4.16.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 10 - "HALLOWEEN In April Part 2: The Curse of the HALLOWEEN Franchise"


HALLOWEEN in April rages on! This week Rev. Phantom and yours truly review HALLOWEEN 5: THE REVENGE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1989) and both cuts of HALLOWEEN: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS (1995). Plus the good, bad and the ugly of Halloween themed movies.





 

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4.12.2014

Full Moon Reviews Celebrates Its 6th Anniversary!!





It's always weird when I publish these anniversary posts because it makes me wonder where the time has gone. Full Moon Reviews has really grown and become pretty major in my life, especially since it started as just a way for me to express my love [or dislike] for certain films. I never thought I'd be still blogging after almost eight years, with close to 700 reviews under my belt. Also, Full Moon Reviews recently hit over a million views, which boggles my mind. I really want to thank anyone who has viewed, commented, or shared to others about Full Moon Reviews. It has truly meant a lot to me. In fact, there will be a giveaway of some sort due to that milestone. I haven't decided on what yet, but it will happen probably sometime in May.

As you know, I haven't blogged as much as I would like. Getting older and having more important things take priority have really limited my posting. But I'm glad to have Mike Huntley, who has done well with his Watchtower of Justice posts, pick up some of that slack. He's a movie nerd like me, especially when it comes to superheroes and comic book stuff. So it's great to have him on board. I also have to thank Reverend Phantom, who has allowed me to be his co-host on Midnight Confessions Podcast. It's an honor to discuss films with him, since we get along really well and have different looks on movies, even when we both agree. The podcast has really started to pick up, and Phantom and I have started to find a groove now. We have a lot planned for Spring and Summer, which I'm very excited about. I also have to thank 'Moronic' Mark Arnold for allowing me to post his reviews as well. He's done a great job on YouTube with his humorous look on bad films. I haven't posted anything from him yet, but I will soon. Just glad to have these men on board keeping this going for me.


 
Also, special mention goes to Aaron "Dr. AC" Christensen for asking me to contribute to his latest horror review book, Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks. I had a wonderful time writing my feelings on the underrated 2001 film, FRAILTY, and I'm very happy the book has done extremely well on Amazon and critically as well. If you ever want to know why I love FRAILTY, buy the book because it's the only way you'll know. It's a great read if you love horror. Thanks, AC!

What's coming up this year? A lot of superhero stuff this summer, as Marvel kicks it into high gear with their multiple franchises such as X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Summer will probably be focused on "Animals Run Amok" with the highly anticipated sequel, SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE. There might be another SEQUEL SEPTEMBER, not sure yet. But HORROR MOVIE MONTH in October will definitely be back and I'm always excited when that time of the year comes.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me and Full Moon Reviews in any way. Without you guys, I'd probably would have discontinued a lot time ago. But I'm very excited about the upcoming year, so please stay tuned to a lot of great stuff coming your way.

- Fred [The Wolf]


TOP 10 MOST VIEWED POSTS [from 4/12/13 to 4/12/14]

10. INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 (2013)
Posted September 14, 2013, this post has 858 views

One of the most anticipated horror films of 2013, the review for James Wan's ghostly-possession sequel did really well once I published my quick thoughts on it. It's still a film that's a bit inferior to the first film, but it's a film I would love to watch again to see if my feelings stay intact. It's now currently on the U.S. Netflix Instant Watch, so I may get that chance soon. But from what I remember of it, I dug this film for the most part.

9. GHOST SHARK (2013)
Posted on August 30, 2013, this post has 912 views

Probably one of the more surprising successful posts on Full Moon Reviews, GHOST SHARK wasn't really a film that a lot of people promoted or knew about - at least not on the level of SHARKNADO [which I'll be getting to shortly]. But SHARK SUMMER is a pretty big attraction on Full Moon Reviews, so I'm guessing that's why this SyFy movie did as well as it did. I honestly only remember how silly it was to have a vengeful spirit of a scorned shark have the ability to attack others through any form of water, whether it'd be in a swimming pool, a toilet, or a sitting bucket of water at a car wash. Not as fun as SHARKNADO, but GHOST SHARK amused me more than I thought it would.

8. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (2006)
Posted on May 15, 2013, this post has 999 views

Of all the sequels to this car franchise, I'm really surprised that TOKYO DRIFT was the most viewed. Maybe it's due to the fact that the recent FAST AND FURIOUS 6 connects to TOKYO DRIFT in a major way. But honestly, I figured FAST FIVE would do much better than it did. But a lot of you either love TOKYO DRIFT and don't care to admit it, or were just curious as to my thoughts on it. It's a decent sequel, I guess. And I'm interested to see how Lucas Black figures into FAST AND FURIOUS 7. So there's that.

7. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980)
Posted on July 31, 2013, this post has 1065 views

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST was one of those films I wanted/dreaded to review. It's probably one of the best found footage type of films ever made, but it's such a tough watch due to the animal cruelty and other messed up subject matter. The only reason this review even exists is due to Guts and Grog's Extreme Week, which this post was a part of. I probably would have never watched the film again if it weren't for that. And honestly, I don't see myself watching CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST any time soon. But I'm glad a lot of people enjoyed my thoughts on this controversial movie.

6. TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE (1997)
Posted on July 22, 2013, this post has 1225 views

There are a lot of Power Rangers fans out there, and TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE may be one of the most infamous pieces of that franchise's history. It's really just a terrible film that seems to forget what made the previous seasons so damn cool. It has a lame, yet really hot, villain. The characters and writing just seem dull. The way the Rangers gain these new powers is just lazy as hell. If it wasn't for Evil Kimberly, with Amy Jo Johnson looking so hot, I wouldn't bother with this movie. Thankfully, the franchise quickly bounced back from this and continues to thrive today. But this "Shift Into Turbo" should have crashed into a wall before it even got out of the starting gate.

5. ORCA (1977)
Posted on July 22, 2013, this post has 1240 views

ORCA was never a film I planned on reviewing. But it was expiring on Netflix Instant at the time, and I said why not. And not only did I like the film more than I had remembered liking it as a kid, but the views for this review blew up quickly once I posted it. Of all the JAWS ripoffs I probably reviewed within the year, ORCA was definitely the best one. Just a really well made film with a great score. Within a summer of sharks, it was a killer whale who made one of the biggest impressions on Full Moon Reviews.

4. THE PURGE (2013)
Posted on June 8, 2013, this post has 1416 views

THE PURGE was one of the more anticipated horror films of 2013. It also managed to be one of the more disappointing in a lot of ways. Great cast. Great concept. Nice bits of tension and suspense. But the execution was flawed, especially when we realized THE PURGE was nothing more than a home invasion film really. At least YOU'RE NEXT did it in a fun way. THE PURGE started out strong, but turned generic by the halfway mark. Still, it's not a terrible film and I am interested in the sequel that's coming out this year. I just wish they had worked around the concept better.

3. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001)
Posted on April 27, 2013, this post has 1552 views

The original 2001 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS was a film I wanted to review for so long now because the entire franchise is one giant guilty pleasure. It's a film that honestly should have never built a franchise. Yet it did, and the films have never been better. I'm really surprised so many wanted to read my thoughts on this film, because so many consider this film nothing but fluff. But it's fun, exciting fluff that created stars out of Vin Diesel, the late Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster.

2. THE LORDS OF SALEM (2013)
Posted on April 21, 2013, this post has 1865 views

THE LORDS OF SALEM was a film that had a ton of buzz behind it, but audiences had trouble finding due to limited theatrical release. But Rob Zombie proved that he was a true filmmaker with this original tale inspired by Italian horror from the 1970s, especially Bava and Argento. THE LORDS OF SALEM was really a film that surprised me, as it didn't really make a whole lick of sense, but it captured my attention like no other in the horror genre last year. It's a visually stunning movie, with Sheri Moon Zombie having the performance of her career. I think people flocked to this post because the film was so rare at the time when I published my review. But I think people found some appreciation for the film once it was released on DVD and Blu Ray, praising Zombie for making his own film rather than remaking someone else's. The fact that it was so anti-mainstream struck a chord with me, making me respect Zombie for doing his own thing rather than selling out to make a quick buck. We need more filmmakers like that in the horror genre.

1. SHARKNADO (2013)
Posted July 12, 2013, this post has 3449 views.

SHARKNADO was probably my most anticipated film of 2013. I mean seriously - a film about a tornado made up of sharks attacking California - how can one not want to watch that? And it was everything I had hoped it would be. Sure, Tara Reid's presence brought the film down some. But Ian Ziering, John Heard, those CGI sharks, and chainsaw fun really entertained the hell out of me. The film because SyFy's biggest pop culture moment, to the point that a sequel was rushed for this year - this time in New York City. I'm so there. A lot of folks ripped this film to shreds, but I loved the hell out of it and still do. And judging by the view count, so did a lot of other peeps as well.


TOP 10 MOST VIEWED REVIEWS [April 12, 2013]

1. 1408 (2007) - 58,824 Views

2. WITCHBOARD (1987) - 23,748 Views

3. ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988) - 5,513 Views

4. BABYSITTER WANTED (2008) - 3,748 Views

5. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990) - 3,262 Views

6. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) - 3,122 Views

7. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009/2010) - 3,014 Views

8. NEIGHBOR (2009) - 2,969 Views

9. 2001 MANIACS: FIELD OF SCREAMS (2010) - 2,722 Views

10. PIRANHA (2010) - 2,655 Views


TOP 10 MOST VIEWED REVIEWS [April 12, 2014]

1. 1408 (2007) - 129,480 Views

2. WITCHBOARD (1987) - 28,871 Views

3. ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988) - 5,809 Views

4. BABYSITTER WANTED (2008) - 4,019 Views

5. PIRANHA (2010) - 3,674 Views

6. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1990) - 3,579 Views

7. NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009) - 3,564 Views

8. NEIGHBOR (2009) - 3,560 Views

9. RED SONJA (1985) - 3,527 Views

10. SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON (2002) - 3,490 Views

4.09.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 9 - "HALLOWEEN In April Begins!"


Reverend Phantom and yours truly review HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982) and HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS (1988) as part of our HALLOWEEN in April. HALLOWEEN franchise all month long [excluding part 1 and 2 because what more can be said of those great films?]. Plus the Top 5 "Underrated Slasher Movies".





 

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

DIRECTED BY
Anthony Russo
Joe Russo


STARRING
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/ Captain America
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/ Black Widow
Sebastian Stan - Bucky Barnes/ Winter Soldier
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/ Falcon
Cobie Smulders - Maria Hill
Frank Grillo - Brock Rumlow
Emily VanCamp - Agent 13
Robert Redford - Alexander Pierce


Genre - Action/Adventure/Thriller/Comic Books

Running Time - 136 Minutes


PLOT
After the events of THE AVENGERS, Captain America (Chris Evans) - now a member of SHIELD - struggles with adjusting to his life in a very modern world. As Cap becomes somewhat disillusioned by the current world, SHIELD begins to crumble when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is almost killed by a mysterious assassin named The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). With the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a soldier named Sam Wilson [codenamed Falcon] (Anthony Mackie), Captain America plans to save the world from the Winter Soldier and those possibly closest to him.

REVIEW

Due to a pretty hectic weekend, I was unable to share my thoughts on what was my most anticipated film of 2014 - CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. I've made it no secret how much I enjoyed 2011's CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER and 2012's THE AVENGERS, so I was definitely excited about the sequel. Plus, it is based on one of the best Captain America stories surrounding The Winter Soldier, an arc that changed Captain America's world forever. And just like that comic arc, the film adaptation changes Cap's world as well - in one of the best ways possible. Yes, it's nice to see a comic book sequel again that's better than the film that preceded it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
is a comic book film that's actually smart and serious, despite the colorful characters and the special effects. Joe and Anthony Russo's direction is top notch. Who knew the two men behind YOU, ME, AND DUPREE would direct one of the best comic book films ever? The action is fantastic, with epic car chases, huge explosions, a really cool air battle, and fight choreography that looked and felt brutal. Honestly, this felt less like a superhero movie and more like your standard action flick, which I didn't mind at all. There was a gravitas when it came to the fights and action, which was a great move to set Captain America apart from the other solo Avengers films.

I think the best part about CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER has to be the screenplay. While there are some lighthearted moments, the sequel really takes itself seriously when it comes to its narrative. In a lot of ways, the film felt like a commentary on our current political landscape, making us question how much freedom really costs for all of us. Captain America is seen as a boring character because he doesn't have cool superpowers and is

presented as a boy scout. But I've always been a fan of Steve Rogers because he's a character raised by old school methods, unwillingly stuck in a modern world where these methods don't have a place anymore. He questions this new society, upset when his fellow SHIELD members use methods that he feels are negative. It's also quite sad when he feels alone when he's walking through the Smithsonian, where an exhibit for him is placed; or when he visits a much older Peggy Carter at a hospital. Cap also teams with people who are morally suspect, like Black Widow and Nick Fury, never sure if they're giving him the truth or not. He doesn't know how and who to trust in this new world, which makes Captain America an interesting character who gives opinions that are presented as unique.

It's also great that Captain America has a great villain [not named Red Skull] in The Winter Soldier. He's like the Terminator, just causing chaos in Captain America's world. He has a great look, doesn't talk all that much, and has a personal connection to Captain America. It's hard not to spoil much about the character for those who have never read the comics, but I enjoyed how he was presented in the film. We learn enough about him and his struggle, while keeping enough stuff hidden for a later movie. I wish there was a bit more of him honestly, but I loved the live-action depiction of the character and how it'll effect Cap's world for films to come.

The acting was also solid. Chris Evans really proves he was the right choice to play Captain America, anchoring the film with his sincerity and charisma. Scarlett Johansson has never been better as the Black Widow, sharing great screen chemistry with Evans, as well as kicking ass and looking good in her black suit. I'd really love to see her in a spinoff film. Sebastian Stan was cool as The Winter Soldier. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury. Robert Redford was a fantastic choice as Alexander Pierce, especially since the film was obviously inspired by political thrillers from the 1970s [which Redford acted in a few at the time]. Anthony Mackie was great as the Falcon, who I hope to see in a bigger role in a later sequel. I thought everyone was super and couldn't ask for a better cast.

THE FINAL HOWL

I think I have to say that CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER may be my favorite Marvel Studios film to date, maybe tied up there with THE AVENGERS. It had everything I wanted from it, and then some. The story was interesting and well written. The action and direction was fantastic. The characters finally felt true to their comic book counterparts. And the acting was great as well. I honestly want to see this again.



SCORE
4 Howls Outta 4



3.26.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 8: "Giant Rape Maggots and Vampires from Outer Space!"





This week, Rev. Phantom and Fred The Wolf review GALAXY OF TERROR (1981) and Tobe Hooper's LIFEFORCE (1985). Plus Top 5 Horror/Sci-fi movies, Godzilla talk, and "found footage" movies.





 

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3.21.2014

Lunar Cycle #3 - 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded (2013)/ Inside Out (2011)/ The Reunion (2011)/ Bounty Hunters (2011)


This new section of the blog is due to me being lazy, I mean swamped with watching so many films that I want to discuss on this blog. But I don't really have the time, so I decided to quickly [well as much as I can really] to review films I don't really want to focus too much time on. You'll be seeing these more often than not. Time for the reviews!




DIRECTED BY
Roel Reine

STARRING
Randy Orton - Nick Malloy
Cindy Busby - Sarah Malloy
Brian Markinson - Patrick Heller
Tom Stevens - Tommy Weaver
Venus Terzo - Detective McKenzie
Sean Rogerson - Detective Sykes


Genre - Action/Thriller

Running Time
- 95 Minutes


EMT Nick Malloy (Randy Orton) is thrusted into a deadly cat-and-mouse game by Patrick Heller (Brian Markinson), who knows Nick from a moment in their past. The game involves 12 rounds, with Nick having to pass most of them in order to save his wife's (Cindy Busby) life, as well as the lives of others. Nick must follow this madman's plans, as well as evade cops who think he's a terrorist, while figuring out why he's been picked as this game's contestant.




REVIEW
WWE Studios released an action-thriller with John Cena called 12 ROUNDS back in 2009, which pretty much bombed in theaters - but had a longer life on home video and cable. Although no one really asked for a sequel, especially yours truly, WWE Studios was at least smart enough to give 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED a direct to DVD release in order to gain some sort of profit. Instead of Cena reprising his role, the spotlight goes to Randy Orton [the son of Bob Orton, Jr.] and current WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Orton was given the role after he was fired from starring in THE MARINE 3: HOMEFRONT [which eventually went to Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, who will reprise in THE MARINE 4 coming soon], due to Orton's past issues in the military and complaints from certain members of the Armed Forces.

While 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED isn't a great action-thriller, I did find it slightly better than the first film. The first movie seemed way too over the top at times, especially when it came to the 12 rounds themselves. In the sequel, probably due to a lower budget, the rounds seem a bit more grounded and even plausible - well as much as they can be in a film like this one. However, the whole SAW inspiration is very much dated at this point, and 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED doesn't do anything with the concept to change it so it feels fresh. It feels kind of lazy at times because the 12 rounds is really just an obstacle course where you have to steal cars, kidnap people, or drive to a certain destination before a timer runs out. It's not horrible or anything, but no new ground is broken. But at least there seems to be a focus that the first film lacked somewhat, and the game is kind of fun to watch on a brainless level.

The characters aren't deep enough for anyone to know who they are. The situation that puts Nick in this game is extremely convoluted, but at least makes sense within the story. I do like that our main character is an EMT though, rather than the stereotypical cop. It makes his quest to save lives more plausible. Too bad everyone around him, including his hot wife [who happens to be blonde, of course] and the stock villain [who talks rather than acts] are pretty uninspired. The Tommy character is an interesting sidekick, only because actor Tom Stevens gives the character some life and seems to be having fun. The dialogue and the road to the conclusion are definitely generic and pedestrian.

The direction isn't that bad, honestly. It doesn't have a ton of style going for it. But the picture quality is nice and the pacing is pretty good. There are moments of tension and suspense that work as well. The visuals won't change the world or anything, but I wasn't expecting anything special from a direct-to-DVD feature from WWE.

The acting is also decent. Randy Orton isn't much of an actor in terms of emoting. But he's definitely a physical presence and looks like a bad ass. His line delivery is adequate enough I guess, and I'm sure fans of the guy [there are many, especially female] who will enjoy him here. Cindy Busby is your typical wife/damsel-in-distress. Brian Markinson seems to have a bit of personality and range [I dug his intensity], but man - his character is just your token James Bond villain in a lot of ways. He deserved a better role honestly. But at least he kept the film's energy up. The other actors are hit-and-miss, but nothing too terrible really.

All in all, 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED was more entertaining than I was expecting it to be. I wasn't a big fan of the first one, but the sequel slightly exceeded my lowered expectations. The action is competent enough. The direction is okay. The acting wasn't the worst. And the predictable storytelling worked for this film. It's a fun, easy watch that you probably won't remember once it ends. Harmless, brainless entertainment that's unfortunately too uninspired to take a risk and try something new. Hopefully Randy Orton gets a better role [and film] than this one.



SCORE - 2 Howls Outta 4







DIRECTED BY
Artie Mandelberg

STARRING
Paul "Triple H" Levesque - Arlo Jayne
Michael Rapaport - Jack Small
Parker Posey - Claire Small
Michael Cudlitz - Detective Calgrove
Bruce Dern - Vic Small


Genre - Crime/Drama

Running Time - 93 Minutes


Arlo "A.J." Jayne (Paul Levesque) has just been released from prison after serving 13 years for killing a man who tried to take the life of his best friend, Jack (Michael Rapaport). Out, A.J. wants to live a simple life and stay out of trouble. However, Jack is rapped up in his father's (Bruce Dern) criminal business, and he gets A.J. into his messes all over again. Can A.J. get out, or will Jack send him back to jail for round 2?


REVIEW
I have three words for INSIDE OUT:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

This has to be one of the most boring films I've ever seen in my life. I'm not even sure what this film is supposed to be. Is it a mob film? Is it a drama about relationships and how they change? Is it an unintentional comedy about pickles [A.J. wants to be a pickle maker and the characters constantly eat pickles]? Is this film made for wrestling fans, or for housewives on the Hallmark Channel? This movie did absolutely NOTHING for me.

The story itself is pretty dumb. Jack's dad is in the bootleg CIGARETTE business! Really? That's the best you can come up with? Selling cigarettes on the black market, which leads to people getting shot and/or killed? There's even an investigator who threatens about the whole deal that doesn't really go anywhere. And A.J. is caught up in it because Jack wants to prove to his father that he can run the business. On paper, maybe this looked interesting. But the script doesn't do anything important with it and you're left scratching your head as to why anyone bothered.

Even the relationships between the characters, which honestly seems like the focal point, is just dull. A.J. is conflicted between his past and his potential future, which is a great character arc. However, it's predictable in how that evolves. He's protective of Jack, his best friend, who just happens to be married to A.J.'s old girlfriend. And when A.J. learns this, he doesn't even react to it! I guess "bros before hos" doesn't apply in this world. In fact, no one really reacts to anything in this film. One character gets shot after a supposed betrayal, only to be brushed off five minutes later as if it was no big deal. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?? WHO WROTE THIS SHIT??

The worst thing about INSIDE OUT is that it's just slow, boring, and meanders towards the finish line. I had to watch this film in multiple sittings because I was falling asleep. This movie was a true waste of my time.

The direction isn't all that impressive. Again, the picture quality is nice. But the pacing is way too slow. The editing is strange at times. And there's no real sense of tone or mood in this flick. How is that possible?

The acting is probably even worse. Parker Posey should be embarrassed by her performance. She has to pull off this fake accent that sounds awful coming out of her mouth. And she doesn't have any chemistry with either Triple H or Michael Rapaport in this movie. Hell, Posey had more chemistry with Triple H in BLADE: TRINITY! Bruce Dern is cashing a check, although he tries to be an interesting foil. Thankfully NEBRASKA saved his career. And Michael Rapaport - God... I usually like the dude, but his performance here is just grating! He has so much dialogue to deliver, that it sounds like he can never shut up. It's just too much and Rapaport is all over the place with his performance. I couldn't deal with him. I blame the director for not reining him in a bit.

Honestly, Paul "Triple H" Levesque had the best performance in the film. He's not amazing or anything. But he plays A.J. in a subtle way that comes across as natural, somewhat mysterious, and kinda endearing. The Rock won't be shaking in his boots any time soon, but Triple H was the highlight of this miserable movie.

All in all, INSIDE OUT should be avoided if you value your time. Triple H is the best thing about this film and he has no chance of saving it. It's dull and confused. It's just overall lame. Life's too short to waste one's time on INSIDE OUT. I took one for the team. There's nothing to see here.



SCORE - 0.5 Howls Outta 4






DIRECTED BY
Michael Pavone

STARRING
John Cena - Sam Carey
Ethan Embry - Leo Carey
Amy Smart - Nina Carey
Boyd Holbrook - Douglas Carey
Michael Rispoli - Canton
Gregg Henry - Wills
Lela Loren - Theresa Trujillo
J.D. Garfield - Verdugo


Genre - Action/Drama/Comedy

Running Time - 96 Minutes


After the death of her father, Nina (Amy Smart) wants to fulfill his final wish - bringing the family back together. The problem is that her three brothers are pretty estranged for various reasons, never really getting along. Sam (John Cena) is a suspended cop who keeps a wall up. Leo (Ethan Embry) is an insecure bail bondsman who always puts his foot in his mouth. And Douglas (Boyd Holbrook) is a 20-year-old thief just released from prison, never realizing he had two older brothers and a sister.

Nina tells her brothers that each of them will get $3 million each if they manage to form a business together and keep it running for 2 straight years. While the idea doesn't interest Sam or Leo, who hate each other, Leo's financial woes change his mind. Apparently, a convict who's worth a ton of money is suspected to be part of the kidnapping of a wealthy businessman held for ransom down in Mexico. Leo convinces Sam and Douglas to help bring him in so he can get paid. While reluctant at first, the brothers decide to help each other find this con, as they slowly begin to bond during their dangerous expedition.



REVIEW
Not being the biggest fan of John Cena's movies, I never really took THE REUNION seriously when I saw trailers for it 3 years ago. Although I was kind of impressed that WWE Studios managed to cast both Ethan Embry and Amy Smart in a film produced by them, I still had no real interest in watching this psuedo-western that tries to play out like a long Bonanza episode [which is mentioned in the film multiple times, unfortunately]. But figuring it's Wrestlemania Month and I'd probably have no other reason to watch this film, I gave THE REUNION a shot. And I gotta say - it wasn't half bad!

The story really isn't anything new. And the course it takes is very predictable. But Michael Pavone's screenwriting does have its positives. The dialogue is quite quirky, and even funny at times for all the right reasons. I thought the characters were fleshed out pretty well, and the banter between them was very amusing. It's obvious Pavone was inspired by Bonanza and by films like CITY SLICKERS and MIDNIGHT RUN. It's also interesting that the female characters in the film seem more level-headed and stronger than the men, as they tend to be the glue that brings the brothers together.

I do wish the story had added more action though. While being a character drama is great, the concept requires more exciting moments to carry the story along. We do get some gunfights and an action setpiece involving John Cena leaping across a canyon towards a helicopter. But there really isn't enough of it, which would have helped the western motif.

And the subplot with the kidnapped businessman seems like an afterthought, as not much is really done with it. I have a feeling there was supposed to be more to it than actually seen, as it has a pretty decent set up. But it never goes anywhere. It needs to be in the film for the brothers to bond by the film's end, so the businessman stuff should have had more of a focus.

The direction by Pavone is alright. It's pretty routine for the most part, with the action scenes never feeling intense, exciting, or having much important purpose. The picture quality is very nice though, and the film is decently paced. Scenes are nicely staged, but the visuals won't be memorable by the film's end.

The acting is probably the best part of THE REUNION. John Cena is probably the worst actor in the main cast, but even he's decent as the older brother, Sam. If you've watched him in WWE, you know the guy has charisma and personality. I kind of wish more of that was in display here, but he's not terrible. Ethan Embry is energetic as Leo, the talkative and eccentric brother. I thought he had good moments in the film. Boyd Holbrook played the pretty boy, soft-spoken and intelligent brother well. Amy Smart doesn't get a whole lot to do as the sister, but she's decent. None of the actors are bad and seem to be enjoying working together onscreen.

All in all, THE REUNION is a decent WWE Studios film. I wasn't expecting anything from it, and it exceeded expectations. It's a film that doesn't show its full potential in terms of story, action, or direction. But it still manages to work well enough to be entertaining and likeable. After the really boring INSIDE OUT, this was a refreshing watch. Definitely worth a rental.


SCORE - 2 Howls Outta 4








DIRECTED BY
Patrick McBrearty

STARRING
Trish Stratus - Jules
Frank J. Zupancic - Ridley
Boomer Philips - Chase Thomson
Joe Rafla - Hal Lambino
Christian Bako - Francis
Enrico DiFede- Mario Antonio
Andrea James Lui - Ruby


Genre - Action

Running Time - 80 Minutes


Jules (Trish Stratus) is a stripper by night and a bounty hunter for the rest. Her squad captures an informant (Enrio DiFede), who has a million dollar bounty over his head. Unfortunately, a mob boss (Joe Rafla) has a vested interest in him, wanting a trade with the bounty hunters. When they refuse, the mob boss sends his goons to capture the informant - leading to a showdown between the hunters and the goons.


REVIEW
I really only watched BOUNTY HUNTERS - also known as BAIL ENFORCERS - for one reason: 7-Time WWE Women's Champion and Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus. If you know anything about me, Trish Stratus was [still is] my women's crush since 2000. I would watch any match she participated in, or any segment she was a part of. I even own her DVD, which had a documentary and her best matches. I just dig this woman and was very curious about her first feature film, which she also produced.

Quite honestly, Trish Stratus is the best part of BOUNTY HUNTERS. She won't win any awards for her acting. But damn - the camera LOVES this woman. She's fetching, majorly charismatic and quirky, and can kick some ass on screen. In fact, she has the best fight scenes in the film, especially two with the awesome Andrea James Lui. Stratus uses her wrestling moves, her experience in yoga, and some Muay Thai she learned for the film to display some believable fight choreography. I thought the ambulance scene was quite great, in my opinion. Stratus is the glue that holds this film together. And you can definitely tell when she's not in the film, as the other actors and characters don't have the ability to carry the movie without her.

And that's the issue with BOUNTY HUNTERS - without Trish Stratus, this film is pretty much not worth your time. Sure, Boomer Phillips' character of Chase is actually funny as the comic relief, and Phillips does put in a good performance. But Stratus is the focus, and the 15 minutes in the middle where she's missing are quite bland and uninteresting. Plus the characters do really stupid things, like chasing an ambulance on foot when they have access to a car. And there's a lot of expository dialogue from most of the characters, explaining things at you rather than engaging you with this information. The villain in particular, Hal Lambino, is terrible at this since he has to explain why his presence is in the movie. Plus as a mob boss, he's one of the most stereotypical villains I've seen in a film in a very long time. He's trying to be a Tony Soprano type, but it's not working. And Jules "love story" angle with her boss, Ridley feels more like a father-daughter, as the two don't really have much chemistry together. Plus we get small subplots like Jules' daughter [who is never seen] and Chase's constant rejection from the police academy that are brought up more than once but never followed through with. What's the point then?

The worst part of the narrative is that it's a B-movie that takes itself way too seriously. This is a film that really should have had more camp elements to make it more fun than it actually is. It would have made the cookie cutter story feel fresh, instead of it feeling routine.

The direction also has its issues. The editing is pretty bad at times, to the point where you'll really notice that certain cuts don't match. Also, the last few fight scenes are done in long shots, with empty backgrounds. It looks amateurish and takes away from these scenes a bit. They should have been done in a close up for the most part. At least the film is paced well, as the 80 minutes breeze by. And the picture doesn't look too bad, although more lights could have helped some.

All in all, BOUNTY HUNTERS is watchable, but nothing you'll remember once its over. The only reason to watch is if you're a fan of Trish Stratus, who does quite well here and really deserves to be in more movies. Otherwise, you've seen this film before and done much better. 37.5% Stratusfaction Guaranteed.



SCORE - 1.5 Howls Outta 4


3.18.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 7 - "The devil and his fondness for pubescent boys..."


This week Rev. Phantom and Fred The Wolf review [or in my case, re-review] 976-EVIL (1988) and review [for the first time] EVILSPEAK (1981). Listen to this episode or face the blade of Father Esteban!



 

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3.12.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 6 - "Enter the Cuckoo's Nest & Get the Glow"



This week Rev. Phantom and Fred The Wolf review GYMKATA and THE LAST DRAGON as well as go over our 'Top 5 Action Stars of All Time'. Now kiss our Converse, you jive coolies!



 

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3.10.2014

When Wrestlers Act: No Holds Barred (1989)

DIRECTED BY
Thomas J. Wright

STARRING
Hulk Hogan - Rip
Joan Severance - Samantha Moore
Kurt Fuller - Brell
Tom "Tiny" Lister, Jr. - Zeus
Mark Pellegrino - Randy
Bill Henderson - Charlie
Charles Levin - Ordway
David Paymer - Unger


Genre - Action/B-Movie/Cult

Running Time - 93 Minutes


When I was younger, there used to be a movie theater in my neighborhood called the Commodore. It had two theaters, but each theater would show a double feature for one low price. My first theater experience was at this very theater in 1986, when my mom - for whatever reason - took me to watch David Cronenberg's remake of THE FLY. Even today, I still imagine Jeff Goldblum is going to regurgitate on someone. But I had fond memories of spending hours at the Commodore just watching films, regardless if they were good or [mostly] bad.

One of the more memorable double features took place in 1989. The first showing was for a little known horror movie called CHILD'S PLAY. I think it's about some killer doll or something. Yeah, like that would have turned into a successful franchise! Psh! But the second feature - oh man - was for 1989's Hulk Hogan's movie classic, NO HOLDS BARRED. If you know anything about me, I love two things - horror and wrestling. I remember NO HOLDS BARRED being promoted during WWF television at the time, as the company really attempted to make their biggest star, Hulk Hogan, into a bona fide action star. Even though I was never a Hulkamaniac - I preferred Randy "Macho Man" Savage and the Ultimate Warrior - I still wanted to see the Hulkster tear up the big screen after he made quite the presence 7 years prior as Thunderlips in ROCKY III. And as an 8-year-old kid, I found NO HOLDS BARRED to be quite the fun movie. But that childhood nostalgia can sure be a bitch 25 years later...

PLOT
Rip (Hulk Hogan) is the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. What a stretch. Rip has been the face of the company and champion for so many years, there's no real competition left for him to face. Apparently Rip's massive popularity has reached a global scale, which has captured the attention of a television executive named Brell (Kurt Fuller). Brell wants Rip on his network, ready to give him a blank check to name his price. However, Rip is devoted to the WWF and refuses to jump ship.

Brell, not liking that he got rejected, decides to get revenge on Rip. First, he hires an Account Executive to represent him named Samantha (
Joan Severance), who's supposed to use her bombshell looks to seduce Rip into a deal. When that backfires once Sam actually falls for Rip, Brell decides to start his own fighting promotion to compete with Rip. During one of the tapings, a beast of a man known as Zeus (Tiny Lister) destroys the competition, becoming the only man who can really challenge Rip. As Brell has his goons harm Samantha and lets Zeus paralyze Rip's younger brother, Randy (Mark Pelligrino), Rip wants revenge and decides to fight Zeus for supremacy.

REVIEW

Oh man, I have no idea how to really review NO HOLDS BARRED. Let's just get this out of the way quick - NO HOLDS BARRED is an absolutely terrible movie. The story is cliche. The acting is pretty sub-par. I'm still not sure who exactly this film is aimed for. Hulk Hogan was an idol to many children at the time, yet the film has stuff that would cater more to adults. This film is so stupid, it deserves an audience!

I have so many issues with NO HOLDS BARRED, it's not funny. One of them is the character of Rip. Was it really so hard for Hulk Hogan to play - I dunno - HULK HOGAN?? Because that's exactly who Rip is! Rip works for the World Wrestling Federation. Rip has been their World Champion for years. The people, especially children, love the guy. He doesn't dress all that different in the ring, besides changing the colors from red and yellow to white and blue. I mean seriously, it's not like he's playing a marine, or a serial killer with a mommy's complex, or a bus driving ex-con who wants to get closer to his daughter. He's freakin' Hulk Hogan under a different name! It's like when Arnold Schwarzenegger played Not-Conan The Barbarian in RED SONJA. At least RED SONJA had an excuse. What was NO HOLD'S BARRED? Why confuse the audience when the guy is just playing himself?

The demographic for this film boggles my mind as well. I would like to believe this film was intended for a younger demo, especially since the WWF at the time catered to a younger crowd and it stars their hero, Hulk Hogan. And the first half of the film is pretty tame enough for all ages. Rip wrestles. Rip beats up bad guys in really dumb ways. Rip and Sam have a flirtatious relationship that kids will understand. Even Zeus makes for a pretty good monstrous presence for younger audiences. But the last half suddenly involves attempted rape, woman beating, slaps that paralyze a young man, and the worst crime of all - Hulk Hogan wearing tight orange briefs that outline his butt crack! NO HOLDS BARRED almost broke me when I saw that Hogan likes the color of his undies to match the color of his leathery skin. I thought I was watching a cheesy pro wrestling flick, not a horror movie!! Seriously, who was this film for?

The characters are so stereotypical, other stereotypical characters from other films are pointing and laughing at them. I already mentioned Hulk Ho--- I mean, Rip. There's Sam, who is obviously the most non-dateable woman ever because... SHE HAS A CAREER!

FOR SHAME, SAMANTHA!! DID YOU NOT KNOW YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO POSE FOR PLAYBOY AND STAR IN SOFTCORE PORN FILMS FOR CINEMAX, WOMAN???

Seriously, Sam is the hot bodied mole who is supposed to seduce Rip to the dark side. There's no set up for this plotline, but I didn't write this shit. But unpredictably, she actually falls in love for ol' leather skin! Which leads to her getting slapped around, almost raped, and even kidnapped. BUT SHE HAS A CAREER!!

Little Mac's coach makes an appearance as Rip's manager. Rip's brother, Randy, looks like his son. He looks great in a neck brace and a wheelchair though. And Ordway and Unger, the villain's lackeys, have small penises. Can't beat that characterization!

The only interesting characters in the film are the two main villains - Brell and Zeus. Brell is the stereotypical evil corporate villain who wants to give his network, the World Television Network (!?), huge ratings by signing Rip. When Rip refuses, Brell decides to make his own fighting program - The Battle of the Tough Guys. The guy may be evil, but his marketing and branding skills are definitely questionable. He falls instantly in love with Zeus [must have been the unibrow or the crossed eyes], and begins slapping women and kidnapping them once he feels the power.


And he likes to call people a "jock-ass" every now and then. Even 25 years later, I have no clue what the fuck that even means.

What I find most interesting about Brell is that he represents WWF owner Vince McMahon's subtle [*snickers*] portrayal of a rival promoter/head honcho for a major network. Honestly, I continue scratching my head as to who McMahon could be referring to. A business tycoon who wanted to compete against his company by trying to steal his top stars? That's absurd!!! It's not like Ted Turner ever owned World Championship Wrestling, made it a priority on both TNT and TBS, and stole a bunch of McMahon's top guys from right under his nose! Oh wait...

Zeus, on the other hand, is just a brute of a man. Who doesn't wax his brows. And probably doesn't know exactly who he's looking at while speaking to them, or in this film's case, grunting at them. But he's definitely an imposing figure who destroys anyone in his path, including Rip's son - I mean, younger brother. He's a great character to counter the more charismatic Rip for sure on paper. Unfortunately, it didn't translate into box office success or pay-per-view buyrates for Summerslam 1989 [which you can now watch on the WWE Network - plugs!!], but at least visually, the two make it seem like their battle could be a great one.

Unfortunately, the script leads into a final act that's just dull. The Rip vs. Zeus fight is pretty weak, with Zeus just breaking apart the set to use props against Rip. There's a lot of false finishes that make Zeus look really stupid more than once, and it's just not that climatic or as tense as it should have been. I thought the scene where a dude rides in front of Rip's motorcycle and crashes into a tree had more suspense. And even when the villains are taken down, the film just ends. No celebration. No follow up to any of the angles presented before the fight. The film just finishes and goes straight into the end credits. Pretty weak, NO HOLDS BARRED.

The film does have some classic moments though. The sexual tension scene inside the hotel room between Rip and Sam is memorable, just for how it insinuates that Rip enjoys jerking off in bed next to a hot chick in lingerie. Don't get your panties in a bunch. Rip was just doing push-ups, having his feet on the edge of the bed. It's not like the dude makes sex tapes for a living!

..........

There are also two restaurant scenes. One, in which a French waiter looks down on Rip for being an uncivilized neanderthal. However, Rip happens to be a regular customer at this restaurant and actually speaks French! Rosetta Stone does work for neanderthals! The other involves a robbery at a diner, which Rip takes care of quick easily. How do you combat two men holding you a gunpoint? Why, by throwing pies at them of course! Now I see why Samantha fell for this dude. The man knows how to take care of business, unless it's not required in his guaranteed contract brother!

The most famous moment of NO HOLDS BARRED is actually in the first act, in which Rip takes out a bunch of Brell's bad guys after he refuses to jump ship to his network. The last guy Rip confronts gets roughed up by our hero, only for Rip to sniff around and ask about the smell. When the henchman whines, "DDDDDOOOOOOOKKKKKIIIIIIIIIEEEEEE...", hilarity ensues. My God, after all these years, that moment has remained stamped in my memory. And it's funny as hell. That's why I can't hate NO HOLDS BARRED. It has moments involving DOOKIE that puts a jock-ass smile on my face.



I think the issues with the silly narrative were due to the fact that Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan weren't happy with the original script. Instead of hiring a script doctor to fix things, McMahon and Hogan decided to write a new script in 48 hours. If NO HOLDS BARRED doesn't prove that cocaine wasn't one hell of a drug during the 1980s, I don't know what will.

The direction of Thomas J. Wright is there, I guess. It's not a visually impressive at all. The pacing is off at times. The tone and mood shifts now and again. Even the wrestling and fight scenes are pretty bland, and that should be NO HOLDS BARRED's strongest aspect! I read Wright still directs stuff for television, and NO HOLDS BARRED definitely reflects that. Nothing special about the direction at all.


The acting is all over the place. Hulk Hogan plays himself here, so it's kind of hard to judge his acting ability in NO HOLDS BARRED. However, he does growl alot, tries to be a charming love interest, and actually CRIES in one scene! Definitely not Hogan's finest moment really, and I think even he would admit to that. Joan Severance is smokin' hot as Samantha. She doesn't get much to do really besides play the damsel-in-distress. But she looks great doing it, so no complaints from me! Charles Levin and David Paymer are pretty comical as Brell's subordinates, Ordway and Unger. I think every scene they were in was quite amusing. Both actors definitely made lemonade out of this dookie. And I actually forgot that Mark Pelligrino played Rip's brother, Randy, in this! He doesn't really get to do much either but get his ass kicked by Zeus. Nice to see the guy still have a television career, especially in the sci-fi/horror genre. He's a good actor.

Tiny Lister is memorable as Zeus, mainly for his presence. He still pops up in films every now and again, especially in the FRIDAY series as Deebo. Can't really talk about his acting since all he does is grunt and look mean. So I guess he's good in this. Really, the best actor in the film is Kurt Fuller as Brell. Fuller, probably one of the most underrated character actors of this era, is just awesome as this hammy, scene chewing, slimeball who makes the worst dialogue sound fantastic. His facial expressions when he's upset as just great. His use of "jock-ass" will never be topped. What makes Fuller's performance even better is that you can tell he's taking his role really seriously, which makes him more entertaining in the process. Definitely the film's highlight.

Plus we get wrestling cameos by "Mean" Gene Okerlund, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Stan Hansen as the penis inspector, Bill "Ax of Demolition" Eadie as Rip's opponent at the start of the film, and even Jeep "Bane" Swenson as Lugwrench Perkins.

And the Jim Johnston music is exceptionally 80s cheese that has not dated well. But dammit if that theme song doesn't get stuck in your head. Ugh...




THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE TAKING MY VITAMINS AND SAYING MY PRAYERS

- Rip chanted "Rip 'Em! Rip 'Em!" as he made his way to the ring. Even with this advice, Vince McMahon still wanted to produce the screenplay to NO HOLDS BARRED anyway. What a jock-ass!

- Brell says Rip is what sells. And sex sells too. So Rip is equal to sex. Bubba The Love Sponge's wife seems to think so...

- Rip can't be bribed by the competition. Apparently it's not 1994 yet.

- The limo driver, scared for his life, wet himself with dookie. You mean like Green Day? I guess it is 1994...

- Zeus gave a lot of children nightmares. Must have been that wicked unibrow. Joan Crawford has nothing on him in that department!

- Sam felt the bed shaking as she slept, not realizing that Rip was doing push-ups on the edge of the bed with his feet. That's not how the "Rhythm of Love" is supposed to go, Rip...

- Zeus beat the crap out of Rip's younger brother, Randy. If Being Human means almost getting killed for your family, then it's Supernatural that you may not make it to see Tomorrow, People.

THE FINAL HOWL
NO HOLDS BARRED has everything one shouldn't want in a film. The narrative is ridiculous. The direction is bland. The acting is over-the-top and not realistic at all. And for a film supposedly about pro wrestling, it barely has pro wrestling! But dammit if I don't have some love for NO HOLDS BARRED. It's an awful movie, but it's an awful movie that the child in me still enjoys for the most part. It's a campy, B-movie that takes itself way too seriously, increasing any sort of entertainment value it deserved to have. The dookie scene alone is one of the greatest moments in film history, in my opinion. NO HOLDS BARRED epitomizes a film that's so bad, it's sorta good. And if you can't respect that, then go watch something else, you jock-ass!



SCORE
3 Howls Outta 4



3.06.2014

Lunar Cycle #2: Silver Bullet (1985)/ Rise of the Zombies (2012)/ Escape Plan (2013)/ The Telling (2009)



This new section of the blog is due to me being lazy, I mean swamped with watching so many films that I want to discuss on this blog. But I don't really have the time, so I decided to quickly [well as much as I can really] to review films I don't really want to focus too much time on. You'll be seeing these more often than not. Time for the reviews!




DIRECTED BY
Daniel Attias

STARRING
Corey Haim - Marty Coslaw
Megan Follows - Jane Coslaw
Gary Busey - Uncle Red
Everett McGill - Reverend Lowe
Terry O'Quinn - Sheriff Joe Haller
Bill Smitrovich - Andy Fairton


Genre - Horror/Drama/Werewolves

Running Time - 94 Minutes


In 1976, the town of Tarker's Mills is horrified by a series of recent, and really violent murders. Sheriff Joe Haller (Terry O'Quinn) tries to figure out who's behind this, but only makes the townspeople frustrated when no answers are found.

Meanwhile, wheelchair-bound Marty Coslaw (
Corey Haim) is enjoying life, especially since his Uncle Red (Gary Busey) has given him a wheelchair that's built with a motor. One night, Marty sneaks out the house to set off some fireworks, only to be attacked by a feral creature. Marty defends himself by firing one of the rockets into the werewolf's eye. After telling his sister Jane (Megan Follows) about the werewolf attack and how it relates to the murders in town, she and Marty begin to do their own investigation - looking for a local with only one eye.

 



REVIEW
The 1980s were pretty damn kind to lycanthropes in cinema. And while SILVER BULLET, based on Stephen King's novella "Cycle of the Werewolf", isn't as memorable or as good as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON or THE HOWLING, it's still a decent time.

The story is the film's strongest aspect. The Coslaw Family dynamic grips you. Jane, the older sister, is bitter and frustrated by how the family babies Marty due to his crippled state. Although she feels bad for taking out her anger on him for something he has no control over, the sibling tension is there until the two work together to find the werewolf. The parents worry about Uncle Red's influence on Marty, who is really close to Red. It doesn't help that Red is extremely eccentric, not known for his committment when it comes to relationships, and the fact that he's a bit of an alcoholic. There's some interesting family relationships going on here.

The mystery is also strong, as the murders pile up, making much of the town lose hope in finding the culprit. Once Marty and Jane figure out who it is, things get really tense and suspenseful. One scene in particular, with Marty being chased by the murderer/werewolf on the road and on a bridge, is pretty chilling. The final act is also pretty great too, with the werewolf wanting revenge on Marty and his family at their home. While the werewolf is easy to figure out if you've seen a bunch of these flicks, the journey getting to the revelation and its aftermath is definitely worth it.

The acting is pretty good as well. Corey Haim is great as the young, rebellious Marty, creating a watchable young hero. Gary Busey is just plain fun as the wild Uncle Red, having a blast in the role due to some great dialogue. Everett McGill is pretty intense as Reverend Lowe. And we get some nice short roles from Terry O'Quinn and Bill Smitrovich.

However, the special effects aren't that great. Compared to those in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and THE HOWLING, both released in 1981, it's sort of disappointing to see how lame these effects are four years later. The werewolf costume in particular is pretty goofy looking, appearing as just a guy in a really cheap wolf outfit. I'm surprised that Caro Rambaldi, who also did E.T., was behind this aspect. Maybe it was a limited budget or lack of inspiration, but the disappointing wolf effects make SILVER BULLET less scary and more funny.

The direction by Daniel Attias is decent, but not visually memorable in any sort of way. The pacing is great though, and Attias does give the film some nice tension during the chase scene and during the final act of the film. The visuals are nothing special, but still an okay job.

SILVER BULLET, overall, is an entertaining Stephen King adaptation that was hindered by cheap effects and passable visuals. But the story has good characters you'll care about, a mystery that works for the most part, and some great acting by Haim and Busey. Not the greatest werewolf film ever, but definitely one of the better ones and worthy of a look every now and then. SILVER BULLET isn't perfect, but it has heart. That has to count for something.



SCORE - 3 Howls Outta 4






DIRECTED BY
Nick Lyon

STARRING
Ethan Suplee - Marshall
Mariel Hemingway - Lynn Snyder
LeVar Burton - Dr. Dan Halpern
Danny Trejo - Captain Caspian
French Stewart - Dr. Arnold
Chad Lindberg - Kyle


Genre - Horror/Science Fiction/Action/Zombies

Running Time - 89 Minutes


During a zombie apocalypse, a band of survivors are staying on Alcatraz Island in order to defend themselves against a rising army of zombies. However, their shelter is compromised when a group of zombies infiltrate their haven, taking out some of their own. The remaining survivors learn of a scientist (French Stewart), who claims he has discovered a cure for this epidemic. Realizing he's their only hope, they leave Alcatraz to locate him to stop the apocalypse.



REVIEW
RISE OF THE ZOMBIES is an Asylum produced B-movie zombie flick that was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. I'm not saying that it's a great film, or even a good one. But it's a decent enough film that manages to be somewhat watchable, while at the same time being totally forgettable once the film is over.

The biggest appeal to the film, at least for me, was the cast. Danny Trejo being a badass zombie killer. LeVar Burton being a sympathetic scientist who desperately wanted to cure his daughter of the infection. Ethan Suplee is the likeable guy who does good by keeping his fellow survivors safe. Muriel Hemingway is the leader of the group. And French Stewart is a scientist who may, or may not, have a cure. Is the acting great? Oh no, it's not. But just for the fact that these group of actors are in a zombie film together made it somewhat enjoyable for me. And none of these actors are terrible in anyway, as they take their respective roles seriously. Honestly, this cast should have been grouped together in a much better flick. But I'll take what I can get.

I also dig the use of Alcatraz as this refuge during the zombie apocalypse. It's a big enough place to hide and survive against the infection. Plus, it's right next to San Francisco, allowing the director to showcase zombies on the Golden Gate Bridge, hopefully eating the Olsen Twins with some Rice-A-Roni. The story is fairly generic once the survivors leave Alcatraz though, which makes RISE OF THE ZOMBIES more into a "search party" type of film. It really loses its way once that happens. It's just so cliche, you'll see things coming and wish someone new would recreate the zombie genre for a new generation in some way, shape, or form. I can tell when a screenwriter phones it in, which is pretty much the case with this movie.

The CGI is pretty lousy, with CGI blood, fire, and explosions that were obviously done in Adobe After Effects. The audio is shoddy, with levels constantly varying depending on the scene. And the direction isn't all that great, with the standard uses of slow motion, quick cutting, and even speeding up the film to make the visuals less monotomous.

All in all, you'll probably check out RISE OF THE ZOMBIES if you ever wanted to see Danny Trejo face the undead for whatever reason. Otherwise, it's not a film anyone has to go out of their way to see. But for a SyFy/Asylum project, I was expecting worse. But with a capable cast [who unfortunately needed a better script] and an interesting premise within the film's first half, it exceeded my low expectations. But it's not worth rising out of the grave over either. Pretty below average zombie film as a whole.



SCORE - 1.5 Howls Outta 4






DIRECTED BY
Mikael Hafstrom

STARRING
Sylvester Stallone - Ray Breslin
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Rottmayer
Jim Caviezel - Hobbes
Faran Tahir - Javed
Amy Ryan - Abigail
Sam Neill - Dr. Kyrie
Vincent D'Onofrio - Lester Clark
Vinnie Jones - Drake
Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson - Hush


Genre - Action/Thriller

Running Time - 115 Minutes


Ex-con Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is an expert in breaking out of high-security prisons. By knowing the layout, observing the routine, and getting internal and external support to the getaway, he's helped make prisons more secure by fixing the flaws. Breslin receives another job, in which he is offered $5 million to break out of a modern technological facility that may be inescapable. Breslin accepts this challenge, but soon learns that he's been double-crossed by his bosses. The prison warden, Hobbes (Jim Caviezel), has a thing for messing with Breslin, making his newest jail time unpleasant as possible. However, Hobbes wasn't counting on another inmate, Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), finding a kindred spirit in Breslin and wanting to help him break out. Will they succeed, or are Breslin and Rottmayer stuck in this facility forever?




REVIEW
ESCAPE PLAN was a film on my radar last year, but I missed it for whatever reason. Apparently, so did a lot of people since it didn't do too well at the box office. While it has done well in the home video and digital market, it's pretty surprising that a film that teams both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't more successful. Then again, modern audiences [meaning teens] probably see these two big action stars as fossils, more focused on sparkly vampires and films starring teen idols no one will remember in five years. It's a shame, since ESCAPE PLAN is a pretty good flick.

ESCAPE PLAN is more of a prison break thriller than an actual action film, although the final act of the film definitely plays to that genre. Honestly, I'm okay with that decision because these kind of thrillers aren't done all that much, so it's refreshing to see it get some much needed attention again. Because of this move, it's more of a character focused film, using the main characters to build plot, mystery, and suspense for almost two hours. The characters aren't exactly deep though - more stereotypical than anything -  but you know enough about them to care about their situation. The twists and turns the film makes are fairly predictable, I will admit. But at least they work within the context of the story and make sense once things are resolved.

My only real gripe with the narrative is the middle portion of the film. ESCAPE PLAN is probably 15 to 20 minutes longer than it should be, due to a lot of dialogue heavy scenes in the second act. I'm not saying that the dialogue is bad or anything. But I think what needed to be told during this portion could have been done in a much shorter time.

While ESCAPE PLAN isn't a total action movie, the film does come alive once characters start to fight and use weapons against each other. Watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger have a fist fight inside of a prison is pretty damn cool. Watching Jim Caviezel and Vinnie Jones try to stop Swarzenegger and Stallone with fists and weapons is pretty sweet as well. The film's final act is just an 80s action lover's dream, as it's visually entertaining with gunfire and explosions. Can't forget the chopper either, right Schwarzenegger?

DERAILED and 1408 director, Mikael Hafstrom, is an interesting choice for ESCAPE PLAN. While the man knows how to build tension and suspense within the claustrophobic prison setting, his handling of action isn't as strong. Sometimes the lighting is too dark. Or the frame is too close. Even the editing at times is a bit too quick. But Hafstrom is a more than capable director who handles most of the film pretty confidently.

The acting won't win awards. But both Stallone and Schwarzenegger take their roles seriously, bringing their A-game to the material. Their banter and interactions with each other are what make the film as good as it is. It makes you wish they had done films together much sooner prior to THE EXPENDABLES. Jim Caviezel is pretty great as the swarmy villainous warden, chewing the scenery and making his silly dialogue work. 50 Cent, who is usually distracting in some of the films I've seen him in, is pretty good here as the tech wizard. Amy Ryan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Faran Fahir, and Vinnie Jones are good in their smaller roles. And Sam Neill is in this as well! Always loved that dude. Cool cast.

ESCAPE PLAN is just a good time. Yeah, it's a bit long winded at times and the visuals don't always pop as much as they could [especially during the action stuff]. But the prison break script is pretty damn good, helped by Stallone's and Schwarzenegger's strong performances. You can tell the two were having fun making this film, which makes ESCAPE PLAN entertaining for us as well.



Score - 3 Howls Outta 4




DIRECTED BY
Nicholas Carpenter
Harry Grigsby


STARRING
Holly Madison - Stephanie
Bridget Marquardt - Eva DeMarco
Sara Jean Underwood - Tracey
Christina Rosenberg - Amber
Najarra Townsend - Brianna
Nicole Zeoli - Roxy


Genre - Horror/Anthology

Running Time - 84 Minutes


Three sorority pledges want to join a cruel sorority full of stuck up girls. In order to get voted in, the pledge must each tell the sorority sisters a scary story. So, three different stories are told - one involving a killer doll, one about a has-been actress looking to keep her career going by doing a horror film about the undead, and one about a dude stalking hot girls. Unfortunately for this sorority, one of the pledges may have a different story than the one she's telling - involving the death of the members of this particular sorority.



REVIEW
I have three words for THE TELLING:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

Seriously, THE TELLING is just terrible in every way possible. You'd figure that a horror film produced by Playboy Magazine and starring two of Hugh Hefner's former girlfriends, Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt, would be somewhat titilating for 90 minutes. Sure, the story would probably suck. The acting would probably be even worse. But hell, at least I'll get some tits and ass to make up for my suffering! But does anyone get nude here?

NOT REALLY!

Instead, THE TELLING wants the audience to truly believe that these women were hired beyond their looks for their acting skills.

HA HA HA HA HA! EPIC FAIL.

This has to be one of the worst anthology films ever. None of the scary stories are frightening. They're just really poor versions of much better films involving dolls, slashers, and zombies. And this sorority - who in the hell would want to join this so-called "sisterhood"? The girls are slutty and bitchy. They look down on normal looking girls - aka girls who have enough decency not to get breast implants at the age of 18 and want to get that higher learning that college is supposed to be about. And where are the pillow fights? The hot lesbian action? The paddles? The pajama parties? What kind of sorority is this??

And the three stories are just ridiculous. The doll one reminds me of that Krusty the Doll episode from one of those Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes from years ago, but less entertaining and clever. It's really lame, but at least it has blood and dry humping! The zombie story is supposed to be a homage to classic horror, being in black & white and having the villain sound like Bela Lugosi with a sore throat. The twist is so stupid and the scenes in the film look like a really bad softcore porn. And the third one is about a prank call gone wrong, with the prankers hearing someone get killed on the line. For a slasher film, it's really lame and not even worth the trouble.

The direction isn't all that great either. Sure, the picture quality looks okay. And I like that the second story was in black and white to fit the story's tone. But the editing wasn't great. The audio levels during some of the scenes was just jarring. In fact, the music used never went with the scenes they were used in!

I'm not even going to mention the acting. It's a Playboy film. The girls are terrible. But at least they look good.

THE TELLING is one of the worst films I've seen in a while. There's really no point to it even existing. None of the stories are worth anyone's time. And how do you do a Playboy produced film without the one thing you can do well - getting girls naked?? There's nothing to tell about this piece of crap.



SCORE - BOMB




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