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John’s Horror Corner: The Mummy (2017), Tom Cruise’s first step into the Dark Universe of monsters.

June 10, 2017

MY CALL: This action/adventure movie may not be the epic movie you expected, but it remains very entertaining and successfully builds a world for the Dark Universe.  MOVIES LIKE The Mummy: The Mummy (1932, 1958, 1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001).

This film kickstarts the Dark Universe (monster universe) with a remake/reimagining/reboot of The Mummy (1932, 1958).  But, more accurately, I’d call this a present-day reimagining of The Mummy (1999) which, of course, was an adventure film approach to remaking its much older Hammer predecessors.

A duplicitous thief and soldier, Nick (Tom Cruise; Interview with a Vampire, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow) feloniously drags his snarky sidekick Chris (Jake Johnson; Jurassic World) along in search of hidden treasures buried beneath the sands of Iraq (once Mesopotamia).  But what they discover is most unexpected: a subterranean Egyptian Tomb in the Middle East!

Here to inform us of the significance of this cursed find, and Nick’s untrustworthy nature, is scientist Jenny (Annabelle Wallis; Annabelle, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).  We also accrue context and narrative from Dr. Jekyll (Russell Crowe; Man of Steel, The Man with the Iron Fists), Nick’s premonitions and “connection” to our mummy, and a cursed friend that will undoubtedly remind you of An American Werewolf in London’s (1981) dark humor.

Arisen from the dead as an emaciated husk, our undead villainess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella; Star Trek: Beyond, Kingsman: The Secret Service) sucks the life out of her victims with a pseudo-erotic kiss of death.  Reminiscent of Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988) or Lifeforce (1985), but not nearly as scary or gory, her victims (who all happen to be male) are drained to sunken corpses before our eyes only to be reanimated as her ill-coordinated servants.

Humorously nodding to the 1999 remake, she spends most of the film (almost a tad awkwardly) missing a part of her nose and cheek. Likewise, we also once again find swarms of dangerous vermin (now camel spiders), sandstorms with giant ghostly visages, a murderous betrayal in her backstory, Ahmanet gradually regenerates with each drained victim, and (true to the classic) a search for our mummy’s mate.  By the way, the special effects behind these scenes looked pretty cool (all CGI, of course) and I loved the twitchily marionetted movement of Ahmanet’s first minions. When we first see her ghastly resurrection and watch her raise the dead, it is truly the most horrific scene of the movie. That, and the swimming undead. Underwater undead is especially creepy…even if a bit over-the-top.

The action between Nick and Ahmanet’s undead minions captures a lot of the adventurous Brendan Fraser fun of Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001), while purveying the mindless horde sense of a zombie movie. That is, the mummy-zombies appear to be vile and murderous, yet the depiction of the action is more “fun” than dire as Nick punches through their heads and torsos (much to his shock) and tosses them around.  We never really worry about Nick’s health until he fights more dangerous monsters (i.e., Ahmanet or Hyde).

Were I to complain, I’d say that this never felt as “epic” as it was intended even though it clearly tried at every corner, maaaaybe biting off more than it could chew, to be big and bold and shocking (e.g., in retrospect, I giggle at the swimming zombies and their perfect aquatic coordination). But it was absolutely a fun adventure movie with a few dire scenes.  Director Alex Kurtzman fairs well with his first action/adventure project—and only his second feature length film! I’m not saying this was outstanding or anything, but it was “good” and very entertaining. I don’t think it has earned any of the scathing reviews suggesting this will halt the Dark Universe before it can even get started.

Moreover, I enjoyed how this movie kept the focus on our mummy while introducing the existence of the other classic Hammer monsters.  We get to know how these movies will plausibly be linked, we get an ending that bridges us to the next film, and that ending neither gives away what the next film will be nor does it keep this from being a solid standalone film.

The movie is fun, a lot of fun actually, and I’ll surely own it within a year. I may not have been wowed and the plot’s delivery wasn’t especially compelling, but I remain very excited to eventually learn what Dark Universe story will be told next.

The rumors are interesting…

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John’s Horror Corner: The Blob (1988), this slimy, gory sci-horror about an acidic alien ooze is an 80s practical effects favorite!

June 9, 2017

MY CALL:  This gory remake is buckets of goopy, gooey, slimy fun. If you love 80s horror and practical effects, this is a major win! An 80s staple!  MORE MOVIES LIKE The Blob:  Well, The Stuff (1985) is the closest match by far, and a highly recommended favorite of mine. The Curse (1987) follows suit with infectious meteors, The Raft (segment from Creepshow 2; 1987) is satisfyingly close, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill (segment from Creepshow; 1982) takes a botanical approach, and Street Trash (1987) demonstrates the dangers of drinking alcoholic beverages you didn’t order yourself. Even Life (2017) comes sort of close in theme and, although quite smutty, Bio Slime (2010) might serve some audiences well.

Everything was fine in our sleepy little northern California town until a homeless man witnessed a meteor fall from the sky.  Upon further investigation, he finds the meteorite contains some pink, bubbling, alien goo.  The mucous-dripping, pulsating, organ-like mass propels itself onto the man’s hand and…well…you know.

High schoolers Meg (Shawnee Smith; Saw 1-3 & 6, The Grudge 3) and Paul (Donovan Leitch Jr.; Cutting Class) find their first date interrupted when they hit the now-parasitized hobo with their car and take him to the hospital along with Brian (Kevin Dillon; No Escape, Entourage), a wildly mulleted juvenile delinquent.

That homeless guy gets it bad. After digesting his hand, the alien slime melts his innards.  You see, this organism is composed of a highly corrosive acid (think Alien), and as it digests you, it grows (more like Calvin in Life).  But Paul gets it the worst with a scene worthy of the movie poster.  He is enshrouded in a slimy digestive veil of death as the weight of the gook pulls the skin off his melting face and Meg pulls his arm, reaching out for help, gorily asunder from his disintegrating body.  Deeeelish!

The local Sheriff (Jeffrey DeMunn; The Mist, The Walking Dead) and diner waitress (Candy Clark; Amityville 3-D, Zodiac, Cat’s Eye) fall into the blob’s path and Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw 3-D, Smothered) and Art LaFleur (Trancers 1-2, House Hunting) have cameos as well.  Much to our satisfaction, this horror movie cares about its characters and uses them well.

Director Chuck Russell (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, The Scorpion King) does a fine, gory job honoring the 1958 classic with this sci-fi/horror remake. I’m quite fond of how Russell plays to classic tropes by sparing the virgin in lieu of the more promiscuous Vicki (i.e., Erika Eleniak; E. T., Bordello of Blood, Dracula 3000), yet violates expectations as nice guy Paul dies somewhat early leaving our young criminal antihero to save the day.

When our extraterrestrial bioplasm gets Vicki, it digests her from the inside out, collapsing her husk of a drained face as slimy tentacles emerge from her orifices before the rest of the amorphous mass emerges to engulf her date.  It’s a great scene!  This film seems to have a lot of great, gore-tastic scenes.

The diner sink, the phonebooth scene, the movie theater and sewer and church scenes… everywhere the blob goes, so follows a memorable, gory scene.  Where ever there is a crack or doorway to be found, likewise there is an opening through which this living ooze may erupt towards its victims like an offal-guts slinky.  There are so many excellent special effects pieces to be found.  This has loads of bloody gobbled-gook, a myriad of tentacles, and at one point it pours across the ceiling a la The Thing (1982).

If you have discovered a love for 80s horror and somehow haven’t seen this yet, just buy this. REALLY.  It’s an excellent piece of 80s horror cinema.  It even has a good ending!

The MFF Podcast #98: The Fate of the Furious

June 8, 2017

MFF

Download the pod on iTunes,  PodBean, 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!

 

Summary:  We review the “highly realistic” submarine chase scenes, Uncle Shaw, torpedo bowling, and completely impractical dreadlocks in our discussion of The Fate of the Furious (2017). In case you’ve missed out on our past Fast and Furious shenanigans, check out episode 10 (Ranking the Fast and Furious Films).

We answer the tough questions in this podcast!  For example…

“Did he just throw a torpedo?”

“Should we really forgive Deckard Shaw for killing Han in Furious 7?”

“Could The Rock pound Statham like a Cherokee Drum?”

“Why was that dreadlocked Charlize Theron doing all this again?”

 

LISTEN TO THE POD ON BLOG TALK RADIO,
or head over PodBean or  iTunes, and if you get a chance please SUBSCRIBE, REVIEW, RATE and SHARE the pod!

Self/Less (2015), yet another Ryan Reynolds body-swapping movie.

June 7, 2017

MY CALL:  Just a mediocre Ryan Reynolds movie that, really, I’d only recommend to serious Ryan Reynolds fans unless you’re looking for a fun, kinda’ bad movie.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Self/Less:  Reynolds has done his share of mind and body swaps. Among them are Criminal (2016), RIPD (2013), The Nines (2007) and The Change-Up (2011).

Ben Kingsley plays a billionaire terminally ill with lung cancer who buys more time in the form of a lab-generated body.  Not since Bloodrayne (2005) has Kingsley seemed so disengaged from the camera. It’s as if he actively hates playing this role more than his character hates that he his dying.  Every effort is made to display his lush lifestyle including his home, which looks like an oil Sheik’s penthouse from Furious 7 (2015) complete with indoor fountains.  Who has an indoor fountain!?!?!  It’s pretty ridiculous.

The body he buys is that of Ryan Reynolds (The Change-Up, Mississippi Grind, Deadpool, The Voices, The Captive, Life).  At first it seems that some effort was made to have Reynolds speak like Kingsley, but as quickly as he adapts to his new body he likewise adapts to speaking just like the Ryan Reynolds we’ve all known from his last ten movies.

Remember how cool it was in Face/Off (1997) to see Nic Cage and feel like we were watching John Travolta?  Or how in Like Father, Like Son (1987) it was so obvious to us (the audience) that a prestigious and pretentious doctor (Dudley Moore) was inhabiting the body of his high school son (Kirk Cameron)?  Yeah, there’s not of that here.  And I’m not sure who to blame.  After all, Reynolds has almost always played some recognizably snarky iteration of himself—although in the recent Woman in Gold (2015) he truly shocked me with his abilities to play a more soft-spoken and tender character.  Not as impressive but still noteworthy were his performances in Buried (2010) and Mississippi Grind (2015).  Both had more than just a glimpse of the Reynolds we all know, but they forced him outside his comfort zone a bit and it worked.

So, when a Kingsley-inhabited Reynolds talks like a thirty-something Reynolds instead of a calculatingly patient, intellectual business mogul, I have to wonder if it’s his fault, the director’s (Tarsem Singh; The Fall, The Cell, Immortals), the writer’s, everybody???

Needless to say, this is not a strong recommendation. It’s fine as a hangover movie. It will liven up a boring Sunday afternoon. And, for Reynolds-completists like me, you’ll get some of that classic Reynolds flavor we’ve come to love.  But what we won’t find is a good film.

 

Analyzing the Foot Chase and Sheet Washing in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake

June 6, 2017

I fell asleep while watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003. It is a stock remake that looks glossy, plays ugly and I haven’t really given it a second thought. The movie may be forgettable but there is a moment that has stuck with me for years. Watch the clip below and pay attention to what happens during the 1:16 – 1:37 range.

 

 

Here is the breakdown of the 20 second foot chase.

1:16 – 1:30 – Leatherface chases Andy through a never-ending maze of bed sheets.

1:31 – Leatherface veers off and makes a uber sprint

1:37 – Andy has no leg

1:38 – I’m wondering how that would’ve happened.

For years I’ve wondered how a lumbering killer managed to run ahead of a sprinting kid named Andy in the span of seconds. Lately, I’ve become emboldened with my dumb horror statistics and I decided to finally figure out Leatherface’s mad sprint. Here is what happens (according to some math and guesswork). Let’s assume Andy covered 194 feet in 20 seconds according to the standard time/distance of a 9-minute mile.

9-minute mile = 586 feet per minute.

586 / 60 = 9.7 feet per second

194 feet covered in 20 seconds.

He was slowed down a bit by the sheets but there were moments of outright sprinting which lead me to the 9-minute mile approximation. During the first 12 seconds Leatherface is about 10 feet behind him. However, in a five second span the bulky murderer exploded around Andy and managed to chop off his leg. I don’t think Leatherface is a supernatural fellow so I went ahead and did the math to see how he could possibly get around Andy.

Before I get to the numbers I want to discuss the insane amount of sheets hanging up on the property. This involves some guesswork but there are about 20 rows of sheets hanging up outside. It looks like there are three sheets on each row which means the deadly family somehow washed and hung up 60 sheets in a logical and practical manner. Why are they using so many sheets? Here are some questions.

1. The average washer fits several sheets. Did Leatherface do 20 loads?

2. Hand washing each sheet individually would take at least 20 minutes. Did they take 18 hours to hand wash?

3. Why are the dry sheets still out?

4. Do they leave the sheets out to snag people in?

.

Back to the chase! After watching the video way too many times it looks like Andy is running in a pretty straight line. There isn’t much zigzagging or tripping which allows Leatherface to catch up. So, how in the heck did Leatherface manage to get in front of Andy in five seconds?

The art ain’t good but the measurements are close.

In the span of Andy running 48.5 feet (1:31 – 1:36) Leatherface ran around Andy, managed to plant his feet and swing a chainsaw. This means he had to cover at least 72 feet in five seconds to get around the guy to chop off his leg. Thus, Leatherface sprinted to a speed of a 6.1 minute mile during his five second burst. I find it really impressive that a man who is 6’5 and weighs 265 (actual height/weight of actor) can run that fast around sheets while holding a chainsaw.

There you have it! The mystery is somewhat solved. Now I need to figure out those sheets.

If you liked this post make sure to check out my series featuring random data and useless numbers. Start with my groundbreaking posts about Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard and Halloween H20 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?

 

 

The Captive (2014), not your typical Ryan Reynolds film…nor a very good one.

June 6, 2017


MY CALL: 
Unless you simply want to see Reynolds play more of a character than himself, this will likely disappoint you. Reynolds and the cast do fine, but the plot just isn’t compelling nor does anyone really get to shine.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The Captive:  There are so many better abduction films out there. I’d start with Ransom (1996), Prisoners (2013) or Gone Girl (2014).  There are also better Ryan Reynolds films out there.

First off, I feel the need to warn my fellow Ryan Reynolds (The Change-Up, Mississippi Grind, Deadpool, The Voices, Life) fans out there.  This is not a Ryan Reynolds movie.  It’s more of an ensemble cast featuring Rosario Dawson (Rent, Alexander), Scott Speedman (Underworld, Duets), and Kevin Durand (Resident Evil: Retribution, Smokin’ Aces, Mystery Alaska).

This film definitely took Reynolds out of his comfort zone (i.e., he didn’t play himself or anything even close to it).  He plays a father tortured by distrust and guilt.  After leaving his young daughter alone in the car at a pie shop, he returns to find she has vanished.  Reynolds does a more than convincing job falling apart as he is bombarded by accusations from investigators who think he was involved, blame from his wife, and the grief and disconnection any parent would experience under such dire circumstances.

The story then fast-forwards 8 years, when the investigators have come across images of whom they believe to be his kidnapped daughter…alive, and deeply embedded in an online pedophile organization.  Yeah, they went there.

The guilt and blame get pretty heavy, but I never found myself impressed with the story.  Reynolds’ character ends up in an uninspired chase scene finale and then things get resolved a little too quickly and conveniently for my taste.  I enjoyed this movie but, honestly, I think it’s just because I enjoy watching any Reynolds movie.  It was also interesting seeing Kevin Durand play something other than a big, strong, tough guy.  I guess this film allowed both of them to show their acting range a bit.

John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes.

June 5, 2017


MY CALL: 
This really wasn’t a very good horror anthology unless you’re looking for slapstick drunk/high humor told over sexual and “dark genre” themes. There’s not much horror to be found here…nor quality.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The ABCs of Death 2.5The ABCs of Death (2013) and The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), both of which also feature 26 very short films by 26 different filmmakers and both of which were better than 2.5.

MORE HORROR ANTHOLOGIES:  Dead of Night (1945), Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), The Uncanny (1977), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Deadtime Stories (1986), Creepshow 2 (1987), Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Campfire Tales (1997), 3 Extremes (2004), Creepshow 3 (2006), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013), V/H/S 2 (2013), The Profane Exhibit (2013), The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), V/H/S Viral (2014), Southbound (2015), Tales of Halloween (2015), A Christmas Horror Story (2015), Holidays (2016) and XX (2017).

If you’ve followed my reviews for a while now then you ought to know that I love horror anthologies.  In some anthologies all of the short stories are directed by one person and written by another (e.g., Creepshow), other times we have three to six films (20-30 min each) each crafted by different filmmakers (e.g., V/H/S),  but in this case each of our 26 short stories has a different writer and director.  In fact, these were the 26 runners-up The ABCs of Death 2 (2014), for which each submission had to be titled by the letter “M.”

Unlike many anthologies which feature a story teller or wraparound story (e.g., Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) or taking the approach of linked stories in which one component of the previous story links us to the next (e.g., Southbound, Trick ‘r Treat), this anthology simply delivers a series of horror shorts related only by the first letter of their titles.  This is a cool notion and all, but realize that out of the top 52 submissions, these were numbers 27 to 52 whereas the best 26 made it into the previous anthology (The ABCs of Death 2).

Also, a bit strange is that there is little horror to be found here. Mostly these films are very dark comedies.  In fact, this would best be advertised as a “dark genre anthology.”  As I watched, I gave each 3-minute short film a “gut response” rating of 1 to 3 (3 being best, 1 being worst; sadly, there are a lot of 1s).

These short films cover a variety of horror, genre, and sexual themes including vampires, decapitation, cross dressing, maggots on wounds, an elderly Van Helsing, mutant ninjas, dismemberment, guts, a VHS-cyborg samurai, a poop golem, bile, vomit, sex scenes, perversions, boobs, full frontal nudity, mass suicide, genital mutilation, necrophilia, oral sex gone wrong, and some others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.  There are several foreign language shorts, including Spanish and (I think) Italian.  With as little spoiling as possible, here is an account of the short films with a few comments.

M is for Moonstruck [2.5] (directed by Travis Betz) boasts some innovative (even if cheap) style!  It’s cut paper animation…with a cut paper sex scene and cut paper nudity! LOL.

M is for Mother [2.5] (directed by Ryan Bosworth) is pure cheesy fun, complete with a great title shot and a fun CGI spider.

M is for Malnutrition [2] (directed by Peter Czikrai) is a barely serviceable zombie film.

M is for Marauder [1] (directed by Steve Daniels) is a garbage pail film about adults trying to kill each other while riding Big Wheels.  Some will find this hilarious.  I found it a bit annoying.  Watch it with friends and beer and you’ll get a few chuckles.

M is for Mobile [1.5] (directed by Baris Erdogan) features torture via text.  It’s cheeky.

M is for Mess [2] (directed by Carlos Faria) sexually fetishizes a man’s curse of defecating through his bellybutton. Of course, it’s disgusting.

M is for Marriage [3] (directed by Todd E. Freeman) is among the better produced, written and acted films. It involves some sort of pathogen…or parasite…or infection.

M is for Mind Meld [1.5] (directed by Brett Glassberg) is about a volunteer for some really twisted scientific experiments.

M is for Messiah [1] (directed by Nicholas Humphries) is a garbage pail film about a stupid cult. This was frustratingly bad.

M is for Make Believe [1] (directed by Summer Johnson) is about some little girls giving horribly improper first aid to an impaled man costumed as the King of the Fairies.

M is for Magnetic Tape [1] (directed by Cody Kennedy & Tim Rutherford) is dorky “stoner humor” full of dumb gore and inane dialogue. It’s funny, but terrible.

What can I say about M is for Munging [1.5] (directed by Jason M. Koch & Clint Kelly)? This is exactly what you think it is. Exactly!

M is for Mermaid [2] (directed by Ama Lea) is about a couple of fisherman who catch a topless mermaid, and it’s very silly.

M is for Meat [2.5] (directed by Wolfgang Matzl) is a trippy little stop-motion film about a carnivorous chicken leg. Yes, I meant exactly what I just said.

M is for Mariachi [1] (directed by Eric Pennycoff) features a death metal band with the best band name ever, a head banger, and a lot of murder.

M is for Mormon Missionaries [2] (directed by Peter Podgursky) features pushy, homicidal Mormons…or does it?

M is for Muff [2] (directed by Mia Kate Russell) is dumb, perversely funny, well-produced, and features a kinky accidental death.

M is for Matador [3] (directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero) might have been the most unexpectedly pleasing film. It involves a sick game of dress-up, roleplay, and the revenge of some scantily clad, blood-covered women.

M is for Manure [3] (directed by Michael Schwartz) is about a young man and his disgusting creation of vengeance.

M is for Mutant [2] (directed by Stuart Simpson) is a slapstick Australian film about some virus that causes stop-motion face-bursting mutants monsters.  It made me smile.

M is for Merry Christmas [1] (directed by Joe Staszkiewicz) features a British Krampus with some self-doubt issues.

M is for Martyr [1] (directed by Jeff Stewart) exhibits zero filmmaking effort and a marginally interesting concept.

M is for Mom [2] (directed by Carles Torrens) is somewhat well done, and features a ghoulish child with a crush.  The title seems a bit out of place.

M is for Miracle [1.5] (directed by Alvaro Nunez) is about a rabbit that falls from the sky and a psychopath in a bunny suit.

I have no clue how M is for Mailbox [2] (directed by Dante Vescio & Rodrigo Gasparini) got its name. This foreign language short features a creepy kid on Halloween.

M is for Maieusiophobia [3] (directed by Christopher Younes), the fear of giving birth, features disturbing Claymation, gory guts, and a weird pregnancy.

Well, there it is—a cornucopia of weirdness.  I wouldn’t recommend this. There are too many good horror anthologies out there.

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