The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) – Review

The Town That Dreaded Sundown movie poster

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) Is Remarkably “Blah” And Pointless, Which Is A Pity Considering The Source Material”

While I was a bit dismayed when I first learned that one of the favorite horror films was being remade, I am even more put out to see it turn up on Netflix this evening (which implies that it wasn’t good enough to release in theaters because, while I am a huge fan of Netflix, movies that aren’t in some way associated with them don’t traditionally make it their first stop).

It’s already a bit too meta for my tastes and opens with a couple at a drive-in, watching the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown–someone even wears an eponymously-titled t-shirt, which is a bit like wearing a shirt with James Holmes‘ picture on the anniversary of the Colorado theater shootings.  Sure, you could do it, but it would also be in awfully bad taste–and with some people protesting that a movie based on a true event was being shown again.

And the thing is, you can see their point.

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Black Sea – Review

Black Sea movie poster

“Somebody said that the road to Hell…”

“…is paved with good intentions.  And apparently, the road to Heaven as well.”

Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) to Ernst Queller (Jeremy Kemp) from the Year One Space: 1999 episode, Voyager’s Return

And while he didn’t have a reason to, Queller should have included “beneath the sea” as well.

Having seen Kevin McDonald‘s Black Sea last night it struck me how remarkably similar the movie was thematically to the Johnny Byrne-scripted episode of Space: 1999, Voyager’s Return.  In it Ernst Queller built a star drive that opened the stars to humanity, though too late to know that whenever the drive was engaged in proximity of populated worlds, ‘fast neutrons’ from it would devastate any worlds within its range.

The point being that Robinson (Jude Law) is a man that does his best to do good for everyone in his life, despite things not working too well for him.  He lost his wife and son to someone richer and more successful, and when the film begins, his job as a submariner as well.

That is till he learns of the location of a German U-Boat that’s resting at the bottom of the Black Sea that also happens to contain a fortune in Russian gold.

He finds a backer, gets a submarine (the decline of the Soviet Union providing ample opportunities for buying surplus weaponry, such as submarines) and brings together a crew comprised half of Brits and Russians (Russians because being a Soviet sub, Russians on the crew is a necessity).

Though despite Robinson’s best intentions, things go awry pretty fast, and retrieving the gold becomes less of a problem than dealing with treachery from within and the Russian Navy from without.

Black Sea is a remarkably engaging movie, with great performances across the board, though Robinson would have probably done better if he had watched Aliens prior to going to sea, because someone does a serious ‘Burke’ on him.

The Interview – Review

The Interview movie poster

 “The Producers Of The Interview Should Consider The Sony Hacking Fortuitous Because There’s No Other Way Such An Otherwise Middling Movie Would Receive So Much Attention.”

When I first learned of all the hullabaloo over Sony Pictures’ The Interview, the first thing that came to mind was that if it weren’t for the hack, there’s no way the movie would warrant all the attention its received.

And I was right, though what’s I found more interesting is despite the movie being only intermittently funny it was at its best when it referred, directly or indirectly, to homosexuality (such as the bit about Eminem coming out, “honeydicking,” or using tiger blood as an anal lubricant) which can perhaps be interpreted as how infantile the movie, at heart, is.

And at the same time it’s almost anti-homosexual because there’s no other way to think about a movie that contains moments of Seth Rogen semi-nudity.

James Franco’s buys into the premise wholeheartedly, and his ‘Dave Skylark’ is pretty interesting in a vacant, opportunistic kind of way though I get the feeling that Seth Rogen as a producer aching to be taken seriously is probably the most outlandish thing about the movie.

And while Randall Park, who played Kim Jong-un, is pretty engaging as Kim Jung-un, and considered to be a rising star by some, I am willing to bet The Interview will be the most noteworthy thing on his resume.

Which wouldt be a bit disappointing.

And the movie ending with Winds Of Change, by The Scorpions is a bit…obvious.

The Interview is currently on Netflix

Serial Killing 101- Review

Trace Slobotkin‘s 2004 movie, Serial Killing 101 (otherwise known as Serial Killing 4 Dummys) is a shockingly–”shockingly” because it looks relatively cheap– entertaining movie.

Visually, the problems are due to the cinematography of John P. Tarver, who’s lighting seems to wash out virtually everything it touches.

Which is a pity because once you get beyond that, the movie is actually pretty clever, even witty, at times.

Events revolve around Casey Nolan (Justin Urich) an actor that actually looks like a high school student–which very well might have been the case at the time–casting that’s appreciated when filmmakers are too often quick to pass off twenty-somethings as teens.

He’s a bit of a slacker, and bored with school, which results in him writing a paper about his desire to be a serial killer, which  doesn’t go over too well with his teacher, Mr. Korn’s (Rick Overton), who’s intervention sets into motion a whole series of unfortunate–for Casey–events.

As I said earlier, the movie is more clever than you’d think, and shockingly fun.

Serial Killing 4 Dummys

Whatever the guy (in red circle) is staring at, it’s not Casey

It also has some big name actors, such as Thomas Hayden Church (as an tad overzealous gym teacher), a virtually unrecognizable Corey Feldman (prior to the credits, I had no idea he was even in the movie, though after a second viewing I wondered how I missed him in the first place) as a store clerk, Lisa Loeb as Sasha Fitzgerald as a serial killer enabler (?) and eventual love interest and the great George Murdock as Detective Ray Berro.

I mentioned how clever the writing of this movie was, and there was an interesting payoff of an earlier scene in the movie that’s particularly well-handled (some of the practical FX, not so much).  It shouldn’t be so surprising to see a bit that’s set up in the beginning of the movie pay off at the end, but there you go.

Things wrap up a bit too neatly–all that was missing was a bow–as Casey’s fortunes begin to turn, but that’s a small gripe.

It’s also worth mentioning the winning performance by Stuart Stone (Amil) because once you get used the character, he threatens to steal any scene he turns up in.

Serial Killing 101 isn’t a great movie; it’s barely good, though what it is fun and doesn’t take itself quite so seriously, which is an okay every once in awhile.

 

Serial Killing 101 is currently on Netflix.

 

Frank – Review

Frank movie poster

“”Frank” Is Thematically Reminiscent Of “Boyhood,” Except Stuff Happens.”

Lenny Abrahamson‘s Frank in some ways reminded me of Boyhood, in the sense that both movies are about change and growing up, but what I find most interesting how the former film is at times touching, sad, funny and irritating, as opposed to the latter, which–particularly after the second hour–became a test in audience endurance.

Frank revolves around a band, Soronprfbs, and their enigmatic lead singer, Frank (Michael Fassbender) who wears a huge paper mache head everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.

In fact, you don’t see the character without it till the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie.

Frank shower scene

Did I mention he NEVER takes off the fake head?

What makes Frank, the movie, though the individual is pretty interesting as well, so fascinating is that any other movie that revolved around a guy who who wore a huge paper mache head everywhere you could be relatively certain that it would be the crux of the entire movie.

Instead the movie is about growing up, and understanding that sometimes to build something beautiful you have to break it down.

I wish Boyhood were nearly as succinct and profound; though mainly succinct.

 

Frank is currently on Neflix.

Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire – Review

Jarhead 2 poster

“Jarhead 2 would be a better movie if it weren’t called “Jarhead.””

Don Michael Paul‘s Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire is a fascinating movie–which shouldn’t be mistaken for good, though it’s by no means terrible–that revolves around a platoon in Afghanistan and a mission circumstance forces them to undertake.

What makes the movie so interesting is that it’s as if the makers had never seen the original film that their movie is (supposedly) based upon.  The original Jarhead starred Jake Gyllenhaal and was based on the story of Anthony Swafford, and the American response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Though most importantly Jarhead was less a war movie than one about the nature of war, which was depicted as long lengths of time either doing nothing or doing things that appeared on the surface to be pointless, punctuated by an occasional bout of violence, till everything was defined by the same monotonous routine.

Field Of Fire takes an opposite tack, as Josh Kelly (Chris Merrimette) and his platoon are forced to fight to defend the life of a mysterious woman who’s being transported by Navy Seal Fox (Cole Hauser).  There’s no pointlessness of violence here, though the movie does try to adapt the somewhat cynical tone of the original film, for the most part unsuccessfully.

This pointlessness extends to the rest of the movie as well, which besides conflict has little in common with the original film.

Jarhead 2: Field Of Fire is currently on Netflix

I, Frankenstein – Review

I, Frankenstein movie poster

I, Frankenstein.  At Least It’s Not Van Helsing.”

That’s pretty weak praise, then again I, Frankenstein isn’t the strongest of movies.

No one through virtually the entire running time is at all certain if the Monster (Aaron Eckhart) has a soul–spoiler alert:  He does–though I wish the same could be said for the movie itself, because underneath the often snazzy special effects, it’s pretty soulless.

I, Frankenstein comic cover

Call me “Frankencastle” and someone gets hurt

I, Frankenstein is based on a graphic novel written by Kevin Grevioux–who also had a hand in writing Underworld as well, and if you swapped out the werewolves with gargoyles, and the demons with vampires, that’s the movie you’d end up with.

Still, it’s not terrible more than just uninspired.  The movie revolves around Frankenstein’s Monster, who calls himself Adam–making his way in the world.  He’s discovered by some gargoyles(?) that are empowered by angels though they’re somewhat morally ambiguous–at least toward Frankenstein–unlike their opponents, the demons, who happen to be hatching a scheme to use the knowledge that enabled Frankenstein to become animate (Knowledge that’s available in Dr. Frankenstein’s diary, which Adam conveniently carries with him everywhere.  The movie never says that he couldn’t read, which I mention because he’s lived for over two hundred years, by which time he could have memorized the entire book without even trying) to enable the dead to become receptacles for fallen demons, a plot device eerily reminiscent of the process Dracula was using in Van Helsing bring his children to life (Huh?  Since when can vampires reproduce?  Kind of defeats the whole “biting on the neck thing,” doesn’t it?  I know, I know.  Focus).

Speaking of which, I, Frankenstein is better than that movie, though not by a lot.  Luckily, it moves briskly and Eckhart does his job in an efficient, workman-like fashion, so at least there aren’t too many regrets.

I, Frankenstein is currently on Netflix.