Blessings And Curses – Lepus At Phoenix Comicon


Last night we premiered Lepus at Phoenix Comicon. We were able to show it twice. The first time was as part of Death By VHS, the anthology DVD it is a part of. The second time was a little later that night at a cast and crew panel we arranged.

The reception was great. People really seemed to get it. They laughed in all the right spots. I’d say they cried but we didn’t make a movie for people to cry. So if they did I wasn’t aware of it nor would I appreciate it. We had a few people in the audience actually catch some of the more subtle religious refrences and everyone loved watching Brian as a creepy Easter Bunny. His first appearence just walking got a laugh.

I feel really happy that everyone liked it. And it is a blessing that we have distribution. But that’s also the curse. Because of distribution we are automatically disqualified from submitting to several film festivals. That makes me sad. I would love to send it out all over the place and see what kind of response we get.

I guess we’ll have to wait until we do Terrestrial for that. Watch for the panel we did to be posted on YouTube in the coming days or weeks or whenever it goes up. Also, listen to The Gorram Nerd Hour on Wednesday for more details.
Continue reading

Advertisements

G.I. Joe Retaliation Review


Image

Nearly a year ago I had the opportunity to see a test screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I have been sitting on my feelings about the movie since then. I have let slip a few times here and there on The Gorram Nerd Hour that I hated it. So why did I watch it again? For the same reason I watched the other movies I’ve seen at test screenings again, to see what they changed. It’s always interesting what the studios take away from the comment cards they ask you to fill out at the end of a test screening. On my card I filled it with stuff like “Why was this movie greenlit?” and “What was the point?” Did I change my opinions after the reshoots? Or were the “fixes” they made just as bad?

When I first saw the movie the only positive thing I took away from it was that Snake Eyes was awesome. I love Ray Park and he gave the movie his all despite how bad it was. Sort of like what he did for Star Wars: Episode I. With the reshoots we got a little more Duke, played by Channing Tatum. In the original version Duke was dead as fast as it takes the average person to blink. Of course, by the time the movie started I was praying for toothpicks to keep my eyes open because my eyes just wanted to close to avoid having to take in anymore of that horrible movie. The Duke scenes were designed as a passing of the torch to Road Block, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Although the movie worked better watching Tatum and Johnson play off each other. The moment Tatum was out of the movie the fun left with it…until Bruce Willis entered the movie. Sadly, this fact has not changed. Sure, they added a couple more scenes with Tatum and Johnson together but teasing the audience with a fun movie for a few more minutes only serves to enrage them more overall. 

Duke still dies…oops, sorry. I meant to warn people of spoilers. Oh well, too late. After his death the movie falls into a boring lull for a good 40 minutes until Willis enters. Cobra Commander, Zartan and Firefly couldn’t bring the fun. Adrianne Padalecki (sic) couldn’t save it by looking hot as Lady Jaye. Nothing worked. Not even the coolness of Jonathan Pryce and Walton Goggins. This still has not changed from the previous version. There were random tweaks done to the movie but none so substantial that it made it worth watching. 

In all fairness I will say this. The few changes that were made to the movie made the film a bit more enjoyable. In fact, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I liked this one almost as much as first. That’s still not a compliment. At least the first had a bit more of an emotional aspect to it. Plus it tried harder. This was just lazy screenwriting. I don’t blame the director or the actors. They did what they could. But when you polish a turd all it does is make the cloth dirty.

A quick note to the writers – Zombieland was fun. Was it a fluke? Or did you just sell out? If Deadpool ever gets made I’ve now become scared about what you’re gonna do with it. Are you going to be the next Ehren Kruger? 

I’m done. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. 

For the original version of the movie I give it 1/2 * out of 5. For the reshot and delayed version I give it 1 and 1/2 *’s out of *****. 

I’m sure Brian and I will be discussing this on the next episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour so make sure you tune in for it.

Evil Dead And Other Remakes


Image

 

Over the course of history we have had to suffer through a multitude of remakes with more on the way. It’s a fact of life that Hollywood wants to capitalize on a name. That’s just how it goes. How many times have seen the same Shakespeare story put on film even though there are other equally good Shakespeare plays that never get made? Why? Because people recognize the names of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet.

Horror films get hit harder than any other genre because, as horror fans, we get excited that someone is actually releasing a horror movie in theaters. So we go and immediately take to the internet whining and complaining about the latest remake or sequel and how much the studio/director/star ruined your memories. But we go. Studios know this. And what do studios care about most? It’s not the fans. It’s profit. So we get remakes and a sequel a year to the likes of Saw or Paranormal Activity not because we demand it but because they know we’ll watch it. Hell, I have seen every Children Of The Corn and Hellraiser movie, not because I like them but because they were there. That’s what studios count on. Being a genre fan is frustrating and rewarding all at once.

Image
Thirty one years ago an established horror and science fiction filmmaker set out to make his first remake before they became the trendy thing to do in Hollywood. It was one of the only films in that thirty one years to do it right. The movie was The Thing, the filmmaker John Carpenter. He was already moving toward legendary statud thanks to Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog and Escape From New York. At the time this seemed like a bad career choice. Why make someone else’s film when you could do something original? But he believed in the movie and felt it had something to say just in the same way that the remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers did just a few years earlier. And, like Invasion, he got it right. Since then we have seen nearly all his early masterwork remade. None match what he did with the originals. There have also been a slew of other remakes of famous horror franchises with varying degrees of success – A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, Prom Night, The Hills Have Eyes. The list goes on and grows by the day.
One movie that many prayed for a sequel to and feared a remake of was Evil Dead. This was the movie that launched director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell. It mixed horror and humor seemlessly as well giving us the most innovative low budget look any horror movie ever could. For those reasons fans, myself included, feared that someone would one day ruin the franchise for us with a remake that insulted us all. I’m glad I was wrong.

The movie started in a very different way than the original. It opened with a woman, bloody and beaten, trying to escape through the woods when something bad happens. Then it cuts to introducing us to the the cast twenty-something pretty people that one expects from a horror movie. But that’s where the movie stops being like your typical “Dead Teenager Movie” (if could steal a phrase from the late, great Roger Ebert). Fede Alvarez had a very clear vision of maing a movie that was not only faithful to the Evil Dead fans but also a balls out horror film that was original and gory fun.

It’s hard to get a remake right because people feel all at once beholden to the original material and have a strong desire to explain things. Take Halloween. Rob Zombie felt that he had to keep the genreal story intact while explaining the childhood of Michael Myers. A Nightmare On Elm Street did a similar thing with giving more back story on Freddy right from the start. This used to be something that wasn’t given till you were three sequels deep in the 80’s. And there’s a reason for that. You need to go in to the first film with the intention of scaring the living shit out of your audience. When you begin to explain the evil away the audience begins to sympathize with the killer. That is like putting the nail in the coffin before the movie is even released. Fede Alvarez knew better. He didn’t go into detail about where the Necronomicon came from or how it gained its power. It was just evil and there were people stupid enough to not heed the warnings and read from it anyway.

Image
The movie got more right than it got wrong. It was smart enough to play with what we expect by keeping us guessing on who would live and who would die. The beats pulled from the previous Evil Dead movies were given a nice twist that kept me guessing. And Jane Levy was truly amazing as Mia. She went from frail to frightened to posessed to all out evil with what seemed to be such effortless ease. For her alone the movie is worth watching. But all the star aligned just right for this film. The cast, the director, the script – everything was spot on. Alvarez took just enough from Raimi’s style to make it feel like an Evil Dead movie while bringing in his own crazy style that fit so well for the movie. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Also, stay after the credits for a little surprise.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars on this one. It is what horror remakes should aspire to – a movie that doesn’t need to be defined by the fact that it’s a remake.

Reviews Are Coming In For Lepus


It would seem that even when people don’t like the full movie of Death By VHS (formerly known as Scream Machine) they still like Lepus. Here are some links to the reviews – 

http://guestars.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/death-by-vhs-from-scarlet-fry-and-some-other-edgy-film-fiends/

http://www.ilikehorrormovies.com/2013/02/death-by-vhs-2013_25.html

http://asouthernlifeinscandaloustimes.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-review-of-death-by-vhs-anthology.html

Those are few of the ones I found so far. I can’t wait to show it in front of a crowd and see how it plays. We’ll keep you posted.

 

Red Dawn: The Worthless Remake


Image

Anyone that reads this blog knows I hate remakes. I don’t pretend. But I will give credit where credit is due – True Grit, 3:10 To Yuma, The Thing, Last House On The Left. These all brought something to the table and were worthwhile remakes. When I first heard they were remaking Red Dawn I actually thought it may actually be a good idea. With the state of the world as it is today it seemed like it was a story worth telling again. I was even excited about the fact that they were using the Chinese as the bad guys. It made sense.

That was 2009.

By the time the movie hit theaters some three years later I had lost all hope that the movie could actually be good. Why? Not because it sat on the shelf. No. That’s easily explained due to MGM’s bankruptcy issues. The reason I lost faith was that the studio decided that China was too big a movie market to use them as a villain and potentially lose millions in revenue. So, instead, they changed the villain to North Korea because it’s okay to hate them unless you’re Dennis Rodman. The movie that’s creative decisions are made by following the dollar is not a movie worth seeing.

With all that said I want to tell you that I went into the movie with an open mind. But that didn’t last long. The moment the first car chase happened I was over being nice to the movie. The movie had a promising cast, an interesting director, even some really cool stunt work. But none of that could save the movie from the studio.

You know, I would normally go on and on about how much I hated the movie but just read my Twitter feed for the 23 tweets I sent out while watching it. They’re probably more entertaining than the movie itself.

Sorry for the lazy blogging. The movie just kinda put me in a mood. I need to watch something better to get this bad taste out of my mouth. Where’s my copy of Showgirls?

1 out of 5 stars.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower Review


I’ve been so behind on my movie watching it’s ridiculous. I’ve been systematically trying to work my way through some of the 2012 movies recently to catch up and had a lot of interest in this one. It was written and directed by Stephen Chbotsky based on his novel and stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd and Melanie Lynsky. I read the novel a few years ago and thought it was a very sweet and thoughtful coming of age story about a young high school freshman finding his place amongst the outcasts. The movie had the same emotional impact as the book. It was smart, sweet, often funny and well paced. I was a fan of the TV series Jericho and knew Chbotsky was uncover with the series so when I saw the book I was immediately curious. I decided to take a chance and buy it when I read the back cover and saw that it was about a kid who didn’t quite fit in when starting high school in the 90’s. That was something I could relate to. Going through high school in the 90’s was a time when I was the most lost. My parents were divorcing, my oldest sister was an adult and leaving home, we had moved to a new state, and I was just a weird kid. Everything was in flux for me at that time…not to mention my raging hormones. So this book and movie resonate with me for that reason. I’m sure many of you would feel the same way. As a movie this film works for a few reasons. First, the script was solid. Chbotsky did a great job adapting his book to the screen. Second, the performances were amazing. Lerman was someone I had seen in movies before and could take him or leave him. That’s not the case here. He really made this role his own and embodied exactly what I pictured when I read the book. Watson was also incredible. This is the first movie I have seen her in beyond the 8 Harry Potter movies and I really think she will be someone to watch for many years to come. Third, Chbotsky’s direction of the film was not showy by any means. He was not going for gloss. He was going for a slice of reality. The style he chose worked perfectly. He didn’t do the whole hybrid of documentary/cinematic look but just went with a very stripped down style perfect for the story he was telling. I know I haven’t talked much about the story itself. There’s not much to tell. It’s pretty simple. In fact, that is its strength. It isn’t so much about story as it is about characters and heart. This is a must see for anyone who is a fan of truly good high school coming of age films. Chbotsky is someone to watch. 4 1/2 out 5 stars for me on this one. Awesome little movie, strong performances and incredibly genuine.

Yet Another Production Update


I know I post a lot on here about this stuff. But it’s my blog. I can do what I want. If you don’t like it then start your own blog and make fun of me for all I care. I have a thick skin. I can take it. Just try to be clever. I don’t want a bunch of gay jokes and “your mama” jokes. They’re tired and make feel like I’m still in high school. And, for the record, I hated those kind of jokes even then. In fact, I actually kinda hated high school. Not to get too off topic here but I thought people would be different as adults. Instead I just see the same kind of stupid people with more grey hair.

Anyway, back to what I actually set out to write. Today something hit the net that was a bit of a surprise to me. There is a trailer for Scream Machine, the DVD anthology that Lepus is a part of. It showed up today on YouTube. I linked it to our official Facebook page.

As far as the rest of what I wanted to mention I was giving something some thought. Lepus was a fifteen minute short that is the first of a proposed trilogy. But what if it was just one long movie instead? Could it be stretched? I think so. Add in a few more characters and have A and B stories running simultaneously and the movie could be stretched to 80 minutes. Lepus cost us roughly $1000 and we could still keep the feature at around $100,000 or there about. I’m trying to decide if it should be lengthened or sequelized.

If I was to stretch the feature I could add in the characters we came up with for the sequels, bring in the ideas we started developing for the mythology of the characters, and make it a weird and funny movie. It seems like the type of film that would fit perfectly into the Troma family. It’s worth trying. I think I will try. The money could be raised through Kickstarter or IndieGoGo easily enough, especially since we have a short film to try and sell it already. The actors would all come back for the feature. That much I’m sure of. I’m gonna give writing the script a try. I have nothing to lose by doing so.

Wish me luck.

American Courtesans


Image

 

Over the past weekend at The Bloody Hero International Film Festival I had the opportunity to see some films that weren’t part of what I had to watch on the jury. American Courtesans was the first one I sat down to watch on Friday. It’s a documentary about the sex industry from insiders in the trade. It was something Kristen DiAngelo, the film’s star, writer and producer, felt very passionately about. She wanted to show what the mainstream media sensationalize with honesty, good or bad. She wanted to interview men and women and let them just talk without fear.

When I first sat down to watch the film I got the distinct impression this was a movie made to sensationalize the sex trade and push for it’s legalization. In fact, that impression stuck with for a while during the film. It really wasn’t until a day later as I reflected on the film that I came to the realization that it wasn’t a propaganda film about legalizing prostitution. It was just a simply a film where these people in the business could open up and share their feelings about the business they’d chosen for themselves, good or bad. 

The film shows women in the industry from all walks of life. One woman who was a real estate agent in Florida and chose this life after the market collapsed and she could no longer support herself in the trade she had originally chosen. Another woman ended up in the life after her husband had introduced her to it. One woman did it in order to support her son. The son was also interviewed. It was an incredibly moving moment watching this man talk about his love for his mother and the sacrifices she made in order to raise him. 

Whether you agree with the lifestyle or not doesn’t matter when watching this film. It’s all about getting caught up in watching these women telling their stories, many of which are heartbreaking. It is definitely worth seeing. It is a more honest look at women in this trade than anything else I have ever seen. 

This movie is a sold 4 out of 5 stars. The women are at times funny, sad and always engaging. 

For more on this film you can see my interview with Kristen DiAngelo soon on YouTube and hear the audio interview later today on my podcast – The Gorram Nerd Hour.

Some Guy Who Kills People


Image

 

Some Guy Who Kills People – Written by Ryan Levin, Directed by Jack Perez and starring Kevin Corrigan, Lucy Davis, Karen Black, Barry Bostwick, Leo Fitzpatrick and Ariel Gade.

This was another of the movies I got to watch thanks to my time on the jury for The Bloody Hero International Film Festival in Phoenix, AZ. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this movie. Sure, I loved the cast but that doesn’t always make for a good movie. Thankfully the script and direction were both just as solid. 

The story is about a man who was the type of guy that was picked on all through high school. It had gotten so bad that he attempted suicide and got locked up in a mental institution. Years later he’s out and working at an ice cream parlor and living with his mom. Soon, we discover that the all the people who picked on him in high school are turning up dead. And, to top it off, he has a woman who’s interested in him and starts to form a relationship with his daughter that his ex never let him know. It must be difficult to juggle a relationship with a woman, family, work and murder. But Corrigan does an expert job of creating a character you root for throughout the movie. You consistantly hope throughout that he is not actually the killer. 

The rest of the cast is amazing. I absolutely loved Barry Bostwick and Karen Black. Not only did they both do an amazing job in their solo scenes but they were amazing together. There is a scene toward the end of the film where they’re sitting at the dining table together talking that is among my favorites from this little gem of a film. 

Leo Fitzpatrick and Lucy Davis were also absolutely perfect in their roles in the film. They brought a certain heart to a movie you’d expect to just be a goofy horror comedy. But the real star of this film is Ariel Gade as Corrigan’s daughter. For such a young girl she has a crazy amount of talent. Her performance was blended with sarcastic humor, genuine sadness and a certain joy that even seasoned actors couldn’t pull off. She was a true find. We awarded her Best Supporting Actress at The Bloody Hero International Film Festival because she was better than the rest by a mile.

The movie itself was a bit predictable but I don’t say that as a fault to the film. This is one of those movies where it’s not about the twist, it’s about the journey getting there that really makes you love it. The script was smart and funny. The directing was solid and his decision to use only practical effects really worked for the film. It’s no wonder John Landis agreed to Executive Produce this film.

This movie deserves 4 and 1/2 stars. It’s a smart, well crafted horror comedy that any fan of the genre will love.

#HoldYourBreath – Asylum’s Big Movie


Image

 

I have never tried to hide the fact that I think Asylum movies are bad. I’m guessing they would say the same thing. They have to know it. Why else would they make Mockbusters like Transmorphers and Titanic 2? But one thing Asylum has never done was release a movie in theaters. Netflix and Redbox have been their bread and butter. That all changed with #HoldYourBreath. I assume the hashtag was an attempt to get the movie trending on Twitter because it has nothing to do with the movie at all. In fact, nobody is carrying a cellphone let alone a laptop for the whole movie. 

The film begins with a flashback to a deranged killer about to be put to death by way of the electric chair. The onlookers, including the very cool Devanny Pinn as a surviving victim with the scars to prove it, witness the final horrible act of this brutal killer as he kills the warden before they get him strapped in and electrocuted. 

Cut to present day – a group of stereotypical kids are travelling up to a campsite in their SUV when they are about to pass a cemetery. Katrina Bowden (30 Rock, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil) pleads for everyone to hold their breath as they pass. She finally convinces them all to do so. The problem is the stoner coughs and drops his pipe between the driver’s legs and they nearly crash. 

Because the stoner didn’t hold his breath he becomes possessed by the killer we saw electrocuted at the beginning of the movie. He stays behind as the rest of the pretty people go check out the spooky abandoned mental hospital. A couple of the people go off and have sex while others just explore. Eventually they make it to their campsite and all hell breaks loose. The spirit of the killer can hop from body to body and nobody is safe. 

I will say this about the movie. They tried to do something original with it. Granted, it was still weak but enjoyable. The girls in the movie were all really good. I’m not saying that because it was a low budget horror film and girls tend to be hot and naked. There was plenty of that but that’s not my compliment. When I say they were good it’s because this type of movie is only as successful as the female actors. The whole movie depends on it. Bowden and Erin Marie Hogan were both really good in the movie. At times the script got silly but they tried very hard to sell the idea at all times. I appreciate that. 

Overall, this was the best quality film Asylum has made. It was still weak and could have used a good script re-write before going in front of the camera (an electric chair at a mental hospital, really?) but they did well with what they had. I can appreciate it. This movie is not high art. It never pretended to be. But it’s not exploitation cinema either. Sure there’s boobs and violence but it doesn’t feel like they’re trying to push boundaries. 

I am going to give this 3 out 5 thanks to strong performances from Bowden and Hogan and a director that didn’t make me cringe as I watched the technical aspects of the movie.