Monday, April 27, 2015

Night Of The Living Dead (1990)

In  1968, a young special effects master by the name of Tom Savini had his first gig working on the George A. Romero Classic, The Night Of The Living Dead, though that never came to be since he was called on duty during Vietnam. Now 22 years, at the top of his prime, he recaptures the same intelligence and masterful effects in his 1990 remake, which is incredibly awesome.
What was so great about the original was it's strong political message hidden in the film. It was a rarity to have a black male hero in a horror movie and have him to be the rational, resourceful, quick-witted thinker, among the irrational and not so smart white cast. By the end of the movie, nobody lives and it has an all around bleak ending. At the time, it's one of those horror movies that will make you think and think till this day.
So It was probably a challenge to have that same political message in a 1990 setting and in Technicolor. But the political message still works in this movie as we see it through Barbra's eyes, shifting much more towards a feminist perspective, which is great because it adds a fresh new take on the story while putting much more action and conflict between the characters and the situation.
The Story: Unbeknownst to a plague turning people into walking corpses, Barbra and her brother Johnny are on their way to visit their mother's grave. Suddenly, a zombie appears out of nowhere and attacks them both. Unfortunately, Barbra's brother doesn't make it. Almost barely escaping from yet another zombie attack, Barbra hides out in an abandon house where she meets Ben, one of the survivors from the zombie outbreak. With five other survivors joining along the way, the group of strangers must find a way to prevent the zombie from killing them and from killing each other.

The cast is fantastic, along with horror veterans Tony Todd and Tom Towles. The biggest change in the new Night Of The Living Dead remake is the characters. They're still the same, just updated in a modern way.

Ben played by Tony Todd is still a competent leader but rather flawed. he's just as scared and irrational as everybody else and not taking the time to listen to anybody's ideas, especially Barbra and Cooper's, knowing in the spur of things they could be right. He realizes this tragic mistake in the end and eventually seals his fate.

Tony Todd is just awesome in this and there's even an iconic shot in the movie when he first appears. Just to let you guys know this came out BEFORE Candyman. Anywho, Tony Todd gave a head-on performance and knows how to do karate well.

Then we have the true star of it all.....Barbara! She is just all kinds of kickass! I like how they make her a strong capable heroine who holds her own this time and that's probably the best change that the filmmakers did with the movie. Looking at Barbra from the 1968 original, she was kind of meek and useless, just sitting around being in a dazed, confused state. To be honest, Women in films back then weren't as progressive as they are now.

So It was really refreshing for Barbra in this version to get angry, aggressive and take charge with a firey haircut, giving off a Ripley vibe. Hell Yes! it's about time.

She does, of course, starts off kind of meek and scared but it makes since because it's real human emotion and she doesn't understand what's really going on.

Though once she takes wind of things she gets a lot tougher and stronger and is pretty good with ammo, too. By this time, she is just as much of a capable leader as Ben is and a lot much smarter than the 1968 Barbra who was kind of....well....idiotic in some places. Okay guys, I'm going to spoil it for you a little bit but for those of you who haven't seen it, go watch it now!.....
Barbara is the sole survivor which is very fitting in my opinion. Since the 1968 movie had a strong political message with racism, Vietnam, and social class issues. This version has a sort of feminist message as it focuses on Barbra and how she grows as a character through the crisis that she's experiencing but it still has the important new world issues that it had in the 1968 film. Once Barbra escapes with a new group of survivors, she looks at the people, as they torture the zombies like toys in playful glee, and says, "We're them and They're us." Which is something to think about when watching this movie. Patricia Tallman is the strongest actress in this. She can be vulnerable and tough at the same time and it takes a good actress to handle that emotional range. Overall, Barbra is an awesome character with an even more awesome actress.

Tom and Judy are a lot more active in this as opposed to them being typical lovelorn teenagers in the original. Tom is now a local good o'l boy who knows his way with guns and Judy is taking Barbra's old role, but even though she's usually whiny and screaming most of the time, that doesn't mean she's totally useless. After all, she IS a teenager in this situation.

And I would like to say that William Butler was at his prime as a Scream King. He starred in a Friday The 13th sequel, starred on a Freddy's Nightmares episode, starred in a Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel, and now is being attacked by zombies. He actually gave a good performance and quite the looker, too.

Harry Cooper in this version is way much worse. He berates his wife whenever she desperately tries to find a way to help her sick daughter, even slapping her, fights constantly with the other strangers, especially Ben, and selfishly goes up the attic for Ben and Barbra to fend for themselves. In the original, his jerkassery came from how scared he was in the situation, scared for his family. But in this, he's just a plain o'l asshole. He doesn't get off easy though once Barbra finds him, she says 'fuck it' and shoots him in the head. Tom Towles does a good job and was able to add more layers to the character which is why he's honored as a veteran in the genre.

The suspense is at a high and so is the action. It makes the experience of watching this movie much more enjoyable.

And since this was directed by Tom Savini, His special effects is great on display, making the zombies very nasty and menacing-looking.
The movie was met with negative reviews at the time, which I don't understand. I feel it should have the same praise as the original. Though years later it has received a cult following and the horror community greatly appreciated it.
The verdict? Yes, watch this! Both movies should be watched and analyzed. They both have a strong political message yet the 1990 version is much actionized, having it's own spin to it. Both movies are definitely worth-seeing.
My Last Word: Like I said go watch this and the original. Definitely a good time.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Blob (1988)

Chuck Russell, who was riding off the success of A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, decided to remake the  1958 Monster Movie The Blob, Starring a young Steve McQueen, 30 years later. The Result: Fan-fucking-tastic!
But before I get to this review, let me give a quick overview of the original..... it's so boring! It's so boring, you guys. And I'm not saying this because I'm young and therefore not up to par with classic movies, I happen to enjoy classic movies, however the 1958 version I couldn't be invested in. Everything about the movie was bland. The acting, the characters, the writing, and all the way down to the directing and special effects. I think in my case, the movie is only remembered because it was Steve McQueeen's first major role and nothing else. So this definitely needed to be remade and it was only a matter of time during the 80's, which was the golden age of Sci-fi, where this could happen.
The Story: On a typical day in a small idyllic town, strange event occurs. A meteor suddenly falls from the sky. Once the town drunk takes a hold of this, a glob of goo attacks his hand. Meanwhile, likeable jock Paul and innocent cheerleader Meg is on a date when they suddenly encounter the homeless man, desperate for their aid, along with resident rebel Brian who also helps. While in the hospital, Paul checks on the ailing man, only to see the blob devouring his first victim, getting bigger and bigger, eating anyone who comes towards it's path.....

The characters are just awesome in this film. While the original had your stereotypical 1950's teenagers, the 80's version already have the characters fleshed out, we already know them well, and we already CARE about them. just enough time and care put into this movie.

Let's start with Brian Flagg and his luxurious hair played by sexy Kevin Dillion. Brain is your typical rebel without a cause, at first. You would never expect a character like this to be a hero, but the presence of Kevin Dillion, with his charming loveable rouge attitude makes you root for the character. And that's what I like about this movie, it's not just the character development that fleshes the characters out, it's the acting as well.

Speaking of good actors, Shawnee Smith is full of pure awesome along with the character Meg Penny who is incredibly badass. She starts off as your typical happy-go-lucky cheerleader but as the movie progresses, we can see that she is an intelligent, resourceful, strong-willed, and all around kickass girl.

It is SHE who defeats the blob. Yes guys, it's the cheerleader who saves the world and this was way before Buffy came along as a butt-kicking cheerleader. How awesome is that! This was the Post-Ripley era where more female characters in horror/action movies take charge and fight to the finish which was why I was so enthralled by Shawnee Smith's performance. She is definitely an underrated Scream Queen alongside Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis.

And lastly we have nice jock Paul played by the dreamy Donavan Leitch. He's nice, helpful, upstanding, mild-mannered and all around perfect boyfriend. It seem he might be the hero of the movie but I was in for a big shock when he went out in the most gruesome of ways. This is when it shifts to Brain as our main hero, who turns out to be very effective as a strong male lead.

Along with Meg, which they both make a very effective action couple.

So it leads me to this:

Who Would You Rather: Brian or Paul? Well, of course, I would Choose Brain, at least he doesn't get killed in the first 15 minutes and who could resist that gorgeous hair and that bad boy swag.

The one thing that brings much more to the story and how it keep things interesting, is that the blob isn't the only antagonist of the film. There is the leader of this science project group who intently cause the man-eating blob to land on earth just so he can get his greedy hands on his next experiment, quarantining the whole town and putting them in danger. Then there's the town priest who has turned crazy from the experience and has kept a little piece of the blob, still forming in a jar at the end of the movie. As in the 1958 version, the blob came out of nowhere, with no sense of how and why it crashed on earth.

The special effects, which were inspired by The Thing, another 80's remake from 1950's monster movie, are NASTY. There are so many ideas and creative choices done with the blob monster and how it devours it's victims is probably some of the most goriest things I've seen a movie. Where as the deaths were off screen in the original, you get to see the deaths in plain view in the remake. The filmmakers even takes the risk of killing off a child onscreen, which was totally unexpected, giving the 'anybody could die' motif, which always works in horror films in my opinion.

And yes there were moments that were actually suspenseful and where I was truly scared for the characters. As for the original, it lacked any suspense and I just kept waiting, impatiently, for something to happen.
Chuck Russell surprised me again with his strong directing skills, putting in much effort with the special effects and more intense action scenes. To be honest, I think HE would've been the right choice to direct A Nightmare On Elm Street 4, but seeing that he put his passion into all of this, it's worthwhile.
The Verdict? Go for the remake. It's much more fast-paced, the characters are interesting, there is actual action and suspense and plus much better special effects. Enjoy this while you can.
My last word: Go watch the remake. Like right now!

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Thing With Remakes

I meant to make this a short overview but somehow this turned out to be a rant/discussion instead. There have been a slew of remakes lately and it's gotten kind of out of control almost like it's a marketing ploy. It 's been a hit or miss in some movies, however it's been mostly a miss. Statistics show that Hollywood since the coming decade has literally run out of original ideas. This isn't always the case all the time but, trust me you guys, compare to the horror movies or movies in general back in the 70's, 80's, and 90's and the movies of modern times. Without a doubt, there is just no original ideas that pop out anymore. No movies that pop out or stand the test of time. I know I'm being a little overdramatic, however, it's only my opinion. There are some movies that heighten our expectations  though you get your occasional remake, reboot, re-imagining, re-do, redux, it never ends. This have been trending since the 90's and I am a firm lover of the 90's though that's not really the issue. People will eventually keep making remakes whether it's necessary or not(like the recent re-do of Poltergeist I might add). The problem is the people behind the movies don't put any sort of thought or passion into the project or any respect for the original. I feel like if the filmmakers doesn't know what they're doing, what's the point of remaking the film at all. If somebody took the time to re-evaluate what was missing from the original and put on a new perspective on the new material, I'll probably give a lot of respect towards that filmmaker. I want to keep this short and simple because I know I have a lot of remakes to review though since there are so many I can only review a quarter amount that I have which is about 18 or so and that's a lot. And maybe in the future, I can make a vol.2 to this.
So that's pretty much all my venting into this whole remake phenomenon. And I'll be sure to hope to go on with the reviews as much as I can, this isn't an easy task. So wish me luck!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Showgirls Part 3

So this is when things get a little crazy, fucked-up, and dark. It was all campy, sexual fun but now things are going to get serious.

So Nomi is invited to this party hosted by Andrew Carver, a Michael Bolton-type singer that Molly gushes over. As an apology, Nomi invites her over and she is easily forgiven. Molly is then given the chance to meet her idol for the very first time....This wasn't such a good idea. Even beforehand, Nomi should've saw the warning signs when this guy turned out to be a creep when he made a comment about her breasts. But this is worse than that....way worse. Molly is brutally beaten and raped by him and his security guards, which is the way for this film to up the ante on the NC-17 rating to throw a little violence along with sex. really? Why did it have to come to this? It's disgusting and repulsive. Why can't this movie be fun, stupid and campy, why did they have to go this far?
So once Nomi comes to the knowledge of this, she tries to call the authorities but Zach stops her for some reason, gloating that he knows about her seedy past and rubs it in her face. Nomi, did you seriously think it was a good idea to sleep with this guy? She responds by spitting him in the face but a punch to the face would've been more acceptable. Okay, so let me get this straight. Her friend was brutally raped and she can't call the authorities because this floppy-haired dickweed said so? What does he own? all of Las Vegas or something? I don't care if this Andrew Carver guy is a celebrity or whatever, he still did a terrible crime and plus everybody at the party witnessed Molly falling unconscious and battered. How much evidence is that?

But anywho, Nomi takes the law into her own hands and decides to beat the living shit out of Andrew Carver. Like that is going to solve anything. You should've frame the fucker that's what you should've done. But this of course is treated as the film's climax.

And Nomi just had about enough of Las Vegas. So she pays Molly a visit as well as Cristal. But Cristal wants something that she never had. To kiss Nomi's lips one last time. I guess this is supposed to be treated as romantic.

So off Nomi goes and here she runs into the guy who ran off with her suitcase. So she flicks her knife, Orders her suitcase back, and off they go to Los Angles.
Wow what a trashy pile of gloriousness....

Let's just be honest people, Elizabeth Berkely is just not a good actress, I was puzzled as to why she was given the leading role in the first place. She is mostly remembered for this movie but for all the wrong reasons. Which is why she is stuck writing self-help books and doing TV work. Best fit to be honest. I also didn't get Nomi Malone as a character. The movie just didn't know what to do with her. They try to paint her as this street-smart kind of gal but occasionally make her into this naïve ingénue at the same time. That's not always a problem but the stuff that she does is questionable. She knows but she doesn't know. And the movie doesn't do a good job at making her this good person who suddenly do bad things to get to the top because quite frankly we don't know anything about her.

Gina Gershon is probably the only shining beacon in this movie and is solely the reason why I watched through all of it. Her character may be a bit of bitch but that's what she's good at playing.
Now let's get to the Nitty Gritty. The blatant misogyny of the film is too much to handle. Almost all of the men in this movie are slimeballs and what makes it worse is that it's written and directed by men. And the rape scene puts more salt into the wound, making me feel even dirtier for watching this film.
So that's Showgirls. I still wouldn't rank it as one of my top guiltiest pleasures but if it's on cable on a boring Saturday night, I'll probably give it watch. After all it's faults, it's still kind of entertaining.

Now a clip show:


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Showgirls Part 2

Where I left off is sort of the turning point of the movie, believe it or not. And it all starts with is Nomi dry humping stage director Zach while Showgirl starlet Cristal Conners watches. Also the wannabe-philosopher watches as well, who just so happens to work at the strip club. So after that little performance the stage director definitely has Nomi on his mind. So does Cristal.
The next scene I find incredibly hilarious because the next morning or so, the wannabe-philosopher guy shows up at her doorstep, unannounced, just to tell her about her dryhumping the stage director. Here's a clip(sound only). Lol:

Okay, shouldn't she get a restraining order? Who fucking does that? What's even more hilarious is how this scene is attempted as a dramatic confrontation, really? She barely even knows the guy.
So as it all progresses, Nomi just suddenly, out of the blue, gets an offer to audition for a part in the upcoming show. So off Nomi goes on her quest to be the next best showgirl, even though, she sort of lied her way to get to that spot when putting out her information.

So as the audition starts the girls are subjected to some very snide insults by the producer and that's when the misogyny becomes a little blatant. Sure, show business isn't the most nicest environment but does being a showgirl involves a contest of who has the biggest breasts? Things go a little too far when the producer gets Nomi to rub her nipples with ice and she's not haven't it! Turns out Cristal Conners was the one behind the whole ice/nipple thing just to fuck with her, which is probably her way of flirting. So somehow, someway, Nomi gets the job anyway.

Oh I forgot to mention where she goes with the wannabe philosopher.

They dance a little bit, he gets turned on, once things get hot and heavy, she says she's on her period....and she's not kidding. GROSS! so it's Nomi that thinks she's in a relationship with this guy, even though, they barely know each other.

Once she tells him about the exciting news about her part on the show, turns out he's sleeping with one of the dancers at her former job. I guess he was the one who led her on. Wow. So after that, Nomi prepares for her first show and already witnesses a cat fight between two dancers, over-the-top acting and all. It's sort of a taste of what she's going to get into later.
So her first of couple of shows, she does well and Zach prepares to woo her. The wannabe Philosopher comes crawling back, saying he can't get enough of women. Heh, sure. We later find out that the girl he was fooling around with is pregnant and he gets some mundane job at a grocery store.  But then again why would she care? They weren't in a relationship in the first place.

Just as Zach is trying to woo Nomi, So does Cristal. They have a little girl talk while wining and dining. And here comes one of the strangest dialogue I heard in a movie. Seriously what? And so is the start  of Cristal trying to mind fuck Nomi and literally try to fuck her as well.

During one of the rehearsals, Nomi witnesses one of the showgirls dropping diamonds on the stage so one of the girls can trip over it. Once that happens the girls leg is broken. This was of course payback for her for yelling at the woman's kids. Then again who would bring their kids around that environment? I mean come on. This is sort of a foreshadowing of what is about to come.
So after that, Nomi gets to see her former employers at the strip club. Yet another hilarious scene as the movie tries to make  this into a heartwarming scene. Really moive? Really?

This is the same night  where she get to go on a date with Zach. Or have sex, let's be honest, people. This leads into one of the most over-the-top sex scene in years. I mean you gotta see it to believe it. I laughed my ass off.
This eventually gets her the chance to be Cristal's Understudy. This pisses off Cristal because she knows Nomi had sex with Zach to get her way to the top. Can I mention here that the movie take jabs at Cristal's age besides the fact that Gina Gershon is at least in her thirties. I guess being in your thirties is ancient in the showgirl universe.

So, of course, Cristal manipulates Nomi and strips her chances of becoming the understudy.

This is the last straw and so Nomi pushes Cristal down the stairs, becomes the new star of show, and enjoying the perks of it all. But her friend Molly is not so pleased......
Okay people, this is a long ass movie to cover. So there will be a third and FINAL part to this trainwreck of a movie....


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Showgirls Part 1

In  a couple of months or so, it will be the 20th anniversary of the bad movie "classic" Showgirls. I first watched this movie when I was around 11 or 12. Can you believe that? But thankfully, I watched the censored version on VH1. After that, I just couldn't stop watching it whenever it comes on TV. It's kind of well.....interesting, even though it's known to be one of the worst movies of the 90's. Maybe it's the outlandish campiness the reason why I find this movie the slightest bit entertaining, along with it's incredibly awful dialogue. Everybody else seems to enjoy this as well citing it as a cult favorite. But I just can't bring myself  to hail this as one of my favorite guilty pleasures. The movie has a really sleazy vibe that keeps me from enjoying this. The nudity I can handle but the context not so much. The context meaning the shit load amount of misogyny this movie keeps rubbing in our faces. Sure, some of the moments in this movie is too hard to take seriously, but it's the way it portrays women, who would use their sexuality as a weapon or are victims of sexual predatory by the men. They should be proud of their sexuality not be prisoners of it. Speaking of the men, most of them are just scummy and sex-obsessed(if you count out a few gay guys), it almost buffoonish.
The problems with the movie, I'll get to that later but for now let's get story, shall we? oh and guys, this review is totally safe for work, so any of you straight male viewers, sorry.

So it starts off with this drifter named Nomi Malone. Very cleaver on Joe Eszterhas part. LO freaking L! To think this is the same guy who wrote Flashdance and Jagged Edge. So the thing about her name is that you want to get to know her but she's alone. Get it? Yeah I know you wouldn't. So the things we KNOW about Nomi so far is that she's beautiful, blonde, and looking to make it big in Hollywood. So she decides to hijack this guy's car at knifepoint and heads to Las Vegas. Like a kid in wonder, she explores the casinos. Just as she first arrives though, she is approached by this sleazy pimp. She, of course, declines. Joe Eszerthas is digging a pretty big  hole in the beginning but it gets worse, trust me. Trying to score big on the jackpots, she soon realizes her suitcase was stolen by the driver. And this is how she meets Molly, as they get into a scuffle and hug it out after a misunderstanding. It's pretty freakin' hilarious. Once she hears about Nomi and her missing suitcase, Molly agrees to let her stay with her for a while until she gets on her own two feet. Yeah, let some complete stranger, stay at your house. Not smart I should say.

Some weeks later, Nomi is working at some low down strip club to help pay the bills. Couldn't she be a waitress or work at a retail store? why a stripper? I guess because if it's any way to get the main actress naked I guess she has to be a stripper.  Ugh. Okay before I take things further let's talk about the tacky nature of the strip club. The club owner always bribes the girls with oral sex, there's an overweight lady who makes fat jokes about herself and flashes her breasts in a clownish fashion, and the plain overall feel is over-the-top sexual.

So once she learns Molly is a costume designer at one of the best shows in Las Vegas, Nomi takes this opportunity to see the live shows and the most popular showgirl Cristal Conners, even though there is no mention of her knowing of Cristal.

So once she meets Cristal in her dressing room, she gives off a diva haughty attitude towards Nomi and Nomi leaves out, pissed. So as a stress reliever, Molly and Nomi goes out dancing at this club. While Nomi is gyrating like she's been stung by bees, she runs into this guy trying to hit on her. And she's like 'no way hose' and pushes him off, which ultimately causes them both to be a scuffle and soon gets them in jail. After that the guy just can't seem to get a clue and won't leave her alone. So now he's a recurring character. So I'll just call him The Wanna-be Philosopher.

So during one of her gigs at the strip club, Cristal Connors pays a visit.....
Okay guys, I'm afraid I have to stop it right here for now as cliffhanger. For a bad movie, it sure has a lot of story. So check me out on the second half.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day everybody

Yes, love is in the air and I hope you have a special somebody with you to enjoy your day. Oh and happy Friday The 13th too in case I totally missed that. But really the most important thing here is I'm taking yet another sabbatical to focus on my writing. I'm also in  the middle of finding and publisher or literary agent to check out my novels. It isn't a easy road guys. But when the going gets tough, it makes you stronger and as you get stronger and pursue as much as can then your dream will come to you in flying colors. And dreams really do come true if you believe in yourself. Though this only the beginning for me. So wish me luck guys :)

P.S. don't worry I might do some articles here and there but not so much as frequent. And there will also be new segments and new reviews headed your way in late March or April.
And again have a wonderful Valentine's Day.