30 September 2007

SWH07: Week 2 (second)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 2 (second)

Night of the Living Dead (1960, colorized) (trailer)
Night of the Living Dead (1990) (trailer)
Night of the Living Bread

Masters of Horror: "Family" (2006)
Very little happens until the last few minutes, but at least Landis' trademarked smarminess was largely absent. (6/10)

d. John Landis

The Omega Man (trailer)
I Am Legend (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror VIII: The Homega Man"

Cabin Fever (2002)
I wanted to like this as a serious horror movie, but it kept making faint stabs in goofy directions that just didn't fit. (7/10)

d. Eli Roth

The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide (trailer)
Man with the Screaming Brain (trailer)
Looney Tunes: "Hyde and Hare"

Masters of Horror: "Right to Die" (2006)
Abby's burned up ghost crawling around was pretty cool in a Julia Cotton sort of way. (7/10)

d. Rob Schmidt

C came over this weekend to enjoy the above, as well as our traditional Pizza House. And, Mrs. K stuck around for both the first Masters of Horror episode and Cabin Fever before retiring for the night. Both of them enjoyed the shows more than me, but that's not unusual.

I also tried my first Jones Soda Halloween flavor of the season. I picked Candy Corn, as it's the one flavor that's been duplicated from the past two years and it's the one I've always liked the least. In fact, I've always found it undrinkable. Last year, I poured my remaining cans into the sink after a few sips of just one. Adding candy corn flavoring to what is already essentially just a can full of corn syrup is beyond overkill. This year, though, Jones has switched to pure cane sugar in all of their drinks. Huge difference. No longer is the candy corn flavoring amplifying the corn syrup sweetness. Instead, the cane sugar adds just the right amount of sweetness to the candy corn flavor. It's still not the greatest soft drink in the world, but I easily finished this can for the first time and I kinda liked it.

We also employed my new popcorn maker during the movies. Chef gave this to me last week. He found it in disrepair, ready to be thrown out. Using his engineering background, he fixed it and got it working and looking great. It's pretty nifty, just like a for-real movie theater. I did learn one lesson: close the lids on the kettle! Butter-flavored sunflower oil is now spattered all over the inside of the thing. That ain't gonna be fun to clean. The popcorn was good, though.

29 September 2007

Guest OLR: Minority Report (2002)

My favorite type of sci-fi, and until recently, the best Philip K Dick adaptation. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)

In some alternate universe, Kubrick lived to direct this, and it was better. (6/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

27 September 2007

Guest OLR: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Hits just about all the right notes and, for about an hour and a half, makes me forget that I'm watching a war film. (9/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

24 September 2007

Guest OLR: Amistad (1997)

Good, but not in the tear-jerking emotionally affecting sense. (6/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Ian Malcolm and his sarcasm fail to carry the film over the sloppy storytelling. (5/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

23 September 2007

OLR: Escape from Suburbia: Beyond the American Dream (2007)

More scattershot than End of Suburbia and without any entertaining ranting from Kunstler. (7/10)

d. Gregory Greene

SWH07: Week 1 (first)

Six Weeks of HalloweenSix Weeks of Halloween 2007
Week 1 (first)

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (trailer)
Sexy Adventures of Van Helsing (trailer)
SNL: "Consumer Probe: Unsafe Halloween Costumes"

The Monster Squad (1987)
Best remembered as teaching us all a valuable lesson on werewolf anatomy, this is also a damned fun kid adventure. (8/10)

d. Fred Dekker

[Why don't they make movies like this anymore? The closest modern kid films I can think of are the Spy Kids movies. Those lack the cusp-of-puberty edge that films like The Monster Squad, The Goonies and Explorers have, however. There doesn't seem to be anyone making movies with realistic kids going on fantastic adventures anymore. Or I'm just too old to notice?]

Trick 'r Treat (trailer)
Two Thousand Maniacs! (trailer)
The Simpsons: "Treehouse of Horror V: The Shinning"

Masters of Horror: "The Fair-Haired Child" (2005)
A classically-constructed horror tale containing Crowley-esque demonology, excellent photography and a touch of extreme gore, among other pleasures. (9/10)

d. William Malone

Frailty (trailer)
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (trailer)
Merrie Melodies: "Pigs is Pigs"

Near Dark (1987)
Still my favorite vampire movie of all time; I'm a complete sucker for a horror-romance movie. (9/10)

d. Kathryn Bigelow

The Company of Wolves (1984)
A big stew of sexually-charged symbolism masquerading as a werewolf take on "Little Red Riding Hood" that my brain will be chewing on for a while. (8/10)

d. Neil Jordan

Capping off a weekend of old-schooling hanging out -- probably the last before my baby is born -- Chef Gregory and I enjoyed the above. It had been twenty years since my dad popped in a tape of The Monster Squad for us to watch during a sleepover. I remember the ten-year-old Chef being nervous at the time as the loud, introductory flashback played. "I don't usually watch movies like this," he explained. I was sure to bring this up two decades later. "You all right? Not too scary, is it?" I ribbed. He replied with a curse. We both were surprised at how well the movie held up. It has all of the elements necessary for a cool kid movie: a secret club, an absolutely bad-ass tree house, BMX bike transportation, a vague interest in the opposite sex, an adventure only the kids -- definitely not the adults -- can go on. Good stuff.

Grolschenstein Approves

22 September 2007

Guest OLR: Eastern Promises (2007)

A disappointing distance from A-game material. (6/10)

d. David Cronenberg

OLR: Mystery Science Theater 3000: "Space Mutiny" (1997)

Other than the Roman host segments, this is the best that MST3K ever got. (8/10)

d. David Winters & Neal Sundstrom & Kevin Murphy

OLR: V for Vendetta (2005)

V is Morpheus and Evey is Daniel. (9/10)

d. James McTeigue

OLR: 300 (2006)

Like looking at an oil painting of two T-rexes fighting on the side of a volcano and there's a thunderstorm in the air and a giant squid watches from the ocean. (8/10)

d. Zack Snyder

21 September 2007

OLR: Crank (2006)

Like, x-treme to the max! (8/10)

d. Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

20 September 2007

Six Weeks of Halloween: 2007

Six Weeks of Halloween

  1. 20 Sep - 26 Sep | first
  2. 27 Sep - 03 Oct | second
  3. 04 Oct - 10 Oct | third - fourth
  4. 11 Oct - 17 Oct | fifth
  5. 18 Oct - 24 Oct | sixth
  6. 25 Oct - 31 Oct | seventh - eighth - ninth - tenth - eleventh - twelfth - thirteenth

My halloweenish goals for the season:

I should drag myself to the theater to see Rob Zombie's Halloween. I only venture into cinemas about once a year; other than the giant screen, there's not a lot to like about the experience these days. I like Rob Zombie -- both as a musician and as a director -- and John Carpenter's Halloween is my favorite horror movie, but I'm not looking forward to seeing this. It seems unlikely this movie falls into the tiny minority of remakes that are actually worth the effort.

I need to play through Silent Hill 4: The Room. I've only owned it for 3 years... it's time to get around to finishing it. From what little I've played, I can already tell it's the worst of the series and it's clear that it started life as something other than a Silent Hill game. Still, it needs to be completed before I can pick up the upcoming Origins and part 5.

I'm going to start my chronological H.P. Lovecraft read. Having finished the works of Poe, HPL is next on my list of the giants of horror literature. Cthulhu fhtagn.

I've gotta try the official Jones Soda Halloween 2007 flavors, as I do every year. I'll be interested to see if I can taste the difference in the repeat flavors, now that they've switched to cane sugar from HFCS. I can't say the concept of a black licorice pop sounds appealing, though.

A trip to the Dexter Cider Mill is in order. I'll acquire my seasonal supply of apple cider there, and maybe a resupply of cider spice mix.

Horror movies and TV shows, the anchor of any good Six Weeks of Halloween, will abound. I expect discs containing episodes of Masters of Horror, Tales from the Crypt, The Munsters, and The Simpsons to spin often. I see movies containing killer babies, Japanese torturers and young monster hunters -- among others -- appearing on my TV in the near future.

And, as always, I will watch John Carpenter's Halloween on Halloween. This would've been the 9th year in a row I've done this, except an unexpected death interrupted my streak. I'll count this as 9, anyway, as I did watch Halloween with the commentary track turned on at the start of last year's six weeks.

Six Weeks of Halloween is Go!

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17 September 2007

Guest OLR: Schindler's List (1993)

A fully-dimensional dramatization of the Holocaust from a largely Nazi perspective, and my personal favorite Liam Neeson performance. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Jurassic Park (1993)

Dodging raptors in a kitchen = cinematic gold. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Hook (1991)

An amazing display of literary subtlety, if a bit tough to sit through. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Always (1989)

It's all Dreyfus here, successfully twisting my heart in a wrench every time I watch this. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

15 September 2007

OLR: Special Effects (1984)

One of those movies you'd accidentally stumble upon at 3am and end up watching because it's better than infomercials. (6/10)

d. Larry Cohen

OLR: Idiocracy (2006)

Maybe scarier than 1984, and certainly funnier. (7/10)

d. Mike Judge

14 September 2007

Guest OLR: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Not that this film isn't rife with adventure, but Dr. Jones Sr. is the glue that holds it all together. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Empire of the Sun (1987)

Criminally forgotten, especially considering Bale's current popularity. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: The Color Purple (1985)

I would have given him the Oscar, no question. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

13 September 2007

Guest OLR: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Advice to all filmmakers: keep your eyes on the film that you're making and off of the attractive leading lady. (5/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

"(Prologue/Segment 1)"
In this dimension, a constantly ironic fate awaits us all. (5/10)
d. John Landis

"Kick the Can"
A heavy-handed update of an old episode, made worse by John Landis doing a good job of not scaring us in the previous segment. (5/10)
d. Steven Spielberg

"It's a Good Life"
Cool, though I think I prefer being sent to the cornfield. (6/10)
d. Joe Dante

"Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet"
If it were up to me, this would have been the entire movie. (7/10)
d. George Miller

Guest OLR: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

After Close Encounters, I never thought I would care about an alien puppet this much. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

11 September 2007

Guest OLR: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

A lean, frantic adventure serial with a direct line to the adrenal glands. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: 1941 (1979)

I can't help but love this loud, messy, 2 1/2 hour barrage of sight gags and absurd situations. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Eh, it would have hit me harder if his family had been worth sticking around for. (6/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

10 September 2007

OLR: Perfect Strangers (1984)

Great Cohen-style New York flavor with an interesting moral dilemma for a hitman to ponder. (7/10)

d. Larry Cohen

OLR: City on Fire (1987)

Poor character development and not enough action, though I'm now keen to visit Hong Kong someday (Reservoir Dogs owes this movie very little). (6/10)

d. Ringo Lam

09 September 2007

Guest OLR: Jaws (1975)

Required viewing for Horror 101, as far as I'm concerned. (8/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: The Sugarland Express (1974)

Sometimes the wackiness strengthens the drama, but most of the time it undermines it. (6/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

Guest OLR: Duel (1971)

As far as it goes in the Psychopathic-Truck-Chases-Poor-Schmuck subsubgenre, you really aren't going to get anything better than this. (7/10)

d. Steven Spielberg

06 September 2007

OLR: Intruder (1989)

Though slow to get going, a grocery store was a great location for a slasher picture. (7/10)

d. Scott Spiegel

OLR: Alien Nation: "The TV Movie" (1989)

Establishes the series' universe well, but they tried to squeeze a wee too much into this feature-length episode making the ending quite rushed. (6/10)

d. Kenneth Johnson

04 September 2007

OLR: Alien Nation (1988)

The TV series massively improved upon everything here, save Jimmy Caan hisself. (6/10)

d. Graham Baker

Star Trek: TOS 1.23: "A Taste of Armageddon"

Quite possibly, this might be the specific incident -- out of many on Kirk's watch alone -- that got the Federation to think up the Prime Directive. The sad thing is, if the first person on the planet that Kirk encountered had not been a hot chick, I don't think he would've cared enough to destroy 500 years worth of culture.

What I thought might have been a nifty conclusion to the story, instead of blowing up the war computers, would've been to hack them. Make the computers on both planets declare that every single person has been killed in a virtual attack. What would they do then? Would every single person march into a disintegration chamber? That wouldn't accomplish their goals of preserving their cultures. They'd be forced to open dialog. It's basically the same ending, except Spock gets to be the hero hacker.

yr: 2267
sd: 3192.1
ad: 23 Feb 1967

Rodriguez (2005)

2005 - The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D - I'm still trying to figure out why this was a worse movie than the similar Spy Kids 3-D. Maybe I like the Spy Kids universe better? Was it because Spy Kids 3 had Bill "Game Over" Paxton in it? I think the 3-D in SK3 was more fun than in this film. It didn't have the rollercoaster-style excitement that the previous movie's 3-D offered.

I do appreciate the movie's background: I think it's incredibly cool that Rodriguez filmed one of his son's stories (though I might bet his son recently watched The NeverEnding Story and The Wizard of Oz). I liked the title characters. I think all four of the kid actors did excellent jobs. It was good to see David Arquette back.

It didn't work for me, but my six year old niece loved it when it came out and had the Happy Meal toys to prove it. I suppose that's what really matters. (6/10)

2005 - 15 Minute Flic School: Sin City - The more tech-bound Rodriguez's films get, the less these things serve as "film schools" for regular Joes. I suppose knowing that actors take time to adjust to shooting in front of a green screen might be useful if I had an army of CGI artists to fill in all that green with believable backgrounds. Short of that, I'll be hauling the camera and actors outside, thanks.

Still, it was fascinating to see what Sin City looked like pre-computer, Blue Bastard and all. (6/10)

2005 - 10 Minute Cooking School: Sin City "Breakfast Tacos" - A quick, middle of the night snack? Not likely! By my count, there were about 9 million steps to making these scrambled-egg tacos, starting with making the tortillas from scratch. Fresh tortillas are good, no doubt, but, c'mon. If I've been up all night editing a movie and I'm hungry, I'm not gonna be kneading dough. More likely, I'll dig some nachos and salsa, or resort to eating green olives out of the jar if nothing else can be found.

Anyway, I hope we get more of these on future DVDs. These are fun. (7/10)

Tarantino (2005)

2005 - CSI: "Grave Danger" - As with E.R., this is another show that I hate but watched a lot due to the wife turning it on. A decade after his last TV effort, Tarantino puts a deeper stamp into this show than he did prior. Tarantino writing the story in addition to directing probably helped in this regard.

What did he accomplish? He buried -- The Bride-style -- one of the leads and got him to cry like a baby. He hired the always-great B-actor John Saxton… then blew him into little bits. He used Tony Curtis and Frank Gorshin as colorful background characters in a casino scene. He refrained from any close-ups of feet. In short, it was much more entertaining than a typical episode of this series.

This definitely fits between Kill Bill and Grindhouse. (7/10)

02 September 2007

OLR: Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Nearly the same movie as Anchorman, but a gay, French NASCAR driver in a Perrier car is intrinsically funny. (7/10)

d. Adam McKay