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The MFF Podcast #213: Ravenous, Cult Classics and Cotton Candy Monsters

August 24, 2019

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

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

Robert Carlyle is very good in Ravenous.

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the underappreciated cannibal film Ravenous. We’ve been wanting to talk about Ravenous for a very long time, and we’re lucky enough to have David Cross, the host of the Award Wieners Movie Review Podcast, join us for a very fun episode. In the episode you will hear us talk about insane musical scores, delicious stew and eating cotton candy monsters. If you are a fan of Ravenous, you will love this episode.

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 Apple PodcastsStitcherTune In,  Podbean,or Spreaker.

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

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Check Out Our New MFF Data Podcast Series!

August 21, 2019
Reign of Fire + McConaughey = great data

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

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

I love dumb data. That’s why I’ve spent the last few years researching, writing and promoting a whole bunch of articles that analyze movies like It Follows, Predators, Halloween and Waterworld. I originally started writing and researching these articles because they made me laugh, I never thought that Cracked, Wired, The A.V. Club, Bloody Disgusting, Dread Central, Indiewire and Entertainment Weekly would take notice. They did, and it was awesome, so I decided to start a new podcast series that compliments the random data.

Some notes on the Cabin in the Woods data article.

In honor of the MFF data articles, I decided to start a new podcast series that dedicates 15 minutes to each article. The first episode is all about the creature in It Follows. I was able to breakdown how far it traveled, and it’s been my biggest article to date. Hopefully, you enjoy these episodes, and if you like them, please share with everyone you know (literally everyone). Thanks!

You can listen to the MFF podcast pretty much everywhere. Check out the latest episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.

John’s Horror Corner: Hell House LLC (2015), a documentary-style found footage horror about a Halloween haunted house-gone-wrong.

August 21, 2019

MY CALL: Passable (even if forgettable) mindless popcorn fodder. Kinda’ fun, but insultingly bad in terms of intelligent horror film fare. MORE MOVIES LIKE Hell House LLC: For more mockumentary-esque or documentary-gone-wrong horror I’d strongly recommend Lake Mungo (2008), The Last Exorcism (2010), Grave Encounters (2011), Grave Encounters 2 (2012), The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014), Demonic (2015), Ghost Stories (2017) and Butterfly Kisses (2018).

Years following a tragic accident at the Abaddon Hotel’s Halloween haunted house attraction (Hell House) results in the death numerous patrons and staff, filmmakers (including Alice Bahlke; Hell House LLC II) embark on a documentary investigation to uncover what really happened. Their investigation is based on found footage from the Hell House staff’s…

Hell House is run by a five-man crew with a history of finding remote, rundown properties and turning them into scary funhouse profits. Paul (Gore Abrams; Hell House LLC III), Sara (Ryan Jennifer Jones; Hell House LLC III), Tony (Jared Hacker; Hell House LLC III), Mack (Adam Schneider; Dark Skies, Hell House LLC II) and Alex (Danny Bellini; The Drifter, Hell House LLC II-III) plan their Halloween haunted house… this time in an already haunted house.

Writer/director Stephen Cognetti (Hell House LLC II-III) presents this film as a documentary in style, complete with interviewee/witness testimonials, YouTube videos and news clips. For this reason, the film is a bit less found footage-ish and closer to Lake Mungo (2008) or Butterfly Kisses (2018) than pure found footage films. Although much of this movie does feel like found footage with occasional docu-content sprinkled here and there; as if found footage bookended with docu-ness.

The acting is, at times, barely passable (especially during rigidly acted news clip scenes) and the writing isn’t great either. But honestly, this hardly seems to matter since the overall execution and cultivation of atmosphere is working for me (in the first 10-20 minutes). As I watched the rather engaging opening scenes, clips, testimonials, etc., I found myself wanting to know what happened to those people at the haunted house attraction. I wasn’t at the edge of my seat with tension, but I was clearly interested. That’s pretty impressive for the first 8-10 minutes of any horror movie. But as the film progresses, I find myself sadly less and less impressed. The survivors of the haunted house tragedy have either killed themselves or refuse to talk—an annoying cliché that fails to contribute additional mystery and somewhat squanders the briefly cohesive mood.

[Now almost hallway through the film…] I’m sorry, but I need to break into some SPOILERS to express how this film is beginning to so deeply disappointing me. In execution, the scares are effective and creepy—and for a random popcorn date night, this may prove entertaining even if forgettable. But in concept, they are utterly stupid. The notion that haunting ghosts would constantly “turn the heads” of rigid mannequins or “possess” evil clown mannequins (in the manner presented here) and then do nothing with such manifestations is simply aggravating. If you want to do evil dolls, then do evil dolls. Is this a good way to get cheap scares on a budget? Sure, I suppose. But there are plenty of other creative ways to do this—e.g., Paranormal Activity (2007). I feel like this is insulting the intelligence of thoughtful horror fans. But is it entertaining in the moment? I guess so, sure. It’s just that right after the moment passes, I’m annoyed. This movie pulls a lot of nonsense; inexplicable nonsense. If you’re going to animate clownnequins, then make them dangerous!

The final “scare” scenes were upsettingly stupid and, at this point, I’ve lost all possible respect for this film. The writing is so incredibly shallow. It even ends with the #1 found footage faux pas: its ending suggests that no one would have ever found the footage in the first place and, oh right, moreover no one would have edited together all the footage and clips and testimonials, etc., into an actual film. Dumb.

Dumb… but again, in execution, I have no problem seeing how “fun” this jumpy creepy film could be for others—especially, again, for popcorn/date night fodder. It’s hard to describe. I was unimpressed, I was mindlessly entertained, and I was angered. All that said, I kind of want to see part II. Go figure.

Iron Sky: The Coming Race (2019), where Super Mario Bros. (1993) and Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) meet a kooky Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Xena: Warrior Princess in this over-the-top Sci-Fi space-Nazi sequel

August 20, 2019

MY CALL: It doesn’t measure up to Iron Sky (2012), but what movie ever could? This sequel strikes me as distinctly inferior, yet still definitely worth the time of any fan of part 1! MORE MOVIES with NAZI VILLAINS: After first seeing Iron Sky (2012), one may move on to Dead Snow (2009), Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead (2014), Overlord (2018), Hellboy (2004), Inglorious Bastards (2009), Green Room (2015), Yoga Hosers (2016), Manborg (2011), Zombie Lake (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1982), The Keep (1983), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Frankenstein’s Army (2013), Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1991), Puppet Master: The Legacy (2003), Puppet Master: Axis of Evil  (2010), Puppet Master X: Axis Rising (2012) and Puppet Master: Axis Termination (2017).

Disclaimer: Screener access was provided by a PR group. However, I was not paid or compensated to write this nor were there any conditions to my receiving viewing access other than my solicited review.

IMDB Summary: “Less than 30 years after a nuclear war ravaged the Earth, what’s left of humanity lives in a crumbling base on the Dark Side of the Moon, but they can’t survive here much longer. The Moonbase’s leader finds a glimmer of hope: an ancient map pointing into the Hollow Earth. Now a Russian pilot and her best friend venture to the center of the ruined planet to face the army of dinosaurs guarding humankind’s last hope for salvation: the Holy Grail.”

During the awesomely scored opening credits, we pick up right where Iron Sky (2012) left off: with the Earth at war with space Nazis and the new discovery that our Palin-esque President (among others) is some sort of reptilian humanoid in disguise. Immediately I’m gleefully reminded of the nonsensically hilarious Super Mario Bros. (1993)! In some not-so-eloquent backstory, we learn that our Nazis originated from reptilian shape-shifting aliens that crash-landed on Earth, domesticated dinosaurs, created mankind, and manipulated humans through historic influencers and political leaders. Whereas this sequel seems notably lower in overall quality than its predecessor, its ambitious mania continue to entertain with sheer lunacy. There’s a lot going on here…

The imagery, sets, wardrobe and shots intermix classic imagery harkening Star Wars (1977), Equilibrium (2002) and The Matrix (1999). You’ll be reminded of Jedi Knights and the Millennium Falcon, mentally conditioned religions, the city of Zion, and even some Engineer-ish creationism from Prometheus (2012). Providing cultish neo-spiritual enlightenment is cyber-evangelist (Tom Green). And like a cape and cowled Sith Lord, our favorite Moon Fuhrer (Udo Kier; Mother of Tears, Halloween, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) returns to infiltrate his former lair.

Returning to combat these moon Nazi aliens are American astronaut James Washington (Christopher Kirby; Daybreakers, Predestination, The Matrix: Reloaded/Revolutions), Nazi schoolteacher-turned ant-Nazi revolutionary Renate (Julia Dietze), and her daughter Obi (Lara Rossi; Robin Hood).

The action and creature effects carry a very Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) vibe, but with a significant technological upgrade. And scenes with more creatures and/or people in make-up will have some filler-extras with notably more basic creature costumes. But I find it all forgivable. This film knows exactly what it is, it embraces its silliness, and it aims as high as it can (even over-reaching a bit) with its budget. In fact, this sequel feels notably sillier and less straight-faced than its 2012 predecessor. But whereas 2012 had cityscapes and then CGI moonscapes, this sequel also has the center of the Earth—which offers a diversity of set design, costuming styles, and creatures to encounter in this new world. So while this sequel is bigger, it has so much in it that it occasionally feels far less manicured—or, if we’re being honest, more gnarly.

For much of its running time it bears more the tone and often silly dialogue of a SyFy channel mini-series—or, as mentioned before, something like Xena or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999). But it’s also more energized, zany and fun—though not necessarily as “good” as scenes are littered with CGI dinosaurs and Babylon 5-ish (1994-1998) races.

Its high point is when we see alien ReptiliHitler riding a T-rex into the Nazi moonbase! Now this is the kind of ridiculous fun I signed up for with this movie! And what a relief that the CGI quality of this scene was much better than that allotted for all the center of the Earth denizens and guard dog-ish dinosaurs.

Ultimately, this was every bit as fun as Iron Sky (2012)—although a hokier and more distracted silly sort of film. But whichever you like more of the two, its strong suit is that it is a completely different kind of movie in tone, story and execution. All too often sequels are more of the same. Absolutely not the case with The Coming Race.

This may sound like a big B-movie, but it’s more like a B+ movie… and supercharged. Director Timo Vuorensola has developed a zany idea into something so much more than its silly premise. Keep an eye out for part 3!

The MFF Podcast #212: The Phantom, Slamming Evil and Random 1990’s Superhero Movies

August 18, 2019

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

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

Treat Williams is the best part of The Phantom.

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the 1996 cult classic The Phantom. Based on a popular comic strip, the Simon Wincer directed movie tells the story of a purple-clad superhero (Billy Zane) battling a very enthusiastic Treat Williams. We love this movie because it is insanely earnest, loaded with fisticuffs and features the always excellent Catherine Zeta-Jones. In this podcast, you will hear us talk about deadly skeletons, slamming evil and cheeky villains. If you are a fan of The Phantom, you will love this episode.

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 Apple PodcastsStitcherTune In,  Podbean,or Spreaker.

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

John’s Horror Corner: The Curse of La Llorona (2019), watering down the Conjuring Universe with ill-executed the Mexican folklore of the Weeping Woman.

August 17, 2019

MY CALL: The actors all did fine, the writing was fine, but everything on-screen involving La Llorona felt more watered down than the lack of effective use of the weeping woman’s tears. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Curse of La LloronaWell, The Conjuring (2013; podcast discussion of The Conjuring 2), Annabelle (2014; podcast discussion of Annabelle), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Annabelle: Creation (2017), The Nun (2018) and Annabelle Comes Home (2019) round out The Conjuring Universe.

We are introduced to Anna and her children with a positive yet haphazard energy scrambling to get ready for school and work (Los Angeles, 1973). A social worker, misunderstood widow and single mother Anna (Linda Cardellini; Bloodline, Scooby-Doo 1-2, Strangeland) truly cares about the children and families in her caseload. During a home visit regarding a truancy violation, Anna finds that a superstitious Mexican mother has padlocked her terrified boys into a closet with a glyph-inscribed door.

Of Mexican folklore warning children to listen to their elders, La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez) was the weeping woman who might steal them away to replace her own lost children. Director Michael Chaves (The Conjuring 3) might have fumbled his opening scene (Mexico, 1673) introducing us to La Llorona, but at least he fares very well in doing justice to his heroine. The jump scares, however, are largely just okay, often predictable, and not very “jumpy.” Overall, the “horror” of this horror film feels rather weak, over-telegraphed and uninspired. Were some of the scares a bit fun? Sure. But most disappointed more than entertained.

It was as if the evil spirit herself forgot her own motivation when she’d push a child down the stairs rather than grab him to steal him away, or just stand there menacingly instead of advancing upon her unwitting victim, or grab a child’s wrist to burn them and then disappear. Chaves’ greatest “scare success” (and only marginally so if I’m being honest) was in the tension of the bathtub scene with Anna’s daughter. But Mirrors (2008), Slither (2006), What Lies Beneath (2000), Final Destination (2000), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Shivers (1974) have made bath tubs forever unnerving in the genre. Other minor successes were the clear connection to Annabelle (2014) and the “egg shaman” scene. Both should have landed far better than they did—but still, they were appreciated.

 

Seeking help, Anna turns to Father Perez (Tony Amendola; Annabelle) and Shaman Rafael (Raymond Cruz; Dusk till Dawn 2, Alien: Resurrection, Gremlins 2). In the absence of Elise (Insidious) or the Warrens (The Conjuring), Rafael is our second-rate exorcist. Classic staples such as candles and crucifixes are present, along with rubbing eggs on thresholds and some tongue-in-cheek humor.

Not since Case 39 (2009) has a social worker ended up with such a bad case, and not since Annabelle (2014) or The Nun (2018) have I been so disappointed by a franchise installment in the Conjuring Waniverse. I feel like all the story-writing and characters and acting were good, but everything Llorona-related (on-screen) seemed to fail in execution. The weeping woman’s crying and her very tears even felt forced into scenes, whereas they should have been the deepest and creepiest nuance at the filmmakers’ disposal (if handled properly) for cultivation of dread. Honestly, all this really worries me about The Conjuring 3 (same director). Still, not a bad Friday night popcorn flick for the sake of being entertained and then forgetting all about the movie.

John’s Horror Corner: Wolf Creek (2005), a brutal Australian slasher film that is totally mean-spirited, well-villained and shockingly credible.

August 14, 2019

MY CALL: Based on a true story (or so says the internet and the DVD cover, I have no idea and wasn’t about to dive down that rabbit hole), this is a truly brutal slasher for fans of credibly cruel, mean-spirited things happening to good people who did nothing wrong and don’t deserve it. That said… loved it. MORE MOVIES LIKE Wolf Creek: More mean-spirited gritty slashers include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, The Hills Have Eyes (2006), or even The Strangers (2008, 2018) or The Purge (2013) movies. For more Australian horror movies, try Razorback (1984), Lake Mungo (2008), The Howling III: Marsupials (1987), Dark Age (1987), Rogue (2007), Black Water (2007), Wyrmwood (2014), Charlie’s Farm (2014), Cargo (2017) and Boar (2017; podcast discussion).

As we are introduced to our twentysomething protagonists awash with rum shots, bleary-eyed party montages, “who likes who” gossip, and haphazard vacation plans, I’m reminded of The Ruins (2008), Indigenous (2014) and so many other horror films with the same standard “meet the players” opening. Likable and relatable, Liz (Cassandra Magrath; Scare Campaign), Kristy (Kestie Morassi; Darkness Falls) and Ben (Nathan Phillips; Chernobyl Diaries) set out for Wolf Creek deep in the Australian Outback for a camping adventure only to find themselves stranded when their car won’t start.

As luck would have it, a rustic local stumbles across them and offers a tow back to his camp, where he’ll fix their car and put them up for the night. Mick Tayler (John Jarratt; Boar, Rogue, Next of Kin) seems friendly, but an awkwardly backwoods kind of rough. But, far from the nearest town… what choice do they have but to accept his kindness?

Mick is a surprisingly rich character. He explains the history of the outback’s abandoned towns, dust storms, and his work shooting varmints and water buffalo that encroached on farmlands… and all delivered with an off-puttingly Deliverance-ish (1972) sense of humor. Yet such alarming social cues receive no action from our wayward travelers because, once again, what would these three travelers do otherwise?

Never boring us with exposition along the way Wolf Creek takes its time, peppers scenes warning about remote landlocked locals and resource scarcity, and lets us patiently settle into our characters for an hour before any horrors transpire. But once it starts, it’s heavy. Mick is ruthlessly cruel and takes tremendous joy in the torment of his victims as he breaks them down as much psychologically as he does physically. Well beyond his actions, his irrefutable comfort in his own menace inform us that he’s quite seasoned in the pastimes of torturing, raping, flaying and hunting his victims.

With a dismembered torso hanging about, Mick’s décor may momentarily remind you of Wrong Turn (2003) or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre part II (1986). But he’s far more “human” than those inbred hillbilly cannibals—yet every bit as scary. Mick enjoys talking to his victims as he toys with them, lops of fingers with his big knife, and he gleefully severed one’s spinal cord to render her helpless. In retrospect, the “amount” of violence isn’t nearly as high as so many similar movies. But the violence within is sheer brutal soulnessness. And so it leaves a powerful impression. Mick Taylor is an excellent villain.

Written and directed by Greg McLean (Rogue, The Belko Experiment, Wolf Creek 2), this is a film in which the worst possible fate befalls our protagonists and they have done nothing to deserve it. They had no reasonable choice but to accept Mick’s offer to help… and for that, they suffered in this excellent Aussie slasher!

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