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The MFF Podcast #246: Scream 4, Terrible Lemon Squares and Lots of Stabbing

January 22, 2020

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune 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!

Meet the new kids

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the Wes Craven directed Scream 4. Released in 2011, 11 years after the release of Scream 3, this long-delayed sequel-reboot plays with the idea of celebrity, social media and disgusting lemon squares that taste like ass. Scream 4 brings back the old crew (Sidney, Dewey, Gail), and teams them up with newcomers who aren’t nearly as interesting (Kirby is the bomb though), and together they deal with a masked killer(s) who is very clumsy. In this episode, we discuss horror remakes, lemon squares and rank the Stab movies.

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 episode!

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune 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 Grudge (2004), the suspenseful remake of the Japanese Ju-on: The Grudge (2002).

January 21, 2020

MY CALL: Despite lacking the scariness that I recall back in 2004, this is an engaging film worthy of your time. It features a great cast and a well-told, very creepy story with some memorable visuals. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Grudge: Well, Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) and Ju-on: The Grudge 2 (2003) would be the best place to start; followed by The Ring (2002) and Ringu (1998), then Ju-on (2000) and Ju-on 2 (2000).

REMAKE/REIMAGINING SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019). Those to avoid include The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), Poltergeist (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Night of the Demons (2009), Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), War of the Worlds (2005) and The Mummy (2017). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Fright Night (2011), Maniac (2012) and Pet Sematary (2019), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

Having moved abroad to Tokyo with her boyfriend (Jason Behr), Karen (Sarah Michelle Gellar; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream 2, The Grudge 2) accepts a social work case after a senile elderly woman’s (Grace Zabriskie) caretaker (Yôko Maki) curiously disappears.

After Karen has a disturbing supernatural encounter during her house call, it seems that everyone who comes in contact with that house finds a terrible fate… including the previous owners years ago.

“When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage a curse is born. The curse gathers in that place of death.”

When our first victim encounters a ghastly spirit in the attic, the shots are simple but tactful as they reveal the pale shadow-obscured visage, and the ghost’s face is effectively unnerving. And while the CGI hasn’t aged magnificently over 15 years, the creeping hair remains eerie but no longer feels so scary. In fact, I feel like many ploys utilized in this film felt much more creepy in 2004 than they do now. For example, somehow the cat-hissing ghost kid and the slow-croaking female ghost just don’t seem to cut it anymore.

Sure, some of the scary stuff doesn’t hold up well. But the suspense is strong, and the writing and story remain stimulating. When they discover the owners of the house strangely placed in the attic along with “someone’s” ripped-out lower jaw… color me creeped out and intrigued. And when you see the lower jaw-ripped victim—solid gory gold!

Director Takashi Shimizu (Ju-on 1-2, The Grudge 1-2, Flight 7500) delivers a solidly entertaining horror remake (of his own original) which, I feel, suffers greatest from a lack of intensity. Not sure if an R rating would solve it, but it would have likely unbridled the director. Still, Bill Pullman (The Serpent and the Rainbow, Brain Dead, Lake Placid) and Ted Raimi’s (Drag Me to Hell, Wishmaster) roles guide us to interesting surprises, and some video scenes and our facially-obscured female ghost are kindly thematic of The Ring (2002).

Despite lacking the scariness that I recall in 2004, this is an engaging film worthy of your time. It features a great cast and a well-told, creepy story.

John’s Horror Corner: The Unborn (2009), the Dybbuk demon movie in which Gary Oldman and Idris Elba perform an exorcism.

January 20, 2020

MY CALL: Ignore the implications of the movie poster. Yes, it’s another creeping possession movie starring a cute girl in her underwear… but this is actually a good one! Some decent effects, good pacing, interesting story and an amazing cast transcend this beyond simply being a few creepy kids and jumpscares. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Unborn: Not to be confused with The Unborn (1991), this is much closer to—and far superior to—The Possession (2012). And for another 2009 movie whose solid quality and cast was overlooked because of a sultry movie poster, try Jennifer’s Body (2009).

This movie really has a serious cast. Watch out for Carla Gugino (Gerald’s Game, The Haunting of Hill House), Idris Elba (The Reaping, Prom Night), James Remar (The Warriors, Tales from the Darkside, Hellraiser: Inferno), Cam Gigandet (The Roommate, Assimilate) and Meagan Good (The Intruder, Venom, Saw V) in supporting roles.

Eerie things begin happening to Casey (Odette Annable/Yustman; Cloverfield., And Soon the Darkness). When she investigates her curious family history and some troubling Jewish mythology, no one is able to offer credible advice. So, she seeks the support of Rabbi Sendak (Gary Oldman; The Fifth Element, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Red Riding Hood) to perform an exorcism.

This often-overlooked film opens with a combination of gorgeous winterscape photography and trendy horror tropes including visions of a sickly young boy and ghostly visages in old photographs. Tropes aside, the production strikes me as quite thoughtful for such non-highbrow horror. But even if well-executed, this movie isn’t without cheaper ploys as well—like jump scares involving “unexpected insects” or sudden ghostly screams, and various poltergeist-y goings-on.

We toe the line between pregnancy horror and a haunting movie without distinctly being either as the Jewish demon, the Dybbuk, tries to transition its way into our world through Casey. Creepy kid imagery abounds as Casey is haunted with things often associated with pregnancy horror—the notion of a child that wants to be born, her unborn twin, and visions of a demonic fetus. Later in the film, there is some disturbing imagery that reaches beyond slack-jawed ghosts and wanders near Lovecraftian terror.

The special effects are solid for the time. Some limited CGI won’t hold up well, but overall I remain pleased with the effective visuals of evil. And while surprisingly not a major source of the special effects, the exorcism scene is as realistic as it gets in terms of preparation and writing, and its execution captures aspects of Prince of Darkness (1987). Writer and director David S. Goyer (Blade: Trinity) did well with this film.

This movie isn’t necessarily a thrill rollercoaster. But to its credit, even its slower parts are interesting and well-composed. Despite a poster featuring a girl in her underwear, this movie also avoids trashy tactics, nudity or gore (nor does it need it)… although there is a great back-breaker scene and a viscerally ripped-open face make-up. I’d say we get every bit that we need to remain interested and invested in the generally well-written characters and story. I quite like this film.

The MFF Podcast #245: Blade 2, Blood Raves and Doughnuts

January 18, 2020

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune 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!

Snipes + del Toro = Excellent

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about Blade 2! Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, The Shape of Water), this 2002 sequel is loaded with excellent set pieces, gooey practical effects and loads of gore. This underappreciated sequel was a worldwide hit, and we still can’t understand how it only has a Rotten 57% Tomatometer score. In this episode, we discuss blood raves, del Toro’s love of vampires, and Norman Reedus eating doughnuts. Enjoy!

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 episode!

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

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

I love this alternative movie poster. Eilud Rivera crushed it.

The MFF Podcast #244: Bowfinger, Fake Movies and Chubby Rain

January 15, 2020

You can download the pod on Apple PodcastsTune 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!

The MFF podcast is back, and this week we’re talking about the underappreciated comedy Bowfinger. Directed by Frank Oz, and released in 1999, Bowfinger tells the story of a washed-up producer risking everything to make a movie he shouldn’t be making, with an actor who doesn’t know he’s in it (you’ll love it). In this episode, we discuss smashing pumpkins, chubby rain, fake purse ninjas, and Eddie Murphy’s glorious performance

Eddie Murphy should’ve been nominated for an Academy Award

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 episode!

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

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

Fake Purse Ninjas needs to happen.

Bad Movie Tuesday: Nemesis (1992), a blast of cyberpunk B-movie chop suey of Terminator 2 (1991), Cyborg (1989) and Blade Runner (1982).

January 14, 2020

MY CALL: The 90s were littered with craptastic direct-to-video cyborg action movies. But if ever you were to take a chance on one of them, this is it. MORE MOVIES LIKE NemesisI’m reminded of a “bad movie” iteration of Blade Runner (1982) or Cyborg (1989). Class of 1999 (1990) or Johnny Mnemonic (1995) may serve well as a double feature choice.

From IMDB—“Alex (Olivier Gruner; Kumite, The Circuit), a burned out LA cyborg cop, is forced by commissioner Farnsworth (Tim Thomerson; Trancers 1-5, Near Dark, Dollman, Bad Channels) to find his former cyborg partner and lover Jared (Marjorie Monaghan; Space Rangers, Babylon 5) who’s about to deliver sensitive data to cyborg terrorists who wish to wage war against humans. Is he being played?”

In this Blade Runner (1982) meets Cyborg (1989) throwback, director Albert Pyun (Cyborg, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Kickboxer 2, Dollman, Nemesis 2-4) spins a not-so-distant future setting in 2027. Los Angeles is littered with cyborgs and bio-enhanced terrorists. Our Van Damme-esque foreign-accented hero along with the storytelling style smack hard of Cyborg (1989), which is all too familiar territory for Albert Pyun. Apparently, Alex finds himself amid a plot to replace all humans with cyborg clone replacements.

The special effects are generally quite satisfying—especially considering this is a direct-to-video release from nearly 30 years ago I never knew existed. I came in expecting comically cheap B-movie antics, but the first effects scene played off the T-1000 getting a shotgun to the head. Of course, it’s not all solid gold. But this flick is trying its best and I’m more than entertained. Androids get their heads blown off, a sexy lady cyborg (Deborah Shelton; Body Double, Circuitry Man II) saunters around naked with Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea, The Mist, The Predator), and robotic limbs get mangled. You’ll also enjoy recognizing a lot of before-they-were-famous faces including Jackie Earle Haley (RoboCop, Watchmen, Preacher), Sven-Ole Thorsen (Conan the Barbarian, The Running Man, Hard Target, Gladiator, Kull the Conqueror), Brion James (The Fifth Element, Blade Runner) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat, Planet of the Apes, Tekken).

The ambitiously abundant action, on the other hand, is nothing impressive for early 90s theatrical action—but it still may be hitting above its weight class among direct-to-video era films. Explosions pepper the screen as lady cyborgs in tights and short skirts unload thousands of rounds of ammunition at our hero, spelunking through the wreckage of dilapidated buildings seeking cover. It seems that every big gun fires highly explosive rounds with very little accuracy as each bullet causes a landmine-like explosion in the wake of our protagonists’ footsteps.

Despite decent Sci-Fi/action pacing through the first hour, the final act plays out like a straight action movie… and it’s the least exciting portion of the movie. That is, until the finale when a mid-air-upside-down Alex shoots the bad guy during a double somersault off a waterfall (it’s pretty ridiculous) reducing the bad guy to his fleshless T-800 robotic endoskeleton. Then there’s a stop-motion robot fight showdown, which was actually rather redeeming.

I expected to watch this and simply laugh at the stupidity of it all. But instead, I found myself enjoying this B+ movie makes a strong effort on all fronts.

John’s Horror Corner: Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), a mediocre medical-mystery horror remake of the 1978 classic.

January 11, 2020

MY CALL: You were probably hoping for something more like The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) or Eli (2019)… but instead you’ll get a haphazardly written script masked by strong production value and a decent cast. This was juuuuuust on the cusp of being regrettable. I guess I didn’t hate it, but I certainly don’t recommend it. MORE MOVIES LIKE Patrick: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) and Eli (2019) for more recent fare. But, one may venture the original Patrick (1978) along with Demon Seed (1977) and The Manitou (1978).

Newly employed as a nurse at the very private Roget Clinic, Kathy (Sharni Vinson; Bait, You’re Next, Blue Crush 2) is hired on to tend the clinic’s comatose patients which serve as Roget’s research subjects. The remaining staff include a cold “Nurse Ratchet” type, Matron Cassidy (Rachel Griffiths; Six Feet Under) is stoic, by the book, and loyal to her employer and father (Dr. Roget); and contrastingly Nurse Williams (Peta Sergeant; Castle Rock, Iron Sky) is friendly and sociable. The staff supports Doctor Roget (Charles Dance; Game of Thrones, Dracula Untold, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Underworld: Awakening) in his mysterious and unethical research.

Gore isn’t abundant nor does the movie rely on it, but it’s effective when present. The film wants to be a more cerebral mystery-horror. Early on we know something is wrong—like, supernaturally wrong. Some manner of telekinetic phenomena occur, haunting dreams involving patients, some “involuntary muscle responses” of the comatose are more than a little suspicious, and frightful reflections of… ghosts? Probably.

REMAKE/REIMAGINING SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019). Those to avoid include The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Poltergeist (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Night of the Demons (2009), Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), War of the Worlds (2005) and The Mummy (2017). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Fright Night (2011), Maniac (2012) and Pet Sematary (2019), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

Directed by Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood, Machete Maidens Unleashed!, Electric Boogaloo), this remake of the 1978 original has the feel of a 90s-to-early-2000s video-era horror movie executed with a modern budget, sheen and manicured cast. However, the financial sleekness fails to transcend the silly title and the choppy writing, which takes us from scene to scene without appropriate staging of the events to come. This was especially evident in the first act where it’s almost as if occasional scenes which would have made more sense of the story were cut out entirely, leaving a mildly confusing mess of the surrounding scenes.

Some of these early scenes turn out to be dream sequences (serving no other purpose than to catch viewers off guard), but other equally confounding scenes are not dreams. By the middle of the movie, the writing is more cohesive, but the story itself remains shanty. So far, the first two segments of the movie have the feel of entirely different movies… and the third act is yet full-tilt different. It’s like there was a 90-page script and a completely different set of filmmakers made the first, second and third 30-page thirds of it only to have all three stitched together into this haphazard shifty-toned movie.

Even the very depictions of telekinesis develop from weak spiritual tremors, to poltergeist jolts, to complete sorcerous control—essentially from “mystical” to Magneto! And during this transition, the tone goes from serious and mysterious, and then wanders into crazy town as random things happen that don’t really make any sense… for example, a bunch of puppeteered coma patients chanting “Patrick wants his hand job.” Way to keep it classy! That little moment was especially odd considering how “not raunchy” the rest of the movie is.

Wandering into spoiler territory, this weakly-written story seems to grab at concepts better executed in The Lawnmower Man (1992), White Noise (2005) or The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) with such notions of beckoning the help of the living from the beyond; and such ill-replicated technological manipulation as seen in I, Robot (2004) or Eagle Eye (2008). Yes, Patrick grabs at big concepts but seizes a firm grasp on little beyond a marginally passable way to spend a sleepy afternoon on the couch.

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