Movie Reviews: “The Blob” (1988)

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I’ve always enjoyed the original 1950’s “The Blob” but today I just fell in love with the 80’s remake! What an awesome movie! The effects are the centerpiece of this film as they are just outstanding & creative. A lot of hard work went into creating the giant slimy unstoppable killing machine.

The script is hilarious, cheesy, and entertaining as hell. Not a dull moment to be had. It was fun to spot actors from other films. For example, the Sheriff in this is played by a much younger Jeffrey DeMunn, Dale from AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I spotted Jack Nance from “Twin Peaks” & Art LaFleur who looks a lot like the Doctor from the original “Blob.” Hmm…

This blows the original 50’s version away. (Sorry Steve McQueen.) I can’t imagine any studio today even considering remaking it again. You cannot CGI the blob! Once a concept has been fleshed out and made the best it can possibly be, even if it’s dated, it should be left alone to stand on its own for future generations. This is one of those films. A must see. I’m kicking myself for not seeing & enjoying this my first 29 years of existence, but also thanking myself for saving it to see something potentially great this late in life.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars

Movie Reviews: “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)

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Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, & Leonard Lemoy.

The plot for this 1978 remake is very similar to the 1956 version. Sutherland plays Matt Bennell, a man who works for the Department of Health. When his co-worker friend (and secret love interest) Elizabeth complains that her husband is acting strange, the two of them start to notice that many other people are complaining of the same problem, that their loved ones are not really their loved ones.

I think where this remake shines most is in the last half where they try to flee the terror. It really builds on what the 56′ version started. It’s tense as hell, more violent, and more sophisticated. Sutherland makes a great horror lead. I wish he had done more films like this.

While plot remains mostly the same, this remake has a very different vibe from the 56′. It’s a perfect remake in that it takes the story and makes it it’s own without trying to be the original. It also has a bigger budget. Entire streets are lined with “them” chasing our heroes. Police, businessmen, women, children etc all transformed and on the prowl.

Lastly I think that the ending of this film is one of cinemas great endings. It’s truly memorable and shocking. Its even been parodied on “Family Guy.” What does that tell you? All in all, this stands alone, and on par with the original. This is what all remakes should aspire to be.

4.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Movie Reviews: “V/H/S” (2012)

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Notable Directors: Ti West & Joe Swanberg.

“V/H/S” is an anthology horror film like a “Creepshow” or “Tales from the Hood.” The film consists of 5 stories with a wrap-around story. The styles range from supernatural to slasher etc, all shot home video style with hand held or digital head cams.

I found the main wrap around story about a group of punks stealing an important VHS tape from a mansion uninteresting and kind of annoying. If you can get through the first 15 minutes of setup, then you are in for a creepy ride. The punks watch tape after tape (our tales) hoping to find the one they need.

Each story is unique and interesting in it’s own way. There’s some real horror here, but mostly with little pay off. Half of the tales leave you scratching your head, while others let your mind fill in the ghastly maybes. That can be some the scariest stuff, if the idea of something haunts you.

The effects are fantastic and some of the best I’ve seen. The film does a good job for the most part with maintaining a realistic feel, so that when something bad happens it’s that much more shocking. I just wish that “V/H/S” started off with a bang instead of an annoyance. Some will love this film, and others will think its the worst ever. I can understand both arguments. I am somewhere in the middle. Two of the stories in particular were fantastic and should be praised. I wish they were on their own. Overall, I appreciate the effort/experiment that went into this.

2.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Chernobyl Diaries” (2012)

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Four friends traveling around Europe get the chance to explore the abandoned city of Pripyat as part of an extreme tour, and roam around for an afternoon. They meet up with their travel guide and a young couple, looking for the same adventure. The group loads into a van and makes it into the city through some back roads. Once the afternoon is completed they head back to the van to find that it won’t start. Chaos ensues as the group is attacked and has to battle rabid dogs, radioactive fish, and overexposed mutant humanoids.

The premise and concept sound so much better than is delivered. I really wanted to like this film. I’ve been fascinated with Chernobyl and Pripyat for a long time, as many people are. Insensitive or not, the place is legendary and makes a great location for a horror story.

The first 10 minutes are really bad. The acting and “getting to know” the characters are so cliched and forced that its unbearable to watch. Once the group meets up with the tour guide, things finally start to get interesting. We are treated to a nice half hour’ish tour of Pripyat along with the characters. At this point, I am digging the film, thinking about all of the possibilities and directions it could go. Even though this wasn’t really filmed in Pripyat, the vibe is the same and gives me chills.

About 40 minutes in, the group gets back to the van to leave, and it won’t start. From here on out the film falls apart completely, which is unfortunate because here is where it should have delivered. Going into this, I thought that “Chernobyl Diaries” was about ghosts. The trailer definitely¬†alludes to that, but it’s not. In fact until the final 5 minutes, I still had no idea what the actors were running from, because they barely show you!

Half of this film is shaky cam, flashlights, running, and stupidity. It’s so irritating to watch! The action is so blurred and disorienting that I have no idea what was going on for the majority of those last 40 minutes. This isn’t entertaining! I could have shot myself running around in the dark with a flashlight and shaking the camera. Anyone could. So why is this half of the film???

The ending is bad. Very bad. I won’t spoil that part for you. Feel free to see it and to draw your own conclusions. The middle of the film is great, but it’s sandwiched between some real shit. Chernobyl Diarrhea. This should have been so much better.

1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

Film Reviews: “The Addiction” (1995)

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Directed by Abel Ferrara.
Starring Lili Taylor, Christopher Walken, and Annabella Sciorra.

“It makes no difference what I do. Whether I draw blood or not. It’s the violence of my will, against theirs.”

Kathleen is walking home one night and is attacked by a woman, and pulled into an alley. The strange woman bites Kathleen on the neck, changing her life forever. What follows is Kathleen’s reaction to, and acceptance of becoming a vampire.

Director Abel Ferrara (The Driller Killer) returns and this time with a very different kind of film. “The Addiction” is an artsy, shadow filled, intense, and gritty vampire flick. Seeing Kathleen change from quiet student into ruthless killer is fascinating and disturbing. This is a very mature look at vampirism. I’ve always enjoyed Lili Taylor. Such a great actress, and in this she gets to show it, ranging from maniacal to subdued. They could have almost cast two different actresses to play Kathleen. Christopher Walken makes an awesome appearance as an older vampire with wisdom for Kathleen. It’s only about 10 minutes, but as memorable as any Walken 10 minute role.

If I could change one thing about the film, it would be the terrible opening song. “The Addiction” was co-produced by hip hop mogul Russel Simmons of all people, and I think he may have had a contract in which he could add in songs linked to his label? I dunno. It’s just a guess, but the song doesn’t jive at all with the rest of the film. Otherwise, this was truly fantastic and exactly what I was hoping it would be.

3.5 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “The Innkeepers” (2011)

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Directed, written, and edited by Ti West.
Starring Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, and Kelly McGillis.

It’s the final weekend before the old Yankee Pedlar Inn closes its doors forever. Co-worker friends Claire and Luke are running the whole joint alone until the end. They’re also amateur ghost hunters. The story goes that in the 1800’s Madeline O’Malley was killed and her body hid in the hotel’s basement. Claire believes that O’Malley’s spirit still haunts the halls. Luke is skeptical but interested. With the place almost entirely empty for it’s final nights, will the spirits of Yankee Pedlar Inn make their presence known?

I really enjoyed Ti West’s last film “The House of the Devil.” This is great as well. The beginning is a little slow on the scares, but that’s made up for with humor and character. “The Innkeepers” is like a less crude version of Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” meets Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Lots of laughs and chills to be had.

3.0 out of 4.0 stars.

Film Reviews: “Entrance” (2012)

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Suziey is followed closely and intimately throughout her day. She wakes up, feeds her dog, has coffee, walks to work, walks to the bar, comes home, goes to bed. Repeat. Within these daily events exists a tension. Suziey doesn’t allow herself to trust others, and typically people give her reasons not to. She is approached on the street by strangers, and shies away. She is¬†followed by someone in a car, as she walks alone. She hears noises in the middle of the night. Is it all in her head?

The first hour of this film is a slow, tense buildup to the gruesome final half hour. It’s not for everyone. If you have patience and can pick up in the film’s undertones, then you are in for a nervous nail biting ride. I enjoyed it.

2.5 out for 4.0 stars.