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John’s Horror Corner: Noroi: The Curse (2005), legends of Japanese demons and creepy psychics.

July 26, 2017

MY CALL:  An “apparently” popular slow-burn Japanese horror that, well, I just found boring. Sigh.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Noroi: The CurseWell, I honestly haven’t seen a ton. Korean horror offers some greats like Thirst (2009), The Host (2006), The Wailing (2016), or the outstanding Train to Busan (2016). Want super-weird plotty Asian extreme?  I’d skip 3 Extremes (2004)—which doesn’t live up to its name—and instead try Strange Circus (2005), Audition (1999) or Re-Cycle (2006). For truly zany, gore-tastic, exploitative lunacy you should turn to Tokyo Shock cinema.

Masafumi (Jin Muraki; Nightmare Detective, Sakebi/Retribution), a documentary filmmaker specializing in the supernatural, investigates a series of strange paranormal cases that all seem to lead to an obscure legend—that of an ancient conjured demon called the “kagutaba.” The film is an assemblage of the found footage from his investigations and various related clips from Japanese variety shows interviewing psychics or demonstrating their powers. Among them were a young school girl (Rio Kanno; Dark Water) and a television psychic (Marika Matsumoto as herself; Reincarnation), and show hosts Angâruzu (themselves) and Tomomi Eguchi (herself).

Director Kôji Shiraishi (Carved, Occult, Grotesque, Ju-Rei: The Uncanny) barely fairs serviceably with this found footage paranormal investigation film.  It gets off to a slow start and, if we’re being honest, a slow middle and end as well.  It remains just interesting enough for me not to get too bored, but just boring enough for me to wonder if this was all worth the hype.  I’m thinking not—although, it should be noted, most reviews (on Amazon anyway) rave about this film.

We find evidence of psychics, spectral images in video clips, audio analyses revealing hidden ghostly voices, creepy kids, dead baby plots and mysterious deaths.  This all may sound like it would cultivate atmosphere with ease, but only weakly so and, in no way, comparing to the likes of the highly entertaining Ju-on (2002), The Grudge (2004), Grave Encounters (2011) or even the slow-burn White Noise (2005), which all share generally similar concepts but execute more effectively.

This film was brought to my attention on Twitter by several horror fans whose opinions I generally trust. They raved about the film and, upon digging on Amazon, I found a slew of wildly popular reviews.  But I seem to find myself an outlier; I just didn’t like it.  Asian horror often alienates Western viewers due to their plot-heavy, slower paced trends favoring deep story over jumps and effects, and I quite often enjoy them.  I also have no negative bias against found footage or low budget horror.  This one just wasn’t for me.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Luc Besson’s Passion Project is Really Fun and Very Weird

July 25, 2017

If you are looking for a very expensive science fiction film that is bursting with life and isn’t afraid to get weird you will love Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The film is based on a 1967 comic book named Valerian and Laureline and plays like a YA adaptation of director Luc Besson’s other science fiction film The Fifth Element. What I love is The Fifth Element was actually inspired by Valerian and now everyone is saying that The Fifth Element is a much better film (Think John Carter). Putting all comparisons aside I really enjoyed Valerian because of its 1990s-esque dialogue, insane interludes, and total earnestness.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is an absolute passion project that cost $225 million and probably should have been reigned in a bit. They say you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you will end up buying a lot more than you need. Think of this movie as a very hungry director being given lots of money and allowed to use every cinematic trick he wants. Luc Besson was allowed to run wild and because of that, we get inter-dimensional gun battles, loads of CGI and Cara Delevingne sticking her head into a jellyfish’s butt so she can track her partner’s whereabouts.

Valerian tells the very simple story of agents Valerian (Dane Dehaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) traveling to a massive space station that is home to thousands of species from all around the universe (and beyond). The station’s core is beset with radiation and it is up to the two good looking people to save the day. Their journey sees them battling dubious generals, decapitating fisherman and arguing about whether or not they should get married.

I love that the two leads go against most casting. It’s weird but works.

If you can roll with the earnestness and bombast you will see a never-ending barrage of loud noises, beautiful images, and creative aliens. The films packs in 50 years worth of backstory into a 137-minute film and it somehow stays coherent. I can’t say that it is always good or groundbreaking, but if you are able to bury your cynicism the movie will make you smile.

Watch Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Enjoy the alien murder. Appreciate Luc Besson’s mad experiment.

The MFF Podcast #103: Baby Driver is the Best Film of 2017 (so far)

July 21, 2017

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!

The MFF podcast is back and we are talking about Baby Driver. Director Edgar Wright has done it again and created a beautifully original film that has miraculously made $100 million at the worldwide box office. It is an absolute delight (lots of hyperbole) and we go in depth into the soundtrack, production and general awesomeness that is Baby Driver.

Courtesy of Tristar Pictures

As always we answer random listener questions and ponder why peach jam makes for a great navigational tool.  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 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!

MFF Special: Figuring Out How the Geologist Got Lost in Prometheus

July 20, 2017

Do you ever wonder how Fifield the geologist got lost in Prometheus? I sure have, so I decided to come up with some answers that will shed light on the plot hole. The point of this post isn’t to dogpile on a film that I enjoy. The end goal is to figure out how two people got lost when they probably shouldn’t of.  Like all my other posts about Deep Blue Sea, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and The Cabin in the Woods I’ve done a ton of work and research to make an educated guess that I’m happy with.

If you aren’t familiar with Prometheus it tells the story of space explorers dying violently while Guy Pearce wears old man makeup. I have very fond memories of my first viewing. My wife and I went to a local restaurant for our customary after movie drinks and we ended up having a very nice bartender who went heavy with the free drinks. We proceeded to go way in-depth in an effort to figure out the timeline and the Architects plan. I can’t remember the last time I’ve spent so much time breaking down a film’s plot.

Here is how it all goes down. The doomed crew land on an alien planet in search of life and find some ominous looking structures. The ship lands about 2,000 feet from the structure and they ride to the death trap in some sweet ATVs, then walk into the circular dome and send out some orbs to map the area.

Wisdom-Square crushed this diagram – via

When you look at the clip and picture you will notice that the orbs start traveling parallel to each other in straight line.

The tomb area is in the middle of these two tunnels.

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Once inside the building (30:44), they take a left (32:00), then take a right and walk until they come to a watery area that features obvious terraforming (32:28). They take a look, remove their helmets, turn back and walk down the very long tunnel that could possibly lead them to the other end. If the structure is 2,300 feet long and the tomb is in the middle that means the crew has a maximum of 1,150 feet to walk before they arrive in the middle. This makes sense because the tunnel they are walking in looks a little longer than a 100-yard football field. Eventually, David (Michael Fassbender) triggers some holographic Architects (alien dudes) who come running through the tunnel and take a right towards the tomb area. The crew follows (36:02) and they come across a decapitated architect laying next to a massive door.

This is when Fifield gets pissed, says something about rocks and storms away from the group with dopey Millburn in tow. The irony is they end up back in the same area and meet their demise via a rapidly growing snake thing.  All they had to do was take a left, walk down a long tunnel, take another left and eventually take one more very noticeable right. There was basically zero reason for them to get lost so I’m going to come up with a possible route that he could’ve taken to get himself killed. For reference, here is a diagram of the easy trek they made. 

Fifield wasn’t thinking straight and decided to take a left turn too early despite Millburn meekly suggesting they should go a little further. They get to the end of the hallway and take a left. They end up walking up the parallel hallway and this is why they don’t hear the other crew running to their ATVs. Here is how the conversation goes.

Millburn: Are you sure we’re going the right way?

Fifield: Yes

Millburn: Shouldn’t we just follow the long tunnel that lead us to the dead alien guy?

Fifield: Nope

Millburn: Really?

Fifield: Yes! Trust me! I know exactly where I’m going.

It takes a minute for the crew to get back to the ship and realize the two are missing. Fifield and Millburn are called on their comms and told to stay inside because a massive storm is coming (convenient). They’re informed of movement underground via their captain and wisely decide to go the other way. The problem is they walk around in circles and end up back at the tomb. This is where they meet their end.

They cover a lot of unecessary ground whilst gettting lost.

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The reason the Fifield died is because he is a stubborn fellow who wouldn’t listen to his buddy (in a fake conversation). All they had to do was take two lefts and a right and they were guaranteed to live a little bit longer and not become a punch line.

If you liked this post make sure to check out my series featuring random data and useless numbers. Start with my groundbreaking posts about a Merman’s murderous journeyLeatherface sprinting,  Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard, I Know What You Did Last Summer trunk cleaning and Michael Myer’s Halloween H20 driving then work your way down the list!

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. People love a bearded Kurt Russell
  3. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  4. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  5. Cinematic Foghat Data
  6. Explosions and Movie Posters
  7. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  8. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  9. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  10. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  11. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  12. How fast can the fisherman clean a trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  13. It’s expensive to feature characters being eaten alive and surviving without a scratch

 

 

 

MFF Special: Analyzing the Critical/Audience Scores of Kurt Russell’s Movies

July 12, 2017

We here at MFF are big Kurt Russell fans and if you’ve been following us for a while you’ve probably read a lot of Russell posts and know he is a constant topic in our podcast. In my quest to put together the most random compilation of weird data-centric posts I had to include Russell’s films. I recently took a deep dive into his filmography and collected all the critical/audience scores for all of his films since 1980. I wanted to know which Russell films audiences (IMDb) and critics (RT) love most. Do they like mustachioed/bearded Russell? Do they like sleeveless shirt Russell? Are they fans of Elvis Russell? Of course, there is zero correlation or causation in regards to whether or not a bearded Russell will make a film better. This post simply points out random facts and gives you something to talk about at the water cooler.

Before we move along with the post here are my top five Russell flicks. You need to watch them

  1. Big Trouble in Little ChinaJack Burton is the best action hero ever
  2. The Thing – Perfect horror film
  3. Tombstone – Great mustache
  4. Escape From New York – Snake is the best
  5. Miracle – Dude can act.

I decided to go with his films dating back from 1980 because the majority of his pre-1980 movies don’t have Rotten Tomatoes scores. My random data needs actual data to be so random! Take a look at his IMDb page to see which films are included on the list.

Take a look at Russell’s top 10 films according to critic/audience combined averages.

  • 10. Swing Shift/Tombstone – 75.5
  • 9. The Hateful Eight – 76
  • 8. Furious 7  – 76
  • 7. Miracle – 77.5
  • 6. Big Trouble in Little China – 77.5
  • 5. Deepwater Horizon – 78
  • 4. Escape From New York – 78.5
  • 3. Bone Tomahawk – 80.5
  • 2. Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 – 81
  • 1. The Thing – 82

There are some great films on the list and they led me to a startling conclusion (somewhat hyperbole). Movies that feature a bearded/mustachioed Russell have the highest combined average score (78.8). The Thing, Bone Tomahawk. Deepwater Horizon, The Hateful Eight, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Tombstone all feature Russell crushing some sweet facial hair.

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Here is a breakdown of the various sub-genres of Russell films.

  1. Beard/Mustache Russell – 78.8% (Deepwater Horizon, The Thing, The Hateful Eight, Bone Tomahawk, Tombstone)
  2. Superhero Dad Russell – 74.25% (Guardians 2, Sky High)
  3. Period Piece Russell – 70.5% (Bone Tomahawk, Winter People, The Swing Shift, Tombstone, Miracle, The Hateful Eight)
  4. Science Fiction/Fantasy Russell – 70.25% (The Thing, Guardians 2, Soldier, Escape From L.A./New York, Big Trouble in Little China, Stargate, Sky High)
  5. Car Russell – 70% (Used Cars, Fast 7 & 8, Deathproof)
  6. Coach Russell – 64.5% (Miracle, Touchback)
  7. Stuntman Russell –  60.75% (Deathproof, The Art of the Steal)
  8. Law Enforcement/Soldier/Fire Fighter Russell  – 60.7% (Backdraft, Bone Tomahawk, Soldier, Dark Blue, Tango & Cash,  Stargate, Tombstone, Hateful Eight)
  9. Sleeveless T-shirt Russell- 59.9%  (Captain Ron, Tango & Cash, Escape From New York/L.A., Overboard, Big Trouble in Little China)
  10. Elvis Russell- 58.25%  (3,000 Miles to Graceland, Forrest Gump)
  11. Water Russell – 54.3% –   (Captain Ron, Deepwater Horizon, Poseidon)

I am still certain that Russell’s mustache in The Hateful Eight helped form the jacket he wears throughout the movie.

I can’t say with 100% certainty that the facial hair didn’t make a difference. I can say that it helps working with Quentin Tarantino, Peter Berg and John Carpenter.  I  thought that his sleeveless shirt movies (Captain Ron, Tango & Cash, Escape From New York/L.A., Overboard, Big Trouble in Little China) would have the highest average but they were hindered by the really bad scores of Captain Ron and Tango & Cash. I am happy that Superhero Dad Russell took second place. If you haven’t watched Sky High and want to see Bruce Campbell and Kurt Russell in a film together do it now.

The bottom line is that Kurt Russell is the best. The guy has been making great films for a long time and I love that between The Fate of the Furious and Guardians Vol. 2 he has starred in two of the biggest 2017 films. If you want to start somewhere I totally recommend checking out The Thing because it is perfection.

If you liked this post make sure to check out my series featuring random data and useless numbers. Start with my groundbreaking posts about a Merman’s murderous journeyLeatherface sprinting,  Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard, I Know What You Did Last Summer trunk cleaning and Michael Myer’s Halloween H20 driving then work your way down the list!

  1. Jet Ski Action Scenes Are the Worst
  2. A Closer Look at Movies That Feature the Words Great, Good, Best, Perfect and Fantastic
  3. An In-Depth Look At Movies That Feature Pencils Used as Weapons
  4. Cinematic Foghat Data
  5. Explosions and Movie Posters
  6. The Fast & Furious & Corona
  7. Nicolas Sparks Movie Posters Are Weird
  8. Predicting the RT score of Baywatch
  9. The Cinematic Dumb Data Podcast
  10. What is the best horror movie franchise?
  11. How fast can the fisherman clean a trunk in I Know What You Did Last Summer?
  12. It’s expensive to feature characters being eaten alive and surviving without a scratch

John’s Horror Corner: We Love Selfies (2017), Independent Short Film Review.

July 8, 2017

MY CALL:  This film is for those who want a front seat to the lab bench watching filmmakers experiment and discover their skills.  Because, at first, no one is winning a Nobel Prize or getting rich with their first 10-minute, low budget film.  This is not for mainstream horror buffs, but for the more holistic genre fan who wants to sample the styles and flavors filmmakers have to offer the genre.

MORE Indie Reviews:  Here at MFF we occasionally do horror short film and pre-release indie film reviews on request. Among recent solicited promotions are Order of the Ram (2013; short film), Love in the Time of Monsters (2014; feature length), Interior (2014; feature length), Smothered (2014; feature length), In the Dark (2015; feature length), Brother (2016; short film), the indie techno-horror Other Halves (2016; feature length), Scythe (2016; short film). The Belko Experiment (2016; feature film, mainstream theatrical release), Shallow Waters (2017; short film), Burn (2017; short film) and Tethered (2017; short film).

PREMISE: With an escaped killer on the loose, a babysitter enjoys a quiet nice texting her boyfriend.  Here’s a link to the TRAILER, which doesn’t really give us anything outside of the expectation of something like a killer clown named Giggles.

Disclaimer: This review was solicited by the filmmakers (@MyLittleRascal1 on Twitter) and/or producers who provided privileged access to the film. However, my opinion remains unbiased as I was neither hired nor paid to produce this critical review, nor do I have an investment stake in the film. The only condition to access was that the review be SPOILER FREE.

Whether engaging the teaser/trailer or the first few minutes of the film, it’s immediately evident that the cinematography/photography direction, sound editing, general camerawork and acting are proficient, but with skills not yet honed.

At this point I feel the need to remind viewers that most short films are more like experiments; these are not the final canvased masterpiece, but workings from an artist’s sketchbook before she decided to use the more expensive film, actors, pre-production staff and means, etcetera. It’s sad that such glimpses into indie films often beget negative criticism from folks who just don’t realize that often only a few people (in this case, Roger Glass and Joseph Sorrentino) share the numerous duties of sound mixing, editing, direction, writing, and that—for many of them—it is the dawn of their career as they’re just finding their feet. Even the greatest weaponsmith’s blade must sharpen itself on a whetstone, and that’s exactly what these early films are: the whetstone.

One thing I quite liked about the editing was the use of a snapshot sound with each early cut. A nice stylish complement to the film’s theme. It reminded me of the raw 70s polaroid clang in the newer Texas Chainsaw films.

The staging of the premise is rather generic and classically troped.  Consider this a color-by-numbers so the filmmakers can show you they understand how to use all the tools in the filmmakers’ toolbox.  We have an escaped crazy killer on the loose, a babysitter, a scared child, and news flashes.

Shots like this, audiences of stuffed animals in the rooms of scared children, is actually a standard trope I’ve come to love.

The use of the phone texting harkens to Hush (2016), additionally to When a Stranger Calls (1979, 2006)—it’s an invitingly playful trope I enjoy.  The special effects (make-up, wounds) are obviously imperfect, but make a great effort with obvious financial constraints.  As for the acting, the clown (Barry Tangert) and babysitter (Corrie Graham) did notably well with their roles.  Lastly, the “selfie” title/theme is more gimmicky than appropriate, but gimmicky is quite important in the horror business and, when employed properly, brings smiles to fans.  This is something I’d want to see explored more in the early scenes of a feature length film.

So, what’s the verdict?  Well, this isn’t a film I’d tell a horror fan to watch for the sake of seeing a horror film.  Rather this is the film I’d tell someone to watch if they want a skillset preview from folks who may in the future do the next theatrical insane slasher film.  And I’d watch that film.  There were plenty of stylish additions herein that would stir flavor into the otherwise gory stew of a conventional slasher flick.

The MFF Podcast #102: Life Lessons We’ve Learned From the Films of 2017

July 7, 2017

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!

The MFF podcast is back and we are talking about the life lessons we’ve learned from the films of 2017. I decided to forgo the annual random awards (they kinda aren’t random anymore) and decided to do a deep dive into the things 2017 films have taught me.

  1. Never give up the high ground to Germans.
  2. I might be able to survive if a creature swallowed me whole.
  3. Don’t attack John Wick

After listening to this podcast you will be a brand new person who despises tea cups and understands that jet ski action scenes ruin everything. You are welcome!

Jet ski action scenes doomed Baywatch

As always we answer random listener questions and ponder why Mark Wahlberg doesn’t understand glass.  If you 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 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!

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