January 31, 2013

How to make your own Django figure

Can't afford an overpriced NECA Django doll from greedy Amazon sellers? No? I'm not surprised. You'd have to be mental to pay over $300 for a piece of plastic which doesn't even look like Jamie Foxx and will be left to rot in its box. Anyone who is willing to spend $1700 on one should definitely seek medical help. $1700 is absolutely ridiculous!

Instead, why not use an old Palitoy Action Man "Tom Stone" figure (or, preferably, the 1974 GI Joe equivalent with a beard) and dress him up as a cowboy? Yeah, you know it makes sense.

Tom Stone kicks ass!

You will need:

1. A naked Tom Stone. (Note: I keep all my Action Men naked for reasons that you don't need to know about!) If you can't find one, search eBay for "African American GI Joe". You should be able to get one for less than $20 (or under $10 naked).

2. A vintage Action Man (or Geyper Man) Cowboy outfit from eBay. Expect to pay between $15-30 for it. You can also buy the individual items of loose cowboy clothing. Look for a jacket to replace the leather waistcoat with too. I recommend a green army jacket or the secret agent trench coat (slightly trimmed and dyed) to make your Django closer to the film version. His scarf can come from a standard Action Man soldier. Be aware that there's no whip in the Geyper Man pack (it was replaced with a rope and canteen).

3. Optional: An Action Man horse (which is hard to find with all its legs intact!). You don't really need one as the NECA figure doesn't have a horse anyway.


Simply dress your Tom Stone in the cowboy outfit.

I don't have one to show you because I'm thousands of miles away from my toy collection, so you'll just have imagine how he will look based on the picture below.

Eagle-eyed Action Man's head is obviously too big for his hat.

Although detractors will say that Tom Stone looks even less like Jamie Foxx as Django than the NECA Django figure, bear in mind that your Django will actually have a scar on his cheek. If you are a bit artistic, you can use a craft knife to shape it into a lowercase "r" for added authenticity.

Plus—and this is the big selling point—you will even get a whip with it! Oh yes, you can relive that epic scene where Django turns the tables on the bad guy and gives him a damned good thrashing!

Note: I don't know if the blue suit from the Trendmasters Austin Powers doll will fit an Action Man, but you can always try it.

Girls may also like to dress a black Barbie doll up in a maid's outfit to represent Broomhilda. I would illustrate how to do that, but the thought of Kerry Washington in a skimpy French maid's outfit (which is the only one I found on Google images) is something which I'd rather keep in my own sordid imagination.

January 30, 2013

Ten Things People Do on the Internet Which Need a Reality Check and Other Follies

It's been a funny old week for me on the internet (and in real life) so I thought I'd share a few random things which have been amusing me. With this nasty, rainy weather outside, we could all do with a bit of cheering up, right? Just leave it to me to spread more mirth, merriment and downright hatred with yet another controversial blog post. Enjoy!

1. Capitalising Every Letter At The Start Of A Blog Post Even When It Doesn't Work Grammatically.

Don't you just hate that? The rule has always been that the words "and", "to", "from", "or", "nor", "the", "an", "a", etc. in the middle of a heading are supposed to begin with lower case letters not upper case ones. I suppose it's better than PeOpLe wHo TyPe lIkE tHiS but not by much.

I also loathe really long blog post titles which take up half my Blogroll. Seriously, if you want to title your post "All the things I did on holiday in Marbella where I went with my mum and dad who got sunburnt and stayed in a chalet by the beach", get a grip!

Don't even get me started on the people who think it's really clever to title their blogs as "[center]Horror Movie Reviews | Games | Books | Music | All things about zombies | Little Cakes | Wicca | Furry Things | Bronies | Horror Rules Okay![/center]" I spend ages deleting all that crap from my Blogroll and then retitling everyone's blogs with all the spelling mistakes and non-functional HTML tags fixed anyway.

2. I'll teach you a lesson, I'll unfollow you... so there!

This one has to be the funniest trend on all the social networks and even Blogger (which is just a glorified MySpace after all).

Over the years, I think I've been unfollowed by as many people as have followed me, and I've unfollowed probably four times that number myself just because I grew out of certain cliques or no longer shared the same interests as former "internet friends". I've blocked and ignored quite a few too. But, I can honestly say that I've never unfollowed someone out of a sense of "I'll show you how much I hate you by unfollowing you!"

How does that work exactly? You hate somebody so much that you unfollow them then continue to kite over their social networking profiles to see what they are saying so that you can whinge about it on your own status updates which the person in question doesn't even read?! Trust me, once I unfollow somebody, it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind". I couldn't care less if the unfollowed are calling me the next Adolf Hitler or worse on their own blogs for all the good that it will do them. I certainly don't lose any followers or sleep through it, and there have even been times when I've gained followers because of whingers whose readers got curious about who was being whinged about.

The same thing happens on message boards. Somebody gets the arse and thinks, "I'll leave the board and take my ball home with me so nobody else can play with it". It's petty, childish stuff, but the internet is full of petty childishness anyway. Fully grown adults are worse than real kids once allowed to hide behind the alleged safety of their keyboards.

3. The Django doll fiasco.

Have you seen the NECA Django dolls which are now banned from eBay for "racism" but are still being sold by greedy Amazon dealers for between $300-1700 each? How can a little plastic figure of a movie character be racist? Even given the nature of the movie, having watched it and reviewed it, I can't see how "Django" might encourage a return to slavery. Did any of the complainers even watch the film?

Who in their right mind complains about collectible dollies? Worse, who complains to the company trying to sell these things on the internet? What moron who ordered the stock would then withdraw the items and lose their investment? Give me a break! The only thing that's happened is that the price has been annoyingly jacked-up to extortionate levels, and some more popularity has been generated for Quentin Tarantino's movie.

Will six "action figures" (only two of which even look like the characters in the film) cause that much racism? It's not as if they come with branding irons and whips. My Broomhilda certainly didn't anyway, and I've had all her clothes off several times to check!

Banning toys won't make any difference to America's history, "white guilt", or the racism in America which is as bad today as it's always been. Doesn't Django end the film as a free man after having defeated slavery single-handedly? Or did I miss something?

This makes me wonder if Princess Leia slave girl dolls will be next in line for a banning? I hope not. I haven't bought one yet, but I have no desire to work like a slave just to be able to afford one in the future. B'dum tish!

4. The "Lamers of Horror" clique.

Have you noticed the different cliques (pronounced "cleeks" not "clicks", by the way) among horror bloggers? There are those of us with a mid-range number of GFC followers (350-450) who attract a certain more intellectual group of readers while there are others with well below 200 GFC followers who tend to attract those you can really only describe as "tasteless morons who would be better off hanging out with the scene kids on Tumblr". Of course, there are some new bloggers who simply haven't achieved any more followers in the short time they've been writing, but that's another story.

I've actually removed my Google Friend Connect widget because it doesn't fit in with how I want my blog to look, plus nobody has used it for the last year. It doesn't do what it was intended to, i.e. block undesirables, so it's a useless addition to anybody's blog if they aren't playing the popularity contest. If you must know, I ended up with 354 followers on it, but over half of them are now from dead Blogger accounts. Some people followed me then stopped writing a few months later but didn't remove their accounts. No, I know I get the blame for everything, but it wasn't my fault. Blogging simply isn't for everyone.

Anyway, I suppose you want to know about the "Lamers of Horror" clique. These are the horror bloggers who have been blogging on and off for the last three or four (or even five) years and still don't have over 200 followers. Some have less than half of that because, quite simply, they have no content on their blogs worth reading and spend all their time commenting other bloggers just to get follow/comment backs.

Their usual trick is to write "Great review!" on each other's blog posts even when the "review" isn't great or doesn't count as a review. Then the recipient is obliged to write something on the giver's latest hogwash containing more sycophantic nonsense. You'll see this quite often if you scan the comments sections of some of the poorer horror blogs out there. You'll also find it rife among fashion bloggers, photo bloggers, and any other "girlie" blogs. You won't see it on a blog like mine because I don't get a lot of that. I also periodically delete the old comments anyway.

The "Lamers of Horror" are mostly girls (or pretend girls) with maybe a few dozen infatuated guys in their clique. Naturally, they all follow each other. "Birds of a feather flock together" and all that jazz. The same avatars show up over and over again in their GFC widgets in almost the same order. Woe betide you if you annoy one of them because all their little buddies who share the same brain cell will instantly disappear from your GFC widget to "teach you a lesson". It's happened to me because I tend to piss off a lot of people. Do I care? Hell, no. Just be prepared for much laughter when it happens to you. Now you know what the phenomenon is, it's hilarious.

Another thing which highlights the "Lamers of Horror" is their appalling taste in horror movies. They invariably prefer "horror comedies" or "horror for kiddies" instead of anything with any grit to it. You won't find them praising the virtues of "The Human Centipede 2" or "A Serbian Film", but you will find them retreading the same tired old ground about "Beetlejuice", "Ghostbusters", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", or R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books. For some reason, I always imagine them all as looking like the "Ermagerd Gersebermps" girl but even less attractive.

"Lamers of Horror" also don't know how to write movie reviews. Perhaps they never learned how to do it in school or they are just lazy bloggers. Either way, what they do is retell the story in their own words then just add a couple of lines such as "It was a really great movie. I liked it a lot." Yeah, it makes you not want to live on this planet anymore, doesn't it?

If you find yourself caught up in the "Lamers of Horror" clique, just don't reply to them. It's more trouble than it's worth and will drag your own blog down. In the past, I've enjoyed pissing them off until they've left my GFC widget, but I'm sick and twisted that way.

5. Google Plus is shutting out people who like to use their screen names rather than real names.

This happened to me earlier this week when I got an email from Google+ telling me that their system didn't recognise "Dr Blood" as a valid name. I could either use my real name (which is hardly the internet's biggest secret but no longer leads to my blog since I've been writing under a pseudonym for the last ten years) or I could delete my account. I chose to delete my Google+ account. I never used it much and could barely understand it. All those circles and an interface that I couldn't make head nor tail of! Nope, not for me.

It was an absolute bugger trying to find the place to delete my Google+ account because they've hidden the link to do it so well. After (ironically) Googling to find out the answer, I got rid of the pointless thing once and for all while still keeping all the other Google goodies (such as this blog) intact. Be very careful what you choose to delete if you do the same thing because you might lose everything in one go.

This also brings me back to the GFC widget which Google have been phasing out ever since they removed it from third-party sites such as Wordpress early last year. Apparently, Google want everybody to use Google+ profiles for their blogs which lose all the information that you have on your Blogger ID profile. Don't do it! I did it and then had to put everything back. What a pain in the ass! There's a new "Google+ Followers" widget to replace the GFC, but it's never going to catch on. It does even less than the original GFC widget unless you want to broadcast all your fake friends to the world to make yourself look popular.

6. Little kids on the internet.

Why do parents let little kids around 10 or 11 years old use the internet? Do these kids really need porn at that age? What are they even doing on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and all the other social networking sites which used to demand that kids be at least 13 years old before they could sign up?

I'll tell you what they are doing: Trolling!

Have you ever seen the comments on YouTube (not on my account because I don't allow comments) full of swearing, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, run on sentences without punctuation, and kids stupid enough to announce their age at the end of them? Typical example: "Hey biatch u cn just kill urself cos lyke ur jelly bro... and u dont lyke anytang cos your stoopid and Imma 12." Jesus wept!

Take your goddamned kids off the internet! Give them a plastic bag and tell them to go play in the traffic or something! Or, I don't know, why not do something constructive like spend some time with them instead of using the internet as a babysitter?

7. Little kids at horror conventions.

LOL WUT? I heard about this on a friend of mine's podcast where a woman phoned-in to say that she was so disgusted by the in-fighting among horror cliques that she would no longer be taking her 8 and 11 year old children to horror conventions! GOOD!

Why would you take kids who aren't legally old enough to watch horror movies to an indoor fleamarket full of wannabe "suicide girls" and sweaty comicbook nerds who are all drinking straight from the bottle and swearing at each other anyway? This is as bad as parents who take their squalling brats into R-rated movies to disrupt the enjoyment of the movie for everyone else.

Keep your kids at home! And "in-fighting cliques", keep on doing it! It's funny!

8. People who get butthurt over movie reviews.

This makes me laugh my arse off (not literally or figuratively as that would require hospitalisation) because it's so stupid!

Unless you made the movie in question, invested your own money in it and stand to lose revenue from a bad review, you have no reason to get so emotionally attached to a product. Movies are just products designed to make money. That's why the "entertainment industry" is also called "show business" with the clue being in the second word.

If I buy a DVD or pay for a ticket to a movie which doesn't satisfy me, I'm going to rip that movie to shreds on my blog. I paid for the right to do so in the same way that if I bought a meal and didn't like the taste of it, I'm going to have something to say about that as well.

Being British, I'm not actually much of a complainer in restaurants or stores (I'm a rather pleasant customer actually, full of "pleases" and "thank yous", and I always leave a tip), but if somebody makes a crappy movie, what do you think I'm going to say about it?

Unlike the big name sell-out sites, I'm not here to promote anything (except when I've been paid to do so, in which case you'll be as surprised as I am!) and all my reviews are 100% what I really think of the films I watch. Although I try to be objective, of course personal taste plays a part which is why I despise "hobby horror" or "backyard epics". That doesn't mean that big-budget theatrical movies get a free pass either. I'm even harder on them because they have the budgets and experience behind them to be better.

I get a lot of hate behind the scenes (on the other side of the comments form) from complete idiots who you would think made the films themselves. I rarely hear from the directors or actors, but in the past, the ones who have contacted me have agreed that what I had to say about their work was fair. One even apologised because I didn't like his film. Yeah, I felt a little bit bad, but his film made me feel worse so I didn't have any remorse for long. Still, it was nice of him to visit.

So when I hate a crappy movie, don't shoot the messenger! I paid to see it, I gave it a fair chance, but it didn't work for one reason or another. You hate me because I hate a movie? Well, I hate you because you're a dumbass. Tit for tat, baby! Feel free to unfollow me for hating your favourite movie because that'll really teach me a lesson!

If people want me to stop hating movies, they need to make some better ones.

9. The number of followers/friends/likes popularity contest and jealousy.

Here's the thing, you can have a million followers on the social networks or your blog, but unless each one is sending you a dollar every month, what good does it do you?

As I said, I have 354 followers on here (maybe more who follow in other ways or invisibly), around 758 on Twitter (although it keeps changing up and down), 312 on Facebook, and various numbers on other sites. Do they all send me money? Nope. One did, once, but as a rule, no. I'm not that popular, but within my little circle of people who I chat to regularly, I suppose I am. I know some actors, directors, and musicians both in real life and online, but that doesn't entitle me to any financial reward or "basking in their reflected glory" either. I'm just a blogger who writes for a bit of fun. So why all the jealousy?

Obviously, if you are a movie star or a pop star, the chances are that you will have several million followers who can't wait to give you all their money for your next product, but that doesn't happen for movie reviewing leeches. Yes, that's what movie reviewers and critics are: LEECHES! We're the worst kind of journalists. We don't contribute anything, we just take and regurgitate. Even the news sites only copy each other with a few words changed here and there. No matter how original your writing is, if you are reviewing a movie, the chances are that somebody else is saying exactly the same things somewhere else but with better sentence construction and more snarky jokes.

Should that make us all jealous of someone who has better writing skills? Maybe. If that jealousy spurs us on to improve our own style, it's a good thing. But this negative, hating jealousness has to stop. So what if someone has 10,000 GFC followers? It just means that they were in the right place at the right time and play the game a bit better than others. Why hate them for it?

In some cases, popular critics and reviewers deserve a certain amount of hate for spreading misinformation and for selling-out. That's understandable. But you really need a reality check if you hate somebody for having a bigger number of "pretend friends" on the internet than you do. That's like hating someone for having more cows on Farmville.

10. Social networking is useless for bloggers.

How long do you spend on Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networks each day rather than writing content for your blog? Hours and hours, probably. Do you realise how much more you could achieve by ignoring them and just blogging? Let me tell you as a person who spends days at a time on Farmville, Angry Birds, and all the other apps, plus bullshitting on Twitter, it's a lot of wasted time.

The other problem with Facebook, Twitter and, especially, Tumblr is that they've become the virtual gated communities that AOL once was. For a while it was MySpace, then it was Proboards and vBulletin sites, but things are always changing. Once somebody is on those sites, you aren't going to pry them loose very easily to look at your blog. You'll read all sorts of crap about how you need to use social networking to improve your audience, but it's a lie.

I have a Facebook page, and apart from five people, I don't think any of them have looked at my blog once. Yes, just five actually clicked the links placed on there by the NetworkedBlogs app. The other 307 (or whatever) just like the silly jokes and pictures that I post so they have something to share with their friends. They aren't going to leave Facebook for a second because it's too much fun to read all their friends complaining about their lives on their own "walls" than come to a horror movie review blog.

Twitter is just as bad. Sometimes somebody will take a quick look at where a link heads, but most of the time they won't. Again it's far more fun for them to list the #tenbiggestthingsIcangetinmymouth or wittily talk to themselves with whatever other topic is trending than leave the comfort zone of that environment.

Outside of Facebook and Twitter is a big, scary internet full of more things than LOLcats and memes, but some people just aren't very adventurous. The only way to get traffic to your blog from social networks is to give things away (which lasts for as long as the giveaway does) or sell a product regularly. If the only thing you have to "sell" is a free piece of writing, nobody wants to know.

So forget the social networks and just concentrate on filling your blog with good content if you want more readers. Fairweather followers and pretend friends who you'll never meet in real life won't do you any good.

If you've enjoyed or agree with anything I've said above, let me know in the comments below. If you disagree, I couldn't care less so please keep it to yourself. Yes, I do only want to surround myself by people who think the same way that I do. I'd be a bloody fool if I chose to surround myself with enemies and haters, wouldn't I?

January 29, 2013

The Eurovision Song Contest 2013 is coming!

So far I've only picked three favourites (out of four), but it's still early days yet.

1. Zlata Ognevich - Gravity (Ukraine)

Fantastic, but she needs to get rid of her overloud backing singers.

2. Emmelie De Forest - Only Teardrops (Denmark)

A mixture of Shakira and The Cranberries perhaps?

3. Danica Muscat - Fantasy (Malta)

I'm not completely sold on this, but she's pretty like Martine McCutcheon used to be.

4. Alyona Lanskaya - Rhythm of Love (Belarus)

Catchy, very catchy. Probably won't win though.

Have you seen or heard anything that you like?

January 28, 2013

American Mary (2012)

"The story follows medical student, Mary Mason, as she becomes increasingly broke and disenchanted with the surgical world she once admired. The allure of easy money sends Mary into the world of underground surgeries which ends up leaving more marks on her than her so called 'freakish' clientele."

If you watch a lot of horror movies, you'll already know that originality is not their strong point. Even without the blatant ripoffs and clones, the homages and formulas have become de rigueur in the genre. Thus, it comes as no great surprise that Jen and Sylvia Soska's "American Mary", in spite of aiming to be more than a horror movie, is hardly the most original story either.

What lifts "American Mary" out of the ordinary is the fantastic performance by Katharine Isabelle who you'd be forgiven for thinking hasn't really done a lot apart from bit parts since "Ginger Snaps". Maybe it's because she refuses to get naked (which is a shame). As Mary Mason, she provides a multi-faceted character who adds more charisma than the Soska sisters could possibly have imagined in their hastily cobbled together screenplay. This isn't a dig at the Soska sisters, who are currently milking their 15 minutes of fame for all that it's worth (just as any of us would), but a statement of fact in praise of Katharine Isabelle's talents. If you hire such a beautiful actress and let her make the part her own, the task of creating a decent film is 90% done for you no matter how simple and derivative your story may be.

Mary Mason isn't the most likeable heroine though. She either has a mild form of Asperger's syndrome or she's a ruthless psychopath just waiting for something to set her off. Mary's narcissism is a huge indication of the latter. Arguably, the Soskas barely tried to write more into her since any attempts to view Mary as the empowered feminist horror icon of their promotional Q & A sessions are dashed by inconsistencies. As far as horror movie anti-heroes go, "Bloody Mary" certainly has a place alongside Patrick Bateman since both are victims even when they think they're winning, but to read any more into her than that would be silly. Maybe that's why the movie is called "American Mary". I'm still not sure about that detail though, and I've digressed.

A British horror-loving friend of mine on Twitter recently described "American Mary" as a lot of style over substance. Not being mean, but it's actually less than that if you deconstruct it. "American Mary" is a film which relies heavily on Katharine Isabelle's looks and some very neat props from MastersFX to distract the viewer from the competent yet rather ordinary camerawork and thinnest of rape-revenge plots. While it's all very stylish and sexy, the journey from A to B is as predictable as they come with more than a few nods to the movies which inspired it.

Without spoiling it too much for you, "American Mary" can be described as a hybrid of "Boxing Helena", "Hard Candy", "I Spit on Your Grave", the "Nip/Tuck" TV series, and dozens of grittier Hallmark channel movies. Specifically, if you've ever wondered what "Nip/Tuck" might have turned into with another season which focused on nothing but "extreme body modification", "American Mary" is the answer. It has to be said, however, that "Nip/Tuck" covered the same ground several times anyway with just as much blood and gore.

Canadians have always been great "copyists" when it comes to horror movies. As derogatory as it sounds, there's also a compliment buried in there. Even going back to "Ginger Snaps" (which is merely "The Wolf Man" with the genders and ages of the protagonists changed), there's never been a completely original idea from any of Canada's filmmakers except (perhaps) David Cronenberg. Ironically, "American Mary" owes a lot to Cronenberg, but not entirely in a good way. As someone who isn't the greatest fan of his work other than "The Fly" remake, I would call many of his "body horror" movies "style over substance" too.

Unlike David Cronenberg's early movies, "American Mary" looks great. Money clearly goes further when shooting in Vancouver with an ensemble cast of TV actors although (without knowing the exact figures) I'd guess that the Soskas finagled a substantial amount of investment. The last thing you can fault "American Mary" for is being some kind of low-budget "indie" dreck because the production values are very good indeed. Despite taking only 15 days to shoot, this isn't the product of some beered-up, redneck friends in their backyard with a couple of Jazz cams. Professionals were involved in this every step of the way, and it shows.

I wish one of this team of veterans had spoken up about the contrived, downbeat and very disappointing ending which feels like a cheat, but at the end of the day, it's the directors' decision. There are so many ways that the story could have gone to make it more satisfying, but I think the Soska sisters chose the wrong one. Watching the movie again reveals the placement of enough warning signs for the more observant viewer to guess that things are inevitably going to end very badly yet not exactly how. On the plus side, there won't be a sequel. I think we've all had enough of sequelitis to last us several lifetimes, so thanks for that.

Having seen their previous movie, "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" (2009), and noted their own lack of acting skills, I don't think that the Soskas are worthy of the overpraise being heaped upon them at conventions. Nobody is. Generally speaking, horror convention people are mostly sycophantic assholes with their own agendas so you can't trust them any more than a crow with a beak full of cheese should believe the compliments of a fox. While I would like to say that Jen and Sylvia seem to know their stuff when it comes to characterisation, storytelling and pacing, their various interviews give away that the actors themselves worked with them to get things right. In many ways, this flexibility is to be applauded, but in others, it reeks of inexperience and makes me wonder if they'll ever get this lucky again.

The Soskas seem like a nice enough pair and I wish them the best. I also sincerely hope that they make more movies, but unless they continue to employ Katharine Isabelle as eyecandy and muse, it's unlikely that they will become a major force in the horror industry. Realistically, if Lucky McKee and Angela Bettis can't make it, what chance have they got? Even if they don't get any further, "American Mary" is still a solid (but not groundbreaking or innovative) genre entry and one which I highly recommend to fans of Katharine Isabelle everywhere.

It may have nothing new to offer except as a means to ogle Katharine Isabelle looking sexier than she ever has before, but that's still reason enough for "American Mary" to earn a place in the "Video Vault". Yes, I'm a pervert and a hypocrite, get over it.

January 27, 2013

A Haunted House (2013)

"Malcolm and Kisha move into their dream home, but soon learn a demon also resides there. When Kisha becomes possessed, Malcolm - determined to keep his sex life on track - turns to a priest, a psychic, and a team of ghost-busters for help."

Apart from Marlon Wayans, I've never heard of anybody in "A Haunted House". Actually, that's not entirely true. I also recognised David Koechner but couldn't place or name him until I looked him up on the IMDb. For those of you who also wonder, he was in "Final Destination 5" and "Snakes on a Plane' (which, ironically, is referred to later on).

Not knowing the cast of a theatrical movie is sometimes not a bad thing depending on the subject matter. As long as it's a real movie, you can assume that the actors have been in TV shows or other movies rather than being complete unknowns who don't know what they are doing. If this had been a straight-to-DVD movie, different rules would apply. When you haven't heard of anybody in a backyard "indie horror", for instance, it's definitely a huge warning sign that it will be a bad one.

Having said that, I wasn't expecting a lot from "A Haunted House" either. I hate horror-comedies with a passion, and I've never found any parodies which hit their targets successfully apart from the first "Airplane". I always give every movie a chance to entertain me (otherwise I wouldn't watch them), but I knew the chances would be very slim that I would get anything out of this one.

With great trepidation, I ventured into the uncharted territory of "A Haunted House", and it soon became obvious that all my suspicions were correct. While the parodies of the first three "Paranormal Activity" movies, "The Entity" and "The Exorcist" are almost perfect, none of them are funny.

Maybe it's because the "black American culture" references which are uncomfortably forced in are clichéd and outdated, or maybe it's just because the comic timing and delivery is off, but apart from the dog getting killed at the beginning (and its drawn out aftermath), I didn't crack a smile at anything else once. Dogs disgust me so put it down (no pun intended) to my own callousness that made me grin.

I liked how the various effects were copied so well from the parodied movies. I also recognised every scene including the quick nods to "Insidious", "The Blair Witch Project" and "[REC]". The thing is, I didn't think they were amusing even with all the sex jokes and toilet humour thrown on top of them. I'm no prude, it's just that such humour is feeble and too puerile in ways that only a tame American movie can truly make a mess of them. Ouside of stand-up comedians, American comedy doesn't travel well anyway.

The bottom line is "A Haunted House" looks the part, Essence Atkins is very talented as Kisha (especially when acting possessed), but the "comedy" is a waste of 80 minutes which you'll never get back.

January 26, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

"In this spin on the fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel are now bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past."

Sometimes there's nothing wrong with a bit of low-brow, action-horror full of CGI if you're in the right mood for it, and that's precisely what you get with "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters".

Directed by Norwegian Tommy Wirkola, who was also responsible for the dreadful and vastly overrated "Dead Snow" (2009), "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" continues his love for over-the-top gore and allows him to throw in some light-hearted touches which make it a rather fun experience if you are the kind of person who can switch off your brain enough to enjoy the ride. It's not a movie which will stand up to any kind of critical deconstruction because it's predictable as can be and contains so many anachronisms that it makes "Van Helsing" look like a historical documentary in comparison.

Of course, it's impossible to say anything about "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" without mentioning "Van Helsing" (2004). Both movies are firmly in the "fantasy action adventure" category, they look almost identical, and, to be honest, if it hadn't been for Stephen Sommers, I doubt that this genre of movies would still have a market. There really are some people who actually like "Van Helsing" and, presumably, the Paramount and MGM executives have been looking for a way to emulate Universal's cash grab for some time. Thus, "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" has similarly cool weaponry, wire work, and CGI in bucket loads. What it does differently, however, is up the violence and profanities. It's also a lot quicker over the ground.

Don't go into this thinking that you are going to see the quintessential dramatisation of the "Hansel and Gretel" fairytale or you will be severely disappointed. That part is dealt with so quickly that it's almost shameful. There are so many ways that it should have been lengthened to show the kids being tortured and force fed by the cannibal witch that I'm sure someone will do precisely that eventually to redress the balance. The Brothers Grimm are probably spinning in their graves at the liberties which have been taken here.

"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" isn't really a film that's either about kids (except as a plot point) or for kids anyway. It's only meant to be a throwaway, January, popcorn flick which showcases the talents of Jeremy Renner ("Hawkeye" from "The Avengers") and gorgeous Gemma Arterton (from "The Disappearance of Alice Creed") as they get into some severe badassery in an overblown 3D pop video. As someone who has already learned to expect very little from Paramount and MGM, I can't say that there's anything wrong with them making a film like this at all. I'm only surprised that they didn't wait to release it during the Summer.

While "Haweye" and "Alice" turn in some fairly decent and potty-mouthed performances, this isn't a film that's concerned about acting or characterisation so much as it is about stunts, automatic weapons, and spectacle. It easily excels in all three of the latter and makes an ideal replacement for the "Underworld" franchise. Just like "Underworld: Awakening" (2012), you really need to see it in 3D for the full experience even though the gimmicky effects are too fast and too dark in some places.

For me, Famke Janssen stands out the most as Muriel the evil witch, but that's probably because I'm biased and fancy her even with her horror face on. Your mileage may vary especially with Pihla Viitala looking equally lovely as the good witch Mina. It's a pity that Ingrid Bolsø Berdal isn't allowed to have a glamorous moment, but that's karma paying her back for being in "Chernobyl Diaries" which I still haven't managed to get through. If I want to see Ingrid looking hot, I'll just rewatch "Cold Prey" anyway.

I would like to say something good about Derek Mears (Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" remake) as Edward the troll, but I can't. I'm not sure how much of his costume is practical and how much is enhanced with CGI, but it's not really important. Either way, his character is rather pointless after one scene and isn't a million miles away from being a clone of the Frankenstein monster from "Van Helsing".

A lot of stuff is shot against a green screen which makes a bit of a mockery of the location filming in Germany, but to give credit where it's due, the forest and faux mediaeval village setting look perfect. If you want all the "smoke and mirrors" spoiled for you, watch the video below.

I highly recommend "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" particularly to "horror-lite" fans. If you fancy a bit of instantly forgettable fun this weekend, you could do a lot worse. At the very least, it's a mainstream theatrical release which delivers a substantial amount of adrenaline-pumping entertainment.

January 25, 2013

The Devil's Carnival (2012)

"Lost souls enter The Devil's Carnival where they are each faced with the sins they committed in life."

Yeah, I know "The Devil's Carnival" is a musical and isn't my kind of thing at all, but I was challenged by the Real Queen of Horror to watch it. Once I discovered that it had the beautiful Emilie Autumn (one of my favourite musicians from the heyday of MySpace) and Briana Evigan in it, the idea didn't seem so bad. Challenge accepted!

Unfortunately, apart from providing the opportunity to lust over Emilie Autumn in a very small acting role as Painted Doll, the movie doesn't have a lot going for it.

It all looks very nice, but the three Aesop's Fables underneath aren't used to convey exactly the same moral messages as they were originally intended to. Moral messages are redundant if the recipients are already in Hell, but that little detail never bothered the Amicus anthologies much so I'm willing to make some allowances. The songs which unnecessarily repeat the same tales again are absolutely dreadful though.

"The Dog and his Meat" or "The Dog and her Shadow" doesn't quite match the original apart from being about greed. Let's be brutally honest here, Briana Evigan is far from being a dog! It's nice to see her get topless for a split second although it would be better if she turned round while being whipped. Boobs and blood are sadly lacking throughout.

The second story comes closest to "The Frog and the Scorpion" by showing the danger of trusting someone who is unable to control his nature, but it's still a bit of a stretch. Jessica Lowndes looks amazing in her '50s-style green dress, but her character, Tamara, is the one who can't change her nature to trust people too easily rather than the Scorpion (Marc Senter) who is nothing but a liar.

I can't even place the third story, "The Devil and his Due", among Aesop's Fables, but it's been many years since I last looked at them (plus there are over 650 of the buggers anyway). It could be one of Aesop's Fables or it might possibly be a conflation of any other fable with a Faustian theme. The punchline seems to be from "The Monkey's Paw", but it could even be from one of the fairytales by the Brothers Grimm. Whatever the case, Sean Patrick Flanery is okay in it but not exceptional.

The Devil or Lucifer, played by Terrance Zdunich, is the best of a bad lot. Having a slightly similar appearance to the late Andy Hallett from "Angel" apart from the green is no indication of talent though. Lucifer is no Lorne, and his sing-talking is worse than Ke$ha's.

As with all musicals, I can't help but feel that 'The Devil's Carnival" would've been a lot better without the music. The lyrics of most of the songs are hard to decipher and some don't fit the tone of the movie whatsoever. I doubt that they took more than five minutes to compose, and if they did, they were meant for something else. If you've never seen a musical like this before, just imagine a really crap pop video of a song you've never heard before which has been coupled with burlesque images that don't match the lyrics, then multiply it by twelve, take away the number you first thought of, and try to lick your own elbow.

Even though it's short, the film exceeds in self-congratulatory padding to show off the make-up, sets and costumes. Mercifully, this does limit the number of songs involved but still allows the ones that do exist to be unintelligible and boring. At least there are some pretty girls in bikinis to ogle.

It's no great surprise that "The Devil's Carnival" is from the same director (Darren Lynn Bousman) and writer (Terrance Zdunich) as the equally horrible "Repo! The Genetic Opera" (2008). What does amaze me is that anybody likes this kind of thing or that it has any commercial value outside of a very small niche. Netflix subscribers beware!

For me, "The Devil's Carnival" was 55 minutes of absolute torture compounded by the fact that I also spotted the loathsome Hannah Minx from YouTube as an extra. Yeah, she's pretty and everything, but why have such a talentless waste of space in a movie? Oh, because she has enormous boobs, obviously. Gah! You have to laugh that she's wrongly credited as "Hannah Jinx" instead of her YouTube moniker or real name. Aw, how sad.

After that segue, I'll end this review with an ungrammatical YouTube comment which sums things up almost perfectly: "It's just a bad musical with corny songs, corny dancing with a bunch of girls walking around with their tits hanging out."

Zena, if you truly enjoyed this, what the Hell is wrong with you?


January 24, 2013

American Horror Story: Asylum - Final Thoughts

Well, that's it then. The second season of "American Horror Story" ended last night with more of a fizzle than a bang, but it had a few ups and downs along the way.

The story wasn't really as good as the first season except that this time the horror level was increased to way beyond what anyone expected. Severed limbs and blood abounded amidst all the confusion of tortured nutters, space aliens, mutated genetic experiments, demonic possessions, and more than a little bit of perverted sexiness.

As before, Jessica Lange stole the show by adding so many layers to Sister Jude that she made Constance look flat in comparison. I'm sure she'll get another Golden Globe or Emmy nomination even if she doesn't win this time. With everybody acting their hearts out, the entire cast of "American Horror Story: Asylum" deserves an award.

I absolutely loved Sarah Paulson as Lana Winters who proved herself to be not only one of the most beautiful but also one of the best actresses on TV. Even when dressed to look her dowdiest and dirtiest, she was still hot enough to drive the chills from my freezing cold living room. At the end of the day, this was all Lana's story with everything else as little more than padding.

Smoking hot!

Another standout for me was, of course, Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice who looked a lot better as a nun than she did as Nora in the first season. The red lipstick scene and seduction of Monsignor Timothy (Joseph Fiennes) were two of her most memorable moments. She even outshone Chloë Sevigny (aka the girl from "The Brown Bunny") who provided the most pathos.

It's impossible to fault any of the acting except maybe a couple of slipped Boston accents from Evan Peters and Jessica Lange which were oddly jarring even to British ears. They seemed to improve as the series went on but remained forced nonetheless.

The only big problems with this season were that too much was crammed in and there were several places where the story either dragged or went into areas that didn't particularly interest me (or anyone else according to various message boards). The stuff with Frances Conroy as the angel of death was mostly superfluous, the demonic possession of Sister Mary Eunice went nowhere, and the whole alien abduction thing also tried really hard to ruin everything. Against my better judgement, I kind of enjoyed the musical interlude with "The Name Game" song, but it was also still ridiculous.

Overall, I liked the series, especially as it was far more entertaining than any of last year's horror movies (or any other movies for that matter), but it's not something which I would ever buy on DVD. Episodic television has its place in my viewing schedule but not in my collection.

For those of you who haven't already recorded, downloaded or pirated your own copies, "American Horror Story: Asylum" will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 24th, 2013 so you can enjoy the madness all over again.

January 22, 2013

24 reasons why Trick 'r Treat sucks!

Inspired by a discussion I had on Vampire Freaks, I rewatched one of my least favourite horror movies of all time and compiled a list (with timings) of all the reasons why "Trick 'r Treat" (2007) sucks.

Wizarduniverse.com doesn't even exist! Ignore the endorsement!

1. 4:43 - Emma's death. Everything happens under the sheet. You don't see anything but the blood stains. Aftermath shown at 6:20. Nothing special. Stupid "Creepshow" ripoff.

2. 15:00 - Fat kid puking. Meh. Too over-the-top and fake.

3. 21:52 - Killing the fat kid. You don't see anything. Again, it's all under a blanket.

4. 22:56 - Lame jump scare performed by a little kid.

5. 24:57 - Fat kid's severed head on potter's wheel. Nothing special. Very quickly shown aftermath again.

6. 28:10 - Sexy "vampire" bit, but nothing to see except the bloody aftermath. This is an R-rated movie? Puh-lease!

7. 30-38 mins - It's just "The Goonies" meets "Are You Afraid of the Dark"! Bah! All kids. It's a little kids' movie! There are no characters to care about either.

8. 43:45 - Very brief fake intestines shot. Blink and you'll miss it. It's all a giant prank anyway. Lame.

9. 47:47 - Dead zombie-ghost kids aren't scary. Looks like a zombie walk.

10. 50:28 - Nice dress on the girl on the left with the cleavage, but no nudity from her! What a nasty tease.

11. 53:48 - Blink and you'll miss it, Wilkins' protruding broken bone. That's as gory as it gets.

12. 55:01 - Briefest flash of boobs possible during the sexy werewolf dancing. I will admit that the werewolf transformation is fairly original except that it looks even faker than the similar scene in "A Company of Wolves".

13. 56:19 - You don't see the werewolves tear Wilkins apart. It cuts to the kid with a tater sack on his head watching. Most unsatisfying.

14. 1:06:12 - Very quick knife cut to Kreeg's Achilles tendon. Not bad but the cut is too high up, and you don't really see it happen.

15. 1:07:33 - Broken glass on palms. Meh! Corn syrup and bits of glass.

16. 1:08:05 - Tater sack kid on ceiling. Stupid and a ripoff of the equally silly scene in "The Exorcist III".

17. 1:09:30 - Shooting the tater sack kid in the head at point blank range with a shotgun doesn't have the splatter you would expect. His pumpkin head should be all over the walls!

18. 1:11:00 - Tater sack kid's dismembered but still living and crawling hand. "Evil Dead II", anyone? Gah!

19. 1:11:15 - The only "adult" line and one which sums up the whole movie!

20. 1:13:08 - No stab to be seen. Aftermath reveals twist. There was no stab except for a lolly going into a candy bar!

21. 1:15:10 - Stupid "A Christmas Carol" ending. Kreege is Scroooooooge! Humbug! All the stories suck in this anyway.

22. Plus every time one of the characters even mildly swears there's a comment about it. The werewolf girls are told off because there are kids present. The fat kid's murderer tells his son off for swearing, and the retarded girl tells the pretty blonde girl off for saying "Damn". The strongest words seem to be "ass", "asshole" or "screw" and each one is only used a couple of times. Pathetic and unrealistic dialogue.

23. Basically, it's so kiddified and not scary that "Trick 'r Treat" barely counts as a horror movie at all. At the same time, the 5 seconds of nudity and gore mean that little kids aren't legally allowed to watch it. It fails for either audience. It's almost a comedy except that it isn't funny either. No wonder it went straight to DVD and didn't get a theatrical release.

24. Anyone who likes this movie is either a small child or a moron.

January 21, 2013

More money than sense?

I've seen some stupid things on YouTube in my time (and, no, I'm not talking about Giovanna Plowman), but this guy's purchase of 100 Blu-ray discs has to be up there with the most ridiculous of them.

What could be missing in someone's life that he has to buy 100 (or more) movies in one go with most of them being bad ones that he's already seen and doesn't like? I don't get it. Out of 100 Blu-ray discs in this video, there are possibly only a dozen decent horror films. The rest should be thrown onto a bonfire to do the world a favour.

Far be it from me to criticise anyone for collecting DVDs, but why collect crappy movies on Blu-ray especially when you already have them on DVD? It's not going to make them any better!

How much do you think this lot cost? Somewhere between $500 and $1000 probably. What a waste of money! I would rather buy 100 crappy horror movies in a Mill Creek pack from Wal-mart for $17.99 and spend the rest on pizza and beer.

January 19, 2013

MySpace is back! And I love it!

It's not really like it was when it was good 8 years ago, but the new MySpace is potentially awesome! I'm back on it and loving every minute of it!

Although it could do with a few more tweaks, a lot more music, and some kind of help guide to show new people how to use the features, it's a huge step in the right direction. As you can see, I've even got a massive picture of my Willow on there!

If you are one of the cool kids, the new MySpace is like a side-scrolling version of Pinterest or Tumblr but with music instead of pictures. Hopefully, there'll be lots of new videos too if all the artists who already have accounts finally update their profiles. I would love to see MySpace give YouTube a good kick in the balls. I'm sick to death of watching all the mediocre money whores with audiences made up of schoolkids, and mush-mouthed movie reviewers with crazy teeth who tell the plots in their own words or repeat themselves retardedly to fill up their 15 minute vlogs. Most of all, I can't stand adverts on videos.

Will MySpace replace Facebook? Who cares about that crap? Facebook is so 2008. Does anyone still use it except to play games, bitch about their lives or post LOLcats? All I get on there is a load of fairweather followers who get butthurt over the slightest dig at one of their "special films" as if they've made them themselves instead of only buying them on DVD. For social networking, I'm still on Twitter (the world's biggest and most one-sided chatroom), and I've rejoined Vampire Freaks so I can grab the bands I like from there and add their music to my playlists (mixes) on MySpace. Maybe I won't lose my VF account for inactivity again this time.

Since I've been ill, I've lost all interest in horror blogging, and now that I've rediscovered MySpace, I can't really see any way that I'm going to return to regularly writing things on here which nobody apart from trolls, spammers and stalkers ever reads. Something has changed for the worse with the Blogger editor too. It doesn't refresh properly as I'm typing so I have to keep scrolling up and down to see what I've just written. I don't have the patience for it. I'd rather listen to music. Nice, melodic pop music and electronic stuff.

Let's face it, I've only continued to write this blog for the paltry Amazon affiliate sales which have continued to drop to only slightly above nothing. I'm not going to get rich or famous out of being a horror blogger so I might as well just enjoy myself with what the rest of the internet has to offer instead of wasting my time on here. Blogging had its heyday 3 years ago. New bloggers might as well give up before they even begin.

Nobody reads or cares anymore. Blogger is now just a popularity contest where success is rated by the number of avatars in the GFC widget. It's all follow-for-follow even if the person you follow can't write for shit and is, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the blogosphere. I haven't enjoyed blogging or watching horror movies for a very long time. It probably shows. It's taken a while, but I've grown out of both.

Is this the end of "Dr Blood's Video Vault" on Blogger? Maybe. The URL will expire this year, and I've got no great desire to renew it. I'll probably let it go back to the default blogspot address. Unless I see something that I absolutely have to write about such as the new "Mama" movie or the "Evil Dead" remake, then I've got nothing left to tell you. Horror and horror blogging is dead.

January 16, 2013

Temporary hiatus due to illness

I'm not really burnt out, but I'm seriously ill right now. I can't concentrate enough to write any reviews this week. Even staying awake for more than an hour at a time is difficult due to the huge amount of antibiotics that I'm taking.

January 13, 2013

Django Unchained (2012)

"With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner."

If it wasn't for director Alex Cox's "Videodrome" series on BBC back in the '90s, I would never have known who or what "Django" was. Sure, I'd seen a fair amount of "Spaghetti Westerns" over the years, but apart from the big three Clint Eastwood ones, I couldn't have cared less about them. The thing with "Django" though which made it stand out was its bloodiness. If you've never seen it, you definitely need to check out the original 1966 movie starring Franco Nero.

Obviously, all this was long before Quentin Tarantino started slinging his invented word "grindhouse" about as if everyone would automatically know what it meant and pretending that he was making 20th (and now 21st) century equivalents along with his buddy Robert Rodriguez. I never bought into the hype and, apart from "Pulp Fiction", I can't say that I've enjoyed any of Quentin Tarantino's films until now.

Everyone's tastes changes as they get older though so I was willing to give "Django Unchained" the benefit of the doubt in spite of already knowing the huge plot and race changes that didn't inspire me with any confidence. I'm still not a Tarantino fan, but I actually enjoyed a lot of what he had to offer this time.

The story is fairly unoriginal with huge borrowings from every "white guilt" movie set in the days of American slavery along with more than a hint of "Maverick" and "Unforgiven" thrown in for good measure. In some ways, "Django Unchained" seems hell-bent on dividing the races as much as "Braveheart" tried to do with the English and Scots due to its historical inaccuracies. Obviously, it's designed to be as controversial as possible, but "Django Unchained" is far more accurate in other ways than even "Roots". No matter which race or country you belong to, there's always a lot to hate about American history.

But enough of that. I'm not here to write an essay about slavery or racism in America. You only have to browse a few YouTube videos to know that it's as real today as it ever was. I'm here to write about films and, in particular, this film (such as it is) with all of its subtextual preaching and in your face action scenes.

In my opinion, the blood, gore and psychological more than physical torture in "Django Unchained" is worthy of any horror movie. In nearly every gunfight, gunshots cause over-the-top blood to splatter even onto the camera lens with big lumps of meat following. Can I hear the word "Lush!" from anyone? Oh, yes, there will be and there is blood! Don't watch this if you love horses either!

The characters are mostly likeable too although Christoph Waltz easily steals every scene. Django will always be Franco Nero to me, and in spite of metaphorically handing over the reigns in a bar scene cameo, there's no way that I will ever accept Jamie Foxx as his replacement. I tried to, but Jamie Foxx goes through so many personality changes during the film that it's impossible to take him seriously. Can anyone please tell me why he chose to play Django as a gay for the last 10 minutes? I don't understand that at all.

The biggest standouts are Don Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tarantino's favourite Samuel L. Jackson. While Big Daddy (Johnson) also brings an unfortunately comic "Klan" scene with him which only serves as unnecessary padding, Calvin Candy (DiCaprio) and Stephen (Jackson) have some of the best chemistry in the whole movie. In fact, they have more chemistry than Django and his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) which is quite disconcerting.

At the end of the day, "Django Unchained" is a rather enjoyable cowboy-action movie with lots of gunfire, explosions and a backdrop of Southern American slavery to make it look like some thought went into it. Change a few races and you'd have an episode of the "Maverick" or "Alias Smith and Jones" TV series with all their quirky scams. Remove the Wild West gunfights and you'd have the first season of "Roots" without any sympathetic characters.

As a "popcorn flick", "Django Unchained" is one of the better ones. It's a bit too long at 2 hours and 45 minutes, but there isn't a lot of lag unless you absolutely loathe the Western genre or contemporary music being used anachronistically.

Has Quentin Tarantino redeemed himself? Almost, but no, not really. Be warned, he can't do a convincing Australian accent either.

January 12, 2013

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

"Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial, object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest."

It's "Sci-fi Saturday" again so I've given my old $1 VHS "Deluxe Letterbox Edition" of "2001: A Space Odyssey" another try to see if it's grown on me. It hasn't.

Without doubt, "2001: A Space Odyssey" is still the most boring film that I have ever seen in my life. I wish I could say that "Solaris" (1972) is even worse, but I've only watched the 2002 remake which at least had sexy Natascha McElhone in it.

I have no idea why people rate "2001" so highly. It might look nice (for the time), but there's hardly any story. What little story there is has nothing to do with any "Odyssey" that I know about. Where is Odysseus or Circe in all of this? Nobody gets turned into pigs, there are no flirty chats between Athena and the hero, and there's no archery contest at the end. What a jip!

I suppose the scenes between the HAL 9000 computer and Bowman (Keir Dullea) perk things up a bit, and it's nice to see the much missed Rigsby (Leonard Rossiter) from "Rising Damp" in something other than an old Cinzano commercial, but right from the start with a bunch of idiots badly dressed up as monkeys, it's pretty obvious that this movie is a complete turd.

There's a tiny bit of horror towards the end when Keir Dullea is trapped on the other side of the universe in some kind of rich Elizabethan girl's bedroom until he eventually gets old and dies, but that's it. That's all I get from this.

"2001: A Space Odyssey" is just a load of cheap gorilla-gram costumes, little toy spaceships cleverly filmed to look like real ones, colourful fake spacesuits, Johann Strauss' "The Blue Danube" waltz, and a big, black, meaningless monolith which turns up simply to be arty. Nothing is answered, but no questions are posed either other than why anyone would make such a piece of crap or expect anyone else to watch it.

I'll be completely honest with you, I don't understand "2001: A Space Odyssey". Not only that, but I don't like it either. There's no action, no sexiness, no big, scary monsters. There's no message to it and no lessons to be learned other than to never watch it again.


January 11, 2013

Witchville (2010)

"In the Middle Ages, Erik and Jason seek out his compatriot Malachy and force him to return to his homeland."

Well, since it's "Fantasy Friday", here's a nasty thing from the SyFy channel for you starring Luke Goss, Ed Speleers, MyAnna Buring and Sarah Douglas. You'd have to have spent your life under a rock like my Blogger/Twitter stalker to not know who any of these people are, but I'll remind you anyway.

Luke Goss is, of course, one half of the Bros boyband from the late '80s who now fancies himself as an actor. In fairness, he isn't too bad in any of the movies that I've seen him in although he's reached the age where he looks like a poor man's Jason Statham rather than the pop idol he once was. As King Malachy in "Witchville", he's credible enough especially as it's only a B-movie anyway.

Allegedly, Ed Speelers is famous for playing "Eragon" in the 2006 movie of the same name, but I haven't watched it yet. Maybe I'll do that next week since I've heard a few good things about it. If it has big CGI dragons in it then I can't wait! Yes, that was sarcasm. He doesn't have the biggest role in "Witchville" apart from being tied up and tortured, but that's good enough for me.

MyAnna Buring is someone who you should know from "The Descent" and a few other horror movies that I've reviewed on this blog including "Credo" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2". She's a very good looking girl and always adds a nice bit of blonde allure to whatever she's in even though her acting skills seem to be minimal. She's underused once again here as a warrior-sorceress, but at least she looks the part.

Finally, Sarah Douglas started off as one of the brides of Dracula in Dan Curtis' 1974 adaptation but only achieved real fame in the "Superman" movies as Ursa. In "Witchville", she plays "The Red Queen" quite adequately even if it's just a case of dressing up in feathers like a big, scary chicken version of Darth Vader.

There's not much to like in this movie other than the serious tone and the background music. The CGI effects would have been okay in "Hercules" or "Xena: Warrior Princess", but there aren't many of them, and they look dated. The oversized leeches are the highest point with the lightning bolts of magic and glowing eyes which change colour being the lowest.

If you are into "sword and sorcery" B-movies then you might also get a kick out of this one. It's rather slow and very formulaic, but some of the action sequences are interestingly choreographed, and the filming location in China suits the story well. Unfortunately, "Witchville" is still as instantly forgettable as all the other SyFy movies.

January 10, 2013

The Machinist (2004)

"An industrial worker who hasn't slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity."

I'm sure that you've all seen "The Machinist" at some point in your lives so I'm not going to go into any detail about it. I only bought it on DVD fairly recently so last night was the first time I rewatched it since it came out. I didn't plan on reviewing it for "Thriller Thursday"; I was just in the mood for something other than any more "coming of age" dramas full of teenage girls who make me feel like a pervert. I could have chosen any horror movie to watch, but I wasn't really in the mood for one of those either. It happens to the best of us which is why I'm back on the daily subgenre changes until I get my horror mojo back.

I wouldn't call "The Machinist" a horror movie, but it certainly contains a lot of horror elements. There's a lovely arm-severing industrial accident, a guy with toes for fingers, the most horrific ghost train you will ever see, and the way Christian Bale looks is still legendary.

For those who don't know, this is the film which Christian Bale lost loads of weight for so that he could play the part of Trevor looking like a concentration camp inmate. He's so skeletal that I had to eat several times just to make myself feel better. It probably won't interest you, but I ate 4 boiled eggs, 5 beef and bean burritos, and a bag of crisps the size of a potato sack during "The Machinist". Yes, I'm the kind of guy who does that kind of thing in front of anorexics too because I'm sick that way.

As for the story, I can't tell you much about it because it relies on a twist near the end which is far too easily spoiled. Suffice it to say that 90% of the things Christian Bale's character sees aren't what they seem. You'll pick up on that in the first ten minutes so I'm not giving anything away. If you want to watch this movie "cold", do not even read the back of the DVD sleeve!

Critically, "The Machinist" is not without flaws. Even the sexiness of Jennifer Jason Leigh and the beauty of Aitana Sánchez-Gijón can't hide the fact that the truncated cuts from one Hitchcock-style scene to another are jarring, or that some of the acting isn't really that great.

With its washed-out hues, "The Machinist" is a lot of style over substance which appeals to a certain type of movie lover rather than a mainstream audience. Mercifully, it's not too arty and, as far as dark dramas go, it's one of the better and more depressing ones.

January 9, 2013

You and I (2011)

"Two teenage girls, Janie who is American and Lana who is Russian, fall in love after meeting at a t.A.T.u concert and are swept into a dangerous world of obsession, drug abuse and murder."

Just a quick one for you since it more than meets the criteria for "Woeful Wednesday". "You and I", originally titled "Finding t.A.T.u." (and based on the novel "t.A.T.u. Come Back"), has to be one of the worst non-horror movies that I've ever had to endure.

I know there are pretty girls in it (especially Shantel VanSanten), and you get to see a bit of Russia, but that's not enough to make this borefest of lesbian romance any more interesting. Now I'm not surprised that it took almost 4 years to appear. I can't believe that I foolishly looked forward to seeing this back when I was a bit of a t.A.T.u. fan. God help me, I even made a skin for it on Flixster!

I think "Finding t.A.T.u." was actually made 5 years ago, but due to all sorts of legal/financial complications, it took until January 2011 to finally get released on DVD with a name change, and until now to show up in the bargain bins at Wal-mart. At $5, "You and I" is way overpriced for a Lionsgate DVD with no extras so don't think you've found gold if you are "lucky" enough to get a copy.

Ignore the IMDb description because "You and I" certainly doesn't contain any murder. There are lots of drug scenes, a drugs overdose, and some very softcore (yet mildly erotic) lesbianism, but there's a lot of comedy too which makes it a complete mess in terms of a sustained tone. Roland Joffé should be ashamed of himself for directing this tripe and, in fairness, probably is.

"You and I" is nicely filmed, but the story is just crap. All the things which you would reasonably predict happening to two very attractive yet selfish girls who can't get into a t.A.T.u. concert and are forced to wander around Moscow late at night simply don't happen. You would think that they'd both get brutally raped, killed or sold into white slavery (or something) to teach them a lesson, but unfortunately not. "Eastern Promises" already did that anyway, and this isn't the same kind of film at all.

At the heart of it, "You and I" is an adult "Cinderella" story with various clunky contrivances and annoying subplots thrown in just so that t.A.T.u. can sing their hit song at the end. Apart from the soundtrack, there's not even enough of t.A.T.u. in this to make it worthwhile, but as Lena and Yulia aren't actresses by any stretch of the imagination anyway, their cameos are nothing to get too upset about.

As I said, I waited a very long time to see this film and really wanted to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I just couldn't dumb myself down enough to like it.

January 8, 2013

Excision (2012)

"A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother."

Starring AnnaLynne McCord (from "Nip/Tuck"), Roger Bart (from "Desperate Housewives"), Ariel Winter (from "One Missed Call"), Traci Lords, Malcolm McDowell, and Matthew Gray Gubler (the guy with the exceedingly long neck from "Criminal Minds"), "Excision" isn't really a horror movie, but I was asked to take a look at it and briefly review it for somebody on another site that I occasionally hang out on.

If you like slow-moving, offbeat, highschool/coming of age dramas with lots of blood and gore in dream sequences then "Excision" will make you very happy indeed. There are bucket loads of blood in this, several mouthfuls of vomit, and some particularly revolting teenage acne. Even herpes makes a guest appearance. For me, however, "Excision" seems to take all day to get to the point. Apart from the practical effects, I'm not overly impressed by any of it.

The acting is fine, there are no problems with the camerawork or any of the other production values, but for obvious reasons, "Excision" looks and feels just like an episode of "Nip/Tuck", "American Horror Story" or "Desperate Housewives". It tries to be all sexy, controversial and outrageous, but just like on TV, many punches are pulled, and it's far too long despite the running time being only an hour and 20 minutes.

The main problem with any "horror" movie which isn't really a horror movie until the very end is how much is put in to prepare you for the final reveal. In this case, "Excision" shows all the gory bits right from the very beginning, and this ruins the shock value of the ending. Even for the squeamish, this technique is anaesthetising and predictable.

Although it's still quite insane, less dark comedy and an even more "out of left field" punchline could have turned "Excision" into a really good story instead of a cult wannabe. The same thing almost happens with "Teeth" except that the similar vibe and over-extended gag plays out better. It's definitely not a good idea to watch the two back-to-back if you are looking for originality.

As a quick cash grab, there are the usual suspects involved in this including Malcolm McDowell phoning-in another performance as a snarky British maths teacher. Traci Lords does a nice impersonation of Bree from "Desperate Housewives" while, ironically, Roger Bart is slightly more endearing than usual. I can't really fault Roger Bart in anything except "Hostel 2" though. Unfortunately, not one member of the cast is outstanding because "Excision" spends too much time lingering over the gloriously bloody effects rather than the superficial characterisation. There's simply nobody in this to care about.

I absolutely loathed AnnaLynne McCord when she played Eden in "Nip/Tuck" and was extremely happy when she was written out. Pauline, her character in "Excision", is equally vile, distancing, and unsympathetic plus she looks sicker than her onscreen sister (Ariel Winter) who is supposed to have cystic fibrosis. As soon as I saw her "ugly" make-up and fake pimples, I had no interest in seeing any more of her. Apart from showing some skin, she's very "TV" acting-wise and just isn't convincing as an angsty teenager now either.

I wish I had something more positive to say about "Excision" because there's definitely something good underneath. The trouble is that it has to struggle so much to be seen through the mediocre execution of everything else. If you are less critical than me, you will probably love it in spite of the flaws.

I'm rating "Excision" as below average. Numerically, I'd give it a 4 out of 10 if I was still doing things that way. It's a good idea, entertaining enough, nicely produced, but too quirky, far-fetched and unsatisfying. At the end of the day, "Excision" is Richard Bates Jr.'s directorial debut. He had four years to develop this from his short of the same name, but I won't hold that against him.

January 7, 2013

M (1931)

"When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt."

If you want true escapism, there's nothing like an overrated old black and white movie from the 1930s. Thus, I'm finally going to say something about "M" which has now become fixed firmly in my mind as the best cure for insomnia since NyQuil.

I can't even find the words to describe how boring "M" is to watch, or how overacted and frustratingly slow it all is. It's taken me over a week to get through "M" in 15 minute installments because that's as long as I could cope with it until my brain shut down in rebellion and I kept falling asleep.

In the restored version of "M" (as embedded at the top of this post), a third of the movie is completely silent as Fritz Lang intended. There are no voices (or subtitles), no sounds of car engines, or even any ambience during these scenes. Essentially, this is a throwback to the silent era due to sound licensing fees at the time, but without the visuals of "Metropolis" to keep anyone entertained.

Of course, you can always make up your own dialogue during the police searches. I chose to put the words "Where's the sausage?" and "I must find the sausage!" into the mouths of every character. Trust me, it works quite well. It works even better during the "talking" scenes once you turn the shouty German dialogue off completely. And, yes, before you ask, there are indeed lots of sausages in this movie.

I'm sure that "M" was absolutely groundbreaking at the time in its depiction of a serial killer, but it's horribly dated and almost embarrassing to watch now. The cops have nothing to go on except that the killer owns a wooden table, a red pencil, smokes cigarettes, and can whistle one of the tunes from "Peer Gynt". Well, that makes him easy to single out then! And what is the gangsters' master plan to catch him? They use beggars to keep an eye on all the children in the city. Yeah, like that won't cause comedic complications.

Facetiously, I was going to say that the poster is the best part of the film. I'm sure the more pretentious, artsy-fartsy film reviewers have a copy of it proudly displayed on their walls along with "Metropolis", "Nosferatu" and "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". The trouble is that "M" does have a few good points in spite of itself which makes that argument seem rather puerile.

Peter Lorre is outstanding as the whistling murderer Hans Beckert (Fritz Lang did all the whistling), but he has hardly any screen time for the first hour among all the gangsters and cops who have their own agendas for wanting him gone. There's way too much political nonsense going on in the background which is dull as ditchwater to sit through. There's nothing like lingering over unnecessary details and too much talky exposition to really slow things down to a crawl either.

After just over an hour, things start to come together with the cops realising that their murderer doesn't actually need to own a wooden table but may have written his "Jack the Ripper"-style letters to them on a window sill (thus increasing the number of suspects to the whole world!), and the beggars manage to get a chalk letter "M" slapped on the back of Hans Beckert's coat. Like that won't easily brush off! I don't think I've ever seen a plot so contrived or with characters so inept since the last film I watched.

More by luck than judgement, Hans Beckert gets trapped in a office building by a gang of burglars who, in spite of knowing who he is, don't seem to be all that zealous about catching him (although they eventually do). Colour me confused! The next twenty minutes provide plenty of opportunities for a lot of bulgy-eyed expressions from Peter Lorre as he is forced into hiding in the attic, but not much else. Could Peter Lorre be underused even more? I'd be surprised if his total screen time adds up to ten minutes including the very end.

For those in the know, it's only the final kangaroo court scene which gives "M" its dubious claim to fame. It's all pseudo-philosophy with questions asked about what gives criminals any right to judge a worse criminal. Biblically speaking, it's precisely the hypocrisy that Jesus preached about with Hans Beckert being a not entirely convincing substitute. If you want to start a debate about whether or not insane killers should be protected by the law or executed for their crimes, just show the film from the 1 hour and 34 minutes mark. In the light of recent happenings in America, the final words of the film may hit home to parents. I'm shallow, self-centred and I only have cats so it's lost on me.

"M" isn't really a horror movie so it may not be something you want to watch anyway. There aren't any child murders shown, no scares, no gory bits, or even any suspense. It's more of a crime drama with moderately interesting pre-Nazi Germany imagery. If you like looking at shop windows or watching lots of older German men in suits smoke cigars and drink beer from glasses as big as their heads, this is the movie for you. No wonder Hitler banned it! You can say what you like about all the bad things Hitler did, but hiding this drivel from the world wasn't one of them.

With a running time of an hour and 48 minutes, "M" truly suffers from being all talk and no action. You can easily skip 75% of the scenes for a better paced and less convoluted story. I'm surprised that there isn't a MST3K version in existence which would definitely improve things.

January 6, 2013

Trolling with Hanson

Omegle is so much fun! Especially when all you type are the lyrics from "MMMBop".

Click the pics to see them bigger.

This is how to troll properly. :)

I wonder what happened to the girl from Hanson?

January 5, 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

"A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward."

Maybe it's because I've been watching a lot of crappy indie horror movies lately and damaged my brain with gin, but I don't think "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is as bad as some people would have you believe. For a start, it has a fairly decent budget of $8,000,000 behind it which is more than can be said for a lot of January films. At least it's not found footage or a zombie movie.

Of course, my only reason for watching "Texas Chainsaw 3D" was Alexandra Daddario as Heather. Some of you may remember her as being in the only good part of "The Attic" which, ironically, was the January movie from 2008. I always knew Alexandra had potential although it's taken until now for her to show up again in something that anybody might actually want to see.

All the nerds are moaning about the continuity error in how Heather Miller should be 39 not 25, but in fairness, who would you rather see running around on screen? Nobody wants to see a 39-year-old woman do anything unless her name is Kate Beckinsale or Milla Jovovich, but that's only because they've been drinking from the fountain of youth or something. In reality, most 39-year-old women look like Carrie from "Sex and the City"... ugh!

Is that a chainsaw or are you just pleased to see me?

Anyway, I suppose you want to know all about the gore and scares. Well... there isn't enough of either unless CGI does it for you. I'm sure that pleases the gloating fanboys of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974) even though there isn't any gore in the original. I've never really liked Tobe Hooper's only real claim to fame outside of "Salem's Lot" (1979) so comparing the two films isn't that important to me. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of homages to the original despite "Texas Chainsaw 3D" still being a re-imagined sequel for the most part.

You can ignore the last two "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" films anyway because "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is supposed to be a direct sequel to the original movie as if there were never any others in between. Yes, it's just like what "H20" tried to do for the "Halloween" franchise. That's a very good thing here though because all the other sequels suck balls. Can you believe that it's been almost 10 years since the 2003 remake? I still haven't reviewed that one either. What can I say? I just don't like slasher films very much.

I can't say that I really liked "Texas Chainsaw 3D", yet I didn't completely hate it. I'm certainly not going to rave over it, but I'm not going to tear it apart either. It's just another formulaic slasher full of stupid people who you want to see getting killed off among a load of even stupider rednecks. Essentially, it's the same old crap as usual but with different actors. Dan Yeager is the new Leatherface, but Gunnar Hansen appears briefly both as Boss Saywer and as Leatherface in flashbacks at the beginning.

To be honest, it doesn't matter who plays Leatherface. He gets lots of time on screen, but I couldn't care less about who plays some guy in a mask. Anyone could do it. I'm willing to bet that Dan Yeager will start showing up on the convention circuit now charging $25 for his autograph along with all the other mask-wearing non-celebrities. Sadly, there will even be people who want that to happen.

Texas Hots, anyone?

Aside from the old guys, "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is chock-full of "pretty" actors of both genders. Trendy teen horror lives again! If Alexandra Daddario doesn't do it for you, the other hot chick is sexy Tania Raymonde who played Alex Rousseau in "Lost". As you can see (above), she looks a lot better in "Texas Chainsaw 3D"... for a while anyway. She definitely has the best death scene in the film. I'm not going to spoil it for you but "BANG!"

Nearly all the characters are the usual generic and flat cannonfodder, and nobody gets nude, so it's not really worth mentioning anybody else. Just from the trailer, it's easy for you to predict who is going to die and in what order. Pretty "teenagers" breaking the rules, disposable black character, jump scares, lots of running around and screaming, final girl... yeah, we've seen it all done before in every other franchise that's been sequelled to death, rebooted or cloned just to make a quick buck.

The camerawork is okay, some of the practical effects are quite acceptable although not outstanding, plot holes abound, several opportunities are missed, and the script is lousy, but you could say the same thing about any horror movie from the last 20 years. For the intended audience (which doesn't really include me), "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is fine. The whole horror genre is so unimaginative now that anyone brought up on a diet of utter shit won't find anything wrong with it. Hey, it's set in Texas (but filmed in Louisiana), it has a chainsaw in it, and there's 3D... so what is there to complain about?

The 3D stuff is nice but so underused that it makes you wonder why they even bothered, and the crappy ending (and gag after the end credits) will piss most people off, but "Texas Chainsaw 3D" isn't the worst horror film ever made. Trust me, I've seen far worse! It's just not very original or memorable.