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John’s Horror Corner: Hole in the Ground (2019), an Irish horror about a sinkhole, a cute and creepy kid, and a Doppelganger dilemma.

March 23, 2019

MY CALL: A familiar premise presented through a fresh lens with inspired filmmaking and featuring a few unexpected turns. Very pleasantly surprised and highly recommend it! MOVIES LIKE Hole in the Ground: For more Irish horror movies check out Leprechaun Origins (2014), Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun (1993), Rawhead Rex (1986), Grabbers (2012), Cherry Tree (2015), Holidays (2016; St. Patrick’s Day segment) and The Hallow (2015). For more imposter/Doppelganger horror consider Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Astronaut’s Wife (1999), Pet Sematary (1989), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), Impostor (2001), Godsend (2004), The Thing (1982), Honeymoon (2014), The Ring 2 (2005).

SYNOPSIS & SPOILER SIDEBAR: Yes, I know, I said “Doppelganger” in the review title. And before you all go screaming out SPOILERS, let’s clear the air. The trailers for this film spoiled that aspect of it. The trailers and even the Amazon synopsis: “A woman suspects that her son, who returned home after disappearing in the woods, is an imposter.” Oh, and the IMDB summary: “A young mother living in the Irish countryside with her son suspects his increasingly disturbing behavior is linked to a mysterious sinkhole in the forest, and fears he may not be her son at all.” So, whether or not there is a Doppelganger or imposter of sorts, we all already had the notion on our radar. Now let’s continue and enjoy the film…

Losing track of her son in the woods behind their new home, Sarah (Seána Kerslake) stumbles across a startlingly massive chasm before locating her Chris (James Quinn Markey; Vikings). Lee Cronin’s first feature film opens with some effective, even gorgeous shots of the Irish woods. More drably lit and lacking the crisp palette of The Hallow (2015), the photography remains striking nonetheless. Shots of the gaping sinkhole and the primeval forest are harrowing and I half expected the monster from The Ritual (2017) to emerge and steal them both away.

After his brief but alarming disappearance, Sarah suffers from significant anxiety and Chris, well… Chris is behaving a bit oddly. Of course, Sarah begins to take notice of his strange behavior, and things escalate. Sarah watches Chris with suspicion, tests him in her own subtle ways, and understandably questions her own actions as well. The rabbit hole winds deeply from here as we learn of Sarah’s own recent hardships (that are never fully explored).

Playing a boldly-troped elderly and unnerving harbinger, Noreen Brady (Kati Outinen) is stolid, disturbing, and violently assertive that Chris IS NOT HER SON! Her mild-mannered husband Des (James Cosmo; Highlander, Malevolent) supplements her dosage of exposition later in the film and the two play well into the story—more than I can say for most harbinger or exposition-based characters.

Acting and writing is where the least kindness typically befalls films in my reviews. And I had never heard of this first-time feature filmmaker nor either of his stars. Yet, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the general writing, staging of events, cultivation of tension, and the actors’ performances. James Quinn Markey commands our attention—he feels like an Irish incarnation of Haley Joel Osmont (Tusk) from The Sixth Sense (1999). And all of the exquisite shots and imagery and presentation style reminded me strongly of The Ring (2002) while the tension was occasionally lacerated by shocking imagery of violent bone breaks, mangled dead bodies and nightmares keeping us on edge.

For my taste, the final 20 minutes serve us a resolution that doesn’t quite do justice to the wonderful 60-70 minutes before them. I wouldn’t say it was “phoned in” or anything like that, but the writing and execution quality dropped notably (from consistently excellent) in the final act. But that’s not to say the ending was “bad” or the film wasn’t satisfying. Quite to the contrary, I very much enjoyed this film and even fancied the ending.

This is a familiar concept presented through a fresh lens, with inspired filmmaking, and featuring a few unexpected turns. I was more than a bit pleasantly surprised and highly recommend it!

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The MFF Podcast #183: Thi13en Ghosts and Smooshed Spirits

March 22, 2019

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON SPREAKER

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the 2001 cult classic Thi13en Ghosts. It’s one of Roger Ebert’s most hated movies, however, we appreciate the production design, practical effects and Matthew Lillard going full action hero. This $42 million budgeted horror remake went out of its way to be innovative, and we think it’s aged-well because of the beautifully constructed glass set and “juicy” ghosts who were created by Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman and their KNB effects house. If you are a fan of Thi13en Ghosts you will love this episode.

You don’t see many ghosts with baseball bats.

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON SPREAKER 

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

 

 

John’s Horror Corner: It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987), the over-the-top monster baby sequel wandering into B-movie waters.

March 21, 2019

MY CALL: If part I was a horror film and part II was more medical Sci-Fi thriller, then part III is a drama that turns into a boring adventure movie and then closes as an escape thriller. I wasn’t a big fan, but this B-movie is watchable for the sake of finishing the franchise. MOVIES LIKE Island of the Alive: We assume you’ve already seen It’s Alive (1974) and It Lives Again (1978)… both of which were better in my opinion. Although I know some who favor part III over part II.

It’s Alive (1974) left the door wide open for a sequel, closing with “another one’s been born in Seattle.” Then It Lives Again (1978) broadened the scope of the story into a mutant baby epidemic as Frank Davis (John P. Ryan; Class of 1999, It’s Alive, It Lives Again) traveled the country trying to save these dangerous miscreants from execution at birth. I love that these sequels have been named in the spirit of old classic horror and Godzilla movies that include “Son of” or “Island of” or “Return of” subtitles.

We have taken a journey from a strong original horror (1974) rich in allegory, to a somewhat campy sequel (1978) with a moral tale, and now (1987)—opening with a decidedly schlocky and gory taxicab birth scene—finally to something of a pure B-movie. The expecting mother’s belly convulses like a drunk puppet, followed by the screeching cries of the monster fetus and the screams of the unfortunate passerby aiding in the delivery whose hand is mangled before he is dragged into the cab to his doom by the newborn. Typical of the franchise, we don’t see all we’d like to on-screen. But in terms of gore and wounds, we’re seeing more than we did in the first two films—which is a definite plus. The latex wound special effects are the best we’ve seen.

Pleading the court to spare his baby, Stephen Jarvis (Michael Moriarty; The Stuff, Troll, Dark Tower) reluctantly watches as his child and all like it quarantined on an uninhabited island. Far before dinosaurs were reared on Isla Sorna and Isla Nubar, there was the Island of the Alive! However, challenging its originality in terms of monstrous archipelago status, The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) was released a decade earlier (among numerous others from the 50s and 60s).

This sequel skips the allegory and jumps right into some strong religious concepts when a monster baby is found dead in a cathedral apparently crawling its way to salvation via self-Baptism. The monstrous baby is now stop-motion animated (instead of a rigid rubber puppet) making it extra creepy and, frankly, more fun to watch even if a bit cheesy. And speaking of fun, this sequel is embracing some deliberate humor as well—perhaps inspired by the popularly silly Nightmare on Elm Street sequels speckled with Freddy’s humor.

A master of both drama and disenfranchised cynicism on the screen, Michael Moriarty does honor to the franchise, giving a strong performance to follow-up John P. Ryan (as Frank Davis). We additionally meet Ellen Jarvis (Karen Black; House of 1000 Corpses, Mirror Mirror, Night Angel), an intolerant prostitute (Laurene Landon; Maniac Cop 1-2, The Stuff), and the return of Lt. Perkins (James Dixon; It’s Alive, It Lives Again, The Stuff, Maniac Cop 1-2), who comes to recruit Jarvis to join an expedition to the quarantined tropical island several years later to document the development of the isolated mutants.

Once on the island, Jarvis hits full-tilt bonkers as he tortures his expedition mates with his over-the-top humor! Less amusing to me was how all the island babies have become ogre-like monsters (actors in dumb rubber suits with mostly stationary faces) that lead an escape expedition of their own back to the mainland United States.

I was on board for the first hour, but this third act derailed my interest. Yes, this film offered some allegory regarding misunderstood demographics (e.g., Cubans and mutant baby monsters). But this allegory didn’t provide anything we hadn’t already experienced in It Lives Again (1978). So, like so many sequels trying to be bigger and better than before… sometimes more is just more and hardly needed in the first place. I guess this was mildly entertaining, much like its predecessor sequel. But for me, It’s Alive (1974) should have probably been left alone and sequel-less.

MFF Dumb Data: Brad Pitt’s Movies Make More Money, Score Higher With Critics, the More He Eats

March 20, 2019

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QUICK NOTE: I’m not implying correlation equals causation. I’m just presenting random data in hopes of making a few people chuckle. Hopefully all this data won’t be too much to digest.

For years, the narrative around Brad Pitt is that he is always eating in his movies. It’s gotten to the point where you legitimately envision him constantly snacking on a turkey leg in each of his films. For instance:

  1. Troy – Fighting Eric Bana while holding a turkey leg
  2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eating a turkey leg while hanging with Cate Blanchett
  3. Cool World – Eating an animated turkey leg while chasing toons around
  4. True Romance – Sitting on couch while eating a turkey leg
  5. Legends of the Fall – Looking sad on a boat AND sadly eating a turkey leg

The eating discussion is so prevalent, I decided to do a rewatch of his movies to put together a master list of all the food, and see if any cool statistics popped out. I started by researching the lists and videos claiming to showcase ALL the food Pitt has consumed through the years. The helpful lists (another list) and videos (more videos here and here) are thorough and I applaud the work put into them, however, I quickly learned items were missing from the lists, or added items weren’t featured in the movies. So, I started a months long process of scouring through his movies (thank you Vudu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crackle, Tubi, Hoopla, IMDb Freedive and my local library) to find some fun (unimportant data) I can share with you

Here are some quick thoughts before I get into the eating:

  1. He is really good in 12 Monkeys.
  2. He has eaten 4,986 estimated calories onscreen.
  3. Moneyball is better than I remembered…and I remembered it being very good.
  4. A River Runs Through It deserved the Best Cinematography Oscar.
  5. He doesn’t eat too much.
  6. His best eating moments are in Ocean’s 11, Fury and Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  7. His peanut butter eating moment in Meet Joe Black showcased some brave acting.
  8. He was badass in Snatch.
  9. Burn After Reading is really funny.
  10. He has consumed the majority of his calories in the 2000s.

Percentage of total calories eaten in each decade

The pie chart is fitting….

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Here are the eating rules

  1. I only counted his onscreen eating. Basically, we had to see him eating. I didn’t include the implied eating from movies like Seven (post dinner scene with Paltrow and Freeman) or Johnny Suede (jelly doughnut scene)
  2. I didn’t count beer, water, coffee or soda (sorry World War Z Pepsi scene).
  3. I included his Jamba Juice smoothie and gum chewing in Burn After Reading because technically that’s lunch. Also, I included the blood from Interview With the Vampire because he is eating.
  4. To figure out the calories, I found the serving size calorie amount of each food eaten onscreen and guessed accordingly. Or, I just typed in “tablespoon of peanut butter calories” or “cheeseburger calories” and worked with that. I am 98.87% confident with my calorie counts.

What did I find out? Brad Pitt movies featuring him consuming more than 200 onscreen calories have higher box office and critical averages than his movie featuring zero eating or very little munching. I guess critics and audiences like watching him eat (no way to prove this).

Brad Pitt movies featuring no eating

  • Tomatometer Average – 64.%
  • IMDb User Score – 6.9
  • Domestic Box Office Average – $64 million
  • Movies with zero calories eaten

Brad Pitt 0 food

The $68 million worldwide box office average can be attributed to World War Z being the only blockbuster type movie in the category. However, it is the most award nominated category with Pitt receiving Academy Award nominations for 12 Monkeys (Best Supporting Actor) and The Big Short (Producer), and winning an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave (Producer).

If you get a chance watch Snatch, Killing Them Softly, True Romance and World War Z. Pitt is very good in them

Brad Pitt movies featuring him eating 1-200 calories

  • Tomatometer Average – 62%
  • IMDb User Score – 6.8
  • Domestic Box Office Average – $110 million
  • List of movies by calorie intake

1-200

One of my favorite Brad Pitt eating moments takes place in Fury during a very uncomfortable lunch scene. I think it might feature the greatest eating of a single egg in cinema history. Aside from the egg eating in Fury, the eating moments in these movies are mundane and mostly feature Pitt eating a few bites here and there. My favorite moment of Pitt’s “non-eating” takes place in Seven, when he looks at a piece of pizza with absolute disgust and throws it back on a plate without eating it. While watching these movies again, it’s clear that Brad Pitt taught The Big Bang Theory actors how to fake eat and act, because he does A LOT of it.

If you haven’t watched The Assassination of Jessie James By the Coward Robert Ford you need to do it now. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is mind-blowing and I guarantee Pitt has never looked better while eating. I also love The Tree of Life, and I appreciate the way cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki shoots Pitt eating as well.

Such an uncomfortable lunch.

Brad Pitt movies featuring him eating 200+ calories

  • Tomatometer Average – 67%
  • IMDb User Score – 7.0
  • Domestic Box Office Average – $143 million
  • Brad Pitt movies featuring him eating 200+ calories

200++

I have a feeling that Ocean’s Eleven, Moneyball and Meet Joe Black are the primary reasons why people think Brad Pitt is always eating onscreen. The eating in Ocean’s 11 is truly excessive and I kinda love it. Pitt’s commitment to shoveling food in his face is a lot of fun and I like how it continues on through the successful trilogy. Also, Moneyball gave us the visual of Pitt shoveling an entire Twinkie into his mouth, while Meet Joe Black features the strangest peanut butter eating ever.

I do like how Pitt’s eating and acting are never the same. Here are some examples:

  • Ocean’s trilogy – Cool eating
  • Moneyball – Stress eating
  • Meet Joe Black – Curious eating
  • Interview With the Vampire – Very hungry eating
  • Kalifornia – Gross eating
  • Seven Years in Tibet – I’ll eat anything eating

There you have it! Brad Pitt’s movies do better with critics and audiences when he eats more. The world can rest easy now.

If you like this weird data make sure to check out my other stuff.

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. Analyzing the Unsuccessful Trap in Predators
  3. How Far Did the Shark Travel in Jaws: The Revenge?
  4. How Many Calories Did Shaggy and Scooby Ingest When They Are The Cotton Candy Glob?
  5. The Dolph Lundgren Front Kick Spectacular
  6. How Far Did the Creature From It Follows Travel?
  7. How Many Bullets Missed John Matrix in Commando?
  8. How Long Did it Take Batman to Setup the Bat Fire on the Bridge in The Dark Knight Rises?
  9. Kevin Bacon’s College Degrees
  10. How Fast Does the Great White Swim in Shark Night?
  11. Zara the Assistant and Jurassic World Had a Bad Day
  12. A Look at Elektra’s sandbag trainer in Daredevil
  13. How Far Did Nic Cage Run While Dressed as a Bear In The Wicker Man Remake?
  14. Breaking Down The Mariner vs. Sea Beast Battle in Waterworld
  15. How Long Did it Take The Joker to Setup the Weapon Circle in Suicide Squad?
  16. Michael Myers Hates Blinkers
  17. How Much Blood Dropped During the Blood Rave in Blade?
  18. Jason Voorhees Can’t Teleport?
  19. Michael Myers Loves Laundry
  20. How Far Did the Merman Travel in The Cabin in the Woods?
  21. How Far Did Matthew McConaughey Jump in Reign of Fire?
  22. How Fast can Leatherface Run?
  23. Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard
  24. How Far Did Michael Myers Drive in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later
  25. How Did the Geologist Get Lost in Prometheus?
  26. People Love a Bearded Kurt Russell
  27. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  28. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  29. Cinematic Foghat Data
  30. Explosions and Movie Posters
  31. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  32. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  33. How Do You Make the Perfect Kevin Smith Movie?
  34. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  35. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  36. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  37. How Fast Can the Fisherman Clean a Trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  38. It’s Expensive to Feature Characters Being Eaten Alive and Surviving Without a Scratch
  39. How Long Does it Take Your Favorite Horror Movie Characters to Travel From NYC to San Francisco?
  40. What was the Guy’s Blood Pressure in Dawn of the Dead?
  41. Why Were There So Many Lemons in National Treasure?
  42. How Far Does The Rock Jump in the Skyscraper Poster?

John’s Horror Corner: Biohazard (1985), a goofy schlocky B-movie Alien (1979) rip-off about a busty psychic and a crab-clawed monster.

March 18, 2019

MY CALL: Among the lesser Alien (1979) rip-offs in the 80s marketplace, but not undeserving of your schlocky B-movie-loving attention. MOVIES LIKE Biohazard: For more low budget Alien (1979) rip-offs, check out Contamination (1980; aka Alien Contamination), Alien 2: On Earth (1980), Scared to Death (1980; aka Syngenor), Galaxy of Terror (1981), Forbidden World (1982; aka Mutant), Inseminoid (1982; aka Horror Planet), Parasite (1982), Creature (1985; aka Titan Find), Star Crystal (1986), Creepazoids (1987), Blue Monkey (1987), Nightflyers (1987), Deep Space (1988), Transformations (1988; aka Alien Transformations), The Terror Within (1989), Shocking Dark (1989; aka Terminator 2, aka Aliennators), The Rift (1990), Syngenor (1990), Xtro 2: The Second Encounter (1991), Dark Universe (1993) and Zombies: The Beginning (2007).

Written (in part) and directed by Fred Olen Ray (The Alien Dead, Scalps, Deep Space), this Sci-Horror opens in very familiar territory with a guy in a biohazard suit and a Geiger counter. The writing is pretty basic (yet not exactly horrible, although the acting comes close), but the content is actually suggestive of some care and effort. When we meet Lisa, a particularly busty psychic (Angelique Pettyjohn) whose skills are tested at some secret underground government facility, generals and scientists and politicians brainstorm as to how her cosmic powers might benefit the military.

After conducting a psychic experiment, an interstellar container is summoned and transported to yet another special government facility… probably just to create the opportunity for something to go wrong in transit. And wrong it goes when an alien monster with crab claws maims one of the soldiers and escapes! So, Carter (William Fair; Deep Space) and Lisa team up to track the creature.

The latex wound effects and dead bodies are satisfyingly gory. But the rubber monster suit leaves much to be desired. When we see an on-screen death scene, it’s laughably disappointing in that hokey 1960s style of “aaaargh I’m the monster and I just grabbed you so clearly you’re dying now.” Oh well, at least we see a lot of boobs to make up for it. However, this movie isn’t the smutty film the poster suggests. The nudity may be as gratuitous as nudity gets. But still, to be fair, this is not smut.

This movie wanders into the deep end of Alien (1979) rip-off territory when our clawed monster slimily drools on a victim from above, a slimy growling chestburster-like critter emerges from a space canister and rips out a guy’s throat, and a facehugger-like creature chokes and blatantly “facehugs” a guy! When Carter kills the clawed “xenomorph” it’s about as anticlimactic as it gets. But fret not, there’s a gory schlocky “booby” extra-cheesy finale complete with boobs and rending latex flesh.

Watch the credits. They’re full of silly outtakes showing how self-aware Fred Olen Ray was of his goofy product. It makes the entire film feel more forgivable and light-hearted. The outtakes even include, you guessed it, more boobs. But even without nudity, this bad film might be the right kind of bad enough to be a good B-movie choice.

The MFF Podcast #182: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday

March 17, 2019

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON SPREAKER

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. We love these movies because they are incredibly weird and feature some of the most random moments of the franchise (Corkscrew!). In this podcast, you will hear us talk about random side characters, inventive dancing, and a guy named Mahoney having to clean up an exploded Jason Voorhees. If you are a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, you will love this podcast.

Jason is about to meet Freddy Krueger.

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download or stream the pod on Spotify, Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or LISTEN TO THE POD ON SPREAKER 

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF Podcast #181: They Live

March 12, 2019
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You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the John Carpenter directed They Live. It’s one of our favorite movies and we loved talking the glasses, bubblegum and epic fights featured in the film. With They Live, John Carpenter delivered a timeless tale of yuppie aliens infiltrating earth and bombarding humans with messages about consumerism. They are stopped when a plaid-clothed man rises up (with his buddy Frank) and goes to war with the yuppie aliens (who would never be caught wearing plaid). If you are a fan of They Live you will love this episode.

Who makes the Hoffman lenses? Are they made of plastic?

If you are a fan of the podcast make sure to send in some random listener questions so we can do our best to not answer them correctly. We thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the pod!

You can download the pod on Itunes, StitcherTune In,  Podbean, or Spreaker.

If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

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