Saturday, March 31, 2018

Choice Cuts: The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema by Michael Vaughn (2017: Schiffer Publishing)

In high school my friends and I spent many a Friday night renting random VHS tapes. We were "those kids" that played in bands and watched bad movies because they were good.  It's the "Dio Effect," where something passes the threshold of terrible and cheesy to end up becoming amazing.  The one thing I wish we had back then was a book like this.  I could see one of us buying it but passing it around for weeks at a time as we read and digested each film inside before it stayed at our usual Friday night watch spot for reference.  This book needs to learn time travel...

The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema reads less as a "guide" and more as a checklist of films to work through before you die.  Every piece of celluloid tucked between the covers of this book comes with the author's personal description and feelings about it.  It feels genuine though as the second movie you encounter has Michael telling you that it's not a good film.  It's still strange, but just not his thing, and I can appreciate that honest approach.

Michael also does a great job of adding extras here and there.  Sometimes you get some trivia about a film, or a short interview with someone involved, or even a recommendation of what other movies you might want to pair with your selection.  Did you order the steak?  Then you'll want a red wine.  Do you watch The Apple?  Then try it with Phantom of the Paradise!

One thing to keep in mind with this book is that this is "The Ultimate Guide" and not "The Complete Guide."  Upon my acquisition of this book I quickly scanned it for some of my more obscure favorites but not everyone will have ever seen Cornman, although the lack of Six-String Samurai was disappointing as it is my favorite movie.  Luckily I did see other favorites such as Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, Yeti: A Gay Love Story, and Wild Zero gracing these pages.

The living tend to ignore the strange and unusual, but if you're strange and unusual or just like the strange and unusual then you should pick up a copy of this book.  Yes I just ripped off Beetlejuice to finish this review, but that's not important.  What is important is that you check out The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema.

I would like to thank Michael Vaughn and Schiffer Publishing for hooking me up with a copy of this book to review.  Also, as an FYI, I was not paid in anyway to write a good review for this book, it's legitimately good.

Friday, March 30, 2018

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) 1h 29m

Lily, the main character in this film, is from Altoona, PA.  I grew up about 20 minutes from Altoona so I'm going to give you some fun facts that I remember about that town:

1) Sheetz started there.  If you're not familiar with Sheetz, it started the whole Made To Order gas station food thing.  The main strip of Altoona has something like six Sheetz that you can all see from each other.  It's also Western PA's version of Wawa.

2) It's known for the Horseshoe Curve which is just a horseshoe shaped section of train track in the mountains.  I rode a train on it in fifth grade as a class trip.  It wasn't impressive.

3) Benzel's Pretzels started there.

4) It had a Chuck E Cheese's which had the arcade game Crossbow and my friend Dustin and I would go as adults and play the shit out of it.

5) There's a bowling alley there that I ordered a cheeseburger at in 1999 and since then it has remained the best burger I've ever eaten in my life.

It's pretty bad when I'm more interested in telling you about Altoona than talk about this movie.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a Netflix original that I wish they wouldn't have made and put that money back in to doing another season of Sense 8.  Lily is a nurse/caretaker for the elderly and she has been sent to the North East to take care of an author nearing the end of her life.  From what I could gather there is a ghost that haunts the house named Polly.  Her body is hidden in the wall after her husband killed her in early 19XX or late 18XX.  I don't know for sure.  Time is really an illusion when it comes to this movie because we find out that Lily had been working there for a year at one point and I have no idea how that passage of time happened beyond three days.  The ghost starts fucking with Lily and it's dumb.

Most of this movie's exposition is done in voice over from Lily but it's done in that way where it seems like she's trying to seem more interesting than she is.  When she's reading one of the author's books it becomes even more apparent because the book is so well written in comparison to the dialog.  The writer (and director) of this movie wrote both things, why could they not see that one makes the other sound pretentious and annoying?

I think that this film was written with an "ABC" concept.  We have "A" with "B" and "C" is the outcome but everything in-between is filler.  Very dimly lit, monotone, and boring filler just oozing out of the cracks.

I give I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House 0 Casper comics out of 5:

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Horror Story (2013) 1h 31m

I don't mind subtitles in films.  In fact, I would much rather have subtitles instead of a terrible dub where the context gets changed.  Like that episode of Pokemon where they're eating rice balls but keep calling them donuts because they assumed English speaking children wouldn't know what a rice ball was.  What's even worse though is when the character is speaking English but the subtitles say something different.  It's definitely one of those "you had one fucking job" moments that confuses the hell out of me, and it happened multiple times during my viewing of this.

Staying in India, Horror Story takes the always hard to believe plot of a group of friends out partying the night before one of them is about to move away.  I've moved multiple times in my life and you do not go out and fucking party the night before unless you have a moving service hired and someone is going to drive you where you're moving to. I'm getting off topic but I hate this plot line in horror.  Anyway, our group decides to go to a supposedly haunted hotel because trespassing and breaking and entering are always good ideas the night before someone is moving.  This hotel ends up not just being haunted, but super haunted as it was previously a mental hospital that had a violent patient that claimed to have married Satan in it.

Horror Story is really just a series of dumb decisions.  The bending of the space of the hotel was a nice touch but in truth it's nothing that really made me want to become engaged with this film.  I will say that the hotel "library" having an occult section meant that this was a classy establishment, and the final run with a hand full of fire was climactic, but the rest was a snoozeroo.

I give Horror Story 0 H.H. Holmes houses out of 5:

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

6-5=2 (2014)

Three days deep and we get our first "found footage" film of this Cut.  I wanted to rip into this movie right at the start of this review but I decided to take a moment and look into it a bit more.  This is really a bare bones production done on a shoe-string budget.  It's the director/producer's first film and there wasn't much of a crew.  I'm filling you in on this info because it's something that I'm taking into consideration.  I came into myself thanks in part to a very DIY punk scene in Pittsburgh, so I can respect this kind of lo-fi production.

6-5=2 is a film out of India where a group of friends go hiking on a random mountain path.  I'm having trouble remembering what their actual motivation is for this because I've had a lot of Indian found footage films I've ended up watching for this blog.  This movie turns into a bootleg version of the Blair Witch quickly (a film which was said to be the major influence) with faux graves appearing in the night, cameras catching weird behavior, and everyone being lost.

This isn't the best horror film I've ever seen, but it's also not the worst.  The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity influence is far too heavy and feels more like copying than just an homage.  This is especially prevalent when they use an alternate Paranormal Activity ending where the remaining female walks up to the camera and cuts her throat in front of it.  The parts I liked were really more of things that maybe only I would enjoy.  For example, during one of the evenings a girl sits up and starts doing some sick thrash metal hair spins for about a minute.  I was waiting for some DRI or Municipal Waste to kick in, but it didn't.  The other thing I liked was a brief ghost appearance that lead to my note of "Oh shit! Special appearance by the Babadook!"  So as I said, only dumb stuff that got me excited.  As for the rest, they made a movie with what they had.  That's more than I can say for a lot of us.

I give 6-5=2 1 Suicidal Tendencies album out of 5:

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Temple (2017) 1h 18m

Horror films have taught me many things over the course of my life.  One thing is that children are most likely all ghosts or the devil.  Just because that creature was "born" doesn't make up for the fact that there were a solid nine months where you had no idea what it was really doing in there.  I've seen sonogram images that look like that thing is summing all the powers of the dark lord into him!  Seriously! Do you have multiple children?  Well then one is a ghost and one is Satan, or they're both the ghost of Satan, I don't know.  I don't have kids!

The Temple takes us to Japan where white people act like entitled assholes and can't take "no" or "not for sale" for an answer.  A woman finds an old journal in a used book store but when she attempts to buy it the shop owner tells her that the book is cursed, not for sale, and kicks them out and closes up shop.  If this isn't a sign of "don't fuck with that book," I don't know what is.  Of course, one of the men with her goes back to find a small boy in the shop and buys the book from him (red flag #2).  He stops at a ramen stand where he is told by the chef and the other patron to not go to the temple in the journal (red flags #3 & 4), but one of them still tells him where the temple is.  So guess where these people all go the next day?  This plot is trash.

I was really hoping for something great when this film started but it took me down a long and lonely road of boredom.  I held no sympathy for any of these people because they're all trash and multiple levels.  It's the deepest trash I've ever seen.  An ocean of trash.  The only thing that caught my attention was maybe three to five seconds long and it was the guardian spirit of the temple coming to life and attacking one of the men.  The rest of this film can be shot into the sun for all I care.

I give Temple 0 dumpsters out of 5:

Monday, March 26, 2018

8th Cut Begins! Bedeviled (2016) 1h 31m

When I was a kid I was easily scared by all kinds of dumb stuff.  Most of it being something related to the supernatural, but all of it being stupid shit that kids get scared of.  The concept of "apps" didn't exist until after I was out of college, but let's just say, for one minute, that it existed when I was a child.  There is no way in hell I'd be scared of an app with a silhouette of Pee Wee Herman on it!

Bedeviled is like someone took the original Nightmare on Elm Street and decided to make Freddy some sort of spooky demon in app form.  After a local girl is found dead of what seems to be heart failure all of her friends receive a request from her to download Bedeviled.  What starts out as a much better Siri turns into an evil presence that feeds off of fear and has no problem bending time and space to scare the hell out of anyone with the app.

If I wanted someone to try and scare me in regards to the use of technology then I would show my grandparents my iPhone and then proceed to hear all of the crazy shit they picked up from TV shows about how it will probably kill me.  This film had that overtone of "those damn kids and their cell phones," woven inside of it.  Yet, it tried to stay hip with the kids by mentioning stuff like BitTorrent and having phone hacking.  It does lose touch again quickly though when a cop starts listing off possible drugs one of the kids might be on and it goes "...molly, skunk...poppers, sniffing each other's dirty underwear, bath salt orgies!"  Remember kids:  only a cop will ask you for something like molly or skunk, and if they ask for poppers or where the bath salt orgies are then they're a pervert.

There are some saving graces in this film.  The entity can only exist and manipulate digital technology so anything analog is safe.  They end up finding a reel-to-reel recording which helps the remaining two in their attempt to delete this thing from their phones.  The app tricking a lot of them into revealing their biggest fears to use against them was also well done, except for the teddy bear.  That was just trying too hard.  The final nod (and I assume homage to Elm Street) was the mom ending up with the app on her phone at the end.  It was like the mannequin being pulled through the door by Freddy.  Unfortunately, these just weren't enough to bring me around to recommend this movie.

I give Bedeviled 1 iPhone out of 5: