Category: Reviews

The Christmas Tale

This little gem came on a DVD I bought quite a few years ago (2009) and unfortunately can’t find now dagnabbit!  However, we are only talking about a couple of years ago, not like, 20 so relax.  Nonetheless, I felt the need to share it with you all since A) it takes place in the 80’s and B) is pretty freakin’ awesome and more importantly C) most people have never even heard of it, which saddens me greatly.  In fact, I had a hard time finding info on it when Googled.  Now that’s a first.

Now I don’t like reading reviews before viewing a flick nor do I generally put much stock in others reviews mainly because I’ve got my own ideas, but I’ve already seen it and this Amazon reviewer nails it (emphasis mine):

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the money!, October 10, 2008
This review is from: 6 Films to Keep You Awake (DVD)

Any horror fan will be plenty satisfied by this set. Of all the films 3 are good, 1 is a must own, 1 is okay and 1 is a dud. Of all the films, A Christmas Tale stands out as the most original and well made. The film is like the offspring of Silent Night Deadly Night and The Goonies. If that doesn’t perk your ears up then forget this set. The packaging is a disappointment and the extras are a bit light. However there is a making of for each film. Overall if you are a fan of horror and want to see what the Spanish directors of the genre are up to, this collection is for you.

A Christmas Tale3

Now, you probably noticed that this is a Spanish film with English subtitles, so if that’s not for you — cool.  Just know that if you have any connection with the 80’s and horror movies you are only doing yourself a disservice by not watching this flick big time.  This film will survive without you.

Anyway, once again without giving too much away, there are lots of 80’s references in this film.  Toss in some awesome creepy child actors and one deranged-assed Santa you get a perfect recipe of horror goodness.  I love Halloween.  I love Christmas.  To combine them both and do it well, is movie making at its best and is movie watching gold.

If this pic doesn’t do it for ya, well I don’t know what will!

A Christmas Tale4

PS — Enjoy the holiday season the right way and watch this flick!!

 What The Hell Has Happened to the Syfy Channel?

tv_stargate_atlantis13First, I am still not clear on exactly why the SciFi Channel suddenly became the Syfy Channel (other than the Marketing Department, those liar, liar pants on fire fucktards).  I am sure there are some black suited men, sitting behind a desk who have never liked, seen or heaven forbid — read — anything related to Science Fiction.  Too bad for them, and apparently, too bad for us also.

I don’t have any answers as to why the SciFi Channel, which seemed so hopeful in terms of great, original new shows like Stargate, Stargate Atlantis, Eureka, Ghost Hunters, etc. had suddenly turned to shows like “Shark Attack Times 1000!”, “The Catfish that ate your Mother”, or “The CROC THAT ATE ATLANTIS!”.  Even worse “Smackdown!”.  Obviously, I was joking with those titles, but they aren’t too far off.  Unfortunately, here are some real ones:  “Sharktopus”, “MegaShark vs. Crocosaurus”, “Dinocroc vs. Supergator” and “Smackdown” (that one was real, and just as bad).  Heaven help all of us science and fiction geeks, but that sad list goes on, on and on in terms of the films SyFy is willing to torture us with.

There are, however, some bright spots in the content downfall of the channel, and as anyone with common sense knows, there are but a few shows holding that channel together.  They are:  Warehouse 13, Ghost Hunters (which I used to love but is getting bor-oor-oring), and FaceOff, which is a great show that I encourage all of my peeps to check out.  That is all I will watch on that channel these days, and that is just damn sad.

If I were a betting person, I would lay down lots of money that whoever was put in charge of programming once the change was made is a Godzilla fan and maybe, just maybe a zoophiliac.  I know it’s hard to think about, but why else would someone choose to kill a burgeoning channel with lots of viewers?  Someone cancelled great shows like Stargate Atlantis and Eureka to make way for “My Dingo Ate Your Crocodile”.  Even worse, “Lost Girl” which does nothing but try to capitalize on young mens desires to see two chicks make out.   Really??  She NEEDS to suck face with everyone she meets to survive?  Please God tell me we are not that stupid or that ruled by our loins.

Look, I get the fact that men want to see that kind of thing.  But are you willing to let a TV show eat your brain away so much that the plot no longer matters?  If so, I got nothing for ya.  Come on you other guys, I have more faith in you than that.    Frankly, that’s what porn is for, not prime-time shows showing crap our kids can see.  Eh, whatever.

Now, if you want to watch a channel that is actually Science and Fiction try the Science Channel. They are showing Fringe and they even have a show called “Dark Matters” which is what the SyFy channel promised to be, but never delivered.  It can get a little gross at times, but it’s still great eureka-showand informative.  You know, kind of like life… and science.

Please do me a favor and stop watching the SyFy Channel just because it’s there.  You now know we have the Science Channel, which gives us a lot more than “Smackdown”.   And quite frankly, don’t be a dumbass consumer or teenager with a hard-on, both of whom will believe anything…. including that the Syfy Channel is still worth watching.

31 Days of The Best Halloween Movies — Countdown:  Day 1

In order to really get into the Halloween spirit, I always find myself wanting — scratch that — needing to watch movies that put me in the mood for all kind of ghouls, goblins, ghosts, zombies, and whatever else makes we wake up shaking in the middle of the night.  So this year, for every day in the month of October, I will post a film that is in my top 31 of the scariest of all time, starting with the least scary right down to what really makes me need a nightlight.  However, be warned — they are the 31 scariest of ALL horror movies ever made so none will be an easy viewing experience.  Keep in mind that I;  A) Am not including any films with any sort of funny aspect to them and B) Some younger viewers may not be able to fully appreciate the older films no matter how aweseomely awesome they are.

So, without further ado, the first film you should watch to get thyself in the Halloween mood is:

House of Wax, 1953

First of all, it’s Vincent Price people.  Vincent Price!  However, the story is fantastic as well as the special effects.  For those of you who grew up with no idea what these guys had to go through before CGI and color films — educate thyself.  This movie is a classic that every horror fan should have in their repertoire.  The rest of you who do have an idea just how wonderful this film is — do yourself a favor, rent or download and enjoy!

Movie Review:  Prometheus  2012

I must start this review by explaining that I had two problems while contemplating writing this review (and remember that I never give away the plot or any other details, you must see the film on your own and draw your own conclusions):

1) I love the Alien franchise.  And when I say love, I mean make your spouse (and all other loved ones) sit through innumerable hours of watching everything Alien until they want to throttle you.  This love however, pretty much ended with Alien3 (even though it was somewhat watchable) and totally died with Alien4 – Resurrection (whose existence still pisses me off when I accidentally see its name while scrolling by the SyFy channel at night.)  Heck, Alien vs. Predator was 10 times better than Resurrection and it wasn’t even that great.  Maybe now you get how much I loathe Alien Resurrection.  Anywhoo…

2)  I was aware before seeing Prometheus that it was supposedly a “pseudo” prequel to the Alien franchise but didn’t know what the hell that really meant.  Now that I have seen the film, I unfortunately have a very clear idea of what the hell they were talking about.

So now, on to the review…

First, I went out of my way to see this film in 3D — it was my first 3D movie in theater (not counting “A Bug’s Life” at Disney World) and I have to say I was impressed.  The visuals were stunning and through a lot of the film I felt I was right there with the characters so I have to give big props for the fact that Mr. Scott shot this in 3D and did a great job of making the audience feel like they were actually a part of the film.

Also, the acting was great with only one exception — and I am not sure if this was due to the director or the actor, although I suspect the former.   All of the actors seemed very capable and in the case of Janek — his poor performance seemed forced.  Janek (Idris Elba) seemed to have no feelings whatsoever in this film until the very end.  One wondered if he was actually an android in the film.  I must also give honorable mention to two other characters that other critics ignored, Eilizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Fifield (Sean Harris).  If it were not for both their superb acting I honestly don’t think that I would have been so drawn in while watching.

Now on to the bad news:  the plot of this film was horrible and I directly blame Damon Lindeof.  The truth of the matter is that for some ungodly reason (perhaps studio pressure and — just my opinion because I have no proof — perhaps some form of nepotism) it was  decided that he was allowed to change the script originally written by Ridley Scott and Jon Spaihts –two people waaaay more talented.  If you really want to know how big of a hack Mr. Lindeof is (who clearly has no clue about what Alien fans really want), just take a look at that stupid hat he wore at WonderCon 2012.  Need I really say more?

Anyway as I always say, please don’t let my opinion of this film deter you from seeing it as it is certainly worth a few hours of your time.  You should ALWAYS make up your own mind about films, books, or any art form for that matter.  My job is simply to give you a heads up and perhaps shine a small light on the subject matter of which you are interested.

Let me know what you think of my reviews anytime.   In the meantime, please enjoy the imagination of others and always give them mad props for their effort.

House of Dead Trees — By Rod Redux

For those of you who have read my previous entry about Mr. Redux, this review really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.  But, just in case you missed it (or just don’t want to click the link above and read it now) it is this readers opinion that Mr. Redux is going to be the next Stephen King.

First, for all of you King fans out there know this:  I love Stephen King.  I always hesitate to say that I’m his Number One Fan for (hopefully) obvious reasons, but damn if it hasn’t felt that way for a very long time.  In fact, I can say with all honesty (and experience) that he is the only “star” I would ever probably get arrested over if I saw him in real life.  His writing, even the books I didn’t like (and yes, there were a few) took me to places and fired up my imagination in ways I will never be able to fully express to someone else — or for that matter, repay Mr. King.

Second, I am NOT writing this review in a positive light just because Mr. Redux commented on my review of the movie The Thing.  Although I do freely admit to a moment of childish glee and indecision as to how to react (including whether I should even mention it here), I would never write a review that wasn’t true to my feelings about the subject matter.

Okay, so now that that is out of the way, on to the review…

The story centers around a group of paranormal investigators who get the chance of their lives (for their TV show “Ghost Scouts”) to investigate one the country’s most haunted houses — The Forester House.  Now, if you are anything like me, the idea of investigating a haunted house sounds fabulous, but when work, family life and geography get in the way, a show or book about someone else doing it will do just fine.  Such is the case with House of Dead Trees.

However, what this book does in addition to a haunted house tale, is give the book a backstory that in itself could be published as a short story or small novella.  In fact, since the book starts out with the backstory, I was so enthralled with it that I didn’t want that part to end.  Obviously it did, and we are then led into an entirely different story, with the backstory interwoven into it.  That, my reading friends, is what I call a great book.

The biggest thing I fear whenever I write a review that is so glowing that you are let down once you crack the pages or press play.  Although I went in expecting a lot from Mr. Redux , I was not disappointed one iota.  But as you know, all stories, movies, and tall tales affect each of us differently.  So please go in simply with  the idea that this is supposed to be a pretty darn good book, and let your imagination do the rest.

PS — I do apologize for not updating here more regularly, but alas, real life does occasionally interfere and such is the case with yours truly.  My promise to you is that I will update as often as possible and as long as my fingers still remember asdfjkl;.

The Howling:  Reborn

I admit it, when it came to watching this movie I hesitated.  See, it has been a long time since I saw the original Howling, so I assumed that there would be some plot line I didn’t remember and/or it would fall prey to the dreaded horrible “it’s crap, but let’s make  it anyway for some quick dough” re-make curse.  I was wrong on both counts — it’s not a re-make and you don’t need to know anything about the first film to like this one.

The film immediately has you guessing — who is that woman on the phone?  Why is someone following her?  Who is this teenager telling us to kill him?  All questions that the movie lovingly takes it time to answer.

We follow teenager Will (Landon Liboiron aka “Josh” in Terra Nova) as he prepares to turn 18 and graduate from high school.  By all accounts, Will is a normal, geeky, good kid with a loving father and crush on the cute, but dangerous girl in school.  Pretty soon however, Will starts wondering (and you do too) if he might not be so normal after all.  Once the movie has you firmly thinking you have figured everything out, it takes several twists and turns that the most astute horror movie fan won’t see coming — a rare treat.

What I liked about this film is that it’s a fun, thinking fans film, although it’s obviously directed at a younger audience.  Yes, it’s got blood and guts and werewolves but it’s also got a neat little plot to enjoy as well —  leaving the door open for a new, interesting franchise on an old classic.

So, if you were thinking of skipping this one do yourself a favor and give it a watch — you won’t regret it.

RATINGS RANT:  I just don’t know what to do with IMDb these days.  The user rating for this film is a 4.1, contrasted with Wrong Turn 4’s 4.4.  No way these two films should even be close in ratings, much less WT4 being higher.  Ugh.

Wrong Turn 4, 2011

Yup.  It’s as bad as you thought it would be.  Although I will never write a review that begs you not to watch a movie or read a book, what I will try to do, is help you determine whether it is worth your dime and/or your time to do either one.  Personally, I watch and read a lot of frogs knowing that eventually the prince will be worth it — even if someone else told me not to.  That said, Wrong Turn 4 is definitely no prince.

If, like me, you were happily surprised by the first film, you have probably been hoping that eventually they would get around to figuring out what worked in the first film and gee, I don’t know, try to use the same formula or something.  Alas, that is not the case with Wrong Turn 4.  Instead, this movie felt like some studio executive let his 14 year old, barely literate, horny nephew write this screenplay (actually, it was Declan O’Brien, but close enough).  Yes, it’s really, really that bad.

So okay.  The film is a prequel, starting off in 1973 in a sanitorium (which according to the movie should not be confused with a sanitarium, but whatever) in West Virginia where our cannibal friends are incarcerated as teenagers.  Not much happens here except, wait for it… they escape and let all of the other criminally insane patients out of their cages.   Flash forward 30 years later to 2003 and some teenagers just itching to go skiing (which in teen-speak means drinking, drugging and having sex) but instead get lost (hence their Wrong Turn) and end up at the supposedly now abandoned sanitorium.

It is at this point that things start to go even further downhill than just bad acting and rampant clichés.  First, you have two semi-normal characters (Daniel and Kenia) who seem to sort of have their shit together (meaning, they weren’t high and actually noticed that something bad might be going on).  The rest of the cast was completely and totally expendable to the point where, once again, I found myself rooting for them to die.  Painfully.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted the cannibals to die too, as they totally should have once the group had them locked in a freaking cell.  But noooo, 50% of my semi-normal character team (Kenia) had to go and get all preachy about the evils of killing, so naturally the cannibals eventually escape and kill everyone.  For this reason alone, I spent the remainder of the film thinking up creative ways that Kenia should bite it, but unsurprisingly her death was way too quick and painless.  Unlike this utter horror of a movie.

RANKING NOTE:  IMDb users ranked this steaming pile of manure 4.4.  No offense, but anyone who thinks this film deserves more than a 1.5 is either high, a horny teenager themselves or more likely, both.

The Exorcist, 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty

For those of you who read my earlier post about the 40th Anniversary version of the 1971 novel The Exorcist, you have probably guessed by now that I crumbled like a cookie and bought the book.  Yes, I caved but it should be mentioned that I did at least wait until it came out on Kindle, so that’s something I suppose.

If you didn’t read my earlier post, a few months ago I was in a bit of a tizzy over the fact that I could not get the original Exorcist book on Kindle, but the 40th Anniversary Edition was available for pre-order and I’m no fan of pre-ordering anything.  So, I bitched and moaned about it, but in the end, once the damn thing was available I paid $9.99 for a book that I had seen the “based on the book” movie of at least 25 times and the directors cut at least 5 (seriously, after so many viewings I lose track of exact numbers).

First, if you have seen the director’s cut of the Exorcist movie, you have pretty much read the 40th Anniversary Edition book with a few (at least one notable) changes.  There is the addition of a new character, who in this readers opinion was a positive change.  It’s not that the story depended on this new character in any real way (because it didn’t), but it’s still an interesting and atmospheric change that definitely adds to the creepy factor, which is a good thing.

One change that really stood out for me, was the Regan crab-walk scene, not seen in the original but is definitely a standout in the director’s cut.  In the director’s cut, Regan crab-walks upside down/backwards down a flight of stairs.  Honestly, it’s one of the freakiest moments in movie history — ever.  The idea it could possibly be even more disturbing truly seemed impossible to me, until I read the 40th Anniversary Edition.  Now, based on the fact that this scene was in the movie I can only assume it was also in the original book (which I didn’t read).  However, either way the scene in the movie — as awesome as it is — pales in comparison to the scene in the book.

The biggest difference for me, however, was Regan’s mother, Chris MacNeil .  In the movie, although you could probably argue casting, her character was just not very sympathetic to me.  I was clearly aghast at what was happening around her, but she came off as snarky and well, sort of a self-involved bitch.  Her character in the book is much more of a real person and therefore, more relatable.  So, the film portrayal notwithstanding, I actually gave a damn about her.

Anyway, if you are one of the myriad of people who has seen the movie but has never taken the time to read the book, now is your chance and I recommend you seize it.  You really do find not only some gems of details you simply can’t get out of a movie, but you also get the benefit of a newfound appreciation for one of the greatest horror stories ever told.  Mr. Blatty may disagree with my overall opinion of the differences and that’s okay.  Regardless, I still must say thank you Mr. Blatty, thank you very, very much for keeping me awake too many nights to count.

The Walking Dead, Season 2 Premier 9pm EST

Took long enough, but it’s finally here!  If you haven’t seen it yet and are planning to watch it later via DVR, TiVo or whatever, skip this update and check in afterwards.  I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so you have been warned.


Our Season 2 The Walking Dead premier (1.5 hrs) opens with Rick atop a building speaking into a walkie-talkie.  For those of you new to the series (or just forgot, like I did) Rick regularly gives his status and various updates to the walkie-talkie in the hopes of reaching Morgan Jones.  Who is Morgan?  Morgan saved Rick’s life in Episode 1 of Season 1, when Rick woke up in the middle of zombie armageddon.  However, when Rick set out to find his wife and son, Morgan and his son Duane decided not to travel with Rick.  Rick tells Morgan to check his walkie-talkie everyday at dawn, so if he ever needs help or wants to join Rick, he and Duane can do so.

So, the gangs all there, minus of course, Jacqui, who decided to stay behind at the CDC when it exploded in the final episode of Season 1.  Since the major players are there, so are their issues from Season 1.  Rick still has no clue that his wife Lori was er, “intimate” with Shane while Rick was presumed dead.  We also have Andrea — who was going to stay and get blown up also at the CDC until Dale threatened to die with her — and she is none to happy with Dale for in effect, guilting her into living.  We also see Daryl, who in Season 1 was an awful lot like his racist, psycho big brother, save T-Dog’s life and risk his own life in doing so.  So in essence, we had a lot of interpersonal catching up to do here for a much-needed reminder for Season 1 fans and a solid introduction for newbies.

As you might have guessed, all of this didn’t happen while they were sitting around waiting to be zombie chow.  Nope, rather while on the road to Fort Benning, they first run afoul of a “herd” of zombies headed for, well, no one knows really.  As the herd is almost past them, little Sophia gets attacked by a zombie and bolts into the woods.  Most of the episode has the gang looking through the woods in search of her, interspersed with personal issues of course, and ends with Rick’s son Carl getting shot and no still sign of Sophie.  We don’t see how badly Carl gets shot or by whom, but call me an optimist — I am willing to bet little Carl survives.

All in all a great opener, even if a lot of it was for the purpose of playing catch up.  The tense atmosphere is just as awesome as last season, as is the acting and special effects.  As for the special effects, there is even one scene that is so visceral I almost got a little nauseous.  In other words — it was perfect.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, 2010

Any fan of Guillermo del Toro can’t help but anxiously await for the release of his new films and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is no exception.  If del Toro somehow missed your notice (I don’t know, perhaps you live under a rock) he is well known for such visual masterpieces as Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II and the two Hellboy films.  It also doesn’t hurt that he has been nominated for an Oscar and won a slew of other awards.  For this fan, however, it is del Toro’s stunning landscapes and intricate imagery that usually has me salivating in anticipation of his next flick.

So yes, the imagery in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is beautiful.  The old mansion in which most of the film takes place, along with its grounds, is something you are more likely to see in your imagination than in real life.  Also, as is his style, the use of contrasting color and interwoven collages always have your eyes noticing things in the background that otherwise would be just another prop.  To sum it up, although del Toro didn’t direct this movie — he wrote and produced it — he has once again done his job and done it well.

The plot centers around Alex (Guy Pearce, Memento), Kim, Alex’s girlfriend (Katie Holmes Cruise) and Alex’s 8 year old daughter, Sally (Bailee Madison).  As Alex and Kim are restoring an old mansion, little Sally comes to live with them in the mansion as the renovation is under way.  As kids are wont to do, Sally investigates the grounds and finds a basement not yet unearthed by Alex and Kim.  It is in this basement that bad things originate and soon Sally has a very real reason to fear for her life, but naturally dad and Kim aren’t so believing of Sally’s tales.  For all of its beauty and wonder by way of the scenery, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is little more than  a dark twist on the tooth fairy; think the tooth fairy meets Gremlins and there you have it.

First let me say that this is a good movie.  However,  (you knew it was coming, right?) I believe the biggest downfall of this film is how it was marketed.  I only saw references to it here and there before viewing, but nowhere did I see that it was a children’s horror movie.  It’s a really good children’s horror movie, but your average adult will find little to make them jump and certainly isn’t going to make them leave any lights on.  That being said, I can see this movie scaring the crap out of the 7-12 year-old range of kids and most likely, ruining the tooth fairy for them for quite a while.  If I had children I would love to sit and give them their first taste of a horror movie with this flick.  But since I don’t and was expecting an adult horror movie, the movie fell short for me.  Nonetheless, I still recommend giving a watch, and breaking my rule of not knowing anything about a movie before viewing.  In this case, if you want to enjoy this movie, it’s definitely a good idea to keep in mind what you are in for before hand and make sure you take the time to enjoy del Toro’s outstanding visuals.

SCIENTOLOGY ALERT:  We all know that Katie Holmes is the poor child who got herself married to Scientolo… er, Tom Cruise, and it does rear its ugly head in this movie.  However, it is only a very small (and unnecessary really) part of the film, and happens to be the one area I agree with the Cult, I mean “Church” of Scientology — doping our kids up with drugs is not the best decision in the world.  I’m not a cult member, so I do believe that in some cases it is necessary, but let’s be real — we do tend to over medicate our kids these days.  Anyway, like I said, the anti-drug message is in there, but it’s pretty small and if you don’t loath Scientology like I do, you probably wouldn’t even make the connection had I not done it here.  I only mention it because I like to make sure we are all aware when a real monster tries to insidiously enter the picture.

**Also, in case you weren’t aware this film is a re-make (of sorts) of the 1973 movie of the same name Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

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