Saturday, February 18, 2006

The 'Ultimate Experience in Grueling Horror?' Define 'horror'...

The Evil Dead centers around Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his four friends from college, who go off to a cabin in the middle of the Tennesse woods, where they accidentally find an ancient spell book and release body-posessing demons. One by one, they're possessed and attack the remaining friends.

Uh, so yeah. This is not the most original horror movie, by any means. This storyline's been done over and over again, and the 'cabin in the woods' plot has been done a lot too. I wouldn't be surprised if the Blair Witch creators hadn't gotten at least some inspiration from this movie. The demons themselves aren't all that scary and seemed more comical, as if Rami was attempting to spoof the horror genre. The 'tree rape' scene was unique, and a little disturbing. The demon's cackling was more annoying than scary--I was cheering for Ash to shut her up asap. Most of the actions the friends take throughout the movie echo the generic horror movie conventions--'let's play with the demonic books even though they'll enevitably end up killing us all horribly' and the like. Why Ash would stick his hand in the liquid mirror when he's being chased by demons is beyond me, but it was a cool effect that The Matrix improved on. Also, Ash really needs to start looking out for bookcases. He's thrown into--and then trapped under--bookcases at least twice in the movie.

It's not the best produced movie either, though the effects--for the budget they had--could've been a lot worse. The demon make-up is good enough, and I will say the shots from the demon's P.O.V. do work well, so the way the film's shot is pretty good. The acting's not that great either, which is probably obvious, since the only actor in this to have a career at all is Bruce Campbell. Effects wise, this is definitely an 80's movie.

Though this isn't the most original or best horror movie I've ever seen, it's not the worst either. There is a comical aspect to it, intentionally or not. This is the first in a trilogy of movies starring Bruce Campbell as Ash--continued with Evil Dead II, which i've heard is mostly a remake of the first one, and Army of Darkness, which has Ash going back to Medival Times. I've seen Army and thought it worked much the same as Evil Dead--not so much horrific (well, not in the intended sense) but more comedic. Overall, I'd say Evil Dead's ok--the movie you'd want to see if you have nothing better to do for an hour and a half and are ready to see a movie that shouldn't be taken seriously, because if you do, you probably won't enjoy it at all. If you don't, the movie's kinda fun and good for a laugh.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Suburbia. 1984. dir. Penelope Spheeris.

Meet The Rejected.

Evan's alcoholic mother causes an accident while driving under the influence. Joe's father spends all his time with a boyfriend at the pool. Sheila's father sexually and physically abuses her. The common strand uniting them was their home... The T.R. home.

Amplifying the levels of parental negligence and teenage delinquency, Suburbia was one of the first films directed by Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World, Black Sheep). As with most of her films, music plays a central theme. While most of the contemporary films of the 80's were largely built upon synth-based orchestral movements (in the dark), Spheeris documents the early 80's hardcore punk scene (as she had previously done with The Decline of Western Civilization). There is great concert footage of D.I., The Vandals, and T.S.O.L., with accurate slam dancing and violence depicted among concert goers. Of course, the hardcore punk of the time was vital, angry, loud, and passionate. It was the music of rejects, for rejects.

The Rejected home is a squatter pad. It is filthy, insect-infested, vandalized, dilapidated, and Razzle (played by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers) allows his rat to crawl all around him. However, unlike the kids' real homes, there is an actual sense of familial warmth. The physical chaos of it belies the fact that they are better off in their own little world together, than in a society unwilling to give them a chance.

They are all dirt poor, thus they have to steal food and supplies to live. Ethical debates could be brought up regarding this issue. The kids can't work, so they can't make money. They could go back to their parents, but their parents neglect them. They need to satisfy Maslow's hierarchy of needs, even though they know their lives are heading for a dead end. The most they can do is enjoy the moments they have with each other before the trouble gets too out of hand.

This film depicts the Lost Angeles punk lifestyle circa 1984. Sure, much of it was fashion, but most of it was real life. Films like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Heathers painted parents as clueless and comedic. However, Suburbia bitterly indicts parents as being too involved in their own problems to actually care for their kids.

I do not recommend this film to animal lovers or those who think children are cute. There are some pretty violent scenes. I do recommend this film to those who dig 80's hardcore punk (which is the only punk that exists in my world). Favorite scene: as a redneck coaxes his friend into vigilante action because of a violent incident involving The Rejected, the screen pans out exposing them in a strip bar as he says, "I don't consider myself a religious person, but that's just downright sinful."

For those interested, here is the trailer:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Tequila Sunrise

Go ahead and take a look at Tequila Sunrise if you want to get confused. Wow, what a complicated plot and convoluted story. I'll do the best I can to summarize this film. Mac is a drug dealer (we are led to believe that he is retired) and Nick is his best pal. Problem is, Nick is a cop--head of the narcotics unit, to be specific--and the pressure is on him to bust Mac. Throw in a woman (of course) whom they are both interested in, and let the fun begin.

I thought this would be more of an action/crime flick before I watched it. It's really not. It's a romance story in disguise. Both Mac and Nick and vying for the attention of the lovely restauranter played by Michelle Pfeiffer. The crime part never really develops, but all the apprehension and build-up to it makes you think it eventually will.

The big shoot-out scene at the end was a great disappointment to me. It ends too quickly, too simply and seems almost unrealistic. Mac has decided to turn himself in, but Hal (another cop who has been infringing on Nick's territory) doesn't believe him, so he starts shooting at him. The next thing we know, Nick has shot Hal in the back, and he falls down, dead. I thought there would be more than that.

Maybe I would warm up to this movie if I watched it more than once; I'm not sure. But, right now, it's not one of my favorites. I was disappointed, especially given the stellar cast: Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Kurt Russell. I think this movie had the potential to be great. It had an original idea, and a great cast, but I just don't think it was executed too well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

That Giant Flesh-Hungry Plant Can Teach Everyone a Lesson

Wow, what to say? Little Shop of Horrors is a colorful musical detailing the pathetic life of Seymour Krawborne, a nerdy and poor plant shop employee. When Seymour finds a "strange and interesting" plant at a shop in Skid Row he becomes obsessed with making it well, even when he finds out that it thrives on human flesh and blood. Seymour becomes a cold-blooded murderer when the plant offers him riches, fame, and the love of the leading lady, Audrey. Because this plant is from outer space and is magical it is capable of fulfilling these promises. As Seymour feeds the plant it grows larger and larger and the fame and fortune promised to him soon arrive. But Seymour is really a good person on the inside, he cannot take the guilt and decides to destroy the plant and run away with Audrey. Subplots include a twisted sadistic relationship between Audrey and "the Dentist" and Seymour's attempt at ending that relationship.
This was a wildly entertaining movie and I would recommend it to anyone who does not mind over-the-top movies, because it certainly is that. The characters are overdeveloped; the voices and accents, the way the characters dress, all add to the overload of the senses. It is a very funny movie, a kind of dark humor.
It was very characteristic of the 80's in that it was exaggerated, and it followed the common theme we have been seeing of selfishness and greed. The movie was very much a comment on how not to be, showing that greed is a vice and can lead one down the wrong path. I am not so sure the movie stands over time, but it is so unrealistic that it probably could be applied to any time, the message at least. Great movie, good message (and its not so bad to sing along to either).

If you want to see the trailer, click on this link:

Monday, February 13, 2006

Great Scott! The Conclusion

The trilogy comes to a's almost sad! When we meet up with our old friends Marty and Doc, Marty has just returned to 1955, and Doc has been transported back to 1885. Marty finds out that Doc is going to be killed by Buford Tannen, who is obviously a relative of Biff Tannen. So, our hero heads back a century to save him.

I am not a fan of westerns, so I was less than thrilled when I learned that the conclusion of this great trilogy would fall into that genre. However, I still managed to enjoy it, much more than I thought I would. It was just as funny, if not more so, than the first two movies. One of my favorite parts was when Doc and Marty used the other person's phrase: Doc says "I know, this is heavy" and Marty says "Great Scott!" That was hilarious!! Even though the movie is set in the west in 1885, there is so much more to the story than just that. I was pleased that I was able to enjoy it; this is probably the first western movie I have ever honestly liked and that is saying something!One significant difference between this movie and Parts I and II is that this one had a love story within it. I thought that was an interesting twist on the normal sci-fi, adventure flick. While I liked the additional story, I found myself never really liking Clara. I'm not sure why; I guess it may be because she came off as the typical damsel in distress (first with the runaway horses and then at the end on the train) who needs to be saved by a man. Also, towards the end, I didn't like that Clara was interfering with Doc and Marty's plan to get back to 1985. Sure, eventually, everything works out, but I didn't know that at the time.

I also found it interesting how Doc says he wants to destroy the time machine because it has caused nothing but disasters. After all, this is his invention, his creation and he wants to destroy it. His attitude towards seeing one's future before it happens has changed by the end of this film; he now feels that it is something that should not be tampered with. He says at the end "Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one." Doc does get his wish; his time machine gets destroyed by a train. But, it is funny to see Doc appear with a brand new time machine, which now runs on steam! I guess he can't ever bring himself to give up time travel, after all.

A trailer for the entire trilogy:

A trailer for the third movie:

And DON'T Call Me Shirley!


I could tell from the beginning of this movie (as though the cover on the movie wasn't enough of a clue) that it was a comedic parody. The scene starts off with what seems like a normal airport terminal, with the usual cautionary recordings playing in the background about where and where not to unload passengers. Soon, however, the 'recordings' start bickering over one contradicting himself, which leads to the lady voice recording overreacting and accusing the male voice that he was only insinuating that she have an abortion. All the while, the rest of the airport goes about like nothing's wrong.

The level of decorum and seriousness is kept throughout the movie, in the face of some very silly gags and plays on words. Most everything said is taken literally, at face value. Tickets for the smoking section actually smoke, and a drinking problem literally means a drinking problem - the main character, Ted Striker, is so traumatized by his war experiences that he splashes his water all over himself anytime he goes to take a sip.
The main plot of the movie, besides trying to get as many jokes in as possible, centers around Ted Striker's past. Due to a bad case of food poisoning, all of the pilots pass out midflight, leaving the task of flying temporarily up to the autopilot, Otto. In order to land, however, someone on board with flying experience has to save the day. Ted Striker is that person (in fact, the only person), so the job lands on him and his ablility to overcome his fear of flying.
My favorite scene involved two "jive dudes" trying to communicate their food poisoning issues to the stewardess. She professes that she doesn't understand what they're saying, when an old lady overhears from another row and offers to translate:
Stewardess: Can I get you something?
First Jive Dude: 'S'mofo butter layin' me to da' BONE! Jackin' me up... tight me!
Stewardess: I'm sorry, I don't understand.
Second Jive Dude: Cutty say 'e can't HANG!
Old Lady: Oh stewardess! I speak jive.
Stewardess: Oh, good.
Old Lady: He said that he's in great pain and he wants to know if you can help him.
Stewardess: All right. Would you tell him to just relax and I'll be back as soon as I can with some medicine?
Old Lady: Jus' hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da' rebound on da' med side.
First Jive Dude: What it is, big mama? My mama no raise no dummies. I dug her rap!
Old Lady: Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don' want no help, chump don't GET da' help!
Seccond Jive Dude: Say 'e can't hang, say seven up!
Old Lady: Jive ass dude don't got no brains anyhow! Hmmph!
Make sure, if you watch this movie, to pay attention to the end credits; the comedy continues through to the very end of the movie (though, if you want to cheat, most of the creative ones can be found at

Check out the trailer here:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Back to the Future, Part II

Might as well continue with the trilogy! Part II continues exactly where Part I left us. Marty has just returned from 1955, and the next thing he knows, Doc wants to whisk him off to the future--2015, to be exact! He tells Marty and Jennifer that their kids are in danger, and they must visit the future to prevent these events from taking place. So, this they do, without much further questioning.

Once in 2015, Marty encounters his son, Marty Jr. He (sadly) realizes that his son is a "wimp!" He is being bullied by Griff, Biff's grandson. The entire scenario is very similar to that of Biff bullying George, Marty's father (as we saw in Part I). I was disappointed at the amount of film time that was spent in 2015. After visiting it briefly, Marty and Doc must travel to 1955 (again) to prevent another disaster from happening. While in 1955, many of the same scenes from Part I are relived again. I felt an extreme sense of deja-vu as I watched it. The new additions are done well; there is one particular scene that sticks out in my mind. Marty is chasing Biff (Biff is in a car; Marty is on a hoverboard, which is sort of like a skateboard that can fly); eventually, the chase goes into a tunnel and then Biff crashes into a manure truck (again--just like in Part I). I almost found myself applauding at this point, and, of course, laughing.

The plot of Part II is definitely more complex than that of Part I. Part I was very simplistic and direct; Part II takes more twists and turns, and of course, the end leaves you hanging in anticipation of Part III. There was an interesting scene towards the end when the time machine gets struck by lightning and then disappears. The time machine left what looked like two backwards '9s' in the sky. I found myself wondering about the significance of this. Well, I decided to look it up to quell my curiosity, and I found myself disappointed. Apparently, the explanation is as simple as this: the time machine always leaves fire trails behind when it travels through time. In this instance, the car was spinning, so the fire trails became spirals. Well, gee, I guess I read way too much into that one!

And the trailer for this one is at:

I would definitely recommend seeing this movie. It is funny, exciting and entertaining. I don't think it will disappoint.

Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future.

Clearly a product of the 80's, from the style of clothing the characters wear to the obsession with money that was so prevalent in the 'me' decade, Risky Business details a week in the life of Joel Goodson while his parents are out of town. Over the course of the movie, Joel falls for Lana, a prostitute, is forced to deal with Guido, her 'killer pimp,' and get through a college recruiter's visit--of course it would help it didn't happen while his house was turned into a psuedo-brothel.

Overall, I'd say this film was ok. Not great, but not the worst thing I've ever seen either. This film does stand up over time--even though you can see it's an 80's film, it's probably better than some of the teen movies that've come out since this one's release. Additionally, the themes here, specifically making money, are still applicable to some extent nowadays.

So, I think this film is worth seeing at least once. It has funny moments, a somewhat far-fetched, yet believable plot, and is better than a lot of the teen movie garbage that's been released since this was.

"It would not be tonight..."

One of my favorite films of the 80’s tends to get overlooked in it’s category of “teen movie” since the cast didn’t include any of the members of the brat-pack and John Cusack is known for very little besides holding a boom box over his head during the 80’s. “The Sure Thing” is a about Walter “Gib” Gibson’s journey to California for winter break to visit a buddy who promises him a “no strings attached, sure-thing.” This promise seems to appeal to most teenage males on some level or another.

He ends up sharing a ride with a lovely couple who are extremely peppy and sing show tunes constantly, and a member of his English class Alison who is visiting her boyfriend. Quickly we learn that Gib and Alison are not fond of each other, as they are constantly fighting. Needless to say Gib secures their fate when he gets them kicked out of the car and they are forced to hitch hike.

In a series of events that are similar to what takes place in the film “It happened one night” they begin to fight less and less and eventually you see their feelings soften for one another, just in time to reach California. When Alison and Gib are thrown back into reality they struggle with the fact that they may actually have feelings for one another. Alison’s boyfriend Jason is no longer as perfect as he once appeared on paper, and Gib finds the “sure thing” a bit unsatisfying. They return to their New England College separately.

Back at school the English professor exposes the truth that Gib hadn’t slept with his “sure thing.” While in the moment she had asked, “do you love me?” He realized he didn’t, and couldn’t lie to her. The ethical egoist would have lied to her, to get what he wanted. Matthew Broderick was also up for the role of Gib, yet Rob Reiner didn’t want the character of Gib to feel like Ferris Bueller. I think if Broderick had won the role we would have seen Gib more as a manipulator than as someone who truly would rather have the “real thing” instead of a “sure thing.”

Back to the Future, Part I

Last night, I thought I would take a look at the sci-fi flick Back to the Future. I had only seen bits and pieces of this movie previously, and I was not disappointed. It is funny, original, exciting, and yes, a little "out there." The visual effects are good, keeping in mind that it was made in 1985. The story follows Marty McFly, who accidentally goes back in time to 1955; while he is there, he interferes with his parent's first meeting, therefore endangering his own existence, as well as his sister's and brother's.

One of the most interesting plot lines within the film was the interactions between Biff Tanner and George McFly. Biff is the typical bully, always making fun of George, making him do his homework, taking his money, basically making him look like an idiot in front of everyone. When we first see Biff and George, it is in 1985; they are both adults, but Biff is still pushing him around. Biff borrowed George's car and totaled it, yet he is blaming it on George, saying it had a "blind spot." Then he yells at George, asking him where his report for work is. He says he must have time to copy it again so it's not in his writing. We find out later that Biff is actually George's boss. Some boss, making you do his work! The interesting part of their interactions occurs at the end of the movie, when Marty has come back to 1985, after having fixed what he screwed up in 1955. In doing so, George has stood up to Biff and won Lorraine's love (Marty's mother). Now, we see Biff waxing George's car; George is no longer a pushover and in fact, he has written a book. What I noticed about this different dynamic is that now both of these people are benefiting. Biff owns his own company (we see his name on the side of his truck), he is now independent and doesn't rely on George to do his work. George is now a published author and is able to stand up for himself and not get pushed around.

One of the most important ideas to take away from this movie is to not let people take advantage of you. Goldie, the mayor of the town in the film, says it best with this quote: "Have some respect for yourself. Don't you know if you let people walk over you now, they'll be walking over you for the rest of your life!" I think that says it all.

Check out the trailer here: