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  1. #2321
    Crotchety Old SMOD

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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Witchfinder General

    Witchfinder General



    England is torn in civil strife as the Royalists battle the Parliamentary Party for control. This conflict distracts people from rational thought and allows unscrupulous men to gain local power by exploiting village superstitions. One of these men is Matthew Hopkins, who tours the land offering his services as a persecutor of witches. Aided by his sadistic accomplice John Stearne, he travels from city to city and wrenches confessions from "witches" in order to line his pockets and gain sexual favors. When Hopkins persecutes a priest, he incurs the wrath of Richard Marshall, who is engaged to the priest's niece. Risking treason by leaving his military duties, Marshall relentlessly pursues the evil Hopkins and his minion Stearne.



    The fourth and final film made by director Michael Reeves, Witchfinder General is also his best and is often called one of the greatest horror films that Britain has ever produced. Reeves died tragically at the age of 25 from a drug and alcohol overdose just a few months after the film’s release, but through it his legacy will live on forever. Produced by the good folks at American International Pictures, Witchfinder General AKA The Conqueror Worm is a bloody good tale of horror with another standout performance from Vincent Price. Considering Reeves and Price didn’t get along on set, the fact that they not only didn’t kill each other but also managed to churn out something this good is remarkable. While it has developed a bit of a following as a cult film due to Reeves untimely passing, the fact is that the film is strong enough to surpass that morbid little connection. The greatest dangers in the world are the ones that are the most real, and Witchfinder General portrays those dangers accurately, violently and in the most uncompromising fashion.



    "Just a typical Sunday witch burning. See how bad things were before the NFL?"

    Directed by Reeves and written by Tom Baker (not the Dr. Who guy), Louis M. Heyward Reeves himself, the film pulls no punches in dealing with its subject matter. As that subject matter is torture and death, you can imagine how shocking it must have been when it was originally released. Reeves features numerous scenes of intense on-screen torture and violence and reviewers at the time felt they were almost needlessly sadistic. Of course this stuff is all pretty tame by today's standards, but as I say, back then it must have been positively shocking. Other than his use of violence, Reeves also seems quite adept at pacing the film and while it’s only a brisk 86 minutes long there isn’t a wasted second. The story is pretty straightforward; crazy man convinces people he knows a witch when he sees one and uses this trust to kill people. However, even in this simple story we can find an interesting take on the cautionary tale and some wonderfully written dialogue, perfectly designed to complement the talents of Mr. Price.



    "Ready to bust a cap."

    Speaking of Vincent Price, he wasn’t even the original choice for the role of Hopkins. Instead, Reeves wanted Donald Pleasence for the part, but was vetoed by AIP who still had a strong working relationship with Price after the Corman films had run their course. As mentioned above, the union of Reeves and Price was not one made in Heaven, yet at the end of the day Price gives one of his all-time great performances in the role. Perhaps this was due to Reeves constantly goading him into a more vicious portrayal of the character or maybe Price realized the importance of the part to his career. Either way, what we get out of Price here is perhaps only matched by his work as Prospero in The Masque of the Red Death. Here he is evil, though sociopathic enough not to revel in it outwardly. Rather he firmly believes what he’s doing is right and just, which of course makes him both incredibly dangerous and scary. His minion, played by Robert Russell, is another miscreant who delights in his job of torture and death. Russell is really into the part and works quite well with Price, which is a good thing because they’re on-screen together quite a bit in the beginning. Meanwhile, Ian Ogilvy plies his good looks into another relatively decent performance as the hero of the film, Richard Marshall, and proves he’s not just a pretty face, although to be fair his face is quite pretty.



    "This is what happens when you don't have a dart board."

    Unlike some period films dealing with abuses done in the name of religion and morality, Witchfinder General does not eroticize its torture sequences. Sorry dudes, there's no half-naked hotties writhing on racks here. The actual tortures are hardly elaborate, which will also turn off fans of the Saw series. Stearne is not an "artist" like Jigsaw, but a simple thug, slapping, jabbing, and cutting people; the accused are drowned, hung, and burned alive. These scenes work really well because of their inelegance. The dungeons are not grandiose settings filled with imaginative devices, just filthy holes where people are chained and confessions beaten out of them. The sense of despair felt through these scenes is quite prevalent and sticks with you for a great deal of time afterwards. Meanwhile, this film also chose to take a frank look at sexuality. Richard loves his woman and even asks her uncle for permission to marry her, but they're already banging! Yeah, so people weren't always as chaste as they were made out to be in the "good old days". Then again, these "good old days" also involved nasty torture and burning people alive. Maybe things today aren't so bad after all. Witchfinder General is not a very fun movie. There's nothing Roger Corman about this picture. It is disturbing and depressing, a strong examination of corruption of power and is just seriously bleak at every turn. Still, it’s intelligent, topical and, above all else, a fine collaboration from two horror masters. Now all it needs is a wider audience. 7.5/10.



    "Tomorrow...a little more madness from Mr. Price."


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  2. #2322
    Crotchety Old SMOD

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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Pit and the Pendulum

    Pit and the Pendulum



    When his sister Elizabeth dies suddenly, Francis Barnard visits his brother-in-law Don Medina to find out exactly what happened to her. Don Medina lives a lonely life since his wife's death. He loved her dearly and can't explain what she died of. Francis clearly isn't welcome and it is only Don Medina's sister Catherine that seems to have an interest him. As Francis and Catherine explore the events surrounding Elizabeth's death, Francis learns of Don Medina's horrific childhood experiences and discovers an attempt to drive him mad.



    While The Fall of the House of Usher was the first and The Masque of the Red Death the best, arguably the most remembered film from the Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe love triangle is 1961’s Pit and the Pendulum. This is at least partially due to the iconic scene near the end that employs the pendulum of the title; stills from that scene routinely turn up in books about horror films and the scene itself has been used in other films. It also routinely made the rounds on television after Vincent Price’s death, as I can remember seeing that damn pendulum about 100 times a day in late October, 1993. Aside from establishing an iconic scene and guaranteeing its place in history for it, the film also proved that Corman’s success adapting The Fall of the House of Usher had been no fluke. Pit and the Pendulum performed admirably at the box office and has had a long and healthy life on television and in home video. Hell, it was just released on Blu Ray this week, proving beyond any doubt that it’s a horror film with a lot of staying power.



    "Not exactly the nicest guest room in the torture chamber."

    Directed by Roger Corman and written by Richard Matheson, the film plays a lot like a replica of The Fall of the House of Usher. Obviously Corman realized that he’d stumbled onto some sort of winning formula after that film and decided to mimic it as best he could. In both films, a handsome stranger arrives at a gigantic fortress like structure only to be met by the weird owner, played in both instances by Vincent Price. However, unlike Usher, Corman was able to bring the cast in this film up to a whopping six actors, thereby creating more opportunities for multiple character interactions. These characters, written by Richard Matheson, are all excellently rendered, as is the rest of the script. Although the Poe story really only comes into play during the climactic finale, Matheson proves quite adept at weaving his own little sordid tale of horror and madness. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given his penchant for turning out top notch writing wherever he went (The Twilight Zone, The Legend of Hell House, The Omega Man AKA I Am Legend) but it’s impressive nonetheless.



    "Vincent Price can choke a bitch out with the best of them."

    Speaking of impressive, the performances here are all that and even a little more at times. I know I’ve used the term “deliciously evil” to describe the work of Vincent Price more than once, but it’s just so appropriate and once again he is just that here. I’ve also mentioned that I think he’s a little bit hammy at times, and again, here he gets a chance to portray that side of himself. From some bizarre facial tics to a bunch of weird giggles, it’s sometimes silly but also oddly fascinating and it’s very hard to turn away from the man. While I wouldn’t say this was his best performance (either of the previous two films I’ve reviewed were better) I believe this may be the best example of his overall acting style. Meanwhile, John Kerr portrays Francis Barnard and is pretty subdued throughout the film, though this is by no means a poor reflection on his acting abilities. Rather, Kerr must have realized that it would be foolish to match over-acting wits with a man of Price's talents, and so instead sought to be a true foil by slowing things down significantly. The two women, played by Barbara Steele and Luana Anders, are both really hot and do good work playing off of both Price and Kerr. They may not be the best actresses to ever grace the screen, but they sure have the assets for the roles and more than hold their own in scenes with both leads.



    "Every good horror story deserves a scary castle."

    Pit and the Pendulum, like The Fall of the House of Usher before it, makes the most of its single location, in this case the Medina estate. Of course, within the estate there are many rooms, including the crypt and the torture chamber. Let's face it folks, even if you've never seen this film or read the story on which it's based, do you honestly think they'd show that torture chamber if somebody wasn't going to end up in it? Sure it's an obvious direction for the film, but even knowing in advance doesn't diminsh how excellent the scene is when it finally occurs. There’s also a great deal of suspense in this film, providing the audience with only small clues about what’s really happening until the final revelation. While a film like The Masque of the Red Death really had something to say on an intelligent level, there’s no need to worry about that here. In other words, what I’m saying is that Pit and the Pendulum is a movie that’s more over-the-top than anything else, never willing to take itself too seriously yet still going for the freaky bone at times. If you’re going to enjoy a movie like this, you have to be able to go into it knowing that it needs to be accepted on its own terms to be enjoyed properly. It’s a little bit less ambitious than some of the other Corman/Price/Poe films, but it’s a ton of fun, the final scene is an all-time horror classic and there’s even one final shock that should drop your jaw to the floor. 7/10.



    "Coming up tomorrow....it's a boy."


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  3. #2323
    Crotchety Old SMOD

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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Rosemary's Baby

    Rosemary’s Baby



    Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into an apartment in a building with a bad reputation. They discover that their neighbours are a very friendly elderly couple named Roman and Minnie Castevet, and Guy begins to spend a lot of time with them. Strange things start to happen: a woman Rosemary meets in the laundry dies a mysterious death, Rosemary has strange dreams and hears strange noises and Guy becomes remote and distant. Then Rosemary falls pregnant and begins to suspect that her neighbours have special plans for her child.



    Rosemary’s Baby, released in 1968, is not a horror film in the traditional sense. There are no jump scares, no gory deaths and no loud music can be heard. There are no stupid yet likeable teens being led to the slaughter, no monster hiding in the closet or any vampires or werewolves. What lies within however, are tension and suspense that will cut you like a knife and an atmosphere full of anxiety and terror. In many ways, Rosemary’s Baby can be considered the first true modern horror film, one that would draw horror out of seemingly real life; bringing the feelings of dread and fear to the viewer in a way that slashers and classic monsters never could. Without it, I feel films like The Exorcist or The Omen would never have been made, such is the power of the first and perhaps best of them all. Director Roman Polanski, a stellar cast and a fantastic script combine to create a rare film that could be considered "great" on its own merits and not just a "great horror film." Slowly paced, revealing itself piece by piece until a thrilling (and chilling) finale, Rosemary’s Baby is not what you’re expecting; it’s a whole lot more.



    "For the first time, a haunted apartment block."

    Written and directed by Roman Polanski and based on the novel by Ira Levin, this was the talented filmmaker’s first movie to be made in Hollywood. He may have been young but he had already cut his teeth in the film world overseas, releasing great pictures like Knife in the Water, Repulsion and The Fearless Vampire Killers. Clearly a man ahead of his time, Polanski may be persona non grata in Hollywood these days, but his genius and talent cannot be denied. His adaptation of Levin's novel is literary and perfectly captures the vulnerability of the main character, Rosemary, and the quiet yet obvious intensity of the people and events around her. Polanski also cultivates a palpable sense of dread throughout the film, as one just knows something doesn't "feel" right but can't quite put their finger on exactly what it may be. With nary a shocking moment to be had, the film instead builds and builds intensity, from innocent beginnings until a conclusion that will leave you unsettled for weeks. The fact that the film begins so innocuously is perhaps its greatest strength, as it provides the audience with a false sense of security before piling on the tension like a ton of bricks.



    "Wait until you smell its diapers."

    The characters are well drawn, expertly performed, and many of them become far creepier in the end because of how normal they were in the beginning. Mia Farrow, cast in the lead as Rosemary, was not Polanski's first choice, but she certainly seems the best in retrospect. Her fragile looks and very realistic vulnerability help to sell her role, since you can really buy into her being manipulated by basically everyone around her. Some of those people, director John Cassavetes as her husband as well as Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer as her neigbours and Ralph Bellamy as her doctor, are simply incredible. Gordon deservedly won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as a busybody herbalist who goes down in film history as one of the most evil characters of all time once she does the heel turn. A man like Bellamy, so well-known as a kindly character, is also perfectly cast, as it's impossible not to trust the man even though you know his intentions are evil. However, when it’s all said and done, you always come back to Mia Farrow and the final scene. Does Rosemary finally begin to care for the child out of madness or maternal instinct? We’re never quite sure, and Farrow’s not telling or selling it in her face during the scene. Such is the intensity brought forth by both the performance and the film, and again, it will stick with you for some time after viewing it.



    "Now that's what I call a waterbed."

    The main reason that Rosemary's Baby works so amazingly well is that it all seems so perfectly normal. In fact, outside of a bizarre dream sequence in the first two acts, you'd think you were sitting down and watching a typical late 60's drama about a young couple trying to make it in the big city. However, there's a lot of subtle references early on that things aren't quite as they seem, for example Rosemary's husband telling the real estate agent he's a doctor when in reality he's an actor who plays a doctor on television. This idea of individuals playing roles is brought full circle by the end, where we discover the basically everyone in the film, including Rosemary herself, have been doing the same thing. By the end of the film, betrayal, conspiracy and a natural maternal fear for both herself and her child drive things to their gut-wrenching conclusion and while I won't share any more details I will say that it should have you on the edge of your seat. I've seen Rosemary's Baby several times in my life, yet each viewing yields the same feeling of utter helplessness and dread that I felt the first time I saw it. Truly a film that was ahead of its time, Rosemary's Baby is an all-time classic, required viewing for the horror aficionado and, above all else, something that truly delivers. 9/10.



    "Coming up tomorrow....a review two years in the Mikking."


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  4. #2324
    Ole!
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Rosemary's Baby

    Hurrah! looking forward to tomorrow

  5. #2325
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. The Masque of the Red Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuji Vice View Post
    The Masque of the Red Death



    Satan-worshiper Prince Prospero invites several dozen of the local nobility to his castle for protection against an oncoming plague, the Red Death. Prospero orders his guests to attend a masked ball and, amidst a general atmosphere of debauchery and depravity, notices the entry of a mysterious hooded stranger dressed all in red. Believing the figure to be his master, Satan, Prospero is horrified at the revelation of his true identity.



    Ah, American International Pictures, how I love you so. For those that aren’t aware, AIP was a film production company founded in 1954 by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. The intention of the company was to create independent, low-budget films targeted towards teenagers of the day and release them as double bills. Before the sale of the company in the late 70’s, they had released many films and started the careers of many now-famous individuals. Some of those that had humble beginnings at AIP include directors Roger Corman and Joe Dante, actors Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda and writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. Corman is perhaps the figure most synonymous with AIP, having made what seems like hundreds of films under the imprint. While many of his works for AIP are well-known, his most fruitful creative period began in the early 1960’s when he set about adapting the works of Edgar Allan Poe for the screen. Working together with horror icon Vincent Price, the two men made a staggering 8 films in 5 years, 7 of which were directly based on Poe’s stories. The Masque of the Red Death is the second last of these, and represents a shift in tonality for Corman while providing us with a standout performance from Price. While they didn’t always get it right, this film shows both men at their best and remains an excellent example of non-Hammer gothic horror.



    "They sure ain't the Polyphonic Spree."

    Directed by Roger Corman and written by Charles Beaumont and R. Wright Campbell, the film is based on Poe’s 1942 short story of the same name and also incorporated elements from another Poe tale, Hop-Frog. At this point in his career, Corman was becoming steadily influenced by the works of Ingmar Bergman, and this film definitely has a Bergman-like quality to it. If you’ve ever seen The Seventh Seal, just imagine the tone and texture of that film but in colour and you’ll pretty much grasp what Corman managed to achieve. Along with his direction, the film is beautifully shot by Nicolas Roeg, who would later go on to much acclaim as a director himself. Roeg’s use of lighting in the beautiful castle sets designed by Robert Jones and Daniel Haller give the film a very distinct feel, something that greatly enhances both the performances and the script. Speaking of the script, it’s a real gem, churned out by two masters of the craft. There’s a lot of heavy-handedness here, which is to be expected, but also a lot of philosophical thought and religious intonation. While I’ve come to expect this sort of thing from certain filmmakers, I’d never thought it would interest a guy like Corman, whose previous Poe adaptations were very different. This is an intelligent film for an intelligent audience, designed to inspire thought in those that see it beyond its face value.



    "The true face of evil...and one hell of a 'stache."

    While Vincent Price really excelled when working with Corman, I believe this is the definitive example of his acting. The unbridled evil he brings to Prince Prospero is really unmatched and I consider it one of the finest villain performances I have ever seen. An early moment in the film in which he gleefully embarrasses the other nobles by making them imitate animals is as terrifying a set piece as anything else Corman came up with. I’ve often considered Price to be a bit of a ham, and I’m sure he would have admitted the same thing; here he is further from that than in any other role. Evil personified, Prospero is one sick bastard and when he finally receives his comeuppance you can’t help but feel satisfied. Meanwhile, the two female leads, Hazel Court as Julianna and Jane Asher as Francesca, are both really hot, fill out their clothes in all the right places and, GASP, can actually act! This is of course a real bonus, as Price gets a chance to interact with both and develop some decent chemistry. Court in particular is awesome, especially when she’s firing out witch chants and burning an inverted cross into herself to show her fanatical devotion. There’s also strong support from Patrick Magee as Alfredo and Skip Martin as Hop Toad, the little court jester who gets delicious revenge on a tormentor.



    "What I'd like to see in my bathtub every morning."

    In Masque of the Red Death, Corman ladles on a combination of horror, perversion, and philosophy to create a truly memorable film. The Masque of the Red Death also benefits greatly from being shot in Britain, which helps to add to the atmosphere at nearly every turn. There's a lot to love here, not just in the horror but in the relative depth. Right from the beginning a figure clad in red hands a woman a red rose and tells her to take it to her village for their "day of reckoning" has arrived. The woman does so without a noise, no scream of terror, no shriek; she's simply accepted her fate and preparing for her new role as messenger. Later on, there's a brilliant moment where two men are forced to cut themselves with daggers, one of which is poisoned, in a bizarre version of Russian roulette. Finally, the last 20 minutes of the film, including the unmasking at the ball and the finale are beautiful, unnerving, and strangely moving. None of these moments could be called "traditional" in the horror genre, yet each has the power to remain with you long after a kill from the Saw films will. That's the mark of an intelligent filmmaker who is keenly aware of the subject matter he's working with. While Corman will never be considered one of the all-time greats, The Masque of the Red Death should be regarded in such a light. If only there hadn't been a bizarre, drug-induced scene where a woman has a dream where she's repeatedly stabbed before being killed by a giant crow, I think my rating may have been even higher. 8/10.



    "Tomorrow...Vincent Price is back, and he's hunting witches."



    Fucking commies wouldn't let me rep you.

    Thanks for the review, Fuj. One of my favorites.

    Spoiler:


  6. #2326
    Tranquilo, Cabron
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. The Masque of the Red Death

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuji Vice View Post
    Being disconnected from the film reality and presenting a different version is all well and good, but the movies are just plain bad.

    I'd have them if I had to watch those LOTR movies again.
    This is an example of those times that you and I disagree on something meaning that neither opinion is a hard fact. Except for mine.

    But in all seriousness I don't think you and I should ever discuss Lord Of The Rings, it won't end well and I'll take it as a personal insult that you don't enjoy them. Zombie's movies I can take or leave, I'm not personally attached and I'll probably agree with every single criticism you have of them and still manage to enjoy them anyway. Lord Of The Rings is a personal thing for me, like Almost Famous or Willow or about a dozen other movies that I simply don't understand any criticism of because I love them so much.

  7. #2327
    Crotchety Old SMOD

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    Re: FujiFilm feat. The Masque of the Red Death

    Quote Originally Posted by RaiZ-R View Post
    But in all seriousness I don't think you and I should ever discuss Lord Of The Rings, it won't end well and I'll take it as a personal insult that you don't enjoy them.
    Nah, don't worry, I enjoyed them enough, but I also think that they were WAY too long. Part of it has to do with bad memories of being forced to go see Return of the King while I was fighting a whopper of a cold. I felt like death during the entire screening and now that's all I can think about when I hear anyone talking about the trilogy.

    On the flip side, I really enjoyed The Hobbit and am looking forward to the next one quite a bit.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Wang Chung
    Fuji- got his hint possibly town but also threatened Cox with a burrito up his ass








  8. #2328
    Crotchety Old SMOD

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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Nightbreed

    Nightbreed



    Aaron Boone dreams of a city called Midian, a place where monsters are accepted. At the request of his girlfriend Lori, Boone is seeing psychotherapist Dr. Phillip K. Decker, who convinces Boone that he committed a series of murders. Tracked down by the police as well as by his doctor (the actual murderer) and his girlfriend, Boone eventually finds Midian and takes refuge there. He soon encounters the "Nightbreed", a community of monsters that hides from humanity.



    Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, released in 1990, is a fairly interesting little film. It’s totally different than pretty much every other horror film of the time and is also pretty intelligent. Of course that means that it was panned critically and made next to no money at the box office, which resulted in Barker becoming somewhat disillusioned with Hollywood. Perhaps Barker was feeling a little overly ambitious after the success of his previous film, Hellraiser, or maybe his vision was just way too ahead of its time. Regardless, the critics were definitely unkind, though I fail to understand why given the fact that the movie is a solid piece of entertainment. Barker has gone on record as blaming the studio for marketing the film improperly, but a trailer can only do so much to sway opinions. If I were to hazard a guess as to why it flopped as hard as it did, I’d say the simple problem was in the alignment of the characters within. Barker created monsters the like of which the film world had never seen before (or since) but then he turned things on their ear by making them the good guys. Personally, I LOVE that aspect of the film as it’s just so radically different from anything else at the time and as long as you can buy into it, Nightbreed may just be the perfect film when you’re looking for something a little bit different.



    "Bow-chick-a-wow."

    As with his other films, Barker wrote and directed, using his original novella “Cabal” as inspiration for the story. I’ve always approached Barker’s works, be they film or print, with more than a little trepidation. To be perfectly blunt about it, the dude is fucked up, and more often than not this mental instability finds its way into his creations. One need only look at the grotesque imagery on display in Hellraiser to see this, and while Nightbreed is often times more tame than that film it still has its “Barker” moments. With that being said, Barker also puts more thought into his scripts and films than pretty much any of his contemporaries and while a lot of it is repulsive I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drawn to it. Barker’s direction is standard, though he does manage to lose the pace of the film several times throughout, probably due to all the crazy ideas floating around in his head. It’s the story of Nightbreed that takes center stage, and as I mentioned above, it is one of role-reversal; the monsters here are good. Actually, scratch that, they aren’t good or evil, they simply exist in the world created through the film. This non-judgmental attitude displayed by Barker allows us to more closely examine and understand these monsters and Midian itself. Barker may be crazy, but at least he’s giving us the chance to explore something different and asking all the right questions at the same time.



    "Dr. Demento."

    From an acting standpoint, Nightbreed is really a tale of two performers, Craig Sheffer as Boone and David Cronenberg as his doctor, Decker. Sheffer certainly has the looks of a leading man and shows some decent acting chops as well, though at times he also comes off a little bit basic. I think the main problem with the character is that we’re never really sure what exactly he’s supposed to be. Is he a James Dean, Rebel without a Cause type or is he more the Marlon Brando bad-ass biker boy from The Wild One? Maybe he’s neither and just a misunderstood maverick who’s a little edgy but also willing to do whatever it takes for the cause of good. Unfortunately we never find out, though I think I’ll blame Barker’s script rather than take pot-shot’s at Sheffer’s acting abilities. Meanwhile, David Cronenberg, a well-known Canadian horror director, is simply off the charts as Doctor Decker. He is calculating, icy and, above all else, totally evil in every facet. Croneberg really gets a lot of meat out of the role and I’d go as far as saying that the film would have failed on every level if he hadn’t been cast. The rest of the film is populated with various monsters that are more characters than actual performers. The make-up on them is amazing, but there’s not a lot of acting going on underneath the layers.



    "The (odd) gang's all here."

    Nightbreed achieves what success it has by enveloping the viewer in a dark, ominous mood. Though the film doesn't succeed on all levels, it does transcend its genre to become something more than "just" a horror movie. The characters are not one-dimensional teenagers or idiotic adults. They understand the world they're in, and are very aware of the dangers Midian possesses. Outside of this substance, there’s also a lot of style as well. The effects team on Nightbreed, as well as production designer Steve Harbdie, does a fantastic job of realizing the world and inhabitants of Midian. From dark devils to slobbering "Berserkers," everything in Midian is like something out of your darkest nightmare. The underground lair is a twist and turn of bridges and caves that make Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom's winding caverns look like a relaxing vacation. Unlike typical "stalk 'n' slash" horror flicks, Nightbreed is a complex vision that makes the viewer think while he's throwing up. If you can handle that sort of vomit comet, Nightbreed is probably right up your alley. 7/10.



    "Tomorrow...we dare you to enter...the Funhouse."


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  9. #2329
    Ole!
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Nightbreed

    The only thing that i can never remember is if it was explained why Boone got the visions of Midian in the first place but it is still one of my favourite horror films, not many films have the monsters as the good guys.


    Would love to see a 2nd film for it.

  10. #2330
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    Re: FujiFilm

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuji Vice View Post
    Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

    Tucker and Dale are two easy going hillbillies living in West Virginia who are heading up to Tucker’s newly purchased vacation home for some fishing, some beer and some fun. On their way there they bump into some preppy college kids who mistake them for crazy rednecks out to kill them. Now Tucker and Dale are in a fight for their lives against a bunch of crazed kids who will stop at nothing to save themselves from these “evil”, chainsaw and scythe wielding rednecks. Luckily for them, the kids turn out to be their own worst enemy.

    Spoiler:



    "Looks like they've got some 'splaining to do."
    The essence of a good farce involves sight gags, innuendo, mistaken identity and a little bit of the old “broken telephone” so to speak. When all of these elements are placed together properly the end result is usually an extremely funny piece that builds and builds, allowing for each new turn and scenario to produce more laughter than the next. While this has long been a tradition in the straight up comedy genre (the television shows Fawlty Towers and Three’s Company come to mind) it is rare to see it applied to horror. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil changes all of this by taking the farce concept out a whole new door and presenting one of the funniest horror films in recent years, equalling the laughs that its farcical predecessor, “Shaun of the Dead” got and in some ways surpassing them. While it is difficult to compare the two films due to their differing countries of origin, what one can say is that both should be on equal ground in terms of their unique and constant ability to entertain through age old comedic traditions. While Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is obviously not going to win any major awards it is nevertheless one of the better films that I have personally seen this year and if you are desperate to find a comedy that doesn’t a) star Jennifer Anniston or Adam Sandler or b) body switching then you really have no further to look.



    "Douchey college kids are douchey, good thing we've got some rednecks around to take care of 'em."
    Written and directed by the up and coming Eli Craig (who previously filmed the short “The Tao of Pong, check it out if you can find it) with additional writing by Morgan Jurgenson, the film is at once an homage to the horror films that inspired it and at the same time a complete and total comedic gem. While these talents may be new to the filmmaking game it is quite obvious to me that they have something going for them and their abilities and enthusiasm certainly help to make this film a lot better than it could have been. Clearly they had a lot of love for this project and you can tell that when watching it, everything seems to be taken into account and not a moment of this film is wasted. I can predict good things on the horizon for both Craig and Jurgenson, simply because they seem to be so on point with everything that they are doing here that I find it hard to believe that they are merely lucky, so to speak. Rather they seem to me to be consumate professionals who are completely and utterly devoted to making sure that every moment works to maximum effect and that every scene is meticulously cared for like a child, their “baby” if you will. Certainly this works out to everyone’s advantage as the laughs come fast and often in this film and perhaps the best thing of all is the way that I sat back after watching, trying to figure out which moment was the funniest.



    "A modern day Abbott and Costello? Nah, just two really funny guys."
    The two stars of the film, Tucker and Dale, are played by Alan Tudyck and Tyler Labine respectively. These two have a perfect chemistry, play the redneck stereotype perfectly and in general are just a real treat to watch on screen. From their opening scene at the gas station (where the first case of mistaken identity occurs after Dale approaches the teenagers with a scythe, laughing maniacally because he is nervous) to the moment just after where they are stopped by a cop who may or may not have thought that they were more than just friends, they are laugh out loud funny. Tudyck plays the more intellectual of the two, if that’s saying anything, and does a great job as a foil to the outrageous but well meaning Dale. Tudyck also gets to show off some more acting skills towards the end of the film when he gives Dale a motivational speech which is played perfectly low key, not over the top as some would take it. Labine is the true star of the film however, and his portrayal of Dale is absolutely perfect in every way. Adding a certain charm to his childlike character (though he does have an eidetic memory) and infusing it with as much warmth as possible, Labine never comes across as anything less than a genuine hero that the audience can’t help but root for not only to save himself and his friends but also to get the girl. Labine seems like a rising star to me, having just recently had a fairly big part in the new film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and I for one am not surprised when seeing the level of talent he brought to this simple role. Due to the nature of the characters it is very easy to see how the wrong actors could have ruined them but that is thankfully not the case here.



    "HOT. That is all."
    The rest of the cast is great in their own particular ways, including the extremely hot Katrina Bowden as the object of Dale’s affections and the catalyst for all the misunderstandings that occur, Allison. Ok, did I mention that she’s hot? Well I had to one more time because, well because she is freaking hot and the best part is that she is an intelligent heroine as well. From the first time we meet her she gives off an air of superiority over the others but we soon find out that she is from much simpler roots and quite comfortable in the hillbilly environment. Jesse Moss plays Chad, the “leader” of the college kids, and he also does a great job, really taking his character over the top in a good way. I have to admit, even though he was an insufferable douche throughout the entire film I still found myself looking forward to every scene he was in because he handled the role so well and really made me laugh quite a few times with his bizarre character. Phillip Granger plays a town sheriff and is also really funny in his limited screen times, portraying the “doomsayer” type character that always seems to permeate horror films very well. He has some really choice moments when talking to Tucker and Dale after seeing them lugging around a pair of legs. Yep, that’s right, a pair of legs. The rest of the cast are varying degrees of good and while none of them have a lot of screen time they certainly do a lot with their parts and further serve to enhance the film. Besides, how hard is it to play stoner college kids anyway?



    "See what happens when you throw a pass too long in the woods?"
    Obviously it would be wrong of me to sit here and go through everything in this film that I found funny because its not fair to those who haven’t seen it. Suffice to say that there is never a dull moment and if you are not prepared you will sometimes find yourself laughing so hard it hurts. Well actually that’s going to happen anyway as the college kids do their level best to kill these apparent bad guys. As this is a farce the obvious doesn’t happen and instead of them getting the leg up on Tucker and Dale it works in reverse, with them generally killing themselves. In fact there is a hilarious moment during the movie where Tucker comes to the conclusion that they have created some sort of suicide pact and are killing themselves on his property! Of course the real hilarity ensues when he and Dale try to explain this to the sheriff that has just come to pay them a visit. Outside of that there literally is a laugh a minute here and while I can’t give anything away for fear of spoiling the film I have to say that all of the moments that lead to the mistaken identity or innuendo are perfect. From an obvious reaction to sawing into a bee hive to a scene where one character watches another dig a hole, every one of these moments are done great and while you can normally see them coming you can’t help but laugh at the ingenuity of the filmmakers and the ease with which they inserted them into the film. I would be remiss in forgetting to mention the hilarity that ensues when one character “dives head first” into a wood chipper because it is one of the funniest moments in the film for sure, as is the climax, which at times reminded me of the old 60’s Batman tv show in its campiness.



    "I know it gets cold in the woods at night but this seems like a weird way to warm up."
    I am sure at this point you’ll have realized that I am strongly recommending this film to both comedy and horror fans as I honestly think that it is one of the funniest movies I have seen in recent memory. The fact that a first time feature length filmmaker and a writer previously unknown in the industry put a piece like this together speaks volumes to their ability and certainly bodes well for the future. While it does come across as the low budget film that it is from time to time, that in no way detracts from the pure entertainment one gets while watching it. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil may not be life-altering but it is sure as hell funny and sometimes that’s the most important thing. It’s an easy 8/10 for me and I wonder whether that might get even higher the next time I watch it, because I plan to again shortly. I don’t feel that I am over-praising this film in the slightest either, so go check it out, I can guarantee you’ll be happy that you did. And one more thing, please be careful when cutting wood, you never know if there’ll be a bee hive in there.
    I just watched this move tonight, and loved it. Reading your review I love your thoughts about this film. Totally had a Shaun of the Dead type feel to it. The kills were funny as hell, and Tucker, and Dale are epic in their roles. I love the fact they love PBR too. Haha so great.

  11. #2331
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Nightbreed

    Hey folks, I'll be back next week at some point with a new batch of reviews.


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  12. #2332
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. The Funhouse

    The Funhouse



    Four teenagers are on a double-date and they travel to a local carnival. After spending most of the evening there, one of them suggests they stay the night in the fun house. They all agree and decide to take the last ride before the attraction shuts down, jumping off and hiding inside. While exploring the inside, they come across an office where one steals some money earned by the owner. Upon finding out, he sends his son after them with orders to kill. Now they're trapped in the fun house with a twisted maniac and no way out.



    The Funhouse, released in 1981 at the apex of the slasher craze, marks the first big-budget production from Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper. Oddly enough, it was originally designed to be a typical low-budget Hooper project but when Halloween and Friday the 13th proved to be extremely profitable, the decision was made to significantly increase the financing. Not a bad idea, though at the end of the day it didn’t really translate into the major success that those others achieved at the box office. What The Funhouse did manage to do was prove that Hooper was more than adept at crafting a smart and funky little horror film outside of his previous extreme low-budget style. Along with a nifty sense of set design and some tense moments, The Funhouse also nails it’s characters and develops them well, making us feel as though we know them to a certain extent. As we all know, that’s part and parcel of what makes a slasher great and while I wouldn’t say The Funhouse belongs in the same category as Halloween, it can certainly make a case for being one of the better slashers to come out during this time period.



    "It doesn't seem so scary until you remember that clowns live there."

    Directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Lawrence Block, the film would appear to be a simple slasher cash-in, although once you get past the first 10 minutes or so it definitely becomes something a little bit more intelligent. Hooper and cinematographer Andrew Laszlo shoot the film remarkably well, choosing a large colour palate to enhance the mood and make things feel a bit like a living comic book. Laszlo had just finished The Warriors and it’s clear to see that he was still being influenced by the vibrancy of that film. Mort Rabinowitz (Salem's Lot), Tom Coll (Caddyshack) and Jose Duarte combine their talent to create a set design that becomes a character in its own right and really helps to enhance the mood. Meanwhile, John Beal turns in an excellent, classical score that works really well in the context and certainly sounds better than the driving, synth-heavy stuff that was the norm back then. Finally, Rick Baker's excellent makeup effects contribute to one hell of a freaky looking villain, always a welcome bonus in a film like this. However, it's the screenplay by Block that's the real star here, doing an excellent job of creating very different characters that are almost always likeable. I'm actually amazed that he only ever wrote this film and the 1990 bomb Captain America, because it seems like he has quite a bit of talent.



    "This probably isn't going to end well for at least two of these people."

    Along with all of that good stuff from the technical side of things, The Funhouse also excels in the casting department as there is nary a bad performance to be found. The four main teenagers are all quite good and show a lot of chemistry between them, which I think is amazing given that none of them were accomplished actors prior to starring in this film. Cooper Huckabee (an absolutely awesome name) is a little subdued as Buzz, but he plays the character well and I only wish they’d used his real name instead because, again, it’s awesome. Elizabeth Berridge (Amadeus), Largo Woodruff (Stardust Memories) and Miles Chapin (Hair) also do a good job, with Chapin's douchebag character Richie being particularly fun. He also gets the best death scene in the film, but I won't spoil it for you since that wouldn't be cool at all. Outside of the teens, Kevin Conway and two-time Oscar nominee Sylvia Miles add a lot of colour as a carnival barker and a crazed fortune teller and their presence lends a lot of legitimacy to the film. Finally, I’d like to point out the performance of Shawn Carson as Berridge’s younger brother, Billy, since he plays a key part in getting us a shot of her boobs very early on. That’s right, I couldn’t care less about his acting, but this boob contribution cannot be ignored!



    "Long legs and burgundy lips."

    Not content with being your simple “stupid kids have sex before being killed” slasher film that was ultra-popular at the time, The Funhouse instead focuses on atmosphere and mood to tell its terrifying tale. This doesn’t surprise me that much given Hooper’s previous efforts, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eaten Alive, were both mood-oriented pieces. However, what’s interesting about it is that, given the budget and time period, I’m amazed that he stuck with what had previously worked so well for him. I could imagine it would have been very easy for Hooper to try and imitate the success of Carpenter and Cunningham’s slasher archetypes, but at the end of the day he was confident in his own abilities and vision. This uncompromising approach to the film definitely works in its favour and again just gives it that little extra something that too many slashers of the time didn’t have. In all honesty, as much a fan of the genre as I am, I’m more than willing to admit how many slashers basically suck. It’s a very rare breed that can become something more than just mindless hack and slash entertainment and even fewer can claim any sort of importance in the overall scheme of film history. As I mentioned earlier, The Funhouse isn’t quite at that level, but it’s still a fantastic thrill ride with enough scares to satisfy horror hounds everywhere. If you dare yourself to enter, you just may find that you really don’t want to leave. 6.5/10.



    "Coming up tomorrow....horrible bedside manner."


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  13. #2333
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. X-Ray

    X-Ray



    Susan Jeremy goes to a local Los Angeles hospital for a routine exam and through a series of circumstances finds herself stranded there. At the same time, a maniac wearing a doctor's mask begins killing people around the hospital and soon he sets his sights on Susan. Is it possible that this is a childhood friend of Susan's who never forgave her for a Valentine's Day snub? If so, how will she know who and more importantly where he is?



    X-Ray, also known as Hospital Massacre and my personal favourite, Be My Valentine or Else, is a slasher released in 1982, right at the tail end of the first boom period for those types of films. It’s full of all the elements, though none of them ever seem to come together cohesively, which result in a film that feels more than a bit disjointed at the best of times. However, while it may be a little bit awkward, it is also one of the most bizarre slashers ever released; with so many crazy moments that LSD should be prescribed before viewing just to give the audience a better shot at making sense of it. I’m not even joking, there’s just one bit of insanity after another and it all culminates in one of the more absurd endings in slasher history. I can’t give too much away because you’ve really got to see this one for yourselves, but I will say that if you’re looking for a good movie to smoke a joint to, X-Ray is sure as hell the ticket to your toking nirvana.



    "Hey, that's not a hat!"

    Written and directed by Boaz Davidson (who also did The Last American Virgin the same year) from a story by Marc Behm (writer of Beatles film Help! and the excellent Charade), the film seems to be mainly designed as a vehicle for its star, former Playboy Playmate of the Year Barbi Benton. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that provided Benton was going to spend the ENTIRE movie in various states of undress. Unfortunately the script called for her to be clothed more often than not and therein lays the first problem with the film. Fortunately it appears that Davidson and Behm were also interested in messing around with the audience’s mind by adding in a multitude of creepy characters, nonsensical plot developments and even a preamble that literally makes no sense in the grand scheme of things. Add to this some top notch “chant” music from composer Arlon Ober (Eating Raoul, Child's Play) that’s reminiscent of The Omen and you’ve got the stage set for something that will definitely leave you scratching your head; albeit in a good way.



    "Bow-chick-a-wow."

    Barbi Benton never really managed to parlay her Playboy success into a film career (go figure) and it’s not hard to see why. Based on her performance here I’d say she was just below the level of your average turnip in terms of both intelligence and acting ability. However, who gives a crap about her brains when her boobs are on full display for all of us to see right? Well, they’re really on display once and only for a few fleetingly beautiful moments. What the fuck? I call major bullshit on that one and am really pissed that Davidson felt the need to be so tame in his portrayal of her incredible body. I mean, it’s not like she was shy or anything, she’d been in Playboy a bunch of times, so I really don’t see why the nudity had to be trimmed. Aside from that garbage, the rest of the performances here range from wooden (most of the hospital staff) to downright outrageous (Lanny Duncan as a creepy patient) to cringe-worthy (Jon Van Ness as Benton’s ex-husband). In all honesty, I didn’t go into a movie called X-Ray about a killer on the loose in a hospital expecting great performances, so I’m willing to look past them for the most part. I just can’t let that lack of nudity go damn it!



    "He's SO theatrical."

    The one thing that I’ll say X-Ray really has going for it is Davidson’s innate ability to provide some seriously creepy atmosphere. I mean, hospitals themselves are creepy enough, but they’re even creepier when used as settings for horror films. Halloween II and Visiting Hours are just two of the other hospital-based slashers that saw decent success in the early 80’s for this very reason. Unfortunately the atmosphere is also overruled by the same bizarre stuff that I’ve talked about already, including a floor of cockroach fumigators, a room with a bunch of patients in body casts that jerk about uncontrollably, a decided lack of lights in all the major hallways and creepy drunk people who don’t seem all that sick to me. Yep, one thing’s for sure, this is NOT the hospital you want to be going to if you’re feeling a little under the weather. As well, there’s a totally idiotic plot device that stops Susan from leaving the hospital even though it would be illegal to hold her there against her will! This all pales in comparison to the grand revelation at the end, but again I want you to see that one for yourselves because it’s just the icing on top of this particular cake of crap. Anyhow, it’s definitely weird but you may find X-Ray just the prescription you need if you’re looking for a bad movie to laugh at for 90 minutes of your life. 4/10.



    "Next time....Kelli Maroney's got a gun!"


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  14. #2334
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Night of the Comet

    Night of the Comet



    After a comet passes by the Earth one night, two sisters awaken to blood red skies and the realization that the human race has been wiped out. They encounter a rebellious Native American man and take over the air waves at a local radio station in an attempt to get help. After he leaves to find his mother, the two head to the mall for some much needed shopping therapy, only to encounter other survivors with much more sinister plans in mind. They soon come to realize that to survive in this brave new world; you’ll need more than just good looks and a valley girl attitude.



    Night of the Comet, released in 1984, is one totally awesome slice of 80’s deep dish pizza pie. No seriously, if you could eat a movie that tasted like the 80’s, it would almost certainly be this one. Full of the style, clothing, music and indeed the very attitude of the times, it exists as a near flawless snapshot of the greatest decade the world has ever known. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s one of the greatest movies ever, but it sure does it’s best to be one of the most memorable. It’s got top notch performances from the entire cast, a story that, while admittedly bizarre, actually works and a healthy dose of humour to boot. On top of that, it’s got FUCKING MONTAGES people! Yeah, that’s right, montages…as if it could possibly get any better than that right? Oh but it can, because it’s also got motorcycles, zombies and chicks with machine guns. Yep, I said chicks with machine guns and y’all better recognize how incredible that is. Holy shit, I changed my mind, I think Night of the Comet may just be the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE~! Alright, not really, but it still rocks like a hurricane baby!



    "Now that's definitely not rad."

    Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, Night of the Comet is the follow up to his 1983 classic Sole Survivor, AKA the original Final Destination. He also went on to direct the Sherlock Holmes spoof Without a Clue and Kurt Russell vehicle Captain Ron, another pair of excellent little films. Here he abandons the seriousness of Sole Survivor and focuses more on the humourous aspects of a post-apocalyptic world. Sure there’s some survivor guilt going on from time to time, but more often than not it’s all about the fun one can have when they’re in a world that’s basically unoccupied. That alone is cool, but Eberhardt isn’t willing to settle for just that kind of fun. Nope, he also inserts the requisite amount of dangers into this world for our heroes to overcome, yet even these dangers have a mostly comedic edge to them. If ever there were an example of a movie that was totally made to not take itself seriously, it would have to be this one, but the best part is that’s what makes it so goddamn fun! On top of Eberhardt’s excellent script and tight paced direction, his casting was simply brilliant, as he chose some seriously talented people to play the zany characters that occupy the film.



    "Robert Beltran...the man...the myth...the...wait, what the hell is he doing here?"

    Catherine Mary Stewart is cast in the lead role as Regina, affectionately known as Reggie, and she’s not only hot but also damn believable. She’s always been one of my favourites from the 80’s; having also starred in The Last Starfighter and Weekend at Bernies, but here she does what I consider her best work. She’s got just the right amount of sass that an 18 year old should have, but beneath her tough exterior lies a conflicted person who’s just looking to find her way in the world. Of course that world is now nearly empty and with all of her friends dead, she’s also required to be a little forlorn, which she also handles with ease. Meanwhile, her sister is played by Kelli Maroney, who some horror hounds will remember from the instant classic, Chopping Mall. Maroney is the younger, cheerleader sister and while she’s not required to stretch her acting muscles as much as Stewart is, she still comes across totally believable. They’re joined by Robert Beltran AKA Raoul from Eating Raoul and eventual First Officer of the USS Voyager. Beltran has this undeniable charisma and a look that just won’t quit but he can also act, which he does here to great effect. Most of his work is pretty subtle, but you can’t help wanting to see what he does next; he’s just that cool. Support comes from Mary Woronov (who was also in Eating Raoul and Chopping Mall), Sharon Farrell (Lenore from It’s Alive), Peter Fox (Mother’s Day), Michael Bowen (Buck from Kill Bill) and Marc Poppel (Christine).



    "Nothing says creepy clown like a....creepy clown."

    When watching a film like Night of the Comet, inevitably the question that comes to mind is "what the hell is this movie all about?" Well, I'll tell you good folks, between the red dust, montages, odd zombie policeman, Santa Claus costumes, creepy mall dwellers, abandoned radio stations and secret underground bunkers, the film, at its core, is about youth empowerment. That's right, the good guys (young people) versus the bad guys (adults). Nearly every adult character has a totally nonchalant and uncaring attitude towards their predicament and that of the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the young people, led by Reggie, fight valiantly to both stay alive and attempt to make some semblance of life for themselves. If there's any sort of message in this movie at all, it's that you can't trust old people so if you're still young enough, step up and save the world, or at least make it better than what it already is. That's actually pretty damn deep for a movie that features everything I've already talked about, but it's clear that Eberhardt is a director that sees things just a little bit differently than the rest of us. It's a truly one of a kind movie that has never been duplicated (and thankfully not remade) so if that's your can of Pepsi Free then check it out and you'll never look back. 7/10.



    "Next time...this ain't no ordinary house."


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    Re: FujiFilm feat. House

    House



    Roger Cobb, a Vietnam veteran, has settled into a new career as a horror writer. Unfortunately, his son disappears while visiting his Aunt's home, and Roger's obsession with finding out what happened destroys both his marriage and that career. Shortly after, his Aunt dies suddenly and Roger returns to the house once more. He soon becomes aware that this is no ordinary home and that it resents his presence within.



    The above poster and the promotional tagline on the video box, “Ding dong, you’re dead”, was enough to scare the living crap out of me as a kid. Amazingly, House, released in 1986, isn’t really that scary at all. Rather, it’s an excellent jaunt into the realm of horror/comedy and while it certainly has its share of facepalm moments it remains a fine example of that particular hybrid. By this point in the decade, horror films were looking for anything fresh that would distance themselves from the myriad of slashers popping up. House decided to go even further away and focus on an entirely different albeit well-known concept; the haunted house. It’s interesting to note that while the haunted house story had been a horror standard for years, not many had been made (successfully anyways) since their heyday in the 50’s. Luckily some talented people assembled for this haunted house tale and at the end of the day they churned out something that holds up remarkably well nearly 30 years after its release. House isn’t flawed, but it knows its limitations and, more importantly, its strengths, and it plays to each of them really well.



    "That's going to be one hell of a deep pool."

    Directed by Steve Miner, who was coming off Friday the 13th Parts II and III, the film is the brainchild of Fred Dekker. This man is also responsible for two totally awesome 80’s horror films, Night of the Creeps and The Monster Squad as well as one of the best Tales from the Crypt episodes, “And All Through the House”. Here Dekker just handled the story part, while the screenplay itself was fleshed out by Ethan Wiley. If you’ve seen any of Dekker’s other works, then you’ll be prepared for some of the outlandish yet humourous concepts that he comes up with here. I only wish he’d written the actual screenplay itself, because I do feel that some of Wiley’s dialogue is a little bit bland. It’s not awful mind you, particularly when compared with some of the other crap coming out around this time, it’s just not what Dekker would have come up with. Miner’s direction is pretty standard as well, but then that’s always been his specialty. Nobody requires this guy to do anything other than craft a fairly well-paced film, and once again he proves to be more than capable of doing just that. Aside from some pretty nifty special effects, House isn’t really a film that’s meant to be a technical masterpiece, but it’s sure as hell a tour de force for some of the actors involved.



    "It's ugly and it's got a gun....RUN~!"

    Those actors are led by William Katt, he of the super perfect 80’s hair and a frequent player in the Perry Mason movies that seemed to be on every Saturday night when I was a kid. Katt isn’t exactly the type of actor that I’d say sets the world on fire, but here he’s not only serviceable but downright sympathetic. I mean, the guy’s kid has gone missing, nobody is helping him and on top of that he’s about to lose the advance he’s gotten to write books. I’m actually amazed that this guy doesn’t kill himself early on, particularly when he meets his nosy next door neighbour, Harold Gorton. This guy is obnoxious, annoying and can’t help inserting himself into Roger’s life. So why is he so likeable as well? Because the man playing him is none other than George Wendt of course, an actor beloved by millions as Norm from Cheers. Wendt is off the hook here, really bringing the laughs and just playing his part perfectly. Another awesome 80’s television actor, Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court) shows up as in Roger’s Vietnam flashbacks and he does some top notch work in the role. Finally the film features not one but TWO hot chicks, Kay Lenz as Roger’s ex-wife and Mary Stavin (starred in both Octopussy and A View to a Kill) as some random hot chick that lives next door. So yeah, awesome hair, Norm from Cheers, Bull from Night Court and TWO hot chicks…how the hell can you go wrong?



    "I heart Norm."

    The first time I saw House years ago I thought it was a lot more serious than I did this time around. Perhaps that’s because in my old age I’m more aware of the exact type of humour that Dekker is known for and how he constantly went the darker route for his laughs. Regardless, House does seem a little bit serious on the surface, but peeling back its layers shows a film that’s just loaded with hilarity from start to finish. Even something as simple as a door opening at an inopportune time provides a great laugh and in all honesty, I’ve never seen Vietnam handled with such comedic flair. Along with the laughs there are some really nifty non-scares, such as an agonizing scene where Roger repeatedly opens and closes a bathroom mirror while you just wait for something to appear in it. I won’t bother telling you if something ever does, you’ll have to see for yourself since that’s just part of the fun. Suffice to say, when all is said and done, the hero conquers the demons, learns something about himself, saves the day and is re-united with his family. If you thought that was a spoiler, think again, because this is the 1980’s people; happy endings were as common as leg warmers, Swatches and gimp bracelets. Anyhow, as I say, it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a damn fun haunted house movie and sometimes that’s just the front door you need to walk through to have a great time. 6/10.



    "Next time...a better movie featuring crystal skulls."


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    Re: FujiFilm feat. House

    House II: The Second Story



    When Jesse and his girlfriend Kate move into his family’s old mansion, things couldn’t be looking better. They’re both successful in their careers and are looking forward to becoming even more so in the future. Soon Jesse’s buddy Charlie and his girlfriend Lana show up and quickly start to make things crazy with their wild lifestyle. Eventually Jesse and Charlie dig up the grave of Jesse’s great-great grandfather in the hopes of finding a crystal skull. There’s only one problem; Jesse’s great-great grandfather isn’t dead, and soon all hell breaks loose in the mansion.



    Having really liked House, I was quite interested in sitting down to watch the sequel, mainly because I remembered liking it a lot when I was a kid. Of course that also worried me because sometimes things we liked when we were nine don’t hold up all that well 25 years later. Thankfully I can now safely say that not only does House II hold up well, it’s a clear winner over the original in almost every department. Choosing to focus almost exclusively on campy humour and hilariously awkward dialogue, it becomes a near masterpiece of the horror/comedy genre. It also feature some top notch acting performances from people you’d never expect them to come from, solid yet still kitschy special effects and one hell of a cute caterpillar-dog. Yes, that’s right; I said a caterpillar-dog, which should basically sell you on the movie by itself right? Well, if it doesn’t, I’m sure there’s something else for you in this second story, it’s full of surprises and each one rocks the….house.



    "Not many houses come with a sacrificial chamber in the walls...but this one does!"

    This sequel is directed by the writer of the original film, Ethan Wiley, who also handled the script duties here. That also worried me since I felt his script in the first film was the only major weak point. Luckily it turns out that Wiley is a much better straight comedy writer and his script here is really quite good. After a pseudo-scary opening sequence he jumps right into the hilarity and hits some real high points including a running gag with people running into a post outside of the house. I know it doesn’t sound like much on paper, but trust me, it gets funny fast! Aside from that, he also proves to be pretty adept at pacing, as the film just moves along nicely with hardly any down time at all. Obviously he was never going to win any awards for making this (oddly he was actually nominated for an International Fantasy Film Award for this very movie but lost out to Monkey Shines which is too bad because that one sucks…tangent over) but he still put his best foot forward at every turn. Oops, tangent back, I could do a whole review on the 1989 Fantasporto and the plethora of cool films in competition there. Check out just some; Scarecrows, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Dead Ringers, They Live, Alien Nation, Critters 2, TCM 2 and more! That’s a pretty fucking awesome film festival if you ask me, but I digress.



    "Cliff Claven FTMFW~!"

    The cast here is full of actors who, for the most part, had relatively forgettable careers. Thankfully this film cannot be counted among their less than stellar works, as everyone seems to be feeling it here. First up is Arye Gross as the main character, Jesse. Gross, most well-known for his appearance on Ellen, is not only likeable but also capable of playing up the comedy to the extreme. His delivery is great and his chemistry with Jonathan Stark who plays his friend Charlie is really noticeable. Stark, who hasn’t done a lot of acting but did write a few episodes of Cheers (more on that in a moment) is really good here as well and downright hilarious at every turn. Speaking of hilarious, veteran character actor Royal Dano (The Outlaw Josey Wales, The Trouble with Harry, Something Wicked This Way Comes) is absolutely on fire as Jesse’s not quite dead great-great grandfather, lovingly referred to as Gramps. He’s got some wild scenes but also adds a bit of pathos to the character and definitely becomes very sympathetic as the film progresses. There are also guest appearances from Lar Park Lincoln (Friday the 13th Part VII’s Tina), Amy Yasbeck (future wife of John Ritter), Bill Maher (permanent douchebag host of Politically Incorrect) and John Ratzenberger (lovable mailman Cliff Claven from Cheers). So that marks two House films in a row that starred an actor who also appeared in Cheers and that’s obviously why they’re both so good. Ratzenberger is definitely better than George Wendt was in the original though, playing an awesome electrician/adventurer character that has to be seen to be believed. Yep, Cliff kicking ass with a sword; as if you needed another reason to see this movie!



    "Good grief that's a cute...whatever it is."

    Well, if you do, like I said before, it’s got the above-pictured, super fucking cute caterpillar-dog creature. Seriously, isn’t that one of the cutest things you’ve seen in your entire life? Yep, I knew it was. Anyhow, outside of cute caterpillar-dogs, the film also features some amazons, a really mean zombie cowboy and a giant, hulking dude who I thought for sure was a pro-wrestler. It turns out he was actually the dude who played Buzzsaw in The Running Man, which is pretty cool if I do say so myself. House II: The Second Story has a lot going on, particularly in the comedy department, but it still has some thrills and chills to satisfy horror hounds as well. Amazingly, it also ages pretty well, as I found myself getting into it immediately, something I occasionally have trouble with where 80’s horror/comedies are concerned. Even though the main story of the film is pretty loose, basically designed just to introduce one gag after another, I was still satisfied with it and felt it was a major improvement over the original. Plus the movie is just that damn fun that it’s really hard not to love. Oh and one more thing, it has one of the best taglines of all-time; "Frightening strikes twice"! Yep, that’s just one reason to love House II: The Second Story, but I think I’ve given you a whole lot more so run, don’t walk, to this house today and open the door to some wild and wooly fun. 7.5/10



    "Next time...get the damn screwdriver out of my head!"


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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Return of the Living Dead Part II

    Return of the Living Dead Part II



    A military truck transporting barrels containing Trioxin zombies hits a bump on the road and a few of the barrels fall out. One lands in a storm drain just outside a small housing development and soon some foolish kids open it. Immediately the infamous Trioxin gas, capable of reanimating the dead, escapes and begins to wreak havoc on the small community. At the same time, two grave robbers find themselves in a mausoleum near to where the gas escaped, and soon realize that they’re surrounded by zombies hungry for brains.



    I’ve always loved Dan O’Bannon’s original classic, Return of the Living Dead, long considering it one of the best horror comedies of all-time. O’Bannon optioned the rights to the series soon after writing and directing the original and in 1988 a sequel was released. Amazingly, this film, while slightly less stellar than the original, is also one of the better horror comedies released in the 1980’s and certainly a worthy successor. It doesn’t take a long time to get going and once it does its just balls to the wall fun and fright rolled up together into a nice little ball. Featuring some strong performances, really great makeup effects, some extremely memorable zombies and so many laughs you’ll have trouble breathing; it’s the undead comedy that’s got just the right bite.



    "It takes a lot to piss off a zombie hand."

    The film is written and directed by Ken Wiederhorn, a dude who clearly understood the horror and comedy genres, having previously filmed Shock Waves (Nazi zombies ftw) and Meatballs II. He also directed a really underrated gem called Dark Tower in 1987 which remains criminally unseen in even the most ardent horror communities. Anyhow, Widerhorn’s ability to intermingle the two genres is a great strength to the film here and a lot of his talent is on display. His direction is fairly standard, but he overcomes any flaws by focusing on as much action as he can shove onto the screen. At the same time, his script is loaded with funny little bits of dialogue, some of which directly echo the film that preceded it. I don’t consider this plagiarism in the strictest sense; more like homage to O’Bannon’s brilliant film. One thing’s for sure, Wiederhorn knew exactly how to make THIS kind of movie, exactly who he was aiming it at and for the most part he succeeds admirably. Oh yeah, you want to know what else this movie has? These guys…



    "Matthews and Karen - a match made in zombie heaven."

    Yep, that’s right, Thom Matthews and James Karen are BACK BABY~! Fans of the original film will remember just how awesome these two were as they slowly but surely became infected with Trioxin gas and turned into zombies. In a master stroke, Wiederhorn managed to not only cast both, but turn them into grave robbers who bicker and argue just like they did in the original. Hell, he even threw in the “watch your tongue boy if you like this job” line and Matthews appropriate response of “LIKE THIS JOB?!?” which works really well given the context. Considering how much I loved these two in the first film, I was really happy to see them return and once again give their all in their performances. Along with these two awesome gentlemen, the film features some nice work from Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs on Twin Peaks), Michael Kenworthy (The Blob), Marsha Dietlein (she comes across a lot like 80's movie icon Kerri Green but not nearly as hot) and even Mitch “Skinner” Pileggi. It’s also got a performance from Doug Benson, the man who went on to film and star in the documentary Super High Me. Here’s Benson waxing poetic as a zombie…



    "No word on whether he was high here but it's a safe bet."

    Now that’s what I call a fucking awesome zombie performance! In fact, Benson was so good he was credited as “Special Zombie”, which obviously means he rules. Then again, there seem to be several “Special Zombies” listed in the credits, so maybe it’s not really as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be. Like Evil Dead 2, this film takes the events that occurred in the first film and doesn’t bother to reference them, thereby making it more of a remake than a sequel. This is particularly funny when Matthews actually points out that he feels they’ve “been there before”, a moment that breaks the fourth wall in a very subtle yet hilarious way. Another thing that this film does is try for a lot broader comedy, resulting in off the wall zombies like Benson up there and some hilarious voices, including one that says “get the damn screwdriver out of my head” in the most awful (yet funny) hillbilly accent I’ve ever heard. Oh and if you’re into awesome 80’s music you’ll be happy to know that the soundtrack for this film is loaded with gems by the likes of Anthrax, Leatherwolf and even Robert Palmer. So it’s got a lot of laughs, decent acting and a rocking soundtrack, which means that it kicks enough asses to check out for sure. It may not hold a candle to the original (what would?), but it’s a more than acceptable Part 2 and in this day and age that counts for a lot…of brains. 6/10



    "Next time....one legend in search of another."


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  18. #2338
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Incident at Loch Ness

    Incident at Loch Ness



    Acclaimed cinematographer and documentary filmmaker John Bailey is currently filming the famous director Werner Herzog for a project called “Herzog in Wonderland”. At the same time, Herzog is beginning a new project with producer Zak Penn, writer of films such as Last Action Hero, Behind Enemy Lines and X-Men 2. The two plan to head to Loch Ness in search of the elusive “Nessie”, hoping to capture it on film and discover the difference between fact and truth. However, once they get to Scotland a myriad of problems plague the film, not the least of which is a very real and very terrifying monster.



    Werner Herzog is undoubtedly a master of cinema and one of my favourite directors of all-time. While I’ve been compiling a list for my eventual top 250 countdown, I’ve realized that many of his works will feature prominently in it. There’s just something incredible about the man and his projects, from the brilliant remake of Nosferatu to his haunting documentary Grizzly Man. At the same time there’s also an air of mystery to him, almost like he exists on a different plane than everyone else; capable of seeing things no one else can. So, when I discovered that there was a film featuring Werner Herzog as himself searching for the Loch Ness monster I was immediately intrigued. What I didn’t realize is that this film is a mockumentary, a staged series of events designed to create a horror/comedy “event”. Or is it? To be honest, like Herzog, Incident at Loch Ness is very mysterious and at times very difficult to nail down. We as viewers are challenged to determine whether what we’re seeing is all a Hollywood production or whether it may be lost footage from a failed film attempt. However, regardless of what Incident at Loch Ness really is, one thing I know is that it’s among the better found footage films I’ve seen in recent memory.



    "Relax, it's only a model."

    The film is written and directed by Zak Penn, who along with the movies I mentioned earlier can also be credited with the story for The Avengers and creating the television series Alphas. Penn is a writer first and foremost and this was the first film he directed, so the fact that it turned out so well is definitely a surprise. Or is it? Perhaps Herzog was doing a little more work behind the camera than either of them let on, though if that was the case I’m certainly not complaining. Sure it’s a found footage movie on the surface, but once you get into the fact that it’s really a movie within a movie (and possibly within another movie that we’re only vaguely aware of) you realize just how good Penn (or Herzog and Penn’s) work is. Even the sense of pacing is bang on, something that I find is a major problem with a lot of found footage films. The beginning sets everything up nicely, with Herzog hosting a dinner party for the Loch Ness crew and some friends (including Jeff Goldblum, Crispin Glover and Ricky Jay) before moving to Scotland for the second and third acts. This dinner party seems more “real” than a lot of other things in the film, thereby serving to further confuse the audience as to what’s real and what’s imagined. In a way, Penn and Herzog have come up with the thesis statement for their (fictional) Loch Ness movie in their (real) Loch Ness movie; that which is truth may not necessarily be fact.



    "Our intrepid adventurers looking for some intrepid adventure."

    Werner Herzog is the star here and is featured prominently, appearing in nearly every shot. As I mentioned earlier, he’s got this air of mystique and wonder to him that cannot be understated and it comes across so well here. Speaking slowly, like a man wise beyond his years, he commands your attention at every turn. He could be talking about cooking, Loch Ness, true crime stories from the early 90’s or even beards and you just can’t stop listening; he’s just that charismatic. While it seems that he’s “playing” a character-version of himself, you can never be sure that he’s not just being Werner Herzog the entire time and that is part of the fun. Meanwhile, Zak Penn also appears in front of the camera, playing the producer of the Loch Ness project that they’re working on. Penn seems to be more of a comic-relief type character, showing his production inexperience by insisting the crew wear jumpsuits (misspelled for good measure), changing names (and motors) of a boat and hiring actors to play “experts”, including a smoking hot Playboy model, Kitana Baker. He also enlists the services of Michael Karnow, an actor brought in to play a crypto-zoologist in order to give the film some “authenticity”. Karnow and Baker are real people, although in this film they’re playing actors playing real people. Does any of that make sense? It doesn’t to Herzog, who finally loses it on Penn in a brilliant scene towards the end of the third act. Once again, as with the filmmaking itself, the acting gives no hints as to whether what we’re seeing is real, purposely fictionalized or just simply imagined.



    "10/10 would bang."

    In the past, Werner Herzog has been known to create fictional documentaries in order to challenge the thought process of others. Some of these include tales of the “Jesus men of Russia” who have whole flocks of disciples, or a community where people believe a city exists under a frozen lake. While neither of these stories have a smidgen of truth to them, Herzog was capable of convincing people they did, which is also what he and Penn do here. Even though I knew Incident at Loch Ness was just a movie I found myself becoming more and more convinced that it was not. Unfortunately there are several moments in the film where you become aware that it actually is, including a staged shot through a doorway that gives the entire thing away. However, that doesn’t diminish the idea of what Herzog and Penn created here, a true piece of thought-provoking material cleverly disguised as a standard found footage horror film. By the end of it all, you have no more answers than you did at the beginning even though you know deep down inside that the entire thing was fiction. Or was it? The main idea brought forth by the film is that there is a difference between fact and truth; just because something exists in front of our eyes doesn’t mean that it should be taken at face value. That’s pretty high concept stuff for a simple horror film, so I guess that means it’s not that simple at all. Like Herzog, it is an enigma; but one that simply must be seen to be truly appreciated. 7/10.



    "Next time...she's having a baby...sort of."


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  19. #2339
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Devil's Due

    Devil’s Due



    After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.



    In sitting down to watch Devil's Due I was hopeful that Radio Silence, directors of one of the better segments in V/H/S, would do something to reinvigorate the found footage genre. Instead, not only did they manage to fail at that, they also miraculously succeeded in creating the worst knock off of Rosemary's Baby that I've ever seen. That's no small feat of suckitude but unfortunately it’s what happened. Even the film's strong points, of which there are precious few, can't save it from the very pit of hell that seems to have spawned the demon child the main character carries inside her belly. Yes, it really is THAT bad, and although I wish it weren't I'm at the point where I've resigned myself to the fact that it’s the rule rather than the exception. If horror was looking for a good start to the year, it died at the blocks with Devil's Due.



    "Remember folks, happy moments mean bad things are right around the corner."

    Radio Silence, the stage name of duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, direct the film from a script by Lindsay Devlin. As pretty much everyone here are amateurs when it comes to making movies (Devlin has one documentary to her credit while Radio Silence have a few shorts) I can give them a smidgen of leeway when it comes to criticism. Clearly there’s still room for improvement so I won’t spend a whole lot of time pointing out glaring errors in both the filmmaking technique and the script. Instead I’m going to spend a moment chastising producer John Davis for allowing this film to come out AND still bear his name. In case you don’t know who Davis is, he’s been producing films since 1987’s Predator and has done many other notable works since that time including The Firm, Behind Enemy Lines and Courage Under Fire. Of course he also produced Norbit, so that may explain why he could possibly have imagined it was a good idea to release this piece of crap. In fact, maybe he was trying to get people to realize that Norbit wasn’t that bad compared to Devil’s Due, so in that regard I’d say he’s a winner. Anyhow, poor production decisions aside, the writing and direction are decidedly bland, and while Radio Silence do manage to throw a couple of funky gags into the mix (a character flung high into the air gives off a pretty neat rollercoaster- like feeling) it mostly just seems bush league to me.



    "She looks like the cat that at the canary, and then the cat."

    If the direction and writing in the film are uninspired, they still look like Oscar bait when compared to the piss poor performances put on by nearly the entire cast. I'm not exaggerating when I say that wrapping paper, a dog, rain and a car windshield are above and beyond any human starring in this film. Allison Miller, cast in a lead role, has absolutely no business doing anything other than Revlon commercials for the rest of her life; except she's not actually hot enough to get that gig. Zach Gilford, cast as her husband, is equally annoying and just so pathetically bland that I'm amazed either made it through the first round of casting cuts. Seriously, did nobody else want to be in this movie? I guess I can't blame the more intelligent actors who passed on the script because they knew how to tie their shoes properly; after all it saved them the venom I'm spewing right now! There's also a distinct lack of likeability among the leads which makes me wonder whether I'm simply supposed to feel bad for them because they're blithering idiots. The only actor who even attempts to do something with their character is Sam Anderson, but since he’s playing a generic priest it doesn’t really matter. The rest of the actors are just there, not adding or subtracting anything to the overall film and really just coming across as pointless in their existence.



    "Talk about a way to ruin your white robes."

    There's no shortage of issues with this film but first and foremost among them is the total lack of creativity from the filmmakers themselves. It's like they just sat and watched every found footage film in existence plus Rosemary's Baby and decided it was better to do the old CTRL+C CTRL+V combo that's been the bane of this genre's existence for years. Don't get me wrong mind you, I feel Radio Silence may still yet have something to offer the horror genre; just not this particular film. Everything about it screams amateur, from the totally obvious set-up, the "priest being affected because she's EVIL" thing and the need for one character to film everything as if their life depended on it. There's even an attempt to trick the audience into thinking they’re not watching your average Paranormal Activity film that fails horribly when you realize basic mathematics can still put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4. I'd spend more time talking about the ridiculously cliché ending to the film as well, but I'm respecting your intelligence more than the filmmakers did by leaving it at that. Suffice to say, this was NOT a good first feature from Radio Silence and I can only hope that diminishing box office returns and critical panning will send them back to the drawing board with renewed fervour instead of bitter hatred. 2/10



    "Next time...you won't believe what's on television."


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  20. #2340
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    Re: FujiFilm feat. Devil's Due

    After careful consideration, I've decided to close FujiFilm's doors. However, fear not my fellow WC'ers, the sequel is coming sooner than you think.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Wang Chung
    Fuji- got his hint possibly town but also threatened Cox with a burrito up his ass








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