The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Rob Cohen

Paul Walker - Brian Spilner/O'Conner
Vin Diesel - Dominic Toretto
Michelle Rodriguez - Leticia "Letty" Ortiz.
Jordana Brewster - Mia Toretto
Rick Yune - Johnny Tran
Chad Lindberg - Jesse
Johnny Strong - Leon
Matt Schulze - Vince
Ted Levine - Tanner
Thom Barry - Bilkins

Genre - Action/Crime

Running Time - 107 Minutes

Brian O'Connor (Paul Walker) is an undercover cop, under the name of Brian Spilner, trying to infiltrate the street racing scene in Los Angeles in order to gain information on some stolen goods that has been happening on the roads and highways. He enters a street race, hoping to race against wanted fugitive, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), and gain his respect. Even though Brian loses the race, he saves Dom from being arrested by police. Dom begins to trust Brian, bringing him onto his crew that includes his girlfriend Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and his younger sister Mia (Jordana Brewster). While Dom is evading police, trying to win more money, and keep out of trouble where it concerns Johnny Tran (Rick Yune), Brian begins to realize that Dom may be the one behind the stolen goods. While he's meant to bring Dom and his crew to justice, Brian is torn between friendship and his badge.


- Vin Diesel. It's hard to believe that THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS has created a summer blockbuster franchise 12 years ago - one that has no end at the moment. I think it's more unbelievable that a vapid film about street racing could create so many sequels and a spinoff of sorts. But the franchise definitely has its fanbase [especially after the massive success of 2011's FAST FIVE] and I'm sure it will continue to grow with FAST AND FURIOUS 6 this May.

I think one of the reasons why this franchise, and this film in particular, has done so well is because of one Mr. Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto. He was only a minor star due to his roles in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, BOILER ROOM, the animated THE IRON GIANT, and the cult classic PITCH BLACK. But THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS put Diesel on the map and it's no mystery why - the guy oozes charisma and coolness. His muscular size and brooding looks definitely grab your attention visually. His baritone voice grabs your attention aurally. And he's a pretty decent actor too who can do dramatic stuff, as well as the necessary action roles. Funny enough, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS was meant to showcase Paul Walker into making him a huge Hollywood star. Instead, Diesel took the spotlight away from Walker, stealing every scene in the film - especially when the two are on screen together.

The rest of the cast fills their roles fine, in my opinion. I'll get into the acting in a bit, but Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune, and etc. play their stereotypical roles to the best of their abilities. But Diesel is the star here and this is his film, no matter how hard Walker tries to make it his.

- Direction of the action. Rob Cohen, director of DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY, THE SKULLS, xXx, and DAYLIGHT, definitely gives THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS a visual style that's not only pleasing to the eye, but fun to watch as well. In fact, Cohen tends to overdo the action by using CGI to show us whenever someone uses NOS, or the car malfunctions. Are these moments necessary, at least more than once? No, but I have a good chuckle at these moments. Also, whenever someone is driving fast, we see the background get blurred while the actor is in complete focus [which I actually like quite a lot]. And the action scenes are really good here. The street races are fun, but the real highlights happen towards the end of the film. In particular, the scene where a tractor-trailer is about to be the victim of theft, not realizing the angry driver of this tractor-trailer has a shotgun, is fantastic. Lots of tension. Lots of suspense. The stunt work is great as well. The editing, the framing, the cinematography - all of it works here. And I believe most were done practically without the help of CGI [although I'm sure some computers helped in these scenes].

Cohen also uses slow motion, montages, and the environment of his settings really well. And for a 107 minute film, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS definitely lives up to its name with its quick pace. Even during the slower, more dialogue driven scenes, the film moves very fast and never wears out its welcome. I think the visual presentation really made THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS stand out from other films like it at the time, which is probably why it helped create five sequels so far, while TORQUE and DRIVEN have yet to create one.

- It knows what it is. I think for anyone who has seen the film, you know THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is a pretty vapid and dumb flick that relies on style over substance. And that's why so many of us like this film - it knows that its dumb and just goes with the flow to provide entertainment. It's a 50s drive-in/B-movie made for a young modern audience. It has good looking people, fast cars, very good action, and hip-hop music that sets the tone for much of the movie. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS doesn't want its audience to think and see the plot holes and inconsistencies the film blatantly has. It just wants us to have fun with its exciting style rather than dwell on its lack of substance. It never tries to insult one's intelligence, which makes it okay in my book.


- Lack of depth. While THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS isn't a film based on substance, it's probably pointless to talk about the film's lack of plot or originality. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is "POINT BREAK with fast cars". Keanu Reeves has been replaced by Paul Walker. Patrick Swayze has been replaced by Vin Diesel. Lori Petty has been replaced by Jordana Brewster. Both films follow the same template - "Undercover cop infiltrates a crew of criminal thieves, becomes best friends with the leader, falls for the leader's sister, and questions whether to choose the law or loyalty to his new friends." I'm not saying the template doesn't work well for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, because there wouldn't be a franchise if it didn't. But it makes the comparison to POINT BREAK so much without trying that it looks inferior to a much better action film. The thing is that POINT BREAK had a stronger script, more defined characters and relationships, and better acting. So while I enjoy THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, it just makes me want to see POINT BREAK more.

This could have been helped if the script was slightly different other than using cars instead of surfing. The dialogue is extremely generic. In fact, it's so by-the-numbers that I'm honestly surprised it took FOUR PEOPLE to write it. Sure, I'm glad they did their research on street racing and fuel injectors, but the script could have used more work. Especially when it came to character development because most of these characters are extremely one-note. Brian's choice could have been more believable if we knew more about him. Why would he risk losing his job as a cop just to be part of supposed criminals? There's mention that he had a criminal record [which I'm not sure was doctored for his undercover work], but there's not much to go on other than that. Sure, Dom trusts Brian really quickly, even though this guy could add danger to a mostly calm life outside of street racing. Brian and Mia get together pretty easily, and their relationship has no depth to it other than both are pretty looking and they want to mate. The only character who has any depth really is Jesse, who is a whiz at math and physics. He struggles with his ADD and he tries his hardest to fit into the crew by trying to race, which leads to his downfall. And the only reason Dom has any depth is because Vin Diesel pours depth into the character through his performance, making the audience feel sympathy towards him somewhat.

Look, some films are not made to be thought provoking and character driven. I get that. But if this film was one-hundred percent action, I'd be more okay with that. But the middle portion is dramatic stuff with people we don't really know much about. And if info is given, it's through the bad art of expository dialogue. A little something in story and character development could have helped the film more. I'm glad we got some through each sequel, but it could have been done in a single film as well.

- Not the greatest acting. I'm only putting this here because, while it adds to the film's cheesiness, I don't think the actors were trying to be unexceptional. I don't really blame them for much of this anyway since the script doesn't allow most of them to do anything outside of their stereotypes. I mean, how many times can Michelle Rodriguez play the badass bitch? At least she does it well. Why give the main character role to Paul Walker, who is pretty bland in this film and gets overshadowed by Vin Diesel in every scene? Jordana Brewster is a beautiful woman, but she doesn't get much to do really. And I can really go on here. This became somewhat problematic when 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS was released since it centered around Paul Walker instead of Vin Diesel. But I'll get to that film shortly. But the acting was just "there" for me, but this film isn't about the high quality thespian work, now is it?

Trying to review THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is like trying to teach psychology to Amanda Bynes - it's pointless. The film is nothing but fast cars, eye candy for both sexes, and violence here and there in terms of explosions and gunplay. Nothing more, nothing less. It's dumb and empty, but the film already knows that it is - focusing more on the visual presentation and pacing rather than the actual story itself. It's popcorn entertainment that's recommended if you're willing to leave the brain at the door. I get why some people dislike this film and the rest of the franchise, but I find it a fun, harmless watch.

3 Howls Outta 4


The Lords of Salem (2013)

Rob Zombie

Sheri Moon Zombie - Heidi Hawthorne
Bruce Davison - Francis Matthias
Jeff Daniel Phillips - Herman "Whitey" Salvador
Ken Foree - Herman "Munster" Jackson
Judy Geeson - Lacy Doyle
Patricia Quinn - Megan
Dee Wallace - Sonny
Meg Foster - Margaret Morgan
Maria Conchita Alonso - Alica Matthias

Genre - Horror/Supernatural/ArtHouse/Witchcraft

Running Time - 101 Minutes

Ever since his directorial debut with 2003's HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, musician Rob Zombie has become quite the polarizing figure within the horror community. Either you think he's brilliant, or you think he should just stick with music. I know people who love anything this guy does. I also know people who think he's a hack who focuses too much on the white trash culture and steals ideas from older films and turns them ugly. Regardless of your opinion on the guy, you have to admit that he has left a lasting impression in the world of horror.

Personally, I'm not Rob Zombie's biggest fan as a filmmaker. But I'm not a hater either. I still think 2005's THE DEVIL'S REJECTS is a fantastic movie and I still consider it his masterpiece. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES grows on me each time I watch it. I think his 2007 remake of HALLOWEEN is one of the better ones in our modern era, although I like it less and less for its second half. And while I dislike 2009's HALLOWEEN II, I do appreciate the film's visual style. I also liked THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO. So I tend to favor Zombie's film works, although I feel his screenwriting could be a lot stronger.

So it's no surprise how divided the horror community has become now that Zombie's latest film, THE LORDS OF SALEM, has had its limited release in theaters. Some have called the film brilliant. Others dislike it, not sure what to make of it. THE LORDS OF SALEM is really a film that will divide an audience because it needs to be judged and interpreted individually. Personally, I thought it was pretty damn good and an interesting homage to 70s Euro demon/witch horror cinema.

Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie) is one third of a trio of radio DJs at a local Salem, Massachusetts station that focuses on classic rock. A former drug addict, Heidi is faithful to her dog, good friends with Munster (Ken Foree), and possibly in a relationship with Whitey (Jeffrey Daniel Phillips). She also lives in a strange apartment building, with a friendly but kooky landlord named Lacy (Judy Geeson). However, things seem to be going well for Heidi.

One day, Heidi receives a strange package at work. Inside is a vinyl record that's a personal gift to Heidi, sent by "The Lords". She plays the record, hearing a strange and creepy tune that seems to do strange things to her mentally. As she continues to hear the record, the music begins to hypnotize her and give her flashbacks and eerie images of 17th century witches, led by Margaret Morgan (
Meg Foster), and their rituals for Satan. The record is eventually played on Heidi's radio station as well, hypnotizing other Salem women.

As Heidi becomes more and more confused, she starts relapsing back to her drug habit. When Lacy and her two sisters (
Dee Wallace and Patricia Quinn) involve themselves in helping Heidi, stranger things start to happen all over Salem. Are these three sisters witches? Is it all in Heidi's drug induced head? Or are there more sinister things at work?



- Not mainstream at all. I think many who are disappointed in THE LORDS OF SALEM were probably expecting something similar to Rob Zombie's previous films, but only with witches as the central characters. While Zombie loves his 60s and 70s horror cinema, judging by his films, his previous movies were still pretty accessible to a mainstream audience because they followed templates that most people can identify with. THE LORDS OF SALEM doesn't do that at all, instead being a film not for the mainstream, but for Rob Zombie himself as the main audience member.

While many have an issue with this and wish this was more accessible, like recent horror fare like the EVIL DEAD reboot, I think it's actually genius that Zombie went against what people were expecting. It makes THE LORDS OF SALEM stand on its own, separating itself from mainstream horror Hollywood loves to shove down people's throats. It's obvious that Zombie was inspired by ROSEMARY'S BABY, SUSPIRIA, and other classic demonic and witch horror cinema from the 60s and 70s - cinema that is so far from what is popular to modern audiences. In fact, I saw a lot of Dario Argento and Mario Bava homages and influences throughout this film, as well as some Stanley Kubrick as well. THE LORDS OF SALEM is more of a psychological horror film - one meant for the mind and for the eyes - rather than a visceral experience like Zombie's previous works. There's no Michael Myers stabbing a helpless nurse a million times to get some kind of point across. This is classic horror, one that implies things rather than just showing them. Some horror audiences may find this boring, disappointing, or lame. But I love it and shows that Zombie has some real chops here as a filmmaker who can create a special kind of movie for when those mainstream films grow tedious to watch and talk about.

- The direction. If you can take away anything from THE LORDS OF SALEM, it's that Rob Zombie definitely has a great eye for horror. It's been great watching him grow as a director. I always felt HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES was a music video disguised as a horror film, which is probably why it's grown on me after multiple watches. Along the way, Zombie went from gritty grindhouse inspired visuals to a much more arthouse way of expressing his story. You got the first taste of that in HALLOWEEN II, which in my opinion, are the only moments in that disappointing sequel worth mentioning. But Zombie totally expands on that here in THE LORDS OF SALEM, giving the story an effectiveness that would have been lost if this film was shot in a much more MTV/mainstream way.

In many ways, the visual presentation in THE LORDS OF SALEM resembles a drug trip. It's as if Zombie puts us in Heidi's shoes, making us wonder what the hell is really going on here. Sure, it's pretty easy to explain on the surface. But experiencing it visually just makes things pop out more. The colors in Apartment Number 5 resemble an Argento visual wet dream. Bright reds, blues, and yellows take over the visual senses, making Heidi's hallucinations and nightmares seem so beautiful and stunning. The way Zombie composes and frames his shots are fantastic, really capturing an eerieness that makes one feel sort of uncomfortable, yet intrigued. Having figures and props pop up out of the blue may be cliche at this point, but it still makes things mysterious and creepy. And I love the shots of the apartment building's hallways. The deep focus and the slow moving dolly towards that mysterious Apartment No. 5 really give these scenes a lot of life.

I also loved how the dreams and reality would blur, making you wonder if what you are seeing is actually happening or not. I think the best example is the scene where Heidi goes to a church and encounters a priest who wants to help her. Instead, he curses her out on her sin and forces her to give him a blowjob while he's delivering a sermon. Then all of a sudden, the priest is asking her if she's okay and she just runs out of the church. It's so bizarre, yet edited so well, that you think what Heidi is experiencing is real on the physical plane. But we learn quickly that "The Lords" are really doing a number on her mind, making her question God and religion in general.

We also get moments involving goats, Satanic priests who seem to be missing facial features, and a creepy Beelzebub that's kind of funny to look at - but also very disturbing. While we don't see it, the appearance of Beelzebub seems to imply a ROSEMARY'S BABY moment. Just a lot of surreal imagery the audience must infer for themselves.

I also loved the flashback stuff, which are shot differently than the present day scenes - with more grain and dullness in color. I also loved the finale, which is just twenty minutes of insanity put on him. The way it's shot, edited, and paced is perfectly done. I wish I could reveal more, but I'm trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible.

I think Rob Zombie has really matured as a director, which makes me very happy. Instead of having the story be told in an in-your-face manner, Zombie holds back and uses subtlety to his advantage. I think it's a great move and I really hope he continues to make trippy films like this for as long as he can.

- The soundtrack. If you know anything about a Rob Zombie movie, you'll know that the soundtrack never disappoints. John 5 did most of the score, which was obviously inspired by music in ROSEMARY'S BABY, THE OMEN, SUSPIRIA, and so on. The music always lends to a creepy vibe, which complimented the strange visual style perfectly. We also get some classic music from Rush, Velvet Underground, Rick James, and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Just great stuff.

- The acting. I didn't think the acting in the film was honestly that bad in THE LORDS OF SALEM. I know a lot of people complain that Sheri Moon Zombie stars in her husband's films, feeling he could hire a much better actress to convey the character's emotional highs and lows. And while Zombie is clearly not the best actress in the world, there is something about her that makes her very likeable and endearing to watch. Plus seeing her nude doesn't hurt either. But Zombie is good as Heidi, doing well in emoting during the more stressful and chaotic moments in the film. Would a "real" actress done better with the lead part? Probably. But Zombie makes it work for the most part and I think this is her best and most mature thespian work to date. She has really grown as an actress since HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES.

And you have got to love Zombie's casting choices. Bruce Davison is very good as Francis Matthias, the man who starts figuring out what "The Lords" are up to. Ken Foree and especially Jeff Daniel Phillips bring a human side to the film, playing realistic and grounded characters. I thought Phillips and Zombie had some good chemistry when they were on screen together. The three sisters [Dee Wallace, Patricia Quinn, and especially Judy Geeson] were great. I loved how all three actresses played their parts so differently from the other, yet they complimented each other quite naturally. Meg Foster [those eyes!] was almost unrecognizable as main witch, Margaret Morgan. She was pretty creepy. And it's always nice to see Maria Conchita Alonso, Sid Haig, and Michael Berryman in cameos as well. Very cool cast.

- The improved screenplay. I think prior to watch THE LORDS OF SALEM, my doubts stemmed from Rob Zombie's history when it comes to his storytelling abilities verbally on a script. This was especially evident on those HALLOWEEN films. But it seems Zombie realized his flaws and really focused on tightening his scripts into something more cohesive and understandable. In fact, I think this is Zombie's best script that he's ever written.

For one, I actually liked all the characters in the film! Were they all developed fully? No. But I knew enough about each of them through their actions and how they reacted to each other and to the situation around them. I was expecting white trash characters cussing up a storm like in Zombie's previous films. But nope - they all act like normal people who only cuss when the situation calls for it. I thought the are-they-aren't-they relationship between Heidi and Whitey was done well. I liked the three sisters and how different they all were. I liked how smart Francis was and how quick he picked up what "The Lords" were planning. I believed what Zombie was telling me here, which probably hasn't happened since THE DEVIL'S REJECTS. I wish he had done this for those two HALLOWEEN films, but hey - he's doing it now and that's all that matters.

The dialogue was also very realistic and quite subtle. There was probably one real scene where a character just went off on a cuss storm. And it worked because I wasn't expecting it and made the scene effective. But for the most part, these characters speak naturally and the dialogue moves the story along rather than giving exposition to fill up time. I was very impressed that Zombie managed to rein himself in here, allowing the visuals to tell the story instead of distracting us by how disgusting the characters speak. Everyone had their own voice, and I appreciated that. Here's hoping Zombie continues writing down this path because it was a pleasant surprise.


- Minor things. THE LORDS OF SALEM is fine as it is, but a part of me wanted more out of certain things. For one, I wish it were a bit scarier than it was. Sure, there are jump scares and creepy moments. But I found the film more kooky and intriguing rather than nail-biting and worthy of goosebumps. It didn't really bother me while watching it, to be honest. But I found the films Zombie were paying homage to much creepier than this one. Then again, maybe I'm just desensitized to certain horror these days.

Also, I would have loved to see more of the three sisters in the film. They were all very interesting and livened up the film whenever they were on. More backstory to the three of them would have been nice as well. Hell, I wouldn't mind a film about these three at all.

Like I said, these issues don't really effect the film in a negative way. But I think certain things could have been expanded, story wise. Still, as long as I can understand everything I'm watching to a certain degree, I'm fine with the storytelling. Besides, THE LORDS OF SALEM is a movie that's more style over substance - and it had both.

THE LORDS OF SALEM isn't for everyone. Mainstream audiences will probably dislike the
film, or scratch their heads wondering why they spent 101 minutes watching it. However, Rob Zombie fans and lovers of the 60s and 70s demon/witch subtle Eurostyle horror will appreciate the film for what it's trying to do. Rob Zombie, tired of pleasing studio heads, has finally made a film for himself again. And we've been invited to travel down this trippy journey of witchcraft and Satanism that could be described and interpreted in multitude of ways.

I get why some didn't dig this film and I totally respect that. However, I thought it was pretty great and as I took days to really think about the film and absorb what I saw, I started to like the film even more. Rob Zombie went against the mainstream and created a horror film that stands out from the rest. I'm honestly surprised this even got a theater release [even if it was 300 theaters], but I'm very sure this will receive a lot of attention [and hopefully love] when it hits DVD, Blu-Ray, and VOD. Ambitious, surreal, memorable, and a vast improvement over his three previous films, Rob Zombie may have created a film that will divide opinions within the horror community for years to come. And for that, I respect the hell out of Zombie for going against the Hollywood norm and giving us a damn good film to boot. It's not a film I can recommend because the reaction to it will be completely subjective. But I dug the hell out of it and I hope audiences will dig it just as much as I did.

4 Howls Outta 4


Full Moon Reviews Turns FIVE YEARS OLD!!!

Are you serious? Has it been FIVE YEARS already? While I started my blogging on MySpace back on October 1, 2006, I created Full Moon Reviews as a back-up for any reviews I posted on that ancient social networking site. I never thought I would be doing this for as long as I have, or that Full Moon Reviews would even be around. I'm close to 600 reviews now, thanks to anyone who has supported the blog by spreading the word about it, reading, and sending comments about the stuff I write. Last year, the blog was close to 400,000 views, which I thought was amazing at the time. Now, Full Moon Reviews is very close to 700,000 views, which just boggles my mind. I met a lot of great people through this blog, and now through the video stuff I've recently filmed.

I took a two month break due to burn out and frustration. But celebrating FIVE YEARS makes me realize how blessed I have been to do this and it means so much to me that people still care to read or watch my reviews. Having people tell me "welcome back" after my short break meant the world to me. So thank you to all of you who have even bothered to view my blog. FIVE YEARS OLD - just boggles my mind, guys.

I had a lot of fun within the last year on this blog. The theme months were more successful than I had ever believed. This is especially the case with SHARK SUMMER, which ran in July and August. Who knew so many people loved shark films? I knew reviewing JAWS would get views and comments, but I never thought two other shark films would exceed the film that started it all.

I also thought SEQUEL SEPTEMBER went well also. I think reviewing THE HERETIC: EXORCIST II was the most fun during that month, just to hear what so many others had thought of it. I still think it's a crappy flick, but at least it's somewhat entertaining.

HORROR MOVIE MONTH in October didn't go down exactly how I wanted it to due to competing in the Facebook challenge, Halloween Horror Movie Madness - in which you have to watch a bunch of horror films to gain points. I wanted to do an all classic horror theme, but trying to watch so much horror in a short amount of time burnt me out. I think that was the reason why I was so quiet earlier this year. It was just too much for me. I get invited every year, but I think I may take a break from it for this year's HORROR MOVIE MONTH to make up for last year's.

Also, doing video reviews again has been an experience. I will continue to make video stuff, just not sure how frequent. Writing the review for EVIL DEAD (2013) a couple of days ago made me realize why I had done it that way for so long. I do have videos planned, but it won't be an every day thing. Plus, no one wants to look at my ugly mug anyway, so it's probably for the best. But they were pretty successful and I definitely see that networking visually would be beneficial in the long run.

As for what's coming up this year, I have a lot of stuff planned. Within the next two months, expect TWO franchises being covered - one for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise [I can't believe they've gone through six already] and one for the SUPERMAN franchise [those should be fun]. Also, SHARK SUMMER II will take place during July and August again. However, I may make July be more shark-oriented, while August would be ANIMAL AUGUST [focusing on killer animal films in general]. Haven't decided yet on that. SEQUEL SEPTEMBER will return, as well as HORROR MOVIE MONTH. Also, I may make November a focus on the great Stephen King and his movie adaptations.

As for video content, I still plan on doing "A Film For Every Year I've Lived", as well as trying to review every single zombie movie ever made. Let's see how long it takes before I become a member of the undead doing this.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me and my blog in any way. You guys are the best and it motivates me to reach that SIXTH birthday. Some great stuff coming up, so stay tuned.

- Fred [The Wolf]

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

10. THE THING (2011)
Posted January 18, 2013, this post has 773 views.

This review came about due to many in the horror community celebrating John Carpenter's birthday. This "prequel" to his much beloved and respected remake of THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951) isn't as bad as many believe it is. It doesn't match the greatness of the Carpenter classic, but I appreciate the attempt to connect itself to a much better film. This was also a video review that honestly didn't do well in terms of views on YouTube. So I'm still not sure why it got so many views on my blog.

9. CABIN FEVER (2002)
Posted April 12, 2012, this post has 796 views.

This was the first review, right after I posted Full Moon Review's FOURTH birthday post. This was a film I had wanted to review for a long while, since many had requested it. It gets a lot of hate [mainly due to Eli Roth, who I never had an issue with], but I still think it's a good gory flick that's a nice homage to older films that inspired it. Much better than that terrible sequel. I'm with Ti West - I'd like to forget that film even exists myself.

8. IRON MAN 2 (2010)
Posted April 25, 2012, this post has 806 views.

This review came about during my look at the films that brought forth THE AVENGERS film. One of my least favorite films of Phase One [Mickey Rourke was criminally underused here], but still a worthy superhero sequel. I will be posting a review for IRON MAN 3 in a few weeks for sure.

Posted July 22, 2012, this post has 1,003 views.

The final Christopher Nolan BATMAN film definitely had a lot to live up to. And while I prefer 2008's THE DARK KNIGHT more, I still find TDKR to be a fitting conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. Tom Hardy as Bane still rocks my socks. Thank you, sir, for erasing that horrible representation in 1997's BATMAN & ROBIN.

6. 6 DEGREES OF HELL (2012)
Posted December 8, 2012, this post has 1,024 views.

I'm really surprised at how many views this review received. Sure, it "stars" Corey Feldman [top billing, but only in the film for 5 minutes], but nothing about this film or review screamed "must read". I guess the marketing prior to it was done well, which resulted in many reading my review for this film. Too bad 6 DEGREES OF HELL was one of the worst films I watched last year. Decent premise but terrible execution.

Posted January 5, 2013, this post has 1,058 views.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D was my return to making video reviews, and quite successfully I may add. It was the first horror film of 2013, which probably resulted in the many views I received for it. Still think it's an average flick with dialogue that will be remembered for years. "Do ya thing, Cuz!" - so silly. But glad to see Leatherface back on the big screen regardless.

Posted on July 31, 2012, this post has 1,063 views.

Judging by the amount of views for this review and the number one post within the past year, a lot of my readers love B-movie shark flicks. Then again, who wouldn't want to read my thoughts on a shark movie that starts Charlie O'Connell, Carmen Electra, and the fantastic thespian work of one Brooke Hogan? This movie was too silly to really hate, although I wouldn't watch it again any time soon. I do look forward to Brooke Hogan's porn version of 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK. After all, she is trying to follow her father's footsteps, right?

3. THE AVENGERS (2012)
Posted on May 5, 2012, this post has 1,214 views.

While not the best film of 2012 [that would be ARGO], THE AVENGERS is still my favorite of last year. Just a lot of fun to watch with my cousins and a sold out theater crowd. I'm a huge comic book geek [and a big Avengers fan], so this was nerd heaven for me. I know many try to reveal all the flaws and why THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was superior. But I don't care. It had a ton of fun watching it and I still do when I watch it at home. I can't wait to enjoy Phase Two, on the road to THE AVENGERS 2 in 2015.

Posted on April 15, 2012, this post has 1,568 views.

I may not like it as much as I do now, but at the time, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS was probably my favorite horror film of 2012. I think Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon did a great job dissecting horror, giving us their take as to why so many sub-genres follow the same template over and over again. Like I said, the film doesn't hold up as well on repeated viewings, but I loved it the first time I watched it - even if some people didn't and thought it was overrated. It won't change horror, like some said, but I thought it was a great step in the right direction for the genre.

Posted on July 24, 2012, this post has 2,027 views.

"I'm a little wired... what do you say I take you home and eat your pussy?" Does anymore need to be said as to why this review was so popular?

TOP 10 MOST VIEWED REVIEWS [April 12, 2012]

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Evil Dead (2013) [MAY BE SPOILERS]

Fede Alvarez

Jane Levy - Mia
Shiloh Fernandez - David
Lou Taylor Pucci - Eric
Jessica Lucas - Olivia
Elizabeth Blackmore - Natalie

Genre - Horror/Demons

Running Time - 92 Minutes

Even though EVIL DEAD (2013) is the number one film this past weekend, the debate over this "remake" [or "rebirth" as it has been described] rages on. Go on Facebook. Go on Twitter. The horror community has been clearly divided on this film. Some love it. Some find it unnecessary. Some who didn't see it have continued to bash it, just because it exists. There's no clear winner in this debate, but it's clearly been keeping social networking running this entire weekend.

I understand the disappointment and even hate for EVIL DEAD (2013). The original THE EVIL DEAD is a horror cult classic that spawned two very good-to-great sequels that helped build the careers of director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell. Since 1992, fans have been clamoring for an EVIL DEAD 4. Although video games and even a musical attempted to fill that void, there was no doubt that the demand of a sequel was the top priority. Instead, fans were disappointed to receive a "remake" instead that was produced by Raimi and Campbell [who were heavily involved in this project], which caused quite a backlash against it. For some people, remakes are bad and should never be supported through money and time. This isn't always the case for all remakes, but a lot of them have left a bad taste in fans' mouths.

However, I wish those who are against this remake would at least watch it before judging. I know people who have seen this film and were disappointed. I respect that, unless the reason is because the film wasn't as funny as the original [the original wasn't a comedy, at least not intentionally - the sequels sure]. But I think if these haters would give the film a chance, they may actually find something to like here. In fact, I enjoyed EVIL DEAD (2013). Is it the best remake ever? Is it perfect? No to both questions. But it's a fun flick that's more of a continuation of the story established in the original trilogy rather than film that apes the original in every way so a newer generation can watch something modern rather than something old.

Mia (Jane Levy) is dealing with a drug addiction and doesn't want to go to rehab. Her friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas), as well as her estranged older brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), drive her to Mia and David's family cabin in the woods, standing by her as they hope she can kick her habit through cold turkey. While Mia struggles with getting clean, the rest of the group find strange and morbid things in the cellar, including a book covered in human flesh. Mia decides to run away, losing her will power. Meanwhile, Eric reads from the book they found, reciting an ancient phrase that awakens a demonic force. This force takes a hold of Mia, slowly possessing her.

As the group finds Mia and bring her back to the cabin, Mia begins acting weird - talking about evil and how the woods are alive. The group sees this as Mia dealing while detoxing, but are quickly proven wrong when the supernatural force sweeps upon all of them. Unfortunately for this group, this intervention may turn out to be their last.


- The gore! Oh, the gore! Like I mentioned, not everyone has agreed on the quality of EVIL DEAD (2013). But not many have disagreed that the amount of gore and violence in this "remake" is the film's highlight. It's been quite a while since I've gone to see a horror film inside a movie theater, where blood and guts weren't edited out due to the MPAA and their guidelines. In fact, I was really surprised this even managed to sneak by with an "R" rating! But it did and I'm extremely happy about it. An EVIL DEAD film should be this gory and violent.

In a lot of ways, EVIL DEAD (2013)'s gore and violence slightly reminded me of Peter Jackson's 1992 cult classic, BRAIN DEAD/DEAD ALIVE. Ironically enough, I learned after the film that some of the effects were actually done by WETA, who also worked on that 1992 film. Limbs are ripped apart. Skin gets mutilated. Heads are smashed in. People get burned [done with CGI though]. And there's a lot of blood once the supernatural force makes its presence. It's probably the most R rated film I've seen in a wide theater release in a long time. I thought it delivered the goods and more.

- Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez. While all the acting was decent [especially Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric], Levy and Fernandez were the standouts - mainly because they had to most to do here. Shiloh Fernandez, probably best known to horror fans for 2009's DEADGIRL, is very capable as the male lead. While I barely knew nothing about his character other than his relationships to the people around him [I'll get more into this later], I thought Fernandez gave a multi-leveled performance that made him likeable and easy to root for him. I do think the script made the character look kind of stupid at times [the script was an issue in general], but Fernandez always made the most of it. I thought he was really good here.

But the film's standout is clearly Suburgatory's Jane Levy, who's performance as Mia will be remember in the horror community for years to come. She brought it the moment she appeared on screen. She convinced me as a struggling addict. She convinced me as a possessed evil being. And she convinced me as a victim-turned-heroine. Her facial expressions, her body language, the tone of her voice in different scenes, and her charismatic presence really elevated her above anyone else in the film. Levy had the most developed character in the film and really worked it. I definitely want to see her career continue to flourish because Levy has got the goods.

- Fede Alvarez's direction. It's hard to "restart" a franchise directed by a well-respected and innovative filmmaker like Sam Raimi. It would have been easy to just copy what Raimi did in the original film. It would have been completely bold to do the exact opposite, making EVIL DEAD look and feel nothing like the original. Either way, Alvarez would have gotten love and hate for it. As a double edge sword, it's no way he would have won, no matter what he did. As someone who doesn't really care about all that, I'm glad Alvarez didn't totally copy Raimi's visual style just to please fans of the original trilogy. Yes, we do get the "demon POV cam" that THE EVIL DEAD is known for. But Alvarez does it in a more subtle way. Sure, Raimi's style is better, especially since it used music during it that made it more tense. But at least it's there and done with enough respect as a homage, rather than a copy cat technique. Alvarez does excel at giving us dramatic camera angles and a lot of visual style that's memorable. I also liked the cinematography of the film and some of the editing was quite inspired. And for a 92 minute film, I thought it flew by! I don't think the direction here was perfect [where was the sense of fear?], but I dug it regardless. I hear Fede Alvarez is going to continue directing these films and I think that's a good thing. It's obvious he's a fan and I think the franchise is in good hands with this guy.

- The story. Let me make it clear that I'm not talking about the screenplay itself, which has flaws that can't be overlooked. I'm talking about the structure of the story and how well it managed to create a new film using a similar and familiar premise. I really liked the reasoning why these five people were at the cabin. While most horror films would have stereotypical characters come to a cabin for sex, drugs, and partying, EVIL DEAD has stereotypical characters come to a cabin to help one of their own deal with a serious heroin addiction. How refreshing is that? It actually got me more invested in how the story would play out because the characters are pretty selfless for helping out a troubled friend, only to find themselves dealing with a demonic presence one of their own stupidly conjured up. Hell, it made Mia's demon possession seem like a play on drug addiction and withdrawal, which was a nice and smart touch. While I wish I knew more about the characters, at least their purpose for being there was something pretty deep. And besides of that useless prologue [it was very unnecessary], I thought how the film played out was done really well. In fact, I was swerved at the end at who was going to survive [what I thought would happen didn't]. Not many horror films these days can do that to me, so I was impressed by how the story was laid out.

I also liked the homages to the original franchise. Seeing Sam Raimi's first Oldsmobile made me smile. Loved seeing the chainsaw back, as well as the limbs getting chopped off [ala Ash]. Also some of the editing during the final act reminded me of both THE EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD II. And of course, we get a variation of the tree rape and the demon locked in the cellar, taunting the others. The elements that needed to be in this "restart" were here, and I commended Alvarez and the rest of the filmmakers for showing the original stuff a ton of respect.


- The script Part I: Dialogue. Majority of the recited lines in the film were good, but there were times where the dialogue felt a bit forced and even a bit unbelievable. In fact, it hurt a lot of the likeabilty of the characters because it made them sound so stupid during a situation they should have figured out to be pretty abnormal. For mature, supposedly intelligent characters [hell, one was a nurse and the other a professor], you'd think they act smarter or say more intelligent things. If they were college students, I'd be more okay with it. But it just sounded ridiculous with older characters.

I'm not sure if this dialogue is due to Diablo Cody [of JUNO and JENNIFER'S BODY fame] being the script doctor. Besides a point where the demon spoke like a Pazuzu reject from THE EXORCIST, and some unnecessary one-liners at times to bring a few chuckles during serious moments, nothing really screamed "Cody" for me. But some of it felt off and took me out of the film. Luckily the film was very entertaining, even with this issue.

- The script Part II: Lack of characterization. Yes, the original THE EVIL DEAD wasn't huge on character development. Hell, most horror isn't all that concerned with this aspect of storytelling besides names, relations, and professions. And while the stereotypes were all here, I wish they were developed more - especially since there are only five characters to follow. Mia and David have the most development, with her addition issues and his estranged feelings towards Mia and their family due to a painful past. It's enough to make us understand their relationship [or lack thereof] and why things happen the way they do during the film's climax.

I wish I could say the same about the other characters. For a professor, Eric is an idiot. He finds the Book of the Dead and does what any smart person would do - READS FROM IT AND WAKENS THE DEMONIC PRESENCE. And this guy is supposed to be the stereotypical "smart one"? And this is the one dude who knows all about black magic and actually believes in it. Yet, he does the exact OPPOSITE of what he SHOULD know what to do with something like this. What a moron! And then he keeps what he did to himself for a while until the shit really hits the fan. His character does try to be likeable towards the end, but I wanted him dead the moment he did the opposite of what he should have done.

Olivia, the nurse, was okay I guess. But it seemed to be more to her, especially when it came to David. It was as if the two shared something personal in the past, especially how she first reacted to David's girlfriend, Natalie, being there. Maybe she felt this was a "family" matter. Maybe she was a jealous ex. I honestly didn't know, but felt there was more to the story.

Speaking of Natalie, what was the point of this character other than to fill the stereotypical "girlfriend" role? Sure, her exit was memorable, but other than that, this chick barely left an impression. She barely shared any scenes with her boyfriend, David. I honestly felt siblings David and Mia had more sexual chemistry than David and Natalie did, and I don't even support incest! Hell, I didn't even remember her name until after the film when I looked it up on IMDB.com. She was a prop rather than a person I should care about. I forgot she was even around for much of the film. What a waste.

And why did these characters take so long to buy that Mia was possessed? Do drug addicts speak in demonic voices and are able to move things without touching them? Hell, even her brother David kept thinking that she was suffering from a mental illness, in total denial. I really wanted to smack all of them so they can open their eyes and see things for what they were. All in all, the characters could have been a lot better.

- Could have been scarier. There was nice tense and suspenseful moments, especially during the final act. But I never felt scared or even creeped out. I wish I would have at least jumped once due to a jump scare. For a film that claimed to be the "scariest movie ever", it was a big let down.

By the way, having the demons look like rejects from THE GRUDGE probably doesn't help here either.

While not perfect, EVIL DEAD (2013) is still one of the better remakes of the modern era. In fact, I thought of it as more of an unofficial sequel to the previous three films that reestablished what the original movies had presented. I wish the characters were deeper and the dialogue was stronger. But the gore was awesome, the acting was better than expected, and Fede Alvarez's direction was very well done. Plus, it was a blast to watch in a theater with other people. So while flawed, I had a lot of fun with this film and will definitely buy this on DVD/Blu-Ray. I'm looking forward to the rumors of potential sequels, leading to the ultimate crossover in EVIL DEAD 7. EVIL DEAD (2013) is a really good restart and I'm hoping things get better in the next film.


3.5 Howls Outta 4


Where The Hell Have I Been? [Award Nominations & Updates]

So obviously, I've been away for the past two months if you couldn't tell by the cobwebs that I had to swat away. So what was the deal? A few things:

- Was burnt out.
- Had no interest in watching films, let alone reviewing them.
- Was focused on other projects that unfortunately didn't work out as planned.
- Was tired of social networking and being on the internet period.

But now I'm back - it will be a slow return - but this blog will get more active as the weeks come. I appreciate all you guys for your patience.

While I was on hiatus, I learned that LAMB [the Large Association of Movie Blogs] nominated Full Moon Reviews for Best Horror Blog and Best VLOG [video blogging]. Not sure if I'll make it to the final nominations, especially since I didn't promote it sooner than later [voting ends this Wednesday night for LAMB voters]. But I'm honored and very appreciative that anyone would consider me and this blog "best of" anything. So thanks for that. If you're a LAMB member who hasn't voted yet, please vote for Full Moon Reviews. Would appreciate it.

LAMB Nominees

I also wanted to give a shout out to my long-time movie Vlogging friend, Ethan Dunlap. He and his friends have started a new web series called "Those Guys In The Hall". It's not exactly horror [more comedy], but it does have references to the genre. I watched the pilot episode and I quite enjoyed it. It does have some editing issues and the shot scale during certain sequences could be a lot better. Audio could be touched up in places as well. But overall, it's a good start to a web series that will probably get better as the cast and crew keeps creating content. Ethan has always supported me, so I definitely want to return the favor. You can check out updates and episodes on Ethan's YouTube channel. Also, he'll be posting these episodes at Web of Cinema, if you're interested. We have to support no-budget independent filmmaking.

Facebook Page

Ethan's YouTube channel

Web of Cinema

That's pretty much all I want to post here. A review for the remake of EVIL DEAD will be posted this weekend. I will also be doing some video stuff as well, including a film for every year I've lived, and an attempt to review every zombie movie ever made [that'll take a while]. Also, I'll be doing two major franchise reviews - one for the SUPERMAN film series leading up to MAN OF STEEL - and another for THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies leading up to FAST SIX. Also, Full Moon Reviews turns FIVE on the 12th, so there will be something for that milestone as well. Thanks for understanding and appreciate the continued support. Love you guys.

- Fred [The Wolf]
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