Tuesday, February 20, 2018

'80s Class: Curtains (1983)

It's nice to watch a good Movie here every once in a while.  Today's Film is Curtains, a 1983 Slasher with a few gimmicks that work very well.  It was notable enough to get a Blu-Ray Release, but also not enough to be a Film people bring up all the time as a 'classic.'  That's not to say anything about quality- just notoriety.  More people are probably familiar with Sleepaway Camp than this one!  The Film is about a group of Actresses targeted by a killer as they audition for a Film.  Still safer than doing any Auditions for Harvey Weinstein though, right?  Who is the culprit?  Is it the Comedian?  The older Actress?  The young ingĂ©nue?  The vengeful wife?  The ice skater?  The mysterious man who works at the Cabin?  Even though this Film is my age, I still don't feel like SPOILing it all the way.  Since the Film is less famous than others, why not let other people enjoy it more first?  To see how many puns I can make with the Title, read on...
An older Actress seeks to make a comeback.  Her somewhat-abusive Husband is the Director.

She appears to have a mental break from the stress...but it is all just a ploy for her to go undercover as 'research' for the role.
Unfortunately, she learns that it is harder than she thought, her Husband has no interest in letting her out AND he's Casting her part for the Film!
The Actresses all show up to the man's Cabin for a weekend-long Audition.  Well, except for the one who was run over by a car, since she somehow couldn't lift a doll off of the road.

Okay, so there is SOME silly stuff in this one.
The Wife shows up, putting a wrinkle in things.  Things will go as planned all the same though.
While there is a clear danger in the area from the killer from earlier, the bigger danger is the man inside.  He's kind of a terrible person and he uses his position to get what he wants from the women.

Can I do *two* Harvey Weinstein jokes or should I make a Hitchcock one?  You decide!
The killer strikes the women when they seem to be the most safe.  Slow Motion Ice Skating is also a skill that a certain Mr. Kruger or Voorhees never seemed to have.
Seriously though- it's the doll again.  I don't get why it keeps showing up.
As the body count rises, so does the tension.  Oh and don't stand near any windows.
Who is the killer?  Will him or her escape?  Will they ever explain why someone bought this mask in the first place?

To find out, watch the Film.
It's Curtains for me.  There- that's one.  Now that I'm done with the obvious pun, let me talk about the Film.  It's good.  It's not 'you must see this now or your life is not complete' good, but it is good.  The Story is a bit different, not focusing on horny teens or some deep, dark secret about a location.  When it comes down to the Slasher stuff, it doesn't look that different though.  Fortunately, the much more interesting parts of the Film are the ones that could just be in any Drama about Actors.  The performances feel quite real and gritty.  The whole thing feels like a Drama that just has Slasher undertones.  There's an odd thing with the kills here- the doll.  It's a bit gimmicky and hampers things a little bit.  For example, the killer had to bury the thing in the snow for the woman to find in advance.  Kudos for planning ahead, but...why?  This happens again, so maybe they just really like to bury dolls.  I do like how the one person uses it as a makeshift weapon to defends herself though.  All in all, Curtains is definitely an obscure enough Film for me to recommend to people.  Just don't notice the little things...like this Crew Member just chilling in the left corner.
Next time, we go back to France.  Will a once-successful Director show how he got that way in the first place?  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Holiday Lost in Translation?: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

In lieu of doing some sort of wacky Film about George Washington, let's talk about something else.

Remember when Seth Grahame-Smith was a big deal?

If you don't, here's a look at his first big shot- a Film adaptation of his hit Book.

How did it get marketed over in Asia?  Let's see...
Pretty bad-ass!

As a bonus, let's see how those pesky Russians got the Film...
Simple, yet effective.  That axe is pretty tough-looking.

So now, let's see how it looked before I got my hands on them...
Neither one of them are bad, but they are just kind of...well, there.  So is the Film though, so...accurate.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Creepy Rigatoni: Channel Zero, Butcher's Block- Episode 1

After a fairly-brief absence, my favorite mini-addiction returns!  This Show is hard to pin down, since so far it has been 2 different 6 Episode Mini-Series'.  Plus, it is way shorter and way less hyped than American Horror Story, so I can like it without seeming like part of the crowd.  I'm much more insufferable this way.  In any event, after a tale of evil children controlled by magic television and a tale of a haunted house that dimension warps, we have a new Story.  This one involves little killers, urban decay, magic staircases, wealth gap observation and a freaky creature.  Will it turn into something disappointing Phantasm V or something good like Phantasm II?  To find out, read on...
In the Cold Open, an unseen man tells a young woman about a couple that went into the Park.  They separate when she starts watching a strange little man and he runs into a different one.

Bonus points for using the Cannibal Holocaust Theme over the opening bit!
In the Story proper, we meet our Lead.  She's moved away from some family issues (with her messed up Sister) and is working in the Butcher's Block area.
The Town- probably an analog for Detroit- was built around Meat-Packing Plants until the family disappeared in the 1950s.  Urban decay followed...and some other scary stuff too.
The woman- with her new Boss- go check out a House with a strange kid and...crap, is this The Boy now?

I'd say SPOILERS, but that Film sucked, so you're welcome.  
Living in a new City full of weird people and a cryptic past is all well and good until a phantom stairway appears.

What else can happen in this City?  To see, watch the Show!
The Show continues to feel fresh and I'm happy to see it.  Being a Show about weird stuff happening in normal places is a tricky thing to balance.  How long can you keep doing it before it becomes mundane and expected?  Well, we aren't there yet!  This new location feels very real, the people feel grounded and the situation, well, is crazy as hell.  Missing millionaires.  Park with freaky killers.  Mutant man on the stairs.  In many ways, the Show manages to walk the awkward line of reminding you of famous Horror Films like Don't Look Now or Phantasm without feeling like you should just be watching them.  Like with Candle Cove or The No-End House, it is never just one thing.  It wasn't just killer children, but also magic television, a freaky mutant and family body horror.  It wasn't just a magical mystery house, but also doppelgangers, cannibals and family drama.  This one promises a lot of interesting stuff like the mystery of the staircase, the story of the little killer(s?) and the inevitably-weird reveal of what happened to the Peach Family.  We also know from previous Seasons/Series' that nobody is truly that safe and just about anything can happen.  My only complaint: this not-so-convincing fake photograph.
Next time, more freaky stuff going on in the Town.  What secrets will be unearthed?  See you then...

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lost in Translation: The Howling (Part 2)

Another Howling Poster?

Alright- I spoil you people.  This time, I check off another Country from the list- Argentina...
Nice and weird.

This one does have some connection at least- seeing as how that is clearly the guy with the most famous transformation in the Film.

Although given how much he reminds me of The Babadook in this one, will he too become an unlikely icon of the LGBTQ Community?

Here's the original, of course...
Like most of these, it just needed a little love and touching up.  That's why I'm here!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Triple B Flix: The Dallas Connection

On the plus side, I can check another Director off of the Seen All of Their Movies List.  To be fair, it helps when they only have a few- like Anthony Perkins or William Peter Blatty- but it still counts.  This time, it is Christian Drew Sidaris, who, at least according to IMDB, hasn't made a Film since this 1994 one.  This is The Dallas Connection, another Sidaris Film in look, feel and tastelessness.  What it doesn't have- continuity.  We get the same two Male Leads from Enemy Gold, but they have a new Boss, a new Partner and work for an Agency that has not ever even been mentioned before.  Even going off of the idea that the LETHAL Ladies Series is over, this doesn't even match the last Film.  This is kind of like how Children of the Damned is not a Sequel, but rather a slight twist on the same Story just told again.  Who else could connect Village of the Damned to an Andy Sidaris Film?!?  To be fair to this Film, the Plot is not 100% the same.  Oh no- it's much sillier.  When people try to launch a Satellite that will target all weapons on Earth to speed up de-escalation.  Naturally, this involves 4 Discs and 4 Scientists to activate on a single day that is apparently viable.  All of the usual crap is here, so let's just dig in...
To get the Film to 90 minutes, we get 3 Segments that involve the killing of 3 Scientists.  Yea.
This Film is just barely 90 minutes- more like 80 minutes without the T&A Filler- so naturally around 1/3 of it is JUST these 3 extended 'Scientists Get Killed' Scenes.

Oh and you get one spot of Sidaris Film Bingo for Car Explosion and one for Remote Control Explosive Toy Used in Explosion.
We finally get to the main Plot as our Heroes are called in by I/WAR.  They have a Satellite set to launch and need 4 Chips there to launch them.  Since they are being targeted, they naturally...give them to the Agents to carry around all the time.
The lone surviving Scientist- Rodrigo, of course.  He only ever missed one of these Films and, yeah, he's clearly the Villain here.

Just think: A Good Day to Die Hard 'stole' from THIS Film.
Working for totally-not-Rodrigo are Julie Strain (already typecast in Sidaris Films), some guy, a Foreign Blond and a Brunette.  They all have codenames like Black Widow, which they use as both Assassins and Strippers.

Is it really that hard to come up with TWO fake names for yourself?
The group actually does quite well at not only taking the chips- by just seducing our Leads-, but also easily breaking into I/WAR Headquarters and killing two Agents to get another chip.

This guy here is making a joke about them not having enough tape.  Get it- this guy is big!
The Villains kidnap the Female Agent (who is just there to get topless) and- shock- the villain is actually Rodrigo!

Double-shock- the blond is actually undercover.  They show how she didn't really kill her target...but she then explains it again in even greater detail later.  Thank God- you almost didn't hit 90 minutes!
The Heroes arrive and lots of explosions occur.  Julie Strain is blown up again and the day is saved.
In the awkward wrap-up, they also try to redeem the other henchwoman by explaining that the guy she killed was actually planning to work with Rodrigo (which he didn't know), so her killing him worked out.

No, really.  Oh well- beats Hot Tub Wrap-Up.  The End.
More of the stupid, stupid same.  They changed the Plot a bit.  They changed the name of the Agency.  That's about it.  Same City.  Same Sets (they set the Finale at the Cabin from the last Film).  A lot of the same Cast.  Same Director as last time (for the last time).  Explosions, boobs and more explosions- they're all still here.  I realize that they didn't have the money to do something crazy like go in Space, but they really didn't try here.  I guess I shouldn't either.  It is dumb.  It can be fun to watch for pure silliness' sake.  It is just hard for me to muster that much interest at this point in the Series.  Oh well- here's an Andy Sidaris Cameo.
Next time, I step back to the 1980s.  I haven't watched a good (but probably bad) Horror Film from there in a little while.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Holiday Flix: Raped by an Angel 3- Sexual Fantasy of the Chief-Executive

Insert Trump Joke Here.  Is that out of the way?  Great.  Today's Film is Raped by an Angel 3: Sexual Fantasy of the Chief-Executive, another in the Series from China.  I *nearly* did this one last year, but was convinced to cover The Love Witch instead.  I don't regret that decision, especially after watching this one.  I last covered this Series in...holy crap, has it been over 7 years?!?  That puts things in perspective.  On this track, I'll be done with the Series- there are FIVE Films FYI- by the time I'm retired!  In any event, a recap for those that didn't see the previous two Films is in order.  In the first, a crazy guy that is also rich targets two women for, well, guess.  It's climax- sorry- involves the man getting caught and getting AIDS- ha?  In the Sequel, a freaky Dentist is out for, again, guess.  So now that this explanation is over, what is this one about?  To be fair, it actually inverts the Story a bit this time.  A series of rapes are happening and all blame points to one man.  Is he the villain?  Is he crazy?  Is this all a Hitchcock-ian Story with many twists and turns?  To find out, read on...
Just like with the main Plot, there is a slight inversion here.

Instead of it looking like rape, but being a couple instead...it is a couple and then an actual rape happens.  Creativity?
There have apparently been many rapes in this Building, but the Police are on the case!
The secondary focus of this Story is on our Female Lead (insert Social Commentary Here), who's Brother is a Cop on the case and who works in the Building.  Oh and everyone keeps saying this...
The titular Executive (actually a Chief-Executive-to-be according to the iffy Subtitles) has weird illusions of women being naked in public.  Okay, now I need to share this clip then.
Another rape occurs in the Office a bit later.  It is our Female Lead!

So was the point of showing her with a Taser earlier just to misdirect the Audience?  I'm not sure if it is a positive thing or if you just forgot.
Evidence points to the Chief-Executive (to-be).  The fact that the lead Cop is the Brother doesn't help things.
A Psychiatrist from the man's past comes into the picture during all of this.  Can she help him remember?
The Police are hard on the case, with the Partner working with the Chief-Executive (to-be) and figuring out that some weird, unexplainable stuff is happening around him.

He's also keen on over-sharing.  Was TMI a thing in 1998?
It all turns out to be a plot by the Psychiatrist, who was dumped by the Executive before his rise.  She went crazy and put in place a 2,481 part plan that involved hypnosis via fake dial-up sound, a partner, planted evidence, planted memories and mind-controlled murder.

That's...hard to believe, but every bad guy is dead so f--k it.  The End.
Love is in the air!  Aside from the obvious, perverted stuff here, this is a story of love.  The main one is about how it can drive you crazy and vengeful- granted.  Aside from that, we do see the love between Brother and Sister, the love between a young Couple and one man's love of 'porno video tapes.'  Again- it isn't a perfect, Holiday Film.  The Film is a bit all over the place story-wise, featuring weird illusions, flashbacks, long stretches of exposition and cutting back to the same Rape Scene about 3x.  The actual Acting is generally-good and I was able to enjoy it without Dubbing.  The Subtitles are very spotty, as nobody seemed to translate the lines for grammatical sense or proper order.  I'm not saying that I could do a better job, but many people could.  To be fair to those who did said Dubbing, this is a Sequel to a Series that is fairly-obscure outside of China and who's IMDB Page is woefully-incomplete.  By the time you read this, I may have actually done something about that.  Ain't  I a Saint?  Is this Film good?  It's alright, but definitely not for most people.  It is more about intrigue and suspense than actual rape, so bear that in mind.  It is also more bloody than you might think, so also note that.  If nothing else, it makes me feel for the poor guy who has to do Blocking for the Film.  I mean, look at how they had to stage this shot...
Next time, a return to trashy '90s Cinema.  That's right- more Andy Sidaris!  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lost in Translation: The Howling (Part 1)

Thanks to some fortuitous web searching, I've got PLENTY of these that I haven't used before.

We all love The Howling.  Let's see how the folks over in Thailand were sold this Classic...
Alright then.

On the plus side, there weren't any colors they missed there.  Good for them.

The original now, just for contrast...
Basically the same- just with less shine.  I turned it up to 11.  I'm sure that Joe Dante doesn't mind.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

'Black' History Month: Nosedive (Black Mirror)

After a short break, I'm back to cover the 2nd biggest Episode of Season 3. It got all of the Awards buzz first, but it got overtaken by San Junipero.
How does it stand up on its own? Let's see...
Bryce Dallas Howard is a lowly Office Worker who does everything to be liked, never really being herself.
In this Alternate Future, everyone is obsessed with Social Media and Rating things.

Does my sarcasm drip enough off of the Screen yet?
Above and beyond our actual addiction, this World brings back the eye cameras from a previous Season and has everyone rank each other all the time.

When you get Ranked low enough, it affects everything in your life. For example, we learn that you can't enter Gated Communities unless you ranked a 3.8 (out of 5) or higher.
When she wants to move up in her life, a chance comes in the form of being in the Wedding of a girl who was always mean to her as a kid. All of her friends are highly-ranked though, so, she goes for it.
Will she get what she's always wanted- a .3 increase in her Social Rank- or will it backfire?

Look at the name of the Episode and tell me. Even so, it is great to watch.
Society is messed up- also this Episode can be quite bleak. That was too easy. In any event, this one delivers on what Black Mirror is best at- showing how Technology can make us into assholes. Whether we are trying to see through our Wife's eyes to check if she's cheating or we're running for Prime Minister as a Cartoon, it changes us all. It is notable to see the comparisons between this and San Junipero, even if they can stand equally on their own. Both are about how the shiny veneer of the World covers up the things that we don't want to face. In this case, it is about people giving up their own identities in order to 'fit in.' Don't be a free spirit, lest a series of people you don't know Rank you lower and affect your life. We see one person not able to work at his job when his rank goes too low, while another is not a 'preferred member' when they go from a 4.2 to a 4.18. People are dicks. The biggest thing here is seeing just how good Bryce Dallas Howard is. When she's not playing not-so-subtle-attacks-on-Feminism-disguised-as-Characters that run in high heels, she can be really, really good. You see at her artificial highs and her realistic lows. She deserves all the praise she got for this! The whole thing looks great too, really committing to its World. Its a shame that other things on Netflix can't commit to World-building. I still probably like Junipero a little better, although that is probably mostly how I prefer hopeful to cringe-worthy. It is still great and teaches us to be ourselves...unless you're Chester.
A great mix of bright and shiny & bleak and dark. This theme has been explored in Shows like Community, The Orville and The Amazing Word of Gumball, but this is the acerbic best.