Film Review: Scare Package (2019)

Release Date: October 4th, 2019 (Spain – Sitges Film Festival)
Directed by: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn
Written by: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn, Cameron Burns, Ben Fee, Frank Garcia-Hejl, John Karsko
Music by: Alex Cuervo
Cast: Jeremy King, Noah Segan, Toni Trucks, Chase Williamson, Baron Vaughn, Zoe Graham, Byron Brown, Chelsey Grant, Luxy Banner, Josephine McAdam, Aaron D. Alexander, Allan McLeod, Jocelyn DeBoer, Melanie Minichino, Jonathan Fernandez, Dustin Rhodes, Haley Alea Erickson, Jon Michael Simpson, Mac Blake, Hawn Tran, Frank Garcia-Hejl, Justin Maina, Gabrielle Maiden

Paper Street Pictures, 103 Minutes

Review:

Well, the poster is cool.

However, it also says that this film has seven directors when, in fact, it has eight.

Maybe that’s the problem with it.

This is basically a movie made by a committee and when that happens, you’re rarely, if ever, given a motion picture that has any sort of cohesion or heart.

Also, this is an anthology but unlike most horror anthologies, this isn’t made up of three or four stories, it’s made up of seven. Yes, seven! There are more than a half dozen stories crammed into just 103 minutes.

The weird thing, is even though they average out to a scant running time, most of them feel too long. That could be due to the fact that this is a rather boring movie in spite of it having so much in it.

Apart from all that, though, the film has a self-aware snarkiness about it that’s fairly off putting and lame. It’s like this film is constantly winking at the camera to make sure that you’re aware that none of it should be taken seriously and that it’s just taking the piss out of itself by using material and concepts that have been used a dozen times over and more competently.

The acting is about on par with the rest of the film’s quality and no one is all that believable. I think that’s the fault of this film’s eight directors and twelve writers, though. There just isn’t enough time to care about the plot, the characters or the total package.

Now all of these stories come together in the end but the movie is nowhere near as clever as it believes itself to be.

This is the Twitter of anthology horror movies, as each segment is about the length of a tweet and the whole movie plays like a Twitter thread where it is hard to communicate depth, tone, proper context and nuance. But those that spend too much time on social media will probably dig this because of that.

I was bored watching this and frankly, I’m bored writing about it.

In the end, just skip this. You probably have some chore you’ve been putting off that would bring you more enjoyment.

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: other shitty and “clever” modern horror flicks.

Film Review: Hogzilla (2014)

Release Date: December 15th, 2014
Directed by: Diane Jacques
Written by: Diane Jacques, Beatrice Moon, Todd M. Webster
Cast: Joe Bob Briggs, William A. Butland, Zachary Dubale, Justin Kane, Joey Malone, Meredith Martin, John Pagnam, Tomey Sellars, Wade White

90 Minutes

Review:

I’ve heard the legend of this film’s existence for far too long. I wasn’t even sure if it was real and if it was, whether or not it was actually completed.

That being said, my only real interest in it was due to the fact that horror host icon Joe Bob Briggs was in it and it was about a giant killer hog. I like giant killer hog movies and there aren’t enough of them and frankly, none of the ones that do exist are all that good.

Well, this one may actually be the worst one I’ve seen. Also, the poster is a lie, as there aren’t a bunch of gun toting hotties in the movie. It’s just a pretty mundane group of normies with no real skills whatsoever. One of them is a Marine, I guess, but you only really know that because he wears camo pants and a very clean t-shirt that says “Marines” on it.

The great Joe Bob is in this and while his scenes are just about the only watchable ones in the film, I guess he’s a ghost or something because he just fades away at the end.

I don’t know, this just sucked. I had hoped it was going to be that type of film that was so shitty it was entertaining and amusing but it was so boring, drab and incompetent that it was a real bore to sit through.

It also sucks as it was filmed in Florida, not too far away from me, and I like killer animal horror from my neck of the woods.

Well, I guess I can claim that I’ve seen it now and that I can verify its existence but it didn’t make me a better person or teach me any worthwhile lessons that I could pass on to someone else’s kids.

Rating: 2.5/10
Pairs well with: other extremely low budget killer animal horror movies.

Documentary Review: Scream, Queen!: My Nightmare On Elm Street (2019)

Release Date: April 5th, 2019 (Cleveland International Film Festival)
Directed by: Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen
Written by: Michael Beard, Clint Catalyst, Leo Herrera, Justin Lockwood
Music by: Alexander Taylor
Cast: Mark Patton, Robert Englund, Jack Sholder, David Chaskin, Robert Rusler, Marshall Bell, Kim Myers, Clu Gulager, JoAnn Willette, Linnea Quigley

The End Productions, 99 Minutes

Review:

I was pretty excited to check this out when I first saw the trailer pop up. I’m a big fan of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise and I was probably one of the few that actually liked the second movie, before everyone else figured out how “gay” it was.

Granted, I kind of saw the film’s gay subtext for myself and despite this documentary claiming that the gay innuendo was widely known when this came out, I don’t recall many people talking about it until the late ’90s or so. Then again, I was also a young kid and didn’t reach my teen years until the ’90s, so maybe my peers were a bit behind in picking up on the cues.

Anyway, I actually thought that this was just sort of meh. I wouldn’t call this documentary a disappointment but it just didn’t live up to the hype around it and to my own excitement after first hearing about it.

I guess the thing I liked most about it was that I finally got to see what became of Mark Patton, who sort of fell off the face of the Earth for a long time because of what he perceived as backlash from this picture and because he felt that it somewhat exposed him as being gay in a time when there was still a lot of misinformation and fear of AIDS, as well as a lot of homophobia in mainstream Hollywood.

Most importantly, this really goes into Patton’s personal life, showing the viewer what hardships he went through during and after this film. I don’t want to give too much away, as this is worth watching for those who also love the Elm Street movies.

It was also cool seeing the cast of the second Elm Street movie finally reunite after all these years. It’s obvious that Patton’s cast mates cared for him and had missed him during his self-imposed exile from the business.

Overall, this was a decent piece on the man and his life but I wish it would’ve gotten more into the movie itself and actually tried to show it more as a somewhat beloved film by a small minority of Elm Street fans. It was the most bizarre and weird of the Elm Street pictures and that’s without looking at the subliminal homophobia that was written into the script.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent horror movie documentaries.

Film Review: Mayhem (2017)

Release Date: March 13th, 2017 (SXSW)
Directed by: Joe Lynch
Written by: Matias Caruso
Music by: Steve Moore
Cast: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Steven Brand, Caroline Chikezie, Kerry Fox, Dallas Roberts

Circle of Confusion, Royal Viking Entertainment, RLJE Films, 86 Minutes

Review:

“My mother used to say that no one raindrop ever thought it caused the flood. I now know what she meant by that.” – Melanie Cross

The Last Drive-In had it’s worst week ever when it showed this, paired with Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Both of these are films I hate but I’ll save my criticism of Tetsuo for that review.

As far as Mayhem goes, fuck this turd.

It basically takes the concept of 28 Days Later and sets it in an office building. The story sees people get infected with a virus that causes them to act out their most violent and sexual impulses. Due to this infection, the entire office building is locked down in quarantine for several hours.

We then get treated to terrible people doing terrible things to one another in what is one of the most derivative and low brow edgy boi movies I’ve seen in quite some time. 

This is a film that wants you to think that it is pushing the bar but you might only fall for that if you’re thirteen. It doesn’t push the bar and in fact, it pulls its punches. Hell, when the two main characters decide to give into their animalistic urges and fuck, they don’t even rip their clothes off. By the end of this film, they should’ve been running around naked, covered in blood, screaming and killing with reckless abandon. I mean, that is if you want me to buy into the juvenile and done-to-death premise.

It’s like this film was written by a deranged middle schooler after a wet dream nightmare following a night of drinking mass amounts of cough syrup while binge watching Workaholics.

It’s so poorly acted that it actually has me second guessing its star, Steven Yeun. Maybe it is best that he got his brain bludgeoned in by Negan on The Walking Dead. Honestly, I was secretly hoping for Negan to show up and do that again.

I guess Samara Weaving was the best thing about the picture but I’m still not sure if she’s got the potential to be an actress that deserves more than this. This film certainly didn’t do her any favors despite being the only real bright spot.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: The Belko Experiment and bad, edgy horror films that try to pass themselves off as high art.

Documentary Review: 30 Years of Garbage: The Garbage Pail Kids Story (2017)

Release Date: September 20th, 2017
Directed by: Jeff Zapata, Joe Simko
Music by: Dr. Chud, Matthew Chojnacki
Cast: Art Spiegelman, John Pound, Tom Bunk, James Warhola, Adam F. Goldberg, Mackenzie Astin, various

Peel Here Productions, 114 Minutes

Review:

This has been in my queue for a long time but it was only available to buy. They recently set it for rent, so I was finally able to check it out. No offense, filmmakers and Amazon but I didn’t know if I wanted to spend like $12 on it. A few bucks for a rental, now that’s more like it. Make everything rentable.

Anyway, I was happy to see this, as I was one of those ’80s kids that spent a good few years obsessed with Garbage Pail Kids, even though they became hard to track down in my area after local parents groups caught on and got them pulled out of stores. You know, the same parents that didn’t care that their kids in the ’80s were watching slasher movies from the video store or flipping through dad’s Playboys.

I pretty much already knew the story about Garbage Pail Kids but it was neat seeing the story retold in an official documentary. Plus, this also gave some background on the creation of the Topps trading card company, as well as a lot of the other non-sports cards they produced before Garbage Pail Kids came along.

My favorite thing about this, though, was where it went into the art side of things. It went through how the Garbage Pail Kids came to be, every step of the way. It also explained the process and the reason why they made each set a certain size and the process in how cards were selected based off of dozens of concepts.

Additionally, this interviews a lot of the key people involved, including the primary artists who worked on these over the years.

After that, I really liked the section about the live-action Garbage Pail Kids movie and being enlightened as to why it was such a terrible film, pretty much destined to fail.

All in all, this was a beefy and informative piece about something I once loved and kind of still do.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries about niche ’80s and ’90s stuff, as well as specific fandoms.

Film Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

Also known as: Untitled #9, #9 (working titles)
Release Date: May 21st, 2019 (Cannes)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Music by: various
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch, Margaret Qualley, Timothy Olyphant, Austin Butler, Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, Al Pacino, Julia Butters, Mike Moh, Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Samantha Robinson, Rafal Zawierucha, Damon Herriman, Lena Dunham, Maya Hawke, Harley Quinn Smith, Danielle Harris, Scoot McNairy, Clifton Collins Jr., Dreama Walker, Clu Gulager, Martin Kove, Rebecca Gayheart, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Michael Madsen, James Remar, Toni Basil, Quentin Tarantino (voice), Vincent Laresca, Lew Temple, James Marsden (extended release), Walton Goggins (voice, extended release)

Visiona Romantica, Heyday Films, Bona Fide Group, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, 161 Minutes

Review:

“When you come to the end of the line, with a buddy who is more than a brother and a little less than a wife, getting blind drunk together is really the only way to say farewell.” – Narrator

It’s probably no secret that I really loved Quentin Tarantino’s earlier films.

However, his more recent stuff hasn’t quite hit the mark for me in the same way. I think a lot of that has to do with his reliance on his dialogue and his films coming across as a handful (or less) of long conversations with a bit of cool shit sprinkled in and an overabundance of ultraviolence that isn’t as effective as it once was and often times feels out of place and jarring.

That being said, I really fucking dug Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.

It’s not a picture without its flaws but it’s well constructed, well written and perfectly paced, which isn’t something I can say for the rest of Tarantino’s more modern pictures.

I haven’t liked a Tarantino movie this much since the Kill Bill films.

I’m not sure what changed in the way that he paces and constructs his movies but this plays much more like Pulp Fiction or Jackie Brown and that’s a very, very good thing.

A lot of credit has to go to the massive cast, all of whom felt perfect in their roles. It was really cool to see Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt play best buds and sort of go on this adventure together. Their characters were an homage to Burt Reynolds and his stuntman, Hal Needham, who were really close and had a tight bond for years.

DiCaprio’s character was also based off of all the television western actors who were once big stars but never seemed to be able to move on to bigger projects and sort of got typecast and brushed aside.

The third main character in the film is Margot Robbie, who plays a fictionalized version of Sharon Tate, the most famous victim in the Charles Manson murders.

However, like Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, this film doesn’t follow history’s path and it carves out its own unique story. But I’ve always really loved alternative history takes in fiction. Hell, The Man In the High Castle by Philip K. Dick is one of my all-time favorite novels. I still haven’t watched the television show, though.

Anyway, the film does run long but it’s not as exhausting as The Hateful Eight. We’re not trapped in one room for three hours, here. Instead, we get to explore old-timey Hollywood in an era where it was leaving its glamorous age behind and moving into the darker, grittier, post-Code era.

There are some scenes, while pretty cool, that probably didn’t need to be in the film and don’t serve much purpose other than amusing the director.

One such scene is the fight between Bruce Lee and Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but it didn’t serve the story other than to show how cool and tough Booth was but by this point in the movie, we already knew that. It was also a way for Tarantino to wedge in a few more cameos, in this case: Zoe Bell and Kurt Russell, two of his faves.

The sequence that really cemented this film as being pretty solid was the one that took place at the ranch. Here, Brad Pitt’s Booth discovers that an old friend’s ranch has become infested with cultish hippies, who the audience comes to learn are associated with Charles Manson. It’s an absolutely chilling sequence that builds up suspense in a way that I haven’t seen Tarantino do since the opening scene of Inglourious Basterds, a decade prior.

The climax of the film is also well constructed and pretty fucking intense. This is the part of the film where history is altered and we get to see some epic Tarantino-styled justice befall the force of evil that has been brooding over the story for over two hours.

I probably should have seen this in the theater and I believe that it’s the only Tarantino picture that I haven’t seen on the big screen. However, his two previous films exhausted me and I assumed that this would do the same. But I’m glad to say that this seems like a return to form and I hope this momentum carries over into his future projects.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other more modern Tarantino films.

Documentary Review: Rock-n-Roll Never Dies: The Story of the Rock-n-Roll Express (2015)

Release Date: 2015
Directed by: Michael Elliot
Cast: Ricky Morton, Robert Gibson, Jim Cornette, various

EllBow Productions, Highspots, 117 Minutes

Review:

Watching this documentary, it kind of dawned on my that I have seen the Rock-n-Roll Express wrestle live and in person over five consecutive decades. I saw them in the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s and the ’20s after recently seeing them at NWA Hard Times back in January before this COVID spectacle put the dead stop halt on Planet Earth.

While they’ve never been my all-time favorite tag team, they are certainly pretty high up on my list and have my respect for their contributions and longevity in the wrestling business. Hell, these guys can still go and they’ve proved that the two most recent times where I was able to see them.

So I was pretty stoked when I got this three disc set, which featured the documentary I’m now reviewing, as well as two other discs packed full of bonus material, interviews and matches.

As far as the documentary goes, it was a good, solid piece that covered these guys’ long and storied careers. It even goes back to the time before they were a team, showing how each man developed their style and how they eventually came together, forever changing the business and the tag team landscape.

So many other great teams have been inspired by the pairing of Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson and their effect is still felt today, even with the younger generation of wrestlers we have now, who are two-to-three generations removed from the height of the Rock-n-Roll Express’ career.

The best part about this piece, is hearing the stories that Ricky and Robert got to share about their history, as well as their takes on the business then and now.

Old school wrestling fans, especially those who loved the greatest tag team era, should thoroughly enjoy this.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other wrestling documentaries by EllBoy Productions and put out by Highspots.

Film Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Release Date: June 13th, 2012 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves
Based on: The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Music by: James Horner
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Sally Field, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, C. Thomas Howell

Marvel Entertainment, Arad Production Inc., Matt Tolmach Productions, Laura Ziskin Productions, Inc., Columbia Pictures, 136 Minutes

Review:

“Peter? I know things have been difficult lately and I’m sorry about that. I think I know what you’re feeling. Ever since you were a little boy, you’ve been living with so many unresolved things. Well, take it from an old man. Those things send us down a road… they make us who we are. And if anyone’s destined for greatness, it’s you, son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them and know that wherever they take you, we’ll always be here. So, come on home, Peter. You’re my hero… and I love you!” – Ben Parker

I never had much urge to re-watch this. However, I hadn’t yet reviewed it and a lot of time had passed. So I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try to revisit it with somewhat fresh eyes and little memory of it, other than I didn’t particularly like it.

Almost from the get go, though, I realized that this would be a real slog to get through.

I was immediately reminded of how much I don’t like Andrew Garfield. While I’ve only really seen him in these Spider-Man movies and The Social Network, he does smarmy, self-impressed douchebag so well, I can’t see him as anything but that. His Spider-Man is terrible and his Peter Parker is even worse. Granted, he probably looks the part better than anyone else.

This film is also wrecked by atrocious, cookie cutter dialogue, the overabundance of superhero movie tropes and not actually understanding its source material and characters. All the Flash Thompson stuff is garbage and that’s not the actor’s fault, it’s the way the character is written and presented. He’s not a lowest common denominator asshole bully from an ’80s movie with a hip-hop makeover. He’s actually a guy that didn’t like Peter Parker looking at his girl but actually used to try and include him despite that friction. He was a complex character that often times showed that he wasn’t some jack off meathead.

The film also alters some of the key parts of Spider-Man’s origin and pales in comparison to the 2002 Spider-Man film’s ability to adapt those elements. Also, this film, for some reason, just makes up a bunch of random shit and has to make Peter’s dad some special somebody tied to all the villain shit.

Beyond that, even the action is crap. The CGI is shit and the look of The Lizard is so underwhelming and disappointing that fans of that character will feel immensely cheated.

The villain’s plot is dumb, run of the mill schlock that just made me scratch my head and audibly say, “Really?” even though I was alone in my room.

The only high point in this film is Emma Stone but she’s Emma fucking Stone. She has a beauty and natural charm that other modern actresses just can’t compete with. Well, except for a select few. She’s just likable in everything and she, at least, brightens up the film when she’s in it.

I also mostly liked Denis Leary, Sally Field and Martin Sheen in this but the bad script didn’t do them any favors.

Ultimately, this is a dud. I like it better than its deplorable sequel but even then, this picture was a huge misstep in just about every way.

Rating: 4.25/10

Documentary Review: History & Tradition: The Story of the National Wrestling Alliance (2012)

Release Date: August, 2012
Directed by: Michael Elliot
Cast: Bill Behrens, Jason Caley, Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Rob Kellum, Adam Pearce, Chance Prophet, Harley Race, Damien Wayne, various

Ellbow Productions, Highspots, … Minutes

Review:

I was kind of excited to watch History & Tradition: The Story of the National Wrestling Alliance because I’ve been a fan of the NWA my entire life and because I really enjoyed the recent documentaries I watched on Championship Wrestling From Florida and the one about Memphis wrestling called Memphis Heat.

Both of those other two documentaries were top notch but this one felt like it was a step down.

The main reason for that is due to this mostly being comprised of clips from various shoot interviews that were cut up and re-edited into this. Now many of the documentaries offered at Highspots are done in the same way but for whatever reason, this one felt more sporadic in how it told its stories and it just didn’t have enough material with the people that were there.

Granted, they had to work with what they had but I feel like this could’ve been a much better film had they got interviews that were specifically shot for this feature. Sometimes this spliced together stuff works and sometimes it misses its mark.

Now I can’t say that it entirely misses its mark, as there is still a lot here to take in and digest. It also delves into all the eras of the NWA that predate the current one.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other wrestling documentaries by Ellbow Productions and put out by Highspots.

 

Film Review: A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Also known as: Die Hard 5 (working title)
Release Date: February 6th, 2013 (Seoul premiere)
Directed by: John Moore
Written by: Skip Woods
Based on: characters by Roderick Thorp
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Rasha Bukvic, Cole Hauser, Yulia Snigir, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (cameo)

Giant Pictures, TSG Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, 98 Minutes, 101 Minutes (Extended Cut)

Review:

“Let’s go kill some motherfuckers!” – John McClane

Well, not all Die Hards are created equal but at least three were great and another one was really good. This one, the fifth and final (at least for now), was the worst film of the lot.

That’s not to say that this is a bad movie, it just isn’t on the level of the four other pictures that share the Die Hard name.

In fact, take Die Hard out of the title and this is just another random Bruce Willis action film from the ’00s or ’10s that gets lost in the shuffle and just sort of blends in with the rest of them. It’s mediocre, uninspiring and pretty generic with only one real high point worth mentioning.

That one high point is the final battle with the helicopter. It’s a pretty cool sequence and well thought out and executed. However, it is somewhat ruined by shoddy CGI effects and the film being visually drab, overall.

There are other big action sequences but none of them are very memorable.

Part of the problem with the film is that it doesn’t feel Die Hard level in scale. Each film sort of felt like it got bigger than the one before it in some way. This actually feels like the smallest film in scale since the first one. While this takes place primarily in the streets of Moscow, it just lacks the energy and intensity of the third and fourth films, which took place in the streets of two major American metropolises.

I think this problem is due to the visual tone and the drabness of the picture. It definitely went for that modern action film aesthetic and it makes it look cheap and generic. The thing I loved about Die Hard With a Vengeance was that it didn’t resort to noticeable film filters or gritty digital enhancements, it just threw you in the middle of New York City and it felt like you were there.

This film feels like you’re looking at a video game that takes place in some generic European city. There just isn’t any life to it. And that’s not a knock against Moscow because I’m sure there is really cool shit that could’ve been captured on film there. This is more a criticism of the director, the cinematographer, the location scout and the obvious lack of creativity in trying to give this film an authentic lived-in world.

From a creative standpoint, this felt like the most half-assed Die Hard film and that the producers just kind of assumed that people would love it just because it featured the character of John McClane.

Additionally, the story was also generic and weak. In fact, this felt like they took a script for a cookie cutter, straight-to-DVD action flick and just repackaged it with the Die Hard name once they were able to lock down Bruce Willis.

Still, if you’ve got just under two hours to kill and you haven’t seen the film, it’s still a good time waster. Granted, if you haven’t seen any of the other four, watch one of those instead.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: the other Die Hard films, as well as other Bruce Willis action films.