Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Turning The Skeptic

With Halloween closing in fast, I'm trying to get some reviews in a little faster. I have Friday off, so hopefully I can get more than one review in that day. Some friends want to get together early that day, so hopefully that won't kink my plans too badly. I did get completely caught up with reviews at long last though. I got the review for Ouija done yesterday. This means I was at last free to watch something new, since I was putting it off until I got everything caught up again. First up is The Skeptic (2009), which will be taken out of instant watch on Netflix on Halloween. After this, I plan to hit the DVDs I have from Netflix, as I have had them for a long time now.

Bryan's (Tim Daly) aunt has recently passed away. Since he is the closet relative, and a lawyer, her estate goes to him. This includes her house, which was once owned by his parents when he was a little kid. Bryan's aunt believed the house to be haunted, and thought she knew where it was coming from as well, a closet on the second floor. Her husband, who had died years earlier, also believe the place to be haunted. Bryan doesn't believe in that type of stuff though. In face, he doesn't believe in anything that doesn't have a real explanation to it. Lately Bryan and his wife have been having problems, so Bryan decides to stay in his old house while he gets the estate squared away. It doesn't take long before things start going bump in the night, but will Bryan start to believe in ghosts?

The Skeptic wasn't too bad of a movie. Writer/director Tennyson Bardwell gives us a film that has been done before, but mixes it up enough to keep it interesting. He also gives an ending that is open ended and lets us decide what happened. He may have left it too open, but I will get to that a little later. Bardwell makes sure we know that Bryan doesn't believe in much of anything, and that his wife feels he is emotionally challenged. What feels like a subplot at first, but turns into more, Bardwell explores why Bryan keeps his feelings bottled up. What I really liked about the story was that the haunting never escalated. Bryan hears noises and sees a woman at times, but the activity never really picks up. He still hears things and sees the woman, but never in a increasing pace. This was nice, as most movies tend to add more in order to up the ante, so to speak. Instead, we get a psychic played by Zoe Saldana. She is a bit over-the-top at times, it was a nice change from the other characters. The movie was pretty good, and I did enjoy the ending. As I said above though, it was left a little too open ended. None of the subplots were tied up and Bryan's fate is left up in the air as well. I don't mind a film that allows me to decide what happened, in fact I usually give a film like that high marks. The Skeptic was left a bit too open ended though. It just gave me the feeling of "What? That's it?" once the credits start to role.

I don't think there was anything as far as special effects go. If there was, it was just minor stuff. The acting was actually pretty good. Tim Daly is really good in the lead role, but there was times I didn't really care for him. I couldn't really decide if it was the way Daly acted out the scenes, or maybe it was just his character. It wasn't too annoying to me though. Tom Arnold shows up here and there. He isn't around a lot, but often enough really. I was glad to see him take on a bit more of a serious role than I usually see him in, but I couldn't help but feel he was being pulled back from being too funny at times. He seemed on the verge of breaking into trying to say something funny a lot of the time. Robert Prosky, in his last film, has a smaller role, but it was a nice surprise to see him in this film. For a film I had not heard of before adding it to my queue, it had a few people I actually know of.

I guess one can make the case by the end of the film for this either being a paranormal film or everything is just in his head as his problems start to surface more and more. I thought it was pretty clear it was all paranormal, but it does try to make a case for it being in Bryan's head at times as well, just not very strongly. I gave the last film that I watched that did the same thing a higher score. I can't give The Skeptic the same score just because of the ending. Didn't hate the ending or anything like that, but it could have been better. There is still a little time to give this one a watch if you have Netflix's instant watch. It is worth a watch if the plot of the movie sounds interesting to you.
3 out of 5 I think all men have mother issues

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hanging Out With Strangers

Another low end month for me. I was hoping to do better, but it is what it is. After this review, I will be caught up here and can move on to something new. I did get a review done for Top Horror Movies Club at long last. I haven't just been slacking on reviews here, but there as well. If you are interested in my thoughts on the film Annabelle, head on over. I have one more review to do there, for a film I watched over the weekend, and I will be caught up there as well. But, for here, I watched the movie Gone (2006) a while back because it was about to be taken out of instant watch. I was curious about this film because it has Scott Mechlowicz in it.

Alex (Shaun Evans) has traveled from Liverpool to Australia to be with his girlfriend Sophie (Amelia Warner). While waiting for a bus, he meets Taylor (Scott Mechlowicz), an American who is mostly chasing the local women it seems. Taylor invites Alex to hang out with him, since his bus won't be coming around for a good while. They end up hooking up with a couple of women and having a good time. While nothing happens with Alex, he does wake up next to the woman he was hanging out with. Taylor takes a picture of them just as Alex wakes up. Being on their way, Taylor offers to drive Alex where he needs to go, and seems a little shocked when Alex meets up with Sophie. They all decide to travel together, and get along for the most part. The longer the trip goes on though, it starts to become obvious that Taylor is trying to drive a wedge between Alex and Sophie, but for what reason?

Gone came out a year after Wolf Creek. While everyone was talking about how bad or good Wolf Creek was, Gone got lost in the cracks. Can't say that I have ever heard anyone talk about it, let alone know anyone that has watched it before. While Gone is sort of in the same vein as Wolf Creek, Gone tries to build suspense and leaves the gore behind. It feels more like a thriller than a horror movie, but that was fine. Director Ringan Ledwidge keeps us guessing as to what Taylor is up to. Is he really after Sophie? Or perhaps he just enjoys breaking up couples and causing as much hurt as he can. While the plot was somewhat interesting, it was also fairly slow paced. To be honest, I enjoyed the acting more than I liked the film itself. Not to say that it was bad, just wasn't anything that really grabbed me and held on. Things pick up when Alex decides to leave, or does he? The story wasn't really all that hard to figure out, but was still cool watching it play out. I never really figured out what Taylor was up to exactly though. It was obvious thanks to one scene that he has done bad stuff to people before. We don't know what that was, but someone was obviously pissed with him. All I could really think about at the end of the film was that Scott (Mechlowicz's character in EuroTrip) was so hurt by Fiona, that he is now going around the world breaking up other couples.

Gone wasn't a gory film, but there is a few scenes that came close at least. Seeing a dead body and watching someone get ran over. The way the scenes were done ended up being nice reveals, even if they weren't done in a gory way. As I said above, I really enjoyed the acting. It was very good by the main three. Amelia Warner was a little too soft spoken at times, but made up for it in being really cute. Not that it took away from her acting. I liked her best towards the end of the film really, but overall, I liked her. I like Scott Mechlowicz, even though I haven't seen a lot of his films. This may have caused me to like the film more than I should have, but then again, maybe not. Shaun Evans was also very good.

Despite not being able to figure out what Taylor is actually up, or who is actually after, I still didn't find the plot that interesting. The acting saved it for me, but it didn't push it passed an average film. I'm fine with having watched it on instant watch and not having the DVD sent to me or having ended up buying it. I may someday, if I get into Mechlowicz even more. It isn't a bad film though. If it comes across instant watch again, you might consider giving it a try. Sure, the plot has been done before, and better for that matter, but it still isn't a bad little movie.
3 out of 5 I might go out of the country someday

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Going With Lovely

With this month being October, you would think I would be watching more movies than I have been. Other than what I have watched on TV, which are all movies I have watched before so far, I haven't watched any new films. The reviews I'm doing are still from films I watched last month. I don't mind doing reviews of movies that I have watched some time ago, but I find it hard to write about them after so long. It isn't so much that I have forgotten what happened in them, it's just that I find it less interesting to write about. I just have this review for Lovely Molly (2011), and one other one before I break into something new. Hopefully it won't take me long.

Molly (Gretchen Lodge) and her new husband Tim (Johnny Lewis) have decided to move into Molly's family home to help save some money. It isn't long before things start to happen though, like the alarm going on because a door opens seemingly by itself. Tim is a truck driver so isn't home a lot, but he comes home one day to find Molly staring at the closet in her old room. Molly's sister Hannah (Alexandra Holden) starts to worry about Molly as well. Some bad things once happened to Molly and Hannah in that house. While Hannah seems to have dealt with it in her own way, Molly hasn't worked passed it just yet. Is that the reason Molly is having a hard time living there now, or is there some other reason for her acting so strangely?

Lovely Molly was co-written and directed by Eduardo Sánchez, one of the guys that was behind The Blair Witch Project film. Sánchez is the most active of the two directors behind Blair Witch. While I have watched most of his movies now, they have been a bit of hit and miss for me. I have liked them more than not at least. Lovely Molly is one of his best films I think. It has a slow build to the story, but not all of it made a lot of sense to me at times. It was easy to over look that though, and actually makes me want to watch the movie again sometime to see if I can work it out. The story has two sides to it. There is a paranormal side to it, and it is all in Molly's mind side to it. I felt the story was strongly on the side of it is in her mind, but others disagree with that. Interesting enough is that the interviews from Sánchez and the extras side with both. I thought this was interesting since it is pretty clear that Sánchez wants us to decide which side happened. Sánchez doesn't stray real far from the found footage genre, For the most part Lovely Molly is filmed in the normal way, but there is footage that Molly films herself as well placed here and there through out the film. It actually tells a story in itself that is a little hard to figure out at first, but it eventually includes itself into the main plot. I didn't think this side plot was really needed though, except it might help you to decide which side of the fence to fall on.

I wouldn't call Lovely Molly a gory film, although there is a scene with a dead deer that is somewhat gory. I didn't really feel that this movie needed to be gory though. It wasn't really that kind of story, and didn't need to be. The acting was very good. This was actually Gretchen Lodge's first acting job, but you can't really tell it. There was some scenes I thought she could have been better in, but overall she does a wonderful job. Johnny Lewis wasn't too bad either, but I thought could have been in more scenes.

I think I really enjoyed Lovely Molly mostly because it made me think about what was going on a lot. I love a film that gets my mind going, and this one certainly did just that. I'm interested in watching again sometime, mostly to see if I missed anything, and to see if things make a little more sense not that I know for sure what was going on. Plus I enjoy films that leave things up to me to decide what happened in the film. If you are looking for a good film that will make you thing, you really should give Lovely Molly a try. It is an under rated film if you ask me, only has a 5.3 rating on IMDb as of this writing. I watched it on Netflix's instant watch, which I don't think it is there anymore. Well worth searching for it though.
4 out of 5 Stabbing a dead deer to death

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reasons To Hate Summer Jobs

I haven't been off to a good start this month. After all, it did take me 6 days to get a review in that I started well before that. I should have finished it the night before, but I decided to get some sleep instead. Oh well, I will hopefully make things up now that I'm back to writing again. I decided to do a book review for The Summer Job by Adam Cesare next. I just finished it this week, so thought I would get the review in while my thoughts are still somewhat fresh. A friend of mine bought the book, and after he was finished it, I swiped it. I still have one of his books to get through, but hey, he didn't seem mind.

Claire is a waitress working in Boston who is getting fed up with life. Just out of college and in her early 20's, she is starting to want to find more with her life. Her boyfriend since high school is someone she is looking to breakup with because she feels he isn't trying to improve. He also works at the same dinner as Claire as the cook. One day, after not answering his calls and texts, she goes to work and finds the place on fire. The police suspect it is Claire's boyfriend who did it, although he is still drunk when they find him. Claire's best friend Allison spots a job at a motel that is outside of the Boston area, basically the country as far as there is one in that part. Claire decides to try for the job, if for no other reason than get away from everything for the summer. Allison drives her out to the motel, where they almost run over a group of teens/young adults as they cross the road into the woods. The owner of the hotel likes Claire enough to give her the job, so all is well in Claire land. Except, she doesn't know it, but there are two cults about to do battle.

This is the first book I have come across by Adam Cesare, but it isn't his first novel. This is his fifth novel, and has a few others published or about to be published. I have to say that for a first read, I was pretty impressed with it. I really liked the different characters. Very few have the same feel to them. Cesare takes the time to let his readers get to know Claire. We also get to know Allison, though not as well. The description of the book on the book is a little misleading though. "Caught between two worlds, Claire has to plot her escape while spiraling deeper into a nightmare of ritual sacrifice and killer parties." I was expecting a lot of sacrifices to be going on, but that isn't really what the story is about. There are some to be found, just not the large amount I was expecting. This wasn't really reason for the rating below though. It isn't the first time I've come across a book that doesn't fit completely with the way it describes itself.

The Summer Job is broken up in three parts. The first part of the book is mostly what I described above. It follows mostly Claire, along with Allison for part of it as well. It also introduces most of the players in the book. The second part steps away from Claire and centers more on the rest of the characters. It still advances the plot, just in a different way. The third part switches back to Claire as the story comes to a somewhat shocking ending. While I enjoyed the second part of the book, it was also disappointing in some ways. The first part of the book gets us invested in Claire, and then leaves her behind in the second part. We find out what she is up here and there because of the other characters she happens to interact with, but it really isn't the same. The story was still interesting, and I did enjoy the different point of views and getting into the heads of the other characters for a bit. I just found leaving the main character more or less completely out for a good chunk of the book, and then picking back up with her for the last part of the story, a bit odd.

The Summer Job sets the pace early, and for the most part it doesn't let up. I enjoyed the way it started, and was surprised a certain character makes a return later on. The ending is also pretty good, with some nice surprises to be found during it. It takes a good while before we find out what the two cults are about, which was pretty cool I thought. A couple of things that I wished Cesare had done though. It would have been nice if the split between the cults had been better explored a bit more than it was. There was enough there to understand the split, but I was still looking for more. It would have also been nice to have gotten into the head of Allison more once into the second part of the story. Claire doesn't know it, but she is in the same place as Allison at times, so it made me wonder why Allison isn't seen or bothers to approach Claire. I didn't think this was explained to well considering they are supposed to be best friends.

Despite my complaints, Adam Cesare does put together a good story here. The Summer Job ended up being a fairly quick read for me since it was easy to get into. Even though I never had a punk side to me, it was still easy to side with the lead character. I found that side of Claire to be pretty cool actually. The Summer Job is a good read. If you are looking for a book to read, I would suggest giving this book a try if you haven't heard of Adam Cesare before. I'm looking forward to checking out his other novels now, that is for sure.
3 out of 5 Party in the woods!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Witching It Up

It has only taken me three weeks to get all my reviews in from the films I watched over the one weekend. I will not see ten reviews this month, but I'm fine with that. It wasn't from a lack of trying really, I just sure didn't feel like writing for a while there with my cold in full force. I will just have to try to make up for it in the coming months. I did get another review done elsewhere. The next to last movie I watched, Cold In July. A very good film, so make sure you check out the review. The last film that I watched was called Witching And Bitching (2013). Maybe not my favorite film overall, but it was for the horror films that was shown.

Jose (Hugo Silva) has come up with a plan for a robbery. He has recently met a lot of people who have fallen on hard times, and together they are going to rob a big pawn store. Dressed as street performers, with Jose being a silver Jesus, they hit the place during a transfer. Of course it does go completely as planned, but Jose gets away with Antonio (Mario Casas) and Jose's young son who is also part of the robbery group, until Antonio's girlfriend gets into the getaway car and drives off. They stop a taxi and take the driver and passenger hostage. They manage to get away from the police, and the plan is now to get to Paris. Unknown to them, two detectives and the boy's mother is hot on their trial. On their way to Paris, they drive into a town that is rumored to be a town of witches. The rumors are completely true and the witches have their own plans for the guys and their loot.

Co-writer and director Alex la Iglesia gives us a film that is squarely in the horror comedy genre. It is something that he seems to like, as his film before this one is in the same genre. Most of the time the jokes had to do with the situation that the people find themselves in. While seeing a silver Jesus and various other street performers pulling out guns is funny, I found the argument about why Jose's son was also there at the holdup to be an even bigger laugh. Up until we discover the witches, I found Witching And Bitching to be a really good film. There are some areas I was a little worried people might not find funny at all just because the guys were taking some shots at women in general. Of course, later in film, the women take their turn at guys. Either way, I've always said that if you can't laugh at yourself, don't laugh at others. I didn't find anything offensive in what was joked about, and the film sets a good example that it isn't trying to pick on just one side. Once the witches come into play, I still thought the film was funny, but the comedy was starting to wear thin by then. This is especially true towards the end of the film. I didn't find it as funny, and I was hearing fewer people laughing at things as well.

I wouldn't call this film a gory one, but there are times when it is. Body parts get cut off one guy, which was a little gory at least. The big effect was the CGI for a very large witch. There are some other effects here and there, but this one seems to be the big one. It looks good. It got some laughs at the absurdity of it all and some ewws. The acting was very well done by all involved. Hugo Silva was probably my favorite, but everyone did an equally good job with their roles as well.

I really enjoyed Witching And Bitching, even if the comedy was getting old towards the end. For me, and I'm assuming for others there as well, it started to feel like the comedy was being forced more and more. Even so, it was one of the better films that was screened. It was also the only subtitled film screened. The film is listed as being from Spain and France, with the language being Spanish. The subtitles weren't too hard to follow, thou there was times I missed some of them from not being able to read them fast enough. If you are looking for a fun film, then Witching And Bitching should be one for you to check out.
4 out of 5 Maybe I should be a witch later this month

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A New Ghostman On The Block

Even though I intended to get a couple of reviews in this last weekend, in the end I didn't get a single review in. Hopefully I can make up for that this week. I have three other reviews planned for here, I just need to get busy writing them. Over at my other blog, I managed to get another review done there. The last film, the late night feature, from a couple of Friday's ago: Call Girl Of Cthulhu. An interesting title to be sure. Saturday opened with a film called Son Of Ghostman (2013). I said in my last review that not all films screened were really horror films. This was another one like that. It isn't a horror film, but has to do with the horror genre in a way at least.

Denny (Devin Ordoyne) has recently lost his job and is unsure what to do with his life now. He does have a bit of an obsession with an old horror TV show that features his favorite horror host, Ghostman. Recently a new horror host is taking hold, Count Dracool, who Denny has a strong dislike for. For one thing, he has known Rick (Kurt Larson) since high school, and he feels that Rick has no respect for those that came before him. The fact that Count Dracool is also trying to sell his own brand of sun screen isn't going over too well with Denny either. Denny goes to a live shoot for Count Dracool's show, where the guy who once played Ghostman is to make an appearance. Rick doesn't treat the guy to well, which of course makes Denny mad, but Denny does meet Claire (Angela Gulner). Once home, Denny gets drunk and put on makeup like his idol Ghostman. He sets up a video camera and goes on a rant about Count Dracool. Denny is awakened by Zack (Matthew Boehm) the next day. After finding out what happened, Zack takes the video and uploads it the internet, which becomes a popular video. After a lot of talking by Zack, Denny decides to do his own show as the Son of Ghostman. He enlists the help of his best friend Carlo (Marlon Correa) to help with everything. Is this something that Denny really wants to do though?

Son Of Ghostman was written/directed by Kurt Larson. The film is more of a romance than anything else. There is a good healthy dose of comedy as well, but more of the smart ass type of comedy. As I said above, nothing about Son Of Ghostman gives it a horror movie feel. There is a lot about the horror hosts we see on TV, which is a common theme at horror conventions anymore. Even though I was disappointed that this wasn't a horror film, at least Apocalypse Kiss had murders in it, I still have to give Son Of Ghostman its due. For a film I wasn't expecting much out of, it was really a nice surprise. The main story is Denny trying to figure out what he wants out of life, and coming to terms with himself as well. The possible romance between Denny and Claire isn't forced and doesn't take away from the rest of the story. Things do get a little slow here and there. My only other complaint is that we don't get to see Denny's show enough. That is really too bad since I thought that is when the movie really shined.

The acting and the interaction between the different actors was great. I ended up being really impressed by Devin Ordoyne. He was charming and often funny. The way he plays up being Son of Ghostman was a little surprising to me, but it works very well. The constant bickering between Zack and Carlo was also funny. The romance between Denny and Claire builds slowly, which was nice because it wasn't love at first sight type thing. Matthew Boehm was the only actor that I thought could have been better. I only say that because he mostly only had one facial expression it seemed like.

I was surprised at how well Son Of Ghostman worked for me. I think it was a nice surprise for everyone that was there as well. There was a lot of laughter at times, and there was a nice applause for it at the end of the film as well. It would have been nice to have seen an entire episode of Denny's show, besides the one we do see towards the end that is. I hope that other horror fans will give Son Of Ghostman a chance. It is a fun movie that is a joy to watch.
4 out of 5 I will the horror hosting to someone else

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kissing The End Of The World

I think I'm about over my cold now, at least I sure hope so. I've been feeling a lot better, especially compared from a week ago. Anyway, a couple of weekends ago I went to see a bunch of movies. While I was excited to be able to bring some news of upcoming films, being sick quickly put a damper on that. I'm not sure if I can reach my goal of ten reviews in a month now because of that, but it is what it is. I have already written a review for the first film I went to seem, which was called The Hanover House. Be sure to check out that review. The second film that I watched was called Apocalypse Kiss (2014).

Set sometime in the future, Jerry Hipple (Tom Detrik) is an agent trying to track down a serial killer. The Red Harvest Killer, also known as Adrian (D.C. Douglas), has been killing people for some time now. When Katia (Carmela Hayslett) and Gladys (Tammy Jean) come to town and also start killing people, for their own reasons, they get the credit for the other killings as well. This of course doesn't go over to well with Adrian, who starts leaving clues to prove there are different killers in town. That could just be what Hipple wants though.

I was a bit confused as to why Apocalypse Kiss was being shown with horror films. It is sci-fi of course, along with some crime noir thrown in for good measure as well. I'm assuming this was one of the films the sponsor wanted screened because horror film would have been one of the last thing I would have used to describe this movie. This wasn't why I ended up not liking this one though. I kept thinking that there had to be more to the plot, but there never was. Because of that, I couldn't really get into the story too much. Writer/director Christian Grillo provides an interesting world to look at. Not sure how futuristic it was, but Grillo at least gave us some interesting characters. I really liked Gladys for some reason, and I thought a character that Katia ends up killing (I think it was a character called The Wizard, but I could be wrong) along with a girl on the screens around him were also interesting. I guess I just couldn't get into the main characters of Hipple and Adrian. Although Adrian did have some funny lines, he was a little too weird for me. As things come to a head, with mostly all the main character converging, I did find the plot a bit more interesting, but it just wasn't enough really. On top of that, right after the main plot comes to a close, we find out none of it mattered at all since the world is about to end.

As I said above, the world created was interesting to look at. I'm sure this is where the special effects budget went towards, as there wasn't much for horror effects to be found. People are killed, but there was nothing all that gory about it. The acting was pretty good. Even though I couldn't get into some of the characters, it had nothing to do with the acting. In truth, I had more fun finding actors that would show up here and there that were known to me. Tom Atkins has a few scenes and plays another agent that is helping with the investigation. Michael Berryman also shows up, but as far as I know was just a talking head on a blimp as can be seen in the poster above. Lloyd Kaufman also shows up, as the President no less.

I could be wrong, but I don't think Apocalypse Kiss was well received. It did get some laughs here and there, but I didn't notice anyone really getting into the film. This wasn't the only film that was screened that didn't really fit into the horror genre, but the other one was much better. I will be reviewing that one in the next few days hopefully. There was a surprise when it came to nudity in the film. Tammy Jean has some nude scenes as well as some guy. That was the surprise, as there isn't many films that has nudity from a guy in it. I'm pretty sure that Apocalypse Kiss is out on DVD, as Netflix has it where you can save it to your DVD queue. If this type of film sounds like something you would get into, then I do encourage you to check it out. It wasn't a bad film really, just not one I got into.
2 out of 5 It's the end of the world as we know it....