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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas! Here's one of my favorite trailers of all time.

There is something about this old school trailers. How refreshing would it be to see a trailer this original and kind-spirited for a new film? Enjoy. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from FilmSnork.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Man of Steel - Trailer

The latest trailer gives us a much better idea of what Zack Snyder's Superman will look like. I, for one, am quite pleased with what I see here. Not a huge fan of Snyder's work, but if Christopher Nolan can keep him in line this might just be the reboot Superman needs. One problem, I want my John Williams theme.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Star Trek: Into the Darkness Trailer - More of the same awesomeness

The full teaser trailer is finally here for the highly anticipated followup the very popular J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek. All the familiar faces are hear along with one new stand out, Benedict Cumberbatch, of the BBC's amazing Sherlock Holmes series, "Sherlock" (if you have not watched it, I highly recommend you do.) The villain has yet to be identified, but I am personally hoping it is revealed to be Kahhhhhhhhhhhn.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Argo - Review (2012)

This review is based on a film based on a true story.

As stated above, the film tells the true tale of 6 American diplomats that in the middle of an Irani uprising seek refuge in the Canadian embassy.  They have been held up in the embassy for weeks.  The problem is they have no way out of the country and the Iranis are growing closer to discovering their location, an offense most likely punishable by death.  The CIA decides to run with "the best bad idea we have found so far."   The plan, led by Tony Mendez (Affleck) is to stage a phoney sci-fi film called Argo, to be shot in of all places war torn Iraq.  Affleck will enter the country alone and exit it with the 6 stranded Americans posing as filmmakers. 

Technically the film is sound.  It emulates the look and feel of the thrillers of the 1970's; the color treatment used on the film, the cast's physical appearance and the costumes perfectly matches the era.  Together they help transport you back in time to the era of a more unstable global condition.  Although you can't hold such technical achievements against the film, for my taste it was almost too perfect, too calculated.  The effort to recreate the era can be see on screen and it draws too much attention.  It reminds me of some of the early 3D animated films that received tremendous praise, sure they were good films, but you cannot let the technical aspects weigh too much on your opinion.  What really counts, what will need to stand the test of time is the story telling.

Affleck wrangles in a film of considerable scope; a large cast, multiple locations and several concurrent storylines.  Overall it is a well paced mix of drama with a sprinkles of humor.  He deserves praise for that, but there were some elements that were not as tight.  First off, I did find the antagonists to be a little too Hollywood for me (maybe not as much as the Lybians in "Back to the Future," but still quite one dimensional.)  Secondly, the shifts in tone are a bit abrupt, one scene is being played with intensity, the next for laughs.  At times the levity works, providing a break from the seriousness of the situation; other times it is detrimental to the trepidation of the scene.  This alone is not a huge problem on its own, it is when it is combined with my next criticism that it becomes a real issue.

I came into this film with little knowledge of what it was about, but being told right up front that it was based on a true story established some preconceptions that altered how I watched the film.  In the end the my newly established preconceptions turned out to be correct.  The "Based on a...." tag undermines all the work put into creating what would otherwise be some incredibly tense moments.  The scenes don't carry much weight because they are all leading to what you are probably expecting all due to that one line of text that displayed on the screen in the first five minutes of the film.  The film is about a scheme so far-fetched it seems like fiction.  Why not do something unique - deliver a tense, interesting film but wait until the end to reveal what seemed like fiction was actually based on a true story?  Doing so may cause the audience to be taken back by what they had just seen, while keeping them captivated the whole way through, unsure as to how it will all turn out.  Mr. Affleck, years down the line you will come to the same conclusion.  You can release it as the Director's/FilmSnork's cut.  If you need any more advice, I am available.

Did you ever feel some films (directors) get a free pass because the director makes for a good story?  Ben Affleck who was a punchline just 6 years ago has turned his career around, literally.  He made the move from being in front of the camera to working behind it.  "Argo," has received a good deal of hype and for good reason it is an entertaining film, just not the Oscar worthy film the media would like it to be.  Perhaps I am coming on a little strong.  Maybe Affleck is not getting a free pass to Oscar, just the option to take the escalators instead of the stairs.

Check out his first two films, both of which I prefer to this, "Gone, Baby, Gone" and "The Town."

6.0 out of 10 stars

Drag Me to Hell - review (2009) 31 Days of Horror #25

Premise:  After having a curse put upon her by an old, gypsy woman for allowing the bank to repossess her home a young bank worker (Alison Lohman) must find a way to save her soul.

Review:  I was only a few minutes into Drag Me to Hell when I remembered what a treat it can be to watch this slime filled, eyeball popping, jaw-gumming film.  I literally caught myself sporting a smile on my face, which would usually be an odd reaction to a horror movie - not this one.  In case you are wondering, I did not have too many nips off the old brandy bottle, the smiling was only in reaction Sam Raimi's returned to his roots.  With this film he has provided the world with a new horror classic, one that defies categorization in any one genre - a film, dare I say, which tops all his previous work.  This is not only a film that will settle on startling and shocking you, nor is it a film that will only provide you with laughs.  It is a film that flawlessly combines the gruesome with the comic, the obscene with real emotion.  There are many flavors here, but not one flavor that over-powers the rest.

The glue that makes the film so tight is the connection to real life emotion.     It is not just shallow storyline about another helpless victim being chased down by a slasher with a machete, this film takes on many fears and stresses found in every day life - job fears, relationship fears, fears of death.  Christine (Alison Lohman) battles with her conscience whether to take the empathetic path and help an old woman keep her house or take the selfish path, that would hopefully further her career, allowing the bank to take possession of the house.   The choice she makes sets off some crazy events leading to a string ethical decisions Christine has to make which will have you questioning just how far you would go to further your career, save your life, talk to a goat.

Splattered throughout the film are some delightfully over-the-top moments.  These could easily undermine the removing the audience from the anxiety brought about by the young lady's plight, instead they compliment it.  Many of the scenes are just so off the wall, bordering on just plain ridiculous, still the further they pushed the limits the more I found myself smiling, having a great old time.  That is not to say the film is light fare, it is not.  The tone throughout is quite dark, nasty and often scary which makes the success rate of the humor more surprising.  Oh yeah, Raimi provides plenty gross-out, stomach turning moments.  It is impossible to overlook the parade of bodily fluids and body parts or the hilarious on-going hair gag.   I wish I knew why, but it all works.

Scariness:                3.5 out of 5  Even as the humor softens the blow, it is intense.  

Violence/ Gore:     3.5 out of 5   It is not the blood that will turn your stomach, it is the fluids.    

Story:                       4.0 out of 5   A simple tale about a bad choice and its reprecussions, but it  keeps your interest from start to finish.      

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  9.0 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Scream - review (1996) 31 Days of Horror #24

Premise:  Sydney Prescott is trying to get over the brutal death of her mother when a slasher comes to town to complete some unfinished business.

Review:  One reason this film has withstood the test of time is it starts with one of the scariest opening scenes ever.  Period.  Those ten minutes with Drew Barrymore, a telephone and some Jiffy Pop rocketed Scream into the realms of pop culture history.  When I first saw it in the theater years back I was gripping my arm rests throughout the entire scene.  It was such an enjoyably terrifying sequence I wish there was a pill I could take to forget it so I could re-visit it and experience the terror all over.  Obviously others people felt the same, which is why even today many horror films still start with a quick stand alone opening sequence.  

Luckily the film doesn't stop entertaining there, it provides a uniquely (at least for back then) self aware horror tale that is not only scary, but also humorous, mysterious and innovative.  By reflecting back on older films from the genre it set itself apart from the rest.  From the opening scene there are plenty of clever references to the decades of slasher film predecessors.  The characters are knowledgeable about horror films, knowing who Freddt Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are.  They also know what happens when you say, "I'll be right back."  Throughout the film there are knowing winks at the audience acknowledging the often silly conventions of the horror movies before it.  Sure, many films have also ended up copying the entire self-aware play on horror, but Scream will always be the innovator.   

Neve Campbell does a great job playing Sydney, the strong, virginal heroin.  David Arquette is likable as her kind of dim brother that is also tracking down the killer.  Jamie Kennedy gives the performance of his career (not saying much, but he is good) as Randy, the horror loving friend that provides us with the rules of successfully surviving a horror film.

Overall, the film is not perfect; there is at least one killing that is unnecessary and the final quarter of the film is not as clever as it should have been.  The film does show its age in parts which at time only adds to the charm.  If you have not seen it yet, I recommend you also check out the under appreciated Scream 4.

Scariness:              3.5 out of 5     Great opening scares - not as effective afterwards. 

Violence/ Gore:     2.5 out of 5     A good deal of blood and violence, not too heavy though.

Story:                     4.0 out of 5     Good old fashioned horror whodunnit with some self-awareness. 

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8.0 out of 10  (If this is your first time watching it, jack that rating up to a 9.)

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Thing - Review (1982) 31 Days of Horror #23

Premise:  Something is found frozen in the ice.  When it is thawed out you'll wish they kept it frozen.

Review:  Every once in a while you come across something you never tried before and it quickly becomes part of your list of favorite things.  That is how John Carpenter's The Thing was for me.  It is a film I had seen hundreds of times as I browsed the offerings of the corner video store as a kid, in the Netflix offerings and on many lists of must-see horror films.  Until last year I ignored it for what reason I don't know.  Then last year I saw it streaming on Netflix, had some time to kill and decided it was time to see what it was all about.  Surprise, surprise - I loved it.  A good old fashioned monster movie that used the unknown, isolation and paranoia to keep the viewer on their toes from beginning to end.

Upon a second viewing I enjoyed it just as much as the first.  So I was not just in the mood for that movie that day, it was a newly discovered treasure.  The film works for many reasons.  The performances are stellar, the unique, eerie setting and the feeling that the whole time there is a monster among us.  The scenes are shot to create incredible tension.  At times giving the audience a glimpse of the lurking evil but only enough to give us the knowledge that that threat is in the room, when and where it will attack from we only discover as the characters do.

Fortunately, the special effects hold up quite well.  For a film that is thirty years old they are actually quite impressive, there was absolutely no reason for a remake.  If you are like me and have passed over this gem, make things right and watch it now.

Scariness:              4.0 out of 5    Plenty of scenes will have you holding your breath all the way until the point when you jump out of your seat.

Violence/ Gore:    3.5 out of 5     Lots of monster makeup, things exploding, bloody flesh.

Story:                     4.0 out of 5     A monster walks among us done right. 

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Film You May Want To See: Call of Duty Undead

A friend of the site has contacted me to tell me about the release of the trailer for a film called, "Call of Duty Undead."   It is a non-profit charity film with proceeds going to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

The film is an ambitious project directed by Aleksandar Ivicic, Call of Duty Undead is based off an original screenplay and stars Kevin Tanski (Dark Knight Rises) and two USMC Veterans, Christopher Clark (3.14...) and Robert Woodley.

Like the FilmSnork Facebook page for future updates.   

Undead follows the story of five Special Operatives who are sent in to investigate the disappearances of wealthy individuals that had been deemed missing during their negotiations to fund a pharmaceutical drug program. They are in for more than they bargained for as their simple recon mission turns into a struggle for survival against hordes of undead experiments which were the end result of the failed experiments done by mastermind Nicholas Bergman, the son of a Scientist who worked under Nazi rule during World War II.

The expected date of release for Call of Duty Undead is late 2013.

In Honor of The 149th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

Since it would be illegal to post a copy of Spielberg's latest film, "Lincoln," I decided to do something even better to celebrate the 149th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. The speech truly is most triumphant.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

House of Wax - Review (2005) 31 Nights of Horror #22

Premise:  A group of kids on a road trip take a wrong turn (never heard that one before) into a town with a secret... a waxy secret.  (SPOILER ALERT: not an ear wax secret)

Review:  Here is a film that usually scares off most viewers using one word.  No, not the word remake.  I am referring to the word Paris... Hilton to be exact.  Our nation tends to be prejudice against beautiful, rich, spoiled, obnoxious whores.  I find such attitudes to be appalling.  When prejudice wins we all lose.  This explains why most of you have never seen this wonderful film.  Sure it is an exercise in implausibility that marches a group of clothing line model looking actors to their doom, but it is done is an entertainingly stupid, fun way.

The film follows the formula of many a horror film, especially of its era.  There are few staples of that are not well represented here which may be one reason why it works.  It delivers a lot of the same ole, same ole, but while doing so keeps your interest because you are not tossed into it expected to hit the ground running, the secrets of the film are slowly revealed.

The film does have its share of cringe inducing moments, even eye had to turn my head and force myself to look during a few spots of the film.  Often these moments were brought about by the a character that lacks common sense, a standard for the genre.  One seen in particular I kept waiting for it to end, but the dummy keeps making it worse.  You'll know it when you see it.

The film also sports a terrific finale.  I don't usually love over the top CGI effects - this time they work.  They are the bow on a cinematic present that you didn't know you wanted.  Come in with realistic expectations and you should enjoy.   

As for Paris Hilton, she does fine.   If you hold so much hate in your heart that the presence of a spoiled, rich white girl will prevent you from seeing a film, perhaps it time for counseling.  Prejudice sucks.

Scariness               3.0 out of 5    Often more intense than scary.

Violence/Gore      4.5 out of 5    Some dark moments that may have you cringing.

Story                     2.5 out of 5   Preposterous?  Yes.  Entertaining though.

Overall Rating (as a film, not just as a horror film):  7 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Exorcist 3 - Review (1990) 31 Nights of Horror #21

Premise:  After a series of grisly murders it is up to a grizzled cop to figure out if there is a connection to previous incidents with spinning heads and pea soup.

Review:  Not too many people are talking about The Exorcist 3 these days.  Maybe it is since sequels in general do not get any respect (and often for good reason) or maybe because people never heard of it.  Honestly, it is one of those films I had forgotten about it and am thankful that it was put on my list. 

What is nice here is this is not just another film sequel.  We do not get a direct continuation of the original film or a complete knockoff that simply substitutes the family and gives them the exact same scenario.  This is a new concept, one that fares alright.  You never feel as if you are being delivered a rehash.  Which does pose the question, why connect it to The Exorcist at all?  It perhaps would have been better off with its original title "Legion," preventing any pre-conceived viewer expectations.

Although the film is nowhere close to perfect, it does have some genuinely scary elements even if they are surrounded by a story is too talky and complex for its own good.  The correct tone is established at times, only to be undercut by George C. Scott doing his best to overact every single line.  No matter how simple it is Scott delivers it like a line of great importance.   Even with Scott hamming it up, the oddest part of the film remains the dream sequence that is so goofy you have to wonder how the hell it made the final cut, it includes Patrick Ewing.  Luckily for audiences, it does not include a scene about the old Ewing sneakers, those were monsters.

The film is uneven, long sequences of dialogue take place in a cell..  Much of is you are better off not hearing, it pretty convoluted and only takes away from what was working in the film.

Scariness:              2.5 out of 5   There are some good shocks and a scary tone to go with it.

Violence/ Gore:     1.5 out of 5   More implied violence than violence itself.

Story:                     3.0 out of 5    It is not a rehash and that is good, but it does get a little too talky.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  6.0 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Alien (1979) - Review 31 Days of Horror #20

Premise:  The crew of a spacecraft come in contact with an alien life force that is not interested in a peaceful cruise around space.

Review:  So many things celebrated in pop culture today are just small snippets taken out of context and used to entertain for the passing moment.  There is one key scene in this film that has been parodies hundreds of times.  Because of that I expected to not be affected by it, but nope it still works.  Actually, as a whole this film still works quite well. 

The core of the film is simple and it works.  A story of isolation combined with the unknown; a single ship in the lonely confines of space - no one to help you, no one to hear you scream.  It is a setting that only grows more unsettling as the events unfold.  The film takes a slow approach to horror.  Often we sit in near darkness, unsure of what is around the corner or hidden in the shadows.  Unlike more recent sci-fi filmmakers Ridley Scott does not put the alien on display for the viewer to clearly see (as if we have not seen special effects before and are going to stand up and applaud the creation of  a CGI creature.)  Instead he does something more effective, restricting the amount of the alien we are able to see so we can create our own ideas in our heads.  You can only imagine just what it is that they crew is up against as it peaks out of the shadows and makes us feeling like prey waiting to be attacked. 

It is a well designed scare vehicle that does not rely on cheap scares to get you worked up.  When a crew member is laying unconscious on a hospital table with an alien creature grasping onto his face for and a good portion of the first half of the film, you can only guess what is going to occur, but you know one thing, it's not going to be good.

Scariness:              4.5 out of 5    It creeps up on you, literally.  Where do you go when there is nowhere to run.

Violence/ Gore:        4 out of 5    Some scenes become classics for a good reason.

Story:                       4 out of 5     More that it originally comes across - scary and satisfying.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

World War Z - Trailer - A Great Book Becomes a (most likely) Unnecessary Film

Somehow this book has finally becomes a two hour motion picture. It is not as if I won't run out and see it - I just think the right medium would be on television, preferably HBO. If you have not read the book, I highly recommend it since there is much more to it than just zombies. After few chapters you will think aloud to yourself, "that FilmSnork is right, this film lends itself better to a weekly TV series with each chapter being its own individual hour-long episode, preferably on HBO."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

250 of the Greatest Films in Under 3 Minutes

This is an incredible piece of work worthy of your viewing. It is a creative compilation of IMDB's top 250 films put to music. Watching it makes me want to sit down and watch a great film right now, but The Man won't let me. Be a rebel at your desk, watch these 169 seconds of awesomeness.

Thank you to Frank Barnes for directing us to this.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Disney Buys Lucasfilm and Star Wars - What Does It All Mean?

Where do I start? How about a long, long time ago in a galaxy... NAH! Too cliché. As a challenge to myself (and a blessing to my readers) I am going to do my best to resist all urges to the typical silly Star Wars puns. Let's just get right down to it. A blockbuster deal went down, one that will change the Hollywood landscape as we know it. On October 30, a day that will go down in film infamy, George Lucas' sold Lucasfilm Ltd and all its assets to behemoth Disney Studios for a whopping $4 billion. The sale includes the premiere special effects house Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound. That is huge news. The announcement only gets bigger.  On top of all that, Disney also purchased the rights to the Star Wars franchise, they now own the universe that Lucas spent his life creating.  Now THAT is a huge deal.

This deal was a shock to both fans and industry insiders. No one could have anticipated this since Lucas' name has been synonymous with the Star Wars franchise for over three decades. Not only did he create the Star Wars universe, Lucas was the Star Wars universe; serving as its god, harboring total control of every decision for the films, the spin-off books, the merchandise, etc. To call him a micro-manager would be an understatement. That is why the final part of the announcement was so jaw dropping incredible – Disney planned to release another brand new Star Wars trilogy, a storyline that would continue the story after Return of the Jedi. After a prequel trilogy which was widely considered a disappointment by both critics and fans it had looked like we had seen the last original Star Wars films on the big screen. To say fans were letdown would be a gross understatement, many reviled them and Lucas' handling of the franchise in general. So why would anybody ever want to make more Star Wars films when it looked like the universe was on the decline? Oh wait, I forgot to mention, the prequel trilogy alone raked in an incredible 2.5 billion dollars worldwide (not adjusted for inflation.)  I repeat, fans spent $2.5 billion on films that they hated.  Imagine if they actually liked them.  Making a Star Wars film is like license to print money, that may have something to do with Disney's idea to make more films.

The plans are to release a new Star Wars film every 2 years starting in 2015. Few details have be announced as to just what the story will be, but it is confirmed it will be a continuation of the original trilogy story, hence the 3 films will be Episode VII, VIII and IX. The big question is, in what way will this be a continuation? The reports and speculation are conflicting.

What we do know:
  • Lucas will not write or direct – he will serve as creative consultant but plans to retire.
  • Lucas provided treatments for the entire trilogy.
  • The next three films will close out the saga.
  • Once this trilogy is complete, Disney will most likely produce additional Star Wars films that are not directly related to the original saga.
  • Disney has already started working with writers.
  • They will be drawing storylines in part from already published materials, most likely Timothy Zahn's “Thrawn Trilogy.”
  • Mark Hamill has been reached out to for some sort of on screen role, to what degree we do not know. It is rumored that numerous members of the original trilogy cast will make appearances if not star – most likely in cameos, but this is mostly speculation.

So who are the winners and who are the losers of this deal.  Here is my assessment of it all.

The Star Wars Franchise - WINNER - Remember when the first prequel was announced? It was one of the greatest announcements ever. Years before it even came out we knew we would see it and ted to love them - they were Star Wars films after all. Lucas would never do us wrong. After years of waiting we finally were able to get our opening day tickets, put our hair up like Princess Leia and sit down to watch them. From the opening scrolling text, where we first read some bullshit about the taxation of trade routes, something felt off.  As we sat there and watched an annoying little boy with a bad haircut and a obnoxious CGI abomination, we tried to like the film.  We walked out of the theater with the same reaction, Lucas used the film to sneak back in time and kill our youth.  Maybe we missed something, maybe we were all too tired that day.  A repeat viewing would improve the situation... and we saw it again. We tried to like it, we really did. But we didn't. Many of us lived in denial and had faith the second film would reignite that true love of the series. It didn't. Then we waited for that reaction from the third. Sure, it was awesome... I guess. After years of inner conflict the truth was something we would allow ourselves to accept. The prequels kind of sucked.

That bring us to today. After the prequel trilogy how much worse could it get? Disney is working with Lucas, they are also going to work with some of the brightest names in the industry to try to not screw these up. Rumors have already started as to who will direct, from Christopher Nolan to JJ Abrams to Joss Whedon. You can rest assured Disney will bring in someone with some skills, someone that will ignite the hopes of those fans turned away by the prequels.

To tell you the truth the problem is not only the prequels, the saga needs a proper conclusion. “Return of the Jedi” had many great moments, but it also had the Ewoks and the fact that all they could come up with for the big bad was ANOTHER Death Star was uninspired at best. I want resolution, not a teddy bears, a dance sequence and rehash.

If these stories truly do continue the story and don't simply try to extend it we could see a revitalization of a franchise that reached its peak about five seconds into “The Phantom Menace” and took a nosedive from there. We want love Star Wars again. If all goes right we will once more. If not, it is unlikely our distaste will grow.

The Fans - WINNERS - As I just said, it can't really get worse. The prequels are a punchline to jokes. The reaction to them goes from detested to tolerated. I do not know anyone that can straight out say they love the prequels, you kind of just accept them. So we will all go through this again. We will get excited about a new Star Wars film, we will see it and hopefully we will love it. And, if not, at least we will get to experience that kid like level of anticipation that is so much fun. They may be great, they may be terrible, at least we will have a chance for redemption. Let' call it a new hope.

The Star Wars Purists - LOSERS (for now) - The purists I speak of are those of us that want to see the original theatrical release of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi released on DVD/Blu-Ray. We do not want the Special Editions that came to theaters in the 90's or any of the countless renditions Lucas has delivered over the years. To them we say, “Nooooooooo.” We want the untouched theatrical versions. The bad news, 20th Century Fox owns the first six "Star Wars" films, at least until 2020 and the original movie, "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope," is theirs forever. Unless Disney and 20th Century Fox can work out a deal original, unedited trilogy box set is not coming any time soon. The good news, when it finally does become available, it will probably be a letdown anyway.

Disney - WINNERS - Disney CEO Iger’s announcement of the Lucasfilm acquisition said this, “this transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including ‘Star Wars,’ one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.” In other words we are going to make a boatload of money. Early estimates are Disney will make about $31 billion off the acquisition. Not bad for a measly $4 billion investment.

The haters already hate Disney, buying Star Wars will not change that. There is a chance though that they could put out a great trilogy and earn some respect from the haters, even if they won't admit to it.

George Lucas - LOSER - I know what you are thinking, the guy made $4 billion on this deal, how can he be a loser? He made a beloved trilogy* of films and nothing can ever change that. But, the prequels are like his version of the asterisk next to the name of Barry Bonds in the record books, the achievement will always be tainted.

This is a no win situation for the guy.   If the new trilogy stinks fans will question selling the franchise rights to Disney, the studio that made the classic “John Carter.” If the films are great or even good fans will say that the reason for their success was the limited involvement of Lucas.

In my mind, Lucas' biggest mistake, besides making the prequels, was not hiring someone to help him write dialogue and co-direct. That cast can definitely act, but even a great actor cannot sell some of the terrible lines they were provided.  It has been revealed that Lucas is donating the money from the deal to charity, that is awesome. He is a good man, just one that needed to know how to ask for help.

*Sorry Lucas, the trilogy is beloved, but the most beloved is 1980’s “The Empire Strikes Back,” which just happened to be directed by Irvin Kershner.

Indiana Jones Franchise - LOSER – If you want to throw some salt in George Lucas' wounds let's bring up “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” or worse yet just mention Shia Labeouf. Certainly Lucas would like to redeem himself for that dud, but the word is that the series is dead as we know it. Disney will now own the rights the franchise and supposedly there are several factors working again a final hurrah: Spielberg is done with the action genre, there is no script or even treatment in the works and Harrison Ford is 70 years old. Disney appears to be focused on Star Wars, if a Harrison Ford sequel to the Indy series would be made it would have to be soon, but nothing appears to be in the works. If you want my opinion (and I know you do) forget “Crystal Skull” and accept the “Last Crusade” as the close of the franchise – it may just be the best in the series.

Jar Jar Binks and the Ewoks - LOSERS - Just because.

Well I did it. I finished this extremely long article with out any Star Wars puns or goofy references. If you see me you can pat me on the back. Until then, enjoy this cool video that goes through all of the first six films. Warning, if you have not seen all of them this video is full of spoilers. Then again, I doubt you would read this far if you hadn't seen them all.

If you enjoyed this article, do me a favor and LIKE the FilmSnork Facebook page.  It is full of good stuff.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pontypool - Review (2009)

Premise:  A talk radio host receives calls about bizarre goings on in the small town of Pontypool.  Is it a hoax or is the town suddenly going berserk.

Review:   This film was a nice surprise.  I had little clue what I was going to see since the title (which refers to small town in Ontario, Canada) reveals nothing.  Set in a radio station whose current on-air personality seems to have a pretty big chip on his shoulder the story is slowly revealed through the calls he takes.  Each phone provides new information as to just what the hell is going on in Pontypool.  Like the War of the Worlds radio play we learn of the events by word of mouth, the only connection to it all are the phone calls.

The film was reminiscent of the best parts of a Stephen King novel, small town characters with a lot to say, strange scenarios that may or may not be real, a great build up.  The small feel of the films helps to provide and eerie feel of isolation as the small radio station crew sit inside as reports of madness come in.  I loved that aspect.

When more info is revealed the film loses what made it stand out from the crowd.  And although it does lose some of its creepier than creepy feel, it remains worth watching.

Scariness:                3.5 out of 5   Like a good ghost story told around the campfire, it is often just the words that scare you most.

Violence/ Gore:       3 out of 5     Some very bloody scenes.

Story:                       4 out of 5     A nice creepy Stephen King/ Twilight Zone-esque story to start.  The more that is revealed, the l

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  7.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Audition - Review (1999) 31 Days of Horror # 19

Premise:  A widower decides to try to find a new love to fill the hole in his life in a unique way.

Review:   There is one thing I hate to find in a review, it's spoilers.  When I compose my reviews I do so with the intention to allow reader to read my review before or after seeing the film without spoiling the film, but at the same time providing them with some valuable insight.  I want you to take something away from my write up.  If you are reading the review before seeing the film, my intention is to provide direction - to see or not to see.  When reading a review before the film you should not fear being cheated of the same joy of discovery the writer had because of inconsiderate writing.  There is absolutely no reason a writer should reveal cameos, surprises or plot twists, when even referencing the existence of them can hurt experience.  I know, I sound a bit over the top about this, but when it comes to film I want you to have the same raw experience I did, not one affected by my revelations.  Selling a film to a reader by saying. "You won't believe the surprise twist," or "just wait until you see who shows up in this film," totally alters the way the film will be watched by you the poor schmuck that just came for your advice.  That is all they wanted, not for you to ruin the film for them.  This may explain why M. Night Shyamalan's film have lost favor with most audiences.  Viewers that know his work come in anticipating the standard M. Knight film and therefore spend the entire film trying to figure out the twist before it is revealed.  Not the best way to watch a film.

With that said, read no further - it will say nothing to enhance your experience.  I will say I enjoyed the film.  There I said it, now move on.  Come back and write in the comments section (where spoilers are allowed) if you want to discuss it.  This film does not lend itself to being reviewed, at least not in the fashion I am comfortable with.  The tale will surely polarize viewers and rightfully so, it does not follow the formulaic pacing of your standard horror film.  It is part art house, part disturbing horror film.   It is a unique film which uses its editing to the fullest, making the bizarre tale a bit more convoluted, creating some uncertainty that complements the story.  How this fill affected me is similar to being burned by a flame - at first you may not notice the heat, then there is agonizing intensity, followed by the duller sensation that lingers with you.


Scariness:           3.0 out of 5    It is scary in a slow, deliberate way- nothing jumping out at you.

Gore/Violence:   5.0 out of 5    Realistic violence will have you wanting to close your eyes.

Story:                  4.5 out of 5    Dealing in real human emotions and psyche, there is more here than you may first take away from it.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  7.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Evil Dead 2 - Review (1987) 31 Days of Horror #18

Premise:  A trip up to a cabin for some romance becomes a date with death as the undead rise.

Review:  This is one of the tougher films to review because of it really separates itself from any one genre.  Just about every scene contains some slapstick humor, but at the same time it is full of gore and carnival haunted house scares.  The acting is purposely bad whicj makes it fitting for the film - anything else would be out of place.  Everything in the film is so outrageously over the top it plays like one part live action Looney Tunes one part Dawn of the Dead.  It is a one of a kind film.

If you are ready to have a good time, this is the film for you.  It never takes itself serious, providing a break from the slew of horror films that want to be mentioned in the same breath as "Casablanca," but are a better fit along side "Suburban Commando."  I highly recommend you play it in the background at your next Halloween party, it never slows down & with the sound on or off it works. 

Scariness:             3.0 out of 5    Humor comedy cuts through the scares like a chainsaw on flesh.

Gore/Violence:     4.5 out of 5    Lots of blood and body parts.

Story:                    3.0 out of 5    Mostly a series of attacks with some mythology mixed in.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Review (1997) 31 Days of Horror #17

Premise:  After a group of partying kids coverup they start receiving threatening notes from a witness.

Review:  The film starts off on the right foot, an accidental death, a cover-up and then the threatening hand written notes stating - I KNOW.  Not only did someone witness their heinous act, they also want revenge.  Then the film goes into autopilot and reaches the point of earning unintentional laughs.  We are treated with some awkward scenes - a random hair cutting, a car attack, a random murder because we need a murder.  It is chock full of lazy writing.  Why would someone set on revenge cut a girl's hair that he intended to kill?  Why not finish the job?  What the hell is Leonard from The Big Bang Theory doing working at a fishing dock?

Then there is the laughable villain, the Gorton's fisherman.  Not only is he a man chasing teenagers in full fishing garb in the middle of summer, he must have magic powers or a teleporter (be careful with that thing) giving him the ability be in all places at once and achieve the impossible.  He can also load up a trunk of a car with a dead body and a few dozen live crabs then quickly empty it all in a matter of seconds so when the group returns to the car it is empty.  Not just empty, all remnants of the previous cargo have been removed, completely bare - it even had new car scent.  If fishing does not work out for him he should work in car detailing.

It is one of those films that gets worse with additional viewing.  The first time I saw it I found it intense and satisfying.   The more I watch it, the more obvious that this film was quickly produced to capture the same audience that made Scream a hit.  There are just so many things that make no sense.

Still it is fun to watch.  It has some startling moments, usage of just about every easy scare tactic and Jennifer Love Hewitt has some pipes - she can scream like nobody's business.  If you want some brainless entertainment watch it, if you want to think go elsewhere.

Scariness:             2.0 out of 5    More cheap scares and intense chases than scares.

Gore/Violence:     1.5 out of 5    Some stabbings, dead bodies - not much blood.

Story:                    2.5 out of 5    Great premise followed by paint by numbers horror.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Poltergeist - review (1982) 31 Days of Horror #16

Premise:  When their youngest daughter starts talking to the static on the television set it is just the beginning of a slew of menacing events.

Review:  From the moment the little girl (Heather Rourke) turns and says, "they're heeeerrre." I am sucked in.  In my not so humble opinion, this is the quintessential haunted house film.  It is full of classic scenes, great performances, a story that doesn't grow old and plenty of horrifying moments.  The reason it works so well is it takes aim at so many of the nightmares we all shared.  For kids there are spooky toys, that ominous tree outside the bedroom window and that closet that just isn't right.  For adults there is the violation of your personal space, feeling powerless and the fear of losing your children.  We can identify with these things, they hit familiar nerves.  Then you add some old school special effects, an interesting story, a likeable family and you have a horror film that just works.

This is the rare occasion that I think tinkering with the film would be beneficial.  It does not need any cgi effects, just some modifications to some scenes... namely they face peeling scene.  Effects that may have been state of the art thirty years ago are now the only parts of the film that detract from a real good time.  Still, I can look past them and fear if someone did try to redo some effects they would go overboard and ruin the film. Like when you tell the barber to just clean it up and by the time he is finished your Samson like locks are on the floor and you look like Pee Wee Herman.

If you have never seen this film, do so.  It is a ton of fun and scary.  If you do not see it for the reasons above, then just so you can be cast under the spell of Craig T Nelson.

Scariness:             4.0 out of 5    Dark, scary environments, but bad choices downgrade Freddie to a generic horror villain.

Gore/Violence:     2.0 out of 5    The gory special effect doesn't work, but it still does exist.

Story:                    4.0 out of 5    A family in danger and parents that won't give up.  Classic.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  9 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

Iron Man 3 Trailer

Looks better than the second Iron Man film, but then again that's not too tough to do. Hopefully they remember character development and plot along with these amazing effects.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - Review (2010) 31 Days of Horror #15

Premise:  High school friends are haunted by the same nightmares of a man with a burned face and knife fingers.  Even worse, what he does in your dreams happens to you in real life. 

Review:  Freddie Krueger of the 80's and 90's is an iconic screen character that became a household name not only because of his unusual looks and taste for revenge, but also because he was mysterious and in an odd way charming.  His personality and whit are what drew audiences to the theater for countless sequels (even as it evolved from horror to camp.) 

Too bad no one told this to the producers of the re-boot of The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.  They must have had the "Nightmare" cliff notes, forgetting to look deeper than what was on the surface at what the true draw of the series was.  They did a better job, in certain ways, than Rob Zombie did with his take on "Halloween" to stay true to the original story, but they did so in an unimaginative way.

Freddie (portrayed by Jakie Earle Haley) is still here with his signature glove and the burned face, the problem is his makeup does not allow for any expression.  Sure, the burns on his face look more realistic, but remember this is a movie that mainly takes place in dreams, realism is not a top priority.  On top of the poor makeup decision, the character is often draped in shadows making his expressionless face even less functional.

Then there is the writing.  Freddie was know for his (often corny) one-liners - not any more.  There may have been a single one-liner setting up a kill.  When it is finally delivered, it is so out of place in this film that is falls flat. They purposely de-clawed Freddie of what audiences came to see.  He has absolutely no appeal as a villain or as a anti-hero.

It gets worse (medium spoiler alert) they decided to make Freddie the victim of the film - how are you supposed to feel about a killer that is seeking revenge for an injustice?  It is a bit conflicting and surely does not work.  

The film does have a couple of memorable moments, good acting and nice sets - too bad the pacing issues, script problems and de-clawing of Freddie outweigh anything done right in the film.
As a Nightmare on Elm Street film the films stinks, as a sequel to "Little Children" it is awesome.

Scariness:             2.0 out of 5    Dark, scary environments, but bad choices downgrade Freddie to a generic horror villain.

Gore/Violence:     4 out of 5       Blood, stabbings & slashings... the best is saved until last.

Story:                    2.5 out of 5    Same cool premise that gets mixed up along the way.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here. 

The Amityville Horror - review (1979) 31 Days of Horror #14

Premise:  After getting a great deal on their dream home, the Lutz's start to wonder if it is a dream home or a nightmare.

Review:  Horror films with a religious focus often affect me because of the way I was raised.  This is another film on the list of films I watched at too young of an age.  It scared me or maybe it scarred me... I avoided going into most basements on my own if at all possible.  After viewing it again, decades later, it did not have the same effect.

This is your standard haunted haunted house film - There are many elements of this film, the performances are serviceable,  the score is wonderfully old school creepy and some of the ongoings in the house are flat out creepy - dogs barking at basement walls, flies multiplying on the windows, visitors becoming violently ill, unknown voices, etc.  

Much of it works, it could just be ems a little dated for today's audiences.   There are some glaring inconsistencies that make the scares less effective and a finale that is anti-climatic and at times almost laughable (boy can that guy clean up quickly.)   It is not a bad film, but it could use the efforts of a more skilled filmmaker to rework some of the scenes.  And please, for your own sake do not waste your time on the recent remake, it was terrible.

I think the reason this film did as well as it did when it was first released was due to the popularity of Margot Kidder (my old crush was restored) coming off of the Christopher Reeves "Superman" film and the "Based on a true story" tagline that used to go a long way.

Scariness:             2.5 out of 5    Some great creepy moments, ruined by some not so creepy.

Gore/Violence:     1.5 out of 5   Blood that sometimes looks like Hershey's syrup may scare the kids or make them hungry.

Story:                    2.5 out of 5   Standard haunted house fare that could have risen above with a better script.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  6 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Blair Witch Project - Review (1999) 31 Days of Horror #13

Premise:  A documentary film crew decides to investigate the legend of the Blair Witch... good things happen.

Review:  Let me tell you the story of a strong, intelligent, handsome and brave young man who decided to see a movie that was creating a great deal of buzz as being one of the scariest movies in years.  Being a man that does not scare easy, the handsome fellow decided to buy tickets to the opening night midnight screening.

All was going well, the perfect seat - 4 rows back, dead center.  The necessary contraband snacks and beverages, lining his waistline like a drug smuggler making his way across the border.  After much anticipation and a slew of trailers the movie finally started.  He was surprised by the unorthodox film style, it was amateurish at best.  The shots were shaky, the stars were average looking people, not perfect celebrities, the shot design and editing looked to be handled by a first timer.  As the film moved along he was concerned this movie would not be about a witch at all, but rather a film about a map.  Did I mention he was handsome?

At one time, our hero was a Boy Scout and also had taken family camping trips as a kid.  As the film continued the man found himself becoming more engrossed with the familiar events taking place on screen.  The piles of rocks, sticks, sounds in the night and whispers transformed into things of nightmares past; fears he had during his days camping as a child were brought back to the surface.  The film did a tremendous job of creating that isolated in the unknown, no one can here me scream feeling he had as a kid.  But, this was not like other films - it felt real, the scares were visceral.  By the time the film ended the man was frightened.  Just how frightened he was he would not know until later that evening.

As he made his way to his car he watched his back, every person leaving the theater was a psychopath, every car that had its headlights crossed across his body a potential mechanical murder machine.  Then he got to his car and hopped in quickly to avoid anyone underneath from grabbing his feet.  THEN he started his the foolish routine done by so many that enter their cars in fear after a scary movie.   It is called the "I Am Too Old and Smart To Do This, But I Better Just In Case Test" - the IDIOT Test for short.  The first step: you must sit down and make an unsuspicious glance into the rear view mirror to look for the Blair Witch (or other creatures of the night) that may be rising up over his seat, ready to pounce.  There is a very specific way you have to handle this, if you are too obvious the person hiding would quickly spring out and grab you.  So, it is not only important, but a difference between life and death that you be cool about it.  Glance in the rear view mirror as if you are just a very careful driver going through your pre-drive routine,    pretend that you have to check if something in your eye or that you need to check your hair.  All of these are acceptable and will not trigger a response from the back seat baddie.  Whew, no one there.   If you the rear view mirror test turns out negative move onto the next step.  The ultra-quick, no-look karate chop to the back seat.  Not only will this give you instant notification as to if someone is lurking in your back seat, the karate chop may just do enough damage to allow for an escape.  Hiii-YAh!  If your karate chop make a direct blow to something hairy, slimy or scruffy, consider yourself one of the lucky ones.  Only one more step to safety.  Direct Eye Contact.  After you finish your karate motion, swing your head back to confirm your findings are correct.  Hopefully, you will find an empty seat.  The unlucky few have the unwanted revelation that the baddie was able to avoid the karate chop and cram itself in the tight spot directly behind one seat.  If this is the situation I fear it is over for you... the creature will be annoyed with your insultingly bad mirror uses and the attempt to use martial arts and quickly make minced meat or a meal of you.  On the other hand, if the back seat is empty, feel free to drive home safely.  Just make sure you go directly home, you do not want to have to repeat all these steps again.

His drive took him to an empty house that was not all that familiar to him.  You see, this was his first weekend of temporary living with his brother during his move to Florida.  He was certain everything would be fine, it was a safe neighborhood, he had his brother's fairly relaxed dog to keep him company and really, when you think about it, what happened that night, he just saw a scary movie.  Did his fear somehow tip off the world that this intelligent, overly handsome man was alone and for some reason scared and should be messed with that evening?  Of course not!  That is until he brushed his teeth (after checking the shower curtain... little known fact, killers loves standing in your shower) and went to bed.  He was barely able to close his eyes before that relaxed dog I mentioned did something he had never seen before, the dog was running around the house barking up a storm.  Not only barking, but focusing the barking on the back sliding door (which he never checked to ensure it was locked.)  The dog was running back and forth, jumping at the door, barking, whining... something was out there.  Unfortunately for me, he was supposed to be the only person on the property since my brother was out of town.  This dog that barely moved to get out of my way when he entered the house was suddenly the dog from The Omen.  The barking lasted about 10 minutes.  The damage was done though, he was not more scared than an adult should be.  He tried to get to sleep, usually not an problem.  That night he was an insomniac, waking every few minutes to check the clock to see how long until morning... the clock never seems to move.  It felt like 3:15 am for about 4 hours.  Finally, he was able to get to sleep.

The sun glaring in through the windows woke him up nice and early.  Thank God, he was alive.  He walked out of the room thinking how foolish he had been.  Ha!  A grown man scaring himself like that.  That's when he tumbled to the ground, slipping in a puddle on the floor, landing flat on his stomach face to face with his the corpse of his brother's dog - beheaded.  Slipping with every step, he was finally able to get to his feet, slipping on the rancid puddle of dog blood.  Leaving a trial behind him, he worked his way to the phone to call the police, his brother, anyone to help him.  When he lifted the receiver there was no dial tone.  That is when he noticed the line was cut!  He grabbed his keys, ran out the front and got into his car.  As he started it up he remembered.  I FORGOT TO CHECK THE BACK SEAT!  That is when someone or something jumped out of the back seat and sliced him ear to ear.

OK, I made that last paragraph up.  Sorry.

Years later, the same man was in the middle of a horror film festival he named the FilmSnork 31 Days of Horror - 31 days, viewing a different horror film every day.  One of the films he decided on watching was no other than The Blair Witch Project.  He would prove to himself that no movie would scare him like that again.  He started a campfire in his back yard, poured himself a Scotch, lit a nice cigar and popped his noise blocking headphones on.  At first it was simple.  Then, the pile of rocks part of the film started up.  He found himself looking over his shoulder, taking off his headphones, peering back at the house just to make sure nothing could scare him again.  He was not going to be affected by this poorly shot, film again.  That is when the scene with the voices started up.  he through his cigar in the fire, grabbed his Scotch and finished the film in the house.  Because that is where I that is where he wanted to watch it, no other reason.  The end.

Scariness:        5 out of 5   It is simple. No special effects. No makeup. No CGI.  Just you and your fears.

Gore/Violence:   1 out of 5   I do not recall anything other than some creepy stories about the witch.

Story:                 3.5 out of 5  Simple story that's very effective if you allow yourself to get wrapped up in it.

Overall rating (as a film, not just a horror film):  8 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Descent - Review (2005) 31 Days of Horror #12

Premise:  Some friends' cave-dwelling trip takes a bad turn when their way out is blocked after a cave in.

Review:  I rented this film when it first came out on DVD with the expectations I would typically reserve for a low-budget horror film I never heard of.  What I got was a fantastic surprise; a claustrophobia-inducing trip starting with smiles and ending with the stuff that nightmares are made.  One of the best horror films of its decade.  The film delivers some real scares as well as very good performances and a story with a much more depth than usually found in the genre.

The story begins with a group of friends heading out on their annual adventure trip which after one of them suffers a loss in her family.  Shortly after they make their way down into the underground cavern there is a collapse leaving them stranded with few supplies and no way out... from there it goes down hill.  There are many aspects of the film that make it work so well, for one the underground cavern setting makes for the most claustrophobic environments you can find.  It allows you to regress back to your childhood fear - it is dark, there is no way out and you are confused.  Are your fears legitimate or just the the workings of your imagination?  Having a cast of unknowns that can actually act also keeps you involved, there is no distracting star power here to give your brain the easy escape from the madness of the film.  Being that cast is almost entirely made up of normal women, the type you may actually know, the violence tends to resonate more.  The main reason the film works so well is that once you think you have it all figured out it changes, evolving into a different film than you originally thought you were watching.  It is offers more than just scares and gore, it proposes uncomfortable questions as to what you would do to survive.
Scariness:                   4 out of 5     Stuck in a cave with no supplies and way out, that's a scary start. 

Gore/Violence:           4 out of 5     No shortage of violence and blood here.

Story:                          4 out of 5     There are real characters here, not just lambs headed to slaughter.

Overall rating (as a movie, not just as a horror movie):  8.0 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Bride of Chucky - Review (1998) 31 Days of Horror #11

Premise:  The killer doll is back and along with his female doll counterpart (Jennifer Tilly) they are on quest to obtain an amulet that will allow them to regain human form.

Review:  Let's start by saying that this film is not for everyone.  If you come in hating you will probably leave hating.  If you come in trying to have a good time you most likely will.  After having a poor experience watching The Ring (a film I thought I loved) I was very concerned revisiting this Chucky sequel would be another letdown.  Thankfully the ugly red-headed doll possessed by the soul of a serial killer did not disappoint.

This film separates itself from previous entries, it is a continuation of the story that now crosses over to horror-comedy.  It is at times grotesque and seconds later there is a possessed doll reading "Voodoo for Dummies."  I know, it sounds terrible.... it's not.  The great thing about this film is the more you think about it, the more ludicrous and enjoyable it becomes.  Like that last sentence or the premise I typed above - the film never takes itself too serious.  Chucky is constantly throwing out one liners; many are painfully bad, many work in a so-bad-its-good way.  It sets the right tone combing cynicism, shock, laughs and plenty of self-awareness.  Most films would not be let off the hook with what this film throws up on the screen: a one of a kind love scene, outrageous death scenes and hit-or-really-really-miss jokes are not only not frowned upon here, they are welcome.  I found myself being disappointed they would go for such an easy gag and at the same time being glad they did. 

Then there are the performances.  Jennifer Tilly plays the trashy girlfriend with a pitch perfect performance, a high whiny pitch, but still perfect.  Brad Douriff, (the voice of Chucky) I am not even sure if I know what the guy really looks like, but provides Chucky with a smooth set of pipes.  Then there are the humans. Who can dislike John Ritter?  He does not get much to do here, but just seeing him again is plus.  The female, human lead is a face you will recognize more now, but probably would not when the film was released, Katherine Heigl.  There is no doubt about it, this is Katherine Heigl's best film.  Okay, maybe that's not saying much. 

The movie is a lot of fun.  Clever at times, horribly predictable at others.  One of my true guilty pleasures.  
Scariness:                     1 out of 5    Who can be scared while you are so busy smiling?

Gore/Violence:          3.5 out of 5     There are plenty of blood and guts, handled in a semi-comic fashion.

Story:                            3 out of 5     A silly but satisfying story the fits the subject matter.

Overall rating (as a movie, not just as a horror movie):  7.5 out of 10
Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Ring (2002) 31 Days of Horror #10

Premise:  There is a videotape that if you watch it you will die in 7 days. 

Review:  It happens.  There are films you fall out of love with.  Sadly, this may be one of them.  When I first saw the film in the theater 10 years ago it scared me.  I praised it and told friends to go see it.  Upon watching it this week I did not have the same response.  The film does have a killer opening scene which leads us into a creepy opening 30 minutes.  After that 30 minutes though it is all downhill.  This was not the response I had when I saw it years ago.   What has changed?

There are still some horrifying sequences - perhaps some of top scary moments in years, but there is a major problem, surrounding these scary moments is a mystery.  For me, at least this time around, the revelations of The Ring is what ruins it.  The less you know about the mysterious videotape the more effective the film is.  Once the reveals occurred I became more and more disconnected from the film.  Not only was I not scared by much of The Ring this time around, I was actually bored.  A very bad sign.

If this film was made today, would they 

Scariness:                   4 out of 10 - The opening scene & the contents of the tape are quite jarring - other scenes do not hold up as well.
Gore/Violence:          1.5 out of 10  - Some shocking images, little blood.

Story:                         2.5 out of 5    I love the premise... one of my favorites.  I hate that is transforms into a Scooby-Doo mystery.

Overall Rating (as a film, not just as a horror film):  5.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Review (2003) 31 Days of Horror #8

Premise:  Stupid kids, make stupid decisions that lead to a run-in with a chainsaw, literally.

Review:  I have seen many films in my lifetime.  Quite frankly, I have seen many films this month.  I do not claim to be a film expert.  I cannot quote films line for line - most films I cannot even remember the characters' names are without repeat viewings.  What I can do is tell you what I like and why.  I took some heat for including the remake of this film in my FS31DoH instead of the original.  When I sat down to watch it I feared that maybe I was wrong, perhaps this film had nothing to offer and the original was the only way to go.  Problem is, I am not very familiar with the original.  Some of you will see this as a sign of sacrilege, but I have only seen the original once, as a teenager, on an old 13 TV set.  For that I am happy, because it leaves me unaffected and able to have a more objective view than I was able to with other films that have gone through the remake process.

After sitting down and watching the 2003 version again, I stand behind my choice - it is a good horror film and one of the better remakes out there.   What you get here is a solid B-style-film in a shiny new package.  It is the shiny new package takes away from the film.  Things are over-produced, planned to the point of coming across as just that.  The original felt raw, as if it were the filming of actual events.  Here they attempt to create the feel of a found footage mixed with a standard horror film with one glaring issue, your star - Jessica Biel.  How is anyone supposed to get wrapped up in the movie when the filmmakers are glorifying the starlet with perfect lighting and camera angles.  It really becomes laughable at times.  The camera angles were not there to tell the story,  just to highlight Biel's body of work.  If she walks past the camera one of her most marketable assets are displayed prominently.  Funny thing, the same camera angles were not used for any of the other performers.  They should have just called it Biel-Cam.  As a man, I don't have a single problem with this.   As a film reviewer I don't have a... I mean, this just does not work.   A better decision for this, and all horror films, would have been to go with unknown faces.

Besides the casting of and how they chose to film the star, the filmmakers spent too much time making the film as gross as possible while losing focus on things like reality and lighting continuity.  The film is so grungy, it is almost as if we shot on another planet.  Every possible surface is dirty, greasy, muck-filled and slimy.  I have witnessed some disgusting things on "Hoarders," but this is is just ridiculous.  Not only is every surface so disgusting that even the least germaphobic person would be hunting for the closest bottle of Purell, but at one point an actor purposely dips his fingers in to investigate the pink slime in a bowl he is passing as if it were a pot of his Grandma's spaghetti sauce.  Who does that?  Another person chooses to open and investigate the inside of a fridge IN A POORLY LIT ROOM FULL OF BODY PARTS AND SHARP OBJECTS.  What was he expecting to find, a delicious looking sandwich he could bite into before anyone notices?  There are numerous elements that just don't make sense.  Then there is the lighting, from day to night, night to day, foggy to clear.  Sure looks cool--- makes no sense.

Then again, this is a horror film.  We did not come for a lesson in common sense, we came to be scared and this film does a good job delivering some scare.  The setup to most horror films put a bunch of dumb people into incredibly, uncomfortable experiences in isolated or unfamiliar surroundings.  Nothing new here, after making the standard poor choices of picking up a disoriented, bloody hitchhiker while hunting for drugs the crew encounters a psycho cop, a oddball family and of course a beast of a man wearing a mask made of human leather and yielding a chainsaw while yielding a chainsaw.  Although none of the group is all that likable you should be rooting for the as they are picked off one at a time - the scenes are intense and decision making of the characters is excruciating (in a good way.)  Many of the horror cliches are here and turned into a fairly satisfying, uncomfortable 90 minutes.  If you are looking for a tribute to the original film you MAY be disappointed.  If you just want to see a entertaining film from this genre, you could do much, much worse.  You will never be bored and always anticipating the next roar of the chainsaw.

For the naysayers, I will be watching the original 1976 version during next year's 31DoH... it better be THAT good.

SCARINESS                  3.0 out of 5  Would have been more effective if they cast unknowns, otherwise you have to wonder how the hell all this happened to Jessica Biel and no one had ever known. 

GORE/VIOLENCE       4.5 out of 5   Some pretty disgusting imagery - body parts, chainsawed torsos, Harry Knowles.

STORY                           2.0 out of 5   Standard sex and drugs lead to death and death storyline.

Overall Rating (as a film, not just as a horror film):  6.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Shining - Review (1980) 31 Days of Horror #9

Synopsis:  An author with writer's block and his family head to an isolated hotel for the winter to work on a new novel... not a bad gig unless some turns psychotic.

Review:  As I have been writing these reviews I realized just how many whacked out films I watched as a kid.  The Shining was just one of the films I ingested at a similar age to that of the boy playing Danny in the film.  I recall how exciting it was to get to school the next day to discuss some of the more shocking moments that were intended for a much older audience.  It's the perfect film to scar your children for life.  Although I do not feel as I suffered any ill effects from my young viewing I am surprised that what was effective back then holds up well today.

Like Jaws, Alien and so many other terrifying films the isolated location is the perfect setting to prey upon your fears.  The place is isolated as it is, add a massive winter storm and some terrify visions and all there is left are you and your nightmares with nowhere to run.  What exactly is at play here, a man losing his mind, some sort of supernatural experience or both?  Whatever it is, it escalate into madness.

The glue that holds this film together is the over-the-top performance of Jack Nicholson.  He lays is all out there and sells crazy in a somewhat entertaining and disturbing way.  The contrast of his performance with Shelly DuVall's gee-golly-this-is-good-rhubarb-pie delivery makes for some messed up scenes.  You might feel the urge to laugh until you remember most of what he is saying has something to do with abusing his wife or worse.  Still, Jack is irresistible - elevating bad to good and good to great.

I better wrap this up, my finger is thirsty.  Isn't it a bit early in the day for rum, red or any other color?

SCARINESS                4.0 out of 5     Red Rum, the twins, the bath tub, the voice  - Creepsville

GORE/VIOLENCE     2.5 out of 5     Some violent scenes, lighter on gore than most.

STORY                         4.0 out of  5     Much shallower than the novel but still effective.

Overall Rating (just as a film, not a horror film):  8 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Omen - Review (1976) 31 Days of Horror #7

Synopsis:  After a tragedy during the birth of his first child, U.S. diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) is offered a second chance to be a father.  A father to what is the question.

Review:  Scaring people is not an easy thing to do.  There is one shortcut to success for a portion of the audience, throw religion into the mix.  The Omen not only adds religion to the mix it incorporates verses from the Bible specifically from the Book of Revelations - the portion of the Bible that discusses the end of days, the end of the world.  The writings reveal that the Devil's son will come to earth and rise to power, forcing Jesus to return to pass judgement between the living and the dead - Judgement Day.  Scary shit.

This film takes the bible passages, combines them with some good acting and one hell of a score (pun was intended, even though I prefer to pretend otherwise) to create a truly haunting film.  The score for this film is the epitome of horror film music.  Just listening to it feels like an invitation to the Devil to take your soul and send you to an eternity of watching Grown Ups.  When added behind even the most mundane things they are transformed into tools of the devil.  And then there is the kid, Damien... what a creepy little dude.  I cannot imagine his parents having an easy time finding a babysitter.

I am not sure how those not raised in religious families will respond to this, but those who have should be thoroughly freaked out.

SCARINESS              4.5 out of 5  If you were taught in a Catholic school, this film should shake you like an angry nun.

GORE/VIOLENCE       2 out of 5  A couple of  shocking images.  Nothing to lose your head over.

STORY                       4 out of  5   Fairly simple story that has some real weight.

Overall Rating (just as a film, not as a horror film):  7.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.