Monday, October 10, 2011

Brad's Week in Dork! (10/2-10/8)

It's October and you know what that means?  Another Annual 31 Days of Horror.  I do this every year, try to crank in as many horror films into one month as I possibly can.  The most I've ever consumed was 83 movies in one month, last year was something like 64.  Based on this last week I don't think I'll be reaching anywhere near that number, but I've definitely kicked it up a notch with the movie watching compared to the last several Weeks in Dork.  But that also means I haven't read much in terms of books or comics.  And I haven't really had any exciting Dork Field Trips.


Halloween III Season of the Witch:  My personal favorite of the franchise has no place for slasher Michael Myers, instead we're treated to a bonkers story involving evil toyman Dan O'Herlihy (Robocop!  The Last Starfigther!) transforming the world's children into birthing centers for Roaches, Roaches, Roaches (& the occasional snake!) via television signals and a series of popular Halloween masks.  The only man in the way is Dr. Tom Atkins, a man ready to grit, snarl, bash, and scream his way through the Celtic Conspiracy.

Night of the Creeps:  This film has everything but the kitchen sink:  naked pink aliens, black & white B movies, axe murders, pledge week, zombies, space slugs, and jerkwad fratboys named Brad.  And yeah, it's got the ultimate Tom Atkins performace as the Detective who'd rather dream of sandy beaches, white suits, coconut beverages, and mutilated exes than face a life of cigarette after cigarette and tired "Thrill Me" after "Thrill Me."  Thank goodness he's got an invasion on his hand to stave off suicide.

The Fog:  One of the few early John Carpenter flicks that just doesn't quite work for me, mainly cuz it's boring.  Trucker Tom Atkins picks up hitcher Jamie Lee Curtis and no sooner have they slept with each other than they're battling zombie pirates crawling outta the fog bank.  The film has a fantastic cast with Adreienne Barbeau, Hal Holbrook, John Houseman, Nancy Loomis, Janet Leigh, and Charles Cyphers but the plot never rises above a dull plod.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame:  A fun, oddball Kung Fu mystery following the adventures of Andy Lau's Detective Dee as he chop-socky's his way through a rash of mysterious spontaneous combustions.  Highlights include the black blood of the Earth found in the Phantom Bizarre and the charging deer battle royale.  Every time I watch a modern Kung Fu flick I tell myself I'm going to dive into the back catalog of the genre, hopefully I'll follow through this time.

Manhunter:  The first adaptation of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon is more Miami Vice than it is Silence of the Lambs, but it still manages to be creepy as all hell with its gigantic Tom Noonan, 80s lit CSI style crime scenes, and William Peterson's neverending five o'clock shadow.  And even though his name might be spelled differently, Brian Cox's Hannibal the Cannibal could easily go toe to toe with Anthony Hopkins' liver eater.

Killer Elite:  An entertaining if runofthemill actioner pitting Jason Statham (I won't be happy till Crank 3 hits theaters) against Clive Owen (one of his better roles of late, the man's career has not taken the path I once hoped it would) while Robert De Niro plays the father assassin figure.  The film never quite reaches nitro, seems stuck on its "Based on True Events" tagline but it gets violent when it should and Dominic Purcell has my favorite tough guy mustache of the year.

50/50:  A sweet, funny, and emotionally draining personal story of Cancer War.  How does one approach their impending doom?  Well, it helps if you have Seth Rogen nearby providing the awkward laughs and a bitchin' support group made up of Nixon (Phillip Baker Hall) and Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) providing the pot macaroons. Good stuff, but maybe more of the indie darling than I would like.

Red Dragon:  The adaptation of Thomas Harris' original Hannibal the Cannibal definitely takes advantage of Anthony Hopkins scenery chewing, and even though it gets most of the plot points right, the thrill of the franchise is gone.  Brett Ratner might pinpoint all the gorey details but it manages to provide very few chills where Michael Mann's original Manhunter seemed to find every scare on the page.  It's a big meh.

The Conspirator:  Love the period and the history behind the plot, but Robert Redford handles the material the way you think he would--not necessarily a slight, but it's a kinda basic movie.  Strong performances from James McAvoy and Robin Wright.  And as always, more Danny Huston please.

Piranha 3D:  Director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake, Mirrors) knows just what kind of movie he's concocting with Piranha 3D: a beautiful, exploitative T&A bloodbath that utilizes 3D gimmicketry in a way that films like Avatar, How To Train Your Dragon, and Clash of the Titans have no hope of understanding.  It's not about depth of field and being part of the environment--it's about Those F'ing Piranhas (and those floating human body parts) Coming Right At Ya!!!!  Sure, I wish the film followed Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, and Christopher Lloyd instead of lame-o teen characters Stephen R. McQueen and Jessica Szohr but 3D Jerry O'Connell is terrifyingly hilarious and all that exploitation can make you forgive typically lame horror teens.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark:  A clan of miniature gremlins (of the fuzzy Twilight Zone variety) terrorize Kim Darby as she tries to renovate her new "Old Dark House."  Some interesting concepts, but the film works better as a blueprint to the much superior 2011 remake.  Don't Be Afraid of the Dark or sinister whispering.

Creepshow:  There's a lot more cheese in this EC Horror Tribute than I would prefer, but the George Romero/Stephen King team up anthology film is still plenty fun with its evil Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook's monster wrangler, and the moss man author himself.  Appreciate how the filmmakers embrace the panel format twenty years before Ang Lee went gonzo in his HULK adaptation.  However, at 2 Hours and 1 minute, the film is easily thirty minutes too long.

The Horror Show:  Despite overseas marketing shenanigans, The Horror Show has absolutely nothing to do with the House franchise.  However, this is an amazing bit of gonzo mondo whacko late 80s horror that truly needs to be seen by all genre fans.  Cop Lance Henriksen has put serial killer Brion James on Death Row, but the electric chair just doesn't got enough juice to keep the evil bugger down.  Extreme, weird violence complement the weird, intense performances from the two leads.  The Horror Show has your severed heads, your mutant turkeys, and your electric ghost births--basically, it's got it all.

Teen Wolf:  After Michael J Fox hit it big with Back to the Future, the producers of the long shelved Teen Wolf rushed it into theaters.  It's a ridiculous and probably stupid movie that infected my 6 year old brain with great gobs of joy, and nostalgia refuses to let me look upon it as anything other than an 80s classic.  Tiny, sweaty Michael J Fox can't seem to get a girl or make a jump shot but as puberty takes hold so does the wolf.  Now as Teen Wolf (or TW), Fox takes control of the school and abuses his hairy power whenever possible.  But Popularity a keg of beer will only bring you so much joy.  TW's got life lessons to learn.


Frank Miller's Holy Terror:  Ten years in the making, this thin hardback of 9/11 reactionary assault is absolutely dreadful.  Sad to say.  Frank Miller has given us some of the finest bits of machismo comic work with Sin City, 300, and The Dark Knight Returns but this is utterly dreadful.  Horrible dialog.  Nothing plot.  You wanna read more of my whining check out my review over at Daily Grindhouse.


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