Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Most Horrorble Time of the Year!

A few of you have actually been here during prior Octobers. If you have, then you know that this is when I forsake all of the cinematic universe with the exception of the horror genre. And I go hard for 31 straight days. It all starts at midnight tonight. If you want to know exactly how long, keep an eye on the countdown above.

As usual, we'll kick things off with a horror classic. Don't worry, it's not all ancient stuff, though. We'll hit some more current fare, too. We'll also try to hit horror from every angle. We'll hit some haunted houses, run from some slashers, twist our mind psychologically, and we'll even get to have a few laughs. We'll throw in a list or two. This year, we've added a few new ingredients to our witch's brew to switch things up a bit. The Thursday Movie Picks that have become a popular feature around here, all have a horror slant to them. We're also hosting the Slasher Cast-a-thon, where bloggers get to create the cast for their very own slasher flick. Details to come this weekend.

I hope you'll join me every day this month. If you do, leave your two cents in the comments section. If you're lucky, you'll come across a movie that will have looking like the couple pictured above.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Equalizer

Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
2014. Rated R, 131 minutes.
Denzel Washington
Marton Csokas
Chloe Grace Moretz
David Harbour
Johnny Skourtis
Melissa Leo
Bill Pullman
Haley Bennett
Alex Veadov
Vladimir Kulich

At Home Depot...er...HomeMart, where he works, Rober McCall (Washington) is the star employee. His bosses and co-workers all look up to him and he'll do anything he can to help out each and every one of them. He is also a man deeply mired in the routines of his life. He has to have everything a certain way. A bit of an insomniac, he finds himself at the local diner at 2 AM every morning. He sits in the same booth, sets up his silverware the way he likes and gets a cup of hot water for the tea bag that he brings from home. He also talks to Elaina (Moretz), the young girl who is always seated at the counter. She also happens to be a hooker. The night she's not there, Robert becomes very worried. When he finds out she's in the hospital after being badly beaten by her pimp, he takes matters into his own hands.

The early parts of the movie are spent developing Mr. McCall's character. We get to see what makes him tick. During this time, Denzel Washington owns the screen, completely selling us on what type of guy McCall is. The first few scenes establish him as definitely having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. However, it's subsequent scenes during which the point is driven home. It's not necessarily in the acting out of the routines, but in his subtle reactions when those routines are broken. More importantly, we come to realize how much he cares for those around him. This is most ably demonstrated through his conversations with Elaina and his interactions with Ralphie (Skourtis), one of his co-workers down at HomeMart. Washington's supporting cast helps him out just enough, too. Marton Csokas gives us a solidly detestable villain. In her brief screen time, Chloe Grace Moretz also does very well.

Once the movie transitions into our hero taking care of business, it becomes a very different affair. This part of the movie is loaded with action of the brutally violent sort. Mr. McCall makes use of things such as corkscrews, power drills, nail guns, and more. It's to the point where my wife expressed wariness of ever visiting a Home Depot ever again. Speaking of Home Depot, or Lowe's for that matter, how is it they didn't drop a few bucks to get their name on this? This would have functioned as the best commercial either company has ever had. Just imagine the logo of one of those stores being visible as Denzel Washington strolls away from an explosion in slow motion. By the way, I know such scenes are cliche, but the one in this movie might be the best one ever filmed. And I'm not exaggerating one bit. I generally roll my eyes when these happen in other action flicks. I even started to when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was about to happen in this one. However, this one was so deliciously overboard that I couldn't help but love it. The action as a whole has this effect. Yes, it's over the top, but it is also done with a twisted sense of humor that comes across really well. Honestly, though, it makes the best use of this when the action happens off-screen. We'll see our hero immediately after he's done something heinous to a bad guy which we didn't get to see. It's usually funny enough that we don't mind missing out on what he actually did.

For those of us old enough to remember, and to care, the big question is how does it compare to the TV show that it was based on. I am old enough to remember. However, I must confess that I was never a fan of the show. I might have watched it a handful of times and really don't remember anything about it other than the star. This means that, sadly, I've no clue whether or not it does the show proud. I do know that it does the action genre proud. Once it gets going The Equalizer is insanely fun, provided you're not put off by all the blood and guts. The first act perfectly sets up the last two acts. It's a guy we like doing things we wish we could do for the people we care about. Admittedly, there are some late second act scenes that fill in some of our hero's back story, though not very much. The real point of these is to provide something that could be expanded on in sequels. Trust me, this movie clearly wants sequels. To be honest, though, it might be better as a standalone. In either case, it's Denzel showing us all that he can still carry a movie without a big name co-star and still be extremely compelling. That quality is what really makes this an excellent watch.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Really Uncomfortable Movie Summaries, Vol. 1

Every now and again when a Friday rolls around, I get in a silly mood. Yup, this is one of those Fridays. What that means is we're going to boil down the plots of some well-known (and not-so-well-known) movies to their disturbing and/or hilarious core.

I can't say this is a completely original idea. A friend sent me the link to this post years ago on a site called postmodernbarney. It shows a bunch of movies doing exactly what I said we're going to do here. A few examples:

Batman: Wealthy man assaults the mentally ill.
Beauty and the Beast: A peasant girl develops Stockholm Syndrome.
Blade: Obsessed loner stalks minority group.
Deep Throat: Medical anomaly earns woman new friends.
Deliverance: Tourists experience local hospitality.
Demolition Man: In a future where crime is completely eradicated, a black man steals and murders.
King Kong: Endangered animal stolen, shot.
Star Wars: A New Hope: Religious extremist terrorists destroy government installation, kill thousands.
Taxi Driver: Modern dating proves challenging for working class man.

Those are just a few of many. But since I did say I was in a silly mood, I came up with some of my own. Oh, I'm calling it volume one because I think I might do this again. And away we go...

Quick warning first - I can't promise good taste from this point forward. And there might be spoilers.

Now you're ready.

American Hustle: Con-man and his girlfriend rip off the FBI.

Any Given Sunday: Drug addicts play football, expose themselves to female owner.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: A former U.S. Soldier takes down a government agency.

District 9: Government relocates already quarantined immigrants.

Friday the 13th (original): Campers kill a mentally ill boy and his mentally ill mother.

In Bruges: A child murderer goes on vacation.

Her: Man masturbates while using his computer.

The Hobbit: Terrorist group plots to assassinate a head of state.

The Incredible Hulk: The U.S. Army exploits paranoid schizophrenics, forces them to fight each other.

Law Abiding Citizen: White vigilante targets minorities in positions of authority.

The Matrix: Religious extremists recruit a hacker to destroy the world's computers.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl: A man of ambiguous sexuality tries to get his ship full of sea men back.

Saving Mr. Banks: Big corporation takes advantage of an artist in financial trouble.

Shallow Hal: Man reluctantly comes to the realization he's into plus sized women.

Sky High: Violence erupts at a school for children with special needs.

Spawn: A disgruntled employee battles the company snitch.

Underworld: Couple shunned due to their interracial relationship.

Up: Elderly man abducts a young boy.

The World's End: Alcoholic goes on a binge, becomes violent.

The Wrestler: Adrenaline junkie stalks both his estranged daughter and a stripper.

You are more than welcome to join in by posting some of your own really uncomfortable summaries in the comments section, or to tell me how bad mines suck. Either way, be creative.

Oh, and congratulate me. This is my 1,000th post!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Back To School Blogathon: Links!

At the end of August, I created the Back to School Blogathon to celebrate kids everywhere making their return to the classroom. The object was for bloggers to create classes uses movie characters that fit into some very well worn archetypes. I won't give a complete rundown on the rules again. To see them, just click here.

A number of you responded with some very interesting classes. Below are the links to them all.

John at Hitchcock's World was our star student. He contributed three classes to our school. His first class is headed up by one of the Marx Brothers. For his second class, he managed to get in someone from a prequel to a classic horror flick. Then, he went completely off the rails for his third class and used nothing but characters from David Lynch movies.

Mike from Mike's Cinema chimed in with some inspired choices. His class includes Robert Downey Jr. before he became a superhero and Jon Cryer before he became one of the Two and a Half Men.

Over at Feeling Fuzzier, Rhys gave us a class run by a couple of action movie icons and includes a quite literal interpretation of the Invisible Girl trope.

Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves was the first lady to get involved. And she truly represented with an all-female class.

Not to be outdone, Brittani at Rambling Film joined the fray. Her class is led by a wizard and a lady who tries to work magic with troubled kids.

At Big Screen, Small Words, whirlwind.supernova's class has a little bit of a musical slant and includes two people with the gift of telekinesis.

The Flick Chicks, Jenna and Allie came up an interesting roster of students. Their class includes probably the most unlikely picks for star student and jock.

Alex at Alex Raphael joined in on the fun and gave us a teacher from the Japanese movie that's made Jennifer Lawrence a household name...in a roundabout sort of way.

Finally, I contributed two classes of my own. The first includes a trio of not-so-bright bullies. The second give us a trio of very intelligent bullies.

As always, I'm not completely a stickler for deadlines so if you put a class together in the next week or so, drop by here and let me know. I'll gladly update this post to include you.

Thanks to everyone that participated this next go round. I'll see you in about a week or so with another blogathon, so be on the lookout.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Back to School Blogathon: Class Two

If you've been hanging around here for a few weeks, you might be aware that I'm currently hosting the Back to School Blogathon. Today is the listed deadline. Before it passed, I wanted to get one more post in for it. I posted Class One last week. Today, logically, it's time for Class Two.

Before I start, just a quick note on what I'm trying to do, here. It's actually simple. I'm creating a class using movie characters that fit certain archetypes. For a full rundown on the rules, click here. Now, let's get to it.

Principal Powers
Sky High
She's tough and fair. Besides, if she can handle a school full of super-powered kids, I think she can handle whatever I'm going to dish out. It doesn't hurt that she's still easy on the eyes after all these years.

Trevor Garfield
As a high school teacher in Brooklyn, NY he got stabbed and suffered some serious injuries. He switched coast, became a teacher in LA and found himself in a school essentially run by gangs. You know what? He's going to get through to them one way or another. He's hired.

Star Student
Autumn Haley
The Program
It's easy. She's a great student who makes a little extra cash by tutoring the football players. What more could you want. Again, my shallowness is peaking through, but it helps that she bears an uncanny resemblance to Halle Berry.

Napoleon Dynamite
Napoleon Dynamite
Has there ever been a bigger nerd than Napoleon Dynamite. Calling him socially awkward is an understatement on the level of saying outer space is kinda big. All is not completely lost, though. He practices hard on his dancing and does sweet jumps on his bike.

Scott Howard
Teen Wolf
He's pretty far from being your typical jock. In fact, until he discovers that he's literally a beast on the basketball court he's a very nice, if somewhat anonymous guy. Once he takes over the hardwood, yeah, he becomes a jerk. (click here my Teen Wolf experience)

Popular Girl
Raven Darkholme/Mystique
X-Men: First Class
Part of the first class at Xavier's School for the Gifted, she's the linchpin that holds it all together. Besides that, she can literally be whoever you want her to be and has no problem injecting herself into any situation. (click here for my full review)

Invisible Girl
Lilly Onakuramara
Pitch Perfect
Who could be more invisible than a girl who literally whispers every word out of her mouth? If you can manage to hear it, though, she says some hilariously nonsensical stuff. For instance, did you know she was born with gills like a fish? (click here for my full review)

Class Clown
Jeff Spicoli
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Spicoli usually shows up to class, but doesn't do anything when he gets there. Well, that's not quite true. He's generally high on pot, says the most ridiculous things, daydreams about winning surfing competitions and has his pizza delivered right to class. (click here for my full review)

Class Bullies
The Heathers
They could probably be slid into the "popular" slot because everyone knows who they are. However, they aren't actually popular. They are really feared and hated since they rule the school with iron fists. Everyone must bend to their will, or else.

Troubled Youth
Kim Bentley
Malibu High
Kim is the quintessential troubled teen. She's flunking out of school and has lost her boyfriend. To turn things around she starts sleeping with her teachers. To start making some money, she takes up prostitution. So, as you might imagine, she's a busy girl. And her exploits don't stop there. (click here for my full review)

Well, there's Class Two. Click here to check out Class One. And come by tomorrow to see the links to the classes others have put together for the Back to School Blogathon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Young Love

Happy Thursday, all! On this week's edition of Thursday Movie Picks...

oh, wait. There might be some new folks here. Let's give them a quick rundown. Every Thursday, I make suggestions based on a theme selected by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves as part of her Thursday Movie Picks meme. Check out her place and the list of upcoming topics and feel free to join in with your own picks.

This week, the theme is childhood, or young love. Wanderer defines "childhood" as being before high school. This left me in a little bit of a bind. I literally had no idea what to do. After combing the recesses of my mind for hours...okay, seconds because my recesses don't run that deep...I finally decided on three I'm calling my favorites. Chronologically, they are...

My Girl
Has there ever been a more heart-breaking movie than this? In it, we follow Vada (Anna Chlumsky) and Thomas (Macaulay Culkin). Vada is a girl who has a ton of health problems. Similarly, Thomas is seemingly allergic to everything. The two form a bond throughout the movie and then...well, I won't say anymore.

Let the Right One In 

Let Me In 
Okay, so I'm cheating just a bit. We'll actually have four movies, instead of three to choose from this week. Let the Right One In is a wonderful Swedish film featuring two kids that develop an amazing relationship. The boy is a target for bullies while the girl keeps to herself. It just so happens that she's a vampire. In case subtitles are a bit much for you, Let Me In is the American remake. There are some differences along the way, but I enjoyed both very much. In fact, they both made my list of The Best Vampire Movies Since 2000.

Moonrise Kingdom
In this one, a boy scout named Sam (Jared Gilman) runs away from camp and convinces a girl from town, Suzy (Kara Hayward) to go with him. While they're off on their little adventure, everyone on the island they live on, including his scout master and her parents are looking for them. Everyone involved gets into some rather interesting situations. Be forewarned that this is a Wes Anderson flick, whom I know some people aren't that fond of. Still, I had a great time watching this. Click here for my full review.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Directed by Prachya Pinkaew.
2008. Rated R, 110 minutes.
Yanin "Jeeja" Vismitananda
Hiroshi Abe
Ammara Siripong
Taphon Phopwandee
Pongpat Wachirabunjong
Dechawut Chuntakaro
Hirokazu Sano

Zen (Yanin), an autistic girl (Vismitananda) who becomes an expert fighter by constantly watching martial arts movies, sets out to collect money owed to her cancer-stricken mother Zin (Siripong).

It's damn fun. Let's dispense with all notions of logic and just enjoy watching this teenage girl beat up hordes of grown men. The movies of Tony Jaa are obviously her biggest influence as clips of Ong-Bak are sprinkled throughout and she uses a number of moves he's known for. Why wouldn't she? After all, director Prachya Pinkaew also directed that martial arts classic. Older and/or more seasoned kung fu flick viewers will also recognize a few iconic moments from Bruce Lee movies and Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (see pic below). It's an insane experience. And you haven't lived until you've seen her fight a kid who apparently has Tourette Syndrome AND incorporates breakdancing and capoeira into his fighting style.

Hello!!! I said one of the highlights is an autistic girl fighting a boy with Tourette Syndrome!!!

I'm so bad.

If there is a hell, I might find myself there simply based on enjoying that aspect of it.

Let's get through this. Deep breaths. I can do this.

You cannot analyze this movie for even one second. Once you do, it instantly makes no sense whatsoever and might be construed as offensive, to boot. The script is barely coherent enough to drag you through, don't try to ruin it with common sense. Now that we've established that there's one other troubling element. Too often, the fight choreography shows its seams. From time to time you can plainly see some random bad guy run quickly up to her, only to stand there and wait to be hit. This subtracts from what otherwise are fairly spectacular sequences. Oh, and no, I've no clue why the movie is titled Chocolate. By the way, it is a Thai movie but when you pop in the DVD the English-dubbed version comes on, so subtitleophobes can breathe easy.

This is strictly for martial arts fans. For anyone else, its just too ridiculous. The term "suspension of disbelief" was made for this movie. That said, it still falls into the must-see category for people who love kung fu flicks because of, AND in spite of, its massive shortcomings. So yeah, I love this crap. It's the very definition of 'so bad its awesome!'

MY SCORE: -10/10 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to School Blogathon: Class One

A couple weeks ago, I decided to start the Back to School Blogathon in honor of the kids saying goodbye to summer and hitting the books once again. The basic task is for bloggers to create a class using movie characters and certain cinematic archetypes. My actual rules are as follows:

1. Choose at least 1 character to fit into each of the following roles:

Administrator (either a dean, principal, head master, or some other equivalent)
Star Student/Nerd
Jock/Class Bully
Popular Girl/Diva
Invisible Girl (aka not popular girl)
Class Clown
Troubled Youth

Of course, include a few words on why each character was chosen.

Some of the categories have slashes because there is a lot of overlap within. However, feel free to break those up to make your class even larger. For instance if you use a jock who is a nice guy, you can also include a bully. As long as you have the minimum number of students and others, your class can be as large as you like.

2. There are NO RESTRICTIONS on age. Theoretically, you can have Zach fromKindegarten Cop in the same class as Rodney Dangerfield's character from...um...Back to School

3. You can use multiple characters from a single movie, but a class must be made up of characters from at least three separate movies.

4. Use movies in which school is an important part of the plot or are largely set in a school.

5. Finally, use my banner somewhere in your entry and link back to this post.


If you noticed, the title of this post includes the phrase "Class One." It's simple. There are so many great characters out there to use, I'm going to do more than one class. I'm not sure if I'll stop at two, but we'll see how it goes. Today, we'll start with this one...

Joe Clark
Lean on Me
This class is certainly not going to be a walk in the park. We need someone tough, who is not afraid to put students in their place. Crazy Joe...er...Batman (see the movie, get the joke), is just the guy. After all, if he can whip Eastside High into shape, there's no limits to what he can do. Not only am I confident he can handle the group of miscreants I've assembled, he'll make sure  that whatever they do, they'll do it expeditiously!

Jonathan Shale, aka Mr. James Smith
The Substitute
As the title of his movie suggests, Shale is actually just a substitute. Sorta. He's really a Vietnam Vet who works as a mercenary. When his girlfriend gets her knee busted up by one of the local riff raff, guess who springs into action by going undercover and kicking ass. Yup, this guy. If you can't tell, we're going for strict discipline here, folks.

Star Student
Derek Reynolds
Save the Last Dance
Here's a guy who seems to have it all together. Despite growing up in a rough neighborhood with trying circumstances, he hits the books hard and hopes to be a doctor someday. He's also a helluva dancer. Nice kid, right? For the most part, he is, but even our star student has a little thug in him. You see, he has a tendency to hang with the wrong crowd and even dabbled in petty crime once upon a time. Don't worry, though. All that is behind him.

School Daze
Poor guy. All he wants to do is belong to the in-crowd. He wants it so bad, he is willing to be abused for the privilege. This is evidenced by his trying to join the most popular frat on campus even though they clearly don't want him. Hazing comes as part of the deal just to get in for the guys they do want. Imagine what they have in store for him. His lack of physical stature isn't helping matters, hence the nickname Half Pint.

Half Nelson
This basketball player may not be the star of her team, and truthfully she could probably qualify for another role in this class. What she brings to the table is that she is highly observant. This attribute just might help keep the class safe from a certain student. She also seeks out adult companionship (not like that). This will give our teacher and principal a valuable ally in the classroom.

Popular Girl/Diva
Bring it On
Okay, it might be cliche to go with the head cheerleader for the popular girl. However, there's no denying the girl has got all the needed qualities. She's beautiful, a leader, resourceful and fiercely competitive. However, despite a bit of a standoffish attitude with those outside of her circle she's a diva, but not a bully. She's just someone who will stand up for herself, no matter what.

Invisible Girl
Lilly Moscovitz
The Princess Diaries
Here's a girl who defines what it means to be invisible. She only has two people in school who even know she exists. One of them is her own brother. The other one was a similarly invisible girl. Of course, that girl found she was actually the princess of a small European empire. So where does that leave poor Lilly? Still invisible and, now, with only her brother for a friend as the princess is off to await her turn to rule. My heart weeps for her.

Class Clown
Fat Amy
Pitch Perfect
I could've gone a lot of ways with this pick, but none seemed to be as good a pick as Fat Amy. Just start with her moniker. Who decided that the decidedly insulting "Fat" should precede her given name? She did, of course, "so twig bitches like you don't do it behind my back." Yeah, self-deprecating humor is definitely part of her repertoire. She can also give it to you if you insist on giving her a hard time. To top it all off, she's proof positive that confidence is sexy because despite her lack of "traditional" beauty she's going to give the other ladies in class stiff competition for the boys' attention.

Class Bullies
Stab, Pee Wee, and Zilla
House Party
These three musclebound freaks aren't the sharpest No. 2 pencils in class, but they are relentless. And loud. And ruthless. Sure, they behave like bumbling idiots, but I promise you don't want to let them get their collective hands on you. And yes, since they are actually brothers, they come as a package deal.

Troubled Youth
Kevin Khatchadourian
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Talk about troubled. Even his own mother has thought he was the devil incarnate since the day he was born. If his mom thinks that, what are the rest of us to make of him? It doesn't help that he's very fond of, and very skilled with, a bow and arrow. If, by chance, you catch wind of him making any diabolical plans I highly suggest you take it seriously. In other words, be absent whatever day he has marked on his calendar.

Well, there's my first class. If you'd like to participate, there's still time.