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Monday, January 21, 2013

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS REVIEW


  Fairy tales are something that can be told over and over. Some stay true to the original tale, while others take on their own identity. It seems Hollywood is going after fairy tales again with examples like last year’s “Snow White and the Huntsman,” and the upcoming “Jack the Giant Slayer.” Many of you know how well Snow White turned out, and I’m not yet sure if I’ll be seeing Jack. While not expecting much from the most recent fairy tale movie “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters,” I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
  As many people know, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) are siblings who are left alone in the forest. While trying to find their way back to civilization, they stumble upon a house made of candy. Of course being children, they are drawn to it, go inside, but unfortunately find themselves captured by a witch. However, they are able to kill the witch, and escape. And now comes the change in this tale. They grow up to become witch hunters.
  Now this is 3D just the way I like it. There is blood, body parts, and everything else flying right off the screen. All of it is well timed within the story. Nothing is forced as many of the chainsaw moments are in "Texas Chainsaw 3D." It’s amazing how many of these 3D movies do such a good job with the 3D during the opening credits, but they don’t translate that effort to the rest of the movie. I’m glad that isn’t the case here. I almost feel like going back and seeing what this looks like on IMAX.
  What else looks good in 3D... the witches. I was expecting some stereotypical looking witches, but that's not this time. These are more like mutant witches. There are big and small ones, fast moving ones, and even twins. The one thing they all have in common is that they are ugly, and the 3D really captures that.
  The witches are all led by the evil witch Muriel (Famke Janssen). Muriel certainly makes a great villain. She shows no mercy trying to execute her plan to capitalize on the fabled Blood Moon. She also has an advantage that other witches don't, as she is able to be in human form. Famke puts on a strong performance in both forms.
  Speaking of strong performances, Jeremy continues his growth in these action type roles, and Gemma isn’t half bad herself. Both are fun to watch as they battle the witches. And battle witches is what they do, as the movie is a lot more action packed than expected. There are also some twists and turns in the story, but if the audience is paying attention they shouldn't be taken by surprise. Most of all, this certainly isn't Hansel and Gretel the kids story. There is blood splattering, cursing, and even nudity.
  So how surprised are you that I liked “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters?” I can’t help it, the 3D is just the way I like it. The witches are a lot more creative than I figured they would be. While some of the twists aren’t too hard to figure out, it’s good to see the story isn’t completely predictable. It’s not necessarily the movie’s horror elements that I liked most, but that the action keeps coming. Regardless, I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood. Crazy right?

  HorrO

Friday, January 18, 2013

MAMA REVIEW


  While some people’s expectations for “Mama” are high, I tried not to let my expectations get too high. Why? Well, mostly because I still remember the last Guillermo del Toro movie I saw “Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." Lets just say I wasn’t impressed. His movies are usually well done, but they just seem to come up short of my expectations. So did Guillermo del Toro come up short again?
  The title might be “Mama,” but it’s Papa that gets this story started. He suffers some kind of emotional breakdown, kills some of his fellow co-workers and wife, and tries to run away with his two daughters, Victoria (Megan Charpentier), and Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse). He accidentally drives the car off the side of a mountain, but luckily everyone survives. Soon after, they find shelter in a small cabin in the woods. Unknown to them, something already has taken shelter there, and will later follow the girls back to civilization.
 Audiences will clearly see a Guillermo del Toro style movie, in particular an intriguing story about children, and the presence of a supernatural creature. Victoria and Lilly are 3 and 1 year old respectively when they are left in the cabin. They spend 5 years in the cabin developing some almost animal like behavior before they are rescued. From there, the audience gets to see them try to get some normalcy back into their lives, while Mama mysteriously lurks in the shadows. As expected, this comes easier for Victoria, and remains a constant challenge for Lilly.
  The girls have their struggles, but so do their new guardians, uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and his girlfriend Annabel (Jessica Chastain). While their uncle loves them unconditionally, it’s Annabel who is just a woman in a rock band that has her own growing up to do. She isn’t sure she will ever grow to love the girls, and makes it clear she doesn’t want to be their mother. However, her feelings change as circumstances change setting her up in an unexpected, yet welcomed battle with Mama for the girls hearts.
  Jessica does a wonderful job showing how Annabel goes through her transformation. Not only the transformation, but also she does a great job when it comes time for Annabel to be fearful of Mama. Nikolaj gives a decent performance, but it’s Megan and Lilly’s performances that could really make or break the movie. They are able to handle everything they are asked to, and each does it in different ways. They definitely will get the audience to care for these characters.
  Now to what I’m sure you want to know, is the movie scary, in particular Mama? Yes, and no. The first appearance by Mama is pretty creepy, and just the mere fact that she can appear at any moment keeps the tension high. There are a few scares early, but it’s more about her freaky appearance than the scares. As the audience gets to see more and more of her, the fear factor begins to drop. What’s really scary is what she’s truly after, and partially succeeds at.
  Going back to the children, they also provide some scares, and certainly unusual moments. One of the weirdest things they do is crawl around on all fours. While being over seen by Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) at his facility, there is a good early display of their bizarre behavior in a staged setting. As mentioned, Victoria starts to grow out of her animal like habits, but Lilly doesn’t. Besides crawling around, she insists on sleeping under the bed, hisses, and just the overall way she tries to talk is strange. Probably the scariest moments come when the girls are playing with Mama. The movie also tries to scare audiences with some random dreams. I’m not sure they fit the movie, and kind of remind me of the teasers for American Horror Story Asylum.
  While the girl’s story is interesting, and touching, the movie does make some minor mistakes. In one scene, Annabel is trying to put the girls to sleep, but the light coming from the window makes it appear as if it’s daytime. Lucas has one of those dreams that later leads him to a bridge. The audience might expect that to lead him to finding an important part of the puzzle, but it’s rather pointless. Not to mention a call between Lucas and Annabel where he tells her he will be home in a day, but it appears much more time has gone by.
  The children’s story is fascinating, and heartbreaking. The way they tie in Annabel’s relationship with the children vs. Mama’s relationship with them is also an interesting side story. The acting is solid all around, including the pair of young actors. The scares, and creepiness start off well, but kind of loses its effectiveness as the movie goes on. In the end, “Mama” is certainly better than “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.” I wouldn’t say Guillermo comes up short, however I still feel there is something missing to make me completely satisfied. Nevertheless, I think “Mama” is worthy of 3 pools of blood.

  HorrO

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

THE DOWNLOAD HORROR REVIEW


Summary:

When it comes to movies Dougie and Robbo know what they like. And there is nothing they like more than a night in watching one of Big Al’s latest downloads - especially if it’s a horror film featuring five babes alone in a big house.

Big Al is the neighborhood bootlegger and they depend on him for a constant diet of blood, gore and nudity and whatever else he thinks will satisfy their craving. They always expect surprises.

Will his latest offering, the horror film Sacrificed, live up to their expectations?

  “The Download Horror” is a recent version of the show ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000.’ For those that aren’t familiar with that show, basically a guy and his two robot companions would sit in a theater and comment, criticize, and make fun of a movie. So with this review of “The Download Horror,” I’ll basically be reviewing the movie that Dougie and Robbo are watching, and how well the guys did as film critics.
  The film they are watching is called “Sacrificed.” It’s definitely an unusual film, as it follows a woman who’s somewhat normal at first, but turns out to be a complete nut job. The audience sees her get involved in some kind of cult activity, lures some friends to a house, and eventually kills them off. The death scenes actually don’t turn out to be too bad, and there is plenty of blood.
  Added to an already strange story, are two more weird elements. The first element is the random dreams the woman has. They just pop up out of nowhere, and I never really found any meaning from them besides adding to her craziness. The other element is a surprise appearance by a zombie. Yes, the movie isn’t about zombies, but one shows up out of nowhere. Then there is a kung fu type fight between the woman, and the zombie that’s very interesting to say the least.
  I’m not sure I caught everything that goes on in the film because I was paying attention to the conversation between Dougie and Robbo. So lets talk about that commentary. Let me start off by being honest, and say I couldn’t understand everything they said because of their accent. I’m sure there are more fun things said than I could make out.
  What I did pick up is actually pretty entertaining though. Since there are a lot of women in the movie, you can imagine that there are plenty of moments where guys are being guys. In one of the funniest scenes, they actually stop the film, rewind it, and pause it in order to check out one of the woman. There are many other sexual orientated jokes as well. They also feel free to make fun of the characters, which is really easy at times.
  Put everything together, and “The Download Horror” does enough to keep your attention. You just might become intrigued with the strangeness of “Sacrificed.” If not, you might be entertained by the funny commentary of Dougie and Robbo. Of course, if you are looking for horror, there should be just enough bloody moments for you. I enjoyed ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000,’ and I enjoyed this movie enough to give it 2 pools of blood.

  HorrO

***You can watch “The Download Horror” today at: http://www.newmediafilms.co.uk/the-download-horror/

Friday, January 11, 2013

A HAUNTED HOUSE REVIEW


  There have been some good horror comedies over the past few years. However, there has been a shortage of quality spoofs of horror movies. The last one I saw was “Vampires Suck,” and um yea… it sucked. This year audiences will get two big ones, “Scary Movie 5,” and “A Haunted House.” “Scary Movie 5” will hit theaters later this year, so first up is “A Haunted House.”
  A young couple, Malcolm (Marlon Wayans), and Kisha (Essence Atkins) are taking their relationship to the next level by moving in together. Not long after settling in, strange things start happening, and they realize their house might be haunted. Eventually Kisha becomes possessed, and Malcolm fights the urge to leave her and instead tries to save her.
  Does that sound somewhat familiar? Well, this movie primarily follows the “Paranormal Activity” (PA) storyline. It even takes a few shots at the PA sequels. While Malcolm does film everything, the movie never truly feels like a typical found footage film. There also are security cameras set up around the house, and they go back and watch the footage on a computer. The only camera footage they didn’t take advantage of is Skype used in PA 4, which is a good thing.
  So what PA things do they make fun of besides the cameras? Well there are plenty of moments in the notorious bedroom. Actually, the bedroom is where two of funniest moments take place. One is when Malcolm has some free time to himself while Kisha is in the bathroom getting ready for bed. Lets just say it involves Malcolm, some teddy bears, and the bed to himself. The other moment is when Malcolm and Kisha are sitting in bed together, and pull out some weed to smoke. Just as they are getting high as a kite, the ghost decides to join in and take some hits. What follows is simply hilarious. There is also Chip the Psychic (Nick Swardson) who has a crush on Malcolm, and a great scene involving an ouija board.
 It isn’t until Kisha becomes possessed late in the film that they really start mocking other horror movies, or shows. The guys that install the security cameras also film a ghost reality show similar to shows like “Ghost Hunters.” Cedric the Entertainer plays Father Williams, obviously making fun of many exorcism movies. Father Williams sits down to have a conversation with a possessed Kisha similar to when they sit down for a conversation with the girl’s mother in “The Devil Inside.” They also take some really quick shots at “The Last Exorcism,” and even “Sinister.” I’m really surprised they fit in a reference to that movie although I knew it was coming because of the “Sinister” poster they make light of.
  The acting overall is pretty solid. Everyone has their funny moments. It’s good to see Marlon able to pull off the movie without one of his famous family members by his side. Not that I would have minded seeing any of them in the movie along side him. The only thing that could have been better is the ending. They end the movie like PA ends, which makes sense, but the way they make fun of the ending isn’t as funny an ending as I hoped.
  So is “A Haunted House” a quality spoof of horror movies? I definitely believe so. They do a great job of following the “Paranormal Activity” storyline, and making fun of several key moments from PA, and it’s sequels. They are also able to get the audience to laugh at reenactments of scenes from other horror movies like “The Devil Inside,” and “Sinister.” Besides the horror humor, there are plenty of jokes referencing sex, and stereotypes. Each actor does their part in providing hilarious moments. “A Haunted House” made me laugh enough to give it 3 pools of blood.

  HorrO

***There is a bonus scene in the middle of the ending credits***

Friday, January 4, 2013

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D REVIEW


  Last year horror fans rang in the New Year with “The Devil Inside.” I ended 2012 making it the worst horror movie of the year. Enter 2013 and the return of an old friend… Leatherface. Who better to bring a little buzz to the New Year? Will it be enough buzz to keep “Texas Chainsaw 3D” off my list of worst horror movies of 2013?
  Heather (Alexandra Daddario) and her friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Ryan (Trey Songz), and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez) are planning a trip to New Orleans. However, those plans change after Heather learns that she has inherited a house in Texas from her grandmother. This peaks her curiosity, as she never knew she had a grandmother in Texas. So her friends, and herself get in a van with plans to stop in Texas before going to New Orleans. Unfortunately for them, Texas is about as far as they are going to get.
  There is actually more to this story, as the movie opens with a flashback to the events of the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” The audience gets to see some of the best moments of that film in 3D fashion. The first few seconds took me off guard, but it ends up being a pretty cool tribute to original movie. It also serves as a set up to where this movie really begins, and lets the audience know that this movie isn’t a remake, but interestingly a sequel to the original movie.
  Failing to kill Sally, Leatherface has returned to the basement of his home, and the protection of the Sawyer clan. More tribute to the original TCM, as some of the clan is made up of people from previous films most notable Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface.) There isn’t much time to reminisce because the police, and more importantly an angry mob arrive to put an end to the Sawyers. The mob burns down the house apparently killing everyone in it except for a baby, who is rescued (stolen) by one of the locals.
  So far so good until the movie moves to the present, and the introduction of Heather. It’s clear the audience knows who she is, but the problem here is the timing. The original events took place in early 1970’s, and while the present time is never stated, it has to be 2012 because of certain technology they use later on. So that would make Heather close to 40 years old, and she isn’t even close to that. Just one GLARING problem with the story, but lets move on.
  The audience gets to see what they expect from a typical horror, and TCM movie for a good portion of the movie from this point on. Heather and her friends pick up a hitchhiker on the way to the house, which still proves never to be a good idea. Just as the group of young people gets comfortable, they are stumbling and bumbling to stay alive. While trying to stay alive, the two leading ladies show as much skin as they can. Leatherface, with some different skin to display, eventually gets the chainsaw fired up for some kills.
  The deaths overall are standard for a TCM movie. The audience gets to see some heads bashed in, and someone gets hung from a meat hook. Of course, the chainsaw deaths are the best, as a few people are left in more than one piece. Probably the biggest disappointment comes when Leatherface chases Heather into a carnival full of people. With chainsaw in hand, Leatherface kills… no one! All those people, and he can’t even take a swipe at one person. Come on! This is definitely a different Leatherface on display. On a side note, Lionsgate sneaks in a Saw reference in that scene if you are paying attention.
  Now to the good and bad of the 3D. Seeing scenes from the original movie in 3D almost make it worth seeing in 3D alone. It’s just experiencing it all over again, but in a different way. There are some decent attempts to make it seem as if the chainsaw is coming at the audience. There is also a good use of the chainsaw at the end of the carnival scene. However, there are times when the 3D effects ruin a death, particularly the final death.
  With a lot of standard things happening, there is an unexpected change late in the movie. I don’t want to give it away, but found it very interesting considering everything horror fans know about TCM. I’m sure there will be plenty of people not impressed, and probably will be quick to complain about it. While there is the glaring problem with the story followed by some other minor ones, I have to give them credit for trying to change the direction of things.
  “Texas Chainsaw 3D” starts off on the right foot with a cool 3D tribute to the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Then there is a glaring problem with the storyline, which I still can’t believe they let pass. From there things are pretty standard with some all right deaths, young people being young people, and plenty of skin from the ladies and Leatherface. The 3D has its moments, but proves again it isn’t totally necessary. What makes the movie different is the unexpected change in the storyline. Being a fan of the two most recent versions of TCM, I can’t say this movie is on that level, but it certainly isn’t worse than some of the sequels to the original TCM. It’s still early, but I think this movie did enough not to be on my worst horror movies of 2013 list so I give it 2.5 pools of blood.

  HorrO

***There is a scene at the very end of the credits***
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