Saturday, December 19, 2015

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Wow, I was definitely surprised how good this film turned out. I'm not calling it the holy grail or anything, I just thought it was much better than most horror movie remakes these days and that's saying something. But to be honest, it felt like more of a sequel than an all-out re-do of the Evil Dead series. There is more to it though: like character development, more mystery behind the deadites, and scenes that are just as intense and bloody as the original.
The Story: Two friends decide to help drug addict Mia by sending her out on a cabin the woods, instead of rehab, fighting her addiction. Along with Mia's estranged brother David and his girlfriend, the group soon experiences strange supernatural occurrences that seem to grow rapidly. Unfortunately for the group, there seems to be an evil entity grasping their inner souls and preventing them from leaving the woods for good.....

What I really liked about this movie is that the characters are not idiotic assholes and they just don't go in the cabin in the woods to party and have fun. What they're trying to do is to help a friend beat her  drug addiction. In a sense, that makes the characters more grounded and mature. The acting was also top-notch, the strongest one of the cast being Jane Levy.

Jane Levy plays Mia, a trouble young heroin addict, trying to cope with her mother's death and also trying to reconnect with her estranged brother, David.

She is the equivalent of Cheryl in the original but as it turns out (spoiler alert! Guys please watch this movie so I won't spoil it for you), she becomes a female Ash, chainsaw hand and all. One of the changes that was made with this is the sibling relationship with Ash and Cheryl i.e. David and Mia. You never really a see that caring sibling relationship with these two characters in the original, it almost seems as if Ash was annoyed by Cheryl, including his friends. In this you actually see how distant they are from each other at first but soon grow to love and protect each other once all hell breaks loose. That's one of the strongest aspects that I like from this version and adds much more to the story.

I have to say Mia is a badass! Here's a woman who's overcoming family heartaches, drug addiction, and even demonic possession, coming out on top either way. She is definitely a character to root for, cause when she triumphs, it's pretty much epic. Even a rain of blood falls on this girl to reward her success.

Jane Levy is just awesome in this. If anybody could win an Oscar for best horror performance, she would be it. Even Bruce Campbell would approve.

The hot and sexy Shiloh Fernandez plays Mia's brother David, the equivalent to Ash. He's come to make amends with his friends including his sister when he left everybody behind to leave for Chicago. Which contrast to him tying in vain to save everybody. You would think he turn out to be this pseudo-Ash type be he eventually passes the torch to Mia when sacrifices himself to stop the evil entity. Like I said, the brother-sister relationship is actually genuine and makes the character of David much more noble. Shiloh Fernandez pulls off an intense performance and is very, very, sexy to boot.

Then we have Lou Pucci Taylor as Scott, the typical snarky, opinionated hipster who is not too happy to see his former friend David, tagging along.

He is the one who uncovers the necronomicon. Even though it says do not read book with barb wire covered on it, he takes a look anyway. This doesn't make his character dumb, just curious. It's just like when your parents tell you to not see an R-rated movie but you do anyway if that makes sense. Once shit hits the fan, Scotty gets put into the ringer really BAD! I mean this guy literally takes a beating and soon enough succumbs to his wounds. Scotty was a bit more tolerable in this than in the original. The Scotty in this version is not entirely likeable but the movie does make you feel sorry for him once bad stuff happens to him. Scott in the original, however, was an obnoxious, self-righteous,  annoying, whiny, insufferable jerkass. But I'll leave that for another review.

There really wasn't much to the character of Shelly other than being the typical hysterical woman. So Olivia played by Jessica Lucas, who's the responsible leader type who tries unquestionable methods to help a friend. Like taking Mia out in the middle of the nowhere woods to overcome her drug addiction instead of rehab. Keep in mind that Olivia is only a nurse and not a licensed doctor.There times where she can be controlling and in spite of herself to the where I think that's her only character trait. Even though I don't care for her acting, Jessica Lucas did do a good enough performance for what she is given.

Elizabeth Blackmore as Natalie was "meh". She's the equivalent of Linda, who wasn't much of a character either. She is David's girlfriend and that's pretty much all I have to say about her. She's blond, She's pretty, She's nice, She's bland. The actress's performance was average at best, not putting much to the role.

Woah doggy! The blood and gore is just as insane as it was in the original. At first, I was expecting CGI blood since horror filmmakers are too lazy to use real fake blood but I was pleasantly surprised. The blood and gore scenes are quite cringeworthy and effective, making you squirm with delight.

The makeup on the deadites were kind of cool and inventive, giving them grayish skin and golden demonic eyes to have the menacing factor up high along their animalistic nature.

Of course with the directing, there is CGI in this but it's not overwhelming or distracting and in some scenes it actually works like the Re-do of the tree attack scene.
There was actually effort put into this cause you can tell the director was fan of the series, putting his love and passion into it. Heck, Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell were the producers. Maybe Platinum Dunes could learn or thing or two. Although it's not the best of the series, I did enjoy the movie for what it is. Double double points for the badass final girl. Mia is definitely on my list. Overall, awesome remake.
The Verdict? both films are great with incredible special effects, good story, and definitely good directing.
My Last Word: Yes! Watch It!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Movie Review: Silent Night (2012)

Just in time for the holidays! We have yet another holiday slasher remake starring the one and only Jamie King. This time it's the loose remake of the 1984 slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night. Here's a little backstory on the original: It caused a huge controversy for featuring a killer Santa Claus. I laugh at the fact that no matter how much sex and violence we saw on TV back then, the parents would rather waste their time on a slasher about a Killer Santa. By the way, Its a horror movie TRAILER featuring a GUY dressed up as Santa Claus. That wouldn't make him actually Santa Claus, right? Anywho, the movie became a cult classic with most notably having a hot male lead. The final results are mediocre at best. It's an above average slasher with some interesting elements. It actually takes the time of developing the villain instead the victims. The rest of the movie, though, becomes a typical by-the-numbers slasher with the main villain going on a killing spree and the film just fades into obscurity from there.
So twenty-eight years later, Silent Night, which is a movie of it's own instead of an all and out remake. The only connection to the original movies (Yes, I said movies, not very good movies by the way) is references like the garbage day joke and a certain death scene involving antlers. My thoughts about this movie seems to be mixed. If it had the chance to take itself less seriously, I would've enjoyed it more. Don't get me wrong, it is watchable enough movie but half of the time I felt, well, bored. It's just as tedious as the original having a deranged Santa Claus going a killing spree. There is a story here somewhere but everything just falls flat by the end of the movie.
The Story: A deranged man dressed in a Santa costume wreaks havoc on a small town. It's up to Sheriff Cooper and Deputy Bradimore to stop his rampage just before completing his naughty list.
The cast really didn't grow on me. Jamie King was as good as always but her character came off bland to me. But then there's Malcolm McDowell and Donal Louge who pretty much stole the show with their over-the-top performances. The rest of the cast are, unfortunately, a bunch of miserable, selfish jerks who meet their maker. And there not much to go from there.

I like Jamie King as an actress and I thinks she deserve much better than this script because I really wasn't invested in her character of Aubrey Bradimore. I guess she supposed to be the audience surrogate, seeing how crappy her hometown has been, becoming one of the few sane people but it doesn't develop her character in anyway. The thing with her backstory is that her husband was killed in a line of duty and is still affected by it/

There's also a twist as well. Her father was the one who shot the killer's dad while he went crazy one night, blowtorching guests at a Christmas party. This all happens in front of the killer as a little boy, no less, which is the catalyst for his rampage.

Other than that, the character is a total bore. Yes, I said it, she is quite boring and interesting for the majority of the movie. She does have some moments of badassery but that doesn't happen until the end. She just a stick in the mud basically but at least Jamie King is a good enough actress to carry the role through, so no problems there.

Malcolm McDowell as Sheriff Cooper was a riot. Although he usually good at playing villainous roles, Malcolm McDowell is a versatile actor like his noble good guy role in Time After Time but he fits right at home playing a grumpy old asshole like in this movie. We never know if Sheriff Cooper is a truly competent, the film doesn't take the time to show that but what we do know of him is that he is a bitter, snarky man, who pretty much hates some of the people in his small town and rightfully so, though I'll get to that later. You would think that he would be a total badass in an all-out battle with the serial killer but no he is easily overpowered and receives the sharp end of the candy cane.

Donal Louge was equally hilarious as the resident town drunk. What could be just a small role is turned into a character of it's own. Donal Louge chews each scenery that he's in, including giving out this overly long monologue about how much he hates Christmas.
The rest of the movie might drag on most of the time, but Malcolm McDowell and Donal Louge carry it through with their hilariously crude performances.
The so-called "victims" include a guy who had an affair with a married woman, a predatory priest, a bratty twelve year old girl, the typical horny teen couple with the guy stealing his grandpa's money to spend time with girlfriend, a drug dealer, and a self-absorbed wanna-be model and her sleazy photographer. So yeah, these are not pleasant characters and I think that's the point of the film, seeing how these miserable degenerates spend Christmas only to see their comeuppance by the killer Santa Claus.

Speaking of Killer Santa, he had a cool look to him. Now I know the whole slasher movie Santa costume is not original but it's the aesthetic of the costume that I like.

The darkened eyes on the mask gives out a menacing look and the tall, imposing stature of the actor gives him an intimidating edge. And since he is based on real life serial killer Jeffery Pardo, he gets a blowtorch as his signature horror weapon. The killer's backstory is probably the most interesting thing about this movie because it's, of course, ripped from the headlines. But I wish the filmmakers went deep into this keep my interest.

The deaths scenes are extremely gory and over-the-top, to the point of being a bit cartoony but again, I think that's the gist of the film, given how obnoxious the characters are you would expect them to receive such deaths.

Let me get this off my chest, though, we have yet another scene of a naked woman being chased by a serial killer with close-ups of her derriere. Do guys have some sick fetish of this, I just don't understand. I really don't see why it's tantalizing to see a woman terrorized in the nude.

Not to mention getting a incredibly horrible death. Again, it puts a bad taste in my mouth.
I can't say if there was any suspenseful scenes but the climax, I thought, was handled well. At least, I'll give the film more credit for that.

I guess the directing was alright. You do have an occasional shaky cam, disoriented edit shots, and darkened areas where you don't see anything but for the most part it's okay. The director really isn't all that great. He had a certain potential but it never branches out. From what I know, his other films are not exactly high quality, so I think a more experienced professional director would've handled the movie much better. You just don't get the vibrant visual of Christmas with this directing.
the final case in this is that it's a mixed bag. Sure, the 1984 film needed a remake, however, there could've been ways to show this dark tale of the serial killer becoming who he is in a better way instead of some Joe Schmoe killing a bunch of randys on a Christmas holiday.
The Verdict? Both films seem to be forgettable and mediocre, not telling a proper story for me to be invested in. Both films seem to have enough potential but fail becoming typical by-the-numbers slasher films. So my thoughts end there.
My last word: It's a watchable enough film but in the end, it's not going to be highly remembered.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

True Life: I'm A Gay For Pay Pornstar Overveiw

I usually don't do topics about gay porn but what I saw on True Life and the details behind it, truly troubled me. I'm not against "gay for pay". I'm really trying to keep an open mind about it and see where these guys are coming from but at the same time, I really don't appreciate certain ones who seems to regret ever having that kind of career, showing obvious disrespect by insulting their fans and putting themselves on a higher pedestal. These two guys are the prime example:

First we have Ben, who's a father of two and has recently married. He is best known for performing in Sean Cody projects and is a stripper at a gay club in Chicago.

Okay, for starters, he says the reasons why he rather strip at a gay club because it pays more money. Okay...that's somewhat reasonable. However, even though I didn't do my research, male strippers performing in strip clubs for straight women would likely get paid the same amount if they were successful enough. It's all about applying yourselves, people.

Ben's wife seems to be enjoying his double lifestyle by being a total yoai girl, watching his videos from Sean Cody. There's even a scene from the episode where his  wife makes him watch some of his scenes and he gets extremely uncomfortable saying, "Having sex with a guy is like having sex with a watermelon." I'm not entirely offended but a hole is a hole, I don't think it was the physical part of the sex that bothered him. Not to mention that in a earlier scene of this episode, he was, no joke, making out with guy during his little strip sessions. Now, I don't know if that was part of his job or whatever, but even the gayest of gay strippers wouldn't do that. It makes me wonder if he's getting pretty comfortable with this second lifestyle of his.
I just have to say this but the guy is clearly in denial no matter how straight he claims to be. He does have gay friends and labels himself as the "gay friendly straight guy" but there seems to be more this picture than what the camera shows us. I even heard news of his ex-wife writing on social media of his cheating ways and him threating that if his son turns out to be gay, he'll beat him. I don't know if I would believe this or not. He's says the allegations are false but I think it's mostly true. I think his whole "gay for pay" analogy is just a defense mechanism. And I think he would likely use the term "bicurious" or "bisexual" in the near future.

Then we have Luke, who is a Russian descendant and is a regular. The thing with him is that his girlfriend doesn't know that he's a "gay for pay" pornstar and he's comically trying to hide it from her, as if any other idiot has the internet nowadays.

From what I heard from certain social media sites is that he has a really shitty personality, posting homophobic slurs, insulting his gay fans and even going so far by making comments about ISIS. What. A. Jackass. Sure, he has gorgeous eyes, devastatingly dark handsome looks, and an incredibly hot body, yeah the guy is hot, but he is still a jackass. Looks are indeed deceiving.

But here's the real tip of the iceberg. He shows, on camera, the drug he takes for sexual enhancement while filming calling them, "Poppers or whatever." Really? Do you know how many of the studios he work for will be put at risk. He just doesn't give a shit. I honestly don't see how his girlfriend puts up with his crap either.
The main problem is MTV. They're just sugar-coating at this point. Just like how they do their other crappy reality shows like Teen Mom and the longsuffering Real World. It's definitely not the network it used to be. Everything about their programs are artificial and fake. What happened to the raw, gripping, emotional stories that True Life is known for? I can barely call this TRUE LIFE anymore. But at least the guys got their extra paychecks. Money makes the world go round after all, right?


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Movie Review: Maniac (2012)

Dare I say this is one of the best remakes we have so far? I have seen a load of crap and finally I found a beacon of retribution.
Maniac was a slasher film, made in 1980, directed by William Lustig, who was best known for the Maniac Cop films, and starred Joe Spinell who co-wrote the screenplay. What separates Maniac from other slasher films is that it dives deep into the mindset of the serial killer and it becomes much more deeper and psychological than the slashers of that time. Maniac is not what I call a great film though it's definitely original of the year it was made.
So I wasn't sure how the remake  of this would turn out but I know it was bound to happen since the original wasn't a particularly memorable film. When I heard Elijah Wood would play the main role I was bit iffy about it but since he has played darker roles before I thought I'd give it a chance. And the result was incredibly awesome. Elijah Wood gave a superb effective performance and the visual artistic flare of French director Franck Khalfoun adds so much more to the film. Complete with a catchy 80's-like synth soundtrack, stylish visuals, and good performance by the leads, this is definitely a major step up from original.
The Story: Frank Zito, who at first seem like a shy, mild-mannered young man, is really mentally disturbed, homicidal serial killer who has taken over his family business, selling mannequins. He has problems dating women, due to his traumatic childhood involving his promiscuous mother. But that all changes once he meets Anna, a photographer who seems caring and supportive of him. But Frank must control his homicidal tendencies before it unleashes on the woman he loves....

Elijah Wood gave an incredibly chilling performance. He was vulnerable yet vicious, exploring the complexity of that character. In this version, Frank Zito gets the "psycho" treatment. Joe Spinell wasn't exactly an attractive man but it worked for the role he was playing and his performance in the m movie was the best thing so far. So in this version, they made frank more mildly attractive and is able to blend in with society, which is the first-case scenario of a serial killer. And the scary thing about this character is that he is charming enough and convincing enough to make everyone believe he's this harmless nice guy when really he's a dangerous psychopath.

We actually see the emotional torture that Frank's mother put him through with her neglect and emotional abuse.  Seeing her degrade herself and eventually living a double life as a prostitute. This is the remaining factor betrayal and hatred of his mother.

In the end, it's really a cry for help and his inability to control his inner demons ultimately destroy him.

Nora Arnezeder was exceptionally likeable as Anna. Both her and Elijah Wood have really good chemistry and the movie does a good job building up Frank and Anna's relationship.

To be honest, the chemistry is much better here than it was in the original and there is much more to the Anna character than just being a designated love interest. The tragic thing about this relationship is that Frank is unable to conceal his dark desires and it unfortunately kills Anna.

Yes, Anna dies in this version. I wasn't really sure what happened to Anna in the original. She just injured Frank and ran off, never to be seen again. So I think the remake fixes this, even though I don't know why the filmmakers choose to kill off Anna.

The brutal yet visceral kills are laced with a stylish artistic delicacy that only the French can master. Most of the directing does feel like a music video but it works for it.

One of my favorite scenes is when Frank and Anna go to a movie theater where they play a German Expressionist film which seems to be a short film of it's own.
Overall, the film is a massive improvement and seems to tell a much more effective and chilling story.
The Verdict? This is a hard choice since the original is a cult classic but I have to go with the remake on this. It tells a much better story, it has a rather sweet (if bittersweet) love story, great visuals and a strong performance by Elijah Wood.
My Last Word: Yes! Watch This!