Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of 2011

I really wanted to stay away from an end of the year list this year. Every time I do one I want to change it immediately upon completing it. So this year instead of rankings I'll just do what was good and what wasn't in the world of movies for 2011 that I got around to seeing. As is the case when the end of December rolls around each year there are plenty of films I didn't get around to seeing during the calendar year and others which I wish I hadn't bothered with. That is just how it goes. Without further adieu I give you Celluloid Terror's Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo.

First up on the good list is Takashi Miike's 13 ASSASSINS. A wonderfully violent samurai adventure about, you guessed it, 13 assassins who want to bring justice to the tyrannical power of the Shogun family. If you're a fan of Miike's previous works such as Ichi The Killer, Audition and Sukiyaki Western Django you'll enjoy this, which is perhaps my personal favorite of his filmography.

I debated putting SUPER 8 on the list. While I loved everything in the first part of the movie about the kids and using the accident to film their movie I hated the bullshit we were fed during the second half with the parents and their soap opera melodrama. What started out as a great kid adventure film that could have easily been worked into the monster movie part of the plot got shit on for typical government cover up and bland monster movie crap. There are a couple movies that could have made it above this one but the kids were great in this so for that reason it (barely) makes the list.

INSIDIOUS is our first to be branded with Lee Van Cleef's face for being bad. It's funny how creepy this film started and how quickly it fell off a cliff and no one seemed to care to tell anyone else on the production crew just how awful this movie became. It doesn't help that they did some live Q&A thing and didn't take any questions from this blog... tisk tisk. The only thing that saved this from the dreaded "ugly" is that opening 45 minutes or so. Stay Away from this unless you enjoy your movies to change tone totally and get really really bad all at once.

If you kept up with my October Horror Challenge you certainly saw my severe disdain for Kevin Smith's new film (and Smith himself) RED STATE. A bloated mess that fits Kevin Smith's personality these days like a glove. While trying to make a smart, in-tune film Smith makes a pile of garbage.

In what was the best comic book movie of the year and among the best in the history of such films, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS easily makes the list. First Class is a well made, acted and written prequel to the franchise. This easily gets rid of the bad taste that Last Stand and Wolverine Origins left in my mouth.

I SAW THE DEVIL was my favorite movie of 2011. It was damn near perfect in my opinion. It was filmed beautifully, acted wonderfully and had some damn fine direction with excellent camera work. If you're a fan of revenge tales, especially bloody and gruesome revenge tales definitely check this out. Kim Ji-Woon continues to impress as a director.

DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK probably doesn't deserve to be here, but it gets the dubious honor of this spot for the sake of symmetry. While it wasn't a particularly bad movie it wasn't very good either. The whole thing was predictable and had a been-there-done-that feel to it. It did have some thick atmosphere and you could tell that Guillermo Del Toro had his little touches throughout but Katie Holmes not being able to act herself out of a wet paper bag certainly didn't help it out at all.

No surprise that TRANSFORMERS 3 made the list. Michael Bay is a walking pile of turds so what else would he put to film than more turds. Seriously this movie was so fucking jumpy that it had no continuity as to what the fuck was going on. In a room of 5 people watching the movie not one could explain how this shit was happening because Michael Bay is more concerned with BOOM EXPLOSION CLOSE UP FIGHT BOOM YAY! than actually constructing a half decent fucking story. Fuck you Michael Bay, instead of Dark Of The Moon it should have been called Turd Of The World.

This movie was fun. And violent. And bloody. And a little bit silly. And starred Rutger Hauer. Yea, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN made the Good list.

I reviewed TROLL HUNTER back in the summer, if you read that review you probably could have guessed it would end up as one of my favorites of the year. The movie that brought the fairy tales to life convincingly certainly did end up as one of my favorite movies of the year, and it earned this spot.

FRIGHT NIGHT is another movie I reviewed during the summer with totally opposite results. This was really bad, not quite ugly, but really bad. This shouldn't have been a difficult remake to at least make entertaining, but they failed at that. McLovin is no Evil Ed.

It's funny that Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing released four of my favorite films of the year (which you'll find hanging out with Clint Eastwood on this list) and also released one of my 2 or 3 most hated. RUBBER had a cute idea about a tire that uses Telekinesis to kill humans by blowing them up. It was entertaining for about 5 minutes and then you are faced with the complete and utter bullshit that surrounds the killer tire thing that wore out it's welcome almost as fast as your relatives did at Christmas.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Children (1980) - Grindhouse Experience

After a long absence from reviewing a new chapter of the Grindhouse Experience set I have returned with 1980's horror film THE CHILDREN. This has nothing to do with the more recent film of the same title. This was a movie with every chance to be a piece of classic 80s horror VHS glory.

After a couple of nuclear power plant workers decide to say fuck it and get a beer instead of working overtime to fix a leak at the plant a giant yellow gas cloud engulfs a school bus with a few kids and the driver aboard. The cloud only effects the kids who come out looking normal aside from black fingernails (Carson Daly syndrome) and generally creepy (as country town kids often do). The kids prey on the townsfolk who aren't very worried about their kids not coming home from school on the whole... apparently a bus driver taking a kids on a picnic or down to the quarry while abandoning the bus in the middle of the road isn't much of a problem to the town of Ravensback. The kids attack with deadly force in the form of... hugs. Yes, hugs. The power of love is enough to burn, melt and just completely mangle their adult victims. Sometimes the hug is accompanied by a similar yellow gas cloud. Eventually the sheriff figures out that there is some weird shit going on and tries to fight back. The problem is all but solved until... GASP!

This movie was a breath of fresh air compared to the memories of much of what I have watched in this set. It started out with great promise and an easy premise. Kids are naturally creepy in certain situations but the budget limitations on makeup really sell this movie short. The black fingernails just isn't convincing and certainly doesn't grab you and pull you in. There is also no explanation why the gas cloud didn't effect any adults either. The makeup looks fine after the kids attack but the whole hug thing isn't funny after the first time you see it. This could have been golden 80s cheese and simply fizzled out into slow, spotty, schlock. It was good enough for me to give it a positive review, because it wasn't bad and it even had a serious VHS tracking moment at the end but it does fall short of anything worth revisiting anytime soon.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Deathstalker (1983)

The 80s had hundreds of movies that ripped off other movies without shame or guilt. DEATHSTALKER is one of those movies. Directed by James Sbardellati under and assumed name this is 80 minutes of the stinkiest cheese you've ever come across. Big hair, crazy characters, sword fights, boobs everywhere, some wild gore and magic to top it all off.

Deathstalker is a mighty warrior sent on a mission by an old witch to find and unite the Three Powers Of Creation - A chalice, an amulet and a sword. 2 of these items are held by the evil king/magician Munkar. Munkar invites the best fighters around to a tournament to decide a successor to his throne - the winner rules! The problem is that Munkar has no intentions on giving up his power and is instead using the tournament to kill off any threat to his throne.

If you have half a brain it isn't hard to figure out where the story is heading. It is the incredible cheesy low budget nature (Producer Roger Corman would have it no other way in the 80s) that are the fun of it all. The naked girls are captured and often served up as nothing more than eye candy for us with all the goods on display. In fact they aren't just eye candy for us, the majority of them in the movie are simply objects for the warriors to toy with. The girls do get their revenge at one point in a rather entertaining scene. The sword fights aren't exactly the most memorable but they are adequate, and usually leave a bloody mess in their wake. Heads fly, guts get spilled and wild shape shifting make it all fun.

DEATHSTALKER is far from high art and isn't even original but serves as a fun time waster to turn your brain off to and just enjoy the glory of the B-movie. Swords, magic, boobs... how bad can it be?