Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dead Shack (2017) Movie Review

This little dirty gem of an undead movie has flown under everyone's radar. Premiering at the Toronto After Dark film fest last year. There isn't anything over the top or dripping gore about it. But it is a really cute horror movie filled fill pre-ball dropping boy humor and dad jokes. Anytime people go into the woods to camp and they end up fighting for survival, is normally the start of a good movie. Think Deliverance (1972), Evil Dead (1981), Sleepaway Camp (1983), Cabin Fever (2002), Dead and Breakfast (2004), Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010), and Don't go Fuck in the Woods (2016).

Barely getting off the ground by raising 12,000 Canadian dollars on Kickstarter (that doesn't pay for catering on most movies, what is that like 420 US dollars?)(update: Mr. Ricq informed me they had additional funding, very cool to get feedback from the director!). It's impressive what director Peter Ricq is able to crank out. Of course with no money for FX, guns, fight scenes, vehicles, film, cameras, and props there ends up being a lot more time to work on dialog and style. By using practical effects and cute banter there isn't one second where mister fast forward button had to be used. 

Originally Finn Wolfhard was cast but once those Stranger Things dollars started coming in, making an Indie movie wasn't high on his list (sleeping in a roach hotel and eating canned tuna fish for two weeks, no thanks). So close to getting a big name right before they hit big. A photo of him is still on the Kickstarter page. Lauren Holly plays the Z-wrangler but isn't top listed or mentioned anywhere on the posters or promo materials. Weird since she was an A-list actor in the 90's. Normally horror icons and big named actors get their names splashed everywhere to help movies gain recognition.

Most horror movies also need a hottie showing a little skin. The mandatory skinny dipping, Jaws (1975) or running through the woods in a thong, Jason X (2001). The character of Summer is supposed to be sixteen, but it would have been weird for that character anyway. Daddy's hottie little train wreck of a, too drunk to run away, girlfriend could have gotten a little freaky. Doesn't look like this movie was rated by the MPAA. But having a little spice would have helped it a little. Nail Gun Massacre (1985), once it was picked up for distribution, had some new footage shot to help it out.

A very impressive movie when compared to over bloated Hollywood drivel. Too many movies have a zillion dollars and no life. This movie has a budget of four dollars and twenty cents US and is completely dead (bad pun completely intended). Gather your friends, put Billy Bong Thorton down, and waste an hour and twenty minutes of your life watching this (better than watching another Simpsons rerun or Get Out (2017)), low in budget but high in blood, movie.  A movie so bad Finn Wolfhard agreed to be in Stranger Things instead of this (joking of course, he had to dropped out due to Stranger Things starting to film season two)!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981) Retro Movie Review

Another movie that critics hated (prerequisite for a lot of films I like) and gets undue hate from horror aficionados. There is many issues in continuity and ability of a mentally challenged deformed man-child. The beginning of the film just simply confused people and didn't make a lot of sense. First Jason never died, second, he learns to use the phone and walk into the city unnoticed and stalk the lone survivor from the first film all while looking like the villain from The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)? The first moments of a film normally set the tone for the rest of the film. This opening could have been left DOA on the editing room floor. Making a better film.

When half the camp decides to go to the bar leaving easy pickings for our murderer savant. The bar strangely looks like the one from Porky's (1981). The first killing is a tad weird with the psycho just hanging out with his arms wrapped around a large tree holding a garrotte waiting for someone to stop by close enough to get the wire over their head. And the spearing death paying homage to Bay of Blood (1971) was almost completely cut out due to gore and nudity. The film seems to have been filmed in order. Explaining why it gets better as it unfolds. With a first-time director Miner seemingly hitting his stride towards the end.

Ms. Voorhees was already established as batshit crazy. But knowing Jason was alive the entire time smears guano all over her face and has her dancing in the moonlight naked in front of her son kind of crazy. It helps show how crazy she was and opens a reasonable explanation to the opening. A schizophrenia split personality that happened when she thought Jason died. She later found him in the woods alive but the mental break already incurred. So Jason was raised in seclusion by a person who bounced back and forth thinking he should be dead and the loving mother. Talk about a rough childhood. This scenario makes the film that much more twisted. With the stalking and murder of Alice being done by a copycat.

Friday The 13th Part 2 YouTube Trailer

Everyone thought the resurrection of Jason was a bad idea. The director, Tom Savili (makeup), and most of the people involved with the first one left. So in steps Steve Miner, an assistant on the first one, who ends up having a long successful career in Hollywood cranking out movies like House (1985), Lake Placid (1999) and Day of the Dead (2008). Initially Paramount wanted the rights to make a reoccurring series of horror films with a different non-continuing story (John Carpenter envisioned the same for Halloween) but the only way they could get the rights was to make a film centered around Jason. Which no one thought made any sense!

The MPAA played a big part in the toned down special effects. They were heavily criticized in giving the first one an R rating. So blood and guts were noticeably absent from this outing. But having naked girls wasn't taboo yet. Sheena (1984) had Tonya Roberts naked washing in a river during the whole opening credits, rated PG. But the problem with the T&A was the actress they hired to provide most of the T&A ended up being underage.

Part 2 is also the first outing for Frank Mancuso Jr. who became the showrunner for the series. Who went ahead creating the horrible tv show. That had nothing to do with the film or horror genre. It was a boring tedious labor of excruciating pain to watch. Think Supernatural (2005) without any humor, script, babes, monsters, wit or charm. The show did gain a cult following simply by having the name. But for some reason Jason's Nightmares (1988-1990) which was an awesome show, no one has ever seen. Friday the 13th: The Series (1987-1990) people kept tuning in waiting for Jason to kill all these boring people.

Worth noting everyone got over Jason being alive. The 3rd film released one year later did much better. The 3rd Friday introduced the hockey mask (that's right the first movie Jason was a tragic dead kid (not the villain), the second movie he didn't have his signature hockey mask (a burlap sack that made him look like the Elephant Man). The 3rd movie also had Richard Booker as Jason which cast a more sinister presence due to size. Another issue with this movie is Jason isn't very scary. Not in size or how he kills. Miner seemingly made an anti-Halloween (1978) movie with no suspense or build up.

This is another good example of a movie that time has been kind to. No one now finds it weird Jason is the killer or alive. Where Jason has now morphed this supernatural undead boogie man the opening scene isn't so awkward (you know after killing half of Manhattan and leaving a trail of floating blood bubbles in outer space). Miner's zippy movie pace makes it easier for today's audiences to watch compared to Halloween (1978). Amy Steel provides a good performance. Miner moves the film along at a brisk pace. The psychological aspect of the film plays better to audiences used to smarter films. Even the smaller Jason plays better in a day that most action stars and villains are no longer muscle-bound He-Men. Definitely worth a look or second viewing.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Booze, Broads, and Blackjack is Underway!

Not wanting to take a chance on sleeping with the fishes, Hectic Films is wide awake and underway on Booze, Broads, and Blackjack

A mobster film that has been finely tuned and scripted by the author himself, Carl Nicita.

The sets are being built, the cement shoes poured, and the actors have gathered to begin filming on this very ambitious project. 

Not wanting to wait around for the perfect time and opportunity, Hectic Films is doing what they do best. Putting their feet to the ground, their eye to the camera, and making Blockbuster style films on budgets that would terrify even the most Indie of filmmakers. 

Speaking of which, I know a guy who knows a guy who can get you in the credits and some other amazing perks if the price is right. Whattaya say? 

Head over to Indiegogo to check out the campaign that is up now.

Normally you gotta be a Made Man to get a deal this good, but we trust you. We can trust you, right?

I just got some more insider news for you as well. Come here. A little closer. Don't worry about the plastic on the carpet, I'm having the place painted soon. 

Joe Raffa will be starring as 'Jack King', Erica Rey will be 'Misty Rebel' and Sarah French will play 'Alicia Gonzalvo'.They will be joining Felissa Rose Esposito Miller who appears as 'Savannah Holly' and Dana (DT) Carney who will portray Detective Tom Maselli.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018) Movie Review

Safe to say after the 2008 remake there was little demand for this update of the Romero classic. Just like the Bay Watch movie, there is no demand for this. Remakes very rarely capture all the ingredients that made the original so good. Either it needs to refocus the story, have new twists, or better special effects, generally better overall. Hopefully all the above. Rarely does a remake get a Director with vision, that can pull off a Zombie's Halloween type of, didn't know how much better it could be movie!

The 1985 original was gritty, violent, all hope was lost theme. Miguel severed from PTSD along with deeply questioning his faith was just ready to die, representing, depressingly, the middle ground. The military just wanted to survive without hope by closing themselves off. And the civilians who had hope, either for a cure or to find an unpopulated island. The real threat was from people themselves, not the zombies. The last few people on earth had little reason to play nice with each other, even though their lives depended on it. Romero gave up half the budget just so he could make his unrated version.

Bloodlines just starts-out bad. The opening montage comes off cheesy. From crazy amounts of over spay from bites to zombies going right through plate-glass and car windows. A zombie breaks through a narrow plate-glass window to snatch a girl riding past on her bike. Since the zombie couldn't be able to see her beforehand or normally break through glass like that, it just set the tone for the movie. There never is any tension built up. No characters to get emotionally attached to. Not to mention one static camera shot after another and cardboard characters. Dr. Logan is gone from this retelling, who is key to justifying Rhodes outrage and unraveling. Bloodline had a different take on Bub that was interesting for a sec. But had a weird Heath Ledger Joker look.......

The original made thirty-four million on a budget of three point five million. The 2008 knockoff did three hundred thousand on a generous budget of eighteen million. Bloodline has a budget of eight million and should make less than the 2008 version. It's just that bad. Horror fans aren't hard to please. Some gore, some boobies, some characters you really want to die horribly, some cheesy one-liners. See the classic Romero 1985 film, in all it's brutal gory. The zombie gore-father delivers!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Over the Edge 1979 Retro Movie Review

This movie has an interesting history. Never really released (couple showings 1979) due to fears of the controversial content, after fights broke out during other 'gang' movies (The Warriors, 1979) released earlier in 1979. It had a successful run on HBO in 1981 that led to a bigger theatrical release later that year in a couple of theaters in New York. It received a huge cult following in the 90's when Kurt Cobain stated this was his favorite movie and the inspiration for 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and frequent late night showings on cable. It was finally released on VHS in 1993.

Based on a true story of kids in Foster City, California in the 70's. Stuck in a planned community that had no malls, stores, or movie theaters to keep the kids entertained. The construction sites of new homes were easy picking to steal tools and equipment to buy drugs and alcohol. These empty homes also provided a place to hang out and party. One of the things that doesn't get talked about is how the rise in video gaming and cable/VHS gave kids something to do. Witchcraft and other problems were greatly reduced after the rise in video gaming and easier access to movies.

YouTube Trailer Over the Edge 1979

This film was shot in Aurora and Greeley Colorado. Multiple sources call out the sun setting the wrong way in one scene. But if you're shooting a film based in California but you're in Colorado you want it to look like the sun rises over the mountains. Just like California, Colorado has vastly different landscapes. It's a wonder more major films aren't shot here. 2015 was a banner year with both 'Furious 7' and The Hateful Eight' getting some of the mountains scenery into the screen. Of course, a few documentaries get shot here. But outside of a couple westerns and some cult films like 'Vanishing Point' 1971 and 'Strangeland' 1998 not many films get shot in Colorado. Just some tracking footage of the mountains.

An awesome movie that doesn't get much love. Largely forgotten about. Mostly gets mentioned as Matt Dillon's first role. Many actors in Hollywood would love to have such a great movie as their first role. Think Jennifer Aniston in 'Leprechaun' 1993, Stallone's 'The Party at Kitty and Stud's' 1970, Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation' 1994.

It's also aided by a great soundtrack. Relying heavily on Cheap Trick. Unlike many low-budget movies that have, if they're lucky, one good song. Over the Edge has one killer track after another. The Producers signed the rights to Cheap Trick's music before they hit big. Songs like Baba O'Riley by the Who would have broke the budget. Which would have been the perfect song for the end scene, 'It's only teenage wasteland......'

Monday, December 25, 2017

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon (2015) Movie Review

I know most people once they realize this is a review for a documentary will stop reading immediately and go back to watching cat videos on YouTube. Many remember National Lampoon (NL) as the raunchy, little substance, dirty magazine that was kept under the counter that you had to ask for along with what nudy mag you wanted. But for a shiny brief moment in the mid 70's, Everyone read National Lampoon! A toilet bowl of counterculture, drugs, booze, frat boys, humor that was far from good taste, and scantily clad women (AKA nude) that was written at a level for a juvenile Einstein that spewed out satire of everything mainstream and mundane.

We all know the two big Lampoon movies Animal House and Vacation, but most people don't know is how big Lampoon was and how far it reached into pop culture. With meteoric success the most talented people were begging to be let into the bathroom to party with these guys. All those famous skits that John Belushi and Chevy Chase did on SNL they were doing them first on The National Lampoon Radio Hour and Off-Broadway Lemmings for Lampoon. No conversation about Caddyshack (1980) happens without mentioning SNL but all the main writers, director, cast, and producers all met while working at National Lampoon. SNL basically made everyone that worked at Lampoon an offer they couldn't refuse. Some of the most iconic movies came from the creative talent that learned how to get high at Lampoon. Ghostbusters (1984) starred two Alumni Harold Ramis and Bill 'Fricking' Murray. John Hughes who came to define 80's teen movies started as a writer at NL. NL was a dirty little toilet bowl that sucked some of the most talented people at the time down into its chaos.

So what happened? Like many Phoenix's that rose to fame in a quick time NL came crashing down in bad business practices, drugs, personal squabbles and burn out. When Doug Kenney and Henry Beard started NL they had a forced buy-out in five years. Matty Simmons (the money) never thought they would actually walk away from the baby they started. In reality, they were killing themselves to make the magazine a success working long hours and doing most of the heavy lifting. When the five year mark hit they took their briefcase of money and walked out the door with a certain finger waving in the air. Leaving NL without it's key writers, editors, and visionaries. It was around the same time that SNL came calling and stole all the performers (of course NL originally stole them from Second City). John Belushi was a seriously dedicated artist at this time also crazy talented. But no one tried to sign him to a contract. Well someone did, SNL did. The contributors they had, there was no attempt to keep them. MAD Magazine had contributors all across the country working remotely. Each year those that hit the required number of articles went on an all expense paid trip. Which became a big deal. MAD had some really talented people for sometimes forty years working for them. The death-blow was bad licensing deals and the decision to include more nudity, which they couldn't afford good models, that ended up getting the mag a permanent home under the counter of stores. Matty eventually became Editor-in-Chief, appointing his two sons as editors. So what started out as drunk college frat boys making fun of their parent's mundane lives and showing others how to lead a debaucherous lifestyle, became ran by a serious grandfather and his obedient mid-aged sons, nuff said.

Like so many huge successes a lot of it was luck. Gathering a very talented cast of people at a time where the public was very excepting of their brand of humor and satire. And Animal House was no different. The script was very thin, more of a general outline of a movie. Most of the movie was ad-libbed. It didn't hurt to have a talented cast. Everyone was very focused on making the opportunity count. A bunch of hard partying people go off without a script to make a movie, there's no way it should have been any good, let alone great. They got lucky, but instead of learning what to do in the future that formula was a relied on blueprint for future movies. Between Animal House and Vacation, they had a couple of bombs. Movies so bad they don't have an IMDB page even though big names were in them. Even Caddyshack was a mess. The movie was to focus the story on young caddys. But with ad-libbing, the legends quickly took over. Billy Murray, Chevy Chase, Roddy Dangerfield were all great. And even the groundhog was only added as an afterthought in post-production. At the time the movie was considered a failure.

It's sad so many talented people didn't live very long after NL. The world was definitely robbed of very talented people. The comedic masterpieces they could have made. In the end 'Working at National Lampoon wasn't going to get you laid'. All most people know NL for is bad cheaply licensed movies. Anyone can affordably stamp the name on the straight to video box (well now it's just an image you click on to pirate the movie off a virus ridden site, cause no one would pay to watch that junk). Anyone who loves John or Bill will get a kick out of the old footage and stories, unfortunately, they never blessed the world with a movie starring them together.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982) Retro Movie Review

This movie has been terribly trashed by most critics and fans of the Halloween franchise alike. No Michael, horrible script, they cry. 37% on the old Tomatometer, 4.7 on IMDB, 1.5 stars by Roger Ebert, still to this day evidenced by scores of YouTube fans reviews video it is still hated. So to be clear, everyone hates this film. Except me, and I encourage horror fans to watch it. It really freaked me out watching it as a kid. Put a mask on and get blasted by a laser that makes spiders and snakes come cascading out of your ripe over-heated little melon. That is the stuff that makes the boogie man run out of your nightmares and safely back under the bed. Or better yet the kid next door's bed, cause that kid doesn't have such jacked up nightmares.

First the bad, all over this movie screams rush job. Looking at the people behind the movie it comes crystal why. Tommy Lee Wallace both a writer and director on H3 also had Amityville 2 the same year. John Carpenter also had a little film called 'The Thing' the same year. On top of 'Escape From New York' and 'Halloween 2' the previous year. 'The Thing' bombed at the box office as well. H3 was released one year after H2. The soundtrack is loud and obnoxious along with script issues. The story jumps around missing key pieces of information.

Box office influence, Saying H3 bombed at the box office is simply not true, on a budget of 2.5 million it made 14.4 million during its theatrical run. When placed next to Halloween's numbers of a budget of three hundred thousand and making 47 million it looks like a failure. The year of 1982 itself was some of the problem. A number of big movies came out at that time. ET, Rocky 3, Star Trek 2, Poltergeist, First Blood, Blade Runner, The Thing. Plus a number of horror movies Creep Show, Poltergeist, Cat People, Slumber Party Massacre, Basket Case, Tenebre, Q (highly recommend checking out this film), and Alone in the Dark to name a few. In 1978 there was much less competition. Sure some horror movies came out in 78' but they didn't bring in much money; Piranha 16 million, and Dawn of the Dead 5 million. It was harder for a movie in 1982 to complete for a customers dollar. It didn't help the studios were cranking out garbage killing the genre. Friday the 13th 2 came out in 1981 followed by part 3 in 1982. There was an over saturation of the horror market that year.

The good, a great idea bringing together the pagan history and consumerism of Halloween. The evil greed of capitalism, and subliminal messaging. An ordinary man getting wrapped up in a corporate conspiracy. Tom Atkins is a great horror movie actor. He cranks out another good performance here. Stacey Nelkin who plays Ellie is both fun and easy to look at. This movie unfortunately made sure she never got another good part again. Another victim of this movie was Tommy Lee Wallace the director. He mostly did low budget and tv movies after H3. Most notably Stephen King's It (1990). While the supernatural and technology gets messily combined together it makes a great vehicle, just don't look under the hood or to closely or at the bondo on the quarter panels, bailing wire holding the muffler up.....

Another great part of the Halloween's idea was having a different story told in each movie. Halloween 2 was made to please the studios. Micheal Meyers was to be killed off and never be heard again after the first movie. The Halloween tag was originally a platform for a new horror idea each time. Seeing that horror movies have become so popular and huge cash cows proves this was legit concept, that the studios blotched. Showtime's Masters of Horror and After Dark Horrorfest crank out great movies. There is no shortage of scripts and talented directors to make horror films. A film genre that has a long history of low budget big returns. A studio could easily capture the horror market every year by finding a good script and trying to put out a decent product, and the right name to market them under. But they did the opposite, make a movie quickly as possible for as little money as they could get away with, pissing off the fans. Plus the Michael Meyer character is boring, only able to slowly walk after his victims never able to even say “Slow Down I don't get much cardio the rest of the year” or "they don't have an elliptical machine at the mental hospital".

Halloween helped create the slasher genre. It opened the door for studios to greenlight many horror films in the 80's. Sure Mario Bava, Lucio Fulio, Dario Argento, Umberto Lenzi, George Romero, Wes Craven, and Tube Hooper had been making horror movies but none of them ever sold a ton of tickets. The most successful maybe Texas Chainsaw Massacre only did thirty million, and it didn't get a sequel till 1986. On top of the additional revenue from the sale of VHS tapes and cable that wasn't around in the 70's. Fred Ray Olen, Troma films, among others flooded the market with all the gore and guts it could handle. By 1982 the horror craze the Halloween franchise set off had started to run amok. Getting bloodier and pushing the limits of good taste, not to mention the 'R' rating. With some really good films being made (and overlooked) H3 was easy to hate or ignore.

As Bay of Blood (1971) influenced Friday the 13th (1980), Halloween was influenced by others, most notably Eyes Without a Face (1962). Which happened to influence Billy Idol's songwriting too. Halloween influenced a new batch of filmmakers. But the movie hasn't aged well. They showed it recently to college students that hadn't seen it before. The students thought the movie was boring. At the same time, H3 has gotten better with age. It has good acting, the special effects weren't overly cheesy like many other early 80's movies. Some of the bad scenes are equally frightening and funny. Like the housewife that drops dead followed by the husbands heart-attack after little Timmy's head gets blasted. Some of the plot holes are a source of fun arguing with friends what the hell it all was supposed to mean. After sequels four and five everyone got over not having Michael Meyers in H3. The only good thing about H4 (1988) was Kathleen Kinmont (nothing more needs to be said). Danielle Harris was in H4 (1988) and H5 (1989) coming back for Rob Zombie's H (2007) and H (2009). Playing a teenager still! It was really cool and confusing for Mr. Zombie to cast her again (but then again not many people saw H4 & H5). It's unreal how well she's aged. Love to see someone remake H3. Give it the Zombie treatment. Danielle Harris would be awesome as Ellie. Jamie Lee Curtis (who voiced the hospital loudspeaker announcement in H3) could be the evil corporate CEO. Someone really needs to green light this remake!