Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Scream Queens: My Thoughts

 Looking into Scream Queens, I thought the show was a....mixed bag. Once apon a time, I used to watch a show called Glee but that 'like'(I say like not love) has been gone since the writing gotten bad, and I also happen to be a fan of American Horror Story, even with it's writing flaws. So safe to say, my expectations for this show was definitely high. When I heard the news that Jamie Lee Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, a scream queen legend, was going to be on this show, I was ecstatic, alongside Lea Michelle (Glee) and American Horror Story alum Emma Roberts, who is good at playing bitchy roles.

Once I got to viewing this though, my reaction was kind of meh. But I do have my fingers crossed just a little for it to get better. I do believe this show have SOME potential. The show seems to be obviously inspired by Black Christmas and Sorority Row, I'm talking about the remakes, not the originals. It has the same bitchiness and cattiness from the female cast, and it also harbors this strange, over-the-top, so bad-it's good vibe from those movies as well. Hell, the show even go so far as to cast one of the actors that starred in one of those movies. Sooner or later, I'll be reviewing them in a while. ..
The humor is a bit off-putting. It hits but then it misses. Though, the writing is the biggest problem I have with the show. It's just so....cliché. But for those of you who like the show, this isn't a bad review. I just wasn't impressed with the pilot that much. It didn't sink me in. Then again, it's just a pilot. Hopefully, the show will get better in time. and I'll probably love it but only time will tell.

P.S. Nick Jonas is Smoking Hot! Now that's one of the highlights I've seen in the pilot.

Be sure to catch an episode tonight at 9/10 est.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Movie Review: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Before I start this review, I would like to talk a little bit about the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Prequel featuring a young Leatherface. Yes guys, there's going to be another Texas Chainsaw Prequel. And judging by the fact that this would be the younger version of Leatherface:

Let's say I don't particularly have high hopes for this one. Sure, he's a cute guy but I just don't picture him being Leatherface. Maybe He'll surprise me but who knows. This prequel is being made by a film company named Millennium and is possibly getting a distribution from Lionsgate. Many people have their own opinions on this but with mine, I really think they should just leave this series alone. I don't see how the creators could pick up the chainsaw franchise after it's lowest point. Hell, it hasn't been that long. Besides the point, let's get to the real topic at hand here.
After the success of the 2003 remake, Michael Bay and Company decided to make a prequel in 2006, chronicling the origin story of Leatherface. Was it worth it? Sadly, no. No it wasn't.
The origin story had some potential, the acting was decent, and there were some tension and suspense along with some gory deaths. But the results were rather.....dull. I feel like there really wasn't a reason to make this other than for Platinum Dunes to have rights to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and gain momentum at the box office. I see the thought and effort put into the story, however, I just don't see a true origin story here. In the end, it's just a by the numbers slasher and a 'how we got here' prologue for the remake.
The Story: In 1969, Brothers Eric and Dean along with their girlfriends, Chrissie and Bailey, are heading cross country to enlist in Vietnam, only to get ambushed and terrorized by the Hewitt family.

The cast was pretty decent but I would say there's nothing special about the characters. There is some character development, I'm sure of it, especially the dynamic between two brothers but other than that they all become flat all around and pretty much chainsaw fodder for the Hewitt family.

Jordana Brewster is a good actress though I can't help to feel she was wasted here. The character of Chrissie doesn't really have the same fire as Jessica Biel's Erin. You think she would but she doesn't. She makes stupid decision after stupid decision to the point where you just want to give up. She has a chance of safety, however, she fails at every moment.

She's just not an easy character to root for and judging that this is a prequel to the 2003 remake, what's the point?

Diora Barid as Bailey is, as you guessed it, the typical horror movie blond bimbo. Right off the bat, she is shown showing off her assets and frolicking around with her boyfriend. Character Development, I think not.

Though she does get tortured the worst. The treatment she receives from the Hewitt family is awful and you can't help but feel sorry for her when she meets her end.
Now on to the boys. And Oh my gosh, I have so much to tell you because the male leads in this movie is H-O-T HOT!

First off, we have the oh-so sexy Matt Bomer as Eric and his striking blue eyes. When I first seen him slowly come out of the pool I just melted.....But let me focus here. His character arc involves him joining Vietnam. He's pretty much pumped to go but soon finds out his brother burned his draft card and is reluctant to join.

This causes conflict between the brothers and furthermore adds to the character development but it sort of ends there and it's only used as a catalyst for Sheriff Hoyt's military-style torture.

His death is probably the most brutal in the movie and Chrissie is drenched in his own blood, no less.

Then there's adorable hottie Taylor Handley as Dean and his luscious blond locks. The story with him is that he's reluctant to go Vietnam and when he tells his brother about this this causes tension between them though it dies down once they get captured and mauled by Sheriff Hoyt. Throughout the movie, he is pretty capable as a hero but ,just like Chrissie, seems to fail miserably at any moment. I can't help to feel that this was done intentionally by the filmmakers. Of course, he doesn't make it.

The little backstory on Sheriff Hoyt I've already explained in the review of the 2003 remake, though most of us would already know that he's really not a sheriff. Somehow in some convoluted way, he and Leatherface successfully kill the sheriff of the town and owns the badge of honor. It's just....so moronic how that is conceived. Since Hoyt served in World War II, he gets the tortured the boys military style. It's really just R. Lee Ermey playing his character from Full Metal Jacket, So I have nothing else to say for that matter.

There could've been much more time and effort put into Leatherface since it is, you know, he's origin story after all. It's just these quick little tidbits of him being born in the most harshest conditions, losing his job as meat cutter and being a young upstart providing for his cannibalistic family.

Can I say that this movie is extremely gory? because it is. I know that most fans who saw the 2003 remake would say that that version of the movie wasn't gory enough but this turns it up to eleven. I really doesn't help the movie in any matter though. And through my research, this is why the uncut version got a NC-17.

But this is what bugged me: The Dinner Table scene. I really didn't see there was no point to this other than the filmmakers to please the fans who didn't get to see a dinner table scene in the remake. But this just seems forced. I liked the fact there wasn't a dinner table scene in the remake because that would come off a bit cheesy. We've already seen the dinner table scene in each of the sequels, and you know some of those sequels were kind of campy at times. And like I said they making this as though this should've been the remake though 2003 remake has it's own merits which why it's better than this movie.

Now it all leads to one of the most stupidest endings in a horror film, which left the movie more dull and lifeless. So you think Chrissie would've escaped fine, right? Wrong. In some odd way, She gets chainsawed at the backseat of the car, which causes her to crash into nearby police cars, killing each officer in the way. And soon this is the beginning of Leatherface's bloody journey as the chainsaw slayer. How. Fucking. Dumb. The narrator doesn't even give a shit.
Laughably, Platinum Dunes just gave up and sold the rights back to the creators. I guess they wanted to put the series to rest, since this one wasn't much of a hit at the box office. At least it wasn't as bad as Chainsaw 3D, of course.
I know I didn't really put much care into this review but what can I say? There was no point to make this and therefore, I'll just leave it at that.
My Last Word: Watch the 1974 original. It's much more of a benefit, actually.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Movie Review: The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

In Honor of the Late Great Wes Craven I present this review to you...
In 1977, Wes Craven, riding high from the very disturbing Last House On The Left, directed the equally disturbing The Hills Have Eyes. I have to be honest and say that the film doesn't quite hold up well as it be but back then it was fresh in it's animalistic brutality of how this seemingly normal family gets attacked by a savage group of feral cannibals. Most recently, Alexander Aja who takes over the directing chair in 2006 to remake the Wes Craven cult classic. Now there was a obscure 1985 sequel but lets leave that for another day, it's best to not have that in our minds.
So here in 2006, Mr. Aja, The French director known for the not-well received but extremely bloody High Tension, took on the directing seat with Wes Craven as Producer. And oh boy, it's awesome!
Now there are some problems I have with it, mainly the cast, but I think the true beauty of this movie is the raw impact of grittiness and realism. Showing the brutality of the mutant clan while the Carter family tries to survive their attacks.
Say what you will about High Tension, I think Alexander Aja has a very artistic eye and I think he's one of those directors who really put his passion into his work. So you can quite tell that I am happy to review this.
The Story: The Carter family, going on a road trip from Ohio to California, gets trapped in a series of terrible events, playing a cat and mouse game with a group of vicious mutant cannibals.

The cast is fantastic, bringing in these incredible performances, especially from the leads but, however, there are some flaws to that, not from the actors per say, but the characters they're playing. And for the most part, my focus will be mainly on these three.

Let's start with Doug first, our hero of the movie. In the original, he was a typical everyday man, who had a strive of leadership and competence. Doug in this version is a bit uptight and annoyingly geeky, though that was intentional for the filmmakers for him to be effective as a hero throughout the story. But that's not my main problem with this guy.

He complains and complains throughout half of the movie and his wife, the saint that she is, have to deal with this while taking care of their newborn child.
Not only that but it seems he has a thing for his own sister-in-law. I'm not joking, guys. There is literally a scene where Doug is caught ogling at his FIFTEEN-year old sister-in-law, who's wearing a bikini. If that's not creepy I don't what it is. But Doug somehow redeems himself once he takes charge and saves his baby girl.

Then there's Brenda, an example of the blond bimbo you'd had to deal with in high school. This girl is quite the little brat where she would bitch and moan even more so than Doug.

Imagine Debbie Thornberry but in live action form. Yeah, she's definitely like that. The original version of Brenda is no better as her screeching high-pitched voice will send blood to your ears.

Though by the middle of the movie, Brenda is able to get our sympathy from a traumatic event but have to deal with Brenda as a character is a sore to get through.

Lastly, there's Bobby, who's actually the more likeable of the three. There's not much to say about Bobby and there are times where he is whiny but then again, he's just a teenage boy and having to deal with the situation at hand, he would be sympathetic in that light.

So then again, with his intelligence, he is useful after all.
Now to showcase the big bad Jupiter family played by character actors Michael Bailey Smith, Desmond Askew, and Billy Drago. Fun Fact! All three actors guest-starred on the show Charmed, just to squeeze some trivia there.

The biggest accomplishment that I got from this remake is the special effects. I just want to be honest here, in the original, the mutants just didn't look like mutants to me, more like feral homeless men with a little dirt on their faces. But in this new version, the mutants' look are out of this world. They are also more smarter and vicious than their original counterparts, making their brutal attacks more effective. What's even more great about this version of the movie is how they written in a backstory about the mutants and how they evolved into their animalistic savagery.

Now there is one special addition that blew the original out of the water, this movie is GO-ORY, which will lead me to the epic climatic battle between Doug and Mutants. Now let's talk a little bit about the original, Wes Craven will always be crowned the master of suspense but boy does this man loves his booby traps. Yes, that's how the climax went down mostly, defeating the mutants with booby traps. Kind of cool but kind of unexciting as well.

But in this version, it goes balls out. In search of his child, Doug goes into a full-on blood soaked fight with the mutants out of an act of revenge and it is glorious. It's one of my favorite parts of the movie and you should see it yourself.
The Verdict? Both movies could be looked at as commentary on class and social values, even though in some parts, the movies aren't exactly perfect. But with good directors on their hands, they hold up just fine in cult classic territory. But the main problem with both versions is how the family are portrayed. They are just plain unlikeable and yes, even when bad things start to happen to them, of course I am with them, but in order for me to gain just enough sympathy for a character in a horror film, you have to make them likeable, just sayin'. And if the filmmakers in the 2006 version, I would've liked this movie better. So I guess I go with the remake with this one. Although I see Wes Craven as a legend, the original Hills Have Eyes isn't all that memorable to me.
My Last Word: Go see both versions, they go hand in hand.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Movie Review: When A Stranger Calls (2006)

 In 1977, Director Fred Dalton made a chilling short film titled The Sitter, which will eventually turn into the feature length film, When A Stranger Calls, released in 1979. The movie is notoriously known for those terrifying 12 minutes, a very good introduction of the movie, bringing us in with its hair-raising and suspenseful feel. The rest of the film is....meh. Once the second act hits, it becomes this boring crime thriller, mostly focusing on the detective and the unhinged killer. And just to fill this in, When A Stranger Calls is not what I particularly call a horror film. It's more of a hitchcockian thriller just like many films I reviewed, playing the lines of horror and drama. To be honest, the only thing memorable about the original is those first 12 minutes. There was a 1993 sequel that I enjoyed much more but a remake was in store somewhere.
So 27 years later, When A Stranger Calls Remake was released in February 2006. Let me assure you, somebody had the brightest idea to make the first 12 minutes the whole entire film. I'm not joking. All it consists of is the main character lounging around the house, getting the strange phone calls, going from the main house to the guest house, freak out some more, get a call from her friends, gets a visit from a friend, and THEN figures out the call is coming from the house. How in the hell could I focus on a main character this dumb?
So yeah, I actually went to the theaters to see this piece of crap and suffice to say, I practically wasted my five dollars. That's it and that's all.

Characters? What characters? Trust me, guys, the only character I could only focus on is Jill herself and she's a goddamn idiot. Sure there are her friends who seem to be much more blander and dumber than her but there's not anything to elaborate here.
In the original, Jill is more of a supporting main character than a full on protagonist. The only times  we do see Jill is the first 12 minutes and sometime around the third act. But it was the brilliant performance of Carol Kane that fleshed out the character than the script did.

So what we've got in this version is Camilla Belle as Jill and throughout the movie, she basically does...nothing.

All she is just a terrorized babysitter who is constantly creeped out by the house and by the strange phone calls. So all that we know of Jill is that she's grounded for a very costly cell phone bill that she has to pay off, which is how she gets the babysitting gig. You want to know how she got the overcharged cell phone bill? because she caught her friend kissing her boyfriend, which resulted into getting into arguments with said boyfriend over the phone. Ridiculous Teen Melodrama, oh my! In the original, it was treated much subtly. Jill was sort of in a love triangle. She and her friend happened to like the same guy, however, they have an understanding with each other and it's resolved. But in this version, the drama of this is overlylong and unnecessary just for a way to manipulate the film's running time.

The main thing is, really,  is Jill useful as a main character? Let me get this off the bat, Spoiler Alert! the kids actually survive this time, although, I don't think it was the stranger's intention of killing them, aside from killing three minor characters. So Jill eventually saves the kids, I will at least give her points for that. But throughout the movie she is completely out of her limit. Technology has changed since 1979 and there is a thing called Caller ID and the massive use of Cell Phones. There would be a way for Jill to trace the call and badda bing badda boom, all is solved but the film would've had a much shorter running time. So the majority of the movie, Jill is pretty damn useless. And again, there's nothing more I can say. Camilla Belle is a good actress with a lot of potential but she is just wasted in this movie and she deserves better than this. So Jill in this version is a massive disappointment.
So what's there to say about Jill's friends? The big o'le BBS. Boring, Bland, and Stupid.

The most 'developed' of the three friends(and I say developed loosely) is Tiffany played by Katie Cassidy. She's your typical dumb blond in a horror movie, getting involved in love triangle with Jill and her boyfriend. So there goes the reason why I don't like this character.

In the original, she was a minor character where her and Jill would have a brief conversation, but instead, in order to reconcile with her friend, Tiffany drives all the way to the house on the hill to visit her. How she know the directions I don't know.

All in all, she's only there to be killed off anyway.

Scarlett played by Tessa Thompson, is the smart, reliable friend, the voice of reason but there's nothing more to the character besides that, So I guess I should move on.

Then there's Bobby played by the very hot Brain Geraghty. He's the boyfriend who was caught in between Jill and Tiffany, trying to reason everything. And if you want to feast your eyes on Brain Geraghty, sorry he's only a got a couple of scenes to show for it.

Last but not least, we have The Stranger played by Tommy Flanagan and, to my surprise, Lance Henriksen, who does the voice. Now what I like about the original is how out of the blue the made The Stranger sympathetic, even though he murdered two children. It was scary in a way of how you think this person is a harmless, weak man but having forgot that he's capable of murder, even murdering someone with his bare hands.

The Stranger in this version, though, is your typical standard slasher villain, even so far as having a body count of three. There's not anything else really, since they kept him more mysterious. That's ok, that's alright but there's hardly any character development or certain clues about The Stranger, So he's left a blank space.

Okay, here's one of my biggest problems I have with the movie, and it's the setting. What worked in the 1979 film is that it was set in a quiet suburban neighborhood, possibly one of the best settings in a horror film, having the feel to be more frightening and uncertain. But now in this version, it's set in a remote house on the hill, making it incredibly obvious. The directing and suspense is just as disappointing. It's very slow burn to the point where you want to fall asleep.
There's really nothing for me to say here, so let's just get it over with.
The Verdict? Definitely the original. I wouldn't call it one of my favorite movies but it had the right kind of suspense and a lot of effort to make it realistically spine-chilling. The remake, however, is your typical standard teen horror film which is low on scares and tension, making the movie a bore to watch.
My Last Word: Please do not waste your time with this crap. Nobody should witness this.