hitchhiker and hitchhikee, it's about motherhood.  The thoughts women have prior to becoming mothers and what mothers will do for their children.  What women give up to be mothers.  This isn't evident in the plot or what happens, necessarily but the dialogue makes the theme of the film abundantly clear.

Beyond that, as I said before, this is From Dusk Til Dawn by way of David Lynch.  It goes from serial killer spree to slasher-stalker to straight up WhatTheFuckVille via Crazy Town.  It's odd and quirky throughout but the end is all WHAAAAAA?

Yeah, that's how I felt, too.
Now, this movie has some humor but it's NOT a horror-comedy.  The humor here is strictly used to break up the bleak and bleak, we have plenty of.

Let's talk flaws, though.  What's here, visually?  It's almost perfection.  The order in which the editor placed it?  What... the fuck?  Seriously, do they not teach you people about continuity?  How time needs to basically be linear or people don't know what the fuck you're doing?

Jesus, that's cinematography 101 right there.

And there's a LOT of stuff that really doesn't need to be in the film at all.  Complete non-sequitor stuff.  It derailed the film a little too much and made getting back into the main plot like arm-wrestling a bowl of pudding.

Mostly, though, this is a GREAT little indie horror flick and I appreciated it after waiting so long for 8FTDF to come back.

Grab a snack and go pee now.  Mommy isn't stopping until it's over.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

And That's Final!

The high hopes.

Oh, I had them.

And then I was ever so cruelly reminded that I'm not allowed to have them.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I did not hate this movie.  It's a good movie, for what it is, but, like Cooties, I found it somewhat lacking.  Not overly so, but there are some pain points.

ANYwhosawhatsit, The Final Girls is a story of loss, hurt, wish fulfillment and the understanding that we can't always have what we want.  I want good horror cinema but can I have it?  NooooooOOOOOOOOoooooo.

Max, played by the ever-close-to-tears Taissa Farmiga, loses her actress mother Amanda (Malin Akerman) in a car accident and just can't fucking let go.  I mean, yes, the death of a loved one is difficult to bear and it's very painful but after a while it's time to move on.  Swanning about the moors hoping that everybody forgets the one thing that made your mom famous isn't healthy.

Fortunately for us, director Todd Strauss-Schulson is well aware of this and every other character in this movie makes painful, direct points to Max about how spending all of her damn time in mourning is keeping her from actually having a fucking life and, frankly, it's affecting their's, too.

For fuck's sake, go to therapy.
In the midst of all this "woe is me", a dear friend... well... a friend... well... an acquaintance who happens to be related to a friend convinces Max to go to a screening of Camp Bloodbath, the film-within-a-film we will be forced to endure for the next 90 minutes and the movie that her mother is best known for.  Suffice it to say that Max hates this idea.  She hates it a lot.  She goes, anyway.

Aaaaaaaaand, they get sucked into the movie.

Say what, now?
No explanation.  Not a dream.  Just a random set of circumstances that, normally, would have just fried everyone in the theater until their heads popped like... dammit, you're gonna make me do this, huh?  Fine.  Corn.

AND CORN IS WHAT WE SHALL HAVE!  By way of a director whose only idea of a horror movie trope is "If you have sex, you die".  Yeah, there's a touch of "Dumb Blondes Die First", "Brunette Badass" and "Drugs and Alcohol are Gateway Deaths" and, of course, "The Final Girl" (which is a trope that's starting to wear thin since it's seriously limiting to diversity and creativity) but the big no-no is don't flash your sweater puppies.  Don't show 'em, don't touch 'em, don't let anyone else touch 'em.  Todd's message is "sex, eeeeeew" and for that I need to slap him with a confused lobster.  No, I don't know why the lobster needs to be confused.  It just sounded good.

I mean, they literally taped a girl's hands into oven mitts and slap a quilted vest on her to stop her from performing her scripted strip-tease until they'd laid out a trap.

Come on, man.

Oh, you...
Unlike The Cabin in the Woods, Tucker and Dale or Scream this is meta, knows it's meta and thrives on being meta but the problem here is that it's not meta enough to be truly effective or even truly funny.  Sure it's got in-jokes and shout-outs and an "I'M OK!" chuckle or two and who doesn't love those but there's a MILE of space between this movie and the Scary Movie franchise and this could have done with a hell of a lot more in the way of winking splat-stick and without even coming near "parody".  It needed to have more "I know why you think this is funny" and less fucking "tee-hee".

This douche always needs a knee in the nads.  I HATE this guy
Like I said above, though, it's not a bad way to spend a couple of hours and for being Todd's second feature film, I'm willing to give him a little leeway.  Not a lot, because those who are not punished don't learn, but some.  More like a healthy slap followed by a cookie.

A small cookie.

Like one of those cookies that comes in those fucking 100-calorie packs.

Just one.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot...




Now that I have your attention, let's aim our peepers at today's assignment:

 Ah, Cooties.  How have we survived so long without you?  A zombie movie where the only zombies are kids?  Surely you jest!  You don't jest?  This is fo' real-real, not fo' play-play?


Only just a little squee, though, because this movie?

Not great.

Yes, even though it has pigtail girl in it.
So, our story goes a little like this.  Tainted chicken nuggets infect school kids with a zombie virus.  Because they're school kids, they're complete asses about it.  Enter the new summer school substitute teacher, Elijah Wood, an"author" who's never actually been published and who has decided to use his classroom like a set of pint-sized editors.  For a horror novel.  And wonders why he hasn't been published, yet.

Of course we then meet the rest of the staff.  Former high-school jock turned gym teacher aching for the glory days, hyper-vigilant Tea-Party enthusiast, sweet and lovable old flame, kooky science teacher with "previous brain injury" realness, and obviously gay .  Basically a group of unlikable jerks (barring sweet and lovable, up there and kooky kind of grows on you but never quite gets there).

Obligatory OHNOES shot.
So, one of the cool things about this flick is that we're watching the outbreak from step one which, unlike ANY of the Cabin Fever films, is actually well done and makes some fucking sense.  You know... barring a disease that takes a few hours to hit the first girl who bites into that nasty chicken nugget and doesn't even bother to notice that it's fucking black and oozing green stuff but then hits both of her first victims within minutes which should be patently impossible but we pay movies to make the impossible possible so why am I even questioning this?

ANYWAY!  Yes, kids, there are a lot of parental fears wrapped up in this one and they aren't being analyzed, really.  They're being lampooned.  Which I love.  Because fuck parental paranoia.

"Pink slime"?  We, as Americans, didn't LIKE the shape of actual chicken so we made nuggets.  How else do you think those little nuggets of chicken meat get shaped to look like a fat California?  It's still meat, it's just ground like hamburger.  Cows don't come in a patty shape either.

This is what happens when you get a dork to play a gym teacher.
"Anti-vaccination"?  Yep.  If you don't get your kids vaccinated, they will turn into snarling Hell-beasts and eat you.  Or, y'know, just die from a completely preventable disease before passing that shit on to people who either can't get immunizations for one reason or another or people with auto-immune disorders and FUCK YOU if you think that vaccinations cause autism because, seriously, if it really comes down to it would you rather have a live kid with Asperger's or a dead one.  For real, fuckwads.  You choose.

"The horrors of puberty"?  Yeah, not so much.  That's the kicker, here. 

Who let the hobbit drive?
So, what do I think of Cooties?  I think it's a decent way to spend a couple of hours and that the producers spent a little too much on star power and a little too little on script writing and special effects.  There was just a hair too much CGI blood (and, seriously, Hollywood, fucking quit it) for me to lose myself in it and while it was funny, it wasn't the side-splitter I thought it was going to be.  If you're going to produce a movie that features ONLY zombie children as your unstoppable monster force, you'd better make my stomach feel as if I'd done a million fucking sit-ups. 

I mean, it's enjoyable but it needed work.  My husband hated it but he's generally bored by horror movies anyway so he doesn't count.

OK!  Now that that's out of the way, who wants nuggets?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Dude. So Grimm.

Long-time readers (and I hope there are a lot of you because pixels are a finite resource and I'm hoping not to waste them) may recall that I have an OBSESSION with fairy tales.  This is going to come in handy for today's Tropefest.

Does it come in a size 9?
Witches and goblins and fairies to lure children away.  Heroes and villains.  Princes and princesses, monsters and dragons.  Fairy tales have a long and revered history.  From the time man sat around fires with nothing to do but stare at fires because they hadn't been granted the gift of moving pictures and I feel super sad for them, man has been telling fantastic stories about life around them, often featuring creatures that don't exist and warning us of the dangers of this world.  

The modern interpretation of what constitutes a "fairy tale" is a mostly European tale, most often with a verbal origin, containing folkloric creatures as fantasy characters.  They differ from "myths and legends" in that there is rarely a religious element to them (for example, the Greek and Roman myths are primarily about man's interaction with their gods).

I can smell it when you lie.
The first known usage of the term "fairy tale" is ascribed to Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Baroness d'Aulnoy, a 17th century writer known for her fairy tales written as if she were telling them in a salon (a salon is basically a "snooty, impress your friends with your intelligence and sit back and bask in the glow of your adoring fans like a fuckin' boss" party... like this blog... because I'm vain).  Thanks to her "contees de fees" we have the written basis for many of the tales we know and love like Cinderella (Finette Cendron or Cunning Cinders).  Many of the stories we love, however, came from centuries-old stories with as many cultural differentiations as there are cultures.  Cinderella's earliest form beyond d'Aulnoy is the Greek myth of Rhodopis.  All of these stories, when collected, are analyzed using the Aarne-Thompson Index.

Nowadays, most of us get exposure to fairy tales through Disney movies and the like but these tales were originally meant for adults AND children and this is where I come in.

Wanna Date?
Fairy tales, in their original forms, whether by Perrault, Grimm, or, for real, any other source older than the 1800s or so, were DARK!  Every one of the classics that Disney has bastardized was sanitized for our protection.  Cinderella (Again, seriously?  Damn.) not only featured the two stepsisters cutting off a toe and a heel respectively to fit into the infamous glass slippers (which, A, ouch, B, an indication that Cindy was a petite girl otherwise, splinters and shards fucking everywhere and C, really were glass; there was an urban legend about how the slippers were fur but Perrault's book specifically calls them "pantouffle de verre", glass slippers) to land them the prince but Cinderella herself has her little fucking tweeting bird friends peck out their eyes at the wedding.  Another sick wedding freakshow?  Snow White.  In HER story, the wicked queen is made to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies.  Rumplestiltskin?  None of that "vanish in a puff of smoke" shit for him.  He either straight up tears his goddamn legs off or splits in half from stem to stern.

Beauty and the Beast?  The heroine's sisters are trying to get the Beast to eat her.  The Little Mermaid?  Oh, HER.

Maybe she's born with it...
Yeah, Hans Christian Anderson made her TRAGIC AS FUCK!!!  So, to get her legs, she, of course, has to give up her voice by way of cutting out her tongue but she also has a potion she has to drink that will make her feel as if she's being run through with a sword which will give her legs but her feet will always feel as if she's walking on shards of glass and her toes are bleeding.  In certain tellings of the tale there are three potions, one to split her tail, one to make her legs, and one to grow bones but she'll never walk.  She has a set period of time in all of them to get her prince to kiss and/or marry her.  In the story, though, if she doesn't get this done, she'll die.  Since she eventually figures out that this can't be done, she goes back to the witch and is given a knife so she can kill the prince and get his soul so that she can live.  She can't go through with it so she kills herself and has to gain a soul the hard way over the course of 300 years.


So much side-eye, Gramma.
And another perennial favorite?  The Little fucking Match Girl.  This perfectly innocent poor girl has to sell matches for a living.  One at a time.  For pennies.  She dies in the snow.

And there are other, lesser known stories, too.  The King Who Wished to Marry His Daughter?  Yeah.  He marries her.  Ick.  The Juniper Tree where a boy's stepmother cuts off his head with the lid to a trunk then serves his corpse to his father in a stew.  And one of my favorites, Bluebeard.

No, not Bluebeard the pirate.  This Bluebeard is a serial monogamist.  Of course, he's also a serial killer and is widely considered to be based on Gilles de Rais, one of France's most notorious serial killers.  He marries a woman, givers her a set of keys and an egg.  Tells her she's not to use the smallest key.  What does each wife inevitably do?  She uses the fucking key on his gruesome man-cave where he basically shows them that he's Jeffrey fucking Dahmer and hacks them to pieces.  

Now there have been a lot of horror movies built around these premises.  Hansel and Gretel have 4 that I can think of off the top of my head.  Snow White has a WONDERFUL interpretation starring Sigourney Weaver.  The Leprechaun movies (yes, including that gawdawful reboot) are based on Irish fairy tales and folklore.  Bluebeard even has a couple of movies under his belt (including the 2015 film Ex Machina).

This is because the stories themselves are so rich and diverse.  There's just SO much gruesome content that it's hard not to use it.  Not just the monsters.  The people.  Some of the people in fairy tales are deliciously evil.  

But the bridge trolls help. 

And, for real, I suggest reading your kids the originals.  The Disney stuff is all well and good but kids?  They like blood.  Kids are animals.  Scared children behave.  True story.

Monday, September 21, 2015

She's a DOLL!

Oh, for fuck's sake.

I made myself watch Annabelle.  I didn't wanna do it, I had to.  Like it was some kind of sick obsession.  I didn't even LIKE The Conjuring!  But, no, I had to see the horrible for myself because I am what?

A glutton for punishment.

 DAMMIT, I hated this movie.

So, we all know ABOUT the doll, Annabelle, from The Conjuring but this movie is about the doll itself and the havoc it wreaks on a poor pregnant woman's body and sanity.  Because dolls are creepy.  We know and understand this.  We also know that creepy dolls, such as Chucky and Tiffany, are, 9 times out of 10, going to try and kill you.

Well, in this flick, we find out how Annabelle got to be the soul-sucking plastic homunculi she is today.  Or at least she was in the 70s.

Bearing in mind that this movie was "based on a true story", the doll was involved in some fuckin' occult murder or some shit and soaked up the blood of one of the stabbers.  Because this was all planned through the auspices of patchouli and weed.  To bring a demon to Earth.  Because they thought they had a chance to gain power from it.  Because cultists are fucking idiots.

Seriously.  A damn DOLL?  They couldn't just kidnap a baby like normal people?  They had to link this demon to a doll?  Demons don't particularly care for dress up and tea time, do they?  Who fucking knew?

"I like your doll."  Best line in the movie.  Not saying much.

Anyway, the movie is all about dealing with the potential loss of a child and a cursed doll.  That's really it.  Nothing groundbreaking.  Nothing even interesting.  I pity Alfre Woodard who has been relegated to being the magical fucking negro.  Yes, that's a trope.  Yes, it's racist.  Yes, Alfre should be slapping the bejeezus out of her agent right about now.

Why did we let this movie get made?  Who let the editor put in all of the boring.  ALL OF THE BORING!  There are a few people I need to punch in the dick right about now and hopefully that bit of exercise will allow me to get the hour and a half I wasted on this shit back into my life.

Is it REALLY a good idea to give a priest anything that resembles a child?
This whole movie was Snoozeville.   Not only was it nap-worthy but it was disjointed, badly acted (sorry, Alfre), horrifically costumed and OMFGPONIESONTHEBBQ, that fucking doll is entirely too butt-ugly to be anything but recyclables.  Not scary, people.  Just incredibly fucking ugly.  If it was an actual PRETTY doll and went through some kind of metamorphosis to represent it's possession, I may not have had such a problem but even before the film started it looked like it fell out of an ugly tree and hit every goddamn branch on the way down.

Plus the basement scene was just idiotic.

I'm going to need to start reading some calculus textbooks to get some of the IQ points I lost back, here.  I hate math.  See that, filmmakers?  You made me math.

I hate you so fucking hard, right now.

I'm just glad it's over.  Now I can pray for the sweet release of a violent death so that I can forget this movie ever existed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

That Which Man Was Not Meant To Know

You know how I keep saying found-footage movies suck donkey balls

I'm about to be a little bit of a hypocrite only not really because The Atticus Institute is a mockumentary.

The premise behind this movie is a parapsychological testing lab created in the 60s.  Like most of these institutions, they had they battery of tests.  The cards, the dice, the coins, the electric football tables... wait, seriously?  Electric football tables?  I know they were a thing but, for fuck's sake, there has to be a better way to test telekinesis.


Everything is going all "Ho-hum, I'm so bored with trying to find people that actually have magical powers.  When will someone with real power come and make ten years of this bullshit worth it?"  And along comes Judith Winstead.

And she is PISSED!
Now, we can tell right away that good ole Judy has some... issues.  Frankly, the folks at the institute had to be blind and deaf to not know this.  They kept going, though, because she was blowing the other psychics away with her utter mastery of "mind over body".

This doesn't end well for a damn one of them.

A sad, sad, lonely man who may or may not be a total perv.  The movie doesn't mention his sex life.
And WHY, do you ask, does it not end well?  Because Judith is fucking possessed.  She's not just crazy, we're talking inches away from crab-walking down stairs and a full-on Exorcist twist.  (And there's your Buffy reference for the day.)

This... should have tipped them off.
Now, I don't normally go in for possession movies but I have to say that this one was a pleasant surprise.  It wasn't preachy, it was just people in an extreme circumstance.  There was almost no reference to religion until the end when they had to bring in a priest.  (Mind you, not an old priest and a young priest.  Just one priest.  He does not do his job right.)  It was... refreshing, if not original.  There have been plenty of films that reference studying psychic phenomena as a focal point for evil.  This one just used the old tropes extremely well.

Except for this.  What the fuck is this?
The effects?  Old hat, unfortunately.  Yeah, there was some CGI splatter.  That didn't make me happy.  What, did you blow your budget on 70s pimp-wear and couldn't afford some fucking Karo syrup and food coloring?  Seriously?  What the fuck?

Overall, I really did like this one.  maybe not enough to watch it again, but it was certainly a couple of hours well-spent.  If you don't mind a slow-burn, check it out, kids.