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The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 441 – The Thor Franchise, Rock Monsters, and Loki

August 6, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

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

Mark and Jack Austin (of the Alter Ego Podcast) discuss the rank the four Thor movies released since 2012 (Thor, The Dark World, Ragnarok, and Love and Thunder). The results will shock you (not really, but it’s always fun to write stuff like that). They also talk about rock monsters, small towns, and put together their ultimate Avengers squads. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

Baby Assassins (2021) – Review

August 5, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B+ – The best thing about Baby Assassins is I’ve never seen anything like Baby Assassins. The Yugo Sakamoto written and directed film is a delight to watch. 

Baby Assassins revolves around teenagers Chisato (Akari Takaishi) and Mahilo (Saori Izawa) graduating from high school and learning that they have to move in together and find part-time jobs to show some income on their taxes. Why? Chisato and Mahilo are assassins, which means they don’t get their taxes deducted from their contracts, and it looks shady if two teenagers are able to afford an apartment and pay their other bills if they are unemployed. Their shadowy agency doesn’t mind the police (they own them), but are worried about the tax collectors who are more dogged about getting their money and it doesn’t matter who owes it. It’s an inspired concept because it shows what happens when two deadly sociopaths/psychopaths are forced to work at a waffle restaurant or be a hostess at a restaurant that caters toward male clientele. 

The most enjoyable aspect of Baby Assassins is the dark humor. Mahiro and Chisato kill without remorse and you can tell they actually love guiding their prey into alleys where they shoot, kill and stuff their victims into tiny boxes that will be picked up by their employers. They are stone-cold killers who also love sitting on their comfortable looking couch and playing video games all day. Their mundane daily lives provide a fun contrast to their deadly profession and their unpredictable nature adds a wildcard element to any situation they are in. It’s also fun watching two psychopaths learn to live together. Mahiro is an introverted sociopath and Mahilo is a social psychopath, and together they create a neat duo who cook each other dinner, argue about work, and apologize to each other by buying delicious looking bread as an olive branch.

Things get complicated for Mahiro and Chisato when they come across and kill some Yakuza who are attempting to hunt them down. This leads to a final showdown inside a warehouse that features Chisato blowing away people with a large gun, and Mahiro battling a “very strong” Yakuza bodyguard. The action throughout is excellent and that’s because the action director is Kensuke Sonomura (Machine Girl, Bushido Man, Manhunt), an absolute legend whose resume is stacked with fun fights and cool set pieces. He puts his imprint on the film immediately as the opening action scene features Mahiro wiping out a group of men inside a convenience store. It’s a fun fight that pits Mahiro’s speed and desire to kill against several larger men who have no clue that they are battling an absolute killer. During the fight people are stabbed, there’s lots of creative sliding and Mahiro walks out alive. 

If you are looking for a fun action-comedy that features two teenage maniacs learning how to live together, while also battling the Yakuza, it doesn’t get any better than Baby Assassins.

Prey (2022) – Review – A Very Welcome Addition to the Predator Franchise

August 3, 2022
Poster courtesy of Getty Images

When it was first announced that Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Boys, Black Mirror) would be directing a Predator film starring Amber Midthunder (watch Legion now – she is great), I knew I had to watch it. His film 10 Cloverfield Lane is an effective tension bomb that features Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr., and John Goodman engaging in a deadly game of chess inside a sealed off bunker. Trachtenberg’s Cloverfield-spinoff is a solid white-knuckler, and the 6’2” Goodman plays an absolute menace who towers over his captives and forces them to get extremely creative in their quest to escape his bunker/prison. Trachtenberg’s skill set is perfect for a Predator movie because he knows what made the first film so good (remote location, cool villain, capable heroes, chaos, fun final fight). Also,the idea of taking the Yautja hunter back to the 1700s where it battles Comanche hunters and French fur traders is inspired because the heroes don’t have a M134 Minigun to shoot at the invisible villain. The icing on the science fiction film cake is that Amber Midthunder was cast to be the main protagonist. She’s so good in Legion, and her stunt/fight training are put to good use here as her character Naru is outmatched physically (like all the other main characters in the franchise), but knows the terrain and has a sharp ax that she ingeniously ties a rope to for quicker retrieval.

The best part about Prey is how it relies on a simple plot revolving around Naru and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) battling a Yautja (Dane DiLiegro – a 6′ 9″ former basketball player) who hunts them while they’re on a hunt. To make things worse for Naru, is that she isn’t taken seriously as a warrior and is only brought along for her tracking skills and healing prowess which come in handy when her trusted dog gets stuck in a metal trap or fellow warriors get their legs blown off. What’s cool about Prey is how it stands on its own but also features fun callbacks (mud is used, limbs are lost) and Easter Eggs (there’s a fun Predator 2 reference) to appease Predator franchise fans. Also, there are some beautiful moments that allow the Yautja to absolutely demolish dozens of people who were stupid enough to get in its way. This isn’t the cheeky Yautja of The Predator, this is a super mean and deadly monster that is all about hunting and killing.

Writer Patrick Aison (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Treadstone – he was also a consultant on Legion) deserves credit for knowing what’s important and building towards a fun final fight between Naru and the jerky hunter. I really enjoyed watching Naru rely on her intelligence and ax throwing to combat a technologically superior foe who is also about three-feet taller than her. The simple premise allows for some fun set pieces that will put a smile on your face as you watch a river battle involving a Yautja wrestling with an angry bear. 

When looking back at the Predator franchise, the producers/directors have done a good job of casting a diverse group of heroes who are forced to battle the Yautja. Whether it’s the burly group of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers. Bill Duke and Adrien Brody, or the extremely capable (but not as burly) Danny Glover, Sanaa Latham, and Alice Braga, there’s a neat range of memorable characters who either become an honorary Yautja, or get their arms blown off by a laser cannon. I’m pleased to announce that Midthunder’s character Naru fits nicely within the classic character canon and her final battle with the Yautja stands alongside the best the franchise has ever offered.

Prey is one of the best Predator films, and I really hope that audiences discover it on Hulu. 

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 440: Scream (2022), Lemon Squares and The Babadook

August 1, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

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

Mark and Zanandi (@ZaNandi on Twitter) discuss the 2022 horror film Scream (or 5cream). Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (watch Ready or Not), and starring Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Jack Quaid, and an angry masked killer, the movie focuses on what happens when the Scream franchise gets a rebootquel. In this episode, they also talk about lemon squares, legacy characters, and screaming. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

Resurrection (2022) – Review – Rebecca Hall is the Best

July 31, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade B – Resurrection is an absorbing thriller that takes you to places you’d never expect (which is a good thing). Once again, Rebecca Hall proves that she’s absolutely fearless and isn’t afraid to tackle unique material that requires her to go through a wild amount of trauma and psychological horror. 

Writing about Resurrection is tough because there’s so much that should be left unspoiled. I went into my screening with zero prior knowledge and only knew that Hall and Tim Roth were the stars. I’m glad I never watched a trailer for it because I really enjoyed the roller coaster of events and emotions that the movie creates. What I can say is that Hall plays a woman named Margaret, who starts to unravel when her abusive ex-boyfriend David (Tim Roth – with the creepiest toothy grin I’ve ever seen) begins stalking her after twenty-two years of separation. Before David messes up her world, we learn that Hall is a workaholic single mom who happily doles out advice to younger coworkers, and spends her free time running through a city that is loaded with brutalist architecture (the movie was filmed in New York City). Her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is a nice kid who is used to Margaret’s long hours and gives the snarkiest teenager responses to pretty much everything Margaret does. All in all, it’s not a bad life that Margaret has made for herself after the traumatizing relationship she had with David, a man who is 20+ years older than her and had no problem controlling her for many years. Since it’s a thriller, things begin to spiral when Margaret sees David at a business lecture and she’s forced to deal with some truly terrible memories and feelings.

The highlight of the film is a darkly funny monologue in which Margaret tells the story (in one long eight-minute take) of what happened between her and David to a co-worker named Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone) who frequently asks her for advice. The story leaves Gwyn completely shocked and you can tell that she can’t handle what was just told to her because it was very irresponsible of Margaret to drop the insane tale of abuse on an intern. After a brief silence, the visibly shaking Gwyn responds with “Is this a joke?,” and she leaves the office mumbling to herself as she tries to process the heaviness of what Margaret just told her. Telling a young intern such a horrible story isn’t cool, but it makes you respect Margaret more because most people would be in a pit of depression if they experienced what she did. That’s why she controls her interactions with men, and has created a stable world in which she can survive. 

The script by Andrew Semans (who also directed the movie) was on the 2019 Black List and it just makes total sense that it would be a popular script that nobody wanted to produce. Thinking about the movie makes me smile, and when I tried to explain it to my wife we both were left a bit confused. I don’t think that it totally earns the ending, but I’d happily watch the movie again to enjoy Hall’s committed performance. After being wasted in movies like Iron Man 3, I love that she’s directing popular movies like Passing and starring in critically adored horror films like The Night House. If you’re looking to watch an ambitious thriller that really goes for it, I totally recommend you watch Resurrection

John’s Horror Corner: Amityville Horror 4: The Evil Escapes (1989), yet another Amityville Horror movie, this time continuing the story with a hideous cursed lamp.

July 30, 2022

MY CALL: Sorry, but this movie is little more than yet another boring slog lamely continuing the Amityville curse story. The effects are even more soporific than the story. MORE MOVIES LIKE Amityville: The Evil Escapes: Uhhhhhh, stick to Amityville II: The Possession (1982) and wander no further in terms of franchise sequels. Part II has all the dumb fun you’re looking for with great pacing, but Amityville 3-D (1983) is a boring slog. I haven’t yet seen Amityville Curse (1990), but it comes next in this sequence of non-sequels.

After the slaughter of now two different families and then a botched paranormal investigation transpired in the Amityville house built over the Native American burial ground, the “FOR SALE” sign is up yet again in front of the Amityville house that, for some reason, still hasn’t been burned to the ground. Instead of a few barrels of kerosene, the film opens with a team of priests arriving to exorcize the haunted house. We’ve clearly learned by now that two priests often just aren’t sufficient. The scene is a clunky maelstrom of weak haunted house effects as this film’s made-for-TV quality is worn plainly on its sleeve.

Just so we’re clear, this movie does everything in its power to make sure every member of the audience understands that all the evil of the Amityville house has now been channeled into a hideous antique lamp. And since, for some reason, folks saw fit to sell the contents of the most cursed house ever in a yard sale, someone of course buys this eyesore of a cursed lamp and ships it to California. And thus, “the evil escapes.”

Now you might be thinking, hold on, how could the ”evil” escape? Wasn’t the cause of everything in the first movie the angry Native American spirits (angry not evil) whose graves were desecrated by the building of the Amityville house? The answer is yes! But the first sequel decided it was instead some Biblical demon of sorts (for no reason at all) and the second sequel decided a Gateway to Hell was under the house. So now we have a feisty demon on our hands.

After the sudden death of her husband, Nancy (Patty Duke; Valley of the Dolls) brings her kids—Amanda (Zoe Trilling; Night of the Demons 2, The Borrower, Dr. Giggles), Brian and the youngest Jessica—to move in with her mother (Jane Wyatt; Star Trek IV) the very day of the arrival of the lamp.

Not surprisingly, this movie is awful. There’s a possessed chainsaw scene that is nothing short of boring; a garbage disposal scene that, despite the blood and screaming, was incredibly weak and showed nothing worthwhile; a sorry death-by-drowning in pipe sewage; strangulation by animated lamp cord… it’s all cheap and forgettable.

I’m sorry to say that director Sandor Stern (Pin) did not impress me here. In the final 30 minutes—which should arguably be the most exciting portion of the movie—I nodded off twice, clearly not very stimulated. The finale features a priest fighting an inanimate lamp and a floating homicidal child with a kitchen knife. It’s not good… like, at all.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Bonus Episode: The Batman (2022) Commentary

July 30, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

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

Mark and DJ Valentine (@TryingToBeDJV on Twitter) love The Batman (2022) so much that they decided to record a commentary for the 176-minute movie. During this commentary they talk about Frank Cold, penguins, and childlike villains. Enjoy

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

The Movies, Films and Flix Podcast – Episode 439: Get Smart, Yellow Cake, and Dwayne Johnson

July 27, 2022

You can download or stream the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker (or wherever you listen to podcasts…..we’re almost everywhere).

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

Mark and Erik discuss the 2008 comedy Get Smart. Directed by Peter Segal, and starring Anne Hathaway, Steve Carell, Dwayne Johnson, Alan Arkin and Terence Stamp (such a stacked cast), the movie focuses on what happens when Steve Carell is tasked with saving the world. In this episode, they also talk about TV adaptations, swordfish and walking into door frames. Enjoy!

If you are a fan of the podcast, make sure to send in some random listener questions (we love random questions). We thank you for listening, and hope you enjoy the episode!

You can download the pod on Apple Podcasts, Tune In, Podbean, or Spreaker.

The Reef: Stalked (2022) – Review

July 27, 2022

Quick Thoughts – Grade – C+ – Directed by Andrew Traucki (The Reef, Black Water, Black Water: Abyss), The Reef: Stalked is a better-than-average survival thriller that eschews typical genre tropes and instead focuses on the relationship between four friends who are forced to deal with a hungry (and very jerky) great white shark. 

What’s refreshing about The Reef: Stalked is how it relies on putting likable characters (who like each other) in a somewhat believable life or death situation. Director Andrew Traucki has made a name for himself by making grounded survival thrillers that feature actual shark/crocodile footage and actors who try their best to elevate the B-level material. The biggest issue with The Reef: Stalked is the laughable VFX that drags the film down and makes you remember that you’re watching a low-budget shark flick. However, the movie is aided by an on-location shoot in Australia that provides good looking production design and wide open spaces (via strategic camerawork to avoid the beaches they filmed on) that make it much better than movies like Great White, which was partially filmed on a soundstage. 

The Reef: Stalked begins with a doozy of an opening that most audiences will never suspect (or have any reason to suspect). After a day of diving, Nic (Teressa Liane), Jodie (Ann Truong), Lisa (Kate Lister), and Cath (Bridget Burt) are interrupted by Greg (Tim Ross), Cath’s husband who is clearly a very angry man. Later on that day, Nic gets a call from Greg and when she comes over to his home, she finds Greg with scratches on his face, and Cath dead in a bathtub. It’s a horrible discovery that forces her to leave for India where she travels for nine months while her younger sister Annie (Saskia Archer) is forced to manage the funeral, take care of their depressed mother, and deal with her own demons. Annie and Nic are reunited when they join Jodie and Lisa for an island-hopping kayak trip to celebrate the memory of Cath. Since it’s a shark film, they are attacked almost immediately and they’re forced to keep traveling so they can save the life of a young girl who was also attacked by the jerky great white shark. What follows is a shark film that refreshingly doesn’t get as mean as movies like The Reef, Black Water, and Black Water: Abyss

The movie isn’t always exciting, but after watching Great White and Shark Bait, I appreciated that Traucki tried to do something different with The Reef: Stalked. Having Nic be riddled with post-traumatic stress is a bold move, and I think Teressa Liane does a fine job of pulling off a character who is coping with the murder of her sister while having to deal with a shark who wants to eat her other sister. The performances are all-around solid, but they are let down by cheaply-staged action that changes the abilities of the shark for story needs. For instance, the shark can explode through pontoons, but it can’t tip over a kayak moments later. Also, even though the shark is capable of ripping people apart, it can’t bite through a life vest which must be made from the strongest material ever created. The biggest turnoff for people expecting shark mayhem is that The Reef: Stalked really isn’t about mayhem. Traucki has stated that he wasn’t interested in making another shark movie, but since they can get made easily he decided to lower the body count and focus more on sisterhood. I think Traucki’s ambition elevates the low-budget material, but it will turn off casual viewers looking for blood geysers. If you can wrap your head around the more nuanced plot (for a shark movie), you’ll find things to like.

John’s Horror Corner: Children of the Night (1991), a vampire B-movie in the vein of Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991).

July 26, 2022

MY CALL: Like a piñata filled with cheesy guts and over-sized fangs, this was a pleasant surprise of slapstick horror comedy that spirals into silly nonsense. MORE MOVIES LIKE Children of the Night: Best match in tone and style might be things like Blood Diner (1987), The Granny (1995), Rabid Grannies (1988) and Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991).

Okay, so the movie posters look lame. Really lame. But with a director like Tony Randel (Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Ticks) I sit back baffled as to how I somehow never heard of this movie. It’s not that I never got around to it, but that I truly never knew it existed until, well, this year!

As part of a local superstition, Cindy (Maya McLaughlin) and Lucy (Ami Dolenz; Ticks, Pumpkinhead II, Witchboard 2) visit a huge abandoned church to “swim the crypt” to wash themselves clean of their small town, which is about as religious and insulated as small towns get. I suppose the real horror here is the list of infections these girls would get from swimming in the historically stagnant flooded crypt. But also that the flooded crypt is still populated by dead bodies, some of them being submerged vampires.

The opening sequence is pretty good as far as low budget horror goes, and the awful storytelling is hilarious. Cindy and her mother Karen (Karen Black; It’s Alive III, House of 1000 Corpses, Mirror Mirror, Night Angel) become vampires held prisoner by a priest Father Frank (Evan MacKenzie; Ghoulies III, Scanner Cop II) who had an affair with Karen ten years ago. And while the budget is humble, we see every dollar on screen in Karen’s over-the-top claws, makeup and fangs, like something out of an inferior Night of the Demons sequel. It pains me to acknowledge this, but many of this movie’s vampires sleep submerged breathing through pairs of human lungs and esophagus fashioned into something of a snorkel!

Yup. This movie is a hokey cheesefest and it knows it. Much in the vein of The Granny (1995), we have a granny vampire unloading silly garbage dialogue. And these vampire fangs are so big you can hear the actors struggling to speak their semi-muffled lines through them.  The hands down best special effect was when Karen orally “secreted” her sleeping chamber in the form of stop-motion wet cloth and regurgitated gel, and then flopping out her slimy lung snorkel… which I’m beginning to think is her own inside out esophagus and lungs!

Father Frank recruits schoolteacher Mark (Peter DeLuise) to help him with Karen, Cindy and Lucy. Meanwhile, whereas we began with more serious vamps, the entire town has become a comical Halloweentown of slapstick ghoulish vampires.

Somehow as the vampire population, action and the heart-stakings mount, things get even a little too stupid for me. It’s funny, but it’s stupid. These vampires are dumber the more we see them. Like, actually dumb… like a clumsy zombie or a spastic simple-minded deadites. Still, there’s a lot of hokey action, awful writing, a little story development, a few half decent gore gags—yeah, this is a great “so bad it’s good” watch for a group of friends to enjoy.

All told, this was okay—but I’d probably enjoy it a lot more had I watched it with company. I much preferred the moderately hokey first half to the extremely hokey second half. But for those of you who simply adore movies like Blood Diner (1987), this is probably your jam.

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