Saturday, April 30, 2016

Substitute Teachers Suck

My first day at Texas Frightmare is officially in the books. I should be getting some sleep, but I haven't had anything to eat it a while, so I'm snacking and writing this instead. I might not get it done until after I get some sleep, but I shall see. This convention has a lot of guests at it, but other than that, it isn't any different from the other conventions I have been to. I did manage to score Romero's autograph for me and Dawn today, which I was planning on doing tomorrow (today actually since it is after midnight). His line wasn't very long, so I went ahead and jumped in. Anyway, the first screening up was for a movie called Getting Schooled (2016).

Set in 1983, students Julie (Mayra Leal), Rusty (Roland Ruiz), Mike (Jake Byrd), Shelly (Susan Ly) and Hillary (Morgan Tyler) are going to be spending some time with each other in detention. At first the are alone, but then enters Mr. Roker (Tom Long). The students are taken by surprise some because Roker is in a wheelchair. When some of his students don't take him very seriously, Roker decides to lay down the law. Pulling on a string for a map, the whole thing comes crashing down on his head. When he comes to, Roker tries to kill Rusty and is saved by Shelly by her hitting Roker with a large book. Fearing the worst, the students decide to tie Roker to his chair, and eventually put him in a closet...where he disappears after the students find out that Roker was once in the Special Ops. Now Roker is pissed and is out to kill his students.

Director and co-writer Chuck Norfolk was there to talk about his film after it was screened, along with Tom Long and Morgan Tyler. Basically the idea to have a killer in a wheelchair was thought up, and then it was decided to do a The Breakfast Club style horror movie. I didn't know that while watching the movie of course, but it was rather obvious they were borrowing from the older film. The students are much the same as The Breakfast Club, the jock, the tough guy, the princess, the brain and the shy one...although Julie isn't all that shy. It is an interesting setting for Getting Schooled, but it doesn't work as well as one would think. This one was as much as a comedy as it was a horror film. The funny parts didn't always make me laugh, but it did manage to get me to do so at times. That is what worked. Having the killer be in a wheelchair was kind of a cool idea, but it left so many questions that wasn't answered or took a long time to get an answer. The school was at lest two floors, so I couldn't figure out how Roker was getting from one floor to the next. Late in the film we see him use an elevator. I don't know why a school would have one, but whatever. Go with it, right? We know Roker climbed out of the closet somehow, wheelchair and all. We know he got up on the roof, which I had to assume he did so using a ladder that a student following him uses, wheelchair and all. I would like to have seem him actually climbing and pulling his chair up with him. The student following him suddenly appears behind Roker when it would have been impossible to do so since it was made clear all doors were locked in that area. What I didn't understand is that there are five students to one guy in a wheelchair, Special Ops or not, yet they hide out in the classroom the majority of the time. Roker hangs some books to knock out anyone who runs into them, he even hangs one student up after the kill, but how does a guy who can't use his legs manage to do those things? Actually, I think it was called Black Ops, but either way it made me wonder why he wasn't setting up traps on the ground. A trip wire, anything that he could actually do instead of hanging things up which would be impossible for him to do.

There isn't a lot with special effects here, but some of the kills do get a little gory. An arm in the paper cutter, a jagged stick through the next even. These weren't bad, and he only one I thought could have been better was the student who got hung up. The acting was so-so. I couldn't get into the acting of the students all that much. For the most part, each had a moment that was really good. I don't know what it was about their acting I didn't care for though since none of them did that bad of a job. I did like Tom Long fairly well at least. His acting was a step above everyone else's at least. Ron Jeremy has a small role as the janitor.

Getting Schooled also suffers from being just slightly too long. Just when you think it is over, it keeps going. This last scene, with the survivor talking about each student that didn't make it and then shows the survivor at the prom before ending. I don't really know why that was in there, as it seemed rather pointless to me, especially the dance. Maybe I'm wrong about Roker being a sub, but that was just the impression I got from the students. Others there seemed to like Getting Schooled well enough, but for my friend and me, it wasn't a good one. I hated to not like it, but it just makes no sense at times. A kind of cool idea that went to waste for me. Maybe worth checking out once it does come out if it strikes your interest. Otherwise, you won't be missing much.
2 out of 5 Here I thought just being a teacher would be murder

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Evil That Is Vampires Part One

I'm at my next convention, Texas Frightmare! I got to my hotel last night though, so have some time to kill before the convention actually starts. I'm excited about being here as I hope to get George Romero's autograph for myself and my friend Dawn. I will probably try to get those tomorrow though, as I will have a lot more time to stand in line before screenings start tomorrow. So, since I have time to kill, I thought I would see if I could get my book review in. I finished the book Evil Never Dies by Mick Ridgewell Wednesday at work and I'm already 60+ pages into the next book, the sequel to this one, sine I had time to read while my friend who met up with me drove us around last night to get here.

Roland Millhouse is a TV reporter head to a town call Kings Shore to get a, what he calls, a fluff story. It will see be Patricia Owens 120th birthday soon, which makes her the oldest person alive in Canada. Once he gets to her house, he is surprised at how young she looks. His opening question, what is her secret to living so long, opens up a can of worms. Patricia has a story to tell. A story that she has kept to herself for around 100 years and she is ready to let that story out. A great evil once visit the little town of Kinds Shore and many died fighting it. Roland can't actually confirm if the story is true, but after visiting a place where Patricia say the evil is at, and hearing some of her story, Roland decided to stay and allow Patricia to tell her whole story to him.

Evil Never Dies has a story that I have come across before. At the heart of it, it is a vampire story, but the way it is written is a style I haven't come across before. The main character is Patricia. We don't get to learn a lot about her, but there is enough to know in order to care about her and her story. The story takes place in today's world but not a lot happens in the here and now. Instead, the bulk of the story takes place 100 years ago as told by Patricia to Roland. For the most part, the story is being told to Roland, but now and then, Patricia uses her journal to help tell the tale. It was an interesting way to tell the story of what happened, and as you already know, it sort of sets things up for a sequel. Evil Never Dies can easily be read as a stand-alone-book though.

Things start off a little slow as the two get to know each other a bit. The story from a century ago starts off the same way. The word vampire isn't used for a good while in the story, but it become obvious that this is where the story is going. Being being drained of blood, returning to their loved ones to do the same to them, being affected by sun light and so on, The signs all point to vampires and eventually that is what Patricia and Roland start to call them. Ridgewell does a great job of slowly building the story up and does the same for his characters. I was getting close to tears when Patricia gets to talking about her parents and what happened to them. It just goes to show that Ridgewell did his job as an author and got me to care about what was going on in his story. I can't say that anything overly exciting happens, but the way the story was being told...it kept me wanting to know what was going to happen to next. Even the battle that ends the story from 100 years ago wasn't real exciting, but because I care what was happening, I guess it didn't really need to be.

I don't have the book with me at the moment, and normally I would when writing the review, so I can't double check myself on this. Evil Never Dies is 256 pages long. This would normally take me a little while to get through it. This book, however, went pretty fast. This had to do with an interesting story, but it also had to do with the short chapters. I know there was over sixty chapters to be found. This made it easy to stop reading at a new chapter, instead of somewhere in the middle. Since the start of the chapters didn't take up the whole page, and most of the time the ends of a chapter didn't either, this also made it easy to get through the book quickly.

The lack of excitement, of big battles, didn't really bother me that much since I got to like how the story was being told and the characters in it. I can't complain too much over that honestly. What I didn't really like is Ridgewell giving the appearance that the conversation between the characters had ended for the day, and then in the next chapter we find out that it had not. This was a minor complaint, and the only thing I didn't actually care for in the whole story.

Ridgewell does a good job in keeping with, what I see as anyway, the old vampire myths. I was a little confused if his vampires needed to be invited into a house. At times it appeared that is what Ridgewell was aiming for, but then one of his characters from the past, that knew a bit more about the vampires that anyone in the town did, says that the can go into any building but rarely do. These vampires can get into your head and hear your thoughts, make you see them differently, and get the weaker minds to come to them. I felt Ridgewell does a good job of making the vampires feel old school, but scary all the same.

Evil Never Dies is a really good book. I believe this is Ridgewell's second book. I have his first book as well, so I will be sure to check it out soon. Normally I would read a book by a different author, just to mix things up, but I was so into this book, that I just couldn't wait to get into the next one. If you haven't read this one and are into vampires, I would say it is a must to check it out then. I like vampires, but it is usually ghost stories that I love way more. I still ended up loving the novel though. I'm really glad I got to meet Mick Ridgewell and his autograph along with the books. Very much worth checking this out this book if you haven't already.
4 out of 5 At keast the vampires are slightly romantic

Thursday, April 28, 2016

New Apartment From Hell

I got a late start to my day Sunday. I tried staying up to catch Guns N' Roses being streamed from Coachella, but once 2 AM hit, and they still had not started the stream, I decided to give up and go to bed. I don't care that much for them. I did manage to work in a movie that day though. Once again I went with a Netflix DVD. I might be able to get one more review in before my next convention this weekend, as I'm done with another book, but I think that will wait until later. I did manage to watch the movie The Killing Floor (2007), but I haven't had much time to write about it.

David (Marc Blucas) is a literary agent looking for a new place to live. He is shown a penthouse apartment and wants it. He wants it so much that he tells the agent showing him the place that he will do whatever it takes to close out that day. Things don't get off to a good start though when he gets into a fight and has the police show up later. Upon returning home one night, he finds some pictures of what appears to be a crime scene. Not sure how they got into his place, he keeps looking at the pictures and eventually realize they were taken at his place. He can't find anything about a murder that happened there though. Then he starts finding video tapes of himself that someone was recording, from inside his apartment.

The Killing Floor was directed by Gideon Raff, who also has a co-writer credit along with Ryan Swanson. This was a movie that I never got all that excited about. It isn't a bad movie really, but for some reason I could just never get invested in it enough to really care. I think it had to do with the story more than anything. Plus I couldn't get myself to care about Davis all that much. I get annoyed sometimes when people say that a character(s) isn't likable so they didn't like the movie, but I guess that is how I found David. David came across, to me anyway, as a person who was very full of himself, and I personally can't stand people like that. The mystery of what was going on with him was kind of interesting at least. I was getting a bit annoyed with him becoming so paranoid though. I guess I can't completely blame him for that, since he doesn't know anyone in the building or the police who show up at times. Anyone and everyone becomes a suspect. In some cases I did feel he was in the right to suspect someone, like a guy in red that seemed to be following David around. This all gets resolved, but not all questions are completely answered, There is also a bit of a twist at the end for who is doing it, which I think most people who were paying attention figured out. All this didn't really save The Killing Floor, but made it so it wasn't boring for me at least.

Not much was going on as far as effects go. There is some blood to found, but nothing graphic in the least. The acting wasn't too bad. Marc Blucas  does a good job, even if I didn't care for his character at all. Shiri Appleby shared the lead role for the women with Reiko Aylesworth. I liked both of them well enough, but I think I would have to go with Appleby as my favorite between the two.

I didn't really explain the twist right. The twist doesn't really have to do with who is behind the pictures and videos, but instead it has to do with the reason behind it. It is a rather odd reason and I would be surprised if anyone figured it out before the reveal. The twist goes even further to include the pictures, the cops and so on. A lot of thought was put into it all it seems. Even so, I just found The Killing Floor to be the middle of the road type film. This is too bad as the twist could have been a game changer if I had liked the rest of the film more. Sometimes the twist will really tur a film around, but I didn't feel that way this time, As you can see, I didn't have a lot to say about this movie, and I even considered not reviewing it at all since I knew that going into this review. Not the greasted film, but it might appeal to some of you more than it did for me. Check it out sometime if it does sound interesting to you.
3 out of 5 Trust no one, love everyone

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Mexican Vampire Part One

I decided to skip my at home reviews for the time being. Next week at this time I plan on being at another convention, so my Netflix DVD's will be sitting around again while I get reviews from screenings in. Since I have had these DVD's for a while now, I wanted to get at least some of them watched before next week. Even though The Vampire (1957) is the newest DVD I have gotten from Netflix, I have been wanting to watch it since I managed to watch the sequel first a little ways back. To my surprise, I actually liked the sequel more.

Marta (Ariadna Welter) returns home by train after hearing about her favorite aunt becoming very ill. She arrives to find out that her uncle had left already after hearing about a landslide that was supposed to have blocked the tracks. She is told by the employee at the station that there is no way for her to go home, as everyone in the area is afraid to go out after dark, which will be soon. Also at the station is Doctor Enrique (Abel Salazar), who is in the same boat. When someone shows up to pick up a box full of dirt from another country, Enrique convinces the guy to give them a lift. Eventually Marta gets home, only to find out her aunt has passed away already. The uncle had asked Enrique to come, in secret, because the aunt believed that vampires were trying to kill her which no one believed so he wanted a doctor to tell him if she was crazy or if vampires was causing her illness. There are such things as vampires though, and the Count (Germán Robles) takes a liking to Marta and wants to make her a vampire as well.

Since I watched the sequel first, I will talk about it for just a bit to start with. It was great to see the same actors return for the sequel, including director Fernando Méndez. This doesn't really surprise me much though considering that the two films were released a year apart (roughly). Okay, back to The Vampire. This film had more of a story than the sequel, but for whatever reason I liked the sequel more. Even though the story is a bit more complicated in this one, the Count doesn't really play a very big role in things. He is in this town to avenge and bring back one of his own, except he never really does anything to do that. Another aunt is also a vampire, which isn't a spoiler since they clue you in pretty much the first time she is really involved in the story. This confused me some. While she never runs from the sunlight, that we see anyway, the Count does. This made me wonder why no one was questioning why this aunt was gone all day then would show up at night. Seeing the sequel spoiled a little bit of this movie for me, as I knew one character didn't actually die, but I don't get why she wouldn't want Marta to know the truth. While I may not have liked it more than it's sequel, overall The Vampire wasn't a bad film for its time.

Again there isn't much for special effects. There are some quick cuts when someone appears or disappears, or turns into a bat. This wasn't done very well at times, as the cut seemed even more obvious this time around. We do get to see one of the vampires turn to bone. The acting was alright. Abel Salazar played his role a bit more serious this time around and does a good job with it. Ariadna Welter does a good job here as well, but we get to know her character more in the sequel. This was Robles first film and he makes a pretty good impression with his role. He isn't great as the Count, but there have been much worse vampires out there.

I'm glad that I was able to catch up with this movie. I find it a bit weird that Netflix would stream the sequel but not the original film. I know they do that for other films, but since we are talking about two films from the late 1950's, I don't get why they didn't stream them both. Anyway, I did like the more serious tone that The Vampire brings, but in a way I missed the silly mistakes that the sequel had and the lighthearted tone it had overall. I'm wondering if I would still feel the same if I had watched them in order. For a couple of films that were filmed in Mexico in the late 50's, these are pretty good. Well worth a watch if you enjoy the old style vampire movie.
3 out of 5 Amazing no one noticed the bite marks

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Be Careful Who You Have Sex With Part One

I was going to try to get three reviews in again this weekend, but I have been watch Coachella on YouTube, so that made it a bit hard to do. There wasn't any big bands live streamed this year, and not many I just had to watch from those I did know, but I did find a few bands I want to check out some more. That is always a good thing. Anyway, I did manage to watch Contracted  (2013) today before I got back into Coachella. Contracted is a film I've been hearing about, especially after the sequel came out, which I will get to after a couple of other reviews. Since both are on Netflix's instant watch, and it was time to watch a movie from there, I figured I would give this one a shot.

Samantha (Najarra Townsend) is at a party where she notices a guy who keep checking her out. Encouraged by a friend of her's to drink, she ends up very drunk after a while. Another guy, BJ (Simon Barrett) bumps into her and gives her another drink after saying he spilled Samantha's drink. Not remembering if she actually had a drink, she gulps it down. Next thing she remembers is being in a car and having sex with BJ. The next day, Samantha finds that she was bleeding at some point in bed. At work, her hearing starts bothering her bad and she starts getting some cramps. Samantha eventually goes to a doctor where he tells her that it appears she has a head cold, but when he starts to check Samantha out more, he believes that Samantha may have a STD. Over the next couple of days, Samantha discovers that whatever she is infected with is much worse.

Contracted was written and directed by Eric England. You can kind of tell that while England made an interesting story, he didn't seem to put in much research in places.This is most noticeable during the doctor's visits. I think anyone who has gone in for a checkup knows that the doctor listens to your heart and lungs in more than on spot, but that is what this doctor does. I guess blame can be put on the actor a bit in that case as well. I enjoyed the overall story. It was unclear what was wrong with Samantha for a good while, and the end result was pretty cool. There is an interesting side story going on with Samantha's sexuality. She likes being with other women, which is a sticky point between Samantha and her mom. All that keeps the story interesting, but it is also littered with bad writing. Samantha didn't seen to care at all that she had been raped. While she is worried about the bleeding, she doesn't really do anything about it. If i sat on the toilet and got up to find the entire inside of the toilet was coated with blood, I would be on the phone with someone or getting to a hospital instead of crying and trying to clean up. Then there is Samantha's boss who can clearly see something isn't right with her, and sends her out to serve customers anyway. Despite all this stuff, and more, the last half of Contracted manages to save the movie some. It becomes interesting to see how Samantha ends up reacting to the people she has relationships with. Her former girlfriend, a co-worker who Samantha feels has the hots for her, and the guy who was checking her out at the party and tries to get to know her more after.

The effects are pretty good here. Not a lot of gory stuff, but you can find a few effects that are that way. The makeup for Samantha wants she shows signs of being sick on her body and face are well done. IMDb lists her eyes changing colors as a goof, I think because it happens over short periods of time, but I think that is a mistake calling it a goof as we don't know what the virus, or whatever it is, is doing to her. There are a few effects late in the film, that involve how Samantha deals with some people mostly. The acting wasn't too bad. I wasn't real thrilled with Najarra Townsend but I really feel that had more to do with her character and not so much her acting. Caroline Williams plays the part of Samantha's mom. Alice Macdonald plays the part of the co-worker. Katie Stegeman plays the part of Samantha's ex, who looks pretty wild at times. And Matt Mercer plays the part of the guy who wants to get to know Samantha better.

I was really mixed with Contracted. On one hand it was a really interesting premise, and on the other hand it had some really bad writing. Apparently it was popular enough to get a sequel at least. From the few other reviews I have read since watching Contracted, it seems many feel the same way as I do about it. I was debating with myself on which rating to give it, and since I usually go with the higher of the two, I decided to do the same here. While I'm truly baffled by some of the writing here, I still liked it well enough. Not a great film, but worth checking out possibly. Hopefully if you do give it a shot, if you haven't already, you will like it just enough like I did.
3 out of 5 At least the preacher was funny

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Fire Starting Bugs

I didn't get a lot of writing done through the week sadly. I was wanting to get more than one review in, but it just never worked out for me to do that. I did get a review for Hush in at my other blog, so feel free to check it out sometime. Next in line for me Netflix DVD's was the movie Bug (1975). I had forgotten that another blog I follow reviewed it way back in 2007. I don't recall leaving a comment for that review, but apparently I did. Hopefully I didn't go add Bug to my DVD queue after reading it since that would mean it had taken me around nine years for it to get to my house.

A pretty good sized earthquake hits a small town somewhere in California. The church was heavily damaged, along with some other buildings, but it didn't appear that anyone was seriously hurt or killed. Out on the Tacker farm, a good sized fissure has opened up. No one really takes notice of all the bugs, cockroaches actually, that have also appeared. On his way home from the church after the quake, Tom (Jesse Vint) is with his son when their truck suddenly bursts into flames for seemingly no reason. James (Bradford Dillman) is a teacher and scientist in the area. The bugs are eventually brought to his attention and he figures out that it is the bugs that are causing fires all over town. They are also dying though, as James thinks the pressure on the surface is different from where ever they came from. James decides to experiment on the bugs, but he should just leave well enough alone.

I was a little surprised with Bug. Based on the novel The Hephaestus Plague by Thomas Page, with the screenwriter credit going to William Castle, and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Bug starts off in a horror movie kind of way. We don't get to see the bugs a whole lot, but they are there from time to time, It is only hinted at that the bugs are causing things to catch fire. It isn't until a little later into the film that we know for sure that is the case. This is shown by a guy picked them up and getting burned, although actors reactions to getting burned reminded me more of someone getting bit, and by a cat being attacked by the bugs. That scene seems to have upset people, though I'm not sure why as it didn't seem that real to me. Once James comes into the picture, the film changes some. The horror is still there, like what happens to his wife, but it turns into a much more science filled movie. Not all the science is sound, but the results can be interesting from a story standpoint. With each thing James tries, he just seems to make things worse than the last time. This all leads to a very odd ending. While all the science stuff is interesting, and leads to some cool things like the bugs showing intelligence, it can also be a bit boring (which science can be if your not into the topic) and tends to drag the film down in the middle and towards the end.

The effects aren't the best in the world, but they aren't the worst I have ever seen either. The bugs don't really do a whole lot, but they do crawl around on people. People and things catch fire from time to time, but we don't see the after affects of that except for the poor cat. The acting wasn't too bad. Bradford Dillman gets the majority of the screen time here. Part of the plot deals with Dillman's character slowly going crazy, or at least it feels that way, and Dillman handles this very well. Even though the pace of the story slows down too much, Dillman makes up for that slightly.

I guess some people would casually brush a bug off them, I have done it with smaller bugs, but with some things I just flip out for a second until it is off me. I got the feeling that at times the bugs either weren't actually on the person, or they were trying to hard to act as if it wasn't that big of a deal. Take a sleeping James while a few cockroaches crawl around on him. Maybe one wouldn't wake up from that, I'm pretty sure I would but who knows. When they start biting him though, I was even more surprised he didn't wake up right away. I can't say that Bug was all that great, but it wasn't all that bad either. I didn't mind the science stuff, but I do wish they had cut it back some, or at least added scenes with what else was going on in town. I think it is worth checking out though if you are looking for a slightly different insects go wild type of movie.
3 out of 5 Just step on them already!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

KILD TV Giveaway

One last giveaway to go for now! Sorry for the delay on this. I wrote down the names of those who entered the giveaway for the Harvest Lake BluRay, and since I disqualified ZombieDawn from entering it, I had her pick a number for me. She didn’t see the message right away though, so there was a slight delay in picking a winner. I forgive her though, so much so that I will even allow her to enter into this giveaway if she so chooses. Aren’t I just the nicest person? In case you are wondering, ZombieDawn picked the number 3, which happened to be...Eric! Congrats yet again Eric.

So, for this giveaway I’m offering up a BluRay of the movie KILD TV, which won best picture and best actor awards at the convention. The picture above is the cover for the BR. I had the chance to meet some of the cast and get the BR signed by them while I was at the convention. Five people signed it, though one is a little hard to read since he used an ink pen. I know four of the five being director William Collins (top right), writer Channing Whitaker (bottom right, silver), and actors D.C. Douglas (top left) and Dan Braverman (middle). I didn’t catch who the guy on the bottom left was, but the cover was handed to him to sign, so I’m sure he has something to do with the movie. You can find my review of the film here, in case you missed it.

I’m going to extend this giveaway by a little more than a week since it was delayed some. If you are interested in trying to win this movie, all you have to do is leave a comment by April 22, 2016. I will not accept any more after that day. Good luck to all who enter!