4.23.2014

Midnight Confessions Ep. 11 - "Busta Rhymes does not want you to hear this podcast"


In our 3rd week (!) of HALLOWEEN in April, myself and Rev. Phantom review HALLOWEEN: H20 (1998) and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002). Due to some divine intervention on Sunday, our original recording of this episode was dropkicked into oblivion by Busta Rhymes himself and is gone forever. We summoned up the strength to review the films again in a very shortened format. So this week's episode is only a mini-episode. Please accept our most humble apologies. Plus we take a look at the Top 5 most disappointing sequels.





 


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4.18.2014

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: Amityville 3-D (1983)

DIRECTED BY
Richard Fleischer

STARRING
Tony Roberts - John Baxter
Tess Harper - Nancy Baxter
Lori Loughlin - Susan Baxter
Robert Joy - Eliot West
Candy Clark - Melanie
Meg Ryan - Lisa
Neill Barry - Jeff


Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Ghosts/Haunted House

Running Time - 105 Minutes


PLOT
A journalist named John Baxter (Tony Roberts) and his partner Melanie (Candy Clark) expose shenanigans after they learn some old couple are doing fake seances inside the infamous Amityville house to make a quick buck. Thinking that the stories about the house are just fabrics of someone's imagination, John decides to buy the house while he separates from his wife (Tess Harper). But soon people start dying around him - including the real estate agent who sold the house. Melanie believes something is wrong with the house, but John is in denial and doesn't believe anything is wrong. But as soon as his family, especially his daughter (Lori Loughlin), is threatened, John involves a paranormal expert (Robert Joy) to stop the evil of the Amityville house.

REVIEW
I have three words for AMITYVILLE 3-D:

WHAT THE FUCK!?

I've made it pretty clear that the 1979 version of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR is pretty overrated and not as great as many horror historians have claimed. Yes, I get why it was popular, but the film adaptation doesn't do much for me other than being an average haunted house flick. Honestly, I prefer the 2005 remake, which I find more entertaining. But 1981's AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION is the franchise's highlight, taking aspects from THE EXORCIST and using them in fun ways. Unfortunately, AMITYVILLE 3D just takes the series downhill quickly, with cheap visual gags, annoying characters, and a weak story. While I'm sure the series does get worse than this installment - at least from what I've heard - AMITYVILLE 3D was made to capitalize on a then-fading fad while boring the audience at the same time.

The screenplay is pretty much what ruins AMITYVILLE 3D, at least for me. While I'm not the biggest fan of the first film, at least the story somewhat interests me and the drama between the characters is worth investing in. Same goes with the second film. But this installment is just lazy in terms of its storytelling. For one, there's no sense of continuity with the other films. Why is there a well in the basement all of a sudden? Why is it holding some sort of demon that has never been mentioned before? I mean, the idea to have a visual evil presented is a good one - IF ANYTHING WAS DONE WITH IT! Hell, the film has bigger villains in the form of flies that seem to harm anyone they come across. But we get astral projection at one point for a dead character, and these flies actually leaving the house to attack someone at their workplace inside of an elevator - what are the rules again? If things were more explained, rather than the filmmakers just being focused on the visual gags, maybe I'd like this sequel more.

I also gotta say that the characters are either uninteresting, or just plain annoying. The John Baxter character, in particular, deserved to be sucked down that well in the basement from the first frame. I get that characters have to be somewhat skeptical about the supernatural occurrences around them to up the tension and suspense along the narrative. But this dude was dense as hell! People are dying around the guy and not once does he believe what his friends and family are telling him - THAT THE HOUSE IS EVIL! How many people have to croak before the dude gets it? It's only when a certain member gets killed that he finally realizes his home is haunted! Well no shit.

The other characters aren't much better. John is going through a divorce, or a conscious uncoupling, with his wife Nancy. She's kind of a clingy nag who becomes a bit mental by the final act. Daughter Susan is extremely cute, but there's not much to her besides that. Melanie is better than John and actually sees things for what they are, but more could have been done with her character. Susan's best friend, Lisa, is the only character I genuinely liked. Why? Even though she had the expository dialogue about the house's history, at least she had a personality. Although I did find it really dumb that she, Susan, and two guy friends decided to do a seance inside of a haunted house. Because, you know, that just makes the evil weaker and stuff...

Dumbasses.

It also doesn't help that the story is pretty much nonexistent for the most part. The narrative is pretty much glued together by the 3-D gags and special effects that are shot while trying to do a teenage version of the original story. What makes things worse is that the evil isn't just inside the house, but can travel outside of the house to do bad things. For example, a bunch of flies attacks a character inside a work elevator, while controlling the elevator to make it crash with the character inside. There's also a car that's miles away from the house, whose doors just happen to lock on their own before bursting into flames. And then a character drowns in a lake outside of the house off camera. So now the house can't possess people, yet it can travel out of its source to attack people anywhere?? Maybe the filmmakers felt that this would bring some freshness to the AMITYVILLE franchise. But it just goes against its own logic - logic that was set up for two straight films without much of a problem. It's a haunted house movie that wants to be a slasher flick to bring in a younger audience. It doesn't work.

The 3D effects could have saved the film by using the visuals as a distraction to the weak story. I mean, those opening credits - where the words fly towards the screen - could have been cool in three dimensions. Watching flies travel towards the screen, as well as hands, a flashlight, a skeleton, stream, a Frisbee, a demon popping out of a well, and people being thrown towards the screen could have been a lot of fun wearing 3-D glasses. But unfortunately, I watched this in 2-D. Sure, some of these effects made me laugh a bit. But they look a bit hokey and distracting without that added effect. Still, I can tell the producers were trying to make it work. I'm sure if I were wearing special glasses, I would be having a blast with these dumb visuals. So I can't hate the film for that.

What I can hate the film for is that fake looking demon that comes out of the well. GREAT special effects, guys!  The Ghoulies looked more realistic than this thing. I doubt this "demon" scared anyone back in 1983. I probably would have died laughing. Maybe that's the demon's power - death by laughter. In that case, he's doing his job right.

The direction by Richard Fleischer, best known for directing 1954's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, 1973's SOYLENT GREEN, 1984's CONAN THE DESTROYER, and 1985's RED SONJA, is okay at best. I can't judge his work on the 3-D stuff, but I'm sure Fleischer used them to the best of his ability. But honestly, Fleischer's direction is pretty much TV-movie level. There are attempts at tension and creating this bleak atmosphere at times. But Fleischer had to deal with a terrible script that no one was going to be able to salvage. So it was going to be a lost cause either way. But the film isn't an eye sore, so there's that.

The acting was a mixed bag as well. Tony Roberts had a terrible character, but he made it work as John Baxter. I was more distracted by whether he looked more like Will Ferrell or Ron Perlman, rather than his acting. Tess Harper didn't do much for me as Nancy, although I found her traumatized act in the final act of the film pretty funny. Lori "Aunt Becky" Loughlin was good in her role as the cute daughter, Susan. She was pretty endearing and charming. Robert Joy didn't get much to do, but he was pretty good anyway. Candy Clark seemed to be trying too hard at times as Melanie, but I thought her exit was memorable. And Meg Ryan, before all the botox and plastic surgery, is pretty much the best actor as Lisa. I really dug her spunk and she seemed to be having a blast making this film. I'm not surprised she eventually became an A-lister soon after.

THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE DESTROYING THE AMITYVILLE HOUSE WITH A WRECKING BALL

- During a seance, a mother learns her dead son has passed over into fire. Man, that must be hell - literally and figuratively.

- John Baxter, who is going through a divorce, wants to leave his home for the Amityville house - against his soon-to-be ex wife's wishes. Seeing that his daughter, Susan, is played by Lori Loughlin, it may be just a Full House he needs to exit from.

- The real estate agent was attacked and killed by insects in the attic. I'd be bugged if that's how I go out.

- Once a fly entered an elevator, the lift lost all control. Knowing the weight capacity, this fly must have weighed close to a ton!

- Melanie got frozen from a gust of cold air from the basement. Since this was 1983, Superman must be on red Kryptonite and being a drunk douche again...

- Sex with a ghost is supposed to be fantastic. Barbara Hershey would disagree with that though.

- Lisa knows the history of the Amityville House and seems excited about being inside the scene of the crime. WHEN RONNIE DEFEO MET SALLY seems like such a missed opportunity...

THE FINAL HOWL

AMITYVILLE 3-D is probably not the worst AMITYVILLE installment, but it's still pretty bad due to it being kind of a bore to watch. The film isn't scary and the special effects are unintentionally funny. The story is bare bones, hoping the dull visuals would compensate for that. And the acting is a mixed bag for many reasons. I'm sure some will get a kick out of AMITYVILLE 3-D, but it didn't do much for me. This film deserves a "For Sale" sign, in my opinion.



SCORE
1 Howl Outta 4




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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