Thursday, October 31, 2013

More fun Halloween movies!

Last year I did 2 posts on fun movies to watch on Halloween, so I decided to make it a tradition. Last year I focused more on horror films and decided this year would add a few more family friendly movies into the mix. There is something for everyone, so lets get started with this years list!

Ernest Scared Stupid - It may be a horror comedy geared more towards kids, but Ernest Scared Stupid has some qualities that appeal to the young and the old. The jokes are corny, the monsters are laughable and the lead actor is a goofball that looks like he had fun making this movie.

The Witches - Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film scared me as a kid due to its character design of the witches natural forms. Since it was brought to us by Jim Henson studios, that's no surprise. Now though I can appreciate this film for its story telling and visual style and its great in both aspects. Its visuals may scare some of the younger kiddies, but with great storytelling and acting, its a good film for the family to watch.

 The Addams Family- A film based on a TV show that gets most of its source material right? The Addams Family was just that for me. It had great actors and memorable moments and an energy to it that kept it going. The story itself might not be the best and it does have some plot holes, but its still an entertaining film for Halloween, and all year round.

Warlock- A little known horror film from the late 80's, Warlock has a great story and some decent acting. Julian Sands and Richard E. Grant have great chemistry together as the evil warlock and the hunter. It has a spooky vibe to it and while some of the effects are dated now, it still holds up decently.

The Frighteners- Michael J Fox is a paranormal investigator in a town that seems to attract death. Aided by the ghosts in town, he runs a scam to keep himself in business. That is until a real ghost problem hits the town. Its a bit dark, but still has comedy bits and some great special effects.

Tucker and Dale Vs.Evil - 2 lovable rednecks get mistaken for maniac killers in this horror comedy starring Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine. It has laughs, scares and some shock moments to it, as well as a hell of a twist. Its funny to see the two goofballs going about fixing up their "vacation home" as the teenagers try to stop them, only to kill themselves in the process. Great movie with a good story and actors that put effort into their roles.

Monday, October 28, 2013


When an alien crash lands in a small town and starts turning the locals into zombies and mutants, its up to Nathan Fillion and Elizabeth Banks to stop them. Slither is a black horror comedy and parody / tribute to old 50's and 60's science fiction and horror films brought to us by writer and director James Gunn. The film also stars Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier and Gregg Henry.

The plot to this movie is really as simple as it gets, but the fact that it was a mix of a parody and tribute to classic alien invasion films made it work. It may have its slow bits at times, but it wasn't anything that brings the movie to a complete stop. Despite its pacing issues, overall it was an entertaining story for what it was and was fun to see the story unfold. 

The acting in the film was great all around in my opinion. I always love Nathan Fillion in pretty much any role, and he was outstanding here as Bill Pardy. His style of acting worked well here in this setting and he delivered a believable performance. Elizabeth Banks was good in her role as Starla Grant, wife of Grant Grant, the infected host of the alien at the center of the story. Grant Grant was played by Michael Rooker who was tremendous in this film and acted out being infected and his transformation over time very well.

The makeup and special effects of the film were great. From the small slug like creatures that attack people, to the effects of a transformed person it was all believable.The makeup on a fully transformed Michael Rooker was amazing to see, and it looked organic to me as opposed to a costume.  They could have easily looked cheesy and comical, but it looked like there was a lot of work put into it and it makes the film better due to it.

Is slither a scary horror film? No, in fact I wouldn't even say its a serious one. What it is, in my opinion at least, is a fun tribute to b movie horror films of the 50's and 60's. The pacing may be off in spots, but considering this was James Gunn's first film as director I would say it turned out well. It has scares, laughs and dramatic moments, and it is entertaining the whole way through.

Verdict: Fun horror film to kill a few hours with


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Robert Englund returns as Freddy Krueger in " A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream warriors". This time he is out to get the last of the Elm Street kids, who are locked up in Weston Hills Psychiatric hospital.The teenagers do have some hope in staying alive though, as Nancy Thompson has just taken a job at the same hospital. Can she help the kids beat defeat nightmares and stop Freddy once and for all?

I felt that the plot was outstanding in terms of story telling, and is the most creative of the series hands down.
Not only does it tie itself to the original film by having Nancy return, it continues her story as well as introduce new characters. Giving the teenagers powers to fight back against Freddy was also great and added a bit of intrigue to the film: Could they finally kill him once and for all? I also liked that there was more of a classic horror element to the plot, similar to what you would see in an old vampire film in that they needed to bury Krueger's remains on consecrated ground to destroy him once and for all. That and the added subplot of Neil and Sister Mary Helena added a lot to this film in my opinion.

The actors did a great job with this film, giving all the characters a distinct personality and made them easy to identify with. Heather Langenkamp was great in her return to the series as Nancy, it was nice to see how her character had changed in the years since the first film. I was also glad to see that Robert Englund was on his game here as Freddy and turned in a great performance. The teenagers of the film were great, but my favorite had to be Ken Sagoes as Roland Kincaid. He had a unique personality that was entertaining as well as some of the best lines of the film.

The dream sequences and the ways Freddy killed his victims are among the best and most memorable of the series. Dream Warriors took the series back to its roots as opposed to Freddy's Revenge which mostly had Freddy entering our world. The scenery brought back that surreal tone and creepy atmosphere from the original film but was lost in the sequel. By far my favorite scene had to be when Krueger killed Jennifer by coming out of the television and said "This is it Jennifer, Your big break in TV! Welcome to prime time bitch!" and then rammed her head through it. That is usually the one that stands out to people from the film the most.

Dream Warriors is one of, if not the most loved entry to the entire Nightmare on Elm Street series. It was a change in direction for the films and began the shift towards horror with a bit of comedy mixed in. I for one love it for this as well as letting the victims fight back against Freddy and making them more more interesting than they had been in the past. Its a great entry to the series and still holds up to this day.

Verdict: If you liked the original, I think you'll love dream warriors. A must watch for horror fans.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Wraith

The Wraith is a 1986 film about a small desert town that is being terrorized by a gang of drag racers, and the thing that comes looking to stop them . Its a revenge  film that is full of fast races, as well as great action and thrills. The Wraith stars Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid, Sherilyn Fenn and Nick Cassavetes.

The revenge angle had been done in films before this one, and many times since. Here there was a different element, the mystery of who the person was behind the wheel of the car that was killing the gang members. While it was easy to guess early on, not that it was a huge surprise, the reveal was no less spectacular than it was meant to be. The film did have a good story all in all, and seeing these guys get what they had coming to them was satisfying as hell.

The acting in the film was mixed to say the least, but given that this was some of the actors first big film, or very early in their career, I'm going to give it a pass. Charlie Sheen did a great job with his role and was good at keeping people guessing. Sherilyn Fenn was good considering this was her first role in a big film, she did a decent job of showing the emotional stress of the situation she was in. Nick Cassavetes was great as the villain of the film, Packard Walsh. He was intimidating and creepy at times, but also had some funny lines with good delivery. By far my favorite performance in the film was Randy Quaid as Sheriff Loomis . It's unusual to see him playing a serious character, and he is as good at it as he is at a more comedic one.

The music of the film is an interesting case. The director wanted to go with an entirely different soundtrack for the film, but the studio wanted the music that ended up being in the final version in the film. This is a rare occasion where I actually have to side with the studio, the music in the film is outstanding and really pumps up the energy level of the film. The soundtrack included songs from popular artists of the time such as Ozzy Osbourne, Lion, Stan Bush, Billy Idol and Robert Palmer.

The Wraith isn't some overly complex revenge tail with a ton of plot twists, it's actually a fairly straightforward film. There are a few things that were not explained in the movie, such as the pieces of the suit that fall off and vanish, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film. The film has some excellent car chases I've ever seen and an energy level that keeps going up as the film rolls on.

Verdict: Definitely check it out if you like action or revenge films.


Friday, October 18, 2013


1984's Ghostbusters is not only one of the best films of the 80s, but is one of if not the most quotable film of all time. It stars Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd  as 3 recently unemployed parapsychologists who go into business for themselves as paranormal exterminators. The film also stars Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.

The Plot of this film is outlandish and creative, yet still has a strong tie to reality. That was one of the contributions Harold Ramis made while writing the script with Aykroyd, who originally wrote the film to take place in the future. I feel by having it set in the then modern time of 1984, it actually made the film funnier as it gave the film a grounding point in reality. The story is entertaining all the way through, and is clever and comedic from start to finish.

The acting in the film was outstanding from the main actors to the supporting cast. Bill Murray as Dr. Peter Venkman was great as the goof off of the group, and had some of the best lines in the movie. Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz was a scientist with the excitement of a child at times which made for a lovable character. Harold Ramis was good as Egon the no nonsense scientist, and his deadpan delivery of lines is outstanding.
Ernie Hudson was the "every man" of the group, and did a great job as the character everyone could relate to. Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett was great and had chemistry with Bill Murray, it made the relationship between her and Venkman seem genuine.

The special effects of the film, which was made nearly 30 years ago, are technically dated by today's standards, but I feel they still look great. The puppetry and stop motion animation used for the ghosts is still outstanding and looks good today. The special effects used for the proton packs also still look good, if not a little goofy looking now. That is the charm of this film though, its somewhat cartoon-like ghosts and effects never seem dated even now in 2013.

Ghostbusters is one of those universally loved films that nearly everyone has seen. Its a a fun film to watch now as an adult, and still takes me back to watching it as a child. The story and acting never get old and it is a timeless film in my eyes. This is the kind of film which you can sit down with the entire family and everyone will find something to enjoy about it.

Verdict: Great laughs, acting and special effects all wrapped up into one outstanding film.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween film reviews: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Review of 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street

Written and Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thoughts on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

When I heard there was going to be a weekly television series dedicated to S.H.I.E.L.D., I was really excited at the possibilities. Where could they go with the story? Will any of the characters from the Marvel universe make an appearance? Will it be any good? Well now that I've seen a few episodes, I think its fair to get some of my opinions out there about the show.

The first thing that really does bother me to a degree is that most of the main characters feels so bland and generic. You have the "specialist" Grant Ward, the "renegade hacker who is now helping us" Skye, and the two "tech geeks" Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. My issue isn't with the cast, I feel they all do a great job with the show and the material, but the characters are just a little too formulaic. You have the usual character types you see in a show like this and it hurts the show from having its own identity. Hopefully as the show goes on the characters change and become more interesting with layers added to them.

I do think the stories that the show has done so far are interesting and entertaining, but in all honesty to me the show kinda feels like "CSI: S.H.I.E.L.D.". It feels more like a by the book crime drama than it does a show about a secret government organization that  investigates, eliminates and covers up threats to the world, both man made and alien. This really is my biggest issue with the show, and it seems to be a lot of peoples issue with it. Hopefully in the future the show can make its own path and get away from this and go more in its own direction.

The world the show sets up doesn't quite feel like its part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In my opinion though that may be a good thing. That allows the show to go beyond what the movies lay out in terms of story and characters. They can have familiar faces pop in from time to time, like Nick Fury showing up in the second episode, but letting this show be its own thing will give it a longer lifespan in the long run.

The last thing I want to talk about is that I am happy to see the Agent Coulson character make a return and be a main fixture in the show. Clark Gregg's performance in the role as the likable agent who had the goods to deliver when needed to was one of my favorite parts of  the Marvel movie universe. I'm glad that the same qualities that made myself and so many others like the character from the films didn't get lost in translation when writing the Phil Coulson character in the show. I do think that the show should focus more on Coulson as a person though, as opposed to just what he does as an agent.

Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a perfect show that has everything that was great about the organization in the movies? No, but it is a good series, and given more time to flesh out the characters and their world it could be a great one. I am looking forward to where this show goes and hope people give it a chance past the first few episodes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Action Wednesday: Armageddon

When the world is in danger of being wiped out by an asteroid the size of Texas, its up to Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck to save the world.  Willis stars as Harry Stamper, the worlds best deep sea oil driller who NASA comes to for assistance. He is tasked with training a team of astronauts to go up, drill and detonate a nuke on the asteroid. Stamper says he wants to take his own team up since drilling is an art, not a science. After training and being prepped for their mission, our heroes make it to the asteroid and the race is on to destroy it.

The plot of this film, for as stupid as it sounds on paper really makes sense when you get down to it. I loved the "firecracker" explanation where if "you hold it in your palm? burn your palm. hold it in a fist? well your wife's gonna open your ketchup bottles from now on.".  It makes sense to have to drill down into the asteroid to blow it up, since detonating on the surface does nothing. Aside from that explanation of the plan, the rest of the films plot is pure Michael Bay......shit ton of explosions and bad dialog.

Acting wise, this cast was great in my opinion and how could it not be when the cast includes Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi , Billy Bob Thornton, Will Patton, William Fichtner and Kieth David. The characters were well defined by the actors and given distinct personalities. My only complaint about the acting was Liv Tyler's performance, as it felt uneven. At times she was good and showed emotion, at others she was as charismatic as a rock.

The action and special effects are what you would expect from a summer blockbuster film like this: over the top and explosive. One thing I loved about this movie over the very similar " Deep Impact" was that it had more action involving the asteroid. This movie knew what it was and played it up big time with the majority of the film taking place in space, where as Deep Impact was dialog scenes focusing on several different characters.

All in all this is an enjoyable movie to watch if you're looking for a popcorn flick. There isn't a complex plot or a ton of drama, just Bruce Willis and company blowing up an asteroid. It's an entertaining way to kill a few hours, despite its flaws.

Verdict: Watchable popcorn movie


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