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Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

HALLOWEEN 2 (2009) Review

Halloween 2-5Just so there is no misunderstanding I hated pretty much all of Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2. While I ultimately disliked Zombies first re-imagining of John Carpenter’s original 1978 classic I thought it had a few interest scenes and was semi-watchable. As far as this sequel is concerned, it has absolutely no redeeming value and is a movie I will never watch again.

Zombie has either no skill or no interest in building tension or suspense as the whole movie is an extreme exercise in blunt force trauma. It wallows in unpleasantness for its entire running time, reinventing the characters of this long running horror franchise to absurd and ridiculous caricatures. After watching this senseless garbage there’s no defending Zombie. If he wants to do his own thing in movies like his House of a 1000 Corpses or The Devils Rejects fine, but stay away, far away, from existing franchise properties like Halloween.

Haddonfield for me is not a small town filled with redneck hillbillies and strippers, Michael Myers is not a giant hobo, Dr Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) is not an unlikable opportunist, and Laurie Strode (Scout Taylor-Compton) is not an uncharismatic personality that adds little to nothing to the overall story. It’s also hard to excuse the ridiculous plot device that returns Zombie’s real life wife Sherri Moon to this follow up as a ghost who talks to her son Michael throughout the movie. You also lose all credibility as a horror director when you employ a shameless extended dream sequence. I especially despised when and where he used it.

As for the plot, there isn’t much of one other than Michael Myers is still alive and on his way back to Haddonfield one year after the events of the first film transpired. Dr Loomis has now sold out by becoming a celebrity writer promoting a new book dealing with his observations and history with Michael. As for Laurie she’s now living with Sheriff Brackett (Brad Dourif) and his daughter Annie (Danielle Harris) and is troubled by very bad dreams. She’s also unhappy and rebellious. I’m must say that Scout Taylor-Compton who plays Laurie is a dreadful actress with zero charisma and no screen presence whatsoever. She’s certainly no Jamie Lee Curtis.

Other than that, it’s just a total blood bath with Myers brutally killing people, and I mean brutally. It’s one thing to stab someone two or three times but  fifteen is overkill – so to speak. He also eats a dog in the movie which is pretty pathetic. Zombie’s choice to flesh out Michael’s background has been a detrimental mistake as there’s no mystery to the character. He’s just a straightforward serial killer and an uninteresting one at that.

You also know what you’re in for when you enter Zombie’s twisted world when he has a character taking about having sex with a dead body. Please stand up if you can relate to this.

Overall this is just an exercise in sadism from the mind of a sick individual who somehow was handed the keys to a long running horror franchise that he has now burned to the ground. Give me Rick Rosenthal’s 1981 Halloween 2 any day of the week.

ZERO zombies out of FIVE

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | Leave a comment

THE BLOB to be REMADE under the direction of Rob Zombie

The_Blob_posterWhile I’m not surprised that another remake of the classic 1958 B-movie The Blob will happen (I’ve heard rumblings over the last few years), I was surprised when I found out that the project has gone to Rob Zombie. While I have no problem with Zombie doing his own thing with films like The Devils Rejects (while nasty it was a compelling watch) he would be the last guy I would go to when putting a different spin on a named property. For my money the guy is just too hardcore for this and the Halloween franchise. Although he has his supporters, I’m not one of them. I’m not saying he can’t do interesting horror, I just don’t want him to put his stamp on already existing properties as it’s obvious he has no respect for the source material.

According to “Variety”, Zombie says he’s come up with a bit of a different take than a big red blob, as it truly wouldn’t scare audiences in the least at this point in time. “I’d been looking to break out of the horror genre, and this really is a science fiction movie about a thing from outer space,” Zombie said. “I intend to make it scary, and the great thing is I have the freedom once again to take it in any crazy direction I want to”. That quote is precisely why I have a problem with Zombie. If you want to go off in crazy directions as he has done with the Halloween franchise, fine. Just don’t call it Halloween and defecate on Carpenter’s original. I’m assuming his Blob will be nothing like the terrific 1958 version (which was originally to be titled The Molten Meteor and filmed in and around Valley Forge PA) or the very solid 1988 remake (well directed by Chuck Russell) which added a few really cool twists to the The Blob 2story, including killing off the character Steve McQueen played in the films first 40 minutes, thus making Kevin Dillon the hero. Even though the 1988 version opened to terrific reviews (some critics compared it to Aliens) it crashed and burned pretty quickly grossing just $2,644,920 in its opening weekend and an anemic $8,247,943 in its entire theatrical run. In some ways it feels like the film doesn’t exist as it doesn’t get much play on television.

As for the 1958 version, it still makes for a nifty watch as it captures the feel of a small town perfectly and features a compelling Steve McQueen in his first starring role. You could argue that its story about an ever growing giant jelly-like life form that absorbs people while destroying the town is dated, but in the hands of another director I would be excited.

According to the trade, funding is in place to make this an R-rated $30 million film. Zombie will complete the script while he’s on tour with his new album this fall. Production is expected to begin in spring 2010. In this case I say BEWARE of Rob Zombie!

August 30, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

2012 international trailer

Eat your heart out Irwin Allen (The Towering Inferno)! Well, I wouldn’t go that far since I’m a big fan of the master of disaster who dominated the 1970’s with that genre, but Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow) has certainly become the heir apparent for this generation.

This new international trailer to Emmerich’s end of the world film is quite impressive as far as event movies go. While I think many filmmakers have gone way overboard with CGI, that work in this film appears quite good and, considering the scope of things, there is no other way to go. 2012 hits theaters on November 13, 2009 and should be one of the big attractions for the holiday movie going season. Take a LOOK

August 28, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

With HALLOWEEN 2 and FINAL DESTINATION 4 opening this Friday WHY are two horror films opening on the same weekend

halloween 2finalposter1Don’t even get me started as to why The Weinstein Co. is opening Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 in August when everyone knows it would be much better suited as an October release to coincide with Halloween month. While I understand Zombie’s first Halloween opened in August of 2007 and performed well it just doesn’t feel right, at least not to me. That aside, the big question is why didn’t The Weinstein Co. and Warner Bros work out an arrangement so Zombie’s sequel and WB’s The Final Destination 4, two films competing for the exact same audience, wouldn’t go head to head on the same weekend. It just makes no sense from a business point of view as both entities will ultimately be hurt financially.

On August 31, 2007 Zombie’s re-imagining of the classic John Carpenter film opened to a solid $26,362,367 in ticket-sales in its first weekend, eventually going on to gross $58,272,029 at the U.S box-office on a reported budget of $15 million.

Final_destination_09Final Destination 3 opened on February 10, 2006 and had a $19,173,094 first weekend and a total U.S gross of $54,098,051 on a reported budget of $25 million. While I wasn’t a big fan of Zombie’s Halloween (while well shot it just drifted too much from Carpenter’s vision), I have enjoyed The Final Destination franchise – these movies are just a lot of fun.

Clearly both these new films in their respective franchises would have had the opportunity to be the top attraction this weekend but a huge monkeywrench has been thrown into the works when both parties decided to stand pat on this specific release date. Coming off the news that Paramount has moved its release date of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island from this October to February of 2010 due to $60 million marketing costs in our tough economic climate, the stupidity of Warner Bros and The Weinstein Co. not compromising is just plain bad business. Clearly there is a cash crunch in Hollywood and every dollar is more important than ever. So why throw away money when you don’t have too?

They might both pay a steep financial price from either this bad judgment or plain stubbornness. I’m confident they will by splitting the target demographic that won’t pay to see both films in one weekend. I would expect each movie to lose between five and ten million a piece in potential ticket-sales from opening weekend grosses. This is just one of those decisions that makes no sense from any standpoint. Who said Hollywood executives were smart!

August 27, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | | Leave a comment

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS review

BasterdsInglourious Basterds rides into theaters on the heels of one of the most misleading marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. Desperate for a hit, the Weinstein Co., and its founder Harvey Weinstein, sold the film as a modern day Dirty Dozen in an all out effort to ensure a solid opening weekend. Well, it worked with this latest film from director Quentin Tarantino scoring a very impressive $37.6 mil opening weekend. I really think its better to understand going in that this is not another Dirty Dozen but is is a pretty impressive film in its own right despite some flaws.

At a running time of 2 hours and 32 minutes, organized into five chapters, the film is too long (most notably the tedious chapter 4) but there is much to admire in this off the wall WWII revisionist revenge fantasy.  Unknown Austrian actor, Christoph Waltz, gives an Oscar worthy performance as the story’s main villain, SS Nazi officer Hans Landa (known as the Jew Hunter). He should go down as one of cinema’s most memorable bad guys. It’s pretty impressive to hear him do evil in three different languages (there are subtitles a plenty). The man just has a mesmerizing presence on screen. Interesting enough, this role was rumored to be offered to Leonardo Dicaprio during the casting process. Nothing against Dicaprio but I just don’t think it would have been the same film with him in the part.

Landa’s  introduction in Chapter One featuring a verbal cat and mouse game with a farmer who may or may not be hiding a Jewish family is stunningly suspenseful and shows that true evil comes in many shades. The character is written like a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Hannibal Lecter and Waltz is sensational in the role. In my mind this is the film’s very best sequence and it had me hooked right off the bat. In many ways a piece of classic filmmaking.

Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine and his elite team of Jewish-American soldiers known as the Basterds are introduced in the very good second chapter. While Pitts ‘Raine’ might come across as a caricature in the trailers he’s actually quite effective and well played in the movie even with his over the top Tennessee hillbilly demeanor. Eli Roth (director of the Hostel movies) who plays the baseball wielding Basterd known as the Jew Bear can’t really act but is still effective in the role that Tarantino originally offered to Adam Sandler. His dialogue is kept to a minimum so the character is more about presence than anything else. While Tarantino shows a few scalpings of Nazi soldiers by the Basterds, the violence is relatively tame by the director’s past standards. In many ways this work feels of a more mature nature.  

Basterds 2Chapter three focuses on the character of Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent) a French Jew whose family has been killed and now seeks revenge on the Nazis, specifically SS officer Landa who was responsible for the killings. She has inherited a movie theater in France, a plot point which sets up the excellent chapter Five. Dreyfus plays her role perfectly as you can feel her pain and anger in a slow burn type of performance. She’s also very attractive and likable and should have a bright future in movies. Her work is solid in this film.

The one problem I have with the film is Chapter Four as its way too long. So long that I started to feel that the movies wheels were falling off. It’s a perfect example of some of the criticisms against Tarantino for going overboard on extraneous dialogue scenes that don’t move his films forward and bore instead of entertain or advance story. In this chapter we meet Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), a German film actress aiding the French Resistance. While this character is solid in her own right this segment is severely hurt by Tarantino’s dialogue choices. I felt a scene set at an underground Tavern where Nazi and resistance characters play a variation of charades had little to do with moving things along. It was not only unnecessary and painfully overlong but stopped the film’s momentum in its tracks. While the chapter does have a good payoff, I can’t excuse the time it took to get there. It not only tested my patience something fierce but knocked the movie down a peg or two. For my money this chapter was a failure.

Things get back on track with Chapter Five as everything that came before it comes to a head with all the leading characters, including Adolph Hitler (played over the top by Martin Wuttke), in attendance at a German propaganda film premiering at Shoshanna’s theater. This last section is some truly inspired filmmaking and quite impressive. This chapter is where you also get another layer of Landa’s reasoning for his deplorable and sub-human actions. Again, a great movie villain.

Overall I really liked much of the film except for 80% of Chapter Four which did hurt my overall assessment of the movie. Still, there is much to be impressed and entertained by and it’s well worth seeing. This is a case were suspense trumps action. 3.75 Zombies out of 5.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 1 Comment

Michael Moore CAPITALISM: I Love You TRAILER

I loved Michael Moore’s last film SICKO and this new film works for me as well with Moore taking on Wall Street greed and corruption. I used to work on Wall Street and, trust me, he’s not making this stuff up! I’ll be there Oct 2. Take a LOOK

August 23, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | | Leave a comment

First AVATAR Trailer

avatar 1This first-look teaser trailer to James Cameron’s long awaited, highly hyped, and top secret new movie, Avatar, has finally been unleashed and my first reaction is slight disappointment. While I have complete trust that Cameron will deliver a solid story to back up these visuals, the reported ground breaking CGI used extensively throughout this film looks almost cartoon-like on a computer screen. Those who viewed footage at Comic-con say this looks pretty impressive in 3-D on the big screen so I’m just going by my first impression seeing it here on my computer. In many ways it looks like a video game.

This is coming from a guy who loved Titanic and saw it seven times in a theater. I also think Aliens is one of the very best sequels ever and a masterpiece in its own right. I love Cameron’s two Terminator movies, think True Lies is a blast (that movie features some of the best pure action sequences ever shot). I’m also a big fan of The Abyss as I think it’s a totally unique experience. I’m still hoping that Avatar lives up to its hefty expectations. Take a LOOK at this footage and tell me what you think!

August 20, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

OUTLAND Remake announced

OutlandAt this point there’s no sense fighting the parade of remakes being announced as they appear to be never-ending. The latest is Warner Bros giving the heads up that they have hired director Michael Davis (Shoot ‘Em Up) to helm a redo of the terrific 1981 Sean Connery sci fi movie, Outland, that was written and directed by Peter Hyams.

Virtually a High Noon remake in outer space, Outland was a very entertaining movie with one of the greatest screen legends in Connery as the lead. Connery played a police Marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on one of Jupiter’s moons where he uncovers a murderous conspiracy threatening the entire Outland with collapse. While fan appreciation has grown over time the film was not a big hit, grossing around $20 million at the box-office on a $16 million budget.

Some remakes infuriate me as I feel they’re just unnecessary; like the recently announced remakes of Poltergeist and Total Recall. In fairness, though, some work out fine. The classic Philip Kaufman version of 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and even the remake of Carpenter’s Assault on Precient 13 were all top notch re-tellings as was Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead which I’ve championed many times on this site. I’m still waiting on production starts on long planned remakes of Westworld and Soylent Green which I think have the potential to be pretty good in the hands of the right filmmakers.

The question here is what actor do you get to fill the large shoes of Sean Connery? I would love to see George Clooney do it although, sadly, I’m sure the studio will look for a twenty something actor for the role.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | 1 Comment