Sunday, October 30, 2011

Episode 7: Halloween Horror Special (guest Matt "Saint Mort" Kelly)

  • 0:00 – Spoiler Warning
  • 0:08 – Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
  • 0:38 – Intro, “50/50” discussion
  • 1:24 – “The Thing” discussion
  • 4:15 – The scary movies we watched*
  • 1:02:30 – CGI vs. Practical
  • 1:07:20 – Star Wars gripes revisited
  • 1:11:43 – Outro, The Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein

*I am sorry for not detailing this section; there are just too many movies that we talked about and we went back and forth a lot. Doing a thorough list would be next to impossible. Just be warned that when we bring up The Thing, John Carpenter’s The Thing, Let The Right One In, Let Me In, and Halloween: Resurrection, we spoil their endings. 


Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: The Thing (2011), dir. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.


It could be that the premise of The Thing is just so intriguing that I can’t help but like it. After all, most reviews have been poor. The idea that there is an alien that can impersonate a human being and make it nigh impossible to tell friend from foe is not only creepy but it’s the kind of paranoia-inducing plot that makes movies like The Truman Show* and Invasion of the Body Snatchers so interesting.

Like Let Me In, The Thing is a period movie set in the early 80’s that really doesn’t feel shoehorned into the era like so many other period pieces. Paleontologist Kate Lloyd is recruited by Norwegians to consult on an amazing discovery. She is flown to the Arctic where she meets up with the Norwegian team and the few Americans at the Arctic base. From there, horror ensues.

The Thing’s creepy premise makes this film’s chases and scares all the more tense and effective. I haven’t felt this scared at a horror movie in a few years. And even understanding that this is a prequel and everything that happens is a foregone conclusion, I found myself hoping for things to happen that wouldn’t happen, and praying for things not to happen which most certainly were going to happen.

Taken as a prequel, it sets up John Carpenter’s The Thing perfectly. Taken as a movie with its own merits, it ends with a brilliant bit of uncertainty that makes me wonder what would happen next.

There were some moments that didn’t feel right (one character’s wrap-up just makes no sense to me), but otherwise, I liked The Thing very much and I recommend it to horror fans who don’t have a knee-jerk gag reaction to watching remakes/prequels/sequels/etc.

*Just you try and tell me that you didn’t have a little moment when you wondered if that could be happening to you… just imagine… WAY more people would have seen your drunken karaoke rendition of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay than you originally thought!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: The Frighteners (1996), dir. Peter Jackson

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie.

The Frighteners is what happens when you give somebody like Peter Jackson a budget… or at least it was what happened when you gave Peter Jackson a budget back in the 90’s. I am not saying that I don’t like the direction his career has headed, because he is firing on all cylinders now; I am saying that I miss the kind of slapstick fun (and sometimes depravity) that he used to be known for.

The Frighteners concerns Frank Bannister, a paranormal investigator who is a conman. Don’t get me wrong, he can actually see and communicate with the dead; the dead are simply in on the con. After Bannister crashes his car into a litigious-minded citizen’s fence, Bannister has his ghostly friends haunt his house! Once there to do his magic, Frank meets the gentleman’s wife, Dr. Lynskey (named after actress Melanie Lynskey, who was in Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, and has a cameo here). From here, some spooky coincidences cast Bannister under suspicion of several deaths, and Dr. Lynskey is caught up in the middle.

The rest of the film is a non-stop parade of ridiculous action sequences (and I mean that in the most loving way possible) and some over-the-top scenery-chewing acting on behalf of the Big Bad (again, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with that, especially given the darkly comedic nature of this film. My only beef: there are moments where The Frighteners strives to be 100% serious, and only Michael J. Fox is really able to pull it off. Chi McBride has a serious moment or two, but he plays these in a half-comedic fashion, so with him it works.

The Frighteners is the last movie of Peter Jackson’s free spirited era of filmmaking. And thank goodness he not only ended it on a high note, but went on to make even bigger and better movies!


Hang In There!

I realize that I have not produced any new content for Celluloid Freaks in several weeks. I hope you subscribers will hang in there and await new reviews and podcasts, because they are coming. I have one new review to post in mere moments, and the technical and scheduling difficulties that have prevented further podcasts have come to an end. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: 50/50 (2011), dir. Jonathan Levine

The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie, as opposed to the upcoming podcast episode, which will contain spoilers and an in-depth discussion of this movie

The television marketing campaign for 50/50 has done the movie no favors. Each TV spot I have seen reduces this movie to a story about some guy who tries to get laid because chicks dig dudes with cancer… or something. Don’t let that be the reason you see this movie, because it is grossly misleading, and that would be a terrible movie 99 out of 100 times a movie with that plot would get made.

50/50 is about Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who despite all his cautious living, contracts an extremely rare kind of spinal cancer. The film proceeds to show us Adam’s next few weeks (or is it months? I couldn’t tell), and how he, his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), his best friend (Seth Rogen), and his mother (Anjelica Houston) deal with his cancer. We see him meet new friends (played by Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer) whilst undergoing chemotherapy, and we see him as he goes to a therapist (the amazing Anna Kendrick).

50/50 is a movie about its characters more than a plot, which makes the film feel lighter than it should be for a movie about such a heavy subject matter. Some of the dialogue feels a little clichéd as well. The side effects of chemotherapy are barely explored, but seeing as how this movie focuses on how cancer affects the dynamics of relationships as opposed to how cancer affects the body, one can let that slide.

Overall, 50/50 is a light film that’s well-acted, directed, and staged, but few of the performers really stand out (Anna Kendrick is best here). I liked it, but I won’t remember it years from now.