The real stars of the Halloween Horror Nights, however, are the men and women who created the effects. There is an astounding amount of effort put into everything from the make-up to costumes, lighting to maze design. There is even some puppetry involved in the La Llorona maze. Although there are other theme parks who boast a larger number of mazes, but nobody does them with the same attention to detail as Universal Studios. Halloween Horror Nights is open weekends and select nights through October 31, and discount tickets can be found online at http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2012/tickets.php
It takes a great deal for a movie to anger me. I’m not offended easily by shocking content or exploitative material, but a poorly made manipulative movie can make my blood boil every time. This is why I can’t stand to sit through the saccharine melodrama of most Christian funded films, and as much as October Baby attempts to disguise itself as mainstream it was clearly made with these type of agendas. We are meant to watch these poorly scripted scenes with one-dimensional characters and be convinced that abortion is wrong. There is simply no other reason for October Baby to exist, and therefore it feel more like propaganda than entertainment.
Unknown newcomer Rachel Hendrix gives us an annoyingly whiny performance as the “victim” of our contrived plot. Hannah (Hendrix) college life seems to be going great. Even though she is only a freshman, Rachel is already starring in the school play, which provides the perfect opportunity for an incredibly predictable and overly dramatic sequence in which she collapses on stage. Her parents and her longtime plutonic childhood friend are in the audience and they rush to her as though it were a life threatening situation. The medical side of the story somewhat vanishes, however. It survives in the story only long enough to contrive a reason for Hannah to discover her parents are not her birth parents.
Discovering that she is adopted is actually only the beginning for Hannah, because this is a film which is determined to make a point about abortion. Hannah was adopted after her mother failed to abort her, making a strong albeit transparent case for a pro-life world. Hannah takes a road trip with her longtime friend, Jason (Jason Burkey), who she is clearly meant to be in love with despite a jealous girlfriend always in the wings of the story. There is an inevitable joining of these two, just like there is a contrived meeting with the birth mother. All of these events are expected within such a predictably manipulative movie, but nothing prepared me for how poorly it would all come together.
The film was co-written by too many people, and then co-directed by a brother team with more experience doing Christian music videos than narrative film. This is apparent, because we are given a cheesy music montage sequence between every scene of poorly written dialogue, forever attempting to force profundity where there is none. All of this is handled with less dexterity than a daytime soap opera. The Blu-ray release has an audio commentary, bloopers, deleted scenes and half a dozen other featurettes and extras. None of them are particularly worthwhile, but this could simply be because I would rather watch paint dry than have to endure any more October Baby.
Rock band The Who collaborated with cinematic efforts twice in the late 60s and early 70s, creating two rock opera albums which then became two very different films. They are probably best known for creating the rock opera Tommy, which was made into a film and eventually also became a stage musical. Lesser known is the kitchen sink coming-of-age film, Quadrophenia, perhaps mostly because of the fact that the music simply adds mood and atmosphere to the story rather than taking control. This is a film which fits into the realism and perspective of the British “angry young man” films far more than any type of musical influence.
The Who’s rock album is the basis for Quadrophenia’s story, following a pill-popping teenager in 1960s
looking for an outlet to justify his angst. Jimmy (Phil Daniels) is angry at the culture he lives in, despising his mailroom job and all of the people who carry out what he deems a dull existence. Jimmy throws himself into the mod lifestyle, spending all of his money on the right clothing and preparing for a conflict against the rival rockers. A crucial scene in the film takes place during a planned brawl between hundreds of mods and rockers in London , where Jimmy is able to feel as though his life has a purpose through destruction. Brighton Beach
This is a fleeting feeling, however, which is why the angst and drugs always take a priority in Jimmy’s life and personality. The real reason behind much of what Jimmy does, even the love of mod style to a certain extent, comes from his fascination with a girl named Steph (Leslie Ash). This relationship is childish and unfair, which leads our antihero to bouts of irrational tantrums. He may act like a rebel, but in reality he is just lonely. The only moments not involving Steph which seem to bring Jimmy happiness are those made with other mods that he respects, including a leader played by Sting in one of his early film roles.
The music of The Who is peppered throughout the soundtrack of this coming-of-age tale. There are many great songs, such as “I’ve Had Enough,” “5:15” and Love Reign O’er Me,” but the band remains in the background to the story. The Blu-ray release of this classic includes a new digitally restored high definition presentation of the uncut version of the film, supervised by cinematographer Brian Tufano. The soundtrack is available in the original 2.0 stero as well as a new 5.1 surround mix, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio. There is also a new audio commentary by director Franc Roddam and Tufano and a number of new interviews, not to mention the vintage ones. There are also a few segments from 1960s television programs about mods and The Who. The booklet insert has an essay from critic Howard Hampton as well as a personal history of the mods and Pete Townshend liner notes from the 1973 album.
Paul Fejos was an artist during a time when filmmaking was clearly about profits. At the cusp of the arrival of sound, studios scrambled to create films that catered to the latest popular craze of the time. This is a tradition which has carried on throughout the history of cinema, all the way to today’s 3D films and Imax presentations that are the new craze of audiences. In 1928, it was sound and talking in films which had become lucrative with the success of The Jazz Singer. Eventually even Charlie Chaplin would make films with some sound, though thankfully he kept the Tramp for the most part silent. Lonesome is one of the films in the middle; a silent film which has sequences of dialogue.
The simplicity of Lonesome lies within the plot, which is simply about two hardworking New Yorkers who find each other on a Fourth of July weekend in
Coney Island. Where Lonesome becomes an intricately designed film is all in the stylistic approach that Fejos takes, using a remarkable amount of camera movement and even some color tinting to select sequences. In the end, it is the sound sequences which are the most static and uninteresting by today’s standards. They sound may have been novel at the time, but the silent sequence on the roller coaster is timeless.
Hungarian filmmaker Fejos went on to a successful career as an anthropologist after his stint as a filmmaker. At the time, Fejos struggled to fit into the studio system. He couldn’t find any studio willing to give him the creative control he saw as necessary, and only Universal Studios was willing to take a chance on him. The result is Lonesome, as well as a few other rare classics. Two of them have been included as a bonus feature in the Blu-ray release of Lonesome. There is The Last Performance, a 1929 silent starring Conrad Veidt, as well a reconstructed sound version of the 1929 musical Broadway. At the time Broadway was the most expensive film the studio had ever undertaken.
Additional special features include an audio commentary with film historian Richard Koszarski, as well as a1963 visual essay about Fejos and his career. There is also an excerpt from an audio interview with cinematographer Hal Mohr about Broadway, and a booklet insert with essay by film critic Phillip Lopate and film historian Graham Petrie. The new digital restoration of the film is astounding and the special features could not get much better for a forgotten classic.
It was different and somewhat shocking when it first became an underground hit, but now it is just getting a little bit old. It is still funny, but it just seems a little bit too contrived at this point. Or maybe the random humor is just getting old. The writers seem to realize that this is happening, and can only poke fun of itself. There are even jokes in this season having to do with the cutaways. One random one has Peter pretending to be Meg for no apparent reason other than to mess with the formula which has grown tired. There aren’t even nearly as many cutaways either, having been done to death in earlier seasons.
The usual flashbacks to the past which are inspired by a comment from one of the characters, often leading in with “This is worse than the time that…” or some variation to that, has been cut back a great deal. To replace these tired tricks there are many more pop culture references, often even placing the Family Guy characters in different mediums or ripping foreign characters out of their own environment and into The Family Guy. When this doesn’t work they just go for shock value, with an emphasis on animal cruelty and racial stereotypes.
They keep attempting to push the boundaries of odd and offensive, and occasionally “Family Guy” still hits the mark. The show is increasingly irreverent and post-modern, with even more jokes addressed directly at the audience. Occasionally we even leave the animated medium entirely, including a lengthy sequence with Peter attacking a screen playing The Sound of Music.
Volume 10 has fourteen episodes in a three-disc set, including the hour-long musical Christmas episode. The special features include commentary tracks on select episodes by series writers, directors, producers and cast members. There are also deleted scenes and a few featurettes on the making of some of the more impressive sequences from this volume, including the Christmas episode’s music and another epic fight sequence.
When “24” came out it was the first post-9/11 terrorist thriller on television, and for a few years it seemed cutting edge. Even with the absurdity of the time constraint gimmick, “24” had moments of brilliance, and it provided a cathartic and patriotic win against terrorism. After that series had been done to death, writers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have moved on to loosely adapt the Israeli series entitled “Hatufim,” which means Prisoner of War.
This is a much more complex and character driven series than “24” was, filled with a certain amount of intensity and action, but more slow-burning and realistic. It follows the suspicions of CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Golden Globe winner Claire Danes), a bipolar woman with an obsession that threatens her career. When a marine is rescued after being a prisoner of the Al Qaeda for years, Carrie suspects that he may have been turned. Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) returns home a different man, which is apparent to his family as well as Carrie. The question remains whether this is simple post traumatic stress or whether Brody has been turned into a sleeper agent plotting a terrorist attack against the country.
Season one provides just enough to tease you into wanting more. There are twelve episodes in this three-disc Blu-ray set. The special features include a prologue to season two, as well as a featurette on the first season. There are also deleted scenes and a commentary track on the pilot episode.
The new Judge Dredd film is to make up for the failure of the 1990s with Sylvester Stallone. Stallone has recently made a comeback in the action scene, thanks to The Expendables and a revival of his most successful franchises of the past. The action star has seen many lulls in his career, but Judge Dredd felt like the beginning of the end of the action star. It was simply unforgivable how bad the movie was in many regards, mostly because of how easily forgettable it was.
Based on a British comic book character, judge Dredd became something else entirely in the hands of Stallone, whose demands as a big star became so great that director Danny Cannon swears it altered the film. There is no denying this fact, since the comic book character is rarely out of his helmet, but Stallone spends a majority of screen time with his face free. This is what happens when you hire a big star to be in a movie.
Even with the low caliber action and zero believability, Judge Dredd is a fascinating disaster. The Blu-ray release if fitting for such a film as Judge Dredd, with only one special feature in the bonus section. It is making-of featurette entitled “Stallone’s Law.” Sounds about right. The high definition is also not the most impressive, while still an improvement over the DVD.
Tim Burton is not typically known for making films grounded in reality. In fact, even the stories which are less fantasy still manage to stylistically bring us into the alternate world of
’s brain. Ed Wood is one of the few exceptions in the filmmaker’s filmography, mostly because it is a biopic based on the life and career of the man infamously known as the world’s worst filmmaker. Surprisingly, this is such a quirky story that there is little need for embellishment or heavy stylization from Burton , though this doesn’t stop him from giving the film a little bit of his own personal touch. Burton
Johnny Depp returns once again to collaborate with
and star as the title character, Ed Wood, an enigmatic young filmmaker with a passion for filmmaking which far surpasses the disappointment and failure which follows him. Ed Wood pushes forward with relentless optimism, despite nominal success and consistently bad reviews. Some of his success comes from a lucky friendship he makes with former screen star Bela Lugosi (Best Supporting Actor winner Martin Landau), whereas other times it seems to come only from his bizarre choices. Ed Wood films have the same appeal as a car crash, or photos of the customers of Walmart. Burton
From bad science fiction and horror to a partly autobiographical film about cross dressing, Ed Wood was the king of schlock cinema and
has just enough quirks in his own personality to capture the essence of the filmmaker. Ed Wood may not be a typical film for Burton , but it is among his best. The Blu-ray release of this 1994 classic comes with a number of special features from the DVD releases of past years. There are featurettes, one n the make up and another on the production design. There are deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage, and even a music video. The highlight of the bonus features is the audio commentary with select cast and crew members, but the Burton high point of the Blu-ray is the enhanced high definition picture and sound.
The premise for Bait is clever. The actual film has moments, but none come from the 3D elements of the picture and many of the computerized digital effects are downright embarrassing in 2D. Where the film is successful lies in the elements of suspense far more than horror, and it is just a shame that popular trends and pointless flashiness ruined what could have been a taut thriller. All the same, there are moments within the cheesy horror film which make it rather engaging.
This Australian horror film starts with a shark attack in the ocean. It is one which is only significant in that it leaves our protagonist filled with regret and another character turned to chum. The next significant event takes place when a large tsunami submerges an underground grocery store, and in the process trapping a sharks in the waters. The survivors hide on top of the shelves, though they quickly run out of options as the water continues to rise.
There are many flaws to this film, but the screenplay offers a number of convincing twists and turns in the storyline. More than just the threat of a shark attack is present and there are a convincing number of sacrifices which need to be made in order to survive the aftermath of the natural disaster. The film mostly just gets bogged down by the unnecessary relationships and poor dialogue handled clumsily by the cast.
The Blu-ray release includes a 3D and 2D presentation of the film, as well as a DVD copy. The film’s only special feature is a storyboard gallery.
Horror films are as bad as romantic comedies as far as predictability goes. There is a formula to nearly every sub-genre of horror film, from the slasher to the ghost story, and it is these preconceived ideas of what is supposed to happen which help bring the audience into a wholly new horror experience with The Cabin in the Woods. The originality is built upon the expectations which already come with the horror film, making this a clever reinvention of the wheel.
The film begins like so many other horror movies in the last 30 years; with a group of college co-eds going away for the weekend in a cabin buried deep in the woods. There will be skinny dipping, heavy drinking and many gruesome killings. The difference between this and every other horror film of this sort is the reason behind the deaths. Without giving too much away, there are a group of employees who are watching this group in the woods, helping to ensure that they don’t survive the horrors that await them.
At the same time, as each of the members of the group reach the secluded spot, they become caricatures of themselves. The pot smoking conspiracy theorist becomes a stoner cliché while the jock becomes a Neanderthal and the hottest girl becomes a little slutty. They become the stereotypical characters expected to be found in a slasher film, including the final girl who is meant to survive at least until the last of her friends have been killed.
The Blu-ray release of this clever horror film also comes with a digital copy and an ultraviolet copy. The special features include an audio commentary by writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon. There is also a making-of featurette and two features on the visual effects, from make-up to animatronics. There are also a number of features to better help you understand the intricacies of the film, from a Wondercon Q&A and a bonus view mode which explains details as you watch the film.
The Victim promises grindhouse thrills and excitement, none of which are properly fulfilled. There is a difference between intentionally cheesy or an homage to bad films and actual bad filmmaking. What is done in The Victim simply seems like a poorly made film rather than a throwback to the old drive in B-films of yesteryears. Worse yet, The Victim is mostly just boring.
The film starts out with a disturbing murder in the woods during a sexual act. This could be considered an accident, but when it is covered up there is no room for forgiveness. Only a lone stripper (Jennifer Blanc) knows about the accidental murder and cover-up, as well as the fact that the murderer was a cop. When she hides out in the cabin of a recluse (Michael Biehn), he then becomes involved in the conflict unwillingly at first and then with a disturbing amount of enthusiasm.
Biehn stars as well as writing the screenplay and directing. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to do even an average job at any of these creative roles. From start to finish, I could not wait for this film to be over. It was a complete disappointment and predictable when it wasn’t just dull. The special features include behind-the-scenes footage of this disaster as well as an audio commentary by Biehn.
Although Zaborgar is a change from the usual horror films to come out of Sushi Typhoon Studios, and is subsequently less gore-filled or horrific, there are still many of the bizarre sexual elements that these films are known for. Female robot villains have rockets which come from their breasts and dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs) which come from their rectum. This is all just par for course when dining with Sushi Typhoon.
The storyline is a superhero film of sorts involving two brothers; one human and one robot with the ability to transform into a motorcycle. This spectacularly cheesy concept comes from a popular Japanese television series from the 1970s, adapted for the big screen with a little more raunch and just the same amount of absurdity. When the human brother, Daimon, falls in love with the female robot enemy, the result is astoundingly bizarre and must be seen to be believed.
The whole endeavor is lighthearted fun, though I wouldn’t recommend some of the humor for younger audiences. Even if this is a tamer Sushi Typhoon, it still bears the mark of the studio which has the feel of a Japanese version of Troma. The Blu-ray release of Zaborgar includes a series of short films and trailers.