Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Diagnosis: Death - A Review

Years ago, when Peter Jackson was just breaking in to the film business, it seemed like New Zealand might be poised to be a hotbed, albeit a small one, of horror film activity. Bad Taste and Braindead seemed like the beginning of something major. They were, only they were the beginning of Jackson's long and award-addled career. It didn't really mean too much for New Zealand horror. Just a couple of years ago another Kiwi horror comedy came out and created a bit of a buzz itself, Black Sheep. A horror film about killer sheep? Sign me up! And, it is a fun little movie - one that I recommend you view with some friends and a good sense of humor.

Last year, Affordable Films released New Zealand's latest horror-comedy Diagnosis: Death. They tried to capitalize on the popularity of their country's own Flight of the Conchords and included Brett McKenzie, Jemain Clement, and Rhys Darby. Full disclosure: I love Flight of the Conchords - the show, and the band. The only problem is that these guys are probably in the film for a total of five minutes between them. Yeah, it's a cocktease.

The film itself, a horror-comedy, is surprisingly light on both horror and comedy. It stars Raybon Kan (apparently he's a New Zealand stand-up) as a school teacher that is stricken with a rare form of cancer. He goes to a weekend drug trial to test out new, experimental drugs that may be able to cure him. Sounds reasonable enough, but wait, there's more. It turns out this hospital used to be...wait for it...a MENTAL INSTITUTION! dun-dun-dun. And, as if that wasn't enough, some famous author supposedly killed herself and her child in this very same ward!

The movie is basically a ghost-story-mystery thing disguised as a comedy. The laughs are few and far between, the revelation at the end is predictable, and the horror is cheap and stupid. That said, the two minutes of screen time that are alloted to Rhys Darby had me rolling - he's basically playing Murray as a doctor. I was able to watch it with a friend and we managed to enjoy ourselves by adding our own, MS3TK-style commentary to the film and rewinding the Rhys Darby's final scene (he gives a great look at the end of it) multiple times. Fortunately, they keep things fairly light and every once and a while the jokes will land so you should be able to get through the film.

Because we were able to enjoy ourselves while watching, I'll give it a 5 out of 10, but it really doesn't deserve anything higher than that. I advise you not to buy this one. It may be worth a rental if you are a big Conchords fan or would like to watch something light and silly with some buddies on a weekend. I advise against watching it by yourself, too, as you'll have no one to crack wise with.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

The House of the Devil: A Review

The House of the Devil Reviewed

I was finally able to sit down last night and watch Ti West's The House of the Devil. I had been anticipating it for quite some time, I loved the poster art, the gimmick of releasing the film on VHS, and everything about the film seemed alluring. Needless to say, I was very excited to finally be able to watch it. Unfortunately, it was something of a let-down for me.

I was actually able to get with the gimmick of creating a film that looked/felt like an eighties picture, at first I thought that was silly, but rationalized it as a period piece that's HEAVY on the period. And, you know what, the set up is pretty nice. The first reel makes it seem like you are in for a really good time. It seemed like it could have been the first reel of some lost Halloween sequel from the eighties. Genre staple Dee Wallace even pops up in the first five minutes of the picture.

Unfortunately, writer/director Ti West is unable to deliver on his set up and we're left with a lot of filler, and, ultimately, an uninspired, easy, and trite ending. The entire second act is superfluous, and could have been better utilized. I kind of dug the montage scene. It amped up the pace a little bit, but ultimately it was too little too late. The film had already begun its slow plod into mediocrity by that point. I won't spoil the ending here, but I will say that it is not rewarding as a film watcher. You've seen it before, you will see it again.

It's too bad, too. I love a good "slow burn" horror film. I love films like The Sentinel or The Entity. You could really tell they were going for Polanski (think Rosemary's Baby or The Tenant) with this one, but few people are as capable as Polanski and Ti West isn't one of them. This movie had so much promise, but ultimately feels flat and all the gimmicks in the world can't save a flat script.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spotlight On Evil: Cropsy!

The Killer from The Burning (1981)

1981's The Burning is one of my favorite slashers of all time. It has the panache of the first couple of Friday the 13th films, but it's much more of a mystery being a one-off. Had Cropsy come back for more adventures, the luster may have worn off a bit, but as it is The Burning stands alone as a really good slasher with a great villain.

Interesting Trivia: Tom Savini turned down the chance to work on Friday the 13th Part II to work on The Burning!

Cropsy's Story: Camp Blackfoot's alcoholic groundskeeper/janitor Cropsy is sleeping in his cabin one night when some young campers take it upon themselves to teach him a lesson. The prank goes horribly wrong, and Cropsy is severely burned - having to spend the next five years recovering in the hospital. He is released from the hospital, only to return to the site of his accident in order to stalk the campers of Camp Stone Water, located across the lake.

That's right. A burnt up villain that uses sharp objects to kill his victims. I'm not implying that a certain Wes Craven stole anything from this film, Cropsy certainly doesn't stalk people in their dreams, but it is interesting. In all honesty, the movie shares much more in common with Friday the 13th (specifically part 2) than it does with A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Interesting Trivia: The Burning was one of Miramax Film's earliest successes.

Okay, so the story is a little uninspired, but this ain't Shakespeare. Besides, who needs a good backstory when you've got a sharp pair of gardening shears just itching to get bloody? Oh that's right, I've failed to mention the fact that Cropsy is responsible for one of the greatest massacres ever to be filmed - the infamous RAFT MASSACRE. Please see this YouTube video HERE for reference.

I would like to recommend that everyone head over to Fright-Rags and check out their The Burning shirt which features the subject of today's Spotlight on Evil. It's pretty great and sells for $19.95.

There's not a whole lot more left for me to say about our dear Cropsy, the guy only lasted for one film in the slasher era for Pete's sake, but he will always be near and dear to me. I hope you guys enjoyed reading a little bit about my burnt up, kill-happy friend Cropsy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What is The Warfreak Doing?

When I first started this blog, I used to periodically make posts about what I was currently in to - music, movies, that sort of thing. Basically just a listing of what was going down in my life at the time. Now, I realize that may not be very interesting reading, but it's alot of fun for me to go back a look at those time capsule like posts and see what was going on at the time I made them. So, that means you're stuck with it, I guess.

Currently Watching (film): I thought that my film watching would go down quite a bit after having the baby, but instead now it's just done in pieces. I'm able to watch movies off of my Netflix Instant Queue (via Xbox Live) in 30 minute segments during every feeding! Pretty nice.

The last few movies I've watched are Rick Rosenthal's 1983 gritty teen prison (reform school, whatever) film Bad Boys and Spike Lee's opus Do the Right Thing. I'd never seen either of these films before and I was really impressed with both of them.

Currently Watching (television): Right now is a pretty good time for me on network television. I got roped into Jersey Shore for its entire season, and, oddly enjoyed it. But now I'm back to my staples - How I Met Your Mother, The Office, and The Big Bang Theory. Oh, with Community thrown in for good measure. I've also been watching more of The Daily Show and Colbert Report lately (thank you, DVR) and have been catching up on Moral Orel reruns.

Currently Watching (television on DVD): My wife and I have just started the second (and final) season of Pushing Daisies on DVD. It's a quirky, silly show that we enjoy. It's kind of like Tim Burton Presents: CSI. If you've seen it, I think you'll agree.

Currently Listening To: There aren't really any bands that have my attention right now. I listen to The Dan Patrick Show every day, so that's cool. Here's a list of some recently played tracks:

The Unicorns: Tuff Ghost
Tupac Shakur: Picture Me Rollin'
Neil Young: Down By the River
Tom Waits: The Piano Has Been Drinking
The Arcade Fire: No Cars Go
The Timeline Post: Wedding Bell Murders
The Grateful Dead: Box of Rain
The Beach Boys: God Only Knows
Peter Gabriel: Solsbury Hill
Chuck Berry: Nadine
The Red House Painters: I'm Sorry
Sigur Ros: Staralfur
Fair to Midland: The Wife, The Kids, and the White Picket Fence

Currently Reading: Just got done with Under the Dome and am starting (for my first time) Cujo. So far, I'm enjoying it. I also just read the Devil's Due mini-series Halloween: Nightdance (which has an interesting set-up, but falters due to plodding writing).

Currently Playing (video games): When I get the time, I'm still playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. I enjoy it a lot, especially when I can connect with old friends on XBL and play some Team Hardcore. Other than that, when my friend Jon comes by the house (and the baby isn't home) we have started rocking the Rock Band again. Name of the band: ShotgunHemingway. Look for us, cause we are making a come-up. I've also just downloaded the multi-player demo for the upcoming Aliens vs. Predator game and am really looking forward to that (hopefully my tax refund will let me afford the game).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Under the Dome

Under the Dome: A Short Review

(minor spoliers ahead)

Hey, gang, I know I'm a little late to the party on this one but, dammit, I've got a newborn at home at it makes it a little difficult to find time to read. Especially when what you are reading is an 1100 page, nineteen pound mammoth book. Anyway, I finished Under the Dome last night and couldn't wait to share a few quick thoughts on it. Hopefully you'll be inspired to read it, ifin' you haven't already done so.

Firstly, the book is really long, but don't be daunted by that. I swear, it is a rather fast-paced read - as are all of King's works. It took me around a month to get it finished (and that's with a new baby). If you can get past the length, then you are in for one hell of a ride.

I don't know if I really need to rehash the plot, but here's a quick synopsis: a seemingly impenetrable dome, suddenly and without reason encapsulates a small Maine town - trouble ensues. There you have it. That's the plot in a nutshell. Granted, I just boiled down 1088 pages into one sentence - so it's a bit of an over simplification. There are tons of characters - some good, some bad - that align with each other when the going gets rough so you may get some flashbacks to King's earlier opus The Stand. And there is a great amount of fantastic characterization found within these pages.

Themeatically, King touches on the duality of humanity (something he does well), conservation of natural resources, pollution, human suffering, and - deftly, I think - religion as a tool for control. In a lot of ways, I feel like this must be King's answer to 9/11. The novel starts with a plane crash (and MINOR SPOILER ALERT: there is a second crash quite a bit later in the novel). Once the Dome is revealed, Big Jim Rennie seizes control of the town with religious zeal and fear - creating, for all intents and purposes, an army to carry out his (and God's, of course) bidding. That sure does sound familiar.

There are problems with the novel, to be sure. Some of the dialogue is a tad bit on the phony side. Especially when King writes children. I've never met a single person that talks like the kids in this book do. But, in the context of 1100 pages of awesome I think that we can forgive these minor trespasses. The other problem that I had was with the ending - I'm just not sure that it was enough for me. Not that I didn't expect that with King. He's so wonderful for 95% of his books and then will come screeching to a halt, very abruptly, without a real ending. Let me be fair here, Under the Dome's ending isn't all that unsatisfying - in fact, I actually liked it. I just didn't like it as much as I liked the rest of the novel.

With that said, it really is one of the best books I've read in a while. I still keep up with King, and read all of his work as it comes out, and I must say that this is Steve's best work in years. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being The Stand, I'd give Under the Dome an eight. I recommend it - highly!


Now That's Art!

Sssssss - 1973

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Legend of Billie Jean

On Netflix Instant Queue

Hey, gang, it's your friendly neighborhood Warfreak here to impart a little bit of awesome to you. If you are unfortunate enough not to own a VHS copy of The Legend of Billie Jean, you can cheer up because I've got good news for you. It would seem that the mail-rental giant Netflix actually has the film up for instant viewing - which is fantastic because the flick isn't even on DVD. Anyway, I just thought I'd give a heads up to any of you folks out there are geeky enough to care.

If you are completely unfamiliar with the movie, here's a brief synopsis:
When bullies trash her brother's (Christian Slater) scooter, Texas teen Billie Jean (Helen Slater) asks the ringleader's dad to pay for repairs. Instead, he attacks her, forcing the siblings to fight back. The confrontation leaves the man wounded, so Billie Jean flees and becomes a wanted fugitive as well as a media sensation. The press follows her tale, and she becomes a role model for anyone who's ever felt exploited.

Now go. Watch.

Clip of the Week

Star Wars Auditions: Kurt Russell

Snake Plissken as Han Solo?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Upcoming Film Preview: The Expendables

Upcoming Film Preview: The Expendables
Directed By: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mickey Rourke, Danny Trejo, Randy Couture
Country: USA
Release Date: August 13, 2010

Plot Synopsis: (from IMDb) "The Expendables is a hard-hitting action/thriller about a group of mercenaries hired to infiltrate a South American country and overthrow its ruthless dictator. Once the mission begins, the men realize things arent quite as they appear, finding themselves caught in a dangerous web of deceit and betrayal. With their mission thwarted and an innocent life in danger, the men struggle with an even tougher challenge one that threatens to destroy this band of brothers."

Did you look at that cast?! Seriously, go back up to where it says "starring" and look again. Of course I'm going to see this. I don't care what it's about - there are guns and that cast. I'm in. This is a can't miss. If only someone with a better sense of irony were helming it - but, alas, we'll see what Sly can do with this.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Spotlight on Evil: Reptar!

Spotlight on Evil: REPTAR!

When I was a kid, I loved Nickelodeon. Part of the first batch of Nicktoons (original programming from Nickelodeon), Rugrats really held its own against the likes of Ren & Stimpy and Doug. It was funny, cute, well animated, and surprisingly intelligent. But there was one character on the show that always stood out to me as awesomely evil: Reptar.

You remember Reptar, the Godzilla knock-off that was featured as a sometimes hero/sometimes villain on film, TV, and on ice(!) in Rugrats? 'Course ya do. For me, as a movie monster fan, it was great to see the kids in the show show such affection for a giant lizard. Maybe it made me feel less weird in my own fascination with giant monsters and shambling things that went bump in the night? I don't know exactly why, but ever since I first saw him on the show, Reptar made me appreciate Rugrats just a little bit more.

Stupid trivia: Reptar first made an appearance in a 1991 episode entitled "At the Movies".

Now, you may be asking yourself is Reptar really evil? Well, the answer is: sometimes. They played him as both hero and villain at various stages of the show - likely a reference to how Godzilla varied from hero and villain, but my favorite Reptar is the big, bad, villainous one.

And, I swear these guys aren't paying me anything (but I wouldn't object if they did), 80's Tees comes through again to bring us this badass little number to the right. That's right, now you rep Reptar anywhere you go! In the club! At the movie show! Bordellos! Wineries! Anywhere!!!! AHHHH!!!

It would seem that Reptar is actually a little more popular than I thought before researching for this post. In fact, he has his own roller coaster called Rugrats Runaway Reptar at three different theme parks (Kings Island, Dreamworld, and Carowinds). It's an inverted coaster that is specifically meant for kids. I'd say that you know you've made it when you have your own roller coaster.

I guess there's really only one thing left. Enjoy this YouTube video of The Rugrats episode Runaway Reptar!

Runaway Reptar - Part 1 (1 of 4):

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Upcoming Film Preview: Frozen

Upcoming Film Preview: Frozen
Directed By: Adam Green
Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore
Country: USA
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2010 (limited)

Plot Synopsis: "Three snowboarders become stranded on a chairlift at a ski resort. Realizing it'll be a week before the resort opens again, they are forced to make a series of life-or-death decisions."

Adam Green is best known amongst the horror set for Hatchet and his Halloween shorts, but this one, which stands outside of the horror genre, does look really interesting. Supposedly this is one of the most tense and trenchant films you're ever likely to see - some had said Jaws on the slopes. I don't know how true all of this is, but you bet your ass I'm going to give Mr. Green a shot. Keep a look out this Friday as the film gets its inital limited run.

Clip of the Week

House by the Cemetery Trailer

Monday, February 1, 2010

Now That's Art!

In Memoriam of Zelda Rubenstein:
Anguish (AKA Angustia) - 1988

Olympic Artichoke banners designed by Whalehead

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