Posts Tagged ‘Don’t Worry About the Government

27
Jun
15

The Guest (2014)

One of the best things I’ve done in recent memory is join the facebook group for the podcast The Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema. Not only is it a group filled with folks who love my kinda movies, everyone is like, civil. So, in addition to sharing pics from your favorite flicks, or trying to get a handle on whether or not a particular movie is worth watching, the floor is open for some real, in-depth discussion of film instead of, you know, shit flinging. I strongly encourage you to listen to the podcast! Anyway, it is due to this fine group of Gents that I was first introduced to the film The Guest. Indeed, not a day went by for about a week or two when I didn’t see a post about it. Naturally, I had to check it out. I am so very glad I did.

Hello, David.

Hello, David.

Spencer and Laura (Sheila Kelly, whom I immediately recognized as Debbie with the earrings from SinglesPeterson are regrouping from the death of their son Caleb, a soldier who died in Afghanistan. Their two remaining kids, Luke and Anna (Maika Monroe, It Follows) are coping with it in their own strange ways as well. But things get a little spooky when a strange visitor stops by. David (Dan Stevens, apparently from Downton Abbey but I don’t watch that shit so… whatever) knocks on the door one morning, claiming to have known Caleb from Afghanistan. At first Laura is a little skeptical, but when she recognizes David from a picture of Caleb with some of his buddies, she’s rather excited to get the opportunity to know the guy. After all, what parent wouldn’t want the chance to learn about their son’s last days?

Maika Monroe ain't got no time for this David guy.

Maika Monroe ain’t got no time for this David guy.

Naturally, the other family members are pretty put off by David’s presence, but one by one they all seem to be taken with his charm. Dad finally shares some beers with David and gripes about the woes of working for a manager half his age; Luke learns how to beat the shit out of his bullies, and even Anna enjoys herself with him at a party. But soon, Anna starts to recognize some inconsistencies in David’s story, and starts to do some digging…

Dude, if my High School had a Halloween dance this hot, I'd never have left.

Dude, if my High School had a Halloween dance this hot, I’d never have left.

The Guest is one of those movies where it’s really best to go in knowing as little as possible. It packs some pretty big surprises and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Like, seriously, Q said he was so nervous not knowing what the expect next that it made him nauseous. Now that’s an achievement! You’re never quite sure which direction the movie will go, or the extent to which it will go there, and it unnerves the shit out of you. It is tremendous fun to watch, it looks gorgeous, and the fucking soundtrack is killer. After I watched this, I sent out a handful of text messages demanding friends seek it out immediately.

Of course, a movie like this is definitely not for everyone. If you like a cookie cutter action flick, or a predictable horror movie or whatever, this might not be your cup of tea. Seriously, the greatest joy this movie has to offer is how much it keeps you guessing. Its other joys though are pretty great as well. I can’t recommend this enough. Check it out dudes!

19
Jun
15

Capricorn One (1977)

When Q attempts to market a “serious” movie to me, I’m usually very disappointed. Especially when that movie purports to be space-themed; I’m used to my space science fiction being goofy and low-budget. No Gravity or Interstellar for this gal, please! So when he told me Capricorn One was, ahem, serious, I tried my best to get out of watching it. But, as you’d think I’d have learned by now, Q usually knows what he’s talking about, and Capricorn One, as serious as it is, is definitely well worth your time!

O. J. Simpson and Sam Waterston wanna know, what's the big idea?!

O. J. Simpson and Sam Waterston wanna know, what’s the big idea?!

Fifty seconds before lift-off to Mars, the astronauts of Capricorn One are instructed to leave the shuttle. Fifty seconds later, the shuttle takes off – without anyone inside. Astronauts Brubaker (James Brolin), Willis (Sam Waterston) and Walker (O.J. Simpson) demand to know what the hell is going on.  Kelloway (Hal Holbrook), a NASA bigwig, sits them down at a table and tells them they’ve been removed from the shuttle because at the last minute, it was discovered the company who built the life support systems majorly skimped; the fellas would’ve been dead in three weeks.

So, why not just cancel the mission for today, fix the problem, and resume at a later date? Well, when the president tells you not to botch another mission or else Congress is going to defund the Mars program entirely, the last thing you want to do is admit to another botched mission! Instead, wouldn’t you create an elaborate hoax to convince the President, and the millions of Americans who adore you, that you’re on Mars? After all, it’s really important to keep Americans interested in NASA and its various exploratory programs.

Mars on Earth.

Mars on Earth.

Never quite sure if they should, or can, keep up the charade for very long, the astronauts do it anyway. After all, their families’ lives have been threatened if they don’t follow through with the plan. The blissfully ignorant American public eats it up, except for one guy, the troublesome reporter Robert Caulfield (Elliot Gould). But he can’t get anyone to take his ideas seriously. How can he and three little astronauts take on the American government?

I was just so impressed with this movie. Not only is it serious, it’s also over two hours! This is usually a fatal blow to any movie’s potential, but never did Capricorn One start to feel long in the tooth. It had me on the edge of my seat up through until the very end. And, even though we never set foot in space, it’s a great adventure worth going on. Boy, that sounds cheesy; I guess I just can’t hide my enthusiasm for this movie. Maybe it’s just because I distrust everything and everyone and really dig movies about paranoia and vast conspiracies? Yeah, well, okay, it might be that.

Telly Savalas and Elliott Gould in the next installment of Adventures in Crop Dusting!

Telly Savalas and Elliott Gould in the next installment of Adventures in Crop Dusting!

But this movie has much more to offer than a plateful of paranoia; it is extremely well-paced, and everyone (well, almost everyone; I’m looking at you O.J.) turns in a great performance. Waterston is a right smart-ass, and as usual a complete joy to watch. And Gould, well, god dammit Elliott Gould is just as good in this as he is in The Long Goodbye. Look for David Huddleston (The Big Lebowski from The Big Lebowski) as a real peach of a Congressman, and a hilarious turn by Telly Savalas as a renegade crop duster!

I have to say, I’m pretty surprised this movie wasn’t more positively received, and even more surprised I’d never heard of it until Q pulled it off one of the shelves. It’s totally legit! It’s a lot of fun to watch; certainly not a bad way to spend an evening. The only thing that seems like its missing is Tom Skerritt. For some reason I just feel like he should’ve been in this movie… but shouldn’t he be in every movie?

27
Nov
14

Blood Car (2007)

There is a great and varied selection of films that start with the word Blood. Some are drama films, like Blood Diamond or Blood Simple. Others still are nothing but muscle, like Bloodsport. More often than not, though, a film starting with blood is pretty likely to be a horror movie. And even more often still, it’s probably a shitty horror movie: Blood and DonutsBlood Diner, and Blood Feast immediately come to mind. I am happy to add Blood Car to the latter list: it is indeed a shitty horror-comedy that delivers just about what you’d expect; a movie about a car that runs on blood.

BloodCarTheVegTable

There’s always wheat grass aplenty at the Veg-Table!

Sometime in the very near future, gas prices have sky-rocketed to $50/gal. No one can afford to drive anymore, but there’s a young man out there who’s trying his darndest to change all that! Meet Archie (Mike Brune), a proud vegan pacifist who teaches elementary school by day and works tirelessly on his wheat grass car engine by night. He is a faithful customer of the Veg-Table, a vegan stand in an empty parking lot (because all parking lots are empty, get it?) specializing in wheat grass and other crunchy goodies. Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky) runs the stand and has a devastating crush on Archie, but he’s so focused on his engine he either doesn’t notice or doesn’t care. Either way, Lorraine always enthusiastically asks Archie how his engine is coming along, and the answer is usually a half-hearted ‘harumph.’

BloodCarMeat

Denise. Meat. Flesh. Desire.

Lorraine isn’t the only one monitoring Archie’s success: we get an occasional glimpse of FBI Agents who are keeping close watch on Archie’s progress. They’ll be ready to pounce as soon as his engine starts showing some positive results; after all, who could be more interested in an alternative energy source than the American government? Though his efforts have thus far been largely unsuccessful, Archie tirelessly pushes forward. One night while working feverishly to make his engine work, he accidentally cuts himself, and his spilled blood makes it into his wheat grass mixture. Right away, the engine starts working; it seems blood was the missing element all along! Archie feels an enormous rush of success when he starts up his car and drives it to the Veg-Table to pick up some more wheat grass. But when he gets there he sees Lorraine has some competition: a painted whore named Denise has opened up a stand right across from the Veg-Table, simply called MEAT. Denise doesn’t give a crap about Archie’s ideals, morals or politics, she just likes riding cars and will put out to no end just to be a passenger. Now Archie knows he needs a constant supply of blood to keep his new girlfriend interested, but how can this vegan pacifist reconcile his desire for fame and sex with his reverence for all living things?

BloodCarArchieandLorraine

Lorraine (Anna Chlumsky) is so excited to finally be alone with Archie!

Blood Car is definitely one of the most irreverent and offensive movies I’ve ever seen. It’s loaded with bare breasts, curse words, blood, guts and violence against children: in short, don’t watch it with mom and dad. Fortunately, it is also rather smart, and that’s what makes it a movie worth seeing. Without its intelligence it would be easy to pop this movie into the Troma-esque category of purposeless trash. Unlike so many of the Troma trash films I’ve seen that have nothing to say, Blood Car obviously has very strong opinions and is unabashed about sharing them with its audience.

BloodCarArchieAndGirlfriend

Archie begins to lose it.

What I like most about Blood Car is Archie’s transformation. It is easy for a person to tout their ideals and display them loudly to the world, and Archie is no different. He wears his political beliefs on his shirts, one day loudly exclaiming his veganism and the next assuring us that dolphins have feelings, too. All the while though, Archie is completely disinterested in the Lorraine, the woman who shares his politics 100%, and instead runs wild with Denise the pure-id MEAT girl. Worse still, of course, is Archie’s thirst for blood. Early on in the film we see him roaming around town with a baseball bat, weeping as he murders small dogs and wild animals to harvest their blood. Later on, after Archie’s murders have moved into the human realm, he stuffs his face with meat while crying “I’m a vegan! I’m a vegan,” like a loud vegetarian who still wears leather. At the very end, Archie’s hypocrisy reaches its pinnacle when (spoiler alert) he agrees to sell his engine to the US Government, knowing full well all of his friends will likely become victims used to feed his thirsty cars.

The biggest problem with Blood Car, aside from its sometimes too-irreverent irreverence, is it kind of flags a little towards the end. It could probably safely shave 20 or so minutes off of its running time and greatly improve its audience’s overall experience without losing any of its punch. And, if you ask me, its punch is all in its display of the idealist losing sight of his ideals. When your identity is so wrapped up in your politics, what happens when you abandon them?

15
Nov
14

Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

frankensteinsarmyposterWe blindly bought a used copy of Frankenstein’s Army from a pretty impressive horror section, like, in an actual store. It was one of those days where the stack of DVDs to purchase just got bigger and bigger, and I couldn’t think of a reason why I shouldn’t just throw another one on top. What’s another $3, I thought to myself? That was, of course, before I watched the trailer for the movie. If I’d seen that first, I probably would have put it back on the shelf in favor of something else. The good news is, the movie isn’t as bad as the trailer made me believe it would be. The bad news is, that doesn’t mean the movie’s good. Just a warning, this review is spoiler-y so if you care about that kind of shit, don’t read ahead.

A group of Russian soldiers are searching for some fallen comrades in Germany during World War II. This particular troop is lucky enough to be filmed, so the folks back home can see how the war effort is going, or something. Their search for their lost brethren takes them to a derelict building ridden with nun-corpses where they encounter strange creatures that come alive when met with an electrical current. The soldiers that are lucky enough to survive find out soon enough the man behind the movie camera is there for much more than recording. Turns out he’s actually running the whole operation: there are no fallen comrades; it’s all an undercover mission to bring the mad scientist Nazi Dr. Frankenstein (yes, the great grandson of you-know-who) back to Russia alive, where Uncle Joe can exploit the good doctor’s experiments that bring the dead back to life in robotic, weapon form.

Frankenstein’s Army is a movie constructed around the idea of its strange, monstrous creations. I guess the monsters were pretty cool, but the found-footage style of the film prevents us from getting any really good glimpses of the creatures. I definitely found myself asking what the film gained by using the found-footage format… and I have no answers. If anything, it detracted from the movie’s strongest assets, all while making me want to puke with its herky-jerky movements (not a novel found-footage complaint, I realize, but some movies do it better than others).

frankensteinsarmybrain

Dr. Frankenstein’s Brain Fusion

On top of that, all of the characters are all pretty gross. I never cared if any of them lived or died. Their relationships to each-other don’t offer anything new or interesting, it’s just your typical who’s-in-command-when-the-number-one-guy-dies-at-war conflicts, and the baddest of the baddies is insufferably, annoyingly evil. I was hoping at least Dr. Frankenstein would provide us with one interesting character, but when we finally meet him he’s pretty disappointing, too! Though he’s a little off-kilter (irritatingly, ‘quirky’ is probably the best word to describe him), he’s annoyingly calculated and mechanical (hehe, get it?). I wanted him to be a much more entertainingly unhinged ‘mad’ scientist than he ended up being.

So, what does Frankenstein’s Army have to offer? Well, aside from the few shots of robot monsters (dubbed zombots), not much. Even then, you can’t really see them enough to appreciate the work that went into creating them, which is a damn shame. There’s tons of gross-out gore, including a shot of Dr. Frankenstein attempting to fuse half a gooey Nazi brain with half a gooey Communist brain in all its squishy glory, so I guess if that’s what you’re looking for maybe this movie has something for you. But even still, I don’t find any of it very interestingly done. All in all a rather disappointing purchase that we won’t be keeping.

10
Nov
14

Scream and Scream Again (1970)

Guess what? We are well into November and I’m still writing up horror posts from last month’s 31 Days of Horror! If only they paid me to write up this crap, perhaps I wouldn’t be so behind. Unfortunately, they (whoever they might be) don’t, so forgive me for my passé posts. Anyway, back to the matter at hand: horror movies. For day 30 we watched Scream and Scream Again, one of only two films to star the powerful horror trifecta of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing!

Vincent Price as some mysterious "doctor."

Vincent Price as some mysterious “doctor.”

With such a beefy cast, you’d think the movie would be excellent. I’m not saying Scream and Scream Again sucks, but it isn’t amazing. And just because all three of these horror bigwigs are in this movie doesn’t actually mean they’re in it a lot. I think Cushing gets maybe five minutes of screen time (and why is it I feel he always gets the short end of the stick?). Lee gets a tad more, but not much. Price is in it the most of the three, but even still, his role is only one third of a batshit, tangled plot that finally converges within the last 10 minutes or so of the film.

Interrogation

Interrogation

I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to synopsize, because the shit doesn’t make much sense anyway. There are three separate plot lines. In the first, a runner finds himself mysteriously in a hospital, and every time he wakes his missing another limb. Somehow this is related to a sexy vampire-type who is prowling London’s mod clubs, sucking the life out of his pretty prey. Then there is a madman bigwig from some weird totalitarian country obviously up to no good who keeps Vulcan-nerve-pinching everyone to get what he wants. Actually, I guess there’s a fourth plot line: Vincent Price’s acid bath. Most of the movie happens before we have any idea how the plots intertwine, which is okay, I guess, but there’s no slow reveal: it all seems kind of thrown together at the last minute, almost as if it should have been an anthology but they changed their mind too late in the game.

A nurse so pretty she'll take your limbs away!

A nurse so pretty she’ll take your limbs away!

Scream and Scream Again is just kind of baffling, and frankly it should have (and could have easily) been better. That being said, it offers some great imagery and as always, Vincent Price is fun to watch; I just wish he was in it more. Yes, Lee and Cushing are usually pretty great also, but they’re just not even given a chance to do a damn thing here, it’s almost as if they’re not in this movie at all. And, you know, I wish the thing made a little bit of sense. Just even like a tiny bit. In the end, this movie is really just a pretty piece of mystifying film, which isn’t bad, but… meh?

08
Oct
14

Bats (1999)

In honor of today’s Blood Moon, the 8th day of 31 Days of Horror is dedicated to the movie Bats, a film of which the original title was, well, duh, Blood Moon. It’s also pretty much the perfect follow-up to Kingdom of the Spidersbecause it’s almost the exact same movie, only made a few decades later and with a stronger female lead. Well that and Lou Diamond Phillips is no Bill Shatner (sorry, Lou).

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for "Bats"

Lou Diamond Phillips has no time for “Bats”

Dr. Sheila Casper is the best bat expert around. She’s so good in fact the CDC has located her in a remote cave somewhere in Arizona, nearly scaring the crap out of her assistant Jimmy (Leon, or better known as the guy that played Jesus in Madonna’s Like a Prayer video) by landing their helicopter by his work station. It must be pretty serious if the CDC is willing to search out Sheila in such a remote location, but all they really tell her is they have a bat-mergency and they need her help in Gallup, Texas immediately!

For whatever reason, Sheila and Jimmy go with the CDC guy, where Sheriff Emmett Kimsey (Lou Diamond Phillips) introduced them to some bloody, mangled corpses; seems some freak bats ripped out their throats! But no bat Sheila has ever heard of would do such a thing, they eat things like fruits and nuts, why would they suddenly become

Sheila's all like "why would you mess with mother nature, bro?"

Sheila’s all like “why would you mess with mother nature, bro?”

interested in humans for food? Something tells me the creepy, government-funded Dr. McCabe (Bob Gunton) has some idea as to what’s going on, but dude is tight-lipped until the terror continues to spread. Finally, McCabe is strong-armed into revealing his little secret: seems he’s been doing some experimenting with a pair of flying foxes, futzing around with nature and making them super-intelligent omnivores!

Incredulous, disgusted, and armed-to-the-teeth, Sheila, Jimmy, Kimsey and some other poor suckers set out to fight the evil bastards. Unfortunately, the fight isn’t going to be that easy. Not only has Dr. McCabe got some way of controlling the bats, the military has been called in to bomb the shit out of every cave within a 50-mile radius of Gallup. Jimmy and Sheila know what a disaster that would be; and fuck, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that bats can just fucking fly away, but whatever. Anyway now it’s a race against the moonlight and the bombers to freeze out the bats with their own cockamamie plot.

Waist-deep in Guano!

Waist-deep in Guano!

For as dumb of a movie as it is, Bats is actually thoroughly enjoyable, though for completely different reasons than Kingdom of the Spiders. While a pretty big part of Kingdom was all about the attractive, available Rack Hansen and what woman he’d woo next, there is not a single romantic thread throughout Bats. Sure there is a bit of sexual tension between Sheila and both Jimmy and Kimsey, but no one bones; they’re too busy kicking bat ass! For the most part, the characters are kind of likable, except for McCabe, who you’re obviously supposed to hate.

Another big difference between these two flicks is that no one actually seems to mind that a woman is knowledgeable about the situation at hand; everyone actually listens to what she has to say. That is, of course, except the military; they need a different sort of convincing! And that is perhaps the

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

McCabe is a nasty old dude with secrets and stuff.

biggest difference between Bats and Kingdom of the Spiders; the plot here is just a tad more sophisticated, throwing the big bad government into the mix for a whole new layer of who’s-to-blame. In the end it isn’t science vs. nature, or science vs. god, it’s actually science vs. science; the type of science where we learn and appreciate what mother nature has to offer (Sheila) and the type we manipulate to our own advantage without entirely understanding the consequences (McCabe).

Though all of that sounds sort of heavy, it isn’t presented that way. Bats is fully aware that it is meant to entertain you, and that it does. Certainly it’s not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,

That bat is scary looking, right?

That bat is scary looking, right?

and there were definitely moments when I looked over at Q, eye in half-roll mode, wondering if we were going to keep the disc after it was over. This happened a lot in the first 20 minutes, when everyone said the word “bats” over and over and over again. If one were to have a drink every time someone says “bats,” you’d be on the floor well before the halfway mark. It is also fully aware that the bats special effects are totally awesome! Those fuckers look like miniature flying gargoyles; they’re nasty and even kind of scary, while being funny and goofy at the same time. If you come across a copy, give it a try; it’s at least worth an hour and a half of your time. Also, Lou Diamond Phillips!




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