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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

31 Days of Horror

There is only holiday that can support a full month of film viewing dedicated to it.  Of course I am referring to Arbor Day.  Oh yeah, also Halloween (as you may have figured out from the graphic above.)  Every year I intend to watch numerous horror films in the days leading to Halloween, but for some reason as Halloween grows closer the dozen or so film I plan to watch drops to one or two selections.  Once the season passes my brain switches to holiday/Oscar mode and the idea of watching the entire Friday the 13th series is just not as appealing.  For that reason I have chosen to start a new annual event known as FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror (can you believe I found a way to sneak in the name FilmSnork into the title?)

The schedule for this month of viewing terror was painstakingly determined sorting through dozens of site user submissions, my personal film library and the world wide web of information - all while chewing on glass.  This was not just about picking 31 horror movies, it was about picking the right 31 horror movies.  I really wrestled with which films would work best and how to categorize them. 
You may notice that avoided horror films predating 1960, because, although they are novel, it was Hitchcock's “Psycho” that I feel serves as the beginning of horror as we know it.  Sure, there are films from the 40s and 50s that would be fun to watch, but with this inaugural 31 DoH I wanted to focus on films that would play best to the majority of the FilmSnork audience.

In the end I came up with the following seven themes, one for each day:

The Devil Made Me Do It Sundays - Ghosts, Possessions and the The Devil Herself

Remake Mondays - Remakes, pretty obvious.

Great 80's Tuesdays - 5 films from perhaps the greatest decade of horror

Scream Queen Wednesdays - 5 nights, five leading ladies

Tongue-In-Cheek Thursdays - Nothing compliments horror like a little humor

Foreign Fridays - Horror from across the globe

Pot Luck Classic Saturdays - Groundbreaking horror from all different eras and genres

As I type this, even as satisfied as I am with the offering I am providing you, there are still a handful of films that I really wanted to include that did not make the final cut – maybe next year.  I am sure some of you will take issue with a few of the films on (or not on the list.)  Take a look at the schedule and send me some feedback.   I would love to hear it and if necessary defend my choices.

October 1 -  Let Me In

October 2 -  The Fly (1986)

October 3 - Psycho (1960)

October 4 - Shaun of the Dead

October 5 - Stake Land

October 6 - Jaws

October 7 - The Omen (1976)

October 9 - The Shining

October 10 - The Ring

October 11 - Bride of Chucky

October 12 - The Descent

October 16 - Poltergeist

October 18 - The Evil Dead 2

October 19 - Audition

October 20 - Alien

October 21 - The Exorcist 3

October 22 - House of Wax (2005)

October 23 - The Thing (1982)

October 24 - Scream

October 25 - Drag Me to Hell

October 26 - Pontypool

October 27 - The Silence of the Lambs

October 28 - Paranormal Activity 4

October 29 - Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

October 30 - Friday the 13th (1980)

October 31 - Halloween (1977)

(The schedule is subject to change due to accessibility issues.)

Happy viewing.   I hope many of you join me.   If you do, leave some comments and let me know (please register in the comment section if you do.)   

While you are at it, if new to the site LIKE us on Facebook and or follow @filmsnork on Twitter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Piranha 3DD - Review (2012)

Who would have ever guessed that one day I would long for a film to be more like "Piranha 3D?"  Upon viewing "Piranha DD" that day as arrived.  "Piranha 3D" was an enjoyably witty, gratuitous romp that was made all the better with the presence of Elizabeth Shue and Christopher Lloyd.  It delivered exactly what you were expecting and did so in a surprisingly admirable so-bad-it-is-good way.  "Piranha DD" takes any progress made to start a tongue in cheek horror franchise and flushed it down the toilet.

The film is directed by John Gulagar (you may recognize him from "Project Greenlight.")  I have routed for him since that reality show where many of his creative decisions were being questioned.  Even when it seemed as if the producers were correct, I kept rooting for John Gulagar because he came across as an underdog whose unorthodox ideas may just pay off.  They did not then and they don't now.  Turns out the guys is a hack.

His sense of plotting is so off, this barely qualifies as a film.  If I did not know better I would have guessed the editors were given random scenes and asked try to make a film - if that was the case they failed.  There is barely a storyline and even within individual scenes there is just a lack of cohesion.  I understand suspension of disbelief, but this film is so poorly constructed it is impossible to slip into that brainless entertainment mode.  The flaws are so glaring any elements that would keep you interested are outshined.

A fatal flaw for a film of this nature is to not deliver laughs or thrills.  What else are we there for?  The humor in this film is completely off the mark, coming across as amateurish, immature and obvious at best.  Even the film's name "Piranha 3DD" is a tipoff to the lack of refinement to the humor.  Much too obvious.  With any successful joke there is a certain amount of setup needed to earn the laugh.  If that foundation is not established then jokes fall flat and feel out of place.  The humor here is just so random and lazy it never earns the laugh.  By just dong something that is awkward or outrageous they must feel they will get laughs - it does not work that way.  I can imagine the director and his buddies laughing their asses off while everyone around them in the room sit in silence rolling their eyes.  There are plenty of time you will recognize the filmmakers are putting jokes on the screen, you just won't laugh.  The "Cooch Cam?"  Hilarious.  Oh yeah, then there's David Hasselhoff and Gary Busey - talk about lazy filmmaking.  Let's add these two walking punchlines to the film and they will provide instant laughs just based on who they are.  Sorry, but simply referring to a pop culture reference is not comedy... sorry "Family Guy."

The same goes for the thrills... no setup, no execution.  For a moment to be thrilling you must be able to anticipate what's going to happen, by doing so connect with the character, putting yourself in their shoes.  The thrills have to be gradually built up  so your heart rate rises and when the payoff comes you wince, turn your head or get the butterflies in your stomach.  Without a level of connection with the character there is no thrill, there's just random violence on screen.  Again, a payoff without the proper setup does not work.

Gulagar even does the impossible - he makes boobs boring.  Being the genre of film it is you expect a good deal of boobs in the film.  They are there but they are somehow rendered boring.  Loading up a film with countless boobs is not the way to go about it, but like his thrills and the jokes, Gulagar's boobs are effortless and lazy.  Effortless boobs are no fun.  FAIL.

The film fails on so many levels.
No scares
No laughs (maybe a chuckle or two... maybe)
Terrible screenplay
Terrible acting
Atrocious CGI
Poorly executed thrills
effortless boobs

It is a witless, hallow shell of what "Piranha 3-D" had put into motion (the original is sounding like a masterpiece - I gave it 6 stars.)   Once the bloodbath begins in the second half, the film does improve, but nowhere close to what it would need to recommend it.  If not for the original film being entertaining I would have totally skipped this one based on the title alone, but thought 'how bad could it be Christopher Lloyd is in it?'  

Warning: This may be longest feeling 82 minute movie you will ever see.  Even when 10+ of those 82 minutes are dedicated to blooper reel mixed into an extended credits sequence it seems to take forever to come to an end.

2 out of 10 stars

P.S.  Watching Christopher Lloyd in this just made me sad.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Three Stooges - Review (2012)

Just the concept of a Three Stooges remake is enough to make some people groan as if Moe has their nose in a set of pliers, rightfully so.  To some, The Stooges are sacred territory, the pinnacle of comedy.  Sure, they are not for everybody, but those that like the Stooges, love the Stooges.   That may be why this film which had been in pre-production for years, nobody wanted to make it.  Originally pictured as a star vehicle starring Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn and Jim Carrey - the Farrelly Brothers (Everybody Loves Mary, King Pin) finally settled for B/C list actors.  The end result is not terrible, yet not terribly funny film.

I must give credit to the Farrelly brothers, their love of the Stooges is present on screen.  They emulate the joke style, comic timing and violent humor almost to a tee.  The actors not only act, but do incredible imitations of the original Stooges.  But, imitation and admiration are not enough to validate the existence of this film.  When the film sticks close to the routines of the originals it seems like an unnecessary exercise in mimicry.  When it strays from the original and relies on fish out of water humor using modern day references, it lacks laughs and a reason to exist.  It is a no win situation.  

There are funny bits spread throughout the film, but even when the scenes are funny they don't know when to say when - carrying on much too long.  The Stooges are best enjoyed in short intervals, it was the medium they specialized in.  Even though they divide the film into several related "shorts" strung together into a film, it does not feel like anything more than an overlong short, stretched beyond its breaking point.  Larry David, Sofia Vegara, Jennifer Hudson and other celebrity cameos do nothing but detract from an already weak film.  There are some talented people involved, none are given anything to work with.  The roles would have been better filled with no name actors, not only would they not be distracting, they would also allow the Stooges to be the focus of the film.  I guess Hollywood knows what they are doing, this film did take in a paltry $44 million after 25 years in production hell.  I must admit the biggest surprise is that the inclusion of the Jersey Shore cast did not lower the bar all that much - they even are part of a laugh or two (okay, maybe a laugh and a half.)

Viewing this film was one of those things I felt I had to do, interested or not - I owe it to the people.  Like watching all of Adam Sandler films, this is not part of some sort of masochistic act.  The people are curious how these films are.  It is my job to absorb the pain for them and spit it out in review form.  Lucky for me, the pain from this film was not excruciating as it could have been thanks to the Farrelly brothers' love of the subject.  I give it 4.5 out of 10 stars. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Goon - Review (2012)

Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott) is a goon - a hockey player, often a not very skilled one whose sole purpose is to get on the ice, throw down the gloves and fight.  When I sat down to watch a hockey comedy about a goon my expectations were a "Slapshot" ripoff - in other words my expectations were low.  Surprisingly, this film did not get stuck in the trappings so many sports comedies do.

Maybe I am just a sucker for hockey films because my team seems to always be the underdog and I escape into the world where underdogs win, not just keep me sitting heartbroken waiting for the new season where the cycle can continue.  Sure this film is not a classic, but it is an entertaining sports tale that does not make the mistake so many sports movies make, an over-abundance of very large personalities.  These personalities are almost always whittled down to a group of caricatures.  You have seen them before, the old veteran that has one last game in him, the hot shot, the guy that is as dumb as rocks, the runt with heart and so on.  The teammates in this film come across like average guys that just want to win a game.

The one character I could do without is Glatt's sidekick, played by Jay Baruchel, an obnoxious, noisy, repulsive and unfunny waste of celluloid.  As the film starts he takes up much too much screen time, luckily he is less present in the second half of the film or I would not be able to give this films the 6 out of 10 stars I am giving it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What is your favorite scary movie?

In about 10 days I will be posting the schedule for 31 Days of Halloween Horror.  A Watch-Along if you would like month of horror films.  I have a long list of horror movies ready in my memory bank, but would love to get your opinion on some of the best horror movies.

Please provide a few of your favorite horror movies and if possible let me know why  (scary as hell, so bad it is good, the first scary movie you ever saw, etc.)   It does not matter if it is popular or unknown - post it.   I may just use some of your submissions to fill in one calendar date.

More details coming soon, until then I look forward to seeing your favs in the comment section.

I recommend you register with the Disqus system (the comment system) it takes seconds, is simple and adds to the experience for you.  Try it.  I wouldn't lie.

Check out our list of 31 horror films at FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror.