Saturday, August 22, 2015

Movie Review: House Of Wax




Right around late 2004-early 2005, the execs at Dark Castle thought it was a swell idea to remake the Vincent Price Horror Classic The House Of Wax, which is also a remake of 1933's Mystery Of The Wax Museum. So basically it's a remake of a remake of a remake if that makes sense. But let me assure you this is not a remake of the actual movie. It's really a remake of Tourist Trap, this obscure slasher with the same plot and concept released in 1979.
Though let's get to the real topic at hand. This was the day in age of Paris Hilton and boy, everybody was obsessed with this woman. Commercials, TV spots, a reality show, movie offers, and even her own music album. And it was all because of a sex tape that nobody would just shut up about. I've seen it and it's not anything remarkable.



So the buzz came around for this movie when MTV had a Behind The Scenes special that had it's own daily episodes, here and there. For some odd reason, I had the urge to watch this because it was at a time where I was really into slasher films and seeing what was going on in the set was pretty interesting. But looking at the special was total spoilers for me, even though the plot was predictable and the characters were stereotypical, when you know who lives or dies.
After all that though, seeing that it's ten years old, this movie was totally overrated and not especially memorable.
Although the acting was kind of good, the special effects was cool, and there were some suspenseful scenes, the overhype sort of ruined the movie for me.
The story: A group of college kids on their way to a football game, suddenly find a deserted town where two deranged brothers keep a collection of wax people, only to find out they might be part of the display.



The cast of this movie is obnoxious, but not to the point of infuriating. Their fatal flaw is how incredibly bland and cardboard they are, where I just couldn't find myself to know or care in the least.


Elisha Cuthbert as Carly is an exception though but in any other case, of course, it would be. I'm not saying there's anything special about the character, I would say she is kind of a badass and Elisha Cuthbert plays her with so much gusto that you can't help to root for her. The only character development I got from Carly is the dynamic between her and her brother, Nick. She's the good twin, he's the bad twin. Simple as that but they could've done a "show, and don't tell" scenario. We would know Carly would be the heroine of the story, so it's pretty obvious. Though the twin motif is a big honkin' deal in this movie, so I'll leave it for later into the review.



So what's there to say about Carly? Well, she's the typical good girl always trying to do the right thing, always looking out for everybody, etc. And although she seems like a stereotypical character, at least she's a pure badass.


Nick played by the very sexy Chad Michael Murray is the typical bad boy where as Carly is the typical good girl.


He's not particularly the most likeable character and he's difficult to get along with, especially with his sister. And right off the bat, he's pretty much comfortable being the bad twin since he's been labeled with that all his life but it seems as though Carly and Nick are just there to define each other, which is not a bad thing, it's just they don't have much agency to define themselves on their own.


Nick does manage to redeem himself once he becomes the hero, nothing much has changed but he's get better.


I would have  to say this though, there is a very nice shot of Chad Michael Murray's fantastic body and play the bad boy very well I might say.


Wade played by Jared Padalecki, well...Meh. Jared Padalecki is not a bad actor at all and very handsome to boot, however, Wade is...kind of dumb and there's really nothing memorable about him. he's just Carly's boyfriend nothing more, nothing less.


And when you think about, he's the reason why him and Carly are captured because of his stupid actions.




In a way, he would most likely become the hero of the movie, however, in a not so surprising way, he's the first one to get "waxed."


And now we come to this, the almighty Paris Hilton in her first big screen debut. So what do I think of Ms. Hilton? I've....I've got nothing. She's pretty much playing the typical blond bimbo in a horror movie but once I really looked at her performance, she's more likely playing herself. It's Paris Hilton playing Paris Hilton basically. Even her character's name sound similar. But here's the real kicker, the movie is punching jabs at her. The movie is clearly making unwanted jokes about her, always shoving a video camera in her face and in one scene where it looks as if she's giving her boyfriend oral sex when in actuality she was looking for her lip gloss.


The biggest pet peeve of how the film treats Hilton is how they sexualized her every move, especially in this one unnecessary scene where she striptease for her boyfriend. We Get It! Paris Hilton Is Hot! I would say there's nothing more to her character other than being the hot girl but don't worry, there is some character development in here somewhere. Her character arc consist of whether she might be pregnant or not, trying to explain to her boyfriend, who is too busy listening to his music. The guy sure does love his radio. And it's like her character is portrayed as this blond ditz who doesn't know the concept of safe sex.


So up until this point, here's the moment that everybody in the movie theater payed to go see is the death of Paris Hilton's character. So after the death of her boyfriend, she tries to get away but not too easily. And I must say, her chase scene is quite suspenseful. But do you want to know how she dies? a pole is penetrated through her head while the killer videotapes her dead body. Now I know there was a lot of oral sex jokes at the expense of Paris Hilton but this was just despicable amongst the filmmakers. I don't want to say I feel bad for Paris Hilton but I kind of do, since she was just a ploy for the movie to make profit at the box office.
Just to get this out of the way, here are the less focused characters:


Here you have Paris Hilton's main squeeze Blake, a typical jock who seems to be obsessed with football and music, constantly ignoring his girlfriend unless she's stripping for him that is.


The you have Dalton, Nick's bumbling idiotic friend, who is the target of gay jokes. So bad that I wanted to bang my head against the wall.
That's honestly all the information I got on this two guys.



There are actually two serial killers in this movie, The Sinclair Twins. There's Bo, the seemingly normal one and Vincent (get it?), the more quiet, reversed one who does most of the killings/harvesting and who wears a mask out of wax, which is very unique. Their backstory is quite interesting and they are much more interesting than the main characters themselves. So after the death of their parents and basically the entire townspeople, the two living brothers decided to make the dead bodies into wax, including new victims. I thought that idea was so creepy and well done. And to add a special note, I think the twins are kind of hot, and yes I'm including Vincent. Sue Me!




The real heart and soul of the project is the directing and the special effects. Okay, here are my two favorite scenes in the movie: The movie theater scene and the melting of The House Of Wax.


Now with the movie theater scene. The way it was handled was incredibly suspenseful and exciting all the same. I mean who would come with a chase scene while Whatever Happened To Baby Jane plays. Its totally thrilling in my opinion. But what's even more thrilling is the climax.




all of the flaws of the movie were looked over, once Carly become more badass, the chase scenes more hair-raising and the action more jam-packed. And to take a moment for a little trivia, the house is actually made out of wax. So the two actors had to roll around in actual hot wax! Okay guys, if I ever act in a horror movie, pray for me.
I would say that Samuel Collet-Serra has an amazing eye and is a very competent director. It's nothing too flashy and nothing too modern, just right for tight suspense and for well-crafted scenes. He's definitely gifted with an artistic flare.
Okay, out with the good and in with the bad again, the biggest problem I have with the film is that...It's too long. Normally, a slasher movie is at least 80-99 minutes long but this was two hours max. And all the filmmakers did was stretch out unnecessary scenes to make up for the running time, which could be a chore to watch at times.
So it all comes to this: The Verdict? Well, I'm not familiar with the Vincent Price version but I'm positive the movie is a well deserved classic, along with Tourist Trap, which is a underrated gem in it's own right. And although this is an entertaining slasher with a very 80's retro feel, It has weak story and with even weaker characters, that makes it kind of forgettable.
To call this a remake is notwithstanding, however, it is still a guilty pleasure. So you at least have that.
My Last Word: Give it a go. It may be middle of the road but it has it's shining moments.



 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Toolbox Murders (2004)





Tobe Hooper, known for such classic as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, decided to take his hands on an obscure slasher called The Toolbox Murders. Released in 1978, Toolbox Murders is this sleazy boring pseudo mystery-thriller that was cashing in on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and strangely enough came right before the movie Halloween. No one ever thought this movie would be remembered, remembered to be remade. Now 26 years later, Tobe Hooper of all people came upon developing the redo for this. To be honest...I thought the movie was okay. Maybe back then it grew on me but now it's not really all that memorable. Though at least it's better than the original.
So let's get down to business. The Best Parts: the suspense, the kills, and the awesome performance by Yours Truly, Angela Bettis.
So the Toolbox Murders remake, not really a bad movie but it could've been better though.
The Story: Having just move into the historical Lusman Arms Apartments in Los Angeles, Nell and her husband Steven try to get acquainted to the new environment when strange things start to occur. Spending mostly alone due to her husband's long hours at the hospital, Nell begins to hear weird noises from the other room. Not only that, residents from the apartment start disappearing, including a good friend of hers named Julie. This causes Nell to investigate but what she finds is something truly disturbing.



The only three characters I could focus on was Nell, Julie and Steven, everybody else was either red-herrings, walk-through, or just random characters who get killed at every second.




So the only character who has the most development is Nell herself, who is the eyes and ears of the story, practicing her amateur detective skills.




Played by the ever so talented Angela Bettis, who's yet again finds herself in another horror remake, Newlywed Nell is trying to adjust to her life at Lusman Arms. As her husband works at night at the hospital, Nell has to spend alone at the strange apartment, listening to the constant bickering of her neighbors, the creepy noises coming from the ceiling, and also having to deal with the weird residents of the apartment. Through all these troubles, she soon develops a bond with one of the residents, Julie, usually discussing their fears and insecurities. But once Julie goes missing, Nell must muster the strength to find her and figure out the mysteries that is hidden within the walls of Lusman Arms. Nell is by far the only character I was invested in throughout...the rest of the characters...not so much.

 


Julie played by Juliet Landau, was basically just a plot device. Juliet Landau does what she does best with what she was given playing one of the normal apartment residents that Nell is able to bond with, but there isn't much time with the character to focus on other than being a catalyst once Nell knows about the deep dark secrets of Lusman Arms, becoming essential to the plot when her character goes missing.


Brent Roam as Steven Borrows was....there I guess. There really wasn't much development on him either other than being Nell's workaholic husband. Cute guy though.




The real meat of the story is the suspense and kills. Tobe Hooper, who is of course responsible for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is a master at this. The deaths are incredibly brutal and gory and is handled way much better than the 70's version which is tepid and suspense less. Once that moment comes, it comes in unexpectedly, which I always love in a horror film.
Speaking of unexpected, there is a twist at the end of the film and yes, there always seem to be a twist in these horror remakes nowadays:



So it turns out that Jack Lusman, the owner of the apartment, was an occultist who experimented in Science and Witchcraft, having the symbols decorated around the apartment walls as a spell along with Nell uncovering disturbing old photos of torture chambers and bloody corpses.


The killer is soon to be revealed as a monster refer to as "Coffin Baby", which is probably the result of a conjured spell.....
I thought the twist was kind of far-fetched and sort of ruined the movie. It started off fine until this revelation switching the tone completely and also having a way to make the killer typically invincible. I knew they were trying to do something different in this version because in the 70's original as soon as the second half kicks in, it becomes this boring played-out thriller drama. It would at least give the filmmakers a step up from that but the whole mystical/supernatural element was just to much to handle, which left a possibly for a sequel that was in development hell for a while.
The Verdict? Definitely choose this over the original, in what I like to describe as a forgettable mess. Although this version has it's flaws, it still makes up for an entertaining gorefest, especially for the competent direction of Tobe Hooper and a strong performance from Angela Bettis.
My Last Word: Skip the original and go for this, which would make good popcorn fun.







 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hunk Of The Day: Jonathan Tucker




I had this guy on my mind for the longest time. Ever since I saw those pictures on the ADON Magazine I just died with ecstasy. And since I just reviewed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, I now present to you our Hunk OF The Day:



Jonathan Tucker
 
 
 

Oh Whadda know, he's a true New Yorker like myself
 


I just love his sense of style
 

Rough and Rugged!
 
 
Boy howdy, look at those biceps
 
 
 
 
Okay Guys, get ready for the shirtless pics.....brace yourselves:
 
 
He's one sexy hipster!
 


 
Check out that boner! Speedos really can stretch huh?
 
 
 

Looks like some fratboy highjinks going in here
 
 

All smiles and all abs
 
 

Ready for action!
 
 


Adonis Unlimited
 
 

That would be one hot body mold
 

I will admit...this is kind of scary but still gorgeous
 
 

He would might a really hot horror movie villain
 
 
 
So there you have it, your Hunk Of The Day. Don't you just love it when an adorable child star grow up to be a prime A stud. That could be hint for next time's Hunk Of The Day. So I'll be watching out kiddies, there's always a hot sexy hunk to find......







 





 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)





In the early 2000's, Michael Bay and Crew created their own production company titled Platinum Dunes, producing many horror remakes in their wake. The first of many being The Texas Chainsaw Massacre released in August 2003. I'm gonna go on a stretch here and say this is actually one of the more decent Platinum Dunes production and that's saying something. I'm not saying that this is better than the original, however, it's at least better than most recent horror remakes. To keep this short, although there was some passion put into this, the original will always be a classic. I know in my first review of this I said it was slightly better than the original but here where I was wrong. Maybe as a stand alone movie, this could be a cult classic in it's own right. However, I'll seek out my pros and cons for this movie later. In all in all, its a good enough horror remake.
Here's the story: In the summer of 1973, Five friends on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, come upon a disturbed young woman warning them that trouble is headed their way before blowing a gun to her head. Now with blood on their hands, the group has to deal with the nasty local sheriff and the deranged Hewitt family, who holds a deep dark family secret that's hiding under the basement with a chainsaw to grind.


The one thing I liked about this movie is there are more to the characters. I'm not saying that all of them are likeable or anything, it's just that they have more personality and we get to know them well enough. I will say one thing though, they certainly do not look like they're from the seventies. I mean come on, I've seen Abercrombie and Fitch lines with clothing wear like this.


The strongest actor out of any of the cast is Jessica Biel.
 
 

She gave off such a raw, intense performance, I'm surprised she doesn't get much credit as she deserves. I mean Jessica Biel is literally playing a woman that's fighting to survive and it results to a truly magnetic performance.


Again, we don't know much about Erin but what we do know is that she's the type of person that does the right thing. For example, after the hitchhiker's suicide, she is the only one that is truly affected by it, and also when she figures out the Hewitt's stole a missing baby, she goes and rescues her. The thing with Erin is it doesn't matter if she's the typically innocent final girl, but is that she is the type of person that always strives to do the right thing and I think it what saves her in the end.


Okay, Erica Leerhsen as Pepper.....I got nothing. Though I do think Erica Leerhsen is a really great actress, it's just there's really nothing about this character to dwell on other than being the hot girl.
Now you see why I focused on the girls first because of how I see it, this movie has a pretty hot male cast, so feast your eyes as I showcase this:


First we have Kemper played by the very sexy Eric Balfour.
 
 


He is the very kind, sweet, loving boyfriend of Erin, though he is not perfect (he's in on the scheme with his friends harboring pot from Mexico), he's still a charmer and you're kind of sad once you see he's the first to go.


Then you have Andy played by the gorgeous Mike Vogel.....give me a moment.....okay. Andy maybe be the type to make jokes at the wrong time but he's still a cutie with his lovely hair, toned biceps, and chiseled abs. Yowza! Pepper is one lucky girl! Unfortunately, when he gets attacked by Leatherface, he pretty much doesn't have a leg to stand on....literally. And it's up to poor Erin to put him out of his misery. *sigh.*




Last but not least you have the adorably hot Jonathan Tucker as Morgan, the stoner nerd of the group. Morgan is probably the most obnoxious character but that still doesn't mean he's still adorable. Though he does get the most abuse from the Hewitt family, especially from Sheriff Hoyt, who breaks his teeth. Ouch! In the end, he dies trying to make heroic sacrifice.
 


R Lee Ermey was indeed chilling as Sheriff Hoyt, stealing the show from Leatherface but in a good way I suppose. Though you get a sense that both him and Leatherface are equally threatening. Although, he's basically his character from Full Metal Jacket, he has a subtle yet interesting backstory involving him being a World War II veteran who had to resort to cannibalism once he and his army buddies find themselves deserted during the war. So the filmmakers gave a unique explanation of how the Hewitt family became cannibals other than some illuminati subplot schmoozed in the middle of the movie. I'll give the film points for that for the meantime.


And now we have Leatherface, more ferocious and fierce than ever, and he's played by muscle man Andrew Bryniarski, who pretty much this animalistic force of nature. Do I like this change? Well, I feel like the childlike nature of Leatherface was more effective but I think in this version, they made him  much more frightening and dangerous than ever. I'm willing to choose this over anything of how they portrayed him in Next Generation.

And like with Sheriff Hoyt, they also gave Leatherface, an extended backstory since he was bullied half of his life by teenagers for his skin disease, his isolation and depression fueled his anger which resulted him of becoming the chainsaw wielding, skin-wearing psycho that he is now. Yes, I will say that his backstory is a little similar to Jason Voorhees though at least the filmmakers tried to give him character development.





The directing is actually quite good. Marcus Nipsel brings in this sense of dread and dreariness to the atmosphere with the film's lighting mostly being grayish and almost gothic-looking. It has it's advantages and disadvantages. I could barely see a thing in most scenes and in my honest opinion, it became a sort of trend thereafter with horror films for some reason. Besides all that, just the feel of what the movie looked like was handled well. You can actually smell the blood, sweat and tears pouring out of the screen, just like how the original made you feel.
But the main thing I liked with this remake was the authenticity they put into it. Now the whole "based on a true story" thing is a little annoying, that as well became a trend for horror films but in the upmost subtle way (and yes I said subtle) the filmmakers put a lot of work into it to make it "seem" real, not that it is real but real in how they project it.
The Verdict? I would say it's a tie but original will always beat old, just on terms of realism and suspense. Though this version is your typical Hollywood horror film, however, the filmmakers at least tried to make a true Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, and also having the curiosity of getting the original creators involved.
Both movies stand alone on their own, though, this doesn't quite hold up well, especially beside the original, it still an entertaining enough slasher movie.
My last word: If you want to, you can give it a watch, it's not for everybody but it's a good enough.