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cape-fearSo this is kind of weird for me. I saw this movie a couple of months ago and started writing a review where I was telling you how God awful bored I was at watching this supposed thriller.  But I didn’t finish the review and now its two months later and so I decided to watch this movie again so I could refresh my memory and I found it to be not as horrible as the first time I watched.  It is still bad but not as bad as I thought.

After serving 8 years in prison for assault and battery, Max Cady , played by Robert Mitchum (The Longest Day,) tracks down Sam Bowden, played by Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird,)who Cady personally blames for being in jail because Bowden intervened during the attack and testified against him.  Once Bowden realizes Cady is in town it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Cady stalks Bowden and his family but makes sure to never cross the line and break the law or gets caught breaking the law.  Bowden begins to lose his grasp of right and wrong as the family dog is poisoned and his daughter Nancy is hit by a car running away from Bowden.    Bowden decides to set a trap for Cady on a house boat on Cape Fear River where he can take care of Cady once and for all.

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Expectations are a funny thing.  When I watched this film for the first time I had high expectations because back in the early 1990’s I remembered the hype of the remake of this film and all I heard was how intense it was and how much of a bad ass Robert Mitchum was as Cady.  As I was watching the movie for the first time I was stunned at how slow the pace was from the beginning.  It reminds me of what my movie cohort Benn Farrell usually says about all of these movies made before the 1960’s.  Many of the scenes looked as if it was shot on a theater production stage as opposed to an actual movie stage.  The only time we had any wide shots were when there were scenes shot outside.  Almost all of the inside shots were close up shots that just give you the feeling that they are shooting in a box.  One of my biggest issues with this production was the use of the music in the film.  When I first heard it during the opening credits and establishing shot I was thinking that this was perfect mood music to set the movie up.  The only problem is that it seems like the music never disappears.  It got so bad that the more I heard it I was saying to myself, “Here comes the bad guy about to do bad things.”    The use of music reminded me of movies from the 1940’s on how music was used to set the music of every scene.  The last thing I will say about the production is that I know that this movie was made in 1962 but we never really saw the character Cady do bad things until the final act when he killed a cop in a stakeout.  Other than that, we heard a lot about how bad a man he was, and when he was about to do something bad in the movie, like beat up the woman he picked up at the local bar in his apartment, we see the girl look at Cady who has malicious intent in his eyes and she gets up to run…somewhere…and he grabs her as she grabs a swinging door and then all we see are shadows moving beyond the swinging door.   Mind you this entire time there is menacing bad guy music the ENTIRE time.  No words are spoken at all.  I know he is a bad guy but something to prove it in the beginning would be nice other than stories and mean music.

Despite the fact that the music was in the way and the production didn’t help, Robert Mitchum was still pretty awesome as the bad guy Cady.  He was menacing without the music and was very believable as a person who would appear to hate women in general.  Gregory Peck was pretty awesome as the desperate lawyer who wanted to protect his family.  I would say that the acting overall was pretty good.  I will say that with the exception of Mitchum the rest of the actors seemed to almost pantomime their acting.  I guess what I mean is that during the many times that there were no speaking parts and the camera was just panning between the actors only Mitchum seemed to be acting with his body and the rest, especially the ladies, all looked like either angry or shocked mannequins.

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I mentioned earlier that when I had high expectations for this movie I thought it was painfully slow and it was.  I kept waiting to see this suspenseful thriller about a killer stalking a family instead I go a slow and slumbering story about a guy who was more creeping on the young daughter and less scary stalker.  I will say that the costume department did a wonderful job of making a 15 year old girl look 1960’s naughty and by that I mean she was constantly wearing short skin tight shorts as well as a tight blouse…almost all the time.  By our standards today that would be nun-like but in 1962 that is terrible.  So the creeper factor was there every time Cady was looking at her in bad ways.  But it still didn’t make up for the slow pace of the film.  Basically every time Cady would do something to taunt Bowden there would be a 10 minute discussion as to what to do about it.  It got tiresome after an hour.

Lastly I will say that I also mentioned that the second time I watched this film and with no expectations I was able to pay attention to it more.  I can’t tell you why other than I kept thinking that the first time I saw this film it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I thought it was worse than it was and that’s on me.  There are a lot worse films from this time period but it just wasn’t as awesome as I was expecting.

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tremors3posterI would first like to start off my review by saying Benn Farrell is a large throbbing tool. Next I would like to say that if the words “ass” and “blaster” are actual lines in your movie script, and this movie is not a porno, then you have failed as a writer.  Mind you this isn’t the first time I have said this about a non porno movie and the other movie was released in the movie theaters, the power of a Stephen King story, the horribly bad Dreamcatcher.  For July’s monthly challenge Mr. Tool, you know Benn, told me that I could pick any of the sequels to the great 1990 science fiction film Tremors.  I chose Tremors 3 because it has most of the original cast that survived the first film and they were all likeable.  However it still is a horrid, horrid movie.

Old survivalist Burt Gummer, played by Michael Gross (Tremors,) has been in South America fighting the graboids and their mutation Shriekers (apparently they came from the second movie,) and arrives back home in Perfection, Nevada, the town in the first movie.  While he has been hunting the graboids the small town has become a minor tourist area with a man named Jack Sawyer, played by Shawn Christian (For Your Consideration,) is giving tours of the area where the first events happened while also scamming the tourists.  The town still has Nancy, played by Charlotte Stewart (Tremors,) and her daughter Mindy, played by Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park,) who is stuck home because she can’t afford college.  Miguel the farmer, played by Tony Genaro (The Mask of Zorro,) is still in Perfection and lastly Jodi Chang, played by Susan Chuang (Miss Congeniality 2,) has taken over the general store from her father Walter who died in the first movie.   Everything seems fine until a group of graboids come back and terrorize the town.  The gang is unable to kill the graboids fast enough and mutate into shriekers and then mutate into flying shriekers who are propelled in the air by fire coming out of their ass.  The gang must figure out how to kill these much more mobile creatures.

There is not a whole lot to this movie.  The first movie was somewhat intense in scenes because the director did a great job of hiding the monsters and creating suspense plus the monsters were actual physical props so they looked very real.  Well none of that happened in the third movie.  All of the creatures were CGI and you could tell from the opening scene when Burt gunned down a heard of them with an old style anti-aircraft gun.  It was mildly amusing but just poorly animated.

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There was no suspense in this film either because once you saw the ridiculous looking things you couldn’t take them seriously and knowing they were flying because of explosive gas just made it stupid not thrilling.  Also even though I am sure its somewhat of an homage, as is the entire film, the scenes where they tried to build tension where just rehashed scenes from the first movie.  They even tried the romance angle with the wannabe Kevin Bacon character Jack, and Jodi who runs the store but I barely paid attention because, as I said, no character development so didn’t care.

I will say it was great seeing the old cast in the film again.  I had no idea that little Mindy, actress Ariana, would go on to play the little girl in Stephen Spielberg’s great classic Jurassic Park.  If you had seen the first film you would have known all about these people but if you hadn’t you would have no point of reference of them because there was no character development.  Since I saw the first film the death of Miguel had a little bit of meaning, as sappy and pointless as it was, but to people who aren’t familiar with the first film this death was as pointless as the others.  Speaking of pointless someone decide to bring back the douche kid from the first movie Melvin, played by Robert Jayne (Pearl Harbor,) and his only job in the movie was to show that he is as big a douche as an adult as he was as a teenager.  Yeah!  Both Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, stars of the first movie, missed out on this one.  Fred Ward actually did the second movie with Michael Gross but I guess the second film was enough for Ward because he was a no show in the third film.

There is not a whole lot to say about this film.  The original film was a beautiful low budget flick that was very entertaining.   The third installment is an even lower budget uninspired boring movie that should have killed off the franchise yet somehow they are up to Tremors 5.  As direct to video movies go there are a lot worse but I can’t recommend this movie to you.  If you want to watch a Tremors movie just watch the first one and enjoy, even if you have seen it 100 times.  I do.

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pandpWhen I heard that this movie was coming out I kind of wanted to see it but I had the issue that I have never read the book or seen the movie Pride and Prejudice.  I have no clue what the story is about.  I just know it was written by Jane Austin and I have been told that I would like nothing she has written or any movie about any book.  Because of this I didn’t see it in the theater.  So it took a Benn Farrell review challenge for me to crack open this film to see what it’s about.  From what I watched the movie is pretty much what the title says it is, a movie about love in the English class structure in a world full of Zombies.

Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James (Cinderella,) is one of five daughters whose family belongs to the Landed Gentry class of England.  However they also live in time when a plague was brought from overseas that caused the dead to rise as Zombies.  So the Bennet sisters have to go through the trials of a class society as some try to marry or avoid being married off and at the same time survive the zombie apocalypse.

The movie is based on a book of the same name in a style called Mash-up novel in that it takes things that are non-fiction and things that are fiction and combine the two.  In this case the Jane Austin novel Pride and Prejudice and the modern Zombie monster character.  This style of writing spawned many other books one of them, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was also turned into a movie.  In that book it took the real life of American President Abraham Lincoln and turned him into a vampire hunter because a vampire killed his mother, instead of illness, and the Confederacy was actually a society full of vampires who kept slaves for food and wanted to control the country.  I understand this movie because I know a lot about Abraham Lincoln.  Why am I bringing up this movie when I am writing a review about another movie you ask? Well I mention this because unlike the Vampire Hunter movie, I know jack about Jane Austin and her book Pride and Prejudice.  It seems when I was in English class in high school I always managed to miss the classes that forced Jane Austin books on the students.  I was lucky and got to read The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men.  So obviously my issue in understanding the movie is that I have no point of reference for Pride and Prejudice so I constantly felt like I was missing something.  I feel that if I was at all familiar with the book, or even the movie(s), I would be able to enjoy the film more.

The best example I have of the feeling I’m missing something is the scene where Mr. Darcy, played by Sam Riley (Maleficent,) proposes marriage to Elizabeth Bennett.  The scene is quite hilarious because Mr. Darcy has no idea that he has offended Elizabeth and so they go back in forth in this exposition of expressing feelings while both of them are engaged in hand to hand combat that they have had to learn to fight zombies.   So I giggled a lot and actually understood what was going on.  But I am sure that scene in the non-zombie movie (book) is obviously completely different. So I think I would have enjoyed the scene even more if I had knowledge of that conversation versus the one in the zombie book.

I will say that I did like how the story almost seamlessly put the two different worlds together in such a way that it seemed believable.  I enjoyed the way they approached the zombies in this film in a somewhat original way in that we discover in the film that as long as the recently turned zombies are fed pigs’ brains and not human brains they are no harmful to humans.  However, once they eat human brains they become the monsters we are used to seeing in films.  It was interesting twist in the film that they hid in the story quite well.  However the one drawback to the story was that the writing of the character Lt. George Wickham, played by Jack Huston (American Hustle,) was always the bad guy in the film.  I assume that he is also the bad guy in Pride and Prejudice so I hope that if that is the case they hid it better in that film than in this film.  From the time on screen he just looked the part of the bad guy.  Huston didn’t do a bad job acting at all, I think it’s just the way his character was written in the movie.

I also like how this film didn’t have any real big name actors or actresses in the film.  The biggest name I read in the credits was Lena Headey (300) who played Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  I have always liked her in everything she has been in and especially in TV’s Game of Thrones, but that because she is topless in it so much.  As for the rest of the actors I thought they all did a good job and hopefully they will get more work.  This is the second film I have seen in 2016 that used a largely unknown cast and I am pleased at that because I believe the film world desperately needs an infusion of young talent.

I enjoyed this film much more then Benn would have hoped for I am sure.  While I didn’t understand the plot surrounding the Pride and Prejudice narrative I did enjoy how it worked zombies into the story.  This goes into the category of fun and entertaining films and we need those every now and then.

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maggieWhen I first heard of this movie I was very excited to see it. It has Abigail Breslin in it and she is a much respected young actress and an absolutely manly and totally awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger in it and he was actually forced to act, like in a drama.  Seriously.  So I was counting down the days in early spring 2015 as I saw the release date of May 8th pop up.  Unfortunately as we got closer to May 8th it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get a wide release.  I live in the Chicago metro area and it had a showing at the large downtown theater, and that was it.  It was released to Video On Demand on the same day, so I made sure to order it not knowing what I was going to get.  I personally think it deserved better than a one weekend release and is much better than most of the crap that has been released this year.  Now it’s not the best film, truth be told it isn’t a good film, but it’s adequate and the problem doesn’t have anything to do with the actors involved.  But I do see this through biased eyes.

Maggie, played by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine,) is a teenager in the Midwest that has become infected by an outbreak of a disease that over time slowly turn the living into cannibalistic zombies.  After initially running away from home, her father, Wade, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan the Barbarian,) brings her back determined to look out for her until the end.  Given an eight week time frame before she turns, Maggie, Wade, and Maggie’s step-mother Caroline, played by Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,) attempt to enjoy the time they have together.  However, as Maggie slowly starts to show signs of the virus taking over, Wade is put in the difficult situation of wanting to protect her daughter while his wife, doctors, and the local police, try to pressure him into sending Maggie to quarantine and the danger she may start to become.

This is not a horror film at all.  The TV show The Walking Dead has more scares in a slow character development episode then this movie has from beginning to end.  There are a grand total of 3 zombies, 4 if you count the flashback attack on Maggie although you really don’t see much at all, and we do get to see Wade kill 2 of the 3.  The third one he does kill but it is a four year old girl so we don’t see him actually do it.

I see this movie as an attempt to talk about the struggles of parents dealing with the slow death of a child by some sickness.  Now this movie takes the odd approach of having it being a Zombie outbreak which takes away from the message.  The movie is also a discussion about euthanasia.  But the writing of the film really provides no direction and so the messages get lost in this unique way of showing these issues. Plus there are a lot of scenes with no dialogue where we are watching the story take place with the back drop of some very lovely but very sad music.  It gets to be a little overkill because it’s constant music and constant sadness and we don’t need it all the time.  I will say that there are a few scenes that are appropriate but in general it’s too much.

Now, don’t laugh, but I felt the acting was a strong point of the movie.  Abigail was wonderful as this lost teen who is trying to cope with the fact that she is dying and there is nothing she can do.  It would have been nice if we could see more of the struggle that she was going through.  But the writer didn’t write enough of it into the story.  Arnold did the best he could in this dramatic roll.  At no time did I feel he was over acting and he made an honest attempt at trying to portray how a father would feel as he slowly watches the death of his daughter.  Now we are never going to confuse him with Tom Hanks, but as this being his first real attempt at a roll that requires emotions that aren’t anger and violence.  I may be biased but I liked it and there was nothing wrong with his performance.

This movie could have been so much more but the director and the writer failed at this movie because they couldn’t make this idea work.  This isn’t the worst movie in the world and it deserved a fate more than a one week release.  It had a very small budget and I feel it would have made it back if it had a minimal advertising and larger release.  But the producers of the film chose not to do it and so this stays hidden, which is a shame.  Don’t be afraid to rent this film, I think it will be worth the money.

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unfriendedI stumbled across this film late at night on the HBO network and since I didn’t have anything else to do because I was in a hotel room on a work trip I decided to watch it. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I wasn’t really paying attention to what it was about when it was in the theaters.  So I start to watch the movie and as it goes I begin to think things like ok…huh…that’s different…well…sure I guess that works like that.  The vantage point of this film is fascinating and at the same time agonizing and it wasn’t all that scary but I will give it an A for some originality but it’s not really very good.

Unfriended is a story about a young woman named Blaire , played by Shelly Hennig (Ouija,) and her four friends that are either online through Skype or summoned online on the one year anniversary of the suicide of their friend Laura, who is played in YouTube video by Heather Sossaman (Bunch of TV Guest appearances.)  Laura committed suicide after a video of her surfaces on YouTube called “Laura Barnes kill yourself,” that showed Laura at a party and losing control of her bodily functions while passed out drunk.  The five friends discover that a mysterious person has summoned them all online using Laura’s old Skype account and things begin to turn sinister as the person uses the account forces the five to answer questions online or be murdered.

The reason why I feel this movie is original and fascinating as well as agonizing and at some points aggravating is that the entire movie is shot in the first person as if you were Blaire sitting in front of your computer monitor on Skype and every other social media outlet.  At no point does the film pan out or show wide shots or anything else.  You are witness drama, death, and mayhem all as if you are skyping with your friends.  I thought this was an interesting idea for a horror film or any film really and it sort of works in that it does really look like you are on skype the entire time.  So kudos for making a unique film and making it work.  This film reminds me of the film The Blair Witch Project in that it is really the first film that was shot in a “found footage,” hand held camera style.  To my knowledge this the first major film shot like this.

However, because the film was shot like this the beginning of the film was incredibly boring.  I would say that the beginning would be ok since we get to see Blaire and her boyfriend Mitch, played by Moses Storm (more TV guest appearances,) almost have online sex which would be cool except Blaire looks like she is 16 and that’s just creepy for anyone over 18 to be into that, it wasn’t ok.  Anyway, the build up to the “scary” stuff is slow with a bunch of kids trying to figure out who is using Laura’s Skype and who is emailing them in Laura’s email etc., etc.  The build is slow because we are staring at a computer monitor for 30+ minutes.  It doesn’t become mildly interesting until another kid, who was invited after the chat started, ends up dead and the kids get freaked out.  Up to that point the movie goes from fascinating to boring really quickly.

I also question the character development for the film in that there is no one to root for out of any of the characters except for Laura’s unseen ghost.  All five of these friends of Laura are the main cause or had a hand in posting the video of her at the party which caused her to commit suicide.  I can’t remember but one of them may even be responsible for the video of her suicide being online.  The most exciting part of the film is when the ghost is making them all play the game “Never have I ever” and here you find out that all of them are basically fucking each other over figuratively and literally.  We even discover through this game and other things that our sweet Blaire not only cheated on Mitch with his best friend Adam, played by Will Peltz (Paranoia,) Twice, but she was heavily involved in the YouTube video of Laura.  And she is a child hood friend of her.  All of these people disserve their comeuppance.  So how good can a movie be when you are cheering on the ghost?  I mean sure some of us cheer on Freddy, or Jason, or Michael Myers, but there is history and their victims of over the top stupidity.  These five kids are just mean, and cruel.  I suppose that is the point of the film, don’t bully or the ghost of the bullied person may come back to not only haunt you but possess you and kill you in a way will make it look like suicide, but the delivery was not there for me.

As I sum up I will say that the film stars a whole bunch of young actors and actresses that are either in small films, have guest appearances on regular TV shows, or daytime Soap Opera, and its cool that they all got to star in a major motion picture.  And maybe that is the reason why you should watch the film because we know that Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Aniston got their starts in horror films so why not one or two of these kids get their large career started with this film.  It’s not horrible and the view point is original but it is weak on the delivery.

 

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Sometimes I have to question why people would spend their money on crap like this. I understand everyone needs a start and people need to learn how to make, direct, and act in films.  But there is no need to make crap, and that is what this movie is, pure un-adulterated crap.

So the story goes that some yahoo finds some gold in this cave takes it out and by doing so wakes the ghost of Jeremiah Stone, a horrible miner that killed and ate people before being shot by a bunch of settlers.  His ghost is now hunting down the people who found not only the gold, but anybody who live in a five mile radius apparently.

The only actor with a recognizable face is Karen Black, who had a moderately successful career in the early 70’s, including an Academy Award Nomination, but now is strictly a B-movie actress.  But she has long lost any actual acting ability and is strictly making it on her name and what is left of her looks, which isn’t much.  As for the rest of the cast, the girls need to realize that they aren’t going to make it in this business at this level if they don’t go topless.

John Carl Buechler is the director and the lesson that producers should learn from having this guy direct is that special effects and make up guys do not make good directors.  The movie wasn’t scary, or bloody, nor did it make fun of itself, which all equals a bad movie.

I am not going to waste anymore time talking about this movie.  The only way this movie could be of any use is if every DVD copy is collected, melted down, and turned into a bomb that we can drop in Iraq.  It certainly isn’t useful as a movie.

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PredatorI am an Arnold fan, or is it a fan of Arnold.  At any rate Schwarzenegger is my favorite action star of all time.  I know he will never get an Academy Award but that’s ok, there are a lot of people who have gotten the award and didn’t deserve it, James Cameron comes to mind.  Anyway, Predator is an outstanding action movie that doesn’t try to push any message, because it’s an 80’s movie and that means high body count and cool sayings.  This also may be the first movie ever to have two future Governors acting in the movie, Schwarzenegger, current governor of California, and Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota.

The outline is pretty simple Maj. Schaffer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Red Heat,)  and his band of Special Forces are asked by the government to go after a group of diplomats that were shot down in the jungle of some enemy territory in Central America, the countries are never named.  So Schaffer’s group goes in with a CIA weasel named  Dillon, played by Carl Weathers (Rocky, ) and tries to find the missing diplomats.  While they are looking for the diplomats, they come across a bunch of dead men who have been skinned alive.  They turned out to be Green Berets from Fort Bragg.  So the group works extra hard to find the men who did this.  Little do they know that they themselves are being hunted by an alien, what has become called a predator, in the jungle.  It has a nearly invisible defense mechanisms and a handful of cool killing devices.  Eventually the Special Forces and the predator run into each other and the guys start losing, one by one, until its Arnold vs. the Alien.

The movie was directed by John McTiernan who has done other such action movies as Die Hard, The 13th Warrior, and The Hunt for Red October.   He is a master at cinematography and always finds way to allow the setting to set the mood.  In Predator, he uses the jungle to give the story a dark unnerving feeling even though the majority of the scenes are shot in broad daylight.

The action hero’s in the movie are of course headlined by Schwarzenegger and Weathers.  Jesse Ventura was a couple of years removed from wrestling when he made this movie.  Other prominent stars are Bill Duke (Commando) and Sonny Landham (48 Hours) who always seems to play guys named Billy in movies.  Kevin Peter Hall is the guy in the Predator suit and returns in the second Predator movie but passed away in 1991.  I mention him only because he also was the Bigfoot Harry in the movie Harry and the Henderson’s.

This movie is one of the many that made Arnie an action star in the mid 1980’s.  This movie won’t tell you about saving the rain forest or the plight of third world countries and their people, but sure will make you enjoy watching them get blown away as they burn down the forest.  It’s fun and would never have been made in the 1990’s.  If you haven’t seen it, get the new DVD it’s loaded with tons of new material and it coincides with the release of the god-awful Aliens vs. Predator movie.  See where the origins of the predator begin by watching this movie.  It rocks!

 

Brian – The Naked Gun

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