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The MFF Podcast #67: Adam Sandler’s Ridiculously Successful Netflix Deal

July 30, 2016

MFF

You can download the pod on Itunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.

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

Adam Sandler has had an amazing 20-year run that has defied expectations and created a new type of cinema. The “Adam Sandler” film has become synonymous with terrible critical reviews and lots of money. The guy has played Satan’s son, a football star and a whole lot of angry people. No matter what he does his films make money, and we cover it all on the podcast.

The focus of this week’s pod revolves around Sandler’s Netflix deal. We talk about his move to Netflix then review The Ridiculous 6 and The Do-Over.

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As always, we answer random listener questions and ponder whether Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison have aged well. Sit back, relax and listen to us talk about our dislike of Pixels.

Check out the MFF pod on Blog Talk Radio or head over to Itunes and listen to the randomness!

If you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

John’s Horror Corner: Shock (1977), a terrible Italian “haunted house” sequel.

July 28, 2016

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MY CALL:  Perhaps the most boring Italian horror film I’ve ever seen, this alleged sequel to a “haunted house” movie boasts nothing scary or particularly interesting.  MOVIES LIKE Shock:  For more (and decidedly better) Italian horror try The Other Hell (1981; still not so good), Manhattan Baby (1982; utterly senseless but entertaining), The Beyond (1981; awesome), Zombie (1979; awesome), City of the Living Dead (1980; awesome), Aenigma (1987; utterly senseless but entertaining), The Church (1989; utterly senseless but entertaining), Phenomena (1984; utterly senseless but entertaining), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007). That should get you started!  ALTERNATE TITLE:  Also released as Beyond the Door II.

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This film is very, very, very slow.  Not a slowburn, but just plain slow.  It takes us forever to get to the point–which, by the way, I do NOT think is an actual sequel to Beyond the Door (1974).  Perhaps in theme, although that’s it.  But in the mean time we suffer through perhaps the most disastrously poorly scored horror film I’ve seen in a long time–and yes, I’m including synth scores. LOL.

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Dora (Daria Nicolodi; Phenomena, Mother of Tears), her young son Marco (David Colin Jr.; Beyond the Door) and his stepfather Bruno (John Steiner; Caligula) move into a new home to find that Marco isn’t handling the transition so well.  He behaves strangely and rather casually threatens to kill his mother.  I think we can all agree that is NOT normal.  Meanwhile Bruno secretly keeps the basement locked, yet somehow Marco keeps getting down there.  I’m guessing we’ll discover some dark family secret down there later.  Way to be subtle.

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It turns out Dora had a tortured mental history after the suicide of her drug-addled first husband.  And now it turns out their new home was her old homewhere he killed himself!  Bruno somehow doesn’t see how this would pose a problem.  Dora is paranoid and being haunted by her bedroom furniture and spectral boxcutters, young Marco continues to act out, and Bruno is blind to anything out of the ordinary.  Ultimately there is a twist, and I couldn’t care less.

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Now I’m no Italian horror expert, but Mario Bava seems to tell a much more organized story than the typically haphazard Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci ever did.  The problem, however, is that his easy-to-follow story has nothing interesting in it!  I criticize Argento and Fulci to no end in my reviews.  But make no mistake, they always manage to entertain me.  This hardly boasts enough to keep my eyes open.

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This was Mario Bava’s (Black Sabbath, A Bay of Blood) final feature film, and the only one I’ve seen so far.  The quality presented here doesn’t exactly make me want to venture through his back catalog. I’m not saying this may not have been decent back in 1977, but by my 2016 standards this is awful.  And not like “fun” awful–just plain awful, and dreadfully boring.  My only joy that came from this movie experience has been writing about it.  Sorry, Bava.

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John’s Horror Corner: Gothic (1986), the perverse story behind Mary’s Shelley’s Frankenstein.

July 27, 2016

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MY CALL:  Perverse, intense, sensual, and just plain weird, this fictionalized historical horror about Mary Shelley and Lord Byron makes for an interesting watch loaded with before-they-were-stars.  MOVIES LIKE Gothic:  Along the Frankensteinian theme one may venture Victor Frankenstein (2015), The Bride (1985), Re-Animator (1985) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994).

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I tend not to trust folks who stand in front of their own paintings of themselves.

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This tells the fascinating story of how a modern horror legend came to be—in a heavily fictionalized sense, anyway.  As we are introduced to our characters, we find their extravagant lifestyles are punctuated by hedonism, male sexual dominance and the entitlements of severe classist elitism.  They are most extreme in pleasure, manor stricture, and delights.

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Before her Sex and the City days.

Lord Byron (Gabriel Byrne; End of Days, Stigmata) hosts his guests Shelley (Julian Sands; Warlock, Arachnophobia), the future Mary Shelley (Natasha Richardson; Big Trouble in Little China) and Clair (Myriam Cyr; Species II) along with Byron’s doctor Polidori (Timothy Spall; Sweeney Todd, The Bride).  The cast alone is reason enough to see this perverse film.

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Like a vampire, Lord Byron breeds emotional and social intensity, drawing more than an occasional discomfort from his controlled guests.  What’s more is their collective sexual nature.  It’s not homoerotic nor bisexual really, but rather a sort of pansexuality; a pervasive general sensuality.  Think Interview with a Vampire (1994) while being less polite about it.

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They gather together and tell ghost stories with perverse tones, speak in poetic seduction of the mind and body, engage in voyeurism and orgy, and lead one another into deep creativity and hysteria.  All manner of nightmare fuel accosts their minds from the ghastly nocturnal homunculus to the blinking eye-nippled woman, perhaps the most iconic scene of the film.  It’s strikingly weird; even other-worldly.

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Our guests descend into madness as they mesh polyamory and paranoia, erring on the side of madness.  They envision everything from dead fetuses to animated disembodied heads.

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And they crawl around in muddy dungeon filth.

Director Ken Russell (Altered States, The Lair of the White Worm) has a flair for melodrama.  But it is deliberate and perhaps appropriate given his aims to paint our storytellers as creators; creators of their horrors within.

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This film tiptoes the line separating ludicrous bad horror and brilliant mania.  I recommend it to general horror fans whose taste spans all manner of quality and style, since this film is a bit hard to classify.

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Bad Movie Tuesday: China O’Brien (1990), small town crime lords, spin kicks, confused law men and Cynthia Rothrock.

July 26, 2016

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MY CALL:  This is on the better side of the Cynthia Rothrock movie spectrum.  It’s highly stupid, but highly entertaining if you are in a “bad movie” mood.  MOVIES LIKE China O’Brien:  Well, don’t watch Outside the Law (2002) or Night Vision (1997) unless you’re looking for proper Bad Movie Tuesday material.  They are awful!  You might also try the Brazilian remake of China O’Brien called Only the Strong (1993) or the “old white guy” re-imagining Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001).  Clearly Rothrock has left her mark in cinema history!

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Written and directed by the legendary Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon, Game of Death, Gymkata), this is far better than the likes of Outside the Law (2002) or Night Vision (1997) but falls far short of a Bruce Lee movie.  Clouse has handled fine martial artists on screen before and understands how to stage tandem techniques (6-12 techniques per cut) to provide an enjoyable action movie experience for martial arts fans and general (bad movie) action fans alike.  But even though Rothrock is capable of some impressive stunts please make no mistake, this absolutely is a Bad Movie Tuesday quality movie! LOL.

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After a grown-ass man in a mid-drift belly t-shirt doubts the practical utility of martial arts in front of his karate instructor (Cynthia Rothrock; Night Vision, Outside the Law, Undefeatable) and her class, he challenges China to a back alley fight with five guys.  “You and five guys,” he says.  Is that 5 on 5, her plus 5 against him plus 5… or 5 on her?  Because this sounds vaguely like an invitation to a gang rape.  Well, we never find out what it was meant to be because China (big city police officer by day and martial arts instructor by night) gets ambushed by a gang of random criminals in the alley that evening and, because of an otherwise justified shooting resulting in the death of a minor, China surrenders her badge.

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To clear her head China returns to her little home town to stay with her father, the local sheriff.  She’s in town not 10 minutes before accidently offending all the Podunk townies with her nice clothes and big fancy words—clearly “she thinks she’s better than us.”  So a silly bar fight ensues with her in her nice clothes, a man “attacks” her by grabbing her butt, and she kicks down a group of guys like dominoes like something out of a cartoon.  As far as martial arts movies go, this is really campy and the setting feels a bit like Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001) meets Walking Tall (1973, 2004) with a dash of Roadhouse (1989).

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Now Rothrock is no Jackie Chan.  But she earns her title as the Queen of Martial Arts by executing stunts rarely seen performed by white actors and outside of Hong Kong cinema.  She nails aerial cartwheels from higher ground and does all manner of physics defiant strength maneuvers all the while narrating the names and utility of the techniques like a Shaolin master teaching her pupil in some 1970s Kung Fu Theater flick—which she thankfully stops doing after the opening fight scene.  It’s so corny, but it’s surely enjoyable as long as you weren’t expecting anything serious.  Compared to this, Van Damme is 100% straight-faced serious.  Oh, and evidently Rothrock is a T-800 series Terminator because she never appears to be phased by having someone twice her size punch her in the face!

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What’s really “interesting” about the action choreography is that that “characters” are just as good at things as the “actors” are. For example, Rothrock has kicked someone like 10,000 times—so when she kicks someone the kick looks good.  But an actor that hasn’t “been kicked” too often looks like a stuntman school dropout in this movie and, worse yet, an actor who has never strangled someone will offer up the least inspired strangling scene on record.  You basically sit there wishing the strangling assassin would die from his own poor technique.

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Nobody panic. It’s just a dead hooker.

This movie also has no sense of pacing. We go from a contemporary Kung Fu theater flick with lots of technical action, to a long run of boring exposition and painful acting, and then find our point of conflict when China’s dad dies in an exploding car assassination and we see her (and her boobs) run and jump in slow motion.  Then the movie shifts to nothing but fights—lots of them.  China didn’t know how long she’d be in town, but now we know she’ll stay until she avenges her father and takes down the local crime lord.

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Within days of leaving her big city job China is running for sheriff to replaced her murdered father so she can take on a syndicate of shockingly poorly organized small town criminals.

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So what makes this a bad movie?  Here are a few clues:

  1. The town is protected by a “seasoned career sheriff” who seems to know nothing about the law. And he’s subsequently replaced by his daughter who constantly breaks the law to enforce it.
  2. Slow motion boob running for the sake of slow motion boob running.
  3. The sound effect of bowling pins when kicking down five guys at once.
  4. Car explosions. Multiple car explosions.  80s and 90s movies loved bad guys who killed people with car bombs.  I’m not sure why.
  5. A completely unexplained Australian accent in BFE, Utah. This character Matt (Richard Norton) grew up with China, so he presumably lived in the town since the late 1950s.
  6. Crime “lords” that bother with tiny towns. Of course, these criminals seem to really suck at crime.
  7. Criminals being deputized the day after being arrested for attempted murder and posting bail (imaged below). And to make up for it, China deputizes a bunch of Matt’s high school gym class students who run around town punching bad guys with deputy badges pinned to their tank tops!
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  8. No explanations whatsoever, for ANYTHING! (see items 1-7…and 9-11)
  9. Using the ass-grab technique as a viable bar fight attack. The fight already started and everyone there wants to knock China out.  So, wild haymaker to the face or…perhaps…ass grab?  Good choice.  Ass grab.
  10. A one-handed Native American ninja (Dakota) who inexplicably couldn’t fight until he lost his hand—and, speaking of which, I didn’t know that stepping on someone’s hand resulted in amputation! How and where did this guy learn to fight?  And why couldn’t he fight at all before?china-o-brien-ii_367102_24753
  11. This is a big one. China’s name “China” is never explained—but I figure it’s to make us associate Rothrock’s character with Asian martial arts.  But she (Rothrock and her character) was born in the late 50s and grew up in a small, ill-educated town that probably lost a lot of men to American wars, and China and America went to war in the early 1950s.  It was kind of a big deal!  So wouldn’t her dad think better of naming her after a rather hated country at the time?

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Rothrock actually shares the fighting screen spotlight almost equally with her two martial artist co-stars Richard Norton (Mad Max: Fury Road, Roadhouse 2: Last Call) and Keith Cooke (Mortal Kombat).  The spin kicks are abundant but never awesome, the plot points are idiotic, and there’s nothing wowing to be found here.  You’ll be consistently entertained but you won’t get piss drunk and try to emulate any of it with your friends…like I did after watching Van Damme movies in the 90s.

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What is he even doing here!?!?!?!
Setting his stump from stun to kill?

This movie is not good, but it can be really entertaining if you walk into it with the right Bad Movie Tuesday frame of mind.  Keep in mind, nothing is going to make sense in this movie.  So if you can decide ahead of time that something like this would be funny, then you’ll come out of this a winner!  I did!  And I actually expected a totally serious R-rated action movie like the old Jeff Speakman (The Perfect Weapon, Street Knight) and Steven Seagal (Hard to Kill, Under Siege) days.

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Stranger Things: A Modern Blast From the Past

July 24, 2016

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Stranger Things is a nostalgic romp that brings the scares and Jaws references. I just watched all eight episodes and I think they are the best thing on television since True Detective season one (Fargo season two is close). A lot of the press surrounding the show has focused on how influenced it is by films like Jaws, Evil Dead, The Thing and anything Stephen King (King Steve). I get that it has many influences, but in a day and age of remakes, reboots, spin-offs, sequels, prequels and spiritual sequels I like that we got an original story that wears its influences on its sleeve and is unapologetic about it.

What I find most impressive is how The Duffer brothers were able to create/write/direct something that didn’t feel like a cheap imitation of what they loved when they were growing up. They took the greatest hits of their childhood and formed their own story. It would be too easy to create something without a soul and simply call it nostalgia (Jurassic World). Instead, they crafted likable characters, new worlds and a killer soundtrack in order to surprise the world. Stranger Things feel familiar but a lot of it is unexpected. I’d compare it to The Rolling Stones covering The Beatles. You know the songs, but it all feels new because we are hearing different interpretations of the songs.

Stephen King appreciates the copying.

Stranger Things centers around the hunt for a young boy who was dragged into a place called “the upside down” by a badass monster (viva la practical effects!!!). The ensuing manhunt brings together an eclectic group of characters who all have moments to shine. Whether it be the boy’s mom Joyce (Winona Ryder), brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) or his best friends Mike, Dustin and Lucas (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin) they all have something to do. Add in local police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) and likable teenagers Nancy (Natalia Dyer) and Steve (Joe Keery) and you have a neat ensemble of people you like.

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My favorite character is 11 (Millie Bobby Brown). 11 has special “Professor X” powers and was raised to become a weapon by her “papa” Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine). However, something goes terribly awry, and she escapes from the evil government facility (very Amblin) and gets taken in by the trio of young kids. Throughout the show 11 puts herself in a lot of hurt to help others. She has seen things nobody else should see yet she keeps plugging along to help others and enjoy some Eggo waffles. Millie Bobby Brown has one of the most emotive faces I’ve ever seen. A lot is asked of her and she knocks everything out of the park. She is the true breakout star of Stranger Things and her character is going to become a fan favorite.

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I don’t want to get into spoiler territory because watching it unsullied was an absolute delight. I am still amazed at the pacing of the episodes and I kept expecting the energy to lag. The eight-episode season was a wise decision because there isn’t enough time for things to drag. I really like Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones but I’ve always felt that their 13-episode seasons were too long. Things get drawn out in the middle, and it seems like the creators are treading water to fill all the episodes. Stranger Things plows headlong towards a pretty great conclusion.

Stranger Things is drenched in 1980s set design and the soundtrack was carefully chosen to draw nostalgic responses from the audience. I had a lot of fun picking out the film references and my favorite moment involves bicycles and something flying in the air. The score is a nice call  back to the days when John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York) was crushing synth scores that are still popular today. Check out the opening score and I guarantee you will want this blaring in your car.

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I loved every second of Stranger Things and I applaud the Duffer brothers for creating something more than a bland copy. Watch Stranger Things now and appreciate every second of the 80s (and some 70s) awesomeness!

 

 

 

 

Five Films to Watch After You Are Done With Stranger Things.

July 22, 2016

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I loved every second of Stranger Things (review here) and I hope that it leads younger generations to movies like The Thing and Evil Dead. The show proudly wears classic influences on it sleeves, and because of that it doesn’t feel like a shameless ripoff. The following post covers five films that you need to check out after watching the show. I know a lot of you cinephiles have watched them, but there are many people who aren’t insane movie watchers like we are.

Here are five films you should watch after finishing Stranger Things.

1. Under the Skin (2014)

Under the Skin is a mesmerizing film that captures Scotland’s dreary beauty while blasting us with the most sensory film of 2014. I love that there is zero backstory or expository hand holding. It is a remarkably simple movie that still leaves many questions unanswered. It is a pure and unadulterated experience that could be vivisected or simply appreciated. My advice is to turn off the lights, turn up the volume and allow yourself to fully appreciate a spellbinding experience.

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2. The Thing (1982)

The Thing is the greatest horror remake ever (aside from The Fly) and it features one of the best endings of all time (this isn’t hyperbole). If you are looking for gross practical effects and a great Kurt Russell beard you are in luck. John Carpenter stuffed The Thing with great music, suspense and characters. I could watch Kurt Russell and Keith David bicker and fight aliens all day. You need to watch The Thing. 

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3. Evil Dead (1983)

My hope is that people watch the original Evil Dead then work their way through the statistically speaking greatest horror franchise ever. Evil Dead is a bonkers masterpiece that came from the brain of director and horror maestro Sam Raimi. What I love most about the Evil Dead series is the main character Ash (Bruce Campbell). He is a massive idiot who continually fails his way to the top and saves the day. Movies don’t get more bonkers than Evil Dead.

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4. They Live (1988)

They Live is a cult classic personified. It is weird, smart and features one of the best fight scenes ever. John Carpenter’s take on 80s consumerism is wildly uneven, but it has a fun personality that blends intelligence, insanity and glorious one-liners. You will never look at bubble gum the same again.

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5. Jaws (1975)

Jaws is my favorite film and if you haven’t watched it yet there is something wrong with you (or you are busy and have a life). I had a Jaws poster on my wall as a kid and I loved that the poster is featured prominently in Stranger Things. I know the majority of you reading have watched this film many times, but hopefully this serves as a reminder for those who haven’t. You need to watch it!

The MFF Podcast #66: The 2016 MFF Summer Olympics

July 22, 2016

MFF

You can download the pod on Itunes or LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO.
If you get a chance please make sure to review, rate and share. You are awesome!

With the Rio Summer Olympics right around the corner we here at MFF decided to contribute to the games. We compiled highly scientific lists (not really) and picked cinematic athletes who could win gold. These athletes have been training for years (or not at all) and they are ready to represent the country of MFF. I am 100% certain this crew would sweep up all the medals and confuse many!

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As always, we answer random listener questions and co-host Leavengood once again proves his undying love for Deadpool. If you are interested make sure to check our fantasy football and basketball teams. They are amazing and will change your life.

Sit back, relax and listen to discussions about E.T. winning several gold medals.  Check out the MFF pod on Blog Talk Radio or head over to Itunes and listen to the randomness!

If you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

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