Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Movie Reviews 168 – Re-cycle (2006)

February 14, 2014

Re-CycleOriginally from Hong Kong, the Pang Brothers Oxide and Danny Pang were at the forefront of the new wave of Asian horror when they created The Eye, a neo-classic that has spawned both remakes and sequels. I guess they were looking to rekindle some of that magic by casting the star of The Eye, Angelica Lee in Re-Cycle (original title Gwai-Wik). But this outing is nothing like The Eye, and quite frankly was a huge disappointment.

Somewhat successful writer Tsui Ting-Yin (Lee) is writing a sequel to a well received book series. Under the pressure of having to write the novel she also has to deal with an old lover of hers that has returned after 8 years and a failed marriage. While writing the novel strange ghostly events start happening around her apartment, and we are led to believe that either the events are mimicking the horror elements she has just written for her novel or the other way around where she experience them and then writes them down.

But come the second act, and Tsui finds herself in a world from another dimension where castoffs and rejects of our world end up. There she meets an old man and young girl and led by the girl Tsui tries to find her way back home.

Although the visuals of the reject world are stunning and imaginative, the contrast to the opening act, with the more traditional ghost clichés is jarring. The rest of the movie is a fantasyland quest that, at first, doesn’t quite gel to what we were expecting. But the biggest disappointment for me was that once challenged to understand what Tsui was really seeing, it became all too obvious and I could practically write the rest of the movie myself. You may figure it out yourself as you see Tsui and the little girl navigate the chamber of living embryos.

I don’t mind a movie with a message but it has to have more than just a veneer story for delivery. Sadly, this movie goes into the recycle bin.

Movie Reviews 164 – Dahmer (2002)

January 29, 2014

3 Pack Killer DVD SetThis is the final installment in my series of reviews for the Killer 3 DVD Pack which features movies for three of the biggest serial killers in US history, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Dahmer (2002)

DahmerDefinitely the weakest movie in this serial killer triple DVD pack, the people who put “Dahmer” together managed the impossible; make a movie about an infamous serial killer boring.

While the other two movies, Ed Gein and Gacy, strived to get as much information on the actual crimes committed (not necessarily re-enacting the events) so that the full scope of their villainy can be grasped, this depiction of Dahmer only scratches the surface.

While the real life Dahmer raped, killed and even cannibalized some seventeen odd young men, after watching this movie you got the sense that he was only responsible for a few killings and with the exception of one gruesome artifact (a head he kept in his room while living with his grandmother), a run of the mill killer at that. Well, as ‘run of the mill’ as you can be for a killer anyway. This is as desensitized a movie as you can make for a serial killer. The real crime here is how the movie makers decided to focus on a few inane events and relationships while completely ignoring so many aspects of Dahmer’s past and psyche you wonder how much was researched at all.

Aside from the problem of great omissions (especially the acts of cannibalism), the movie suffers from a lot of unexplained scenes. I mentioned that there was a scene in which we learn that Dahmer had kept a severed head in a box. Much fanfare is made when Dahmer’s father nearly opens the box and Jeffrey has to make up excuses quickly so that he can have a few moments to hide the head. But aside from that scene we don’t know anything about how he managed to have the head in the first place. While obviously a victim of his, we never learn anything else. This muddled message is due in part to any big problem with this movie, the use of flashbacks and jumps in time periods Dahmer’s life. Used effectively in many movies like this (the other movies in this very DVD pack being examples of how to do it right), here the use of flashbacks just provide more incomplete and ‘unfinished’ glimpses into his past. While the flashbacks emphasize one particular victim of his, a hitchhiker he picked up and brought home for a drinking binge, other flashbacks to his gay bar visits are only confusing in that they are only utilized to show how he started infusing drugs in drinks to render his victims groggy or knock them out entirely.

The biggest chunk of the movie is centered on one particular relationship he developed with a young man helping out at the cash register at a firearms store Dahmer was shopping at one day. This relationship is explored throughout most of the movie with the many visits the man makes to Dahmer’s apartment. But in the end, the guy just seems to leave around the time Dahmer finally gets busted at which point the film just ends. Another major annoyance is repeatedly seeing a dead body in one of Dahmer’s bedrooms for a period of time. He looks like someone Dahmer met and drugged at one of his gay bar visits, but we’re never really sure.

So much of Dahmer’s known life are never touched upon (e.g. childhood obsession with animal carcases, impaling dogs head, alcohol abuse as schooler, pranks, etc). If you want just an inkling of Dahmer, this movie may fit the bill, but even as such,  just barely. The definitive movie on his life and crimes has yet to be made.

Movie Reviews 149 – They Live (1988)

October 30, 2013

They LiveJohn Carpenter has made some pretty outstanding Horror and Science Fiction movies during his career but some, while not exactly classics are still cult favorites that sometimes fall under the radar. They Live is one of those. A video store rental favorite back in the late 80’s, it hasn’t garnered much love since.

One of the reasons may be because the star of the movie is Roddy Piper. Now you may not know the name, but back then he was more commonly known as “Rowdy” Rod Piper of World Wrestling Federation fame. That’s right, a wrestler. Given the fact that any pro wrestler by definition has to have some acting abilities (Spoiler. Wrestling is fake!), having a wrestler as your star sure sounded dubious. So much so that even I nearly skipped this movie at the rental store. Thankfully I did not, because while he ain’t no Sir Laurence Olivier, truth be told, he holds his own against many other B movie actors. In order to offset any lack of acting chops for the entire movie the producers had the sense to shore things up co-star Keith David (probably best known for another Carpenter classic, The Thing) to give Rod a hand.

The message of the movie is a universal one, Big Brother is watching you, but in this case the Big Brothers are aliens. Creepy looking ones at that, but they get away with their sinister plot of world domination by hiding out right amongst us. Through some sort of transmission they can control the minds of people so that not only do people see the aliens as human, but it also clouds our minds of the subliminal messages (“OBEY”, “SLEEP”, “DO NOT QUESTION”, etc) scrawled over every surface.

When transient John Nada (Piper) comes across a pair of sunglasses that open his vision to the aliens and their subliminal message world, he decides to dig deeper by trying to find out where those glasses came from. This eventually leads him to a group of human rebels trying to expose the aliens, but first he has to convince some friends (David and starry eyed beauty Meg Foster) while trying not to accidentally foil the entire mission.

While the movie misses the mark on many facets (agonizingly slow start, plenty of logic fails, and awkward ending to name just a few), it does have a decent, if somewhat silly, story and more importantly it has some pretty awesome looking aliens. And in case you were wondering, Yes the movie does have a requisite ‘wrestling’ type of battle. But thankfully they get that out of the way pretty early so you can enjoy the movie without the feeling you are in Madison Square Gardens and at some point people are going to be throwing chairs at one another followed by a headlock.

Movie Reviews 93 – Mimic: Sentinel (2003)

January 24, 2013

Mimic SentinelThis one starts out with a young man peering out of his room window at the view of a building behind his house. He is constantly taking pictures of the people in and around the rear of the building and from each of the occupants in the apartments across the yard. From those pictures, he makes a collage on his own wall writing down the names of those people and assigning labels to those still unknown to him, like “The garbage man”, “Ma Bell” (an old lady always on the phone), and “The birdman” (a guy who has a bunch of birds as pets), etc.

This homage to Hitchcock’s Rear Window works out pretty good in the beginning. We learn that his voyeuristic tendencies are supplemented by his teenage sister who goes out and gathers information like the real names of the people that he uses to update his ‘wall’ and that he’s also got his eye on one of the pretty young girls in the building he spies upon.

But why is he such a creepy voyeur at all? The man, you see, was one of the kids who survived the Judas plague that made all those kids sick in the first Mimic movie. He’s now a reclusive ‘bubble boy’, largely confined to his room, taking whiffs off a puffer, keeping fresh oxygen close at hand, and hyper allergic to smoke and other strong smells.

When people start disappearing he does not think much of it at first, but then he witnesses some disturbing sights in his field of view.  This leads his sister and that young woman (who also has a crush on him) to do some further investigating that will eventually unveil the truth that those nasty Judas bugs are still around.

It took awhile to settle in this movie, being so different from it’s predecessors, but I thought that it was interesting enough, albeit a bit slow. Things pick up a bit with the appearance of cult favorite Lance Henriksen in an enigmatic role but the crux remains on piecing together all the tidbits of information he gathers from the goings on in each of the apartments he spies. He is hampered by a cop who not only does not believe his recounting of the things he has seen that may shed light on the disappearances, but makes then makes matters worse by starting to date his own mother.

An oddly satisfying movie but there are a few leaps of logic that takes away from the whole. The worst part if the disappointing abrupt ending that is so ambiguous I thought they may have missed a complete reel when they cobbled this DVD together.

This Bloging thing

July 20, 2009

So this is my first Blog post. I guess I should explain why I’m here in the first place.

I’ve been contemplating entering the Blogsphere for some time. I’m hoping that it can fill in the gap to my many other online posting habits that, while valuable in their own right, do not present a unified, one-stop, all encompassing information repository that I want. You can find me on most of the familiar hangouts like Facebook and LinkedIn, and also on my favourite Science Fiction forum, The Website at the End of the Universe, as well as a few other places. But I often post things there that I want to share universally, and not oblige readers to create accounts for simple and quick access. So what I hope to create here is a place to organize some of those existing gems of intuition and thoughts as well a create a place of other hobbies and interests of mine. These include my participation in Planet of the Apes fandom, rocketry, Horror and Science fiction (books, movies, etc), comics, and even some good old fashioned electronics tinkering.

So stick around and see how it goes.