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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What Movie Wednesday: Killjoy (2000)

I'd say we're all agreed that dolls can be creepy- as can kids, right?  Well, I think we can also agree that clowns are on the "Things That Shouldn't Be Creepy... But Are" List...

Michael was in love with Jada.  Jada was dating a gangsta.  Michael practiced black magic.  The gangsta kills Michael.  Michael's black magic brings a clown doll to life.  Clown doll starts to kill everyone.

I'm not entirely sure what approach I should take with this review.  Taking an slightly academic approach (my standard approach) would only give this dung pile of a movie more legitimacy and credibility than it deserves.  Taking a witty approach would only make this excrement filled toilet film seem worthy of being seen for a chuckle.  Taking a "rage quit" approach would only make it seem that this piece of cinematic fecal matter was worth being angry over.

It doesn't deserve legitimacy or credibility.  It isn't worth being seen for a chuckle.  It's not even worth being angry over.

I have nothing positive to say about it.  The story felt like the writer had nothing more than a bowel movement on a blank page.  The characters were simply pieces of badly written turds.  The acting was on the level of the compost beneath manure- not even worth using for your vegetable garden.  The camera work and editing were perfect examples of rectally rejected refuse, and disgusting diarrhetic discharge.

"Killjoy" is getting flushed into "The Ugly"... though it did give me a reason to look up different ways to call it a shitty film.


Big shout-out to the following for voting for this "What Movie Wednesday" movie:

Jason Hewlett (@camethebasement);
David Stewart;
Kari Adams.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Dream House (2011)

I love psychological thrillers because, when properly done, they challenge your mind to pay attention, and gather the clues before you and figure out the truth behind what's happening- whether it's deducing who the killer is, revealing why the events are happening... and even learning if what's happening is actually happening at all...

Will Atenton and his family move into a house in a quiet suburb, only to become the target of a possible stalker.  Investigating, they learn that their little house was the scene of a horrific murder.  Is the stranger stalking them back to claim more victims?  Soon Will and his wife, Libby, will find not just their lives in danger... but everything they believed to be real...

The most basic, spoiler free premise is pretty standard for a psychological/stalker thriller- but is sufficient to base the rest of the plot (twists included) on.  At first, I was thinking that this movie wasn't going to go much further than than basic premise.  Then, I found myself going, "Ooooooh!  That's interesting!".  Then, just as I was getting nicely complacent about where the story was going, I once again caught myself going, "Nice!  It zigged instead of zagging!".  And finally, just as I was getting comfortable with my perception of the events, a small detail involving wind chimes (of all things) made me go, "Wait! What? Coooooool!"  This progression didn't feel contrived.  It was a great organic growth of the story.  Afterwards, I just sat there, enjoying the satisfaction of a well crafted story.

All of the characters in "Dream House" got developed nicely- even if they didn't get a lot of scream time.  Each scene they had wasn't wasted- they contributed to the story in a meaningful way.  Each one was unique, human, and believable.  You come to really like and sympathize with Will and Libby as they try to protect their daughters from what they think is a simple stalker.  Each little revelation added to the depth and texture of the characters involved, and served to pull me into their lives fully.

This is only enhanced by the performers.  Daniel Craig as Will, and Rachel Weisz as Libby are great together, and display a nice chemistry for the characters.  They bring a good understated energy to the roles they're playing, helping to make them feel more grounded and believable.  Claire and Taylor Geare in the roles of the daughters were adorable, and really pulled on the heart strings- rounding out the family dynamic nicely.  I enjoyed seeing Naomi Watts as Ann (the neighbour).  While a supporting character, I still found her to be engaging and interesting.  Marton Csokas was great as Jack (Ann's ex-husband), and really brought a strong energy to his role.

"Dream House" is NOT a fast paced movie.  In fact, it develops at a slower rate than most psychological thrillers.  I can see this being a major blocking point for most viewers.  But if you don't mind investing the time, I think people will find this movie to be fairly satisfying.  I'm going to put it in "The Good".

Friday, April 5, 2019

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

Horror and comedy have always gone together- which makes it a logical step to animate a horror comedy, right?  Right

Dracula is getting lonely running his hotel.  His daughter Mavis decides that he needs a vacation from the hotel... and books a cruise for the whole gang.

While there, he meets Ericka, the Captain of the cruise ship... and "zings"...

But will the "zing" be mutual... or is Ericka hiding a dark secret that could ultimately mean Dracula's death?

For a third entry in an animated franchise, "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" isn't bad.  It's not great, though.  I did enjoy the story.  It was sufficiently interesting enough to keep my attention through the bag of cheesy poofs I ate while watching it.  Beyond that, it's a fairly shallow plot.

While it has the whole gang, (Frankie, Griffin the Invisible Man, Wayne the Wolfman, and Murray the Mummy), they play very minor roles as it relates to the plot.  It felt like they were there simply because it was expected that they would.  I will admit that the scenes with Wayne and Wanda (his werewolf wife) were quite enjoyable.  The incidental nature of their roles to the overall story made them feel like they were less than supporting characters overall.  Ericka was an interesting addition, but ultimately felt too two dimensional to really engage me.  Even Dracula lost some of the depth that really made me enjoy the first film.

The voice acting was as good as it was in the previous two films- but still wasn't enough to make me feel emotionally invested in the characters or story.  I sometimes found myself more focused on finding the cheesy poof that fell between the cushions of my sofa.

Cheesy poof dust is soooo hard to get out of cushions, you know.

Would I recommend it?  Maybe.  Would I watch it again?  No.  That puts "Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation" into "The Bad".

Thursday, April 4, 2019

"Grizzly Shark" (Ryan Ottley)

Once in awhile you come across a comic that takes an idea that could be terrifying, adds copious amounts of humour, gore, and epicness that you just have to smile.  "Grizzly Shark" by Ryan Ottley is that comic for me.

On an Earth not too unlike ours, there was a time where land was actually water, and where water was actually land.  Then the two reversed.  Most of life on the planet adapted and evolved into what we know today... except for two...

Bears... and sharks.  They got mixed up.

The premise of this comic is simple:  Sharks are the apex predator of the forests instead of bears, while bears took the place of sharks in the sea.  I was instantly intrigued by it... and I wasn't disappointed in the story utilized this premise to hilarious affect.  I found myself snickering and chortling at the absurdity of the situations, and the reactions of the characters.  This was horror parody done to perfection.

"Grizzly Shark" has characters that are equally offbeat and ridiculous as the premise.  As silly as they are, they are all unique, and interesting.  Each one takes the standard tropes for their character types, and takes them to eleven- skewering them deftly, while not being insulting to the genre or the reader.

I absolutely loved the artwork.  Each kill is done in such an over the top way, with huge splashes of blood and gore that remember how silly some horror movies kills really are.  At the same time, there are just some moments of absurd epicocity- such as the panel below:

I mean, seriously- LOOK AT IT!

Also, the fight between the Grizzly Shark, and the Sea Bear is a sight to behold!

I'm really hoping that Image Comics and Ryan Ottley come out with another story arc involving Grizzly Sharks and Sea Bears.  I feel like a Grizzly Shark smelling blood in the forests, seeking more of this comic in "The Good".

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What Movie Wednesday: "Quarantine" (2008)

I'm going to keep this review of 2008's "Quarantine" brief.

Why?  Because if I didn't keep it brief, I would spend the whole article just cursing.

And I try to be strategic with my cursing.

This film simply fucking sucked.

The story premise was interesting, but standard for the "Rage Zombie" type of film.  Everything that occurred was predictable.  Fucking predictable.  From start to end.

Oh- and major fucking spoilers.  It's fucking rabies.  Rabies, people- rabies.  And it takes half the fucking movie for them to fucking figure it out.  What, the fucking vet- someone who fucking deals with animals, can't tell what rabies fucking looks like?  Fuck you, movie.  Just fuck you.

Sorry.  This movie brings out the "Mulholland Drive" hate in me.

The characters.  The fucking characters.  Just fuck them.  Of the entire cast of about 18 characters, there's only ONE that's likable.  ONE.  The rest?  I couldn't care less.

There was some decent acting on the part of the actor that played the one likable character.  Jay Hernandez was enjoyable to watch.  Actually, on second thought, Johnathon Schaech was decent as George- the fireman with the pornstache.  He made me hate an unlikable character... sooooo, I guess that's an accomplishment.

The camera work is fairly standard for "found footage" movies: shaky, blurry at times, lots of shots of the floor, roof, wall, the back of people's heads... and the occasional decent shot of the actual action.  The shot at the top of this article counts... and the shot of one of the infected bashing her head on the railing as she fall down the center of the staircase.

Seriously, this movie is a disgrace.  I don't know why Hollywood has to remake foreign films (this movie is based on the Spanish film, [REC]).  From what I've heard, the original Spanish film is far superior.

I'm not even going to place this movie in a category.  I'm just going to fucking kill it with fire.  This movie isn't even worth a fucking "Ugly" rating.  Just fuck it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to inject myself with rabies, since that'd be more enjoyable than this movie...


Big shout-out to the following for voting in this edition of "What Movie Wednesday:

Jason Hewlett (@camethebasement);
David Stewart;
Jason Wiggins.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Boy (2016)

Children can be pretty creepy, right?  Right.  Dolls are pretty creepy, right?  Right.  So dolls of children should be super creepy, right?  Maybe...

Greta has been hired by the Heelshires to look after their son while they are away.  When she arrives, she learns that Brahms is actually a doll... a doll made to look like their deceased son.  Escaping an abusive relationship, and needing the money, Greta takes the job.

Soon, she learns that there's more to Brahms than meets the eye...

The premise of this movie really intrigued me.  I wanted to see it.  I was hoping that this would be a great supernatural horror movie that provided spooky tension and unease like "The Others" (2001), "The Changeling "(1980), and "The Woman in Black" (2012).

For the most part, the movie delivered on this promise with some really nice ghostly, "What the fuck?" moments.  Strange noises and whispers, shifting shadows, and the Brahms doll apparently moving by itself from location to location.  The "big reveal" however, was a little underwhelming I found, since it then treaded pretty worn and unoriginal steps afterwards.

The characters weren't really all that developed, but you got to know them enough to at least like them, and even root for them.

While the acting was certainly good enough to carry this movie and the characters- but it wasn't exactly memorable either.

Which is what can also be said for the camera work.  There are some really effective shots, etc... but they don't stand out enough to be ones that you think back and go, "That was an amazing bit of camera footage".  I did like the rather subdued, earthy colour palette used.  It helped to give a dusty, secretive feel to the events unfolding.

"The Boy" isn't a bad movie- but it's not a memorable one either in my opinion.  Up until the "big reveal", I quite enjoyed it- but that after that point, I found myself not as engaged in it.  I'm going to have to put it in "The Bad".

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Changeling (1980)

You may notice that this particular article is lacking the "From the Corner" pre-fix.  That's because this review of the 1980 film "The Changeling" is a Basement Exclusive!  I have not reviewed this film for "The Corner of Terror".

After the death of his wife and daughter, John Russell moves into an old, isolated mansion in order to work on composing a new piece.  He soon finds himself enveloped in strange sounds, shadows, and spirits- all leading to an explosive revelation about one of the most powerful men in the country...

This film, starring George C. Scott is a true horror classic.  It expertly weaves a ghost story that will stay with you even after you've turned all the lights on.

The story is fantastic, and exemplifies what a good ghost story should be.  The pacing is slow, but tense as it builds and builds to it's eruptive climax.  It keeps adding bits and pieces of the story at just a fast enough flow to keep you interested, and carry you along.  Each story element that gets added just turns the dial up a notch- balancing the subtle eerie moments with the more shocking ones.  A well crafted story.

The characters are fairly standard by today's standards, though John Russell (George C. Scott), and Senator Joseph Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas) are well developed and fully realized characters- which is fitting since they are the protagonist and antagonist respectively.  The others are, as I said, standard... but still likable enough, and flesh out the world around the two main ones suitably.

The acting of Scott and Douglas are great.  Both bring a real energy and reality to their roles.  To be honest, words fail me when I try to describe my thoughts on their acting in this movie.  Just awesome.

The camera work is a marvelous blend of standard camera angles and movements, and off-kilter ones- with the off-kilter ones making the spooky scenes all the more un-nerving and scary.  The ball scene in the GIF at the top is a perfect example of that.  Kudos to the camera staff and editing staff on compiling all of the various shots into a cohesive whole that scared the fucking shit out of me as a kid.

I really can't say enough good things about "The Changeling".  It is right up in my Top Five Horror Movies for good reason.  I have to qualms re-watching it each year, or recommending it to people.  This movie deserves a spot in "The Good" for sure.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

Sometimes, sequels are better than the original.  Sometimes, sequels are as good as the original.  Often, sequels are worse than the original...

While rummaging through an abandoned house looking for scrap to sell, Sonny and Sam come across a mysterious chest in a hidden room.  Inside the chest is a strange, locked book.  Opening the book releases Slappy the Dummy... and all the chaos that follows him.

Soon, it's up to these two young men, and Sonny's sister Sarah to save the town from the haunted Halloween...

I wanted to like this movie.  I wanted this movie to give me something different from the previous one.  Really, I did.

The story and plot is essentially the same as the first movie with only minor tweaks.  Because of this, I found my attention waning from moment to moment.  The scenes with the garden gnomes, and the gummy bears were enjoyable though.

The characters aren't bad, but rather cookie cutter for teen type family horror movies.

The acting was good for this type of film.  The performers were able to bring some life and energy tot he characters.

I did like the special effects though.  They were definitely a level above the original "Scooby Doo" movie- and even a level above the 2016 "Ghostbusters" movie.

Ultimately, while younger viewers will probably enjoy "Goosebumps 2", parents probably won't.  Because of this, I'm going to have to put it in "The Bad".

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

What Movie Wednesday: "Billy the Kid vs Dracula" (1966)

This past Wednesday, I brought back an old feature- "What Movie Wednesday".  It went well in my opinion, and I had fun doing the tweet along.

So, here's the review!

Billy the Kid has "retired" and gotten engaged to the daughter of a wealthy rancher.  Soon, however, Billy finds himself in for the fight of his life against the Lord of the Undead... Master of the Children of the Night... DRACULA!  Billy is his fiance's only chance of avoiding a fate worse than death...

This is truly a B-Movie of epic proportions.  As Vance Kotrla (@SciFi_Romance) aptly put it:

The story, the characters, the acting, the camera work... all of it.  Just ALL of it.  The best part was John Carradine (David Carradine's father)... especially his skill at giving us "crazy eyes" like the example below:

See what I mean?  Just fantastic!

Despite it being a highly flawed movie (aka- "HOW did this movie ever get made?" flawed), it was good for a giggle and chortle while I was tweeting along to it.  It's going to sit solidly in "The Ugly"... but I must confess to feeling some guilty pleasure watching and enjoying it.


Big shout-out to the following for voting in the return of "What Movie Wednesday:

Nathan Bosa;
Jason Hewlett (@camethebasement);
David Stewart;
Jason Wiggins.

Also, special shout-out to Vance Kotrla (@Sci-Fi_Romance) for the great quote above!

 The next "What Movie Wednesday" vote will be posted 20 Feb 2019 at just after midnight that morning.  Voting will go until 6:00 pm (Pacific Standard Time), and tweeting will begin at 7:00 pm (PST).  You'll be able to vote either on Twitter, or on our Facebook page!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Mama (2013)

You wouldn't normally expect to see a movie that combines feral kids and ghosts, right?  Well, 2013's "Mama" is unexpected that way...

Years after their disappearance, Lily and Victoria are discovered living in a supposedly haunted forest.  They are taken to live with their Uncle Lucas and their Aunt Annabel (no relation to the doll).

But something has followed them from the forest... something that wants the girls back...

Guillermo Del Toro's "Mama" is not, unfortunately, one of his better movies.  The story idea is great, but the execution is a little flat in my opinion.  The plot progression is steady and moves towards an interesting- though predictable climax.

The main flaw is the characters.  The two girls- Victoria and Lily felt like they were more or less a MacGuffin, rather than fully realized characters in themselves.  Victoria gets a bit more growth and development than Lily... but not much.  Lucas doesn't get much development either, and felt like he was just sorta there without any real impact.  Annabel, the aunt gets the most- but even then you're not really felt engaged by the character.  I was also really disappointed by the character of Mama.  Beyond the very basic revelation of her story, you're not compelled to feel much towards her.

I can't say too much about the acting.  It was standard in my opinion- not great, but not shitty either.  I liked the performances given by Jennifer Chastain (Aunt Annabel), Megan Charpentier (Victoria), and Isabelle Nelisse (Lily) though.

There was some decent camera work, but the CGI used for Mama was very obvious CGI. 

Ultimately, I was left feeling, "meh".

"Mama" might be good for a single viewing, but certainly not more than once.  It's going into "The Bad".

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Babadook (2014)

Sometimes, a bedtime story grabs you in a dark grip... one you just can't escape...

Amelia is trying to raise her son alone after the death of her husband.  One night, she reads a strange book called "Mister Babadook" to Sam- a book that warns that the Babadook will never stop tormenting you once you become aware of it.

Soon, they become of something dark in their lives... a dark thing that just won't go away...

"The Babadook" is one of those movies that works on a metaphorical level in addition to the literal "what's on the screen" way.  The theme of dealing with grief is very much an element behind the horror in this movie, and adds a level of depth and relatability to it.

The story is very similar to many other "ghost in the closet" movies, but is strengthened by the thematic element, and the strength and believability of the characters.  I wanted to find out how the characters ultimately dealt with the events unfolding, and how they would grow from them in the end.

As mentioned above, the characters were quite believable.  They weren't perfect people.  They were flawed, and unique.  I couldn't help but be engaged by them and the emotions they were feeling as the story progressed.

The quality of the characters were enhanced by the skillful acting.  Essie Davis as Amelia and Noah Wiseman as Sam were great.  They were able to carry the movie- which except for small scenes, was reliant of their two characters to give the story substance.

Jennifer Kent brought us a movie that was emotionally deep, believable, and stylish.  Here low tech approach to it only helped to add to the uniqueness and surreal nature of it.  Using stop-motion for the Babadook monster was bold, and in my opinion created a very cool look and feel to it.

I would certainly recommend this to people, and I'm putting it in "The Good".

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

One of my favorite paranormal cases to study is the British "Enfield Poltergeist".  When I heard that "The Conjuring 2 would concern the involvement of Ed and Lorraine Warren in it, I was understandably interested- though I was well aware that the Warrens had only spent one day as part of the investigation.  I was still interested.  Wary, but interested.

The Hodgsons are being tormented by strange phenomena: knockings, moving furniture, levitation and possession.  Spurred by a vision she has during the Amityville investigation, Lorraine and Ed travel to England to assist the besieged family.  Their investigation draws them into the clutches of a demonic force that has been stalking Lorraine for some time...

I'm going to get my main negative comment out of the way: the historical accuracy of this movie as it relates to the Warrens' involvement in the real life Enfield Poltergeist investigation is thrown out the window.  If you go into this film looking for an accurate portrayal of the case, you will be disappointed.

Right- with that out of the way, let's talk about "The Conjuring 2" as entertainment.

The story from a purely entertainment viewpoint is pretty solid, if somewhat standard for the genre.  It hit pretty much all the beats you'd expect from a ghost movies these days.  Even so, it's strength is that it's fairly grounded in tone and pacing.  It's not over the top in what it's expecting you to believe for the most part, and does contain kernels of truth incorporated from the actual case.  Even if it wasn't based (very loosely) on a real event, the story itself is sufficiently well crafted to be engaging, and keep my attention from wandering to thoughts of why my bowl has no more cheesy poofs.

The characters, from what I have read, are fairly accurate to the real life participants.  The fictionalized versions have depth, and a nice believability to how they act.

I have to say that the acting was really quite good.  Every single performer brought these characters to life in a substantial way that helped to draw you into the story.  I also loved that there was a real effort to make the look of the actors match the actual person they were portraying.  This is especially apparent  with Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson, and Simon McBurney as Maurice Grosse.

Praise also has to go to the art direction.  I was really impressed with how closely they made this film match up visually to photos, etc of the real events.  From the red nightgown Janet wore in the famous "levitation photo", to the posters on the walls.  It was close enough that I didn't mind it wasn't exact.

As an accurate telling of the Warren's involvement with the Enfield Poltergeist, I would have to give "The Conjuring 2" a borderline "Ugly/Bad".  As a piece of horror entertainment, I'd put it 'The Good".