Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Review: Warm Bodies

Jonathan (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) Levine’s Warm Bodies is based on a Young Adult novel. Who the hell cares? If you write this flick off as tweeny bopper Twilight fare, you will be missing out on one hell of a movie. This is not a send up. This is not some watered-down zombie version of The Notebook. Whatever misconception you probably have, this is not it. Bodies, like Shaun of the Dead, is a Zom-Rom-Com with a very beating heart.
Nicholas (About a Boy) Hoult stars as R, a Corpse that wants to do more than just mill around an old airport, eating brains. R’s narration is a key source for the comedy as well. Without being a parody, he touches on all the normal traits of a zombie film. He has no idea what happened, what caused this apocalypse or why he is what he is. He shares meaningful grunts and awkward stares with his “best friend” zombie Rob (Hot Tub Time Machine) Cordry. He explains why they roam around in packs (everyone and their grandmother is always trying to shoot them in the head) and he is fully aware of how ridiculously long it’s going to take their horde to get anywhere, rambling as slow as they do.

The humans, Theresa (Take Me Home Tonight) Palmer, Dave (James’ brother) Franco, Analeigh (America’s Next Top Model) Tipton and John (duh, he’s John Malkovich) Malkovich, are all excellent in their roles as well, living behind their Escape from New York style wall, venturing out only for supplies. It’s on one of these supply runs that R encounters Julie (Palmer). Get it. R. Julie. Romeo and Juliet. Cliché maybe, but don’t worry about that. It’s not very heavy handed, and takes nothing away, in my opinion.

R is instantly under Julie’s humanly thrall, so he saves her. And takes her back to the airplane in which he 'lives'. They listen to records. Good time for a sidebar: The soundtrack is stellar. It’s a good mix of current stuff (Feist), 80s tunes (John Waite) and jams that fit their scenes perfectly (Bruce Springsteen). Since there is no officially released CD/MP3 version of the soundtrack, check out this site for a complete listing, and make your own soundtrack. It’s interesting to me that the dead guy is obsessed with a dead format. A dead format that, as of recently, is coming back to life. The living girls listen to music on their iPods.

Hoult is excellent. Aside from the narration, he has to express himself primarily with facial expressions and movement. And grunts and eventual monosyllabic speech. The entire cast, which is really only six, does a great job with their respective characters.

It’s hard to refrain from gushing, because it really has been a long time since I’ve seen a zombie film—or a romantic comedy—that I enjoyed as much as Warm Bodies. Every negative post I see online or every Facebook status update that derides this movie, assuming it’s just for the Team Edward crowd, bums me out. It’s clear Levine (and I assume novelist Isaac Marion?) really knows his undead. And loves the rotting bastards. That love is infectious. And really, infectious love is the point of this movie.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: The Victim (2011)

Michael Biehn makes his directorial debut with The Victim, in which he stars alongside his real-life wife, Jennifer (Wheel Chair girl from the “Teen Line” episode of Saved by the Bell) Blanc and her BFF Danielle (Halloween franchise) Harris. Biehn plays Kyle (Reese?), a reclusive backwoods hermit with a mysterious past. Blanc and Harris are exotic dancers, Annie and Mary, respectively, that like to party in the woods and score coke from cops. After one of the cops kills Mary, Annie flees for her life and shows up banging on Kyle’s door (too bad he did not say “Come with me if you want live” when he opens the door, right!) From there the two talk, argue, sex, hatch plans, fight cops, run around, and everything else that one might do when being chased by murderous cops in the woods.

The film is somewhat thin; there’s the Kyle/Annie versus the cops plot in the forefront, and a lot of flashback filling in gaps regarding a bunch of missing girls in the area (one of the missing girls is “played” by J.C. Brandy, who took over Harris’ Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 6). It’s enjoyable, though. Unfortunately, I think the film may have been a smidge more fun for us, having just recently met all three involved at a horror con. Jennifer Blanc, particularly, was extremely awesome and we snapped many pics of her holding our then four-month-old little boy, who she adored—which made Biehn kinda uncomfortable, I think. Heh.

The twists that are promised on the back of the DVD box don’t really ever happen, and questions are left unanswered. Watching the film, I can’t help but wonder how it all works out with a husband directing his wife in sex scenes with other dudes. Seems weird to me. And regardless of Harris’ nudity in Rob Zombie’s Halloween, it’s still a little unsettling to see little Jamie Lloyd in adult situations…and that is what most of her scenes comprise in this flick.

Despite its flaws, The Victim is certainly worth watching. It’s entertaining enough, and its evident the folks behind it put their hearts into it, which immediately sets it apart from the many DTV flicks that come out and are clear cash grabs or just simply halfheartedly produced. Now it’s time to wait for Danielle Harris’ film Among Friends, which also stars Jennifer Blanc, to hit disc or VOD.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Your Party Clown Has Arrived

Bozo. Shakes. Pennywise. Clown Dog. Grimm. Vulgar. The annals of clowndom are filled with psychos, sad sacks, and killers from outer space. Mumbles, the anti-hero of the short No Clowning Around, falls somewhere between Shakes and Vulgar. He drinks hard, curses, dates junkies, pals around with foul mouthed Muppets and generally creates chaos wherever he goes. He doesn't take his job as a clown seriously, but he takes being a clown very seriously.

The film has a Clerks vibe throughout, which is a plus in my book. A fella in a thankless job, wanting more out of life, but not quite badly enough to actually do anything about it.

Mumbles reaches his breaking point, though, when his girlfriend Trixie ODs. Through flashback we are introduced to Lenny, a big dude that on a previous occasion beat the hell out of Trixie. Mumbles packs Trixie's body in his car and, along with his puppet friend, heads to Lenny's (who is presently preparing a grilled cheese) to dole out his revenge. In a scene after the Chiodo Brothers' own hearts, Mumbles disembowels Lenny and makes balloon animals with his intestines.

Set to an excellent little score by Burn the Darkness, No Clowning Around offers a peek into the mind of a clown who has given up on life, and whose depression is manifesting in the form of a little puppet dude. In the 30-minute running time, we get a nice glimpse into his world (enough to know it's a messy one we don't want to live in), but maybe with a little funding and a full-length feature, we could get to know him better. Rob Dimension stars as Mumbles as well co-directs with Matthew Burd. Bonus: this screener had a fun little gag reel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back from the Dead...

Greetings.  We've been absent from the blogging scene for a bit -- but with good reason.  That reason being this...

MiloMeet Milo.  He's the little 6-month-old monster who has been occupying quite a bit of our time recently.  And we're not complaining!  He's a cuddly bundle of snot, poo, giggles and joy.  He's Baby Popcorn -- he's even been to two horror cons (not counting the ones he went to while in the womb).

With that being said -- we're getting back into the blogging game.  Lists.  Reviews.  The works.  We've been more active on Twitter these past few months -- and as we settle into our new Milo Mayhem (I wish that was actually his middle name) routine, we're getting back into the groove of all things.  Bloody Popcorn included.  Hell, we've even gone to the movies a few times -- thanks to our babysitting tag team of Granny O & Auntie J.

Be in touch soon, friends :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Sweet Suck: A Thanksgiving Story

Last night, Joanna and I watched a duo of flicks with Thanksgiving as the backdrop. The first was the annual standard Home for the Holidays. The second was a movie that I had been wanting to see for years, and of which I was finally able to procure a copy over the summer (thank you VHS Preservation Society): the 1981 slasher Home Sweet Home. I didn’t know anything other than it was a slasher that took place at Thanksgiving.

The tagline makes no sense, as only one character is named Bradley
 The movie starts out by disregarding the then-standard of slasher cinema by showing us the killer. No mask, no mystery (and no connection to the victims and no motive—not even a flimsy one—but that part didn’t bother me). So we see a beefy, Lou Ferrigno-type guy in a skintight shirt kill some dude and take his station wagon. He then runs down an old lady crossing the street, and proceeds to drive out to the country where a wannabe record exec guy (played by Don Edmonds, director of the Ilsa movies) is throwing a California-style Thanksgiving gathering for his friends (also present are his son Mistake, a rock-and-roll-obsessed-but-looks-more-like-a-mime-than-KISS amateur magician and his daughter Angel, played by a very young Vinessa Shaw).

The first half hour or so of the film is enjoyable, but in a bad way. It’s entertaining to watch the stereotypical bad acting, the flimsy plot and the absurd set-up and characterization going on. After everything is in place, though, the movie is just boring as hell for the final hour. The kills certainly are not very inventive. You don’t care one way or the other about a single character. And again, the killer looks like Lou Ferrigno.

Suffice it to say, we will not likely be making this flick a November tradition. But still, in my never ending quest to see every 80s slasher ever made…at least I get to scratch one off the list. Other films we may be thankful for this month include the Parker Posey-starring The House of Yes, the hour-long, turkey-slasher mini-epic Thankskilling (this movie is actually pretty fun if you go not expecting anything other than a turkey killing kids and dishing out one-liners), and the Pauly Shore classic Son-in-Law. Just killing time until we can sink our teeth into the many and varied Christmas flicks we watch every December.

Preview of next month:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Johnny's Top 10 Genre Movies of the 1980s!

In wanting to do decade-themed top 10 lists, I should probably go in chronological order, but it seems appropriate to start with the decade I grew up with, the one in which I developed my love for all things horror, sci-fi and weird. This list will be genre-centric, so even though movies like Thrashin’, Gleaming the Cube and Rad! are counted among some of my favorite movies ever, they won’t be included here.  Here are my faves of the Reagan era, in my best attempt at putting them in descending order:

10. Howard the Duck- Scoff all you want. I fucking love this movie. I loved it the first time I rented the VHS as an 8- or 9-year-old kid, and I fucking love it now on the fairly-recently-released DVD. I can kinda see, I guess, why a lot of people don’t care for it….it is pretty fucking ridiculous. But damn, if it isn’t the most charming kind of ridiculous there is. This flick will forever remain the definitive Lea Thompson-making-out-with-a-duck movie in my eyes.

 9. The Empire Strikes Back- Pretty obvious and standard. Not really much to say here, other than that there are those who prefer Jedi and those who prefer Empire. I have always been part of the latter.

8. Return of the Living Dead 2- I hear people speak ill of this movie all the time (though I did meet a guy once about 5 years ago that had the RotLD 2 VHS cover tattooed on his forearm--that guy is ok in my book), but I can never understand why. Obviously, the first RotLD is hard to match, but in my mind, this sequel has always come close, if not surpassed the original. And in a crunch, I usually watch part 2 instead. While I love a good zombié verité picture as much as the next fella, hordes of walking dead have always suited the campier side of film much better to me. In a post-Shaun of the Dead world, where zombedies are a dime a dozen, I think the idea was much more novel in the 80s.

The Legendary Bob
7. Dead Dudes in the House- This may seem a strange entry. But in my world, it makes so much sense. My brother, my sister and I caught this on Cinemax or whatever in 1989, and had the foresight to tape it, as well. I cannot tell you how many times we watched this movie after that. We all three knew it by heart, so much so that we would reenact it with GI Joes, line for line. In case you haven’t seen this Troma-distributed gem, a group of would-be partying kids move into a house where decades ago an old woman stabbed her daughter to death. The kids break the woman’s tombstone--which is planted in the front yard--awakening the murderous elder. The old woman, who is actually played by one of the male kids in heavy makeup--then makes quick work of the kids. Most of the actors and the director have very, very short filmographies (although Bob seems to have been in quite a bit of stuff in the past 10 years--including an episode of Fringe, which I watch, and never even noticed!!!). In short, watch this, if you haven’t. It’s just a damn fun, cheap-as-hell picture.

6. Toxic Avenger- It was hard to choose just one Troma-produced movie. TA and its sequels, along with Class of Nuke ’Em High and its sequels, could easily take up this entire list. I have so much respect for Lloyd Kaufman, and he numbers among the few genre celebs that I would really, REALLY love to meet one day. But at the end of the day, I’ve got to go with the one that started it all. What I can I say? I love the monster hero.

5. Rock N’ Roll Nightmare- I am a sucker (A SUCKER!) for rock n’ roll or metal-themed horror movies (or non-horror rn’r movies in general, really--see ext entry). I love Black Roses, Trick or Treat, Monster Dog, Dead Girls and to a lesser extent Hard Rock Zombies (actually, I didn’t really care for HRZ that much…I would’ve preferred if they actually played hard rock, instead of the AOR type stuff that was actually in the movie). I even really enjoyed the recent Suck. But the crown ruler of rn’r movies for me is the one starring heavy metal god Thor and his band The Tritonz. Tune your fucking weapons and rock and roll with crappy demon puppets, shitty dialog and laughable SFX (and I mean that all in the very best of ways).

4. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure- It counts.

3. The Lost Boys (also tied with Evil Dead and Evil Dead II--we’re gonna need a bigger list)- Ask my wife, and she will tell you about the weird crush I have on Messrs. Feldman and Haim. And it is a tough call for me between LB and the Coreys’ 1989 masterpiece Dream A Little Dream (which totally counts). In the end, though, the vampire classic among vampire classics just edges the body-swapping Dream out of the race. I also really loved BOTH LB sequels. Necessary? No. Fun? Hell yes. R.I.P. Corey Haim.

2. The Monster Squad- This was my The Goonies. I watched and loved The Goonies just like any other kid growing up in the 80s. But MS was my shit. I watched this movie so many fucking times. I remember seeing TV spots for it when it was coming to theaters. In those days it seemed like eons before a theatrical movie would hit VHS. And I cannot express the giddiness I felt as a young boy when I finally got to rent this movie. And I rented it a lot. A lot. I was so bummed to hear in the DVD commentary that Fat Kid had died in the 90s. R.I.P. Fat Kid.

1. Nightmare on Elm Street (either parts 1, 3 or 4)- When choosing a favorite Nightmare, it usually just boils down to what day of the week it is. I love ‘em all (New Nightmare and FvJ included). Of course the first is a classic. The third was the one that introduced me to the series. The fourth has just always been a personal fave (I love Rick and his kickboxing scenes to “Anything, Anything”. Freddy will always be the ultimate Movie Maniac in my book (speaking of books, I am currently reading Robert Englund’s Hollywood Monster, which Joanna got for me for Christmas--signed at that--and it is so much fun). The entire NoES series will always be number one on my all-time favorites list.

Rick, You Little Meatball
And a P.S.: Making this list is actually pretty impossible.  As soon as I was done I remembered like 15 movies I should've included, like Escape From New York.  So this is the top 10 off the top of my head!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Awesome Christmas Comics

One thing I love is Christmas comics (I also love Halloween comics, but never got around to typing about them this past October).  Of course there are many, many more, what with all the various company-wide specials published through the years, but these are the ones that always really stand out in my mind this time of year.  Without too much sentimentality, here are some Holiday comics I dig:

Clerks Holiday Special- I really wish Kevin Smith would do an animated Holiday Special to go along with this excellent comic. It’s Christmas in in the tri-town area, and where else would Dante and Randall find themselves, but the Quick Stop and RST Video, respectively. Randall discovers a door between the two stores that leads to Santa’s workshop, while Dante plans to visit a catatonic Caitlin Bree, who has been institutionalized ever since she fucked a dead guy in the Quick Stop bathroom. All’s well that ends well, and, well…this ends with Dante stuffing Caitlin’s stocking with one of those oversized candy canes.

Batgirl Adventures- Babs has a little Christmas fun with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

Battle Pope: Christmas Popetacular- Before The Walking Dead, before Invincible, Robert Kirkman cut his comic book teeth on a little self-published black-and-white called Battle Pope. Probably the best issue of the way-too-short series was the Christmas special. Pope bangs the Virgin Mary. Jesus throws down against Santa over the true meaning of Christmas. And, yeah, I did say that Pope goes at it with Mary, right? Certainly not a book for those who prefer the more sentimental side of the Holidays. But fun as hell, regardless.

Jingle Belle- Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle is Santa’s teenage daughter, and has been the star of a host of one-shots and minis (many of them Christmas-themed, obviously, but some of them not).

"Twas the fight before Christmas..."
Batman: The Long Halloween #3- This one isn’t really one to read on its own…but of course the Christmas installment of one of the best Bat-books written should be on this list.

JLA #60- It’s been a while since I’ve read this issue, but I remember enjoying it a lot when it came out nine years ago. Apparently Santa is a leaguer.

And lastly, a book I am looking forward to reading:

Santa Claus Versus the Martians- Apparently delayed until next Christmas, this book, published by Image, looks to be a fun slice of yuletide lunacy.