June 25, 2014

10 Unsung Film Directors Who Never Get Their Due

There are the great directors we all know, then there are those who've never been given the credit they deserve. A list of 10 such talents can be found at WhatCulture.


June 24, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: RIGOR MORTIS

Starring Chin Siu-ho, Anthony Chan, Kara Hui, Lo Loi-pang, Richard Ng, Paw Hee-ching. Directed by Juno Mak. (2013, 101 min).
Well Go USA Entertainment

Rigor Mortis is either the most frustrating horror movie in recent memory or one of the better ones. If you’re one of those who expects a simple, clear-cut story, free of any ambiguity, you will likely hate it. But if you appreciate a film more for its imagery, tone and how it makes you feel (much like Dario Argento’s classics of the 70s), then Rigor Mortis is immensely rewarding, one of the freakier films to emerge from Asia since Ringu.

Chin Siu-ho plays (I’m assuming) himself, a depressed, disillusioned actor who rents a room in a massive, run-down apartment building so he can kill himself, only to be rescued at the last second by Yau (Anthony Chan), the presumed landlord who also runs a diner which feeds all its tenants. After this, the plot is murky at best, with apparitions often appearing without warning and an old woman trying to resurrect her dead husband as a vampire. These two totally separate plot details sort-of make more sense as the film continues. In the meantime, this building’s inhabitants are the most bizarre batch of folks to ever appear together in a horror film. It is never explained why any of them continue to live in squalor in a run-down skyscraper (especially since everyone appears to know they're sharing space with demons), nor is it quite clear what made Chin suicidal in the first place (though when he befriends a semi-feral mother and son, I think we’re supposed to assume Chin lost his own family).

Hoarders: The Final Season
The plot gets more convoluted, mostly about twin ghosts possessing a vampire, leading to a marial arts (!) showdown between Chin and a pretty impressive monster. However, if you’re one of those who likes your narrative as crystal clear as a Denny’s menu, the resolution will confound the shit out of you.

Rigor Mortis is obviously a movie where the journey is far more rewarding than the destination, and that journey is sometimes quite remarkable. Visually, it is a beautiful and disturbing film, often at the same time, oddly hypnotic even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. That alone makes it worth catching at least once.

Theatrical Trailer

(OUT OF 5)

June 22, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: THE RAID 2

Starring Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Kenischi Endo. Directed by Gareth Evans. (2014, 150 min)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Before I begin in earnest, it shames me to say I have not yet seen The Raid: Redemption, despite its nearly universal praise. As a huge action movie fan, I always meant to get around to it (even renting the film once), but various circumstances always got in the way and, after awhile, it sort-of drifted from my list of priorities. Based on watching The Raid 2 (sent to me for review), I obviously blew-off the wrong movie. This one isn’t just the best martial arts film I’ve ever seen…it ranks up there with the greatest action films of the last 20 years.

The Raid 2 begins just a few hours after the events in the first film (fortunately, we uninitiated folks are quickly brought-up to speed, so knowledge of previous events isn’t a requirement). Rama, the lone surviving SWAT member from the first film, is reluctantly recruited to infiltrate the criminal underworld to root-out corrupt cops. To do this, he goes to prison to earn the trust of Uco, the son of Indonesian mob boss Bangun. Rama eventually becomes an enforcer, also charged to watch over Uco, whose ambition has him questioning decisions made by his father. Uco’s impatience has him hooking up with up-and-coming gangster Bejo, who tries to instigate a war between the Japanese and Indonesian mobs. Ironically, the whole rooting-out-the-bad-cops storyline is mostly shoved aside as Rama tries to deal with both sides at the same time while still remaining undercover. At one point, he’s even questioning his own role in this operation.

Asia's Bruce Campbell.
This film has a labyrinthine plot which is sometimes difficult to follow (with loads of unique & quirky characters), but ultimately, The Raid 2 is still all about the action. In addition to the plentiful, expertly-choreographed fight scenes, we get kinetic car chases, gun battles and assassins whose weapons of choice are as amusing as they are menacing. It’s all thrillingly-shot and bone-crackingly bloody (best of all, little of it looks like much CGI was used). In fact, you’ll probably find yourself not caring about the actual plot altogether.

I remember someone once saying no great novel is too long and no bad novel is too short. The same philosophy applies to movies, and even at 150 minutes, The Raid 2, despite telling a complete story, left me wishing it wouldn’t end. As an action film, it’s that good. Not only did it make me want to drive out and grab a copy of the original (though I don’t see how it could possibly be better), I now find myself hoping The Raid 3 sees the light of day.


  • The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel
  • Q&A with Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais and Joe Trapanese
  • Ready for a Fight: On Location
  • A Violent Ballet: The Choreography
  • Deleted Scene
  • Director Commentary

(And trust me, watch the subtitled version)

June 20, 2014

Cat Nip Reviews: Neeson Can’t Stop, Three Babes Get Even and a Stay at the Budapest

NON-STOP (Blu-Ray)
Laim Neeson continues channeling his inner Charles Bronson in this implausible but entertaining thriller, set entirely on a plane bound for London. This time Neeson plays Bill Marks, a weary alcoholic air marshal trying to prevent a madman (who’s also onboard) from killing a passenger every twenty minutes before blowing up the plane. The killer’s identity, and how he manages to accomplish this, is the mystery Marks must solve before it’s too late. The plot doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, but the film’s a lot of fun and Neeson is solid as usual. From Universal.

Movies like The Other Woman are like ordering the same meal every time you go to Applebee’s…a safe choice because you always know exactly what it’ll taste like. There isn’t a single scene or plot development you won’t see coming a mile away. Cameron Diaz (now able to do roles like this in her sleep) is beautiful and funny as usual, but Leslie Mann steals the movie as a slightly-unhinged wife whose philandering husband has been cheating on her with Diaz and Kate Upton. A totally predictable comedy that sometimes goes for cheap laughs, it’s still an fairly amusing way to kill a few hours. From Fox.

Whether you appreciate Wes Anderson’s quirky brand of filmmaking or not, you have to admit he has a style all his own. The Grand Budapest Hotel is his most enjoyable film yet, loaded with amusing plot turns, eccentric performances (with a huge cast led by Ralph Fiennes) and impressive set design. Perhaps the first farce disguised as an art film, this is, so far, one of the best movies of the year. From Fox.

June 15, 2014


(2014, 400 min).
Cinedigm/NFL Films

There are football fans, then there are super fans.

Fans of the Seattle Seahawks’ impressive 2013-14 season, ending in a 48-8 Super Bowl route of the Denver Broncos, are likely content with reliving the highlights, which NFL Films’ previous disc, Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl Champions, provides along with a slew of extras. But super fans, those who’ve been loyal to the ‘Hawks through thick and thin, who bleed blue & green and were finally rewarded for their decades of dedication? Road to XLVIII is meant for them.

This two-disc set features all three games of the Seahawks’ post-season run, as originally broadcast on FOX, presented in their entirety, sans commercials. Disc 1 features their two playoff games against the New Orleans Saints and division-rivals San Francisco 49ers. Disc 2 features Super Bowl XVLIII itself. Other than a nifty option where interesting bits of information and trivia pop-up onscreen during appropriate moments during the Super Bowl, there are no extra bells and whistles.

If you’re wondering why anyone would bother investing in a pricy collection of old football games, then you are obviously not a super fan. So why are you still reading this?

Super Bowl XLVIII Trivia Track

(Obviously, I don't live in Denver)

June 14, 2014

Blu-Ray Review: JOY RIDE 3

Starring Jesse Hutch, Kirsten Prout, Ben Hollingsworth, Dean Armstrong, Ken Kirzinger. Directed by Declan O’Brien. (2014, 96 min).
Fox Home Entertainment

Sometimes you just want to watch people die.

The original Joy Ride is no classic, but is a well-made variation of Duel and Breakdown aimed at the teen crowd, with an emphasis on suspense over carnage. I never saw Joy Ride 2 (yet somehow don’t feel my life is incomplete because of this), but Joy Ride 3 skips all the formalities of pacing, suspense & characterization to get down to the business of killing people as violently as possible.

Vengeful vehicular serial killer Rusty Nail is back, this time played by Ken Kirzinger, best known for donning Jason’s mask in a few Friday the 13th films. It doesn’t take much to get his road rage a-boilin’ anymore…just a few hotties and douche bags who cut him off on their way to a road race in Canada. I couldn’t tell you a single character’s name without looking it up, and would still have trouble matching a face with a name. It doesn’t matter. They aren’t here for us to get to know anyway. They’re just meat for the grinder as Rusty dispatches them one-by-one in a variety of agonizing ways. Their deaths are gruesome, gory and drawn-out for as long as possible. The only real tension lies in, not who dies, but how spectacularly they die (sometimes it’s very spectacular). Hence, Joy Ride 3 plays more like a backwoods entry in the Saw franchise than it does the original film.

My Heart Will Go On...the pavement.
Writer/director Declan O’Brien (best-known for a lot of direct-to-DVD sequels and his most-cheeky crowning achievement, Sharktopus) pours more love into these death scenes than any other aspect of the movie. The vehicular action is fairly dull (during the chase scenes, everyone looks like they’re obeying the speed limit) and the story forces characters to make the worst decisions possible under the circumstances, just so they can fall into Rusty’s hands one-by-one. But I think the best example of O‘Brien’s carnage-over-creativity philosophy comes at the end, with a highway patrolman’s final line in the film* (for those who hate spoilers, don’t follow the asterisk).

I’m making it sound like Joy Ride 3 is worthless, which isn’t quite the case. For a great number of horror films, mutilation is the message. In that context, Joy Ride 3 delivers, sometimes gloriously. Heads are crushed, eyeballs pop from skulls, appendages are shredded, bodies are splattered all over the highway and, in the best scene, someone is shaved in half in spectacular fashion. Best of all, it's all 'fun' gore, so over-the-top that it ceases to be truly disturbing. If geysers of blood and body parts are your cup of tea (personally, I’m forced to admit sometimes it is), Joy Ride 3 is worth checking out at least once.


  • Road Rage: The Bood, Sweat and Gears of Joy Ride 3
  • Riding Shotgun with Declan: Director’s Die-aries
  • Finding Large Marge
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • DVD & Digital Copies

(OUT OF 5)

*The patrolman stares into the distance and ominously says, “He’s still out there,” as though he were the first to ever utter those words in a horror movie.

June 13, 2014


Limited Edition 15-Disc Deluxe and 10-Disc Edition Brings Together ALL The Halloween Feature Films In One Massive Set For the First Time EVER; All-New Bonus Features, Collectible Packaging, and 40-Page Book Make This
THE Blu-ray™ Box Set Event of 2014!
Michael is Coming Home September 23

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Last year, the horror classic Halloween celebrated 35 years of terror for those willing to partake in its vision of unrelenting horror. But that was only the beginning of the celebration. What producers Moustapha Akkad, Debra Hill and Irwin Yablans, writer/director John Carpenter and stars Jamie Lee Curtis & Donald Pleasence started in 1978 has transformed into one of the most durable, iconic – and copiously studied -- horror film franchises ever created. Before Jason, before Freddy, and before Jigsaw, there was…Michael.  Over the years, audiences have lived and relived the terrors of Michael Myers through ten feature films, as well as various re-edits and alternate versions. Yet to date, the complete saga of Michael Myers could only be told in pieces, in individual DVD and Blu-ray™ releases, with the rights spread across multiple home entertainment studios.

Until now…

Through the unprecedented collaboration of rival home entertainment companies Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory – the leading purveyors in horror home entertainment – Halloween: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box sets arrive September 23.

For the legions of Halloween fans, the Deluxe Edition boasts 15 discs and contains all the Halloween feature films – Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Halloween II.  The set includes the NEVER BEFORE RELEASED producers cut of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers as well as the ultra-rare network TV version of the original Halloween, the network TV version of Halloween II,  plus the unrated versions of Rob Zombie’s Halloween and  Halloween II.  It is packed with hours of BRAND NEW bonus features including new interviews with cast and crew from the entire franchise!  In response to years of fan feedback, the first Halloween will now also include the original mono audio track and the set will include both versions of the original Halloween-the original Blu-ray release and the recently remastered 35th Anniversary version with the mono track added back in! It also comes with a limited edition 40-page book written by Michael Gingold of Fangoria Magazine.  The collectible packaging will include a newly commissioned illustration on the outer case and each film will be in its own black Blu-ray case with the original theatrical one sheet as the key art. 

“This compilation is the ultimate collector's item for fans of the Halloween films and a testament to all the wonderful talent that have worked on them,” remarked Malek Akkad, President of Trancas International Films and son of series producer Moustapha Akkad.  “The partnership between Anchor Bay Entertainment and Scream Factory to present fans for the first time with all the Halloween films in one definitive package is a tribute to everyone – including my father – who made these films the terrifying classics they are today.” The 10-disc Edition includes the original theatrical versions of the Halloween films and will include select bonus features.


A very special opening awaits!  In celebration of the June 17th Blu-ray and DVD release of THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is readying to unveil a version of the illustrious European hotel constructed entirely of Lego bricks! 
Take a tour, with trusty lobby boy Tony Revolori, in this video showing how it was built!

June 11, 2014

HANG ‘EM HIGH and the Dish Best-Served Cold

Starring Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, Pat Hingle, Ben Johnson, Bruce Dern, Alan Hale Jr., Dennis Hopper. Directed by Ted Post. (1968, 114 min).

When I was a kid, my parents thought it was important that I played organized sports. Even though I’d never expressed an iota of interest, they signed me up for little league baseball in the fourth grade (mainly because Dad played it when he was a kid). I bumbled and fumbled through two seasons before they finally had to concede what I already knew…I was the worst outfielder in the known universe.

But they didn’t give up. Around this time, soccer exploded in popularity in Portland after it got its own pro franchise, the Timbers, and a law was passed requiring all parents in the metro area to drag their children kicking and screaming onto the playing field.

Personally, I didn't care about playing sports at all, let-alone something as alien as soccer. I was happy spending my free time riding my bike and hanging out with my nerdy friends playing Legos. My parents signed me up anyway; they really wanted an athletic son and, compared to football, soccer was relatively inexpensive - a pair of cleats and a ball - so if this turned out to be a debacle like baseball, their wallets weren’t quite as empty.

So there I was, in the fall of fifth grade on the first day of practice, feeling vulnerable standing around in shorts with pasty-white legs. Making matters worse was the fact most of the other guys on the team had been playing together for a few years, while me and one other new kid had never even seen a soccer ball before. The hazing process was humiliating indeed. Though I was always a fast runner, I could barely dribble the ball without tripping on my own feet, much to the amusement of my so-called teammates, who laughed at my ineptitude. I was also given a hearty welcome on that first day by a kid named Craig Parker, who was not only the best player on the team, but the coach’s son and twice my size. He was also a complete asshole, which I learned when he repeatedly snuck up behind me and yanked my shorts down. During subsequent practices, Craig also loudly jeered every time I fucked up (which was often). As the team’s forward and leading scorer, Craig took pleasure in, not only trash-talking every time he effortlessly dribbled the ball past me, but occasionally driving a cleated foot into my back after I fell.

"Get off my lawn."
During games, much to my dad’s chagrin, I was given five minutes of actual playing time, usually towards the end after a win or loss was a forgone conclusion. In either case, Craig got all the accolades because he scored all the goals.

Because soccer’s popularity was growing exponentially, new teams were forming on a regular basis. Before my first season was over, I was on a new team with similarly-inexperienced players, this time coached by my dad (apparently tired of seeing his son warming the bench for 85 out of 90 minutes). At this time, I still hated soccer, but my dad’s nepotism had me playing the entire game every week. Dad also realized, if I had any skill at all, it wasn’t scoring goals as a forward, but taking the ball away as a defender. Yeah, forwards got all the glory, but stripping them of the ball proved to be a lot more fun.

Our team still wasn’t as good as others in the league loaded with elite players, and twice a season, we were humiliated by my former team, led by Craig Parker, who was not only the best player in the league by this time, but one of the dirtiest, a master at throwing an extra elbow to the face or kick to the shin. Forced to defend him, I ended up with bruises and bloody noses as he trampled over me. Craig often taunted me with “faggot” or “pussy” as he thundered past on his way to scoring yet-another goal. What made it worse was I don’t even think it was anything personal…he treated every opponent this way, and I was just another non-entity under his cleats. As someone he repeatedly humiliated, I fucking hated him. But what could I do? Craig was far bigger and better on the field than I was.

Mostly thanks to my dad’s persistence, I improved a lot over the years, to the point where I grew to love the game. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was actually one of the league’s more feared defensive players, even earning a mention in our local newspaper, The Oregonian. Still, as much as I loved my brief moment of athletic glory, Craig Payne loomed large, ballyhooed in news stories dedicated exclusively to him. He scored the most goals every season, earned a soccer scholarship his junior year and continued mowing-down lesser players in his way.

We went to rival high schools (me, Clackamas, he, Putnam) and I briefly dated a Putnam girl, who invited me to their Sadie Hawkins dance, where I saw Craig. Incorrectly assuming we were only on-field rivals, I went up to say hi. He acted like I wasn’t worth his time, contemptuously sneering before he sauntered off with his girlfriend.

By the time we played our last soccer game against each other, I was pretty tired of being repeatedly belittled by this guy, both on and off the field. Unlike Craig, my days as a soccer player were numbered, down to a few games left on the schedule. As good as I was, it wasn’t enough to earn a scholarship. While we warmed up for our last game against Putnam, I occasionally looked across the field at Craig, smarmy and cocky as ever.

I’ve never been what you’d call confrontational, and not much of a fighter. I was pretty sure Craig could kick my ass if we met on the street. But we weren’t on the street today. If I was ever gonna exact any justice for years of torment from this douche bag, this was the day…on the playing field. It had been eight years since he first yanked-down my shorts for all to see. I wanted him to know I never forgot it.

So, halfway through the game, when he received a pass and proceeded to dribble down the field, with only me standing in the way of yet-another breakaway goal, the opportunity arrived. I didn’t go for the ball. I know that caught him off-guard, because in every previous encounter he used his skill to dribble around me or run me over. Instead, I slide-tackled him, cleats-up and aiming right at his knees. He yelped as we connected, and I’m pretty sure I heard something snap before he went down.

The referee blew the whistle, stopping play as Craig rolled around in agony, eyes huge and clutching his leg. I got off the ground and dusted myself off, just as the referee yellow-carded me (I was actually kind-of surprised it wasn’t a red card, considering what I did was obviously intentional). Another guy from his team ran up and shoved me. Normally, as someone who’s always been endowed with a keen sense of self-preservation and a realistic assessment of his own fighting skills, I would have cowered with my hands raised in defense. But today, I felt brave enough to casually nudge him aside and head to the bench.

Craig was assisted off the field and didn’t return. Putnam still won the game, but I didn’t care either way. I finally got my revenge in a forum sanctioned by the state of Oregon.

Taking a seat on the bench, berated by my coach for such a cheap shot, all I thought about was Jed Cooper and how good belated justice felt.

"When I said get off my lawn,
I didn't mean you."
Jed Cooper, as played by Clint Eastwood in the overlooked classic, Hang ‘Em High, is a cattle rancher mistaken for a rustler and lynched by a vengeful posse (though some of them are obviously here to see a man die). Cooper survives being hanged and is subsequently hired as a U.S. Marshall, charged with hunting down wanted criminals and bringing them back for trial. But Cooper hasn’t forgotten the men who tried to kill him, and understandably wants a bit of payback. Despite the relatively useless warnings of Judge Fenton (Pat Hingle), Cooper’s badge gives him carte blanche to track these fuckers down and waste ‘em (much like Robocop twenty years later). Sure, there’s a tad bit of debate over justice versus revenge, but thankfully, revenge wins over, often under the guise of justice.

I find that idea pretty cool. Turning the other cheek is overrated. Getting even is awesome, especially when the subject of your wrath becomes suddenly aware his wretched past has come back to haunt him. Whether or not I want to admit it, Hang 'Em High encapsulates my soccer career.

As a mature adult, I still shouldn’t think this way, but Craig really was a jackass, and I got even with him at his own fucking game. Even today, part of me still hopes the occasional twinge in his knee reminds him of the day he used to call me a pussy, yet said-pussy took him out.

That’s what makes Hang ‘Em High such a great revenge flick. Though blandly-shot by Ted Post (whose greatest screen credit is Magnum Force), the concept alone makes it more satisfying than the likes of Death Wish, Straw Dogs or Eastwood’s awesome-but-morally-ambiguous High Plains Drifter. Even though Jed Cooper’s not explicitly told, he is given legal permission to get even. Who of us hasn’t fantasized about exacting revenge with the law on our side?

That’s how I felt during that last game against Putman, watching Craig writing in pain as he was carted off the field. If I had done the same thing to him outside the gymnasium during that school dance, my parents would be bailing me out of jail. On the soccer field, however, it was the same as having a U.S. Marshall’s badge attached to my jersey. Today, I wish no ill-will upon him. As far as I was concerned, my cheap shot made us even, but I still wouldn't be heartbroken if he were hobbling around with a walker.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE Cast Reunites for 10 Year Anniversary Statue Unveiling

Presidents of Fox Searchlight Steve Gilula & Nancy Utley opened the ceremony and introduced Q&A moderator Anthony Breznican (Entertainment Weekly) who chatted with writer/director Jared Hess and cast members including Jon Heder, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Diedrich Bader, Haylie Duff, Sandy Martin, Shondrella Avery and Carmen Brady. Then, Heder and Hess unveiled a brand new statue of Napoleon Dynamite complete with a 'Vote for Pedro' T-shirt and moon boots alongside his beloved tetherball pole that will live on the Fox Studios lot. The 10th anniversary edition Blu-ray is currently available for purchase now.

Haylie Duff, Shondrella Avery, Carmen Brady, Diedrich Bader, Jon Heder, Sandy Martin, Jared Hess, Tima Majorino and Efren Ramirez reunited after 10 years at the statue unveiling for ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ on June 9, 2014.

June 8, 2014


Starring Omar Epps, Frances Fisher, Matt Craven, Kurtwood Smith, Landon Gimenez, Devin Kelley, Mark Hildreth, Samaire Armstrong, Sam Hazeldine. Various directors. (2014, 344 min).
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Based on the premise alone, Resurrection looks destined to outlive its welcome by stretching-out a story which might have made a better movie than a television series (like Revolution or the ridiculously padded-out Under the Dome). Though renewed for a second season, it’s probably just a matter of time before Resurrection strings viewers along with so many unanswered questions and ambiguous plot twists that viewers become frustrated and quit watching. I hope not, because the eight episodes which comprise the first season are outstanding.

Playing like a drawn-out, subtly-sinister Twilight Zone episode, Resurrection begins with Jacob, a  boy who died tragically in 1982, suddenly waking up in a rice field in China 32 years later. He’s returned home to Arcadia, Missouri by immigration/customs agent Martin Bellamy (Omar Epps) and reunited with his parents (Kurtwood Smith & Frances Fisher), who are torn between shock and joy - decades have passed, yet Jacob is still the same eight year old kid he was when he died…almost. He seldom sleeps, his increased metabolism makes him hungry all the time and he can sense the presence of others who’ve recently returned from the dead, not all of whom are deserving of a second chance. In later episodes, Arcadia is thrown into turmoil as more former residents come back (even though their formerly-dead bodies still reside in their graves), dividing the town. In the interim, we learn a lot of secrets about both the dead and the living, many of which either have an immediate impact on this first season, or leave viewers hanging as the final episode ends with a cliffhanger.

This is how you deal with mimes in city parks.
Regardless of what’s ultimately revealed in season two, Resurrection does such a masterful job keeping you hooked that it’s likely no eventual explanation for these events will live-up to our expectations. Despite being compelled to binge-watch the whole season in one day, I couldn’t help but feel answers to the questions raised will be anti-climactic at best. This makes me think perhaps no explanation should be provided at all…keep everything murky, leave questions unanswered, let the viewer make their own assumptions. That’s not likely to happen, so maybe, as viewers, a show like this is best enjoyed in the moment, without the anticipation of a jaw-dropping payoff (like Twin Peaks was in the 90s).

In this context, Resurrection is very rewarding, with great performances and a smart story which slowly builds, adding compelling plot twists along the way. A few characters are a bit one-note or over-the-top (such as Angela Cartwright as a bug-eyed bible-thumper), and very few of our nagging questions are answered by the end of the final episode, almost like the entire season is just a prologue to a much bigger story. While I can’t help but shake the feeling that story will be a tremendous let-down, what we’ve seen so far is terrific.


  • Bloopers
  • Deleted Scenes

(OUT OF 5)

June 7, 2014

10 Movies Guilty of Providing Too Much Information

Earth is all water now...does it really matter why?
As a species, humans are collectively stupid, and we don't like to think too much for ourselves. But some of us are smart enough to figure a few things out on our own, and do not need every movie explained to us like a Dick and Jane book. That hasn't stopped Hollywood from sometimes making certain even the dumbest in the audience know what's going on. For example...

WATERWORLD - This movie actually starts off pretty awesome, with Universal Pictures' iconic logo of Planet Earth, all the land silently disappearing as the oceans rise. It's all the viewer really needs to know before the film begins proper. But the mood is ruined with a pointless voiceover..."The future...the polar ice caps have melted..." What, did they assume people in the audience would think Earth was simply changing color?

IDIOCRACY - Similar to Waterworld, this vastly unappreciated satire of the dumbing-down of society begins with a montage showing how people devolve into complete idiots over the next 500 years. The visuals do all the work. It's pretty amusing, but almost ruined by a ‘funny’ voiceover, explaining the obvious. If such a movie needs this narration, maybe we’re already the societyIdiocracy makes fun of in the first place.

THE TRUMAN SHOW - This movie totally blows it by letting the viewer knowright away that the title character is the oblivious star of his own reality program. After that, all we're doing is watching how long it takes him to figure it out. Wouldn't it have been cooler if we were forced to figure it out along with him?

WAR OF THE WORLDS (Both Versions) - Both movies begin with similar narration as a nod to H.G. Wells' original story, which also began with this unnecessary prologue. But really, if you haven't gotten the gist of the thing from the title alone, you're a dumbass.

Better dumb-it-down a bit.
MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE - One of Stephen King's best short stories, "Trucks," offered no reason why the world's machines decide to start killing everyone. But for some reason, this film (horribly directed by King himself), starts with Earth being caught in a rogue comet’s tail. That explanation is dumb enough, but then at the end, King tacks-on the lame-ass revelation that a malevolent UFO instigated everything.

PSYCHO - Even this, the ultimate slasher film, goes too far. It’s terrifying enough that the seemingly meek Norman Bates turns out to be ‘mother.’ Do we really need a five-minute coda at the end which explains his psychosis?

Midichlorians did this to my hair.
STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE - Raise your hand if you wanted a biological explanation of how The Force actually worked. Midichlorians? Really, George? We already accepted The Force for what it was, a mystic ability.

DUNE - Even today, this mega-budget bomb is baffling. There are a lot of astounding scenes, as well as some of the most quirky-ass characters ever featured in a mainstream sci-fi film. It’s still amazing this was helmed by David Lynch. Considering his reputation for ambiguity, I suppose it’s not surprising he’d include such a worthless narrative intro, which supposedly sets the stage, yet is still nearly incomprehensible. Even weirder are countless scenes of whispered internal monologue from characters throughout the film...they provide nothing which makes the murky plot any clearer, nor do they offer any info the viewer couldn’t have picked up on their own.

BLADE RUNNER (Original Theatrical Release) - Harrison Ford’s tacked-on voice-over to this cerebral story was one of the main criticisms of Blade Runner when initially released, by adding completely unnecessary exposition. And indeed, Ford's narration truly did render it little more than a 21st Century detective story similar to the cheap film-noir of the 50s. Later editions of the film have remedied this, making Blade Runner one of the few movies ever retooled to acknowledge its audience had at least a little bit more intelligence then originally given credit for.

HALLOWEEN (Remake) - What made the original John Carpenter movie scary is that we knew almost nothing about Michael Myers...he was the personification of evil because he killed without motive. Rob Zombie’s ill-advised remake, however, is mostly an origin story, and we’re subjected to depressing scenes of Myers’ abused childhood in an attempt to make him somewhat sympathetic. The problem with that is we end up knowing so much about Michael that, when he finally dons his infamous mask, he’s not scary anymore.

June 5, 2014


Movie posters are a dying art. Today, when we walk past them in a theater, we look at the title, release date and cast to determine whether or not we'd pay to see it. But back in the day, before the internet, posters really had to sell movies, which meant hiring artists and photographers with enough creativity to (sometimes deviously) get butts planted in theater seats. In the tradition of P.T. Barnum, sometimes the best posters were used to entice moviegoers into seeing the worst movies.

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the metropolis depicted in this painting turned out to be a backwoods Wisconsin town full of cabins and trailer parks, and the attacking arachnid was a fur-covered Volkswagen. 

There is nothing in any of the Airport films as cool as this picture.

It’s ironic that the worst Star Wars film has the best teaser poster ever created, which maybe played a small part in raising everyone’s expectations to a level no film could live up to. How could any fan look at this and not get their hopes up?

This poster is the sexiest thing about the entire movie.

The title and poster suggest the franchise might finally be developing a self-aware sense of humor. But alas, it’s the usual slasher business. Jason only stalks the Big Apple during the last 15 minutes or so, and most of those scenes were shot in Vancouver.

Another beautiful teaser poster with one of the greatest taglines ever created for a sequel. Jaws 2 isn’t exactly a bad movie (compared to others on this list), just completely unnecessary, since the original Jaws is a damn-near perfect film, its cultural impact unprecedented for the time. Still, Jaws 2 was one of the biggest films of 1978, largely due to an ad campaign far more creative than anything in the movie itself.

This beautiful poster has sexy, fantastical and detailed artwork, making this cult film look like the last word in artistic adult animation. Too bad the movie itself is a sophomoric, sleazy carnfest, with animation on par with Saturday morning cartoons of the 70s and 80s. If you’re of a certain age who fondly remembers this film, try watching it now…without bong hits.

As painted by legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, this poster makes The Gauntlet look like a dark, apocalyptic thriller…urban destruction, Clint Eastwood depicted as muscular & indestructible, with Sondra Locke clinging to him, tattered clothes revealing her curvaceous body. Too bad the movie itself is one of the most insultingly stupid action films of the 70s, loaded with lame humor, awful dialogue and a truly terrible performance by Locke (who looks about as sexy as a malnourished, white trash crack-whore).

Yeah, we all know frogs are only marginally more terrifying than rabbits, who are subjects of their own daffy drama, Night of the Lepus. Even those charged with promoting that film were aware of the stupidity of the premise, and wise enough to exclude any hint of bunnies in the ad campaign. The poster for Frogs is almost endearingly cute, presenting the title creatures like carnivorous Muppets.

I’m probably in the minority on this, but the original Phantasm is a boring, badly-acted and mostly amateurish attempt at surrealism. However, not only was the one scene involving a flying, skull-drilling killer sphere the best part of the film, it made the entire franchise a brand name. Commercially, the spheres were best exploited in Phantasm II, prominently featured on the poster, in trailers and in the film itself (which isn't any good, either).