Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Sky Has Fallen (2009 – to Infinity and Beyond) Movie Review

Watching this movie it's striking to see how much can be done by one man with passion. While Hollywood cranks out ninety minutes of garbage at the cost of a billion dollars a gonzo filmmaker can produce ninety minutes of entertaining garbage for .00002 of a percentage of that. If Doug Roos makes 'Suicide Squirt' or 'Batdork vs Superlame' they might have made more sense. Seriously a billion f'ing dollars, a whole building of writers, thousands of comic books and no one could come up with a better way for two losers who can't get dates on a Friday night to become bros than 'let's form a my mommy's name is Marta club'? Or 'Susie pom Squad' lack of anything, script, bad guy, heroes, sense, continuity, anyone to care about, and the one big bad, The Joker, could have been taken by Milley Cyrus in Celebrity Deathmatch.

TSHF has a beautifully scored soundtrack, FX, a weirdly interesting story and many elements that predate 'The Walking Dead'. Numerous filmmakers get off track using fancy computer generated special effects instead of basic camera and makeup techniques. With green screens technology assessable to even amateur filmmakers it gets overused. Professional actors have a hard enough time trying to react, interact, or play off of something that isn't there (watch 'Birdemic' (2008), please don't it's really bad). So taking someone with no acting experience/skill/aptitude and throwing them in front of a green screen isn't going to work well. Using practical effect only helps wannabe actors be convincing to audiences.

OCD isn't a stranger to artists or creative types. Making short or full-length films in some ways is a resume for people working on them. Working on reshooting and re-editing the same film for ten plus years isn't a good representation of the level one's skills are at now. There are some really nice well shot scenes in this film but the cinematography of this film is at an overall lower level. After a decade the people working on this film are at a more advanced stage in their experience. Mr. Roos also does everything on this movie. Which shows off his considerable skills but leaves him little time to really focus on any one thing. Most films where one man does everything normally turn out badly. For every Terry Lofton, 'Nail Gun Massacre' (1985), there's a hundred Tommy Wiseau, 'The Room' (2003). This movie is much closer to 'Nail Gun Massacre' than 'The Room'. Not to mention the twenty-minute roll at the end listing a ridonkulous number of executive and associate producers watering down meaningful contributions of people who took a chance on a dream over a decade ago.

The big problem with this movie is the chronic camera hopping character to character. Watching this movie shows the viewer what it is like to have Popcorn Brain. Another issue is in a post-apocalyptic wasteland neither of the two survivors has any gear. Not a water bottle, backpack, fanny pack, sleeping bag, tactical vest, jacket, nothing! The main dude Lance is continually giving things to other people throughout the film, that he pulls out of mid-air. But at least it isn't 'Things' (1989) bad. Which had a budget of forty thousand dollars Canadian (adjusted for US dollars and inflation that's like $1,000,000)

Queen finally had to stop messing with Bohemian Rhapsody due to the tape being worn thin (in this digital age they would still be working on it). It is time to take the knowledge and experience gained from making this movie and pour that into a new project. Of Course if you're Sam Raimi you just remake the same movie you just spent the better part of a decade making (Someone explain this to me? Evil Dead one and two are the same damn movie. Making it worse, the first one is better!) When your film's website looks dated and it has been getting awards for a decade it might be time to move on to the next project.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Non-Transferable (2017) Movie Review

The first thing you'll notice is that Non-Transferable is not your run of the mill meet-cute - in fact, our two leads couldn't be more opposite. Amy (Ashley Clements), a self-proclaimed "global concierge", is a by-the-books woman who has a plan - for everything. Except getting dumped by her boyfriend on their anniversary right before they were supposed to embark on a two week, non-refundable vacation to Europe. Her two best friends, (Shanna Malcolm and Katie Wee) convince her to still go, just with a different guy - who has to have the same name as her ex. Enter Josh Merit (Brendan Bradley), a kindergarten teacher who not only doesn't follow life's rule book, he tears, burns, and scatters its ashes.

They're a mismatch from the start and they know it - there's no denying it after their hilarious "first fight" in front of a TSA agent that ends in a judgmental exchange ("Y'all are crazy." "We're in therapy.") After Josh's near-death experience during takeoff, they finally reach their destination - but the journeys just begun.

What follows is a crazy, endearing, butterflies in your stomach ride as Amy and Josh try to navigate their trip (after Josh loses their itinerary out the car window), not to mention their ''just met you off the internet', totally-not-awkward relationship. Set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Turkish landscape, both Amy and Josh discover there's so much more to a journey when you're brave enough to throw out the rule book.

As director, writer, co-producer, and co-star of Non-Transferable, Bradley was hyper-focused on every aspect of the film, from production to distribution. "A question I always asked myself," he says, "is how can we bring together advertisers and artists to share the risk and reward of original storytelling?" For Bradley, that vision became reality. Co-financed by the country of Turkey, a remarkable mutual filmmaking relationship ensued. The entire film team supported and featured the country's travel brands and famous destinations in a collaborative effort to produce an international love story.

What sets Non-Transferable apart from most other rom-coms is how it successfully pulls the heart strings without losing its laughs. It's overflowing with hilarious moments from start to finish. A sincere marriage proposal one second, and the next somebody's gulping down lead-laden water from a millennium-old fountain to get moisturizing lotion out of their mouth because they- (no spoilers - you have to watch the film).

Even better, you know those scenes in every rom-com? The last-ditch running through the airport, the "just broke up" montage with muffled Michelle Branch playing in the background? Non-Transferable brings those nostalgic moments back - but with a twist. As our couple hurries towards their departing ferry, we expect they'll make it on board with little problem and then share a calm, beautiful boat ride. Instead, jumping off the pier, missing their ferry by inches and falling into the ocean (and subsequently drenching all their luggage) becomes the most romantic gesture in the world.

Moving behind the camera, Non-Transferable boasts another trailblazing aspect as being part of the new breed of film that's instrumental in rewriting modern movie language. It's a style of communication that's adapting to our technological advances and culture at breakneck speed - evident in the characters' rapid-fire dialogue of social media terms, such as the number of Instagram notifications, online dating, and having "four million followers on vine", etc,. Non-Transferable succeeds where few others have: walking the thin line between it's unique, "millennial" language being interesting enough to not lose its older audience, and being genuine enough to engage the entire younger demographic.

In an "epidemic of content", Bradley says he's trying to get back to the age when stories were about "bad timing, not bad people." To him, the genuine, uplifting romantic comedies of today get glossed over because "in the last decade we’ve shifted to mean-spirited characters and R-rated comedy." Not that he doesn't enjoy a 'Superbad'-esque movie as much as the rest of us, but his vision with Non-Transferable was a welcome "return to the 90’s formula using today’s social media pacing and personalities." It's safe to say after seeing Non-Transferable that his vision has succeeded, blending trans-media promotion and a modern technological language to achieve the best of both worlds. **


About Brendan Bradley:

After getting his start in the harsh New York independent theater and film scene, Bradley ventured into a variety of creative projects: starring in PBS Digitals Frankenstein MD, developing his first series 'Squatters' for DailyMotion Originals, Video Game Reunion for Comedy Central's Online Hub, and even earning casting as 'The Staples Guy' on dozens of television and radio commercials worldwide.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Border Brothers (2017) Movie Review

 It's a film about the grown up son of “Dude” from The Big Lebowski. It has some great cameos from John Goodman and Jeff Bridges. The young Dude decides to pass the J and get off the couch, making a sticky icky run to Mexico, where he mistakenly brings back two brothers named Joel and Ethan. And if you believe that Rickey Bird Jr. would like to talk to you about an investment opportunity in a movie called MachineGun Baby being produced by Menahem Golan.

Border Brothers Trailer YouTube

No, seriously, Brian (not the son of the sultan of slack, though he could be) runs a pool service. His life sucks, on the wrong side of life, dating an Oildale Debutante who is sleeping with his worse, and one of his last, customers. While Brian is fishing out used condoms of 'El Negro Diablo's' pool he is serenaded by his tube top wearing, huffy riding, sleeve job giving girlfriend's moans of 'demasiado grande de fierro'. At the same time, his competitor is heckling him and stealing all his customers, including dear old mom. The life of Brian takes a series of events to become the Messiah drug pimp of Bakersfield.

Oildale debutante checking her leaky pipes YouTube

Written, directed and produced by the Hectic Films cartel out of Bakersfield CA (if you have been paying attention, every time Hollywood needs a town to make fun of, hello Bakersfield). If you watch a Korn video, you can see Rickey's house. The Bakersfield film mafia has been making hazy brown cloud movie magic for over a decade. Spoiler alert they don't film in Tijuana, the town and air is much clearer than Bakersfield. If people in Tijuana were given a choice of staying there or moving to Bakersfield with papers but having to live in Bakersfield for the rest of their lives, they would choose to stay in Mexico. They don't leave Oildale to film except to get a clip on the 101.

Korn Oildale YouTube

They are a dedicated bunch no matter how many times they get shut down by break-ins, equipment thefts, brown clouds, valley fever, Oildale Royals, booze shortages, drug shortages, sand storms, strange new STD's and drive by’s (seriously who would live there, it's not a prison, anyone can leave and never go back, who in their right mind would stay in the central valley) they still just crank out good movies… even if Rickey has to force his son to work on these films (all little Rickey got out of it was a crappy sound tech credit)

Oildale Royals YouTube

It's a film that is more appreciated after watching Gods of Egypt. It’s a film with a budget of one hundred and forty million dollars and Rotten Tomatoes has it rated sixteen percent fresh. Someone must have slipped a bag of cash to get the rating that high. The movie is so bad and makes no sense. The chariot pulling fly things go from sixty miles an hour to a complete stop without slowing down, letting Geezer Butler step off the green screen, like me strolling out of the bathroom in the morning. After watching Gods of Egypt, I rate this Border Brothers movie a full bucket of popcorn! Border Brothers is a fun movie that will convince everyone that some people should stay behind the camera… well, for that matter some ideas shouldn't be made into films. A great film that would make PC Principal pop a blood vessel, Roger Ebert would call waste of film (screw him, he gave Deuce Bigalow, Joe Dirt, Dukes of Hazzard, Tommy Boy, Resident Evil, and The Water Boy all zero stars and it's all digital now anyways! Plus he wrote a Russ Meyer film), gives moviegoers a better option than Gods of Egypt. Plus your ticket purchase goes directly to supporting the crack addict that keeps stealing all of Hectic Films (or HF because abbreviating worked so well for KFC, maybe because after sixteen years there's no Hectic left in HF?) sound equipment. So, you could either donate money to Sally Struthers to feed.... well Sally Struthers or support struggling crack addicts. Your call.

Watch Border Brothers and other fine Hectic Films movies

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pitching Tents (2017) Movie Review

This movie is an homage to classic 80's teen comedies, only better. Many of those movies did the same stereotypical cast, jokes, and gags repeatedly. They all had the Asian guy who was a tech wizard. The jock whose nickname was a thinly veiled reference to his junk. The stoner, the horn dog, the clueless parents that come around in the end, stupid adults the kids outsmart, sibling rivalry, horror-able sex acts, the holy grail quest to get laid, and lastly the sweet kid just trying to figure it out. Most think of Porky's or the John Hughes movies. As funny as Porky's was, it wasn't a very good movie in many ways, naked girls just to have naked girls, poor camera work, over the top raunchy script setting up studios to lose focus on cinematography and dialog for the rest of the decade. It wasn't until Kevin Smith's Clerks in 1994 that anyone spent time developing dialog again. Watching the John Hughes movies now, all the characters are one-dimensional and teens always win/figure life out in the end, type of boring. Not, that these movies weren't good at the time, but they don't hold up well. 

Pitching Tents is a good mixture of 'One Crazy Summer' (1986), 'Last American Virgin' (1982), and maybe 'Meatballs' (1979). The director Jacob Cooney has a George Millerian skill in communicating information to the viewer non-verbally. Which is the only way this movie would work. With a large cast of charterers, he is able to introduce them seamlessly without veering off course from the plot. While avoiding over redundant stereotypes that make many movies unwatchable/predicable. Jacob does a good job of showcasing the beautiful women in this movie. Made difficult by hideous 80's fashion. All the girls are way too beautiful to wear waist highpleatedacid-washed jeans. Not the typical 'have the girl jump up and down' gonzo directing so many teen films have. The steamy make-out scene in the woods is way hotter than the standard mandatory 'the movie needs this' nude scene. One of the hard things to secure for this movie had to be Grandpas mint condition boxy 80's boat. Image trying to pitch dear old pappy on letting his cherry vintage ride he has waxed twice a week for the last forty years to be used in a movie about a wild drug party in the woods with a side quest for Goddess Camp. A movie you never can let him watch due to the weird necrophilia-beastiality and drug use in his car. 

Pitching Tents YouTube Trailer

From start to finish this was a funny enjoyable movie to watch. Mister fast forward button wasn't needed once, the first or second viewing. The dialog does have many raunchy jokes, keeping with the feel of eighties teen comedies. Without being dependent on them. It has plenty of witty quick dialog, more in tune with a Joss Whedon vehicle than anything from forty years ago. Great period soundtrack with talented actors. Both Samantha Basalari and Micheal Grant should be in more movies in the future. Best eighties teen film since the eighties!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Spider Baby (1967) Retro Movie Review (Public Domain)

This was a lost film for most of its existence. Lost films happened in many ways. Nitrate film stock used before 1952 is flammable causing film fires wiping thousands of films off the face of the earth. Fox had a big fire in 1937 wiping out their film vault and MGM had one in 1967 taking out many early films. Most film buffs have at least heard of Metropolis (1927) which was lost but found early in the new millennium. Most studios didn't then have a way to monetize movies after their theatrical run until TV, home video and art houses came around. So there was little interest in preserving or storing them, even though a copy of every film since 1909 was to be preserved in the Library of Congress. Interesting to note Lon Chaney Sr. film London after Midnight (1927) is also on the lists of lost films even though through promo photographs they have reconstructed the entire movie from stills. Luckily for us, this movie miraculously was released on VHS in the late 90's, when an owner of a television station in Finland realized the rights had lapsed allowing him to sell copies of the reel he had.

Spider Baby Trailer YouTube

Spider Baby had a rough go of it from the start. Starting with a minuscule budget of $65,000. Causing it to be filmed in black & white. Even though since Technicolor 'Process 4' came out in 1932, color films had become the standard. Televisions since the mid-fifties had color available. For budget reference, The Night of the Living Dead (1968) had a budget of $114, 000. So Spider Baby was made for little over half of what George Romero scraped together. The interior scenes were filmed in a warehouse in Glendale California in the middle of summer with no air conditioning (studio was going broke). Which had the effect of making most of the actors look bat crazy between sweating and being a moment away from heatstroke. The viewers get the sense that Lon Chaney was going to mentally snap at any time. After the studio went bankrupt it sat for several years before being released with little fan fair. With several name changes The liver Eaters, The Attack of the Liver Eaters, Jack Hill's Spider Baby, Cannibal Orgy, Or the Maddest Story Ever Told it never had much of a chance and the lyrics in the opening don't make much sense unless the movie is named Cannibal Orgy.

At the time of its release, the most famous cast member was Mantan Moreland who starred in many early comedies as a house boy, manservant, or chauffeur playing a stereotypical character. Mr. Moreland broke many barriers for black actors but the style of comedy he was known for was quickly swept under the rug after the civil rights movements in the 50's. 

Lon Chaney Jr. was mostly known for low-budget horror movies and as the guy that played the Wolfman. Even though his father had taught him make-up, strict union rule prevented him from doing anything with it. Watch some of Lon Chaney Sr.'s films, the level of horror he brought to the screen with no help from CGI, modern camera tricks or sound is remarkable. There was a huge gap in the world of horror movies for make-up, from Chaney Sr. to Rick Baker in the seventies. A piece of horror movie trivia is Chaney jr. is the only person to play all four of the major Universal monsters on film.

Sid Haig gives a standout performance in this movie. Still very bald (didn't that guy ever have hair?). But wandered in bit parts as a heavy for forty years until Quentin Tarantino and Rob Zombie came calling. Looking at his list of credits he literally played a bad guy on every TV show in history Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man, Dukes of Hazzard, and A-Team to name a few. But he, like the director, wouldn't be appreciated till many years later.

Jack Hill wrote and directed many of the well-known exploration movies in the seventies Foxy Brown, Coffy, The Big Bird Cage, Switch Blade Sisters and The Terror (with Jack freaking Nicholson and Boris motherfing Karloff). He said just as long as he put blood, violence, and nudity in the films the studios would allow him to add intelligent ideas and concepts in the films. Hill left movies all too soon cause the movies the studios green lit for him weren't exactly what he wanted. His student film 'The Host' (1960) is well worth watching. The only place to find it is a bonus feature on the Switch Blade Sisters DVD. Francis Ford Coppola said 'The Host' was a major influence on the last part of Apocalypse Now (1979).

The movie tells the story of a family chauffeur that made a death-bed promise to the head of the household to keep the family together and hide their dark secrets. A family that has skeletons in the closet, bed, basement, and dumb-waiter. Caused by a disease that runs in the maternal DNA that causes members to regress after the age of ten to a primitive state. The chauffeur played by Chaney is barely hanging on to his own sanity. Having to take care of covering up the transgressions of the household he is slowly being tasked with more and more hideous chores. When into the red with no warning, distant family members come sniffing around hearing rumors of a family fortune.

Spider Baby Full Movie Public Domain YouTube

There is a reason this film has grown a huge mass cult following, with only being available in the last twenty years, missing the building a fan base over most of its early life-like most films, it's very well done. Rated a seven on IMDB and 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The 2007 release has some cool special features namely the early 2000's premier. Sadly Lon Chaney, Mantan Moreland and Jill Banner (played Virginia Merrye) all past a few years after the theatrical release of the film. Any aspiring filmmaker should watch this film to see what is possible with no budget and twelve days. It's entertaining from beginning to end. The only real knock is towards the end the make-up they used for Uncle Ned, makes it feel like they had no budget or time. Still not as bad as the tall alien at the end of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977) seriously what was up with that dandy long legs alien? That's not even the worst thing about that movie, family man Roy jumps on a spaceship and no one is like what about your wife and kids, he doesn't think to ask how long this trip to another galaxy is going to take or when his family should expect him home, Roy is clearly the villain of CE3K and a deadbeat dad. Have fun with this goody but an oldie and don't be a bug caught up in a spider web! Whatever you do, don't play the spider game........

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Strange Invaders (1983) Retro Movie Review

This movie used to be a staple on late night TV. Saw it again on one of the free movies channels on cable. Sad that a number of movies disappeared from theaters all too quickly. While some of these like 'The Big Lebowski' (1998), 'Shawshank Redemption' (1994), 'Fight Club' (1999), and 'Office Space' (1999) got a second life through social media, older movies sometimes never had a chance. Short theatrical releases, along with name changes as it went region to region, marketing got dropped to save money, causing confusion and not being released in some areas altogether. These old movies tell a story in a different way, they didn't have CGI, big budgets, or sometimes completed scripts, the pace is slower with less action. Studio meddling was all too common leading to post production edit hack jobs that left incoherent prints to be shown in theaters, 'Once a Time in America' (1984) or any Sam Peckinpah movie are good examples of this. Only after being re-edited for home video were these movies watchable. Even successful movies a different version is better to watch providing a fuller story like the European version of 'Vanishing Point' (1971). With all that being said, there is plenty of entertainment value here.

Viewers will recognize a few well know actors. June Lockhart, the mother from Lost in Space has a small role as do a few others. Michael Lerner was the Senator in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' (2014). Half the fun watching these old movies is trying to remember which tv shows and movies you've seen the actors in. Nancy Allen is the best-known actor and should have been in more movies, but you know, Robocop two and three would've killed anyone's career. Mel Gibson was rumored to be up for the male lead. Whatever you think about the guy he is a great actor, very interesting to watch. The casted lead Paul Le Mat is boring. Most of the scenes in New York could have been cut or made to include Allen would've been a more enjoyable film to watch.

Watch Strange Invaders Classic Movie Trailer

In the movie, Paul was married to an alien and never knew. Apparently, the difference between blonde ditz and a never been to earth before alien isn't too much of a difference for Paul to notice. Of course, this is the same guy who never tries to clean up his apartment, drops his kid off at his drunken mother's apartment to take off cross country after his disappeared ex-wife. Now, most guys I know if they got sole custody of their kid and ex-wife left the planet they would be very happy. Get a wish from a magic genie and only wish for a 'cold beer' kinda of happy. But nooo Paul needs to track down his missing weirdo ex-wife. Of course, if he stayed at home we wouldn't get to see the aliens kick his ass. But his bestie gets it, giving the viewer one more reason not to like him. Can you tell who I rooting for? During the day this film was made the woman couldn't be the heroine and aliens couldn't be portrayed in a sympathetic light, be an antihero, or have a noble cause for coming half way across the galaxy to Earth. Woman have to be saved and aliens are evil. The fact Ms. Allen could slap Paul around easily sort of ruins the illusion of the damsel in distress.

The special effects are great for the time the film was released and holds up well. The alien makeup is worth the use of the virtual rewind button even by today's standards. Many of the movies from this time period used cheesy FX, make-up and bad stop motion that makes them almost unwatchable. The spaceship does looks like it was borrowed from the Flash Gordon movie. Almost expected a Birdman to come down on a hover cycle to get into the action. Maybe give Nancy Allen someone to ride off into the sunset with. Because you know she's not shacking up with Paul. But this is an enjoyable movie. The freaks they meet along the way keep the movie entertaining and watchable. Seriously if this movie was made in the last decade the director would have found a way to kill off Paully and make the awesome Ms. Allen the hero. Throw some Jiffy Pop on the stove, pop open a can of Tab and enjoy this forgotten nugget from the grainy fuzzy coked-up early 80's.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Range 15 (2016) Movie Review

A zombie movie made by a bunch of PTSD-suffering juvenile ex-military guys which was funded by a record raising crowd funding campaign should be worth a look. Think Team America the unrated version mashed-up with the first draft of Superbad. The sheer number of cameos is pretty amazing except Ron Jeremy, it's more shocking to see a movie made without him. The screen actor guild must have it in their contracts that he must be given a cameo in every movie. Mr. Jeremy must have some muscle on very big players, maybe some photos of huge characters or at least leverage on top of some important people.

We all know you never go full retard. Well, some will say this movie went full retard, it did clearly go full d-bag. It is ok to have the slimy characters whose jokes and lines cleverly portray them as such. The language is brutal ensuring a reduced audience range. Blunt gutter jokes don't play any better the second time. On the other hand, innuendos and witty sly jokes play better not only the second time also the first time thoroughly making the movie more watchable to a wider audience. It's clear they wanted to parody the image of the military by some wackos in America. There are also too many inside military jokes that aren't going to mean anything to the average juvenile males who make up a large portion of a zombie movie's market. Too bad they didn't use a little more humor, little more gore, spend more time developing the script. Being this movie was made by two clothing companies it would have been fun to see some catchy t-shirts slogans worn by zombies before they get blasted, see some more puns on clothing.

While this movie started out strong it just sort of petered out. Jokes seemed repetitive and flat plus a senseless killing of a member of the group that will leave most wondering why? Maybe the cast and crew got worn down by the filming schedule. This isn't the first movie that would have benefited from spending more time before shooting on read-throughs and developing the script. They also didn't seem to know how to use the women in the movie. They cast two good looking girls at the very least they should have been able to visually get them more involved. Most horror directors would love to get women this attractive to be in their movies. It was once said it was a good thing Superbad took so long to make because it would have been all bad fart and dick jokes. Be interesting to see these guys next movie.

All that being said this movie is worth checking out. It starts off entertaining enough. Mindy Robinson has a slew of movies due out in the next year, so this is a chance to see this talent without waiting for the other movies. Plus a really sweet gear up montage. Betting these guys make another movie in the future.