Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Uninvited

The brother directing team of Charles and Thomas Guard delivered a well-done and finely paced thriller. I use thriller specifically because of the ending that was perfectly executed and revealed itself quite nicely. I went in to this expecting another J-Horror remake and got something back better and much more interesting. Emily Browning, of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, returns to the horror genre with a great performance in this sophomore effort - her first was as young Caitlin Greene in Darkness Falls. Arielle Kebbel, last seen in The Grudge 2, and Elizabeth Banks, who starred in Slither, round out the female cast and deserve kudos on their performances as well.

Click here to check out the official website.


Liam Neeson seems to be done with voice over work for Aslan and can now be seen back on the big screen where he belongs in another Luc Besson scripted French thriller. Bryan Mills must save his estranged daughter Kim, played by Maggie Grace, when she is kidnapped while vacationing in France with only the cellphone recording of his last conversation with her as she is being kidnapped to work from. A smart and simple film filled with realistic action and efficient stunt work giving Liam his best action sequences ever on film. Other cast notables are Famke Jensen and Xander Berkeley as Bryan's ex-wife and her new husband. Let's hope the next films in the Neeson pipeline are just as good as this one.

Click here to check out the official website.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Underworld is back with this prequel that delivers the genesis of the feud between the Vampires and their Lycan slaves. The original cast, which included Bill Nighy as Victor, Michael Sheen as Lucian, and Kevin Grevioux as Raze, are joined by genre beauty Rhona Mitra as Sonja, Victor's daughter and Lucian's lover. The movie was exactly what I expected because I had seen the previous two films unlike most of the friends I went with to see this new installment. I have to agree with their perspective that it was hard to follow the key plot points without them having seen the previous two films. Either way, I enjoyed the film thoroughly and wonder how the franchise can keep going forward.

Click here to check out the official website

Saturday, January 17, 2009


This year's bio-pic is the rise and death of East Coast rapper Christopher "Biggie" Wallace. First time actor Jamal Woolard is incredibly cast as the charismatic rapper with Derek Luke filling in the shoes of his producer and friend, Sean "Puffy" Combs. The story is well known to most of us and goes in to the ridiculousness of the East Coast / West Coast feud. I was always a bigger fan of Tupac because of his film work versus his rapping but I enjoyed both artists' music equally. Finally, it is great to see a big man get the hot women - Lil' Kim and Faith Evans - yummy!

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My Bloody Valentiine 3D

Our latest 1980's remake gets the full 3D treatment and brings with it the classic 1980's R-rated staples of bloody gore and full-frontal female nudity. If you stripped away the 3D element, you would still have a pretty decent film despite the CGI blood elements. The highlight of my film experience today were the antics in the crowd versus the images on the screen. Why must my horror films always be disrupted by some self-entitled idiot who thinks because they paid their $10.50 that they get to disrupt everyone's movie going experience by continually dropping the f-bomb, talking to the screen, and letting everyone in the audience in on the intimate details of their lives in the loudest way possible? My consolation was delighting in watching the individual finally get removed from the theater by the local police to joyous and rapturous cheers from my fellow audience members - awesome!

Click here to check out the official website.

Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood is back on the screen in time for Oscar season with a great little film where a war-hardened survivor of the Korean War comes to terms with his neighborhood matriculating with the very same people he fought against in the war. Eastwood is the understood master of the "effortless film". The Eastwood regulars are not in the cast this time out and the movie is all the better for it. Everyone is talking about Eastwood making a good showing at this year's Oscars but I think the other contenders will do better. An Eastwood film is always a must see and the curmudgeon does not disappoint on any level.

Click here to check out the official website.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Wrestler

I have to agree with all of the critics and say that Mickey Rourke is absolutely fabulous as Randy "The Ram" Robinson and the movie brought back all the memories I had of watching wrestling at the local fire station on Saturday nights on TBS before there was a WWE, TNT or WWF. This movie feels like a documentary, or a home movie, of The Ram's life and no acting was involved except for the antics and stagecraft within the ring. Darren Aronofsky is known for his heady and cult fan films, like The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream and Pi, and this new film really shows he is a master story teller who can tell any type of story. Mickey Rourke has been on a comeback with roles in Man on Fire, Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City but this is a breakthrough performance like no other in his career and I hope he does win for Best Actor this year at the Oscars. Sorry Clint but I have to go for the underdog this year and bet on the 'old beat up piece of meat".

click here to check out the official website.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: Autopsy

This was the last film of this year's Horrorfest for me and it was a blast with a slew of genre actors, bloody gore, and hilarious moments. I am surprised this did not get a larger release beyond Horrorfest with Robert Patrick, Jenette Goldstein, Michael Bowen and Robert LaSardo as our murderous hospital staff and sole survivor Jessica Lowndes, who was great previously in Tobe Hooper's Dance of the Dead episode for Masters of Horror. Adam Giersch has a long list of writing credits in the horror genre and has made the freshman leap to director with a fine film that many a late night renter will be enjoying soon. The opening montage with the kick-ass music let me know that this movie was going to be a fun romp for the next ninety minutes. A definite addition to my personal horror collection when the After Dark Films eight-pack hits the shelves by spring.

There was no official website at the time of this posting.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: Perkin's 14

This film did not make the line up at the theaters where I am seeing Horrorfest this year. So instead of a review of this film, I am going to vent on the complete mismanagement of Horrorfest this year by After Dark Films and Phoenix Theaters Union Station 9. So this is going to be more than five sentences.

After Dark Films, what the hell is up? You set up a website and an emailing list so your loyal fans could get updates on this year's films but did not deliver. The only email updates I got was that email updates would be coming. Really now? The website has sections that are not even completed and have coming soon still posted. Hello! Horrorfest started on Friday! What good is the site after the fact? Also, last year a weekend pass was issued so that fans could buy it in advance to see all of the films at their local theater with a cool t-shirt and swag. This, year I had to buy each move ticket on its own and no ticketing information was ever posted on the site. What happened to the theaters? The list just dropped in the number of locations with no explanation. I will have to assume you could not get your list of films together so you would have a full line up to show and that is why I am not seeing Perkins' 14. And who had the retarded idea of pushing the fest in to the next year during the Oscar film screening sweet spot? It seems you went out of your way to upset fans and derail the event that we have come to love.

Phoenix Theaters Union Station 9! Holy crap! The theater is a dump even if it has new leather seats. The films where mostly out of focus and would jump off the screen at least once at most showings. The ticket takers had no idea what the show times were and could not even answer what films were showing. I really enjoyed watching the mice running back and forth across the floor and in between unsuspecting patrons feet in front of me. But nothing beats the drunken homeless man who kept wondering in and out of the theater mumbling and cursing as he stumbled in and out of seats to find a warm place to nap.

Please get your act together if you hope at all to have another Horrorfest. As much as I love gong to the theater to see this each year, I will never go back to Phoenix Theaters Union Station 9 after the final film is shown this Sunday.

Your adamant and dejected fan!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: slaughter

Pending my viewing of Autopsy tomorrow night, I have to say this is the best film of this year's Horrorfest. I say this even though the second to last reel of the film was missing. This is a smart and well done slasher that has all of the classic elements you expect but throws you a well-plotted and character-driven change up that lifts this above regular slasher fare. Stewart Hopewell hit his freshmen effort out of the park and will be one of the new writer/directors to watch over the years. If you cannot see this as part of Horrofest, definitely add it to your NetFlix's queue or pick it up from you local video store.

There was no official website at the time of this posting.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: Voices aka Du Saram-Yida

So this really is our J-Horror film this year even though it is actually from Korea. Instead of the usual wet, long haired, creepy ghost we have a curse that feeds on jealousy and murder. There were no shocks in the film for me because I am foundered on this formula and the plot twists were expected. In essence everyone dies violently and the cycle keeps on going. Stick with Ju-on or The Grudge to see a better film executed well.

The official Korean website is no longer available.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: The Broken

This is our second film to star an actor from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This film expands on the doppelganger motif to a point that would make Peter Straub proud. The film is slow paced but well done and appears to be this year's good ghost story without ghosts - go figure. Lena Headey is joined on screen with character actor favorite, Richard Jenkins, who appeared in the films Wolf and The Witches of Eastwick. Hopefully this film will get a limited art house release which it deserves.

Click here to check out the official website.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

The Unborn

As a little appetizer for my second day of Horrorfest, this was very disappointing. I see why all the ads touted a film written and directed by David S. Goyer who brought us The Dark Knight because there is nothing that helps this stand on its own. Even drafting in Gary Oldman can not help this rather boring and unsurprising exorcism flick. Odette Yustman is cute hanging out in her Hanes but this just does not make up for a serious lack of scares and armrest griping. Even the weakest of the Horrorfest films is better than this.

Click here to check out the official website.

Friday, January 9, 2009

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: Butterfly Effect: Revelation

The next install of The Butterfly Effect franchise launched by Aston Kutcher back in 2004 ends the first night of Horrorfest. Rachel Minor, who starred in the previous Horrorfest films Tooth & Nail and Penny Dreadful, is back as the sister of our time shifter who is trying to catch a serial killer. The film almost worked for me until the ridiculous "love obsession" is revealed and makes everyone laugh out loud in the theater. Bad plot choice but Rachael Minor is definitely a young horror actress on the rise. On the plus side, the adolescent side of me revealed in the 80's style nudity that gave us the much missed R-movie staple of "bush" on the screen - no partial here.

There was no official website at the time of this posting.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: From Within

By the poster, I thought this would be our first J-Horror picture of Horrorfest but it is as American-made as can be. The residents of this questionably fanatical, religious, small American town are suffering from a severe case of contagious suicide due to a curse placed on the town by vengeful children of a local women burned to death for being a witch. There are plenty of genre favorites in this picture like Adam Goldberg, Jared Harris and Thomas Dekker, star of the current SciFi TV series, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. The highlight for me was seeing that little Rumer Willis, from Striptease, has grown up to be a horror star like here mother. Does any one remember the 1982 3-D classic, Parasite?

Click here to check out the official website.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

After Dark Horrorfest - 8 Films To Die For III: Dying Breed

Here is our first film of Horrorfest and it brings us Australian cannibals, incest, meat pies and the search for a missing sibling or rare tiger. Leigh Whannell, from the new franchise Saw, co-stars in this lovely romp through the backwoods of Tasmania with a local legend to fuel the carnivorous fun. The gore was ok, the partial nudity acceptable, and the Cannibals much more engaging then in disasters like Wrong Turn. A plus for this film is that the "hikers" in the woods are realistic and not as stereotyped as you would expect. A good first film to start Horrorfest this year.

Click here to check out the official website.

Click here to get up to speed on Horrorfest.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Indy filmmaker extraordinaire, Danny Boyle, brings us the story of Jamal, the winner of the India version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire,who overcomes his Job-like trials to finally get the girl and transcend his impoverished upbringing. This movie is great! Several friends of mine have been recommending this one to me for awhile now and, since I am a huge fan of 28 Days Later and Trainspotting, I had to make time to see this one. As gritty and dirty as the film is in showing the slums of Mumbai where Jamal and his fellow musketeers live, the cinematography is amazing and delivers a beautiful film that jumps off of the screen and draws you in. This film deserves Oscar love from the Academy and you would be remiss to not go a see this fine a soon as possible.

Click here to check out the official website.


Bryan Singer is back with this latest Tom Cruise starring vehicle based on a true story of the German military and politicians plotting to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Tom and his British supporting cast do excellent jobs of portraying sympathetic Germans but the lack of German accents seems out of place. The action and plotting do offset this linguistic misstep and does keep the viewer engaged until the demise. With Kenneth Branagh, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Terrance Stamp and Eddie Izzard as your fellow conspirators, what English actors where left to cast in this film? A good film and a refreshing reprieve to see Germans opposed to Nazism, the SS and Hitler who try to save their homeland from itself.

Click here to check out the official website.