Saturday, October 31, 2015

Movie Reivew: Halloween(2007)

Now this is the moment where I finally rip off Rob Zombie's Halloween. Look, I know some of you are fans of this movie and yes, there was once a upon a time where I thought I liked this movie as only I was a teenager back then, not knowing of the glaring flaws it had. Guys, don't get me wrong, I am a fan of Rob Zombie's music but his movies are questionable at best. He seems to have this impending fascination with the hillbilly horror genre. Not only his antagonists seem to the get this vibe from me, though, his protagonist as well, at least the minor ones. What boggles down to this is that this is a guy who treasures classic horror films, someone who firmly is against horror remakes, would resort to making a pretty crappy one of his own. Yes, I said it, it's crappy. It's only my opinion. And I'll tell you bit by bit of why I didn't like this. Before I start things off though, this movie had potential or at least had the potential to tell a proper origin story, even if it really wasn't needed. There could've been chunks of it left out to keep the mystery Michael Myers, however, it is what it is I'm sad to say.
The Story: In Haddonfield, Ill.,  Michael Myers, an often mistreated and disturbed young boy, brutally murders his stepfather, his sister, and her boyfriend. Under the care of Dr. Loomis, Michael is soon sent away in a mental facility but through the months and years, he slowly descents into a psychotic state. Once he escapes, Michael goes in search for the long lost little sister he left behind, trailing traces of blood along the way...
Okay you guys I'm going to break this up into two parts because this movie is longer than it should be. Just for a little intro, the characters are unbearable to watch. Sure, you have veteran actors like Michael McDowell and Brad Dourif but I felt that McDowell was miscast as Dr. Loomis and we don't have much screentime with Dourif. The rest of the cast is just cringeworthy and trust me, I'll get to them. Last but not least, Rob Zombie has this constant trend of having celebrity cameos when it really has purpose to the story and it's just distracting.
Anywho let's get things going:

Part 1: Origin

The  young Michael Myers just comes off like a typical trailer trash brat. Sure, Rob Zombie tries to find a way to make him sympathetic by showing how he gets abused by his family and peers.

However, it doesn't help that he's constantly whiny and the child actor playing doesn't benefit the character in the least. Another mistake the filmmakers made was that they established too early that something was off about him. Having a mystery about the characters could've been a smart move and having long unnecessary scenes of Michael in the mental institution seem to drag on the film instead of telling a proper story. Portraying Michael Myers like this normal kid who happens to have a psychotic problem, along with the child actor's bad acting, makes the movie less effective.

What made the original brilliant was how simple they had the story structure. Michael Myers was this seemingly normal six year old boy who just snapped one night, that's what made the opening scary, there was no rhyme or reason for it, which is why most of Michael's backstory should've been left on the cutting room floor.
Then we have the Myers family and, oh my gosh, this is the first five minutes and I was already getting a raging headache. Listening to these people is like nails on a chalkboard, having them all in one scene is a chore to get through. For the life of me, I will showcase them to you.

First we have Deborah Myers, the moral compass in Michael's life. She's your typical single mom stripper with a sleazy abusive boyfriend/husband(?). Once the murders happen, she is most deeply affected, even to the point of suicide when Michael dwells into his psychosis, leaving behind his baby sister. I guess Deborah is one of the more tolerable characters I could get through, however, she is still a trailer trash stereotype and because Sheri Moon Zombie is Rob Zombie's wife, there will always be a chance for him to make her the star of one of his movies.

Ronnie is another trailer trash stereotype: Stripper Mom's abusive boyfriend who curses, drinks, flirts with his stripper girlfriend's daughter, drinks, bullies Michael, bullies his girlfriend, and then drinks some more. His sole purpose in the movie is to be an obnoxious asshole to Michael in order for Michael to kill him later. William Forsyth does what he is given. That is all.

Judith Myers is the final stereotype in this ratcheted family: The typical slutty, trashy, bitchy older sister who treats her mom and her little brother Michael like crap.And instead of taking Michael out trick or treating, she rather bunk up with her stoner-loser boyfriend. Since some of us already seen the original, this girl is really asking for it. They could've found a way to make her sympathetic but Rob Zombie drove her to the asshole route. There would've been some emotional resonance to her death, though judging how incredibly unlikeable she is, there's nothing to dwell on.

Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Loomis is a good actor but like I said, he is so miscast in the role. Is it me or is Michael McDowell only good at playing assholes and villains. McDowell tries, however, I didn't find him that believable.

The film at least try to make Loomis sympathetic but fails to do so since it shows Dr. Loomis not doing such a good job with Michael, disappointing him just like everybody else in his life, which is why he turned out the way he is. I would give credit to Rob Zombie, showcasing the relationship between Dr. Loomis and Michael but It just doesn't lead to anywhere, therefore giving Dr. Loomis to do a impassioned speech about how evil he is. When you think about it, It really doesn't shine a sympathetic light to Loomis.

Overall, the portrayal of Dr. Loomis in this version is just forgettable and nowhere near as brilliant as How Donald Pleasance Portrayed him.

Part 2: Michael's Return/Laurie's Story

For half of the movie, where Michael escapes the mental facility, here we have pointless cameos by Ken Foree and Sid Haig, roles that could've been best played by unknown actors. Then we have Dee Wallance Stone and Pat Skipper who seemed wasted as Laurie's adoptive parents. Brad Dourif is actually good in his role of Sheriff Brackett and one of the few likeable characters in the movie.

Lastly, the cast of Laurie and her friends were painstakingly annoying. You know, John Carpenter found ways to make them likeable and relatable. Even Debra Hill contribute to that since she had similar teenage friends and sort of incorporated of how they talked in the movie. When you look at Annie and Lynda, they seem like the type of people you would be friends with.

In this version, not so much. They come off like such mean girls in this. And when you hear them talk, it's obvious that Rob Zombie doesn't know how to write teenage girls. And it's aggravating to know that they always seem to have sex on their minds. You know that's not the only thing teenagers do in horror movies, Mr. Zombie, I thought you would be more creative than that. Anywho, let's just get back to basics:

Is it me or did Michael just magically gain 200 pounds of muscle over the years. I know I've heard stories about steroids being put into cafeteria food but this is ridiculous. The obvious Michael and Jason comparison are going adamant in this review because any sign of Michael in the original is gone now.

Again by making the characters repulsive and despicable, it's obvious that the audience will root for the killer. Which completely misses the point of what John Carpenter was trying to convey in the 1978 original. Michael had no motives into his killings which is why he is such a scary figure. It's like Rob Zombie is trying to make Michael the hero, this crusader against assholes, making the so-called victims more villainous than Michael himself. The aesthetic of Michael Myers is similar to that of Jason Voorhees. If you replace the William Shatner Mask with the hockey mask, you'll know what I mean. Having a two-ton wrestler play into role of Michael isn't quite effective. We have seen this from time to time in slasher movies where a big, hulking killer slashes his way through anybody he sees. It's been done to death and it just doesn't make Michael that scary. Making him a normal sized man with moves as a ninja, is what makes him scary. The robotic, motionless movements he makes in the 1978 movie is the most effective. When I see the murders happen in this version, I feel like I'm watching WWE or something and all the tension is lost. I'll just say this, this isn't your father's Michael Myers.

 Sadly, Laurie Strode, one of the most well-known final girls in slasher history, is now as ditzy and annoying as her friends are. I guess she hasn't escaped the asshole gene she inherited from her shitty biological family but hey it's ALL in the family.

Yeah, it would've been cool to have Laurie this funny, happy-go lucky, teenager who tries to be the optimistic overachiever. But she didn't grow on me in the least. Like I said Rob Zombie does not know anything about teenage girls, other than the fact he thinks they are sex-crazed freaks. I mean the first scene we see her in she's sexualizing a bagel in front of her parents. Who the hell does that? Is it so hard to make Laurie likeable? Or at least talk to someone who knows about teenage girls. I mean gosh. It would've been interesting to have a realistic take on Laurie and her friends but they are far from realistic in this movie.

I can't fathom how much of an annoying ditz Laurie is in this version. Hell, she's even more annoying than Tina in Halloween 5. Wow, way to go, Rob Zombie. What a waste of a character. Scout-Taylor Compton really doesn't have the right acting chops to carry such a meaty role. I mean Jamie Lee Curtis is a legend, and this girl will never and I mean never hold a candle to her performance. That's it and that's all.

Oh Geez. Poor Danielle Harris. She's a really great actress, I'm just so sad that she has been downgraded by the shitty dialogue and script. I mean when I heard she was going to play Annie I was kind of siked, It was interesting since Danielle Harris starred in Halloween 4 and 5. And even though she was 29 during filming, she looked young for the part at least. I thought I was going to get this hip, sassy version of Annie, similar to the original but more modernized, but oh no, she is hard to watch. The dialogue that Rob Zombie give is obnoxious and a sore to listen to, geez louise. There's not much to say about Annie either. It's just like having Danielle Harris in those glorified unnecessary cameos Rob Zombie seems to be hassling over. Oh and I forgot to mention, Spoiler Alert!

Annie lives, besides being bloodied and bruised. You really didn't know what Michael did to her but what's the point of dwelling on it, it's basically torture porn.

Lynda is your typical slutty cheerleader who gets a full on nude scene before getting killed. Really, Rob Zombie, really. Ugh.

We even get a stoner version of Lynda's Boyfriend complete with long, stringy hair. Though I would say the actor playing him is pretty hot, I give it that. His death is sort of quick and nowhere near as great as it was in the original. In the end, Lynda is a totally flat character.

Tommy and Lindsey are such brats in this version. You know what I liked about them in the original? they were kids. Just normal everyday kids, not the smart-mouthed annoying half pints like they are in this movie. Ugh. Everytime these kids open their mouths I feel like smothering myself with a pillow. And with that I'm moving on.

Finally we have Brad Dourif as Sheriff Brackett who surprisingly does a good job. Yes, the character seems quirky in this version but that's where it works. Dourif really brings in an honest performance, not much screentime but he works well with what he's given.

Now it all boils down to this, Rob Zombie himself. I can see that he put a lot passion into this, however, his vision just doesn't translate well into the Halloween universe. Maybe as a stand alone movie, it would've been passable yet forgettable. But clashing his vision into John Carpenter's really isn't a good mix in my opinion. Then again, John Carpenter gave good word to Rob Zombie and it was John Carpenter himself who told Zombie to "make it his own." So we have John Carpenter to thank for that. Oh god, help me.

Rob Zombie's "make it his own" vision includes non-stop gory violence, gratuitous nudity, and even an unnecessary repulsive rape scene in the director's cut. All of what was suspenseful or scary about the original is lost on copious amount of shock value, which seems to be an unhealthy trend for horror films. And yes, the filmmakers do use the theme song well but it's at the most inappropriate times. hell, once the theme song starts, it's when young Michael Myers runs out of the school in a fit. It's quite unintentionally funny actually. Lastly, You know what made the original stand out unlike other slashers in it's heyday? the movie relayed on scares, not over the top kills. When you look at it, the murders in the movie are quite realistic, almost as if you're watching a snuff film. And the subtle touches with the point of view camera and the long, slow moving shots is what made the movie so powerful. It's all about subtlety and that's what Rob Zombie doesn't understand. Putting in gore and violence does not make the movie effective, just pointless. And that's why this remake is nothing more than a lifeless, incompetent, inconceivable, exploitative mess.
The Verdict? Yes, Guys, please watch the John Carpenter classic, it's a slasher movie done right. When you watch films like this, it makes you appreciate horror films. And maybe even the younger generation could give it a watch. And even though some of you hadn't grew up with the 1978 original, that doesn't mean you can enjoy it any less. Yeah, some of you may think this version is better than the sequels and yes, it does have more to it but at the same time the writing is terrible, the acting is awful, and the directing is beyond shitty complete with shaky cam, flashy edited shots, and dull gray lighting. Okay, I've said what I said. This movie sucks. End of story.
My Last Word: Go watch the original, it'll do you some good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie Review: The Hills Have Eyes 2

Now it has come to this. Hell, if you thought the 80's sequel to the original was bad, get a load of this. But to my eager surprise, Wes Craven and his son Jonathan wrote the story. Although the actual movie that we do see, I can tell most of his writing isn't it . Can I say studio interference? Okay, here's a little backstory: the original idea was to have a more mature and wiser Brenda to be back to where she never wanted to be. Now an army cadet with other comrades by her side, she must face off the mutants yet again. A little far-fetched though I'll accept it. But oh no! The actress Emilie De Ravin couldn't make it to the project because of scheduling conflicts, so there had to be some major changes to the script. So we end with bland new characters, a somewhat silly plot, and a boring, predictable mess of a movie.
The Story: Army Cadets are being attacked by cannibalistic mutants. Badda Bing Badda Boom.

The cast isn't really nothing to dawn over. So therefore I am only going to focus on the three main characters, since the rest of them are your typical standard army badass wannabes. So let's go through this quickly shall we?

Let's see, what's there to say about Amber? Hmm. She's strong, capable, stoic, blah, blah, blah. I really don't have much to say.

She's supposed to be a substitute for Brenda in the original script in this role and it's actually coincidental that they cast a similar looking actress. I guess Jessica Stoup was okay, she's just not that great of an actress, not at least to carry a whole film exactly.

Oh my gosh, Napoleon is probably the most annoying character and guess what? He's the male lead. Ugh. Doug from the first movie seems tolerable next to this guy. Speaking of which he actually a carbon copy of Doug. Eventually he does grow some balls but what do you expect? That's how predictable this movie is.

How should I describe Missy? She's a mom. That's pretty much all I've got. She's this badass army mom.

Speaking of which, you see how in movies where they set up this badass female character only for her to be the damsel in distress throughout half the movie? That's Missy in a nutshell. We also have unnecessary scenes of her getting repeatedly raped by the mutants. I don't know if that's for shock value or what.

Anywho, Missy is able to kick ass but only in the last minute. How typical?

Any suspense or tension I find in this seemed to be lacking since the army cadets could've easily use their machine guns against the mutants. But people in horror films do dumb things. It's justified because we would be having a much shorter movie than it already is.
Sorry guys, I can't find anything particularly memorable or remarkable about this movie and I just can't say anything more about it.
The Verdict? Neither this or the 1985 sequel. Just to be sure this came out the year after the remake. Just think about that guys. What purpose was to that? the filmmakers couldn't wait two years? You can tell everything was just so rushed and unprepared. The story is muddled, the characters are wasted, the performances was so-so, and the some of the scenes are used for unnecessary filler. It's a run-of-the-mill horror film that was only made to cash in at the box office. Guess what? it didn't. And therefore, we won't be seeing any sequels anytime soon.
My Last Word: Skip this entirely.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Movie Review: The Hitcher

Michael Bay And Company are at it again. This time producing the remake of the 1986 thriller The Hitcher. Why would Platinum Dunes remake this? Well, it seems that after the flop of Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning, the production company was trying to gain some sort of momentum and that is how they are now: frequently known for their horror remakes. To input on the original, It is what I deemed a cult classic. It takes the hitchhiker urban legend and turns it on it's head, complete with edge-of-the-seat suspense and well-crafted action scenes. Now with this new version, I didn't really mind the changes (surprise, surprise), especially the gender-swap with the leads, though, the great significance from this is the dynamic between the male hero and the villain antagonist and the creepy homoerotic context of the film. What REALLY bothers me about this remake, what really irks me, is how a film company take a fairly intense road thriller into a generic, forgettable teen slasher movie. I guess that's Platinum Dunes for ya.
The Story: A young college-age couple decide to go on a road trip for spring break when a mysterious stranger suddenly endangers their lives.

Okay, the only two actors I give credit for is Neal McDonough and Sean Bean. I just was not feeling the main leads and I'll tell you why.

Sophia Bush is an okay actress, I just don't think she can carry a movie on her own. In time, she has grown to be a better actress but she just doesn't bring anything new to the role and therefore just bland.

The character of Grace Andrews is anything but. Just a typical Mary Sue character who happens to be an action hero at the end. What's there to say?

Zachary Knighton as Jim Halsey was rather dull. Zachary Knighton is a cute guy with a lot of charisma up his sleeve but there really was nothing memorable about this version of the character or his performance. I felt no sense of chemistry between him and Sophia Bush and just ends up being the disposable boyfriend.

We have the very handsome and always charming Neal McDonough, who actually did a good job. Any movie that he's in, he always good in my opinion. But somehow, there's just not enough screen time left with and in the end is killed abruptly.

Sean Bean was actually the only spotlight in this remake. No, I wouldn't say he holds up to Rutger Hauer's chilling performance but he does the role his own way, which works for it.
Okay I'm going to through this quickly. There is no suspense to be found here, sorry to say.

Though there is one scene I thought was awesome, which shows John Ryder hunting down the police while the song Closer by Nine Inch Nails plays. Sean Bean, Neal McDonough, and that one scene is the best thing about the remake. Now we are in for the worst. Spoiler Alert Below!

I would like to highlight a particular scene that gave me nightmares. You remember the scene where Jennifer Jason Leigh's character gets tied up to two cars and gets ripped in half. What's scary about that scene is that you never see it.

But this version, this time having Jim in the crossfire, ruins it by showing the death clear in view, along with terrible CGI blood. Leave it to Michael Bay to totally redo a scene and make it as less scary as possible.  I rather him produce action films than horror films actually.
The Verdict? Of course, watch the original. Sorry to keep this review short but why should I? It's literally the same movie with little changes here and there. The original is an 80's cult classic that is a pure nailbiter. It had no business being remade.
So thanks to Platinum Dunes and people who were eager to see this crap in theaters at the box office, we have a long list of generic horror remakes to come. Special note though, this wasn't number 1# at the box office, so at least there's that.
My Last Word: Don't waste your time. Watching movies with a taste of originality is always the best.